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Karen (aka witchyrichy) Reads Around the Shelves in 2020

75 Books Challenge for 2020

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Dec 26, 2019, 2:16pm Top

I'm Karen, 57, and I come to you from rural south central Virginia where I live with my husband, two dogs and two turkeys on an 18-acre farm. I have participated for several years in this group and am looking forward to a new year of reading and sharing. I like to read lots of different genres but tend to get mired in cozy mysteries and historical fiction unless roused by outside forces.

So...I am starting the year with lots of challenges to see if I can dig into my shelves a little deeper. Some of the books I'm hoping to read are quite chunky, easily over 500 pages so that will be my own challenges.

The topper is a recently hatched praying mantis that landed on the edge of my notebook as I enjoyed the warmth of our sun porch on Christmas Day 2019. Turns out there were lots of them! We captured what we could and relocated them to our unheated greenhouse where they should be able to find a few lingering bugs to eat.

Edited: Jan 20, 6:23pm Top

2020 AlphaKIT

Here are the letters for 2020:

A & U January - thread: https://www.librarything.com/topic/313912
I had originally considered Ulysses as it was the only U on my shelf. I wasn’t enthusiastic. Thank goodness for LadyoftheLodge who suggested Agatha Christie’s Evil Under the Sun. My library has a copy. I have some ambitious reading for January so a book that solves both letters works plus I want to explore mysteries in general in 2020. I am happy. Perhaps I will consider Joyce for July.

F & B February
The Outer Banks House
Old Filth

G & C March
Tilt A Whirl by Chris Grabenstein

S & T April
Sword of Shame by The Medieval Murderers

L & P May
The Lost Prophecies by The Medieval Murderers
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

K & Y June
In The Shadow of Agatha Christie by Leslie Klinger

J & R July
New York by Edward Rutherford

O & H August

M & E September
Moonglow by Michael Chabon
Mad Mouse
An Exhilaration of Wings

D & V October
The Deeds of the Disturber
Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage

I & Q November

W & N December
Whack A Mole

Yearlong letters: X and Z
A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn

thread: https://www.librarything.com/topic/313968

The wiki for 2020 is: https://wiki.librarything.com/index.php/2020_AlphaKIT#2020_AlphaKIT

Thanks to Jean aka majkia for setting it up.

Edited: Jan 20, 6:15pm Top

2020 MysteryKIT

January: Historical mysteries:
Thread: https://www.librarything.com/topic/313974#
Monk's Hood by Ellis Peters
The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie King

February: Furry Sleuths
Murder Past Due

March: Golden Age
April: Espionage
May: Novel to screen
June: Police Procedurals/Private Investigator
July: Cross genre/mashup
August: International authors
September: Series
October: New to You
November: -Noir/Gumshoe
December: Cozies

Thanks to Cheryl aka LadyoftheLodge for getting it started. I want to read more mysteries in 2020 to get beyond the cozies I usually read.

Edited: Jan 20, 6:26pm Top

2020 GeoCAT

January: Asia I: Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
Among Flowers: A Walk in the Himalaya by Jamaica Kincaid (Nepal)

February: Europe (Excluding Great Britain)
The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

March: Northern Africa & The Mideast: Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Turkey (others)
Without A Country by Ayse Kulin (Turkey)
About the Night by Anat Talshir (Israel_

April: Australia, New Zealand, Oceania
The Birdwoman's Palate by Laksmi Pamuntjak (Indonesia)

May: Any place you would like to visit!
June: Space: The Final Frontier
July: Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean

August: Asia II: Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan, Southeast Asia
Go by Kazuki Kaneshiro (Japan)

September: Polar & Tundra Regions

October: Great Britain, Canada, US
The Dust That Falls from Dreams

November: Africa II All countries excluding those from March. Possibilities: Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Ethiopia and others
December: Catch up month or read another one from your favorite CATegory!

Wiki is here: https://wiki.librarything.com/index.php/2020_GeoCAT#2020_GeoCAT

Thanks to tess_schoolmarm for getting it started.

Edited: Jan 20, 6:15pm Top

2020 NonfictionCAT

January - Journalism and News
Thread: https://www.librarything.com/topic/313165
Midnight in Siberia by David Greene

February - Travel
The Road to Little Dribbling

March - Biography
April - Law and Order
May - Science
June - Society
July - Human Science
August - History
September - Religion and Philosophy
October - The Arts
November - Food, Home and Recreation
December - Adventures by Land, Sea or Air

Planning thread: https://www.librarything.com/topic/312897
Wiki: https://wiki.librarything.com/index.php/2020_Non-fiction_CAT

Thanks to Pam aka pamelad for setting it up.

Edited: Jan 13, 12:22pm Top

2020 KITtastrophe

January: Fires
Thread: https://www.librarything.com/topic/313973
The Big Burn by Timothy Egan

February: Invasions
March: Epidemics and Famine
April: Riots/Uprisings/Sieges
May: Geologic Events (earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, landslides, avalanches, meteor strikes)
June: Weather Events (hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, floods, droughts, heatwaves)
July: Weather Events (hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, floods, droughts, heatwaves)
August: Transportation and Maritime
September: Transportation and Maritime
October: Pre-1900
November: Outside Your Home Country
December: Technology/Industrial

Thanks to LibraryCin for setting it up.

Edited: Jan 25, 9:01am Top

Here's what I'm thinking about as of early January but haven't actually read anything. I am using this to read several Agatha Christie mysteries.

Title Contains A Pun:
Here's Looking at Euclid: A Surprising Excursion Through the Astonishing World of Math
Tequila Mockingbird

Library or Thing in Title:
The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie

Pen Name/Anonymous Author:
Elena Ferrante

Books, Bookstores, Libraries:
Booked to Die

non-US/UK Female Author:

Epistolary or Letters:
The Screwtape Letters

Periodic Table Element in Title:
The Women of the Copper Country

From a Legacy Library:
A People's History of the United States (via David Bowie)

Mystery or True Crime:
The Man Who Loved Books Too Much

3+ Letters of Bingo:

Mythology or Folklore:
Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler

Set in Asia:

Read a CAT:

Published in Your Birth Year:
The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side

Red Cover/Prominent:
The Invention of Air

Published in 1820 or 1920:
The Mysterious Affairs at Styles by Agatha Christie

Not Set on Earth:

Published in 2020:
Steve Berry

About Birth or Death:
Being Mortal

Proper Name in Title:
The Overdue Life of Amy Byler

Weird Book Title:

Small Press or Self-Published:

Involves Real Historical Event:
The Spy Mistress

LT Author:
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

By Journalist/About Journalism:
Staying Tuned by Daniel Schorr
Lit Up by David Denby

Planning thread: https://www.librarything.com/topic/312084

Thanks to christina_reads for setting it up and LShelby for making the cards.

Edited: Jan 21, 5:10pm Top

RandomCAT 2020

Planning thread: http://www.librarything.com/topic/312875

January: A Challenging Book
Thread: https://www.librarything.com/topic/314037#

√ I have a bunch of big books on the shelf but the biggest and most challenging is John McPhee's Annals of the Former World. For the challenge, I am going to commit to reading Book 1. I don't want to rush through just for the sake of a challenge but it will at least get me started.

February: Leap Year Publishing Date
The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie

Thanks to Betty aka dudes22 for setting it up.

Dec 26, 2019, 2:34pm Top

Welcome back!

Dec 26, 2019, 2:47pm Top

>10 drneutron: Thanks for the welcome and setting this up every year! I have some ambitious plans this year and appreciate having this space to share my reading.

Dec 26, 2019, 6:29pm Top

I really like some of your challenges (mysteries and others). I’m nowhere near that organize but I really enjoy following those who are.

Dec 26, 2019, 7:36pm Top

>12 bohemima: I am making a concerted effort this year. But it isn't even January 2020 yet so am not promising anything ;-)

Dec 27, 2019, 2:32am Top

Love some of your challenges! Thievery might happen. Just saying. ; )

Dec 27, 2019, 8:37am Top

>14 Berly: Steal away! I reserve the right to use them, abuse them and ignore them.

Dec 27, 2019, 3:49pm Top

Hi Karen my dear, I have starred you and will be popping by to see how you are doing dear friend.

Dec 27, 2019, 7:32pm Top

Thanks, John! Starting to drop some stars myself and will certainly be visiting your thread!

Dec 27, 2019, 8:22pm Top

Hi Karen! Happy New Year. I followed you here from the Introduction thread where I saw you live in south central Virginia. Anywhere near Floyd? That's where I went to a wedding this summer...and it was a great place!

Edited: Dec 27, 2019, 9:19pm Top

Hi! We're kinda neighbors, I'm in NC.

I've starred your thread and will check back frequently.

Love the mantis...

Dec 28, 2019, 8:31am Top

>18 SqueakyChu: Floyd is west of us about 4 hours in the beautiful mountains, but one of our favorite places in the state. They say it is where old hippies go to die. One of our first road trips when we retire will be to follow the Crooked Road Music Trail that celebrates the folk music of Virginia and goes right through Floyd: https://www.virginia.org/thecrookedroad

Dec 28, 2019, 8:34am Top

>19 fuzzi: Thanks for stopping by! We love North Carolina, especially the eastern section including Alligator River and Lake Mattamuskeet. Before we moved to the farm, we did annual winter birding trips through that area and then down through Pea Island and are looking forward to getting back to them.

Edited: Jan 18, 4:18pm Top

January 2020 Reading Plan:

Annals of the Former World: Book 1
The Beekeeper’s Apprentice
Midnight in Siberia
The Big Burn (Kindle)
Evil Under the Sun (Library)
Among Flowers: A Walk in the Himalaya

At least a start. I am going to begin with one of the shorter books and then work in Annals over the whole month.

Added: Pulled two Charles Frazier books off the shelf: Thirteen Moons and √ Nightwoods. He is the American Author focus this month so we shall see.

Dec 28, 2019, 10:35pm Top

>20 witchyrichy: birding trips?
Pea Island?


>22 witchyrichy: oh, wow, one of my all time favorites is The Beekeeper's Apprentice. I hope you enjoy it.

Dec 28, 2019, 11:04pm Top

>20 witchyrichy: Yep. It was what I'd describe as a hippie wedding that we attended, although the couple is a generation younger than I am. So much fun, though! We did spend Friday night out on the streets of Floyd listening to the townsfolk jamming. What a place! I'd love to go back.

Dec 29, 2019, 9:23am Top

>23 fuzzi: Nice to have a new friend. This one is just for you. (We are also lighthouse fans.)

Edited: Dec 29, 2019, 12:16pm Top

Ooh. Is that Bodie?


We've been to Bodie, Lookout, and Hatteras, though only climbed the first two.

Once Ocracoke has recovered I'd love to check out their lighthouse as well.

Dec 29, 2019, 3:37pm Top

>26 fuzzi: We've been to Bodie, Currituck Beach, Ocracoke and Cape Hatteras in both its old and new location. We made one visit when they were in the midst of moving it. I have only climbed Currituck Beach. There is a light cozy mystery series by Eva Gates that imagines a library and living quarters in the Bodie Island Lighthouse. Fluffy and fun.

Dec 29, 2019, 10:22pm Top

Hi Karen. I'm dropping off my star even though I won't be visiting much for a couple more days. I'm looking forward to more great book conversation in 2020!

Dec 30, 2019, 9:42am Top

>28 EBT1002: Thanks for stopping by. I'm trying to get into more of a regular routine with LT while I have some break time so have been more prolific than usual. Hoping if it is a solid habit, it will stick with me when I start up working again.

Edited: Dec 30, 2019, 5:54pm Top

>27 witchyrichy: we did Lookout a few years ago, while staying in one of the rustic cabins on the island. We also took a boat ride past Shackleford Banks, seeing wild horses on the beaches. I highly recommend them all.

Dec 31, 2019, 5:37am Top

Best wishes for 2020!

Dec 31, 2019, 9:07am Top

Another resolution is to keep up in 2020 with all my friends on LT. Happy New Year!

Dec 31, 2019, 12:29pm Top

>31 DianaNL: Thanks for stopping by!

>32 PaulCranswick: I LOVE this and plan to adopt the list as my own. And, I am making a renewed commitment to LT as well. Happy new year to you, too!

Dec 31, 2019, 1:47pm Top

Hi, Karen! Just stopping by to drop a ⭐ and to wish you

Dec 31, 2019, 5:39pm Top

Hi Karen my dear, wishing you and your husband a very Happy New Year from both of us dear friend.

Dec 31, 2019, 6:21pm Top

Happy reading in 2020, Karen!

Jan 1, 2:12am Top

Wishing you 12 months of success
52 weeks of laughter
366 days of fun (leap year!)
8,784 hours of joy
527,040 minutes of good luck
and 31,622,400 seconds of happiness!!

Jan 1, 9:12am Top

>34 Storeetllr: So glad to see you back! Just posted to and starred our thread as well.

>35 johnsimpson: Thanks and same to you and yours!

>36 FAMeulstee: Thanks! And same to you!

>37 Berly: I love your list as it gets down to the essentials: we think big picture in terms of years and decades but life is about what happens from second to second, isn't it? Best wishes to you for 2020!

Jan 1, 10:26am Top

Happy New Year, Karen. I hope 2020 is a great year for you.

Jan 1, 3:58pm Top

>39 BLBera: Thanks! Same to you. Looking forward to reading and sharing.

Edited: Jan 1, 4:42pm Top

I have been digging into Daemon Voices, a collection of Philip Pullman’s essays on storytelling. In the essay on The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, he suggests that, while he usually doesn’t explain his books, this particular book requires some background. Written for a series called Myths, Pullman creates his own version of the story of Jesus by imagining that twins were born on that fateful night. He stuck close to the Gospels but took each event and gave it a little twist. And, in the end, he believes that “the imaginary figure of Christ was of much greater use to the church than the historical person of Jesus.” The religion that grew around the historical personage is of human construction.

I feel like this is a book that should be read like the scripture. One chapter at a time with reflection about how Pullman re-interprets that familiar story.

Worth a read and I can also recommend the essays. I had checked the book of essays out from the library but knew I needed to own a copy. His prose is just thick and wonderful and I want to be able to reread at leisure and browse without feeling like I have to finish it at a pre-determined time.

Jan 1, 9:22pm Top

Happy New Year, Karen!

Jan 1, 9:24pm Top

Dropping a star.

Happy reading!

Jan 2, 8:31am Top

>42 quondame: >43 figsfromthistle: Thanks for stopping by! Hoping to have a good year and reading and sharing!

Jan 2, 12:03pm Top

>41 witchyrichy: Now there's a twist on the Jesus story! Sounds fascinating.

Jan 2, 1:37pm Top

Happy New Year, Karen!

>41 witchyrichy: Interesting review! It sounds like an interesting take on very familiar stories. Have you read The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin?

Jan 2, 3:31pm Top

>41 witchyrichy: Sounds good, Karen. Onto the list it goes. Actually, both of them.

Jan 2, 4:29pm Top

>45 Berly: >46 streamsong: >47 Storeetllr: I re-started a Bible reading habit last year using a list of daily readings from Hyde Park UM Church that I found online. Readings included the Christmas story, of course, but also lots of Isaiah prophecies as well as John the Baptist and his relationship to Jesus so the story is pretty fresh for me. He did take some license as it is fiction but stuck pretty closely to scripture in terms of the Beautitudes and events like Jesus and the moneylenders in the temple.

>46 streamsong: I haven't read the Toibin. Looks good and a similar focus on those closest to Jesus who had knowledge not available to the early chroniclers. Added to the list!

Edited: Jan 3, 8:38am Top

I got in my last book order before the end of 2019. (The goal is to only buy books if I am standing in an indie bookstore or a charity sale.) This haul almost counts as they came from Better World Books, the online bookseller that both takes used books and uses the proceeds to both give books and support literacy programs.

Edmund Rutherfurd's New York
Among Flowers by Jamaica Kincaid
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
In the Shadow of Agatha Christie by Leslie S. Klinger

The last one is a collection of crime fiction by "forgotten" female writers from 1850-1917. I am hoping to connect with classic crime fiction in the new year so this seemed like a good start.

Jan 2, 9:17pm Top

Hi Karen and Happy New Year!

I love your Praying Mantis topper and am glad to hear that you relocated the brood to the greenhouse.

Good luck with all your category challenges this year.

Jan 3, 8:39am Top

>50 karenmarie: Thanks! Happy new year! I am hoping the categories get me out of a few ruts but also help clear some shelf space.

Edited: Jan 3, 8:41am Top

Currently Reading:

Jan 3, 12:51pm Top

>30 fuzzi: Thanks for the tip! Many decades ago, we spent the night in my husband's little truck out on Hatteras Point. A wild windy wintry night and we woke up surrounded by fisherman in the morning.

Jan 3, 5:57pm Top

I found you! Happy New Year, Karen. I hope your recovery is going well.

I’m also a lighthouse fan. Every summer, we’d climb the winding staircase to the top of “Old Barney” on Long Beach Island in NJ.

>52 witchyrichy: I’ve had my eye on that one for a while now.

Are you planning on reading The Luminaries this year? I’ve had a copy forever but haven’t tried it yet.

Jan 3, 8:16pm Top

I am going to read The Luminaries at some point, maybe for one of the challenges. It seems like a good book for long summer days. I haven't gotten immersed in a real chunkster for a long time.

Jan 3, 8:19pm Top

>49 witchyrichy: Nice book haul. The last two are ones I'd like to get my hands on. ; )

Jan 4, 10:51am Top

>56 Berly: Check Better World Books. They always seem to have multiple copies and good clearance sales. I also have a Miss Marple Omnibus coming from the UK.

Jan 4, 11:09am Top

The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie King begins with fifteen-year-old Mary Russell stumbling over her neighbor Sherlock Holmes who has retired to the Sussex Downs to take up beekeeping. From that chance meeting between two similarly brilliant minds, the novel wonderfully unfolds, following their friendship that becomes a partnership. All the familiar Holmes' characters from Mrs. Hudson to Watson to Mycroft appear as well. I loved this book in so many ways not least of which was the gorgeous, overflowing prose. I am so excited that this is the first in a series.

Jan 4, 1:37pm Top

My Top Books for 2019

Best Read: One of my last and best reads of the year. Devoured it and now want to read it more leisurely to see how Madeline Miller takes this minor mention from the Odyssey and creates a rich, complex character.


Authentic Voices: Fierce young writers who are writing about their lives and also showing how social media can be a force for good. I follow them all on Instagram and am excited to be able to follow their careers from the beginning.

On The Come Up
With the Fire On High
Dear Martin
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Good Reads: Engaging, thoughtful, meaty, funny

The Last Witchfinder
The Barrytown Trilogy
Where the Crawdads Sing (read it in one night!)

And for #10, one of those books that finds you when you need it:

When the Heart Waits

Jan 4, 1:44pm Top

Here are my answers. Not sure they all make sense but it is fun to review the reading list from the past year before moving on.

Describe yourself: A Well-Read Woman

Describe how you feel: Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

Describe where you currently live: In Paradise

Your favorite time of day is: Death at Dawn

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Indian Country

Your favorite form of transportation: Wishes and Wellingtons

Your best friend is: Looking for Alaska

You and your friends are: A Dangerous Collaboration

What (I wish) the weather was like: Let It Snow

You fear: Squirm

What is the best advice you have to give: With the Fire on High

Thought for the day: Books for Living

How you would like to die: The Bodies in the Library

Your soul’s present condition: When the Heart Waits

What is life for you: The Museum of Mysteries

Jan 4, 4:28pm Top

>59 witchyrichy: Ow! Ow! Ow! (dodging bookbullets all over the place)

>60 witchyrichy: Fun answers. Especially like: What is life for you: The Museum of Mysteries Ain't it just!

Jan 5, 9:09am Top

>58 witchyrichy: yes!

Ocracoke is on our future destination list. I'm skipping Nag's Head, looks too touristy.

Jan 5, 9:44am Top

>61 Storeetllr: I've been doing the same thing with everyone else's lists. It is amazing the wide range of reading we all do! And, I had the hardest time with that last one but as I head towards retirement, I find I am wondering a lot about what I want to do with a less work-focused life.

>62 fuzzi: We love Ocracoke. Don't miss Howard's Pub. In the old days, they let you bring your dog on the porch and we camped in their parking lot one year when we discovered the other campground had closed. In general, if you want to skip the touristy stuff, head south towards Hatteras and Ocracoke. Stop at Oregon Inlet for good birding, too.

Jan 5, 10:29am Top

>58 witchyrichy: Hi Karen. I have enjoyed the Mary Russell series overall. I think the first few were the best, and as the series progresses there were a couple that were not good. That happens in many series, I think.

I read The Luminaries last year. While I enjoyed it, it wasn't one of the year's best for me.

Jan 5, 11:13am Top

>64 BLBera: I agree about that happening with series. Ellery Adams does a nice job of wrapping up her series. Her characters grow and change and eventually move beyond the story. I read both the Book Retreat and Books by the Bay series last year and was glad to have an ending.

Good to know about The Luminaries. I do not keep up with contemporary fiction but saw it mentioned on several threads so grabbed a used copy.

Jan 5, 12:42pm Top

>63 witchyrichy: did Pea Island once, would love to go back.

Edited: Jan 5, 7:14pm Top

It has been a very long time since I read Cold Mountain but remember Frazier's prose, the way that natural world played its role in his story. And, I remember having a pretty knock down drag out argument over the ending.

I think the ending of Nightwoods is a little more definitive but Frazier isn't one for making it completely clear. What he does do well is spin a tale full of suspense and fear and past violence coming full force into the presence. He reveals details on his own timeline, just at the moment when they will, he knows, hit you the hardest, wrapped up as you are in the story.

Luce lives as a hermit in the old Lodge on the lake, seemingly contented with the "reimbursements" she receives for her life of solitude. These are mostly a deep connection with and gratitude towards the natural world. But she opens that solitary life to her niece and nephew after her sister dies. The children have been deeply wounded but Luce, with her patience and lack of expectations, works with them gently. Eventually, the world finds them and Frazier's tale spins fast and sometimes shockingly towards its end.

A five star read if there ever was one.

Read for the American Author Challenge

Edited: Jan 20, 6:18pm Top

I realized I had not planned ahead for the American Author Challenge but since I finished January, I might as well at least drop the list here:

January Charles Frazier

February Grace Paley
Begin Again

March David McCullough
April Francine Prose
May E. Lynn Harris
June Jean Stafford
July Wendell Berry
August Robert Penn Warren
September Dawn Powell
October Ward Just
November Ann Petry
December Tony Hillerman

Edited: Jan 5, 1:52pm Top

Finished a great book and then just couldn't resist checking the email for my non-profit. I have not looked at it since December 12. Longest I've gone without checking in since I took over nearly 10 years ago. Not that much of a sacrifice: my assistant handled the post-conference stuff until December 20 and then we closed the offices for the past two weeks. Once I cleaned out all the junk, it looks like there are only 50 that need my attention, and maybe less. I feel no obligation to do anything about them until tomorrow.

So...what to read next? Making good progress on the plan so now may be the time to start Annals of the Former World.

Jan 5, 2:06pm Top

Finally getting around to checking in on your thread (and others). Happy 2020 reading!

Jan 5, 2:43pm Top

Did I see you comment on a thread somewhere that you are recovering from hip replacement surgery? I am three weeks post-surgery for knee replacement. It’s been a trip! Commiserations to a fellow sufferer. (Not to whine too much or anything).

Jan 5, 3:40pm Top

>67 witchyrichy: That one sounds good! Just a tip that I can't see the picture of the book cover (if that's what it is).

>71 arubabookwoman: I may check back with both of you in a few months about how your replacements turned out. I think I am going to need a number of replacements. (Damn this arthritis!)

Jan 5, 7:03pm Top

THR patient here, 10 years post surgery. I know knee surgery recovery is harder.

Jan 5, 7:09pm Top

>41 witchyrichy: That collection sounds fascinating!

>67 witchyrichy: I was just noticing a rave review of Nightwoods over on Linda (Laytonwoman)'s thread and I'm pleased to see your concurrence. I loved Cold Mountain when I read it years ago but haven't read anything else by Frazier. I'm definitely adding this new one to my wish list.

P had her hip replaced about two and a half years ago and it has changed her life for the better.

Jan 5, 7:26pm Top

>70 thornton37814: Thanks for stopping by! Looking forward to reading and sharing!

>72 Storeetllr: Thanks...can you see it now? I've been having issues with LT in general but think it's my own issues.

Edited: Jan 5, 7:34pm Top

>71 arubabookwoman: >72 Storeetllr: >73 fuzzi: >74 EBT1002: I had my right hip replaced on December 11 (arthritis was my diagnosis) and am mostly walking without a cane after less than a month. My doctor prescribed walking as the only physical therapy I really need although the PT did come with some exercises.

I had been in pretty bad shape by the time I got to the orthopedist. I had limped around for a few years and it never occurred to me to try cortisone shots until even that was too late.

>71 arubabookwoman: I have not been above whining. Surgery is no fun. I am fortunate to have an attentive caregiver in my husband.

>74 EBT1002: Several people I talked to said they wish they had done it sooner and I think I will be joining that choir.

Jan 5, 7:35pm Top

>76 witchyrichy: almost everyone says that they wished they'd not waited to have surgery. My only pain after my surgery was from the incision, my thigh was swollen hugely. Ice packs helped. And I had to relearn how to walk without a limp.

BTW, cortisone is great, in any joint but the hip. It can't escape from the closed joint, and so increases the rate of degeneration. That was from my surgeon.

Jan 6, 12:30am Top

>73 fuzzi: They told us in the pre-surgery class that knee replacement was more painful and harder to recover from than hip replacement. I didn't believe them then, but now I do. I am finally feeling less pain, but for the first couple of weeks I was telling my husband I would have preferred dealing with the pain I had before for another 15 years rather than the post surgery pain. Right now, 3 weeks out, the pain is mostly only when I do the exercises, which are crucial to recovery, and it's still pretty bad. I am still walking with a walker.

Jan 6, 6:50am Top

>78 arubabookwoman: hang in there. The difference once you get past the recovery phase is amazing.

Jan 6, 8:39am Top

>77 fuzzi: Interesting about the cortisone. My surgeon offered it as an option, I think, as he didn't have anything else but the day of the shot was the day we discussed the replacement and it all happened pretty quickly after that. I am also working on getting rid of the limp. May do some slow walking on the treadmill this week.

>78 arubabookwoman: I am so sorry to hear about your ongoing struggles. I had a friend who had both knees done on the same day and I know it took her a long time to recover. She still goes in for PT now and then even a few years after. Sending lots of healing thoughts your way.

Edited: Jan 7, 9:05am Top

Currently Reading

Annals of the Former World

The RandomCAT challenge and I am committed to getting through Book 1 in January. Actually enjoying it more than I thought I would.

Among Flowers: A Walk in the Himalaya

The GEOCat Challenge Book for Nepal. Started it late last night and mostly found the prose choppy but really too early to tell.

Jan 6, 11:56am Top

Happy New Year, Karen! Dropping my star.

My hip is getting worse and worse - what do you mean you had waited until it was too late for cortisone shots? How do you know it's too late? I had been doing really well with PT exercises but fell off the wagon, so to speak, when I had my book fair and then December hit, and now I am suffering way worse than I ever had before. Ugh. Doing my exercises again but my husband is really urging me to go back to the orthopedist. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Jan 6, 1:36pm Top

>79 fuzzi: >80 witchyrichy: Thanks, you guys!

Jan 6, 4:53pm Top

>82 AMQS: Great! I went looking for your thread.

I waited until I was barely mobile before I went to the doctor. I limped around and even did a 10K step challenge every day in 2018. I stopped that at the beginning of this year and things got bad fast. Started using a cane in April, tried some PT in August and September but was going downhill fast and starting to have more pain. I just wonder if I could have avoided that and even surgery a little longer. On the other hand, I think the arthritis had really taken over and there wasn't much hip left. I am already better so I would suggest talking with your orthopedist.

Jan 6, 7:55pm Top

>82 AMQS: just wondered why I waited and suffered so long.

I offer my advice to not get cortisone in the hip. My experience: I got a shot from my first orthopedic doctor, and I felt great for about a week or so, then the pain came back with a vengeance, and my hip became very unstable. When I went for a second opinion, the surgeon said "I see you got a shot of cortisone...it felt good for about a week, but then the pain came back?" I answered in the affirmative. He continued "And then it became unstable?" I was amazed. The surgeon replied "I've seen it repeatedly. The cortisone can't escape from the hip's closed joint, and eats away what remains, speeding up the rate of degeneration."

I chose him as my surgeon.

Jan 6, 8:26pm Top

Hi Karen, Checking in and hope your recovery is going well! Love your meme answers and thank you for the reminder that I still have Circe to read. I loved Song of Achilles so I have no idea why I’m putting it off.

I’m reading all the hip replacement comments with interest as I’m sure surgery will eventually be in my future (I have periodic hip pain due to some arthritis and one leg being a bit shorter than the other).

Jan 7, 8:58am Top

>85 fuzzi: I really liked my surgeon so am surprised he didn't talk more about the cortisone. But, I think by the time I got to him there wasn't much hip left anyway. My arthritis had been eating away for a long time: I had some congenital issues as an infant and spent 18 months in a leg/hip cast.

>86 Copperskye: My leg was 1 cm shorter. We're confident we have mostly solved that with surgery.

Jan 7, 9:08am Top

Managed to add another book to the currently reading list: One Good Deed by David Baldacci. It is rare for me to get in at the beginning of a series but found this while browsing Libby. I like it and it is a nice break from the non-fiction I am reading.

Jan 7, 10:25am Top

>84 witchyrichy:, >85 fuzzi: Thanks for the advice and input! Good to know I'm not alone. I had a cortisone shot scheduled in the summer but got cold feet and backed out - mostly because we were leaving very shortly after for Europe and I was nervous that if there were any complications it would make for a miserable plane ride and I didn't want to have medical issues while traveling. I really responded very well to PT and severely regret lapsing. I've been trying to do my exercises again and it does help but I do have more pain so I think I'll give it another week or so and then go in. fuzzi thank you so much for your advice on cortisone - definitely something to think about!

>86 Copperskye: Oh no, I'm sorry Joanne! What a club to be in.
>87 witchyrichy: Apparently I had issues as an infant and toddler also. I hadn't really remembered, but my mom did. I do remember using a brace that strapped around my waist and had long metal rods that ran down the back of my legs ending in stiff shoes that pointed out. I remember having to practice evacuating the house in case of fire with that brace on.

Jan 7, 6:54pm Top

Taking my time on getting back to work and not pushing too hard. So, by lunch time, I had done enough to take a break. And, my break was David Baldacci's One Good Deed, a library hold from late 2019 that just came through. My break ended up being all afternoon and early evening as I gave myself over to the book. It is 1949, and Aloysius Archer has just been released after a wrongful prison sentence and bussed to Poca City where he is determined to get a clean start. Despite those plans, he quickly gets pulled into a murder mystery. Baldacci’s novel has all the elements of a classic crime novel, with gritty realism and snappy dialog. Archer is a compelling character who discovers his army scout training can come in handy when you are the prime suspect in a murder. I am hoping it might be the beginning of a series but for now, it is listed as a stand alone novel on Baldacci's website.

Jan 7, 9:03pm Top

>89 AMQS: water exercise helped me some. I did PT before and after surgery.

Jan 8, 8:36am Top

>89 AMQS: >91 fuzzi: The best gift my husband ever gave me was an above ground pool and being able to walk there is what kept me going through the summer. Today's challenge is going to be the treadmill: flat and very slow but I want to work on finally getting rid of the limp.

Jan 8, 8:55am Top

I am sorry I didn't like this book more. As I mentioned above, I found the prose choppy and as it moved along, also too inward focused. I wanted more travel and flowers and less Kincaid. Finding that balance in this kind of book (and recipe blog posts on the Internet) is a challenge, I think. The opening chapter, as she prepares for this journey, includes observations about leaving Vermont and how she knew that world would never be the same. She drew me in with these moments of clarity.

But the journey ends before she comes home and only in the last paragraph or so do we get any larger lessons. Ultimately, while her view of Vermont may have changed, she didn't seem to record any real change in herself. She admitted to whining and swings from appreciation of the sherpas to annoyance when they don't seem to be meeting her every need. (At some point, I think she does recognize that they are basically keeping her group alive on this adventure.) There is honesty in the account: she could have left out her annoyance and whining, I suppose.

I am toying with a rating scale as I have benchmarks for five-star books having read at least two so far this year. I think, for me, this was a 3.5. As a gardener, the idea of seed gathering in the Himalaya was of interest and her observations about making gardens resonated with me but the author herself got in the way.

Edited: Jan 14, 4:45pm Top

I spent some quality time with my Bingo card today, browsing my personal library, my public library and Better World Books.

Here's what I'm thinking about as of early January but haven't actually read anything. I am using this to read several Agatha Christie mysteries.

Title Contains A Pun:
Here's Looking at Euclid: A Surprising Excursion Through the Astonishing World of Math
Tequila Mockingbird

Library or Thing in Title:
The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie

Pen Name/Anonymous Author:
Elena Ferrante

Books, Bookstores, Libraries:
Booked to Die

non-US/UK Female Author:

Epistolary or Letters:
The Screwtape Letters

Periodic Table Element in Title:

From a Legacy Library:
A People's History of the United States (via David Bowie)

Mystery or True Crime:
3+ Letters of Bingo:
Mythology or Folklore:
Set in Asia:
Read a CAT:

Published in Your Birth Year:
The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side

Red Cover/Prominent:
The Invention of Air

Published in 1820 or 1920:
The Mysterious Affairs at Styles by Agatha Christie

Not Set on Earth:

Published in 2020:
Steve Berry

About Birth or Death:
Being Mortal

Proper Name in Title:
The Overdue Life of Amy Byler

Weird Book Title:
Small Press or Self-Published:
Involves Real Historical Event:

LT Author:
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

By Journalist/About Journalism:
Staying Tuned by Daniel Schorr
Lit Up by David Denby

Edited: Jan 12, 12:57am Top

Hi Karen!

>94 witchyrichy: I'm glad you're going to be able to fit several Agatha Christies into this year's BingoDOG. Even though I actually participated in developing some of the prompts, I ended up feeling like the whole card would be more onerous than I wanted my reading to be this year so I'm skipping it for 2020.

If I had participated, for periodic table element in the title, I was thinking I would read either Tin Man or The Women of Copper Country, both of which come highly recommended by reliable LTers.

You didn't ask for help, but there you go. :-)

Jan 12, 10:56am Top

>95 EBT1002: I appreciate the help and had completely forgotten about The Women of the Copper Country. Like you, I've heard good things. And I hadn't heard of Tin Man but have added it to the ever expanding TBR list.

Edited: Jan 13, 12:36pm Top

The Big Burn by Timothy Egan focuses on the summer of 1910 when the largest wildfires ever known swept through the West taking forests and towns and animals and people with them. The fledgling Forest Service tried to battle the blazes but ultimately failed with people escaping via train or riding out the fires in tunnels and mines.

Egan tells the story of the fires in the larges context of the time, beginning with the close relationship of a young Teddy Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot. These two, along with early conservationists like John Muir, led the fight to create wilderness spaces that would be untouched by man. It was a radical idea that flew in the face of rampant capitalism and development and would not really be implemented until the economics of logging the deep wilderness led to its end.

Egan is a natural storyteller who uses real people and events to tell his story. We follow them through the disaster, living with them as they make crucial decisions. We get glimpses of the wild West that lived on in the mining towns, full of saloons and brothels and violence. And, we see how government and business worked together to impose their will on both workers and wilderness, often without any plans beyond getting as much as they could as fast they could.

A good read that used one event to touch on a variety of topics, many of which are still important today.

Jan 13, 8:32pm Top

>97 witchyrichy: I might read that one sometime. I just had a copy of Triangle that needed to be read.

Jan 13, 10:35pm Top

>60 witchyrichy: Some lovely answers there. The Museum of Mysteries is a very nice way of describing life!

Jan 14, 4:40pm Top

>99 PaulCranswick: Thanks. And I was reminded of another book that I loved along with my middle school students many years ago: Motel of the Mysteries about an archaeologist from 4022 exploring what he believes is an ancient burial site from 1985, the year a huge cataclysm buried the country of Usa.

Edited: Jan 14, 4:46pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Jan 14, 6:04pm Top

>100 witchyrichy: that was so funny!

Jan 14, 6:17pm Top

Knock on wood, hip problems is not one of the medical issues I face--best of luck to all of you dealing with this!!

>94 witchyrichy: Have fun with the Bingo Card--there are some good prompts there.

Jan 15, 9:15am Top

>102 quondame: I found my tattered copy of it just recently. My middle schoolers were just starting to appreciate parody and this book with the text and pictures helped that along.

>103 Berly: Thanks for the good wishes. I have added the treadmill to my routine and feel stronger every day. Getting in shape for a road trip to Pennsylvania at the end of the month to celebrate my parents' 65th anniversary along with a belated Christmas.

Jan 18, 5:11pm Top

David Greene was an NPR correspondent based in Moscow prior to becoming a host of Morning Edition in 2012. Midnight in Siberia is his reporting memoir of a trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway. As he does with much of his reporting, Greene focuses on individuals and how their stories reveal larger truths, or in the case of Russia, complexities. He did tell his own story--documenting his travel with Sergei, his NPR colleague and translator--especially when it demonstrated the frustration and fascination of Russian society or when it showed how he learned t0 appreciate a vibrant Russian culture the pulses beneath that sometimes chaotic world.

Greene found a balance of the personal and the public, and I feel like I have a better understanding of Russia beyond the headlines. It was particularly fascinating that many of the Russians he encountered, outside of Moscow, liked Putin and felt like their country needed a strong man to create order. They had lived through the disastrous attempts at democracy and capitalism and were happy with some order even if it didn't always make sense. Greene also highlights the irony that those protesting in 2012 or so were also those who had benefited the most from Putin's reforms.

I did feel like he had a sometimes overly rosy view of his own country, especially its justice system and contrast between rich and poor. it may be that he didn't want to get too far into the weeds of comparing the two countries. This was meant to show the way Russians viewed their own lives and Greene connected with them in their homes and the towns where they found both joy and grief. Ultimately, he wrote an ode to the Russian people and their landscape of home.

Jan 18, 11:16pm Top

Great reviews, Karen. I'm pretty sure The Big Burn is on Stelios's night stand.

Edited: Jan 20, 6:13pm Top

I am procrastinating from getting started on work. It is a holiday in the rest of the world so I think I can take a slow start. But, I want to cross a few things off the list to make the rest of the week easier.

So, I am planning my February reading:

AlphaKIT is F & B:
The Outer Banks House
Old Filth

American Author is Grace Paley
Begin Again: Collected Poems
I chose this anthology of old and new poems. It spoke to me as I have been working on a meditation practice and that is the mantra when you get distracted: Begin Again.

Headed out to do some research for the rest of the challenges and here is what I have planned:

RandomCAT: Leap Year Publishing Date
The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie
She has become my author focus for 2020 although I am still waiting for the first book to arrive!

MysteryKIT: Furry Sleuths
Murder Past Due by Miranda James

GeoCAT: Europe Not Britain
The Women in the Castle

NonfictionCAT: Travel
The Road to Little Dribbling

Jan 20, 10:29am Top

>49 witchyrichy: Nice haul! I hope you enjoy them all.

>58 witchyrichy: Glad to see you liked that one. I enjoy the entire series.

>93 witchyrichy: Too bad about that one!

>97 witchyrichy: I get to dodge that BB as I have already read that one. I enjoy Egan's nonfiction quite a bit.

>105 witchyrichy: Adding that one to the BlackHole!

Sorry it has taken so long for me to get to your thread, Karen. Best of luck with your challenges this year!

Jan 20, 1:50pm Top

>108 alcottacre: Thanks for stopping by! I was just coming back to update my February list. I like the challenges to keep me out of my rut of sometime easy fiction.

Jan 20, 1:52pm Top

Happy Monday!

>105 witchyrichy: Great review. Even with the rosy view, it seems like a worthwhile read.

Jan 20, 1:59pm Top

>109 witchyrichy: I didn't want to be too hard on him as I did enjoy the book and there is no doubt Russia is a country in perpetual crisis. Just interesting to consider how different frames of reference. He did travel across the United States at the start of the Obama administration to see how the recession was impacting Americans. it would be interesting to compare the two.

Jan 20, 5:53pm Top

>107 witchyrichy: oh wow. I did not realize that someone had finally started a mysteryKIT this year, woo!

Jan 20, 6:11pm Top

>112 fuzzi: I am very excited. One of the last books I read was The Bodies In The Library, a mystery series set in a library dedicated to Agatha Christie and the golden age of mystery. The author did a great job weaving in the mysteries and it made me want to read more of that era and especially Agatha Christie.

Jan 20, 6:17pm Top

>113 witchyrichy: The Bodies in the Library sounds right up my alley. I will have to see if my local library has the series.

Jan 21, 10:42am Top

Hi Karen! I'm glad your hip is doing well!

I love the planning that you are doing. It made me start my February challenge plans as well. I'm doing mysterykit, non-fictioncat and Geocat as well as some challenges of my own.

Isn't it fun to have such a wealth of books to choose from?

Jan 21, 1:06pm Top

>114 alcottacre: I believe this is the first in the series. I almost never get in on the first book!

>115 streamsong: I am having fun planning...don't want to be too restrictive but the challenges have really opened my reading already this year. The fact that I pulled Annals of the Former World off the shelf is a win. And...I like it!

Jan 21, 5:12pm Top

Book I of John McPhee’s epic geological history Annals of the Former World ends with the rise of the plate tectonics theory in the 1950s and 1960s. Led by Harry Hess, a mineralogist who used his time on an attack transport in World War II to map the ocean floor with a new tool called a Fathometer. One feature he saw, according to McPhee, “were dead volcanoes, spread out around the Pacific bottom like Hershey’s Kisses on a tray” (p. 127). It’s images like this that make Annals so accessible and even a little fun.

As the ocean mapping and seismological monitoring brought in detailed data revealing patterns across the Earth, Hess began to see “that seafloors were spreading away from mid-ocean ridges, where new seafloor was continuously being created in deep cracks” (p. 128). He pulled it all together in an essay called “History of Ocean Basins” and, harkening back to Umbgrove, a Dutch geological writer, described the work as “an essay in geopoetry.” Basically, he was creating a foundation for a theory and that required some suspension of belief. New paradigms require new ways of thinking and they may not always be grounded in current science.

He concluded:

It is hardly likely that all of the numerous assumptions made are correct. Nevertheless it appears to be a useful framework for testing various and sundry groups of hypotheses relating to the oceans. It is hoped that the framework with necessary patching and repair may eventually form the basis for a new and sounder structure (p. 129)

McPhee brings the theory into the present day as he works alongside Kenneth Deffeyes, an oil geologist with whom he spends time in the book. When McPhee asks about geologists who do not accept plate tectonics, Deffeyes seems unphased, with skepticism being a part of the field and science in general:

There are always many ideas in various stages of acceptance. That is how science works. Ideas range from the solidly accepted to the literally half-baked–those in the process of forming, the sorts of things about which people call each other up in the middle of the night. All science involves speculation, and few sciences includes as much speculation as geology (p. 133).

McPhee shows how the scientists set out to fill in the gaps that will either prove or disprove the theory. At one point, Hess sends Deffeyes to test the age of some rocks that, if he were right, would be young. If not, the whole theory would be called into question. This is serious hypothesis testing.

But then, there is a moment when the various threads seem to click and the theory becomes accepted because its explanations seem to make sense. McPhee quotes a marine geologist who was a graduate student at the time: “It is a wondrous thing to have the random facts in one’s head suddenly fall into the slots of an orderly framework. It is like an explosion inside…I think I spend half my time just talking and listening to people from many fields, searching together for how it might all fit together. And when something does fall into place, there is that mental explosion and the wondrous excitement. I think the human brain must love order” (p. 135).

Jan 21, 10:21pm Top

>117 witchyrichy: I am a fan of John McPhee, so I am going to have to read The Annals of the Former World. I had not heard of it before.

Jan 22, 5:36pm Top

>118 alcottacre: It is one of my friend's favorite books and he rereads it every year. I've avoided it as I haven't always enjoyed "science" books but I really enjoyed this one.

Jan 22, 6:34pm Top

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett is billed as "The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession." The thief and detective are, respectively, Gilkey and Sanders. The former dreams of having a beautiful library that will bring him into the world of the wealthy and educated and Bartlett admits to being charmed by him. But, ultimately, he is a pretty pedestrian thief, using stolen credit card numbers to pay for the books that he orders over pay phones and then send his father to pick up. The book was an interesting look at book collecting as both business and obsession and I enjoyed reading it.

The most interesting part of the book for me was the author herself although. Bartlett admits that she moved from researcher to participant as she met with Gilkey more and more often and he began to see himself as the star of her book. And, in the quest for the story, she overstepped her bounds more than once, hurting his victims and becoming his confessor to thefts from a library. She wondered what she should do with the latter information and chose to keep it to herself over concerns that she would lose Gilkey and her book.

Jan 23, 1:59pm Top

>120 witchyrichy: I read that one a few years ago and was a little disappointed in it. I gave it 3.5 stars, but I'd expected it to be better.

Jan 23, 4:25pm Top

>121 thornton37814: I think I only gave it 3: maybe "enjoyed" was a strong word as I found her relationship with Gilkey frustrating. She got so focused on that rather than more detail about the book collecting industry. I do have A Gentle Madness on my shelf but haven't tried reading it yet.

Jan 23, 5:51pm Top

>122 witchyrichy: Honestly, I don't remember much about the book any more. It was nice to read, but I remember mostly what I wrote about it and that's about it.

Jan 24, 7:00pm Top

Mary Doria Russell's fictional story of Michigan's Copper Country strike that took place over nine months in 1913 - 1914 is painful, violent, riveting and somehow triumphant. The strike was led by Annie Clements, the wife of a miner, who became known as the Joan of Arc of America. The Women of the Copper Country is mainly her story but as the title suggests, it is the story of all the women. They led unbelievably difficult lives, often beaten by their alcoholic husbands and thrown out of their company homes with their children when those husbands died in the mines. But, they managed to make something out of nothing, sharing whatever they had and often going hungry themselves.

Russell's prose is rich with details, pulling us into miners' shacks and millionaires' mansions as she recreates this pivotal time in labor history. It is difficult sometimes for us to realize just how courageous these early protesters were to suggest that they had rights. Russell depicts the coldness of the bosses and upper class towards the workers, their belief in their superiority by reason of birth, and the casual violence they dispense to protect their profits.

Russell stays close to the historical events while providing information about larger history and personalities related to labor strikes. Mother Jones makes an appearance along with Ella Reeve Bloor.

And, Clements' maiden name was Klobuchar!

Jan 24, 9:03pm Top

>124 witchyrichy: That's one I'm considering for the periodic table element square in BINGOdog. I've got several other options.

Jan 25, 9:08am Top

Heading to Pennsylvania for a long weekend to celebrate a delayed Christmas and my parents' 65th anniversary. They will both be 85 this year, too. We decided to skip a party and have a family brunch tomorrow. My sister, nephew and his girlfriend are coming up.

Monday, an old teaching friend and her husband are coming over to Cornwall for lunch as I haven't been able to get up for my annual visit. We have house/dog sitters who arrived in their refurbished school bus last night. We're taking the little dog since he requires twice daily insulin shots but leaving the big boy behind with the sitters.

We haven't traveled like this for many years as Bob has been tied to the farm and I am looking forward to it. We have a day off on Tuesday before coming home Wednesday, and I think we're going to go looking for covered bridges in Lebanon and Lancaster County, something we loved doing when we were courting 30 years ago!

Taking along Agatha Christie's Evil Under the Sun, my last planned read for January. But I will be crocheting in the car to try and finish the sweater vest I'm making for my dad. It's my first real piece of crocheted clothing and I think it might be too big but we shall see.

Jan 25, 9:41am Top

>126 witchyrichy: The covered bridge tour sounds like fun.

Jan 25, 10:04pm Top

Happy travels to PA!

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2020

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