TalkEllen seeks balance in 2019 - Thread 8
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"King of the Alps" -- Photo by Jonas Schäfer -- National Geographic Photo Contest
A herd of ibexes in Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland cross a ridge above Lake Brienz.
"Canyon First Light of 2019" -- Photo by Archie Tucker -- National Geographic Photo contest
Grand Canyon, United States
= Breathtaking. Maybe a masterpiece.
= Excellent! Among my favorites of the year.
= Particularly enjoyable, kept me reading.
= So good. I'm glad I read this.
= A solid read. Generally recommended.
= This was an okay read.
= Meh. Pretty much a waste of time.
= Nearly no redeeming qualities. Really rather bad.
= Among the worst books I've ever read.
Honestly, I'm rarely going to complete any book earning fewer than two stars but I reserve the right to rate them based on my experience.
1. Death in a Darkening Mist by Iona Whishaw
2. Blessed are Those Who Thirst by Anne Holt
3. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
4. Well-Read Black Girl by Glory Edim
5. Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin
6. Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay ~ audiobook
7. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
8. The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
9. The Elected Member by Bernice Rubens
10. Hotel Brasil by Frei Betto
COMPLETED IN FEBRUARY
11. The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall
12. Last Friends by Jane Gardam
13. The Proof of the Honey by Salwa Al Neimi
14. The Marauders: A Novel by Tom Cooper
15. True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey
16. Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein by Linda Bailey
17. The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa
COMPLETED IN MARCH
18. Becoming by Michelle Obama
19. Faithful Place by Tana French
20. The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
21. How to Love a Jamaican by Alexia Arthurs
22. The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea
23. Dark Fire by C.J. Sansom
24. The Friend by Sigrid Nunez
25. Berlin Noir Ed. by Thomas Wörtche
26. West by Carys Davies
27. Auschwitz Violin by Maria Angels Anglada
28. The Wife by Meg Wolitzer
29. The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
COMPLETED IN MAY
30. Benediction by Kent Haruf
31. Dancing Fish and Ammonites by Penelope Lively
32. The Merchant's House by Kate Ellis
33. The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
34. Circe by Madeline Miller
COMPLETED IN JUNE
35. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
36. The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths
37. Sugar Run by Mesha Maren
38. The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie
39. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
40. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
41. How to Love a Country: Poems by Richard Blanco
42. Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country by Pam Houston
43. Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
44. Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
44. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Life and Writing by Anne Lamott
45. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
46. Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George
47. My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
48. The Firemaker by Peter May
COMPLETED IN AUGUST
49. Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett
50. An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma
51. A Room Full of Bones by Elly Griffiths
52. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
53. The Initiates: A Comic Artist and a Wine Artisan Exchange Jobs by Étienne Davodeau
54. Dry Bones: A Longmire Mystery by Craig Johnson ~ audiobook
55. Cheerful Weather for the Wedding by Julia Frances Strachey
56. Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli
57. If Ever I Return, Pretty Peggy-O by Sharyn McCrumb
COMPLETED IN SEPTEMBER
58. 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Şafak
59. Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
60. Bodies of Light by Sarah Moss
61. Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations by Mira Jacob
62. A Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths
63. The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
64. The Handmaid's Tale (Graphic Novel): A Novel by Margaret Atwood (Author), Renee Nault (Illustrator)
65. The River by Jane Clarke (2016-01-29) by Jane Clarke
66. A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton
67. They Called Us Enemy by George Takei (Author), Harmony Becker (Illustrator)
COMPLETED IN OCTOBER
68. Longbourn by Jo Baker
69. The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan
70. Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear
71. Catfulness: A cat's guide to achieving mindfulness
72. Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
73. A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum
74. The Topeka School by Ben Lerner
75. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
November: Series with a female protagonist ~ Messenger of Truth or The Outcast Dead (or both)
December: Series that's new to you ~ The Horseman by Tim Pears?
November = Childhood Memories ~ poetry
5. Book mentioned in another book you have read ~
..... The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (in How to Love a Jamaican) OR
..... Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid (in Well-Read Black Girl by Glory Edim}
1969: P. H. Newby, Something to Answer For
1971: V. S. Naipaul, In a Free State
1972: John Berger, G.
1973: J. G. Farrell, The Siege of Krishnapur
1974: Nadine Gordimer, The Conservationist ... and Stanley Middleton, Holiday
1975: Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Heat and Dust
1976: David Storey, Saville
1977: Paul Scott, Staying On
1980: William Golding, Rites of Passage
1981: Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children
1982: Thomas Keneally, Schindler's Ark
1983: J. M. Coetzee, Life & Times of Michael K
1984: Anita Brookner, Hotel du Lac
1986: Kingsley Amis, The Old Devils
1988: Peter Carey, Oscar and Lucinda
1990: A. S. Byatt, Possession: A Romance
1991: Ben Okri, The Famished Road
1993: Roddy Doyle, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha
1994: James Kelman, How late it was, how late
1997: Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things
1999: J. M. Coetzee, Disgrace
2003: DBC Pierre, Vernon God Little
2004: Alan Hollinghurst, The Line of Beauty
2006: Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss
2007: Anne Enright, The Gathering
2010: Howard Jacobson, The Finkler Question
2019: Margaret Atwood, The Testaments, and
My Seahawks are playing like a pile of poop!!!! They seem to have thought that Drew Brees' absence meant they didn't need to show up either. Hmph.
Happy new thread, my dear ol' pal, and many more to come.
I love the photo topper.
Too bad about the Seahawks.
>17 jnwelch: Thank you muchly, Joe.
>18 richardderus: It almost makes you want to go hike around the Grand Canyon, doesn't it, Richard? Well, almost.
>19 banjo123: Thanks Rhonda!
>20 BLBera: There will undoubtedly be another kitty in our future, Beth, but we're not sure when. I've said I'd like to wait at least until after we return from Kauai in December. I don't know whether we'll be ready then. I do miss having a feline or two as part of our household.
The Seahawks apparently made a comeback and almost pulled out the win. Too little, too late. Oh well. It's just football.
The only part of the Seahawks game I saw was after the game the Coach making his apologies. He is a "stand up guy" as the saying goes. I know his players appreciate his sharing the "blame".
I have had Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain sitting on bookshelves for longer than I care to admit. I think it was sold in my "great purge" where I took unopened boxes of books to Half Price Books and sold. But I do have some experience with drawing unusual perspectives such as turning some object upside down and then drawing the unusual perspective. It is very informative. Use your eyes more than your brain!
A house without a four-footed occupant is not quite right, is it? We thought maybe we wouldn't "tie ourselves down" with another animal when we lost our sweet Sheltie, Callie, several years ago. But less than a year later, we found we just didn't like not having a furry companion, so we brought a kitty into our lives and now we're right back to being totally foolish about our pet.
>24 Familyhistorian: I enjoyed The Skeleton Road, Meg. Not only was it a good mystery/thriller but I felt like I got a peek inside the Balkans during and after the 1990s.
>25 charl08: Oh good, Charlotte. I'm glad you enjoyed Crow Lake. I hadn't thought of it in a while but I remember liking it a lot. I gave it 4.5 stars.
Yes! -- turning objects or images upside down and drawing what you see, rather than what you project or expect -- that is the key. I haven't practiced in a while and I need to take it back up again. I was enjoying developing my ability to "see" and draw what is actually there.
>27 DeltaQueen50: Definitely check the order on the Karen Pirie series, Judy. It turns out that Skeleton Road is third of five in the series. Apparently Karen Pirie makes only a minor appearance in the first of the series, The Distant Echo. I plan to read that one soon.
>29 ronincats: Thanks Roni. And thank YOU for the sweet little Abby memento. xo
>30 laytonwoman3rd: Absolutely spot on, Linda. I find myself remembering sweet moments with Abby -- preparing her treat/medicine in the morning, then gently picking her up from her usual spot in bed at P's tummy, carrying her down the hall, and setting her down in front of her treat, and then coaxing her to eat it. All of it. She was so warm and soft and sweet in these moments. I would kiss her on that little soft spot behind her ear. I miss having a kitty in our lives. After Christmas on Kauai, it will likely be time to start looking for the next furkid. :-)
>31 LizzieD: That makes sense to me, Peggy. It has been about five months since we lost Abby and I'm just starting to be ready for the next animal. But I'm not quite ready yet and I want to wait until after our holiday trip.
>32 jessibud2: Shelley, I agree that two cats is a good number. We had Edgar and Abby for a few years but when we lost Edgar in 2009, Abby was already older and settled in. It just didn't seem right to introduce another kitty to the household at that point in time. She became "The OC" (Only Cat). I know she missed Edgar a lot but she also settled in pretty nicely to having P and me all to herself. Still, we'll probably get two when it's time for the next one.
A skeleton is discovered on the roof of an abandoned building. A bullet hole in the skull sends Karen Pirie into a cold case search for the identity of the corpse and their killer. The trail leads to war crimes investigations in The Hague and an intimate look into the brutal vengeance characterizing the Balkan wars. This was an engaging and enjoyable police procedural. It also provided an emotional insight into the Balkan wars and their aftermath.
I hope you have a great weekend. When does the boss get back from leave?
>39 BLBera: Beth, let me know if you'd like me to send my copy of The Skeleton Road. I'd be happy to pop it in the mail.
>40 ronincats: Roni, we woke up this morning to about half an inch of wet snow on the ground! It's still September!!! We watched a light wintry mix fall for a while but it finally warmed up enough to just be rain and then the precipitation stopped altogether. Crazy. It was around 40F most of the day but it's that damp bitter chill. Ugh.
Next weekend we have reservations to take our little trailer to a state park a couple of hours away. It's on a flyway for migrating birds so we're pretty excited about that. Right now the forecast is for highs in the mid 60s and lows in the low 40s. We'll see how we do!
At the wine tasting we chatted with some folks sitting nearby and discovered that the young couple know our nephew and his wife back in Seattle. It's such a small world. It was fun making that connection.
You've almost caught me up on Booker Prize reading.
I have read 28 winners to your 26.
I do have all of them on the shelves though now.
The graphic memoir of George Takei, actor and activist, who was interned along with his family during WWII. He was four years old when Japanese Americans were declared alien enemies, imprisoned behind barbed wire and deprived of all their family possessions. This beautifully presented memoir is honest and surprisingly upbeat as Takei explores not only this shameful history of our country and the indelible impact it had on his family, but also the nuances of childhood memory. Absolutely recommended, one of my favorites of the year.
I also loved They Called Us Enemy. I was surprised at his lack of bitterness.
One maybe all the Booker winners;
Another for all my poetry;
Maybe the 1001 books too.
I enjoyed this novel far more than I expected to. This is the story of the servants in the Bennett's house as the tale of Pride and Prejudice unfolds. Sarah, the housemaid, and James, the footman, take front and center: we follow their budding relationship and learn about each of their backgrounds. Elizabeth and Jane and Mr. and Mrs. Bennett are side figures although their centrality to the lives of the servants is never shirked. The novel is more than a shadow spin-off from the great classic, though. It is a rich and thoughtful exploration of the human tendency to long for that which is out of reach, and the possibility of finding contentment by focusing on what one has and being clear about what truly matters. In our current era of rampant materialism (I'm part of it too, having recently ordered my next iPhone), the themes are timely and relevant and sweetly poignant. Very much recommended, but only if you're familiar with Pride and Prejudice.
We also saw hundreds of stars. Stars are a treat in Pullman relative to Seattle, but this was even better, especially during the 2am bathroom run when the moon had set. Wow.
Next up in books is The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan. I've read 2-3 chapters and so far, so good.
Things are busy but not bad these days. Still, I'll just go on the record as saying that retirement may be about 34 months out now. (You know, but who's counting?)
BTW- I am loving and nearly done with A Ladder to the Sky. Boyne has delivered again.
>49 richardderus: Hi Richard. They Called Us Enemy is SO good. And, while I've got your attention, have you watched "The Frankie Drake Mysteries"? They border on cozy but manage to weave wonderful exploration of gender, race, and sexuality through the mysteries. Unrealistic as hell but fun as hell, too.
>50 jnwelch: Yep, I knew you'd be pleased by my love of They Called Us Enemy, Joe.
>52 johnsimpson: Thank you, John!
>53 BLBera: The camping trip was magnificent, Beth. I'm really enjoying the little trailer. And the birds! See above.
George Takei's equanimity and calm as he tells the story of his childhood is pretty remarkable. That kind of compassion and humility is so needed in our leaders. He doesn't flinch at calling out the injustice and horror of the experience for others, though.
>55 PaulCranswick: Oh, I love that idea, Paul. After our move last year I rearranged my books, somewhat vaguely by genre, etc. And since I have some shelves that are just too darn short, the size of the volumes also dictated some arrangements.
>56 vivians: I wholly agree, Vivian! LT has introduced me to genres I would never have otherwise tried. Graphic Memoirs are one of my favorites.
>57 kidzdoc: That is good to hear, Darryl. I have a copy of Girl, Woman, Other and plan to read it later this month. I'll be interested to see in just a few days which of the finalists wins.
>58 The_Hibernator: Rachel, I hope your husband finishes They Called Us Enemy. It's definitely one of my favorite reads of the year.
>61 msf59: I thought of you several times over the weekend, Mark, as we saw so many birds. We saw lots of waterfowl that we could not identify and I thought of the guided bird walks you've been on. It seems like it would be so helpful to have someone along who knows the birds.
I've looked at A Ladder to the Sky several times in the past couple of months. I think I'm waiting until it comes out in paperback. But I'm glad to hear it's another winner!
>67 Caroline_McElwee: The stars and birds were pretty special, Caroline. Being able to see stars - and the Milky Way! - is becoming more and more of a rare experience as we pollute our little planet with so much artificial light. And yes! to Longbourn! I was ambivalent about reading it. I'm not sure why as I have loved some other works that used a similar premise. I thought Valerie Martin's Mary Reilly was excellent. It may be because I'm not nearly the Jane Austen fan that so many others are. I'm not among those who started reading her at a young age and have reread her throughout adulthood. In fact, were it not for the 6-hour A&E production of Pride and Prejudice, I would not know the story as intimately as I do. That helped make this read even more enjoyable.
>68 jessibud2: I'm glad you agree, Shelley!
You've convinced me to add Longbourne to my list. I've loved the other Baker novels I've read, but the description of this one didn't appeal. You've changed my mind!
Good Talk and They Called Us Enemy are two of my favorite graphic memoirs of all time!
>72 karenmarie: Hi Karen. I keep thinking I'm going to quit signing up for the challenges, but then something like this happens and I realize that the challenges do nudge me out of my comfort zone, often to my great delight!
>73 BLBera: Hi Beth. No boss yet. We expect her to return first week of December. Work is still work and the acting VP (not me, which is another story) is making several of us crazy, but we do still feel a bit of room for exercising our own leadership styles. We will see
Oh yes, if you are at all a fan of Pride and Prejudice, I think you would enjoy Longbourn. And I need to read some of Baker's other works! What might you particularly recommend?
Ah, I remember much warbling about The Body Lies so I will put that one on hold.
>76 BLBera: Another nudge to read The Body Lies. Thanks, Beth. I will also add A Country Road, A Tree to the wish list (what a great title!).
Yes, work is going as well as can be expected. There are vexations and irritations, but that is work. I feel like I'm making a difference and for that I feel grateful. I don't really want to be done with work, but we'll see how it goes. I'm still reserving the option of retiring August 2022.
I will share a really moving experience I had this evening. I dined with three colleagues, two of whom I don't (yet) know well. As we consumed the two bottles of wine and lovely appetizers, we warmed up into really wonderful conversation about all sorts of things. The two colleagues whom I don't (yet) know well work in Washington DC; they are advocates for higher education and I learned that they are both Republicans -- and neither of them Trump fans. Quite the opposite. We shared astonishment at his continuing absurdity (the tweet in which he referred to his own "great and unmatched wisdom..."!!!) and our hope that the country will be rid of him soon. One of them worked in the George W. Bush White House and talked about -- agree or disagree -- W's compassion and integrity. And I found myself agreeing. We talked about Ellen Degeneres' recent situation where she is defending her friendship with W, challenging the notion that one cannot be friends with someone with whom one disagrees. One of my colleagues said tonight "I have been thinking that something big is going to happen that will reunite this country -- and I believe Donald Trump is that big thing." This was so surprising to me. These are Republicans. One of them wondered out loud whose name she could write in since she does not agree with Elizabeth Warren on specific issues (to which I thought "oh, write in all you want, just don't vote for this incumbent disaster!").
This was important for me. I lived in Seattle for over a decade, a deep blue political bubble in which I was rarely in conversation with someone who disagreed with me. These women are caring, compassionate, smart, and dedicated to higher education. We may disagree on many things but we agreed that the current president is an unmitigated failure. It gave me hope.
My parents were moderate Republicans who raised three Democrats, and they despaired over the Repubs' swing to the right. My mother ended up voting for Obama, deciding McCain (who we all respected) was "too old".
Anyway, what a wonderful evening you had. Kudos to the rational if not Democrat two. :-)
P.S. I'm still hoping Kamala Harris moves to the front, however unlikely it seems right now. I have confidence in her ability to handle drumpf, among other things, which Elizabeth W. has struggled with.
Having met GWB on several occasions, I can attest to his warmth and compassion. One of my favorite memories from my time in Washington is of him charming my baby cousin in the Oval Office. She had been screaming her head off as we waited to go in and I was dying a slow death inside, but as soon as we went in, he started talking to her and she calmed down immediately. I should find the photo...
I always felt - and still do - that he had a good heart but was, as Joe says, too easily led by Cheney and others.
>83 Caroline_McElwee: It's interesting, Caroline, when I think that the conversation might have been different in a different era. I don't know that I would have been as open-minded to their perspectives prior to the current presidential term. One thing I said to them is that I want to hold myself to the same standard I felt many Republicans did not hold themselves to in 2016 -- that is, I won't vote for the Dem nominee "no matter what." Of course, any of the Dem front runners and some of the back-of-the-pack contestants are within my range of appreciation. And mostly I want this man, whom I honestly fear may yet undermine our fragile democracy, OUT.
>85 jnwelch: Hi Joe, and thanks for sharing that family context. My father was a yellow-dog Democrat and honestly I'm not sure my mother thought much for herself (lots to unpack there but that is for another place and time). I agree that I would like to see Kamala Harris gain some ground. I like Elizabeth Warren a lot but what it takes to withstand trump's low and dirty way of engaging is ... I don't even know how to finish this sentence.
>87 richardderus: Yes, Richard, I am grateful for the universe's boost. On social media, I only see the extremes and it was so great to engage genuinely with thoughtful humans.
>88 brenzi: I'm thinking that the distinction of importance here is less political party and more stance on trump, Bonnie. These two were anti-trump Republicans, the first with whom I've had the opportunity to converse. Like you, I would not be able to comprehend any rationale trump supporters might articulate to me. He is too far beyond the pale.
>89 BLBera: Yep. And we need hope, Beth.
This was a good police procedural set in Galway, Ireland. Cormac Reilly has moved to the Gardai in Galway after a successful twenty years on the force in Dublin. At first it seems that the local crowd are intent on making it hard for him to integrate but soon he gets caught up in a murder case that harkens back to his very first case, one in which he removed two badly neglected children from the ruined house in which their alcoholic mother lay dead. As the current case intertwines with that cold case, an open-and-shut suicide, we learn more about Cormac's own history. With only a wee bit of excess coincidence, the plot is engaging and the ending satisfying. Definitely recommended for fans of police procedurals.
Your conversation with the thoughtful Republican ladies puts a different perspective on things, doesn't it?
It was a great reminder of the silent majority of Republicans. I say silent because they are not who I see on social media. Apart from LT, I think social media may be one of the most divisive elements of our time.
Love the stars. Definitely one of the 'things' about my backyard which faces east toward the Sapphire mountains.
I tweeted in response to LibraryThing Friday what are you reading inquiry and called Pardonable Lies "escape reading." Another LTer responded that they don't think of Masie Dobbs as escape reading but rather a sad look at post-WWI England. I knew what they meant but didn't know how else to express it. Your use of the word "comfort" is perfect.
"...my backyard which faces east toward the Sapphire mountains." That just sounds breathtaking!!!!!
I'm not generally a fan of pastiches. In fact, this is a new vocabulary word for me. But I was impressed by Longbourn and I will read more Jo Baker.
>103 thornton37814: As far as I can tell, no one is really stepping up to the plate, Lori. It's not uncommon for incumbents to go unchallenged by their own party but in this instance, I wonder.
>104 laytonwoman3rd: Yes, I think you're probably right, Linda. As it is, it's easy to get the feeling (it's my feeling) that Republicans are willing to risk it all just to get the tax cuts, spending cuts, and most especially the conservative judges that they want. From where I sit, it's an incomprehensible risk.
>109 maggie1944: That sounds like a great event, Karen. I appreciate Rachel's optimism and I hope she ends up being correct. I'm naturally pretty optimistic (ask anyone who knows me!) but I fear for democracy and our fragile Earth.
>110 BLBera: Spot on, as usual, Beth. I like that many contemporary mysteries are, as you say, more nuanced and the characters more multidimensional, but I still like immersing myself in a fictional world in which Good generally triumphs over Evil.
I haven't been reading any poetry lately. Just not in that kind of mood. I will dig into it again at some point, though.
Enjoy 10 Minutes 38 Seconds. It's a terrific read, IMHO.
It's not that they don't care; it's that this is their aim, their purpose for everything they're doing. The lower class of their cohort wants to "own the snowflake SJWs;" the upper class wants to be sure decent people have no opportunity to oppose their vile, irresponsible, murderous agenda of "permanent" (haw) ownership and domination of the planet's resources.
I have found myself thinking about this issue the past 24 hours or so. For me (and perhaps I am naive) there is a difference between the agenda of Republican leadership and the voters they represent. Or at least the thoughtful voters like my two colleagues. I understand the reprehensible agenda of the "leadership" who are all too happy to watch it all fall apart as long as it lines the pockets of the rich and undermines all and any progress we have accomplished toward a more equitable society. What I don't understand is the silence of the Republican voters who don't care for trump but seem willing to let it ride in order to get conservative judges. Why do they not demand better of their elected officials? Why do they not call Mitch out? Why do they not organize around a Republican alternative to trump? Of course, I say this with the assumption that there are a lot more like the two women with whom I had such a delightful dinner. But trump's approval ratings hover around 40% no matter what. That I really don't get. If I were a Republican and the pollsters called me, I hope I would say I do not approve of his performance. I hope I would say "I want to see a return to a conservative agenda that is based in respectful discourse and mature politics and at least some modicum of compassion." It's the absence of that voice that befuddles and infuriates me.
Oh, shoot, Seahawks just lost their lead. But there is time in the fourth quarter to do all kinds of stuff!
Not being sarcastic: What good thing has 45 done?
The Seahawks came back and won that game! They just keep pulling wins out of the hat this season. Incredible. I didn't watch it as we were at the volleyball match (Cougs won - yay!) but we watched some of the post-game coverage when we got home.
>121 richardderus: I can't think of a single thing, Richard, but it actually supports my point: there are too many in the country willing to watch democracy undermined to its core if it means we can undo anything progressive that has been accomplished since the 1950s. Racism and xenophobia are at the heart of it, IMHO.
>122 brenzi: Bonnie, I had to look up The Wolf and the Watchman. I saw your review and the comment "An impressive debut mystery that is so gruesome that I wasn’t sure I could finish it." I also saw the comment about its similarities to The Alienist, which I just purchased on Friday! Now I want to read that one soon.
On the plus side, I saw a Flicker taking a bath in the deep bird bath we have set up on our back deck. He was about 6 feet away from me and he dunked his whole head in the water, the dunked his tail in, gave himself a good shake, and flew away. It was a fun moment.
I downloaded A Woman is No Man and American Spy from the library as my turn had come up in the queue for each of them, so I'll read one of them next. I think the Booker Prize winner will be announced tomorrow so I'll be interested to see which novel wins. I saw a tweet by @TheBookerPrizes that, when someone asked Lucy Ellman about the length of her 1000+ page novel, she said she thought it was "time for men to shut up." Or something to that effect. Made me chuckle.
"I ended up hate-reading this. It was just not well done at all. The premise of a black woman in the 1980s working for the FBI and being recruited by the CIA to destabilize a regime in Africa was so promising and potentially fascinating, that I was eager to read this debut novel. Unfortunately, it didn't deliver, mostly due to the weakness (and that's putting it mildly) of the espionage part which was so ridiculous as to be cartoonish. There was no nuance or complexity, so the larger themes of racism and sexism, not to mention the intriguing political themes, were reduced to mere supports for an over-wrought, yet over-simplified, plot that had large holes further marring it. And the ending seems to leave open the door for a sequel, and please, god, just no."
I at the age of 75 am a youngster here and am treated very nicely by everyone, and I hope to do the same to them. We are living together in one great big home.
I hope you can see my point of view that further conversation with this lady would be fruitless and potentially cruel.
I know of nothing that Trump has done which is "good".
I just wonder what *any*one* can point to that 45 has done that benefited them personally, leave aside the country.
I'm glad I decided to revisit this series. Maisie Dobbs is maturing well as a character and the complexity of the mystery is quite satisfying. Set in England and France in 1930, the fallout of the Great War in Europe is a central theme. In this installment, Maisie is intent on proving that a young girl relegated to the streets is innocent of murder when she is hired to prove that a judge's son who was killed in the war was, well, actually killed. It seems that the boy's mother was always convinced that he still lived; the judge made an ill-advised deathbed promise to his wife that he would find their son. He hires Maisie to find his son dead so he can put the whole thing to rest. Maisie is led back to the area in France where her own Hell on Earth transpired and must slay some of her own emotional dragons in solving the mysteries. I'm not a huge fan of the use of "seeing," of Maisie's innate ability to sense deeply what another is thinking and feeling, but other than that this is a series worth following.
My Booker ratings so far (includes long-listed works that did not make the cut for the short list):
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma
Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli
10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Şafak
I wasn't as intent upon reading all of them as I sometimes am, though I own copies of Lanny (thanks Mark!), Girl, Woman, Other, and Ducks, Newburyport. I have a copy of Frankissstein on its way from Book Depository.
>129 katiekrug: Hi Katie. Thanks for sharing your comments about American Spy. I know you are just one reviewer but given how many books I have that I really want to read, I may give this one a skip. I did read through some of the other reviews and the kinds of criticisms directed at the novel are, I think, the kinds of things that would turn me off.
>130 maggie1944: All makes sense to me, Karen. I contrast your situation with the lovely dinner I had with thoughtful colleagues with whom I could have intelligent, respectful conversation. Part of what is different is that they do not see him as having done anything good. Also, they are in their 40s, I think, and much more able to engage in that kind of discussion. I cracked up at your comment about hoping they forget to vote. :-)
>131 BLBera: I think it was your comments that led me to put A Woman is No Man on hold, Beth. I think it will be my next read. Although, honestly, I'm rather tired of reading things on my kindle and longing for a more traditional format. So, even though I just checked AWiNM out from the library, and as an eBook it cannot be renewed (I don't get that, but it wouldn't matter in any case since the Seattle Public Library won't let you renew a book if other patrons have it on hold), so I have limited time to read it, I may read something else first and that one next. **** That is one awkward sentence but I don't have it in me to edit just now. Hopefully my meaning comes through. Haha.
>132 richardderus: Yep, yep, and yep.
My father was so upset with George HW Bush that he said he would vote Democratic in the 2004 election but couldn't quite bring himself to do so. However, he did NOT vote for president at all, which I thought huge progress. Alas, it was his last presidential election.
>137 karenmarie: Morning Karen. The party loyalty you describe your father as having is, I think, pretty common. I'm sorry that was his last presidential election; if he was upset with George HW, I can only imagine (hope) that he would be horrified by the current administration. I was so struck by my two colleagues' talk about trying to think who to write in; they would be unlikely to vote Democrat as, like your father, I think they just couldn't bring themselves to go there. But I was comforted by the fact that they won't (at least, I am pretty sure they won't) vote for reelection.
I checked the Booker Prizes website, no announcement yet. Being on the west coast of the United States, I thought it might be late enough for the announcement to have occurred in London. Does it happen in London?
Maybe I should check the media as it might take a little while for the website to get updated.
Happy Monday everyone! (Ugh) I am presenting to the university president's cabinet today. My dreams reflected my anxiety about it and I'll be glad when it's over.
This is the cover of the book I'm currently reading, Girl, Woman, Other. We'll see if the image remains visible for all to see.
I hesitate to even count this but it's a book. And I read it. I worked my way through it (sort of) in the recommended seven weeks and found it to be just off most mornings. It makes recommendations for, say, a Tuesday or a Wednesday that just don't fit for someone heading off for an 11-hour work day! I'm not saying one can't be mindful during a long workday; one can, and I'm trying to be more so. But this guide didn't help me get there. The illustrations are charming and it's for them that I purchased the book.
Great Booker news! Two winners. And you are reading one of them.
On the other hand, maybe this is just the committee's way of saying "we really couldn't pick one of these two; they are both That Good."
>145 lauralkeet: Yes, I'm very excited, Laura. So far Girl, Woman, Other is captivating.
>146 thornton37814: *scritches Sherlock on the head* Hi Lori!
>147 BLBera: Yeah, I'm interested to read about the two winners thing, Beth. I had a busy day at work so I kept checking for the announcement, and when I saw it, I thought "whaaaat?" Now I'm at home, exhausted, watching the NLCS and catching up on LT a bit. P and I will go to our Monday evening exercise class in a little while. Part of me wants to skip it (did I mention that I'm exhausted?) but I know I'll be glad I went.
>148 ronincats: I remember that book, Roni, though I didn't read it at the time. I'm glad you're enjoying my thread!
And yes, I know I keep saying "no challenges," but a year-long focus on a remarkable author is different. I so enjoyed the Steinbeck-athon I did with Smiler69 a while back, as well as my own personal Erdrich focus I did a couple of years ago.
No commitments yet. Just thinking.
>155 BLBera: You know having company will nudge me toward a commitment, Beth. :-)
I should have read The Testaments by then so others I think I would be interested in reading include
Oryx and Crake
The Year of the Flood
The Robber Bride
I'm saying this when I have not generally been drawn to speculative fiction. I'm interested in input from true Atwood aficionados.
I am a huge Atwood fan, actually I like her literary work more than the speculative fiction. Cat's Eye is my favorite. I have been wanting to re-read Alias Grace. I am also a big fan of her short stories, and Stone Mattress is an amazing short story collection, which really highlights her sense of humor.
I've never read any of Atwood's short stories so there is an option for 2020, as well.
>159 Berly: Cool! I'm glad to see some interest in a Margaret Atwood 2020. It might be good for a US election year (what, oh what, will this new year bring??). I want to design it so it's as flexible as possible so I'll have to think about that.
>160 katiekrug: I'm not sure I want to commit to the whole trilogy, either, Katie, so I'm going to think about how to make this as flexible as possible. I might add Lady Oracle in, as well. I may have read it eons ago (I read Surfacing eons ago and remember loving it). It would certainly feel like a fresh read at this point even if I did read it (back in the 80s?).
I'm in a bit of a funk this week, not with my reading so much as just life. I want to retire. I know, I know.... I find myself thinking about "34 months" and this morning I though of another way to view it: after this semester, (8 weeks to go) I will have five regular semesters to go. I can do it. I know I can. And if I can't I'm in the enviable position that I could retire early. It would not be ideal from a financial perspective but it would be doable.
Hmmm, I too would love to retire now, but it's not doable. My best alternative now is to start working a 9 day fortnight from January, which will give me two days off a month, doubling my annual leave.
Then maybe in 2022 I'll drop to 4 days a week.
The earliest I can probably retire is end of December 2024.
I see that you and I are in a similar position in that we're sorting through the balance of continuing to work and retirement. It's interesting to be thinking about it every day. What a shift from most of my career when I was thinking about what might be next in said career. It sounds like you're exploring a somewhat gradual reduction in work as you slide toward actual retirement.
>167 msf59: I do remember those Atwood Aprils, Mark. I probably should have participated more frequently! I read The Blind Assassin in 2015 and gave it 4.5 stars. I read Alias Grace in 2013 and gave it 4 stars. If I do this, I want to figure out a way to do it flexibly. I may just do alternating Atwood months and let people choose what they want to read. Or perhaps I'll do "either-or" months. But if I do that and say, for example, that February is either The Blind Assassin or Oryx and Crake, then people who want to read both don't have that flexibility.
So, I'm still thinking about it. I may just say that every even-numbered month is an Atwood month. I would choose what I want to read and let others do what works for them based on their interest. Kind of like with your Atwood Aprils, I'm guessing a number of LTers would read the same thing for that shared read experience.
After dinner I will read more in Girl, Woman, Other. Yay!
Today I purchased copies of The Girl With All the Gifts (it was on the "horror" promotional table at the bookstore) and The Dutch House. The TBR stacks do keep growing. :-)
That said I have plenty of her work on the shelves and wouldn't be averse to joining in to reading through her catalogue in 2020.
If you took her series books away; she has 12 full-length books that would lend themselves ideally to a monthly read:
The Edible Woman (1969)
Lady Oracle (1976)
Life Before Man (1979)
Bodily Harm (1981)
Cat's Eye (1988)
The Robber Bride (1993)
Alias Grace (1996)
The Blind Assassin (2000)
The Penelopiad (2003)
The Heart Goes Last (2015)
I like the idea of everyone choosing their own books and reporting back to a common thread.
Hooray for a bit of spooky in October. I'll have to see what I can come up with, too.
I would like to read Lady Oracle and the collection of short stories Stone Mattress as well. I loved her collection Moral Disorder.
We have plenty of choices!
The Robber Bride (1993)
Alias Grace (1996)
The Blind Assassin (2000)
Plus The Penelopiad and Hag-Seed (2016)
Would be up for expanding my reading beyond this! Great plan.
There are so many books I've read that are not in my catalog, many more than I have listed. Oh well.
This novel captured my attention from the first page and never let go. Told in a series of vignettes, each focusing on a different woman, with a narrative style that straddles prose and poetry, it is a rich, funny, poignant, and honest exploration of identity, gender, race, culture, family, belonging, and love. The stories are individual but they also intersect, sometimes in surprising ways. The characters' unique voices are overridden by the persistent narrative style but they still emerge as complex human beings with virtues and faults and foibles. Near the end I worried that Evaristo was about to blow it with too much coincidence (the after-party almost lost her a half-star) but she resisted the temptation and delivered a perfect finale.
>171 karenmarie: I'm pleased with how many people are interested in reading Atwood in 2020, Karen. I'm definitely going to do something but may not decide until around Thanksgiving how significant a commitment I'm going to make.
>172 streamsong: "...everyone choosing their own books and reporting back to a common thread." That would be the most flexible approach, Janet. I'm still undecided about how I want to approach it, but I will likely keep it in flexible territory. I may choose my six or twelve works to read (and I'm adding Stone Mattress to the list) and then let others either join me or read something else and "report back." I know I don't have the time to host a true group read each month. Maybe I'll do that with a different author in 2023 after I'm retired!! :-D
>173 brenzi: Hi Bonnie. I gave The Blind Assassin 4.5 stars when I read it a few years ago but I admit that I don't remember it terribly well now. Atwood certainly has her fans but I have read too little to land on one side or the other of the fence. I have mostly liked what I've read.
>175 charl08: I'm glad you're interested, Charlotte. I still don't know what kind of structure I'm going to launch but I think I'm definitely in for some kind of Atwood year.
>176 thornton37814: Hi Lori. Of course, folks around here will remember the numerous times I've said I wasn't committing to challenges "next year." Ha. For 2020 I seem to be committing to some kind of Atwood group read and I've been chiming in on the BingoDOG planning thread. I like the BingoDOG because the prompts are not attached to any particular month. I have also been thinking about a personal Dorothy L. Sayers challenge, too. I need to remind myself that I still have almost three years until I can retire. After that, I can do all sorts of challenges! LOL
>178 mdoris: Hi Mary! It sounds like you might join in for at least part of a Margaret Atwood challenge next year. I will certainly include Hag-Seed on the list as I haven't yet read any of the Hogarth novels and I very much want to do so.
>179 charl08: You can see that the Evaristo landed very well for me, Charlotte. I loved it.
>182 BLBera: I'll say the same to you as what I said to Katie, Beth. Enjoy it when you get to it!
>183 Caroline_McElwee: Enjoy, Caroline!
>184 lauralkeet: I hope they acquire their copies soon, Laura. Are you able to put yourself in the queue before they arrive? The Seattle Public Library would let me put a book on hold once they had placed their order.
>185 charl08: Thanks Charlotte. I also loved the characters whose stories centered on the farm.
Hugs to you and P; those last few years before retirement are always the hardest, but you have so much positive you are accomplishing to balance it out--that's what kept me going!
>194 lauralkeet: I'm trying to remember from where I ordered it, Laura. It must have been through Book Depository. In any case, you have a good read to look forward to!
>195 jnwelch: I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, Joe!
I don't think that Atwood should have won the Booker for the Testaments. For once the Bookworld was abuzz with positive commentary about the short-list and there were plenty of good books on that list besides one that is so heavy-handed.
I try to read one Murakami book and one Atwood each year, but I dislike the Mad-Adam series and so won't read any more of them. I do want to read Robber Bride, Penelopiad, and Alias Grace, but then I am done with Atwood. Unless she starts writing at her previous level of quality, I am done. I think her poetry continues to be noteworthy, but her recent novels have been a disappointment to me.
I especially like it on cold winter nights. You can really see millions of stars.
I have many happy memories of the spring and autumn bird migrations from West of the Mississippi. Being able to hear geese, ducks, and cranes but not being able to see them very well because they are flying so high, is one of them.
I bought two books today just because I wanted to have plenty to read on the Kindle during my Hawaiian weeks (2). I bought Me: Elton John Offical Autobiography by Elton John and I bought Running with Sherman. I think two weeks in Hawaii is timed just about perfectly!
>198 ffortsa: So it sounds like you might join in on an ad hoc basis if I do some kind of Atwood challenge in 2020, Judy. Yay!
>199 benitastrnad: I haven't yet read The Testaments, Benita, but it does seem to be getting some mixed reviews. Mostly it seems that people feel it is good but not that good and that The Handmaid's Tale should perhaps have been her second Booker prize.
>200 benitastrnad: I do love many things about this rural area in which I'm living, Benita. The stars and the natural environment are among them although I miss the Willamette Valley and the Oregon Cascades.
Two weeks in Hawaii! Yay! We will be there for 10 days in December and I. Can. Not. Wait.
>203 DeltaQueen50: I'm glad you're interested in some kind of Atwood challenge in 2020, Judy. Like you, I have only read a small handful of her many works and this will be a way to read more of her oeuvre. I'll try to make it flexible so everyone who wants to can participate in a way that works for them!
>205 EBT1002: A not red-covered book and not The Testaments Atwood read would work for me - it's high time I read The Blind Assassin.
Enjoy counting the days until your December trip.
>207 karenmarie: I'm thinking early in the new year, Karen. It may set me back on my 2020 total books goal but I'm trying to focus on quality as much as quantity....!
"...A not red-covered book..." I'm missing something here.
Hmm, a summer read of Ducks, Newburyport might make the most sense. I will put that in the hopper.
>210 maggie1944: Have FUN FUN FUN, Karen! We fly out 8 weeks from yesterday so I'm relishing the anticipation.
>211 Berly: Bwahahaha. It is an evilness for which I absolutely do not apologize. xo
>215 karenmarie: Ah, no apologies needed, Karen! I knew I had seen the reference somewhere but hadn't quite processed it. In terms of the Atwood challenge, I'm leaning toward a pretty permissive and flexible format, so folks can do what they want and still have a sense of community. :-)
>216 vivians: Hi Vivian. I have read neither 10:04 nor Leaving the Atocha Station. I didn't know about the possible threads between this work and his earlier novels so I just dug in. I think it's Mark's fault (I believe he was warbling about The Topeka School. In any case, it is quite interesting so far.
My copy of The Topeka School is an eBook from the library so I've been reading it after I'm tucked up in bed (no light needed, especially helpful when I'm still awake at 1:30am and don't want to disturb P). My copy of The Dutch House is hardcover; I've been reading it in the morning with my coffee and in the evening before bed. I may have to settle on one until I finish it to be sure the adolescent male POVs don't get confused in my head.
Last evening I wasn't convinced about The Dutch House; I have been more wishy-washy about Patchett's work than some. But this morning I got very caught up in it and experienced that wonderful feeling of "I don't want to go to work because I want to stay home and read this book all day." I just started Part 2.
I am the LT’er who started calling Atwood’s famous early book the one with the red cover as opposed to the new book with the green cover.
I like Atwood’s work but I didn’t think that the Red Cover one was her best work. I also didn’t care much for Oryx and Crake but I have to admit that there is some great commentary on current western culture in that one. I think her best work is Blind Assassin then Cat’s Eye. I have several more of her books that I want to read with Robber Bride next in line.
I also think that giving her a Booker Prize for the green covered book is just trading on the fame that the red covered book has gained due to the tV show. The reviews of the green covered book are all over the place regarding quality writing. If they gave the Booker Prize for impact on society and culture I could understand why it would be given to Atwood, but it is a literary prize and I think that there were more deserving novels on the list this year than hers.
>220 brenzi: It's pretty interesting, Bonnie. It took some settling into (part of that was, I think, the mental gymnastics I was having trouble with alternating morning reading of The Dutch House with my evening reading of The Topeka School. As a psychologist myself, I'm finding TTS quite entertaining.
>221 benitastrnad: The Topeka School is my first Ben Lerner work, Benita. I can tell he knows Topeka well and perhaps loves it in spite of some interesting local history and dynamics.
>222 benitastrnad: and >223 karenmarie: I haven't read The Testaments so I can't really say but I had the initial thought that the Booker for it was perhaps one-book-in-the-series too late. Regarding Atwoods to read, I'm still thinking about what I'll do in 2020. I'm not sure I'll get to The Testaments before the end of the year so I may include that in my own list.
Have you ever read any of the elder Lerner's books, Ellen? I'd think they'd be right up your alley.
This is one of the most complex and layered novels I've read in a while. Character-driven and told from multiple points of view, its center set is Topeka, Kansas, original home of the Menninger Clinic, the Fred Phelpses, and of course Brown v. Board of Education. The latter plays no role in this story but its presence is felt as Lerner explores layers of identity, especially as they play out in a teenage boy and his parents. There are ironic riffs that repeat throughout the narrative, often parenthetically and almost always humorously, as Jonathan, Jane, and Adam tell us about Adam's serious concussion at age 8, his developing sense of justice in relation to developmentally disabled classmate Darren, and the path his life takes as a competitive debater in high school. Darren has a voice, too, and his is fascinating. Jonathan's was, for me, the least compelling - and least sympathetic - voice. Jane and Adam are central and both are elegantly developed.
I can't do this novel justice. There were moments of irritation with the author's overkill of a theme or element
As others have said, this is not a novel about a house. It is the story of Maeve and Danny, siblings who lose their mother early in life and suffer the displacement wrought by a self-interested stepmother and her two daughters. Truly a family saga, the tale moves back and forth through time, told from Danny's POV. His older sister Maeve is a wonderful character and any of us with an older sibling who took on a caretaker role will appreciate the nuances of that complicated relationship as Patchett deftly explores them. The house itself is backdrop. It's a steady unchanging presence in an ever changing and unpredictable world, offering solace and breeding resentment in the layered way of most things related to family. This is another character-driven novel by a master of character creation. Quite enjoyable.
>226 ronincats: Roni, that is SO interesting. As a clinical psychologist myself, I almost never recommended self-help books to clients. There are thousands of them and my own experience was that they rarely had much of an impact; I would turn to them when I was feeling pretty helpless in the face of a client's "stuckness." The main exception was The Dance of Anger by Harriett Lerner. I read it in my own 20s and thought it was brilliant. I still didn't recommend it often in my practice, it stayed on my go-to list even twenty years after it was published. Knowing that Ben Lerner is her son will bring a new layer to my reading of his work. I will read his other work (although I notice that Vivian recommends Leaving the Atocha Station only with reservations).
>229 msf59: Hi Mark. I would be interested in your take on The Topeka School. As I said to Beth above, I rated it slightly higher than The Dutch House although I thoroughly enjoyed the latter. Ben Lerner's writing is just a step up on the literary ladder, in my opinion.
Congrats on reaching 75!
Happy hump day.
I know. I keep a copy of The Dance of Anger on my shelves. The others that I always keep are Change: Principles of Problem Formation and Problem Resolution by Paul Watzlawick and Breaking the Patterns of Depression by Michael Yapko. Actually, I always keet two copies of the Lerner and the Yapko so I could give one away when needed.
As both you and Roni recommend the Dance of Anger I shall have a look for a copy. Sounds worth reading.
I looked as well and couldn’t find it. Might be because it was one of those short interlude things that is done between the big stories. I know I heard it so I will keep looking.
I'm thinking about seeing Judy tomorrow - did you and P like it?
>258 karenmarie: I'm late responding, Karen, but we did like it. It was painful to watch but I thought Renee Zellweger did a pretty amazing job playing Judy Garland. She must have studied hours and hours of tape. If you saw it, I hope you enjoyed it!
>233 BLBera: Thanks, Beth! You can see from my response to Richard^ that it was a good day.
>234 laytonwoman3rd: Thanks Linda!
>235 brenzi: Enjoy when you get to it, Bonnie. :-)
>236 charl08: Oh good, I'm glad I could nudge you, Charlotte.
>237 vivians: I need to go to your thread and see what your reservations about Leaving Atocha Station are, Vivian. You know I start worrying when people are adding a book to their wish list based on my recommendation. Heh. And ... I think it's safe to say that Ben Lerner's writing is not for everyone. But I quite enjoyed it.
>238 Familyhistorian: Hi Meg. And yes, Beth is once again responsible for a book I enjoyed! A Woman is No Man is not amazing but it's a solid and memorable exploration of family and culture.
>244 BLBera: I hope you like it, Beth. I do get nervous when I'm recommending a book about which people are curious but skeptical. :-)
>245 ronincats: Thanks Roni. I miss the days of feeling confident that I could hit 100+ in a year but with the current job, I'm happy to be in the 80-90 range. It is what I can do. Thirty-three more months and we'll see what I can do with so much free time! Ha.
I love the picture of your bookshelf! I used to have a shelf that looked very much like that. I hadn't thought of The Structure of Magic in a while; I remember liking that a lot when I read it, probably in my late 20s/early 30s? That is when I was doing a LOT of personal work in this kind of territory. I also thought that all of Harriett Lerner's works were excellent although The Dance of Anger was the best.
>251 benitastrnad: Hi Benita. I did not know about the festivities in the little town of Palouse. We stayed home and handed out candy. It's fun to be in a town and neighborhood where we get trick-or-treaters. We got very few in Seattle.
>252 ffortsa: Hi Judy. Thanks for the congrats!
>253 charl08: Thank you, Charlotte. Seventy-five feels good!
I haven't read The Dance of Anger in a while and I suspect some of it will feel dated. But it was one of the best and most accessible translations of current psychological theory and feminism into a self-help format. Theory has, of course, evolved since then. I think attachment has become a much more central tenet in understanding adult interpersonal relationships, challenges, rewards, and drama; attachment was imbedded in Lerner's work, I think, but less overtly than it would be today.
>255 msf59: I knew this would happen when I gave The Dutch House 3.5 stars, Mark. I liked the novel a lot! And I read over my little review now and I can see that my enjoyment did not come through (I'm going to edit to make it clearer). For me, 3.5 stars is "So good. I'm glad I read this." I think deciding between 3.5 and 4.0 stars is the place in my rating scale that gets me stuck the most frequently. Having just given The Topeka School 4 stars, I felt like 3.5 was about right for The Dutch House. I enjoyed them both a lot but The Topeka School had that extra bit of irony, complexity, and humor that I appreciated.
I think ratings are so arbitrary and difficult to pinpoint, Ellen. I'm afraid Mark will be disappointed in my rating of Olive, Again. I gave it 3.9 stars but I did really like it. *sigh* We do our best, don't we? At the end of the year when I choose my Top Ten, I might tweak a rating or two based on how well I remember it or comparing it to my other ratings.
Yes! I have the same problem, Ellen. I'm usually really clear on a 4.5 or 5, as well as 3 stars. It gets a little muddy in between. I know lots of folks break their ratings down even further (3.1, 3.2, 3.3, etc.) but that makes my head explode. I'm normally really analytical but my book ratings have become much more intuitive and gut-based over the years.
>266 Donna828: Hi Donna. We got mostly out of the habit of going to the cinema in Seattle; it was just too complicated with the size of the city and the traffic. But today we went to see another film: Harriet. It was magnificent!! I absolutely recommend it.
I have been known to do the same thing re tweaking ratings at the end of the year based on my memory of a work. Sometimes I think I should do immediate ratings and ratings three months later. I'm a bit embarrassed by how often I'll go back and see that I rated a book 4 stars and I hardly remember it!
>268 BLBera: Beth, no! Surely you will never forget when it's me who recommends a book to you! Ha. I'm kidding. I too often forget that detail myself. I sometimes use the LT "Comment" field to note who recommends a book to me but not always. Regardless, I'm glad our friendship doesn't ride on the impossibility of us liking all of the same books exactly to the same degree. :-)