Banjo keeps reading in 2019 Thread # 2

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Talk75 Books Challenge for 2019

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Banjo keeps reading in 2019 Thread # 2

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1banjo123
Sep 8, 2019, 7:46pm

2banjo123
Edited: Sep 8, 2019, 7:56pm

Welcome to my new thread! I can't believe we are already in September. My reading in 2019 has been slower than usual; I blame work and life. But I still have lots of reading plans, and piles of books.

3banjo123
Edited: Dec 29, 2019, 3:09pm

Books Read In 2019

1. A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
2. Make Me A City by Jonathan Carr
3. Warlight by Michael Odaatje
4. Becoming by Michelle Obama
5. The Magic of Tidying by Mari Kondo
6. Good Omens by Gaiman/Pratchett

7. Overstory by Richard Powers
8. Sadie by Courtney Summers
9. Bingo Love: Jackpot Edition
10, We are Legion by Dennis Taylor
11. Corregidora by Gayl Jones

12. Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
13. Winners Take All by Anand Giridharadas
14. the Primate's Memoir by Robert Sapolsky
15. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
16. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

17. The Revolution of Little Girls by Blanche McCrary Boyd
18 The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
19. Lord of the Butterflies by Andrea Gibson
20. How To Love A Country
21. As Texas Goes by Gail Collins
22. These Truths by Jill Lepore
23. Riding Fury Home by Chana Wilson

24. The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
25. Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken
26. Stray City by Chelsey Johnson
27. the Gates of the Alamo by Stephen Harrigan

28. Catalog of Birds by Laura Harrington
29. My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
30. The Leavers by Lisa Ko
31. Rangers at Roadsend by Jane Fletcher

32. Three Roads to the Alamo by William C. Davis
33. The Great Believers
34. The Golden Son
35. Clock Dance by Anne Tyler
36. The National Team by Caitlin Murray

37. Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli
38. God Save Texas by Lawrence Wright
39. In Another Place Not Here by Dionne Brand

40. Fever Pitch by Nick Hornsby
41. Besotted

42. Hot Milk by Deborah Levy
43. The Wall
44. Rough Magic
45. The Testaments
46. Marriage of a Thousand Lies by SJ SIndu

47. The Changeling by Victor Lavelle
48. A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum
49. The Off Season by Amy Hoffman
50. The Book of Unknown Americans
52. Deep Creek. By pam houston

53. Invented Lives by Andrea Goldsmith
54. Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne
55. Everywhere You Don't Belong by Gabriel Bump
56. American Marriage by Tayari Jones
57. They Called Us Enemy by George Takei
58. After Delores by Sarah Schulman

59. Frog Music by Emma Donaghue
60. My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness by Nagata Kabi
61. When All Is Said by Anne Griffin
62, All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung
63. Adventures with a Texas Naturalist by Roy Bedichek
64. Akin by Emma Donaghue
65. Golden State by Ben Winters
66. Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

4banjo123
Edited: Sep 8, 2019, 8:07pm

And welcome to the new thread! I am plodding along with the reading, but I do have three books to review.

5PaulCranswick
Sep 8, 2019, 9:12pm

Books and ecstasy are certain bedfellows.

Happy new thread, Rhonda.

6msf59
Sep 8, 2019, 9:35pm

Happy New Thread, Rhonda. Love the topper quote.

7drneutron
Sep 8, 2019, 9:53pm

Happy newthread!

8figsfromthistle
Sep 8, 2019, 9:58pm

HAppy new one!

9BLBera
Sep 8, 2019, 10:36pm

Happy new thread, Rhonda. I LOVE the topper. I'm going to make a copy and hang it next to one of my bookcases.

Maybe your numbers aren't as big as last year, but you've read some good ones. Quality over quantity, right?

10banjo123
Sep 8, 2019, 11:48pm

Thank you Paul, Mark, Jim, Anita and Beth!

And I am not too worried about the numbers, as long as I am reading and enjoying it. But I think maybe I have been working too hard.

11banjo123
Sep 8, 2019, 11:52pm

Besotted by Melissa Duclos

This was another lesbian book group picked. It was quite well written, about a relationship between two ex-pats living in Shanghai. The main character was unlikable, and an unreliable narrator. I think that's not my favorite combination, and in the end I wondered a bit what the author had wanted us to take from the book. But it made for an interesting book discussion.

12EBT1002
Sep 8, 2019, 11:57pm

Happy New Thread!

13banjo123
Sep 9, 2019, 12:01am

Fever Pitch by Nick Hornsby

I have been watching a lot of soccer this summer, so this memoir of Hornsby's obsession with Arsenal was a good read for me. Hornsby is funny, and insightful. He talks about how he became a fan when, during his parent's divorce, his father took him to a game. This gives him an outlet for his frustrations and negative emotions:

"What impressed me most was just how much most of the men around be hated, really hated, being there. As far as I could tell, nobody seemed to enjoy, in the way I understood the word, anything that happened during the entire afternoon. Within minutes of the kick-off there was real anger. ("You're a DISGRACE, Gould. He's a DISGRACE!' "A hundred quid a week? A HUNDRED QUID A WEEK! They should give that to me for watching you.') as the game went on, the anger turned into outrage, and then seemed to curdle into sullen, silent discontent. Yes, yes, I know all the jokes. What else could I have expected at Highbury? But I went to Chelsea and to Tottenham and to Rangers, and saw the same thing: that the natural state of the footbal fan is bitter disappointment, no matter what the score."

14banjo123
Sep 9, 2019, 12:02am

>12 EBT1002: and thanks, Ellen!

15banjo123
Edited: Sep 9, 2019, 12:25am

Hot Milk by Deborah Levy

We read this for my other book group, and I found it quite readable, and funny. The book is about a young woman who is entangled in a relationship with her mother, who seems to by a hypochondriac, and quite demanding on her daughter. The book seems to be about Sofia's attempts to both care for her mother and also develop her own life. “My love for my mother is like an axe. It cuts very deep.”

Overall, I liked this book, but at times felt like there was too much symbolism, activity and whimsy. It's a short book, but full of distraction. Oh, and I didn't like the ending.

16BLBera
Edited: Sep 9, 2019, 9:13pm

>13 banjo123: I need to read a book about sports for my library challenge, and I like Hornsby, so this sounds like a good one.

>15 banjo123: I want to read more by Levy; I think I liked this more than you did.

And yes, you are probably working too hard.

17jnwelch
Sep 10, 2019, 4:40am

Happy New Thread, Rhonda. Yes! to that topper quote.

18RebaRelishesReading
Sep 12, 2019, 3:21pm

Congratulations on your new thread Rhonda. Love the topper - it says it so well.

19banjo123
Sep 13, 2019, 7:36pm

>16 BLBera:. I think I liked hot milk better than my review made it sound. I gave it four stars.

And definitely working too hard, but this weekend we are in Ashland for theater, so hooray!!

And thanks Joe and Reba! There’s a nice bookstore in Ashland, so I am ready to reach to eternity.

20FAMeulstee
Sep 14, 2019, 5:12pm

Happy new thread, Rhonda!

>1 banjo123: Even at the times I could barely read, I found the presence of books around me always comforting.

21banjo123
Sep 18, 2019, 1:22am

Thanks, Anita! Books ARE fun.

We had a great trip to Ashland, and I was going to report on that and my reading, but I got too involved with the pirate treasure hunt. I found all the treasures, but now I am tired and must go to bed.

22BLBera
Sep 19, 2019, 8:02pm

I'm impressed that you found all of them, Rhonda. I found five and was very proud of myself.

23banjo123
Sep 21, 2019, 7:58pm

>22 BLBera: Thanks Beth! I enjoy the treasure hunts, and my brain seems to have the right twist to find the clues.

And happy weekend everyone! It's beautiful here in Portland, and we are off to the Thorns (Women's Soccer) game in a little bit. The last game was a completely miserable and humiliating loss to North Carolina, so I am hoping that they come back strong and will tonight. But I am nervous about it.

Tomorrow I am going to write reviews of recently read books and the plays we saw in Ashland. Books are The Wall by John Lanchester (thanks Beth); Rough Magic by Lara Prior-Palmer (thanks, Mark) and The Testaments (Thank you, Margaret Atwood.) The Plays were Macbeth; All's Well that Ends Well; Mother Road, and Indecent. All of the productions were very good.

24BLBera
Sep 21, 2019, 9:34pm

>23 banjo123: I can't wait to read all of your comments, Rhonda. I'm happy you liked The Wall.

25EBT1002
Sep 22, 2019, 12:28am

I miss living just four hours away from Ashland!

26banjo123
Sep 22, 2019, 3:24pm

> 24 Thanks, Beth!
> 25 Yes, the plays at OSF have been getting even better, and it's a nice travel spot, so pretty.

And the Thorns won last night! Now we have clinched a playoff spot, thought it's pretty clear that North Carolina will decimate us if it comes to that. We are hoping for a Timbers will today, I have to say, that reading Hornsby's Fever Pitch has been good for me in soccer watching, because when I am stressed out in the nail-biting, or completely miserable moment; I just remember that sports are supposed to make you miserable.

27msf59
Sep 22, 2019, 3:26pm

Happy Sunday, Rhonda. Back from our Carolina trip. I love that part of the country and adore the mountains. I would love to be able to see them on a daily basis. I hope you are having a good weekend.

28banjo123
Sep 22, 2019, 3:31pm

Rough Magic: Riding the World's Loneliest Horse Race by Lara Prior-Palmer

Laura Prior Palmer, at age 19, competed in and won the Mongol Derby, which involves racing a series of twenty-five wild ponies across 1,000 kilometers of Mongolian grassland. Prior-Palmer comes across as young, funny, and self-deprecating. I enjoyed the book and especially enjoyed her attitudes towards and descriptions of the Mongolian people that she encountered, which I felt were very respectful.

It is a fun book, though I did think that Prior-Palmer came across as quite young (which she is) and sometimes I felt a little self-insight would have helped. I think she was brought up not to ever brag on herself, which I understand, but in the book it sort of interferes with the story because the reader is left to infer from her results that she was actually, an amazing athlete. Also, she motivated herself primarily by competing with the front-runner of the race, a young Texan woman. That's understandable, but I wish that Prior-Palmer could have admitted that she was competitive and wanted to win for winning's sake.

29banjo123
Sep 22, 2019, 3:34pm

The Wall by John Lanchester

In this dystopian novel the main character is a young man living after climate disaster has irrevocably changed the world. His country is in relatively speaking good shape, and spends a good deal of resources in keeping out "the others," people less fortunate. A well-written book, which also raises the question of what different generations owe to each other.

30banjo123
Sep 22, 2019, 3:36pm

>27 msf59: Thanks, Mark! It is a good weekend. We will have to visit the Carolina's sometimes soon.

It's rainy here today. Banjo, jr and I are just getting reading to go to our nearby pub (the one that admits dogs) to watch a soccer game.

31BLBera
Sep 22, 2019, 5:13pm

>29 banjo123: I hadn't thought too much about the question of what different generations owe to each other, Rhonda, but you make a good point. The resentment definitely affected the relationship with his parents.

32EBT1002
Sep 22, 2019, 5:27pm

>29 banjo123: I had that one from the library but didn't get to it before it was due back. I'll need to put it back on hold.

I hope the pub and soccer match are fun!

33banjo123
Sep 22, 2019, 7:12pm





Here is a picture of Chica enjoying the game. I think she liked it better than we did. The score was 0-0; with the Timbers missing a lot of opportunities. This is bad for the Timbers playoff chances, and conversely, good for the Loon's chances. However, it was a good day to sit inside and watch sports, so we enjoyed it.

>31 BLBera: I think the intergenerational relationships are interesting to me right now, considering where I am in my own life. At any rate, a good book, thanks for the recommendation.

>32 EBT1002: Ellen, sometimes it's funny how many times I can check a book out before reading it. That is one reason to buy rather than borrow. Except that purchasing leads to huge TBR piles.

34banjo123
Sep 22, 2019, 7:22pm

When we were in Ashland, we stopped by Bloomsbury Books, and I bought a copy of Atwood's Testaments

I found myself reading Testaments quickly, and really enjoyed the plot and pacing. I am not sure that The Handmaid's Tale really needed a sequel, and this book is not as strong. However, that still leaves a lot of room for great plot, character, and writing. I like the way Atwood uses "Testimony" and "Text" to remind us that we are a part of history, and that things continue to change, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. Also some of the historical parallels she makes (example: the Underground Railroad) were thought provoking.

Some parts of the plotting were predictable, but, especially towards the end, there were some surprises. I do think it helps to have read The Handmaid's Tale fairly recently. Also, do not read the review in today's New York Times. Way too many spoilers.

35banjo123
Sep 22, 2019, 11:59pm

So the plays:

The two Shakespeare we saw in the Elizabethan Theater, which is outdoors, and lovely. All's Well that Ends Well was the first, it's considered a problem play, and one can see why, as the plot is stupid and the characters don't make much since. However, they did a great job with it, great acting especially from Royer Bockus (on the left with pink hair) who played the female lead.

36banjo123
Sep 23, 2019, 12:03am

Macbeth of course was bloody and intense. Great acting, especially from Danforth Comins and Amy Kim Waschke, who played Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.



In this production, the three witches were especially effective. They were on stage for the whole production, making their role seem more integrated with the story.



37banjo123
Sep 23, 2019, 12:10am

We also liked Mother Road which deals with themes of what is a family, what is American, and of how people are attached to the land. Here is a description:

"Inspired by John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, this world-premiere play by Southern Oregon–based playwright Octavio Solis (Don Quixote, El Paso Blue) finds hardworking and hard-living William Joad with no blood kin to inherit the family farm.

No one, that is, until he finds an unexpected relation: Martín Jodes—a young Mexican-American man descended from Steinbeck’s original protagonist Tom Joad. Directed by Bill Rauch in his last season as artistic director, this powerful story—filled with humor and heart—about land, family and survival inventively reverses the Joads’ mythic journey, as these modern-day Joads travel from migrant farm-worker camps in California back to Oklahoma."

This play was mostly effective, but had some weak parts. The character of Martin Jodes was a little hard to sympathize with (Not unlike his ancestor Tom Joad), and there were some times where characters seemed to change too fast. But overall, quite good.



38banjo123
Sep 23, 2019, 12:27am

Indecent by Paula Vogel was our favorite play of the season. Amazing play, great acting, and very thought provoking. It is a play about a play, Sholem Asch's God of Vengence This play, a part of Yiddish theater, was written in 1907, takes place in a brothel. The brothel owner is trying to raise his daughter to aspire to a more respectable marriage, however she ends up falling in love with one of the prostitutes. Things do not end well.

Indecent explores that play, it's author, actors, it's popularity in Europe, and the fact that when the play was performed on Broadway in 1923 the whole cast, and producer, were arrested for indecency. (This was the first lesbian kiss on Broadway.) Many in the Jewish community condemned the play, as showing Jews in a negative light. Indecent covers the years between 1907 to 1957; taking Yiddish literature through the holocaust, assimilation, and to the House of UnAmerican Activities Committee. I cried through the last half.



39jnwelch
Sep 23, 2019, 8:37am

Hi, Rhonda. I'm glad you had such a good time in Ashland, and that the Thorns won. I just remember that sports are supposed to make you miserable. Love it! That should help me tonight in watching our Chicago Bears, who can be heart-crushers.

Good book reviews and play reviews! You're on a cultural roll. I love the idea of the witches being on the stage throughout Macbeth. I hope that last play, Indecent, comes our way. It sounds powerful.

40banjo123
Sep 26, 2019, 8:34pm

>39 jnwelch: Thanks, Joe! I hope you do get to see Indecent. It's being performed this spring, in Portland as well, so it seems to have some buzz.

41charl08
Sep 27, 2019, 2:10am

>39 jnwelch: Wow, that sounds brilliant. I hope it tours!

42msf59
Sep 27, 2019, 6:37am

Happy Friday, Rhonda. Glad you hear you enjoyed The Testaments. I should be getting on audio soon. Did you watch the TV show?

I am currently reading and really enjoying The Dutch House. I love me some Patchett!

43BLBera
Sep 28, 2019, 12:14pm

The plays sound wonderful, Rhonda. I love the photo of the witches! What great staging.

44banjo123
Edited: Sep 28, 2019, 7:23pm

>41 charl08: Yes, it was pretty brilliant. Paula Vogel won the Pulitzer in 1998, she's pretty outstanding.

>42 msf59: Yay, Mark! I hope the audio works. I haven't seen the TV show, I keep meaning to, but I am not much of a TV watcher.

>43 BLBera: They do a great job at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

45banjo123
Sep 28, 2019, 7:29pm

The weather here in Portland is crazy. This morning we went to the Pumpkin Patch and corn maze, which was fun, and very pretty as the sun came out. Now we have thunder and rain here.

Our house seems to be having a lot of issues lately. Our front porch is in need of repair/paint, and our neighbor is doing it. He is a perfectionist, and apparently our porch had been bothering him for decades, so he is doing a beautiful job, and gave us a good price for it, but it is taking him quite a bit of time and hard work. Today, our hot water heater went out. At first I thought it was just the pilot, but it appears that is wrong, so it's cold showers until we can get a plumber. At least we are lucky that (a) we can afford the repairs and (b) now Wendy is retired, so she has time, theoretically, to be home for the repairs. Though she is taking classes in art, guitar and singing, so pretty busy, actually.

I have finished one more book! Review to follow.

46banjo123
Sep 28, 2019, 8:03pm

Marriage of a Thousand Lies by SJ Sindu

This book is about a Sri-Lankan American woman named "Lucky", who chose to marry a gay friend, in order to avoid a split from her family. It's well-written, and I enjoyed it; though I wish the book had been more tightly plotted. Here's a quote:

"Let me tell you something about being brown like me: your story is already written for you. Your free will, your love, your failure, all of it scratched into the cosmos before you're even born. My mother calls it fate, the story written on your head by the stars, by the gods, never by you."

47BLBera
Sep 29, 2019, 6:17pm

>45 banjo123: Owning a house is a time and money suck, Rhonda. I have some big ticket repairs coming up as well.

>46 banjo123: This one sounds really good.

48banjo123
Edited: Sep 29, 2019, 11:57pm

>47 BLBera: Yes, sometimes I think it would be nice to be in an apartment, and off-load all the worry. But there are a lot of pitfalls with that as well.
This was a good read overall, and I liked getting the perspective of Southeast Asian, and Gay or Lesbian people. I have now picked up Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai, which had been sitting on my shelf for a couple of years, and covers some of the same topics.

49PaulCranswick
Sep 30, 2019, 5:15am

>48 banjo123: Still homosexuality is illegal here in Malaysia but largely there appears to be some toleration tacitly for people to express their individual sexuality although we are a long, long way away from same-sex-marriage.

The Deputy Prime Minister was jailed for sodomy in the not too distant past and the Statute Book is clear as to the Penal Code for homosexual "offences". South East Asia has much to do to catch up in terms of human rights.

50The_Hibernator
Oct 5, 2019, 9:40pm

>36 banjo123: That looks fantastic.

51banjo123
Oct 7, 2019, 1:17am

>49 PaulCranswick: It's a good reminder, Paul. We sometimes take our relative freedoms too much for granted.

>50 The_Hibernator: It was a great production, Rachel.

Well, things are pretty good here. We got our hot water back, the porch looks great, and the Timbers won today, and will make it to the play-offs. I finished Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai and liked it very well.

52RebaRelishesReading
Oct 7, 2019, 2:20pm

>51 banjo123: Hooray for days when everything goes right!

53EBT1002
Oct 9, 2019, 12:17am

Chica is so cute!!

I love the pictures from your Ashland adventure. As I've probably said, we went there many summers and I have such wonderful memories of the town and the theater(s).

I'm glad your hot water is back!

We've been watching the finals of the WNBA even though the Storm are not involved. Cheering for Washington (go Elena Delle Donne!!) but without much preference in the end. Watching sports in which I'm not emotionally invested is kind of a refreshing relief from the usual fan experience.

54banjo123
Oct 10, 2019, 12:34am

>52 RebaRelishesReading: Yes! I really need to appreciate the things that don't go wrong.

>53 EBT1002: Thank you Ellen! We are pretty enamored of that little dog. This was a great year for Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

I haven't been watching much of the WNBA, which is too bad. I wish their season didn't completely coincide with soccer season.

55banjo123
Oct 10, 2019, 12:41am

Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai

In this book, Selvadurai combines a coming-of-age story, with the story of the tensions between the Sinhala and Tamil tensions which led to the 1983 riots. It is told in six, connected short stories that emphasize the importance of family, and explore the narrator's discovery of his gay identity The different themes tie together nicely, the writing is good, and the characters were well developed. Perhaps the plotting could have been stronger. I was happy to learn more about the history of Sri Lanka.

56Berly
Oct 10, 2019, 1:25am

>34 banjo123: I just ordered the GN of The Handmaid's Tale for a quick refresher and then I want to get to The Testaments. Glad to hear you enjoyed the sequel.

And I am totally jealous of all the plays you've seen recently.

>40 banjo123: Oooh! Maybe I can catch this play in Portland!!

GO THORNS!!

57banjo123
Oct 12, 2019, 12:17am

>56 Berly: Happy weekend, Kim, and yes, Go Thorns!

58msf59
Oct 12, 2019, 6:33am

Happy Saturday, Rhonda. I just finishing and highly enjoyed Deep Creek & Frankissstein. If these are not on your radar, they should be. Have a great weekend.

59BLBera
Oct 12, 2019, 10:36am

Happy weekend, Rhonda. I am loving The Testaments. I have about 100 pages to go.

60EBT1002
Oct 14, 2019, 9:18pm

Hi Rhonda. I'm sure you've seen the news about two winners of the Booker: The Testaments and Girl, Woman, Other. I've just started reading the latter and I'm captivated.

61banjo123
Oct 15, 2019, 12:16am

>58 msf59: Ok, Mark, I now have library holds on BOTH Deep Creek and Frankissstein. I am a fan of both Winterson and Houston, so not a hard sell. And the weekend was fun!

>59 BLBera: Hope your week is going well, Beth and hooray for Atwood.

>60 EBT1002: Thanks, Ellen! Can you believe that Bernardine Evaristo is the first Black Woman to win the Booker?

I am now reading Big, Wonderful Thing by Stephen Harrigan. It is really good so far! And I finished Changeling by Victor Lavelle, so hooray for books.

62BLBera
Oct 17, 2019, 11:24am

I did love The Testaments, Rhonda, especially Aunt Lydia's parts.

I can't wait to read Girl, Woman, Other and Frankissstein.

63banjo123
Oct 24, 2019, 12:48am

>62 BLBera: That's interesting, Beth, I just read A Woman Is No Man, which I think you also read, and there are some parallels between Aunt Lydia and the Mother in Law in that book.

And happy getting to the end of October already, everyone! I have been busy and not here on Library Thing, but hope to get some time this weekend.

64BLBera
Oct 25, 2019, 1:01pm

>63 banjo123: Interesting Rhonda. I did read A Woman Is No Man, but I hadn't made the connection with Aunt Lydia. Hmm.

65banjo123
Oct 27, 2019, 12:45am

>64 BLBera: I probably wouldn't have thought that either, if I hadn't been discussing both books at one time. I do think that a strength of both books is the insight into how and why women in patriarchal societies might choose to enforce gender roles.

A couple of quick reviews to follow, just to catch me up. I seem short of time lately, and now it's the World Series. Go Nats!

66banjo123
Oct 27, 2019, 12:58am

The Changeling by Victor Lavelle

So, this is kind of a mash-up of horror and a fairy-tale re-telling; in contemporary New York City with a multi-cultural cast. The primary theme is parent-child connections, and lack of the same. Apollo Kagwa is a book-dealer, with a desire for a family. He had grown up without a father's presence. He meets and marries Emma Valentine, a librarian (obviously lots to love about the book themes here!), they have a son, Brian. But then the horrible things happen, and Apollo learns that many things in his life are not as they seem.
Some parts of this book are a little meandering, which was OK, and the end of the book seemed a bit over-wrought. Overall, I liked it. However, I finished it a few weeks ago, and it has really not stuck with me. Perhaps if I was more into horror, or fairy-tale re-telling? But four stars, because the writing is good, and the concept has some freshness to it.

67banjo123
Oct 27, 2019, 1:07am

A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum

This was a compelling and very sad read about three generations of Palestinian women, living in Brooklyn. I thought that the author did a good job showing how women in that culture might feel and respond to issues such as arranged marriage, domestic violence and immigrant identity. The writing isn't perfect, and at one point I felt that the plot was just too much. But then I read an interview with the author, and concluded that the plot really was her life. She had mixed feelings writing the book, as she worried it would perpetuate negative stereotypes about Arab Americans.

This is a book I have been thinking about since, and I hope to read more by this author.

68charl08
Oct 27, 2019, 4:47am

>67 banjo123: I will have a look for this one, as it sounds up my street. I listened to an interview with a French film director this week who has made a film about the French Catholic church and their response to the revelations of child abuse. He discussed how the film was based on real life, but that in some cases he felt he had to water things down as he thought the audience wouldn't believe it. I'm not sure what that means, but it struck a chord with what you said about Rum's book.

Hope you are having a good weekend.

69msf59
Edited: Oct 27, 2019, 7:38am

Happy Sunday, Rhonda. I have been hearing some interesting stuff about The Changeling and that author. Despite, your low-key warbling on it, I might give it a try. A Woman is No Man definitely sounds good.

70BLBera
Oct 27, 2019, 9:52am

>67 banjo123: I thought the point she made about how the powerlessness of the men in the world translated into the need to dominate at home, not that it excuses the abuse, but it does help to explain it. I will also read more by her. I wonder what she will write next.

71banjo123
Oct 28, 2019, 2:00am

>68 charl08: I think you would like it! And yes, sometimes over-the-top can be realistic.

>69 msf59: Thanks, Mark! I actually gave the two books the same rating, so I think it would be worth it to try Victor Lavelle. And it does have some charming parts to it.

>70 BLBera: That's right, Beth, she did make that point, and the parts about Palestinian history and immigrant experience were interesting. I did think that there were parts of the book that came too close to making excuses for the abusers.

And now the weekend is over, and I just realized that LT has a halloween hunt. I love the hunts but I always stay up too late looking for clues.

72The_Hibernator
Oct 31, 2019, 11:46am

Happy Halloween! Hopefully you had a fun hunt.

73weird_O
Oct 31, 2019, 12:02pm

74banjo123
Edited: Nov 10, 2019, 12:28am

Thanks Rachel and Bill! Halloween was fun, though we had fewer trick-or-treaters than usual.

Last weekend was busy, this weekend is quieter. I have a book to quickly review, then, reading time. Hooray!

Currently I am reading Deep Creek by Pam Houston. It is amazing. Thank you, Mark >58 msf59:.

75banjo123
Nov 10, 2019, 12:23am

The Off Season by Amy Hoffman was read for the Lesbian Book group. There were mixed feelings at the discussion, most people liked the writing, but felt that there was not enough depth to the characters. A fair criticism, but I enjoyed the story pretty well. In this book, Nora and her girlfriend, Janelle, are recovering from Janelle's recent breast cancer treatment. They decide to live in Provincetown during the off season (fall/winter); Nora makes a bad decision that wrecks her relationship. It's a quick read, with short, breezy chapters. Sometimes the style seems a bit light-hearted for the content, but in the end I thought it worked well enough.

76msf59
Nov 10, 2019, 7:36am

"Currently I am reading Deep Creek by Pam Houston. It is amazing."

^It looks like my work is done here...saunters off into the sunset.

Happy Sunday, Rhonda. I want to read more of Houston's work, but this one will be hard to beat.

77PaulCranswick
Nov 10, 2019, 8:07am

Wishing you a lovely Sunday, Rhonda. xx

78banjo123
Nov 10, 2019, 5:51pm


>76 msf59: Yes, Mark, I think that this is Houston's best book so far.

>77 PaulCranswick: and thank you, Paul!

This is a nice, low-key Sunday. I remembered another book that I had forgotten to review, so that is next.

79banjo123
Nov 10, 2019, 5:56pm

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

I wanted to like this book more than I did. It's an important topic, but somehow I found this book pretty forgettable. It's the story of a family dealing with their daughter's head injury; a young adult love story' and the stories of a group of Latin American immigrants in a Delaware apartment house. I felt that the book was a little too disjointed, and a bit too YA-ish for my taste. I am going with 3 stars.

We read this for book group, and I actually picked it out. I think that others in the bookgroup liked it better than I did.

80The_Hibernator
Nov 10, 2019, 8:40pm

Just letting you know that I have now bought tickets for my Christmas trip to Oregon. I will be in Corvallis December 23 through 27, and can meet with the crew if people are able. If not, there's always next time!

81BLBera
Nov 11, 2019, 10:03am

>79 banjo123: I liked this one more than you did, Rhonda. Perhaps part of that is the fact that it works well in the classroom. I agree about the YA level? I would like to read her next novel to see what she does.

82banjo123
Nov 12, 2019, 8:36pm

>80 The_Hibernator: Hi Rachel! I hope we can work something out. I think we are going to be out of town the 26th and 27th, however, so it may be tricky.

>81 BLBera: I can see that it would do well in the classroom. One of my book group members was going to give it to her 18 year old niece, because she thought she would like it.

83banjo123
Nov 25, 2019, 12:51am

Hello! Hope all y'all are reading up a storm. Mrs. Banjo and I are just back from our trip to Texas, which was fun, and we learned a lot. I will post some pictures later. We were in San Antonio, which charmed us, the Hill Country, and in Austin.

I had meant to keep up on LT, and post on my phone, but of course I didn't so now I have several books to review.

84banjo123
Nov 25, 2019, 1:01am

Deep Creek by Pam Houston

This is just an amazing book. Five Stars, and now I have to go buy a copy, since I had gotten it out of the library. Houston weaves together the story of her 120 acre ranch in Colorado, her childhood abuse, her life as a writer, and meditations on the value of loving and caring for the earth.

“How will we sing when Miami goes underwater, when the raft of garbage in the ocean gets as big as Texas, when the only remaining polar bear draws his last breath, when fracking, when Keystone, when Pruitt? I don’t know. And I imagine, sometimes, often, we will get it wrong. But I’m not celebrating the earth because I am an optimist—though I am an optimist. I am celebrating because this magnificent rock we live on demands celebration. I am celebrating because how in the face of this earth could I not?”

85banjo123
Nov 25, 2019, 1:09am

Invented Lives by Andrea Goldsmith

This was an early reviewer book, and I enjoyed it overall The book is mostly about a young Russian Jew, who emigrates to Australia in 1986. I appreciated that the book made me think about that experience, what it would be like to be exiled, and learning to adapt to a new country. There is a side story about an Australian family, and some of the secrets that can be part of a marriage. Goldsmith's writing is competent, but she does a bit too much telling rather than showing, so the narrative often feels heavy handed and forced. However, the plot and setting were interesting enough to keep me happily reading.

86banjo123
Nov 25, 2019, 1:16am

Everywhere You Don't Belong by Gabriel Bump

Another Early Reviewer's Book, this one tells the story of a young African American man, his childhood growing up in Chicago's South Side. It's told in a series of short chapters, emphasizing how growing up with lots of loss, uncertainty and violence shapes the man that he grows into. I felt that it was disjointed at times, but thought provoking.

87banjo123
Edited: Nov 25, 2019, 1:26am

Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne

Here we have a Dickensonian story, told with humor, and starring a gay Irishman, who contends with oppression from the Irish church, neglect from his adoptive parents, and a series of unusual, and often tragic life events. Sometimes it's a bit too much, but a fun read. It all works out in the end.

88msf59
Nov 25, 2019, 7:05am

Hi, Rhonda. I hope you had a good weekend. Hooray for Deep Creek! It is such a good book. Glad you ended up enjoying Invisible Furies. I loved that one, as well.

89BLBera
Nov 25, 2019, 1:37pm

So many good books, Rhonda! I've added all of them to my WL!

90charl08
Nov 25, 2019, 4:26pm

Sounds like some good reads - I have the Boyne on my shelf, must pick it up!

91banjo123
Nov 28, 2019, 3:09pm

Thanks for visiting, Mark, Beth and Charlotte!

And happy thanksgiving to those of us in the US. My family has decided to celebrate on Saturday instead, and with middle eastern food instead of the traditional. So today, I get to be chill, and we have a movie this afternoon.

I am feeling a bit ambivalent about Thanksgiving, lately. The food and family are great, of course, but the connection to Native American Genocide is so strong.
For those who might be interested, Hereis a website where you can find out which Peoples were in your area pre-colonization. I am on the lands of the Chinook, Cowlitz and Clackamas People.

92banjo123
Nov 28, 2019, 3:24pm

And on to reading! I have two more books completed, so November is looking like a good month for me.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

I liked the way this story was told, from multiple viewpoints and, in parts, with letters. Jones is a good writer and used these techniques to explore how private life (marriage) is impacted by political, social forces beyond one's individual control. I also liked that it explored the cultural differences between Celestial, from a well-off Atlanta African American community and Roy, whose family was from a more poor, rural, Louisiana. What didn't work for me is that none of the characters seemed especially likeable, and Roy's character arc did not seem very realistic. This made it harder for me to care about the marriage.

93banjo123
Nov 28, 2019, 3:34pm

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei

I know this book has gotten many accolades. I thought it was OK. I admire Takei as a cultural icon and actor, social media presence; however his writing seemed pedestrian, mostly just giving information. The art was good, but didn't bowl me over.

I might have been more enthused about the book if I hadn't already been familiar with the facts about Japanese internment camps. If anyone wants to read more on the topic, I can recommend the book Stubborn Twig.

The strongest part of this book was Takei's descriptions of his parents, who seem like incredible people, especially his father. If the book had focused more on their personal story, it would have probably grabbed me more.

94banjo123
Edited: Nov 28, 2019, 4:04pm

Some pictures from our trip to Texas


The Riverwalk in San Antonio is amazing.



The missions in San Antonio were very interesting, including the Alamo (not pictured) although I did wish that the information presented at the Alamo was more complete.



This is one of the murals in West San Antonio. It pictures Emma Tenayuca, a Mexican American Labor Organizer and Educator.



This amazing mosaic was the work of San Antonio artist Jesse Trevino


95banjo123
Nov 28, 2019, 4:13pm

We also enjoyed, and learned a lot, from our trip to the LBJ ranch, and the LBJ library and museum in Austin. Here is a picture of LBJ and Lady Bird's graves:



Some information from the LBJ museum regarding changes in the US after his Great Society legislation:

Percentage of Americans attending 4 year colleges: Up 39 %
Americans living in poverty, down from 20% to 12 %
African American elected officials up from 300 to 1470
Lands protected: 36 new national parks, almost 10 million acres

96msf59
Nov 28, 2019, 8:37pm

Happy Thanksgiving, Rhonda. I understand your ambivalence toward the holiday. I hope you made the best of it. Love the San Antonio photos. I NEED to get down there.

97Berly
Nov 29, 2019, 2:18pm

Rhonda--I see you have been on and off with LT just like me. Welcome back! Looks like you had a great time in TX. And nice job getting caught on your book reviews. I was just cataloging all the Kindle books I've purchased and hadn't gotten around to adding. Phew! A Woman is no Man sounds very compelling. WLed. Enjoy the weekend!!

98jnwelch
Nov 30, 2019, 2:59pm

We loved the Riverwalk in San Antonio, and the art galleries along it, Rhonda. We didn't see the mural or the mosaic, darn it.

I hope you had a good Thanksgiving and are enjoying the weekend.

99FAMeulstee
Nov 30, 2019, 3:34pm

>94 banjo123: Lovely pictures, Rhonda, LBJ is Lyndon B. Johnson I presume?

100BLBera
Nov 30, 2019, 6:14pm

Great pictures from Texas, Rhonda. Thanks for sharing.

I agree with your feelings about Thanksgiving; I cope with the ambiguity by thinking of it as a time to be thankful for family, nothing else. At least schools are not perpetrating the myth anymore, at least schools here don't do anything about it.

I've wanted to find a good book about Japanese internment. Stubborn Twig goes on my WL.

101banjo123
Dec 1, 2019, 5:17pm

>96 msf59: Thanks, Mark! You should go to San Antonio, and there is also good birding there. We didn't do a lot of outdoor activities, but did see a number of birds at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens.

>97 Berly: A Woman Is No Man was good, Kim, and it would be a great book club book, I think.

>98 jnwelch: Thanks, Joe, isn't the Riverwalk cool? You would love the murals, apparently few tourists get to West San Antonio.

>99 FAMeulstee: Yes, Lyndon Johnson. Thanks Anita!

>100 BLBera: Thanks, Beth. And you are right, it's great to have time to be grateful for family! Takei's book is good for an overview of internment, but I think you would like Stubborn Twig. It was an Oregon Book Award winner a few years ago.

102banjo123
Dec 1, 2019, 5:23pm

And one more book completed, it looks like I will be able to finish 2019 in the mid- 60's. Not 75, but respectable at any rate.

After Delores by Sarah Schulman

Read for the Lesbian book group, this is a book written in 1988, where a NYC waitress is upset that her girlfriend, Delores has left her, and explores that loss in a gritty urban setting. This book has some great sentences, but there isn't much in the way of plot (although it is nominally a mystery) and the characters don't have a lot of depth. I was particularly unsatisfied that there was so much violence in the book, without any explanation of why our main character was so drawn to violence and alcoholism.

103banjo123
Dec 1, 2019, 5:28pm



And just for fun, here's a picture. Yesterday after our belated family Thanksgiving, we took a walk on the Lewis and Clark campus (near my sister's house) and they had this Robert Indiana Sculpture on display.

104PaulCranswick
Dec 1, 2019, 6:00pm

>102 banjo123: I am floundering in the mid sixties (books wise), Rhonda which are my lowest adult numbers. I thought that last year's failure to reach 100 books was a one-off!

I am not Robert Indiana but I'll also send my love this Thanksgiving weekend.

105charl08
Dec 3, 2019, 2:24am

>103 banjo123: I think I saw a version of this in Berlin! Small world.

106Berly
Dec 3, 2019, 2:34am

>103 banjo123: Yay! Love that Love photo!!

107PaulCranswick
Dec 7, 2019, 8:48pm

Dropping by to wish you a lovely weekend, Rhonda.

108banjo123
Dec 9, 2019, 12:23am

>104 PaulCranswick: and >107 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul! It looks like you have a good chance of making the 75. I try not to get focussed on the numbers, but I am sad to to miss it this year.

>105 charl08: Yes, I think it is in different languages. It was fun to see, especially since I wasn't expecting it.

>106 Berly: Thanks, Kim!

109banjo123
Edited: Dec 9, 2019, 12:34am

Frog Music by Emma Donaghue
This has been sitting on my shelves for a couple of years. Honestly, I liked the other books of Donaghue's that I have read (Room and Hood) better, but this was still good. It's a historical fiction, based on lots of research. The characters are all based on real people. It's set in San Francisco in the 1870's, and tells the story of a French prostitute who befriends a cross-dressing female frog-catcher.

The book does a good job shedding light on people who are normally forgotten by history. The writing and plotting are excellent. I found our main character, Blanche, annoying, and sometimes that made the book hard to read, since it was in her voice. But there was some effectiveness in having a not-always-likeable narrator. I am glad I finally read it.

110BLBera
Dec 15, 2019, 9:14am

I think I will pick up other books by Donoghue before this one, Rhonda, although your description of "a French prostitute who befriends a cross-dressing female frog-catcher" does sound intriguing. And a little odd.

111banjo123
Edited: Dec 15, 2019, 3:24pm

Oh, and Beth the a French prostitute who befriends a cross-dressing female frog-catcher" is historically accurate. Also, thinking back about it, I do like the way that Donaghue portrays Blanche as a complete character, really much more than a "french prostitute."

112banjo123
Edited: Dec 15, 2019, 3:32pm

My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness by Nagata Kabi

This was for the Lesbian book group, and actually is my first experience with manga, although I have read graphic novels before. I was impressed with Kabi's honesty, in depicting her experiences with mental illness, loneliness, etc. It is a sad book. Also maybe it's a Japanese thing, or maybe I am just a prude, but in this novel she turns to a Lesbian Escort Service for connection, and that was so odd to me because I did not even realize such a thing would exist. So I am not sure I like this book, or that I like manga at all, but it was interesting. Here is a sample of the art:

113banjo123
Dec 15, 2019, 3:45pm

When All Is Said by Anne Griffin

This novel tells the story of 84 year old Maurice Hannigan. It takes place in a hotel bar as Maurice reviews his life, accomplishments and regrets, in a series of toasts to people who have influenced him. At times the non-linear story telling frustrated me, and there were a few parts of the book I took issue with. But those gave me things to think about, and over-all a lovely first novel that discusses family bonds, parenting, marriage and class, and has an interesting take on the theme of revenge.

114jnwelch
Dec 16, 2019, 8:43am

>112 banjo123: Woo, not my type of art work!

Hi, Rhonda. If your Lesbian book group is interested in graphic works, I recently read Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me and thought it was great. It's set in high school, and I liked it so much I went out and bought a copy.

115banjo123
Dec 17, 2019, 12:00pm

Thanks for the recommendation, Mark, I will look for it. I think that the group tries to do 1 or maybe 2 GNs a year.

116BLBera
Dec 22, 2019, 1:44pm

Hi Rhonda - I'm not sure I'm ready for manga... I loved When All Is Said - can't wait to see what she does next.

117msf59
Dec 22, 2019, 6:57pm

>115 banjo123: Did you mean, Joe? Grins...I am enjoying Laura Dean too.

Happy Sunday, Rhonda. I hope you had a good weekend and enjoying those books. I have been reading some stellar stuff. Finishing the year with a bang!

118jnwelch
Dec 23, 2019, 10:27am

Have a great holiday, Rhonda. - Joe or maybe Mark

119RebaRelishesReading
Dec 23, 2019, 11:14am

Your topper says it perfectly!

120banjo123
Dec 24, 2019, 1:18pm

>116 BLBera: Yes, manga might not be my thing either. And Griffin is certainly one to look out for.

>117 msf59: and >118 jnwelch: Joe and Mark, I am SO sorry for mixing you two up. I am just lucky that the two of you are good-natured. And both Laura Dean fans as well! I definitely need to look for that one.

>119 RebaRelishesReading: Thanks, Reba.

And happy holidays to everyone!! Pretty busy here, but hopefully will be back soon to check out peoples threads and talk about books.

121EBT1002
Dec 25, 2019, 1:52am

122msf59
Dec 25, 2019, 8:45am



Have a great holiday, with the family, Rhonda. Hugs to both of you!

123PaulCranswick
Dec 25, 2019, 8:32pm



Thank you for keeping me company in 2019.......onward to 2020.

124Berly
Dec 26, 2019, 11:33pm

Best wishes this holiday season!! See you in 2020!



125banjo123
Dec 29, 2019, 3:15pm

Thank you, Ellen, Mark, Paul and Kim!!

We are having a nice holiday. Just got back from a few days in Hood River, Oregon. We had hoped for good weather and some nice hikes, but the weather was a bit off. We did get some nice walks in, and lots of good food and beer. Plus, reading time! Tonight is the last night of Hanukkah (The Banjo Household celebrates both Christmas and Hannukkah), so tonight we have dinner with friends and latkes.

I have gotten some reading done, hooray! I am up to 66 books for the year, with a slight chance of making it to 67. Some quick reviews, before I try to start my 2020 thread.

126banjo123
Dec 29, 2019, 3:24pm

Golden State by Ben Winters

This is a cross between 1984 and a police procedural. It takes place in Golden State, a future nation in what is present day California, where the populace has become so afraid of a world built on lies and falsehood, that they have created a whole society based on a bulwark of truth. Even casual lying can lead to a long prison sentence, serious untruths to exile. Jokes are allowed, fiction is not.

The world building in this novel is seriously fun, and the mystery was entertaining. The one flaw in this book, for me, was that the characters were somewhat wooden. That is, however, in character with the genres and the dystopian theme.

This is definitely a book I will be recommending to others.

127banjo123
Dec 29, 2019, 3:42pm

Adventures with a Texas Naturalist by Roy Bedicheck

I picked this up in San Antonio, at a great bookstore called Cheever Books. Bedicheck was new to me, apparently he is well-known in Texas, a naturalist and writer similar to Aldo Leopold. (Except he is a better writer than Leopold. ) This book was written in 1947, starts with a riff about fences and how they impact the environment; and continues into many birding descriptions.

128banjo123
Dec 29, 2019, 3:52pm

Akin by Emma Donaghue

Donaghue continues to display the complexity of human relationships in interesting and unusual settings. I loved that the hero of this novel was Noah Selvaggio, an 80 year old man, presented as a complete person, not a stereotype of an old codger. Parts of the plot are pretty unlikely, for example, Noah becomes temporary guardian for the young relative whose mother is in prison, and takes the boy to France (Noah's birthplace). Donaghue manages to show the relationship without undue sentimentality.

129BLBera
Dec 29, 2019, 4:33pm

Hi Rhonda - It sounds like you are having a wonderful holiday season. Latkes, yum.

I also loved the way the relationship was portrayed in Akin. Golden State is on my WL - I agree, Winters is good with plot, but his characters could use some life.

>127 banjo123: The naturalist book also sounds good.

Nice way to finish the year. Any reading plans for 2020?

130banjo123
Dec 29, 2019, 4:39pm

All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung

I read this for book group. It's a memoir of Chung's adoption experience, she was born to Korean-American parents in Seattle, adopted by loving white parents and raised in a small town in Southern Oregon, where there were very few other Asian people. Chung searched for, and found her birth family when she was in her late 20's and pregnant with her first daughter.

Definitely a good thing to read if you have close experience with adoption or interracial families. The first part of this book, describing Chung's childhood, was the weakest. I felt that her writing was pretty pedestrian in this part. Her writing got stronger, and the story more interesting, in the second half of the book.

131banjo123
Dec 29, 2019, 4:42pm

>129 BLBera: Hi Beth! We cross-posted. I am enjoying the holidays, and some down time, as I have taken a few days off. I think that in 2020 I am going to continue reading without much of a plan. I do hope to read a bit more next year, as this was my lowest year since joining LT!

132banjo123
Dec 29, 2019, 4:53pm

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo

This Booker winner gives us a set of inter-linked story-poems about different Afro-British women who are attending the opening of "the Last Amazons of Dahomey," a play by Amma, whose life story opens the book. The writing is delicious, and open-hearted.

I could, however, done with a little more plot. There are lots of connections and coincidences between the characters, and to me that indicates a need for a big, Dickensonian plot.

133EBT1002
Dec 29, 2019, 10:46pm

Hi Rhonda. Akin sounds pretty good. I will add it to my wish list.

134banjo123
Jan 1, 2020, 12:52pm

>133 EBT1002: Thanks, Ellen, it is good,

And 2019 is over. My new thread is here: https://www.librarything.com/topic/314578

See you in the new year!