BLBera's Reading in 2019 - Chapter 7

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BLBera's Reading in 2019 - Chapter 7

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Edited: Nov 8, 2019, 3:07pm

My name is Beth. I love books – talking about them, writing about them, reading about them. I also love to read with my granddaughter Scout. She is the inspiration for the photo. She does love her snow forts.

I teach English at my local community college, so I am always looking for books I can use in my classes.

I tend not to plan my reading, other than for my book club, which meets once a month. We meet in January to plan our year’s reading.

I tend to read more fiction than nonfiction and more women authors than men.

Welcome to my thread. Lurk or stop and say hello.

Edited: Dec 31, 2019, 10:26am

Currently Reading

Edited: Dec 31, 2019, 2:06pm

>b>Read in 2019
116. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas*
117. Sabrina & Corina πŸ’œ
118. Frankissstein πŸ’œ
119. A Bitter Feast
120. The Starless Sea
121. The Old Success
122. Mayor of the Universe*
123. Akin πŸ’œ
124. Busman's Honeymoon* REREAD

November Reading Report
Books read: 9
By women: 8
By men: 1
Novels: 8
Short stories: 1

Library: 6
From my shelves: 3
- Ebook: 1
- Physical copies: 2
- Gave away: 2

125. Sudden Traveler*
126. The World that We Knew
127. The President's Hat*
128. Be Recorder
129. The Secrets We Kept
130. The Second Sleep
131. Death Comes to the Fair*
132. Optic Nerve πŸ’œ
133. Everything Inside πŸ’œ
134. The Ruin
135. Tainted Ground*
136. Dunce
137. Toys Come Home*

Nov 8, 2019, 12:02pm

Read in 2019
1. A Killer in King's Cove*
2. Well-Read Black Girl*
3. The Bus on Thursday
4. Winter* πŸ’œ
5. West
6. A Fatal Winter*
7. The Golden State
8. If the Oceans Were Ink*
9. Mothering Sunday* πŸ’œ
10. The Dreamers
11. Henrietta Who?*
12. In Search of Lost Books
13. Felicity*
14. Zuleikha*

January Reading Report
Books read: 14
By Women: 12
By Men: 2
Novels: 10
Poetry: 1
Nonfiction: 2
Essays: 1
In translation: 2

Library: 5
From my shelves: 9
- Ebooks: 2
- Physical copies: 7
- Gave away: 3

15. The Clockmaker's Daughter πŸ’œ
16. Maisie Dobbs* REREAD
17. Where the Crawdads Sing πŸ’œ
18. So Horrible a Place*
19. Corregidora*
20. Ghost Wall
21. The Fire This Time*
22. The Last Romantics πŸ’œ
23. The Auschwitz Violin*
24. Desire Lines*
25. Jordan Point*
26. The Talisman Ring*
27. Sing, Unburied, Sing* REREAD πŸ’œ
28. Weight of Light*

February Reading Report
Books read: 14
By women: 14
By men: 0
Novels: 12
Poetry: 1
Essays: 1
In translation: 1

Library: 4
From my shelves: 10
- Ebooks: 2
- Physical copies: 8
- Gave away: 3

29. The Round House* REREAD
30. The Great Believers πŸ’œ
31. The Sympathizer*
32. Lost Children Archive πŸ’œ
33. The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls
34. Praise Song for the Butterflies
35. I'd Rather Be Reading
36. The Wife*
37. Things that Fall from the Sky*
38. A Deadly Divide

March Reading Report
Books read: 10
By women: 9
By men: 1
Novels: 9
Essays: 1
In translation: 1

Library: 6
From my shelves: 4
- Ebooks: 1
- Physical copies: 9
- Gave away: 3

* From my shelves

Nov 8, 2019, 12:02pm

Read in 2019
39. Number One Chinese Restaurant
40. Onigamiising
41. The Unit*
42. The Dark Circle*
43. If, Then
44. My Sister, the Serial Killer
45. How to Love a Country* πŸ’œ
46. The Handmaid's Tale: The Graphic Novel
47. Girl in Translation*
48. Men We Reaped
49. The Other Americans
50. A Woman Is No Man πŸ’œ
51. The Stranger Diaries

April Reading Report
Books read: 13
By women: 12
By men: 1
Novels: 10
Essays: 1
Memoir: 1
Poetry: 1
In translation: 1

Library: 9
From my shelves: 4
- Ebooks: 2
- Physical copies: 11
- Gave away: 1

52. Good Talk πŸ’œ
53. Normal People πŸ’œ
54. By Its Cover*
55. Loose Woman*
56. The Quiet Girl*
57. Falling in Love
58. The Legacy
59. In this Grave Hour*

Reading Report - May
Books read: 8
By men: 1
By women: 7
Novels: 6
Poetry: 1
Memoir (graphic): 1
In translation: 2

Library: 4
From my shelves: 4
- Ebooks: 2
- Physical copies: 6
- Gave away: 1

60. The Door*
61. The Murder Room* REREAD
62. Neon Prey
63. After the Flood*
64. The Poet X
65. Pachinko*
66. The Stone Circle
67. Ordinary People
68. A Woman of No Importance
69. When All Is Said πŸ’œ
70. Circe πŸ’œ
71. Good Omens*

Reading Report - June
Books read: 12
By men: 2
By women: 10
Novels: 10
Poetry: 1
Biography: 1
In translation: 1

Library: 7
From my shelves: 4
- Ebooks: 2
- Physical copies: 10
- Gave away: 4

*From my shelves

Edited: Nov 8, 2019, 12:03pm

Read in 2019
72. Toys Go Out*
73. A Bend in the Stars
74. Big Sky πŸ’œ
75. Cotillion*
76. Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel
77. Bibliophile*
78. The Flight Portfolio
79. My Own Words* πŸ’œ
80. Say Nothing πŸ’œ
81. Young Jane Young*
82. The Chai Factor

*From my shelves

July Reading Report
Books read: 11
By women: 10
By men: 1
Novels: 6
Graphic novel: 1
Memoir: 1
Nonfiction: 2
Kids: 1

Library: 6
From my shelves: 5
- Ebooks: 1
- Physical copies: 10
- Gave away: 3

83. The Luminaries*
84. Silent Auction*
85. The Ice Princess*
86. The Source of Self-Regard πŸ’œ
87. The Heavens
88. Death in Brittany*
89. Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy: A Graphic Novel* πŸ’œ
90. Little Women* REREAD
91. Weird Little Robots* πŸ’œ
92. Top Secret Twenty-One
93. The Bookshop of Yesterdays*
94. Disappearing Earth
95. Dear Mrs. Bird
96. The Bird King πŸ’œ

August Reading Report
Books read: 14
By women: 13
By men: 1
Novels: 11
Graphic novel: 1
Essays: 1
Kids: 1
Translation: 2

Library: 6
- Audiobook - 1
From my shelves
- Ebooks: 2
- Physical copies: 11
- Gave away: 3

97. The Wall
98. The Toll-Gate*
99. Last Witnesses
100. The Body Lies
101. Jar City*
102. Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead
103. A Better Man
104. Ask Again, Yes πŸ’œ
105. They Called Us Enemy πŸ’œ
106. Ice Cold Heart
107. The Flatshare

*From my shelves

September Reading Report
Books read: 11
By men: 3
By women: 8
Novels: 9
Memoir: 2
Graphic: 1
In translation: 3

Library: 9
- Audiobook: 2

From my shelves: 2
- Gave away: 1

108. The Ventriloquists
109. Quiet Girl in a Noisy World
110. The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
111. The Testaments πŸ’œ
112. The Lager Queen of Minnesota*
113. Red at the Bone πŸ’œ
114. Names for the Sea*
115. In the Woods

October Reading Report
Books read: 8
By men: 1
By women: 7
Novels: 6
Memoir: 2
Graphic: 1

Library: 6
- Audiobook 1

From my shelves: 2
- ebook 1
-Gave away 1

Edited: Nov 8, 2019, 12:19pm

You Must Read This! (Thanks Katie)

Something to Declare by Julia Alvarez

This memoir in essays is lovely. Alvarez is a poet and writes movingly of her experience as an immigrant in this selection. She writes about early memories growing up in the Dominican Republic, her family's departure from the DR just ahead of the secret police, challenges adjusting to a new culture and language, and writing. I love this book, and think perhaps it's time for a reread.

Nov 8, 2019, 12:05pm


Edited: Nov 8, 2019, 12:08pm

Happy new thread, Beth!

ETA: Yay! I'm first! The top picture looks very chilly, although really I am just jealous that there isn't enough snow here for a snow fort of my own.

Edited: Nov 8, 2019, 12:12pm

You are first, Susan. Accept a crown.

Snow forts are pretty fun, and Scout is getting to be quite the architect. I'm not sure she would actually read in one...

Nov 8, 2019, 12:47pm

I used to love building snow forts, too, Beth.

Happy new thread!

Nov 8, 2019, 12:48pm

>1 BLBera: OMG!

Happy new thread!

Nov 8, 2019, 12:54pm

Happy new one, Beth. What a great topper.

Nov 8, 2019, 2:09pm

Hi Beth. I now have Sabrina & Corina on my wish list along with Something to Declare. As always, your thread is dangerous! Oh, and Happy New One!

I'll likely hopefully finish Messenger of Truth on the plane today (it's my least favorite of the Maisie Dobbs series so far) and I'll have downloaded Annie John and The Body Lies, both of which are now available for me as eBooks from the library. For the first time ever I am going on a trip without any old fashioned books, only my new kindle.

Oh, I LOVE my new kindle. I got the new Oasis, trading in my old one. The feature I thought I would love on the original model -- that the device charges from the cover -- ended up being a terrible feature. It meant I always had to be sure the device and the cover were seated correctly and that was not always easy to do. They have eliminated that feature so I assume I'm not the only one who didn't like it.

Have a great weekend, Beth. I look forward to hearing how you like Frankissstein. I have a copy and hope to read it soon.

Nov 8, 2019, 2:53pm

Happy new one!

Nov 8, 2019, 3:14pm

>12 katiekrug: Snow forts are fun, Katie, even when I have a tyrant telling me I have to dig deeper!

>13 quondame: Thanks for stopping by, Susan.

>14 Ameise1: Thanks Barbara. I hope it's awhile before we have THAT much snow. Right now there are just a couple of inches on the ground.

>15 EBT1002: Thanks Ellen. Good to know that you love your Kindle. I have a Nook, and it is getting older. I hate having to replace devices; it's so far out of the realm of my expertise.

I hope your weekend is great.

I think I might pull Something to Declare off my shelf for a reread next year.

Nov 8, 2019, 3:14pm

>16 figsfromthistle: Hi Anita!

I hope I haven't missed anyone.

Nov 8, 2019, 4:29pm

Happy new thread, Beth!

>1 BLBera: I hope we get some snow this winter.
It won't be enough to creat such a lovely (and cold) booknook, we rarely get more than an inch of snow ;-)

Nov 8, 2019, 6:50pm

Happy Friday, Beth! Happy New Thread! Looking forward to your thoughts on Frankissstein. I sure had a good time with that one.

Nov 8, 2019, 7:51pm

Happy new thread!

Nov 8, 2019, 8:27pm

Happy new thread Beth. I loved the topper of Scout in the snowfort with her book. Perfect!

Nov 8, 2019, 8:46pm

Happy new thread, Beth.

That topper looks chilly!

Nov 9, 2019, 1:20pm

>19 FAMeulstee: Hi Anita - I guess we want what we don't have. I wouldn't mind a month of snow, but four months is a bit much.

>20 msf59: I am loving Frankissstein, Mark. Winterson is smart and funny and writes beautifully. There's a lot to think about here.

>21 drneutron: Thanks Jim.

>22 mdoris: Hi Mary. Thanks for stopping by.

>23 PaulCranswick: Hi Paul. Yes, it does. Kids when playing don't seem to feel the cold.

Nov 9, 2019, 11:51pm

Happy new thread, Beth! Love the snowfort.

Nov 10, 2019, 8:40am

Thanks Rhonda. Since snow is coming anyway, I guess we might as well have fun with it.

Nov 10, 2019, 9:09am

I'm a lurker, Beth, but I always read through and enjoy the Scout stories!

Nov 10, 2019, 12:35pm

I'm just about to start Frankissstein on audio so I'm glad to hear you're enjoying it! I read Julia Alvarez's In the Time of the Butterflies years ago and remember it as a really powerful story of the Dominican Republic. I'll have to add the memoir to my list!

Nov 10, 2019, 2:44pm

Happy new thread, Beth. That chilly topper brings back memories of building snow forts although I never read in one and we definitely never had any grandparent labourers!

Nov 10, 2019, 5:32pm

Hi Beth,

I'm hijacking the most popular threads to get word out, and you are one of them...

Its 75'er Christmas Swap Time! :

Nov 10, 2019, 10:56pm

>27 CDVicarage: Lurkers welcome, Kerry.

>28 vivians: Hi Vivian! Alvarez is one of my favorites. In the Time of the Butterflies is great, but her poetry and essays are also wonderful. I will watch for your comments on Frankissstein. I don't know how it will work on audio.

Nov 11, 2019, 11:16am

>29 Familyhistorian: Hi Meg. Snow forts are fun, probably even more so with other people laboring.

>30 mahsdad: Hijack away, Jeff.

Edited: Nov 11, 2019, 8:40pm

118. Frankissstein is an amazing novel that I will think about for a long time. The novel challenges ideas of gender and identity, but the central question it asks is what it means to be human -- and Winterson does all of this while telling a fascinating story filled with memorable characters.

There is Mary Shelley, imagined during her life with Shelley, beginning with the summer she wrote Frankenstein. There is Ry Shelley, a present-day surgeon, who happens to be transgender. There is Victor Stein, a man who wants to download his brain and so achieve immortality. There is Ron Lord, the creator of a sexbot empire, who happens to also be hilarious.

While I am, for now, giving this novel five stars, I recognize that this novel is not for everyone. I loved this.

Next: A Bitter Feast -- good lighter reading that doesn't compete with Frankissstein.

Nov 12, 2019, 12:09am

A belated happy new thread, Beth!

Nov 12, 2019, 11:36am

Thanks Roni.

Nov 12, 2019, 11:50am

>33 BLBera: The only Jeannette Winterson book I've read is Oranges are not the only fruit and to be honest I didn't really like it. This sounds very different, though, and is an appealing topic to me. I might put myself on the library wait list.

Nov 12, 2019, 11:57am

>36 japaul22: I've loved every Winterson book I've read, Jennifer. Frankissstein is very different from Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, and from most other novels! I'll watch for your comments.

Nov 12, 2019, 12:01pm

119. A Bitter Feast is the latest Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James mystery and it does not disappoint. We catch up with the growing family and spend time with Melody Talbot's parents in the Cotswolds. The mystery is OK; it was fairly easy to figure out who the guilty person had to be. I thought the motive was a little weak, but I still enjoyed spending time in the Kincaid-James world outside of London.

Next: The Starless Sea

Nov 12, 2019, 2:31pm

>38 BLBera: Beth, A Bitter Feast made me so hungry the whole time I was reading it! I really want that pub to be real, and to be able to go there and eat. Sigh.

Nov 12, 2019, 2:48pm

I was going to mention that, Julia! You are absolutely right.

Edited: Nov 12, 2019, 3:45pm

>33 BLBera: I am so glad you loved Frankissstein. It didn't make the full boat for me, but I really enjoyed it. The audio of The Starless Sea just came up from my elibrary. The Water Dancer also just came in, so I will go with that one first. Hope you are staying warm & cozy, Beth.

Nov 12, 2019, 6:10pm

I don't think Frankissstein is for me Beth but I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Nov 12, 2019, 7:31pm

>38 BLBera: I'm looking forward to getting to that one, but I've got a couple others to read (or listen to) first.

Nov 12, 2019, 7:42pm

>41 msf59: Hi Mark. I hope you are staying warm. I know Frankissstein is not everyone's cup of tea. Stay warm. I think it's supposed to get warmer by the end of the week. Fingers crossed.

>42 brenzi: Hi Bonnie. Frankissstein is a tricky one to recommend, I think. I loved it, but I know not everyone would.

>43 thornton37814: You will enjoy it, Lori. It was a very enjoyable read for a cold, holiday Monday.

Nov 12, 2019, 9:18pm

Happy newish thread, Beth! Love the snowy book-fort topper but my goodness, get that kid some mittens! πŸ˜€

Nov 13, 2019, 4:06pm

Just letting you know I got my copy of The Bookish Life of Nina Hill from the library the other day and had a great time reading it. Light and very clever!

Nov 13, 2019, 5:25pm

Beth, I've loved the two books I've read by Jeanette Winterson but I wasn't sure about Frankissstein. I trust your judgment as we have such similar reading tastes, although I may wait to read it next year when I need something "different" instead of something "easy". Ha! I'm not even sure what that means. I think I need to be sure I'm going to love a book during the busy leading-up-to-the-holidays reading days.

Nov 14, 2019, 1:32am

>45 Copperskye: Thanks Joanne! I know. The hands do look cold.

>46 ronincats: So glad you liked it, Roni.

>47 Donna828: I get it, Donna. Sometimes I need to rest the brain.

Nov 14, 2019, 12:29pm

HI Beth!

It’s a little late, but happy new thread.

>15 EBT1002: Drat. I just went over to Amazon and looked at the new Oasis. I could trade in my two old Kindles for a total of $30, get 25% off, and still pay a small fortune. However, it's nice to know...

>33 BLBera: Excellent review – I have this one and just put it on my β€œwill probably start soon” stack.

Nov 14, 2019, 11:49pm

I've arrived a little late, bu happy new thread, Beth. I love the Deborah Crombie series, but I am far behind you in reading it. The next one I read will be #8 in the series, whereas A Bitter Feast is #18.

Nov 15, 2019, 8:54am

>49 karenmarie: Thanks Karen. I'll watch for your comments.

>50 DeltaQueen50: Thanks Judy - you are lucky to have so many Crombies still ahead! It is a good series.

Edited: Nov 15, 2019, 10:29am

Brrrr, I need extra layers when I come in here Beth, ha.

Nov 15, 2019, 4:13pm

So do I, Caroline!

Nov 17, 2019, 8:44am

I’m listening to A Bitter Feast this weekend, Beth. I listened while I drove up to MA from NJ on Wednesday, and will listen to the rest on the way home today. I love this series.

Nov 17, 2019, 8:59am

>54 NanaCC: It is a very good one, Colleen. The downside of being current with it is that we have to wait a year or two until the next one comes out!

Nov 17, 2019, 9:14am

120. The Starless Sea is an entertaining novel, evident by the fact that although it's about 500 pages long, it only took me a few days to get through it.

Zachary Ezra Rawlins opens a door to a vast secret, underground library by checking out a mysterious book from his college library. In this fantasy, we find love, adventure, time travel, and lots of stories.

Much of this novel has the sense of the old "choose your own adventure" books -- something referenced by several characters. As Zachary observes: "Reading a novel, he supposes, is like playing a game where all the choices have been made for you ahead of time by someone who is much better at this particular game. (Though he sometimes wishes choose-your-own-adventure novels would come back in fashion)." I could easily see the influence of video games on this novel.

Although fantasy is not my usual fare, I enjoyed seeing the way that Morgenstern ties together the various storylines. One thing I didn't like was the lack of a clear sense of what the various characters are trying to achieve.

Next: The Old Success

Nov 17, 2019, 9:36am

Happy Sunday, Beth. I am so glad to hear you enjoyed The Starless Sea. I have this saved on audio and hope to get to it, in the next couple of weeks.

Nov 17, 2019, 9:50am

>56 BLBera: Have just seen a rave review for this on Litsy, I wasnt sure (re the fantady) but as you've mentioned a library I think I'm sold!

Nov 17, 2019, 10:34am

>57 msf59: I'll watch for your comments, Mark. I would like to know how it is on audio.

>58 charl08: There is a lot about stories, Charlotte. I am usually not a fantasy reader, either, but I found this entertaining. I would be interested on your take.

Nov 17, 2019, 10:24pm

>33 BLBera: Wow, five stars (for now). I have my copy of Frankissstein and will plan to read it soon!

I have The Starless Sea on hold at the library, as well as the first in the Deborah Crombie series (because I need a new series.... ha!).

Edited: Nov 17, 2019, 11:18pm

>60 EBT1002: I loved Frankissstein, Ellen. I would love to hear your thoughts on it. I THINK you will love it, but this one is harder to predict.

Yes, we all need more series in our lives. :) I know you loved The Night Circus, so you will probably like The Starless Sea too. It certainly kept me turning the pages. I didn't mention that Zachary is into video games, and the novel is constructed kind of like a game, which is pretty clever.

Nov 18, 2019, 12:13am

I also have the Starless Sea on hold at the library--I'm #12 in line for 36 copies that are all out at the moment--so I'm glad you found it entertaining. I loved The Night Circus too.

Nov 18, 2019, 12:16am

>33 BLBera: I really must read some of Winterson's work. It is beginning to stack up on the shelves.

I'd take reading anything at the minute to be honest.

Nov 18, 2019, 12:10pm

Hi Beth - I just finished Frankissstein on audio and am still mulling it over. There were parts I really liked, and I found some of it very funny, but I didn't love it. The modern parts seemed too contrived - as she tried to match the protagonists to the Lord Byron-Mary Shelley crowd. I'm glad I read it but it's not a rave for me.

Nov 18, 2019, 8:11pm

>62 ronincats: It shouldn't be too long before The Starless Sea gets into your hands, Toni. You are a fantasy reader, so I think you will love this.

>63 PaulCranswick: Wintrerson is great, Paul. I hope you feel better soon.

>64 vivians: Hmm - I didn't get the matching the modern characters to the Shelley crowd, Vivian. Tell me more about that. Do you think you would have liked it more if you read it instead of listening to it? I think I would have had a hard time with it on audio.

Nov 18, 2019, 10:43pm

I was thinking about taking Frankissstein with me to Seattle for after I finish When All is Said but I decided to take A Ladder to the Sky instead.

Nov 19, 2019, 1:01am

Hi Beth, You've been reading some good books. I've added the new Crombie and The Bookish Life of Nina Hill to my TBR list. I loved your snow cave picture at the top. My son and his friends used to build them to retreat to during massive snowball fights.

Nov 19, 2019, 1:56am

>64 vivians: Interesting to read the comments about Frankisstein - I liked the links (where I noticed them) and didn't feel like there was too much of a stretch. But I think the main thing I noticed was the questions she was asking about AI and humanity (some of which clearly aren't new at all).

Nov 19, 2019, 8:54am

>66 EBT1002: Have fun in Seattle, Ellen. Don't buy TOO many books. How are you liking When All Is Said? I thought it was a lovely book.

>67 Oregonreader: Hi Jan. Snow forts are one of Scout's favorite things. Enjoy the Crombie and The Bookish Life

>68 charl08: Hi Charlotte. I also liked the way she inserted the questions into the plot, rather seamlessly, I thought. I didn't feel like she was hitting me over the head with them. Also, I do rather like stories that aren't linear. I think this might be a good book club book -- lots to talk about.

Edited: Nov 19, 2019, 12:19pm

Hi Beth: Happy Newish thread!

Book bullets all over the place: Sabrina & Corina, Frankissstein and The Starless Sea, all sound so good.

Your comments that Frankiissstein would make a good book club book made my ears (eyes?) perk up. It's the time of the year when we nominate books in the RLBC and vote on next year's choices at our December potluck. It's a bit out of the norm - we've never done anything quite in that genre.

I'm open to all suggestions. :)

Nov 20, 2019, 4:16pm

Hi Beth, Lalalala - I've got too many books on my bookshelf or waiting at the library whispering bad things about me. I can not look at another book. Their jealousy is reaching fever pitch and I've got to begin ignoring every book that whistles at me. I'm glad you're enjoying your current reads.

Nov 20, 2019, 4:34pm

>71 Carmenere: I've 6 books waiting at local libraries, 12 checked out I haven't got to yet, and more I downloaded that sounded interesting.

Nov 22, 2019, 2:15pm

121. The Old Success starts on an island off the coast of Cornwall. A woman is found on the beach, shot. Brian Macalvie is called in. Two little girls found the body, so Macalvie enlists his friend Richard Jury to help. This is a short novel with a plot that relies on a lot of coincidences, but this is still an entertaining read, and fans of Grimes will appreciate this.

Nov 22, 2019, 2:18pm

>70 streamsong: I'm always happy to send book bullets your way, Janet. I think Frankissstein would be a good book to discuss. It has so many ideas in it.

>71 Carmenere: I know what you mean, Lynda. I haven't been doing well at reading from my shelves lately. And now with holidays and end of the semester approaching, I don't think I'll get a lot of reading done -- at least not heavy stuff.

>72 quondame: Well, Susan, it sounds like you have some reading to do.

Nov 22, 2019, 7:52pm

>73 BLBera: Is that a new Richard Jury book, Beth? I read a bunch of the early books in that series but lost track of it some time ago.

Nov 22, 2019, 8:06pm

It is the latest one, Julia. I wonder how many more there will be. Grimes is in her 80s!.

Nov 22, 2019, 9:02pm

>73 BLBera: I used to love Martha Grimes. I ordered that one for the library because it had been so long since I'd really seen one of hers on a list. I will read it sometime in the next year.

Nov 22, 2019, 9:36pm

>76 BLBera: That is the same fear I always had with Andrea Camilleri. He died at 93 but managed to leave us several more instalments unpublished to keep his fans going for years to come.

Nov 23, 2019, 10:10am

>77 thornton37814: Hi Lori. She had a new one last year that was the first one in a few years, so I was surprised to see another out this year. I liked last year's The Knowledge better than this one, but if you're a fan, you will probably enjoy both.

>78 PaulCranswick: Hi Paul. One never knows, right? I am hoping for a long, productive life for Grimes.

Today I get to see the new Frozen movie with Scout!

Nov 23, 2019, 11:55am

>79 BLBera: Ooh, have fun at Frozen II!

Nov 23, 2019, 6:44pm

It was really fun, Charlotte. The movie was good, and Scout and her cousin were wearing their Frozen costumes.

Nov 24, 2019, 9:43pm

Beth, I just wanted to come by and thank you again for recommending When All Is Said. I absolutely loved it. It is one of my favorites of the year.

Nov 24, 2019, 10:30pm

>82 EBT1002: I am so happy you loved it, too, Ellen. I hope you're having a great weekend.

Nov 25, 2019, 12:21am

Hi Beth! The Starless Sea sounds good. I have it on hold now. Also When All is Said.

Nov 25, 2019, 1:39pm

>84 banjo123: Enjoy them, Rhonda. Happy Monday. I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving.

Nov 25, 2019, 6:35pm

Stopping by with rather belated happy new thread wishes.

>33 BLBera: - Great review of the Winterson book! The only Winterson book I have read so far is Oranges are Not the Only Fruit.

Nov 26, 2019, 5:34pm

Hi Beth, looks like your reads are treating you well. Hope you have a great week!

Nov 26, 2019, 10:55pm

>86 lkernagh: Thanks Lori. I have loved every book by Winterson that I have read.

>87 Familyhistorian: Hi Meg! Reading is slow right now -- lots of school work.

SNOW DAY! tomorrow.

Nov 27, 2019, 1:54am

>88 BLBera: Wow. Proper weather. I was hoping to get out for a walk (strike continues) but weather forecast is solid rain and I am feeling weak and feeble (!) Stay warm!

Nov 27, 2019, 8:59am

>89 charl08: Any idea how long the strike will last, Charlotte? I hope the weak and feeble feeling goes away soon. The downside is the fact that I have to go and shovel my sidewalk and driveway, but I will wait a bit.

I also have to make pies today in preparation for Thanksgiving. My sister is hosting, and I have the pie assignment.

Nov 27, 2019, 9:06am

122. Mayor of the Universe was disappointing. The premise sounded interesting. Fletcher Weschel is a lonely man; he was neglected and bullied as a child and as an adult has withdrawn. Then, he is visited by aliens! As a result, he gets to inhabit the characters he fantasized about as a child.

This just never comes together. The characters are flat, and the plot never comes together. Mildly entertaining.

In the past I have enjoyed Landvik's novels, but this one didn't work for me.

Next: Akin, my first Emma Donoghue

Edited: Nov 27, 2019, 7:17pm

Hi Twin!! Look, I am here! Don't faint. ; )

So what pies are you making? My family loves apple, pumpkin and marionbery for Thanksgiving.

Nov 27, 2019, 5:56pm

I am making pumpkin and cottage cheese -- it's a recipe from my grandma, custardy. Ooh, I've never had marionberry.

Nov 27, 2019, 7:21pm

Yum! I want it to be tomorrow already! So far I have the stuffing and mushroom rollups done. Need to do the yam souffle tonight and then in the morning the veggies: asparagus, beets and corn. Separate dishes.

Nov 27, 2019, 7:34pm

Hi, Beth. I hope you are enjoying the time off and I hope you have a nice Thanksgiving.

Nov 27, 2019, 9:35pm

>94 Berly: Wow, Twin. I want to eat at your house! My pies are done. I also made pumpkin chai latte cookies, which are pretty tasty.

>95 msf59: Happy Thanksgiving to you, Mark.

Nov 27, 2019, 10:46pm

Happy Thanksgiving to you Beth. Those pies and cookies sound pretty yummy!

Nov 28, 2019, 12:37pm

Happy Thanksgiving Beth.

Nov 28, 2019, 4:16pm

Happy Thanksgiving, Beth!

Nov 28, 2019, 5:51pm

Hope you have a good time: pies sound lovely!

Nov 29, 2019, 1:44pm

Twin!! Happy Day After! I hope you are still enjoying family and friends and that you have lots of leftovers. : )

Nov 30, 2019, 1:09am

Thanks Mary, Caroline, Susan, Charlotte, and Twinnie.

Nov 30, 2019, 1:04pm

123. Akin is a wonderful novel about family. What makes a family? Is it shared memories, a common worldview -- or something else? Donoghue not only shows us the importance of history, but also the importance of looking to the future.

Noah Selvaggio is approaching his eightieth birthday. He is looking forward to a trip to the France of his birth to celebrate. He has recently retired and after the death of his sister, has no remaining family. Or so he things. Two days before his departure to France, a social worker calls him, asking that Noah take custody of his ten-year-old great nephew, Michael. Michael's father is dead, his mother is in jail, and his grandmother with whom he lived, has recently died. It's Noah or a group home. Noah reluctantly agrees, even taking Michael to France with him.

As they spend time together, Noah learns that even though he's nearly eighty, there is a lot he doesn't know about the world. Michael makes an unlikely teacher. The question, as we read this novel is whether this mismatched pair will learn to be a family.

Wonderful novel. It's my first Donoghue, but I will read more by her.

Nov 30, 2019, 1:05pm

Great PBS program: "College Behind Bars" - I was riveted.

Nov 30, 2019, 3:34pm

>103 BLBera: I loved Akin and I'm glad you did, too. I always wonder with quieter novels, whether they will be appreciated. Donoghue is a wonderful author and each of her novels is so different from the others.

Nov 30, 2019, 4:23pm

>103 BLBera: Sounds brilliant, I've reserved it at the library and am looking forward to reading it.

Edited: Nov 30, 2019, 7:02pm

>103 BLBera: Glad to read about your enthusiasm for Akin. I put it on reserve at the library some time ago and waiting patiently and look forward to reading it. I have read 3 other books of hers and thought they were very good. As >105 RidgewayGirl: suggests each one is quite different from the other.

Nov 30, 2019, 6:10pm

>105 RidgewayGirl: When I was finished, I was thinking about the fact that it's mostly about family, and how so often those books are overlooked. This is the first book by Donoghue that I have read. What else would you suggest?

>106 charl08: It's a lovely book, Charlotte -- and there are some very funny bits as well, as you might imagine an octogenarian trying to get along with a ten-year-old.

>107 mdoris: Hi Mary. Which books of Donoghue have you read? Do you have a favorite?

Nov 30, 2019, 6:15pm

Beth, I think it depends on what you like. I'm partial to her historical novels and her short stories, especially liking The Wonder and Astray, but I'd suggest looking at the blurb's and choosing the one that appeals the most. I have yet to read one I haven't loved.

Nov 30, 2019, 6:41pm

>103 BLBera: That looks good, Beth. I've only read Room and, while not easy, it was quite good. I have had The Wonder on my wishlist for a while. Now I'll add Akin.

Just eighteen days until we fly to Kauai!!

Edited: Nov 30, 2019, 7:11pm

Beth I had to correct my last post as I have read 3 of Donoghue's books. Hard to make a suggestion as they are so different from one other. Room is tough and I started and stopped it a few times but eventually persevered and I was glad that I did. Wonder was interesting too from a young girl's point of view. Have also read Astray but can't remember much about it. It is short stories!

Nov 30, 2019, 8:51pm

I am looking forward to reading Akin, Beth. I've liked the other Donoghue novels I've read - Room and Slammerkin. I have a few others on my shelf/Kindle.

Dec 1, 2019, 9:01am

Hey Beth!! Akin sounds like a must for the tipping tower of TBR's. I own Room but of course haven't read it yet. Mmmm, if I'm ambitious next year I could to a Donoghue Double read. eh, hope springs eternal.

Dec 1, 2019, 9:12am

>103 BLBera: Ooh, I want to get this one.

Happy Sunday, Beth. Did you get slammed with snow? I heard storms are hitting the upper Midwest. Hey, I am reading about Jesse James and the Great Northfield Raid. It has been really good so far. That is right, in your neck of the woods, correct?

Dec 1, 2019, 10:26am

>109 RidgewayGirl: I do like historical fiction,Kay, and I have a couple of those on my shelves. Wonder seems to be a favorite, so I'll add that to my list.

>110 EBT1002: Room does look like a tough read, Ellen. I have a copy but am waiting for the right moment. Have you decided what books to take to Hawaii? Hawaii is on my daughter's wishlist. One of these years...

>111 mdoris: Thanks Mary. Wonder seems like one I should add to the list.

>112 katiekrug: I've had Slammerkin on my shelves for a long time, Katie. It sounds like maybe I should put that one first.

>113 Carmenere: Hi Lynda! I think you would like Akin. Donoghue writes wonderful characters.

>114 msf59: Hi Mark. We got snow on Wednesday and over the weekend have been getting a rain/snow mix. Lovely. Yes, Jesse James did rob the Northfield bank -- that's about 40 minutes from where I live. I think you would like Akin.

I just started Alice Hoffman's new one The World That We Knew

Dec 1, 2019, 10:32am

November Reading Report
Books read: 9
By women: 8
By men: 1
Novels: 8
Short stories: 1

Library: 6
From my shelves: 3
- Ebook: 1
- Physical copies: 2
- Gave away: 2

Best books of the month: Sabrina & Corina, Frankissstein, Akin

Dec 1, 2019, 4:40pm

Hi Beth, I haven't read any of Emma Donoghue's books but Akin looks good so I'm going to add it.

Dec 1, 2019, 4:49pm

I think you would like it, Bonnie. It's my first Donoghue as well.

Dec 1, 2019, 5:34pm

Hi Beth! A good reminder to read more of Donghue's work. I have had Frog Music on the shelves forever, so I should read it. I have read Room and Hood and thought both were good. I like her writing style.

Dec 1, 2019, 5:57pm

Hope that you enjoy the remainder of your Thanksgiving weekend, Beth.

Dec 1, 2019, 6:41pm

You're my twin and Akin is in!!

Dec 1, 2019, 6:53pm

2 stories into Sabrina & Corina and I am sold all ready. I love her style. A new Lucia Berlin?

Dec 2, 2019, 1:29pm

The only Donoghue book I've read is Room. I started it with a bit of guilt- I thought it would be one of those 'ripped from the headlines' sensationalist pieces. Instead I found it quite thoughtful. I definitely need to read something else by her, and Akin sounds lovely. Great review!

Dec 2, 2019, 6:51pm

I'm listening to Akin now and really enjoying it. Donoghue is so talented - I really liked The Wonder too. I have Sabrina and Corina in print from the library and will try to make time for it after hearing your praise!

Dec 2, 2019, 9:10pm

Welcome all!

>119 banjo123: Hi Rhonda. I think you would like Akin. It is a lovely story.

>120 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul. I had a very productive Saturday and Sunday.

>121 Berly: And you're a poet and don't even know it. :)

>122 msf59: I'm glad you are liking it, Mark.

>123 streamsong: Hi Janet! I have Room; I think it will be a tough one. Thanks.

>124 vivians: Hi Vivian - I thought you would enjoy Akin. I've added The Wonder to my list, but I'll probably pick up one of the other ones that I own first. Next year.

Dec 2, 2019, 9:15pm

I've been reading Be Recorder, a great collection of poetry.

Here's a lovely poem about her grandmother:

Southern Cone

I wept with my grandmother when Reagan
was shot because that's what she wanted.
At night she'd tell me about a city built
by Evita for children in Buenos Aires, the city
of her first exile. Children went about
municipal duties in the small post office
and mini city hall to learn to be good citizens.
In Argentina she sold bread pudding
and gave French and English lessons from her
home for money to buy shoes. She promised
we'd go someday, but we never did. She'd say
Peruvians were gossipy, Argentinians snobbish, but
Chileans were above reproach. A little bit migrant,
a little bit food insecurity, she was the brass bust
of JFK on her altar, the holiday card of Saint Anthony
on her TV. She was her green card and the ebony cross
above her bed. The titled yes when she answered
the phone, and the song she liked to hum about bells
and God that ended tiring-tin-tin-tirnin-tin-tan: miles
and ages away from her story, she sang it.

Dec 2, 2019, 9:51pm

Hi Beth, I am a fan of Donoghue as well, having previously loved Slammerkin and Room so Akin is definitely being added to my wishlist. My reading seems to be suffering a little as I am become totally engrossed by "The Crown" on tv.

Dec 2, 2019, 10:56pm

>126 BLBera: I like the directness of that poem, Beth

Dec 4, 2019, 4:13pm

I have a number of Donoghue books on my shelves which I haven't read and should. I did read The Wonder which I enjoyed so I should get to the other ones.

I hope you are still at the stage of enjoying your snow, Beth. They predicted some flakes here and everyone silently panicked but nothing came of it. We are mostly back to rain now except right now it looks like there is some kind of light trying to shine through the clouds. Quite pretty from inside the house at least.

Dec 5, 2019, 5:38pm

>127 DeltaQueen50: My reading is suffering as well, Judy. It is due to end-of-semester grading! Also, holidays! There aren't enough hours in the day.

>128 PaulCranswick: She writes beautifully, Paul, and poetry is about all I can fit in for reading these days.

>129 Familyhistorian: Hi Meg. It sounds like The Wonder will be on my list for next year. I am already tired of snow. :)

Edited: Dec 6, 2019, 8:17pm

125. Sudden Traveler is a lovely collection of stories by Sarah Hall. Hall creates a vivid sense of place, whether it's an enchanted forest or a rain-soaked cemetery. The stories are mostly about women: mothers, daughters, widows. My favorite one, the titular story, is about a young woman sitting in a car in the rain, watching her father and brother clear an area for her mother's grave. Wondering who will attend her funeral when she dies, "You do not understand yet, who you will lose, who you will become, who will arrive. We are, all of us, sudden travelers in the world, blind, passing each other, reaching out, missing, sometimes taking hold." Whether the women are passing by or taking hold, they all have memorable stories.

This was an ER book, and somehow I received two copies! If you are interested, PM me your address and I will zip a copy to you.

Dec 6, 2019, 10:41pm

>126 BLBera: Lovely and moving poem, that. And Sudden Traveler looks good. I will PM you.

Dec 6, 2019, 10:44pm

I haven't yet decided which books to take to Kauai with me. I have put some books on library hold for my kindle and tried to pause/unpause them to give me some options but we will see.

Dec 7, 2019, 12:58am

I am really enjoying the collection of Be Recorder - some poems are more challenging than others...

Sudden Traveler is yours, Ellen.

Dec 7, 2019, 4:30am

>131 BLBera: Lovely review, Beth. I do love Sarah Hall, and also enjoyed this collection.

Another one for the "completely different idea" on the US/ UK cover tally.

Dec 7, 2019, 8:11am

Hi Beth!

>125 BLBera: >123 streamsong: streamsong: Hi Janet! I have Room; I think it will be a tough one. Thanks. The subject matter of Room is tough, but the world of Room, the mother/son's bond, and her strength are what made it for me.

Dec 7, 2019, 10:21am

>126 BLBera: Good poem, Beth. I need to request this collection. Joe loved it too.

>131 BLBera: You got me with this BB and I love that cover. Did someone request your copy? You know I love a good story collection.

Dec 7, 2019, 8:59pm

>130 BLBera: Poetry can be more exacting than prose, Beth as you really need to read it to divine its beauty and purpose.

Have a lovely weekend.

Dec 7, 2019, 9:22pm

>135 charl08: I'll have to check out your cover, Charlotte. This one seems to fit. Did you have a favorite story?

>136 karenmarie: Hi Karen. I will get to Room one of these days.

>137 msf59: Mark - I have one copy still -- PM me your address and it's yours. This selection reminds me a little of the Sandra Cisneros collection that I recently read. I think you might like it.

>138 PaulCranswick: Certainly some poetry can be demanding, Paul. Yet it is so rewarding. I hope your weekend is lovely as well.

Dec 8, 2019, 12:52pm

>134 BLBera: Thank you, Beth. And, since the private message function seems wonky, I did say yes to the offer of Boy in Striped Pajamas, too. So double thank you!

It's a cold and foggy day on the Palouse. Yuck. We'll go watch the Cougs play basketball (women) but otherwise it's a laundry and reading sort of day.

Hang in there with your last two weeks!!

Dec 8, 2019, 9:47pm

Thanks Ellen. I did a pile of grading today, so feel good about the week. Or at least tomorrow. I know I will get everything done. These last couple of weeks are just stressful, especially when we finish so close to the holidays.

Dec 9, 2019, 12:14am

Good luck for the rest of the semester!

Dec 11, 2019, 7:45pm

Thanks Rhonda. I'm beginning to see light...

Dec 11, 2019, 8:33pm

Are you still holding classes, or is it finals period this week? I always hated having all the end of term grading to do to get the grades in on time.

Dec 11, 2019, 10:28pm

I still have classes. Next week is the finals week. Yes, it is always hectic at the end, especially when it is close to holidays.

Dec 12, 2019, 6:29am

Hey Beth! Hope the waningWi days of the semester go without a hitch! Today, Will's taking his final final of the semester and heading home afterwards. Eeeeee! Just a tad excited. I know you must be too. You are almost there!!!

Dec 12, 2019, 6:38am

Sending some 'power to your elbow' vibes for that last stretch of term.

Dec 12, 2019, 6:39am

>139 BLBera: Sorry, I am just seeing this now. I will PM you, if it is not too late.

Sweet Thursday, Beth. I hope you are having a good week.

Dec 13, 2019, 11:20am

126. The World that We Knew is a familiar story. It tells about the Jews who were sheltered in the Haute-Loire region of France during WWII. Hoffman focuses on three young women who leave Berlin, looking for safety in France. There is a magical element, a golem. I enjoyed the story even though it is on a familiar topic. It's probably not one I'll remember, though.

Next: my book club is reading The President's Hat. We meet at noon, so I am going to try to get some pages read!

Dec 13, 2019, 11:21am

Lynda, Charlotte and Mark, thanks for keeping my thread warm. One more week!

Dec 13, 2019, 11:58pm

>149 BLBera: I have rather liked what I've read by Alice Hoffman and this one sounds interesting.

I hope you have a wonderful book club meeting. At noon tomorrow I'm getting my second acupuncture treatment. :-)

FOUR days until we leave for Kauai. Two of them are weekend and two of them are work. I can do it.

Dec 14, 2019, 4:53pm

We did have a good meeting, Ellen. Luckily The President's Hat is short, so I did get a chunk read before the meeting. It is a charming book, good for this time of year.

Edited: Dec 14, 2019, 8:54pm

127. The President's Hat is a charming story of the travels of President Mitterand's hat after he leaves it in a restaurant. It goes through a number of hands, each with an entertaining story. It's a quick, lighthearted read that is great for a busy time of year. And I loved the twist at the end.

Next: Finally! It's my turn for The Secrets We Kept.

Dec 15, 2019, 4:06pm

>153 BLBera: I started my year with Laurain's The Red Notebook Beth, which I very much enjoyed.

Dec 15, 2019, 6:18pm

>153 BLBera: That sounds like a fun read!

I'm planning for 2020.... dangerous, I know.

It sounds like Twin (triplet?) is planning some group reads. I've said I'm in for The Bone Clocks in January and Tracks in March. You joining us?

Edited: Dec 15, 2019, 8:12pm

Yes! I am in for both the Jan. and the March reads.

I just finished some marathon grading. I'm done for the day. I'm going to read now. I am loving The Secrets We Kept.

Scout went to see Santa today. She wrote out her list. Telescope is the big thing. Also, a book of names. Why, you might ask, does she want a book of names? She wants to be able to come up with a good name for any stars that she finds with her telescope. What a kid!

She also put LOL on her list. I thought the obvious, but LOLs are little dolls. One of her friends has some, and she said she has been very jealous.

Dec 15, 2019, 8:13pm

>154 Caroline_McElwee: I knew someone had recommended The Red Notebook, Caroline! I have that one on my list.

Dec 15, 2019, 8:33pm

>158 brenzi: welcome to the world of LOL dolls Beth! Hahaha. I don't see the charm but Mia loves them. Part of it is the excitement of opening the big ball with the doll inside. You don't know what you're going to get.

Edited: Dec 15, 2019, 8:46pm

>156 BLBera: I'm all for getting a kid any reasonable gift they want for birthday or holiday, and doing my best to make sure it is exactly what was asked for. I do know that my parents deliberately ignoring what I asked for and denigrating what I liked has left quite a bit bad feeling feeling in me. I don't see much charm in the LOL dolls, but I can see that there is a large cuteness factor.

Dec 15, 2019, 9:45pm

>158 brenzi: Well, I learned something new today, Bonnie. To be fair, Scout does do a lot of imaginative play with dolls, and her new puppy, Jane Goodall, has chewed up several, so she's probably due to replace some of them.

>159 quondame: When I was growing up, there wasn't a lot of spare cash, so I got clothes and books. I enjoy being able to spoil Scout a little.

Dec 15, 2019, 11:52pm

>160 BLBera: Reasonable is very much a matter of circumstances. The things I requested were always well within the budget of what I actually got. Sometimes orders of magnitude within.

Dec 16, 2019, 6:17pm

I love that Scout not only wants a telescope but a book to help her name the stars she discovers. Go Scout!

LOLs.... I investigated. At least they are sort of diverse in their representation.....

Dec 16, 2019, 7:00pm

Hi Triplets!! RL has been kicking my butt lately, but I am getting back on top of things. Glad we have some group reads coming up in the new year---yay!

Beth--hang in there--one more week!! You can do it!!

Dec 16, 2019, 10:37pm

LOL dolls, there is always something new, isn't there. Are they this year's best selling toy?

I hope this week goes easily for you, Beth.

Dec 16, 2019, 10:45pm

>161 quondame: :(

>162 EBT1002: I was pretty impressed by that, too, Ellen. She always has a plan. I can't see your picture. But I have been educating myself on them. I found a huge box of them.

Are you on your way yet?

>163 Berly: Hey Twinnie. Yes, we will be reading together in 2020.

>164 Familyhistorian: Yes, there is always a new thing, Meg. I think they are pretty popular. I think the week will go well. My hope is to finish grading and packing by Saturday. We'll see.

Dec 18, 2019, 8:19pm

128. Be Recorder
Carmen GimΓ©nez Smith is the daughter of South American immigrants and borders and walls come up often in her work. There is incredible energy in her poems, especially the "Be Recorder" poems. She reminds me a little of Sandra Cisneros, perhaps because of similar concerns about being a woman of color and anger.

An excerpt:

anger was my primary breathing
apparatus for so long
what a mixed blessing when it worked
I've learned the most from the cracked
once I broke into pieces
now I break into wholes

Dec 19, 2019, 7:39am

Hey Beth! Hope the finals are going well and soon you'll be enjoying some leisure time.
Wow, Scout is a kid after my own heart. A telescope! So awesome! You go, girl!

Dec 20, 2019, 12:32pm

Thanks Lynda. Two classes down, two to go.

Yes, Scout is pretty awesome.

Dec 20, 2019, 12:46pm

Scout's adventures always remind me of the Dr Seus book Oh the Places You'll Go! Have you read it? Yay for wanting a telescope! That girl has a destiny!

Dec 20, 2019, 2:23pm

I am not going to try to get caught up. My excuse for being away is the new hip I had installed last week. Life had gotten too hard and I am already feeling so much better. Ready to get into the garden this spring. Meanwhile, time to read and say hello to LT friends.

Hope all is well.

Dec 21, 2019, 1:16pm

>169 streamsong: Hi Janet: Yes, we are fans of all things Seuss. Yes, Scout is destined for greatness. And I'm not at all partial. :)

>170 witchyrichy: Hi Karen - Hooray for a new hip! Good luck with a smooth and speedy recovery.

Dec 21, 2019, 1:23pm

129. The Secrets We Kept is really two novels: one, the story of the publication of Dr. Zhivago, and the other the story of the women in the CIA in the 1950s. Both stories are fascinating but this novel, by joining them, doesn't do either of them full justice.

I love the anonymous narrator from the typing pool and the portrayal of the lives of the typists: "They would call us girls, but we were not. We came to the Agency by way of Radcliffe, Vassar, Smith. We were the first daughters of our families to earn degrees. Some of us spoke Mandarin. Some could fly planes...But all we were asked when interviewed was, 'Can you type?'" The CIA's involvement in the publication of Dr. Zhivago is interesting, and I would have liked to learn more about that.

The story of Olga and Pasternak is also a good story, and certainly worthy of a novel of its own.

So, there were many things I admired here. It just didn't work as a unity.

Dec 21, 2019, 6:37pm

>172 BLBera: I remember that β€œcan you type” question. Now it is kind of a given as kids grow up with computers so even if their method isn’t standard they are speedy.

Are you done with marking and classes and onto getting Xmas ready, Beth?

Dec 21, 2019, 7:45pm

>173 Familyhistorian: Hi Meg - I have one class left, and I plan to finish it tomorrow morning. Then, house cleaning and groceries and meal planning for Christmas! You? Are you ready?

Dec 21, 2019, 7:50pm

130. The Second Sleep is a dystopian novel that shows how quickly all traces of our "advanced" civilization disappear. Harris has created a post-Apocalyptic world, in which the church rules, and any discussion of technology is considered heresy. Language is limited to the words from the Bible.

What happened? Father Fairfax starts to ask that question as he arrives in a small, isolated village to bury the priest. He finds forbidden texts and artifacts in the priest's library, including a small plastic communication device with a picture of an apple with a bite taken from it. The more he learns, the more his faith is challenged.

Rather chilling story that poses a realistic portrayal of how the world will end.

Dec 21, 2019, 8:25pm

>172 BLBera: I felt the same way you did about this one Beth. But it's a first novel and I will look for her next one.

>175 BLBera: now this sounds interesting.

Dec 21, 2019, 9:59pm

>172 BLBera: It's too bad that good idea didn't come together as well as it might have done. I think I'll take a pass on this one but it sounds like she is an author to watch for in the future.

By the way, I am loving Frankissstein. Dang, Winterson can write.

Dec 21, 2019, 10:00pm

p.s. are you done yet? Are you on Xmas break?
And when do you have to go back for spring semester? Ours starts late this year - January 13 - but I will be at work a little bit on the 30th and 31st, more on the 2nd and 3rd, and then full-on again on the 6th.

BUT FOR NOW, it's full-on vacation. :-)

Dec 21, 2019, 10:38pm

>176 brenzi: Hi Bonnie - I thought I might be alone on that one. It seemed like it was getting a lot of love -- so maybe my expectations were too high.

>177 EBT1002: Hi to you in Hawaii, Ellen! I hope all is well. Yes, Winterson can write. I want to read some of her stuff that I haven't gotten to yet. I have one class to finish and plan to do it tomorrow morning. Classes start Jan. 13 for us as well. I have to get ready, so I will start prep next week.

We also have to move to our new offices at some point. So far, the move in day looks like Jan. 7, but they keep pushing it back, so I won't be surprised to be moving the first week of class.

Enjoy Hawaii!

Dec 21, 2019, 10:40pm

>179 BLBera: Will the new office be nicer? Lovely view and all that?

Dec 21, 2019, 10:44pm

No window. :( But there is a lot of glass, so we'll see. It will be a new building, so the old poor lighting and heating and cooling issues should improve.

Dec 21, 2019, 11:15pm

>181 BLBera: Well, I suppose regulated temps are worth something! And ... no window but lots of glass?
I know, you may not care that much and I don't know why I'm so curious, but there you are.

Meanwhile, I hope you are closing in on done and can start enjoying a few days off from work!

I stepped out onto our little lanai a few minutes ago. Rain. Wind. Sigh.

Dec 22, 2019, 12:34am

>179 BLBera: Yay for the new and improved building housing your new office!! Hope the move doesn't happen during the first week of classes. Course that would be typical.

So, are you done with classes now? Huh, huh? : ) It's WINTER BREAK!!!!

Dec 22, 2019, 1:29am

I have one class left to finish, then its WINTER BREAK!

The offices are not on an exterior wall. The exterior wall is all glass. It is a corridor. Our offices are along the corridor with one glass wall and transoms. I think the rationale was that there wasn't enough window space for everyone to have a window, so no one gets one...

I'll take a picture when we get into them.

Dec 22, 2019, 8:34am

Morning, Beth. Happy Sunday! I can't believe I have not requested Be Recorder, yet. It definitely sounds like my cuppa. I also just saw another glowing review of The Second Sleep and you just sealed the deal.

I am finishing up both The Yellow House & American Dirt. Both, will be top reads of the year for me. Might as well, go out with a bang, right?

BTW- If you don't mind, I will get the book out, later next week. Deal?

Dec 22, 2019, 9:24am

Sorry The Secrets We Kept didn't work for you, Beth. I loved it and may have been responsible for some of the praise here.

I saw The Second Sleep at the library the other day but didn't get it...and now of course it's gone!

I loved Scout's Christmas wishes - I wonder if she has her star names down to a shortlist now or whether the field is still open.

Dec 22, 2019, 9:43am

>185 msf59: Mark, no hurry with the book. I haven't gotten yours sent out yet, either. I can probably find something to read. It sounds like you do have some great reads these days.

>186 susanj67: Hi Susan - it was you! I did like The Secrets We Kept -- I just didn't think the two stories came together very well. Both are good ones. You might like The Second Sleep. I heard about it on an NPR podcast, I think. I'll have to ask Scout if she does have star names picked out yet.

I've been reading selections from a poetry collection, Dunce. I haven't read Ruefle before, and this collection is perfect for this time of year.

Dark Corner

I was cleaning an empty drawer
I wanted to put things in.
Not much there --
a dead fly, a dark penny,
a straight pin, dust
in the back corners.
As I crimped my fingers
to pick up the pin
a poem came to me.
That is, it appeared
word for word in my mind.
How did it get in the drawer?
How long had it waited?
Had I put it there,
in holding?
Did it belong to the fly?
Did he drop it from some lonely height
onto this playground of refuse,
his own death
come out of nowhere?

Dec 22, 2019, 9:52am

>187 BLBera: Ooh, I like that Dark Corner poem. I will have to request that collection.

Dec 22, 2019, 10:06am

>187 BLBera: Love the poem - such a clever idea.

>175 BLBera: I liked this a lot. Harris has so many interesting ideas, not sure how he keeps producing them.

Office design sounds intriguing. I have been reading up on sound absorbent architecture, a particular bug bear of mine.

Dec 22, 2019, 1:31pm

>188 msf59: It's a good one, Mark. She reminds me a little of Mary Oliver, at least in her nature poems.

>189 charl08: Hi Charlotte. Ruefle is good at looking at things in new ways.

I think The Second Sleep was the first book by Harris that I've read.

I will let you know about the office design after I move in...

Dec 22, 2019, 3:12pm

>174 BLBera: No, I'm not ready yet, Beth, but then Christmas is no big deal as there is no family gathering or anything like that although my son will come to share the meal with me. I do intend to put my place to rights which will be a big chore and maybe even put out some Christmas stuff.

I still have a couple of more shopping forays to go. I hope to sneak in when it isn't a total mad house. The Second Sleep is one of the books that I am currently reading. It sounds pretty heavy from your review and a couple of the other ones are The Hollow Kingdom and The Nickel Boys. Maybe I should sneak something lighter in there.

Enjoy your break!

Edited: Dec 22, 2019, 3:34pm

>191 Familyhistorian: I'm not finding The Second Sleep as heavy going as I thought, though it isn't lite. I just checked - I've also read Conclave and that was not a chore, but the tricks weren't my thing.

Dec 23, 2019, 2:30am

Hi Beth, I hope you are having a great holiday and enjoying your time away from work. We are planning a very quiet Christmas what with both of us not at 100 per cent but there will a family breakfast here with my younger daughter doing the cooking and then a dinner later at my elder daughters. I remember scrambling to find the lastest doll over the years both for my daughters and then my granddaughter, who sadly has grown up and away from toys now.

Dec 23, 2019, 9:33am

Hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

Dec 23, 2019, 3:59pm

Hope you have a wonderful Christmas celebration and enjoy the break!

Dec 24, 2019, 2:12am

Or in other words, Happy Christmas! And have a great New Year as well.

Dec 24, 2019, 11:26am

Happy Holidays, Beth!

Dec 24, 2019, 12:38pm

Have a comfy, caring, and very

Merry Christmas!

Dec 24, 2019, 1:26pm

Hi Beth! I'm way behind, but do want to stop in and wish you a

Dec 24, 2019, 5:18pm

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

Dec 24, 2019, 6:05pm

Merry Christmas Beth. Enjoy the festivities.

Edited: Dec 25, 2019, 1:42am

Merry Christmas, Beth!

Dec 25, 2019, 12:44pm

Merry Christmas from Montana!

Dec 25, 2019, 2:13pm

All the best Beth for 2020!

Dec 25, 2019, 6:40pm

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice, some other tradition or none at all, this is what I wish for you!

Dec 25, 2019, 8:35pm

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

Dec 26, 2019, 2:12am

Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Edited: Dec 29, 2019, 3:20pm

calm and I could use some friends over here in this new joint...

The 2020 Group is up!

Dec 27, 2019, 12:01am

>187 BLBera: Love the Dark Corner poem!!

Twin/Triplet--Best wishes this holiday season!! And I'll see you in 2020!

Dec 27, 2019, 10:29am

Thanks to all of you for keeping my thread warm and for the holiday wishes. Sorry for not replying individually; I hav the feeling most people have moved to the 2020 thread. I like to finish my year here.

Our holiday was sad because Charlie, my daughter's loved dog was hit by a car on Christmas Eve and died.

Scout did get her telescope. So far it's been cloudy, so she hasn't used it. She has four loose teeth.

Dec 27, 2019, 10:35am

"It reminded me that all of art rests in the gap between that which is aesthetically pleasing and that which truly captivates you."

132. Optic Nerve is hard to describe because it's basically a narrator talking about art as it relates to various events of her life. Instead of a madeleine, she has paintings. She talks about various artists, from Dreux to Toulouse Lautrec to El Greco. I really enjoyed this original first novel.

Dec 27, 2019, 11:51am

Oh so sad about the dog!! Glad Scout got her telescope though :)

Dec 27, 2019, 3:05pm

Twin--So sorry about Charlie. : (

Hurray for the telescope! Wishing clear skies and a visit soon from the tooth fairy. : )

Dec 27, 2019, 3:47pm

So sorry to hear about Charlie. Losing fur-family is devastating.

May Scout enjoy her telescope! It's a gift that will keep on giving to her for years to come.

Dec 27, 2019, 3:54pm

I'm glad you're going to see 2019 out to its bitter end with me, Beth. It may be just the two of us by Tuesday!

I'm so sorry to hear about Charlie's accident. I'm sure your daughter is feeling pretty blue about it, and Scout as well, of course. I look forward to Scout's telescopic adventures in 2020!

Dec 27, 2019, 3:59pm

Beth, I'm sorry to hear about Charlie.

I'll be here till the bitter end too, although I've set up on the 2020 thread as well.

Dec 27, 2019, 4:00pm

>212 RebaRelishesReading: Thanks Reba. Yes, it was pretty sad, especially since they had already lost a pet to illness this year.

>213 Berly: Thanks Twin - Charlie was a good boy. I was crying over Love that Dog on Christmas night... Yes, I imagine that soon Scout will be toothless.

>214 streamsong: Thanks Janet. It is pretty sad -- Charlie was the first baby -- he just turned seven, so Scout had known him all her life.

>215 rosalita: Hi Julia! It's been a while. Maybe it will be just us by Tuesday. Does that mean you're getting ready for a 2020 thread? Pretty please?

Dec 27, 2019, 4:01pm

>216 susanj67: Hi Susan - Thanks. I will visit your thread. I've been pretty much absent the past week. I've just posted what I read so I wouldn't forget.

Dec 27, 2019, 4:05pm

Yeah, more will be with you the end than you might think!

Dec 27, 2019, 4:10pm

>217 BLBera: Nope, no 2020 thread for me! I'm just going to continue lurking on other people's threads next year. :-)

Dec 27, 2019, 4:25pm

>210 BLBera: It's so sad about Charlie.

I'm sort of avoiding 2020 threads for a bit - it's hard enough keeping up with what's still happening on the 2019 threads without having to find a new star to post and New Year's greetings to compose.

Dec 27, 2019, 5:27pm

>210 BLBera: Sorry to hear about Charlie. Terrible timing.

I'm keeping my 2019 thread going until the end of the year but I have a 2020 one up already in self defense because in previous years I have found that I started way behind and never caught up if I left the new year threads until it was actually the new year. Now I am juggling both!

Dec 27, 2019, 6:26pm

Beth, I'm so sorry to read about your beloved pup, Charlie. I know how much that hurts.

I'm still hanging out in this 2019 group and posting on my thread. I hope to have two more reviews and a year-end wrap-up post. I joined the 2020 group and will probably create my 2020 thread soon but hold off on any posting or visiting others until I've wrapped up everything neatly here.

So you can see there will be plenty of us hanging out here for the next few days!

Dec 27, 2019, 6:27pm

I'm not moving to 2020 until well, 2020 I guess Beth. I'm still reading for 2019. I'm so sorry about Charlie.. so sad especially at this time of year.

Dec 27, 2019, 7:19pm

>219 drneutron: See below, Jim. I guess you are right! I now have no excuse for not visiting threads.

>220 rosalita: Lurk away!

>221 quondame: I will visit 2020 threads in 2020, Susan. I do hope to finish a couple more books this year.

>222 Familyhistorian: Hi Meg! Yes, it was a hard year, both Charlie and Lola died; they were both part of the family when Scout was born.

>223 lauralkeet: Thanks Laura. It is terrible timing. I will visit you, then. I thought that most had already moved to the 2020 threads.

>224 brenzi: I'll check out your current reading as well, Bonnie. I am so glad they have Jane although she seems pretty sad as well. They were good buddies. I imagine 2020 will see another furry family member.

Dec 28, 2019, 5:21am

So sorry to read about Charlie. I would very much like a dog but losing one, especially like that doesn't bear thinking about.

Not sure about >211 BLBera: - although it certainly sounds like an interesting idea.

Dec 28, 2019, 9:26am

I am sorry about Charlie and also for Jane. Our two dogs have their own relationship apart from their humans.

I dabbled with a telescope for awhile and it is a good way to connect with the stars. I know Scout will enjoy it.

Dec 28, 2019, 9:40am

So sorry about Charlie :(

I started a 2020 thread, but I'm checking it less frequently and still posting in my 2019 thread to finish out the year - I plan on finishing at least one more book before Tuesday!

Hope Scout enjoys the telescope! We have one our library circulates and I'd love to get a chance to bring it home one of these days and see how it works. Our holds list has stayed steady, however, so it's never in (and I live out of town when it's supposed to be circulated to our townspeople first, so I feel especially disinclined to get it before any of our patrons).

Dec 28, 2019, 12:04pm

>226 charl08: Hi Charlotte - Your comment about the dog is spot on -- my daughter said almost the same thing. She is devastated.
Optic Nerve is definitely not for everyone. There isn't really a plot, and if you're not into art, it wouldn't work. Also, I think you need to be in the right mood for it -- it worked for me, but I'm not sure I would have appreciated it if I had picked it up during a busy time.

>227 witchyrichy: Thanks Karen. Jane seems very subdued, but she also plays with June, the cat, so at least she has that.

>228 bell7: Thanks Mary, there are more people still active than I had thought. I'll have to stop by and visit. I hope to finish two more books.

It is a great idea for your library to have a telescope that can be circulated. I'll have to suggest it for our library.

Dec 28, 2019, 12:07pm

2019 was a little rough for me, so I am glad to leave it behind and have jumped into 2020 early!! But I respect you all for following the calendar. : )

Edited: Jan 1, 2020, 9:36am

133. Everything Inside is a wonderful collection of stories by Edwidge Danticat. Set in Miami, Haiti, and New York, most of the stories are about Haitian immigrants, first and second generation. Danticat reveals the humanity of her characters, as well as a variety of experience.

Dec 28, 2019, 12:09pm

>230 Berly: I don't blame you, Twinnie. Go for it! I hope to see you again in 2020.

Dec 28, 2019, 12:16pm

Hi Beth, I was very sorry to read about Charlie. I am looking forward to the new year with hopes of better health. I am also looking forward to all the great book bullets that I pick up from you!

Dec 28, 2019, 12:20pm

Oh, how sad about Charlie :( I'm so sorry.

Good to hear Scout got her telescope!

I am looking forward to reading that collection from Danticat.

Dec 28, 2019, 12:34pm

>233 DeltaQueen50: I am looking forward to a wonderful 2020 as well although I know I have some losses ahead. My favorite aunt will probably not make it through the year. Ditto for book bullets, Judy! I already have starred your 2020 thread.

>234 katiekrug: Thanks, Katie. It is sad it happened on Christmas Eve. Danticat's stories are wonderful - I loved every one. You know how sometimes story collections are easy to put aside after reading one? I gobbled this one up. I love how she shows such a variety of immigrant experience.

Dec 28, 2019, 1:13pm

Charlie. Sad. :-(

Dec 28, 2019, 3:31pm

Your comments about Optic Nerve were very useful to me. It's one of the books in the Tournament of Books in March, and so I'll be reading it soonish.

Dec 29, 2019, 10:16am

>236 weird_O: Thanks Bill.

>237 RidgewayGirl: Thanks Kay. I will watch for your comments; it's one that won't appeal to everyone, but I did like it a lot. I thought Gainza did a great job of tying the art to her narrator's life -- difficult, especially for a first novel.

Dec 29, 2019, 6:04pm

Just catching up Beth. I’m very behind on everyone’s threads. I’ll be watching again in 2020.

Dec 29, 2019, 10:05pm

Beth, I am SO sorry to hear about Charlie! How sad for your whole family. I know how hard that is, especially a sudden loss like that. Hugs to you and Scout and everyone else.

I'm doing like some others, trying not to start my first 2020 thread just yet. I did join the group and I will, of course, be there full on, but the transition is so crazy and I just don't have the time to manage two of my own threads and keep up with two of everyone else's. So I'm dropping stars and figuring I'll catch up when I catch up.

Dec 30, 2019, 2:04am

>239 NanaCC: Hi Colleen. I will be following you again in 2020 as well.

>240 EBT1002: Thanks Ellen. It is really bad timing. Losing Lola in the same year was especially tough.

I LOVED The Ruin. I just finished it. I will definitely be following this series. It makes me want to go back to Ireland, though, minus the murder, of course.

I will start my thread on New Year's. It is always nuts when the threads start.

Dec 30, 2019, 2:37am

Beth, so sorry to hear about the loss of Charlie. Losing a pet is so hard, especially for children, so my heart goes out to Scout.
Happy New Year.

Dec 30, 2019, 12:13pm

Thanks Jan. I hope you're having a wonderful holiday season. How are you doing?

Dec 30, 2019, 12:16pm

Ugh, such sad news. Sorry for Scout and everyone. Sending best wishes for a happy new year.

Dec 30, 2019, 12:17pm

Thanks Vivian. Yes, 2019 was not a good year for the furry family. I foresee a new member in 2020.

Dec 30, 2019, 4:29pm

Hi Twin!! xoxo

Dec 30, 2019, 11:00pm

I'm glad you enjoyed The Ruin. The Scholar is a good follow up.

Dec 31, 2019, 10:25am

>246 Berly: XXOO back.

>247 EBT1002: Good to know, Ellen. I thought The Ruin was solid - good characters, and I loved the setting. It makes me want to go back to Ireland.

136. Dunce is my last book of this year. This collection of poems is lighthearted, with close observation of her surroundings:

From "How We Met"
Some say the best thing you can do
is carry a pair of scissors,
snip small pieces of the world
and take them home with you

This is what Ruefle does in her poetry. There is humor here as well.

Dec 31, 2019, 10:38am

Happy New Year to my LT friends.

I get to spend the last day of the year with Scout, so all is good.

See you in 2020!

Dec 31, 2019, 2:19pm

2019 Reading Report
Books read: 137
By women: 121 - 88%
By men: 16 - 12%
Novels: 105
Short stories: 3
Poetry: 7
Nonfiction: 4
Essays: 5
Memoir: 7
Biography: 1
Translation: 15
Kids (chapter books): 3

As usual, fiction dominated my reading of the year. In 2018 I did better with nonfiction, averaging about one a month. I did read more essays this year. Still, I would like to increase nonfiction reading for next year, as well as reading in translation and poetry.

I know that the majority of my books came from the library, and I would like at least half of my reading to come from my shelves next year.

I didn't track average ratings, but there were only a couple of 2-star or lower reads, probably because I am getting better at putting something down if it doesn't appeal.

Favorites of the year:
Sabrina & Corina
The Great Believers
How to Love a Country
Good Talk

Also highly recommended:
Ask Again, Yes
Red at the Bone
The Poet X
Say Nothing
When All Is Said

Dec 31, 2019, 2:20pm

2020 here I come!

Dec 31, 2019, 2:30pm

I enjoyed following your reading this year - probably connected with your reading because of how many women authors you read. I read predominantly women authors as well.

I have Frankissstein on my library wait list at your recommendation. I'm excited to try it as it sounds different. I'll look for your 2020 thread!

Dec 31, 2019, 3:50pm

Dec 31, 2019, 7:21pm

>252 japaul22: Thanks Jennifer. The feeling is mutual. I will watch for your comments on Frankissstein; it's one for which there will be varied opinions, I know. I hope you do like it.

>253 Ameise1: Thanks Barbara. FrΓΆhliche Neue Jahre to you as well.

Dec 31, 2019, 7:39pm

Have fun with Scout on the last day of 2019, Beth. Happy New Year!

Dec 31, 2019, 9:39pm

Thanks Meg. It was great.

Dec 31, 2019, 9:45pm

Hi Beth, Great list of 2019 favorites. How I loved The Great Believers in 2018. Just so good. And Ask Again, Yes keeps growing on me the further away from the time I read it gets. I want to read Sabrina & Corina too.

Dec 31, 2019, 9:58pm

Thanks Bonnie. I thought your list was great as well. Also, I just reserved Cantoras from the library, so I hope to get to that soonish. I can't believe I haven't read anything by De Robertis -- I'm always looking for contemporary South American women writers.

I want to read Fever to see if Keane is a one-trick writer. :) Recently I've also enjoyed Edwidge Danticat's new story collection Everything Inside. I think you would like that collection as well.

I just started Zadie Smith's first story collection Grand Union, and the first few stories are great. I seem to be ending the year with some great short stories.

Scout was here today, and we read the ENTIRE Toys Come Home. I think I originally got the recommendation from Anne, and Scout loves those books. Your little ones might also like them, if they haven't yet read them.