What are you reading the week of March 21, 2020?

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What are you reading the week of March 21, 2020?

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Mar 21, 2020, 1:59am

I started The Snail on the Slope by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, but then I received the new Inspector Montalbano novel The Safety Net. I've almost finished it, then I'll return to the Strugatsky brothers.

Mar 21, 2020, 7:11am

In the last couple of weeks, I finished The Testaments which was EXCELLENT and The Starless Sea which was lush and beautifully written, if lacking in meaning and completely vague. I loved it at first but lost interest in the last 150 pages (at 500 pgs, this is a long one).

Currently reading The Essex Serpent. Lots of reading time (in between cooking, baking, shopping for my mother & exercise) during this stay at home order in these scary times.

Edited: Mar 23, 2020, 7:11pm

Started this OverDrive audiobook ~

Eight Perfect Murders: A Novel by Peter Swanson
(book 1?/Boston/Malcolm Kershaw is a bookseller, classic crime fiction aficionado and murder suspect?)

OverDrive is a wonderful virus-period-stay-in-place service for booklovers!
Now, it is possible to sign up for an instant digital library card!!!!!!!!!

Mar 21, 2020, 11:53am

I'm just past the halfway point of The Mansion, the third novel in William Faulkner's "Snopes Family" trilogy. Whoo, boy! This Faulkner guy could write. :)

Mar 21, 2020, 1:36pm

I'm reading The Power by Naomi Alderman for my book club. It's a little weird to be reading a dystopian story during dystopian times, but at least I prefer the book's!

Mar 21, 2020, 2:51pm

I really wanted to read a biography of John Tyler, and I thought The Presidencies of William Henry Harrison and John Tyler would give me a bit more on John Tyler before he became president, but it's exactly as what's described on the tin. So, I'm putting it aside temporarily and have picked up a short bio of John Tyler by Gary May, part of the American Presidents series. I'm alternating it with The Thief of Always, which is feeling a bit too juvenile for me, but I will stay with it for now.

Mar 21, 2020, 7:25pm

>5 PaperbackPirate: That's on my list to read! Margaret Atwood gave it high praise!

Mar 21, 2020, 8:16pm

Just started Sourdough, by Robin Sloan. I enjoyed his Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Book Store, so am looking forward to this.

Finished Rick Bragg's The Prince of Frogtown, which is the final (?) piece of his family saga. It is, like the others (All Over But the Shoutin' and Ava's Man, beautifully written and incredibly difficult in spots due to the subject matter.

I should be getting more reading done than usual because of the self-quarantine situation. But I seem instead to be spending way too much time on the computer. Looking for some kind of human contact, I suppose!

Mar 21, 2020, 9:14pm

I finished Jean Stein's West of Eden and now I'm reading Hisham Matar's A Month in Siena. I'm also reading a collection of poems by Joyce Sutphen, Straight Out of View.

Mar 22, 2020, 2:00am

I'm about to finish Tiny Pretty Things by Dhonielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra.

Edited: Mar 22, 2020, 8:33am

Just finished Knight Awakening by Rebbeca Zanetti. Seemed appropriate to read a book after a pandemic has hit. This is a whole Series this is the last book in this line. Scorpius Syndrome

Mar 22, 2020, 10:58am

Still in the end of Cromwell in Mirror and the Light. This really did need an editory, there were some scenes that could have been trimmed or removed entirely. Still liking it tho its keeping me very engageds.

Also catching up on some mags that have been sitting around, NYer, Smithsonian, Archaeology Today. Keep me from too much online, need a break I think

Mar 22, 2020, 12:03pm

Started reading "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" Enjoying the science experiments with anecdotes.

Mar 22, 2020, 12:23pm

oh a boyfriend of mine in college had him for a professor, and we read that book together along with the sequel. We loved them, enjoy!

Mar 22, 2020, 3:51pm

Finished Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End with mixed feelings. It was really good right up to the point where it got preachy.

Now reading Daisy Jones and the Six and enjoying mightily. It's like This is Spinal Tap in book form.

Mar 22, 2020, 8:17pm

>16 ahef1963: I loved the Daisy Jones book-it was one of my favorites from last year.

Mar 23, 2020, 11:45am

Finished Grey and started Darker by E. L. James.

Mar 23, 2020, 1:20pm

>8 framboise: I liked it. My book club will have a lot to discuss!

Mar 23, 2020, 2:38pm

I finished The Thief of Always this morning - it was pretty good YA haunted house fare. Continuing with John Tyler and about to crack open The White Plague by Frank Herbert.

Mar 23, 2020, 3:13pm

I'm now about two-thirds of the way through Altamont by Joel Selvin which is horrible but fascinating. Compulsive reading and a must for any Rolling Stones fan.

Last year I read the Memoirs of Hector Berlioz. The composer venerated Virgil so I've started to read The Aeneid which I last read when I was about fifteen, and it's as good as I remember.

The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman is my current read-aloud book with my wife. I'd heard a heavily edited audio recording of the book years ago, but this is much better.

Mar 23, 2020, 4:58pm

I have just started on Far Bright Star by Robert Olmstead I know that I am going to enjoy as he is a wonderful writer, his phrasing is superb. I have just finished The Coal Black Horse by Robert, I highly recommend this author, especially is you like a great Western type read.

Mar 23, 2020, 9:00pm

>17 JulieLill: I also loved Daisy Jones and the Six. Great book!

I finished Daisy Jones in the wee hours of the morning, and am now looking for something else to read. I tried out Cloud Atlas but couldn't get into it right at the moment.

Mar 23, 2020, 10:13pm

Oh that is one of my fav books! It took me three times to get into it but wow once I did, it was quite a ride. Do not go see the movie, its horrible. Just sayin

Mar 23, 2020, 11:17pm

I finished reading Straight Out of View -- I've always liked Joyce Sutphen's poems and this collection deepened my feeling for her work.

I also finished Hisham Matar's A Month in Siena which is a perfect coda to The Return, his book about his search for his father. (You don't have to have read The Return to appreciate A Month in Siena) I suppose it's only the title, but I also thought about A Month in the Country as I read Matar's book. So much to think about in Matar's work. I look forward to his next book.

Now I'm reading Michael Holroyd's Lytton Strachey (the 1994 edition)

Mar 24, 2020, 1:37pm

Starting these two books:

OverDrive audiobook ~
The Knave of Hearts: Rhymes With Love by Elizabeth Boyle
(Book 5/Regency era/a wager leads to an unexpected romance)


OverDrive Kindle eBook Alexa will read to me ~
Wild Ride (Black Knights Inc. Book 9) by Julie Ann Walker
(spec-ops group disguised as a custom motorcycle shop/suspense and hot sex)

Mar 24, 2020, 2:20pm

>23 ahef1963: I loved Cloud Atlas but I put it down the first time I read it. I then watched the movie and then read the book.

Edited: Mar 24, 2020, 2:21pm

What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw!
Agatha Christie
4/5 stars
Agatha Christie proves herself again as a master mystery writer in this story of Mrs. McGuillicuddy, a woman on a train who witnesses a murder of a woman on a train passing hers. The authorities dismiss her claim as they can find no other witnesses or the body. Mrs. McGuillicuddy, a friend of Mrs. Marple, tells her the strange story of what she witnessed and if she could help. Mrs. Marple, then engages a smart, young woman, Lucy Eyelesbarrow to search the area where the body could have possibly been thrown off the train. Lucy ends up working for the Crackenthorpes who live near the tracks so she can search more for the body, not knowing that the body is hidden on their property. Very enjoyable!

Mar 24, 2020, 3:08pm

I finished and greatly enjoyed The Mansion by William Faulkner. This is the final novel in Faulkner's "Snopes Family" trilogy. The three novels tell the story of the arrival and expansion of the Snopes family as they arrive in the hamlet of Frenchman's Bend in fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi, expand into the town of Jefferson and eventually, in the person of their most successful member, Flem Snopes, rise to power and even respectability. The action is mostly seen throughout through the eyes of three characters, none of them a Snopes, who provide a perspective on the action that is in turn bemused, alarmed and outraged. One of the three, V.K. Ratliff, has the advantage of being a traveling sewing machine salesman who's secondary (or maybe primary) stock in trade is information received and offered. Gavin Stevens is the town's primary attorney and the county's attorney as well. He is also the intellectual and idealist of the group and the one who twice experiences the intense love that is one of the trilogy's central themes. The third perspective comes from Stevens' nephew Charles, who begins by narrating events that have happened before he was born but were only told to him, and ends by being a lawyer himself and World War 2 veteran.

The various Snopes have all (or almost all) one thing in common: they are "rapacious" (Faulkner's word for them, especially in the trilogy's second novel, The Town), with the "moral values of a wolverine." Some rise into state government or bank presidencies, some, at least figuratively, remain mean scrabblers in the dirt.

The overall theme of the trilogy seems to be the ways in which the rural American South was thrown completely off the rails of American society and political progress by the Civil War and Reconstruction, and the long, tortuous, and inevitably bent process by which these regions slowly--achingly and tragically slowly--eventually drifted or were pulled back into something like actual participation with the country as a whole. Faulkner ruefully kicks over rocks and logs to show the anthills and mold thriving beneath. But, and this is important in understanding this work, he is also very frequently and very wryly quite funny.

Next up for me will be a couple of rounds of my "between books," followed by a reading of The Off-Islanders, otherwise known as The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming, and is the book on which the hilarious movie of the same name was based.

Mar 24, 2020, 4:33pm

Finished Darker by E. L. James and started a re-read of Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay.

Edited: Mar 24, 2020, 4:44pm

hee, that is the first movie I remember seeing in a theatre!! Didn't realized it was based on a book

>30 seitherin: have you read anything else by Gabriel Kay? Loved his two about the justinan, and several others. Haven't read his newer books in a while because they started to sound alike. Tigana was good

Mar 24, 2020, 5:52pm

>23 ahef1963:, >27 JulieLill: A friend of mine lent me Cloud Atlas, telling me that she couldn't figure out what was going on and maybe I could. When I started reading it, I thought the book was defective! Then I figured it out and LOVED it. And I thought they did a great job with the movie. That's a book I would read again sometime.

Mar 25, 2020, 10:10am

Dear Mrs Bird – A J Pearce
Digital audio performed by Anna Popplewell

From the book jacket: London 1940, bombs are falling. Emmy Lake is Doing Her Bit for the war effort, volunteering as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. When Emmy sees an advertisement for a job at the London Evening Chronicle, her dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent seem suddenly achievable. But the job turns out to be typist to the fierce and renowned advice columnist, Henrietta Bird. Emmy is disappointed, but gamely bucks up and buckles down.

My reactions:
This had more substance than I originally thought based on the book jacket. Mrs Bird has some strict guidelines for the letters she’ll tackle – NOTHING unpleasant! No mention of sexual relations (in or – heaven forbid! – out of marriage), nothing about divorce, or complaints about the hardships endured during wartime, and she doesn’t want any letters that should belong to the food columnist, either! It seems that Emmy’s task is to toss just about every letter into the bin. But her heart breaks for the predicaments some writers convey, and when they give an address and ask for a personal response, well, Emmy just can’t help but respond.

Of course, there’s the personal drama of a young woman during wartime - a fiancé who is fighting in France, and a best friend who is trying to plan a wedding amidst the continuous bombing of London during the Blitz. Emmy is torn trying to be all things to all people and gets caught in a web of deceit that seems so innocent at the beginning.

I’m way past this stage in my own life and didn’t really relate to the characters. Oh, I recognized myself and my friends at that age, but “been there, done that” and I don’t really need to read about it again. The person I liked best was Emmy’s boss. Still, it was an entertaining, fast read, and I can see why it might be marketed for book groups.

Anna Popplewell does a fine job performing the audio version. I loved her interpretation of Mrs Bird! She set a good pace and I was never confused about who was speaking.

Mar 25, 2020, 11:46am

I finished The Grief of Others, an exploration of the ramifications of a tragedy upon a whole family told from each member's point of view. Enjoyed it

Edited: Mar 25, 2020, 3:19pm

OK, it was a round of my "between books" for me yesterday . . .

* “Ed Kennedy of the Associated Press Breaks the News of the Nazi Surrender” from A Treasury of Great Reporting: "Literature Under Pressure" from the Sixteenth Century to Our Own Time edited by Louis L. Snyder
* “How to Win Cannibals and Influence Natives” from Magazine Digest - August 1949 edited by Murray Simmons
* “The Duel that Failed” from Leaves in the Wind by Alpha of the Plow (a.k.a. A. G. Gardiner)
* “Shiloh” by W. W. Worthington from The Union Reader edited by Richard B. Harwell
* “The Empty Bottle” from Tierra del Fuego by Francisco Coloane
* “The Morgan Score” by Jack Higgins from Great Irish Tales of Horror edited by Peter Haining - Newly added
* “Wanted – A Butler” by Struthers Burt from Scribner's Magazine - March, 1936 - Newly added

One more round of the "betweeners" today.

Mar 25, 2020, 3:42pm

>31 cindydavid4: I've read all of Kay's novels. Whenever I replace a paper copy with an ebook version, I usually do a reread. That's why I've got Tigana in my rotation.

Finished Nevernight by Jay Kristoff. Really enjoyed it. Added Godsgrave, the second book in the trilogy, to my rotation.

Mar 26, 2020, 4:20am

I'm currently on Nick Webb's Victory, the third installment in a military sci-fi series. It's a compelling series if you love space battles and world-threatening. The first installment, Constitution was strong, the second one, Warrior, was good but not as good as the first one. I just started Victory and am hopeful that it will return to the strength of the first one.

Mar 26, 2020, 8:38am

Finished John Tyler yesterday - a short bio of a not-very-good president - and continuing with The White Plague, by Frank Herbert of Dune fame, about a man who creates a plague that kills only women, in revenge of having his wife and two children killed in Dublin during a terrorist bombing. And have The Garden of the Finzi-Continis on deck.

Edited: Mar 26, 2020, 12:56pm

As mentioned early yesterday, I'd decided on a second round of "between books" . . .

* “from ‘Maggie May” from Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung by Lester Bangs
* Excerpt from Memoir of a Modernist’s Daughter by Eleanor Munro from The Norton Book of Women's Lives edited by Phyllis Rose
* “Humor as I See It” from Laugh with Leacock by Stephen Leacock
* "Ruth Simmons" from American Heroines: The Spirited Women who Shaped Our Country by Kay Bailey Hutchison
* “Emergency Room Notebook, 1977” from A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin
* “We Belong Together” from Living in the Weather of the World by Richard Bausch
* “The Crisis and the Constitution – Part IV: The Roosevelt Record—Has the President Thought it Through?” by James Truslow Adams from Scribner's Magazine - March, 1936

Now I've started The Off-Islanders by Nathaniel Benchley. This is the novel upon which the hilarious movie, The Russians Are Coming The Russians Are Coming was based. In fact, my copy is a movie tie-in paperback with the latter title rather than the former. And, wow, other than the basic concept of the storyline, which is that of a Russian submarine becoming caught on a sandbar off of an island near Cape Cod and the ship's captain sending a detachment onto the island to hijack a boat to tow the sub off the sandbar, the book and the movie are very different both in plot and tone. I'll have more on this when I review the book, quite possibly tomorrow.

Mar 26, 2020, 7:54pm

>38 LisaMorr: The Garden of the Finzi-Continis on deck

Loved that book. BTW the movie is an excellent adaptation, well worth watching.

Mar 26, 2020, 7:56pm

>39 rocketjk: one of the first movies I remember seeing in a theater, didn't realize it was from a book. I remember everyone cracking up watching it, But im interested to hear how the book is different

Mar 27, 2020, 2:44pm

>40 cindydavid4: Good to know! Thanks.

Mar 27, 2020, 3:34pm

>41 cindydavid4: I finished The Russians Are Coming The Russians Are Coming. You can see my comments about the book on my 50-Book Challenge thread: https://www.librarything.com/topic/315064

Mar 27, 2020, 9:45pm

The new new thread is up over here.

>29 rocketjk: You've really got me itching to dig through the boxes in my closet to find my copies of the Snopes Trilogy. I went through a Faulkner phase in my early twenties, but burned out before I read those books.

Mar 27, 2020, 10:51pm

>45 fredbacon: I highly recommend them. Probably a good way to return to Faulkner after several years away from his work.

Edited: Mar 28, 2020, 12:23pm

>44 rocketjk: I have seen the movie but did not know it was a book.