TalkSusanJ's 75 Books Challenge - Thread 8

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75 Books Challenge for 2019

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SusanJ's 75 Books Challenge - Thread 8

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Sep 7, 2019, 7:02am

Hello, and welcome to my eighth thread for 2019.

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

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

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

Edited: Oct 10, 2019, 4:32am

Books read during 2019


146. Dear Mrs Bird by A J Pearce
147. Heartburn by Nora Ephron
148. Those People by Louise Candlish
149. The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson
150. The Alphabet Murders by Lars Schutz
151. The Holiday by T M Logan
152. The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott
153. Our House by Louise Candlish
154. Science Left Behind by Alex Berezow
155. Break In by Dick Francis
156. Inland by Tea Obreht
157. Misogynation by Laura Bates
158. I'll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara


159. The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company by William Dalrymple
160. House of Glass by Susan Fletcher
161. You Are Here by Hiawatha Bray
162. Strangers In Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild
163. A Year At the Circus: Inside Trump's White House by Jon Sopel
164. The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish

Sep 7, 2019, 7:03am

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

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

Here's the full list:

2019 Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America by Eliza Griswold
2018 Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America by James Forman
2017 Evicted by Matthew Desmond
2016 Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS by Joby Warrick
2015 The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert
2014 Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan Fagin
2013 Devil in the Grove by Gilbert King
2012 The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt
2011 The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee
2010 The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy by David E. Hoffman

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

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

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

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

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

Edited: Sep 27, 2019, 4:43am

My 2019 reading challenge is the Goodreads "Around the World in 52 Books" challenge, which is here:

I'll post the names of the books as I finish them. I've taken out the cover picture montage as most of the images don't show up. Stupid LT bug that they need to fix ASAP.


36. A book featured on an NPR Best Books of the Year list - The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
3. A book where the author’s name contains A, T, and Y - The Murder of Harriet Monckton by Elizabeth Haynes
27. A book off of the 1001 books to read before you die list - I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
14. A book with a title, subtitle or cover relating to an astronomical term - The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
11. A book related to one of the 12 Zodiac Chinese Animals (title, cover, subject) - Nerve by Dick Francis
35. A psychological thriller - An Unwanted Guest by Shari La Pena
9. A book from one of the top 5 money making genres (romance/erotica, crime/mystery, religious/inspirational, science fiction/fantasy or horror) - Snap by Belinda Bauer
47. A book related to food (i.e. title, cover, plot, etc.) - The Fast 800 by Michael Mosley
4. A book with a criminal character (i.e. assassin, pirate, thief, robber, scoundrel etc) - The Law of Angels by Cassandra Clark
50. A book that includes a journey (physical, health, or spiritual) - In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
10. A book featuring an historical figure - Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses by Sarah Gristwood
12. A book about reading, books or an author/writer - The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz
16. A book told from multiple perspectives - Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan
46. A book with a (mostly) black cover - Blood on the Page by Thomas Harding
34. A book with a person's name in the title - A House for Mr Biswas by V S Naipaul
33. A book you have owned for at least a year, but have not read yet - Is There No Place on Earth For Me? by Susan Sheehan
28. A book related to something cold (i.e. theme, title, author, cover, etc.) - Kolymsky Heights by Lionel Davidson
51. A book published in 2019 - The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths
43. A book related to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) (fiction or nonfiction) - Primate Change by Vybarr Cregan-Reid
7. Two books related to the same topic, genre, or theme: Book #1 - The Familiars by Stacey Halls (the topic is witchcraft in 17th century England)
42. A book with a monster or "monstrous" character - The Cleaner by Paul Cleave
19. A book by an author who has more than one book on your TBR - Forfeit by Dick Francis
6. A book with a dual timeline - The Secret Place by Tana French
18. A book related to one of the elements on the periodic table of elements - Lab Rats: Why Modern Work Makes People Miserable by Dan Lyons (the element is Silicon (i.e. Valley))
20. A book featuring indigenous people of a country - A Long Way From Home by Peter Carey
37. A book set in a school or university - The History Man by Malcolm Bradbury
40. A book you stumbled upon - The Impossible Life of Mary Benson by Rodney Bolt
1. A book that was nominated for or won an award in a genre you enjoy - The Wanderers by Tim Pears
30. A book featuring an elderly character - The Century Girls: The Final Word From The Women Who've Lived The Past Hundred Years of British History by Tessa Dunlop
2. A book with one of the 5 W's in the title (Who, What, Where, When, Why) - Who Thought This Was A Good Idea? by Alyssa Mastromonaco
39. A book with a strong sense of place or where the author brings the location/setting to life - The Western Wind by Samantha Harvey
21. A book from one of the polarizing or close call votes - I've chosen "A Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction winner or shortlist" (heh) - Now We Shall Be Entirely Free by Andrew Miller
38. A book not written in traditional novel format (poetry, essay, epistolary, graphic novel, etc) - The Long Take by Robin Robertson
52. A book with a weird or intriguing title - The Salt Path by Raynor Winn
22. A book with a number in the title or on the cover - Moneyland: Why Crooks and Thieves Now Rule the World and How to Take it Back by Oliver Bullough
23. 4 books inspired by the wedding rhyme: Book #1 Something Old - Mad Blood Stirring by Simon Mayo ("old" = historical fiction)
24. 4 books inspired by the wedding rhyme: Book #2 Something New - A Crack in Creation by Jennifer Doudna ("new" = new scientific technique)
32. A book with more than 500 pages - Whiteshift: Populism, Immigration and the Future of White Majorities by Eric Kaufmann
48. A book that was a finalist or winner for the National Book Award for any year - Heartland by Sarah Smarsh
17. A speculative fiction (i.e. fantasy, scifi, horror, dystopia) - The Hunger by Alma Katsu
15. A book by an author from a Mediterranean country or set in a Mediterranean country - All This I Will Give To You by Dolores Redondo
49. A book written by a Far East Asian author or set in a Far East Asian country - Star of the North by D B John (North Korea)
45. A multi-generational saga - Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
26. 4 books inspired by the wedding rhyme: Book #4 Something Blue - Wolf Pack by C J Box (mostly blue cover)
13. A book that is included on a New York Public Library Staff Picks list - The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
5. A book by Shakespeare or inspired by Shakespeare - The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson
41. A book from the 2018 GR Choice Awards - I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara


8. 2 books related to the same topic, genre, or theme: Book #2 - Witchfinders by Malcolm Gaskill
25. 4 books inspired by the wedding rhyme: Book #3 Something Borrowed
29. A book published before 1950 - Rookwood by William Ainsworth
31. A children’s classic you’ve never read - The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
44. A book related in some way to a tv show/series or movie you enjoyed (same topic, same era, book appeared in the show/movie, etc.) - Killing Pablo by Mark Bowden

Sep 7, 2019, 7:05am

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

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

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

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

Roman Blood
Arms of Nemesis

Ruth Downie's Medicus (Britannia, 108)

Terra Incognita

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

Wine of Violence

Ellis Peters' Cadfael (Shropshire, 1135 - 1145)

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

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

The Sanctuary Seeker
The Poisoned Chalice
Crowner's Quest

Susanna Gregory's Matthew Bartholomew (Cambridge, 1348)

A Plague On Both Your Houses
An Unholy Alliance

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

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

Shona Maclean's Alexander Seaton (1620s)

The Redemption of Alexander Seaton

Michael Pearce's Mamur Zapt (Egypt, 1908)

The Mamur Zapt and the Return of the Carpet

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

Grey Mask
The Case is Closed

John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee

The Deep Blue Goodbye

Mal Sjowall's Martin Beck


John Sandford's Lucas Davenport

Rules of Prey

Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch

The Black Echo

John Harvey's Charlie Resnick

Lonely Hearts
Rough Treatment
Cutting Edge

Faye Kellerman's Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus

The Ritual Bath
Sacred and Profane

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's Agent Pendergast


Steve Berry's Cotton Malone

The Templar Legacy
The Alexandria Link

Harry Bingham's Fiona Griffiths

Talking to the Dead
Love Story, With Murders

Mari Hannah's Kate Daniels

The Murder Wall

Karin Slaughter's Sara Linton


Karin Slaughter's Will Trent


Paul Cleave's Christchurch Murders

The Cleaner

Stuart MacBride's Logan McRae

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

Annie Hauxwell's Catherine Berlin

In Her Blood
A Bitter Taste

Cara Hunter's DI Adam Fawley

Close to Home
In The Dark

Jane Casey's Maeve Kerrigan

The Burning
The Reckoning

Angela Marsons' DI Kim Stone

Silent Scream

Lesley Thomson's Stella Darnell

The Detective's Daughter

Manda Scott's Ines Picaut

Into the Fire

Susan Mallery's Mischief Bay

The Girls of Mischief Bay

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

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

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

Rat Race

Edited: Sep 7, 2019, 7:07am

Sep 7, 2019, 7:35am

Happy new thread!

Sep 7, 2019, 7:52am

Happy new one, Susan!

Sep 7, 2019, 8:08am

>6 susanj67: Ooh, somebody mentioned puppies.

Happy new thread.

Sep 7, 2019, 9:06am

>9 charl08: Oh my gosh, what an adorable little muffin!

Sep 7, 2019, 9:10am

Happy new one, Susan. (I wish I had a puppy too).

Sep 7, 2019, 11:10am

Happy new thread, Susan. From your last thread, thanks for the list of historical fiction and Scottish crime fiction. Also the photos of George and Charlotte.

Love the legal nerd stuff as well. Interesting times...

Sep 7, 2019, 12:03pm

>7 figsfromthistle: Thanks Anita!

>8 katiekrug: Thanks Katie :-)

>9 charl08: What a cute little doggo! Thanks Charlotte :-)

>10 rosalita: Hi Julia!

>11 RebaRelishesReading: Reba, I suspect they're more fun to look at than to run around cleaning up after :-)

>12 BLBera: Thanks Beth! This is definitely a time of intense legal nerdery.

148. Those People by Louise Candlish

This is a "suburban noir" (which is apparently a thing) about a middle-class street in south London invaded by some neighbours from hell in one of the houses. And they definitely are neighbours from hell. But are they the only dreadful ones?

Sep 7, 2019, 9:56pm

Happy new thread, Susan! "Suburban noir" is a new one on me. Hope your reads are keeping you away from watching what is going on politically there. Maybe it would be easier to know when it is all over.

Sep 8, 2019, 8:02am

Happy new Thread.
>9 charl08: awww.

Sep 8, 2019, 11:25am

>13 susanj67: That sounds a bit close to home to be an easy read (Not the neighbours now, thank goodness!)

Edited: Sep 8, 2019, 1:20pm

>14 Familyhistorian: Thanks Meg. I'm transfixed by all the drama this weekend - I can't even complain that it's the same old thing day after day, because every day brings things that are completely novel.

>15 Helenliz: Thanks Helen :-)

>16 charl08: Charlotte, it wasn't the easiest read. I had neighbours from hell for about seven years a while ago now, and the book did bring it all back.

Today's jaw-dropping development (and it's not even Amber Rudd resigning) - the bill to make Boris ask for an extension is expected to be passed tomorrow, and Dominic Raab (I still can't believe he's the Foreign Secretary when he doesn't know where any countries are) has said that Boris intends to "test" it and the Sunday Times says that his people expect his decision to "test" it (i.e. to refuse to comply with it) to go before the Supreme Court during the week of 21 October.

The use of "test" is vastly annoying, because it means "disagree", and people just won't admit it. "Oh, I want to test the advice you gave my trainee yesterday", for example, means "I've already told the client something else and now I need you to change your mind." I wish people would just be honest and say "disagree".

It's been warm here today, and I even went out to Waitrose for a paper and a few bits and pieces, although couldn't take the short cut through the estate because of the cannibal. Still, it's all good for the Fitbit. My little gadget seems to be running out of charge a lot now, and it no longer emails to tell me. I looked at their website and all their trackers are watches now, and I don't want a watch. (Their newest one even has Fitbit Pay, Spotify and Alexa. Alexa!) I'll have to try and find another brand that fits in a pocket and just counts steps.

Sep 8, 2019, 4:30pm

>17 susanj67: The cannibal? What did I miss?

Sep 8, 2019, 9:13pm

Happy new thread, Susan.

Sep 8, 2019, 9:50pm

Yeah, “cannibal”. Can’t keep us in suspense!

Sep 9, 2019, 4:31am

>18 elkiedee:, >20 drneutron: The cannibal appeared on my last thread:

>19 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul.

In today's lunacy...well, who knows? The Guardian politics blog appears to have been running for four hours already (at 9.30!) although there is a reference to someone's "colleagues in London" taking over, and, checking the journalist's name, I see he is the UK site editor in the Asia/Pacific region, and appears to be in Australia. Boris is going to Ireland, when he does not have time to be going anywhere. Then he's coming back to try and get MPs to vote for an election (again). This is another thing we do not have time for. In the interim, more people may resign. It's like living in one of those dreams where you're running and running but you just can't make any progress.

Sep 9, 2019, 8:37am

Well, it's all changing at the library. Today I went to return a book and the new book displays have been moved to right by the door, on tables about mid-thigh height, with little shelves underneath for books with their spines out. Very awkward to browse, and i didn't dare crouch down because I'd never have got up again. All the new books are together now, but they seemed to have hardly any NF.

New sofas have appeared in the middle of a cleared area, and part of the space near the front has been taped off and is going to become computers linked to the council, so they're turning it into a "one-stop shop" like the one at Watney Market. I wonder whether we'll also get a security guard like they have. FLA seemed uneasy about the whole thing, so I asked if it would help if I borrowed lots of stuff to keep their numbers up and he said yes. So what could I do, really?:

The Holiday by T M Logan ("Hypnotically readable" - Lee Child (whoever he is :-) )
Inland by Tea Obreht
The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott.

All new. All shiny. None my fault.

Parliament is now shutting down tonight. Labour Party politicians are outraged that it's being shut for a MONTH, which overlooks the fact that they're all off for party conference season in a couple of days anyway, for *three more weeks* because it's like they have nothing else to do. Corbyn is quoted as saying:

"I think it is disgraceful. Parliament should be sitting. Parliament should be holding the government to account. And the prime minister appears to want to run away from questions."

Well of course it should, Jeremy, but we didn't see YOU proposing to cancel conference season, did we? I can see why these people are politicians - there is literally no other job where there wouldn't be a penalty for not showing up and doing the freaking work.

Sep 9, 2019, 10:54am

>21 susanj67: Heh. The neighbors are twitchy... I bet nobody goes to a cookout where *he's* manning the grill!

Sep 9, 2019, 12:18pm

>22 susanj67: All that AND Bercow resigns?? Political wonks must be beside themselves with joy.

Sep 9, 2019, 12:20pm

>22 susanj67: humph. Says she who worked last night and is rapidly approching a 12 hour day today and is rather frazzled as she's got an audit tomorrow as well as a file to submit by tonight. Let's put it this way, even the cannibal would be wise to steer clear today. >;-)
Hoping your day is going better than mine.

Sep 10, 2019, 12:05pm

Susan, have you been prorogued? #silenced

Sep 11, 2019, 8:34am

Hoping there's nothing wrong, I was hoping for a spark of light to illuminate the increasingly murky world of politics and the law.
I'll go back to doing my ostrich impression, 'tis for the best.

Sep 11, 2019, 8:50am

>23 drneutron: Jim, I want to hire a pitchfork-wielding mob, but somehow I know that *I'd* be the one who got into trouble.

>24 charl08: Charlotte, it seems like days ago that Bercow resigned, even though everyone wasted yet more time congratulating him or hating on him.

>25 Helenliz: Helen, I hope the audit went to plan!

>26 charl08: Charlotte, I decided to try and have a day without whining. Yeah, it didn't really work, but at least I didn't whine on LT :-)

>27 Helenliz: Helen, I was in a meeting out of the office this morning and there was a break-out session. At the end, the broken-out people came back in with the news from Scotland, so everyone jumped on their phones :-)

What's happening next: The Government will appeal today's Scottish decision, and the Supreme Court will hear the appeal next week, along with the Miller appeal from the English High Court. (England has a "leapfrog" appeal system for matters of public importance, which meant that Miller didn't have to go to the Court of Appeal before going to the Supreme Court. Scotland does not have that procedure, so today's decision is their equivalent of England's Court of Appeal and a necessary step on the road to the Supreme Court). I've now lost track of the Northern Ireland proceedings, but they will also be heard by the SC if they're still going on.

Sep 11, 2019, 8:57am

At least I've finished something:

149. The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson

I grabbed this from the library because it was new and clean and I liked the cover. And it's *excellent*. At its heart, it's the story of a theft of numerous (stuffed) rare birds from the Natural History Museum at Tring. But who would steal birds? What use could old birds possibly have? The answer: feathers. While feathery fashions have gone, rare feathers are still in demand by people who tie fishing flies. And there are quite a lot of people who do.

The narrative goes back to Alfred Russel Wallace, who collected the birds, looks at the mania for feathers in fashion in the 19th century and the beginning of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Audubon Society and then explains fly-tying before describing how an American music student carried out the heist, for which he received only a suspended sentence. I dimly remember the case in the news, but reading the details is shocking. Not only did he not serve any jail time despite wrecking the museum's collection of several important species, but he wasn't deported from the UK either.

Highly recommended.

Sep 12, 2019, 4:51am

OMG I just got an email from one of the Young People at the office who lives along the street from me, and he said he was *in the lift* at the station with the cannibal.

Worried sick. I emailed back to say that if this was his last communication I would keep it safe and read it out at the inquest.

Maybe I could have been a bit more upbeat.

Edited: Sep 12, 2019, 8:30am

Well, the Young Person made it in OK. Whew!

The Baillie Gifford longlist was announced today:

I Will Never See the World Again by Ahmet Altan
Furious Hours by Casey Cep
On Chapel Sands by Laura Cumming
The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company by William Dalrymple
Homesick: Why I Live in a Shed by Catrina Davis
The Lives of Lucian Freud: Youth by William Feaver
The Windrush Betrayal: Exposing the Hostile Environment by Amelia Gentleman
Maoism: A Global History by Julia Lovell
The Ministry of Truth: A Biography of George Orwell's 1984 by Dorian Lynskey
Guest House for Young Widows by Azadeh Moaveni
The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold
The Outlaw Ocean by Ian Urbina

I'd already reserved the Dalrymple, but otherwise nothing much really grabs me.

Sep 12, 2019, 2:11pm

Glad to hear the cannibal restrained himself, Susan.

>31 susanj67: I liked I will never see the world again. I'm waiting for the George Orwell one to turn up at the library. The Windrush book sounds good too.

Sep 13, 2019, 4:44pm

>32 charl08: Charlotte, apparently there were quite a few people in the lift, and my colleague didn't linger...

150 (yass!). The Alphabet Murders by Lars Schutz

This was a random library book (new, clean etc) and also a debut novel. It's about a police profiler in Germany, and it was a decent enough read but I'm not sure I'll continue with the series (I'm sure I read somewhere that it's the first in a series). It was pretty gory - not quite in the Karin Slaughter league, but if you're not into women being kept captive then this isn't one for you.

Adding to my list of book award nominees, I saw a reference on Twitter to the FT Business Book of the Year, and the longlist (which came out in August) is here:

I'm pleased to see Invisible Women on it, and The Age of Surveillance Capitalism is on its way to the library for me.

I've started The Holiday this evening, which co-incidentally one of my friends is also reading, so I'll be able to discuss it with someone IRL!

Sep 13, 2019, 4:46pm

150!! Way to go!

Sep 13, 2019, 4:48pm

>34 katiekrug: Thanks Katie!

Sep 14, 2019, 5:11am

I'm at the cinema, about to see the Downton Abbey film :-) Apparently cinema tickets cost £15.50 now. In Greenwich!

So far I'm the only one in the superscreen cinema and it starts in 8 minutes.

Sep 14, 2019, 6:05am

15 quid? It's £3.50 at the local (admittedly bargain) place. Hope it's as good as it sounds.

Sep 14, 2019, 7:56am

>37 charl08: Charlotte, it's excellent! Downton fans will love it, and as usual Maggie Smith has all the best lines. I think I was the only one there - certainly in the huge downstairs part. There's a balcony for the VIP seats but I doubt anyone was up there on a Saturday morning. A staffer appeared near curtain up with a telescope and a clipboard, so might have been checking for sneakers-in.

Sep 14, 2019, 11:24am

151. The Holiday by T M Logan

Ooh, this is good :-) Four old friends go on holiday together in France with their families, and bad stuff happens. But who's at fault, and why?

This seems to be called Don't Look Down on LT, so that must be the US title.

Sep 14, 2019, 5:34pm

>33 susanj67: Congratulations on reaching 2 x 75, Susan!

My husband has been following the Brittish politics a lot lately (long ago he studied Political Science), I still have no clue how this saga will end...

Edited: Sep 15, 2019, 9:36am

>40 FAMeulstee: Thanks Anita!

152. The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott

Another excellent read! This is the story of how Dr Zhivago was used by the CIA to help to win the cold war. It's based on a true story and real people, with the gaps filled in by Lara Prescott (who was indeed named after *that* Lara). I've never read Dr Zhivago, and this book does contain spoilers. However, it's such a well-known novel that I probably just have to accept that it can't be "spoiled" any more. This is really, really well done, and I whizzed through it. Read it now!

Sep 15, 2019, 9:45am

Heard on QVC earlier: "...because not everyone *wants* to wear a puffer coat down to their knees, and feel like they're walking around in a duvet."

Who *are* these three people? I think we should be told.

Sep 15, 2019, 11:41am

>41 susanj67: I want to read this one.

Friend described down jacket as the best money she'd ever spent. I am now tempted (although don't tend to have a problem being cold).

Sep 15, 2019, 12:14pm

>43 charl08: Charlotte, you should acquire both the book and a puffa ASAP :-)

It's lovely and warm here today, which might be why QVC (which is in Chiswick) thinks that light coats might be the thing.

I'm now half-way through another book by Louise Candlish. I can't seem to stop reading my giant pile of library books. "Reading my own books isn't working out so well," I said to FLA last week. "But reading all of yours is going pretty well." He'd just run through what I had out, because the machine had given me a strange message. But he did it in a very matter-of-fact way, not with the "OMG how can you possibly ever hope to deal with these strange paper things?" expression that the other staff have.

Sep 15, 2019, 4:19pm

153. Our House by Louise Candlish

This is another novel by the author of Those People, which I read earlier in the month, and it's even better, with an EPIC twist at the end that I'm still giggling about. Loved it :-)

Sep 15, 2019, 4:25pm

>45 susanj67: Ooh, I've been on the holds list at the library for this one (since June!) so I'm glad to hear it should be worth the wait.

Sep 16, 2019, 5:23am

>46 rosalita: Julia, it's definitely worth the wait :-) You'll race through it in one sitting, though, so set aside some time.

The Guardian is leading on Saudi Arabia this morning. The Brexit live blog is in second place. Amazing.

Sep 16, 2019, 5:29am

But there's one piece of good news, from an interview with the (French) head of L'Oreal, in Financial News:

"{He} has launched Project Brexit, a twin-tracked contingency plan to stockpile lipstick and eyeliner in the UK. He has also brokered a deal with HM Revenue and Customs to fast-track 'essential' make-up through Britain's ports."

Sep 16, 2019, 6:12am

>31 susanj67: Quite curious about the Amelia Gentleman book. She's a Guardian journalist, and one whose work I like, though I've never understood how she can be and stay married to someone who was until recently a government minister, one Jo Johnson.

>41 susanj67: I have a Netgalley review copy of The Secrets We Kept.

Sep 16, 2019, 6:18am

>41 susanj67: I'll add that the to TBR list after having read Dr Zhivago...
>39 susanj67: this might just be why I don't go on holiday!

Sep 16, 2019, 7:02am

>49 elkiedee: Luci, I was amazed to find out who she was married to when he resigned. The book doesn't grab me because I thought a lot of their Windrush reporting was overblown - they had one case study of a woman who thought she was about to be deported and made it in to see a case worker who looked through her passport and almost immediately found her Indefinite Leave to Remain endorsement in it, and yet somehow that was the fault of the Home Office. My old passport with my ILR in it is *literally* the thing I would save first in a fire, because it's so important.

>50 Helenliz: Helen, you would certainly never want to holiday with friends after reading it :-)

Sep 16, 2019, 8:34am

Well. As if the cannibal wasn't enough, I've been looking at RightMove over lunch, and there's an ad for a flat in a "1920s Manson style block".

I also went to the library to take books back, and borrowed nothing. I have a theory that the new, mixed "New books" display is actually a way to reduce the amount of new stuff, hoping that no-one will notice. There's hardly any NF, for starters. And I have noticed.

Sep 16, 2019, 9:18am

I picked up a Kindle version of Our House in a sale earlier this year. Guess I should read it!

Giggling at "Manson block"...

Sep 16, 2019, 2:35pm

As always I’m so impressed and tempted by your reading but I actually stopped by to thank you for the wonderful job you’re doing with the thermostat, it’s been just the perfect walking temperature and no rain😃 I’m looking forward to hearing about the Downton Abbey film.

Edited: Sep 17, 2019, 4:36am

>53 katiekrug: Katie, definitely read it ASAP! (I did check my Kindle when I saw your post, just in case I had also bought it and forgotten about it, but I hadn't. Whew!)

>54 RebaRelishesReading: Reba, I'm delighted that the weather is behaving :-) I have had my fingers crossed for you.

154. Science Left Behind: Feel-Good Fallacies and the Rise of the Anti-Scientific Left by Alex Berezow

This is an interesting look at the damage so-called "progressives" are doing to science. The author asserts that if you put a pin in a map where there's a Whole Foods, you'll probably also find a measles outbreak, which is perhaps a bit dramatic, but his point is that dangerous ignorance of science is now the "in" thing, whether it's insisting on organic food because Big Food is evil or not vaccinating your children because Big Pharma is evil, and refusing to accept all the amazing progress that humans have made throughout the ages.

It's a bit dated, though - my edition was the 2011 one and contained sentences like "While people routinely complain about the greedy excesses of Big Pharma, nobody seems remotely concerned about "Big Internet." " Well, we know how that turned out. There's also a reference to the "polarized political dialogue" of the time. Heh. They literally had NO IDEA what was coming. But that aside, it's a decent read, although very American in its focus, apart from a chapter where the author is disappointed that Europe, home of the renaissance and all things civilised, refuses GM crops and nuclear power and other things that aren't dangerous really. This was before the days of the Great Chlorinated Chicken Debate, though. We still don't want that.

Sep 17, 2019, 4:39am

155. Break In by Dick Francis

This is the fifth book in Julia's shared read of six Dick Francis novels. Hi Julia! It introduces a character who reappears in the next book we're reading, and I do like recurring characters. I found this one a bit convoluted, plot-wise, but that's probably because I kept reading other things in the middle of it. I should have just read it straight through. Although it's set in 1985, which *wasn't that long ago* it seems pretty quaint in many ways. Maybe I'm just in denial about the amount of time between 1985 and now.

Edited: Sep 17, 2019, 5:17am

Today in All The Drama, the various challenges to the PM's advice to the Queen to prorogue Parliament are being heard by the Supreme Court. Arguments are supposed to last three days.

The Guardian has a decent explainer here: (the judges are wearing their ceremonial robes in the photo, which are not the outfits they work in day to day. I did look at it and think that Justice Ginsburg would LOVE one, though, and possibly insist on wearing it all the time, which I would applaud :-) )

The President of the Supreme Court is Lady Hale, which is *awesome*. (There are only three female SC judges, which is poor overall. However, the process is not public like it is in the US where (a) Presidents nominate the judges and (b) their names are announced as candidates before they are (or aren't) approved. It is possible (although probably unlikely) that women have been offered SC positions and turned them down, because they take a massive pay cut from their lucrative practices as Queen's Counsel, and public service isn't viewed in the same way as it is in the US. If that was the case, we would never know who they were.)

The Supreme Court streams its proceedings, so here's a link for anyone who wants to see how it works:

ETA a link to the Twitter feed for Joshua Rozenberg, who is a leading legal commentator -

And a link to the written cases of the parties:

Sep 17, 2019, 6:03am

Oh dear. The paper bundle and the electronic bundle apparently have different numbering. Somewhere a junior lawyer is going hot and cold and feeling like they want to run away. The judges have worked out the correct references. "Perhaps someone could help you," Lady Hale said kindly to Lord Pannick (who is the barrister for Gina Miller).

Things you never want to be blamed for in court #1.

Sep 17, 2019, 6:22am

>58 susanj67: As a former copy editor (I think British newspapers call it subeditor) I got the cold sweats just reading about it!

Sep 17, 2019, 6:28am

>59 rosalita: Julia, yes, I feel immensely sorry for whoever will be blamed. There's now a drama over the hard copy authorities bundles, as it seems that first a bundle was filed, then expanded, then replaced with another bundle, but the judges don't have the latest versions. (Never rely on the court to be up to date with what's been filed) "We will hand up copies of the case", said Lord Pannick, half-turning to glare at the assembled lawyers, and I wanted to yell at the screen "Nobody has 11 copies of that case to hand out! Nobody!" Then one of the judges found the case in a bundle of authorities for the Scottish appeal. I think it will be a very busy morning break and lunchtime for the bundle wranglers.

Sep 17, 2019, 8:06am

>58 susanj67: Argh. I would be hiding under the table if I were them. (And blaming the computer!)

Sep 17, 2019, 9:18am

I watched the live stream for a minute and got a headache :( Why isn't the lawyer (barrister?) addressing the court wearing a wig? That's really why I tuned in....

Sep 17, 2019, 10:22am

>61 charl08: Charlotte, me too!

>62 katiekrug: Katie, they don't wear wigs in the Supreme Court :-( Just lounge suits. It's the same as the Privy Council - disappointingly informal, really.

Sep 17, 2019, 10:38am

And by lounge suit you mean what we would just call a business suit? Or is it made of velour with a zip front? :-)

Sep 17, 2019, 10:41am

>64 rosalita: - I was wondering the same thing! Sudden visions of Real Housewives of New Jersey were popping into my head, with leopard print velour "track" suits!

Sep 17, 2019, 10:49am

>64 rosalita:, >65 katiekrug: No, I mean the onesie kind, in an animal print. If you look at the live stream again, the guy in the zebra suit is for the appellant (the appellant is always a zebra), the guy in the lion suit is for the respondent (he's a lion because he's for the government - if the respondent is someone other than the government then the respondent's barrister will be a tiger) and the intervening parties are, respectively, an emu, a flamingo and a pelican. (Interveners are always birds).

Sep 17, 2019, 11:01am

>66 susanj67: I've just snorted hot tea! Serves me right for drinking tea and reading non-work stuff at the same time. Oh, if wishing made that so...

Sep 17, 2019, 11:05am

>66 susanj67: - I'm so confused...

Sep 17, 2019, 11:31am

>67 Helenliz: :-)

>68 katiekrug: Katie, yes, it's an odd system...

They've finished for today, so someone will no doubt do a summary soon. I saw my boss at lunchtime and asked him if he'd watched any. "The bundles!" he said :-) Even senior people still get nervous when there is disorderliness. It takes you right back to the bad old days of bundling. I remember once in Auckland I had to go up to court with a numbering stamp and renumber many many pages, which took me most of an afternoon. That was long before software which did it all automatically.

Sep 18, 2019, 5:43am

Today at the Supreme Court, it's Sir James Eadie QC for the government. He's the most senior government lawyer, with the title of First Treasury Counsel, also known as the "Treasury Devil". Sadly, though, his outfit doesn't include horns and a tail.

Sep 18, 2019, 5:49am

Now Lady Hale's computer isn't working. Junior lawyers can rest easy, though, knowing it's someone else's problem today. Sir James is wearing a tie which looks like tiny animals peering out from hedges. Distracting. Lady Hale is rocking another lovely brooch - she seems to go for dragonflies.

Sep 18, 2019, 10:00am

>70 susanj67: if he's the Treasury devil, does that make him a goodie or a baddie?
Poor IT person, getting it in the neck today. I've done numbering, we had to number page 1 of x. And when x was in the hundreds, you did have that mounting fear that you'd miscounted somewhere along the line right up until you put the last page as x of x. Fortunately we've moved digital and that's one headache that tends to be reduced.
I bet none of the serious paper go in for this level of quality reportage. It's a valuable service and we appreciate it.

Sep 19, 2019, 4:47am

>72 Helenliz: Helen, he's on Boris's side, so you can decide whether he's a goodie or a baddie :-) I'll watch a bit this morning to report on the brooch situation.

Two of my (eight) hard copy library reserves are in transit, so that's exciting. I have five e reserves but they're all weeks away. In the meantime I'm reading from the e library:

I'll Be Gone In The Dark (gruesome)
You Are Here: From the Compass to GPS, the History and Future of How We Find Ourselves (which I mostly borrowed because the author's name is Hiawatha)
Misogynation: The True Scale of Sexism

In hard copy I have Inland (vg so far) and House of Glass. I think a busyish weekend looms on the book front, but I'm planning to take tomorrow as holiday, so that should help :-)

Sep 19, 2019, 5:35am

Sky News is running a live blog, which is here: The picture at 9.50 ("Paperwork arrives") is interesting, because those young women are barristers' clerks. Traditionally clerking has been a very male occupation, so it's great to see young women taking it up. In this country our first contact with a barrister is always through his or her clerk, and, while instructions/documents etc are often sent by email to a barrister once the relationship is up and running, clerks negotiate fees with solicitors, liaise with the court and other clerks about hearing dates etc and generally allow their barristers to focus on the lawyering and not the admin. A good senior clerk is very well paid, but everyone starts out by schlepping documents to and from court. Even in these days of electronics, there is still a lot of paper.

Gosh, looking at the live feed as everyone shuffles around before the judges come in, it seems that one of Gina Miller's bodyguards is sitting in the courtroom. (The cameras are fixed so perhaps the other one is somewhere else). What a state we have reached when people need protection in a civil courtroom.

Today's brooch is a butterfly :-)

Sep 19, 2019, 7:42pm

Susan! There is EVERYTHING here - cannibals, good books, remodeled libraries.

What's that about the Fitbit? I was thinking, mine is a couple of years old, and my first one only lasted that long...I'm going to have to buy a watch? Really?

The Secrets We Kept and The Feather Thief both caught my eye. Onto the list they go.

Not only did our winter break records for amounts of snow; we just broke our record for most rain in a year! The end is nigh!

Scout's latest. She wrote a book titled, "Poop Mom," and told her mom she is moving to Texas by herself. Next time I see her, I plan to ask her why Texas.

Sep 20, 2019, 2:41am

Thanks for the updates on the brexit....issue...and general courtroom things including brooches.

I’ve been meaning to suggest that you look at Garmin fitness trackers. I got fed up with Fitbits dying on me and bought a Garmin a couple of years ago. The one I have came with a band but pops easily out to be a little thumb- sized thing that fits easily into a pocket. I’m not sure they still offer them but, if so, it might be what you’re looking for.

Sep 20, 2019, 4:19am

>75 BLBera: Hi Beth! "Poop Mom" sounds like quite the read :-) Will it be available as an ebook? Maybe Scout chose Texas because she heard they don't have snow there. The Secrets We Kept is particularly excellent and I hope you can get it soon. Reba has solved my Fitbit problem - see below!

>76 RebaRelishesReading: Hi Reba! For some reason it hadn't occurred to me to just buy a Fitbit tracker with a band and *take the band off*. D'oh! The Inspire even has a clip available for the un-banded tracker. The kids' one also pops out of its band and would go into a pocket with no problem. So that's my plan for when the One finally gives up the ghost.

I have a day of holiday today, which is lovely. I slept in, and I'll go to the giant Tesco a bit later and wander around with the pensioners, reaching up high or right to the back of the freezer cabinets if asked :-) It's fine and sunny, so I hope that continues. An ebook form the library arrived unexpectedly last night, so I might start that too. Then I'll have four NF ebooks on the go. Hmmm.

Sep 20, 2019, 6:19am

Enjoy your day off. At this time of year we need to make the most of the good days that do come our way. Feels like they won't last much longer.

Sep 20, 2019, 7:29am

>78 Helenliz: Helen, yes, I think it's supposed to pour by Sunday. That will be a shame as a lot of roads in the City are going to be closed to cars, and people are being encouraged to walk around and enjoy themselves without exhaust fumes. But TfL is making the hire cycles free, so the walkers will have to watch for cycling lunatics even more than they do now. I plan to venture out if it's not monsoon-style rain.

Tesco was surprisingly busy, perhaps because they're having a price rollback to celebrate 100 years of being Tesco. There were some *epic* bargains :-) Still no sign of any dark wash laundry detergent, though. I'm eking out my bottle of Waitrose Dark and Denim Wash (which also seems to have disappeared as a product, even on the www) but I might have to try a black wash next. I wonder how different it is.

Sep 20, 2019, 8:17pm

Good problem solving re the Fitbit.

Poop Mom should be available as an ebook for sure.

I'm # 17 for The Secrets We Kept. :(

Sep 21, 2019, 4:14pm

I was worrying about my Fitbit One as well. I'm glad they came out with a convertible one because I don't want to wear one on my wrist. Mine is ages old and I keep thinking it is going to bite the dust but it is usually just something they are rejigging and it comes back again.

The Brexit situation is confusing even with all of the links - probably because it is in legalese and a confusing situation with all the players. Thanks for the links, Susan.

Edited: Sep 22, 2019, 6:12am

>80 BLBera: Beth, The Secrets We Kept will definitely be worth it when you get it. I think it must have had more publicity in the US than here, because I just picked it up from the new books display at the library. By the time I returned it I had to put it in the locked box (which is where things go if someone has requested them) so maybe word has got out now.

>81 Familyhistorian: Meg, I think I've been lucky with my Fitbit - I've had it since April 2015 and it's been fine until it stopped telling me that it needed recharging and the charge seems to run down quicker. I just need to remember to do it twice a week and I should be able to keep it going for a bit longer. The Fitbit Inspire is the one that has a clip you can buy (not the Inspire HR) and the kids' one also pops out of its band and can be put into a pocket. I suspect both would fit into the One clip with perhaps a glue dot to keep them safe, so if I buy the Inspire I'll get it on its own at first and do a bit of experimenting before I get the clip (which is £20 (!)). All the companies seem to be moving away from the plain trackers now and doing expensive watches instead, but I like my proper watches so a smart watch doesn't really appeal to me.

156. Inland by Tea Obreht

This is *FABULOUS*. It was another random choice from the library's new books display (well, not entirely random as it was new and clean and I liked the cover) so I knew nothing about it, but it's a western-style novel, set partly in Arizona in 1893 and partly...well, at another time, but it's not clear from the other narrative exactly when that time is. It takes most of the book for the two narrative strands to come together, and this seems to annoy the LT reviewers, but I loved both narratives and thought they fitted together perfectly in the end.

Very highly recommended. I seem to remember that opinion was divided on the author's first book, The Tiger's Wife, but I'm tempted to read that one now although it is apparently very different to this one.

Sep 22, 2019, 7:33am

>82 susanj67: Is this the one with camels?

Sep 22, 2019, 7:51am


Sep 22, 2019, 8:32am

>82 susanj67: You seem to be bumping along just ahead of me with books I've got on my holds list, Susan. (Looking at my notes, I see I got this one from Charlotte's thread. Thanks, Charlotte!) I see on the library's website that it will be another 19 weeks until this one comes my way.

Sep 22, 2019, 10:07am

>85 rosalita: Julia, you'll enjoy it when you get it, I'm sure :-) I think it will probably have been requested by someone else by the time I take it back, so I was lucky to get it with no need to reserve it.

I walked up into the City this afternoon as it's a car-free day, but the car-free area is pretty small and there were cyclists riding the wrong way everywhere, so it wasn't quite the chilled event they were hoping for. I was headed in the general direction of the McDonald's on Ludgate Hill, but the universe sent heavy rain just as I reached the Pret near the Tower, so I stopped there for lunch instead. They had the pea and mint soup, which is my favourite, and they even had butter for the rolls, which they usually don't on the weekend. Excellent :-) It stopped raining for a bit but eventually started up again quite ferociously, so I got the bus home and read the Sunday Times while it trundled along. I may start House of Glass now, but then again there is the Netflix. I've watched all of Unbelievable, which is superb, and I have five episodes of Mindhunter series 2 to go. It's also excellent.

Sep 23, 2019, 4:17am

I took Inland back to the library and pressed it on FLA. "I know you'll love it!" I said, which sort of obliged him to read it...

Checking the new books, I noticed Proof of Conspiracy, so I borrowed that. I haven't read the author's earlier book, Proof of Collusion, so I'm living dangerously. Three hard copies are in transit, which is making Stoptober look a bit marginal, but hey ho :-)

Sep 24, 2019, 5:20am

I started Proof of Conspiracy last night, despite the preface describing it as the "sequel" to the first one. But the first one is about Trump and Russia, and I have read a fair bit about that, so it's not like starting with book 2 in a fiction series. The writer uses the historical present tense - "It's 2008. Three men are meeting on a yacht in the Red Sea" and then goes on to say e.g. "In 2011, one of them will tell the New York Times about the meeting." Is that the "historical future" tense, or something else? Anyway, it's annoying. Most TV documentaries now seem to use the historical present tense, but it's distracting in a book.

The Supreme Court judgment will be handed down in ten minutes, so that will be interesting. Legal eagles now think that the PM will lose (before the hearing they mostly thought the PM would win).

Sep 24, 2019, 5:44am

Hi Susan! I'm listening to the decision being read out on BBC World Service. Fascinating! The legal eagles ended up on the right side eventually, apparently.

Sep 24, 2019, 6:04am

>89 rosalita: Julia, yes! An amazing day. The SC website crashed but the BBC News channel had a live feed, so the roomie and I watched it on that with the speakers on. The whole floor seemed to be quiet. Chillingly, though, at the end, when the judges rose and everyone stood up and bowed to them, one man was turned around 180 degrees, looking at the back of the courtroom. Gina Miller's bodyguard, I think. He was sitting in the same seat they used during last week's hearing. What a terrible time to be living in when someone needs a bodyguard at a court hearing.

Here's a link to the decision, which is a tiny 20 pages despite going back to the Bill of Rights of 1688. (There's also a summary).

Sep 24, 2019, 6:21am

>90 susanj67: It felt like a historic moment even all the way here; I'm sure I can't imagine what it's like to be living in the midst of it. I'm glad my insomnia got me up at 4:15 a.m. today so I could hear it live (other days, not so much).

Sep 24, 2019, 6:35am

>91 rosalita: Julia, in a hundred years it will be a footnote in a history book - "The UK voted to leave and left x years later/but didn't leave in the end" and that will capture none of the craziness that is living through it. I like reading history because I know how it turns out. I think it's the not knowing that's the hardest. Now the media has gone totally nuts and there are protesters with surprisingly professional-looking placards saying "Reopen Parliament".

Sep 24, 2019, 6:55am

I knew you'd be on the case. I will read up later, the real world is getting in the way right now.

Sep 24, 2019, 7:33am

>93 Helenliz: Helen, anything could have happened by later :-)

Parliament is now being recalled and will sit tomorrow at 11.30. This will be embarrassing for the MPs who have taken advantage of party conference season to sneak off on a cheap holiday (particularly if they booked via Thomas Cook and are pictured in an airport somewhere trying to get repatriated ASAP).

Sep 24, 2019, 7:39am

Two historic Supreme Court rulings today.
The other one in Spain, where the Supreme Court ruled that Franco's body can be moved from burial site.

Sep 24, 2019, 8:44am

>94 susanj67: Yowzers. I step away from the newspaper updates for half an hour and HoP gets recalled!
The not knowing is really rubbish. I want to fast forward to five years time where we've eaten humble pie and asked to go back in again.

Sep 25, 2019, 1:02am

It must be so hard to be living in the midst of history in the making. Well actually, I guess we are always doing that it just isn't as obvious most of the time.

Edited: Sep 25, 2019, 6:15am

>95 FAMeulstee: Anita, the Spanish case is interesting! We had a case here about the remains of Richard III which was mostly a waste of public money, but Franco is much more recent so I can see it must matter to a lot of people who lost family members in the civil war.

>96 charl08: Charlotte, we really need a decision one way or the other. Interestingly, in the judgment yesterday, the court said of the referendum:

"Technically, the result was not legally binding. But the Government had pledged to honour the result and it has since been treated as politically and democratically binding."

That seemed like a reminder that the Government could change its mind, or a future Government could do so.

>97 Familyhistorian: Meg, it is vexing! So many other things aren't being done because of all the Brexit kerfuffle. It's like we're stuck, just waiting and waiting.

But I had a lovely evening last night with Reba and her friend, so that was fun :-) Thank you for dinner, Reba, and for The Beautiful Poetry of Donald Trump, which is hilarious :-)

And in other nice news, baby Archie has been taken to afternoon tea with Archbishop Tutu, and there are lots of pictures and some video: He's the spitting image of Harry as a baby - so cute.

157. Misogynation: The True Scale of Sexism by Laura Bates

Laura Bates is the founder of the Everyday Sexism project, and this is a collection of her columns written for the Guardian from about 2013 to 2017. Because of that, there's some repetition of (horrifying) statistics, but it's still an excellent read.

Sep 25, 2019, 9:22am

>98 susanj67: You’re welcome. It was a good evening. I’m half way through Dear Mrs Bird (giving the feet a rest this afternoon) and enjoying it🙂 Thanks too for the great links to the Sussex photos.

Sep 26, 2019, 3:54am

Glad to hear the meetup went well - and the Tutu pictures are lovely. I had a bit of a nose at the Markle charity clothing collection - I like the dress (and the price of the dress) but they've sold out in my size :-(

Sep 26, 2019, 7:25am

>99 RebaRelishesReading: Reba, I'm so glad you like Dear Mrs Bird! I hope your feet feel rested, ready for some circuits of Heathrow :-)

>100 charl08: Charlotte, it would be worth keeping an eye on the collection, as John Lewis got the bags back in so maybe the dresses will also reappear.

As usual the haters are moaning that South Africa got to see Archie before Britain did, which is (a) not true and also (b) overlooks the value of having a "first" for a royal child in a country being visited. For example, Prince William, on tour with his parents in NZ as a baby, crawled for the very first time on a rug in the garden of Government House in Auckland. Even better, he was crawling around after a "Buzzy Bee", which is a New Zealand wooden toy that a lot of young children have. NZ royal fans will still remember that. South African fans will love that Archie made his first major appearance (outside a shawl) in their country, with the Archbishop.

But now Princess Beatrice has got engaged, so the haters will be able to move on.

Sep 26, 2019, 8:08am

Holy carp, I just picked up The Anarchy from the library and it's *enormous*. 400 pp plus another 122 pp of notes. And lots of pictures. I'll have to make it my focus book, and maybe return the Trump one and get it out another time.

Sep 26, 2019, 4:12pm

>102 susanj67: I noticed that The Anarchy is a doorstop of a book. Sounds like you will get through it much sooner than I will so I will look forward to what you have to say about it.

Sep 27, 2019, 4:37am

>103 Oberon: Erik, I read about 60 pages last night and it's excellent, so now I'm thinking that 400 pp isn't so bad. It took him six years to write, so I can see why it's so long. And he says it isn't even a complete history of the company!

158. I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

This fits a category of my reading challenge, but it was a disappointing read. I think I was "over-killered" as I was watching Unbelievable and Mindhunter on Netflix at the same time as I had this book on the go, and there are possibly only so many sources of sick crimes against women that I can deal with, but there are a lot of problems with it anyway. The major problem is that the author died before it was finished, so parts were written by two people she'd been working with. The second problem was that not only did she not work out who the killer was, but soon after the book was published the police *did* work it out, and said that the book had not helped their own research at all. Basically, the put the killer's DNA into one of the ancestry sites and found a close family member, and it seems that the police everywhere are starting to do that now. So really the author had wasted years obsessing about this killer, and got nowhere. And, thirdly, the publicity for the book says that the author died in her sleep in 2016 but not how she died. I assumed it was an aneurism or heart attack, but it turns out that it was a drug overdose, leaving behind her nine-year-old daughter, so I lost all sympathy for her. So overall this is a "no" from me.

Sep 27, 2019, 7:58am

Ruh-roh. The Age of Surveillance Capitalism appeared at the library for me, but I thought I'd leave it till after the weekend. Having no willpower, though, and noticing that it had stopped raining, I couldn't help myself. 525 pp. Gulp. And I also got A Year at the Circus: Inside Trump's White House while I was there. It's a brand new one by Jon Sopel, whose If Only They Didn't Speak English was superb. I now definitely have Too Many Pages.

Sep 27, 2019, 11:00am

*waving from Canada*

Sep 27, 2019, 12:29pm

>106 katiekrug: Hi Katie! Happy Canada!

Sep 28, 2019, 5:48pm

>101 susanj67: I missed the Beatrice engagement news. Another royal wedding to watch :)

My feet are doing fine now, thanks but I could still feel them reminding me of their maltreatment when I was at Heathrow. I finished Dear Mrs Bird on the plane and was happy I didn't have a seat-mate to see me wiping tears :>

Edited: Sep 29, 2019, 7:53am

>108 RebaRelishesReading: Reba, there are rumours of Westminster Abbey for Beatrice's wedding, which would be very fancy indeed. It will be a difficult time, though, with the allegations against the Duke of York.

It's pouring here this morning, which points to a quiet day, although there is always the possibility of Westfield later. I'm making good progress with the Dalrymple - 258/400 pages. I've given up on Proof of Conspiracy as the writing style drove me mad, so that's going back to the library. I've started House of Glass, which is OK and I'll finish it, but it's not turning into the awesome book promised on the cover. And I've also started A Year at the Circus, which is good :-)

Sep 29, 2019, 7:53am

I decided to do some stepping around Westfield and have lunch at Bird and Waffle (buttermilk chicken wrap - vg but £7. A bit steep). My card was declined, so not a great start, but I tried it again at Pret and I just needed to use my PIN. Every so often it requires a PIN rather than gaily waving it at the machine but it hasn't happened for ages. So now I have my test purchase flat white :-) Half of east London appears to be here, but it's OK upstairs. I'll walk up and down each floor and try not to look in too many windows...

Edited: Sep 29, 2019, 8:12am

>110 susanj67: I used to be very suspicious about contactless, but I've decided now to just go with the flow as it's so much quicker. Especially since I discovered that you can use a contactless card as an Oyster card. I do have a Oyster card somewhere but as I go into London quite infrequently I can usually never find it when I actually need it.

Sep 29, 2019, 8:21am

>110 susanj67: I'm afraid I'm still a cash kind of girl for anything under £10 to £15. I will wave a card at the machine in some places, but NEVER in the pub - that way disaster lies!
Enjoy the dry walking.

Sep 29, 2019, 10:04am

>111 SandDune: Rhian, I didn't get it on my credit card until the end of last year, so I was a bit late to the party too. But so far nothing terrible has happened. And the contactless/Oyster thing is great. It used to be just for UK-registered cards, but Reba told me it now works on overseas things too, so that's handy for tourists. An Oyster costs £5 before you even put anything on it, and that's quite a lot if you're coming from somewhere like NZ. I have a friend who comes quite often so she just tops hers up when she needs to, but they're bad value if you only come once and you've paid the £5 plus whatever's left on it. TfL says you can always get the money back, which is true, but who would bother from overseas?

>112 Helenliz: Helen, my Mastercard is a John Lewis one and accrues points with every purchase, which transform magically into vouchers three times a year, so I put Every Single Thing on it. But now I have some change for the paper shop next weekend, so that's something. I feel bad about handing over a £10 for the £2 Saturday Times and using up all their coins in change.

I did nearly 6,500 steps, so that's good. I also bought birthday cards for the nephews (Oldest Nephew is *19* in a couple of weeks, which is *ridiculous* because it surely wan't that long ago that my brother rang me to tell me he'd been born) and a few things from Nyx. And the Sunday Times, to see what Boris has been up to (nothing good).

Sep 29, 2019, 12:11pm

>113 susanj67: I've got the money back on an oyster card before, but what wasn't clear (I thought) was that not all stations that use the card can refund you...

A John Lewis Mastercard? That sounds like a marvellous plan.

Sep 29, 2019, 12:41pm

>114 charl08: Charlotte, I love it. I also get double points when I buy things at John Lewis, so I always try to buy things from there if they have them. Super-Fit Friend got one of their cards when she was renovating the kitchen and spending a fortune on appliances and things, and got many, many vouchers in return.

I just filled out a census rehearsal form. Yes, this is a thing if you live in Carlisle, Ceredigion, Hackney or Tower Hamlets, as these apparently "represent a good cross section of our society." Um, no. Tower Hamlets and Hackney definitely do not represent a good cross-section of society. I don't know about the other places but I was astonished to read that. Nevertheless, I filled out the form, so I have rehearsed. It seemed to be compulsory, but they are going to run into trouble with their "gender" question, as there are only the two actual scientific choices to pick from and not all the made-up nonsense. I'm surprised they couldn't see that coming.

I've read 334/400 pages of the Dalrymple, which is very good. I've also read most of the Sunday Times, and may now move onto last week's Sunday Times, which I didn't quite get to.

Sep 29, 2019, 2:46pm

I turned my Oyster card back in for money last year but had to go a ways to get the "right" station to do so. Bit of a pain, actually. Now I can just use my ApplePay like I do for everything else in the U.K. :) I'm a one-person movement to get America using ApplePay too -- some success but it isn't as wide-spread as in the U.K.

Sep 30, 2019, 4:42am

>116 RebaRelishesReading: Reba, you are an inspiration with the Apple Pay :-) I'm getting a new phone at work in a couple of months and I'm going to get Android Pay up and running on it. I see people using the Pay apps on the bus but I'm not sure whether you just point it at the reader, or you have to press something, and there is inevitably a queue behind me so it makes me nervous.

Today in All The Drama, did the PM squeeze a journalist's inner thigh at a lunch party at the Spectator in 1999 (when he was the editor), or did he not? She says he did, and that he did the same thing to the woman on the other side of him. He says he didn't. And so far this mystery woman has not come forward and said anything. Half of Fleet Street is no doubt trying to find her.

Edited: Sep 30, 2019, 5:09am

>117 susanj67: I am starting to get a little tired of the establishment and media trying desperately to find dirt on Boris, surely even in these politically correct days (and I do know how to keep my hands to myself unless encouraged otherwise!) it is reprehensible policies (or not) that should be debated instead of this rush to trivialise . It should be a question of agree with him or not. I don't like him a great deal but he has been able to crystallise the issues nicely for the people to decide in a General Election when I much suspect they will decide him more palatable sadly than Corbyn and Co.
Parliament won in court but has not covered itself in glory over the last few years, either and I would have been pleased with the result if they had one iota what to do and could have stopped John Bercow from smirking so.

Sep 30, 2019, 8:28am

>118 PaulCranswick: Paul, so far there is no sign of proper work being done today as they are all the conference making speeches full of things that they will never do. There is no sign of the other woman from the lunch yet...But Dominic Grieve says that the Queen could fire Boris if he refuses to send the letter asking for an extension. That would be exciting, in a constitutional sense at least.

I took a couple of books back to the library and didn't borrow anything. In particular, I didn't borrow the lovely new biography of Queen Victoria, or the new A N Wilson book about Prince Albert. However, they *are* now sitting next to one another in the new books display :-)

Sep 30, 2019, 10:11am

re Android Pay (which I assume works liked Apple Pay), once you've got it open you just hold the screen over the screen that will read it and there will be a beep to let you know they've "spoken". I have mine set up so that I activate it with my finger print but you can probably use a password if you prefer. Try using it in a quiet shop first until you get comfortable with it then you'll be such a pro you can just sail right into the bus :) Just a little practice and you will love it I'm sure.

Sep 30, 2019, 10:14am

>119 susanj67: Politics is a great spectator sport nowadays Susan - so long as you don't really care about the result and I do believe that either ways it will be a difficult few years. I don't see the Queen stepping in to sack Boris.

Sep 30, 2019, 11:37am

>120 RebaRelishesReading: Reba, I decided to load my current card and give it a try. It's Google Pay, it seems, and it had my other card on it but that's the one without the loyalty points so I use it only in emergencies and I haven't tried it. I don't think my main card issuer was part of the scheme when I got my current phone. Anyway, I've read all the instructions and watched a video, so I'll go to the back of the bus queue tonight and try it.

>121 PaulCranswick: Paul, yes, it is certainly a spectacle. There is no word of the other woman from the lunch yet, but Dominic Cummings' wife (who works for the Spectator) has said "I am not the woman referred to in Charlotte Edwardes’s column. Boris was a good boss and nothing like this ever happened to me. Nor has Charlotte, who I like and admire, ever discussed the incident with me."

Ever curiouser.

Sep 30, 2019, 11:55am

>122 susanj67: I'm sure you'll do just fine and probably be hooked in no time :) In my 18 days in England I only used cash twice and a physical credit card once. I just kept my phone in my pocket and was good to go -- gps to keep me on route and Apple Pay to buy anything I needed.

Sep 30, 2019, 12:47pm

It worked! And it even has a list of what I've spent so I can check that it worked. I'm not sure how ticket inspectors can see the payment with their machines, though. Very excited ;-)

Sep 30, 2019, 4:26pm

>124 susanj67: Congratulations, Susan! I really like having the list of transactions in my phone so I can transfer them to my budgeting software later.

Sep 30, 2019, 4:29pm

>124 susanj67: >:-o
In awe...

Oct 1, 2019, 5:15am

>125 rosalita: Julia, that is handy, although Google Pay told me this morning that it had not received any information from TfL about how much the bus fare had cost (even though it's a standard £1.50 for every bus ride in London). I wonder what will show up on my statement, in that case...The card issuer will have to know, I suppose.

>126 Helenliz: Helen, I amazed myself! But all the credit has to go to Reba :-) My credit card statement will have to come by parcel post if it has two entries for bus fares every day, but I'll wait and see what happens. Usually I just auto top-up my Oyster card with £20 and that lasts about a week depending on whether I go crazy and take the tube at any point :-)

Oct 1, 2019, 7:37am

>124 susanj67: HOORAY! Sorry, I forgot to mention that you don't need to ask for receipts anymore because it'll be right there on your phone. Technology can be so much fun :) (Did I tell you that if you ever lose your card the replacement will appear on your phone about two hours after you report the loss?)

Oct 2, 2019, 5:13am

>128 RebaRelishesReading: Reba, I am getting into it! Current tally: One bus fare, a cheese toastie from Pret and their excellent coconut porridge this morning as a treat due to transport nightmares. (Much of east London appears to be at a standstill, which I wish I had known before I got on the bus). I would also have bought a couple of things from Paperchase in the mall, but it has closed and is being replaced by a vaping shop, which is astounding. I'm sceptical (skeptical?) that any UK credit card provider would ever replace a card in a couple of hours, though...Let's hope I never have to test that!

Oct 2, 2019, 5:38am

Morning Susan.
I'm also sceptical re banking speeds because I had to ring up and cancel a cancellation and they still hadn't cancelled it (if that makes sense!). I always thought the bit in Bridget Jones where she doesn't recognise M & S on her statement was far fetched, but ...

Oct 2, 2019, 6:07am

>130 charl08: Hi Charlotte! Yes, M&S features heavily on my statement too. It's so handy having one under the building. M&S, Pret, Boots, Waitrose, Transport for London, work (for the canteen) and Amazon (for Kindle books) are my typical references. Anyone could commit fraud on my account by sticking to those places and the software would never flag it :-)

I still seem to be a way off finishing anything, but I'm plugging away. I'm nearly finished The Anarchy, but there is an awful lot of battling in it. I'm more interested in the Company's other activities, and particularly the uproar in London about what it was doing in India. That's something that doesn't get a lot of attention.

Oct 2, 2019, 8:01am

>129 susanj67: I'm so glad you're doing it and liking it :)

Oct 2, 2019, 11:16am

>132 RebaRelishesReading: Reba, it's definitely easier than digging out my purse every time!

Now on hold waiting to pay my contents insurance renewal. There is a choice of music to listen to while I wait. Wait to PAY MONEY, that is. They need a choice called "Just answer my d*mned call". Maybe I'll suggest it.

Oct 2, 2019, 11:50am

>133 susanj67: It’s 2019. Do they not have an online payment option?

Oct 2, 2019, 12:01pm

>133 susanj67: It's amazing how "important your business is to us" but yet they can't bother to answer the phone, isn't it?

Oct 2, 2019, 12:10pm

>134 rosalita: Julia, no, it's phone only. I don't know what happens to people who can't use the phone.

>135 RebaRelishesReading: Reba, yes it is! It's bad enough having to listen to all the menus, and *then* get muzak. They should have a shortcut on the renewal letter for people who know what they want to do.

Oct 2, 2019, 2:56pm

>136 susanj67: I find the muzak slightly — slightly! — more tolerable than the incessant promotional blurbs about the company's services, but that is truly damning with faint praise as they are both dreadful.

Oct 3, 2019, 4:51am

>137 rosalita: Julia, agreed! I suppose I could have pressed no buttons and had silence, although that wasn't offered as an option.

159. The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company by William Dalrymple

This book is excellent. That's my main point. For me, there was a bit too much about battles, but there were a lot of battles in the time that Dalrymple was writing about, and some of them were famous and they do help to explain how India, which was basically minding its own business, became part of the British Empire. But that was only after a corporation had taken it over first. This book is a really good look at how a company could do that, and there are parallels with the present day (which Dalrymple refers to in the excellent epilogue). As one Mughal official asked:

"What honour is left to us when we have to take orders from a handful of traders who have not yet learned to wash their bottoms?"

I didn't know about the strength of feeling against the East India Company back in the UK. I'd assumed that because it was all so far away, at a time when communications were poor, that the company simply went ahead and did what it did because of a lack of supervision. But it turns out that most MPs were shareholders, and therefore disposed to overlook some of the things it was doing, and indeed bail it out when necessary. Once again, modern parallels...

Very highly recommended. The text is 400 pages (lots of notes follow, so the book is huge) but it reads pretty quickly. Apart, maybe, from all those battles.

Oct 3, 2019, 6:07am

Oh dear.

From the Idea Store account on Twitter:


We're thrilled to announce that the newly refurbished Idea Store Chrisp Street has reopened! 🎉🎉🎉

With lots of new comfy seating, increased study space and LOADS of brand new books, we're sure you're going to love the changes!😍

We're open until 9pm tonight!


Please could someone send me some willpower.

Edited: Oct 3, 2019, 6:50am

>139 susanj67: What could it hurt to just go check it out?

... Is that what you were looking for? ;-)

Oct 3, 2019, 6:58am

>140 rosalita: Julia, OMG, you're right! Surely there would be no harm in Just Looking.


Oct 3, 2019, 7:24am

Really, you'd be doing us a favor, not yourself, since we can't check it out ourselves.

Oct 3, 2019, 8:35am

>142 rosalita: Another excellent point. I am totally here for good works.

Oct 3, 2019, 8:58am

Loads of brand new books? It would be rude not to.

Edited: Oct 3, 2019, 2:39pm

>144 charl08: Charlotte, I'm beginning to think that it would. I have to go to the library after work anyway, so I could make it Chrisp Street. The Anarchy is headed for Whitechapel library, wherever I return it. Hmmm.

Did we know that today is the biggest Thursday of the year for new books coming out? There is all sorts of awesomeness on Twitter.

Oct 3, 2019, 2:50pm

Well, I went and had a look. I didn't think there were *that* many new things, but there were enough. I picked up two brand new ones and a couple of older things:

Bad Day at the Vulture Club - the next instalment in the Baby Ganesh Detective Agency series :-)
Remembrance Day by Henry Porter (a brand new reprint)
The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish
Kitty Peck and the Music Hall Murders by Kate Griffin as I saw a tweet from the author today about the fourth book in the series which has just been published.

I also saw an excellent-looking book by Tracy Borman which is a sequel to an earlier one that I hadn't seen. They are:

The King's Witch
The Devil's Slave

They have beautiful covers, and I see the first one is only £2.99 on Amazon...

Edited: Oct 4, 2019, 12:09pm

I've had today as holiday, and as well as going to Tesco I've finished two books.

160. House of Glass by Susan Fletcher

This was a random library book that I borrowed on the strength of the quotes on the cover. Ehh...It didn't really grab me and I should have just given up. The ending wasn't worth the time I put in.

161. You Are Here: From the Compass to GPS, the History and Future of How We Find Ourselves by Hiawatha Bray

I've been reading this one on my phone, and it's a good look at how humans started to work out where they were, and how to get to other places (and back again). The development of things like GPS is fascinating (if a bit technical) and the latter part of the book is about how we are all followed all the time by the various apps on our phones and technology like the EZ pass, which pays tolls without having to stop the car. It goes nicely with The Rise of Surveillance Capitalism, which I'm also reading, although Bray is less outraged about the power of the tech companies. But then again this book was published in 2014, and tech does move quickly.

Oct 4, 2019, 12:39pm

Goodness, a day off and you go to Tesco, you know how to live the highlife, Susan >;-)
I'm tempted by 161... There's something about maps and old maps that appeals to me. It something about finding yourself in a wider landscape that has a sense of righness about it. And a GPS screen can't give you that sense of persepctive. I did most of my early walking in the country, so I always line the map to the land, which annoys my husband no end. He learnt to navigate in the car and so always has the map upright, even when heading south.

Oct 4, 2019, 1:17pm

>148 Helenliz: Helen, I've also done all the laundry. The glamour just never stops here. There isn't a huge amount about maps in the book, which is more about the technology that allows maps to be made, if you see what I mean. There is quite a bit about how "north" can be measured, for example. (Or maybe I mean "discerned"). It's still a good read, though.

My next finish is going to be either Strangers In Their Own Land or A Year At the Circus. Strangers is on my Kindle, though, which is currently recharging, so I'm going to switch to the hard copy book about the White House, which very entertaining (in a horrifying sort of way).

Oct 4, 2019, 1:32pm

Hi Susan! Just trying to get caught up....

Oct 5, 2019, 4:16am

>150 katiekrug: Hi Katie!

162. Strangers In Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild

This is mostly a look at the rise of the Tea Party, although it covers Trump in the last few chapters and in the afterword. The author visits Louisiana and meets various people who feel that they've been left behind. I was most staggered by how polluted Louisiana is, with chemical factories all over the place and various leakages making parts of it uninhabitable. That's not the impression I had from reading about it, although maybe bodice-rippers set in the 1700s don't give an entirely accurate picture. It is one of the poorest parts of the US. This is a good read.

Oct 5, 2019, 4:37am

Morning Susan. In contrast to your weighty reading, I have finally opened Things in Jars, gothic Victorian with some magic thrown in. I have things to do but would rather stay in and finish the book...

Oct 5, 2019, 4:55am

>152 charl08: Hi Charlotte! Things in Jars looks like fun. There's a 10-week wait at the elibrary, but that will fit with Stoptober and No!vember. Stoptober is not off to the best start what with the visit to Chrisp Street on Thursday. I also have to go out, but can't quite be bothered just yet.

Edited: Oct 5, 2019, 7:31am

163. A Year at the Circus: Inside Trump's White House by Jon Sopel

This is the second book by Jon Sopel, who is the BBC's North American editor, about all the chaos in the US today. His first book was If Only They Didn't Speak English, which pointed out all the ways in which the US no longer behaves like an English-speaking first-world country (mostly thanks to its current leader). This book is about the workings of the White House and the people in the various jobs. Its chapter headings are rooms of the building, and there is also a chapter on Air Force One, which is an honorary room, and allows Sopel to be a fan-boy for the glamour of travelling on it :-) I think I knew that "Air Force One" is the call sign for whatever plane the President is travelling it. It's not the name of a specific plane. But I didn't know that "Air Force Two" designates a plane that's being used by the Vice-President.

There are current events and history in this book, and it's a fascinating read. It's aimed at a UK audience, so there might not be much in it that's news to US readers who understand how the US system works, and all the various players in it, but I enjoyed it a lot. There is apparently a third book coming, so I will definitely look out for that.

Oct 5, 2019, 4:18pm

>154 susanj67: ah, my random Air Force 1 fact can come into play here. The plane that took Nixon to California after he was de-presidented (or whatever the technical term is) took off with call sign Air Force 1. However, as the new president was sworn in while the plane was in flight, it had to request a new call sign as it was no longer carrying the president, so it landed carrying a new call sign. How's that for a demotion!

Oct 6, 2019, 4:32am

>155 Helenliz: Helen, that is an excellent random fact! And I think de-presidented is a perfect word, although there is probably also an official term :-)

It seems to be raining here. Or at least it looks wet outside, as if it *has* rained. I'm not sure I can be bothered going out. Today might be the day I tackle a pile of book reviews from the Times' Saturday Review supplement. I read the second half for the TV guide, and then they go into a neat pile, waiting to be cut up for interesting books, which are then looked up in the library catalogue and wish-listed, and if they don't appear in the catalogue yet then they go into the Envelope. It's quite a scientific system, or it would be if there was less neat piling and more cutting up. I've started The Swimming Pool, which is good so far, and I now have no library NF (!) so I've picked up my own NF again.

Oct 6, 2019, 5:45am

So far so good with the book reviews. I've added quite a few things to my library wishlist.

What do we think of Ducks, Newburyport, if we have opinions? I saw it at the library on Thursday night and was amazed that a Booker nominee was sitting right there on the shelf, but I read a bit and I don't know...Mostly, though, I didn't get it because it's a thousand pages long and enormous in hard copy so too hard to hold without frying my arms. But should I look for it at the elibrary or splurge £5.69 on the Kindle version? Hmm, the elibrary has one copy with a waiting time of 20 weeks.

Oct 6, 2019, 7:15am

I have been put off my the chunksterness of it: getting it home is an issue. So definitely e book would make more sense.

Oct 6, 2019, 10:04am

Hi Susan - Your techie talk is inspiring! The Dalrymple sounds really good, as does Strangers in their Own Land. Just what I needed! More books on my WL.

I think you should read Ducks, Newburyport and report back. 😄

Oct 6, 2019, 1:56pm

>158 charl08: Charlotte, I will wait until No!vember is over and see what I think then. I've used all my elibrary reserve slots but suspended them until then, so I can't get into the 20-week queue just yet. Maybe the library will get another copy.

>159 BLBera: Beth, yes ma'am! I'll get back to you with my report in about the middle of next year :-)

I have had a very productive day of going through book reviews and putting things into various lists on the library website. I've also finished watching Living Undocumented on Netflix, started The Politician (which looks a bit lame at this stage) and started to approach the end of a NF chunkster that I've been reading on my Kindle for months. No, it's not the book about slavery, which I will probably still be reading this time next year. But I want to get the next one in the Dominic Sandbrook series, and I promised myself that I'd finish something first.

Oct 6, 2019, 3:29pm

>151 susanj67: Glad you read and liked Strangers in Their Own Land. I thought it did a great job of making sense of the disaster of 2016l

>163 Did you know that Marine One is any helicopter the president is on? (I assume Marine Two is the VP equivalent).

Sounds like you're having a good long-weekend. Hope you keep enjoying!

Oct 7, 2019, 5:03am

>161 RebaRelishesReading: Thanks Reba! I had a good day, and going through a stack of magazines I found a tube of face mask that I bought recently and then mislaid. So that was a little win :-) I did know about Marine One. I think it may even have been here in the UK during the last visit, flying over my house and making a racket. I wish I'd looked out and seen it now. Sopel has a very funny bit in the book where he is somewhere at a summit, and gets a flight back to the UK on Theresa May's jet (which is not at all fancy, and acts as a mid-air refuelling plane for the RAF when it's not carrying politicians around). As they sit down ready to leave, someone points out Air Force One nearby on the tarmac, and the journalists and quite a few UK officials get up and take pictures of it out of the windows :-)

Oct 7, 2019, 9:43am

I saw a tweet at lunchtime from the library, noting their support for digital libraries day (or something similar) and reminding people that there are ebooks available through the RB Digital app. I did not know this, and couldn't exactly check while I was waiting in Pret for my cheese toastie, but they do! 287 books, to be exact, and a strange mixture of classics and super-up-to-date stuff. Somehow I downloaded The Tyrant's Shadow by Antonia Senior, who used to be a writer for The Times, and I'm sure still does their historical fiction reviews. So that's exciting. Also a way around the five-item limit on Overdrive.

Oct 7, 2019, 9:45am

Hooray for more books!

Oct 7, 2019, 9:57am

>164 katiekrug: Katie, yes, hooray! I really only clicked on the book to see how borrowing it would work, and it checked itself out. I realise that I don't sound convincing, but most of the books didn't have "Wait list" like Overdrive, so I thought I might click and then see that I had to put a hold on it. Even My Sister the Serial Killer is right there for the borrowing. Quite amazing. And another thing to check daily from time to time to see what's been added.

Oct 7, 2019, 12:53pm

Horray for multiple ways to access All The Books. I have access to RB Digital and Borrowbox through my library. So far just used the latter for some audiobooks to play in the car. Not sure I fancy reading a book on a phone screen.

Edited: Oct 7, 2019, 4:06pm

>166 Helenliz: Helen, I look at RB for magazines occasionally (although they never seem to open properly) and I knew they had audiobooks and comics, but I had missed the ebooks. As they only have 287, however, it is possible they haven't had them for long. I have the app on my phone and tablet, and I can make the whole screen show text by tapping in a way that I can't seem to replicate (eek) but I could just return it on the phone and borrow it again on the Kindle Fire :-) I don't mind reading on my phone, although I wasn't sure to start with. But I have the text at its smallest on RB and it's still too big. The Kindle is a friendlier interface.

Oct 7, 2019, 4:06pm

After a bit more experimenting with the RB app for ebooks, I definitely don't like it (at least on my phone). I did work out how to make the entire page text (two firm taps) but I don't like the font, the spacing (and you can change them, which I did) or the necessity to swipe when I turn a page over. I like to tap. Swiping is the devil for my poor hands and arms. Plus it defaults to a "curl" feature for page turning, which is annoying although I changed it pretty quickly. But it's a no from me. The novel is a decent read, though, so I think I'll return it and reborrow it via the app on my Kindle and see whether all the same things annoy me. The larger screen will mean that swiping is not as frequent, but Kindle still wins, with Overdrive in second place.

Oct 8, 2019, 4:22am

I now have the novel on the Kindle RB app, which is better, but still not great. I *can* tap to turn the page - not *on* the page, but just to the side of it (!). Still, that's better than swiping. And I've changed the font to something better too. It also has a variety of "Themes" which are just different coloured backgrounds and type colours. There's an orange one, which I think is good for people with dyslexia (one of the Young People at a workshop I ran asked for his materials to be printed on orange paper) so maybe the others are for similar issues. But otherwise it's a poor relation to the Kindle experience. As Kindle seems to be the gold standard for ereading, it bemuses me that a company would decide to do something *less* good. That said, I'll have a good look through the titles in December to see whether they have anything that Overdrive doesn't. Because "free" does have some value :-)

Oct 8, 2019, 12:55pm

Finally catching up with you, Susan, after being on the road visiting family for a good deal of last month, and an entertaining thread this has been indeed. I love to hear about your walking, your library experiences and your political comments.

Oct 9, 2019, 4:45am

>170 ronincats: Hi Roni! Lovely to see you :-) I've slightly lost track of what the Brexit situation is at the moment, but it doesn't seem to be good. Oh, here is a news headline saying that Parliament will sit on a *Saturday*. Goodness.

I've given up on The Age of Surveillance Capitalism. The idea is excellent - it's about how the tech giants have taken all our information and decided that it's theirs now - but it goes on and ON. And it's full of philosophy and hard things. Also quite a lot of woo-woo, if I'm honest. I lasted 350 pages but the final 150 defeated me :-( A shame, as it's an important message and we do all need to pay more attention to what's going on, but there's a limit to my patience.

Oct 9, 2019, 7:29am

Yikes. 500 pages. I think you should still be able to count it if you've read 350 of them! My current one is 344, but it has pictures, which definitely helps.

Oct 9, 2019, 8:36am

>172 charl08: Alas, I have to read all the pages in order to count it :-( Never mind. I was amused to see that there's one of those York Notes-type of books summarising it already :-)

I took it back to the library, where The Way of All Flesh jumped into my hand (I had it reserved as an ebook so I now have a free slot!) and also The Swallows. That left a couple of gaps on the new books table, so I picked a couple from the shelves underneath it (where the books are now displayed horizontally, making the titles easier to read but still not *easy*) and did a bit of rearranging to make the display look better. No, trust me, it does. I overheard one of the library staff explaining patiently to another one recently that the new books display was really for *new* books, and shouldn't have things in it that the library had had for years.

Oct 9, 2019, 8:42am

Ooh, I want to read The Swallows! The list at the library is a bajillion people long, so it will be a while. Can't wait to hear what you think.

Oct 10, 2019, 2:17am

>173 susanj67: The Way of All Flesh will be a much easier read than The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, Susan. I really enjoyed that one and, at this point, it is probably safer to spend time in the slums of Edinburgh than find out just what the major corporations have on us.

Edited: Oct 10, 2019, 4:22am

>174 katiekrug: Katie, I'd never heard of it, so now I feel very lucky to have seen it on the table. I really got it because it was new and clean. This is why I couldn't be a book review vlogger on YouTube. People choose their books for all sorts of elaborate reasons, whereas my explanation would be "because the chain-smoking nose-pickers haven't got to it yet."

>175 Familyhistorian: Meg, that is good to know :-) It's a shame about Surveillance Capitalism. If she'd made it 250 pages instead then it could have been an excellent read. It was interesting to see how it all unfolded, though, from the early days of Google and its "Don't Be Evil" motto, which they had to abandon when they needed a way to monetize their search function. Advertising was that way, and from there they started doing all sorts of other things just because they could, and because it allows them to shape behaviour and deliver ever-more-precise groups of people to advertisers. The author focuses on Street View, but I thought of Google Books, when they scanned all those books in libraries despite the protests of authors' groups. It was like an old colonial land-grab, but just in a different form.

164. The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish

I'm gobbling up this author's books after the excellent Those People and Our House. This one has similar sorts of characters - affluent south Londoners with awful secrets, and the narrator is a dreadful woman although she can't see that in herself. It's set around a recently reopened lido (lidos are all the rage here and I'll be honest and say I don't really know how they're different from "swimming pools" (maybe they're not)) and has another great twist at the end.

Edited: Oct 10, 2019, 2:30pm

I just went to the library to return 164 and to be irritated by the new books display. Then I met FLA who asked me what I thought of it. Ha! So I was able to tell him all the reasons why I don't like it, while one of the other staffers looked like he thought maybe I should get out more. FLA doesn't like it either. I suggested that they put the new books back where they were before, separated into F and NF, as before, and use the table for something else. It works quite well at Chrisp Street where they have a table piled up with groups of books by author - e.g. all their Lee Childs, all their Steve Berrys, all their Dilly Courts etc, and you can easily see from the shelves underneath that the books belong to the same set piled on the top. So if you're not interested in that set, you don't have to bend down and try to read the titles.

They did say they had lots more books coming in, though, so that was exciting.

Oct 10, 2019, 10:38am

Oh. noes.

It has come to my attention that The Tyrant's Shadow, which I downloaded accidentally from RB Digital while I was trying it out, is actually...

...I can hardly bear to say it...

Book 2.

I have broken my own cast-iron rule.

*runs away to hide*

Oct 10, 2019, 10:47am

Just don't tell Susan, and you'll be fine! Oh, wait...

Oct 10, 2019, 12:07pm

Oct 10, 2019, 2:11pm

>179 katiekrug: Snort.

10 books turned up for me at the library today. 10!

Oct 10, 2019, 5:10pm

>178 susanj67: oh noes! Trust us, we do this all the time and we've not been hit by a bolt from the great god of libraries. We just try not to tell you as we know you'd be upset.

>179 katiekrug: oh that's just cruel (albeit very funny!)

Oct 10, 2019, 7:59pm

>173 susanj67: This is why I keep stats on not only books read but pages read--couldn't count the book but those 250 pages would certainly go in there!

Oct 10, 2019, 9:16pm

I'll have to check out Candish. I haven't read anything by her.

>178 susanj67: I'm shocked, Susan, shocked.

Oct 11, 2019, 5:11am

>181 charl08: Charlotte, OMG! Even for you, ten is a lot! :-) Can you collect them all, or are you maxed out on loans?

>182 Helenliz: Helen, ha! I see that bolt got you. It's weird, though - I sensed there was a backstory to the current book, which led me to see if there was an earlier one. Doesn't it bother you, not knowing what's happened in the past?

>183 ronincats: Roni, very true. However, I think I have enough tickers to keep up with!

>184 BLBera: Beth, I know. I will have to hand my my badge of orderliness and stop judging. But judging is one of my favourite things...

I'm nearly finished The Tyrant's Shadow which is set during Oliver Cromwell's protectorate. I know there is lots of scholarly research and military history about the Civil War, but I haven't really read much about it in fiction. It's interesting, although the RB Digital app is appalling and spoiling the reading experience for me. It doesn't usually remember where I'm up to, even on the same device! I open it in the morning and have to try and remember where I finished the evening before. So. Annoying. I think I'll email the library about it because it would be sad to see them building up the collection on this app when it's so poor. They should be spending their money on Overdrive titles.

Oct 11, 2019, 8:14am

>185 susanj67: The lady behind the counter suggested I could cancel some and put them back in the system when I know I'm getting too many. Bit the problem is I never do know - some of the ones I ordered months ago I'm still waiting for!

Oct 11, 2019, 8:20am

>186 charl08: Charlotte, the same happens to me (not the ten books, but the random order). Also, I feel bad about sending reserved books back when they're come out to me - they came all this way so I should read them. Currently I have three "in transit". There were four, but one of them dropped back to "pending" with the rest so I don't know what happened there.

Oct 11, 2019, 1:31pm

>178 susanj67: >182 Helenliz: Ha, hoist by your own petard! Sensing the backstory is one of the joys of not reading the first in a series first. You are usually hooked if you seek out the beginning of the series and it that one was not that good (happens more often than you would think) at least you know the rest of the series probably will because you have already read one.

Somehow Google's need to take over my life has erased all memory of their motto of "do no harm".

Oct 11, 2019, 3:13pm

>188 Familyhistorian: Meg, I see what you mean on the series issue. I think I'm just too stuck in my ways now :-)

165. The Tyrant's Shadow by Antonia Senior

This is my 100th novel of the year. Yay! It was a good one, too, although the reading experience was a nightmare. It's set in the 1650s, and one of the main characters is a lawyer for Cromwell, another is his sister, married to a fire-and-brimstone preacher and a third is a soldier with Prince Rupert, wandering aimlessly because they're no longer welcome in Britain. There's lots of interest in it, and it's made me dig out the "bookazine" on the civil wars that I bought a couple of years ago but didn't get around to reading. I can't remember now what prompted me to get it, but it's certainly a time I don't know much about. I wonder whether that's because (popular) history is written by the victors, as it were - the monarchy survived so we know a lot about the royal courts. Or maybe kings and queens are just more glamorous.

Oct 11, 2019, 10:02pm

>189 susanj67: Well done on reading 100 novels already this year, Susan. I always found Prince Rupert an interesting character - he seemed to be potentially the difference between the armies at the beginning of the Civil War until Ollie and Fairfax ground the Cavaliers down with the New Model Army.

Have a lovely weekend.

Oct 12, 2019, 5:14am

Nice going on 100 novels! Glad that was good, but what about the reading experience wasn't up to par? My impressions of the civil war were founded in a TV series in my youth, called "By the Sword Divided" about a family who end up on different sides. I wanted to be a Royalist (they had the better outfits and hair - mostly the men, but the hair!) but the egalitarian in me, even then, was a closet Parliamentarian.

Oct 12, 2019, 6:52am

>190 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul. Were you taught about the Civil War at school, or is it something you've read about since then?

>191 Helenliz: Thanks Helen! It was just the RB app that annoyed me. Kindle has some slogan about how it doesn't get between the reader and the words (I paraphrase) which I always thought was woo-woo, but I can see what they mean. By The Sword Divided didn't reach us in NZ, but it sounds like the sort of thing I would also have liked :-)

I've returned from Surrey Quays, where I went first to Superdrug, which was playing a rap song on the in-house music system, complete with "mother******" and "n****" (except the uncut versions of those words, several times each). "Would you like a bag?" asked the girl at the till. "No," I said, "but what I *would* like is for you to change the music so it isn't broadcasting obscenities all over the shop." Dumb look met hard stare. Hard stare won an admission that yes, the music *was* inappropriate. But I don't suppose they changed it. I'd popped in to see whether they had the new stuff from Revolution and there was a space for it but the space was empty. Two of the staff were chatting hard over a pile of crates of things they were supposed to be unpacking and putting out for display, so I had a good look at what was in the open crate (while they continued their conversation across me - it's like the customers are *literally* invisible) but didn't see what I was after. I did, however, see (elsewhere in the display) a new range of lip-plumping glosses, so I bought one of those.

Then I went to Tesco, where I was in a queue behind a middle-aged couple who I think were tourists (the woman was wearing a baseball cap, which no English woman in her 40s+ would ever do). One of their items wouldn't scan. The scanning person pressed her light, and looked round a bit vaguely for Help a couple of times. Except there is no Help. What you're supposed to do in that circumstance is say "Never mind, I'll leave it" and pay for the other things. It took this couple a while to realise it (it is possible they were from a country with customer service) but they got there eventually.

I'm pretty relieved to be home, even though I now have to do laundry and maybe vacuum. Maybe...I'm going to make a start on the new Baby Ganesh novel and my Civil War bookazine.

Oct 12, 2019, 7:46am

I always enjoy your Adventures in Customer Service, Susan. I realize, though, it's more fun to read about them than to *have* them...

I say no to vacuuming. Dust bunnies make lovely pets :)

Oct 12, 2019, 10:43am

The Tyrant's Shadow sounds great, Susan. And congrats on reaching 100 novels. I have read just over 100 in total.

Oct 12, 2019, 12:20pm

>193 katiekrug: Katie, I finally had a good experience at Boots (online - ha!) when I ordered a new Fitbit this afternoon. They've got a triple-loyalty-points offer on Fitbits and I also had a code for 300 points on a £30+ spend, which essentially means that I saved £10. Yay! My new gadget will be waiting for me on Monday.

>194 BLBera: Thanks Beth! I'm on novel 101 at the moment and it's excellent :-)

Oct 12, 2019, 7:29pm

Congrats on your new Fitbit -- I hope it serves you well :)

Oct 12, 2019, 7:45pm

>190 PaulCranswick: We did study it briefly as I recall, Susan, but I have read quite a few books on it too. I would recommend the books by C.V. Wedgwood who wrote excellent histories of the English Civil War.

Well done for speaking out about such inappropriate language/music being blasted through a store. Why is it considered ok to do that nowadays. I had a similar experience with my GRAB/UBER driver yesterday as I have taken to using them more and more as I don't like struggling through the KL traffic too much and it is safer reading in the back seat than snatching paragraphs at traffic lights! The young Malaysian Chinese driver had a local chinese language radio station blasting out at a really unacceptably high volume. To the unlearned (which I am) Hokkien (the dialect of chinese being spoken on the radio) is not easy on the ear and neither was I when I told the driver in no uncertain terms that I did not intend to listen to it through a twenty five minute journey across town.

Oct 13, 2019, 7:19am

>196 RebaRelishesReading: Thanks Reba :-) I decided to stick with a Fitbit because I don't want to lose my lifetime miles or my badges. It's on a watch band but it pops out for a pocket, just as you suggested :-)

>197 PaulCranswick: Paul, I did feel as though I was about 94 with the complaining, but rap is misogynistic, homophobic and has so much obscene language that it's really not on, particularly in Superdrug. I don't even like the "radio edit" versions of those songs, let alone the uncut versions. What's wrong with a nice 80s compilation, I want to know? Many's the time I've lingered in the supermarket, looking at extra things, while I wait for a particularly good 80s anthem to finish :-) Was your Uber driver appalled? I thought they all wore earpieces or ear pods these days, or maybe it's just in London that everyone goes round totally disconnected from the world around them. Thanks for the tip about C V Wedgwood. The library system seems to have a few of her things.

It's so chilly here today that I have a little fan heater on in the living room. Well, on a thermostat - not blasting non-stop, but brrr! My central heating is hopeless and I haven't used it for years. I just warm the room I'm in, and I suppose it *is* 13 October so maybe it's not unreasonable to want heat. I've started Kitty Peck and the Music Hall Murders, which is captivating. I thought I'd read a chapter or two and suddenly I was 100 pages into it. I plan to finish it and then start a new thread.
This topic was continued by SusanJ's 75 Books Challenge - Thread 9.