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BLBera's Reading in 2020 - Page 3

This is a continuation of the topic BLBera's Reading in 2020 - Page 2.

75 Books Challenge for 2020

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Mar 24, 3:10pm Top

Since spring is coming, I thought I would use the cover of a book that Scout loves as my topper.

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. This is the most social interaction I get during a day during this END OF DAYS!

Edited: Apr 2, 7:31pm Top

Currently Reading

Edited: Mar 24, 7:36pm Top

You Must Read This!
I think during these days of social isolation, we need to laugh. One of the funniest books ever:

If you only read "The Night the Bed Fell," this collection will be worth it. Enjoy. This is my ratty, mass market paperback copy that has seen better days. I laugh out loud every time I read it.

Edited: Mar 24, 3:28pm Top

Plans for 2020 (always subject to change)
Shared Reads:
✖︎January: The Bone Clocks with Ellen and Twin 1
✖︎ March: Tracks with Twin 1, Ellen, Laura
June: Wolf Hall - with Julia?
August: The House of the Spirits - Ellen

Book Club Choices
✖︎The Friend
✖︎The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The French Lieutenant's Woman
The Overstory
An American Marriage
Midnight's Children
Go, Went, Gone
The Handmaid's Tale
Miss Emily
The Phantom Tollbooth

Edited: Mar 30, 7:15pm Top

Other Possible Reads for 2020

Women's Prize for Fiction Longlist
Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara
Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
📘Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
📘Dominicana by Angie Cruz
Actress by Anne Enright
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
Nightingale Point by Luan Goldie
A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes
📘How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee
The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo
The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel
Girl by Edna O’ Brien
📘Hamnet by Maggie O’ Farrell
📘Weather by Jenny Offill
📘The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
📘Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

Edited: Apr 1, 2:37pm Top

March 2020
22. Still Waters
23. Hate that Cat*
24. Tracks* REREAD
25. Queenie
26. Weather
27. The Private Patient* REREAD
28. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn* REREAD
29. So You Want to Talk About Race
30. Dominicana* 💜
31. Indelicacy
32. House of Trelawney
33. How We Disappeared
34. The Night Watchman
35. Norse Mythology
36. Hamnet* 💜
37. New and Selected Poems 2

March Reading Report
Books read: 16
By women: 14
By men: 2
Novels: 14
Poetry: 1
Essays: 1
In translation: 1

Library: 10
- Audiobook: 2
- Physical copies: 8

From my shelves: 6
- Physical copies: 4
- Ebooks: 2


*From my shelves

Edited: Mar 24, 3:40pm Top

Read in 2020
1. Grand Union
2. The Bone Clocks* 💜
3. Cantoras
4. Monument*
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
Novels: 6
Poetry: 1
Short stories: 1
In translation: 1

Library: 5
- 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
15. Grass
16. American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin
17. Simon the Fiddler* 💜
18. Summer Hours at the Robbers Library*
19. Abigail 💜
20. Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick
21. Gender Queer: A Memoir

February Reading Report
Books read: 13
By women: 9
By men: 3
Nonbinary: 1

Novels: 9
Poetry: 1
Short stories: 1
Memoir: 1
Nonfiction: 1
In translation: 3

Library: 8
- Physical copies: 8

From my shelves: 5
- Physical copies: 3
- Ebooks: 2
- Gave away: 1

Mar 24, 3:17pm Top

I have waited three minutes and you didn't add anything, so I am thinking it is safe to post. And now I get to wish you this twice!!

Mar 24, 3:20pm Top

Happy new thread! OH! I just recently bought a copy of My Life and Hard Times! Need to find it.

Edited: Mar 24, 3:33pm Top

>8 Berly: Your wish is my command. Yes, thanks for the balloons. Happy Tuesday back at you.

>9 AMQS: Hi Anne - I still think it's one of the funniest collections ever. I'm going to get it out again.

Mar 24, 3:32pm Top

Happy new thread!

Mar 24, 3:33pm Top

Thanks Jim. Well, I have just talked to more people here than I have all day!

Mar 24, 3:34pm Top

Heh, that would be true for me too if it weren't for work telecons on Webex... 😀

Mar 24, 3:41pm Top

That will change next week when my classes start. I have had a couple of students email me today...

Mar 24, 4:24pm Top

Happy new thread!

Edited: Mar 24, 4:34pm Top

>3 BLBera: you snagged me Beth.

Mar 24, 4:35pm Top

Happy new thread, Beth!

>3 BLBera: Thurber is one of the few authors that makes me laugh out loud. I think I have a weird sense of humor.

Mar 24, 4:36pm Top

Happy new one, Beth! Look forward to your thoughts on the new Erdrich.

Mar 24, 5:57pm Top

>18 katiekrug: me too! Hi Beth!

Mar 24, 6:57pm Top

Happy New Thread, Beth. How is everything going in MN? How is The Night Watchman? I also have that one waiting on shelf.

Mar 24, 6:57pm Top

Happy new thread!

Mar 24, 7:06pm Top

Happy new thread, Beth. I love your opening pictures - very spring-like!

Mar 24, 7:34pm Top

Hi Susan, Caroline, Stasia, Katie, Laura, Mark, Anita, and Judy. I hope I didn't miss anyone.

The Night Watchman is good so far; I'm about 100 pages in.

Stay well, everyone.

Mar 24, 8:12pm Top

Happy new thread Beth. I look forward to your review of The Night Watchman. i have it home from the library too and just waiting to polish off some other books before I start it.

Mar 24, 9:14pm Top

Happy new thread, Beth.

Mar 24, 10:12pm Top

Thanks Mary and Paul. I suspect we are all getting more reading done these days.

Mar 24, 10:57pm Top

Yay, Beth!!!! NOBODY like Thurber!!!!
I love his family's cook (maybe) who talked about her son in the silver service and seeing fletchers in the yard with the other birds and lots of other wonders. I felt a real affinity with him in biology when he was never able to adjust his microscope.
I'll hope to get back to your very active thread before it's miles long! Take care of yourself.

Mar 25, 4:02am Top

Happy new one Beth!

I am struggling to focus on a book, might treat myself to a digital copy of the Maggie O'Farrell or Anne Enright, as I have enjoyed their books in the past.

Mar 25, 8:50am Top

Hi Beth, and happy new thread.

Mar 25, 10:36am Top

Hi Peggy - Yes, I don't know why we don't still read him in school. I hope you are well. Strange days.

Hi Charlotte - Thanks. It is hard to concentrate. I was looking at my list of dystopian fiction and thinking I should read through the ones with pandemics, but that might be too much...

Hi Karen. Thanks.

Mar 25, 10:38am Top

Another Mary Oliver poem


Now through the white orchard my little dog
romps, breaking the new snow
with wild feet.
Running here running there, excited,
hardly able to stop, he leaps, he spins
until the white snow is written upon
in large, exuberant letters,
a long sentence, expressing
the pleasures of the body in this world.

Oh, I could not have said it better

Mar 25, 11:47am Top

Thanks for that exuberant M. Oliver poem. I love her!
I'm copying it for Lucy, whose little dog Fin adores that snow.

Mar 25, 11:49am Top

You are welcome, Peggy. I am really enjoying this collection; her attention to and reverence for nature are amazing. How's your mother? I imagine that her age is a concern for you. Take care.

Mar 25, 6:32pm Top

Well, our governor has issued a stay-home order as well. Teachers are exempt, so I can still go to my office, which will be empty, but it makes a change from my home. Virtual classes are still set to begin next week. I'm a little apprehensive about whether my students have the necessary technology, but we'll see, I guess.

I have the feeling I'll be doing a lot of reading and crafting. I'm pulling out my unfinished projects...

Mar 25, 7:25pm Top

Happy new thread, Beth!

Reading less these days, I am way too occupied following the news...

Mar 25, 10:01pm Top

Thanks Anita.

Mar 25, 11:15pm Top

Reading and crafting sound good to me, Beth! Hope your classes go smoothly.
Thank you. I am concerned about my mother. I'm doing my best to keep her safe, and that's all I can do.

Mar 26, 3:03am Top

>34 BLBera: Twin--Good luck with the lesson plans and with virtual technology next week. I am glad you get to have a change of scenery at least! Enjoy. And don't forget to tell us all about your craft projects. What's up first?

Mar 26, 7:49am Top

Hi, Beth. I hope your students are able to connect online — lack of home internet is a bigger deal than most of us normally think about. Iowa has set up "drive-up wi-fi hotspots" in a number of parking areas around campus so people can sit in their cars with their laptops and connect to the internet.

Mar 26, 9:02am Top

>37 LizzieD: Thanks Peggy. Hugs for you and your mom.

>38 Berly: Hey TwinK. How are you today? Take care. Did you get your Epipens? I will take some pictures to give you an idea of the scope of unfinished projects. :)

>39 rosalita: Hi Julia. I've been sending out emails to students asking about internet and computing availability. I've heard back from about a third, who are good. Only one student has to work on her phone. She would have the option of coming to campus to a computer lab, at least for the present.

Mar 26, 9:09am Top

Beth, I hope all your students can work something out to get connected.

>39 rosalita: Iowa's idea is a great one!

What's up first for your crafting projects?

Mar 26, 9:22am Top

Hi Susan:

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my students can get connected, but I suspect we'll lose some of them. It would help if 1. they check their emails and 2. they read instructions. There are resources for students who need them, but they have to follow instructions to go to the links. Sigh.

First project to finish: Pillowcases:

Mar 26, 10:16am Top

Happy new one, Beth! I love the topper illustrations. Also the Mary Oliver poem.

>3 BLBera: This was only $2 on Kindle currently, so I snagged it.

Good luck finishing the pillowcases - so cheerful!

Mar 26, 10:41am Top

>42 BLBera: Beth, the pillowcases are perfect for spring :-)

And I just bought the Thurber book too - it's £2.31 for Kindle here, and I copied Mamie because I am a copycat.

Mar 26, 11:40am Top

>43 Crazymamie: Hi Mamie. Enjoy the Thurber. Scout loves The Curious Garden, so it seemed like a good one. I am more than halfway with my pillowcase; I will finish it. It was the last thing my aunt asked me to do.

>44 susanj67: Hi Susan. Enjoy the Thurber. A copycat? I think not.

Mar 26, 11:47am Top

>42 BLBera: I am afraid you are not the only teacher worrying about this. My wife has expressed similar concerns about the ability of a number of her students being able to connect to virtual learning. Sadly, the ones that need the instruction the most are likely to be the ones that struggle to connect.

Mar 26, 2:23pm Top

Wow! >47 RebaRelishesReading: and I'm saying "happy new thread"!! That really went fast. Love your pillowcases and hope you have success with remote teaching. Keep the faith that this will all end eventually.

Mar 26, 5:47pm Top

Ooh the pillowcases are so pretty!

Mar 26, 6:29pm Top

>42 BLBera: Looks like a great first project to finish!

Mar 26, 9:31pm Top

>46 Oberon: We'll have to see how this turns out, Erik. Maybe something will be done, finally to address some of the inequities?

>47 RebaRelishesReading: It will slow down, Reba. They always go fast at the beginning. Thanks.

>48 lauralkeet: Thanks Laura.

>49 alcottacre: There are more of them, Stasia, so this is a good opportunity. I guess I can listen to audiobooks while I do them.

Mar 26, 9:55pm Top

Happy Newish Thread, Beth!

Mar 26, 10:27pm Top

Hi Beth. I am slowly poking my head up above water, trying to reconnect with the world. It has been a long haul with 12-16 hour days, no time for much reading or anything else. I think we are going into a slightly less intense week or two, although I expect it to kick back into crazy as cases in our area, and likely on our campus, increase.

I am trying to decide what to read next. I have Girl and Dominicana both in the wings.

I know we're all in social distancing territory but are you actually under "shelter in place" or "stay home, stay healthy" (as our governor called it) orders?

I hope you're hanging in there and still getting time with Scout.

Mar 26, 11:00pm Top

>43 Crazymamie: Lovely!
>39 rosalita: >46 Oberon: South Carolina apparently has wi-fi hookups on its buses, which are now parked in strategic neighborhoods. I wonder how long that will last.

Mar 26, 11:18pm Top

My first visit to say hello. I am reading more and more threads on LT as I fill my social isolation with some online-like-minded folks. I tried not starring too many but... well, I ended up dong that anyway!

I saw on your profile that you like to read a lot of women's memoirs. I didn't see Nell Painter's book in your library so I wondered if you might like to have a glance at it, Old in Art School. I read it last year and it was one of my best non-fiction reads.

Mar 27, 8:37am Top

>51 ronincats: Hi Roni, and thanks!

>52 EBT1002: Hi Ellen - I can't imagine how busy you are. I hope you get some down time soon. I hope you can get some runs in. I saw from your thread that your foot is better. Hooray!

I loved Dominicana and have yet to read Girl although I do have it checked out of the library. How fortunate that FOUR of the Women's Prize longest books came in before my library closed. I'm reading The Night Watchman now and think I might try The Most Fun We Ever Had next. "Classes" start on Monday. Fingers crossed that the technology works. I'm getting used to Zoom. Scout is coming over later.

>53 LizzieD: Hi Peggy. Thanks. I enjoy needlework, and this is a good excuse for finishing up some things.

>54 SandyAMcPherson: Hi Sandy. I have been cruising through threads as well. Thanks for the recommendation. I added it to my WL. I have a huge stack here; I used to teach a class on women's memoir, so I always had a few waiting in the wings.

Mar 27, 3:25pm Top

Our neighbor called a couple of days ago to ask if I minded if his daughter parked at the top of our driveway - she's home from Oberlin, they don't have wifi (long, rural story), and our house has line-of-sight to a cell phone tower. He didn't even need to ask, but now when I see a car up there I know who it is.

Mar 27, 8:40pm Top

Beth, my hair stylist shop closed down in early March. I see a a strange pony tail in my future. Supposedly they are to open in April 6th, but I highly doubt that. I love your topper. I looked into the book for my grand daughter, but thought it might be too old for a just turned 2 year old. What do you think ?

Mar 27, 8:56pm Top

>56 karenmarie: Hi Karen. Yes, there are hot spots all over here as well.

> 57 It might be a tad old for your granddaughter, Deborah. The pictures are lovely though, so she might enjoy those, and you could add the story later on.

Yes, I think there will be original hair around in the next little while. :)

Mar 27, 9:09pm Top

>42 BLBera: ohhh lovely Beth. Looks like a great way to while away some time.

Mar 27, 10:49pm Top

I hope the teaching via Zoom goes well.

Mar 28, 11:23am Top

>59 brenzi: Thanks Bonnie. I do have to take a break from reading from time to time. :)

>60 EBT1002: Fingers crossed, Ellen. One of the fears is that so many teachers will be using it that it will crash. Still, we can do what we can do.

Edited: Mar 28, 11:43am Top

34. The Night Watchman

My comments might sound critical, so first I want to say that almost anything Louise Erdrich writes is better than about 90 percent of what else is out there. I do think her earlier work (Tracks, Love Medicine) is her best work. Michael Dorris and Erdrich had a synergy that created magical works.

This novel is a bit of a departure for Erdrich. It's set on the Turtle Mountain reservation and the main character, Thomas Wazhashk, is based on Erdrich's grandfather, who was the tribal chairman during the time the novel takes place. He worked as a night watchman and fought the efforts in the 1950s to "emancipate" the Indians:

"Emancipated. But they were not enslaved. Freed from being Indians was the idea. Emancipated from their land. Freed from the treaties that Thomas's father and grandfather had signed and that were promised to last forever. So as usual, by getting rid of us, the Indian problem would be solved. Overnight the tribal chairman job had turned into a struggle to remain a problem. To not be solved."

As to be expected, Thomas is the most developed character in the novel. And that's part of the problem for me. There are other characters who piqued my interest, but they remained flat; it's almost as though when Erdrich takes her focus off Thomas, she is lost

There is a lot going on here. There is a secondary storyline that involves sexual exploitation of Native women. But it isn't fully explored and takes away from the Termination issue. Or at least, Erdrich could do more to show that if the tribe were terminated as a tribe, there were no options available. Life off the rez was not necessarily a good thing.

So, in the end, interesting novel about an interesting time period in Indian history. But I felt the same way about this novel that I felt about The Future Home of the Living God. It could have cooked a little longer.

Still, Erdrich fans will enjoy. I read in an interview that she thinks she might have said everything she has to say about her people, so who knows how many more books there will be? Each one is a gift.

Next: Hamnet arrived in the mail just as I finished The Night Watchman, so I took it as a sign.

Edited: Mar 28, 12:05pm Top

Happy New Thread, Beth.

Good review of The Night Watchman. I need to read more Erdrich!

Mar 28, 12:30pm Top

>63 jnwelch: Thanks, and YES, you do!

Mar 28, 3:40pm Top

Hi Beth, just located my copy of the Thurber I bought in November, I think, and now I have tears streaming down my face (from laughing so hard) after reading "The Night the Bed Fell." Now the dilemma is do I read them all now or space them out?

Mar 28, 4:02pm Top

>62 BLBera: I am sure I will get around to reading The Night Watchman, because, well, it's Erdrich. But it might be a while. Thanks for your honest review.

>65 AMQS: Thurber, huh? I could use some laughs. ; )

Mar 28, 4:22pm Top

1) Reading to your grand daugher Scout sounds like a great past time.

42) My mother loved embroidery. She tried to teach me, but I wasn't as good as she, and her critical comments didn't lend to my continuing my pursuit.

Mar 28, 4:25pm Top

Hi Beth - Happy New Thread!

I enjoyed your review of The Night Watchman. It will be a while before I have the right headspace to give it a go since Tracks whomped me in the heart. I've gotta guard against too many whomps right now as it feels like the universe is playing whack-a-mole ...

Mar 28, 5:00pm Top

>65 AMQS: Well, Anne, you could always reread them. I also recommend "The Dog that Bit People," "A big, burly, choleric dog, he always acted as if he thought I wasn't one of the family. There was a slight advantage in being one of the family, for he didn't bite the family as often as he bit strangers." :)

>66 Berly: Thurber is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face TwinK. I'll watch for your comments when you get to the Erdrich. I read two of hers this month!

>67 Whisper1: Reading to Scout is a lot of fun, Linda.

My grandma and aunt taught me embroidery. They were very forgiving, even when I sewed things to myself. Also, my aunt was left-handed, so friends tell me I do things backwards. :)

>68 streamsong: I know what you mean, Janet. Take care

Stay well all!

Mar 28, 5:35pm Top

>62 BLBera: Beth, the NYT reviewed The Night Watchman in this week's Book Review. I read the review this morning and thought, "I wonder what Beth will have to say about it?" So thanks for delivering LOL. The NYT review was favorable, but I appreciate the caveats in yours.

Mar 28, 5:49pm Top

I'll check it out, Laura. I like to save reviews for books I know I want to read until after I've read them.

Mar 28, 7:02pm Top

>69 BLBera: That sounds like my mother's last beagle. I've still got scars on my leg from his ambushes.

Mar 28, 10:37pm Top

Mar 28, 10:49pm Top

>69 BLBera: And I was so looking forward to getting a dog when I can eventually relocate back to the UK. Thinking a spaniel or a beagle (>72 quondame:?!).

Stay safe, Beth.

Mar 29, 12:00am Top

>74 PaulCranswick: Beagles are high maintenance hunters, but not bad pets. My mother had saved Orie from distemper, but it left an ugly skin condition and reduced mental capacity. Also he replaced another beagle I was really attached to, Xerxes. So we developed a strong mutual resentment. Orie's last mistake was to attack my mother's new love, the little dachshund Sam, the sweetest most special dog I have ever known.

Edited: Apr 1, 8:33am Top

Hi Beth!

I love the Thurber talk here - I've been a fan for a very long time but haven't read any in a very long time. I've just pulled 92 Stories and will try to read a couple of them each day for a while to lighten my mood.

>69 BLBera: Also, my aunt was left-handed, so friends tell me I do things backwards. :) I think I was supposed to be left-handed but probably got 'corrected' young as far as writing goes, but I play cards left-handed and throw a ball with my left hand but there were only righties in the neighborhood so had to use a rightie mitt, catch the ball, whip the mitt off, then throw with my left hand. I never thought about it at all, but my right-handed daughter plays cards left-handed because of me.

Edited: Mar 29, 9:07am Top

Happy newish thread, Beth! Hope your online class is going well. Had to giggle about kids not reading instructions. Off to see if Thurber is still $2 on Kindle. Take care and stay well.

ETA: Yeah, got it for 2 bucks!

Mar 29, 9:20am Top

Happy Sunday, Beth. I hope you are doing well. Good review of The Night Watchman. I have a copy on shelf, so I plan to get to it, in the coming weeks.

Mar 29, 11:03am Top

>74 PaulCranswick: Hi Paul - Dogs are great. I've never had a biter.

>75 quondame: Hi Susan - Yes, it sounds like Orie was a tough dog!

>76 karenmarie: Karen - I had forgotten also how good a writer Thurber is. I'm in the same boat as you with handedness, Karen. ALL of my siblings are lefties, which is very rare. Of the fifteen grandchildren, half are lefties.

>77 Carmenere: Thanks Lynda. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the classes go well. I think Thurber is in the public domain, so you can probably find a pdf online for free.

>78 msf59: Happy Sunday to you, Mark. Stay well. You will like The Night Watchman, I think.

Stay well everyone!

Mar 29, 11:07am Top

>76 karenmarie: I'm left handed although for some reason I play cricket, golf and tennis right handed and am right footed with soccer.

I write and play the guitar (well sort of) left handed and am generally pretty clumsy with the right.

>79 BLBera: I don't want a giant dog. My brother has an American Akita which I find very unnerving.

Mar 29, 11:17am Top

Big dogs are hard if you live in the city. They need a lot of exercise.

Mar 29, 12:52pm Top

35. Norse Mythology
I'd wanted to listen to Gaiman's reading, and this worked really well as an audiobook. Each chapter is a different story about the Norse gods, so it was easy to stop and then start again later. Although some stories referred to earlier events, it was easy to keep the thread of the narrative in my head. Gaiman is a good reader, expressive yet unobtrusive. I will look for more of his work read by him.

Mar 29, 6:17pm Top

Hi Beth! Maybe I will look for some Thurber to read. Somehow, my TBR pile is full of heavy reading.

Mar 29, 6:26pm Top

I'm a big Erdrich fan Beth, but her early work is definitely her best work in my opinion. I don't think she'll ever surpass Love Medicine. And I also loved The Crown of Columbus which she wrote with Michael Dorris before his untimely death. Recently I liked The Round House.

Mar 29, 6:33pm Top

>83 banjo123: I'm pretty sure you can find it for free online, Rhonda. His stories are hilarious.

>84 brenzi: I agree, Bonnie. I think The Round House is her best later work, but certainly what she created with Michael Dorris is her best work. I haven't read Crown of Columbus. That is another treat waiting for me. There are only a few of hers that I haven't read, and most of the ones that I have read, I've read more than once.

She reads her books, so I would like to listen to her reading as well.

Mar 29, 7:45pm Top

Crown of Columbus is one of my favorites of her early work. For some reason, I had stopped picking up her later works.

Are you working at home/staying at home? Do you still get to see Scout in person? I have four grandchildren and FaceTime just isn't enough.

Stay safe.

Mar 29, 8:01pm Top

Hi Jan:

I am in my office (alone) briefly each day, but all my classes are virtual, so most of the time I am home. I get to see Scout; she and her parents are home as well.

You stay safe as well.

Mar 29, 11:24pm Top

Oh, I'll be interested in your thoughts on Hamnet, Beth. By the way, there is list and ranking for the Women's Longlist here https://www.librarything.com/list/21371/all/2020-Womens-Prize-for-Fiction-Longli...

Raidergirl aka Elizabeth created it and so far there are several people ranking books that they have read , including me, Charlotte, Bonnie and Mary and others. All are welcome! The more participants, the better!

Mar 30, 1:18am Top

Good luck with the virtual teaching tomorrow!!

Mar 30, 8:15am Top

Good luck virtual teaching! How cool that you can do that :)

Mar 30, 9:50am Top

I hope you have better attendance this week. I really feel for all those kids trying to develop new work habits and skills. Will you be moving to Pass/Fail grading? I know my daughter's school is considering that option but no decision has been made.

My audio of The Mirror and the Light is fantastic beyond all expectations. I am really savoring it, and find myself not wanting to get through it too fast.

Mar 30, 10:43am Top

>88 vancouverdeb: Thanks Deborah

>89 Berly: Thanks TwinK! It will be good to see the students' faces.

>90 ChelleBearss: Technology is wonderful, Chelle. I will be anxious to see how it works for my granddaughter and daughter.

>91 vivians: Hi Vivian. Good to know that audio is a good format for The Mirror and the Light. How many hours is it? I am starting to embrace audio as I craft these days.

Mar 30, 10:50am Top

>82 BLBera: expressive yet unobtrusive

Interesting take on what makes a good reader, Beth - well observed, I think.

Stay safe. xx

Mar 30, 1:27pm Top

Thanks Paul. Stay well.

Mar 30, 7:24pm Top

36. Hamnet
I loved this novel. Now I'm trying to describe what strikes me about it. O'Farrell has written a novel about a family: the father (who is never named), the wife Agnes, and three children: Susanna, Judith and Hamnet. O'Farrell has taken and used the few existing details of Shakespeare's life and created a family we learn to love. Especially Agnes, as she grieves for her son. This brought tears to my eyes:

"She cannot understand it. She, who can hear the dead, the unspoken, the unknown, who can touch a person and listen to the creep of disease along the veins...She cannot find, cannot locate the spirit of her own child. She waits in these places, she keeps her ear tuned, she sifts through the sounds and wants and disgruntlements of there, noisier, beings, but she cannot hear him, the only one she wants to hear. There is nothing. Just silence."

The description is marvelous -- from the beginning scene of the empty house when Hamnet is searching for help because Judith is sick, to the end, with the play -- the detailed setting allows us to experience this family's life.

There is a depth of feeling and sense of loss here, but there is also the play, in the end. These lives will never be forgotten.

Wonderful historical fiction. I know I will return to sections of this novel again and again.

Mar 31, 1:08am Top

Lovely review Beth, of Hamnet. That is a book I've been considering ordering from the Book Depository. You make a compelling case for the purchase of Hamnet.

Mar 31, 2:21pm Top

Thanks Deborah. I loved it, but O'Farrell is one of my favorite authors.

Mar 31, 2:28pm Top

>95 BLBera: I've pre -ordered this on the kindle, it's not out yet here. I'm being patient. Well, a bit.

I just saw an advert for a new Julia Alvarez, I wondered if it was already in your TBR.

Mar 31, 2:53pm Top

Oh yeah, the new Alvarez is on my WL. Lots of good stuff coming. Eventually. In the meantime, thanks for Book Depository and Amazon. And I do have a few things to read on my shelves. I still have 12 library books as well.

Edited: Mar 31, 3:36pm Top

37. New and Selected Poems 2

This is a wonderful collection; I've shared some of the poems. It's interested to see how her style and tone have changed over the years. The poems are from collections ranging from 1994 to 2005. I love her close observation of nature.

Mar 31, 5:19pm Top

Hi, Beth! Is it too late to say Happy New Thread?

>82 BLBera: I also enjoyed Gaiman's reading of Norse Mythology. I love the audios of Neverwhere (a personal favorite and The Graveyard Book, both read by him. His reading of Ocean at the End of the Lane was also enjoyable. Not much he sets his hand to that I haven't loved (including Good Omens, the book and the Amazon adaptation).

Mar 31, 5:47pm Top

Hi, Beth. I've sent Spring along your way--you should be seeing it any day now!

Mar 31, 6:10pm Top

Beth, I've been AWOL lately. I may take the opportunity to keep up better with LT now that I am homebound, but then, I have all my books staring at me with high hopes! Also, I'm not feeling very chatty these days. Sadness, worry, all the things that go along with a pandemic…

>34 BLBera: I'll read the new Erdrich if and when the library opens again. I think I was pretty far up in the hold queue. I was disappointed with Future Home of the Living God so won't expect too much from this one either. As you said, though, 'almost anything Louise Erdrich writes is better than about 90 percent of what else is out there'. I heartily concur.

I know a lot of people have and will learn well online, but I know I would prefer the classroom setting. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out and what the future of learning will be. Stay well!

Mar 31, 7:56pm Top

>101 Storeetllr: It's never too late, Janet. I've been thinking I wouldn't mind listening to him read Good Omens; I thought the book was hilarious.

>102 ronincats: Thanks Roni, the sooner, the better. Today was pretty nice, but the dreaded "S" word is in the forecast again.

>103 Donna828: Hi Donna. I spend so much time on my computer for school, that I don't have the desire to chat too much, either. Stay well.

Mar 31, 11:16pm Top

It's been a while since I told a Scout story, so here's a sad one.

She has a scooter named Darla that she loves. It has a crazy horn that I bought her for her birthday. She always told her mom that she would never sell it, that she would save it for her children. Well, my daughter called me today, asking if Darla was at my house. It wasn't. They had looked everywhere and couldn't find it. So, they started driving around town when they remembered they had taken it to a park for her to scoot around on the bike paths. They had forgotten it there. They found it, but it was trashed. Someone had stolen the horn and totally bent it out of shape. She said Scout cried for ages. So, Darla, RIP.

On the upside, their new puppy, Willie is a good boy, and Jane Goodall is much happier with a companion once again. Annie cat ignores Willie, while June enjoys playing with him.

Mar 31, 11:23pm Top

Lovely review of The Night Watchman, Beth. It's one I have not read.

>95 BLBera: You know I'm on a mission to find a copy of Hamnet. I emailed Elliott Bay Books this evening since ordering on line doesn't seem to be working. Your comments make me very excited to read this one.

I am so very sad to hear about Darla. Poor Scout. I know she was heartbroken, not only to lose Darla but to have that very early lesson in how unthinking humans can be. On the other hand, I'm glad to hear about Willie, a real live creature along with the others. I really hope we can find a cat (or two) soon.

Stay safe and healthy!

Mar 31, 11:25pm Top

Just peeking in as I roam the threads ~ we're okay, The Man and I.
I definitely needed a break from the barrage of info shooting into my eyeballs off this website as well as the news feeds.

My equanimity has started on some recovery, but I need to be more mindful how susceptible I am in reacting to emerging viral news.

Apr 1, 4:10am Top

Oh no! Poor Scout. I hope that Darla Mark II is in the works, and that the new puppy offers some comfort.

Hamnet is now available to read on the e reader, so I'll get going with that!

Apr 1, 7:18am Top

Awww, poor Scout. So sad. I'm glad the furry friends are offering some comfort and distraction.

Apr 1, 8:37am Top

>105 BLBera: What a sad story. Poor Scout.

Apr 1, 9:36am Top

Poor Scout :( And poor Darla.

Apr 1, 10:40am Top

>106 EBT1002: The Night Watchman is her new one, Ellen. It's based on her grandfather's life. Good luck finding Hamnet. I would give you my copy, but this is one I want to hang on to.

>107 SandyAMcPherson: I know what you mean, Sandy. I have to limit my news watching these days.

>108 charl08: I'll watch for your comments, Charlotte.

>109 lauralkeet: Hi Laura. Scout will get over it. Her dad is no doubt presently working on a souped up Darla II.

>110 karenmarie: Thanks Karen. It's too bad the kids - I imagine it was kids- didn't think about the owner before they trashed it. I get stealing the horn because it was cool, but I don't understand wrecking things.

>11 drneutron: Thanks Katie.

Apr 1, 10:43am Top

Willie Charles


Apr 1, 11:09am Top

>113 BLBera: Oh. My. Cuteness!

Apr 1, 11:10am Top

>54 SandyAMcPherson: >55 BLBera: I just read Old in Art School, and really really liked it. I think you would too.

>95 BLBera: Your review made me very excited to read Hamnet, so I rushed (in a virtual way) to the library, and then to Amazon, only to find that it will not be out for a while. So, onto the wishlist, and I will have to wait.

>105 BLBera: So sorry about Darla.

Apr 1, 11:13am Top

>113 BLBera: Yes, what a great puppy. Looks like Willie C might grow quite big. I'm very fond of larger dogs!

Apr 1, 12:38pm Top

That Willie is a cutie - he'll be such a wonderful friend for Scout! My grandson Rafa (now almost 1 1/2) facetimes with us every day (sometimes twice as his parents are in total isolation in Brooklyn, not even venturing outside, so there's a fair amount of cabin fever). He immediately asks to see "a-dug" and then just laughs and babbles at our new puppy. It feels almost physically painful to be unable to see & hold him, but thank goodness for all the communication technology.

Apr 1, 1:02pm Top

>113 BLBera: Ah, a shephard!! I had one called Pepper once. She was a wonderful dog!! I'm sure Willie will be as well.

Edited: Apr 1, 1:13pm Top

>113 BLBera: - Sweet Willie! We are looking for a dog to adopt. Vivian gave me the contact for the rescue where her family just adopted Ghost, so I looked at their website and have fallen in love with one. I need to call the woman who runs it. The only issue is that it's over an hour away, in New York State, and I'm not sure it would count as essential travel, but I'm also not sure it's not allowed so long as we are home by 8pm... Stupid job keeps getting in the way of researching these things :)

Apr 1, 1:40pm Top

Twinbee--Great review of Hamnet. Sigh. Yet another BB from you. ; )

So sorry to hear about Darla and Scout's sadness. Hopefully Darla can have a twin sometime soon...

>113 BLBera: Willie Charles is adorable!! I am sure he is lifting everyone's spirit.

Apr 1, 1:48pm Top

That Willie is one gorgeous and adorable dog! Thank you so much for posting a photo. Animal pix make me happy.

* off to post a pupper pic on my thread now too *

Apr 1, 2:15pm Top

I am sitting at my computer laughing because as I posted the picture of Willie, I thought, lots of people will respond. :) What is it about puppies?

>114 ChelleBearss: They love him, Chelle.

>115 arubabookwoman: Hi Deborah - what news about your move? Are you moving? Fingers crossed that you get all that sorted out. I am reading one that I think you really liked, The Most Fun We Ever Had - I'm only about 100 pages in, but the characters are amazing - they are so well done.

I bought Hamnet from the Book Depository because I love O'Farrell and couldn't wait and hadn't bought many books this year. Sound justification, right?

>116 SandyAMcPherson: Willie's paws are HUGE! So, I think he is going to be a big dog. Part German Shepherd. Their other dog, Jane Goodall, is part mastiff and is a big girl as well. BTW, the dad named this dog.

>117 vivians: I love your Ghost as well, Vivian. He is so pretty. I get to see Scout occasionally, because I have been isolated and the kids are isolating, so they feel it's safe. Mostly I get her if they have to get groceries. Luckily they live on a bike trail, so they go out and walk the dogs.

>118 RebaRelishesReading: My daughter says that Willie is a good dog. He seems very smart, already comes when called. They're still working on the house training; Scout tells me in detail about the accidents. :)

>119 katiekrug: Good luck getting your dog. Even I am thinking about a dog, Katie. Yes, stupid job. There are more important things, right? I would think if you are driving from your house to get the dog and back home, it would be OK, but I'm not sure about the rules in NY, either.

>120 Berly: Thanks TwinK. I imagine Darla will have a Darla II version. Scout had to make a leprechaun trap for school, and her dad helped her. OMG - it was hilarious. He took apart stuff, so there was an alarm and flashing lights, etc. So, I am anxious to see what he comes up with for a scooter.

>121 lauralkeet: I'm off to see your pup, Laura.

Edited: Apr 1, 3:07pm Top

>95 BLBera: only read your first few words. This is winging its way too me, but glad it was a hit for you Beth.

>105 BLBera: why are some people just mean. Poor Scout.

>113 BLBera: So cute.

Apr 1, 3:32pm Top

Hi Caroline - I will watching for your comments on Hamnet; I want to be able to discuss it with someone!

I have never been able to understand vandalism. It seems so pointless.

Apr 1, 4:52pm Top

Hi Beth! I know you're a fan of academic novels, as am I, so I wanted to make sure you have this month's free ebook from University of Chicago Press on your radar: Pictures From an Institution by Randall Jarrell. The blurb in the email said, "Jarrell’s wickedly funny satire of academia was written more than fifty years ago. But you know what? At the core, not that much has changed. The book remains, as Orville Prescott said in the New York Times on publication, “one of the wittiest books of modern times.”

Here's the link to request the free ebook: https://www.press.uchicago.edu/books/freeEbook.html

Apr 1, 5:22pm Top

Thanks for sharing the Scout/Darla story. That's a tough one.

>113 BLBera: Willie Charles is a gorgeous pup!

Apr 1, 9:05pm Top

>125 rosalita: Thanks Julia. I will get it.

>126 mdoris: You are welcome. Willie is a cutie.

Apr 2, 8:09am Top

You're right about lots of us responding to Willie. He's what we call TCFW - too cute for words.

Apr 2, 12:20pm Top

>125 rosalita: Thanks for this link. A topic I think needs airing every decade because... nothing ever changes.
I sent away for the book... stay tuned, looking forward to reading it!

Apr 2, 2:18pm Top

>82 BLBera: Glad you enjoyed Norse Mythology Beth.

The schools here have been closed for two weeks tomorrow, but it’s not lessening my husband’s workload. This week he seems to have been working over 12 hour days. They are doing online teaching which I think is going well but what is stressing him out is the assessment for the year 13’s who are doing the International Baccalaureate. This is the final year of school who need the results to go to university, and apparently the method that the IB authorities have chosen for the assessment has problems. So he’s been tearing his hair out this week with planning how it is all going to work but it seems to be resolving itself now. Mostly he has been able to work from home but he has had to go in three days this week, which does have one advantage. They have only had three students in all week and because of that have had to keep at least some of the catering staff on who have clearly been bored and so have been exercising their culinary talents by cooking some very nice meals indeed.

Apr 2, 2:33pm Top

>128 karenmarie: Karen - I just learned a new abbreviation!

>129 SandyAMcPherson: I'll watch for your comments, Sandy.

>130 SandDune: More work, is right, Rhian. We are supposed to make sure we don't lose students because we've moved to an online platform, so I spend an hour or two every day emailing students who didn't Zoom or who haven't done homework. And that doesn't count all of the rest of the online work. It is going to be very time consuming. And I am in mourning because I had such great classes this semester.

At least we are well. I shouldn't complain. I have a job.

Apr 2, 2:34pm Top

>129 SandyAMcPherson: I'm glad to hear it, Sandy. Apparently it's a lightly disguised sendup of Sarah Lawrence College and Mary McCarthy, but I don't know enough about either of them to make any sort of connections myself. :-)

I'm hoping to get to it sooner rather than later, but then I keep putting more library books on hold, so ...

Apr 2, 2:45pm Top

>132 rosalita: That does sound interesting, Julia.

Apr 2, 3:05pm Top

I'd say happy new thread, but it took so long to catch up! I hope the online teaching is going well, Beth, and that you are steadily gaining back students.

Poor Scout learning the hard way about what others do mindlessly. Sorry to hear about Darla. That Willie C has quite the paws. Many years ago we had a little ball of fluff with paws like that. I remember looking at him one day and realizing he had grown an inch from the day before! He was full grown at 5 months but didn't get his complete coat until later. He was a Shepherd Golden Retriever Cross just like both his mom and dad.

Apr 2, 8:12pm Top

>101 Storeetllr: >104 BLBera: Unfortunately, Gaiman didn't narrate Good Omens. Did you see the TV adaptation? It was really good.

Apr 2, 8:57pm Top

What a sad Scout story Beth. And what cruel person would do that. Probably kids I would think but really that's awful. My Mia would be upset about that too. She's trying to ride her bike without the training wheels but it's not going well and she's really disappointed that the training wells will have to go back on.😕

Apr 2, 10:13pm Top

>113 BLBera: Oh, what a handsome fellow!

Apr 2, 10:17pm Top

>134 Familyhistorian: Hi Meg. The online teaching is going OK. It's exhausting. Yes, Willie is going to be a giant. I'm not sure what he is a mix of, but he is going to be big.

>135 Storeetllr: Well, that is disappointing. Yes, I thought the TV adaptation was hilarious! I might just watch it again.

>136 brenzi: I know. Luckily, Scout has been riding her bike - with training wheels. She is very cautious. My daughter says she is going a little stir crazy.

>137 ronincats: He is a cutie, isn't he Roni?

Yesterday, 9:20am Top

Have a lovely, peaceful, safe and healthy weekend, Beth.

Yesterday, 10:30am Top

You too, Paul.

Yesterday, 3:31pm Top

Hello, TwinB!! Sorry the online stuff is so much more exhausting. I can only say that your kids are lucky to have you.

I still haven't watched Good Omens yet, and I loved the book, so maybe this weekend...


Yesterday, 8:40pm Top

This weekend would be a good time TwinK! It sounds like you could use some hilarity. I hope the hubby is feeling better. Take care.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2020

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