BLBera's Reading in 2020 - Page 2
This is a continuation of the topic BLBera's Reading in 2020 - Page 1.
Join LibraryThing to post.
My name is Beth. I love books – talking about them, writing about them, reading about them. I also love to read with my granddaughter Scout.
I teach English at my local community college, so I am always looking for books I can use in my classes. I like to discover new writers.
I tend not to plan my reading, other than for my book club, which meets once a month.
This year I would like to read more nonfiction and increase my reading in translation.
Welcome to my thread. Lurk or stop and say hello.
You must read this!
In the Time of the Butterflies is based on the story of Las Marisposas, three sisters who were murdered by Trujillo. Set in the Dominican Republic, Alvarez fictionalizes their lives and struggles. Excellent historical fiction.
Plans for 2020 (always subject to change)
✔️January: The Bone Clocks with Ellen and Twin 1
March: Tracks with Twin 1, Ellen, Laura
August: The House of the Spirits - Ellen
Book Club Choices
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The French Lieutenant's Woman
An American Marriage
Go, Went, Gone
The Handmaid's Tale
The Phantom Tollbooth
Public Library Open Book Challenge
A book with a number in the title
A book by a celebrity or someone famous for something other than writing
A book about Russia or by a Russian author
📘 A book of short stories - Grand Union
📘 A book with parallel narrative - The Bone Clocks
A book about a president - real or fictional
An Own Voices novel
📘 A book by Agatha Christie And Then There Were None
A book narrated by a non-human
A book about incarceration
A book about nature/environment
An epistolary novel
A book of mythology or retelling of a myth
📘 A book with more than four words in the title A Long Petal of the Sea
Read in 2020
1. Grand Union
2. The Bone Clocks* 💜
5. Enchanted Islands*
6. Tricky Twenty-Two*
7. Will and Testament
8. The Dutch House
January Reading Report
Books read: 8
By women: 7
By men: 1
Short stories: 1
In translation: 1
- Audiobook: 1
- Physical copies: 4
From my shelves: 3
- Physical copies 3
- Gave away: 1
9. A Long Petal of the Sea
10. And Then There Were None* REREAD
11. No Fixed Line
12. The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee*
13. The Friend* REREAD
14. The Decent Inn of Death
*From my shelves
Happy New Thread, Beth. I like your idea of doing a Must Read This post. I need to borrow that. You get any snow, up your way?
>5 BLBera: Dodging that BB. I read it several years ago. Glad to see the book has another fan!
Happy new thread!
I'm glad you enjoyed In the Time of the Butterflies. I read it at about the same time I read The Feast of the Goat which also is set in Trujillo-era Dominican Republic--it made for a great pairing. I also enjoyed How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents which iwas Alvarez's first novel.
>13 mdoris: Thanks Mary.
>14 alcottacre: It is a good one, Stasia.
>15 AnneDC: Hi Anne. Thanks. Time of the Butterflies is also good read with The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Feast of the Goat is great as well although I had to skip over some of the torture.
I love Garcia Girls. Did you know Alvarez has a new novel coming out this year? I can't wait.
>16 weird_O: Hi Bill. Thanks.
Hi Beth. Will and Testament from your last thread looks right up my alley so I'm adding it to the wish list. And I also got selected to receive a copy of Paulette Jiles' new novel! Yay! Perhaps we can read it sort of together when we get our copies?
And okay, I'll look for a copy of In the Time of the Butterflies tomorrow while I'm bookstoring (as Richard called it). I mean, if you say I must read something, I take that seriously! 😀
Happy new thread, Beth. I sense a colour scheme for your thread toppers. Is that for the winter months?
Happy new thread, Beth.
I will look around for a copy of In the Time of the Butterflies.
Happy new one, Beth!
Your list of current reads is impressive.
I'm glad you're carrying on with the Read This! post. I have the Alvarez on my Kindle. Maybe this will be the year?
Hope you have a great weekend!
>18 EBT1002: I think you would like Will and Testament, Ellen. I think one needs to be patient because the narrator is so damaged, what one would expect after abuse as a child. And as a psychologist, I think you will appreciate how Hjorth wrote this. I can almost guarantee that you will love In the Time of the Butterflies.
>19 drneutron: Thanks Jim.
>20 Familyhistorian: Yes, it's still winter, Meg. We're expecting a boatload of snow on Sunday, so it will be white again.
>21 Berly: I love it! I used to play that song when I finished projects at work! Only a few people appreciated it. Have great weekend, Twin. I hope you're feeling better.
>22 charl08: Those are my two favorite of Alvarez's novels, Charlotte. I also love her collection of poetry The Woman I Kept to Myself and her essays Something to Declare. I am so excited that she has a new novel coming out this year.
>23 FAMeulstee: Thanks Anita. I think you might like it.
>24 katiekrug: Thanks Katie. And I finally finished one! I don't have as many threads as you do, so it's easier to come up with books to recommend.
Have a great weekend. We're expecting a ton of snow tomorrow night into Sunday, so I imagine that I will be shoveling show on Sunday.
Happy new thread, Beth. I like your posts of "currently reading" (in big, eye-catching covers) and "you must read this".
9. A Long Petal of the Sea begins during the Spanish Civil War and follows Catalan Victor Dalmao through sixty years of his life. As it becomes apparent that the war is lost, Victor and his family head for France. Eventually they end up in Chile.
This is fascinating history, and Allende admits that the characters are based on people she knows, and the historical personages and events are real. That may be part of the problem with the novel. The first 200 pages of this 300-page novel cover five years of Victor's life, while the last 100 pages cover fifty years. After arriving at part III, the characters take a back seat to the historical events. I am interested in the history, but I would have liked more than summaries of the characters in the later third of the novel.
Isabel Allende, who was Salvador Allende's goddaughter (her father was Salvador's sousing), is passionate about the years Salvador was president and the aftermath of life under Pinochet.
So, if this history interests you, pick up this novel -- just don't expect a lot of character development in the last 100 pages. I did like the novel; I learned about events that I didn't know about. For example, I didn't know that many Spanish refugees ended up in Chile. Allende also paints a vivid pictures of Chilean society.
10. And Then There Were None is a clever puzzle by Christie. I read it as part of my library's challenge. I do think she cheated a little on the reveal, but she did keep me guessing.
Hi Beth- Good review of A Long Petal of the Sea. I've read several by Allende, but I know I should read more. And darn it all, the last one I read, Of Love and Shadows, I didn't review and I am struggling to remember the plot.
I do remember The Time of the Butterflies. (not everything escapes my Swiss cheese brain). And as you say, it's nice to learn a bit of history.
>32 vivians: I know, Vivian. I lived in the Dominican Republic - after Trujillo was dead -- but I heard a lot of stories about him.
I think you might like the Allende.
>33 streamsong: Hi Janet - I didn't like some of Allende's more recent ones as well. I have liked her historical novels and those set in Chile the best. I liked this one although the characters in the last third got left behind. The history part was great, though.
Happy new thread, Beth.
>29 BLBera: The Spanish Civil War is also interesting to me too, so Allende's book will be on my list too.
>29 BLBera: I wondered about this one. Have you read other works by Allende?
I have only read The House of the Spirits and I read it eons ago, long before I found LT and therefore long before I could appreciate the magical realism of it. I haven't given anything else by her a try but I have occasionally considered a reread of The House of the Spirits; I think it's considered her most iconic novel.
I did pick up a copy of In the Time of Butterflies in Seattle -- the 25th anniversary edition.
Are you getting that predicted snow this weekend?
I've read quite a few by Allende. House of Spirits is one of my favorites, but I would like to reread it because I also read it eons ago. Island Beneath the Sea was another favorite.
You will love In the Time of the Butterflies - if you are interested in reading novels about Trujillo, that one, The Feast of the Goat and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao are my favorites.
I have quite a few Llosa on my shelves as well. I loved The War of the End of the World and Feast of the Goat.
I think it's supposed to start snowing late tonight and end tomorrow afternoon. It was sunny and dry today.
11. No Fixed Line is the latest Kate Shugak mystery from Dana Stabenow. One of the things I love about these books is the vivid setting. Stabenow gives us Alaska in all its wonder. In this one, as Kate travels through various out-of-the-way places, she thinks, "Viewing Alaska from the air was a sobering exercise in perspective, capable of making one small insignificant human being feel that much smaller and less significant."
In this one, a plane crashes in an isolated spot in the middle of the blizzard. Two small children survive. Who are they? Why was the plane flying during a blizzard? Kate, and the rest of the community have to figure out the answers. Page turner with a keen sense of Alaskan winter.
12. The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee
"This book is meant to tell the story of Indian lives, and Indian histories in such a way as to render those histories and those lives as something much more, much greater and grander, than a catalog of pain."
David Treuer's history of American Indian lives over the past century is a must read for those interested in American history. Treuer has done extensive research -- interviews, census information, historical documents, laws. Through this book, we get an overview of not only the history of how the US government has treated the American Indians, but also of how the Indians have adapted, survived and even thrived. Treuer ends with an overview of some of the activities happening now and looking to the future. By the way, there is a lot more going on than casinos.
I particularly liked that Treuer talks about his own experiences. As he notes in the end: "This book is, obviously, a mélange of history, reportage, and memoir." He also points out that others might have written very different books on the same topic.
>48 BLBera: I do want to get to this one. Too many books! Maybe the library will help me out when I get back from my trip. Interesting that he mixes his own experience with the history, too.
Might you get a snow day?
I hope you don’t get too much snow, Beth. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!
Hi, Beth! I've been keeping up with your thread but not posting. Thought I'd change things up today.
I've loved every Allende I've read, especially her early novels (House of the Spirits Portrait in Sepia Ines of My Soul) and Daughter of Fortune), save one. I just couldn't get into Zorro. Kept picturing the character from the 1950s TV show. My brain can get silly sometimes.
>49 charl08: It is really good, Charlotte. I also loved Rez Life. No snow day. The snow has stopped.
>50 Familyhistorian: Hi Meg - I think we got about eight inches. The upside is that my daughter and son-in-law came to help me clear my driveway, and I got to spend some time with Scout. :)
>51 Storeetllr: Hi Mary. Welcome. Lurk or post. I think I love Allende's early work the most as well. Zorro was OK, not one of the better ones.
>52 RebaRelishesReading: It is a good one, Reba.
Hi Beth! Just stopping by to view your thread - hoping to pop in frequently. Hope all is well :)
I have been meaning to read some Alvarez books so I will bump In the Time of Butterflies to the top of my list for this author - also noting that I have Feast of the Goat sitting unread on my bookshelf so I'll pull that down when I'm getting around to it.
Happy Sunday, Beth. Good review of Wounded Knee. I have added this one to my audio list. I remember loving Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, many years ago. It also really broke my heart.
Thread #2 is speeding along, Beth! All that snow sounds like good reading weather.
>54 brenzi: Bonnie - I read the Dee Brown book years ago. I think Erik read them together, but you really don't need to.
>55 vikzen: Hi Vik! Welcome. If you want a dose of fictionalized Dominican history, those are two good ones.
>56 msf59: Thanks Mark. This one is not such a heart breaker.
>57 ronincats: Yes it is, Roni. I have to pace myself. We got nine inches. I'll go over to your thread and pretend I live in a better climate. :)
>58 banjo123: Thanks Rhonda. I love Alvarez. I can't wait to read her new novel that is coming out this year.
>48 BLBera: Thanks for the excellent review, Beth. I will definitely seek that one out.
>44 BLBera: The War at the End of the World is the only Llosa that I've read. I also loved it. I want to read more of his work.
I'd also love to do a shared read of The House of the Spirits, maybe this summer? August? Or next year? Or after I retire? (LOL)
>47 BLBera: I adored the Kate Shugak mysteries when I read them long ago (before LT). Mutt is a great character and I agree that the setting is stunning. Is this a recent installment?
>48 BLBera: Adding that one to the wish list!
I received my copy of Simon the Fiddler today! I hope your ARC arrives soon, too.
>62 PaulCranswick: It's a good one, Paul.
>63 EBT1002: Ellen! I need to read more Llosa as well. I have several of his on my shelves. I've penciled in The House of the Spirits for August...
The one I just read is the latest. They are still good. I LOVE the setting. And Mutt is still around.
You will like The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee.
I am anxiously awaiting Simon the Fiddler. When do you think you'll read it?
>67 alcottacre: It's a great series, Stasia.
>68 Copperskye: I would start with The House of Spirits, Joanne. I haven't liked her later work, such as The Japanese Lover as much.
>69 vivians: Hi Vivian. Would you like my copy of Simon the Fiddler when I have finished? It's yours. I think I have your address, but I'll check with you when I have read it. I hope to get to it in the next week or so.
Well, I just lost my post. I suppose if I rewrite this, it will magically reappear, and I'll have two. Oh well.
>67 alcottacre: Hi Stasia - I do love the Kate Shugak series.
>68 Copperskye: Hi Joanne. Start with The House of Spirits. I like her early stuff the best.
>69 vivians: Hi Vivian. Would you like my copy of Simon the Fiddler when I have finished it? It's yours. I think I have your address, but I'll check with you when I have read it. I hope to get to it next week.
>71 BLBera: I usually have to force a page refresh to get the 'new' post to show up. (but I don't know if this is the same thing!)
My book club met and discussed The Friend today. There were five of us there. Two of us loved the book, one person liked parts, one did not finish and one did not like it. The two who did not appreciate it didn't like the lack of plot. When we discussed it, the one who did not finish it said that she would go and look at it again.
We loved the descriptions of the students, two of us are teachers, and could appreciate the humor. Strangely enough, there was also discussion that pertains to the current American Dirt discussion. The narrator is remembering a conversation she had with her friend. He was complaining about the lack of esteem for writers: "The privileged shouldn't write about themselves, because that furthers the agenda of the imperialist white patriarchy. But they also shouldn't write about other groups, because that would be cultural appropriation." One of the members had read American Dirt, and she was aware of the discussion surrounding it. Anyway, we discussed the fact that this isn't a new conversation, and it won't end here.
It was a good discussion.
I enjoyed my reread of the book.
Happy Friday, Beth. I can't believe I have not got to The Friend yet. What the heck? It sounds like my cuppa. Have a great weekend.
>78 BLBera: I read that one last year on your recommendation, and I enjoyed it. It sounds like your book club did a great job of discussing — sometimes it's helpful when not everyone likes or dislikes a book, especially if you've got a group of people who can articulate the why of their reaction.
14. The Decent Inn of Death
While I enjoyed revisiting the characters from previous books in this series, I would have liked more of Madden and less of Angus Sinclair. I thought the book dragged a little in the middle, that there could have been a little less snow.
In this one, John Madden and his wife are vacationing in Venice, so Sinclair is on his own. When visiting friends in a neighboring county, he becomes interested in a suspicious death. He starts to investigate on his own, landing him in the middle of an international manhunt, and snowed in in an isolated house near Oxford. The solution seems apparent early on, or is it?
Fans of the series will enjoy this, but it's not one of the best.
Hi Mark - Have a great weekend.
Ellen, I'm finishing a library book now and then will be ready to start Simon the Fiddler.
>81 rosalita: Hi Julia. I've missed you. The Friend was a good book for discussion. And you're right. Discussions are better when people don't agree. Some in our group are better at articulating their opinions, but overall, it is a good group. And we have some good books chosen for this year.
>78 BLBera: Sounds like a good meeting. I am still reading my book club book, the meeting is this week. The author (of The Lido)got a big advance for the book and is young- 24 when she got the deal. I like the swimming bits, and she writes very well, but it's a bit too conventional for my taste. I shall probably get to the meeting and find I am in the minority (given that it has sold very well here).
>84 paulstalder: Thanks!
>85 charl08: It was a good discussion. On person who wasn't there emailed me, and I wish she had been there. She was disturbed by the friend's womanizing and was surprised that the author portrayed him as she did in the #METoo era. I thought that was a really interesting comment and would have provoked more discussion.
Well, Scout and I had a sleepover last night. It was last minute. She was mad at her mom and told her that "Tita gives me anything I want. She makes my dreams come true." I'm still laughing. Anyway, we read a lot. She loves She Made a Monster and Brave Girl.
The one about Mary Shelley talks about how people thought Shelley's mother was terrible because she thought women were equal to men. The other one is about Clara Lemlich who helped to organize the garment workers in 1909. Anyway as we were reading these books, Scout commented, "Yeah, I hear about girls not being good enough in school." We talked about that a little and decided that the boys don't know what they are talking about. So we had fun, read a lot of books, and learned something.
>78 BLBera: Cultural appropriation is a bit of a sensitive topic, Beth, but it is also one which is being increasingly used in the attempt to set limits on intellectual freedom and encourages ethnic segregation. References to each others cultures and ethnicities if done with care, proper research and context can be very helpful in promoting cultural empathy.
I guess the important thing is that often there has been a lack of care, research and context in some of the writing.
>88 banjo123: Scout rocks, Rhonda. I am so lucky that she lives close by.
>89 Copperskye: Joanne, it wasn't horrible. If you like the series, you will like it. Just not one of the best.
>90 PaulCranswick: Hi Paul. It is a sensitive topic. I don't think it's being used to limit intellectual freedom, but rather that we are hearing more voices that have previously been silenced, voices that are demanding to tell their own stories. I agree that everyone has the right to write what they choose, and good research is important. It's an important discussion.
>91 Donna828: I'm ready to start, Donna. Do join us!
Good morning, Beth! I saw over on Susan's thread that you are contemplating a read of Wolf Hall at some point. I have also resolved to read it this year, so perhaps we could coordinate?
>93 rosalita: Perfect, Julia. When are you thinking you'd like to read it?
15. Grass is a graphic novel that focuses on the experiences of one of the comfort women. The drawings are quite wonderful, and the author uses black and white effectively to portray the experiences of Lee Ok-sun. For example, when she was first raped by Japanese soldiers, they have no faces, just black ovals.
>82 BLBera: A series not on my radar until now. Adding it to my Overdrive lists. Copies are available now, but I've got a bunch of ARCs and need to make progress on those first.
>94 BLBera: I'm pretty wide open on timing. I actually have a copy so I'm not dependent on getting it from the library.
>97 rosalita: Or we could read it in July and discuss it when we meet? Are you thinking a July meet up again this summer?
I'd love to have a meet-up in July, Beth! Perhaps we should aim for May or June for reading Wolf Hall, to allow for last-minute interruptions? I have an e-copy but my impression is that it's a bit of a chunkster. :-)
Scout commented, "Yeah, I hear about girls not being good enough in school."
Ugh - is she hearing this from the boys in her class? Who are 6? Holy carp - what are their parents teaching them?!! It's depressing. It's lucky she has you to make all her dreams come true :-)
Wolf Hall *is* long, but it's so, so good that it reads up very quickly. I need to finish my current giant fantasy novel and get on with Bring Up The Bodies, or I might be in the terrible position of having book 3 come in for me at the library despite not having reread book 2. It's getting a ton of publicity here - Waterstones keeps emailing with a special signed copy with all the prettiness, and tickets to an author event.
Beth, I heard Isabel Allende interviewed and thought of you. Really lovely interview with an interviewer who seemed genuinely interested in the work. She talks about writing letters to her mother every day, and how her style has changed over time (as well as the new book).
https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p083ccrj (I think you can also get in the BBC's books and authors podcasts).
Hi, Beth. Just checking in. How is Simon the Fiddler coming along? I have a copy waiting in the wings too.
Just checked my Kindle (which I usually only read from when traveling by other than car) and found Wolf Hall sitting there waiting for me. We'll be on a cruise this coming fall so I'll probably read it then
Hi Beth, getting caught up here - you're on fire yourself! I also love your You Must Read This posts, and I have dutifully added In the Time of the Butterflies to my list!
>100 rosalita:, Wolf Hall works for me. I might start a little sooner. My book group is reading The Overstory in June, and that's a long one as well.
>101 susanj67: Scout does get that message from the little boys. Yes, I exist to make her dreams come true. And it's great that we have some books with powerful girls.
>104 charl08: Thanks Charlotte; I will definitely listen to the interview.
>105 msf59: I am about 50 pages in, and I love Simon. Some great, descriptive writing so far.
>106 RebaRelishesReading: That sounds like a plan, Reba.
>107 AMQS: Thanks Anne. You will love In the Time of the Butterflies.
>108 katiekrug: Lurk away! I hope you are well.
>109 BLBera: Since Susan says it's a pretty fast read for all that it's a chunkster, would you rather wait until the start of July? I am honestly happy to do it whenever -- May, June, July or whatever works.
These re-reads of Hilary Mantel's first two Thomas Cromwell books are a good idea but Mantel is to be blamed by dawdling so badly in bringing out number three! She had promised it for several years and didn't manage to get it done. It is finally ready and it better be worth the wait!
>112 PaulCranswick: Not a re-read for me. I've never read either of the first two. But now that the end is in sight it seems like a good time to do it.
>113 rosalita: Best strategy of all Julia! Lovely to see you posting by the way. x
Me too, I am 2 Mantel books behind soon to be three. They are in the pile though. Loving the Scout stories.....
>110 rosalita: Really, any time works for me, Julia. Shall we play it by ear -- we've got a couple of months yet.
>111 brenzi: Yes, she is, Bonnie. Lucky she has a lot of support -- and good books to show how wrong those boys are.
>112 PaulCranswick: It will be interesting to see what people think of it, Paul. The expectations are certainly high.
>115 mdoris: Well, you could read Wolf Hall with Julia and me...
This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.