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karenmarie's archaeological dig - 2 from each year on LT plus 4 - first layer


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Edited: Jan 12, 1:32pm Top

Welcome to my first ROOT thread of 2020! Twenty-Twenty. Amazing.

This will be my fifth year of retirement from the 8-5, 5 day-a-week world. I don’t miss work at all. I read, am a charter member of the Redbud and Beyond Book Club, started in 1997, am Treasurer for our local Friends of the Library (henceforth abbreviated FoL), and manage our home, finances and etc. as my husband heads off to work Monday – Friday. Being an introvert (you’d never guess it from these pages!) I need and cherish the alone time to recharge my batteries.

I have been married to Bill for 28 years and am mother to Jenna, now 26, living about 3 hours away and finishing up a 2-year business administration program at Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington. We have three kitties. 12 ½-year old Inara Starbuck, 1-year old Zoe, 14-week old Wash. We live in our own little corner of paradise on 8 acres in central North Carolina USA.

My sister’s been going through a rough patch, health-wise, since last July, and I feel compelled to have one of my favorite pictures of the two of us here – Laura on the left, me on the right. This was taken in the mid-1980s – we were in our 30s.

My goal is to read 30 ROOTs this year, down from last year’s 45. A big change for this year will be that I won’t count re-reads for ROOTing purposes, although they will count towards my totals for the year, which I track in the 75ers group.

This year's ROOT challenge is of an archaeological nature – I want to dig through each year of book acquisitions and read 2 as-yet-unread books from each year. 13 years, 26 books. My ROOT goal is 30 books, none of them re-reads, so there’s a bit of wiggle room for 4 additional ROOTs.

During my high school and early college years, 1967-1973, I kept a notebook which included some quotes I liked. Here are a few of them:
There is not much to be said for the business of the male having to be superior except that it’s a terrible strain. For men to be superior, women have to be inferior, which requires a lot of play-acting for both parties and never seems to work. And an awful lot of men would likely trade their male supremacy for a chance to be accepted as they actually are. Some Men are More Perfect Than Others by Merle Shain

I’m quite sure that one never makes fundamental mistakes about the thing one really wants to do. Fundamental mistakes arise out of lack of genuine interest. Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers

Any man who thinks civilization has advanced is an egotist. Will Rogers

…And I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much was mine to keep. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

He was so congenitally conceited that he appeared modest. J.D. Salinger

Pleasure not known beforehand is half wasted; to anticipate it is to double it. Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy

I am going to make it a personal challenge to read Jane Austen’s 6 novels in 2020 and as much of her other work as I can find. The novels are re-reads so I won’t count them here per my new rule, just thought I’d let all y’all know my personal year-long challenge. I do have a volume called Sanditon, the Watsons, Lady Susan & other Miscellanea that will count since I’ve never read it before.

For me, ROOTs are henceforth defined as books tagged ‘tbr’ – to be read - on my shelves prior to January 1, 2020.

Edited: Yesterday, 7:38pm Top

Well. *blinks* I didn't leave a message space for books read. So Happy New Year and my list of ROOTs read this year

books read

1. A Divided Loyalty by Charles Todd 12/27/19 1/2/20 326 pages trade paperback, Advance Reader's Edition...
2. Abraham Lincoln: Mystic Chords of Memory edited by Larry Shapiro 1/8/20 1/9/20 **** trade paperback, 79 pages...
3. Why Don't Woodpeckers Get Headaches? by Mike O'Connor 11/24/19 1/12/20 211 pages trade paperback
4. So Many Steps to Death by Agatha Christie 1/12/20 1/14/20 200 pages
5. The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton 1/3/20 1/18 20 458 pages trade paperback

Currently Reading:
Spying on the South by Tony Horwitz 1/13/20 417 pages hardcover 2019
A Year with G.K. Chesterton edited by Kevin Belmonte 1/1/20 400 pages trade paperback 2012

Jan 1, 9:42am Top

Happy new year! That's a great photo of you and your sister, you can definitely see the family resemblance! I hope her health issues improve this year, and you and Bill and Jenna have a wonderful year.

Jan 1, 9:45am Top

Thanks, Jackie!

Jan 1, 9:55am Top

What a very pretty and priceless picture of you and your sister, Karen.

Welcome to the 2020 ROOTers. Happy New Year.

Jan 1, 11:01am Top

Welcome back and have fun digging through the various layers of the ROOT pile! Hope it's a happy and healthy year for you all.

Jan 1, 12:55pm Top

Happy new year, Karen, and happy reading in 2020! I like your Jane Austen challenge.

Lovely picture - I do hope your sister's health improves.

Jan 1, 1:11pm Top

Happy New year and happy ROOTing! Hoping your sister recovers soon.

Jan 1, 1:17pm Top

>5 connie53: Thank you, Connie! I'm really looking forward to another year ROOTing with you all! I'm so happy we had those pictures taken - we were living in different parts of LA, she was married with babies, and I was working in my professional field. We don't look alike but we do.

>6 rabbitprincess: Thanks, RP! I already have the methodology for my dig layers and will export/arrange very soon.

>7 floremolla: Thanks, Donna, and thanks re my sister. I'm very happy that I'll finally read the gorgeous editions my husband bought for me 11 years ago.

>8 Sace: Hi Sace! Thanks for visiting. I've just found and starred your thread.

Off to visit all my visitors!

Jan 1, 1:48pm Top

Awesome to see you again. Happy New Year and much great reading!

Jan 2, 11:29am Top

Welcome back, Karen -- love the pic with your sister and the quotes. I didn't realize you had two young kitties, how does Inara Starbuck manage?! Your 2-TBRs-from-each-LT-year idea inspires me...

Jan 2, 12:55pm Top

Welcome back, Karen, and best wishes for you and your sister.

Jan 2, 5:44pm Top

Happy New Year, and happy ROOTing!
And wishing your sister a speedy recovery.

Jan 2, 8:57pm Top

>10 enemyanniemae: Thanks!

>11 detailmuse: Thanks, MJ! Inara isn't really happy, but now that we've had the kitties for 2 weeks, she's resigned. She never did attack anybody, only batted at Wash once when he got too close too fast. She still occasionally growls though. Zoe Rose is about a year, Washburne Ryder is 15 weeks, now, I guess.

Glad I could inspire...

>12 MissWatson: Thanks, Birgit, and thanks re my sister. It's very worrisome but she's soldiering on.

>13 mstrust: Thanks, Jennifer. We'll know more in February.

Edited: Jan 3, 6:09am Top

1. A Divided Loyalty by Charles Todd

From Amazon:

Scotland Yard detective Ian Rutledge is assigned one of the most baffling investigations of his career—a cold murder case with an unidentified victim and a cold trail with few clues to follow.

Chief Inspector Brian Leslie, a respected colleague of Ian Rutledge’s, is sent to Avebury, a village set inside a great prehistoric stone circle not far from Stonehenge.

A young woman has been murdered next to a mysterious, hooded, figure-like stone, but no one recognizes her—or admits to it. And how did she get there? Despite a thorough investigation, it appears that her killer has simply vanished.

Rutledge, returning from the conclusion of a case involving another apparently unknown woman, is asked to take a second look at Leslie’s inquiry, to see if he can identify this victim. But Rutledge is convinced Chief Superintendent Jameson only hopes to tarnish his earlier success once he also fails.

Where to begin? He too finds very little to go on in Avebury, slowly widening his search beyond the village—only to discover that unlikely—possibly even unreliable—clues are pointing him toward an impossible solution, one that will draw the wrath of the Yard down on him, and very likely see him dismissed if he pursues it. But what about the victim—what does he owe this tragic woman? Where must his loyalty lie?

Why I wanted to read it: An ER book received in November. In order to get to it I had to read books 20 and 21 in the series. Perhaps reading 3 in a row made weaknesses obvious, but other authors I read one-after-another don't leave me feeling irritated like I feel right now. I am now officially done with Ian Rutledge.

I used to like the presence of Hamish McLeod, the corporal shot for failing to follow orders by Rutledge at the Somme, but I finally agree with most people I've spoken with about this and find him irritating and a very convenient plot device to get over rough patches.

Coincidences abound, and Hamish alternatively berates, warns, and gives insights to Rutledge as he drives all over England in pursuit of clues. I couldn’t buy into this book, frankly, because of the unwarranted leaps of faith and logic. And the Chief Superintendent’s illogical and perverse animosity towards Rutledge is irritating and not up to the professional and gentlemanly level I would expect of Scotland Yard in 1921.

There were two mysteries with a total of three victims. Deus ex machina reigns supreme. Emotions are written shallowly, in my opinion, giving the book a two-dimensional and frenetic feel.

Since I re-read all of Dorothy L. Sayers novels last year and the early ones are written about the same period in English history - just after WWI - the comparison of wit, style, depth of emotion, and complexity of plot are painfully visible and don’t work well in Todd’s favor for me.

Edited: Jan 9, 7:57am Top

2. Abraham Lincoln: Mystic Chords of Memory edited by Larry Shapiro

A summary:

Book of the Month Club publication, 1984. A selection from Lincoln’s writings, in 5 sections.
I “Always a Whig in Politics” The Early Years
II “A Continual Torment” The Slavery Controversy
III “Essentially a People’s Contest”
IV Lincoln to His Generals “Maxims of War”
V “The Fiery Trial Through Which We Pass”

Why I wanted to read it: A goal for this year is to read two books from each year I’ve been on LT, 2007-2019, in order to really start getting some of these oldies read. One fiction and one nonfiction, this slim little volume of 79 pages is my nonfiction choice from 2007 and a great introduction to Lincoln’s writings.

It includes an autobiographical sketch from 1859, excerpts from campaign announcements, letters to Mary Todd Lincoln, letters to various and sundry others, including his generals in the Civil War, inauguaral addresses, a speech or two, and his last public address.

Larry Shapiro, who at the time of publication was an editor at Book-of-the-Month Club prefaced each entry with salient information and in some cases why he chose it or why it explains some aspect of Lincoln’s character or reputation. There are photos of Lincoln in the Frontispiece and at the start of each section. All quotations are from The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, copyright 1953.

Three quotes stood out for me.
prior to fall of 1854, when he first spoke against the possibility of slavery being extended beyond the South.

If A. can prove, however conclusively, that he may, of right, enslave B. – why may not B. snatch the same argument, and prove equally, that he may enslave A? –

You say A. is white, and B. is black. It is color, then; the lighter, having the right to enslave the darker? Take care. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with a fairer skin than your own.

You do not mean color exactly? You mean the whites are intellectually the superiors of the blacks, and, therefore have the right to enslave them? Take care again. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with an intellect superior to your own.

But, say you, it is a question of interest; and, if you can make it your interest, you have the right to enslave another. Very well. And if he can make it his interest, he has the right to enslave you. p 23

From his first Inaugural Address, 1861

I am loth to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature. pp 41-42

From his second Inaugural Address, 1865

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan – to do all we may achieve and cherish a just, and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations. p 78

Jan 9, 10:22am Top

>16 karenmarie: Excellent quotes, especially from 1854. And 1861, with today's strains.

Jan 9, 10:55am Top

Thanks, MJ. There were so many beautiful or well-articulated passages, but I thought those three were particularly meaningful/recognized.

Jan 9, 12:28pm Top

Sorry your first ROOT of the year wasn't great, but it looks like Lincoln raised the bar there!

Jan 9, 1:12pm Top

Hi Jackie! Ever since I memorized the Gettysburg Address I've appreciated his way with words. This was just dipping my toe into his writings - I have 11 other books about or compiled writings by Abraham Lincoln. And last year I listened to a brilliant audiobook version of Lincoln and Chief Justice Taney: Slavery, Secession and the President's War Powers by James F. Simon.

Jan 12, 1:18pm Top

3. Why Don’t Woodpeckers Get Headaches?: And Other Bird Questions You Know You Want to Ask by Mike O’Connor

From Amazon:

In 1983, Mike O'Connor opened the Bird Watcher's General Store on Cape Cod, which might well have been the first store devoted solely to birding in the United States. Since that time he has answered thousands of questions about birds, both at his store and while walking down the aisles of the supermarket. The questions have ranged from inquiries about individual species ("Are flamingos really real?") to what and when to feed birds ("Should I bring in my feeders for the summer?") to the down-and-dirty specifics of backyard birding ("Why are the birds dropping poop in my pool?"). Answering the questions has been easy; keeping a straight face has been hard.

Why Don't Woodpeckers Get Headaches? is the solution for the beginning birder who already has a book that explains the slight variation between Common Ground-Doves and Ruddy Ground-Doves but who is really much more interested in why birds sing at 4:30 A.M. instead of 7:00 A.M., or whether it's okay to feed bread to birds, or how birds rediscover your feeders so quickly when you've just filled them after a long vacation. Or, for that matter, whether flamingos are really real.

Why I wanted to read it: My husband got this book for me for Christmas in 2018 and it seemed like the right time. Knowing the answer to this question finally came to top of stack.

This is a collection of questions and answers grouped into categories like how to get birds to come to your yard, what and how to feed them, problems with birds, identifying birds, etc.

It was informative and humorous. And for those who may never get their hands on the book, much less read it, the answer to the titular question is on page 176:
Woodpeckers have developed a much larger brain case, which prevents the birds from getting a concussion every time they have to chop out lunch. They also have different muscle and bone structure at the base of the bill, which acts like a shock absorber to help cushion the blows.Curiosity satisfied.

Jan 12, 1:42pm Top

>21 karenmarie: I've just added that to my wishlist. I am getting so much pleasure out of the birds coming to our birdfeeder this year. Earlier this week we had some new visitors (well new to me anyway, I'd not seen them before) - long-tailed tits. They were lovely, I hope they come back again!

Jan 12, 1:50pm Top

I like to watch the birds in my garden too. And I own some bird books.

Jan 13, 12:40pm Top

>22 Jackie_K: Hi Jackie! He has a lot of general information for birders regardless of where they live in addition to Cape Cod Massachussetts specific stuff - I don't think you'll be disappointed. I'm watching the Cardinals and a Titmouse and a house finch zooming back and forth between feeders and Crepe Myrtle.

>23 connie53: Hi Connie! They give much pleasure, for sure. I've got several guides, this book and a few others related to birds.

Jan 13, 11:03pm Top

>20 karenmarie: Have you read Lincoln: Biography of a Writer? It's a fascinating look at how Lincoln developed into such a compelling wordsmith. It sounds like it would be right up your street if you haven't read it already.

Jan 14, 4:05pm Top

I have not, Julia, and thank you for the BB. It's not clear from his upbringing that he could have become such a 'compelling wordsmith', so I'll track it down.

Jan 14, 6:52pm Top

4. So Many Steps to Death by Agatha Christie
1/12/20 to 1/14/20


From Amazon:

In Agatha Christie’s gripping international thriller Destination Unknown, a woman at the end of her rope chooses a more exciting way to die when she embarks upon an almost certain suicide mission to find a missing scientist.

When a number of leading scientists disappear without a trace, concern grows within the international intelligence community. And the one woman who appears to hold the key to the mystery is dying from injuries sustained in a plane crash.

Meanwhile, in a Casablanca hotel room, Hilary Craven prepares to take her own life. But her suicide attempt is about to be interrupted by a man who will offer her an altogether more thrilling way to die. . . .

Why I wanted to read it: A goal for this year is to read two books from each year I’ve been on LT, 2007-2019, in order to really start getting some of these oldies read. One fiction and one nonfiction, this is my fiction choice from 2007.

What brought this book up from a dismal 2 star ‘bad’ rating to an acceptable 2.5 star ‘average’ rating were the descriptions of Hilary Craven’s total despair as she’s preparing to take her own life. I just noticed the significance of her last name - craven. Otherwise it was a dismal 1950s-era anti-communist screed with Christie’s predilection for negatively describing people of color, stereotypes galore, and a sappy ending that had a twist or two but was mostly predictable.

However, it is part of the 88-book set of Bantam editions of Christie’s books that my mother bought for me, starting in 1987, doled out in 2s and 3s on birthdays and Christmases for years. They hold place of honor in my Library, and will always remain on the shelves my mother saw them on when she visited for the last time in 2009.

Edited: Jan 15, 3:31am Top

That's a lovely homage to your mother, Karen!

Jan 15, 3:55am Top

Thanks, Connie! My mother is the person who encouraged my love of reading from a very young age.

Jan 15, 4:02am Top

That's what mothers do! Mine did too.

Jan 15, 4:28am Top

That is a wonderful keepsake.

Jan 15, 5:19am Top

Hi Birgit!

I have very few things of my mother and father's - they were not much into things - so this collection of books is precious to me.

Yesterday, 7:40pm Top

5. The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
1/3/20 to 1/18/20

From Amazon:

"Agatha Christie meets Groundhog Day...quite unlike anything I've ever read, and altogether triumphant."―A. J. Finn, #1 New York Times-bestselling author of The Woman in the Window

The Rules of Blackheath
Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m.
There are eight days, and eight witnesses for you to inhabit.
We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer.
Understood? Then let's begin...

Evelyn Hardcastle will die. Every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others.

For fans of Claire North and Kate Atkinson, The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a breathlessly addictive novel that follows one man's race against time to find a killer―but an astonishing time-turning twist means that nothing and no one are quite what they seem.

Why I wanted to read it: The description intrigued me. Jenna gave it to me for Christmas.

Convoluted, thy name is The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. It sounds relatively simple in the description above – 8 witnesses, 8 days. Day 1, day 2, day 3… right? Wrong. Days are broken up into vignettes separated by other days. After day 6, say, we might go back to day 2. It’s hard for Aiden Bishop to identify who he’s inhabiting, and how much harder for us!

I found it a tad exhausting until I realized that if I just kept reading I might, just might, understand most of it by the end. And, surprisingly, I did. I know who killed Evelyn Hardcastle. I know why Aiden Bishop was in Blackheath, and I know how long he was there. It was interesting to see how Aiden gained information from and used the personalities of the witnesses to help him move ‘forward’ in his quest to solve the murder. Clues abound. It was fun to see how a clue planted in day 2 bore fruit in day 6. Or how a clue planted in day 7 bore fruit in day 3… messages, attacks, missing people, new people, a murderous footman, and a mysterious figure named The Plague Doctor, all inhabit this macabre and wacky romp. I can't imagine how the author kept track of everything.

Will I ever read it again? Probably not. But I’ll keep it on my shelves for a while, mostly because Jenna gave it to me, but also because of the marvelous cover and as a tribute to my perseverance and ultimate appreciation of what Mr. Turton has accomplished. Heaven forbid there’s a sequel, although another book by the same author would interest me.

Today, 3:32am Top

>33 karenmarie: Hmmm, I think I might like this. And it is translated, so I put it on my wishlist and ask my brother to hunt down a digital version.

Today, 6:49am Top

Exciting news, Connie! I hope he finds it. I'll be interested to hear how you like it.


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