TalkEllen seeks balance in 2019 - Thread 8

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75 Books Challenge for 2019

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Ellen seeks balance in 2019 - Thread 8

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1EBT1002
Edited: Sep 22, 2019, 5:47pm



"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.

2EBT1002
Edited: Sep 22, 2019, 5:54pm



"Canyon First Light of 2019" -- Photo by Archie Tucker -- National Geographic Photo contest
Grand Canyon, United States

3EBT1002
Edited: Sep 22, 2019, 5:54pm

My Rating Scale:

= 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.

6EBT1002
Edited: Oct 30, 2019, 9:02am

COMPLETED IN JULY

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

7EBT1002
Edited: Oct 15, 2019, 1:48pm

SeriesCAT ~ Hoping to whittle away on my TBR shelves

January: Series in translation ~ Blessed Are Those Who Thirst by Anne Holt, Anne Bruce (Translator)
February: YA/Children's ~ The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy
March: Series by a favorite author ~ Faithful Place by Tana French
April: Series You've Been Meaning to Get Back To ~ Dark Fire 2nd in series by C. J. Sansom
May: Newest book in a favorite series ~ Benediction by Kent Haruf
June: Series that are definitely complete ~ The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie
July: Genre: fantasy ~ Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George
August: Series set in a country/region where you do not live ~ A Room Full of Bones by Elly Griffiths
September: Genre: Mystery (cozy and seaside) ~ A Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths
October: Historical Series ~ Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear
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?

8EBT1002
Edited: Oct 30, 2019, 9:03am



RandomCAT

January: Your name in print ~ The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
February: We need a break! ~ Hotel Brasil by Frei Betto
March: Brexit Madness ~ Faithful Place by Tana French
April: Greetings from the Rooster! ~ The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea
May = I Could Have Danced All Night... ~ Dancing Fish and Ammonites by Penelope Lively
June = Pick a card, any card...Q♠️ ~ The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett and Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
July = All about birds ~ Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Life and Writing by Anne Lamont
August = Back to School ~ An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma
September = Equinox ~ Bodies of Light by Sarah Moss
October = Knock-offs, Follow-ups, Tributes, Parodies ~ Longbourn by Jo Baker
November = Childhood Memories ~ poetry
December =

9EBT1002
Edited: Oct 23, 2019, 5:33pm



1. Author uses middle name or middle initial ~ Dark Fire by C.J. Sansom
2. Debut novel ~ The Marauders by Tom Cooper
3. Book about/featuring siblings ~ True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey
4. Read a book bullet (meaning another LT member inspired you to read it) - House of Broken Angels (Joe)
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}
6. Topic or character related to medicine/health ~ The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
7. Animal on cover/in title/plays a significant role ~ The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa
8. Book with an artistic character ~ Auschwitz Violin by Maria Angels Anglada ~ violin maker and musician(s)
9. Eastern European author or setting ~ The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
10. Children’s/YA book ~ The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy
11. Alliterative title ~ Bird by Bird by Anne Lamont
12. Part of a series ~ Death in a Darkening Mist by Iona Whishaw
13. Read a CAT ~ The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin (January RandomCAT)
14. Prize-winning book ~ The Elected Member by Bernice Rubens ~ 1970 Booker Prize winner
15. Weather (title contains a weather word, or book involves/centers around a weather event) ~ Cheerful Weather for the Wedding by Julia Frances Strachey
16. Short stories or essays ~ Well-Read Black Girl by Glory Edim
17. Book made into a movie ~ Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin
18. Fairy tale (classic or reworked) ~ Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George
19. Graphic novel ~ The Initiates: A Comic Artist and a Wine Artisan Exchange Jobs by Étienne Davodeau
20. Main title has 6 or more words ~ A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
21. Cover has at least two human figures ~ Last Friends by Jane Gardam
22. Book in translation ~ Blessed are Those Who Thirst by Anne Holt
23. Food-related title or topic ~ The Proof of the Honey by Salwa Al Neimi
24. Book has an LT rating of 4.0 or more ~ Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay
25. Title contains a homophone word ~ Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

10EBT1002
Edited: Oct 19, 2019, 7:51pm

Personal Reading Challenge: Every winner of the Booker Prize since its inception in 1969

1969: P. H. Newby, Something to Answer For
1970: Bernice Rubens, The Elected Member
1970: J. G. Farrell, Troubles (awarded in 2010 as the Lost Man Booker Prize)
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
1978: Iris Murdoch, The Sea, The Sea
1979: Penelope Fitzgerald, Offshore
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
1985: Keri Hulme, The Bone People
1986: Kingsley Amis, The Old Devils
1987: Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger
1988: Peter Carey, Oscar and Lucinda
1989: Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day
1990: A. S. Byatt, Possession: A Romance
1991: Ben Okri, The Famished Road
1992: Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient ... and Barry Unsworth, Sacred Hunger
1993: Roddy Doyle, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha
1994: James Kelman, How late it was, how late
1995: Pat Barker, The Ghost Road
1996: Graham Swift, Last Orders
1997: Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things
1998: Ian McEwan, Amsterdam
1999: J. M. Coetzee, Disgrace
2000: Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin
2001: Peter Carey, True History of the Kelly Gang
2002: Yann Martel, Life of Pi
2003: DBC Pierre, Vernon God Little
2004: Alan Hollinghurst, The Line of Beauty
2005: John Banville, The Sea
2006: Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss
2007: Anne Enright, The Gathering
2008: Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger
2009: Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall
2010: Howard Jacobson, The Finkler Question
2011: Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending
2012: Hilary Mantel, Bring Up the Bodies
2013: Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries
2014: Richard Flanagan, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
2015: Marlon James, A Brief History of Seven Killings
2016: Paul Beatty, The Sellout
2017: George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo
2018: Anna Burns, Milkman
2019: Margaret Atwood, The Testaments, and Bernardine Evaristo, Girl, Woman, Other

11EBT1002
Edited: Sep 22, 2019, 6:09pm

.. ..

Abby, whom I miss every single day

12EBT1002
Edited: Sep 22, 2019, 6:13pm

13EBT1002
Sep 22, 2019, 5:47pm

14msf59
Sep 22, 2019, 6:15pm

Happy New Thread, Ellen. How is the Clarke poetry collection? Always interested in those. Watching the Seahawks but they are getting their butts kicked.

15EBT1002
Sep 22, 2019, 6:20pm

>14 msf59: Mark, I like the collection a lot. I will send it your way after I finish. The first poem took my breath away.

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.

16jessibud2
Sep 22, 2019, 6:41pm

Happy new thread, Ellen. Great toppers!

17jnwelch
Sep 22, 2019, 7:04pm

Happy New Thread, Ellen!

Love those pics up top.

18richardderus
Sep 22, 2019, 7:27pm

Ooohhh, Canyon First Light 2019 is ethereal! Just gorgeous!

Happy new thread, my dear ol' pal, and many more to come.

19banjo123
Sep 22, 2019, 7:44pm

Happy new thread!

20BLBera
Sep 22, 2019, 8:15pm

Happy new thread, Ellen. Love the Abby tribute. Will there be another kitty in your future?

I love the photo topper.

Too bad about the Seahawks.

21EBT1002
Sep 22, 2019, 9:46pm

>16 jessibud2: Thanks Shelley! I love the National Geographic photo contest.

>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.

22drneutron
Edited: Sep 22, 2019, 10:10pm

Happy new thread!

23figsfromthistle
Sep 22, 2019, 10:25pm

Happy new thread!

24Familyhistorian
Sep 23, 2019, 12:59am

Happy new thread, Ellen. Your enjoyment of The Skeleton Road reminded me that I have it around here somewhere. It sounds like it is one that I should track down.

25charl08
Sep 23, 2019, 2:02am

Happy new thread Ellen. I just read Crow Lake and according to my infallible (cough!) credit system you were one of the ones who recommended it. Loved it! What a beautiful story.

26maggie1944
Sep 23, 2019, 10:00am

Happy new thread.

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!

27DeltaQueen50
Sep 23, 2019, 7:50pm

Happy new thread, Ellen. I also have a copy of The Skeleton Road on my shelves and I didn't know that it's part of a series, I will have to be sure to get my order right when I go to read them.

28LizzieD
Sep 23, 2019, 11:25pm

Ah HA! I look forward to your new thread for lots of good commenting on good reading, Ellen.

29ronincats
Sep 23, 2019, 11:40pm

Happy New Thread, Ellen. Got your lovely note today when we picked up our mail from the PO--thank you!

30laytonwoman3rd
Sep 24, 2019, 11:30am

>11 EBT1002: Dear Abby...

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.

31LizzieD
Sep 24, 2019, 12:47pm

I have to have time between pets. We got our much loved second dog too soon after Dog 1 died. For the first month or so, I resented Cubbie a little for not being Tricks. It didn't take long for me to love her completely, but it was a lesson. (We seem to have the same dog in different guises again and again. We've been so lucky!)

32jessibud2
Sep 24, 2019, 1:41pm

>30 laytonwoman3rd:, >31 LizzieD: - I have recently lost one cat and my second one is 19 and a half, and slowing down more and more each day. I prefer to always have 2 together and prefer to bring them into the house together, too, whether or not they are related. I won't get a second one until Lexi is gone but then, I usually take a bit of time, to make sure I find the *right ones*… Like many here, the house is just too quiet and not quite *right* when it's only me, rattling around talking to myself.

33EBT1002
Edited: Sep 27, 2019, 11:36pm

>22 drneutron: and >23 figsfromthistle: Thank you both!

>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.

34EBT1002
Edited: Sep 27, 2019, 11:42pm

>26 maggie1944: I agree, Karen. I think Pete Carroll is a great coach.

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.

35EBT1002
Sep 27, 2019, 11:51pm

>28 LizzieD: Thanks Peggy.

>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.

36EBT1002
Edited: Sep 28, 2019, 12:05am

65. The Skeleton Road by Val McDermid


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.

37EBT1002
Edited: Sep 28, 2019, 12:07am

Now I am reading A is for Alibi and listening to An Obvious Fact. The former is a reread from so many years ago. The latter is another wonderfully narrated audio version of the 13th Walt Longmire series by Craig Johnson.

38jnwelch
Sep 28, 2019, 10:25am

I love the Walt Longmire books, and just picked up the new one, Land of Wolves. Some folks weren't as thrilled with the 14th, set south of the border (it's a bit more far-fetched), but I enjoyed that one, too.

39BLBera
Sep 28, 2019, 12:09pm

HI Ellen: Skeleton Road goes on my list. I've been meaning to read through the Grafton series as well. I started it years ago but would like to start from the beginning.

I hope you have a great weekend. When does the boss get back from leave?

40ronincats
Sep 28, 2019, 9:43pm

So do you have snow coming in? Looking at that map of the weather over Spokane, Idaho and Montana and it looks COLD!

41EBT1002
Edited: Sep 29, 2019, 11:47pm

66. A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton


This was a fun reread and reminder of the charm of Kinsey Milhone. I'll definitely read the second in the series although I don't know that I'll make my way through the entire alphabet. You know, too many books, too little time.

42EBT1002
Sep 29, 2019, 11:51pm

>38 jnwelch: The Walt Longmire series has help up very well for me, Joe. I like the development of the characters, including Walt's daughter and now granddaughter.

>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!

43EBT1002
Sep 29, 2019, 11:55pm

Yesterday we drove in the rain to Walla Walla to pick up our biannual wine allotment from Mark Ryan winery. Ended up tasting wines at Charles Smith and quite enjoyed ourselves.

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.

44EBT1002
Edited: Sep 29, 2019, 11:56pm

I'm still listening to An Obvious Fact on audio and tonight I will start reading They Called Us Enemy which I picked up at The Bookie (campus bookstore) last week.

45PaulCranswick
Sep 30, 2019, 2:19am

Happy new thread, Ellen.

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.

46EBT1002
Sep 30, 2019, 11:18am

>45 PaulCranswick: Hi Paul! So nice to see you. Hmmm, having all the Booker winners on the shelf sounds very cool. Do you have them shelved together? I need to get cracking on some of those I have but have not yet read. Possession is one I very much want to read in the near future.

47EBT1002
Sep 30, 2019, 11:26am

67. They Called Us Enemy by George Takei (Author), Harmony Becker (Illustrator)


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.

48streamsong
Sep 30, 2019, 11:38am

I'm leaving a quick wave. It sounds like a wonderful weekend. We had 4-6 inches of snow. UGHHHHHH!. The trees haven't even changed color yet! I'm also looking forward to the warmup promised by the weekend!

49richardderus
Sep 30, 2019, 12:40pm

>47 EBT1002: I'm glad you enjoyed it as much as I did!

*smooch*

50jnwelch
Sep 30, 2019, 1:35pm

51charl08
Sep 30, 2019, 2:25pm

>47 EBT1002: Another fan here: I loved how he credited his parents with working so hard to protect him and his siblings from the worst of the experience.

52johnsimpson
Sep 30, 2019, 3:52pm

Hi Ellen, a belated happy new thread my dear.

53BLBera
Sep 30, 2019, 8:53pm

Hi Ellen - I'll be anxious to hear about your camping trip. I hope the weather cooperates.

I also loved They Called Us Enemy. I was surprised at his lack of bitterness.

54Carmenere
Sep 30, 2019, 9:40pm

Happy 8th thread, Ellen! Stunning toppers!

55PaulCranswick
Sep 30, 2019, 11:02pm

>46 EBT1002: I am actually thinking of having a few special shelves, Ellen.

One maybe all the Booker winners;
Another for all my poetry;
Maybe the 1001 books too.

56vivians
Oct 1, 2019, 10:19am

>47 EBT1002: Hi Ellen - I'm taking They Called Us Enemy on my work trip to Denver after reading Beth's raves. There usually is no free time at these conferences, with sessions all day beginning at 7:15AM (!!!!). But I'm hoping I have enough self-discipline to read on the plane rather than watch movies! I'm so grateful to LT for exposing me to genres such as graphic memoirs which I otherwise wouldn't have read. Such a great community!

57kidzdoc
Oct 2, 2019, 8:35am

Hi, Ellen! I enjoyed your reviews of three books I've read and loved, Bodies of Light, which knocked my socks off, The Nickel Boys, and 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World. I finished Girl, Woman, Other early this morning, and I enjoyed it slightly more than Shafak's novel.

58The_Hibernator
Oct 5, 2019, 9:23pm

>47 EBT1002: Glad you liked They Called Us Enemy. I bought the book for my husband a month or so ago. Just asked him - he didn't finish it. lol. He's not as much of a reader as I am, though he's much faster.

59EBT1002
Edited: Oct 7, 2019, 4:25pm

68. Longbourn by Jo Baker


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.

60EBT1002
Edited: Oct 7, 2019, 4:27pm

Prudence and I went camping at Potholes State Park in central Washington this weekend. It was beautiful -- cold at night be clear skies and a bit breezy. Potholes is a fascinating geological area and is on the flyway for many migrating birds. We saw white pelicans. herons, egrets, flickers, hawks, California Quail, a male Ringneck Pheasant, and the highlight of it all: several large V's of Sandhill Cranes flying overhead, probably 300-400 all told on Saturday night at sunset. It was spectacular!!!!

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?)

61msf59
Oct 6, 2019, 10:25pm

Hooray for They Called Us Enemy! Terrific GN. Your camping trip sounds fantastic, with the stars and the plentiful wildlife. I have not heard or seen any migrating Sand Hill Cranes yet.

BTW- I am loving and nearly done with A Ladder to the Sky. Boyne has delivered again.

62EBT1002
Edited: Oct 6, 2019, 10:33pm

My reading time is being cut into a bit by the delightful "Frankie Drake Mysteries." What fun.

63EBT1002
Edited: Oct 7, 2019, 4:28pm

>48 streamsong: We had a drastic week of winter here, too, Janet, but autumn seems to have reasserted herself. Thank goodness!

>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.

64EBT1002
Edited: Oct 7, 2019, 4:28pm

>51 charl08: I liked that, too, Charlotte. It was a great example of retrospective appreciation of one's parents' efforts and sacrifices.

>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.

65EBT1002
Edited: Oct 7, 2019, 4:28pm

>54 Carmenere: Thank you, Lynda!

>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!

66jnwelch
Oct 7, 2019, 8:45am

Hi, Ellen. I'm another fan of Longbourn. I thought she was very clever in complementing Pride and Prejudice from that different point of view, and also in bringing in surrounding world events. The ending seemed like a clever counterpoint, too, as I remember it, with love being the decision driver over economics.

67Caroline_McElwee
Oct 7, 2019, 9:22am

>60 EBT1002: sounds lovely Ellen. I too always love to see the stars when I'm away from London, where they are not obscured by city light pollution. Glad you got to use your little trailer. And so many birds. I'd have loved to see the cranes.

Must get to Longbourne.

68jessibud2
Oct 7, 2019, 11:41am

>59 EBT1002: - I listened to Longbourne on audio not long ago and it was so well done! Excellent book.

69EBT1002
Oct 7, 2019, 4:28pm

Touchstones are working today! Hooray!

70EBT1002
Oct 7, 2019, 4:33pm

>66 jnwelch: Absolutely, Joe. I wasn't sure where Baker would land on the happy ending scale; she balanced it perfectly (IMO).

>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!

71Berly
Oct 8, 2019, 11:59pm

Hello, there!! Yes, I am alive. LOL. Glad you had such a fun camping weekend under a beautiful starry sky. And, like you, I loved They Called Us Enemy--definitley one of my faves of the year.

72karenmarie
Oct 9, 2019, 7:34am

Hi Ellen!

>59 EBT1002: So glad you liked Longbourn. It was a happy surprise for me too.

73BLBera
Oct 9, 2019, 9:41am

Hi Ellen: Your camping trip sounds wonderful. I'm glad work is fine now. Is your boss back yet? Thirty-four months will fly!

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!

74EBT1002
Oct 9, 2019, 6:41pm

>71 Berly: Hi Kim! I am so glad you are alive. I mean, I'm really super glad. :-) xoxo
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 how whether things change when my boss does return.

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?

75brenzi
Oct 9, 2019, 9:56pm

Hi Ellen, I'm still waiting for my library copy of They Called Us Enemy and you've added to my desire to get to it. Also, Longbourne. If you haven't read Baker's The Body Lies, that was also really good.

You've got snow? I always thought we got the first (and last and in between) snow. Heh.

76BLBera
Oct 9, 2019, 10:10pm

I've read both The Body Lies and A Country Road, A Tree. The later was a fictional account of Beckett's WWII experience. I really loved that. The Body Lies is more of a thriller and is also very good.

It sounds like work is going as well as can be expected?

77LizzieD
Oct 10, 2019, 12:02am

I also enjoyed Longbourn and need to go somewhere else in order to see the stars. I miss them!

78EBT1002
Oct 10, 2019, 12:06am

>75 brenzi: Hi Bonnie. It's crazy for us to have snow this early -- and it was pretty much melted by mid-day but it never really warmed up. I feel like I'm having to skip all my autumn wear and go right to winter!

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.

79EBT1002
Oct 10, 2019, 12:06am

>77 LizzieD: I hope you can take a little road trip to see the stars, Peggy! It's such a treat to look up at the sky and see so many constellations and the Milky Way.

80banjo123
Oct 10, 2019, 12:17am

Hi Ellen! Glad that work is going better. And that sounds like a lovely camping trip.

81EBT1002
Oct 10, 2019, 12:37am

I shared this on Peggy's thread but wanted to also share it here.

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.

82Berly
Oct 10, 2019, 12:42am

83Caroline_McElwee
Oct 10, 2019, 5:51am

>81 EBT1002: the extremes make one forget that agreeing to disagree is a common standpoint Ellen. Probably half my friends don't share my position, we dispute, we don't often move much in either direction, although can find some common ground from time to time. Acknowledging the right to hold opposing or disparate views is important though.

84lauralkeet
Oct 10, 2019, 6:54am

>81 EBT1002: that's pretty incredible, and also heartening.

85jnwelch
Oct 10, 2019, 9:40am

>81 EBT1002: This gives me hope in multiple ways, Ellen. What a great conversation. It is so impossible to talk politics with Trump supporters; it helps a lot to hear there are still thoughtful Republicans like this. In my view, George W was a well-meaning "Gentleman's C" student who unfortunately let Cheney run the show. But I'd take him in a blink over the current prez.

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.

86katiekrug
Oct 10, 2019, 10:17am

>81 EBT1002: - Thanks for sharing that story, Ellen. I was a moderate Republican for a long time. I follow a lot of "Never Trump" Republicans on Twitter, and they are very thoughtful and smart. Of course, as I've gotten older, I've moved much more to the left, so now about the only thing I agree with them on is that Trump is a disaster.

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.

87richardderus
Oct 10, 2019, 2:18pm

>81 EBT1002: Heartening message indeed. The universe gave you a great boost!

88brenzi
Oct 10, 2019, 4:56pm

>81 EBT1002: Wow that's terrific Ellen. It's so good to know that there are some reasonable Republicans out there. I wish I knew some but my conversations with the ones I know have been so heated we avoid the subject of Trump at all costs. I like the idea that he may end up being the thing that finally unites the country. That would be wonderful.

89BLBera
Oct 10, 2019, 9:06pm

>81 EBT1002: That does give one hope, Ellen.

90EBT1002
Edited: Oct 10, 2019, 9:36pm

>82 Berly: :-) indeed, Kim!

>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.

91EBT1002
Oct 10, 2019, 9:41pm

>84 lauralkeet: It was heartening, indeed, Laura. Not only was I glad to have such intelligent conversation with women with whom I disagree on some fundamental issues, but I was heartened by the reminder that good people can disagree respectfully.

>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.

92EBT1002
Oct 10, 2019, 9:48pm

>86 katiekrug: I thought of you during the dinner, Katie, remembering your encounters with GWB and your experience of him as warm and compassionate and authentic. Like Joe and you, I believe he was a man of integrity, perhaps not the smartest on the block but smart enough, and too easily led by those around him. Integrity, warmth, compassion, humility, authenticity.... those are what we are missing in our current "leadership."

>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.

93EBT1002
Oct 10, 2019, 10:16pm

Do authors make more money in royalties if/when we buy their books in hardcover rather than waiting for the softcover release?

94EBT1002
Edited: Oct 10, 2019, 11:19pm

69. The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan


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.

95Familyhistorian
Oct 11, 2019, 1:37am

>59 EBT1002: I had never read any Jane Austen before I read Longbourne so I decided to read Pride and Prejudice in tandem with i. It was a very interesting experience as one read informed the other.

Your conversation with the thoughtful Republican ladies puts a different perspective on things, doesn't it?

96BLBera
Oct 11, 2019, 8:52am

>94 EBT1002: This one does sound good, Ellen. And I'm always looking for good books set in Ireland.

97EBT1002
Edited: Oct 11, 2019, 8:57am

>95 Familyhistorian: Reading them together must have been quite interesting, Meg. I've only read Pride and Prejudice once and it was a few years ago, but I thought it interesting that Baker said, to wit, that if the meal was eaten in P&P it was prepared in Longbourn, and if Elizabeth and Jane were dropped off at a gathering in P&P, James drove them there in the carriage in Longbourn. I must reread P&P soon, while the details of Longbourn are still fresh for me.

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.

98EBT1002
Edited: Oct 11, 2019, 8:59am

>96 BLBera: Morning Beth. The second in the Cormac Reilly series was recently reviewed in The Seattle Times and it inspired me to put The Ruin on hold. I also have the second one, The Scholar, on hold.

99EBT1002
Edited: Oct 11, 2019, 9:01am

Currently reading: Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear. For October SeriesCAT. I feel like i have been on a major mystery binge.

100BLBera
Oct 11, 2019, 9:06am

I find mysteries very comforting, Ellen. They are my go-to comfort reading.

101richardderus
Oct 11, 2019, 9:51am

>93 EBT1002: Yes. Also, the advance against royalties "earns out" faster when you buy a hardcover; the retail price it's calculated on is higher. Even after deeper discounting is taken into account...after 45% off retail, royalties drop like rocks...hardcovers still out-earn paperbacks.

102streamsong
Oct 11, 2019, 11:24am

I thought Longbourn was surprisingly good, too. It was a great, inventive backstory. I've read several other pastiches of P&P that just didn't hold up such as Death at Pemberley and my most recent, a Bollywood style romance called Pride Prejudice and Other Flavors.

Love the stars. Definitely one of the 'things' about my backyard which faces east toward the Sapphire mountains.

103thornton37814
Oct 12, 2019, 8:59am

I think a lot of Republicans would like to see a viable candidate run against Trump. Right now the choices aren't stellar.

104laytonwoman3rd
Oct 12, 2019, 10:20am

I do wish more Republicans would speak up. I'm pretty sure there are a LOT of them who aren't happy with their fearless leader.

105EBT1002
Oct 12, 2019, 11:42am

>100 BLBera: Mysteries as go-to comfort reading was long true for me, too, Beth, but I feel like I got away from them a bit. Clearly I'm needing that easier reading space at present because it's just what I feel like. I have the usual stacks and shelves of "literary" works to which I will of course return.

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.

106EBT1002
Oct 12, 2019, 11:54am

>101 richardderus: Thank you, Richard. Having never published a book, I have not known how all that works. I assume(d) the system is set up with the publishing company's bottom line most in focus. I'm a great lover of libraries and I use both mine liberally but I also like supporting authors (and one look at the stacks and shelves around my house suggest that I do my part!). I'm not sure what you mean by the advance on royalties "earning out"... I can google this.

107EBT1002
Edited: Oct 12, 2019, 12:01pm

>102 streamsong: Hi Janet!

"...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.

108richardderus
Oct 12, 2019, 12:17pm

>104 laytonwoman3rd:, >107 EBT1002: What's their incentive to do so? Given that these are politicians we're speaking of, moral high ground is long lost in the quest for office. And their Agenda (capitalized to indicate its formal, explicitly stated nature) is getting met. I suppose many are repulsed personally by the nauseating figurehead enabling their Agenda's passing into law, but what price success?

109maggie1944
Oct 12, 2019, 12:28pm

I had the great good luck to attend Rachel Maddow's Seattle appearance for her book tour, last night. As expected the Seattle audience was more than enthusiastic and interrupted her multiple times when she said something with which "everyone" agreed. Her book Blowout is a Must Read for every American, I think. We are in dangerous times with Democracy itself under attack worldwide. I appreciated Rachel's optimism, she believes we will stand up for Democracy, and she also has great faith that the Climate Change crisis will be addressed successfully. She looks to all the work being done by younger people, and she believes they will succeed. So nice to be in the presence of such a smart woman and hear her being optimistic. Please read the book.

110BLBera
Oct 12, 2019, 2:29pm

>105 EBT1002: I think of the traditional mysteries as mini morality plays. The world is righted at the end, which is very comforting when the world around one is in chaos. Mysteries nowadays are more nuanced, but still, I think there is an expectation that a mystery will be solved and wrongs righted.

111EBT1002
Oct 12, 2019, 4:26pm

>108 richardderus: I tend to agree with you, Richard. Integrity and morality appear not to be powerful enough to override the "rewards" they are reaping with him in the white house. Even if we can get him out of office next year, the conservative judicial that is being set in place will affect our country for decades to come. They seem not to care that our freedoms, environment, and the constitution itself are in danger.

>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.

112msf59
Oct 12, 2019, 5:42pm

Happy Saturday, Ellen. Nice seeing you posting around today. As you saw on my thread, I thoroughly enjoyed both Deep Creek & Frankissstein. Love the fine balance of exceptional NF and fiction. I plan on starting 10 Minutes, 38 Seconds by the end of next week.

Reading any poetry?

113EBT1002
Edited: Oct 12, 2019, 6:49pm

>112 msf59: Hi Mark. Yes, as I'm risking my health by watching the Cougs play football (and probably lose), I'm futzing around on LT at the same time. P and I tried to dig in the yard to plant bulbs earlier today but the ground is just too hard. As we think about retirement, we're definitely thinking about places where we can garden more.

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.

114richardderus
Oct 12, 2019, 8:26pm

>111 EBT1002: They seem not to care that our freedoms, environment, and the constitution itself are in danger.

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.

115EBT1002
Oct 12, 2019, 10:12pm

>114 richardderus: Methinks you are too correct, Richard. It's disheartening.

116maggie1944
Oct 13, 2019, 11:36am

This is exactly what Maddow's book is about. I'm only started but I think it will be a great read.

117Familyhistorian
Oct 13, 2019, 12:40pm

Mysteries are one of my preferred genres. It is comforting that most come with a neat ending, so not like real life!

118EBT1002
Oct 13, 2019, 1:29pm

>116 maggie1944: I'll be interested in your thoughts about Maddow's book once you read it all, Karen.

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.

119EBT1002
Oct 13, 2019, 1:30pm

>117 Familyhistorian: I agree, Meg. I'm enjoying my current Maisie Dobbs mystery quite a bit!

120maggie1944
Edited: Oct 13, 2019, 4:03pm

Ellen, I agree that the perspective which is the most troubling is not the horrible misbehavior of "45" but the overwhelming silence of the entire Republican party. I asked a lady here, who clearly has been a life-long Republican, whether she still "supports" Trump even though clearly he lies every day. She shook her head and said yes. I asked how could she do that, and she said: "I try to just focus on the good he does". I stopped at that point as she was one of our older residents and I'm not sure she would be up to a real conversation about current affairs.

Oh, shoot, Seahawks just lost their lead. But there is time in the fourth quarter to do all kinds of stuff!

121richardderus
Oct 13, 2019, 4:33pm

>120 maggie1944: "I try to just focus on the good he does".

Not being sarcastic: What good thing has 45 done?

122brenzi
Oct 13, 2019, 4:48pm

>121 richardderus: Well he does a lot of good things for himself and his family Richard but the rest of us are left to fend for ourselves.

I also consider mysteries to be a comfort read Ellen. For the most part anyway. Hmmm probably not The Wolf and the Watchman **shudder**

123EBT1002
Edited: Oct 13, 2019, 6:37pm

I just downloaded American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson from the library. It seems to have mixed reviews. Has anyone here read it? Thoughts?

124EBT1002
Oct 13, 2019, 6:37pm

>120 maggie1944: That mentality astonishes me, Karen. The good he does? That is what I mean by the focus on the installation of conservative judges who will affect this country for decades to come. Other than that, I'm not sure what "good" she could mean. (I'm allowing for the judges; though it leads me to believe that the country will head in a terrible direction in the coming decades, I'll allow others their conservative views.)

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.

125EBT1002
Edited: Oct 13, 2019, 6:54pm

It's a gray day in eastern Washington and the Sunday afternoon blues have hit. Time to brew a mug of hot tea, settle down in my favorite reading chair, and let Maisie Dobbs distract me.

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.

126EBT1002
Oct 13, 2019, 6:52pm

127richardderus
Oct 13, 2019, 7:30pm

>126 EBT1002: My Booker lightning round is up on my thread, post 213.

128Berly
Oct 13, 2019, 7:48pm

Yay for a Flicker sighting, Maisie Dobbs and the Booker Prize!!

129katiekrug
Oct 13, 2019, 8:18pm

I read American Spy earlier this year, Ellen, and was not a fan. I gave it 2.5 stars. My comments:

"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."

130maggie1944
Oct 13, 2019, 8:31pm

<121> Well, Richard, as I stated I did not pursue the conversation. This is a woman well into her 90s who is relatively healthy and able however does get confused easily. I am sure she is relying on her lifetime of commitment and spends no time thinking about the situations Trump has created and made worse. I try to not "bedevil" our "little old ladies" who really are not competent to think deeply about politics. I catch myself hoping they will forget to vote, which many of them do.

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".

131BLBera
Oct 13, 2019, 8:40pm

I loved A Woman Is No Man, Ellen. I haven't read American Spy.

132richardderus
Oct 13, 2019, 8:55pm

>130 maggie1944: Oh no, I'd never ever encourage having that kind of conversation with your fellow dwellers! Disagreements that can't be resolved poison the air for absolutely everyone. I avoid the desire to scream at the people I (at 60, FAR the youngest person here voluntarily) know do not have the desire or the ability to examine issues without resorting to name-calling.

I just wonder what *any*one* can point to that 45 has done that benefited them personally, leave aside the country.

133EBT1002
Oct 13, 2019, 10:50pm

70. Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear


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.

134EBT1002
Edited: Oct 13, 2019, 11:05pm

>127 richardderus: I remember seeing that post, Richard. Your comments about Ducks, Newburyport are somewhat similar to those in the Guardian piece. He said that most people simply won't get it but that those who do will really get it - and will love it. I'm intrigued, I must say, although the notion of a novel with more than 1,000 pages but only 8 sentences is intimidating!

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.

135EBT1002
Edited: Oct 13, 2019, 11:15pm

>128 Berly: Hi Kim. Yes indeed, those are all good things!

>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.

136lauralkeet
Oct 14, 2019, 6:50am

>134 EBT1002: I should probably get back to this series. Pardonable Lies would be the next one for me as well and I'm glad to see you liked it.

137karenmarie
Oct 14, 2019, 8:15am

My parents were both life-long Republicans. We stopped talking about politics when I was 13 because I realized we'd never agree. Dad said I'd change my mind when I started earning a good living and become conservative, but at 66 I can attest that I haven't yet and don't plan on it any time soon.

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.

138EBT1002
Oct 14, 2019, 8:59am

>136 lauralkeet: It took me a while to "get into" Pardonable Lies, Laura, but I think it was my own preconceived skepticism. That, and her annoying habit of describing what everyone is wearing, especially Maisie, in every scene change. But I think it's my favorite of the series so far.

>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.

139EBT1002
Edited: Oct 14, 2019, 9:04am

I started reading my hardback copy of Girl, Woman, Other last night and it's already excellent. I've only read the chapter dedicated to Amma, but in which we meet some of the other characters whose chapters are yet to come (based on the table of contents).

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.

140EBT1002
Edited: Oct 14, 2019, 9:34am

I thought I'd see if the image addresses for the book cover images is working again. Or yet. Or something.



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.

141lauralkeet
Oct 14, 2019, 9:32am

>140 EBT1002: Ellen, I can see the image but a few folks have mentioned on my thread that they can't see Amazon cover images. The solution to this is to always use an LT image from the member-uploaded covers. If there isn't one that matches your cover, you can add it. Get the URL for your cover, go to the "Change cover" section, and paste the URL into the "Grab one from the web" box.

142EBT1002
Oct 14, 2019, 9:34am

>141 lauralkeet: Thanks Laura. I just changed that for Girl, Woman, Other above. Hopefully this will fix this little bug for me!

143EBT1002
Edited: Oct 14, 2019, 9:42am

71. Catfulness: A cat's guide to achieving mindfulness by CATA




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.

144Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Oct 15, 2019, 2:38pm

>118 EBT1002: I find it hard to understand people who continue to vote against their own interests, as so many do Ellen.

145lauralkeet
Oct 14, 2019, 5:02pm

>140 EBT1002: Ellen, you must be clairvoyant. Your current read now shares the 2019 Booker Prize honors with The Testaments!

146thornton37814
Oct 14, 2019, 5:26pm

>71 Berly: With a title like that, it fully deserves to be counted whether you liked it or not. Meow! (Sherlock dictated that while his brothers were sleeping.)

147BLBera
Oct 14, 2019, 7:04pm

>135 EBT1002: Makes perfect sense to me, Ellen.

Great Booker news! Two winners. And you are reading one of them.

148ronincats
Oct 14, 2019, 7:32pm

>144 Caroline_McElwee: See What's the Matter With Kansas? by Thomas Frank to see this addressed back in 2004.

Loving the discussion here, Ellen!

149EBT1002
Edited: Oct 14, 2019, 8:55pm

TWO winners of the Booker Prize for 2019. I don't know, somehow that seems like a cop out by the committee. I haven't yet read The Testaments and I've only just started Girl, Woman, Other but I wonder if the prize was given to Atwood for, well, for being Atwood, and given to Evaristo for the novel itself. And just to be clear, I don't begrudge Atwood's nod; she is an amazing novelist. But perhaps The Handmaid's Tale should have been given the prize way back when.

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."

150EBT1002
Edited: Oct 14, 2019, 8:54pm

>144 Caroline_McElwee: It is befuddling, Caroline.

>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!

151brenzi
Oct 14, 2019, 8:54pm

Yes, total cop out Ellen. In my opinion you hit the nail on the head with the Atwood remark.

152EBT1002
Edited: Oct 14, 2019, 8:58pm

>150 EBT1002: Hi Bonnie. P just suggested that Atwood should give her prize winnings to Evaristo since the latter probably needs it more in order to support her writing of her next novel. Heh.

153EBT1002
Edited: Oct 14, 2019, 9:03pm

So I was just thinking more about Margaret Atwood. She won the Booker in 2000 for The Blind Assassin which I read and gave 4.5 stars. But I've read rather too little of her oeuvre. So, in addition to thinking about dedicating 2020 to Dorothy L. Sayers, I'm thinking about dedicating it to Margaret Atwood. I know there was a year-long Atwood focus a few years ago, but I might just have to go rogue and do it all over again (I didn't participate the first time around).

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.

154lauralkeet
Oct 14, 2019, 9:12pm

>152 EBT1002: Ellen, apparently Atwood is donating her share of the prize to the Canadian Indigenous charity Indspire. The Guardian has a good article with reactions from both winners:
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/oct/14/booker-prize-judges-break-the-rule...

155BLBera
Oct 14, 2019, 10:19pm

I might be tempted into a Year of Atwood. I have several of her books on my shelves. Just saying.

156EBT1002
Oct 14, 2019, 10:40pm

>154 lauralkeet: Thanks for the link, Laura. That's a nice essay and I appreciate what both authors said. I love Atwood's comment that she is "too old and has too many handbags" to spend it on herself. And I love Evaristo's comment that of course she would prefer to have all the prize money (dumb question) but that she is happy to share it with "an amazing author."

>155 BLBera: You know having company will nudge me toward a commitment, Beth. :-)

157EBT1002
Oct 14, 2019, 11:34pm

>155 BLBera: I'm thinking a hybrid author read for 2020, Beth. Maybe six books over twelve months?
I should have read The Testaments by then so others I think I would be interested in reading include

Cat's Eye
Hag-Seed
Oryx and Crake
The Year of the Flood
MaddAddam
The Robber Bride
The Penelopiad

What else?

I'm saying this when I have not generally been drawn to speculative fiction. I'm interested in input from true Atwood aficionados.

158banjo123
Oct 15, 2019, 12:35am

Hi Ellen! Kindle/Library trick. If you put your kindle on airplane mode, it won't sync, and you can keep your library books on it forever. (although you can't get NEW books during this time. ) When I am traveling I just put a lot of library books on the kindle and put it onto airplane, and then I don't have to worry about having nothing to read. (unless, of course, the kindle breaks in which case there is the emergency back-up paper book.)

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.

159Berly
Oct 15, 2019, 2:09am

>157 EBT1002: I would be up for some of those!! I have read most of those, but would be happy to read the few I haven't and a re-read or two and, of course, I would love to add my thoughts. Yay!!

160katiekrug
Oct 15, 2019, 8:12am

>157 EBT1002: - Good list. I don't want to commit to reading the entire MaddAddam trilogy (but I definitely want to finally get to O&C), so would substitute others, including a re-read of Alias Grace. I also loved Lady Oracle and would recommend that for anyone wanting to read one of her earliest novels.

161jnwelch
Oct 15, 2019, 9:54am

That's a good list, Ellen. I can't say much about Atwood (I've read The Handmaid's Tale, with The Testaments coming up), but I did like Hag-Seed a lot - it's my favorite Shakespeare "adaptation" (there's got to be a better word - inspired by?) so far.

162richardderus
Oct 15, 2019, 10:54am

>157 EBT1002: Ooohhh, The Penelopiad! I really enjoyed that read back in the Aughties. That's a re-readable one.

Happy holiday hangover.

163EBT1002
Oct 15, 2019, 11:35am

>158 banjo123: Morning Rhonda. I have definitely used that kindle/library trick before and will still use it when I need a book for a couple more days, but the Seattle Public Library system is very savvy -- if you keep the book beyond its due date, the system still charges you a fine. I don't mind library fines when necessary (although in Seattle, the fines go into the general fund, not a library-specific fund, so I'm less happy with that). In any case, I wish the local library on-line system was just a bit more sophisticated.

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?).

164EBT1002
Oct 15, 2019, 11:37am

>161 jnwelch: Hiya Joe. Perhaps if we do a Margaret Atwood 2020 you'll join in for a book or two.

>162 richardderus: No holiday hangover here, Richard, as yesterday was just an ordinary Monday workday for me. And I will look forward to The Penelopiad as one of my Atwood reads next year!

165EBT1002
Oct 15, 2019, 11:41am

Tuesday morning. Last night I stayed up a bit late reading Girl, Woman, Other. This morning I read the "Carole" sub-chapter with my coffee. What an excellent, excellent work!

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.

166Caroline_McElwee
Oct 15, 2019, 2:52pm

>165 EBT1002: Bernadine read from the Carole section at the event I went to on Sunday Ellen, all shortlisted novelists read from their books.

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.

167msf59
Oct 15, 2019, 6:51pm

>157 EBT1002: You know, I love this idea, Ellen. If you recall I hosted Atwood April for a few years. I still have several of her earlier novels to get to. I would also add The Blind Assassin to the list, for those who haven't read it. I agree with Rhonda too and would also include Alias Grace.

168EBT1002
Oct 15, 2019, 8:49pm

>166 Caroline_McElwee: What a great event that must have been, Caroline.

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.

169EBT1002
Oct 15, 2019, 8:54pm

We're switching back and forth between the Cardinals-Nationals game and the debates.
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. :-)

170PaulCranswick
Oct 15, 2019, 9:14pm

Ellen I have been unconvinced by Atwood despite liking Alias Grace. I didn't like The Handmaid's Tale and am not particularly looking forward to the follow-up.

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)
Surfacing (1972)
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)
Hag-Seed (2016)

171karenmarie
Oct 16, 2019, 9:46am

Hi Ellen!

Alias Grace was my RL book club’s inaugural read in 1997. It’s also the only book by Atwood I’ve read but I have these yet-to-be-read ones on my shelves:

The Penelopiad
Cat's Eye
Oryx and Crake
The Blind Assassin
The Robber Bride

I might be interested in reading Atwood next year.

172streamsong
Oct 16, 2019, 9:57am

I agree with >158 banjo123: that Stone Mattress is an amazing collection of short stories. And I'm also fond of her poetry with one of my favorites being an older collection called Morning in the Burned House.

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.

173brenzi
Oct 16, 2019, 6:49pm

Hi Ellen, I'm not a huge Atwood fan but the favorite of the few I've read was Alias Grace which everyone will tell you is an outlier and not typical of her writing. I liked The Handmaid's Talewhich I read a few years ago and her story collection Wilderness Tips. The Blind Assassin was just ok. I might consider doing one or two others and I am planning to read The Testaments.

174BLBera
Oct 16, 2019, 10:23pm

>157 EBT1002: You're a trendsetter, Ellen! I've read all those you listed except Cat's Eye and The Robber Bride. I think I own both though and would like to read those. Hag-Seed is great.

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!

175charl08
Oct 17, 2019, 2:45am

I've read a few of the historical novels -
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.

176thornton37814
Oct 17, 2019, 10:10am

While I'm not really making commitments to challenges or author reads (other than the continuing Donna Leon portion of the one challenge), a couple of her books are on my wish list and I might join in to read those. Of the ones I've read, Hag-Seed is my favorite in the Hogarth Shakespeare series.

177ffortsa
Oct 17, 2019, 2:23pm

I was looking for a list of Atwood books I've read, and couldn't find any in my catalog. Finally realized I'd read it in 2005, before my tenure here, although some of the scenes are still vivid in my mind. If you care to do an Atwood read nexr year, I would be happy to join in.

There are so many books I've read that are not in my catalog, many more than I have listed. Oh well.

178mdoris
Edited: Oct 18, 2019, 6:45pm

Ellen, I've read 10 of M. Atwood's books and some I read such a long time ago that I can't remember them well. Most recently I loved Hag- Seed and the Stone Mattress stories. I think she is amazing. I think I loved her early novels the best though. I have never read any of her poetry. I must! I am waiting in the hold queue at the library for The Testaments.

179charl08
Oct 18, 2019, 8:53am

Oh, I read on Mark's thread you are loving the Evaristo, and I came here and I shall have to become a more patient person, clearly....!

180EBT1002
Oct 19, 2019, 8:04pm

72. Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo


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.

181katiekrug
Oct 19, 2019, 9:04pm

>180 EBT1002: - I just bought the Evaristo as part of my "Treat Day" yesterday, Ellen. Really looking forward to it!

182BLBera
Oct 19, 2019, 10:10pm

>180 EBT1002: It sounds wonderful, Ellen. Can't wait to get to it.

183Caroline_McElwee
Oct 20, 2019, 5:55am

>180 EBT1002: That is great news Ellen. I'll get to it next month.

184lauralkeet
Oct 20, 2019, 8:06am

>180 EBT1002: Ooh five stars! That's good to see. I'm on the library list, but it looks like they have yet to acquire copies for circulation. I'm not entirely opposed to buying it, but I'm not in a hurry either.

185charl08
Oct 20, 2019, 8:23am

>180 EBT1002: Great review, Ellen. I think my favourite characters were based on the farm, it has stayed with me, in my head rather like the awful, larger than life family in Cold Comfort Farm - but in a good way. I really hope the Booker win has a great effect on her career - I really liked her Mr Loverman and look forward to buying some reissues of her earlier books too.

186EBT1002
Edited: Oct 20, 2019, 7:42pm

>170 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul. That is an impressive list of works, isn't it? I'm not sure I'm ready to commit to a work a month but I will think about it. That list is tempting. I'm favoriting the post.

>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.

187EBT1002
Edited: Oct 20, 2019, 7:50pm

>174 BLBera: I don't know about trendsetting, Beth, but I'm pleased to see how much interest there is in some kind of group Atwood endeavor in 2020.

>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

188EBT1002
Oct 20, 2019, 7:56pm

>177 ffortsa: I have the same challenge sometimes, Judy. I created a collection called "Read before 2011" which is the year I joined LT. Of course, there are hundreds of books I read before 2011 that never made it into my LT library but sometimes I add one to that collection. Surfacing is one Atwood I read well before 2011. I think I probably read it in the 1980s when I was in graduate school.

>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.

189richardderus
Oct 20, 2019, 8:00pm

Hi Ellen! That is all. Oh, except Hi P!

190EBT1002
Oct 20, 2019, 8:01pm

>181 katiekrug: I hope you enjoy Girl, Woman, Other as much as I did, Katie!

>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.

191EBT1002
Oct 20, 2019, 8:03pm

>185 charl08: I had a copy of Mr. Loverman on my shelves for a while; I'm not sure it made the trip across the state when we moved here from Seattle. Now I want to reacquire it! Like you, I hope the Booker win elevates her career. I imagine more of her works will become more available.

192EBT1002
Oct 20, 2019, 8:04pm

>189 richardderus: Hi Richard!

193ronincats
Oct 20, 2019, 8:47pm

I've always wanted to read the MaddAddam trilogy, Ellen, so might get the inspiration to actually do it from you if you set up a thread next year.

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!

194lauralkeet
Oct 20, 2019, 9:08pm

>190 EBT1002: yes Ellen, I was able to add my name to the library list. I think I'm #20, which isn't too bad. I'm a little confused about the book's availability in the US. On Amazon, it's only available through a third-party seller. So I'm not sure when my library will have it.

195jnwelch
Oct 20, 2019, 9:37pm

Great to hear re Girl, Woman, Other, Ellen. I hope to read it before the end of the year.

196EBT1002
Oct 20, 2019, 10:28pm

>193 ronincats: Oh good, another vote for some kind of hosted Margaret Atwood read in 2020. I'll make it flexible so folks can read what they want! And many thanks for the hugs and kind words, Roni. I appreciate the reminder to focus on the positive impact I'm trying to have. I received a couple of cards for "Boss' Day" and the expression of appreciation was moving. It is indeed the reason I can keep going for another 34 months or so.

>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!

197Familyhistorian
Oct 21, 2019, 3:49am

I remember that no challenge thing you were going to do was it last year or the year before, Ellen. I don’t think that it would ever work. Lol

198ffortsa
Oct 21, 2019, 11:52am

I just looked up Atwood's bibliography on Wikipedia. That woman has been BUSY. As Jim said when I mentioned it, she always says she writes for a living. While I've been pretty bad about challenges and commitments to read authors here, I hope to read at least some Atwood next year.

199benitastrnad
Oct 21, 2019, 3:16pm

I am just now getting back to LT. Last week was Mid-terms and so for the week before and last week I was very busy at the library.

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.

200benitastrnad
Oct 21, 2019, 3:19pm

I am glad that the night sky in eastern Washington continues to impress you. Down here in the South the humidity and the low altitudes make for very poor night sky visibility. I love the night sky out West. It is so big.

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.

201maggie1944
Oct 21, 2019, 10:05pm

I love listening to the Canada geese, but I do not see as many as I used to see in the autumn. It is autumn, yes? End of October, beginning of November is my idea of the beginning of the wet, dreary, dark and damp months for the pacific northwest on the west side of the mountains. Today was a good example, rained all day long, on and off. Poor Gretchen did not get much walking.

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!

202EBT1002
Oct 21, 2019, 10:55pm

So I have this lovely copy of Ducks, Newburyport on my shelves now. It's huge and intimidating. I wonder if there would be interest in a shared/group read at some point in the next few months? Anyone? (Bueller?)

203DeltaQueen50
Oct 21, 2019, 11:10pm

Add me to those interested in reading more Margaret Atwwod next year, Ellen. I have read The Handmaid's Tale, Alias Grace and The Robber Bride and although they are all very different, I loved all three.

204EBT1002
Oct 21, 2019, 11:51pm

>197 Familyhistorian: Yeah, Meg, I'm not very good at not doing challenges! :-D

>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.

205EBT1002
Oct 21, 2019, 11:54pm

>201 maggie1944: The best place for big Vs of Canada Geese was the Willamette Valley, Karen. We would go to Finley Wildlife Refuge south of Corvallis and see hundreds of geese and ducks! And I once saw a cougar. Well, I glimpsed a cougar.

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!

206richardderus
Oct 22, 2019, 12:56am

>202 EBT1002: My Kindle and I will kibitz along as y'all paperholics sprain things holding the stonking thing.

207karenmarie
Edited: Oct 24, 2019, 8:53am

>202 EBT1002: I'm intrigued with Ducks, Newburyport. Sometime in the new year would work better for me, but if you get a group read going in 2019 2020 I might participate.

>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.

208EBT1002
Edited: Oct 22, 2019, 9:23am

73. A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum




More later but I want to thank Beth for recommending this one.

209BLBera
Oct 22, 2019, 3:11pm

>208 EBT1002: You are welcome. I'm so glad you liked it; I always worry about recommending books to my friends.

I'd be interested in the Ducks, Newburyport. However, it would have to be a summer read for me.

210maggie1944
Oct 22, 2019, 8:01pm

OK, I'm going to leave my computer at home! No computer for me while on Kaua'i! Right off of Poipu Beach (did I spell that right?). I'm taking the kindle and I will be reading, but not emails, and not postings here.

Enjoy counting the days until your December trip.

211Berly
Oct 22, 2019, 8:07pm

Hi Ellen! Just keeping up here. : ) You and my other twin (^^) are very dangerous relatives. Recommending all these books and group reads....

212EBT1002
Edited: Oct 23, 2019, 5:37pm

Currently reading:



The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

and



The Topeka School by Ben Lerner

Odd combination.....

213EBT1002
Oct 23, 2019, 5:40pm

>206 richardderus: Methinks that is a wise plan, Richard. Your wrists will thank you.

>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.

214ronincats
Oct 23, 2019, 7:08pm

>212 EBT1002: I've never heard of The Topeka School but, given that I've worked in the Topeka school system and am familiar with the Menninger Foundation there, I'm sure I'd pick up lots of familiar echoes. Let me know what you think.

215karenmarie
Oct 24, 2019, 8:56am

>207 karenmarie: It's the term used for The Handmaid's Tale by another LTer who obviously doesn't like. I have an irrational dislike of it so won't ever read it. I liked the term so used it. Sorry for the confusion.

216vivians
Oct 24, 2019, 10:46am

>212 EBT1002: I had The Topeka School in my hands last week after reading some great reviews - can't wait to hear what you think. My only hesitation was that I heard his earlier two books featured many of the same characters and maybe should be read first. Had you read either 10:04 or Leaving the Atocha Station?

217EBT1002
Oct 24, 2019, 12:39pm

>209 BLBera: You never need worry about recommending a book for me, Beth. You are batting nearly 1,000. :-) And if you ever recommend one that I hate, I still won't hold it against you!

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

218EBT1002
Oct 24, 2019, 12:49pm

>214 ronincats: Oh yes, Roni, you would definitely pick up on some familiar echoes. I am finding The Topeka School to be an odd accompaniment to The Dutch House. Too much adolescent male POV? I don't mind that but I worry that the characters will blend too much in my imagination. Still, both are excellent so far.

>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.

219Caroline_McElwee
Oct 24, 2019, 12:57pm

>218 EBT1002: I'm glad The Dutch House has snagged you Ellen. I've only read her essays before that, though do have a couple of her other novels.

220brenzi
Oct 24, 2019, 9:12pm

I'll be interested in what you think about The Topeka School Ellen. I've had my eye on it for a little bit.

221benitastrnad
Oct 24, 2019, 9:18pm

Ben Lerner was born and raised in Topeka and his first two novels had good, but not great, reviews. I knew about him because he is a Kansas author, but I haven’t read any of his books.

222benitastrnad
Oct 24, 2019, 9:25pm

>215 karenmarie:
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.

223karenmarie
Oct 25, 2019, 2:19pm

>222 benitastrnad: I knew it was you, Benita, but didn't want to publicly name you unless you wanted to be publicly named.

224EBT1002
Edited: Oct 25, 2019, 7:14pm

>219 Caroline_McElwee: Perhaps ironically, I was switching back and forth between The Dutch House and The Topeka School, finding the combination a bit treacherous, and I am now caught up in The Topeka School and holding on the other. Both are good, they are just a difficult one-two combo for me.

>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.

225Berly
Oct 25, 2019, 10:02pm

Happy weekend, Ellen!!

226ronincats
Oct 25, 2019, 10:09pm

Whoa! I hadn't paid attention to the author's name, and immediately after Benita mentioned it above, I had to go see if he was Harriet Lerner's husband. Harriet is an clinical psychologist who worked at Menninger for years (1972 to 2001) and wrote a number of books, the first of which was The Dance of Anger: A Woman's Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships, which are immensely insightful into relationships. Anyhow, he isn't her husband. He's her SON. I'm feeling old...

Have you ever read any of the elder Lerner's books, Ellen? I'd think they'd be right up your alley.

227BLBera
Oct 26, 2019, 8:39am

I will watch for your comments on The Topeka School as well, Ellen. It doesn't sound like my cup of tea, but if you love it...

228ffortsa
Oct 26, 2019, 4:26pm

>226 ronincats: I read The Dance Of Anger years ago! I love the serendipity of this group.

229msf59
Oct 26, 2019, 6:27pm

Happy Saturday, Ellen. I sure hope you are continuing to come around on, The Dutch House. As you know, I loved that one. Also looking forward to your final thoughts on The Topeka School. That one has me intrigued.

230EBT1002
Edited: Oct 27, 2019, 11:11am

74. The Topeka School by Ben Lerner


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 I love using "overkill" here as it is one of his riffs! but many more moments of appreciation for his subtlety, for his creative drawing of connections between cultural elements. His grasp of psychological theory is evident but not overwrought (close, that one). And his timing is exquisite. A very satisfying read.

231EBT1002
Oct 27, 2019, 11:13am

Happy Sunday everyone! After pumpkin spice waffles that P is planning to make, we re spending our day driving to Spokane, looking at neighborhods, doing a bit of shopping, going to see "Judy" at the cinema, and having dinner out. It's a gorgeous cold and sunny day on the Palouse. Yay!

232richardderus
Oct 27, 2019, 12:13pm

Happy Sunday busyness, Ellen and P. Hope Spokane is at its fall best.

233BLBera
Oct 27, 2019, 12:51pm

Enjoy your day, Ellen. It sounds great. I am grading, still.

234laytonwoman3rd
Oct 27, 2019, 4:36pm

>231 EBT1002: Sounds entirely lovely....enjoy!

235brenzi
Oct 27, 2019, 9:55pm

>230 EBT1002: I love complex and layered. Onto my Overdrive list it goes Ellen.

236charl08
Oct 28, 2019, 4:01am

>230 EBT1002: I can't recall reading anything about this one, thank you for changing that. Will add it to the wishlist!

237vivians
Oct 28, 2019, 12:59pm

>230 EBT1002: Ok, I'm sold! I just finished Leaving the Atocha Station which I would recommend with reservations. I'll probably read his second one, 10:04, before getting to Topeka.

238Familyhistorian
Oct 30, 2019, 12:41am

>208 EBT1002: A Woman is No Man looks like an interesting one, Ellen. So it is Beth's fault, is it?

239EBT1002
Edited: Nov 2, 2019, 2:36pm

75. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett




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.

240EBT1002
Edited: Oct 30, 2019, 9:19am

>225 Berly: Thanks Kim! Now I'm ready for this week to be over and done!

>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).

241EBT1002
Oct 30, 2019, 9:23am

>227 BLBera: I think you might like The Topeka School, Beth. It is character-driven. It's funny. I'm thinking about my ratings of it (4 stars) and The Dutch House (3.5 stars). I liked the latter a lot but Lerner's work feels more layered and complex, just a wee bit less traditional in its narrative style. I think I appreciated that. The fact that I smiled more than once as I observed his sneaky riff on a theme certainly elevated my evaluation of his work.

242EBT1002
Oct 30, 2019, 9:27am

>228 ffortsa: I love the serendipity, too, Judy! I love our interweaving threads of knowledge about the world of literature (and other writing like The Dance of Anger). I would say that The Dance of Anger was one of the most impactful books I read in young adulthood but it never occurred to me to wonder if Ben Lerner is related to Harriett Lerner. This community continues to enhance my reading experience in so many ways. I LOVE LT!!

>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.

243FAMeulstee
Oct 30, 2019, 5:33pm

Congratulations on reaching 75, Ellen!

244BLBera
Oct 30, 2019, 8:35pm

>241 EBT1002: OK, OK, it goes on the list.

Congrats on reaching 75!

Happy hump day.

245ronincats
Edited: Oct 30, 2019, 11:18pm

Hurrah for hitting the 75 book mark, Ellen!!

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.

246banjo123
Oct 31, 2019, 12:48am

Congrats on 75!

247Caroline_McElwee
Oct 31, 2019, 7:26am

Yay, 75 book... congratulations Ellen.

248thornton37814
Oct 31, 2019, 9:10am

>239 EBT1002: Congrats on hitting 75!

249jnwelch
Oct 31, 2019, 12:43pm

Adding my congratulations on finishing 75, Ellen! That looks like a good one to celebrate it with.

250SuziQoregon
Oct 31, 2019, 12:56pm

Congrats on 75!

251benitastrnad
Oct 31, 2019, 1:10pm

Happy Halloween! Are you and P going to Palouse tonight to view the festivities? There was a very nice story on NPR this morning about the town and its Halloween celebration.

252ffortsa
Oct 31, 2019, 1:39pm

>251 benitastrnad: Hm. Can't find it.

Wow. 75. That's great.

253charl08
Oct 31, 2019, 4:29pm

Congrats on 75.

As both you and Roni recommend the Dance of Anger I shall have a look for a copy. Sounds worth reading.

254richardderus
Oct 31, 2019, 6:29pm

255msf59
Oct 31, 2019, 6:52pm

Hi, Ellen. I wish you would have enjoyed The Dutch House more, but this happens in our book world. It rang all my bells. I am sure glad it made your # 75 of the year, so congrats, on that!

256drneutron
Oct 31, 2019, 8:07pm

Congrats!

257benitastrnad
Oct 31, 2019, 9:45pm

>252 ffortsa:
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.

258karenmarie
Oct 31, 2019, 10:05pm

Congrats on 75, Ellen!

I'm thinking about seeing Judy tomorrow - did you and P like it?

259EBT1002
Nov 2, 2019, 2:02pm

Whoa! My thread has been busy while I had a super crazy week! Hi everyone! I will go through and respond to everyone when I have a bit more time, but for now I wanted to report that I've been selected to receive an Early Reviewers copy of Little Gods by Meng Jin from the October 2019 batch. I haven't requested an ER book in a while so I'll be interested to read this one.

>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!

260EBT1002
Nov 2, 2019, 2:09pm

>232 richardderus: A belated thank you, Richard. Spokane was fun! I got a new pair of comfy work boots, we went to Auntie's Bookshop and I got a new cat/books mug (I see you shuddering) and a copy of Celestial Bodies. We and dinner out, went to see Judy, and stopped by Trader Joe's on our way back home. It was a good Sunday. And now I've survived another week at work and it's Saturday again! Yay!

>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.

261EBT1002
Nov 2, 2019, 2:26pm

>243 FAMeulstee: Thanks Anita!

>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.

262EBT1002
Nov 2, 2019, 2:32pm

Thank you, Rhonda, Caroline, Lori, Joe, Juli! I'm glad to have made the 75 mark with two months to go. I'll likely end up in the 80s for a total although I might be able to sneak into the 90s. I hope so.

>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.

263EBT1002
Nov 2, 2019, 2:36pm

>254 richardderus: That would be a cool t-shirt to have, Richard. I wonder what people would think it references??

>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.

264EBT1002
Nov 2, 2019, 2:39pm

>256 drneutron: Thanks Jim!

>257 benitastrnad: I might be able to find it on a more local channel, Benita, although a few days have gone by. Palouse is a tiny town of about 1,000 souls just a few miles from Pullman (which is itself no bustling metropolis). Palouse is a very cute little place!

265jnwelch
Edited: Nov 2, 2019, 4:09pm

Hey, I know you liked Good Talk, Ellen. It made the cover of the 10/28 Publishers Weekly as one of their top 10 books of the year! I was happy to see it.

266Donna828
Nov 2, 2019, 4:21pm

I liked Judy, too! I don't go to many movies but I seem to gravitate toward the bioflicks recently. I also loved last year's Bohemian Rhapsody.

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.

267lauralkeet
Nov 2, 2019, 5:53pm

>263 EBT1002: I think deciding between 3.5 and 4.0 stars is the place in my rating scale that gets me stuck the most frequently.

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.

268BLBera
Nov 2, 2019, 9:08pm

>261 EBT1002: I know what you mean, Ellen! I'm always wary about recommending things to friends. But, never fear, I will still be your friend whatever happens with The Topeka School. And let's be honest, by the time I get to it, I will probably have forgotten who recommended it. ;)

269EBT1002
Edited: Nov 3, 2019, 12:01am

>265 jnwelch: That is great news, Joe! I want to see Good Talk get lots and lots of publicity and promotion!!

>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!

270EBT1002
Nov 2, 2019, 11:41pm

>267 lauralkeet: Thanks for chiming in about the complexity of ratings, Laura. My head also explodes at the thought of more granular ratings! And, like you, I feel comfortable with ratings of 3 or lower and 4.5 and 5 are pretty clear (I try to save 5 stars for books that have a palpable effect on me!). Really good books that don't knock my socks off are hard to "rate."

>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. :-)

271EBT1002
Edited: Nov 3, 2019, 12:00am



I highly recommend the film Harriet. We saw it this afternoon and it was truly wonderful. Stay for the song at the end.
This topic was continued by Ellen seeks balance in 2019 - Thread 9.