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Arubabookwoman Is Back In 2020

75 Books Challenge for 2020

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Edited: Jan 1, 4:46pm Top

I’m Deborah, a retired tax attorney/fiber artist. I’ve been a member of the 75 Group since 2009, but was largely absent last year due to my husband’s health issues and bone marrow transplant. We have 5 grown kids, 3 in NYC, 1 in Houston, and 1 in Tampa. We have lived in Seattle for more than 30 years, and fully intended to stay, until one day all our kids ended up basically on the east coast and took our 5 grandchildren with them.
We were in the process of preparing our house for sale to move to Delaware (at that time our Tampa son was also in NYC), when my husband’s cancer returned, and he was told that his only chance for survival was the transplant. We decided to go ahead with the sale of our house and move to an apartment in downtown Seattle for the transplant process, which began in March 2019. The next months were very rough, but we were finally released from the Hutch in October, he is cancer-free, and the transplant is considered a success. He now has the blood and immune system of a 20 year old European woman. (If his blood DNA is tested he reads female; skin/hair/saliva DNA is still male). There are, and will be, lingering health issues, but things are fairly smooth for now. We have changed the focus of our move to Florida, alligators and all, and hope to be in Florida, somewhere between Tampa and Sarasota by May 2020.
I read pretty much everything except maybe Romance and Horror (and I don’t particularly care for YA). I read about 1/3 NF and 2/3 Fiction. I try not to be too US/Canada/Great Britain-centric by reading as much world literature as I can. I keep track of my reading in the first few entries of this thread, and will try very hard to say at least a few words about everything I read. I love to hear your comments, suggestions, opinions about the books I read, as well as what you are reading, so please visit often, and I will try to reciprocate

Dec 28, 2019, 1:54pm Top


Dec 28, 2019, 1:54pm Top


Dec 28, 2019, 1:55pm Top


Edited: Jan 1, 6:00pm Top

In 2019, I read 113 books, 76 fiction and 37 nonfiction, with 58 male authors and 57 female authors. In addition to the US/Canada/Great Britain, I read books from Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Malaysia, Taiwan, Somalia, Italy, Austria, France, Netherlands, Norway, Germany, Israel, Argentina, and Iceland.

My favorites were:


The Seventh Cross by Anna Seghers
The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton
Labyrinths by Borges
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Machado
Territory of Light by Yukio Tsushima
The Unpassing by Chia-Chia Lin
Trustee From the Toolroom by Nevil Shute
The Need by Helen Phillips
The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai


Juniper, the Girl Who Was Born Too Soon by Thomas French and Kelly French
Bad Blood by John Carreyrou
The Apprentice by Greg Miller
The Art of Dying Well by Katey Butler
Beaufort by Ron Leshem
Fall and Rise by Mitchell Zuckoff
The Unwanted by Michael Dobbs
Deep State by James Sewart
The Hill to Die On by Jake Sherman

Unfortunately, it looks like the touchstones are not working.

Of note, I also finished Mick Herron's Slow Horses series, which I highly recommend. I also finished the Poldark series. I liked the earlier books focusing on Ross and Demelza in Cornwall better than the later books featuring their children and other locales, but I do recommend the series. I also finished Gary Disher's Hal Challis series, read a good stand-alone by him (Under the Cold Bright Lights), and hope to continue on to his Wyatt series.

A few duds (surprising given that I like these authors):
The Hazards of Time Travel by Joyce Carol Oates
The Uncoupling by Meg Wolitzer
Conviction by Denise Mina

And a couple of highly anticipated new books that I found ok, but just ok:
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Dec 28, 2019, 1:55pm Top

2020 Plans

Dec 28, 2019, 3:13pm Top

Welcome back!

Dec 29, 2019, 4:11pm Top

Here you are!!! Welcome back. : )

Dec 29, 2019, 6:23pm Top

Dropping a star and hoping to see more of you this year.

Dec 29, 2019, 10:19pm Top

Hello Deborah and welcome back. I'm dropping off my star even though I won't visit much until I'm more "done" with 2019.

Dec 30, 2019, 4:32am Top

Hi Deborah, I'm here to read your stories!

Dec 30, 2019, 11:28pm Top

Found you! Now I’m waiting for you to read more Japanese fiction. :) Wishing you a Happy New Year, Deborah!

Dec 31, 2019, 5:40am Top

Best wishes for 2020!

Dec 31, 2019, 9:04am Top

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

Dec 31, 2019, 3:55pm Top

Dec 31, 2019, 4:01pm Top

Happy to see you back here Deborah and 🥳 Happy New Year.

Dec 31, 2019, 5:56pm Top

Happy reading in 2020, Deborah!

Dec 31, 2019, 6:00pm 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, 1:31am Top

Thank you to all my visitors, and a Happy New Year to the 75’ers! It won’t be the New Year for another hour and a half here in Seattle, but I am dozing off and will call it a night. Back tomorrow to fill in my 2019 stats and 2020 plans.

Jan 1, 9:48am Top

Happy New Year, Deborah. I hope you and yours are healthy and that you have a wonderful new year.

Jan 1, 3:13pm Top

I starred your thread last night but forgot to stop by and say "hi"!

Posted a tutorial link for image uploading (see my comment here, https://www.librarything.com/topic/314808#7013541).

Have a great year of reading and creating.

Jan 1, 3:19pm Top

Happy new year!

Jan 1, 8:10pm Top

Hi Deborah - Wishing you a healthy New Year and hope you enjoy Florida.

Looking at your highlight books - I also enjoy Garry Disher's crime books, just finished the excellent Peace a few weeks ago, it's a follow on from Bitter Wash Road. He has written some non-crime ones as well and I read that his earlier work, The Sunken Road is to be re-released this year with a lovely new cover. I have it on my kindle app and was about 3 chapters in so need to get back to it.

Other Australian books you might enjoy reading if you haven't already- Scrublands by Chris Hammer & Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton - both are big enjoyable reads.

I've read Slow Horses and hope to continue that series.

no touchstones

Jan 2, 5:09pm Top

So good to read that 2019 turned into a great year for health!
We have friends who chose Vero Beach and have been quite happy with retirement there for many years.

Jan 2, 5:53pm Top

Isn't it surreal to be thinking about "where to retire"? I have always assumed that I'd retire where I lived but we will certainly not stay in Pullman! I don't know where we'll end up and it's just odd to be considering various communities, weighing their respective pros and cons..... I turn 60 this year and the whole thing is surreal.

Jan 2, 5:56pm Top

Happy New Year!!

Jan 2, 7:26pm Top

HI Deborah - just stopping by to drop off a star. Good to hear the update on your husband and your impending move.

Jan 3, 12:25pm Top

🌟 Deborah, I’m so glad your husbands bone marrow transplant was a success. Your upcoming move to Florida sounds interesting, so different from Seattle. I hope 2020 is kind to you and that you read lots of good books. I’ve missed your book comments very much and hope that you have time to share your reading views with us.

Jan 5, 3:59pm Top

>21 BLBera: Thanks, Beth.
>22 SandyAMcPherson: Thanks Sandy. I will study the tutorial. I have tried various times with various intstructions and have always failed, but I really, really want to post pictures!
>24 avatiakh: Thanks Kerry. I have a couple of Disher non-crime books and the first two Wyatt books on my Kindle to get to soon. Thanks for the other Aussie recommendations. I finished the last slow horses book which came out here last summer. Apparently a new one is on the way for late spring/early summer. I just love the sly humor of this series.
>25 m.belljackson: Thanks Marianne. My husband’s brother actually lives in Vero Beach, though we’ll be across state on the Gulf coast where our son is.I’m not looking forward to the heat and bugs, but I’m hoping the lovely beaches will compensate.
>26 EBT1002: I’ve been retired 9 years Ellen, so it’s no longer surreal. (It will be for my husband who will have no idea what to do with himself when he retires.) What is surreal for me is leaving Seattle, which I love, after 30+years here. Downsizing and selling the large house where we raised 5 kids was rough. I disposed of so much “stuff” and vowed never to buy anything again. Luckily, our oldest son had just moved from a NYC condo to a large house in Florida and we shipped more than half our furniture to him (including a parlor grand piano and a 20 foot bookshelf unit). Other kids got other pieces of furniture they wanted, and each of them chose a few pieces of art/sculpture. I divided all the family photos and Christmas decorations 5 ways too. They won’t have much to sort through when we pass away, not to sound too morbid or anything.
>27 banjo123: Thanks Rhonda.
>28 SuziQoregon: Thanks Juli. Happy retirement!
>29 Donna828: Thanks Donna. I’m trying to be more present here.

Jan 5, 4:27pm Top

So I very carefully planned my potential reads for January. Overall goal, read books I own, finish Rougon Macquart, read Europe for a Litsy group, read more Classics:
The Masterpiece-Rougon Macquart
The Professor’s House-Classics
My Struggle (vol.5)-Europe
Midnight in Chernobyl-NF
East West Street-NF

But of course, my first read of 2020, turned out to be one not on any list of mine. I was browsing the virtual stacks of my library, came across a book about earthquakes in the Northwest, it was available, and I hadn’t reached my limit so I checked it out. When I read the first few paragraphs, I had to keep reading. I was at work on the 24th floor of the Columbia Tower (tallest building in Seattle) during the 2001 quake here, and I remember the building swaying back and forth like a clock pendulum as I hid under my desk and counted the seconds.
According to the earthquake book, that was a “deep quake” of which there have been 18 since 1900 in the Northwest. Since the 1980’s, the time we’ve lived here, scientists have discovered definitive evidence of the two other types of quakes that have occurred here, and could occur again: a Cascadia mega quake in the subduction zone or a quake along one of the dozens of fault lines that have been discovered running under Seattle and environs since the 1990’s.

Jan 5, 5:59pm Top

1. Full Rip 9.0 by Sandi Doughton (2013) 288 pp

Subtitle: The Next Big Earthquake in the Pacific Northwest

"No one in the past three hundred years has witnessed a Cascadia megaquake, Not a single soul in the past millennium has weathered a rupture on the Seattle Fault. But hundreds of thousands of people across the Northwest have stories to tell about the third type of earthquake that strikes the region: deep quakes like the one that struck between Olympia and Seattle in 2001"

Now that we're leaving Seattle I am letting to the forefront my earthquake fears, which have been bubbling subconsciously during the 30+ years we have lived here. This book will set no one's fears to rest. It is a history of the geologic and scientific discoveries of the last 30-40 years which have deepened our knowledge of past and potential earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest, otherwise known as the Cascadia subduction zone. There are explanations as to why future earthquakes in this area are likely to be much more powerful and have more dire consequences than quakes in any other part of the continental United States. While no one knows for sure, the consensus belief is that the Pacific Northwest is due or overdue for either a subduction quake or a fault quake, either of which would be devastating, rather than the more run of the mill deep quakes, which are the only kind that have occurred in recorded history here. There's also lots of information about tsunamis, and a discussion about the building code requirements that have been put into place for earthquake protection and whether they will in fact be effective should (or when) a megaquake occurs.

This book probably would appeal to a limited readership, but I found it informative and chilling.

3 stars

Jan 5, 6:51pm Top

>32 arubabookwoman: This does sound fascinating, Deborah. My granddaughter loves the natural world and often has questions, so I have become more interested in it as well. I've always been interesting in quakes, maybe because I don't life in an area where they happen.

Jan 5, 8:44pm Top

Have a great year of reading in 2020!

Jan 6, 8:55am Top

>32 arubabookwoman: Earthquakes - yes, the reality no one actually confronts.

I read about the Cascade subduction zone awhile ago. There was (first on my horizon) an excellent piece in the New Yorker. I have since read a lot more about this, because most of my immediate family live on the West Coast.

The part which is most disturbing, is the lack of real measure and this I lay at the feet of the provincial (and I guess, state) politicians. They look only 4 years (or whatever terms they have) ahead. And no one takes any realistic measures to address the most vulnerable areas. For example, in the British Columbia no one should be living on the "flats" ~ the river delta. That includes Richmond, Surrey, Delta and so forth. The whole area will liquefy and sink.

Okay, not a pleasant factoid to read on fun LT, I agree. So here's a commendation for being able to downsize because that decision-making is so very difficult. I hope Delaware is a lovely place to make a new home.

And yes! Please post images. I'm especially looking forward to seeing your fibre/textile art pieces.

Jan 7, 5:47pm Top

Hi, Deborah! So glad some of your medical woes are receding.

You got me with Full Rip 9.0. I love reading about geology, and will put this on my tbr list.

I hope your move goes smoothly and you are happy in your new home.

Jan 8, 9:08pm Top

Hi, Deborah! Your first book sounds fascinating. I was strongly discouraged from moving to Seattle several years ago by my oldest; many lectures, emails, what have you, on earthquakes didn’t convince me. I decided against it for other reasons, but I’m sure this book would have scared the daylights out of me.

Jan 8, 11:33pm Top

Coincidentally, a friend just lent us a copy of Full Rip 9.0 She said it was fascinating, but am not sure I am up for it.

Jan 11, 10:42am Top

>32 arubabookwoman: Chilling indeed. The UK and Malaysia both seem to have avoided being on any tectonic plates (if that is the right terminology) so I don't know the fear of rumbles in the night!

Have a lovely weekend.

Jan 13, 1:20pm Top

>33 BLBera: I became interested in quakes after we moved to Seattle in 1986, but I mostly tried not to think about them because there is no warning so I basically felt helpless. During our 18 years in New Orleans, we were very focused on hurricanes, and there is also ample warning time to prepare for a hurricane. We almost always left town when a hurricane was heading towards New Orleans. Now we are heading to Florida, and back to hurricanes.
>34 thornton37814: Hi and welcome Lori.
>35 SandyAMcPherson: This book was focused primarily on Seattle, and it seems there are several delta-like areas near Seattle which will liquify during an earthquake. The city itself is built over a basin, which will amplify the intensity of the shaking and the length of time it lasts. We had initially planned on moving to Delaware when 4 of our kids were in NYC. But last year one of those 4 moved to Florida, and a second of the 4 plans to leave NYC within the next couple of years. So last year we changed our move focus to Florida (where we hope the beaches and Disneyworld) will entice frequent visits from the kids and grandkids). Currently, we are scheduled to leave Seattle in mid-April.
>36 ffortsa: Hi Judy and thanks for the good wishes about the move. D-Day for the move is rapidly approaching, so I'm starting to get a bit nervous, as well as wondering whether we are doing the right thing. We leave in mid-April, and after stops to visit our daughter in Houston and my mother in Austin, we should arrive in Florida by the end of April.
>37 bohemima: Hi Gail--the book was fascinating, as well as scary. Of course, in deciding against Seattle, you opted for hurricanes. LOL. However, as I said above, with hurricanes you have plenty of warning and can evacuate from harm's way. Right now we are Florida bound in mid-April. Our plan is to stay in Air BnBs in several towns for several months to try to decide where exactly we want to live and to find something to buy. The area from Tampa to Sarasota is under consideration. (Our son lives in Tampa).
>38 banjo123: Hi Rhonda Full Rip 9.0 was more focused on the Seattle area, and I got the impression that Portland was a bit less vulnerable. However, the Oregon coast will be very badly hit, particularly by tsunamis. I love Cannon Beach, and the descriptions of what could happen there, and other coastal towns, were devastating.
>39 PaulCranswick: Hi Paul. It's interesting that Malaysia doesn't seem to be subject to earthquakes since it's on, or close to, the "ring of fire." I imagine the coastal areas would be subject to earthquake-related tsunamis though.

Edited: Jan 13, 2:24pm Top

I did include this next book in my January plans as one of my nonfiction reads, and it's one I own (although on Kindle), so Yay for me for following through on my reading plans!

2. Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham (2018)

This is a fairly complete history of the Chernobyl nuclear accident, including a consideration of the aftereffects of the accident up to the present day. The book opens years before the accident with an exposition of the development of the nuclear power industry, in particular as it took place in the Soviet Union, since, as the book details, the particularities of the Soviet system, in which workers are given impossible deadlines, resulting in corners being cut, and lies about results, played no small part in the causes and the aftereffects of the accident. As the book states, from the start, Soviet nuclear projects were governed by "ruthless expediency and paranoid secrecy."

We also learn something about how a nuclear reactor works, which is crucial to understanding the causes of the accident. Most of the reactors in the Soviet Union were RMBK reactors, and there is a lengthy discussion of the serious design flaws of RMBK reactors. Prior to the Chernobyl accident, Soviet experts were well-aware of these flaws, and the flaws had in fact played a part in several prior, less serious nuclear reactor accidents. However, because of the primacy of state secrecy, no one at the operator level in the various nuclear power plants, including Chernobyl, was advised of or otherwise aware of these flaws.

The initial investigations of the accident determined that it was caused by operator error, and several of the Chernobyl operators were found criminally liable and went to jail. Only years later, after the fall of the Soviet Union, were the design faults of the RMBK reactor acknowledged as the primary cause of the accident.

After this initial very helpful background and history, the book commences an almost minute by minute account of the events of the accident, which took place in the overnight hours of April 25/26, 1986. Dozens of people were involved. Orders were given, followed, defied, countermanded. Chaos reigned. As you might expect, this part was somewhat difficult to follow, but I think it gave a real feel for what was being experienced by those involved.

After the accident, it took several days for Moscow to even admit to the world that an accident had occurred, even though relatively soon after the accident excessive radiation had been detected in Scandinavia and elsewhere in Europe. Even after admitting the accident, Soviet officials downplayed its seriousness, stating it was under control, even while Soviet scientists believed a core meltdown was underway and were scrambling to come up with a plan to prevent such a catastrophe, which could have made much of Europe uninhabitable for hundreds of years. Soviet officials also delayed in ordering evacuations, first from Pripyat, the city where workers at the plant lived, then from the 30 km "Exclusion Zone" around the plant, as well as the ultimate evacuation of all children, nursing mothers, and pregnant women from the city of Kiev.

In a section entitled "The Liquidation of the Consequences of the Chernobyl Accident," (the name Soviet officials gave to clean-up efforts) we learn that hundreds of thousands of young men were called up for military duty in the Chernobyl Zone. It would not be an exaggeration to say that in many ways, these recruits were viewed as a type of cannon fodder, or more accurately "radiation fodder." Many jobs had to be done in relays of minutes, sometimes even seconds, before dangerous radiation exposure would occur, and officials weren't always too careful about measuring the radiation exposure or even enforcing the limits. (And the book "treats" us to some very graphic descriptions of the effects and the treatments for acute radiation sickeness). For me, this section can be summed up by the following quote:

"This was a task on a scale unprecedented in human history, and for which no one in the USSR--or, indeed, anywhere else on earth--had ever bothered to prepare. Yet now it was also subject to the routinely absurd expectations of the Soviet administrative-command system

Over the weeks and months after the accident, engineers designed and constructed a "sarcophagus" to enclose the shattered reactor, even as scientists continued to try to track down the missing uranium fuel from the core, which they feared was still undergoing a nuclear reaction somewhere within the debris.

The book continues with the history up to the present day, and concludes that Chernobyl was an important factor in the fall of the Soviet Union. Surprisingly, despite everything we have learned about how unprepared we really are to deal with nuclear accidents, and how little we know or have imagined about what can go wrong, there currently is a renaissance in the nuclear power industry with some supposedly safer reactor types being proposed.

As a side note, last year I read another excellent book which analyzed the after-effects of the Chernobyl accident 30 years later which I highly recommend, Manual for Survival by Kate Brown

4 stars

Jan 13, 3:38pm Top

And my 2020 reading seems to be following a theme of "catastrophes."

3. Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala (2013) 240 pp

This book takes the unimaginable death and destruction of the tsunamis which followed the Indonesia earthquake in 2004 and brings down to a concrete and personal level of one woman who lost her everything. The author and her family were on vacation in Sri Lanka over the Christmas holidays when they were swept away by the tsunami which struck without warning. She lost her husband, parents, and two young sons. In language brutal, poetic, and honest she documents her emotional state, immediately after the crisis and for several years afterwards, as she remembers their lives together, and tries to come to terms with her loss. This is a powerful and moving book, and I'm glad I read it, but I can understand why someone would choose not to.

3 1/2 stars

Jan 13, 9:17pm Top

>42 arubabookwoman: I thought Wave was just about the most powerful and paralyzing book I'd ever read Deborah. We often hear of people who suffer enormous and harrowing loss but her story was absolutely palpable.

Jan 14, 5:46pm Top

>43 brenzi: Agreed Bonnie!

Jan 14, 6:07pm Top

You are on a catastrophe tear!!! Yikes!! Full Rip 9.0 just scares the *!?* out of me since I live in Porltand.

Jan 15, 10:07pm Top

>41 arubabookwoman: The book on Chernobyl sounds fascinating, Deborah.

>41 arubabookwoman: I've heard great things about this, but have been reluctant to read about such a horrible tragedy.

Jan 17, 6:00pm Top

Best wishes to you and your husband for 2020. May 2020 be a great year of reading.

Yesterday, 12:54pm Top

>45 Berly: Earthquakes are scary Kim, though based on this book Portland would fare a bit better than Seattle if/when the big one hits. The Oregon coast would be devastated.
>46 BLBera: I can see not wanting to read this Beth. I wasn't going to, but the earthquake book, which had a lot of information about tsunamis, made me want to read what it was like to experience a tsunami.
>47 Kristelh: Thanks Kristel

Yesterday, 1:14pm Top

I think the following will be my final catastrophe book for a while.

4. The 2020 Commission Report on the North Korean Nuclear Attacks Against the United States by Jeffrey Lewis (2018)

When I was much younger, reading books about nuclear war and about survival after such a war was my guilty reading pleasure. I devoured them all. But as we moved away from the Cold War, such novels began to appear last often, and I now read very little post-apocalyptic fiction. I came across this book several weeks ago when I was browsing the library, and never having heard anything about it, checked it out on a whim. For context, I checked it out before the US went to the brink of war with Iran, but read it after that little boondoggle.

This book is a fictional, but plausible, account of how the US (and Japan, South Korea, and Guam) could end up under nuclear attack by North Korea. It is written in the form of a Commission Report several years after the attack to attempt to explain what went wrong. As such, its focus is geopolitical, rather than an examination of the devastating effects of such a war, or any efforts to rebuild after such a war. (The author is some sort of Think Tank expert, and I think this is his only fiction.)

The book is a study on how our political leaders and various countries play games of brinksmanship with each other, and how each side frequently misreads the intentions of the other side, leading to escalation after escalation. In this book, real characters in the drama include Trump as president, Mattis as Secretary of Defense, and Kim Jung Il. The fictional Trump behaves much as I expect the real Trump would behave. I found the book to be chilling, especially as I was reading it almost contemporaneously with the Iran crisis.

Several of the Amazon reviewers were disappointed with the book because its focus was not the effects of the war and its aftermath and victims. As I said, the intent of the book seems to have been to consider the political circumstances which could lead to such a war, and I think it did a good job. It is more cerebral than graphic. Some other critics were dismayed that Trump was portrayed as a clownish figure more interested in golf, but to me that's his reality.

3 stars.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2020

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