The Eternal Question: What Are You Reading?

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The Eternal Question: What Are You Reading?

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Nov 7, 2016, 11:39pm

Well, it's MY eternal question, anyway.

Nov 8, 2016, 7:40am

Purity by Johnathan Frazen.

Nov 8, 2016, 8:14am

Right now, thanks to lisapeet, I'm reading Sasa Stanisic's Before the Feast. Also, Serafina and the Twisted Staff, but that's for work. :-)

Editado: Nov 8, 2016, 8:21am

I took Mercury to the polling place with me this morning, but then we decided to wait to vote until after the pre-work crowd had died down, so it's still in the car.

Also still reading the Shirley Jackson bio. Very close to being done with it. I think it is fantastic.

Editado: Nov 11, 2016, 10:09am

Still slowly reading Eleanor and Hick, and it's a fun companion during this election season. So much has changed, and yet so little. Getting ready to read Station Eleven for book club.

Nov 8, 2016, 1:36pm

Reading At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails with Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Others, which is a really interesting deep dive into that particular intellectual movement in Europe in the 30s and 40s. I just finished the section dealing with the rise of Fascism and the lead up to WWII and... oh jeez. If I hadn't already been champing at the bit to get out and vote today, that would have put the fear of god into me all by itself.

I liked Station Eleven--the scale was nicely small for an apocalyptic novel, and her touch light. That opening scene has stayed with me, too.

Nov 11, 2016, 12:03am

The Girl in the Spider's Web. I needed something plot driven to keep my mind off the election.

Nov 11, 2016, 8:24am

I'm having trouble compartmentalizing enough to really enjoy reading right now. Feel good stuff seems escapist and shallow, and more serious stuff seems weighted and fraught. I've started reading the Arts sections of foreign newspapers, and books about language and cooking, because those two things still feel unsullied to me.

But sitting on my desk is a copy of an old memoir that came in the mail the other day:

My Adventures in Bolshevik Russia, originally published in French as "Sous lenine," by Odette Keun. She was a Dutch journalist/lady adventurer (after failing at becoming a nun) in the early 20th century, a war correspondent, and also, incidentally, HG Wells's lover after Rebecca West.

Nov 11, 2016, 10:30am

Not to sound overdramatic, but this week has reminded me of the days right after 9/11, when I just couldn't focus on anything other than the news.

I did manage to read thirty-odd pages of Mercury yesterday, and I'm really enjoying it so far.

Nov 11, 2016, 10:37am

I have a pile of books, but right now, I have a hard time not lying on the couch and playing Angry Birds.

Nov 11, 2016, 12:11pm

I just finished March Book Two-the graphic novel and it is exceptional. Much deeper and more harrowing than Book One. This is a true-based story about the Freedom Marchers in the early 1960s.
I knew little about the marchers and the story is so horrific, it is beyond belief what people did to these people who just wanted equal rights. Very sad story but beautifully rendered in both graphic
and text.

In audio I am half-way through Stonewall, which is a YA nonfiction work about the Stonewall riots in 1969. I knew a little bit about the riots but this really takes you through the events blow by
blow, so to speak. For example, it is believed that it was a woman dressed as a man who caused the original riot to take place. She was being pushed into a paddy wagon and she screamed that
the people on the street fight back and everything went crazy then.

Nov 11, 2016, 12:33pm

Shirley Jackson bio.

Nov 11, 2016, 2:15pm

I thought Mercury was quite incredible. Novels about families and marriages are really resonating right now. And I love anything with a Massachusetts connection so it made me happy.

I am about 3/4 of the way through The Detour which has been on my shit or get off the pot pile for a while. It's about a young German man who is working on obtaining art works from other countries for Germany's museums and a trip to purchase The Discus Thrower from Rome. I honestly don't know if its good or not but its holding my attention and its only slightly disconcerting to read about fascism this week.

Nov 11, 2016, 2:20pm

Just started Rich and Pretty but am not very far into it as I'm having trouble focusing. Rumaan Alam recently spoke at a library event here in Charlotte and though his talk was brief, I was impressed with his presentation and his thoughtfulness.

Nov 11, 2016, 2:26pm

Oh, I am reading Muslim Girl as well. It's very well written and frankly, now more relevant than ever.

Nov 11, 2016, 9:39pm

I was rudely interrupted in my reading of At The Existentialist Café—one thing and another conspired to interrupt my reading (plus it's not a short book) and it got sucked back into the library ether from which it came. NYPL says I have 13 more days before I can have it back again, though that might change depending on whether someone finishes with their copy sooner. So now I'm reading Zadie Smith's Changing My Mind on Lauren's recommendation. And it's actually just what I'm in the mood for: criticism, smart and sharp.

One of the interruptions was sticking my toe into the world of book clubs—someone I know through FB organized a translation book club for writers, and let me squeeze in even though I'm not a fiction writer. The book was Super Extra Grande by Yoss, a Cuban sf writer/biologist/heavy metal rockstar—she chose it on someone's word without having read it, and none of the three of us who ultimately showed up loved it. It was weird, fun in parts, cheerfully but also annoyingly adolescent with a lot of futuristic dick-swinging. Interesting language and science play, with a plot out of a 16-year-old's comic-book script. One of its major assets was that it was short—I'm not sure I'd have stuck with a longer book. Anyway, it was fun to talk about, and we went out to a Cuban restaurant which was a bit loud but the food was great. It'd be nice to have a bigger group sometime, but I appreciate her organizing this and I'd go back again.

Nov 11, 2016, 10:14pm

Small world. "Futuristic Dick Swinging" is also the name of MY metal band!

Editado: Nov 12, 2016, 11:26am

The Detour was ok - ostensibly about a young man working for the Reich, assembling art for Hitler's collection. The ending was ridiculously upbeat and there was a weird subplot about a third nipple (I know!) but the premise - a trip to Italy to get The Discus Thrower - which was one of the statues Hitler acquired- was interesting.

Then I watched Monument Men which was stodgy and old fashioned, but somehow likable.

I started Katherine Govier's The Truth Teller which I've had on my shelf for at least 3 years - I bought it in a wonderful used bookstore outside of Bannf. It seems to have everything - quirky private school in the Toronto suburbs, classical allusions, girl gangs and bad behavior.

But at some point, I am going to have to read the paper again and decide how to live in the world right now. I have literally thrown the daily NYT in the recycling bin every morning and only listened to music in the car. It just feels so fucking brutal.

Editado: Nov 12, 2016, 12:19pm

Just finished Mischling, The Wonder and Commonwealth.
Enjoying The Fortunes.

Nov 12, 2016, 12:48pm

I really enjoyed The Fortunes. Glad to hear others are reading it.

Nov 12, 2016, 12:49pm

Hmm, I don't think the touchstones thingy works. Clicking on The Fortunes is taking me to dickens. Which is great, but not what I am referring to.

Nov 12, 2016, 1:28pm

>21 laurenbufferd: touchstones can be a little buggy, but you do have to be careful to link the correct work: The Fortunes (by Peter Ho Davies, found by clicking on the "others" option).

Nov 12, 2016, 2:49pm

Editado: Nov 12, 2016, 8:47pm

I have been working on The Mists Of Avalon for quite a while now in dribs and drabs - mostly during physical therapy. I do really like it, but it is looong!

>5 SPRankin: I read Station Eleven for my book group last year. Freaked me out to no end, because too much seemed plausible. (Not everything, but enough.) Well written, and I ultimately couldn't go to my book group because I didn't feel able to rehash it.

Nov 13, 2016, 2:15pm

I am having an extremely hard time determining what I'm in the mood for. Nothing's quite working. I'm trying Queen Lucia, and I've gotten further than ever before, so maybe I'll actually finish it this time!

Nov 14, 2016, 1:21pm

I finished listening to Stonewall by Ann Baunus this morning. This is a YA account of the Stonewall riots and a pretty complete history of LBGTQ rights since then. The bulk of the book deals with the Stonewall events. The narrator was excellent and the reading was only three hours. I was very impressed with the book and I think it would be a wonderful primer for adults too.

Editado: Nov 14, 2016, 6:36pm

Two things: Wild Things, Wild Places by Jane Alexander. It's an interesting book, though I think her privilege shows through now and again and it keeps her perspective on our place in the world a little simplistic. It's hard to explain.

Also Mister Monkey by Francine Prose, which reminds me a little of Thomas Mallon's Bandbox, mainly because it's fizzy and funny and a little cacophonous. Usual suspects, line up.

JulieCarter, the Lucia books get easier and smoother the more you know the players, so the further you get, the smoother it all gets. They're also super-repetitive, in a PG Wodehouse way, which I mean as a total compliment.

Whew, it's tough remembering how to do all that linking. My fingers remembered though. Though I should be linking to LT pages, shouldn't I?

Editado: Nov 14, 2016, 6:44pm

Even easier: just put single square brackets around titles ( Wild Things, Wild Places ) and double around authors Jane Alexander and it will link to the LibraryThing page for the book or the author. And if you want to respond to someone, just type > and the number of the post you're replying to, when when when you hit Post Message, it will magically link to person and the post. >27 DG_Strong:

Nov 14, 2016, 6:44pm

Nov 14, 2016, 6:51pm

Right now:

The Kid by Ben Bradlee Jr.
Can You Forgive Her? by Anthony Trollope (audiobook)
Mr. Wortle's School by Anthony Trollope
The Black Echo by Michael Connelly
Sinclair Lewis by Mark Schorer

Nov 14, 2016, 7:18pm

I've started NW and I picked up The Unwinding from the library today, but reading either might be overly ambitious for me right now.

Nov 14, 2016, 10:06pm

Mir, i'm so glad you are here. I am reading a novel by Katherine Govier. I bought this when I was Banff. Do you know her? I know, it's stupid to ask but I think she's pretty well known in Canada, less so here. It's a total oddball of a novel but I kind of like it. Govier The Truth Teller

Nov 15, 2016, 5:48am

I've started both Another Brooklyn and The Other Slavery but still struggling to concentrate.

Nov 15, 2016, 11:01am

I really liked Another Brooklyn. Now I need to read more of Jackie's books....

Nov 15, 2016, 2:25pm

I'm plowng through Station Eleven today and, golly, it's quite a time to be reading a story about the end of the world as we know it.

Nov 15, 2016, 2:50pm

Katherine Govier had a new novel out this past summer which was very highly acclaimed, but strangely did not make the short list for the three big literary prizes in Canada. It's an historical novel about two sisters and a hotel,but I can't remember the title.

Nov 15, 2016, 3:31pm

>35 SPRankin: it's quite a time to be reading a story about the end of the world as we know it.

I am so hypersensitive about it that I am only reading books about plants and pretty animals. The Hidden Life of Trees, The Genius of Birds. Honestly, if there was a book called "The Emotional Life of Stones" I would be reading it.

Editado: Nov 15, 2016, 3:57pm

>25 JulieCarter:, I'm thinking of that one also. I've had the first two books for years.

SP, touchstone not working for me. Wrong brackets? Spaces?

Editado: Nov 16, 2016, 9:29am

>35 SPRankin: Had an intersting discussion of the book in my sci fi group last week. Be interested in what you think of it by the end.

Nov 16, 2016, 10:02am

I loved it, Cindy. A lot. I'll be very interested to see what the others in the group think. Knowing the group as I do, I doubt there will be much talk about Shakespeare and a LOT of talk about germs.

Nov 16, 2016, 10:27am

I finished the Govier The Truth Teller last night. It's frustrating - there's a skinny book inside a fat one and it wants to get out so badly. There's just so much....... extra. An alternative school on the outskirts of Toronto, an enigmatic aging headmaster and his lady wife, a frustrated assistant, a passel of unruly children culminating in a trip to Greece, self-immolation and a transformative walk through deadly bees . It wants so badly to be epic and mythic, and it would have done much better as a quiet tale of coming to terms with the decisions you've made. Or a coming of age story.

It made me think of Lauren Groff's book last year Fates and Furies which I thought was just a mess. The gods are interesting but they aren't particularly nuanced and if you model your characters on them, I don't think you can expect they are going to garner much sympathy.

I have more books on the pile but I've begun to read the paper again and catch up on past New Yorkers.

Editado: Nov 16, 2016, 2:24pm

Still not reading the paper or anything else. I have got vertigo and I think it's this election. Doctor's appointment next week.

Editado: Nov 16, 2016, 7:02pm

I did decide to pick up Tell Me a Riddle because it is just a few stories and I can handle that. I've had it a long time.

Editado: Nov 16, 2016, 4:27pm

>31 mkunruh: Wow, Mir, heavy reading. Also, have you read Do Not Say We Have Nothin? by Madeleine Thien? I see that it won the Governor General's Award and the Giller Prize; I'm anxious to read it.

>30 davidabrams: David, I see you're listening to Trollope. I'm seriously craving some Victorian fiction. I'm toying with starting The Barsetshire Chronicles again and rereading The Warden or taking on Our Mutual Friend--can't decide.

>42 karenwall: Feel better soon, Karen!

Nov 16, 2016, 6:35pm

karenwall That Tillie Olsen book is a flat out masterpiece of a certain type, right up there with those Grace Paley collections. I envy you if you're coming to it for the first time.

Editado: Nov 17, 2016, 10:35am

Thanks, April.

It is my first time and I read "I Stand Here Ironing" this afternoon and it was powerful.

Then I found out they had me down for this afternoon. I don't think so, I was complaining to Mark that I had to wait nine days for an appointment.

Nov 16, 2016, 9:23pm

>40 SPRankin: Most of my group liked it but we had several problems with some loose ends that were just dropped with very little to show for it (so just what happened during the year she couldnt remember? And what happened to the prophet that turned him out that way?) We all did see a need for a sequel - be interesting what happens when the troupe makes contact with the city

Editado: Nov 16, 2016, 9:49pm

I liked all the loose threads--it felt very real to me for that world. And I don't think what makes the prophet turn out the way he does is really a mystery or for that matter what happens that first year when Kirsten was on the road. It's such a standard trope of dystopian stories--the life on the road, the freaky doomsday cult. We've got The Road and The Stand.

What I really did like though was that at the end, the prophet was just as vulnerable as any of them, and the connections you tend or neglect or abuse are what's most important. Which is also exactly what the Arthur character learns at the end of his life--even without a plague. That seemed to be the point that Mandel made over and over again.

Nov 17, 2016, 1:57pm

I'm almost finished Rosalie Lightening the newish graphic novel by Tom Hart. I really don't care for it and wish it would end already. It's supposed to be a heart-renching story about the loss of
an infant. Maybe it's because I've never had children, and I do feel sorry for the parents-but the book just doesn't engage me and I really don't want to read 297 pages about their grief. I get
the point-it's sad..let's move on
to something least for this reader. It seems as if everyone has to graphic-novelize everything that has ever happened to them. The art in this book is nothing
special and the story....well it's pages and pages and pages of grief and I get the point. Heartless perhaps, but truthfully really bored.

Nov 20, 2016, 12:42pm

I'm also having trouble focusing, but I've actually been having that for a long time, so it's not the election. So I've been trying to read more, but I have no discipline, so I keep switching or starting new books. Queen Lucia, The Magicians (need to get the episodes off my DVR, but I have to read the book first), My Sister's Grave, His Bloody Project, The Known World....I wonder if I should try a reread to get back in the swing of things. I rarely reread anything.

Nov 20, 2016, 9:45pm

I'm rereading Trollope's The Warden. Wanted something short and Victorian.

Nov 21, 2016, 11:37am

What a great idea. Maybe I'll read some Trollope over the holidays.

Nov 21, 2016, 1:17pm

I have a library hold on Trollope's Christmas stories.

Editado: Nov 21, 2016, 5:45pm

hagseed Margaret Atwood

Nov 21, 2016, 10:27pm

Hmm, I'll have to check out the Trollope Christmas stories. Off I go...

Nov 22, 2016, 10:54am

Trollope sounds comforting. I'm re-reading (for the first time in about 25 years) The Mouse That Roared, which is cold war era political satire by Leonard Wibberly. Since I was literally a child when I last read it, it's an interesting experience - I loooooved the books when I stumbled across them before, but the emphasis on the US is sitting oddly with me now, since I take geopolitics as a given now. (It is also really pro-american, but I'm only a bit into the book and want to see how this develops.) Oddly, the cold war threat of nukes doesn't seem as dated, either because that's still a fucking possible threat (just one of many more), or because I lived through the end of the cold war and remember it.

Anyway, nothing like outdated political satire for escapist reading.

Editado: Nov 22, 2016, 2:05pm

>51 AprilAdamson: I listened to that relatively recently. I enjoyed it quite a bit. I have Phineas Phinn also, but I'm not ready to start it.

I'm far enough into NW to say I'm definitely reading it. I'm also reading Libriomancer, at my 18 year old's' insistence, and it is fine except their world is ending too (in a way) and apparently even fiction/magical world ends are stressing me.

(In other news, I'm off the picket line and back at work. My group in the union got the shaft, but I expected that, and it is very nice not to be outside handing out pamphlets).

Nov 22, 2016, 2:04pm

I have that little Penguin Christmas Classics book of Trollope Christmas stories, Christmas at Thompson Hall: And Other Christmas Stories, and I absolutely love the lead-off one even though it's a little creaky and you can see stuff coming a mile off.

Nov 22, 2016, 11:30pm

Finished Hagseed, and with the exception of the very end, when I heard the author's voice come out louder than the characters, I really liked this. In fact is probably on my list of best reads for this year. (granted its been a slim year.... but I'd definitely recommend it)

Nov 23, 2016, 7:54am

My idea of escapist reading these days is something that requires my attention and engages me all the way, so I'm on a nonfiction kick—which is probably working too well, because I'm having trouble tearing myself away long enough to do a whole bunch of work reading I need to take care of at home, and now have it all piled up for this weekend. Oh well, at least it's a long weekend and I can do both.

I just finished Zadie Smith’s 2010 essay collection Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays in anticipation of reading her new novel once I'm in a fiction-y mood again. They weren’t particularly pertinent to anything in my life—I don’t care about the posthumous disposition of Kafka’s work, and I never really got on the David Foster Wallace train—but I like seeing how she does her reviewing, what's in her toolbox. She does a lot of thinking on her pages, and it veered close to being a vanity production in a lot of places, but I still enjoy watching her do it.

My library's new ebook interface is barely out of beta, though, and has a lot of trouble with footnotes—you can get to them OK, but then it returns you to the beginning of whatever chapter you were reading—a serious pain in the ass if it has 30 pages and you were on 25. So that was annoying. I hope they work that bug out soon, though, because I love the app with a white hot passion.

Then I was stuck on the commute from hell last night, which included not one stop where they dumped everyone out and took the train out of service, and then a second stop on the new train in between stations, where it sat and sat and someone would come on the PA periodically to say things like: "Something caused the train to go into emergency. I have to go to the tracks to investigate," and then in a couple of other instances, "Ladies and gentlemen, due to this train being stalled we are experiencing a delay." Um... doh. But at least we were on the aboveground portion of the route, and there was power/light/ventilation, and no crying babies or crazy people, and I had peed before I left, and all my devices were charged. I was counting my blessings like a boss, believe me, because that all served to stretch my already too-long hour commute into two hours and I didn't get home until nine. But fortunately I had a new hold come in, of editor Robert Gottlieb's memoir Avid Reader: A Life, which is totally entertaining. Oh, and I had a seat—not always a given on my commute—so I got a few chapters in before I finally made it home.

Nov 23, 2016, 8:14am

>60 lisapeet: Robert Gottlieb's memoir Avid Reader: A Life, which is totally entertaining.

I've been eyeing this.

Nov 23, 2016, 1:54pm

>60 lisapeet: - I'm stalled about a 1/3 of the way through her essay on Nabokov because I wanted to read Pnin first. Then, because "squirrel" I decided to read NW. Maybe I will skip the Nabokov essay, and read the one on Wallace, since I've read (with some bitterness) Infinite Jest and most of his essays.

>61 southernbooklady: >60 lisapeet: there is a member review of the Gotlieb that is, ummm, discouraging. "Entertaining" sounds way more enticing than "no gift for characterization, not of others and not of himself. Motive is always a black hole, other people are ciphers, and he's a detached and impersonal Zelig."

Nov 23, 2016, 2:31pm

I just got two books by Dubravka Ugresic: Europe in Sepia (nonfiction) and Fording the Stream of Consciousness (fiction, kinda). She's the latest on my list of women authors I want to be more familiar with.

Nov 23, 2016, 6:40pm

Just finished a sensational YA novel called Klepto by Lori Weber a writer from Montreal. Just the perfect book,very very beautifully written and moving. A great read.

Nov 24, 2016, 1:44pm

>60 lisapeet: Lisa

"But at least we were on the aboveground portion of the route, and there was power/light/ventilation, and no crying babies or crazy people, and I had peed before I left, and all my devices were charged."

So glad you were prepared!

Nov 24, 2016, 2:47pm

I am almost finished the first in August Wilson's cycle of 20th century plays, Gem of the Ocean and it is just so beautiful and sad. I wanted to read Wilson in the order that the plays take place
not the order they were written. This one starred Phylishia Rashad on Broadway and the part is so masterful that she must have been incredible. As it deals with the memory and after-effects of slavery it is a very sad work.

Editado: Nov 25, 2016, 8:06pm

Currently reading and enjoying The Trouble With Goats and Sheep: A Novel by Joanna Cannon.

Nov 25, 2016, 9:38pm

That looks like a book I'd either love or hate. Curious to see your opinion as you continue, April.

Nov 26, 2016, 10:49am

I have it but haven't gotten to it yet -- I ordered it by accident; I thought it was a knitting book.

Nov 26, 2016, 12:33pm

That sheep and goats book is sweet but not particularly memorable. I reviewed it earlier in the year. If you are averse to precocious girl narrators, it may not be your thing. Cannon is somewhere between JoJo Moyes and Nina Stibbe.

Nov 26, 2016, 6:46pm

Rereading Hogfather for a book group. Gosh darn, forced to reread Pratchett....Interestingly enough, Im really in to it - the last few weeks I just haven't been able to read anything (Hag Seed the exception)..

Nov 26, 2016, 10:28pm

Hogfather has become one of my annual Christmas season re-reads. Ho. Ho. Ho.

Nov 26, 2016, 11:01pm

I just finished reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I thought it a wonderful book on the subject of writing.

I am at present reading two other books. The first is Wehrmacht Priests. Catholicism and the Nazi War of Annihilation by Lauren Faulkner Rossi, and the second is Jeffrey Rutherford's Combat and Genocide on the Eastern Front: The German Infantry's War, 1941-1944. Both are, in my opinion, truly excellent examples of historical scholarship.

A belated Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Nov 27, 2016, 9:05am

I just finished Seraphina - didn't someone (Nicki?) say they were reading it for work? I enjoyed it a lot - the world building and the snippy main character were great - although there were some YA tropes that I could have dispensed with. (Love triangle, protagonist who doesn't realize she's beautiful - the latter is especially annoying.)

Nov 27, 2016, 10:20am

>74 Cara_DB: That was me. The author is out of Asheville, NC so his books are very popular here in my part of the country.

Nov 27, 2016, 10:26am

I think those are different books? Serafina and the Black Cloak and Seraphina.

Nov 27, 2016, 10:29am

Whoops, you're right. The Serafina books are what I've been reading. I don't know Seraphina.

Nov 27, 2016, 11:41am

Oh my gosh, I just finished The Patriots. Easily the best novel of the year for me.

Nov 27, 2016, 11:42am

Oh, shoot, my bad. Both have been getting a lot of attention, though.

Nov 30, 2016, 12:35pm

I read Sana Krasikov's One More Year and as good as they are, The Patriots is so much better. BUT - very strong short stories, sharp and unexpected. Most of them take place in and around NYC, including Yonkers, so calling >60 lisapeet: Lisa P, you will like.

Sue Russell would have loved them so reading them felt very poignant.

I started John Le Carre's The Pigeon Tunnel which is most satisfying.

Editado: Nov 30, 2016, 1:25pm

I've got Patriots on its way, thanks to LT's Early Reviewers! I have so much good stuff to read it's ridiculous (and so much work stuff to read at home over the next few weeks it's aggravating).

Dic 1, 2016, 9:25am

>78 laurenbufferd: >81 lisapeet: Teases.

>80 laurenbufferd: Good to hear about the Le Carre. Maybe I'll pick that up for my mom for Christmas.

Dic 1, 2016, 10:44am

One caveat >82 mkunruh: mkunruh, the Le Carre is much like the novels - the writing is almost oblique. I keep having to stop and say what did I just read? It's elegant but. And it's not a traditional memoir at all, almost impressionistic, but in kind of detailed way, if that makes any sense.

Dic 1, 2016, 10:58am

DG, what is that NYRB Classics book that you always recommend for Christmas? I've been planning to get it this year and read it, and I can't remember the name!

I've been reading The Magicians (so I can delete the tv show off my DVR), and I'm really enjoying it so far. I'm looking forward to having some downtime so I can actually put a dent in it.

Dic 1, 2016, 3:26pm

Ho ho ho, it’s Guardian Swap time!

What it is:
Each participant chooses, purchases, and orders/mails a book carefully selected from the Guardian Best Books of 2016 lists (see below) to another participant, round-robin style. This is a long-standing BookBalloon tradition, full of ritual and mystery. Not really! It’s just lots of fun!

How it works:

1.Indicate your interest in participating in the designated thread OR

2.Send a message to me, the Designated Swap Organizer (DSO). I have a highly scientific method of matching gifters to giftees. You can reach me via private comment or email me at fufferdatcomcastdotnet. I need your email address and shipping address.

3.Once you receive your person, peruse the Guardian lists, make your choice, and send it along. Keep it secret; keep it safe. Feel free to gloat privately. Since many of the books on the list are British, it’s often the case that they arrive after the holiday season is over and call potato chips “crisps.” This is not a big deal.

4.Once you receive your book, rush back to this thread to report what you got and how excited you are to read it. This won’t be hard, because you will be very excited!


The Guardian Best of 2016 list:
Part I:
Part II:

Dic 1, 2016, 6:21pm

Julie, it's Rock Crystal.

Editado: Dic 1, 2016, 8:24pm

I started this post this morning, had to go to work, and forgot about it.

I'm "reading" Pnin, NW, The Homecoming, Berryman poems (thanks to The Receptionist), and dipping into Ulysses. I'm listening/reading the Scylla and Charybdis chapter but have to keep re-starting because I zone out to Jim Norton's voice -- I listened for an hour walking the dogs and all I caught was something about Hamlet, his father and the ghost, Anne Hathaway, and the famous 2nd favourite bed. As you can tell, I'm a bit scattered. Mostly, I'm watching Gilmore Girls/The Queen/The Expanse and playing Hearthstone.

Dic 2, 2016, 6:54am

Just finished A Gambler's Anatomy, which was vaguely disappointing. But now I've started News of the World and it seems much more promising.

Also, The Terranauts just showed up for me at the library, and I am super-excited about that.

Dic 2, 2016, 7:58am

What do you think of Pnin, Mir? I've always been a bit intimidated by it—I actually picked it up when I was going through my mother's books and then decided that if I ever did get a real hankering to read it I could find it for a buck at any secondhand store or library sale anywhere, so I put it back in the box.

Dic 2, 2016, 10:17am

It's surprisingly fun Lisa. I keep thinking that DG would like it. Quite funny and not nearly as challenging as Pale Fire. I also made significant progress in NW last night. One of the issues I'm facing at home is I'm interrupted continually, so reading with focus is hard. The bath works though, the boys won't interrupt me there. As a result, I made it through the Felix chapter (not a slog, btw) and I'm now happily sailing along.

Gayla, I have The Terranauts from the library, but I'm reading too many other things.

Dic 2, 2016, 12:03pm

Pnin is a Nabokov I've never read either. Lisa, let me know if you want to read it, I'll read it with you. And I think I have my mother's copy too. Funny.

Felix was my favorite character in NW and I spent way too long looking at pictures of Black House (which is the original of Garvey House) on the internet.

Still reading The Pigeon Tunnel and a reread of The Wife of Isaac Harman which has such a similar plot to A Lady and her Husband that I really think that Wells and Reeves collaborated or at least discussed it before hand. Maybe even decided to write two books with similar plots. Both books came out the same year.

Dic 2, 2016, 2:41pm

I liked Pnin a lot. Agree it's way less challenging linguistically than Pale Fire. Funny, I tackled this with no fear when I read it years ago. Nowadays I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole, because it's hard to read about sad sacks. That depresses me a bit, that my willingness to explore has narrowed so much. (But it doesn't depress me enough to do anything about it.)

Dic 2, 2016, 3:16pm

Just finished reading the excellent graphic novel Trashed by Derf Backerderf. Backerderf was a garbage collector in the early eighties and the book is not only about his miserable life on the job but also the history of garbage collection and recyclying and land waste. It's beautifully drawn and a great and really interesting story. Backerderf is the graphic novelist who also wrote My Friend Dahmer and he's just a sensational artist.

Dic 2, 2016, 5:07pm

I thought Pale Fire was great fun! It's a good book to pore over during a lunch hour, trying to figure it all out. I spent almost every lunch hour of an entire summer trying to puzzle out the message the ghost tapped out in the barn. Pada ata lane....something something something.

Dic 2, 2016, 5:09pm

I've heard good things about the Dahmer book, Alan, but haven't had the nerve to pick it up. Trashed sounds interesting.

Editado: Dic 2, 2016, 7:53pm

>88 gayla.bassham: Gayla, I'm interested in The Terranauts. Let me know what you think reading sister.

Dic 2, 2016, 7:55pm

I'm reading The Santa Klaus Murder, one of the Christmas mysteries from the British Library Crime Classics.

Dic 2, 2016, 10:26pm

That sounds fun, April. I could use something like that.

Dic 2, 2016, 10:53pm

Finished up Robert Gottlieb's memoir of his life spent as a star editor, Avid Reader, which I would characterize as breezy: great literary and dance world gossip, not particularly introspective even when he tries for it, almost no friction anywhere in what was clearly a pretty charmed existence (with one divorce and one special needs child I know it wasn't all roses, but he minimizes any heartache so I will too). But a fun book, if self-indulgent—and why not? I probably would be if I were him. You have to wonder what it might have been like to go through your whole life with (if you believe him) almost no friction, at least professionally. But hey, bless him—he sounds like he's really enjoyed it.

Now I'm on to Jeff Chang's We Gon' Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation, which a few people have recommended to me lately.

And I have soooo many nominations for LJ Movers & Shakers to read this weekend—we pick 50 up-and-coming librarians every year, and it's kind of a big deal. I'm second project lead, and need to get through at least 150 of them in the next few days. They go quickly, but still. That's time I could be reading real books, dammit.

Dic 3, 2016, 11:48am

I very much want to read Avid Reader. I hear he doesn't spend much time on the New Yorker gig but I guess he wasn't there very long. Definitely something I hope to get too soon. Your assessment of the book is pretty much what I had read in puvpblished reviews but it is still something I look forward to. Has anyoneDaniel Menacker's Mistake? Another Nyer memoir I want to read.

I also approached Dahmer with trepidation but as far as I can recall he doesn't deal with the psycho parts. It is mostly about Dahmer as a very weird troubled teenager.

Editado: Dic 3, 2016, 2:51pm

It's worth a read, alans. On further reflection, something I both liked and disliked about the book was its very clear definition of reading as a primary, life-shaping activity. It's a wonderful ode to the sheer joy of reading, but it also smacked a bit of what I dislike about the way people sometimes identify as capital-B Bibliophiles like it's a cardinal virtue—like their love of books and expansive reading somehow elevates them above the masses. Because while yes, reading is good for a body and mind and goes a long way toward canceling out the mind-numbingness of TV, I don't think people who are capital-R Readers are necessarily any better than anyone else. That small, soft brand of superiority has always irked me and probably always will. Which isn't to say that Gottlieb's love of reading isn't 100% genuine and (at least for me) relatable.

Best description: of Blanche Knopf as "a tiny woman who looked as if she had gone straight from Dachau to Elizabeth Arden. No wonder everyone was scared of her."

Editado: Dic 4, 2016, 11:23am

No, I don't want to join a book club! As I am turning 60 next month, I decided I'd try this (esp as nothing is appealing to me right now). It is funny; predictable, but I can so relate to the main character so enjoying it. Shes not quite as curmudgeony as you might imagine. Quick fun read, if you are of a certain mind.

Ok now on to find something a tad more serious...I've got Mary Semple's new one Today will be different and summer before the war.... we'll see what happens

Dic 4, 2016, 7:05pm

I finished The Terranauts this afternoon and I really liked it. If you are a fan of Boyle's work I think you will enjoy it; his style here is very recognizable (whereas The Harder They Come didn't feel like him at all, to me).

Dic 4, 2016, 7:38pm

I'm not sure I've ever read a novel of Boyle's. Short stories, yes. And I certainly have a few of his novels (I think The Harder They Come is one). When you say it didn't feel like him, is that in a bad way? And now you have me interested in The Terranauts too.

Dic 5, 2016, 4:52pm

I do think that The Harder They Come is definitely a lesser effort of Boyle's: the characterization is off, and even the writing is sub-par. It just never quite came together.

The Terranauts is very much in Boyle's wheelhouse -- like, say, The Inner Circle and The Road to Wellville, it's about a small group of people fiercely committed to some ideal that the rest of the world doesn't quite understand.

Editado: Dic 5, 2016, 5:23pm

Reading Nancy Farmer's Sea of Trolls trilogy - the first and second booaks, anyway. The writing and characterization are as good as always. Some of the reviews and the book's Amazon description described it as funny, with at least one Pratchett comparison. So far (121 pages into the first book), the humor has mostly eluded me, possibly because of the subject matter (slash-and-pillage-and-kidnap vikings). I was pretty surprised to see the humor comparison - while Farmer is a great writer, in my mind, I think of her more as someone who isn't afraid to tackle dark and difficult topics, not a joke-per-paragraph humor writer. (Not saying that you can't be primarily known for being funny and also tackle hard topics - Pratchett is someone I'd cite there.)

But it seems about as far off to me as the review I read likening Smoke, by Dan Vyleta, to the Harry Potter books (or CS Lewis or Phillip Pullman). Once I'd read Smoke, I was like "that's a nopetopus comparison." (Maybe the Pullman comparison works.)

Dic 5, 2016, 5:42pm

I read that series to my boys Cara and it ranks as one of their favourite book series. It doesn't start funny, for obvious reasons, but there is a character introduced about half-way through the first book who can be quite funny and once the protagonist settles in with the Viking community there is more room for humour. My youngest, who thinks humour is paramount, thought it was quite funny.

>105 gayla.bassham: I haven't read Terranauts, but when Bruce, who is reading it, described the plot, I said "oh, a perfect Boyle story"

Dic 5, 2016, 5:51pm

"that's a nopetopus comparison."
Seriously. Unless "Harry Potter" is now a metonym for "British boarding school novel with vaguely supernatural overtones."

Editado: Dic 5, 2016, 6:59pm

>103 gayla.bassham: I really liked his book about the wives of Frank Lloyd Wright, and enjoyed his speaking at our local bookstore about it. My only complaint is that he laid it on a little thick about the 2nd one...Still it was well written. I should read something else by him

Dic 6, 2016, 10:02am

I have now finished all of Raina Telgemeier's Baby-Sitter's Clubs books. I have no interest in the actual
Baby Sitters books, I just am crazy about Telgemeier's graphic art work which is incredibly fun and beautiful.
I also read her book Sisters which was a lot of fun. I have two more books of hers to read-Smile and Ghosts and I will have read all of her work. I just love the way she draws.

Dic 6, 2016, 6:18pm

Miriam, you were right (not that I doubted you!) - the humor has started to show up in Sea of Trolls. Whew because it was looking pretty grim at the start.

Editado: Dic 7, 2016, 6:14am

I like Boyle so so so much (and have read every. single. book. so far) but for a long time, I thought it was more about promise and less about actual delivery of a great book -- until the two Channel Islands books, When the Killing's Done and San Miguel, especially the latter. There's something about that place and the history of it that's the perfect match-up for him; those two really did move him to the A-list as far as I'm concerned. The Terranauts is on the way to me now.

He's kind of like Madison Smartt Bell that way -- MSB didn't really ignite in a major way for me until the Haiti trilogy.

Dic 7, 2016, 7:35am

I don''t think that The Terranauts is as good as San Miguel, which is one of my all-time favorites. But I still thought it was very good.

Editado: Dic 7, 2016, 1:37pm

I've read a fair amount of Boyle and mostly enjoy the hell out of him. My faves:
The Tortilla Curtain
San Miguel
When the Killing's Done

Editado: Dic 7, 2016, 1:54pm

I found The Pigeon Tunnel really enjoyable and (not surprisingly) so well written. Things really take off in the last third of the book with the essay about his childhood - an expanded version of the one from the New Yorker about 10 years ago - which is just horrifying - his father was a narcissist and a con man of the first order and his mother abandoned him and his brother fairly early on - and a beautiful tribute to the dissident actor turned pediatrician Vladmir Pucholt.

Well worth reading.

next up, Illeanna Douglas' I Blame Dennis Hopper which I am then giving to DG. (Don't tell him)

Dic 7, 2016, 1:50pm

I have kind of a love/hate thing going with Boyle. Hated The Women and didn't finish it. Felt perplexed by Water Music - who was that book for, anyway, tropical disease specialist? lol Thought Talk, Talk was undercooked. Loved The World's End, Drop City and San Miguel though. Enough for two copies of that last one.

Dic 7, 2016, 1:56pm

You all are selling me hard on San Miguel, which is conveniently available for checkout. But I have too many ebooks in my queue so will have to be patient. (Hey iOS 10.1.1, wtf is up with autocorrecting "ebook" to "Ebola"? It's 2016 in here.)

Dic 7, 2016, 1:56pm

Ooh. Lauren, please report back on the Ileanna Douglas, because her Fresh Air interview was so entertaining it made me want to read the book (then I promptly forgot about it.)

Dic 7, 2016, 3:03pm

She is cuh-razy and a little bit hilariously self-centered ... so in other words, she's my idol.

Dic 7, 2016, 3:20pm

Boyle is one of my favourite short story writers, but has he ever written a lot of them. He must be up there with Joyce Carol Oates...or a close second.

Dic 7, 2016, 3:39pm

I have his ginormous short story collection--saving it for sometime when I'm home for a stretch. It's not commute-friendly.

Dic 8, 2016, 4:59pm

I'm almost done with The Golden Age by Joan London and it's clearly one of the best things I've read recently. There are parts of it that are written with such elegance and grace I have to stop and put the book down on my lap and just savor the lines. Set in Australia shortly after WWII, a Hungarian immigrant family has to send their 15-year old son to a convalescent home after he contracts polio. There he meets and falls in love with another patient.

It is such a generous book and deeply felt. The characters are beautifully rendered. It's quiet and moving. I recommend.

I also really enjoyed Commonwealth which we just read for my book club. I've been off Patchett a bit but this one works and is skilfully constructed.

Dic 9, 2016, 1:54pm

Isn't The Golden Age fantastic? It's so understated, yet so powerful. It's one of my 2016 best of the years.

Dic 9, 2016, 9:59pm

Ok, I'll add that one to the list!

Dic 9, 2016, 11:33pm

Just finished We Gon' Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation, which is short and smart and to the point. Interesting essays on a range of race matters, including Ferguson and the birth of #BlackLivesMatter and a look at Asian identity framed by race politics. Recommended.

And now for something completely different, since all my library holds are coming in at once, I'm reading Nathan Hill's The Nix.

Dic 9, 2016, 11:51pm

I put Existential Cafe on reserve at the library after the NY Times review came out and I was third on the list. I wish they could tell me who they were.

Dic 10, 2016, 10:43am

So you can bump them off?

I finished I Blame Dennis Hopper this morning. It's very sweet, very charming with some good anecdotes. She seems like someone you'd really want to hang out with and she is so passionate about movies. I especially liked reading about Grace of My Heart, one of my favorite underrated movies.

Dic 11, 2016, 4:46pm

I loved the movie so much I bought the soundtrack.

Dic 11, 2016, 5:48pm

The Last of Us by ROB EWING The Last of Us

Dic 12, 2016, 2:33pm

Only 17 pages in but not loving I Blame Dennis Hopper.

Dic 12, 2016, 7:11pm

I'm on some kind of fairy tale retelling kick. Without planning on it, I read:

The Crimson Thread, an interesting retelling of Rumplestiltskin set in turn of the last century NYC, among immigrants striving for the American dream. Would recommend.

Stealing Snow, by Danielle Paige, who wrote Dorothy Must Die, which I haven't read but which has done well and gotten some attention. Good premise - it starts with Snow White is locked in an insane asylum, having trouble with mirrors - but it was disappointing. I thought the plot was kind of a mess - it really dragged on - and the characterizations were bland, and there were a lot of loose threads left dangling (since it's the setup to a series, presumably on purpose. But I thought it made the book feel rambling, and not in a good way.) Would not recommend.

Ever After High: Next Top Villain - this was fun. Shannon Hale wrote the prequels, which were excellent (I love Shannon Hale's writing and this was a good successor. (Apparently it's all a spinoff of some kind of TV series? We haven't had a TV for about 4 years so I don't really know.) Recommend, but only when you're in the mood for pure spun sugar fluffy stuff.

Now I'm reading not quite a retelling, but definitely related:

The Grimm Legacy, which is fun so far (about 2/5 of the way in) - about a girl who becomes a page at a library for magical artifacts - working in lots of Grimm references. There's a potentially annoying romance angle, but I'm hoping it doesn't end up with the obvious outcome.

(Also, this is why I never post what I'm reading - because no one's taste overlaps with mine. I still miss the Young Adult Reading Group at Readerville.)

Dic 12, 2016, 7:50pm

Re: The Crimson Thread. That's interesting--it's basically the same premise as The Golem and the Jinni.

Editado: Dic 12, 2016, 9:40pm

Cara, add me to the Shannon Hale bench, though I haven't read any Ever After Highs, yet. The Grimm Legacy is another that I want to read, as I've heard good things about it from a real life person.

I just finished Tuck Everlasting, which I should have loved, but didn't. Something about the writing style couldn't keep my attention, which is a problem when the story is less than 140 pages.

On audio, I'm listening to No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline, which might have some helpful ideas, but the author seems a bit right-wing ideologically, and makes some sweeping statements without offering support for his ideas. For one thing, he doesn't acknowledge the role accident of birth plays in people's lives, despite all the research making a connection. Another thing that amazed me was when he told the reader "no one is smarter than you." Not, "no one has your exact combination of talents," but "no one is smarter than you." Now, I'm not dumb, but I would bet money Stephen Hawking is smarter than me overall, even if I could beat him at a Dick Van Dyke show trivia contest.

All that said, I'm looking for something new to read. Can't decide if it should be for work or for me.

Dic 12, 2016, 9:58pm

Yay, Lyddie - happy you're a Shannon Hale fan too! I vote that you read something for you next. I read a book of Natalie Babbit's short stories recently and liked them, but Tuck Everlasting has a pretty creepy romance in retrospect (although Winnie is a terrific character).

SP, I loved The Golem and the Jinni.

Dic 13, 2016, 9:20am

Does it make me a bad reader if I couldn't stomach "Wuthering Heights"? I swoon! I weep! I take to my bed for 3 weeks after a walk that got my shoes and hose wet!! Oh, I am fraught!

A child of the late 20th century, who just wants to slap these people upside their pretty little heads.

>131 Cara_DB: Cara, "The Crimson Thread" and "The Grimm Legacy" both sound up my alley, thanks!

Dic 13, 2016, 11:08am

chris, that is one of the most interesting books to re-read as an adult. I was horrified when I read it again a few years ago - completely unlikable characters who are manipulative and cruel. I think it is much more about obsession than love - I don't know what it says about us that we remember it one way when it was so clearly another.

I decided to start the Guardian Swap week with a book that Kat gave me last year Polly Samson's The Kindness. It's an odd book and even though I tend to be a big fan of the domestic British novel, I find myself slightly irritated by her 'never met an adjective she didn't like' style. There is a mystery about actual events in the novel though - and so one is drawn forward by the plot.

Editado: Dic 13, 2016, 12:32pm

>131 Cara_DB: This happens to all of us Cara, keep posting. I'm terribly excited when what Im reading meshes with what others are reading but it doesn't happen often. Plus, I get ideas from other's reading lists, if not for me then for other people in my life.

(and late to the discussion, obviously)

Dic 13, 2016, 2:48pm

I finished Amy Schumer's book The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo. I wouldn't be surprised if none of you were interested in it, but I thought it was well-done. She's not side-splitting-ly hilarious in the book, so she actually shares a lot about herself and her life. But god, she tells intimate stuff about former partners who are somewhat famous, but doesn't tell who they are, and it's impossible to find by Googling. Yes, I really do need to know who that hockey player is with the stick. Anyway, much deeper and better written than something like Mindy Kaling's books (though I enjoyed those too).

Now I'm re-starting Katherine Carlyle, because SP sent it to me in the Guardian Swap last year, and I never finished it. She also sent me the Countess Luann de Lessep's book, which I also didn't finish. But, I already have class, damn it. Chic, c'est la vie.

Dic 13, 2016, 3:47pm

It's a fucking REFERENCE book for a lifetime of goddam ELEGANCE.

Dic 13, 2016, 4:07pm

Exactly. I'll never finish reading it!

Dic 13, 2016, 7:32pm

Chris, didn't like it when I read it as a teen, wanted to slap several characters silly. Liked even less when I reread it as an adult (after seeing the movie that made me roll my eyes so much its surprising they didnt stick) So no worries

Dic 13, 2016, 7:52pm

I love Wuthering Heights precisely because of its thorniness -- and yes, it's definitely a different book when you read it at different ages. I do think it reflects the reader almost as much as the writer -- if you read it young, you never remember the second half of the book; all you remember is CATHY AND HEATHCLIFF. Then when you read it as an adult, you're appalled that you found that first half sooooo romantic and swoony and I think you suspect just a little bit that you might have been as terrible and self-centered as the characters to find it that way.

When I say YOU, I mean ME.

Dic 13, 2016, 7:58pm

I'm a fan of WH, but like DG I found it was a completely different book when I re-read it as an adult. What had been a gothicky romance turned out to be this vicious condemnation of, well, pretty much every damn thing. I don't know what it says about me that it appealled far more in that light.

Dic 13, 2016, 8:51pm

I think I was more upset that I remembered it as a romance than anything about the book itself.

Dic 13, 2016, 8:56pm

Oh, people nowadays think they invented stuff like toxic narcissism, co-dependency, emotional blackmail, and crazy hot sex with hot crazy people. The Brontes wrote the playbook we're all still following.

Dic 13, 2016, 9:23pm

I believe Wuthering Heights to have deeply theological implications which led to my agnosticism. But I won't bore you with the details. Party on!

Editado: Dic 13, 2016, 9:49pm

I've never read Wuthering Heights. Is it too late for me to try it, even forewarned? That's probably a rhetorical question, though, because I have only so many reading hours left in my life and I'm not sure that one is earmarked.

I am, however, reading The Nix, which is very entertaining. Very long, too. I fear the library is going to suck it back into the ether before I'm done, because my checkout period was interrupted by a bunch of heavy-duty work reading (finished, thank dog). The good news being that I can get my hands on a hard copy pretty easily. The bad news being it weighs approximately 50 pounds, and I spend a lot of time reading standing up. Oh well, good for my core strength training regimen, right?

Dic 14, 2016, 10:10am

Lisa, I woud give WH another read, especially reading it with someone else. I think I am about due. My reactions were so extreme both times I read it, I wonder what it would be like a third time round, and now that I am mumblety mumble years old.

Editado: Dic 14, 2016, 10:53am

I'm reading The Homecoming (there are a crap load of books with this title!) by Carson Stroud and I'm enjoying it greatly. It conforms to all kinds of genre norms (really bad guys, macho men, perfect (smart) wives, troubled kids, nasty deeds done in the past that haunt the present) but is also really well written and is roller coaster ride exhilarating.

I finished NW thought it was very good, but didn't understand the ending at all. Lauren? Pnin is still happening, but in small bits here and there.

Oh, and I just put a hold on The Nix at the library, because it sounds like a perfect winter break read.

Dic 14, 2016, 4:21pm

I was just thinking about Wuthering Heights two nights ago because I ordered a new edition and I was remember how loathsome I found it the last time I read it. Heathcliffe is abominable...
what a nasty piece of work. I wonder what I will get from it this time around.

Editado: Dic 14, 2016, 5:08pm

We should do a WH reading/rereading group in 2017.

Dic 14, 2016, 5:09pm


Dic 14, 2016, 5:12pm

Maybe February?

Dic 14, 2016, 5:19pm

I'd be up for that.

Dic 14, 2016, 6:05pm

Me too!

Dic 14, 2016, 6:37pm

>150 alans:

Cathy's no peach either.

Dic 14, 2016, 6:52pm

They're all fucked. The only thing I really remember from the second reading was the puppy torture scene (and as I type this I'm wondering if I made it up?) I'm committing to anything, because I'm having a hard time committing to going to work, but I'll enjoy the discussion.

Dic 14, 2016, 7:16pm

Wait, there's a what? I may have to back out of this one.

Dic 15, 2016, 10:13am

I'm in.

The Kindness was ok. I admired how it was kind of a domestic novel written like a thriller and the way Sansom constantly shifted past and present was really interesting - there was a kind of flow to it all that was very appealing. But I never really warmed up to any of the characters and so ultimately, it was hard to give much of a shit. I think having read this and some of her short stories, I can safely say, she's not my cup of tea.

Next up Dragonfish and I'm hoping for a nice cold weekend to stay inside and read.

Editado: Dic 15, 2016, 10:33am

It's -30 here, I could share . . .

I forgot to add that I'm listening to The Undoing Project which I'm really enjoying, mostly because I read Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow and the extra background on Kahneman is interesting. Plus, I love to read about that tug-a-war between thinking and instinct/intuition/bias.

Dic 15, 2016, 6:39pm

There's definitely a part where Heathcliff hangs a dog by its collar on a fence. It's whatsername's dog, Part 2 lady. Isabella.

Dic 16, 2016, 12:24pm

I might be in for a group read of WH, but it hasn't been that long since I read it, so no promises. My mother always recommended it to me, all swoony-like, and I wonder if she actually ever read it as an adult. I would think so, especially since she went to college and grad school (in English, thesis on Romantic poetry) when I was a kid. But I didn't find it romantic, but more like...crazy people obsessed with each other and with making each other fucking miserable. But some people like that kind of relationship.

I finished Amy Schumer's The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo last weekend (I'm not sure if I mentioned that here, and I'm too lazy to scroll through all the posts). I enjoyed it, because she seems much more normal than I expected. I can't stand people who are "ON" all the time, so I really related to a lot of the stuff she talked about...oh wait, I did mention it here, didn't I? Because I mentioned the giant hockey penis. Anywhooooo.....

I just received two great new books and just bought four great new books that I'll get right before Xmas, and it's about to get cold as balls this weekend, so I can't wait to light a fire and read!! (Yes, it occasionally gets cold in Texas. Tomorrow it will drop from the low 70s down to the low 20s. Good times! Ugh.) So, I might be reading I Contain Multitudes, The Book of Memory, The Nix, Rock Crystal, Reunion...crap, I can't remember everything I bought on kindle and real life. But first, I guess I'll finish Katherine Carlyle.

Dic 16, 2016, 2:54pm

I was really surprised by how much I liked Amy Schumer's movie-I thought it was very sweet, which is a weird way to describe her. But then I tried to watch her comedy special and I was so turned off by her talk about how fat she is/isn't etc, that I had to turn it off. This self-deprecation bugged me when Phyliss Diller did it and it still drives me crazy now. But the movie was very nice.

Dic 16, 2016, 10:16pm

I will be cracking the cover of Hold the Dark by William Giraldi tonight.

Dic 16, 2016, 10:21pm

i dont know the author , title , or time era it was set in. its about roman women discussing on which male slave they want and talking about one of the slaves ''sword'' and them being in the gladiator ring and the chariot races using the emperors best horse which dies near the end of the book and the main woman in the book takes in the one with the big ''sword'' to use as a guard an she falls in love with him and they also discover the ''new'' religion Christianity thats about all i remember can you help me find this book ?

Dic 16, 2016, 10:25pm

>165 DawnRumfield: There is a group on LibraryThing that is dedicated to answering this sort of question: "Name That Book"

Check the instructions on the group page for posting questions -- it will increase the ability of someone to answer your question.

Dic 16, 2016, 11:09pm

As I feared, NYPL sucked my e-copy of The Nix back into the ether today when I had 30 pages (out of 620!) left. And the thought drove me SO nuts that I ran all over the office until 15 minutes before I left for the weekend I found a copy I could borrow. I ended up liking it a lot, too. It was long and a real shaggy dog of a story, but I think he pulled it off really nicely—it managed to avoid the same type of pitfalls that got annoying in The Goldfinch, which it reminded me of a little. There are some great interwoven story lines, about the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention protests and massively multiplayer online role-playing games and Norwegian mythology and conservative politicians and academia and publishing and Iraq and Allen Ginsberg and "Choose Your Own Adventure" books and Occupy Wall Street. It's jam-packed. But always fun and surprising, and my attention never flagged. So, recommended to all the usual suspects who like a big fat story.

Now I've started Jane Alison's Nine Island, which is nice and different.

Dic 17, 2016, 1:24am

I'm dying to dig in to "The Nix." And am keeping "Nine Island" on the list, among many others. I haven't been able to read fiction since a few week before the election. But still I go regularly to the library and check out the fabulous fiction I've had on hold: Emma Donahue, Margot Livesey, Behold the Dreamers, Here Comes the Sun, many more (sorry I haven't yet relearned how to link--I will in time). I keep them and return them on the day they are due but I do not read them. I yearn to be back in that world in which fiction feels like an escape, a high, my own private place.

But I can't stop reading news on line: WaPost, NYT, Democracy Now, the Guardian, CNN, MSNBC. I have somehow decided that if I don't keep up with every available political newsbit, my world will end and I won't recognize that it's happening. I can deal better with feeling powerless than I can with feeling uninformed.

Dic 17, 2016, 3:04am

Thanks to Lauren for sending me you will not have my hate. As I guessed, it definitely a book to read in one sitting, then reread over again. And I didn't cry till I turned the last page and saw her photo.

Dic 17, 2016, 8:58am

>168 Nancy_Sirvent: The Nix was the first novel I read since the election. I haven't been doubling down on the news that heavily, but I went through a string of nonfiction, essays, memoir—just to feel focused and present (not that fiction doesn't do it for me, but in a different way). That was a good novel to get back into them, though, because it was so busy and vivid. And now all my library holds are coming in at once, hence Nine Island and a few more in the queue.

Linking here is different from other sites we've used—you can use HTML but you don't have to. To do intra-LT links you just need to make square brackets ("" "") around the book's title, no spaces after or before the brackets. Then check to the right of the posting window where it says "Touchstones" to see if the book you wanted is listed—sometimes the LT algorithm is funny, like for The Nix it always defaults to Oliver Twist for some reason. If that happens, click on "(others)" and you'll see a list of works, and when you find the book you wanted click on the plus sign—it should then show up in Touchstones. For a link to an author, use double square brackets on each side.

Dic 17, 2016, 3:17pm

>168 Nancy_Sirvent: I am in exactly the same place re: news. I'm not sure I see it changing any time soon either.

Dic 17, 2016, 10:41pm

>168 Nancy_Sirvent: I'm just the opposite, Nancy. I am just starting to be able to listen to the evening news and some of my podcasts like Slate Political Gabfest, and NPR Politics, but not necessarily all of the news or all of the podcast. There are also certain moments when I must mute the TV. I was able to get away by reading fiction.

Dic 18, 2016, 1:40pm

I am still in a media blackout. I read the Sunday paper and that sets me off so that the rest of the week, I look at the arts section and do the crossword puzzle. The least little bit send me into a tailspin of depression.
No late night tv either.

I do read the New Yorker though and if that has something political, so be it.

I finished Dragonfish and what a disappointment. I don't know what I was expecting but that was not it and I'm really surprised that it was written by someone Vietnamese because it is riddled with all these inscrutable orientalist clichés. Even as a mystery, it was very unsatisfying.

I am reviewing Margaret Drabble's newest novel for Bookpage so I thought it was be fun to revisit some older work. Plus, a used bookstore is going out of business and let's just say, all those old yellowing Penguins seemed mighty tempting for a dollar apiece. So I'm reading The Summer Birdcage, Drabble's first, and I simply could not be happier.

Dic 18, 2016, 5:58pm

I went back and reread The Garrick Year recently and was delighted to revisit.

Editado: Dic 19, 2016, 11:40pm

Just finished Jane Alison's Nine Island, which was outstanding. Ovid's tales of transmogrification set the tone for what was a very smart, funny, offbeat novel that muses on the male gaze, the female gaze, love, lust, loneliness, self-sufficiency, and how hard it is to care for even—or maybe especially—what you love. Including—maybe especially—yourself. It's also gorgeously descriptive, making me almost wish I'd waited a couple of months to read it when I'm in Miami, where it's set. But no matter... it's also a good antidote to a New York cold spell in December, not just tropical but generally thawing. Definitely one of my very favorites of the year. (Nicki, was this a rec of yours? If so, spot on.)

Now on to News of the World, of which I'm too early into to have an opinion but it seems very popular all over the place.

Dic 20, 2016, 2:46am

Ok, I had to look up transmogrification - now I know! Ive also never read Ovids Metamorphoses (tho Ive heard of it) and think I might like to, along with Nine Island. Could be fun! (and look all I learned today!)

Dic 20, 2016, 8:37am

>175 lisapeet: I've been raving about Nine Island for awhile, Lisa. I'm so glad you liked it! It will be one of my "best of" books of the year, no contest.

I wish it had a wider audience, though. I fear it will be one of those great books that never gets the readership it deserves.

Editado: Dic 20, 2016, 9:53am

>175 lisapeet: >177 southernbooklady: It obviously seeped in, because it is at the top of my "wish-list" list. I just placed a hold on it at my library -- there are 2 people before me, so it won't be long.

I finished the second book in the Carsten Stroud trilogy, well written, engaging, with great dialogue and the best bad guys. If I didn't have a pile of other books that I want to read I'd have dived right into book three. As it is, I will probably read it before my break ends.

I'm back to Pnin, I should finish it to day. I'm a bit giddy reading it. He's so light on his feet with words, clever without being mean, and has an excellent eye for the world around him (and Pnin). I laugh a lot reading it.

And I started The Nix and it's promising, although Samuel's a tool (this from someone who plays WoW on occasion, teaches first-year students, and works at a Uni).

Editado: Dic 20, 2016, 11:25am

Alison's The Love Artist has long been a favorite of mine and also one that few have read. Highly recommended, especially if you are on an Ovid kick.

Dic 20, 2016, 12:37pm

Lauren, if you haven't read this one I think you'd like it.

And Mir, yeah--Samuel's a tool. But the toolbox he's in is really interesting, I think. It wasn't a super character-driven book, but the busy setting/plotting was a lot of fun.

Dic 20, 2016, 12:56pm

Loving Annie Proulx' Barkskins.

Dic 20, 2016, 3:57pm

I was thinking about that one, Kat, but its a hefty tome. Might wait till I go to the beach!

Dic 20, 2016, 6:51pm

Hefty indeed. Lovely, sprawling saga.

Editado: Dic 22, 2016, 10:46am

I really enjoyed The Summer Birdcage This was a sheer delight of a book and not quite a frivolous as the synopsis led me to believe, though perhaps that's more of a result of time passing and a look back at this novel, now almost 60 years old. The novel takes you back though to a place in your 20s when the whole world is spread out in front of you and seems full of choices and the narrative voice of Sarah, the story teller, and her nascent feminism, is delicious.

21st c. hindsight however does make me ponder the character of Stephen - almost certainly a gay man and deeply closeted, his own life and others around him a misery. What a different world it is today and I could easily imagine the novel being told from his point of view.

I couldn't help but wonder too - if the sticky relationship between the two sisters was a mirror of the Byatt/Drabble feud. Or the start of it.

Next up: The Garrick Year.

Dic 22, 2016, 12:52pm

>184 laurenbufferd:

Next up: The Garrick Year. -- Yummy!

Dic 22, 2016, 11:30pm

I've never read Drabble, which is weird... she's someone I feel like I should have encountered in my reading life. But no. Where would I start if I were to start, Lauren?

News of the World is good clean fun—old man-young girl road trip set in post-Civil War Texas, not exactly believable every moment but that's not the point. It's a charmer. Will report further when I'm done, which should be soonish as it's not a big long thing.

Dic 23, 2016, 11:00am

>186 lisapeet: Lisa Peet. I don't know. The early novels are delicious - often first person, usually young women in various states of matrimony, motherhood, or contemplating same. As I was remarking to someone earlier today, they are so much about the tug between conventional and intellectual pursuits as defined in the early 60s, I don't know what I made of them when I first read them but I guess I found the language and the tone - just slightly arch, very appealing. Like someone telling you a secret. Her mid-career novels are much more about the state of things now- politically, economically, socially and involve a group of people - rather like a George Eliot novel but in the 1980s. I read a more recent book of Drabble's about 10 years ago - something about a British academic going to Korea but honestly, I don't remember a thing about it.

Editado: Dic 24, 2016, 11:50am

Hm, I'll have to check her out.

Kat, did you like (or are you liking) Mincemeat?

I finished News of the World, continuing my most excellent end-of-year reading streak. Absolutely charming, this one. It's essentially a road-trip novel set in post-Civil War Texas with an old itinerant public newspaper reader and a 10-year-old former Indian captive being returned to her relatives—there are good guys and bad guys, stalwart horses, lovely descriptions of the natural world, and a gentle but refreshingly firm moral thread running through the story—very little not to like here.

Now on to Rebecca Solnit's The Faraway Nearby. Also reading, for an LJ review, the insanely gorgeous and captivating Explorers' Sketchbooks: The Art of Discovery and Adventure. Coming out from Chronicle in March, and already recommended to, like, everyone here.

Dic 24, 2016, 6:28pm

The Faraway Nearby is the book I've been giving a lot to friends in real life this year -- it covers a lot of bases. And its just woo woo enough without being traditionally woo woo.

Editado: Dic 24, 2016, 8:42pm

Lisa, Mincemeat begins with a thankfully short but still-too-long chapter in italics. So I don't yet know if this one is sippable or not.

Dic 24, 2016, 8:19pm

I have spent much of this cold rainy day baking, and reading Love Like Salt. Really loving it

I enjoyed reading Solnit - will have to ty Faraway Nearby. BTW Lauren has a review about it worth reading.

Editado: Dic 25, 2016, 12:12am

I have spent none of this day baking (quelle surprise) but I am starting our book club pick, A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles.

I was assigned carrots and green beans for our big family Christmas dinner tomorrow. I can't decide if I should spell out "Merry Christmas" with them or cook them.

Edit - because having trouble with my link.

Dic 25, 2016, 12:36pm

I'm reading my first Ellery Queen, from The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries, which was mentioned by DG last year. This is a library copy, but if I were the type of person to plan ahead, I would buy a copy for next year. The other mystery I'm reading and liking very much so far, is The Bookseller by Mark Pryor. Paris, those used book stalls by the river, and a history of Nazi hunting in the first 60 pages. What's not to love?

Dic 27, 2016, 9:45am

>192 cindydavid4: cindydavid, that's good,. It occurred to me after I'd made my purchases that this year has been hard enough without two potentially downer memoirs.

I am also a lover of Faraway Nearby. There are so many images from that book that lingered in my brain, like the ice museum and the room full of drying apricots. It's fantastic.

I continued my Drabble run with The Garrick Year (super delicious!) and The Millstone which I'd never read and was about a young woman who gets pregnant the first time she has sex and decides to keep the baby. It's quirky and sad and wonderful and self-reflective in the most unexpected of ways.

These first three (if you count A Summer Bird Cage) are all first -person and have similar narrative voices - snappy, bright, slightly self-deprecating but with healthy sense of self young women on the very beginning of adult life. Because I plan to read them in order, I am curious to see where Drabble moves to third person or at lease multiple pov. That said, I feel like I've spent the last week or so listening to the gossip of a highly amusing friend over a whisky or two. There are worse things.

Unfortunately, deadlines loom and so I started - for review - Exit, West. Part of this appeared in the New Yorker and I think it may have worked better as a short story but the jury is out. Almost fable like, it's about refugees and magic doors that lead from one country to another.

Editado: Dic 27, 2016, 5:10pm

Now that the kids and grandboys have gone home and things have quieted down around here, I've cracked open Exposure by Helen Dunmore from the lovely Cindy.

Dic 27, 2016, 5:34pm

I can't remember if I knew that The Faraway Nearby was framed by her mother's dementia, or that it shone such a warm spotlight on libraries, when I put a hold on it--I got re-interested in Solnit after hearing her on the On Being podcast. But seeing as those are two of the big forces in my life right now, it's a great, dense, read for me right now in this moment.

Editado: Dic 27, 2016, 7:29pm

>194 LyddieO: I looove that Big Book of Christmas Mysteries, even though some of them are just barely Christmasy (and some of them - let's be honest - are barely mysteries). But there are a lot of good things in there -- I especially love the robot santa one.

Dic 29, 2016, 11:00am

Finished The Bookseller, which I liked, but wasn't quite my thing at the end. Glad I read it, but probably won't read the sequel, even if it is set in a Parisian library.

Now I'm reading The Gilded Years, about which I have mixed feelings: the story, of an African-American woman passing as white to attend Vassar in the 1890s, interests me, but the author commits the historical fiction sin of including too many irrelevant details, so that the dialogue and descriptions feel unnatural. I can't decide if I want to finish it or not.

Dic 29, 2016, 12:25pm

LyddieO, I read The Gilded Years also this year and though I agree, it commits the kind of historical sins that make me squirm , I thought it was such a fascinating story, I read it with great pleasure.

I finished Exit, West. I loved the premise - that the world is full of secret doorways that allow refugees to pass from one country to another - rather like the Narnian wardrobe, and thus the world is transformed - but it began to wear thin by the end. It's quite fable-like and in a way, that works, because the reality is so horrendous - I mean, how can you write a novel about Aleppo - and the book certainly doesn't shy away from violence or the uprooting that takes place, it's just expressed in a different way. I'm just not sure it's 100% successful.

Dic 31, 2016, 9:47pm

Every once in a while, I want to get out an editing pencil and mark up my current read. This is one of those times. While reading, I keep thinking, "show, don't tell," and "remember Chekhov's gun."

Ene 3, 2017, 10:14pm

I just finished The Nest, which was just ok - the writing was ok, the plot was ok. I was interested in the premise: it follows a group of adult siblings who have all been waiting for years to inherit significant money that their father left them in a trust ("the nest" of the title). It opens as they are just a few months away from getting their hands on the money, and traces the way the expectation of the money has bent and shaped all their lives.

There were a bunch of Franzen-y things about it that irritated me. Maybe if I was a New Yorker it would have felt like a delicious skewering because I'd recognize certain types, but I'm not. So instead it seemed like a book that gave a huge amount of attention and sympathy to a bunch of unpleasant, entitled white folks who all got an undeservedly deus ex machina happy ending solution to problems they had fucking created for themselves.

To some extent the narrative pointed out the self-made nature of the problems, but I felt like - as with Franzen - the reader was supposed to be on the side of all these badly behaved siblings. Like Transparent, but without Maura to provide a moral compass and person to really identify with.

That said, it did occupy my attention for a while and it was certainly a quick and breezy read. So - 3 stars? Out of 5? I'm probably being too hard on the book - it pushed a couple of my buttons pretty hard.

Ene 3, 2017, 11:05pm

I dunno, Cara—I'm a New Yorker and the jacket copy didn't inspire me to pick it up for exactly the same reasons you mentioned. She got a hell of a nice book deal for that one... I hope it made her back her advance, at least.

I ended up really liking The Faraway Nearby all the way through. She writes like some of my visual artist friends think and talk about their art, and even though she can fall into the Artsy Essay trap once in a while I basically very much liked what she was up to. That's a favorite thing of mine, writing about association-making, and I thought she did a good job. I'll definitely read more of hers.

Now I'm about to start Tessa Hadley's The Past, which I kind of downloaded by mistake. It was on laurenbufferd's year-end best of list and I was just checking to see if the library had an e-copy, but ended up checking it out instead of clicking on the description. Which is fine because Lauren and I have similar taste and it looks to be a good change of pace from my last book.

I'm also REALLLLY loving Explorers' Sketchbooks. If you know anyone who you think would like this as a gift, they definitely would.

Ene 4, 2017, 8:50am

>203 lisapeet: Lisa P, do not expect lots of action. It's a very quiet book.

Ene 4, 2017, 8:56am

I tend to like quiet books.

Ene 4, 2017, 9:24am

I'm cool with that.

Ene 4, 2017, 1:46pm

>Cara_DB - same reaction here to "The Nest" - one of my bookclubs read it, but we all were very frustrated with the entire set of characters. A classic "don't count your chickens" story.

I started reading Deep Work last night, to prep for a new campus-based bookclub. After having trouble concentrating on the book's Introduction and first chapter, I realized I may need this concept more than I thought!

Ene 4, 2017, 7:37pm

Reading Best American Travel Writing 2016, Bill Bryson editor. Some of the stories are good, but others....Im getting really tired of 'travel stories' that are actually news documentaries. Now I enjoy reading those, but when i want to read travel writing, I want to learn about a different place and culture, something that will make me travel vicariously through the story. Those stories are few and far between

Reading the Daily Show an Oral History. You probably do need to be a fan of the show or at least have watched the show from time to time over the years to enjoy it. I am, and I do, quite a bit. The way its set up with comments from several people about specific times in the history of the show are very entertaining. Really wish Jon had waited until the 2016 election before leaving. Miss him a lot.

Ene 4, 2017, 10:45pm

I am very amused by The Past because the three sisters' names are Alice, Fran, and Harriet, and three of our cats are Alvy, Francis, and Harriet. There is a brother in the book too, but his name is not Mr. B. That would be too eerie, and also just weird.

Editado: Ene 5, 2017, 1:14pm

Very weird.

I'm reading The Hare with Amber Eyes for my RL bookclub. We're meeting Saturday morning, and I'm on p. 92, so I'll need to read with focus, but it's enjoyable and I'm enjoying de Waal's pleasure in storytelling and sharing what he discovered with the rest of us.

I will return to The Nix after bookclub.

Editado: Ene 5, 2017, 3:45pm

I thought The Hare with the Amber Eyes was quite profound and moving. It does get a bit woolly in the Vienna years but it's an extraordinary story, none the less and DeWaal shows more empathy the longer he spends researching. You might be interested - one of his grandmothers wrote a novel that was published long after she died, deWaal wrote the introduction. It isn't great but it is really interesting and offers a little bit more history about the family. The Exile's Return is about a family that returns to Vienna after the war.

I finished The Dark Flood Rises. Another novel where not a lot happens but the company is charming. I guess the easiest way to put it is that it's about how we age - whether we scramble about, staying busy and trying to be vital or give ourselves over to the inevitable. It's a tricky novel and not for everyone. But I liked it.

One of the books I gave DG was Precious Bane and I started a reread this morning. A beloved favorite.

Ene 6, 2017, 8:25am

For a long time, my secret reading shame was those Nevada Barr Anna Pigeon mysteries, all set in different national parks. They're all terrible, but she does occasionally manage to paint a picture of a landscape in a way I find alluring. And Anna was the type of park ranger I wanted to be (still do, maybe), the one who hikes around and solves mysteries and never has to clean a campground toilet.

ANYWAY, something soured me on the last couple, so I was happy to discover ANOTHER writer writing National Parks mysteries (though I think they're all set in Glacier NP), Christine Carbo. They're not great art, but I think they're better than the Barr ones. I hate that I feel the need to compare them, though. Mortal Fall

Editado: Ene 6, 2017, 8:59am

First book of 2017 was Fatal Descent by John Rhode and Carter Dickson.

First real book is Jane "Stone Cold" Austen's novel about people who overspend, hate the military (until they don't) and have to move -- Persuasion.

I'd link but I haven't learned how yet.

Ene 6, 2017, 9:00am

wow ... that's a big image. The book itself in this edition weighs about negative 6 ounces; I don;t know how Penguin did it.

Ene 6, 2017, 9:05am

Persuasion remains my favorite Austen novel because Anne is totally not an idiot.

Ene 6, 2017, 12:07pm

So nice to see you here tpc!

Ene 6, 2017, 12:13pm


Me too about Persuasion.

Editado: Ene 6, 2017, 12:30pm

Yes, me too. Persuasion is the one where the heroine acts the most like an adult throughout the novel; at no point do you want to throttle her, like you do Emma or roll your eyes at her like you do Fanny or want to tell her to lighten the fuck up like you do with Elizabeth.

Ene 6, 2017, 1:38pm

Persuasion is one I read before college, or maybe right after. I keep meaning to re-read it to see how my perception of the book changes with age.

Ene 7, 2017, 12:15pm

My experience is that it just gets better.

Halfway through Precious Bane which I felt inspired to re-read after giving a copy to DG. It's as wonderful as I remember. Maybe better.

Caveat: one dog does die.

Editado: Ene 8, 2017, 12:04pm

Yesterday morning, I read March: Book One by John Lewis. It's great. I really did not know much about him, which is now kind of embarrassing. I loved it, and I can't wait for the next two volumes to come out. Highly recommended.

Edit: It appears all three volumes are already out. I guess for some reason, I thought only the first one was out. Maybe just my library.

Editado: Ene 8, 2017, 6:41pm

I bought that for my husband this year for Christmas, Julie. I can't wait to read it myself. He is a real American hero, IMO.

I read and read for the last few days and finished Precious Bane last night. Sigh. So good.

did I say anything about The Dark Flood Rises? I liked it, though I don't think it's for everyone. It really is about getting old and what you make of the time you have left and how you want to live. So though I am not experiencing that personally right now, I am dealing with elderly parents and in-laws - looking at the choices they are making - or that are being made for them. for sure, everyone in the Drabble book has money and comfort and in some cases, the agency to have what they want. In that way, they are lucky and I suppose nobody would approach a Drabble novel thinking they were going to read about anyone who wasn't academically or even financially privileged.

The charm that is in the early novels - the feeling of being in the presence of someone so young and bright and engaged is a bit worn thin here. Though that may be me as a reader.

I received The Fortunate Ones as part of the Early Readers program here and I'm so excited that I'm going to read it right away so as to make a good impression. Like I need more free books. But still.

Ene 8, 2017, 6:11pm

I loved March Book one but I thought Book Two was even more powerful. Really looking forward to Book Three.

Ene 8, 2017, 6:25pm

The March boxed set is really nice. Worth buying, if you collect comics (or literature in general). Lewis is a good guy, and does a lot of work with libraries—he was at the ALA annual conference in Orlando last summer, but I didn't get a chance to talk with him.

Ene 8, 2017, 7:17pm

I have heard of Precious Bane but never really considered reading it. I will now - thanks for the rec! (loved the LT reviews on it)

Ene 9, 2017, 1:06am

Just finished Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi and Surrender the Pink by Carrie Fisher, and I'm working on Dead on the Bones by Joe R. Lansdale.

Ene 9, 2017, 5:29am

Homegoing is wonderful!

I just finished Stamped from the beginning, a history of American racism. Dispiriting and dense, but definitely worth reading and I'm glad it won the NBA for non-fiction.

I'm starting Nothing Ever Dies, about the Vietnam War, and The Association of Small Bombs, a novel about a terrorist attack. I'm also reading a couple of chapters of Dombey and Son every night to keep me from existential despair.

Ene 9, 2017, 6:55am

I finished and reviewed Explorers' Sketchbooks: The Art of Discovery & Adventure, which was kind of a nice choice for a snowy day—the tropical scenes were transporting, and the Arctic/Antarctic ones reminded me not to whine about having to go out and shovel my few inches in a relatively balmy 20˚. Back now to The Past, which is fun—I really like Hadley's eye for the world, and I'm enjoying the characters a lot. They feel very real, which isn't always the case even in books I like.

Editado: Ene 9, 2017, 1:54pm

That's annoying, Essex Serpent not out yet. Nor is the new Drabble.

Ene 9, 2017, 8:42pm

Agreed, Gayla--Homegoing IS wonderful. I felt like it was taunting me from all of those Best of lists!

Ene 10, 2017, 11:23am

Kat, I have the Drabble. Do you want it? I'd LOVE to send it to you. In fact, don't answer. I'm just going to send it. :)

Ene 10, 2017, 1:56pm

Ohhh, you are so nice to Ms Crabby-Pants, Lb. DG has my new address.

Editado: Ene 10, 2017, 5:01pm

>229 Kat.Warren: Kat, I'm waiting for the Essex Serpent, too.

I can't remember if I posted, but I'm currently reading The History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund. I'm really liking the setup, so I'm hoping for great things. Plus, everyone that has read it seems to be raving about it.

Ene 10, 2017, 5:12pm

Kat, I think I have it. Palo Alto?

Ene 10, 2017, 6:08pm

Oh..... color me green. I'd be more jealous, except it is hard to begrudge Ms. Enabler a book. Its so hard to send something she hasn't already read!

Editado: Ene 10, 2017, 6:23pm

Thanks to a heads up from DG, I just finished the extremely charming Mary Astor's Purple Diary: The Great American Sex Scandal of 1936 by Edward Sorel. As you might expect, it's a beautiful book, printed on heavy cream paper and filled with Sorel's illustrations. It's very slight--it's all about an incredibly juicy sex scandal/court case featuring Mary Astor (yes THAT Mary Astor), George S. Kaufman, John Barrymore, and a few others along with some wistful episodes from Sorel's life--but it's so gracefully told.

Astor had a sort of tragic life--she had terrible taste in men (except for Kaufman, who was apparently quite the...long-laster), and was terribly used and abused by most of them, and accepted a steady paycheck from MGM in exchange for fighting for better roles. But Sorel never makes her look seedy or grotesque. His Astor is elegant but earthy, and even with her mistakes and limitations, manages to achieve at least one iconic role and many other splendid ones.

I've always had a pash for sad-eyed, complicated, long-suffering 30s actresses like Astor, Kay Francis, and Aline MacMahon who just drape around elegantly and have Tragic Problems.

Also, there's a great line about horrible June Allyson constantly and annoyingly chewing gum during the shooting of Little Women, so of course THAT made me happy.

Tons of fun.

Ene 11, 2017, 12:57pm

Si, Palo Alto. Gracias amiga.

Editado: Ene 11, 2017, 6:31pm

I just read 168 messages! Trying to get caught up after dealing with a few annoying personal issues.

I am in for a Wuthering Heights reread. I read it three times but not as an adult. I think I knew it was more about obsession than love but I was sort of involved in that kind of thing so I related. I still have my marked-up paperback, that should be interesting to go over. But I also have a lovely box set of it and Jane Eyre that I inherited from my mother, they even have book plates with "Hope Mouton" in them. That was the name of her first husband and when I was twelve and found this out I wanted to be Karen Mouton instead of Karen Burleson. Yes, even though it's just French for mutton.

I love Margaret Drabble. The Realms of Gold surfaced on top of a stack recently so I might try that.

I have The Past by Tessa Hadley from the library but the touchstone thing is linking to The Giver. If Lauren and LuAnn liked it, I feel I will also.

Ene 11, 2017, 5:46pm

The Past is really your thing, Miss Mouton.

Ene 11, 2017, 6:17pm

>238 karenwall: I just finished it today! And liked it very much, so that's another vote.

Editado: Ene 11, 2017, 6:27pm

Great! I wonder why I was getting The Giver by Lois Lowry.

Ene 11, 2017, 7:37pm

The algorithm defaults to the most popular entries sometimes -- I think it's a metadata thing but I don't know where it's looking. But if you check it in "Touchstones" to the right of the posting window it'll give you a list of options.

Ene 11, 2017, 9:31pm

I started one of the Collected Millar books last night. Hoooo weee. And there are a bunch more of them coming. She was married to Ross Macdonald -- they're different, but you can see why they were a good couple. Dinners must have been a laugh a minute.

Ene 11, 2017, 10:21pm

So yeah, I liked The Past very much—the family dynamics, the lovely descriptions of the natural world, the tiny details, all speak to such a carefully observant and non-judgmental eye. I'll have to find more of Hadley's, since this was my first of hers other than a New Yorker story or two.

Now reading Marrow Island, about which I knew nothing other than that it was on a few lists last year and sounded interesting. I liked her book Glaciers from a few years back, which was slight but sweet.

Ene 11, 2017, 10:48pm

>243 DG_Strong: not just dinners, their whole life together was weird.

I'm reading The Lauras and can't put it down. Unless it really goes south this will make my best of the year list. Thanks for sending it DG.

Ene 12, 2017, 12:06am

>245 lynn_r: Lynn, can't wait to get to The Lauras. Thanks for the encouragement.

BTW, I finished Exposure by Helen Dunmore and really liked it. It wasn't quite what I expected. It sounds like a spy novel, but it's really about what happens because of a choice made by one spy. It's very British--very restrained. Recommended. Great choice, Cindy.

Ene 12, 2017, 10:45am

I received The Fortunate Ones by Ellen Ulansky as part of the early reviewers program here and read it right away. I am super picky about holocaust fiction and don't like much the WWII chicklit mashup (I'm looking at you, Sarah's Key but I thought this was a few steps above that. It's about a Chaim Soutine painting that first hangs in the home of a Jewish family in Vienna and disappears after the war only to reappear in a gallery in NY in the 1970s and purchased by a private collector. It is stolen again about a decade later.

The daughter of the original owner - now in her 70s and living in LA meets the daughter of the American collector in contemporary LA. It's a lot of coincidences and parallel events, secrecy, lies and sacrifice. Also kindertransport, so you might cry.

But I'm glad I got the change to read it. Thanks Library Thing!!

I just got a copy of The Last Kashmiri Rose and am going to curl up with that toot sweet.

Ene 13, 2017, 9:17pm

So Paul Aster in the NYT recommended Oreo by Fran Ross. This looks like a gem - anyone read it? Originally published in the 70s, reprinted in 2015.

Ene 13, 2017, 11:28pm

>248 cindydavid4: I remember seeing it around a lot but don't know anything about it.

I finished Marrow Island and liked it well enough, though it didn't knock me out. I guess you would call it an eco-thriller... is that a thing? Anyway, it was a bit slow to get going but ultimately entertaining.

I've been reading a lot of books lately with really strong senses of place and descriptions of the natural world, which is nicely immersive, and this was definitely one. The characters a little less so, but the plot was fun. I thought I had figured out the plot twist and it was probably more gruesome than Smith's, but hers is probably better. Anyone here read it? I want to tell someone my idea, but there's no point unless someone's read the book.

Now I'm about to crack Rachel Cusk's Outline, which comes recommended by all sorts of people whose taste I like.

Ene 14, 2017, 4:54pm

Its a cold and rainy day here, so I am happily sitting on my rocker, cats to one side, music on the other, reading what may turn out to be one of the best books of this year: Moonglow

Ene 14, 2017, 9:21pm

>248 cindydavid4: Cindy, Oreo was in the Tournament of Books last year. BTW, The Morning News has posted the short list for the tournament.

Editado: Ene 16, 2017, 8:31pm

I read The Last Kashmiri Rose which was fun but I think something has happened to me as I've gotten older and I find reading genre fiction about colonized countries from the pov of the colonizer almost impossible. Between this and my over reaction to La La land, I really think I am becoming one of those impossible debbie downers.

I did speed thru the end because there was a free little library down the street from our hotel (Memphis) and I wanted to leave it there.

Ene 16, 2017, 8:37pm

Finished up that Mary Astor book in one sitting but read it on my Kindle so didn't get the benefit of being able to paw its lush pages! A very quirky telling that was charming and funny but not nearly as juicy as I'd been hoping for (I do love to dig the dirt). About halfway through The Lonely City which is very thoughtful and unique. And at night, before lights out, I'm reading passages from What there is to say we have said -- letters between Eudora Welty and William Maxwell and as a result I'm am seriously considering taking up letter writing again. I used to love to write and receive letters and kept up an active correspondence with a number of people. There is nothing like it, really.

Ene 16, 2017, 9:01pm

Thanks April, I definitely want to check it out.

Ene 16, 2017, 9:03pm

>253 LuRits:
And at night, before lights out, I'm reading passages from What there is to say we have said -- letters between Eudora Welty and William Maxwell

I have that on my bedside table and do the same. I actually do a fair amount of pen-and-paper correspondence (mostly because I love stationery so much, but also because I love excuses to write things by hand)—so hey, if you want a letter, LuAnn, send me your address.

Ene 16, 2017, 9:57pm

LuAnn, I re-connected with a high school friend about 5 years ago and we've been writing steadily back + forth. We text and email too but I write at least one letter a month. So yeah, I''m in.

Ene 17, 2017, 10:05pm

Email me your address Lisa. I have yours Lauren. Once I get back from protesting in DC I may have something to talk about!

Ene 17, 2017, 10:52pm

Done! And I'll try to bring back some good stories from Atlanta (from a library conference, though, so I don't know how exciting that'll be...)

Ene 17, 2017, 11:51pm

I finished up Joe Lansdale's Dead on the Bones and I'm about halfway through Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad.

Editado: Ene 19, 2017, 8:37am

Ok so Johannes Cabal The Necromancer appeared in my mailbox. I started reading and before you know it I put aside the other three books I had started. Love this.

Ene 18, 2017, 11:55am

I started Jerusalem the Golden but the tone wasn't right right for how I've been feeling which is anxious. I know I'll go back to it, but now is not the time.

So I started something that Library Thing Early Readers sent me The Year of Needy Girls. It's interesting - part Children's Hour, part Dennis Lehane about a lesbian couple on the north shore outside of Boston. The one that's a teacher is accused of assaulting a student and the one that's a librarian strikes up a very unlikely friendship with a man accused of the assault and murder of a young boy. The writing is a bit herky-jerky but I'm fascinated by the story, especially the thin line between student and teacher and how easily that gets crossed. I live with a teacher and though I am not saying he has ever acted improperly, there is closeness and passion and opportunity. It is very very difficult to navigate and the need can come from either side.

Ene 18, 2017, 12:40pm

Head's up: Amazon has Barbara Pym's A Glass of Blessings on sale for $1.99 on Kindle today.

Ene 19, 2017, 1:02pm

"I'm reading passages from What there is to say we have said -- letters between Eudora Welty and William Maxwell and as a result I'm am seriously considering taking up letter writing again" ~ Lu

"I have that on my bedside table and do the same." ~ Lisa

Such a lost delight (letter writing/receiving). When I was younger and we lived overseas, it was perfect joy getting letters from friends. I'm not sure, but I think I own that in either PB or Kindle, but I want a HC.

Cindy, I kinda' like the cover art for those quirky Johannes Cabal books.

I can't recall ever reading any Barbara Pym.

Ene 19, 2017, 4:27pm

Absolutely nothing because I'm so sick I can't even glue my eyes to the pagebecause of the shivering from my fever. I'm having difficulty typing this. It's just a dumb virus with aches and fever. Been sick since Saturday--going to the doctor this afternoon. I can't believe how long this is lasting.

Ene 19, 2017, 6:23pm

>264 AprilAdamson: That sounds like what Jeff had a couple of weeks ago. He slept for something like 30 hours straight, and it lingered for a while after. My boss had it too. I'm apparently made of teflon (though I just jinxed myself, didn't I?).

>263 Pat_D: Pat, if you want a letter, PM me your address and I'll oblige.

Almost done with Outline and I have a lot to say about it, but not now while I'm lingering at my desk at work writing the last thousand emails before I leave for a conference.

Ene 19, 2017, 8:25pm

>264 AprilAdamson: oh no, April! Hope you are feeling better soon!

Ene 19, 2017, 8:33pm

Oh I meant to say that too, April—feel better!

Ene 20, 2017, 12:20am

Oh, letters! I'm good at letters! Plus, after all my reading about Eleanor Roosevelt, I want to spend my mornings answering my voluminous correspondence in a handsome scrawl!

Editado: Ene 21, 2017, 7:31pm

Thanks, Lisa and Cindy. I got to see the doctor Thursday and it turns out it's some kind of urinary tract infection, but not a typical one, and my liver numbers weren't making him happy. He's not quite sure where it's coming from. He put me on antibiotics. It's a good thing I got to see him Thursday instead of Monday, which was my original appointment, because I would be in the ER. I think I'm turning the corner, but last evening was the worst! I was actually able to read a few pages today and they actually passed through my brain instead of just going from one eyeball to the other.

Ene 22, 2017, 5:36am

I'm presently reading A Green and Ancient Light and Valiant Ambition, George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution.

The first is an odd, little thing about a young boy sent to live with his grandmother in an unnamed town bordered by a mysterious forest during WWII. Too early on for an opinion, but its strangeness keeps me turning the pages.

The second is partly because I'm on an American Revolution reading kick, and partly because it's sadly timely. Early on in that one, too.

I'm a notorious non non-fiction reader. For too long, assigned non-fiction (textbooks especially) impinged on my reading life. Now that I can pick and choose in that genre, I'm making a concerted effort to include it more in my reading.

Editado: Ene 22, 2017, 1:03pm

Pat, there are some new interesting books out about art in the American Revolution period - Of Arms and Artists and A Revolution in Color. I'm hoping to check those out myself.

I finished The Year of Needy Girls. Smith definitely digs in to the complexity and intimacies of teaching and does a great job with the sense of place - North Shore Massachusetts so I was all about it. I felt like her writing never quite caught up with her storytelling - there was something very plodding in her style and there was no sense of when any of this story took place which made me crazy. No constant cell phone use so that tells you something but still. I'd have appreciated a marker here or there. But I'll keep my eye on Smith.

Went back to Jerusalem the Golden which is quite quietly extraordinary. For anyone who feels like their life is a series of happy accidents, this is your book.

Ene 22, 2017, 3:05pm

>271 laurenbufferd: That Copley book looks fascinating.

Ene 22, 2017, 6:53pm

>271 laurenbufferd: For anyone who feels like their life is a series of happy accidents, this is your book.
Like me, you mean? OK

Ene 22, 2017, 7:36pm

My new year's resolution this year --which wasn't really a resolution as it was a sort of a promise to myself to justify the purchase of them from the UK -- is to read all six Barsetshire novels by Trollope. Penguin has them out again as part of the hardcover classics series (no US ones yet) and, well, sigh. So while those are en route I went ahead and started a copy of The Warden that I already have. It'll be fine once I'm deeper into it but I always think it's funny how I have to adjust my reading style when it's an older book.

Ene 22, 2017, 10:29pm

Oh dg! Highly recommend. I read them when the boys were little - Trolloppe is very episodic so you can put down and pick up a day or two later and it's ok. I feel I teensy bit jealous that you get to read them for the first time.

Editado: Ene 22, 2017, 11:15pm

DG, I just reread The Warden a month or so ago in my read up to Christmas. I have a Penguin one-volume companion to Trollope and reading different notes about the book and background on the church really enriched this second reading. I know I've read the first three, if not the first four. I love Barchester Towers.

I've just started Hag-Seed thanks to the generous Cindy.

Ene 23, 2017, 4:09pm

Yesterday morning, I read March: Book Two by John Lewis, and I thought it was just as good as the first one. This is history that I honestly don't think they teach very well in schools. I know about the sit-ins and the Selma march and whatnot. But not in a lot of detail, because....well, I live in Texas. I think that might say a lot of it. I can tell you how my hometown got its name (Arlington...named after Arlington, VA, where Robert E. Lee was born), but I really didn't know who John Lewis was. That tells you something. Anyway, it is EXCELLENT, and I highly recommend that literally everyone read it!

I just picked The Nix by Nathan Hale as my book club pick, and it's long. So I will get started on that, probably after my cruise (next week!). Now I need to pick out a book or two to take on the cruise. Probably just one book and my Kindle Voyage. Oh, and I'm probably going to read Bad Feminist very soon.

Ene 23, 2017, 5:39pm

Julie, I totally agree about March Book 2. I thought it was even more powerful than book one. The violence horrified me,as did the incredible bravery of the freedom fighters. I also knew nothing about he gay communist who came from the north to help and mlk wouldn't let him speak at the march on Washington. I have since discovered that there are many books written about him. I can't wait to read book three. The best graphic novel and piece of history that I have ever read. And horrifying to think it happened in my lifetime. That book puts a lot of people to shame.

Ene 23, 2017, 10:06pm

If you can get the old PBS documentary Eyes on the Prize, it's really worth watching and still offers a great overview of the civil rights Era - it originally aired in the mid 1980s.

>273 lisapeet: Lisa, ha - I thought that might hook you. The main character grows up in a fiercely anti-intellectual family with an ineffectual father and a withholding mother so her successful pursuit of an education and a London life has a special resonance. Everything that leads her to new friends in London feels like a sweet sweet accident.

I was so lucky - I received lots of support growing up but I know a few folks who are self-created to the point that they may have been hatched, so little encouragement did they get.

But yes, Jerusalem the Golden is a real treat.

Ene 23, 2017, 10:43pm

I got all the encouragement in the world but no actual tools, so I had to figure out that I needed to self-create and then actually do so. So I totally relate. I'll have to library up a print copy since there's no e, but I can do that.

Did I mention that I really liked Rachel Cusk's Outline? Lauren, I think you might dig it. It's all about show-don't-tell, how a writer can make an entire protagonist out of the negative space created by other characters. It's a funny, plotless book, and you think everyone is so shallow until you stop reading about them and they sort of... resonate. Interesting sleight of hand there. Plus it triggered, in me, these weird little episodes of deja vu the way a certain pulsing frequency will give epileptics seizures. She's got a new one out, Transit, which continues with the same narrator, and I want to read that one too.

She has a really thorny backstory. I can't imagine why anyone wants to write memoirs, but everyone does.

Now I'm reading Zadie Smith's Swing Time, slightly hampered by the fact that my e-galley sucks—all the "f" ligatures are missing, which is to say any combination of "ff" or "fi"—"offered" reads "o ered," for example. I like it enough that I'm going to soldier on, which is saying something.

Ene 23, 2017, 11:24pm

OOH, I really want to know what you think of Swing Time, Lisa. I thought it was great - I still feel like her great book is out there not yet written and she is terrible at plot - but man, can she create a character! Your remark about Cusk and absense is interesting in light of Smith's protagonist who is nameless and seems to exist in the shadow of others.

She was in town last Thursday and was just as charming and funny and prickly as I expected. It was a great interview.

Ene 24, 2017, 6:27am

Bogged down in Moonglow, with page after page of WWII details...Also I wish this had been written in third person rather than a omnipresent narrator . Yes I know its supposed to be a memoir, but its also fiction and not entirely sure its working (I did love the book up to this section, so perhaps it eases up soon)

Ene 26, 2017, 5:09pm

It seems shocking to be able to read anything with the world falling apart. Politically, things are almost too weird/bad to comprehend.

I finished Jerusalem the Golden which takes an unexpected turn when the book shifts to Gabriel's story. From then on, you don't get as much of Clara and I missed that intimacy; I thought her story was so much more interesting; indeed the last third of the novel sees her character from a slight distance and it's weird.

But I loved the ending.

A novel about how family works - or doesn't work. Or works in ways you don't expect.

I started the new Bernard Schlink The Woman on the Stairs. I never thought Schlink's The Reader was all that but I am curious about this one.

Editado: Ene 27, 2017, 2:11pm

>283 laurenbufferd: I keep getting sucked into the FB/Twitter vortex -- not good for my mental health.

Despite the fact that doomsday is neigh, I've started Mercury and it is different than I expected but satisfying. And I'm listening to Blackout by Willis in the car. To be honest I thought it would be non-starter -- she does go on, and it's annoyingly naive at points, but I can't stop listening and its a bit of a antidote to the craziness that is our world right now. Last night in fact, I came home and snuggled into bed to listen to it and play "Don't Starve."

Ene 27, 2017, 4:18pm

>284 mkunruh:

I totally forgot I bought myself a copy of Mercury! I've got so many stacked up - I will never finish anything. Right now I'm reading Everybody's Fool and quite enjoying it thus far. I may even skip out of work early and head to my favorite coffee shop to dig in for a couple of hours.

Ene 27, 2017, 5:23pm

>285 LuRits: That sounds rather blissful. I hope you do!

Editado: Ene 27, 2017, 5:51pm

I really liked Mercury esp as a portrait of a marriage. And yes, the FB universe gets me all riled up but I can't seem to cut myself off.

Ene 27, 2017, 7:49pm

>284 mkunruh: Despite the fact that doomsday is neigh, I've started Mercury Heheheh.
Speaking of Margot Livesey, I picked up a copy her of Hidden Machinery: Essays on Writing when I was at ALA last weekend—very interested to see what she has to say. Plus the cover is totally eye-catching—the designers that Tin House uses work really well with that small book size.

>281 laurenbufferd: Your remark about Cusk and absense is interesting in light of Smith's protagonist who is nameless and seems to exist in the shadow of others.
I actually noticed that similarity right off the bat, because within the first three or so pages of Swing Time you get this:
A truth was being revealed to me: that I had always tried to attach myself to the light of other people, that I had never had any light of my own. I experienced myself as a kind of shadow.
I read that and thought, hey, intra-book overflow!

I'm liking it a lot, though. You're right—she can really write a character—to the point where they feel so universal that way, no matter what they're actually up to or where they're doing it. Anyway, it's a fun read and I'm glad I got to it. It's lumped in my head with Michael Chabon's Moonglow, because they're both on all the same lists and I'm pretty sure I got them in the same batch of galleys, but I've got a couple of other books at the top of the pile before I hit the Chabon. And anyway I'm not even halfway through Smith because I worked all weekend and, having resubscribed to the New Yorker, read that both ways on the plane to Atlanta.

Ene 27, 2017, 9:25pm

>283 laurenbufferd: Did that book just get republished? Seems like I am seeing it online everywhere. I love Drabble, and will have to get this one. Thank for the tip!

Ene 27, 2017, 9:50pm

I finished Hag-Seed this morning and found it just a doggone fun read. Thanks, Cindy. I've now cracked the virtual spine of The Patriots: A Novel.

Ene 28, 2017, 3:52am

You're welcome, glad to enable a fellow addict oh um reader :) Hope you are feeling better!

Editado: Ene 28, 2017, 1:24pm

The Patriots was one of the best things I read last year. A very unexpected piece of 20th c. history and not at all sloggy. I want everyone to read it.

The Woman on the stairs kind of won me over but I still don't really get what's great about him. Maybe it's the translation but I always feel like there is a missing something for me. In this novel, a German lawyer visiting Australia sees a painting in a gallery of a woman descending a stair and remembers his involvement with painter, the owner and the model decades before. Then they all meet up again. It's a bit creaky as a plot but there is something about it that digs a bit deeper.

Ene 28, 2017, 11:21pm

Finished up The Underground Railroad, then read The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers and I'm now on to Ken Liu's Wall of Storms.

Ene 29, 2017, 6:21am

i am reading some interesting stories on

Ene 29, 2017, 8:10am

>293 Mrs_McGreevy: Ken Liu's really having a moment, isn't he? Or else he has been for a while and is only showing up on my radar this year, which is entirely possible. I have his The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories but haven't cracked it yet.

Editado: Ene 29, 2017, 12:23pm

Oh people, I am really reading something good. Have the Men Had Enough? - Not about DT's cabinet choices - sorry, bad joke.

It's about a London family caring at home for the Scottish grandmother who is well into senile dementia. The story is told in alternating chapters by one of the granddaughters and her mother (the grandmother's daughter-in-law). it's funny and sad and sweet and if you've ever cared for an elderly relative, pretty much spot on.

I picked this up in the used bookstore thinking that Forester was another author entirely but then realizing I'd read her bio of Daphne DuMaurier. But really, a most happy accident.

Ene 29, 2017, 12:27pm

>296 laurenbufferd: Well that would be me too, so now it's on my radar. Which is good because I would have never picked it up in a million years based solely on the cover.

Ene 30, 2017, 10:09am

My mother passed almost two years ago, and Dad has been going downhill fast ever since. He's still mentally sharp, except for the normal 82 y/o forgetfulness, but both knees are so bad he can hardly walk, and I had to rush him to the hospital Christmas Eve for abdominal pain. He wound up having emergency surgery for ischemic bowel, then developed aspiration pneumonia, B/L pleural effusions, respiratory failure, blah, blah, blah. He amazingly pulled through (thanks to my great fellow nurses and other wonderful healthcare workers), came home on the 6th, but I'm no longer physically capable of total care and had to employ Home Health and a Physical Therapist. He's making an incredible recovery, but he is 82 y/o, and...

Anyway, probably TMI, but that book sounds like it was written for a lot of our generation and this community, specifically. So, that's a click.

Have I mentioned how much money I saved while on my internet sabbatical?

Editado: Ene 30, 2017, 3:54pm

Yeah, that's one for me as well. Jim is mid-stage dementia.

Sad to learn of your father's decline, PatD.

Ene 30, 2017, 4:09pm

Kat, don't buy it for youself.

Ene 30, 2017, 5:00pm

Woohoo, Lauren!

Ene 30, 2017, 5:46pm

Margaret Forster wrote Georgy Girl. My least favorite aunt once told me that movie reminded her of me -- and I'm fairly certain she wasn't referring to the Charlotte Rampling character!

Editado: Ene 30, 2017, 10:21pm

Right. I had her confused with Valerie Martin who I absolutely know she isn't, but I''m so glad I did because I loved Have the Men Had Enough?It's not the easiest of topics though she has a light touch and a really brave spirit, but I really enjoyed it and will be looking for her other novels.

My mother-in-law seems to be at the very beginning of dementia - at any rate, the topics of conversation has shrunk to about 7 things and most of our chats end up where they started, with a repetition of whatever the first question was.

It's hard to know what to read next because I am having attention span issues but I had Lauren Beukes first book MoxyLand and am giving that a try. Her books dip into genres that I am not usually a big fan of but I am fascinated by her imagination and her vision.

Editado: Ene 30, 2017, 10:09pm

I have the collection, too, lisapeet, but I couldn't wait to find out what was happening in the Dandelion Dynasty. Ken Liu was also the translator for Cixin Liu's The Three Body Problem, which has also gotten a lot of press in the last year.

Editado: Feb 1, 2017, 9:04am

TBP was rather interesting tho it lost me in places.

Gave up on Chadwick's Summer Queen, something I have never done before with this author. Maybe its because I know so much about Eleanor and that time period that Im bored, or maybe because Im tired of her tired descriptions of various characters making love on practically every page. They all start sounding the same, and I just roll my eyes.

Now reading Fear Institute the third in the Johannes Cabal series because I couldn't get ahold of the second yet. Already loving it

Feb 1, 2017, 12:02pm

Moxyland is a great first novel. It doesn't completely add up plotwise but the way Beukes imagines a future continuation of our corporate consumer materialist culture is right on, not to mention chilling. Is it the best time to read a dystopian novel? Maybe not.

I so enjoy her imagination and can't wait to see what she does next. She makes me a fan of all these genres that I don't much care for. Notable in and of itself.

Keeping on the sad train - reading Laish.

Feb 1, 2017, 4:24pm

>306 laurenbufferd: I have a couple of books of hers that I haven't read yet--Broken Monsters and Zoo City. The blurbs all made them sound attractive enough to me, though I'm not a huge genre reader ordinarily. But you know me, I'll read anything if it's well written.

Feb 1, 2017, 4:45pm

I've read Moxyland and Zoo City, with similar caveats to Luaren's. I liked Zoo City better than Moxyland.

Feb 2, 2017, 1:38am

I liked Zoo City a lot, too. I haven't read Moxyland yet, but I did read The Shining Girls and Broken Monsters. If you like Zoo City, you might also take a look at Nnedi Okorafor, particularly Lagoon.

Feb 2, 2017, 12:52pm

Another vote foe Zoo City.

Editado: Feb 2, 2017, 12:59pm

Zoo City is a super fun read, as is The Shining Girls and I'm someone who would rather have emergency gall bladder surgery than read about serial killers.

I think Beukes has great great ideas but she does have trouble with the wrap-up.

This media black-out thing is really working! Last night I read Aharon Appelfeld's Laish which was wonderful. I admire the way his novels can work as allegory, folk tale and straight up history.

Back to the home shelves with Joan Thomas' Curiosity, a novel I bought when I was in Alberta however many years ago that was. This one is about fossils!

Feb 2, 2017, 5:29pm

That Joan Thomas book is decent. Mary Anning is fascinating and Thomas is a smart writer. I didn't like the male voice in the book, resented it in fact, but there was lots I did like. Have you read the Chevalier book on the same subject? I haven't, and wonder if I should.

Feb 2, 2017, 5:55pm

I have that Chevalier--Remarkable Creatures. I got it at a library sale when I was working with the Darwin Manuscripts Project, but still haven't read it. This would be a good excuse, huh? I'm media-blacking-out in the evenings too, mostly, though I'm also using that time to actually read through the New Yorker and NYRB, both of which I've resubscribed to because I don't want my long-form game to get flaccid.

Feb 2, 2017, 6:53pm

In the last week I subscribed to The Guardian, New York Times (mainly because I hit my 10 article limit in 24 hours, I suspect that won't slow down for awhile), and the Globe and Mail. I'm resubscribing, for a month, to the New Yorker and if I've read none of this month's editions I will unsubscribe. I love the idea of the NYRB, but I'm pretty sure I'll never read it.

Feb 3, 2017, 7:39am

Lauren, I totally see what you mean about Zadie Smith still having her great novel in her. I finished Swing Time and enjoyed it all the way through ("f" ligatures notwithstanding) but I also felt there was something off with the timing, or plotting—great writing, very real characters, but it somehow didn't congeal into a solid whole. But I liked it so thoroughly otherwise, it almost didn't matter.

Next up is Sonya Chung's The Loved Ones—Sonya's a good friend and my Bloom co-conspirator, and I read this in a very early draft, so I'm eager to see how it's changed.

Feb 3, 2017, 8:18am

"In the last week I subscribed to The Guardian, New York Times (mainly because I hit my 10 article limit in 24 hours, I suspect that won't slow down for awhile), ... to the New Yorker and if I've read none of this month's editions I will unsubscribe."

Mir, I did much the same right after the non-election. I can't march, but I've been making calls and sending emails like crazy, and I decided it was an especially important time to support real journalism. I sub'd to TNYT online edition and The New Yorker. I also donated to the ACLU.

I'm making an effort to keep away from as many businesses which either support Trump or carry his family's merchandise as is feasible. Apparently, that's beginning to make a difference to some major brands. There's several articles today reporting the effects of the boycotting.

Feb 3, 2017, 1:29pm

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Feb 4, 2017, 3:41pm

Finished up Wall of Storms, which was an amazing and worthy successor to The Grace of Kings. I'm now reading Roxanne Gay's essay collection Bad Feminist.

Feb 4, 2017, 4:33pm

I've never read anything by Tracy Chevalier. And Mir, I agree - the Mary Anning chapters are wonderful, the Henry De La Beche ones not so much. I'm thinking of skipping them. But it's a great topic.

My New Yorker subscription is the only reason why I am sane right now. Also, my pets.

Editado: Feb 5, 2017, 2:10pm

I started The Essex Serpent, but it hasn't grabbed me, yet. Early on though.

I also started Himself by Jesse Kidd which *is* kind of grabbing me, but that's early, too.

Valiant Ambition is very good.

Feb 5, 2017, 2:25pm

PatD, I could not get into Essex Serpent either. Not giving up just yet but not getting good vibes.

Feb 5, 2017, 2:34pm

IKR? It sounded so good and had such big buzz.

A lot of reviewers say to stick with it, though, so I will.

Editado: Feb 5, 2017, 4:26pm

>319 laurenbufferd: I loved Girl with the Pearl Earring, Lady and the Unicorn and and Fallen Angels. Think you might like those, Lauren. Remarkable Creatures is on my list tho let me know what you think, LIsa

Pat, Kat, Lauren - been there, twice over. Hugs to you.

Finished Fear Institute and have just gotten Jonathan Cabal Detective. Might not get to it right away as I happened upon Alive Alive O by Diane Athill at the local indie. I've read essays by her in various places, always liked her. Read the first page of this one and knew I'd like it. I was right - from the long lovely description of the house she grew up in (built by her great great grandfather) to modern day colonialism in Trinidad, and the harrowing account of her miscarriage have all been very readable and thought provoking. Its a small book and I probably coul finish it in a day, but think I'll take my time with it.

Feb 6, 2017, 8:24am

Ok, so the Barchester books. I finished The Warden. I didn't fall in love with it, but I also didn't have too much trouble with it so I'm moving on to Barchester Towers. I figured out that if I only read about five pages every day, I can have all six of them read by the end of the year. And I can also read something else at the same time, so I won't spend a year waiting for the Reverend to pour the tea.

I did suddenly remember I'd read The Eustace Diamonds before, so this isn't really my first Trollope experience (ha, Trollope experience)...but it was so long ago, I can probably say it is.

Feb 6, 2017, 3:35pm

DG, your reaction to The Warden is pretty much what I thought the first time I read it, but Barchester Towers is great fun. I think The Warden suffers because we know so little about how the Church of England works which makes for pretty dry reading.

Feb 6, 2017, 4:06pm

I've been reading Teju Cole's essay collection, Known and Strange Things. It's an interesting book, but one that I am wanting to like more than I do. It's very lit crit, and I can appreciate, for example, his appreciation of people like Derek Walcott, or Tomas Transtromer. But I find the collection oddly cool and remote, perhaps because it is a collection, but I did not get that feeling from, for example, Roberto Bolano's Between Parentheses. My favorite pieces are the less erudite, more personal ones: dinner with VS Naipaul, an email exchange with Aleksander Hermon, an account of visiting the village in Switzerland where Baldwin wrote Another Country. And one short, funny piece composed entirely of aphorisms inspired by Flaubert's Dictionary of Received Ideas that goes straight for the jugular.

Still, I kept wanting to ask, as I started each new essay, "but what does this all mean to you?" Sometimes, I get an intimation, but mostly Cole seems to keep a reserve, a distance between himself and the reader, that feels...not reflective, exactly, but deliberately framed.

Feb 6, 2017, 6:03pm

I feel the exact same way about Cole. I keep reading more, thinking something is going to make me flip, but so far, nothing doing. I found Open City to be the same way - everything at arm's distance.

I had to stop reading Curiosity because I have a deadline with a new book Silver and Salt. It's making me a bit cranky because it seems like a pastiche of about 10 other books I've already read - disturbed daughter of famous photographer, remote Greek villa, mother thwarted from pursing her career as an opera singer. Stop me when you've read this. And how many times does an author have to tell you how thin her protagonist is or how much she's built like a boy or how small her tits are? Seriously.

Still, I've to write something so I'm trying very very hard to be fair and unjudgey.

Feb 6, 2017, 6:36pm

I'm totally going to write my thesis on The Small Tittedness of Literary Heroines.

Editado: Feb 7, 2017, 10:26pm

The Warden was better the second time around for me after having read Barchester Towers and Doctor Thorne. By then, I knew the character of the society Trollope was describing, so I could understand the warden's character and his place in it. April's right, though, that Barchester Towers is a lot more fun. (Doctor Thorne is OK, but far too long, especially given that there isn't a lot of drama about how things will play out.) I haven't gotten to Book IV yet.

Feb 8, 2017, 1:12am

I finished Roxanne Gay's Bad Feminist, then read Lumberjanes: Band Together by Shannon Watters and Noelle Stevenson and started on The Devourers by Indra Das.

Editado: Feb 9, 2017, 1:15am

Didn't someone else here read The Lauras by Sara Taylor?

It was a really interesting but really odd book and I have some questions. Thanks again DG for getting it for me for the Guardian Swap.

Editado: Feb 9, 2017, 1:21am

Meant to add that I'm about to start Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. FOR BOOK CLUB.

(For some reason by links aren't showing up until I come back and edit - this time the link goes to Harry Potter!)

Editado: Feb 9, 2017, 7:55am

Lynn! Were your ears burning? We were just wondering about you! Yeah the touchstones are a bit wonky, but for the most part they work

I have The Lauras on my TBR shelf so haven't gotten there yet.

Starting Margaret Drabble summer bird cage.

Feb 9, 2017, 9:45am

>278 alans:

the gay communist who came from the north

Bayard Rustin has a name. And he's well worth reading about.

Feb 9, 2017, 11:40am

>334 lorax: Lorax Hear, hear!

I am back to Curiosity and happily so. I was pretty hard on Salt and Silver and it certainly got better but I think it's a slim book stuck into a whole lot of extra words and pages. Pretty much everywhere I wanted specificity, I got innuendo and filler. Still, we at BookPage are positive and there are good things to say as well. But where was your editor, girl?

Feb 9, 2017, 10:27pm

I've been reading American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804 by Alan Taylor.

This book is an excellent corrective for all those people who think of the American Revolution was a glorious era when brave, noble patriots freed the colonies from the oppressive English. Instead, virtually every party involved comes in for a critical pasting. Taylor doesn't hold back from describing the brutal behavior of the patriots towards loyalists, native Americans and others as they desperately tried to keep the revolution afloat. Nor does he forget all the people who regularly switched sides hoping to avoid trouble. And amid the chaos were the speculators trying to make a killing wherever they could.

The British come off as an incredibly over-extended empire trying to do things on the cheap but lacking the actual leadership talent to accomplish anything in America. Strangely enough, England came out of the revolution with a stronger empire, but one wonders why they didn't send some of the people who were successful in India, for instance, to fix things in the colonies. And, their craven handling of their native American allies left many of them at the mercy of bloodthirsty patriots.

Oddly enough, the French come off the best, basically bankrupting themselves to kept the Revolution going. But, Taylor notes they got completely snookered in the peace settlement and ended up with little of tangible benefit for their efforts.

I picked up the book to learn more about the period AFTER the Revolution, and Taylor again doesn't hold back in his description of the utter chaos, bungling incompetence and venal self-serving of many of the Founding Fathers. Moreover, he makes it clear that the Constitutional Convention was the creation of conservative elements who had grown horrified by the aspirations of the common man. Fascinating stuff.

Feb 9, 2017, 11:08pm

>36 alans: Nor does he forget all the people who regularly switched sides hoping to avoid trouble. And amid the chaos were the speculators trying to make a killing wherever they could.

You should pick up Randall's book on Ethan Allen: Ethan Allen: His Life and Times. He's considered sort of a hero of the Revolution now, but he was often little better than a thug, and his "Green Mountain Boys" weren't a regiment so much as a gang. He's a great example of the complicated motivations of "the common man" in that long war. Exactly the kind of populist rabble-rouser that would make Washington and Madison cringe, even if he did manage to take Fort Ticonderoga with a massive amount of luck.

Feb 9, 2017, 11:40pm

>336 Stenhammar: Sten, have you read anything else by Taylor? I read his American Colonies: The Settling of North America and it was really excellent.

Editado: Feb 10, 2017, 8:11am

I started Universal Harvester last night, alternating a bit with my five-pages-of-Trollope-a-day plan. I'm not certain it's my type of book, but it's short, so I'll make it.

Editado: Feb 10, 2017, 10:56pm

I just started Wolf Totem for book group. It won the Man Asian Literature Award. It actually has wolves in it, unlike History of Wolves which doesn't have any wolves. Yesterday I read Persepolis. I've been curious about that book since it came out.

Feb 11, 2017, 1:17pm

I'm so confused by all these wolf books. I have History of Wolves on hold from the library and Wolf Winter has been in my TBR pile for a while now. Haven't gotten around to The Wolf Road, though it keeps popping up in my recommendations.

I'm still reading The Loved Ones, which I'm liking a lot—she has this great weird rhythm that, once you fall into it, is really pleasurable. And I also started a galley of Sarah Gerard's new book of essays, Sunshine State, on the plane to Miami today. Because, Miami. I left a foot of snow and now I'm sitting on the 19th floor of the Marriott looking out over Biscayne bay, and it's 74˚ and I've been walking around in my black pants and boots looking like such a New Yorker and soaking up the vitamin D for all it's worth. This is probably my entire winter allotment of sun for 2017.

Feb 11, 2017, 2:15pm

Spent most of this morning and early afternoon in the walk in emergency clinic, "walk in" here being a laughable misnomer because I was barely able to walk at all, hence the trip. It was bizarre how much walking they had me do, given what I was there for (possible broken ankle). The distance between the examination room and xray seemed really loooonnng. The good news is that I did not break anything. But I do apparently have a very bad sprain and the doctor gave me a bit of a lecture for trying to walk it off over the last couple days.

But the upshot was I spent a lot of time in waiting rooms and waiting in rooms, so I finished Katherine Manfield's Urewera Notebook. It's an account of a trip she took with her family -- horse and carriage -- through rough New Zealand territory. And while the trip was very uppercrust in its conception and implementation, you can tell that the writer herself is always bucking the traces. Her ability to describe a scene is phenomenal. She also rarely uses periods, but uses em dashes the way I use commas, to signify a breath, a transition from one thought to another. The book is so littered with them it looks like someone took all of Emily Dickinson's poems and them out line by line end to end.

Feb 11, 2017, 7:41pm

>342 southernbooklady: "the way I use commas, to signify a breath"

SBL, I'm so glad I'm not the only one that does this!

Feb 12, 2017, 8:03am

Heh. But ouch, Nicki. Hope that heals up soon.

Feb 12, 2017, 1:24pm

April>I read his American Colonies: The Settling of North America and it was really excellent.

Thanks, I'll have to look for that. I have The Barbarous Years: The Peopling of British North America by Bernard Bailyn which I need to get to, as well.

I just took up Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell though, so it might be awhile. :-)

Feb 12, 2017, 6:36pm

I decided to read Dymott's first book Every Contact Leaves a Trace It too could have used an editor, there are so many many words! I wish it didn't take place in Oxford, mention Browning or have an unreliable narrator, because now I feel like I can't put it down.

Feb 13, 2017, 5:31am

Jeez, Nicki, they should have put you in a wheelchair. Even walk-in clinics should have one of those (despite their name). Feel better.

Feb 13, 2017, 11:12am

I picked up the book to learn more about the period AFTER the Revolution, and Taylor again doesn't hold back in his description of the utter chaos, bungling incompetence and venal self-serving of many of the Founding Fathers. Moreover, he makes it clear that the Constitutional Convention was the creation of conservative elements who had grown horrified by the aspirations of the common man. Fascinating stuff.

Hmmm. Maybe I should read it, just to hearten myself about the current political climate with a historical perspective.

Currently reading The Hourglass Factory by Lucy Ribchester and it's sort of a trudge so far, despite all the jacket copy and reviews calling it a fast-paced romp. And the lack of character building in the main character (who has real possibilities) is making me grumpy. Or the news cycle is making me grumpy and this book is doing nothing to alleviated it. I'm 100 pages in, so I may just bail and switch to Don Winslow's Cartel. I read all of Winslow's Neal Carey books and enjoyed them, but Cartel sounds much more serious (based on what I remember of a Fresh Air interview with him when the book came out.)

Or: Scott Lynch's second Gentlemen Bastards, Red Seas Under Red Skies, has just come off a library hold for me, so that's an option. I loved The Lies of Locke Lamora, #1 in the series, but read it so long ago that I've completely forgotten any pertinent details. The perils of trying to read a popular series via a library.

I did recently re-read and enjoy The Transcendental Murder, by Jane Langton. While the library ebook didn't include her charming line illustrations, I hadn't read it for probably 20 years and had completely forgotten the plot so it sort of counted as new. Still enjoyed the writing and will probably read more. The Dante Game was a favorite of mine for YEARS.

Feb 13, 2017, 11:58am

>347 Pat_D:, >344 lisapeet: Danke. I've got a brace and prescription painkillers so I'm managing. It's a little precarious getting around with all the dogs and cats underfoot!

In the stack now are Daniel Wallace's newest book Extraordinary Adventures, and a new one from one of my favorite Southern presses, Hub City: Flight Path: the Search for Roots Beneath the World's Busiest Airport. The author, Hannah Palmer, discovers the places she grew up in have all been covered over by the expansion of Atlanta's ever-expanding airport, so it's kind of about runaway development and the pressure on the South to modernize.

That airport, by the way, is a bear. it is bigger than some small countries.

Feb 13, 2017, 12:08pm

That airport, by the way, is a bear. it is bigger than some small countries.

I was just there. I bypassed the in-airport train and walked from my gate to the taxi area and I think it clocked in at over a mile.

Feb 13, 2017, 12:36pm

>348 Cara_DB:, re: "Lies of LL" -- he's a thief, he's good at it. People die that he loves; he's pissed off. (As are the people he robs).

I'm listening to Ragtime. Much to my surprise, I'm completely hooked. Such a swirl with Houdini, Goldman, and Perry all playing roles. It doesn't hurt that Doctorow is narrating it.

Reading actual words is more complicated. Between the news and marking 130 papers, reading more print isn't that attractive, but I should finish Mercury today or tomorrow. I like it quite a bit, but stories that circle around failed communication kind of drive me nuts. Plus, I'm not sure I buy the whole obsession.

Feb 13, 2017, 2:11pm

I was hoping to get a little reading done on my cruise. Alas, very little, even on the plane. I am reading a book Lynn gifted to me a long time ago, By Reason of Insanity by Shane Stevens. Somewhat of a classic in the thriller genre, I think? It's ok, but not drawing me in like I (and Lynn) expected. Partly that's just me and what's going on in life, partly because my attention span is screwed up because of the internet. But I will finish it!

I hurt my ribs on my cruise, so I am spending a lot of time in bed. Watching tv mostly, but I'm trying to incorporate more reading. Hopefully something will snag me. :)

Feb 13, 2017, 10:52pm

>351Mir, I don't have the horse gene, though I know plenty of ladies that do. But I got the desire to throw yourself into something because you thought your time was running out or keep something separate from your husband and your children, fetishize it even or keep it secret. That all felt very believable to me.

Feb 14, 2017, 6:20am

I finished The Loved Ones on my flight home last night (which should have been yesterday afternoon but that's a whole 'nother story). I'm not sure I'm the most objective judge of this book since Sonya's a friend and colleague and I was an early reader of the ms—I'm listed in the acknowledgments, which always, always gives me a thrill. But I was really moved by how my feelings for the characters deepened and ripened through the course of the novel, which was of course one of its major points. But I thought she did that so skillfully, and it's not something I remember coming through as effectively on the earlier draft. The book has a weird rhythm that, once you fall into, pulls you along through this often thorny story with a skittery third person POV, and after a certain point I just could not put it down for long. And at the end I teared up even though it wasn't sad or sentimental, I think just leaving the characters—none of whom were so overwhelmingly lovable on their surfaces—behind.

Still reading Sunshine State, and I think for my commute I'm bringing Delia Bell Robinson's A Shirtwaist Story, because I'm interviewing her for Bloom.

Feb 14, 2017, 7:07am

Thanks, Miriam - that'll do the trick

Feb 14, 2017, 8:58am

Lisa, I think thats a click for me.

Really enjoying Margaret Drabble a summer birdcage , thx to whoever mentioned it.

Feb 15, 2017, 1:13pm

A Shirtwaist Story was beautiful graphically, though a little unsatisfying in terms of narrative--it just drifted out at the end. Still, good for a train ride and it'll be interesting to talk to the author/artist about the work.

Now I've made a lateral jump from sunny Florida (Sunshine State) to snowbound Minnesota (History of Wolves) because a whole bunch of library holds came in at once. At least I have the one to warm me up when the other gets too chilly.

Feb 15, 2017, 1:23pm

Okay, so both Elanor Dymott books are behind me and the review of the second one written and turned in. The first novel is a very long mystery with a totally unreliable narrator. I liked the way everything unfolded, despite the truly glacial pace of the events. I was not completely satisfied by the ending - I thought of one more twist that would have made the book a shade darker - and although I like my idea better than hers, nobody is waiting for my fiction, so there you have it.

Silver and Salt was more problematic. Again, the pacing. And too much high falutin language and hints when I just wanted to know who did what to whom.

I should go back to Curiosity but it seemed like a good time to re-read The Liar's Club so I am.

Editado: Feb 15, 2017, 2:07pm

"History of Wolves" started well enough but fell apart in the third.

Feb 15, 2017, 7:13pm

Day One of Jury Duty had me reading Barchester Towers, which is just fine, I like it so far, but the assembly room was SO QUIET I fell asleep twice and snored myself awake both times. Then I got called and had a real trial so reading was over for the next two days. But now I'm back to it, and also a bit into Amiable with Big Teeth.

Feb 15, 2017, 7:48pm

My brain needed to take a break from Wolf Totem, so I'm reading something brainless--Just One Damned Thing After Another.

Editado: Feb 15, 2017, 11:04pm

I am reading Nothing, which normally wouldn't be a statement I'm happy to make. In this case, though, having noticed that the NYRB is publishing some of the novels of Henry Green, I've decided to try and read all nine of them by the end of the year. And I'm starting with Nothing.

Feb 16, 2017, 11:30am

I read Loving a few years ago and really thought it was fantastic.

Started reading The Bishop's Wife. It's weird that its a Soho Crime imprint but maybe Utah really is a foreign country. Anyway, Mormons so , of course.

Feb 16, 2017, 11:42am

>363 laurenbufferd: Heh

I started The Improbability of Love which is promising to be fun.

Feb 16, 2017, 1:49pm

I read the Bishop's Wife last year and don't remember a thing about it! I only bought it because I was at Parnassus and felt weird about not buying a book. I dunno why I feel so obligated there.

Feb 16, 2017, 4:28pm

I feel the same way, dg, it's a high pressure situation.

Editado: Feb 16, 2017, 7:45pm

I thought it was deeply creepy, inept plot, so retro-conventional it made my teeth ache. Apologist tract for Mormon position on women.

Feb 17, 2017, 2:16am

Finally getting around to Swing Timeand loving it!

Feb 17, 2017, 2:01pm

I finished Mercury which I thought had a strong first half but lost some oomph in the middle. To be honest, I really didn't give a rat's ass about the wife or her horse obsession. I never had that crazy thing though I read all the Black Stallion, Misty, Flicka books. My sister, on the other hand, used to roll down the back window of the car every time she saw a horse in a field and would whinny at the top of her voice. She bought one of those plastic horse statues at a Stuckey's on vacation one year and left it in the back seat window. When we got back it had melted into this horrible disfiguring clump of horsey. I thought she would implode. She kept the damn thing on a shelf in her room for years, refusing to throw it out or abandon the mangled mess. I never really could figure out what set her off on horses.

Feb 17, 2017, 6:07pm

I just started The Making of Donald Trump. I know a lot of this stuff but it's worse than I imagined. Depressing.

I have The Golden Age coming up next, another Lauren recommendation.

I hope to be more active here soon!

Feb 17, 2017, 8:32pm

>369 LuRits: For someone who was on a run away horse at the age of 9, you'd think I would have been terrified of the animal, much less want to read about them. But oh I did, in Jr Hi, everything I could get my hands on Flicka, Black Beauty, National Velvet...Three of my friends were in on it too and we probably knew more about Man o War and Secretariat than most adults we knew. Somehow that all faded away by the time we got to HS. Still funny how facts come back to me; it was fun when the Secretariat movie came out a few years ago, to be able to tell David what was going to happen (he was not happy about that...) Otherwise I admire horses from afar but have no interest in them now. Wonder if kids still get into them the way we did.

Feb 17, 2017, 9:56pm

I just finished Strangers in Their Own Land, which I've been told is eye-opening and revelatory but to me felt like 240 pages of conversations with my father, except that I wasn't able to do any of the talking. So now I'm just feeling frustrated and unfairly angry with my father, who probably just spent the day building a bookshelf or something and has no idea I've been yelling at him in my head all day.

I think I just wasn't the target audience -- I think it's geared more toward people who live in the fabled liberal bubble. (It is interesting to me that no one is writing books to help the people who live in the rural evangelical bubble better empathize with others.)

Editado: Feb 18, 2017, 8:28am

>369 LuRits: I agree Lu, Viv's voice isn't strong enough and although I get the idea of the obsession Viv wasn't convincing. Still, I wasn't unhappy I spent time reading it.

I put a library hold on Do Not Say We Have Nothing months ago, and it arrived yesterday (digital hold), so I ditched other books to start it. It is very good, and unless it goes south I suspect it will be on my "best" list at the end of the year.

Feb 18, 2017, 2:41pm

I don't have the horse gene at all - I have clear memories of the girls at summer camp who would take their plastic horses out during lunch and rest period and play with them - but I felt like the obsession part was easy to understand. Just substitute what you'd keep secret from your spouse. That said, the husband had the much more convincing voice.

I finished The Bishop's Wife and though it didn't bother me as much as it bothered Kat, I didn't think it was much of a mystery. That said, I'm reading another For Time and all Eternities because the plot revolves around polygamy. I can't help myself.

Feb 18, 2017, 6:24pm

Don't know how I missed this one when published in 2005 but happily making up for it now:

Five Quarts: A Personal and Natural History of Blood
by Bill Hayes

Feb 19, 2017, 4:47am

Blood. Gee, that makes me nostalgic. /s

Or Leech Therapy (which, believe it or not, is still used as a last ditch option to revascularize failing tissue grafts/flaps). Comes with a strict protocol (ours were done only in an ICU setting), flown in from actual medical leech facilities, counted and signed out from the pharmacy, etc.

Some things I don't miss.

Feb 19, 2017, 9:00am

I'm not so much enthralled by blood but Hayes's newest, Insomniac City, interests me in a kind of voyeuristic way. Two topics that interest me, anyway—New York and Oliver Sacks—though I generally don't love those "partner of" type memoirs.

I whizzed through History of Wolves and liked it, for the most part. I appreciated what the author was doing with the two storylines, though I never felt they quite worked in tandem. But still, a good, prickly portrait of loneliness and the different ways people with the best of intentions can hurt their children—something that's been on my mind lately—the different ways one can be "raised by wolves." Plotting issues aside it's a very well-written book on harm, harm mitigation, culpability, and what to do with misplaced love, all set against the beautifully rendered backdrop of northern Minnesota.

A major subject of the book is Mary Baker Eddy's Christian Science teachings, and in the book I put down when this hold came in, Sunshine State, I was in the middle of a long essay on Christian Science and its spinoffs. What are the odds?

Still can't go back to that one, though, because three more library holds just came in at once—two e and one print. Can I read them all? We shall see. Right now I'm reading Anna Noyes's Goodnight, Beautiful Women as part of my (probably hopeless) attempt to read all The Story Prize finalists before the award event in March.

Feb 19, 2017, 11:40am

>377 lisapeet: Thanks for putting into words just how I felt about History of Wolves. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but it didn't wow me. It was really well written and had a great premise, but it just didn't ring all my chimes for some reason.

Feb 19, 2017, 5:57pm

This is snapping up very nicely:

The Strays: A Novel
by Emily Bitto

Editado: Feb 20, 2017, 3:08pm

For Time and all Eternities. Why? Because polygamy, that's why. I feel a little bad for Harrison who is clearly trying to work out some of the more problematic bits about her religion. I'm not sure a mystery is the place to do it, though. Also, suburban SLC is beginning to resemble Cabot Cove. People are dropping left and right.

I finished Curiosity. A very slow start but I really liked it - the writing was lovely and Anning's story is so fascinating.

I started Han Kang's Human Acts and it is grim.

Editado: Feb 20, 2017, 3:22pm

another one?!

I was thinking comparison with Jan Karon's episcopal Mitford but Karon is the better writer by far ... for what it cozily, whitely is.

Feb 21, 2017, 11:53am

I know we're all overwhelmed, depressed and embarrassed by this maladministration and y'all are looking for your reading as a distraction from the mess. However, The Plot to Hack America by Malcolm Nance really and truly is a must read.

It's not just about Trump. It's an excellent primer on the history and methodology of Russian espionage and cyber warfare, too. Very fast reading, intriguing stuff. This isn't conspiracy theory malarky. It's all facts and educational but reads almost like a LeCarre thriller. Evidently, Trump has been under deep, deep surveillance for quite a while.

I can't remember a time when our intelligence was so sharing... in books, on talk shows. When I finished the book, it struck me just how desperate our intelligence community must be to be putting this stuff out for the public to see and hear.

I think everyone of voting age should have to read it.

Feb 21, 2017, 12:31pm

Latest edition of WIRED has "The News in Crisis" as March's theme. Excellent reads:

"The Tech That Could Save The New York Times"

"Welcome to Macedonia: Fake News Factory to the World"

"Black News Matters"

"Robots Wrote This Story"

And for DG:

"Inside the deeply nerdy, insanely expensive world of Hollywood prop collecting"

Good issue.

Editado: Feb 21, 2017, 12:40pm

I am working on three enormous books: The Slave's Cause, which is interesting and well-researched but dry as dust; The Nix, which is just zipping along; and Dombey and Son, which is one of my comfort reads. And I'm glad to be reading all of them but I think once I finish I'm going to give myself a break with something short.

(I originally tried to link to The Nix but LibraryThing inexplicably chose to link to Oliver Twist instead.)

Feb 21, 2017, 8:49pm

Reading Tana French Faithful Place for a book group. Im not a big fan of detective type stories, but interested enough in it so far.

Feb 22, 2017, 5:00pm

I thought Human Acts was truly superb in every way, including the translation which never made me feel like I was reading a translation. Human Acts is about a boy who was killed in the 1980 student uprising in S. Korea. The novel is told in chapters by the boy himself, a dead friend, a factory worker, his mother, and a writer. amongst others. It is both universal and specific and reflects the best of humanity and the worst.

Best thing I have read so far in 2017.

I received this as part of the Library Early Reviewer program so many thanks given.

One caveat - this is a very very violent novel with scenes of upsetting torture and brutality.

Feb 23, 2017, 8:27am

Added to my Wish List. Sounds right up my alley, Lauren.

Feb 23, 2017, 8:31am

Yeah, I put a library hold on it. That cover has been catching my eye for months, and now I'm sorry I didn't pick it up at work. Ah well, though—the library always comes through.

Feb 23, 2017, 11:34am

It's so good. As soon as I finished, I started it again because I thought I may have missed some overlaps and indeed I did. It is even more rewarding the second time, although no less upsetting.

I am also reading a daily story in Mary Gordon's Collected Stories and my, they are fine.

Feb 27, 2017, 3:49pm

Well, I was just going to add Human Acts to my cart over on Amazon (tomorrow is my birthday, so I'm waiting to see if anyone gets me a gift card), and I accidentally purchased the Kindle version. It's over my price limit (my limit is 9.99 and it is 10.99...yes I'm stubborn). But I guess I will go ahead and keep it! Happy birthday to me, from Lauren B. :)

I'm listening to The Dry by Jane Harper, and if you enjoy Australian mystery/thrillers, so far this is a good one. I've heard a lot of great things about it, and it's certainly drawing me in.

Feb 27, 2017, 9:07pm

happy birthday julie!

Feb 27, 2017, 10:03pm

Happy birthday Julie and may I say, you look really gorgeous!

I liked The Dry too.

I am reading Mary Gordon's latest There Your Heart Lies. it's ok.

Feb 28, 2017, 12:06am

Happy birthday Julie!! And I second Lauren, you look smashing.

Feb 28, 2017, 12:41am

I didn't know Mary Gordon had a new one coming. There's something about her for me. I adore her books, even when they're just ok.

Feb 28, 2017, 12:53am

Squeaking in just before midnight your time to wish you a very happy birthday, Julie!

Feb 28, 2017, 6:35am

Happy belated, Julie!

Doing a bit of triage, and putting down Truevine for now—at the probable risk that my hold will run out and I'll have to wait another six weeks to get it back—for They Were Like Family to Me, in an attempt to read all The Story Prize entries by the time I hit up the award event next week.

Feb 28, 2017, 12:24pm

Nancy, it's coming out in May. I'm reviewing it. I''ll send it to you when I'm done.

Feb 28, 2017, 11:50pm

>396 lisapeet: What do you think of Truevine, Lisa?

Editado: Mar 1, 2017, 2:18pm

>398 AprilAdamson: It didn't grab me hard in the first couple of chapters, which are more an exposition of sharecropping and the general cultural climate, but it's still early in the book to really say. I'll definitely keep reading after I'm done with my Story Prize books, even if that means waiting another couple of months for a new hold to come in.

They Were Like Family to Me, on the other hand, opens with one of the most wrenching stories I've ever read. Well written, but jesus, painful. Holocaust setting, as I think all of the stories may be. I'm definitely interested to see where the rest of the stories go from there.

Mar 1, 2017, 8:19am

Starting Commonwealth, having some trouble keeping up with who's who (a family tree would help). Also started a gathering of shadows sequel to darker shade of magic.

Editado: Mar 1, 2017, 1:06pm

Thank you so much, everyone! For the birthday wishes and the compliments! :)

I have some birthday money to spend, so hopefully I'll be reading up a storm soon.

I am listening to both The Dry and Lincoln in the Bardo. LITB I had to start over, because I was very confused about what was going on. I read a review so I could kind of grasp it, and now I get it. But just listening, the first chapter is told by one of the ghosts, but you don't know that yet. And then it's a bunch of quotes and excerpts from books, both real and fake, and I was very confused. But once I caught on, it's really good.

Mar 1, 2017, 4:48pm

George Saunders was in town last week to give a reading and it was more of a play with actors hired to do the parts. It was kind.

I found him charmingly unpretentious and funny.

I am sad that the new Mary Gordon is a flop. It has all the right Mary Gordon elements but put together wrong and kind of cranky to boot. I am reviewing it and there are nice things to say and even some interesting bits but still, disappointed.

It's funny that the women writers I started reading when I was just starting out to be a woman - Margaret Drabble, Margaret Atwood, Mary Gordon, Doris Lessing - aren't giving me the signposts I need now. Maybe it's an aging thing - or I just need something else. But there is kind of a vacuum. Does that make sense?

Mar 1, 2017, 5:45pm

Thank you, Lauren!

Mar 2, 2017, 12:41pm

I would suggest going immediately back and rereading the first chapter of Lincoln in the Bardo at least once or twice before proceeding. I have stayed away from reading the bulk of the reviews, so I was very confused after my first reading of the opening chapter. After rereading it slowly, I got it, and it's been smooth sailing since.

Editado: Mar 2, 2017, 3:20pm

>399 lisapeet: A funny thing happened when I went to look up They Were Like Family to Me. It sounds really great, and I'm on the bench for people who don't like short stories. I have some Audible credits languishing away in my account, so I thought I'd take a look at it on audio. When I clicked the Audible link on Amazon it took me to In the Land of Armadillos, which is apparently the title the book was originally published under. What an odd title for a Holocaust book.

It looks like my copy of Lincoln in the Bardo has finally shipped. Thanks for the advice about chapter one, Pat.

Mar 2, 2017, 4:05pm

Oh gosh here I am being ornery, but there's some me being nice in the second half.

I absolutely hated Lincoln in the Bardo, and I knew it almost right away but I stuck with it anyway. I was going to keep my mouth shut but now I feel like I need to set off a warning flare. I'm normally ok on Saunders but I thought it was all just too fussy and formatted and LOOK AT ME so I'm glad to hear he was at least not like that in person. But really, I hated it. Maybe I would like listening to it, though, with all different voices. I also think it's a ripoff because if you got rid of all the white space, you'd have a Melville House/Art of the Novella-type book that would cost eight dollars. THAT'S MY VOTE.

In better news! A two-book double-whammy race for best book of the year so far:

Ghachar Ghochar is a slim, Chekhovian (a blurb did that bit of thinking for me, but it's correct) family story set in India. It's very DG -- almost nothing happens! and then it does. It's only 118 pages, so they all have to be perfect and I think they are. It's translated, but never once did I get the feeling that a word wasn't quite the right one.

Even better is Eveningland, a set of interlocked stories set in Alabama (modern kind of Alabama, not cotton-field kind) and it's a whopper. After years of reading southern lit, I gave it all up cold turkey because I could not read another book about a hair salon or a coon dog or a bullet that shot the wrong person or any combination thereof, but this was a really good re-entry for me. The closing piece, the longest one, a novella called Landfall, is one of the best things I've read in the past three or four years.

Mar 2, 2017, 6:41pm

>405 AprilAdamson: The publishers must have thought the same as you about the title. It makes perfect sense for the story, of course, but I guess, you know, they've gotta sell books. I'm about halfway through and it's good but painful going, to the point where I'm feeling like it's hard to evaluate the style because of the subject matter. I appreciate her not soft-pedaling it at all, but I have to intersperse the stories with something else. I was going to say "something lighter," but my periodicals are all New Yorker, NYRB, NYT, Washington Post... I'm not sure all that wallowing in politics is exactly light, but the Holocaust sets the bar pretty high.

>406 DG_Strong: I have Ghachar Ghochar, so that makes me happy. DG, have you read The Eye Stone? The jacket copy says something like "medieval Venice noir" and I thought of you for whatever reason. Though it also invoked both The Da Vinci Code and The Name of the Rose... I'm OK with the second but the first gives me pause. I know, I know. Blurbs.

Editado: Mar 2, 2017, 8:09pm

DG, I almost bought Ghachar Ghochar this past weekend when I was in Seattle, but I didn't. (Really, like you care!)

Mar 2, 2017, 11:23pm

Finished " Rules of Civility " by Amor Towles for book club. Really enjoyed the book. It is a late bloomer coming of age story primarily set in the mid to late 1930's. The setting is New York City and you just want to be there.

Mar 3, 2017, 8:28am

April, I do care! When I love a book, I get quite evangelical.

One reason that I think I loved it so much -- and this is not to take away from it IN ANY WAY -- is that it's a very traditionally told family saga (though distilled down to a really short book); in a lot of ways, the way it's told is exactly the opposite of Lincoln in the Bardo, which I had read just before and eyerolled my way all the way through.

Editado: Mar 3, 2017, 11:39am

DG > "I absolutely hated Lincoln in the Bardo"

I'm reading it very slowly. Not hating it, but only because there's some lovely writing in fits and bursts. DG's right, though. It's undercut by the unnecessary contrivance.

I've set everything aside until I finish the phenomenal but very long TRUMP, PUTIN, AND THE NEW COLD WAR by Evan Osnos, David Remnick, and Joshua Yaffa in The New Yorker. It's a "must read" for its content, and for its prize-winning writing, too. There's also a feature on Grace Paley on the Web site.

I have Eveningland on my wish list, but I'm not buying anything new until I knock off some things from the TBR pile.

Mar 3, 2017, 11:52am

I'm listening to the audio of Lincoln in the Bardo. I like it so far, but I have already begun drifting off a couple of times and wondering if there's any kind of plot. Some of the narrators in the audio are fine, and some are so obviously not professionals, it can draw you out. I know there are a lot of non-professional readers in this one, but couldn't they TRY to not sound like they're reading their one line for the first time? But the jury is still out, because I'm not sure how I'll feel about this one by the end. I am trying to love it, but I don't yet. And like Pat, I was very confused at the beginning and had to re-listen to the beginning few chapters.

Mar 3, 2017, 1:45pm

I am reading Salt Houses - first novel by a Palestinian author.

Mar 3, 2017, 7:07pm

Pat, I do think you'll like Eveningland -- it's maybe a little less, hmmm, muscled? than I think you normally like, but it's pretty bleak in spots!

Mar 3, 2017, 10:00pm

Lauren, I'm curious to know your opinion on Salt Houses. It looks good to me.

Mar 4, 2017, 8:30pm

DG, have I lately said how dear you are to me? Because you are.

Mar 4, 2017, 8:52pm

I am reading books from legend writers whose tomes that don't surface much here, although LaurenB and others do their bit:

The Dark Flood Rises by Margaret Drabble
The American Abortion War by Joyce Carole Oates

So far so good. I do love a meaty JCO tome. The Drabble is working very well although I'm less thrilled with the Canary aspect.

Editado: Mar 5, 2017, 9:32am

They Were Like Family to Me is a bit hard to evaluate objectively—linked short stories set in the Polish town of Wlodowa in the first half of WWII, for the most part. As you'd expect, a lot of examination of cruelty, guilt, culpability, the banality of evil, and some of it is, obviously, painful. As it should be—I found myself having a small internal dialogue: "Don't we get a story with a glimmer of humanity or an upbeat ending?" "Lisa, this book is about the Holocaust." (There are a few moments, but... it's a book about the Holocaust.) So it's hard to pull back and just think about the writing and plotting. Much of it was really good, and the writing itself is lovely. I think she was most successful when Shankman moved away from the magical realism elements—I'm not someone who hates all magical realism with a white hot fury, but it's hard to do, and even though I totally get what she's doing with the element of Jewish folk tales, I feel like they detracted from several of the stories. All in all worth reading, but have something a bit lighter to look at in between stories (like, you know, the Washington Post).

Nicki, the first story, "In the Land of Armadillos," is based heavily on the story of Bruno Schulz.

Now I'm reading the last of The Story Prize finalists—I think I'm actually going to get to all of them this year—Rick Bass's collection For a Little While.

Mar 5, 2017, 11:39am

Lisa, those Polish stories sound good to me. I also like Bruno Schultz.

Salt Houses is quite good -about a Palestinian family who emigrate from Nablus to Kuwait to the United States. Nothing fancy, just a straight up multi-generational tale. Like more recent African literature, this is more cosmopolitan than refugee camps, but the sense of loss and disruption is still there.

Mar 8, 2017, 7:40am

For a Little While is good—a bit on the precious side in the way of those stories in which nothing quite happens except the narrator's voice, but Bass is a good writer and I like the shrouded-in-mist-iness of it all. It's one of those authorial voice that gets stuck in my own head so that I may be crammed on the #1 train with a bunch of harassed commuters, but really I'm down in the Mississippi bottomland somewhere hurling empties into a swamp and thinking about wildlife. It suits me fine.

Editado: Mar 8, 2017, 8:32am

>406 DG_Strong: Even better is Eveningland, a set of interlocked stories set in Alabama (modern kind of Alabama, not cotton-field kind) and it's a whopper. After years of reading southern lit, I gave it all up cold turkey because I could not read another book about a hair salon or a coon dog or a bullet that shot the wrong person or any combination thereof, but this was a really good re-entry for me. The closing piece, the longest one, a novella called Landfall, is one of the best things I've read in the past three or four years.

Just wanted to chime in -- Eveningland is a wonderful book. It had a lot of my Southern bookseller friends talking a couple months ago when the arcs were first making the rounds -- it got more behind the scenes discussion than Lincoln in the Bardo.

As it happens I'm in Atlanta this week for work, and had dinner with some writers, one of whom was Michael Knight. Very very smart guy. He spoke a lot about how he grew up in a kind of family enclave on the gulf coast. His father had bought land along a river, which he then sold off cheap to relatives or gifted to his children, with the result that there ended up being an entire neighborhood where everyone was related, connected by family ties in some way. Knight talked a lot about the idyllic nature of such a life for a child, and how it turns into something suffocating, and eventually something longed for, only as it is fading away.

ETA: Here's an interview with Michael Knight from Jon Mayes:

Jon is a great guy, a sales rep for Perseus Books who sends me care packages of books he thinks I'll be interested in, bless him. He just married the manager at Malaprop's Bookstore and they are constantly posting pictures of their mountain home that make me green with envy.

Mar 9, 2017, 12:44pm

Thanks so much for posting this. I sat up and took notice when DG commented on it, but now with your praise, and after reading Jon's review, I'm ordering.

Mar 9, 2017, 2:20pm

Salt Houses was good and had a dearth of terrorists which made me happy.

Reading Woman No. 17 which is strange and funny. Maybe a good one for Lisa P or DG.

Mar 9, 2017, 5:10pm

>423 laurenbufferd: Hmm, I saw that on the shelf here but put it back because I thought it looked kinda fluffy. But "strange and funny" and a recommendation from you is good, so I'll reconsider if it turns back up.

For a Little While is totally growing on me, I think at least in part because it's collected in chronological order and the work is getting deeper and better-built as it goes. I'm about halfway through and liking it. Plus he just walked away with The Story Prize and I really liked hearing him talk last night because he took all those writerly questions about plot and characters and pretty much said "I don't know, I just do it" to everything. He was very charming.

Mar 10, 2017, 8:58am

Well, a recommendation from Niki and Deeg, as well as an excellent interview with the author - this is definitely a click. Might be a fun book to discuss at some point, with so many of us reading it!

Editado: Mar 10, 2017, 12:05pm

Lisa, I finished it last night - I have been reading up a storm because the news is so bad, I can't even, as the kids say. It's an odd little book - as much about art making as anything else. A mother hires a young woman to take care of her toddler. Also in the house is her teenage son from a previous marriage who has selective mutism - or is a selective mute - not sure what the right way to describe that would be. Both women have very complex relationships with their mothers and the nanny is pursuing a creative project in which she impersonates her mother as a teenager, right down to the hair, clothes, and makeup (as well as the drinking) and then documents the results. It's complicated, funny, and kind of weird, the kind of story where all the characters work their way into a muddle and then the jig is up, so everyone has to work their way out of it as well.

I just started The Gloaming which you sent me. Did you read it first or just put in a box+ mail it? I am liking it, although it too is pretty odd - a woman, recently left by her husband and responsible for the vehicular deaths of three children, goes to a remote village in East Africa where she becomes the overseer of a box of severed body parts.

Mar 10, 2017, 12:57pm

>426 laurenbufferd: I haven't read it—I just had two copies so I threw one in with the other stuff I sent. Two Dollar Radio publishes all sorts of oddball things, but I generally like their choices.

I think what might have put me off of the Lepucki book is that the protagonist's name is "Lady," which is entirely unfair of me. I'll keep an eye out for it at work.

Mar 10, 2017, 1:49pm

>427 lisapeet: Lisa Peet - yes, the Lady name is offputting! But give it a go.

Mar 10, 2017, 4:21pm

Loved The Gloaming.

Mar 12, 2017, 3:43pm

Really glad to be with LT - finding all sorts of books and authors to enjoy,esp on the international scene. Im now reading Sudden Death. Imagine Cavagio and poet Que Vedo playing tennis, with a ball made of Anne Bolyns hair and with Galileo as the linesman. Im not a fan of tennis, and Im not far into it, but this book is intriguing as hell.

Editado: Mar 12, 2017, 5:07pm

Cindy, it's a TOB book -- just made it as a play-in pick. I was intrigued enough that I picked up a copy.

Mar 12, 2017, 5:23pm

I continue to read a number of books, none of which I've finished, but I read some more Ninety-nine Stories of God while waiting for my son to have his phone fixed in the mall (that's an image, isn't it?) Because the pieces are so short, often just a paragraph, it is easy to pick up and put down. I think the collection is really fabulous. I know I'm not getting some of them, but I also laugh a lot or snort and nod. It would be an easy book to re-read regularly.

The Break is excellent and heartbreaking.

Mar 12, 2017, 6:34pm

I finished An Unnecessary Woman yesterday, and felt very odd about it. It should have been a book I could easily love -- about an older woman in Beruit who spends her life reading, and translating her favorite books into Arabic for her own satisfaction. She lives alone, (her one marriage ended when her impotent husband divorced her), has distanced herself from the world outside her door in favor of the worlds she finds in the books she reads. And the books she reads are the books I read -- Eastern European nihilist writers, Latin American authors enduring fascist political movements, Japanese novelists who only write about beauty and despair. African authors who write about crumbling lives and heartbreak. (She quotes Cavafy often). At the start of the novel, she is getting ready to start a new translating project, Roberto Bolano's 2666 and I was actually frustrated that Alamedinne didn't get into the details of the translating.

So Aaliya Sohbi in true autodidact fashion teaches herself about music by buying records, and about literature by buying and translating books. She waxes elegiacally (is that a word?) about her war-ravaged city. Her only ties to this world are her mother -- old and senile -- and her half-brothers from her mother's second marriage, who ignore her if they don't actively dislike her for refusing to let them have her rather large apartment. The woman's isolation, her cerebral way of making her way though life, her innate aloofness, the way she is cut off or unmoved by the things that seem to motivate others -- desires for family, for example -- and most especially her devotion to the beautiful language and the beautiful thoughts of her favorite books....all that should have made me a devotee.

And yet I became more dissatisfied with every literary allusion, every obscure quote. I felt increasingly like I was being given an exposition of Alamedinne's own ideas and philosophy, not a sincere portrait of a reclusive woman's inner intellectual life. Aaliya seemed to flatten as the book progressed, instead of filling out the way she should have. And by the time I closed the book, the only moments that had truly stayed with me were a few scattered scenes -- Aaliya visiting her mother and looking at her, a tiny dwarf of a woman asleep in a chair, already on the threshold of death. Aaliya walking down one of the side streets in Beruit, avoiding the main roads that point straight towards one's destination, in favor of the smaller, narrow streets that wind and turn and still show all the scars of the previous wars.

I think the book suffered somewhat from the fact that I've been reading Katherine Mansfield's short stories over the past couple months. Those are almost the opposite of Alameddine's writing -- well, let's face it, of almost everyone else's writing -- in every way. Dense language that conveys layers of emotion and depth through the briefest of gestures or phrases. Short pieces that have seemingly mundane plots and yet leave the reader feeling wrung out from the intensity of the characters' upended lives. Small scenes that seem pregnant with significance. I don't think there is a gratuitous literary quote in the entirely of the collection The Garden Party and Other Stories, and the only violence in the whole book is an accidental death off stage.

Alemeddine's Aaliya speaks in first person, lives through three wars, threatens looters with a machine gun, seduces a man known to be one of the worst torturers in the country, and reads wonderful books. Mansfield's stories are third person, centered around the kind of British upperclass small dramas that never make waves even in their own bone china teacups.

So why do I feel like there was more truth is Mansfield's story of a young woman visiting a grieving widow and finding herself utterly out of her depth, than there was in Aaliya's repeatedly- declared devotion to the translation of Austerlitz by WG Sebald?

Mar 12, 2017, 7:34pm

Oh miriam that entire collection is gold (I have a collection of all his short stories; some of them I don't get but most really ring true) Love the title story 'then he looked up at the sky (there's a first time for everything)' Careful when you get to The Witch. Just sayin.

How does the TOB work anyway - is it a LT event or national?...How are books chosen?

Editado: Mar 13, 2017, 3:07pm

>433 southernbooklady: I had a similar reaction. Really liked the book esp as she describes her life in Beirut. Also really interested in her unpublished work and wish she'd get into that more. But there were several parts that she goes off the rails and its a while before she comes back. Its been a while since I read it, but remember liking it because the topic was unlike any Ive read, and she's a great character, but I think she really needed an editor

Mar 12, 2017, 8:36pm

Cindy, the Tournament of Books is not at LT. It's put on by The Morning News. It's like the NCAA basketball brackets except with books. Go to: to see this year's action. It started Wednesday with a play-in round of three "sports" themed books. Round one was Underground Railroad against Black Wave and round two was The Vegetarian against All the Birds in the Sky. Check it out.

Editado: Mar 13, 2017, 2:41pm

Nicki, I think I agree with how you felt about An Unnecessary Woman. When I started it, I thought, "YES! This is going to be amazing!" And I enjoyed most of it, but I also felt vaguely unsatisfied when I had finished it. In the end, I wasn't quite sure what she was trying to say (and now that it's been a while since I read it, I am having a hard time actually remembering how I felt at the time). Maybe Alameddine had a strong idea for a character, but not enough story to keep it going.

(edited to avoid double posting): I finished Lincoln in the Bardo last week. Here are my approximate reactions as I got through the book (I listened to the audiobook):
1. Who? What? What the hell is going on?
2. Wait, are these real quotes or fake quotes from books of the period?
3. OK, now that I have read a review, I think I understand where the book is coming from/going to...I'll start over.
4. This is really good now that I know what's going on!
5. blah blah blah....Sigh. Is this seriously just all set on this one night? Is there a plot? (Spoiler alert...not really)
6. How long is this? It's just the same stuff over and over. And it really sounds like it was written by a poet, not a novelist. (Ruminates on whether it's harder to write a good novel or poetry or short stories while barely listening to the book...) (Note: I am definitely a plot or story person, not a "the language was so beautiful" kind of person.)
7. No really, how much longer? Oh good, only 44 minutes left.
8. How much longer? Oh, good. Only two minutes left.
9. It's over! Meh. I am disappointed. Started out with such a good idea. Got kind of boring, to be honest. Oh well.

Mar 13, 2017, 3:01pm

Julie, I was just coming here to report that I finished reading Lincoln in the Bardo, and I loved it. I'm glad I didn't do the audio book. I read the book slowly and carefully--the audio book wouldn't have allowed me to do that. I still feel like I'm in that cemetery with the ghosts. I also finished listening to the audio book of News of the World, and I really enjoyed that, too. Ill Will by Dan Chaon is my current read--so far so good.

Mar 13, 2017, 4:19pm

I feel several ways about The Gloaming. Its very well crafted and the second half of the novel made it much more interesting. I loved how the perspective changes. The writing is beautiful. But I was a smidge uncomfortable with the idea of Africa as a place where white people go to disappear or atone. And there is a magical Negro who may be a ghost.

I''m making it sound bad and it isn't at all - I think I am just really sensitive right now about race and how it's portrayed. I see how Finn is playing around with familiar tropes - i'm just not totally sure she transcends them.

I tried to read Deborah Levy's The Unloved. I was underwhelmed by an earlier novel but she is so celebrated, I thought I'd try another one. 5 pages in and forget it.

I have a mystery with Edna Ferber as a character. That should be fun (and DG, if it's good, i'll pass it on - seems up your alley).

Editado: Mar 13, 2017, 5:52pm

Celine. It's a mystery where the detective character has the more interesting story than the case she's working on. But she's a good character -- a late-sixtyish lady detective who manages to not be Jane Fucking Marple. That alone makes it kind of a surprise so far. Lots of white space, which I guess is all the rage now.

Oh, and Lauren, Sarah Lawrence figures in.

Editado: Mar 13, 2017, 10:52pm

>435 cindydavid4:, >437 JulieCarter: When I started it, I thought, "YES! This is going to be amazing!" And I enjoyed most of it, but I also felt vaguely unsatisfied when I had finished it.

I think what it came down to for me is that despite her professed love of "the outsider," all those books she loved to quote didn't seem to really change her, open her eyes on a new world. Instead Aaliya seemed almost embalmed in literature.

Perhaps that is the fate of such an "unnecessary" woman in a Middle Eastern city still buried under the rubble of twenty years of war. I was interested in the idea that a woman has to be unnecessary to society in order to be free to choose her own path -- Aaliya gets to pursue her life precisely because no one else is interested in it. An unnecessary woman reading unnecessary books and translating them for no one to read. It felt like a weirdly frozen life, though. Not exactly a "free" one.

I don't know. The books I truly love have an impact on me. I see things differently after reading them. I feel like a different person after reading them. I appreciate outsiders, sure, but really I think I love the books that upset my apple cart, challenge all my preconceptions. A lot of the books and writers mentioned in the novel do that for me -- do you know I read 2666 over a year ago and I still find myself thinking about it, often.

So Aaliya's dilettantish appreciation was familiar, but less and less so as I got further into the book. With the exception of Anna Karenina, none of those books seemed personal to her. It really irked me.

Editado: Mar 14, 2017, 11:16am

(Nicki, how do I reply to a post like you did? I have forgotten, so I'll just try it this way.) Edit: oh look! It worked! Just type the> and the post number. Cool.

>438 AprilAdamson: April, You may enjoy the audiobook a lot more than I did, since you already enjoyed the book. I could definitely see it as an enhancement. (For me, lots of times literary fiction does not work as an audiobook. I like true crime, mysteries, thrillers, and memoirs, mostly. I think I'm not good at listening and thinking.)

>439 laurenbufferd: Lauren, What is the mystery with Edna Ferber as a character? I did a junior thesis on her a million years ago, so I'm always interested in her.

I started reading The Nix yesterday for my book club (I picked it), and it's VERY apropos to the current political and social goings on. I think I'm going to love it.

Mar 14, 2017, 12:27pm

>430 cindydavid4: well, Ive lost interest in the premise (Just how many times can you read the description of a tennis match!) the humor has become boring, and the history of the time is convaluted with way too many names and petty comments. Pity, because for a while there it was a great ride...

Editado: Mar 14, 2017, 9:23pm

>433 southernbooklady: southernbooklady

Thank you for taking the time to write about An Unnecessary Woman. I have that on my Kindle, but after reading your post, I think I'll put that one off.

>432 mkunruh: mkunruh

"The Break" seems right up my alley, but it's still only available through a third party at Amazon (PB for $24+, so that'll have to go on the Wish List).

Saunders is such a great ss writer, and I think he had a potentially wonderful idea for "Lincoln in the Bardo." I just wish he'd not felt the need to bring so much attention to the book's structure rather than its language and storyline because there is some beautiful writing in there.

I have 7 different books ongoing (I've put myself on a disciplined reading schedule. I'll post about my reading plan if/when I succeed in sticking to it). Tonight is Seamus Heaney's Aeneid Book VI: A New Verse Translation.

"Interviewed in Rome three months before his death, Heaney was asked whether he feared the end. “I think literature has helped,” he replied. “Mythology has helped.” Perhaps he will drink the water of Lethe eventually, forget his past life and return to this world, which greatly has need of his humanity and his intelligence. Or perhaps he is among those few who can remain in Paradise

until the end of time
When length of days will remove the deep-dyed taint,
Purify the aethereal sense and that sheer original stuff
Of fire and spirit

In any case, Heaney has left us with this wonderful new translation of a classic."

~ KARL KIRCHWEY for The New York Times.

Editado: Mar 16, 2017, 12:42am

Mar 16, 2017, 2:33pm

I love those Durrells.

Old News was sadly forgettable, even with Edna Ferber. It appears to be a series - I may try to read the first one but honestly, there wasn't much of a mystery at all and the writing is pretty bad. So don't all rush out and get it.

I am compiling books for a long weekend in Philadelphia. Is 4 too many?

Mar 16, 2017, 2:59pm

No, particularly at the rate you're reading these days. Plus, it's always good to have choice.

Editado: Mar 16, 2017, 7:18pm

I figure a book a day, plus one for the bag. Plus journals and magazines and fripperies.

Mar 16, 2017, 9:27pm

>446 laurenbufferd: Are you there for vacation-type reasons, Lauren? In which case four sounds like plenty—I can never figure out how people can read that much when they're on vacation, except for the traveling part.

Did you say you liked The Strays? I remember you read it but not your opinion. Anyway, it's on sale and I'm always hard pressed to pass up a bahhhgain if it's something I might actually want.

Mar 16, 2017, 10:10pm

I liked The Strays better than Lauren did.

Mar 17, 2017, 7:39am

OK, good to know. I really like the touchstone feature for getting to a book's main page, but wish there were a better search function within Talk. I know I can look up a book's "mentions," but that still returns a pretty broad field. (And I know I can control-f search a thread, but that's also a bit limiting—can't do it on my phone, for one thing.) Also, I wish the list of touchstones in the right margin had the option, on click, to return a list of the posts in the conversation where they were mentioned.

Also, I wish my student loans would go away and my cats all shit licorice jelly beans, but... you know.

Mar 17, 2017, 8:21am

I did like The Strays though not as a best of the year. But it's a coming of age novel about a young girl and a group of artists in Melbourne - it's based on the Heide Circle - so it has many many likable elements.

Mybookpage review is here

I am bringing three books, crossword puzzles and some New Yorkers. And if I don't buy a book there, it will be a first. Last time I was in Philly, I found the public library resale shop.

Mar 17, 2017, 1:12pm

I'm reading "Nine Stories" by J.D. Salinger, and am thoroughly enjoying them! I'm partway through the third story, 'Just Before the War with the Eskimoes', and so far it's my favorite.

I'm not sure where my copy came from anymore, but it's a yellowed and delicate sixth printing from 1960. It's kind of surreal to be reading it by a clip-on booklight in the evenings, what with the vintage look and feel of the book, and the little techy light hovering over top of it. :)

Mar 17, 2017, 1:41pm

Time collides! I love my backlit Paperwhite, but sometimes I miss the book-clip light I used to use. The glow was comforting at 4 am.

I'm 5 pages from the end of The Break and made the decision to wait and finish it tonight rather than rush through it at work.

In the car I'm listening to The UnAmericans, but I have it on Kindle as well. I don't particularly like the narrator, so reading the print allows the writer's voice to reassert itself. I'm on the 4th story, so I don't know about the rest of the collection, but 3 of them have had men as protagonists. I'm fighting that a bit, and also intrigued with the juxtaposition of the male view of female partners/daughters/mothers via a female writer.

Editado: Mar 17, 2017, 11:45pm

Getting reads ready for my hospital stay and convalesence (yes, again - having hip replacement surgery on Wednesday). Have a bunch of magazines, and a list of short stories by South Asian women authors that someone turned me on to here at LT (really love this place, gotten so many links to cool reads). I may leave books behind, I'll only be there a few nights. Planning to read The Lauras, the new Dava Sobel Glass Universe, and the new novel from the author of Darker Shade of Magic, who spoke at our indie last week. Thats my plan anyway - I suspect I'll spend most of my time binging on Netflix, rewatching Games of Thrones, enjoying the MST3K that is supposed to be streamiing, and oh yeah, lots and lots of practice walking! Wheeee!

Mar 18, 2017, 2:12pm

Cindy, I had a hip replacement about a year and a half ago. It's kind of a piece of cake. The pain isnt bad at all, your hip feels better immediately, and the recovery is quick. I read a ton of books during that time. Best of luck!

Mar 18, 2017, 2:46pm

Thank you! Im excited, but a bit scared as well - its going to be a four hour surgery they also have to take the rods out that were put in for my fracture. I suspect that pain won't go away soon. Could be wrong, but I'm gonna hope for the best!

Mar 18, 2017, 4:17pm

Sending best wishes for a speedy and successful recovery, Cindy.

Mar 18, 2017, 9:01pm

I hope everything goes well, Cindy. Sounds like you've got lots of good stuff to read or watch, either way.

Mar 18, 2017, 11:10pm

Breathe deeply and don't be scared. Orthopedic surgeons have got this down. Keep us up on how you're doing and if you need reading materials. I'll be thinking about and rooting for you Wednesday.

Editado: Mar 20, 2017, 1:40pm

Yes, Cindy, keep us posted! Just keep thinking about how much better you'll feel when your rehab is over. We'll be thinking about you.

I'm about to open the cover of Roth's The Plot Against America. I heard a great discussion on Slate's Trumpcast podcast, so I decided to give it a try.

Editado: Mar 21, 2017, 3:03am

Thanks all! I'll keep you guys posted . I've bringing Eveningland with me, and my sis has a bunch of magazines for me. Should be enough for two days, maybe. Probably pick a few books for reread - Night Circus has been calling my name lately.

Mar 21, 2017, 2:34pm

>440 DG_Strong: Hey, DG, here's a link to an article by Peter Heller that tells his back story. I loved The Dog Stars.

Mar 21, 2017, 2:43pm

Oh I loved that book - what a great article! Looking forward to trying Celine.

Mar 21, 2017, 4:57pm

I did wonder if it was inspired by his mother -- or at least, a mother he knew specifically. She's an interesting character who zigs when most fictional characters zag, and it seemed very focused on getting someone exactly right to me. It's kind of a surprising book that way.

Editado: Mar 21, 2017, 7:05pm

I am back from Philly but getting ready to go to Knoxville. I had such a good time at the Big Ears music festival last year, I decided to go to all 4 days this year. I am going to see Carla Bley, for starters, Henry Threadgill, Joan Shelley, Robyn Hitchcock, etc. Very excited.

On my trip, I read a bunch of mysteries and old New Yorkers and have the same planned for this weekend though I am driving not flying so less reading time. But I did want to mention I am reading the stories that SBL sent me for my Guardian Swap. You Are Having a Good Time. I was a bit cool on them at first but there are one or two in the collection that are really outstanding. So yay.

Editado: Mar 21, 2017, 10:30pm

It took me a long while to finish up Rick Bass's collection, For a Little While, but I'm glad I took my time with it. It was a good body of work to read chronologically because you could really see his style grow and breathe as the collection progressed. At first I felt like it was leaning a bit heavily on the atmospheric, nothing-really-happens framework, but that wasn't really it—atmospheric definitely, in a big way, but the arc of each story is there. You just have to be quiet and watch for it. And I do think that Bass got more adept at building the bones of the story as he kept working—I found them increasingly more satisfying as I read. But to pick out a standout mid-book, "The Hermit's Story" is just crazy out-there and not to be missed.

Now gonna catch up on some New Yorkers, NYRB, Food & Wine, and I need to finally read through my trial copy of Milk Street magazine to see if it's all that and I should subscribe. Probably not, cf the above list of periodicals that I'm already behind on...

I'm looking forward to Celine, even more so now. Cool.

Mar 25, 2017, 3:05pm

Disappointed in Peter Heller's Celine; excess of trying to be charming.

Editado: Mar 30, 2017, 10:37am

Now reading Ordinary Heroes by Scott Turow. My sis put this in my hands and said I must read it. I don't always do what she tells me to do but this time Im really glad I did!

Mar 30, 2017, 11:29am

Lisa-which of the story prize finalists was your favourite? I follow the prize very closely but I haven't gotten around to any of the books so far.

Mar 30, 2017, 12:20pm

Miriam, from way upthread - what did you think about The Unamericans. I liked some of those stories very much.

Back from Knoxville. I was mostly listening and not reading but I finished Cherry which I had never read and liked quite a bit - not as much as The Liar's Club though. Something about reading about other people's acid trips...............

Started a new novel Lilli de Jong which I am really liking - unwed mother in 19th c. Philadelphia and Quakers.

Oh but Big Ears - Carla Bley, Henry Grimes, Michael Hurley from the Holy Modal Rounders, Sir Richard Bishop and a slew of artists I'd never heard before and am now giant fans of. It was sooooo cool.

Mar 30, 2017, 12:35pm

So this thread is taking longer and longer to load on my computer. Anyone mind if I continue it in a new thread/page? The two will be linked at the top and bottom.

Mar 30, 2017, 12:37pm

N=1, but I have no issue with you doing that Niki.

Mar 30, 2017, 6:42pm

That would be great, Niki

Editado: Mayo 1, 2017, 1:08pm

Wrong thread

Mayo 2, 2017, 4:18pm

So, for some reason last night, I didn't want to go to sleep. I had a bit of wine, and my brother was asleep, so I cleaned the kitchen and then decided to try to read. Obviously, reading after that much wine is not preferable, so I thought, "I better read non-fiction, like a memoir, because it'll be easier to understand." Certainly not always true, know, wine. I picked up two I saw right away, Tender at the Bar and The Liar's Club. Well, at least one of the blurbs for Tender at the Bar said something like, "It's almost as good as The Liar's Club!" So that made my decision, and will be what I read when I get home today. :)

Mayo 2, 2017, 4:23pm

It's a good book but it's funny that you picked it up after getting yer drank on.

Editado: Mayo 2, 2017, 5:00pm

As a Texan, I'll be interested to know your thoughts, Julie. I just re-read that and it was as good as I remembered it although the subsequent two irritated the shit out of me.

The Leavers is really really good.

Mayo 2, 2017, 6:09pm

Uprooted by Naomi Novik, for a book group. Not read her before, she reminds me of some of the fantasy writers I was reading in the 80s. A little YA, but not in a bad way. Enjoying it so far

Mayo 24, 2017, 8:58am

Just finished this morning on the bu The Murder of Halland. I have no idea how I heard about this book-it's a Danish translation and it won best novel in Denmark a few years ago. It is supposed
to be a murder mystery but it was so incomprehensible and so uninteresting. Only took me about three hours to read...really not very good at all.

Earlier in the week I finished The Woman in Cabin Ten. It was fun but the story dragged on too long and I'm very tired of drunk female narrators who witness a crime. It's a very tired trope now.
Este tema fue continuado por The Eternal Question: What Are You Reading? 2.