The Read goes ever on and on...MrsLee 2020 chapter 1
This is a continuation of the topic The Read goes ever on and on...MrsLee 2019 part 3.
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For better or worse, here I am with a new reading thread for this year.
I haven't read at all yet today because I've been busy finishing up all my stats, comparing my reading journal to my reading list on the computer, and to my tagged r2019 reads here on LT. As usual, I found some variations.
This was a rough year for me, lots of stresses at work and at home and it showed in my reading. So, for 2020, my goals are minimum. Read the books in my house and on my Kindle, buy only a few, discard any books I'm not enjoying in one way or another.
I'm beginning with a couple of books which have been sitting on the table by my chair for a few months. There are more further under the pile, but hopefully I will get to those as well this year. I make no promises since 3 of them were in my "Biggest" books to get read last year.
Passage to Juneau by Jonathan Raban is one of them. Another is Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch. Touchstones don't seem to be functioning at the moment, I'll see what happens if I post this and then edit it.
I have found that it helps to have a fiction book for light reading on hand when I'm trying to read a doorstop nonfiction, so hopefully those two books will be good.
I am still reading books off of the bottom shelf of my paperback TBR case, trying to make some headway in all these books I've accumulated over the years.
Wishing you all the very best for 2020. May it bring you good friends, food and books.
I've got it starred, and am looking forward to some innnnerestin' books this year.
I keep a light fiction book by my bed, and read it before I get sleepy. The BIG tomes are in the living room by my recliner.
>1 MrsLee: I hope 2020 is a better year for you than 2019 was.
I will not add to your stress by mentioning your use of the word, "discard". At least you have stopped using the word, "cull".
Welcome to 2020 my friend and Happy New Year. I will be tagging along with you as always.
>2 Sakerfalcon: Thank you!
>3 fuzzi: I follow yours and all the reading thread here, so I likewise will have fun reading about all your reads. :)
>4 pgmcc: Rats. I meant to change that word in my file here so as not to raise red flags. I've been watching Person of Interest for awhile now, I should know about words that trigger the watchers. ;)
>5 Bookmarque: Thank you, as always I enjoy reading your thread also.
Following! My sympathies on the difficult year--I think we're dealing with some of the same issues--and I hope your reading provides haven.
>6 MrsLee: I enjoyed Person of Interest. It is scary when you find things happening in the real world that make you realise technology is not that far removed from what they have in PoI, except the phone thing of course. That is just too convenient.
>11 MrsLee: I could not tell you where to find a payphone in Dublin. Everyone has their smart phone and many of them are walking blind with their eyes focused on their screen.
There are plenty of CCTVs.
In the early 2000s I was working in a retail group and one of the jobs I had was to in-source the loyalty card system. It had been out-sourced to get a card implemented quickly when a UK retail chain that had a loyalty card was coming here.
I did a lot of research on loyalty card systems. At that time I read Philip K. Dick's story, Minority Report, and the film came out around that time too. It was about a state that had three people with telepathic skills who were wired up to the legal system. They foresaw crimes and the authorities arrested and imprisoned people on the basis of the crimes they were going to commit.
After doing my research about loyalty cards and what was being done with the data that was collected, and how it was being married to other databases, e.g. library loan records, to identify potential security risks I was left thinking that the Minority Report world is already here but we do not need the telepaths. (I think they called them "pre-cogs" or something like that.)
Given my experiences and research I was quite receptive to the Person of Interest premise. It did not strike me as totally far-fetched.
Happy New Year. May 2020 bring you many good books to enjoy and may it be kinder to you than 2019. Best wishes.
Much happiness to you this year, my dear MrsLee. (Both in the real world and in your bookish universe as well.)
>12 pgmcc: Yep, not far-fetched at all, especially with the internet now. I looked up a few Alaskan cruises the other day on Google (my sister and I plan to take one this summer) and now my Facebook feed is full of ads for them. I've also had it happen that we were discussing something at work, I can't remember what now, and then my Facebook feed had ads for that. Ah well. I'm not going to unplug everything to avoid it.
>13 littlegeek:, >14 Peace2:, >15 clamairy: Thank you! And also for you.
>16 suitable1: I'm on season 4. I find that a lot of series lose it towards the end. Fringe being one of them. I never finished watching that one, too weird. Chuck being another. They sort of lose whatever the spark was they had in the beginning and over-compensate trying to keep people interested. Maybe it's a good thing there was only one season of Firefly.
>17 MrsLee: During the holidays we were discussing that very topic, i.e. conversations in the proximity of phones, Alexa or a Google Home leading to advertisements on the subject mentioned. Everyone present had an experience to contribute to the conversation.
Perhaps we will have to use sign language. That way we would safe until there is total camera coverage.
One of my relations commented that were now living in the 1984 world with the only difference being that we bought the technology ourselves.
Mark Zuckerberg tapes over his laptop's camera and microphone jack, and uses Thunderbird as his email client:
If Mr. Facebook is concerned, should we be?
>19 fuzzi: Perhaps the next new rage in home-crafted gifts will be TV and other device "cozies."
One of the episodes last night brought up how an AI can influence people based on the information it gives them on their inquiries, such as, a person asking it for the suicide hotline was fed articles on why life wasn't worth living and such. The goal being to shunt them towards buying depression meds the company sold advertising for, with the unhappy side effect of the person committing suicide instead.
Does anyone doubt that advertisers would do that stuff? Maybe the suicide example being an extreme example.
On the reading front, both books which I have started seem to be good, and so I shall continue, although I still find my days being filled with other activities than reading. This afternoon I am going to the movie "Knives Out" with a friend, and possibly to dinner. This morning I am doing such things as starting a ferment of lemons, and dehydrating some fuyu persimmons along with other chores.
On the nephew front, things look very bad. If nothing changes in the next 24 hours, I'm afraid some hard decisions will have to be made. My heart is aching for my sister.
>20 MrsLee: I'm so very sorry. I must have missed this sad news. Massive hugs, and strength to all of you.
Sorry to hear the news of your nephew is not better. Thinking of you and your family.
>20 MrsLee: Oh no :( I'm so sorry to hear about your nephew. Sending virtual hugs.
I am so sorry to hear that. Those are not decisions anyone should have to make about their child.
As one of the family said when my second wife died, you do not expect to outlive your child. Hugs to you and your sister.
>20 MrsLee: I cannot imagine what the family is going through. They have my sincere sympathies.
Thank you all. I do have a measure of hope today, at least, not bad news. My sister said that for 2 days now, he is not getting worse. Critical but stable.
Wishing you the best for 2020 and hoping things improve for your nephew.
>30 MrsLee: That's actually a better start than it may appear. Continued strength to all of you.
Sending my very best wishes to you and your family. I hope that things improve for your nephew.
They have finally found out what the organism is that attacked my nephew. Legionnaires, for crying out loud. No idea where he contracted it. Anyway, this will help them be specific with the medicine to counteract it, but it is not good news for his lungs (he is a heavy smoker). They tried to gently bring him out of his induced coma yesterday, but he became too violent/agitated, and so they put him back under. No telling about prognosis until they can wake him up safely.
On the reading front, I don't seem to be able to read much a day, but I am enjoying the two books I am reading.
OMG MrsL, that is wicked. I think in technical terms it's called ODTAA.
One damned thing after another.
I hope they can treat him successfully.
I am not surprised you cannot read much at the moment.
Thinking of you and wishing you and your family well.
Wow, haven't heard about Legionnaires in a long time. Here's to your nephew's recovery. Sounds like it might be a long road.
Sending you and your family hugs.
On the nephew front, they woke him out of the medically induced coma yesterday, and he was doing good. That is all I got from my niece, I'm not sure what "good" means, except that it means not worse, and hopefully better. :)
On the Letter of the Year front:
This year is the year of "D" and these are the activities my husband and I ended up choosing to focus on this year.
Diet (for health more than weight control)
Thank you all for helping with ideas, as you can see, several of yours made the final cut!
Day trips that are dates with delectable dining sound awesome.
Relieved to hear about your nephew.
Your list of activities sounds great! Good times await, I hope.
And I'm glad to hear that things seem to be looking more promising for your nephew. Fingers crossed for continued improvement.
That's a relief!
Alas, no dingoes? Not even these: https://www.thewesterncompany.com/collections/dingo
>38 MrsLee: Diet AND Delectable Dining? Together?!
Have an awesome time Doing the things on your list!
>41 clamairy: Oooo, those would fit right in where I work and live, but no. My feet would not tolerate them, sadly. :)
>42 hfglen: We didn't define "diet." Technically, it is whatever you eat, right? At the moment for breakfast I am eating a middle eastern rice dish with dried fruit and nuts in it. I also chopped a hard boiled egg into it and added my chili oil. To me, this is delectable, my husband would forgo the chili oil. :) I plan to follow that up with a small bowl of tapioca pudding.
Now why is it that I love tapioca pudding so, but loath jello? Texture, plus tapioca isn't as sweet I think. I love the fish-egg texture.
>42 hfglen: I'm trying to decide if dim sum means I need to learn to cook some of those delicious dumplings, or whether it means traveling at least 2 hours to find some in a restaurant.
Passage to Juneau is proving a rather wonderful read. He blends in history, nature, current events and his own experiences, switching back and forth with ease and humor. It is descriptive without being burdensome. My only regret is that in my current state of being, I can't read anything for more than half an hour without falling asleep.
>38 MrsLee: Glad to hear the news sounds more positive about your nephew.
By the way, you forgot an 's' in Dessert.
Glad to hear your nephew is doing better. Here’s to continued improvement.
Your D activities sound delightful!
I am glad to e that your nephew is improving. It may prove a long haul, but progress is still progress.
>45 pgmcc: No, I didn't. :D
>46 hfglen: Would that I could. However, we have some very respectable deserts in my own state of California, some high desert relatively nearby in Oregon and Nevada, and some lovely deserts in Arizona if we want to take that trip. Seeing as how my husband doesn't want to go further afield than that, we probably won't make it to the Kalahari.
Thank you all for your continued well wishes for my nephew.
I think I mentioned that I have been watching the TV show, Person of Interest, a show about an all-seeing AI and the possibilities both good and evil of such. I finally finished The series. The morning after I watched the last episode, I received an email from Google with a map, pinpointing everywhere I had been in 2019.
I use Firefox on a USB stick for browsing the web at work, and Firefox on my desktop at home, except for LibraryThing. I use Safari for LibraryThing (Mac user) for one reason only, and that is that in Safari I can have keystroke macros set up to allow me to insert the template for a web link or an image by typing #, then "lnk" or "img". Firefox doesn't allow this and apparently won't be getting it anytime soon. I don't use Chrome for anything, and gmail as little as possible.
>1 MrsLee: Happy new year, and much happy reading. The past year was full of shadows for so many of us, and I fear we have a very strange year ahead. All the more reason to keep an anchor in a secure place such as this.
I've been thinking about those lines in Hamlet that I recall thus: "Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, / Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel." In dark times, we need them more than ever, and they need us; recalling that we do have the power to bring brightness to one another. You're a bright light on LT, MrsLee, and a star to follow.
>50 MrsLee: Every time Google offers me a chance to fill in the locations that are the blank spots in my day I decline. I guess that's one of the perks of having spotty cell service. LOL
>50 MrsLee: Be careful that no one clones your phone.
ETA: Are you the victim...or the perp?
>51 Bookmarque: My feelings exactly!
>52 hfglen: If only it were my big brother. I trust him!
>53 haydninvienna: I am bringing doom upon myself with the laziness I have towards internet usage, I know. I can't be bothered to learn all the tricks, so, I will probably be one of the first to go. Like lambs to the slaughter.
>54 Meredy: Bless you, that is a lovely sentiment that warms my heart.
>55 clamairy: But, but, we NEED to know where you are at all times! Are you reading in the bathroom? Reading on the beach? Reading while you walk your fur babies? Reading in the kitchen? Inquiring minds.
>56 pgmcc: Lol, if they did, they would be watching a lot of Animal Crossing. Well, on my old phone anyway. I don't play it on my new one. As to your second question, I've often wondered the same thing. It might depend on my mood, although victim has never appealed to me.
I finished reading Lies Sleeping last night. Enjoyable reading. Still savoring the book about Juneau.
I loaded some of the oldest purchased, never read books in my Amazon account onto my Kindle. Thought I would give some of those a go and start getting rid of ones I'm not interested in. There doesn't really seem to be a point in deleting Kindle books from my account, but it keeps me from having to look at books I don't want to see again.
Consider yourself, and several other GDers, grappled to my soul with hoops of steel.
The oldest book purchased and unread on my Kindle is Theodore Roosevelt's autobiography. I'm not up for reading that at the same time as another nonfiction that I am really enjoying, so I chose The Unquiet Bones by Mel Starr. It is the first in his mystery series with Hugh Singleton as the surgeon/detective in the 1300s. I read a book further on in the series way back when I was participating in the Early Reviewer program and liked it, so purchased the ones before it but never got around to reading them.
This series isn't up to Cadfael standards of enjoyment for me, but it is certainly enjoyable, and I like reading books from that time period. Since Starr was a history teacher for 30 years (if I am recalling correctly), one hopes that the research and all is good. It feels good to me, who knows nothing. :)
Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles! My nephew was released from the hospital today! He has to use a walker, because he is very weak, but his recovery is amazing.
>60 MrsLee: That is great news! I hope he continues to make a full recovery.
>60 MrsLee: So happy for your nephew and you & your family that he's recovering well.
Thank you all, it is nice to be able to share our triumphs and joys, as well as our sorrows.
Eating peanut butter on toast seems like a good plan for a quick breakfast, but in fact, is very difficult to eat quickly.
Happy birthday! Do you have a tradition of peanut butter for breakfast on your birthday?
Another birthday? Happy jam day! (Russian childish birthday greeting seems somewhat appropriate considering your statements about breakfast...)
Happy Birthday! And for no reason at all except that it's your birthday, here's a Merino lamb -
>74 clamairy: Thank you! I can't see the word Fabulous without the TV show, "Absolutely Fabulous" coming to mind. :D
>75 haydninvienna: Thank You, actually, the peanut butter was yesterday. Sourdough waffles was my birthday breakfast.
>76 -pilgrim-: Thank you, I like that greeting.
Better respond to the rest later, I'm at work still!
>60 MrsLee: WONDERFUL NEWS!! I am so happy for you and your family.
I almost responded "God just made a wall fall down!"
Too obscure a reference? :)
>80 Bookmarque: Love the lamb! And I ate some particularly delicious lamb curry for lunch! Um, not that lamb. Sorry, my dark side is showing.
Thank you all for the birthday wishes. I woke up to surprises! On the table was a bottle of Heinz 57 Sweet pickle relish, only the label had been adulterated to say, "LeeLee You're sweet & I relish you even if you are now 57."
Also 2 dark chocolate hazelnut bars, and a box of dominoes which we plan to play tomorrow and at least once a month this year.
After work, I had an appointment with a travel agent, and I booked a cruise to Alaska for my sister and I. Then Mark and I had dinner with my brother and his wife at a Vietnamese seafood restaurant. All in all a very nice day.
>86 fuzzi: I get it, one of my favorites! Thank you.
Thank you all for my birthday wishes! 20 years ago I could never imagine having so many lovely people from around the world who cared about me. *hugs and kisses all around*
I am glad you have had such a lovely day. I am sure I am not the only one looking forward to pictures from the cruise.
Brownie points to the Heinz label creator. Nice touch.
I love the Heinz bottle story. That's so great and creative.
Alaska cruise!!! Wow. That's cool.
>87 MrsLee: (and #89). Alaska ... wouldn't "icy cold" be a better description than "cool". But the idea sounds brilliant. (Though for myself I would hate to be on any kind of organized cruise. The only one I could imagine going on voluntarily is to Portuguese Island (in Maputo Bay), which is otherwise unreachable. But I know exactly what trees to look for the moment I could escape from being bullied into nauseating "entertainment". Fortunately that cruise is only 3 days.)
>87 MrsLee: What a great day! Props to the clever bloke who did the label over.
Happy Belated Birthday! It sounds like you had a wonderful day. And that is great news about your nephew.
Oh Shirt! I had a very clever and long post typed here with answers to each of you and something screwed up. Now it's gone and I have not the heart to repeat it. Fork. I am that upset.
Finished The Unquiet Bones by Mel Starr. An enjoyable mystery set in the 1300s England. Serviceable, interesting and entertaining, if not stellar.
Am still reading/savoring Passage to Juneau.
Will be starting Monkey by Wu Ch'eng-en today. No idea where or when this book came into my house, but it was hiding on the bottom shelf which I have been reading from.
Belated best wishes for your birthday and fantastic to hear about your nephew too.
>97 Peace2: Thank you.
I began Monkey, reading the first chapter, and while it is engaging, I can see that it isn't something I want to immerse myself in. A chapter here and there will be fun, but to try to push through this would be torture.
So, I looked at the oldest books in my Kindle and found a light fiction I had purchased for my mother way back when A Thousand Tomorrows by Karen Kingsbury. It is a light cowboy romance, with a heavy dose of emotion around inner rage, grief and loss, healing and forgiveness. Not my thing as a rule, and I did wonder at myself using precious reading time to read it. However, the author is not without skill, and I read it to the end.
>94 MrsLee: I had that happen to me a couple of days ago but I know exactly what happened—I was typing the post on the iPad and then went over to the computer to do something, and then started looking at Talk on the computer.
>98 MrsLee: I first met Monkey is the subtitled Japanese version down on UK TV in the seventies - and loved it (despite dodgy special effects and ham acting; they just fitted is mood)!
I then found that it was based on the Chinese classic, Journey to the West, which is based on folk tales accumulated around Buddhist religious history, combined with satire China at the time of its writing.
Most English language translations abridge it considerable, and the tone of these translations vary greatly, depending on which aspects of the story were of most interest to the translator.
If it was the irrepressible nature of Monkey that most soaked to you, I would recommend trying to get hold of a copy of the TV series (which has been released on DVD).
...and now I have the theme music stuck in my head, which, like the nature of Monkey, "is IRREPRESSIBLE!"
>100 -pilgrim-: This version is a translation by Arthur Waley. Rather than abridging the stories, he didn't include all of the stories (only 30 of the 100), but the ones he included are full translations with dialog and such. Quite fun. There is a nice introduction which gives the history of Wu Ch'eng-en and why he wrote these and published them anonymously. Also how they came to be attributed to him. Interesting stuff. The introduction is by Hu Shih. He has added a few notes where he and Mr. Waley disagreed on the translation, but so far it seems like minor stuff, and there are only about five places.
I fell in love with the Monkey King when I watched a rather cheesy movie, possibly of the same name some time ago. Irrepressible is a great tag for him. :)
Last night I read a short story/novella (50 pages?) called Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Black Bishop by Mark Coggins. It was almost pitch-perfect in style and tone. The subject matter was a bit risque for Doyle and wouldn't have been done, but even that was done in the manner that such subject might have been talked about in the 1880s, if they had been talked about in public at all. Enjoyable.
Seems I am the only one who has entered this, and the touchstone won't work, no time to force it.
>101 MrsLee: Arthur Waley seems to have been one of the great British characters. He went to work in the British Museum and found himself sorting modern (that is, in the early 20th century) German bookplates, a task for which he had little enthusiasm. He heard that a Chinese and Japanese print room was being set up, asked the curator (the poet Laurence Binyon) for a job as assistant, and got it. He knew nothing of either Chinese or Japanese, and set to work to learn both languages at once. He seems to have succeeded pretty well.
I have his One Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems; he tells the story of how he came to learn the languages in the introduction. Also, in the article on him in Wikipedia: "In his preface to The Secret History of the Mongols he writes that he was not a master of many languages, but claims to have known Chinese and Japanese fairly well, a good deal of Ainu and Mongolian, and some Hebrew and Syriac."
I don't have my copy of One Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems here, but it's available on Project Gutenberg—unfortunately with a different introduction. I first encountered these two in a high school poetry book, and have never forgotten them:
"THE HAT GIVEN TO THE POET BY LI CHIEN
Long ago to a white-haired gentleman
You made the present of a black gauze hat.
The gauze hat still sits on my head;
But you already are gone to the Nether Springs.
The thing is old, but still fit to wear;
The man is gone and will never be seen again.
Out on the hill the moon is shining to-night
And the trees on your tomb are swayed by the autumn wind."
"ON THE BIRTH OF HIS SON
By Su Tung-p’o (A.D. 1036-1101)
Families, when a child is born
Want it to be intelligent.
I, through intelligence,
Having wrecked my whole life,
Only hope the baby will prove
Ignorant and stupid.
Then he will crown a tranquil life
By becoming a Cabinet Minister."
>105 pgmcc: Yes, the first one rather gets you between wind and water, doesn't it?
ETA Given that I've had it in the memory banks for something like 55 years now, I think it's fairly to be described as memorable.
EATA: And now back to your regularly scheduled piffle ...
>106 haydninvienna: I think I have told you before that poems are not normally something I am drawn to, that there are only a few that grab me; those two have grabbed me.
I almost bought a book of Blake's poems when I was in Watkins Books in Cecil Court. I checked myself by saying I need to think about it for a while.
>107 suitable1: We are doomed.
>103 haydninvienna: &>104 haydninvienna: Nice to know, he seemed like someone special from the introduction I read in my book, but I hadn't looked him up yet.
I love piffle by poetry.
Yesterday, while being held hostage at an eye exam, I began a book on my Kindle called Cotillion by Georgette Heyer. I did not love the first book I read by her, The Grand Sophy, but liked it well enough to read another. She is amusing if nothing else. *ducks knowing there are several rabid Heyer fans in the pub*
So far I have met no characters I particularly like, or can root for, in Cotillion, and I really get annoyed by the colloquialisms. Is that the right word? Is there a better one? The word usage of the class of people? There is some of that in Lord Peter Wimsey novels, but I don't remember it being as exaggerated there. Lord Peter does it when he is putting on his cover act, or trying to cover his real emotions or thoughts, and Freddie Arbuckle speaks it a lot, but somehow it doesn't bother me as much in the Sayer novels as it does here.
In spite of all that, I am still reading and not hating the story. I only read it during my breaks at work though, because I spend most of my home reading on Passage to Juneau which I love. Monkey I am limiting myself to one chapter a night, so as not to tire of it. Makes a great bedtime story.
>111 MrsLee: Could it be that 18th-century colloquial English was very different to ours? I do dimly recall suffering a slight language barrier when I treid long ago to read my grandmother's favourite author.
>111 MrsLee: Perhaps the language is feeling contrived as opposed to natural speech. She was a 20th century writer trying to write in an older dialect, wasn't she? Does it seem that different from novel actually written at that time? I know it usually takes me a few chapters to settle into the language of an Austen novel.
>111 MrsLee: I like Heyer novels well enough, but have a similar feeling about her use of what I consider to be slang terminology of the time - I just don't know what is meant by some of it, even within context. Most characters use it sparingly but there always seems to be one or two who are like the Valley Girls of the Regency period.
>113 clamairy: & >114 Darth-Heather: Yes, slang is a better word for it.
"Have all the bills sent to her, and she'll stand huff."
"I'm dashed if I see what your lay is!"
Those are one character, about2 sentences apart. Several characters were talking like that earlier. I understand what they are saying,it just annoys me that there is so much of it.
>116 MrsLee: That's the difference between social background. Jane Austen was a respectable provincial lady, and so are most of her characters.
Georgette Heuer is writing about a completely different social set: the "smart set", where either you were a "sharp" or a"flat". And if you were a sharp, you affected as much of the jargon of your clique as possible, least you be mistaken for a flat.
(It's the world that Wickham either belonged to, or more likely simply adopted to, but he wouldn't have brought those manner back to Pemberley.)
I don't think the fact that her characters don't sound like Jane Austen's is a measure of her being a modern writer "putting it on"; one thing Ben Aaronovitch gets perfectly right is Peter Grant's language (as a Londoner himself, I would expect no less), but that does not imply that I myself would use most of the slang that he does, or the police jargon (since I am neither a Londoner not in the police force).
So, I don't think the level of usage that you describe is over the top. I didn't have any trouble with it when I was reading Georgette Heyer in my early teens (historical novels being more readily available than fantasy in the local shop).
>117 -pilgrim-: I wasn't criticizing (or wasn't meaning to) the author. I know nothing about the way anyone in England at any time period was supposed to speak. I'm only saying that it is annoying to me, whether it is correct or not. I do not love Austen, nor do I seem to love books of "manners" or romances, so probably this isn't for me. I keep trying 1) because I bought quite a few of these for my mother on the Kindle, and 2) so many people whose taste in reading I trust love Heyer.
>118 MrsLee: I am not a fan of romances either, which is why I only read a few of Heyer's novels. But nowadays, I am struck how much better she was at capturing period and attitudes than many so-called historical novelists, who simply stuff characters with modern speech and attitudes into the clothing of a different era.
I am not sure what is meant by books of "manners" - to me the term refers to things like "The Handbook of Decorum for Young Ladies" (I made that particular title up!), of which I was one presented an authentic Victorian example, but I think you are referring to a type of novel?
If you mean the acute, and weekly wryly amused, observation of human nature and its foibles, then that is something that I can certainly enjoy (as long as the tone is sympathetic rather than superior).
Did your mother ever tell you what she liked about Heyer's novels?
Finished Passage to Juneau, by Jonathan Raban, last night. It was a book I was sorry to be finished with.
My little review:
"Loved this book. Sailing with Mr. Raban is an adventure in history, natural history, philosophy and it is amusing as well. Even though his adventure had a rather bitter ending, it was good to be along on the cruise. His humor is threaded throughout the story. Not obtrusive, but quiet and natural. He shared some very interesting perspectives on the native arts and ways of looking at the world around them. Whether he is right or not, I don't know, but the musings were eye-opening to me. I always enjoy when I am presented with a new perspective on the world."
Must say I'm warming up to Cotillion. However, if Kit decides to marry Jack instead of Freddy, I will have no sympathy with her. I didn't care for Freddy at first, but Meyer has made him quite loveable.
ETA: Finished now. Best thing about this book was watching Freddy develop as a character, not only in the eyes of Kitty, but in those of his family and his own as well. Satisfactory.
Will begin Morgue Drawer for Rent tomorrow.
Finished Natural History of Vacant Lots by Matthew F. Vessel. My thoughts:
"I enjoyed reading this. Much of it I was familiar with because I had incredible parents and grandparents who knew about the place we live in and discussed it frequently, thereby teaching me. It was interesting in the introduction to learn how recently textbooks were out of date/misinformed about the natural flora and fauna of the far west. When I come to think of it, school is not where I learned about these things, with the exception of a summer program I participated in when a teen. That program had us fixing National Park trails and learning about our environment while we were at it. Wish all teens everywhere could be in such a program at some time. I digress.
This would serve as a terrific text or guide for a classroom, or for a teacher who wanted the children to learn about their immediate environment. It teaches about the plants and critters that frequent waysides, empty lots and any other place they can get a foothold. It also gives instructions for ways and means to study an area over time looking for various growth patterns, species, habits, etc. Then it goes on to describe and identify the various plants and animals one might find there in California. Many of these species will be found elsewhere as well, since they are the tough ones that persist in living despite the poisons, plowing, cutting and other means humans try to get rid of them. Aint nature persistent?
I wish there were more color photos for the identification pages, but that is probably a sign of the times it was published in. The descriptions of the various plants, animals and insects range from basic and brief, to quaint and personal including personal anecdotes. I love that."
The book which I am beginning now is Memoirs of a Medieval Woman: The Life and Times of Margery Kempe by Louise Collis. I think I was hoping this was a simple translation of what the Medieval woman wrote, with some notes on the side, but at first glance that order seems reversed. Oh well. Hopefully it will be interesting.
Enjoying Morgue Drawer for Rent and Monkey, even though Monkey seems to be trapped under a mountain at the moment and the stories are about other folks in his world, they are still fun.
>123 MrsLee: Was your summer youth program by any chance the Youth Conservation Corps? I participated in that in my teens. I spent the summer at a camp on National Forest lands in Colorado doing reforestation and trail maintenance. It was a wonderful experience, but I don't think it's offered any more, which is a shame.
>122 MrsLee: Freddy is absolutely the best part of the story. Heyer started out presenting Freddy almost as the opposite of what a conventional romantic hero should be, and then gradually shows his development into--well, not a conventional romantic hero, but into a most love-worthy person.
Heyer's The Unknown Ajax (another of my favorites by her) takes speech patterns and vocabulary and uses them as part of the plot. It's also hilarious--one of her best.
If you're still interested in Margery Kempe when you're done with that book, you might have a look at The Book of the Maidservant by Rebecca Barnhouse--it's the story of Kempe's travels from her maid's point of view. ;)
>124 bjappleg8: Yes, that was the name of it! As a typical teen, I don't think I appreciated it as much when I was in it as I do now, looking back. I even appreciate the annoying leader who put up with all of our nonsense and know-it-all behavior, and hung in there trying to get some information in our heads. As a mother of teens, I often wished there was such a program. One that had them work hard until they were so tired all they could do was sit and listen. :)
>125 Marissa_Doyle: At first, I thought Freddy was meant to be a homosexual, with all the oblique references to "not being the marrying type" and such. :) I will try The Unknown Ajax one of these days, but I have to take those books few and far between.
Finished Morgue Drawer for Rent by Jutta Profijt yesterday. It was a very slow day at word due to the service area remodel going on, I feel a bit under the weather, so after doing the tasks that were required, I sat and read. So there.
I enjoy this series, about like I enjoy the series with Bernie and Chet, although the language and attitude towards women in the morgue drawer series could be offensive to some. This last one had a neat explanation of how this particular woman came to be writing these books. Clever use of the forth wall? Not sure it is the forth wall, but it brought the writer into to story. Anyway, these are mysteries I read more for the fun of them than the excellent writing or mystery puzzle.
What's up next for my Kindle book?
The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew and the Heart of the Middle East by Sandy Tolan. I've had this on my Kindle for years meaning to get to it. I think it is one of the books my mom told me she loved, but I'm not sure. If it gets too heavy, I may need to pick a light read off of my shelves for fun.
Stopped reading The Lemon Tree, or rather, I skimmed through it. Not what I expected it to be. I can't really get into why without raising the topic of religion and politics, so let me just say that there were several reasons I didn't want to read it right now, probably not any of which had to do with the author's writing. So, if you want a detailed low-down on the politics and history of Palestine over the last hundred years or so, this might please you very much. I didn't want that, plus every blasted time i opened my Kindle to read it, the reading time got longer by an hour. I started at four hours, reasonable, and after two or three times of setting it down, it went to nine hours. So I showed the Kindle who was boss, skimmed and read the bits I found more interesting and let the rest go. This isn't a book my mom loved, I was confused.
I am now reading An Autobiography of Theodore Roosevelt which is so far charming. Written in 1913, I've only read through the first chapter on his ancestors.
Also began An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear. An enjoyable read.
Finished An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear. This was a good read. Not so much for the mystery as for the picture of a time, a place and a people. I enjoy riding along with Maisie Dobbs.
The author can be a bit repetitive, but not tediously so, and it is a good thing if one hasn't read all the books in order, or picked up a random book to read. You don't feel lost in the series.
Still enjoying Monkey, at the rate of one chapter a day more or less. Such fun.
Also enjoying An Autobiography of Theodore Roosevelt. His idea of schooling and child rearing practically mirror my own. His humorous descriptions at his own learning and what he experienced raising his children, both failures and success, make for good entertainment. His childhood reminds me a lot of Gerald Durrell's, as far as the interest in animals and nature, except that Roosevelt's family was never in want of money.
>131 clamairy: I don't hate it yet. I don't love it, either. Not sure the author should have tried to write a female character as the protagonist; something about her doesn't ring true, but maybe it's just me and my old-fashioned spirit. It's a strange feeling to be hoping through-out the story that a character fails in their plan. Mostly I'm reading it to see what the author does with that. Curiosity killed the reader.
I liked and was amused by The Martian, but I didn't love it. It was too one-dimensional and emotionally backward. So I gave his follow up a miss and it looks like that was a good decision.
>132 MrsLee: I had seen similar comments about Artemis before I read it, so I think that helped me go in with lower expectations. It wasn’t a favorite, and I had some complaints, but I mostly found it readable and it held my interest. I did enjoy The Martian much more.
I blame that curiosity factor you mention as being one of the reasons I’m so bad at abandoning books! :)
I found The Martian too like the original MacGyver TV series to be loved. No matter what the problem was, he solved it with the bits and pieces he had available to him. Also, I found it slightly tiresome that every time he fixed something you knew it would not be long before the next big disaster would happen which he again would sort out with some duct tape and a paperclip. I did not hate it and stayed to the end, but it leaves me not wanting to read anything else by Andy Weir. His book, Artemis, will be a pleasure I shall not experience.
>134 YouKneeK: I blame that curiosity factor you mention as being one of the reasons I’m so bad at abandoning books! :)
I was cured of any inclination not to abandon books I was not fully enjoying by Stephen R. Donaldson. I read two whole trilogies of The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant in the hope that it was going to get better. It never did and I was angry at myself wasting so much of my life reading those books. I resolved to feel free to throw a book across the room and not finish it if it had not grabbed me. On the few occasions I have tried abandoning that resolve, e.g. reading Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth where I decided after 25 pages it was too boring but I read on to give it a chance and eventually abandoned it after 250 pages, I have found that I should have gone with my initial instinct.
Apologies for ranting on but you reminded me of the raw nerve I have about books that I feel have wasted my time.
>135 pgmcc: Haha, although I’m very bad at abandoning an individual book once I’ve started it, I’ve never had trouble abandoning a series. This is probably because I usually read series books all at once, so if I don’t enjoy it, there’s no way I’m going to plow through book after book of it. Last year I even abandoned a series I was enjoying quite a lot after book 4 of 6 because it was clear the author had gone off the internal consistency rails.
>135 pgmcc: I don't recall ever throwing a book across the room, but I have snapped shut a couple in disgust.
>138 fuzzi: & >139 catzteach:
My review of The Patriot Game by John De St. Jorre is presented below. It explains why I bounced it off the far wall.
"This book will stay with me all my life. It is the first book I physically threw across the room because I was so disgusted with its inaccuracies and total disregard for reality.
The author was giving detailed descriptions of his protagonist's car journey through Belfast. He had his hero driving along roads he would not have been able to access; stopping for a smoke at the side of the "Belfast to Dungannon road", which is a motorway; viewing the aftermath of a restaurant bombing that he couldn't have seen from where he was; coming up to a border crossing where the "border guards raised a barrier", something that at the time of the story was not the case. Even through the roughest times of the troubles the type of barrier he described was never used at the border crossings.
It appears this author wrote his descriptions from a map never having visited Northern Ireland."
The plot is basically the same as that of Tom Clancy's The Patriot Games which was the basis for the film with the same title and starring Harrison Ford.
The John De St. Jorre book was why I started using the half star rating; no star looked like a book was unrated. I wanted to use the half star to indicate that I detested the book and that it should never have seen the light of day. What I detested was the slovenly approach of the author. The smallest amount of research (e.g. talking to someone from where he is basing his story) would have highlighted all the errors he was making. If he was using a map it must have been a pretty old map as the motorway to Dungannon was constructed in the 1960s with most of it complete before the troubles started in 1968.
By the way, catzteach, I did eventually consign this book to the bin. It deserved to be destroyed, and that is strong language from me, the person who campaigns against cruelty to books.
Golly Peter, better have a pint on me to calm the ruffled feathers of your memories! :)
What I am is an anti-Renaissance gal. I am not an expert in much of anything, and so a lot of that type of stuff doesn't bother me. I know very little about the laws of physics, chemistry, etc. The author can prattle on about most of that as much as he wants and I will skim right through it. Same goes for a lot of other subjects when I read. When I do find an author that offends my sense of something I know, I feel they must be pretty lame, because if I know more, then they are in way over their heads. :)
That being said, I am much more sensitive to the character's moral base.
I have extreme difficulty abandoning s book part of the way through, and a similar reaction to films. Even if they are bad, I still want to know how it ends.
Unfortunately, most reviews are carefully spoiler-free, and don't answer that question. I muse sometimes about the idea of an "Endings" website, where one could find s summary of the book, or film, including how it ends, to save frustrated readers and viewers from the need to continue.
>139 catzteach: "I have never thrown a book across the room, but I have thrown one in the trash can."
>141 MrsLee: In deferral to those not wanting to click into your spoiler tag, I can't say too much but... another 'Gasp!' for your wishes for Jazz. Okay, truth be told, it was more of a chuckle than a gasp... ;-)
I liked The Martian well enough. I agree with Peter that it is "McGyver on Mars", but I enjoyed it as a harmless bit of entertainment that, besides the one glaring bit of bad science at the start, and the far-fetched rescue attempt at the end, was pretty good at "sciencing the bleeep out" of the situation. But I also read enough disappointed reviews of Artemis that I have not felt compelled to seek it out. I'm not seeing any comments here that are changing my mind on that.
>142 -pilgrim-: That seems like such a good idea - but what a 2-edged sword! Even if one finds out the ending might be worth finishing the read/viewing, the slog may be even worse once the ending is known. So the conundrum remains... to seek the spoiler? Or continue in blind hope? Or simply commence with the throwing...?
>140 pgmcc: wow. Thanks for explaining your entirely justified actions.
RESEARCH, authors, do your RESEARCH.
One of the things I enjoy about Louis L'Amour books is they are accurate. People have reported that they have located where his stories took place by only using the descriptions in his books. L'Amour explored the locales he used.
>141 MrsLee: Sounds like I may be in the minority here, but I liked Artemis. It was a very different book from The Martian, though.
In reading The Memoirs of a Medieval Woman, I find myself both enjoying it and being annoyed. The author gives a great picture of what was happening in the world around Margery Kempe. I only wish that she didn't make her contempt of Margery so plain. She mocks her. She will give a snippet of a quote, then make snide remarks. Now granted, some of what Margery says may well be odd and outrageous to our modern minds, but I would rather make up my own mind about that. However funny people of history seem to us today, it is important to try to understand where they were coming from at that time. We can walk away shaking our heads and saying, "Wow, glad I live now and not then" but it behooves us to try to understand them.
Finished Artemis yesterday. On the whole, I enjoyed it. A fast-paced caper. I was thinking about Jazz and why I didn't care for her.
I began a mystery by Dick Francis, Forfeit. I enjoy his books every now and then, although they don't live on my shelves.
>146 MrsLee: I think my biggest problem with Jazz was
The story itself still held my attention well, though. I’m glad you enjoyed it pretty well too despite the issues with Jazz!
>139 catzteach: Same here, I really enjoyed The Martian and not Artemis. Sure, he fixes everything and survives everything, but since the alternative is to give up and just die, I prefer that alternative.
I learned long ago not to finish books that I really can't stand. In the case of Artemis, I was listening to an audiobook and I think that actually made it worse.
>147 YouKneeK: That's what bothered me too, why have a character that makes so many poor decisions, mostly from the start?
>147 YouKneeK: Perhaps that is what makes the difference between her and Hans Solo. I don't think he made dumb mistakes. Been too long since I watched Star Wars to remember well though.
>150 -pilgrim-: One has to allow that people under pressure make mistakes that they would not do otherwise. And I dislike characters that are perfect.
I suppose the crucial question is whether the mistakes are plausible or plot-convenient.
With Han, it depends on what you call dumb mistakes. HE would call helping out the rebels one! (I think that is actually the point. We forgive "stupid" mistakes that makes the selfish character more human, but not when they are simply being selfish. )
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