I know I came in here for a reason: Jim53 reads in 2022

Original topic subject: I know I came in here for a reason: Jim52 reads in 2022
This topic was continued by Jim53 reads in 2023.

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I know I came in here for a reason: Jim53 reads in 2022

1Jim53
Jan 16, 2022, 11:48am

Wait a minute, I know I had something in mind. It'll come to me in a minute. I'll look around and maybe it will jump out at me. No? Oh well, it will come to me in the night, when I won't want to write it down, and tomorrow I'll play the game again. Eventually I'll trip over it and say, "Oh! Of course," and do whatever it was.

2Jim53
Jan 16, 2022, 11:55am

The first dozen or so books that I read this year had titles like Sir Cumference and All the King's Tens. I have not added them to my library. I've taken on a fourth-grade tutee who needs some help with basic number facts, so I've been looking at games and books to make the subject appealing. Unfortunately our sessions are virtual, so I haven't figured out how to use manipulatives. I've found a lot of materials at the library, however, as well as a new rabbit hole to go down. I posted a request for suggestions from the many ex-teachers who ive in our community, and one pointed me to Pinterest, which I had never used. My goodness, there is a lot of stuff there. After a little more assessing, I'll be ready to dive in and choose a bunch of materials to use.

3Jim53
Jan 16, 2022, 12:08pm

I've decided that I want to read a broader range of fiction this year, including a few books that I've heard of but haven't read, or tried to read and don't remember at all. That's it as far as resolutions go; no metrics, no specific goals, just a desire to get into some different things. This is also the first year in quite a while when I'm not thinking about writing my own fiction; I decided this past fall to put that aside and remain a member of the master class, i.e., readers. So I'm not reading or looking for books and articles on writing. Nor am I reading for the purpose of getting a broad view of my field, which was mysteries. So probably fewer of those, limited primarily to new entries in my favorite series. And maybe an occasional book bullet, who knows?

Speaking of favorite series, I just finished Family Business, the latest in SJ Rozan's series about a pair of detectives in New York City's Chinatown. This series is somewhere in my top three to five, because of the characters, the intricate plots, and the subtle humor. Rozan finds new roles for some of her peripheral characters and delivers a solid four-star effort.

4Jim53
Jan 16, 2022, 12:36pm

Our first book-club read of the year was Upstairs at the White House, a memoir by a man who was an usher, later chief usher, at the WH during the Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson years. "Usher," in this context, does not do the job justice: he was an all-purpose factotum for each of the families. He retired soon after the Nixons moved in. It was certainly not something I would have picked up on my own, but part of being in a book club is reading the other people's books too.

We see Mr. West's observations about each of the first families: always positive, never complaining. He sees his job as accommodating each family's preferences and whims; there is an interesting balance in that he will be there after they are gone. A lot of the book describes the way each new family wanted to remake the WH; there are plenty of details about redecorating, with pictures of many key items (and people). We get a look at the types of people the first ladies are, and their marriages, all at a high level. And we learn what Winston Churchill wore when he stayed at the WH during WWII.

The writing is comfy and chatty; it was easy to keep reading, but I never had any trouble putting it down either. In the end, it was a lot like what I envisioned: a book-length series of articles that could have appeared in People magazine. Nicely executed, I guess, but still not my cup of hot chocolate. Three stars.

5Karlstar
Edited: Jan 16, 2022, 12:37pm

Happy New Year and thanks for making a new thread! >4 Jim53: that one sounds interesting.

6tardis
Jan 16, 2022, 12:46pm

>3 Jim53: I'm working my way through SJ Rozan's Lydia/Bill series now. A friend was raving about Family Business but she said it was best to read in order, and since the library didn't have the older books, she LOANED them to me! Now that's a good friend! I just finished Reflecting the Sky and I've enjoyed them all so far.

7clamairy
Jan 16, 2022, 4:02pm

Happy new thread, Jim. I'm glad you came back to start another. May all your books this year be gems.

8Narilka
Jan 16, 2022, 8:55pm

Happy belated new year!

9jillmwo
Jan 16, 2022, 9:05pm

Glad to reconnect with you here in the Pub!

10Jim53
Jan 16, 2022, 9:07pm

I know there are a couple of admins who peek in here occasionally. What's the preferred method for making an admin request? I made a tupo in creating this thread (52 instead of 53 in the title), and I can't figure out how to fix it. Can anyone point me to instructions, or make the fix for me? Thanks in advance.

11Jim53
Jan 16, 2022, 9:12pm

>6 tardis: glad to hear from another fan of Lydia and Bill! My only complaint about Family Business is that we hardly see any of Lydia's mom at all. I almost always enjoy her appearances. And you're right, that is quite a friend.

>7 clamairy: >8 Narilka: >9 jillmwo: Thanks for coming by!

12clamairy
Jan 16, 2022, 9:41pm

>10 Jim53: Fixed!

13Jim53
Jan 16, 2022, 9:55pm

>12 clamairy: Thank you, my dear.

14clamairy
Jan 16, 2022, 10:58pm

>13 Jim53: You are most welcome.

15Sakerfalcon
Jan 17, 2022, 9:48am

Happy New Year! I hope it brings you many good books!

16Jim53
Jan 19, 2022, 1:35pm

>15 Sakerfalcon: Thanks, Claire! I've started several excellent ones but not finished them yet. Making progress, tho.

17Jim53
Jan 19, 2022, 1:36pm

I'm continuing a project that I began last year: I read and enjoyed Donna Andrews's most recent mystery, and decided to go back and read all the books in her Meg Langslow series. I'm currently in the middle of Die Like an Eagle. For the uninitiated, this is a long series of humorous mysteries, each of which has a bird pun in the title. We see Meg's life progress as she acquires a husband and two twins. I've been reading these at bedtime and more serious books during the day.

18Jim53
Jan 20, 2022, 8:32pm

My perspicacious younger son got me a copy of The Overstory for Christmas. I just started it today and I'm enjoying it a lot.

19Karlstar
Jan 21, 2022, 8:03am

>17 Jim53: Is the song title word play coincidental?

20Jim53
Jan 21, 2022, 9:33am

>19 Karlstar: almost certainly not. Die Like an Eagle is preceded by Lord of the Wings and followed by Gone Gull.

21Karlstar
Jan 27, 2022, 2:46pm

>20 Jim53: Too bad the theme wasn't songs for all three, but those are amusing.

22Jim53
Jan 29, 2022, 5:16pm

Lately I find myself seeing a reference to, or a description of, something that sounds interesting, and I immediately check to see whether the county library system has a copy. Given my sieve-like memory, by the time I get to read whatever it is, I've often forgotten where I came across it or what attracted me. I suppose i could add them to my LT wish list, with an appropriate note, but that seems like more trouble.

This was the case with The Yellow Wallpaper, which I had heard of but never read. It's a brilliant late nineteenth century novella/short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. My edition came with a useful afterword by Elaine R. Hedges. The story is told in the first person by a woman who is apparently suffering from post-partum depression; her husband, a doctor, has rented an estate for the season and prescribed a rest cure for her "nervous illness." He dictates every detail of her existence, from choosing the room where they will sleep to forbidding her to exert herself by writing. She describes the hideous yellow wallpaper in the room, developing a fixation with it. She comes to see a woman behind the wallpaper, struggling to escape it.

The story is a perceptive portrayal of the gender roles of the time, the husband's dominance and certainty of his correctness, the wrongness of the treatment, and the narrator's gradual descent into madness. Coming several years earlier than The Awakening, Gilman's story treats similar themes of the limits that societal expectations place on women. The story is formally an easy read but emotionally challenging. 4.5 stars.

23Meredy
Jan 30, 2022, 12:57am

Happy slightly used year. Following. I love your thread title.

24clamairy
Edited: Jan 30, 2022, 8:13am

>22 Jim53: Yikes. I might wishlist that one and save it for happier times.

I also often forget who first recommended something. When I live in CT the wait-list for OverDrive was sometimes 6 months or more,and by the time a title was ready to download I was clueless. I would have to come back in here and use the 'mentions' link on the book's page to figure out who had shot me. Usually it was more than one person.

25Sakerfalcon
Edited: Jan 31, 2022, 5:23am

>22 Jim53: Such a good story. We had a group discussion of it a couple of years ago in the Virago group, where people had very different interpretations of the story. Here's the thread if you're interested

26Jim53
Jan 31, 2022, 2:59pm

>23 Meredy: Welcome, and thank you! I hope you're hanging in OK.

>24 clamairy: I didn't find it to be a downer, despite the content; I was too caught up in appreciating what she was doing. Thanks for the tip about mentions; that might help me at some point.

>25 Sakerfalcon: Thanks for the link. I haven't looked yet, but I will. I'm curious to see what people think about one key question, i.e., did she hang herself?

27Jim53
Feb 2, 2022, 7:28pm

I've been a fan of Guy Kay for a long time. I've had a copy of Last Light of the Sun on the shelf for a long time, and I read it once a long time ago. I remembered that it wasn't fabulous, but I didn't really remember the story. So I've been rereading it at bedtime, just to remind myself and see if I liked it any better. The answer is not really. I sorta liked a couple of the characters, but they are all secondary characters; there is noone to whom you can point as the lead person, noone drawn nearly as well as the best characters in most of his other books. The presence of a strong primary character is a big part of how he manages to pull together many disparate threads in other books, and without such a person, this book doesn't hold together nearly as well. Three stars.

28Jim53
Feb 2, 2022, 7:49pm

I was a little disappointed in Kate Braestrup's Beginner's Grace: Bringing Prayer to Life. She tells a bunch of stories and provides an appropriate prayer for different situations, to illustrate that it's possible to create your own prayers at any time. I wanted more and didn't get it. So it goes. There are plenty of other books.

29Sakerfalcon
Feb 3, 2022, 6:31am

>27 Jim53: Your comments agree with my memories of Last light of the sun. He usually writes such powerful characters which made this particular book such a disappointment.

30Karlstar
Feb 3, 2022, 12:07pm

>27 Jim53: >29 Sakerfalcon: I seem to like that one a little more than most folks, the lack of a strong lead character didn't bother me. I guess I just like his writing style and plotting. It isn't an all time great book, but a good one, for me.

31Peace2
Feb 3, 2022, 5:31pm

>27 Jim53: >29 Sakerfalcon: & >30 Karlstar: I have this one on the TBR pile and theoretically it's on the list to be read this year. I also have Tigana and A Song for Arbonne

32Karlstar
Feb 4, 2022, 5:49am

>31 Peace2: Hope you enjoy them all! I would put them in this order -

1. Song for Arbonne
2. Last Light of the Sun
3. Tigana

33Jim53
Feb 4, 2022, 4:50pm

I would put them this way:

1) Tigana - IMHO a serious contender for "best single-volume fantasy"
2) Arbonne - some nice parts, but the bad guys lack depth and complexity
3) Last Light - because of the lack of good lead characters

34Jim53
Edited: Feb 21, 2022, 10:01pm

My wife got me a lovely "bookshelf" quilt for Christmas:

35clamairy
Feb 4, 2022, 8:26pm

>34 Jim53: I saw that Facebook photo. Lovely!

36pgmcc
Feb 4, 2022, 9:34pm

>34 Jim53:
It ia beautiful quilt. The weight of all those books must make it very heavy.

37Karlstar
Feb 5, 2022, 1:49pm

>33 Jim53: I'm going to have to re-read Tigana this year. It isn't my favorite GGK, but that seems to be a very minority opinion.

38Peace2
Feb 5, 2022, 2:57pm

>32 Karlstar: and >33 Jim53: Maybe I'll change the one highlighted in my 'to read this year' list so that I aim to get to a different one :) Maybe Arbonne as that gets a 1st and 2nd recommendation between your recommendations :)

39clamairy
Edited: Feb 5, 2022, 3:30pm

I would have Tigana and The Lions of Al-Rassan tied for first. I know Lions isn't on your list, but I thought it was phenomenal.

40Jim53
Edited: Feb 5, 2022, 3:38pm

>38 Peace2: >39 clamairy: Lions is actually my favorite Kay, in spite of the epilog ;-) Then Tigana, Sarantium, Arbonne, Fionavar, Under Heaven, River of Stars, with Last Light, Ysabel, and the recent Children of Earth and Sky bringing up the rear.

41Peace2
Feb 5, 2022, 4:46pm

>39 clamairy: and >40 Jim53: So you're telling me my TBR is missing titles!

42Jim53
Feb 5, 2022, 9:13pm

Both Jill and Clam mentioned Nghi Vo's fantasy novellas, and I just finished the first two. The Empress of Salt and Fortune is a great introduction to the world, which appears to be inspired by medieval China (?) The cleric Chih (they/them) is committed to learning and documenting history; their neixin (speaking bird) has a perfect memory and is both a big help and an occasional giver of grief. They meet Rabbit, who is able to tell them several interesting stories, and turns out to have been a participant. The style is wonderfully evocative, and the story is mysterious enough to require some careful parsing. I completed it quickly and went straight on to the sequel.

In When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain, Chih is traveling without their neixin, who is sitting on eggs. They ride with a mastodon rider into the mountains, where they are accosted by tigers and hole up in a barn. The tigers can switch between their tiger forms and human appearance, and they exchange stories and corrections with Chih. Again, the writing is excellent. I still want to find out why clerics are (apparently) automatically spoken of as they/them, and more about their role in the world.

I'm not confident that I grokked everything that the author was up to; the stories are simple on their faces but feel as if they conceal complex depths.

The third volume has been published, but my library doesn't have it yet. I will give them a nudge and make sure it's on their radar for acquisition.

43jillmwo
Feb 6, 2022, 10:11am

I'm glad you enjoyed it! I have the second in the series on my Kindle but haven't yet read it. Hopefully, by the end of February! Given your recommendation and interest in pushing your library to get the third, I'll move it up on the TBR pile.

44Karlstar
Feb 6, 2022, 10:10pm

>41 Peace2: I was only listing in order the 3 mentioned earlier. My favorite GGk is Sailing to Sarantium, then the first two books of The Fionavar Tapestry. If you haven't read those yet, they are worth it.

45Peace2
Feb 7, 2022, 3:48am

>44 Karlstar: I'll see how things go and maybe I'll try and get STS. Have you read the sequel as well?

I have a very strong suspicion that I read at least the first of the Fionavar Tapestry back in the 1990s (early end of that if not the late '80s). I don't remember the story or why I didn't finish the series and it doesn't appear to be one I've kept but it's possible I either borrowed/loaned it from/to someone else or that it was when I was living somewhere in just one room at the time and therefore had much less space for books and so I wasn't able to keep it. It's the title of the book, rather than anything else that I remember.

46Karlstar
Feb 7, 2022, 7:55am

>45 Peace2: I have read the sequel, I liked it, but I liked the first one better.

47Jim53
Feb 10, 2022, 2:54pm

Having seen some positive comments here and there about The Goblin Emperor, I thought I'd give it a try, both for myself and to see if my granddaughter might like it. It didn't do much for me, and I read enough to decide it wouldn't be right for her. I guess my mileage did vary.

48Jim53
Feb 10, 2022, 3:06pm

I had a fun occurrence this week: I went down some LOTR-related internet rabbit hole and ended up reading a pretty good article about Aragorn as Renewer ( here if anyone is interested), and I saw a citation from V Flieger. Verlyn Flieger was a doctoral student at Catholic University in the 1970s, when I was there as an undergrad, and I took a course from her in fantasy literature. She went on to be a well recognized Tolkien scholar; I'm eager to find and read a couple of her books. I found her website and sent her a note, and she responded, saying how nice it was to hear from a student, especially one from fifty years ago. This would have been fun at any time, but especially now when I hardly ever get to see anyone.

49pgmcc
Feb 10, 2022, 3:57pm

>48 Jim53:
That is super making contact with a former lecturer. You will have made her day. I am sure she was delighted someone had thought of her and took the trouble to make contact.

50Meredy
Feb 10, 2022, 9:47pm

Hmm, I wonder if any of my old profs are still kicking and would remember me. My father was always happy to hear from his former philosophy students. Some wrote letters, and some actually came to visit him in his retirement and even in his last illness. It meant a lot to him.

51-pilgrim-
Feb 11, 2022, 2:59am

>48 Jim53: That is a wonderful link, rhank you for it.

52Jim53
Feb 12, 2022, 4:25pm

>51 -pilgrim-: You're very welcome.

>50 Meredy: We had some fun a few years ago while visiting another couple who had been in our MA program in the 70s at Ohio State. We were talking about something having to do with our experiences there, and one of them said, "Let's call Dr. S!" So we called up (on the phone) one of our old professors, thirty-plus years later, and he at least did a good job of pretending that he remembered all of us.

I would be quite surprised if any of my college profs were to remember me. I was a pretty forgettable student.

Sign of the times: my wife gets Facebook friend requests from her old students.

53Karlstar
Feb 13, 2022, 10:20am

>48 Jim53: That's a great story and thanks for the link!

Is this one of those 6 degrees of separation things? My daughter also went to Catholic U.

54Jim53
Feb 13, 2022, 9:48pm

>53 Karlstar: Oh my goodness, it sounds as if it must be. IBM and now CUA. I haven't been by in a long time, but the last time I was there, the dorm I had inhabited had been torn down, along with several others (on the south side of Monroe Street--I used to take my life in my hands jayrunning across Michigan Avenue every day). At least the Byzantine Boob is still looking over the campus. There are just a few folks I'm still in touch with from back then (1972-75). I assume your daughter was a much more recent attendee.

55Jim53
Feb 16, 2022, 8:24pm

I still haven't gotten back to The Overstory. I was enjoying it but things keep coming up. Right now I'm amidst a reread of Homegoing for our community book club. I remember liking it a lot when I read it a few years ago. I'm really impressed that this is the work of a young writer who was 25 years old when it was published. She has a great touch on which details to include and omit. Several of the characters are pretty memorable, which is all the more amazing given that they appear quite briefly. I'm glad to have this reason to reread it.

My copy of Arcadia arrived at the library today (I had to request it from a faraway branch), so that's another thing that will keep me away from Mr. Powers for a bit.

56Karlstar
Feb 17, 2022, 6:42am

>54 Jim53: She attended from 2008-2012. I think those dorms were taken down to be replaced by retail space and apartments recently?

57Jim53
Feb 20, 2022, 2:12pm

This brings back some memories of prior years' reading "threads."

58pgmcc
Feb 20, 2022, 2:25pm

59Jim53
Feb 21, 2022, 11:35am

>58 pgmcc: I did, too, for the most part.

I finished my reread of Homegoing. Looking forward to the group discussion tonight. I'm glad to have revisited it; I saw more of the continuity between stories this time. I remain astonished that this is a first novel, completed when the author was 25.

60Jim53
Feb 21, 2022, 11:38am

Last night I read the first half of The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil. Utterly absurd, and quite relevant to recent times. It's clear that Saunders was either overtired or indulging in recreational chemicals when he wrote this.

61Jim53
Feb 21, 2022, 10:11pm

I finished off Phil tonight. I wonder whether Saunders had particular referents in mind for all the characters and events, or if he was just throwing stuff against the wall to see what would stick. I suspect I might figure out some of what he's up to with some more analysis and careful reading, but I'm not sure it's worth the effort. Based on my previous reading of his works, I had high expectations, which were pretty thoroughly trashed. I'll have to look for another of his to remove the taste. Still good enough to merit three stars.

62Jim53
Edited: Feb 25, 2022, 9:11pm

After reencountering Verlyn Flieger (see >48 Jim53:), I ordered one of her YA fantasies, thinking I'll read it first and possibly pass it on to my granddaughter. The first few chapters are well done. More after I get farther and/or finish.

I also read the first few pages of Arcadia yesterday. I'll save comments for the group read thread.

63Bookmarque
Edited: Feb 24, 2022, 6:47pm

Yay another Arcadia reader! Wrong touchstone though.

64Jim53
Feb 25, 2022, 9:12pm

>63 Bookmarque: Fixed it, thanks. I'm just getting started and enjoying it quite a bit.

65Jim53
Feb 27, 2022, 9:17pm

Re: our discussion above about Guy Gavriel Kay, I see that he has a new book coming out this year. Apparently it's a sequel to A Brightness Long Ago and is called something like All the Oceans of the World. Not sure of the date. I DNF'd A Brightness Long Ago a while back, so I'll presumably need to decide whether to try it again before tackling the new one.

66Karlstar
Feb 27, 2022, 10:34pm

>65 Jim53: I read A Brightness Long Ago, it is my least favorite of GGK's books, I'm not sure I want another book about those characters.

67Jim53
Mar 6, 2022, 1:02pm

I'm still reading Arcadia and loving it. I just received my latest ER book, Police Brutality and White Supremacy by former NBAer Etan Thomas. I've only read a bit of it, but so far I like his approach a lot. He interviews a lot of people who have been affected (e.g., Rodney King's daughter) or have some expertise in policing and managing law enforcement, along with outspoken folks from the NBA and elsewhere. It's not exactly cheering me up, but it seems quite worthwhile.

68jillmwo
Edited: Mar 6, 2022, 1:59pm

I too am enjoying Arcadia but once again I think books like this (with this degree of complexity) require two readings. The first time is a roller-coaster and in many spots, laugh-out lound funny. But a second reading is needed to work out the sub-text in places and where things cross-over and passing details that one missed the first time through are suddenly recognized as being important.

69Jim53
Mar 6, 2022, 7:12pm

>68 jillmwo: Yes, I can definitely imagine a re-read at some point. I have this delusion that I'm keeping up pretty well, and then something hits me unexpectedly and I wonder how so-and-so knows thus-and-such. There's also the big question of just how Anterworld was formed. Did the machine somehow take it from Henry's scribblings? Or maybe from his mind? Did Rosie's intrusion help define the world? etc. Maybe I'll find out soon and not have to go back through for clues.

70Bookmarque
Edited: Mar 6, 2022, 7:24pm

The whole Anterwold conundrum reminds me of something out of Lisey's Story by Stephen King. In it the titular character is a widow of a famous author who was famous for his outlandish imagination. Just where do you get your ideas? He has a shadow world to which he travels and is tormented by the Long Boy described as "mottled thing with the endless piebald side". It's creepy and weird and makes you wonder where imagination ends and reality begins.

71Jim53
Mar 8, 2022, 1:25pm

>70 Bookmarque: Interesting. Probably a more convincing description than Harlan Ellison's answer to the question.

72ScoLgo
Mar 8, 2022, 2:10pm

73clamairy
Mar 8, 2022, 6:11pm

>72 ScoLgo: Ha! Very funny! (That's where my husband grew up, interestingly.)

74Karlstar
Mar 8, 2022, 10:44pm

>72 ScoLgo: Interesting! I'd never heard that before. No offense to clamairy's husband, but are there really that many new ideas in Schenectady?

75clamairy
Mar 9, 2022, 9:51am

>74 Karlstar: Ha! Maybe not now, but when the General Electric company was in its heyday it attracted some brilliant people. I believe Kurt Vonnegut was even living there for a while.

76Jim53
Mar 9, 2022, 12:56pm

>74 Karlstar: Ellison apparently got tired of being asked where he got his ideas, so he invented a secret service in Schenectady from which those with the right password could obtain new ideas. Rumor has it that people used to ask him for its address. There was a collection of SF short stories called It Came from Schenectady in reference to his practice.

77Karlstar
Mar 11, 2022, 11:38pm

>75 clamairy: I like Schenectady! I've picked folks up at the train station there a few times, both the old 70's era wreck and the nice new one. I've also been to the Proctor's theater quite a few times, it is a really neat place.

>76 Jim53: Thanks, I'll have to look up that collection.

78Jim53
Mar 16, 2022, 8:50pm

Just about any book could probably be a letdown after the great fun of Arcadia, but by switching genres and subject matter entirely, my new book didn't suffer by comparison. Former NBAer Etan Thomas has put together a very well constructed, comprehensive summary of racial issues in White Supremacy and Police Brutality. Much of each chapter consists of interviews with people suffering the long-term effects of these killings, including Rodney King's daughter, and also with others who have given much thought to issues such as the whitewashing of history and education, the difficulty of holding police accountable, and numerous others. A good solid four stars.

79Jim53
Apr 6, 2022, 9:23pm

I finally finished my librocubicularist project of reading all 29 of Donna Andrews's series of cozy mysteries featuring Meg Lanslowe. The last one, Murder Most Fowl, one of many books with that title, was one of the best of the series, so I'm looking forward to more eventually. Now I must find something else to read at bedtime. Last night I began a re-read of Barbara Brown Taylor's Home by Another Way. I always find something meaningful and encouraging in her sermons.

80Jim53
Apr 6, 2022, 9:31pm

I polished off When the Stars Go Dark last week. I haven't been reading mysteries during the day, but this was for our community book club. She was a bit heavy-handed with the protagonist's mental suffering, but overall quite a good story.

One reason I haven't been on lately is that my wife finally got a new knee last Friday. It had been scheduled for late January but was put off due to Covid. While waiting during the surgery I read another 100 pages or so of The Overstory, which I've been enjoying quite a bit, but I've allowed it to get sidelined by things with deadlines. I have to decide whether to postpone it again in favor of The Bean Trees, which our local library is featuring in their book club, and/or My Broken Language, which a lot of my fellow Mighty Writers volunteers are reading and planning to discuss. Decisions, decisions. Having too many books is of course better than having too few (which I honestly can't remember happening since I joined LT. I signed on today and peeked at a couple of threads, and took a bullet right away from Sakerfalcon).

81Jim53
Apr 6, 2022, 9:33pm

My last ER title, Paul Laurence Dunbar: Poet Laureate of the Negro Race, was a bit of a disappointment. It's a reprint of a 32-page monograph from 1914. There's no real analysis of his work or how it fits into its time. See my review on the book page if you want the gory details.

82clamairy
Apr 6, 2022, 10:55pm

>80 Jim53: Hope she's recovering well!
Always put on you kevlar before entering Sakerfalcon's thread.

83Sakerfalcon
Apr 7, 2022, 7:10am

>80 Jim53: Hope your wife is recovering well. In the UK at least they get people up and walking as soon as possibly after the surgery, which is supposed to ease recovery.

>80 Jim53:, >82 clamairy: Often I'm just forwarding the bullets that I've been hit by!

84pgmcc
Apr 7, 2022, 9:34am

>80 Jim53:
I hope your wife recovers quickly and gets the full benefit of her new knee.

>83 Sakerfalcon: Often I'm just forwarding the bullets that I've been hit by!

So your real name is Rick O'Shay. You must have some Irish blood.

85clamairy
Apr 7, 2022, 11:47am

>84 pgmcc: What an awful/wonderful pun... Heh heh.

86Peace2
Apr 7, 2022, 6:14pm

>80 Jim53: Sending good wishes to your wife for her recovery.

87Jim53
Apr 8, 2022, 7:56pm

>82 clamairy: >83 Sakerfalcon: >84 pgmcc: >85 clamairy: >86 Peace2: Thanks for your good wishes!

When I had my knees done, six and five years ago, they had me up and about quite quickly, but they kept me in the hospital overnight for observation. When I did a hip, I went home the same day, which was less usual back then. Now it does seem common to go home the same day as long as you can walk and pee.

>85 clamairy: I second that emotion.

88ScoLgo
Apr 8, 2022, 8:03pm

>87 Jim53: "... as long as you can walk and pee."

Surely not at the same time?!?  ;-)

89clamairy
Apr 8, 2022, 9:59pm

90Karlstar
Apr 8, 2022, 11:12pm

>80 Jim53: I hope she recovers quickly!

91Jim53
Apr 10, 2022, 8:43pm

>88 ScoLgo: I think the term is "preferably not." ;-)

>90 Karlstar: Thanks, Jim!

92Jim53
Apr 10, 2022, 9:07pm

I decided to give The Bean Trees a try. My wife cautioned me that it had started slowly for her, but I've been chuckling at the way the narrator tells us bizarre things with the equivalent of a straight face, and at some of her expressions. "Life had given her a big bucket of manure with no return address."

93Peace2
Apr 11, 2022, 3:20am

>92 Jim53: That's quite the line!

94clamairy
Apr 11, 2022, 9:44am

>92 Jim53: Kingsolver is one of my favorite authors. That book was the first one of hers I ever read. You haven't read her before?

95Sakerfalcon
Apr 11, 2022, 10:57am

>92 Jim53: I love The bean trees. It must have been one of the first "found family" books I read, and I've loved the trope ever since.

96Jim53
Apr 11, 2022, 12:31pm

>94 clamairy: The only one of hers that I've already read is The Poisonwood Bible, which I loved. Not sure why it took me so long to get back to her.

97Jim53
Apr 12, 2022, 8:16pm

I finished The Bean Trees today and really enjoyed it. Marietta/Taylor is a fascinating character and great narrator. She has interesting relationships with numerous other characters, and is both practical and caring. I really enjoyed Turtle's fixation on plants.

>95 Sakerfalcon: I don't remember thinking about the idea of a "found family," but it fits this story well and I can certainly see the appeal. I hadn't realized that Pigs in Heaven is a sequel to this, so I'll be keeping an eye out for that.

98Jim53
Apr 13, 2022, 10:09pm

I can't remember who mentioned Origin first. Clam? Meredy? Anyway, the library finally came through with it and I started it today. Pretty interesting stuff. I thought about skipping the first, historical, section, but I figure she put it there for a reason, so I'm working my way through it. Thanks to the sharpshooter!

99clamairy
Apr 13, 2022, 10:18pm

>98 Jim53: It was me. I'm still working on it, since I bought it. Found myself getting a bit disheartened by all the mistreatment of indigenous remains. I may start skimming those bits so I can make some progress.

100kaida46
Apr 13, 2022, 10:21pm

>97 Jim53: I've enjoyed the two books I've read by her Animal Dreams and The Bean Trees. I also did not realize Pigs in Heaven was a sequel, I'll have to search that one out. The Poisonwood Bible is sitting on the TBR stack in my nightstand.
Happy reading!

101Jim53
Apr 14, 2022, 6:44pm

>99 clamairy: "Disheartened" is a good word. I appreciated her statement that people were eager to accept theories like the Mound Builders in order to justify horrendous treatment of First Nations people.

>100 kaida46: Welcome, Deb, and thanks for stopping by. The Poisonwood Bible can require some effort from time to time, but I found it very worthwhile.

102Jim53
Apr 16, 2022, 8:33pm

I decided I was more in the mood for some fiction, so I started Cloud Cuckoo Land yesterday. I don't think I'll be opening anything else (except something less challenging for bedtime) for a while. What a beginning!

103Sakerfalcon
Apr 19, 2022, 5:30am

>1093 Ooh, I'm glad to hear that! I just picked up a copy of CCL in a charity shop the other day!

104Jim53
Apr 29, 2022, 10:02pm

Well, I gave up on Cloud Cuckoo Land after about 300 pages. Life is a little too stressful these days to deal with all that jumping around. I don't mind some jumping, but all the one-page segments were a bit much. I did a comfort re-read of One Was a Soldier, and now I'm back in The Overstory. It was jumping around at the beginning, but the stories are coming together and I'm seeing the connections and it's working well. When I saw that one character had a "coprophageous grin," I developed one of my own.

105pgmcc
Apr 30, 2022, 2:39am

>104 Jim53:
Yes, I did look up “coprophageous”. I was a bit confused at the meaning, so looked up “coprophageous grin”. The explanation I found was much more in line with your post than the definition of “coprophageous” on its own.

106jillmwo
Apr 30, 2022, 8:48pm

>104 Jim53: Re: "coprophageous grin”, I had to look it up just as pgmcc did. I imagine you developed a great one. (What experience had you had with the phrase before Jim53 that enabled you to recognize the phrase in context?)

107Jim53
May 1, 2022, 2:08pm

>105 pgmcc: >106 jillmwo: I hadn't seen the word before, nor did I look it up. I had seen the parts before and recognized each, and put them together. The context helped too, as did my inclination toward this sort of humor.

108Jim53
May 8, 2022, 12:40pm

I finished The Overstory, which I liked quite well. Some parts seem just a little preachy, but for the most part he avoids that. We see how trees affect so many different parts of life, and how some people come to feel quite connected to them. We also see some violent eco-protesters as they age into other lives but cannot forget their past deeds. I'm not sure I'd say that any of the characters are truly memorable, but each does her/his job while "on screen."

109Jim53
May 8, 2022, 12:43pm

I zipped through Anne Tyler's latest, French Braid, in just a couple of days. It's pretty much what one expects of an Anne Tyler novel: interesting stories about members of a family, how minor incidents can have larger effects, the results of telling and not telling. I hadn't read one of hers in a while and it was a lot of fun.

110Meredy
May 10, 2022, 12:57am

>108 Jim53: Have you read other work by Richard Powers? If you have, how does this one compare? I found him pretty challenging in The Gold Bug Variations and Orfeo, fascinatingly complex and multilayered, so much so that I was sure I must have missed about 75% of the allusions and meanings. Worth the effort nonetheless.

Trees communicating with each other (per book description): that sends me right back to Entangled Life. When everyone gets it that they really do communicate with each other, we're going to know a lot more than we do right now with our hubristic notion that we occupy the apex of the life forms pyramid.

111Sakerfalcon
May 11, 2022, 8:29am

>108 Jim53: I really wanted a bibliography after The overstory so I could find out how much of the botany was based in fact.

112Jim53
May 11, 2022, 12:36pm

>110 Meredy: This was my first Powers. I suspected that he was up to things that I wasn't grokking, but I found it a good read. Probably largely because of the subject matter, though; I'm not sure I'll go looking for more of his any time soon. I thought of Entangled Life and other similar books too; I'll be checking some out after returning from an upcoming trip. The idea that we're not the only life forms with self-consciousness, etc., is certainly intriguing and humbling, in a very good way IMHO.

>111 Sakerfalcon: Yes! I assumed, from looking at descriptions of some books on the subject, that he was up on at least some of the recent research on these topics, but I would have liked to see sources. Not so much to fact-check his story as to learn more. It looks as if there is plenty out there, so I don't really have an excuse for not looking at some.

113Jim53
May 13, 2022, 1:32am

I've started The Doctors Blackwell for our community book club. The story (of the first female American MD) sounds potentially inspiring, but the telling is so dry that I've fallen asleep over it three times. This is no doubt related also to anemia and various other things going on, but I haven't been falling asleep with other books. Fortunately, it's not my turn to lead the discussion, so it's not crucial that I finish it.

114MrsLee
May 13, 2022, 9:23am

>113 Jim53: Sometimes, for books like that about a subject I am interested in, Wikipedia is the way to go. :)

115jillmwo
May 14, 2022, 9:34am

>113 Jim53: Elizabeth Blackwell as a person gets lauded for her persistence in getting through medical school when everything was against her doing so. However, as a quality, that stubborn fury that carried her through didn't really contribute much to making her likeable. As I understand it, part of the problem with that biography is that it makes it clear that she lacked any degree of charm as an individual. That may be part of why you aren't able to engage with the book.

116Jim53
May 16, 2022, 9:39am

>114 MrsLee: LOL. It's a good thing we didn't have that when I was in school.

>115 jillmwo: Yeah, she certainly comes across as the antithesis of warm and cuddly. Although I'm not sure I would find the book that much better if she were. The telling lacks much of a sense of the connectedness of things; one thing happens, then another thing happens, and then another; maybe they're related, but that doesn't seem to be of concern to the author. I managed to get through a good bit of it last night, enough to say I've read it, but I'll have to watch my tongue at book club tonight.

117clamairy
May 23, 2022, 9:47am

>113 Jim53: &>115 jillmwo: I enjoyed this one, but I have to agree with Jill. The reader can't really like Elizabeth that much. She was a sexist, too. Her sister was much more my kind of pioneering woman.

118Jim53
May 25, 2022, 9:42pm

I've been reading The Bear Comes Back during the days and The Twelve Jays of Christmas at bedtime while traveling. Today I poked my head into a used bookstore in Greensboro, which has a huge trade-in operation, which I haven't seen in a while. I wish there were one like this at home. I haven't been buying many books lately, but I would gladly make some trades.

119Karlstar
Jun 28, 2022, 8:46am

>118 Jim53: Everything ok over there?

120clamairy
Jun 28, 2022, 10:50am

>119 Karlstar: He's been posting on Facebook, so that's a good sign.

121Jim53
Jul 25, 2022, 9:09pm

>119 Karlstar: >120 clamairy: Thanks for checking in, Jim, and thanks Clam for letting folks know I'm still above ground.

I've been having more and more trouble with reading lately. I'm also having trouble coming up with words from time to time, remembering things, doing word puzzles, etc. And my bridge game has gone to hell too. I haven't been able to process even medium-confusing books. I'm afraid I've got some neurological thing going on. I'm getting a couple of kinds of testing done in the next two weeks, hoping to get an idea of what might be going on. Please pray for me or whatever you do. Thank you!

122Karlstar
Jul 25, 2022, 10:22pm

>121 Jim53: Good luck Jim, I hope you get some answers!

123Sakerfalcon
Jul 26, 2022, 6:21am

>121 Jim53: Wishing you well Jim, I hope the tests show something that can be easily resolved.

124pgmcc
Jul 26, 2022, 9:48am

>121 Jim53:
Best wishes Jim. Hoping for good results.

125clamairy
Jul 26, 2022, 10:12am

>121 Jim53: I'm so sorry to hear about your issue. I'll ' hold you in the light.'

126haydninvienna
Jul 26, 2022, 1:09pm

All the best to you, mate.

127MrsLee
Jul 26, 2022, 2:18pm

>121 Jim53: May the tests give clear answers and may there be an easy solution. Thank you for letting us know.

128jillmwo
Jul 26, 2022, 5:39pm

>121 Jim53: What MrsLee says above. Thinking of you and hoping for the best.

129Jim53
Aug 23, 2022, 8:42pm

>122 Karlstar: >123 Sakerfalcon: >124 pgmcc: >125 clamairy: >126 haydninvienna: >127 MrsLee: >128 jillmwo: Thanks to all of you for your good wishes. I'm sorta muddling along as usual, waiting for test results. I've managed to read a few books, on which I'll post comments soon.

130Karlstar
Aug 23, 2022, 11:03pm

>129 Jim53: Glad to hear from you, hopefully the tests will lead to some treatment and improvement for you.

131clamairy
Edited: Aug 24, 2022, 9:10am

>129 Jim53: Hope you get some answers soon. And as >130 Karlstar: said I hope there's an easy treatment. Looking forward to your reviews.

132Jim53
Aug 24, 2022, 8:07pm

>130 Karlstar: >131 clamairy: Thanks!

I used the literature map to look for an author similar to John Scalzi, most of whose stuff I've read and enjoyed. I came up with James Corey and tried out Leviathan Wakes. I haven't read anything quite like that (pretty traditional space opera) in quite a while, and I found it fun. There are some entertaining characters, and enough humor, and the way the story evolves as the characters figure stuff out is well done. I see why he's near Scalzi on the map. I'll grab the next in the series the next time I go to the right library.

I requested Creatures of Passage from ER largely because it's based in Anacostia, and because it promised to include some magical elements with a black cast. It's a very ambitious book, as I said in my review, and it succeeds in many ways. I wasn't expecting the rather significant horror element, but I seem to have survived it. It's a very difficult book to describe or summarize.

133Karlstar
Aug 24, 2022, 9:47pm

>132 Jim53: Scalzi does have a unique style. Have you tried any Jack Campbell?

134Jim53
Aug 25, 2022, 8:42pm

>133 Karlstar: I haven't tried Campbell. Is the a starting point that you recommend?

135Karlstar
Aug 25, 2022, 9:33pm

Dauntless is the first of the series. Kind of a Battlestar Galactica feel, but less campy.

136ncholas
Aug 29, 2022, 3:57am

This user has been removed as spam.

137Jim53
Edited: Sep 5, 2022, 4:10pm

I have been reading a few books recently, some of them pretty good, some downright awful.

I picked up Slam at the used bookstore in Greensboro. It did nothing at all for me. I guess it's intended for a YA audience. There are a couple of amusing ideas, but the story was quite lacking.

I had never read The Postman Always Rings Twice, so I decided to give it a try. I'm not a big fan of the noir approach in general. This one seemed very bare-bones to me; I'm not at all sure that I correctly identified what was motivating the main character.

Alan Furst's Mission to Paris was sort of interesting. An American movie star is recruited to perform some spying, or more specifically courier-ing, during WWII. It reminded me a bit of the Eric Ambler book that I read last year, although I would call this one a little thinner and dryer.

Scalzi's The God Engines was very different from his usual fare, with minimal humor, a bit of horror, and tons of gore. I'm not sure at all that I got what he was doing. By far my least favorite book of his.

138Karlstar
Sep 3, 2022, 1:36pm

>137 Jim53: Glad you are reading and posting again! Your last touchstone goes to a McDevitt book with a similar title. I've never head of The God Engines before!

139Jim53
Sep 5, 2022, 4:15pm

>138 Karlstar: thanks for catching the bad link. I have (I think!) fixed it. This book was very different from any other Scalzi I have read.

I just finished Greenwood, a fairly recent Canadian novel. I have an idea that I took a bullet from one of y'all for this one, but I can't remember. I liked it quite a bit. Christie describes several generations of a Canadian logging family, beginning and ending in a small island preserve in 2038, after The Withering, a monumental ecological disaster. The characters and their linkages were very well drawn. 4 stars.

140Jim53
Sep 12, 2022, 5:36pm

On a recent visit with our descendants, I had a fun talk with my granddaughter, who has just turned 11, about what she's been reading. I knew she had read a couple of the Percy Jackson series; I didn't realize she has read about 20 books by Rick Riordan. She suggested I try Daughter of the Deep to get a feel for his writing without getting tied up in a series. I just finished it and I found myself liking several things about it. The premise is interesting: the adventures of Captain Nemo that Jules Verne related in 20000 Leagues under the Sea and other works actually happened. Our protagonists are ninth-graders at one of two schools that are competing to find various artifacts, especially the Nautilus. I liked the relationships among the characters as well as how they dealt with an almost overwhelming set of ongoing revelations. I think I'll look for some similar books for Christmas gift candidates.

141jillmwo
Sep 12, 2022, 6:56pm

>140 Jim53: Interesting! I will go do further investigation. (I keep meaning to settle in and really read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. My last attempt was back in my early teens and I don't think I had a particularly good translation.

142Karlstar
Sep 12, 2022, 10:53pm

>140 Jim53: Interesting!

143MrsLee
Sep 12, 2022, 11:56pm

>140 Jim53: I very much enjoyed his series on the Greek gods. Made me want to dig deeper into the myths.

144pgmcc
Sep 13, 2022, 2:45am

>140 Jim53: I like that premise.

I am quite the fan of Verne.

145Jim53
Sep 23, 2022, 10:03pm

I tried to read the Dark is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper, to see if it might be good for the grandkids. I have read several other children's fantasy series and enjoyed most. These, however, seemed sloppy and almost unplanned. The author does a good job of painting urgent and scary scenes, but the stories' resolutions are unclear till she explains one or two key things to us at the end of each story. I was disappointed.

146clamairy
Edited: Sep 24, 2022, 9:53am

>145 Jim53: So how far did you make it. I didn't love the first one, which I think we had for a group in here over a decade ago. But I enjoyed the second, and I finally read the third just a few months ago. It was uneven, but parts of it were wonderful.

Here's the link to our discussions, if you're interested.
https://wiki.librarything.com/index.php/Groups:The_Green_Dragon/Group_book_discu...

147Jim53
Oct 2, 2022, 10:42pm

>146 clamairy: The first one seemed kinda like a Bobbsey Twins adventure with a creepy old man thrown in. Then in the afterword she goes on about the guy's name--ooh, if you look at it in just the right light, it sounds like Merlin!
I liked the second book ok; it was more the sort of thing I was expecting. The third and fourth were quite similar in that they had some effective scenes and passages, but she still had to do a bunch of explaining at the end of each one to force it to make sense. I started the last one, and it had very much the same flavor as the beginnings of the others, and I asked myself just why I was reading these. I had already determined that I wouldn't give, or even suggest, them for the grandkids, who are already reading much better stuff.

I'm aware that my reaction was possibly more unforgiving than many others'. I probably started the series with the wrong sort of expectations. But it really didn't do much for me.

Thanks for the links to the discussions!

148Jim53
Oct 2, 2022, 10:46pm

I've been looking through The Atlas of Middle Earth and it's sorta cool. Apparently she looked at a lot of sources, including the professor's own notes and drawings, in figuring out where things are in relation to one another. She focuses on why the places are of interest, organizing a lot of the sections around the portions of the books that happened in and between particular locations. I'm not entirely crazy about the pencil-ish drawings, but they don't detract much. Definitely a useful resource for hard-core Tolkien-lovers.

149Karlstar
Oct 2, 2022, 11:28pm

>148 Jim53: Sounds interesting, might have to add it to the Tolkien collection.

150clamairy
Edited: Oct 3, 2022, 4:34pm

>148 Jim53: & >149 Karlstar: I have that book! Back when MrsLee and I were trying to walk through Middle Earth using trackers to log where we were at the end of each day it came in very handy. Now there appears to be an app for your phone (Walk to Mordor) that does this for you... If only I had waited.

151MrsLee
Oct 3, 2022, 6:17pm

>148 Jim53: Yep, I have it too. I used it quite a bit recently while listening to the books again.

152clamairy
Oct 3, 2022, 6:56pm

>151 MrsLee: I'm pretty sure I bought it on your recommendation. It's great.

153jillmwo
Oct 3, 2022, 7:23pm

>151 MrsLee: and >152 clamairy: So just how often have you made the trip to Mordor and then back home to the Shire?

154Jim53
Oct 3, 2022, 7:47pm

>153 jillmwo: and remember, miles traveled on eagles don't count!

155MrsLee
Oct 3, 2022, 11:36pm

>153 jillmwo: I think I stalled at Rivendell. Actually, I don't remember how far I got. I quit walking when I got a bad case of plantar fasciitis, then sciatica along with that. Never started up in a dedicated way again. I do walk most mornings at the cemetery though. Perhaps we could call them the Dead Marshes? Very soggy when it gets watered.

156clamairy
Edited: Oct 4, 2022, 9:50am

>154 Jim53: Ha!
>153 jillmwo: & >155 MrsLee: I am pretty sure I can find the thread. I kept walking, but stopped trying to figure out where I was in ME at some point. I have probably gone back a forth several times. Alexa informed me that there is about 1,100 miles between The Shire and Mordor "as the crow, or the eagle, flies."
(It's 1,779 miles by foot.)

157Jim53
Oct 5, 2022, 8:17pm

I enjoyed Leviathan Wakes, so I picked up the next book in the series, Caliban's War. I'd say it was slightly more fun than LW; I enjoyed several of the characters and how they faced ridiculous, impossible situations. I've just started the third, Abaddon's Gate. So far I'm a little confused by some of the new stuff going on, but I suspect it will fall into place eventually. It reminds me more of stuff I read long ago.

158Jim53
Oct 11, 2022, 1:50pm

Abaddon's Gate was not quite as much fun as the two prior volumes, but it drew me in by raising some interesting dilemmas, largely about guilt, punishment, mercy, etc.

159Karlstar
Oct 11, 2022, 10:10pm

>158 Jim53: That's as far as I've read in that series. It just didn't keep my interest enough to continue.

160Jim53
Oct 21, 2022, 4:34am

>159 Karlstar: Understandable. I think for me right now it's a return to reading days of long ago, with familiar tropes and character types. I find myself needing something light more often of late. I'll probably go further, but not today.

Speaking of light, I have polished off volumes four and five of Rhys Bowen's Royal Spyness series featuring Lady Georgiana, 34th in line to the British throne. I lose patience with these occasionally, but on the whole they're great fun. I've also been reading some entries in John Scalzi's Virtue Signaling and Other Heresies, drawn from his blog Whatever from 2013-2018. So far it seems a little less entertaining than the first couple of these collections.

161Jim53
Oct 23, 2022, 8:21pm

Based on a rave review, I put a hold on a copy of Dinosaurs: a Novel (my goodness, there are a lot of books with that name), and received it when the library got their copies. There's a certain pleasure for me in being the first patron to read a copy of a library book. It's a fascinating story of a man who walks from NYC to Phoenix after his lover leaves him, and his experiences with settling into his new environment. Gil doesn't think he deserves his wealth, and is constantly eager to help everyone but himself. The style is deceptively simple, but there's a lot going on underneath. Four solid stars.

162Jim53
Nov 9, 2022, 6:40pm



I tried the fourth of Corey's Expanse novels, but it didn't seem to have the same verve and interest that was present in large parts of the first three, so I've abandoned it (and the series). When I'm ready for some SF, I think I'll try Karlstar's suggestion of Jack Campbell.

In the last couple of weeks, I've been reading some light mysteries. Today I picked up a copy of Liberation Day, George Saunders's new collection. I don't read a lot of short stories, but I'm always up for Saunders's. I'm looking forward to getting into this one.

163Karlstar
Nov 9, 2022, 9:01pm

>161 Jim53: It always is nice to be the first person to crack open a new library book! That one sounds interesting.

164pgmcc
Nov 10, 2022, 3:15am

>162 Jim53:
Those are interesting comments about Expanse. I watched the screen adaptations and enjoyed them. I have not read the books "yet", but do intend to at some point. Your warning about beyond the three is taken on board.

I have not read any George Saunders. Have you any suggestions for a starting point?

I quite like short stories, but I am remarkably bad at getting around to reading them.

165Jim53
Nov 10, 2022, 5:26pm

>164 pgmcc: The first collection of his that I read was Tenth of December. I liked most of the stories quite well, especially the title story. I can't comment on the new collection yet as I've read just the first story. I also liked his novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, quite a bit. I don't recommend The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil.

166pgmcc
Nov 10, 2022, 5:34pm

>165 Jim53:
Now there is a coinkydink. A friend recommended Lincoln in the Bardo to me during the summer and I picked it up on the Kindle. I will start there.

167Jim53
Nov 20, 2022, 8:11pm

Question: has anybody read Paul Park? I remember being fascinated by A Princess of Roumania many years ago, but I didn't find the sequels. I saw his name the other day and wondered about trying them again. I'm sure I could find them all on eBay if I decide to go ahead. I'd love to hear from anyone who has read these.

168Jim53
Nov 22, 2022, 11:24pm

I found the Saunders a bit much for my current state. Inspired by Peter's mention of Italo Calvino, I decided to try The Castle of Crossed Destinies. I had looked at it once long ago, but didn't want to put forth the effort then. Calvino's nameless narrator finds himself at a table in a castle in a wood, together with numerous other travelers. All stricken dumb, they take turns telling their stories by placing series of tarot cards onto the table. The narrator interprets the sequences and relates the stories as he sees them.

One could make a study of the placements of the cards and the ways in which the stories interact by being read in different directions (not only left-to-right and vice versa, but also top-to-bottom and vice versa). This makes the title very appropriate. When I first looked at the book, probably 40 years ago, I was looking for something about which to write a paper, and I knew that I couldn't do it justice without learning a good bit about the tarot. Now that I'm reading for pleasure, I can just sail on by things that are confusing, or return at the end of the story to try to see what was going on. I'm about halfway through and finding it quite enjoyable.

169pgmcc
Nov 23, 2022, 3:00am

>168 Jim53:
You may have hit me with that post. Good shooting.

170jillmwo
Nov 23, 2022, 9:48am

>168 Jim53: I am intrigued. I haven't read anything by Calvino. (Although I want to ask what course you were taking at the time, or if you only remember that you needed it for a paper. Was it a literature course of some kind?)

171Jim53
Nov 23, 2022, 12:22pm

>170 jillmwo: I was working at NCSU and was working on an MA in English Lit one course at a time, not for career purposes but to enjoy myself. This was in the early eighties. I took a class in Postmodern Lit, which I enjoyed a lot, although some of the "traditional" (read: 22-year-old) MA students seemed a bit overwhelmed. As I recall, I ended up writing about metafictional elements or some such thing in If on a Winter's Night a Traveler.

172jillmwo
Nov 23, 2022, 4:21pm

>171 Jim53: Very cool!!

173Sakerfalcon
Nov 24, 2022, 7:57am

>168 Jim53: You are making me want to reread The castle of crossed destinies.

174haydninvienna
Nov 24, 2022, 8:21am

>173 Sakerfalcon: I'm also encouraging you to do so. And add any of If on a Winter's Night a Traveller, Invisible Cities and any other Calvino fantasies you haven't read as well.

175Sakerfalcon
Nov 25, 2022, 8:38am

>174 haydninvienna: I have read those two more recently. I do have Cosmicomics and The Baron in the trees still unread.

176Jim53
Nov 26, 2022, 10:30pm

>174 haydninvienna: I've never read Invisible Cities. I'll have to keep an eye out for it, after I finish some current reads, including The Hidden Life of Trees, Pope Joan, and The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu (who can resist a title like that?).

177pgmcc
Nov 27, 2022, 2:40am

>176 Jim53:
That certainly is an intriguing title. I had a look at the summary and it strikes me as being very interesting. I hope the contents does not let the title down.

178Jim53
Nov 27, 2022, 1:04pm

>177 pgmcc: As do I, of course. I haven't started it yet; I'm finishing up the tree book first, as well as Pope Joan, which was a loan pushed upon me by a friend.

179clamairy
Dec 1, 2022, 7:15am

>176 Jim53: I own that Tree book and Pope Joan. So let us know if they are any good. I do hope you're feeling well.

180Jim53
Dec 1, 2022, 9:09pm

>179 clamairy: Thanks very much, Clare, and back atcha. Things are a little odd right now; we went to MD for Thanksgiving and Mrs53 caught a case of Covid. I've been testing every day and am negative so far. We've been taking turns eating and stuff like that, and I've been sleeping in the recliner in my office. Both of us really need a hug!

Pope Joan was pretty interesting. The author provides some info at the end about the historicity of the story. In some ways it's almost a cliche: intelligent, inquisitive ninth-century girl learns to read, isn't allowed to study, runs away from home, disguises herself as a boy, and stuns many with her brilliance. There are numerous obstacles and complications to keep the story interesting, and some pretty well drawn characters. I wouldn't drop everything to read it immediately, but I recommend giving it a try. There are a few clumsy moments, but overall it's quite an easy read.

The Hidden Life of Trees was both inspiring and frustrating. The author managed a forest and clearly developed some sort of feelings for the trees. In a way, the book is complementary to Entangled Life (which I have not yet managed to read), talking about the many roles fungi play from the POV of the trees. He gives us many short chapters, which made for easy reading. He jumps around a bit but does come back to ideas in later chapters. I had had minimal exposure to the info he presents, so I found much of it surprising and quite interesting. I'd say it's worth starting on to see how you like it.

181Jim53
Dec 1, 2022, 9:14pm

I had to go get a set of tires yesterday. What relevance could that possibly have to my reading? I'm glad you asked ;-) I assumed I'd be at the shop for a couple of hours, so I would need to bring something to read. I decided I would want something easy, and I wasn't sure how easy the Bad-Ass Librarians would be. So I brought along John Scalzi's The Kaiju Preservation Society, and got about halfway through it. It's tons of fun, and light enough to double as a bedtime read, so I'll go ahead and finish it before getting on to other things.

182Bookmarque
Dec 2, 2022, 8:13am

As much as I love trees and fungi, I couldn't bear Entangled Life and reviews about The Hidden Life of Trees warned me of the anthropomorphizing and twee aspect of his expression. I gave them both a miss, preferring more soundly science-grounded work. As Douglas Adams famously said - "Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?"

183pgmcc
Dec 2, 2022, 9:07am

There was a cartoon on recently. It turned out that fungi arrived on Earth before humans evolved. With the web of connections the fungi had established they were now rising to take over the planet.

I suspect the writer was influenced by Entangled Life.

184Karlstar
Dec 2, 2022, 9:19am

>182 Bookmarque: What? Ents don't exist? No myconids? Dang. If they don't exist, I agree with you completely.

185clamairy
Dec 2, 2022, 9:43am

>180 Jim53: Oh, yikes! Well I'm sending virtual hugs. I hope she's recovers quickly AND that you do not catch it.

>181 Jim53: I really enjoyed that Scalzi, and I'm glad you are enjoying it too!

186Karlstar
Dec 2, 2022, 10:38am

>180 Jim53: I hope she is well soon and you don't get it!

187MrsLee
Dec 2, 2022, 12:23pm

>180 Jim53: May your household be well soon.

188Jim53
Dec 2, 2022, 6:41pm

>185 clamairy: >186 Karlstar: >187 MrsLee: Thanks very much. My wife seems to be improving, and I'm still negative.

Today I finished The Kaiju Preservation Society. As Scalzi says in his afterword, sometimes you need not a brooding symphony, but a three-minute pop song. This one definitely qualifies. The banter among the four newbies is extremely well done, and I'm sure there were some references to popular culture that went right by me. The pseudoscience is nicely assembled and I never worried about whether it was possible. I'll probably never see a Hawaiian shirt or a karaoke machine without thinking of this book. Fun fun fun.

189Karlstar
Dec 2, 2022, 11:27pm

>188 Jim53: Good news on the health front!

Thanks, for the review, I've been meaning to get to that one, I will move it up on the list!

190jillmwo
Dec 3, 2022, 9:45am

>188 Jim53: I had asked my eldest son if he had read The Kaiju Preservation Society yet in the hope that I might be able to give it to him as a Christmas gift. He had and his sentiments echo yours. I will have to check if the younger one has read it.

Stay healthy!!

191Jim53
Dec 3, 2022, 11:14am

>182 Bookmarque: I think those reviews were quite valid. While I didn't say so above, my reaction was, "Really?" in a lot of places. More supporting data would have been welcome, perhaps in backmatter so as to avoid changing the tone altogether. My exposure to this stuff was so limited that I couldn't challenge it on my own, and I didn't want to do the research work myself. I still welcome the exposure to his ideas.

Now you've got me thinking of the bishop from The Princess Bride saying something about "twee twees."

192Bookmarque
Dec 3, 2022, 12:18pm

Ha!

Twee twee twees!

193Jim53
Dec 6, 2022, 10:25pm

Much of my reading in the last few days has been in the Bridge Bulletin, the monthly publication of the ACBL. This issue has more interesting stories (primarily of cool hands at major tournaments) and useful columns than the BB sometimes includes. I believe I'll use at least a couple, maybe as many as four, of the columns with the bridge group that I lead here in the village. The rest of it is for my own entertainment and edification; I often see a technique that I can use later myself, if the correct combinations occur. And if I recognize it and remember to do it.

194Karlstar
Dec 7, 2022, 12:06pm

How's it going with Dauntless?

195Jim53
Dec 7, 2022, 11:02pm

>194 Karlstar: I haven't started it yet. Several things I want to get to first. I'll have to see how it is for bedtime.

196Jim53
Dec 8, 2022, 12:11pm

I took a bullet from RuneFirestar on The Marlow Murder Club. I found the solution very nicely done, but I wasn't impressed with the writing or with the book as a whole. So it goes.

197Jim53
Dec 9, 2022, 11:14pm

I've read a few chapters of The Bad-Ass Librarians and I'm enjoying it, although the going is just a bit slow. I have seen an impressive list of the sorts of scholarship that was happening in the city, which Europe was in the Middle Ages; learned some history of the area, which had largely to do with varying degrees of permissiveness in the succession of Islamic rulers (a couple of especially fertile periods sounded a lot like Ragosa), and learned the origin of the city's name (more or less, "the well of the one with the large belly button"). It's best so far in fairly small chunks; I'll be reading other things between them.

198Jim53
Dec 9, 2022, 11:19pm

I happened to see a couple of reviews by LTers who get books from NetGalley. So of course I said, what the heck, I've got a dozen books out of the library, and a large shelf full that I want to read before donating; why wouldn't I want a new source of material? I saw that they had Deborah Crombie's new Kincaid/James mystery (one of my very favorite series), so I requested it and got it. I wasn't sure how reading on the screen would go--I decided to try reading a PDF file using the Adobe Digital Edition reader. It went just fine: I finished the book in three days. Tomorrow I'll write a review and see what else they might have for me.

199hfglen
Dec 10, 2022, 5:17am

>197 Jim53: Just as a PS to The Bad-Ass Librarians, when I worked in Pretoria we had a resident (and gifted -- among the world's finest) botanical artist on the staff. Her other major skill is as one of the country's best paper conservators. In that capacity she spent at least some weeks in Timbuktu.

200pgmcc
Dec 10, 2022, 6:24am

>197 Jim53:
That sounds interesting.

201haydninvienna
Dec 10, 2022, 8:11am

>197 Jim53: Re The Badass Librarians — my library books lately have been a bit lacklustre, so I decided to see if the Oxfordshire library service has it and it does. Reservation placed. Count it as a BB.

202Jim53
Dec 12, 2022, 12:19pm

>201 haydninvienna: Thank you, Richard. I hope someday soon it will be safe for you to come out of haydn.

I've read a bit more of the BL, getting into the section where the great collection of manuscripts is being built up. I can't always keep up with all the names, but the little personal bits in the stories help to keep them interesting.

Last night I succumbed to the tremendous pressure being exerted by Karlstar and majkia, with an assist from fuzzi, to start Dauntless. I'm a couple of chapters in and it's a good bit of fun. My experience is helped by the fact that the library's copy is a well worn old MMPB, contributing to the feeling of reading a SF novel in the old days. I'm looking forward to continuing.

203haydninvienna
Dec 12, 2022, 2:28pm

204pgmcc
Dec 12, 2022, 4:02pm

>203 haydninvienna: I thought >202 Jim53: deserved a high class groan.

205clamairy
Edited: Dec 12, 2022, 4:56pm

>202 Jim53: >203 haydninvienna: >204 pgmcc: How about a solid middle-class "Oy" instead?

206Jim53
Dec 12, 2022, 8:51pm

>203 haydninvienna: I'm afraid I was inspired by the old joke about why Beethoven couldn't find his piano teacher.

207Jim53
Dec 12, 2022, 9:00pm

>199 hfglen: Interesting. I remember when "Timbuktu" was used to indicate "way out far from civilization," but as I read, that sounds like quite a misnomer. Sounds as if it could be an interesting place to visit.

208Jim53
Dec 15, 2022, 7:54pm

I had to make another overnight trip this week, so I spent some quality time in my hotel room with Dauntless and finished it. This was a book bullet, originally delivered by Karlstar, and recently seconded my majkia. I enjoyed the book overall; the idea of a military hero surviving unknown for a hundred years and returning to an unfamiliar world was pretty well done. There was a fair amount of slogging through the universe, since that's a lot of the plot structure, and there was also quite a bit of slogging through the angst. The mission undertaken in the book is not fully accomplished, so at some point I'll pick up the next in the series. I wouldn't be surprised if it takes a few more books.

209Karlstar
Dec 15, 2022, 9:46pm

>208 Jim53: Sort of Buck Rogers, though I hadn't thought about that until now. It will take a few more books!

210Jim53
Dec 17, 2022, 9:43pm

I've gotten a lot further into The Badass Librarians of Timbuktu. When I left off we were talking about the growth of several impressive personal libraries in the city. Much of the last few chapters has been focused on reviewing the history of the area, including the rise of more fanatical, strict Islamists, and their interactions with numerous other groups. I remember hearing or reading about some of these events as they happened over the last forty years, but seeing them all collected into one narrative really brought home how many different things were going on at the same time when much of the world wasn't paying attention. And this isn't the main focus of the book--it's laying the groundwork for further warfare and the need to save the many invaluable documents stored in the city's libraries. I hope we'll be getting into that soon; while interesting, this has not been particularly fun reading.

211Jim53
Edited: Dec 20, 2022, 1:47pm

I believe it was last year when I took a bullet from clamairy on Silver in the Wood. I grabbed both it and the sequel on my last library visit. I enjoyed SitW quite a bit, especially Tobias's ability/inclination to say nothing a lot of the time, and Mrs. Silver. I suspected early on that Silver would end up as Tobias's successor--that is what happens, right? I'm ready to tackle Drowned Country, but it will have to wait a bit; the library finally came through with Louise Penny's new one, and I'm going to try to at least make quite a dent in it before the kids and grandkids arrive.

212clamairy
Dec 19, 2022, 8:41pm

>211 Jim53: I'm glad you enjoyed it! I didn't love that second one quite as much as the first, though it was still a good read.

213Jim53
Dec 22, 2022, 2:48pm

I zipped through A World of Curiosities, Louise Penny's latest mystery featuring Armand Gamache et crew. I would say it's not one of her best. The story is clever, but a bit far fetched. There are a good number of clunky expressions and sentences. I wonder if she is becoming one of those writers whom editors don't wish to offend, although I think she's still using the same editor that she has for a while. We see a couple of interesting prior moments, including when Gamache first meets Beauvoir (whose name would be great for an eight-letter wordle game). It's not a good book to start with if you haven't read her before; she assumes the reader is familiar with her usual cast of characters. Less-than-wonderful Penny is still quite good, so if you're a fan of the series, I would definitely read it.

214Jim53
Dec 28, 2022, 1:13pm

I don't remember who fired the first shot on Od Magic, but I was struck by several. There were several things to like about it, beginning with the school of magic where the first question is, "How did you come in?", because there are several possibilities, and the answer might indicate something about you as a potential wizard. I was confused at first by the tone, which resembled the tone of her books for adults (I assume at least some of them are), but seemed to slip into YA-land from time to time. I eventually decided that what I had was, in fact, a YA book; the elements that might have made me think of it as being intended primarily for adults were simply a sign that some YA books can reflect on themes more mature than I was giving them credit for, which makes them more satisfying to adult readers, particularly fantasy readers, than one might expect.

Some of the characters were pretty interesting, particularly two young women. By the time a theme emerges, it has come at us from several directions and is easily recognized. I thought that the ending brought a lot of things together quite suddenly, and that the answers were accepted a bit too readily, particularly by those who would be giving up power and prestige. Overall the story was fun, with the locations of the characters nicely choreographed, and with an ending that tastes good, even if it arrived rather precipitously.

215Karlstar
Dec 28, 2022, 2:38pm

>214 Jim53: I guess the ending didn't bother me, I enjoyed the writing so much and that meant it wasn't long and drawn out like so many novels today. The characters were fascinating without being angst-y, which is a plus for me. Thanks for giving it a try!

216jillmwo
Edited: Dec 28, 2022, 4:10pm

>214 Jim53: Re: I eventually decided that what I had was, in fact, a YA book; the elements that might have made me think of it as being intended primarily for adults were simply a sign that some YA books can reflect on themes more mature than I was giving them credit for, which makes them more satisfying to adult readers, particularly fantasy readers, than one might expect.

For the record, one of the reasons that YA has gained so much market-share in trade publishing is exactly the reason you note.

217Jim53
Dec 28, 2022, 11:49pm

I had an interesting (to me, anyway) thought after reading and thinking about this book: I have read more than half of McKillip's oeuvre. Does it contain any books that cannot be read and mostly "gotten" by teens or even tweens? Has she written any books that are strictly for adults? I can't come up with one.

218Karlstar
Dec 29, 2022, 10:46am

>217 Jim53: I think the tone and style of her books are always appropriate for teens and up. I think some of her books are better appreciated by adults though, such as The Book of Atrix Wolfe and The Bards of Bone Plain. I'm not quite up to reading half of her books yet.

219jillmwo
Dec 29, 2022, 1:46pm

>217 Jim53: I think the whole Riddle Master of Hed trilogy might be most suited to adults. It's been more than 20 years since I read it, so my memory may be off. That said, my recollection is that the protagonists were all full grown adults rather than twenty-something types that teens might more readily identify with.

220Jim53
Dec 29, 2022, 9:48pm

I've taken numerous detours, but I have finally returned to the path and finished The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu. It took over a month, because I didn't read it in long sections. I found it better suited, for me, for reading in smaller chunks, sometimes even smaller than a chapter. The story is intriguing, about how the great manuscript libraries were built and populated, and later how the manuscripts had to be shipped to safer locations after jihadists took over the city and imposed Sharia Law.

The middle section, dealing with the political history of Mali and the surrounding areas, dragged quite a bit for me; I would say there was more detail here than was necessary, and then less than I wanted about the eventual recovery of the manuscripts and the restoration of the libraries. I suspect some of the omissions were made in order to protect participants, since the area is still subject to jihadist attacks. Perhaps a fictionalized version, with the story intact but names changed, might tell the story better.

Despite my complaints, I'm definitely glad to have read this book. I have seen other descriptions of the rich cultures that flourished in several parts of Africa during Europe's middle ages, but I enjoyed seeing more specifics about the contents and subjects of some of the manuscripts, and the description of the more flexible and inclusive form of Islam that was practiced before and after the jihadi invasion. The book includes a high-level map of the affected area, but my copy was from the library, and they had pasted various things over it. I think the map is essential for appreciating the story. I was able to bring up various types of maps online that showed what I wanted to see, so this wasn't really a problem.

221Jim53
Dec 31, 2022, 9:32am

My final read of the year was Knot of Shadows, which I requested from NetGalley because it is set in the world of five gods, and I have enjoyed her novels set there, particularly The Curse of Chalion. I didn't realize it was #11 in a series of novellas featuring Divine/Sorcerer Penric and his demon Desdemona. Penric is devoted to the fifth god, the Bastard, meaning he is called upon for all sorts of weird things. This time he is asked to consult with a master of medicine on a case of apparent reanimation.

This novella did not inspire me to go find all of Penric's and Desdemona's adventures. It's a pretty easy, fun read, but it lacks the depth that makes Bujold's five-gods novels so appealing. I probably came to it with unreasonable expectations because of the setting. If all of the entries are like this, it could be a series of easy, clever reads.

222Jim53
Dec 31, 2022, 9:37am

Thanks to everyone who has stopped by this year, be it with a book bullet, a cogent comment, or just a hello. It's been a challenging year, and interacting with y'all has helped.

223jillmwo
Dec 31, 2022, 9:47am

>222 Jim53: Here's to more frequent engagement with book recommendations, cogent commentary and quick waves with you in the New Year!

224majkia
Dec 31, 2022, 10:08am

Have a wonderful day and a great new year.

225pgmcc
Dec 31, 2022, 10:16am

Wishing you a 2023 that is better than 2022, and, like >223 jillmwo: said, I hope for more frequent engagement. Good luck, Jim.

Happy New Year!

226Karlstar
Dec 31, 2022, 10:21am

>222 Jim53: Thanks for your engagement here too and I hope 2023 is less challenging for you. Happy New Year!

227clamairy
Dec 31, 2022, 11:15am

What everyone else said! Wishing you a happy healthy 2023.

228MrsLee
Dec 31, 2022, 12:03pm

>222 Jim53: Looking forward to a New Year and more visiting on your reading thread, even if I don't comment much, I'm always here, wishing you well.

229Narilka
Dec 31, 2022, 3:52pm

>222 Jim53: Happy new year Jim!
This topic was continued by Jim53 reads in 2023.