The Eternal Question: What Are You Reading? 6

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The Eternal Question: What Are You Reading? 6

Oct 7, 2019, 12:19pm

Ahh...that new thread smell.

Editado: Oct 7, 2019, 3:14pm


Oct 7, 2019, 3:43pm

I'm just back from NY with my mom, where we had dinner with the lovely Lisa, but did very little reading!

Before I left though I finished Severance which was interesting, but suffered from a hodge-podge of narrative threads. Her protagonist immigrated to US with her parents from China, is a millennial, and pregnant in a post-apocalypse world. Some of it is interesting, but the many agendas meant there was no real focus and rather banal. Plus, I'm tired of the social collapse = fascism view.

On the way home I read about half of Women Talking. It was driving me mildly nuts -- I don't like the her choice of narrators, her choice feels clunky and inauthentic -- but I need to read it for my RL book-group, so will persist. So I moved on to Spring of the Ram which is making me happy despite (or maybe because of) the unrealistically brilliant, handsome, and always socially adept hero.

Oct 8, 2019, 7:07am

Dinner with Miriam and her mom! That was a highlight of my month for sure—so nice to see/meet you both. I see we didn't get to talking about what you were reading because I'm very interested in Severance and would have liked to hear your thoughts. So... maybe, maybe not, it sounds like. But it's short, anyway.

you are my oracle,my Diana,for all that is coming out in new short fiction. Bless you!
Wow, alan! That's the nicest thing anyone has said to me all month! (Granted, it's only the 8th, but still...) I'm just lucky that I happened to land in a job where I have access to a ton of new books and have gotten involved in some of the year's best judging—which is not actually part of my job but rather adjacent, so the trick for me is making it all happen outside of my regular office hours. But I guess it's that way for everyone who's reading on one of the Best Books committees. Anyway, it's fun to be up on contemporary things for once in my life. Just don't ask me about any new music.

I still haven't read The Wife, though it's been on my radar for years and years. I did read her The Ten Year Nap when she came to Readerville probably a dozen years ago, which I recall enjoying well enough but it wasn't all that memorable. One book of hers I absolutely loved, though I know it's probably not for everyone, was The Interestings. That intersection of youth to adulthood, art and how it gets made, friendships, drugs, and summer camp totally got me.

I'm behind in my Best Books reading because I haven't had enough train time—I was so tired this weekend I fell asleep every time I sat down, or else was busy and/or driving (NOT conducive to reading). And yesterday I had to work from home because my bad little cat knocked over a ceramic butter dish in the middle of the night which shattered, and then everyone (4 cats, 1 very indiscriminately appetited dog) licked up all the butter, so I figured I should be close to home to make sure no one showed signs of abdominal bleeding from ceramic shards. No one did, fortunately... butter's a good lubricant, I guess.

Anyway, I've read part or most of That Time I Loved You by Carianne Leung—very good, not remarkable, but something I think would be well served by reading the entire collection so I'll be going back to it—and Amy Hempel's Sing to It, which is so good in the way that Amy Hempel is always so good but I'm not sure it it's up there with her best work. The last piece is a long story/novella and I'm still reading that one.

Now I'm reading Etgar Keret's Fly Already—light stories for dark subjects, something he's good at.

Oct 8, 2019, 2:34pm

I really love Keret. For a long time, he wasn't well known and I felt like he was just my secret. It's fun watching more people get into him. I think he has a magical way of going very deep with the funniest and lightest of touches. Plus he's one in a line of Jewish fabulists - and I love that.

I had a quick trip to Boston to see my folks which is a great way to get caught up on New Yorkers. But I also read My Soul to Take which I don't remember much of - ghosts, real estate, Nazis, Iceland. I read as much as I could in Villette before coming home to two assignments - I am interviewing Tommy Womack about his book Dust Bunnies on Saturday (a memoir about being an addict and a rock and roller in Nashville) and doing a phoner with Keily Reid on Monday whose book Such a Fun Age is going to be big. Race issues and mommy blogging. Both books have been fun but I am looking forward to getting back to Charlotte Bronte.

Oct 8, 2019, 3:45pm

So I have finished Becoming Seuss, and think its not only one of my favorite bios ever, but one of my fav books. The book covers his childhood, and perhaps a bit too much of his college years,but after that it takes off. Author shows Seuss moving into his career of childrens writer, from ad writer and editorial cartoonist. (this last is where most people have a problem with him, because some of his cartoons are offensive today I don't know what do to with that, except the author does not hide that side of the subject, tho showing him coming around as he got older. )

What impressed me, as Jones is telling the story of each books development along with Seusses life is that this was very very well researched, and yet it doesn't feel like a data dump. Its a page turner, one thats making me go to my bookshelves and see which ones I still have. Highly recommended

Oct 9, 2019, 7:16am

>5 laurenbufferd: Yeah, I had to sadly stop halfway through the Keret because unless the second half just totally goes south for some reason I know it's going on the list, but I'll definitely finish because I loved it. The stories are like koans, in a way—humorous and dark at the same time, commenting on something just outside the edges of the story, weirdly perceptive but always with a gentle touch.

Next, Jac Jemc's False Bingo

Oct 9, 2019, 9:50am

I have never heard of him, but I'd like to give him a try. Thanks for the rec

Oct 9, 2019, 3:49pm

I fully understand that some might avoid this recommendation due to the gruesomeness of the subject matter, but I hope not. I was getting caught up with my magazine reading backlog the other day, and the following article has haunted me for a couple of days now:

Inside the Four-Year Forensic Search to Give One Migrant Family an Answer by Bronwen Dickey.

This is remarkable reporting about an angle of the border crisis I've not seen covered elsewhere. It's not about I.C.E, it's not about the internment camps, and it's not about the migrants' tortuous journeys. It's about the poor souls who attempted the dangerous crossings and never made it. It's about the historically ignored corpses, the unidentified remains, found along the border's deserted areas, on privately owned land, and in mass graves. It's about the heroic efforts of a group of forensic anthropologists headquartered in Texas who've devised a protocol for returning names to the unnamed. It's a painstaking and heartbreaking process, from the cleansing to the reassembling, to the specimen collection for a DNA database, to the photographic documentation of any/all personal items found among the bodies/skeletons, to the family notifications and/or Website listings. That, in itself, is an unforgettable read, but this reporter makes it all personal by way of Christian Gonzalez's tragic story - a fine young man who lived most of his life in the U.S. with his undocumented parents, who was cruelly tricked by I.C.E., deported to Mexico, and his desperate attempt to return to his family and home in America.

It's a difficult read, but it's about important work done by some unbelievably special people, and it's very well written and presented. I can't stop thinking about it.

Oct 9, 2019, 5:07pm

Thanks for the link Pat. I'll definitely read it.

Oct 11, 2019, 7:24am

>9 Pat_D: Bronwen Dickey is a surprise hard-hitter—I'll keep an eye out for that one.

I'm in the home stretch of short story reading but I had to finish Amy Hempel's Sing to It because the last story was a novella, and it felt important to see how she pulled it off. And it was a good collection throughout in the way that Hempel is always so good, though not quite as strong as her earlier stuff that packed such a wallop. But I love her close, economical attention to language. In other authors that can feel like it's in the service of the writer (hi Lorrie Moore, whom I do like), but Hempel's craft always feels like it's for her readers. There's this milk of human kindness that just flows through her work that always wins me over.

Also enjoyed the half of Xuan Juliana Wang's Home Remedies I read. The stories, most set in China or about Chinese immigrants to the U.S., have an interesting, sometimes odd, cadence to them, but totally sidestep what I think of as the MFA story rhythm. I would like to read more of this one also.

Oct 13, 2019, 3:33pm

I feel like Amy Hempel is lost on me. I want to like her stories so much but they just don't stick. I will say that the novella at the end of that collection is very very good.

I am reading a book I received from LibraryThing called Ordinary Girls about growing up tough and gay and abused in Miami. It's quite good.

Oct 14, 2019, 7:09am

>12 laurenbufferd: Yeah, she's definitely not everyone's cuppa tea. Have you read her earlier stuff? I think it's stronger than this collection, though I agree that the final novella was really good.

Now I've read:

Half of Bryan Washington's Lot, which I liked. Fresh, and a good, propulsive voice. A bit reminiscent of Junot Diaz without being derivative (urban, working class, Black and Latino life), and worth reading.

Half of Jac Jemc's False Bingo, which fell into a slot with a lot of other stuff I've been seeing—very varied, odd stories exploring isolation, body horror, alienation of one sort or another, including writer from reader. Interesting but a little off-putting. I'll still probably finish because the stories are different enough from each other to keep me reading.

Also half of Edwidge Danticat's Everything Inside, which I thought was strong. She's such a good storyteller—not outside the box, but atmospheric and emotionally intelligent, and her timing is impeccable. Strong cultural conscience—Haitians in and out of Haiti, love, betrayal.

Now reading Ashley Wurzbacher's Happy Like This. I'm very early in but it hooked me right off.

Oct 15, 2019, 1:01am

Just started “The Grammarians” and it seems very possible my high hopes will be borne out.

Editado: Oct 15, 2019, 11:11am

I have been listening to Seymour Hirsh's Reporter. It's excellent as is the narrator-i keep forgetting it isn't Hirsh himself doing the talking. But the book is so depressing.endless horrible stories starting with Vietnam, then Watergate and now CIA spying. The hate-on for Kissinger (someone once called him Killinger) is also very hard to listen to, not that I'm a fan of the man, but it's just very very disturbing. Seems like everyone lied and everyone was a whistle blower including Kissinger himself. I feel dirty listening to this book, but I'm still glad I'm learning what I am. The description of My Lai takes me back to my youth and is terribly ugly and depressing. It encouraged me to look up what happened to Calley.

Oct 15, 2019, 11:39am

Lisa this is really funny. I work in a university library and I was just assisting a visiting professor from Maine. I asked her what her area is and she said Asian literature, a lot of immigrant lit of the Asian
diaspora. So I told her I just read a posting by someone on line about a brand new book by a new Asian short story writer-the book being your recommendation Home Remedies. She was so thrilled to hear about this and checked her phone but it isn't listed on Amazon yet. I then read her your posting,she was very happy to hear about this. Very nice young professor. She said her absolute favorite is Maxine Hong Kingston.

Oct 15, 2019, 5:57pm

The Ronan Farrow book is good reading, well-written.

Oct 15, 2019, 6:03pm

The third book of the Bear and Nightingale series is well written, but needs a good editor and should be about half as long. Ah well, interesting story.

Editado: Oct 15, 2019, 11:59pm

The Stolen Bicycle (in translation), by Taiwanese writer, Ming-Yi Wu.

Oct 16, 2019, 10:54am

I'm still creeping through Women Talking, but put Spring of the Ram on hold (for now, I'm definitely going back to it), so I can reading Greenwood. It's plottier than expected, and lots of family saga kind of stuff, but I'm not bored yet.

Oct 16, 2019, 2:40pm

I'm taking a brief Zola break and tackling Metropolitan Stories; it's technically a novel but it reads like more little interconnected tales...all set against the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. It's very good, surprising, occasionally quite clever and funny. Usual suspects should take a look, Lauren in particular.

Oct 16, 2019, 7:13pm

Restarted Dutch House and having a much better read.

Editado: Oct 17, 2019, 7:28am

>16 alans: That's great—glad to hear that my recommendations have a ripple effect. If you hear back from her, let me know if she likes it.

Oh and alan, you asked if I'd cracked Best American Short Stories 2019 yet. I have a galley that has the same crappy tiny type as Best American Essays, so I'm dragging my feet a bit until I feel less eyeball challenged than I have this month.

>21 DG_Strong: I have that one! It sounded like my kinda thing.

Super home stretch now. Ashley Wurzbacher's Happy Like This I loved—well written, well plotted, sharp and evocative. My only concern is that out of four stories, two painted heavy women as sad sacks. Not sure if that counts as fat shaming but was noticeable enough that I'd want to read the rest and see if that slightly mean tone is a habit or just a two-off. I want to read the rest anyway, because the stories are good.

Sabrina & Corina, by Kali Fajardo-Anstine, which wasn't even on my radar until it turned up as a National Book Award finalist. And for good reason—lovely writing about Chicana women/girls and their families, mostly set in Colorado. Solid, evocative writing, and anyone who likes that kind of thing will dig this one.

Benjamin Percy's Suicide Woods—more horror. It's big this year, or else just more making the Best Books finalists. Great writing and often genuinely scary, but I'm not sure if I feel like the plots quite deliver structurally all the way through each. Maybe just not my genre so my expectations are different? Anyway, well done and a few were creepy as hell.

Next to last, Julia Armfield's Salt Slow. First story, more body horror, but so far really well done (I fell asleep in the middle, no dis to the writing but rather my energy levels).

Oct 19, 2019, 6:44pm

Still reading Villette. It just get weirder by the chapter and I love it. I also love having to concentrate hard and read every word. I am also reading Flowers in the Dustbin because I am nerd.

I finished Ordinary Girls which for me, was a miss. Although Diaz' story is super compelling - growing up in Puerto Rico and immigrating to Miami as a child, a dangerously mentally ill mother, a violent brother. and struggles with her own depression - I think she'd have been better served by writing about the same material in a long-form essay and not a book. The book is very repetitive and after a while, everything begins to run together. something about the order of the telling also flattened out the inherent drama of the material - when she runs into her mother - homeless and sick - on the beach three-quarters of the way through, I was like - eh, ok, I've already heard about this, instead of feeling the shock that I should have had felt the narrative been constructed in a different way.

I feel like her editor did her wrong.

Also, I didn't understand how someone who identifies as queer never writes about her sexual relationships with women, except very peripherally.

Oct 20, 2019, 10:44am

I ended up liking Salt Slow: tales of transmogrification and body alienation, and very well done. Also very, very female, to me—I'd be interested in hearing from a guy who's read it. I'll finish.

Ayse Paptya Bucak's The Trojan War Museum was good, contemporary, and well written if not incredibly compelling.The first was the standout of what I read but I haven't gotten very far in and will continue with it because I'm interested in her story lines.

And that's it for Best Books judging! I'll link to the final article online in November, if it's not behind a paywall. It was a great long list as a whole, with some interesting through-themes—body horror/alienation being one. Maybe unsurprisingly, it's picked up more by the women authors in the group (although Brian Evenson's horror stories touch on it from a male viewpoint). At least two or three of the books had a character who pulled out her eyelashes. But I can kind of relate—not to the eyelashes thing, but the general concept: horror everywhere outside of us, that alienation from our own sense of self, and where does the line between the two end (or cross)? The other interesting allegorical trope that turned up in at least three of the books was dead birds falling out of the sky. Again, a good enough metaphor, but it started to get funny when it turned up so many times.

Now I've gone back to Home Remedies, since it's a library book. I'm liking it a lot—her voice is fresh and not standard fare. Also finishing up, slowly, Ninth Street Women. The book club I'm reading it for met yesterday and, surprise, none of us had finished. But it's a good account of the times, both cultural and political, and we all really liked it and intend to keep going.

Oct 20, 2019, 10:48am

>24 laurenbufferd: That's always kind of discomfiting, when you can see an editor's hand or lack of it. Too bad about that one... but I also think it's getting harder and harder to come out with these memoirs of dysfunctional/abusive childhoods and have them be affecting, because the market is SO glutted. Which is too bad, because you end up getting cynical and thinking about someone's deeply personal story as "same old." But I've never been a big fan of this oversharer culture, and the last few years of contemporary memoirs (and Facebook, ugh) have really toughened my shell. I think a lot of these memoirs need to work a lot harder to be good.

Oct 20, 2019, 12:46pm

Or find a reason to be told. I'm pretty sure I'm not a total asshole so that resigned feeling of reading yet another book about growing up in an abusive household and persevering feels very uncomfortable. In my head, I was moving parts of the book around and finding a structure that I think would have served her better.

I have The Trojan War Museum and am looking forward to it.

Oct 20, 2019, 2:27pm

“The Grammarians!” Just wonderful — for word lovers everywhere.

Editado: Oct 21, 2019, 2:59pm

Here I go again. I'm in the middle of about 4 different books and my TBR stack is ridiculous, but I've set them all aside, for the time being, thanks to James Wood's lonnng rave in a recent New Yorker. I haven't seen him this passionate about a book in a long time.

A Neglected Modern Masterpiece and Its Perverse Hero

Magnificently metaphysical and boldly human, Henrik Pontoppidan’s “Lucky Per” plays for the highest possible stakes.

I went straight to Amazon to download it after I read his review, but there's no Kindle version, yet. I had to satisfy myself with the very generous excerpt/preview available on Amazon while I anxiously await its arrival. Has anyone here read this book? The little I've read is friggin' tantalizing.

(Heads up to DG, Wood invokes Hardy.)

Oct 21, 2019, 6:06pm

Those are the magic words!

Editado: Oct 21, 2019, 10:03pm

Finished Home Remedies, which I liked a lot. The stories mainly center around Chinese young adults, some living in China and some immigrants, or first-generation living in America (or having returned to China, an interesting setup). But that's about where the similarities between the stories ends—they're all interesting, un-clichéd, and unpredictable, and there's enough intergenerational play to keep the stories from being too Millennial-centric. The writing is fresh, unpretentious and, again, often surprising. I absolutely didn't know what to expect from one page to the next, and the collection as a whole had a real sense of wisdom to it.

Oct 21, 2019, 9:58pm

looks really good, but take a look at the touchstone. I don't think it means what you think it means :)

Oct 21, 2019, 10:03pm

Hah, fixed!

Oct 21, 2019, 11:13pm


Oct 22, 2019, 12:57am

Pat, Wood's review caught my eye too. Maybe I’ll order it as well.

Oct 22, 2019, 9:53am

Lisa, that looks very much up my alley.

Oct 22, 2019, 8:29pm

Oh, good, Mir. Let's compare notes when we get the books.

Editado: Oct 22, 2019, 8:40pm

Problem. Okay, I am in the middle of a Goodreads challenge for 2019 -365 books - I am one book ahead of schedule. I am also determined to read my way through my personal library and right now I am trying to read all my sci-fi-fantasy series. I am currently reading Callahan's Lady by Spider Robinson in that genre, I am also reading 'Outwitting Squirrels' about how to get rid of can't :-), Bookworms - essays by readers about reading, Sympathy for the Devil a bio of Gore Vidal, Diary of Charles Greville Book 2 - a political tome from the time of George IV-Victoria, H.L. Mencken's Book of Quotes - this is bathroom reading and 1300 pages..I won't live long enough to finish it. And finally, Nigel Rees' A Word In Your Shell-like - I love books about slang expressions. Talk about scatter feels like buckshot. My problem is...I am also currently deleting all duplicates of my transfers from Goodreads and adding tags and the covers of the copy I read and I keep wanting to go off and start reading whatever book series I am fixing at the moment. Just fixed C.J. Cherryh and I do have Merchanter's Luck and Downbelow Station out to read next but I was tempted by Cyteen. Another problem is...I am continually faced with books on my list to buy, especially new books in existing series I own. I KNOW I will not be able to read whatever book it is for years and I know I might not live long enough to get to it and I know I cannot afford to throw money around wastefully..and yet....I find myself surfing Amazon checking prices. Insanity doesn't run in my family it gallops off in all directions. I notice in previous posts that the books being mentioned are highlighted.

PS This is my first public post anywhere on this site.

Oct 22, 2019, 8:50pm

You are going to fit in just fine, Karen.

365 books??? Did I read that right?

Let me introduce you to Kat...

Oct 23, 2019, 12:15pm

Karen, you are going to feel right at home here. WELCOME.

I think I'll be dead before I read my entire personal library. It wouldn't be such a problem if I wasn't still acquiring books at a massive rate.

That said, started The Travelers.

Oct 23, 2019, 1:38pm

To be fair, that book-a-day orgy occurred when I was laid off during the dot-com bust.

Hiya Karen.

Editado: Oct 23, 2019, 5:44pm

Welcome, Karen--wow, what a goal!

This has a lot of helpful information on how to add links and other things in posts on LibraryThing (it's also linked in the BookBalloon main page).

Usually when you see a linked book title, it's a LibraryThing "touchstone" and they're very easy to create--just enclose the title within square brackets and the author within double brackets, and it will work like this: Callahan's Lady. If you want to link to Amazon or IndieBound or anywhere else, it needs to be formatted as a regular HTML link.

If you want to share a URL, you can just paste it in the box when you're writing your post, and it will automatically be clickable:

Editado: Oct 23, 2019, 10:59pm

Welcome Karen! I used to read a hundred or more books a year, now I am happy to reach 50! (tho now that I am retired, and the weather is nice enough to sit outside, I'll go passed that this year)

a couple of cheaper places to go for books include BookFinders and ABE. The Book Depository (I always have to check the spelling for that one) is out of Britain, and you can get some good bargains, tho many times they say they have a book when it turns out they dont. I find Bookfinders is the best.

Oct 24, 2019, 7:43am

Hi Karen! I'm a fan of slow reading myself, but as long as you enjoy your books and don't start to feel like reading is a chore, go for it!

I finished up Benjamin Percy's horror collection Suicide Woods—good creepy fun, very atmospheric in a specific descriptive way that just gets under your skin. Percy's strength is in the setup—characters, scenery, premise—and a little less so carrying the plot through, but he's good enough at the former to see every story to a satisfyingly scary end.

Editado: Oct 24, 2019, 9:46am

Karen, the need to buy books we'll likely never read is a compulsion that many of us share. Welcome! I haven't read Cherryh in years and years, but I loved her books when I was galloping (good word) through books in my late teens/early twenties.

I travelled to Nashville this week and had a fabulous time with Lauren and a wonderful dinner with Lauren and D.G. I hate flying (sitting too long in seats with limited space) but they do provide focused time to read, so I managed to read both Five Wives which is on the Governor General short list for the fiction prize (and is very good) and Dual Citizens which is on the short list for the Giller and is less successful but still engrossing and good enough that I made an effort to finish it before leaving it for Lauren.

Five Wives is about the women who were married to or associated with the five missionary men killed by the Huaorani. Thomas who is very familiar with that evangelical world treats them with compassion while not letting the reader forget about the wrong-headedness of the the evangelical mission and the negative impact such missions had on the Huaorani and other Indigenous communities in the area. I wouldn't be unhappy if this one won the GG.

Ohlin's book is less effective, I think, because of the first-person narrator. Lark, the child of a bad first relationship, with an unloving mother and later step-father, works to erase herself from most situations, which in different hands could have been a very interesting narrative perspective, but in this novel just leaves us with a bit of a non-entity. But it was an interesting read with lots of film conversations that I enjoyed (Lark is eventually trained as a film editor) and a fascinating sister. And the relationship between the sisters sits at the centre of the book and provides some of the best material.

Oct 24, 2019, 4:43pm

>45 mkunruh: I travelled to Nashville this week and had a fabulous time with Lauren and a wonderful dinner with Lauren and D.G

and when can we expect a transcript of this meeting??? I am very jealous.

Just finished Walking the Wood and the Water, about returning to the walking trip taken by Patrick Leigh Fermoor. I reviewed this elsethread , but suffice to say I was pleasantly surprised how good it was, despite a few irritations. It a good travel narrative if you haven't read PLF, but you have, you won't be bored!

Editado: Oct 27, 2019, 10:18pm

Finished Kali Fajardo-Anstine's Sabrina & Corina, which is a terrific debut collection. Fajardo-Anstine is writing about a very specific slice of American culture—Western Chicanas of indigenous ancestry, set mostly in Colorado—but she never reverts to type or falls into any sort of shorthand. These stories are about the many permutations of love and family, and the (mostly) mothers, daughters, sisters, and aunts here are wonderful creations. There is so much heart in this collection, and so much good writing as well. Really nicely done all the way through—a pleasure.

Oct 28, 2019, 8:03am

The Miriam/Lauren/DG star chamber dinner was absolutely lovely (except for the pickle juice pudding or whatever the hell that was) and no stone went unturned, which maybe has you all quaking in your boots! But it shouldn't! It was fun and lively and I think Miriam did not know what she was in for when she brought up the Ken Burns Country Music doc series because THREE HOURS LATER Lauren and I were still going on about its minute details....

Miriam brought me a copy of Lampedusa and Lauren brought me a copy of Pagan Light: Dreams of Freedon and Beuaty in Capri, so apparently they stopped off at the Books about Mediterranean Islands bookstore on the way to dinner. I'm going to read both of them before diving back into the Zola project.

Speaking of! I'm 25% done -- five read in the Rougon Macquart cycle! -- and I feel comfortable enough to choose "Rougon Macquart Family Tree for $2000, Alex" if that category every shows up on Jeopardy. I'll dive back in before the holiday season begins in earnest; the remaining books should get me through until spring. There's a run of Zola's heavy-hitters coming up: L'Assommoir, Nana, Germinal. It's so interesting that there are such famous stand-alones in the series and also so many that you never hear about. But they do seem to get richer when you see how they connect to (and contrast with) the others (though let me emphasize: it's not one continuing story like a soap opera -- each book is a complete thing unto itself and the whole series does not take place in chronological order). The Belly of Paris, for example, comes right on the heels of The Kill -- one depicting almost outright starvation, the other depicting grotesque excess. And I wanna put in a big rec for The Conquest of Plassans, the best of the five so far and one that is nearly forgotten now.

Oct 28, 2019, 12:45pm

Those three heavy hitters are my faves. Good reading ahead, DG.

Oct 29, 2019, 1:31pm

Can't get more bleak than L'Assommoir. Very good but very very rough.

Editado: Oct 30, 2019, 10:44am

I am having fun riding along on this Zola project.

Flowers in the Dustbin is a bit sloggy. We shall see,

I am a couple of stories in in The Trojan War Museum. I am not wowed though I really liked the story that took place at the world's Columbian in Chicago (1892) because I do like a Fair.

Villette was a 100 % wack and I loved every minute of it. It seemed even nuttier in 2019 than it did in 1986 which my notes tell me was the first time I read it. I really feel like Lucy Snow out-Jane Eyres Jane Eyre - she is so difficult and damaged but also so strong and with such a secure sense of self. And that's when she's not consumed by depression or running around town in a an opium dream. Add an insanely ambiguous ending and you've got yourself a book.

Would you wear a t shirt or carry a tote that said Bronte as fuck ? Asking for a friend.

I thought The Travelers was mixed. A bit on the baggy side and any book that's going to have that many characters, there's bound to be some that are more interesting than others and because of that, my interest was not sustained. I both liked the sweep of the narrative and felt that it, in part, diminished aspects of the story. So a mixed review, at best.

Oct 30, 2019, 8:17am

ALL of the Zolas are bleak! Even the ones that don't seem like they're going to be. He's quite good at fooling you until the last page: "The next winter, Rene died of acute meningitis." THE END.

Jude the Obscure is practically a Wodehouse novel in comparison.

Oct 31, 2019, 12:01am

Nov 1, 2019, 8:38am

I finished Etgar Keret's Fly Already, which I liked enormously. Like modern Zen koans, Keret's mostly pretty short stories add up to more than the sum of their parts. From “Goodeed,” an app connecting rich women with homeless men, to a future army that enlists high schoolers by offering Pokémon Go–type prizes, these are darkly funny pieces that gently but pointedly comment on how we live now.

>51 laurenbufferd: Would you wear a t shirt or carry a tote that said Bronte as fuck ? Asking for a friend.

Funny you should ask. I just started something for review that won't be out for a while, Lily Tuck's upcoming Heathcliff Redux and Other Stories. The first story, which is the title piece and a novella, starts out in 1960s Virginia horse country—an interesting and kind of unexpected choice from here in 2019—and it does indeed feature a Heathcliff-like character and love affair (though I'm not far enough in to know what happens).

And yes, I would wear that t-shirt. But you knew that.

Nov 1, 2019, 2:17pm

I am twenty minutes away from listening on audio to Hercule Poirot's Christmas. Never again will I be so foolish to think of reading something by Dame Agatha.
Just the worst book, total misery. I should have given up five hours ago. I feel like I need to take a refreshing shower with something original and literary. This
was just the worst.

Nov 4, 2019, 9:14pm

I'm still waiting for Lucky Per to arrive (it's been about two weeks, dammit).

Almost done with What News on the Rialto?: The Lost Years of William Shakespeare, but it was interrupted today by the first two released transcripts from the impeachment depositions, which once started are impossible to put down... much like a car wreck from which you can't avert your eyes.

Nov 5, 2019, 10:00am

Team Agatha here!

I had a three day weekend - almost unheard of in my schedule - and spent it with a delicious police procedural Detective Inspector Huss. It's one of those nifty Soho books too. Kat, have yo uread this?

Editado: Nov 12, 2019, 1:45am

Just started Le Carre’s new one and, damn, it’s good so far. That man has an utterly delicious astringent sense of humor.

Agent Running in the Field

Putting police procedural in the queue, Lauren.

Nov 12, 2019, 10:37am

Kat, I can send it to ya. Email me your info.

Last week I saw Ta-Nehisi Coates and the admission cost included a copy of the book and let me tell you people that it is awesome! The Water Dancer.

Nov 12, 2019, 8:04pm

Yikes, Lauren, I already popped for it but am happy to know you would go to the trouble of sending it. Thankee.

Editado: Nov 16, 2019, 3:18pm

I didn't really care for Heathcliff Redux, as it turns out... so much for being Brontë as fuck. Or rather, for Tuck as Brontë—sorry, helpless to resist the ready made bad pun there. I see what Tuck was trying to do—the disconnect between what is felt in the crush of passion or privilege, and what is real—but it feels like she misses the mark. Possibly because with one novella and four short stories there wasn't enough room for her to really stretch, but I also feel like the title novella should have at least carried a whiff of the passion it references all over the place (quotes from Wuthering Heights and its timeline of a doomed love affair), but it's really cool to the touch. Ah well.

Then my library hold on The Testaments came in so I read that. Enjoyed it, found it entertaining, but I don't think it lived up to the power and that deep interior sense of dread of The Handmaid's Tale... though it's been so long since I read that one that I'm rereading it now, so we'll see. I was also kind of distracted in the beginning of the book by the question of why Atwood named a character Paula Saunders, who is in real life an author and married to George Saunders. It can't be coincidence—I briefly Googled and see that Atwood and George Saunders were both lecture speakers at Syracuse University in 2018, and they seem to have a high regard for each other. I'm assuming that if Atwood is going to use someone's name in such a prominent novel it's in fun, not as a dig, but I have to say as a little private joke in the heat of the novel it did throw me out of the action a bit.

Nov 17, 2019, 8:13pm

I have one hour left in my audio version of Isabel Allende’s
last book Midst of Winter. I’ve never read Allende before and this is such a fantastic read/listen that I want to go and read all of her other work. Reviews on Amazon are not great but I am so taken with this book. She lectures a lot and it’s kind of over the top for fiction but the stories within still fascinate me.

Editado: Nov 17, 2019, 10:17pm

alans, go to the beginning: Eva Luna and House of Spirits

Nov 20, 2019, 10:55am

I dug into The Water Dancer and it was good! Its very densely written and has a weird sensibility - kind of a cross between a 19th c. ex-slave narrative and Toni Morrison and black Panther and a certain kind of very 21st century woke-ness that's a bit disconcerting, but I get what he's trying to do and I'm all for it. It doesn't quite come together but at the same time, its very satisfying in parts and damn, but he's smart.

Flowers in the Dustbin lost me when Miller made a few disparaging remarks about Janis Joplin's lack of talent. I finished the book but what an asshole.

I am rereading The Wilder Life which if you are a Little House fan, is a must read. McClure is really funny and her heart is absolutely in the right place. Like her, I also loved the thingness of the novels (I also was and still obsessed with Richard Scarry and I think that's why I like Tessa Hadley so much - her books are so filled with STUFF) and the way the series is really about becoming a writer.

Nov 23, 2019, 4:22pm

Half way through Ann Patchett's The Dutch House. Yummers.

Nov 23, 2019, 5:26pm

I'm rereading The Handmaid's Tale for the first time in probably 30 years. The difference between it and The Testaments is really notable—not that The Testaments isn't a fine dystopian novel in its own right, but The Handmaid's Tale is still really chilling. It's much more literary, for one thing—not that literary is the be-all and end-all, but the way it's written makes the narrator's voice and internal process so much more accessible. And the fact that she's lived through this horrible cultural shift, and where she is in her levels of acceptance/horror with it all, makes the book so much more immediate than than the sequel. Plus the fact that I was closer to her age in the book when I read it (and, as the Great Wheel turns, now I'm closer to Aunt Lydia's).

Editado: Nov 23, 2019, 10:43pm

>65 laurenbufferd: I wasn't sure at first, but Patchette pulls you in with her characters and this is no exception. Enjoy the ride!

Nov 24, 2019, 12:09pm

Downloaded The Wheel of Fortune by Susan Howatch, a family saga covering nearly 100 years of the 20th C. through the narratives of successive generational characters who live in a manor house in Wales.

Howatch has a sense of humor and lets her characters be sardonic and even unintentionally humorous. She really writes well about her themes that she never lets slide by in a single aside; the themes seem to carry the plot, turning up in the middle and at the end of episodes and scenes. That's an enjoyable contrast to the more modern style of story telling popular today that is primarily plot driven -- one happening following on the heels of another. Less "happens" in this novel. Instead, Howatch lets one thing happen, then she explores how it effects everyone individually and the family dynamic as a whole.

Anyone who enjoys a "wallow-y" read will love spending time in the halls and rooms of Oxmoon in Gower, Wales.

Nov 24, 2019, 8:35pm

Ive read something by her that I liked, cant remember the name. Wales is wonderful country, and the idea of wallowing there sounds like just the thing

Nov 24, 2019, 11:10pm

I've been busy with other things, but I have started Lucky Per, and, so far, it's really good. Very well written with some downright lovely sentences.

Nov 25, 2019, 3:14pm

Chowing down on Deirdre Bair’s new book and it is a glorious feast. She wrote the best bio of Simone Beauvoir to date.

Nov 25, 2019, 3:21pm

>66 lisapeet: not that The Testaments isn't a fine dystopian novel in its own right, but The Handmaid's Tale is still really chilling.

The Handmaid's Tale had such a powerful effect on me I was afraid to re-read it for years. It was too frightening. I've been dragging my feet on The Testaments for the same reason that, having read Orwell's 1984 I wouldn't be hopping up and down to read "1989"

Nov 25, 2019, 4:00pm

The Testaments is a good read but only that. The Handmaid’s Tale is in another universe entirely.

Nov 26, 2019, 1:21am

>69 cindydavid4:

I got to wallow in Wales for a week in 1997. Met and fell in love with several Welsh characters who should be awarded the title of "World's most hospitable people." Adored the narrow gauge railroads to scenic cast iron bridge, and the Edward I Norman castles, fortresses, and towers. The weather, not so much.

After reading "Fortune," I think I'm going to seek out more by Howatch.

Editado: Nov 26, 2019, 7:27am

>72 southernbooklady: As Kat and others have said, The Testaments is a good book but packs none of the horror of The Handmaid's Tale.

Which I finished, and it was definitely as striking as in my memory. But gee, even it runs out of steam a bit at the end, which I didn't remember. I'm not sure if it's that denouement, with its clever little jabs at academic symposia—though one thing that hadn't registered when I was in my 20s was that it was also a vehicle for showing how that kind of casual, jokey misogyny made its way so quickly back into normal discourse (or: had never disappeared from it outside the borders of Gilead). Or maybe the whole Jezebel's sequence was jarring enough to throw me out of that state of dread. Anyway, it's a hell of a book, even with my quibbles, and I'm glad I reread.

Now I'm reading Caitlin Horrocks's The Vexations, which I've been hot to read since it came out. I finally went into the library catalog and figured out that it wasn't part of the regular ebook interface, but was still in the old one, so I snapped it up and now I've got it and am enjoying it. The book—a novelization of the life of Erik Satie and Belle Époque Paris—hasn't gotten a lot of reviews, so we'll see if she can pull off the interest for 400+ pages.

Nov 26, 2019, 9:30am

>74 Limelite: David and I went to great britain in 90, and because of my reading sharon kay penman books, went to north wales Fell in love (and yes the castles - even tho I knew those were built to put down the Welsh, fantastic to visit) Over the years we took a few other trips exploring Cornwall and Cardiff and finally went to Anglesey. Would love to go back.

Nov 27, 2019, 7:14pm

I am going to have to read that Vexations book. I am mad for Satie’s solo piano pieces.

Nov 29, 2019, 11:43am

I like those pieces too, and the book looks intriguing. going to see if my library has it.

I just finished reading The Grammarians which was fun but frustrating. Conceit books (in this case twins who sit on either side of the prescriptive debate) are difficult to write well, and Schine didn't navigate it that well -- I think both the characters and the conceit suffer in this one. Nonetheless, it was fun and I gobbled it up in a day.

Now I'm reading Inspector Detective Huss because Lauren's description convinced me it was my kind of mystery jam (and so far it appears it is). I also have Normal People on my shelf and it's due on Monday, so I might put everything aside to get it read before it's due.

Oh, my 4 am, need to get back to sleep book is Up in the Old Hotel. Not boring, just relaxing, and I'm enjoying it in 30 minute chunks.

Oh and oh, I read Catch and Kill last earlier this week. It drags in parts, but man oh man does NBC get creamed in this. The most distressing parts to read (trigger warning's should be attached) were women's stories about Matt Laurer.

Nov 29, 2019, 2:03pm

That Inspector Huss did the trick for me.

I am reading Weather by Jenny Offill which is pretty depressing and not at all a holiday book - fragmented and disturbing about a woman who unable to finish her Ph.D. in classics slid into library work and her addict brother who relapses right after the 2016 election. It's not as sophisticated as Crudo but has some of the same themes - shorted attention spans, weather related crises, Enders on the internet. I don't dislike it although it's grim. also, short.

Did anyone read Dept of Speculation?

I am also reading Mayflower Lives. I can't help it. I love this subject. This is good. Scholarly but lots of exclamation points!

Nov 29, 2019, 6:49pm

I read Dept of Speculation about four or five years ago - so of course I remember almost nothing about it. Except that I gave it four stars and the main woman/wife character quotes Rilke at points. This I recall only because I highlighted it.

Nov 30, 2019, 9:22am

OK! So after a five week pause -- during which I read almost absolutely nothing except The Movie Musical --which is lavish but kind of a bust, but if you need a good gift for a gayish nephew, ta-da! -- I'm back to the Zola books. Number six, His Excellency Eugène Rougon. I've noticed as I've read them that I side with the Macquart side of the family -- the poor side -- rather than the bougie Rougons, so I think of Pierre as a villain but I don't think Zola did. It's quite clear the Zola thought respectability was largely hereditary (even though the behavior of those characters is definitely not) -- it's a philosophy that dates the series a little bit, I think.

Editado: Dic 2, 2019, 7:19am

I've got The Vexations on hold for a day or two to read Lidia Yuknavich's latest short story collection, Verge, for review. It's powerful stuff but maybe hitting the same note a bit too consistently... we'll see. But I'm really enjoying The Vexations and hope that I'll be able to get the ebook from the library again once my checkout expires, which it surely will before I finish. I love the library ebook system but that part can be dismaying—no such thing as hanging on to a book a few days past its due date.

I haven't read Department of Speculation (yet?) but I do have Weather on the virtual stack.

Mir, I love love love Up in the Old Hotel. One of my very favorite New York books, maybe because it's set in a time period that is so unrelated to any New York I ever experienced yet it carries the same aura that I remember from my first couple of decades here. Gone now, entirely, I think. It's a different city.

I'm kind of resistant to the idea of The Grammarians. Grammar as a plot device doesn't sound like much fun, though I'm sure it's more interesting than that.

I didn't get a ton of reading in over the long weekend because we had company and I did the lion's share (OK, all) of the cooking, and we ended up catching a couple of movies too. Back to the grind this morning, though, including train/book time.

Dic 3, 2019, 9:40pm

The stories in Verge were nearly all angry, visceral, violent. But while the tones and themes echoed all the way through, each piece surprised in its own way, and the writing was quite elegant. I was torn between exhaustion—all that body intensity and rage—and interest in what Yuknavich was up to. A dark read, without a lot of variation in mood, but propulsive and sometimes fascinating. Not for the faint of heart, this one.

Dic 5, 2019, 2:29pm

Lisa, “The Grammarians” is mostly about delighting in words, less about grammar.

Editado: Dic 7, 2019, 5:18pm

I am about 2/3 through Capital. Seriously, 500 plus pages and nothing happens? It's pleasant enough but somebody better die or lose all their money or have an affair or something!

Dic 7, 2019, 5:22pm

>85 laurenbufferd:

Didn't someone say only trouble is interesting? Hmmmmm. . .

Dic 8, 2019, 2:00am

Wow, Lauren. I am gobsmacked by your reaction to “Capital.” Plenty happens. It made my year’s best a while back. Super novel.

Dic 8, 2019, 7:21pm

Finally finished words are my matter Took me a while not due to the writing, but to me just being very distracted last month or so. Been nice to pick up, read a few of the very interesting pieces about her life and about her views on all things book related then put it down. I really liked her description of the house she grew up in (reminds me of Hilary Mantels), and love her take on genres. And esp loved her reaction to what happen to Stanislaw Len dismissial from the sci fi society because he was possibly communist (Also realize I need to read his stuff)

Also rereading Little by Edward Carey for a book group (Pat Im so glad you mentioned him way back when; hes one of my fav authors) and Peter Beagles Overneath, also for a book group both this week! Should be fun, get to go to the bookstore twice.....maybe a little early holiday shopping...

Dic 8, 2019, 10:50pm

Don't forget, Cindy, we have a new Sharon Kay Penman coming out soon. Almost 700pp about King Baldwin IV. I'm really psyched for this one. I remember thinking to myself while watching Ridley Scott's magnificent "Kingdom of Heaven," that I needed to read up on Baldwin. I found him a fascinating character.The Land Beyond the Sea.

Editado: Dic 8, 2019, 11:08pm

Yes, I've been reading her on FB March 3 release date I am eager to read it. The other one Im excited about is Hilary Mantels new one also in March, and Helene Wreckers sequel to Golem and the Jinn, The Iron Season. Thought it was coming out this year but I guess not its coming out in 2021!

Editado: Dic 9, 2019, 2:24pm

lisapeet that collection Verge reminds me of Ottessa Moshegh's collection-angry, angry,angry. It got
tiring pretty quickly.

I have one hour left in the audio of Call Me By Your Name and apart from an Agatha Christie that I
read recently I can't recall hating a book as much as this one. Every line makes me want to spit. The
whole thing is so idiotic and so pretencious and so annoying. Is the young man gay, or not gay and
does it not matter because the plot operates on such a higher plane? I could go on and on but why
people fell for this garbage is beyond me. And one thing I thought about last night-Oliver, the American older dude who happens to be from New York has unprotected sex with the younger man/boy and this is 1984. Was it a good idea to have unprotected sex in 1984, especially when you came from New York? But I guess those questions are irrelevant as the book is so-so-so-revolting. I hate you book, I hate you author, I don't even know if I will be able to stomach the movie. And from
what I saw Armie Hammer looks at least fifteen years older to play a 24 year old. Just because he's pretty....sheesh.....horrible. This book is a collosal old gay man's wet dream-not my wet dream, but
it must be someones. Ugh! I wish I could finally learn to dump books I hate. This one is eight hours and I was ready to bail in the first ten minutes. It's just so hard to give up even though the books revolts you.

Dic 9, 2019, 2:23pm

why are you reading this/listening to this if you hate it? Lifes too short!

Dic 9, 2019, 2:25pm

Cindy I totally agree with you, but as I just wrote-I'm still too stupid to bail. I really wish I was better
at this-complete waste of time.

Dic 9, 2019, 5:11pm

I thought the book was great until the last quarter, when they go to the city or whatever and start going to art parties and the fever dream tone is disrupted. The movie largely corrects that -- I thought it was a terrific example of how to adapt a flawed book and make it better. James Ivory earned his screenplay Oscar.

Dic 10, 2019, 1:56pm

Kat, I am enjoying Capital very much. I just don't think anything really happens in it.

Also, still reading Mayflower Lives! The exclamation point is funny if you are reading it.

Dic 12, 2019, 7:35am

Finished Caitlin Horrocks's The Vexations, which I quite liked. The pacing is slow but the writing is lovely, and the book as a whole is very sweet, if a bit shaggy at times. The characters, Erik Satie and his family and a few people in his orbit ("friends" isn't quite the word) are often obtuse even to themselves and able to connect only in small explosions of affection (except for younger brother Conrad, who is the steadfast rudder of everyone's lives). Still, they're sweet in spite of—or maybe because of—their essential sadnesses. Mothers and sons don't fare well here, although not for lack of love. The final part in sister Louise's voice, about how the dead brush against you softly like fur, is worth the price of admission alone—particularly the passage where she has a clerk in a department store take out all the fur coats and walks among them, just to commune: "Hello ghosts. You are so, so soft."

It's worth having Satie's music in your head when you open the book, even just the Gymnopédies—and if you think you're not familiar with them you're probably wrong. Give them a listen on YouTube. They're very nice and an effective soundtrack to the entire novel.

Dic 14, 2019, 10:25am

I did like Capital very much despite the fact that I still think it's a novel with no dramatic arc whatsoever. Things happen but it all kinds of rolls along - like life. I do like Lanchester - Fragrant Harbor is a favorite book of mine. and I get what he's going for - telling the story of a particular time by looking at the residents of a single street and the way our dwellings have come to represent all these other things - investments, status etc. It's a very fun book.

2008 already seems like ancient history.

I read parts of Weather again and it was funnier the second time around.

I am reading Idaho which a friend loaned me. I was skeptical at first - it's the story of a second marriage in which the husband has early onset alzeimers and whose first wife killed one of their daughters. Grim, huh? At first, it felt like I could hear the gears shifting and grinding as the author strove to put all characters where she wanted - something mannered and inorganic about the plot, but the plot took hold and now I can barely put it down.

Dic 14, 2019, 7:31pm

Pat, my book group loved 'Little', had a great discussion, a few people were historians and added info to the story. BTW did you ever read his YA trilogy? I tried it, but think Im not the target audience. Hope he doesnt wait another 15 years for a new book!

Dic 15, 2019, 8:36am

No, Cindy, I haven't. Your book group has good taste.

Dic 19, 2019, 3:57pm

Just finished The Mars Room which I liked quite a bit. I thought the violence did get a bit much at times but who knows, maybe life in the clinker is like that. I haven't watched Orange is the New Black so maybe it made the book more enjoyable for me. There was quite a bit of humor in the beginning even though
the plot was very dark, but she seemed to drop the humor half-way through the book.

Wondering what others thought about it?

Dic 19, 2019, 7:41pm

Finished my LTER selection, Little Gods by Meng Jin. Have to write the promised review but have not digested the book yet and don't know what I want to say about it, other than it was emotionally brutal because of suppressed feelings and because structurally, the reader dwells intimately in the minds of the four main characters without relief from betrayal, tension, and turmoil.

Dic 20, 2019, 1:36pm

I had mixed feelings about Idaho. The writing is gorgeous but occasionally, the lyricism overtakes the plot and I wish it had been just a bit more plain spoken. I also never quite believed in the crime - and even though I understand why Ruskovich didn't feel the necessity to explain it, as a reader, I felt a lack at the core of the novel that I could never quite get over. I'm not sure how much it matters, I still think very highly of the book and read it like a house on fire. I'd read whatever she writes next. It's just a quibble.

Miriam brought me two Giller nominated books that I'm trying hard to finish by the end of the year or sooner. Five Wives and Dual Citizens. Both are very promising.

Dic 25, 2019, 9:27am

>102 laurenbufferd: Agreed about Idaho—I really enjoyed the writing, and thought the plot had a lot of tense promise, but the central event left me a bit unsure of what I was supposed to do with it. Which was possibly the point, but a bit to the book's detriment, I thought. Also: yay for books from Miriam, the gift that keeps on giving. Lauren passed both on to me and I'm very much looking forward to them both, especially Five Wives, which she raved about.

I'm off of work for the next week and a half. Mostly to burn through use-em-or-lose-em days, but also because things are slow at the office this time of year and I won't be too hamstrung by taking the time off, and because I need it—I'm feeling the lack of any vacation all year, and am just happy to sleep in for a week, catch up on housework, see friends, and read.

To that effect, I have a couple of books I'm reading right now: The Sea Journal: Seafarers' Sketchbooks, which is a big fat art book of excerpts from diaries and log books and sketchbooks, just as armchair-explorer dreamy as you'd think. I reviewed it for LJ, as I did its predecessor, Explorers' Sketchbooks: the Art of Discovery and Adventure. Job perks!

I'm also reading a book that I put on hold for reasons I cannot for the life of me recall. I tend to put holds on library ebooks impulsively when I'm up too late the way people click on Amazon—same gratification, minus the "instant" part, since there's a wait... but that's actually kind of fun, and when the hold comes in it's like a surprise. Especially if I can't remember why I chose it in the first place, like this one: Spider in a Tree, which is historical fiction about the 18th-century preacher Jonathan Edwards, his family, and his slaves. So far it's well written, a bit sedate, and I have no idea where it's going. This seems like it was a pretty under-the-radar novel when it was published, and I must have read a review here or elsewhere on a "Best Books You've Never Heard Of" list. But it's an interesting subject and period, and I'll keep going.

Also rereading—or re-skimming—two books by Jen Beagin, Pretend I'm Dead and Vacuum in the Dark, because I'm doing a Q&A with her for Bloom and am working up my questions.

I'll also make time the book I had set aside for this little vacation, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse. I had picked it up at work a couple of months ago because I loved the cover, but I'd never heard of it otherwise—and suddenly it's on all these year-end Best-Of lists. So, win-win. It's not for everyone—kids/animals, hand lettering rather than set type, and I'm sure a fair amount of whimsy—but the illustrations are just gorgeous and it's wintery, which is enough for me. Plus I like moles, foxes, and horses.

Dic 25, 2019, 10:38pm

Now reading The Confessions of Frannie Langton. Thanks Lauren!

Dic 27, 2019, 10:07am

I am reading Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and Mayflower Lives and just about want to shoot myself in the head.

Dic 27, 2019, 10:20am

Started reading Paper Menagerie, was intrigued by the title of the last story and now I really don't think I can pick up this book again. I did not know about the events described here, and well am just shocked.
Perhaps on to something else, tho I don't think I can get this out of my head for a while.

Dic 27, 2019, 12:03pm

writing that bad? Or topics? Having some trouble with Confessions because it just doesnt get easier to read. Reminds me a lot of Alias Grace, but then, it doesn't.

Dic 27, 2019, 3:22pm

It's the topics. What the fuck is wrong with this country?

Dic 27, 2019, 3:53pm

Oh, Lauren, I know. Don't get me started...

I always judged the German people of the 20's, 30's, and 40's very, very harshly for "allowing" the horror of the Holocaust. I just *could not* comprehend how they could've let that happen. It was completely incomprehensible to me.

Now I live in a country that appears it's headed down a very similar road. I feel so helpless and depressed about it, and now I understand how it happened in Germany. Don't get me wrong, I still judge them harshly, but it's no longer incomprehensible.

Dic 28, 2019, 12:00pm

I mean that a little facetiously. But honestly, Incidents lays it all out for you - the cruelty and perversion of slavery, the separating of families, the church's support of slavery, the sexual enslavement of women and the sexualizing of African-American girls, the immorality of profiting from enslaved labor - And this has been common knowledge one way or another since 1861. At some point, you can't pretend not to know.

Ene 3, 2020, 10:03am

I said all I need to say about Harriet Jacobs. If somehow, like me, you are entering your sixth decade having not read a slave narrative, it's time.

That said, the book has gone back on the shelf. I thought I'd read the Frederick Douglass right after but I need a wee break.

I am reading Normal People which is great (late to the party as usual), a book I am reviewing by Colum McCann with an impossible to remember title - it's made up of lots of little bits and chapters, is about two Palestinian Israeli and Palestinian fathers who both lost daughters to political violence and is over 400+ long, so there's that, and Margaret Renkl's Late Migrations.

I've known Margaret since I moved to Nashville - she's like a tiny local celebrity here - a few steps below Ann Patchett and Reese Witherspoon - and I've always championed her writing even if she drove me a tiny bit crazy. It's a really lovely book.

Ene 3, 2020, 10:29am

I just got that, eager to start reading it

Ene 3, 2020, 6:11pm

>111 laurenbufferd: I've always championed her writing even if she drove me a tiny bit crazy. It's a really lovely book.

Late Migrations is one of those books that mom and I classify as an "absolutely Nicki and Janet book" we can't think of anyone else who would appreciate properly. Also on that list are the books of Berend Heinrich, a book by a guy who sat on a rock in a forest staring at the same square foot of forest floor for a year and wrote about it (it was oddly riveting), Terry Tempest William's paean to the national parks "Hour of Land," and a book that reconstructs the lives of patients in a state mental hospital that was closing from the suitcases of belongings that were left behind.

Ene 3, 2020, 7:40pm

Lauren, it's funny that you know Margaret and I know Billy and still why did we never meet before we did?

Editado: Ene 4, 2020, 1:49pm

I know I'm probably the last one to get on board with Crummey's The Innocents, but I should finish it tonight. Crummey is such a fine storyteller. I'm never aware of a writer's presence in his books, much like being unaware of a great actor's acting in a film. His attention to detail is scrupulous and his dialogue feels authentic to each, individual character. I'm particularly impressed with Crummey's nonjudgemental and insightful treatment of Ada's and Evered's moral conundrum. He turns an otherwise open-and-shut case of right vs. wrong into one about human nature and inevitability. I love that he achieves it not by debate or persuasive prose, but through the use of simple, masterful, and humane omniscient POV. This is award-worthy stuff, IMO.

Ene 4, 2020, 10:37pm

>115 Pat_D: You're not the last one, Pat! It's on my Definitely 2020 pile, though.

My great reading plans for my two weeks off fell right off the edge of the earth with Lisa's Book of Job holidays. So I'm still reading the somber but rather lovely Spider in a Tree and doing way more driving than usual, which is the anti-reading.

Editado: Ene 5, 2020, 3:49pm

Hey, I’m reading “Spider in a Tree” as well. Definitely an odd but sweet/tart jobbie.

Ene 5, 2020, 4:43pm

I really thought The Innocents was amazing.

I am loving Late Migrations - it's a great argument for putting your phone away and paying attention to the world around you, esp the natural world in your own backyard. And I guess because I know the author, certainly things about her are more clear to me. I've always wanted her to be a bit more angry but that is not who she is. The book is lovely, tender and thoughtful, and just a little provoking.

The new Colum McCann is tough - more than 400 pages about two fathers who lost children to sectarian violence an Israeli and a Palestinian. The novel is spilt up in tiny sections - some just a sentence long 1-499, then two chapters, one each from the POV of the fathers, as if they were introducing themselves to you and then another 499 sections, this time numbered 499-1. Both men are based on real people who are active in Combatants for Peace and the Parents Circle. It's good and its certainly everything I believe in but it's a lot.

Ene 5, 2020, 5:58pm

I finished The Innocents, which I thought ended very abruptly, as though Crummey was trying to meet a deadline or something. But on reflection, it was moot, as there was plenty of foreshadowing and only one way for it to go. It didn't affect my reading experience. I'd still place this way up on my Year's Best.

Now on to my much anticipated The Land Beyond the Sea.

Editado: Ene 5, 2020, 8:19pm

>117 Kat.Warren: That's funny you're reading Spider in a Tree too, Kat! Did you see it on LitHub's "26 Books From the Last Decade that More People Should Read"? I figured out that's where I found it, recommended by Elizabeth McCracken. Odd and sweet/tart is a good way to describe it—I do like books about pretty much any faith if they mean it, or maybe I should say I like books about questions of faith. And the puritans, while I knew who and what they were on a basic level, were not really a sect I knew much about. I've heard of fire and brimstone preaching, but Stinson's narrative really fleshes it out for me. And having slaves as important character gives the time and place its due.

>118 laurenbufferd: Late Migrations was New York Public Library's Book of the Day yesterday. They have a nice selection—one book a day, nothing that will shock this crew, but good stuff to be reminded of.

I have that Colum McCann and and hmmm. Definitely not for this mont but at some point.

Ene 6, 2020, 11:21pm

As I've said many times, ad nauseum, I'm a huge fan of Sharon Kay Penman's historical fiction. Although I thoroughly enjoyed her "Lionheart" books, they weren't quite up to the storytelling standard with which I became accustomed. The Land Beyond the Sea is her first standalone book since her masterpiece, The Sunne in Splendour and it's been years in the making. I pre-ordered the HC months ago, as I own all her books in 1st Editions, but when I began to read reviews of this one as being "one of her three best," I couldn't wait and snagged an ARC.

Almost from the get-go, I haven't been able to put it down for longer than bathroom breaks. The depth of her research never ceases to amaze me, but it's her storytelling skills that are heads and shoulders above and beyond most writers in this genre. It's such a joy to discover, even at this age, a book that reminds me of when I first fell in love with reading as a child. Granted, they seem few and far between now, but it's a comfort to know some are still out there.

Ene 7, 2020, 10:45am

'Almost from the get-go, I haven't been able to put it down for longer than bathroom break'.

Love this!

Editado: Ene 7, 2020, 10:57am

Oh I am soooo glad!! How did you snag it so early? I have been eager for that book and for the new Wolf Hall for a year or so now -

Ene 10, 2020, 8:43pm

Normal People Looks like I need to read her other book as well conversations with friends

Ene 10, 2020, 9:10pm

I'm heading off for Puerto Vallarta in a couple of weeks for the now-traditional January casa on the hillside. I always struggle just a little with what book or books to bring -- the first year it was Call Me By Your Name, last year, one of the non-franchise Agatha Christies. This year, I'm still waist-deep in the Rougon-Macquart cycle, so book seven of that, I guess (L'Assommoir) and then I also decided on Brighton Rock.

Editado: Ene 14, 2020, 10:10pm

Apeirogon is much anticipated and there were things I liked about it very much but McCann really needed an editor. It's $%^& endless. Fascinating but a wee bit indulgent which is unfortunate since the topic is something that I very much believe in. I could have made it 100 page shorter using just a blunt-nosed pair of scissors.

Over the weekend, I decided to start Stacks 2020, a reading project which is to begin to read down the insane stacks of books in my house - if you count the box of books in my car and in my closet, there are 8 - not to mention double stacked shelves everywhere. I intend to be ruthless.

First up, McCann's Dancer. It's a weird coincidence that this was at the top of the pile. it's about Nureyev and its very good.

DG, if I were going to Mexico, I would being The Power and the Glory and Flowering Judas.

Ene 14, 2020, 3:41pm

Oy, I need to do that Stacks project. But instead I’m just going to pull a bunch of books off the top of one of my work piles and send them to Lauren.

Ene 14, 2020, 4:35pm

LOL. Perfect way to add to her project . . .

Editado: Ene 16, 2020, 9:26am

Finished Spider in a Tree, which I really liked. It's an oddball little gem of a book about puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards in 18th-century Massachusetts, and his battles over orthodoxy in the church. I like books about faith, and people's struggles and glories with it, and this a great example of the genre. Stinson clearly drew a lot from Edwards's own writings and tight research, which sometimes makes itself obvious, but more often helps set the stage for a believable series of struggles on the part of her characters: Edwards and his large family, including his beloved and devout wife Sarah, their relatives and fellow Northampton townspeople, and a tight-knit circle of slaves.

I've heard of fire-and-brimstone preaching and the puritans, of course, but this brought the concept to life in a vivid and human way. Slow paced but lovely. Pair this one with a book I have sitting on my desk at work, The World Is Great, and I Am Small: A Bug's Prayer for Mindfulness. Found it via a Lithub feature, 26 Books From the Last Decade that More People Should Read, recommended by Elizabeth McCracken.

My last book of 2019 was Charlie Mackesy's The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, a lovely little book of affirmations that somehow manages to fall more to the side of earnestness and kindness than sentimentality. Mostly thanks to the beautiful gestural ink and watercolor illustrations and brush lettering. It's a really nice package, with a gentle animal-centric theme. This was a good note to end the year on.

I'm almost done with Lara Williams's Supper Club, and then I have Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping lined up.

So far 2020 has been an utterly shitty year, and I'm glad there's good stuff to read to take me out of my brain for a while.

Ene 16, 2020, 7:49am

Housekeeping is divine and very meditative. Sounds like a good next up for you right now.

I'm back to listening to Milkman (daughter's been coming to me to Uni because she's taking classes, and yesterday I decided that I didn't want to hear about Bernie Saunders for the 10th million morning in the row, and that she could listen to Milkman too) and still enjoying it. It's tense, and funny and super dense. Wild book.

And because I'm back to work and so brain dead when I get home, I'm reading Cold Skies by Thomas King. I didn't realize it was the third in a series until yesterday, but that's not bothering me too much. It's funny and warm and makes me feel like I live in a sane world.

Ene 16, 2020, 11:10am

Lisa, if you were to be making pile for me, I'd totally read that Spider in a Tree book. 18th c Massachusetts and Puritans ticks two of my myriad boxes.

In Dancer, Rudi is a bad bad boy. It's the Studio 54 years.

Ene 16, 2020, 2:19pm

>131 laurenbufferd: I don't have it, unfortunately--it was a library book, and an ebook at that. Can you library it up?

Ene 16, 2020, 2:33pm

Oh, for sure! After I finish Stack#1.

Editado: Ene 17, 2020, 8:59am

Lara Williams's Supper Club was a quick read, which is probably a good thing. There was some really nice writing here, particularly about being an outsider. I liked the theme of women's friendships, younger women empowering themselves through their own rituals, and all the food writing. But the constant swerve back to misery porn kept me from liking this as much as I would have wished. I think if I'd been a couple of decades younger I'd have enjoyed it more, but the through-line of the ways that the narrator, Roberta, found to squash and deny herself were oppressive. To pull out one of the book's main themes: like seasoning a dish, trauma and anxiety in a novel can be really effective when used judiciously. I found the flavor here overpowering.

Now on to Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping, recommended by a good friend out of a conversation about the way novelists write about faith (cf above Spider in a Tree) and the act itself of keeping house, which I was thinking about a lot for an interview I just did for Bloom with the novelist Jen Beagin. She was a great subject—thank goodness, because last week I couldn't have dealt with a reticent Q&A or any kind of essayistic heavy lifting. Instead, she cheered me up with her forthcoming, and often very funny answers. (I hit all my writing deadlines this horrible month... work really is a balm for me.)

Anyway, this is much more up my alley and also just what I need to read right now—gorgeous, immersive prose. I'm finding myself rereading sentences just to savor them.

Ene 18, 2020, 10:18am

I am surprised you're this late to Housekeeping. And a little jealous that you are -- I wish I could read it for the first time again! Robinson's reputation is by this point almost too much to believe, but I still think Housekeeping is far and away her best, most memorable book, the only one of them people will still be reading in a hundred years, later Pulitzer and whatnot notwithstanding.

Ene 20, 2020, 1:57pm

I think I might not have the full Colm McCann gene. Dancer was ok but there was a lot I felt was extraneous or almost mean spirited and I really disliked the side story of the cobbler and the cook. And there's something about using real people and then populating their world with people that don't exist or not including siblings that do - I don't know. Not for me.

I went back and finished Normal People and am now reading the beginning again. It's a tremendous novel, deceptively simple, the level that its about trauma, depression, and abuse is so under the surface and understated and the way that information comes to you is really brilliant. It really blew me away.

I am also reading Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know which is superb and interesting and funny. Toibin takes you with him first on a walk through Dublin and then finds all the ways the families Wilde, Yeats, and Joyce knew one another and how the writers, in their work and their lives, complimented, helped, and supported each other. A beautiful book.

Editado: Ene 20, 2020, 10:13pm

>135 DG_Strong: I have no idea how I missed reading Housekeeping for 40 years but honestly, I'm glad I didn't read it when it first came out because I was in no way ready to appreciate it—not as a reader/appreciator of literary work and not as an adult with my edges worn down by life and loss. I think it's such a beautiful appreciation of both of those things, as well as being so insanely perceptive of the natural world. And it's compassionate, which I really needed in a book right now. I read the last paragraph standing in the Columbus Circle subway station this afternoon before meeting a good friend for lunch and museum-going, and we talked about the book (she hadn't read it yet, which in turn surprised me because she's a bit older than I am and a big reader).

I guess I have to send it back to the library so someone else can read it, but this is a book I may eventually buy just to have. Definitely a favorite for the year.

Now I'm about to start something called A Short Philosophy of Birds… I can't remember why I placed that particular library hold, other than that I like reading about birds. Someone somewhere, or some newsletter I subscribe to, must have recommended it.

>136 laurenbufferd: I love that cover of Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know, so you may have tipped me over the edge on that one. And I need to get to Normal People one of these days too.

Ene 20, 2020, 11:22pm

>129 lisapeet:

Reading your comments about the Jonathan Edwards/Puritan book I wondered if you had read Anya Seton's novel, The Winthrop Woman? it's a biographical novel about Elizabeth Fones Winthrop whose Puritan uncle was John Winthrop who became the gov. of the MA Bay Colony that she helped found.

Good conflict, as the two couldn't stand one another. She was a very modern woman for her time, known for her religious tolerance, human rights advocacy, and tolerance for Native Americans. All of which attitudes were very unpopular with the Puritans. Her faith was deep but heretical in the eyes of John Winthrop.

Her adventurous life story, as portrayed in this well researched novel, is remarkable.

Ene 21, 2020, 9:26pm

>138 Limelite: I haven't read it—I've heard her name, but not read any of her work. That sounds interesting, though—thanks for the notice.

Ene 22, 2020, 11:03pm

Read, but didn't love, A Short Philosophy of Birds. It had some interesting facts about birds, but the philosophy side was overly simplistic, along the lines of nature = good / man = bad (or out of touch, or overthinking things... you get the idea). I wonder if it didn't lose a little in translation, as well, because the tone was less philosophical than vaguely scolding. Beautiful illustrations, though, and true to its title it was short.

Now, because I miss my dog and want distracting (and because my library hold came in), it's time for a thriller: Leigh Bardugo's Ninth House.

Editado: Ene 24, 2020, 5:38am

>129 lisapeet: It took me a few reads over the years, but I ended up loving Housekeeping (her Gilead books are wonderful as well). Seems like I must add The World is Great and I am small, and the Boy the mole the fox and the horse,as they seem like the kind of messages I should be taking in. thatnks for that link, lots of other bookks to discover there (while the stack of books that I brought home just a few weeks ago are screaming at me, no no no!)

>129 lisapeet: So far 2020 has been an utterly shitty year, and I'm glad there's good stuff to read to take me out of my brain for a while.

Hugs to you.....I hope thinks look up for you soon

Reading two excellent novels Pachinko and a classic by one of my fav writers Eliz Von Arnim Christopher and Columbus. The first is new to me, the latter a much needed reread, enjoyng the daylights out of both

Ene 24, 2020, 5:36am

>138 Limelite: oh I loved that book! read and reread Katherine for years, then discovered this one a few years back, excellent read! Thanks for reminding me of it

lisa, send me your snail mail addy pls

Editado: Ene 24, 2020, 3:23pm

I so enjoyed Pachinko when I read it a few years ago. A part of history I knew nothing about and it was so absorbing.

Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know was very good. I especially liked the chapters on peres Yeats and Wilde. I learned a lot and it made me want to read all three writers again which is, t me, the best kind of criticism. Toibin is a wonderful writer - elegant and funny. Definitely a high point of the Stacks 2020 challenge.

My dear younger son gave me a Dennis Lehane book for Christmas b/c it took place in /Boston where I grew up so I'm reading that Gone Baby Gone and another Stack 2020 challenge title Small Town Talk.

Ene 24, 2020, 8:18pm

Apple TV has a Pachinko series coming.

Ene 28, 2020, 5:19pm

I finished Leigh Bardugo's thriller Ninth House, and was completely engrossed in it while it lasted, though it sagged a bit under its own weight in the last quarter or so. There’s a lot of violence and other dark stuff that other reviewers have rightly pointed out are triggering, none of which bothered me—I'm pretty callous unless animals are involved—and I enjoyed all the wacky magick.

What did annoy me, though, was that this turns out to be the first of a series, and the book ended on a complete cliffhanger of a note. I’m not a huge fan of series in general (Dorothy Dunnett notwithstanding) and would have appreciated an actual resolution to the story, with the next book optional. But this is a bit outside my usual genre so maybe I should be have expected it, or at least be a better sport about it. I did appreciate all Bardugo’s good research—the Yale/New Haven setting was a lot of fun. Some of it was just plain over the top, but mostly it was a good ride. And as browned off as I am about the “to be continued” aspect, I’d pick up the next one. Sucker.

About to start Patrick Radden Keefe's Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland on my commute home. Feeling no little trepidation that the library hold will expire before I've finished—it's a longish book and I have nine days—but we'll see. I've been dying to read this for a while now, especially since I heard him talking about his reporting and writing process on the Longform podcast.

Ene 29, 2020, 3:15pm

I am interested in that one, Lisa P.

My younger son gave me Gone Baby Gone for Christmas. I think I've seen the movie and though I'm a total baby about any kind of sex crime/child abuse in a thriller - and this had plenty! - I read it and quite enjoyed it. It's got a great plot twist and I'm a sucker for a Boston book which this is. I may try to find another with the same detective pair.

I am reading Small Town Talk which I like very much - all the music I like plus my own memories of living near Woodstock during college and going to see the Big Pink House and the Basement Tapes and hoping we'd run into Todd Rundgren, you know, just around. And the amazing jazz festival at the Creative Music Studio. So even though Dylan comes off as a dickwad, enjoying,

Atria sent me The Sin Eater by Megan Campisi for an early review. Hmm.

Ene 30, 2020, 7:47am

Oooh that Small Town Talk looks yummy. Not surprised about Dylan though.

Say Nothing is so well written, and a really interesting focused-down look at the Troubles. More later, but I'm liking it very much.

Ene 30, 2020, 1:48pm

Lisa did you read the article in the New Yorker which then became the Patrick Radden Keefe book? I was so blown away by it that I actually wrote him a fan letter. It was the most
beautiful and sad thing I had ever read, the writing was just unbelievable. It took him a few weeks to respond (he said he doesn't read that account much). One concern
I had about the article is that all of the Catholics come across as horrible. I asked him whether or not there were good people and bad people on both sides.
He agreed with me and said he was in the process of writing the book and that there would be more balance in it. One of the best long form pieces I've ever read.Completely mesmerizing. But now I don't want to read the book because I feel I know the story so well.

Ene 30, 2020, 2:09pm

I'm slowly working my way through The Milkman. It would be interesting to read Say Nothing as a companion piece.

I'm reading Ghost Wall. It's embarrassingly taking me a long time, considering it's only 130 pages -- time is short and my attention is even shorter -- but it's fascinating. The landscape stuff in particular.

Editado: Ene 30, 2020, 9:37pm

I read a long excerpt from "Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder" that was absolutely riveting.

The New Yorker article.

Ene 31, 2020, 8:48am

You know, I'm pretty sure I read that New Yorker article, but it was at such a fuzzy, sleep-deprived time in my life that I really don't recall a lot of the details, including the solution to the crime. And even if I did, the book is so well written, and such a great tight dive into the social and cultural details of the Troubles, that I'd want to read it anyway. It's excellent, and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes solid nonfiction, maybe even if you're not sure you do.

I'll be bummed if my library ebook expires before I finish... I see a lot of reading in my future this weekend.

>149 mkunruh: Now I'm thinking Milkman might be a good companion piece to this one.

Feb 5, 2020, 9:59pm

>149 mkunruh: The scenery in Ghost Wall was great, wasn't it? Made me want to drag out my copy of Landscape and Memory and get a little more British countryside writing.

I finished Say Nothing with about 36 hours to go on my hold—not a stretch after all, since it was riveting. Really terrific narrative nonfiction—well written, thoroughly researched but not dry because the pacing and focus are so nicely calibrated. The Troubles were ongoing for much of my adult life, but I only really had a sketchy picture of who the players were and what was going on. This is a close-up look at the power dynamics at both a personal and macro level that not only explains a lot but makes it all very vivid and immediate. Fine stuff, and highly recommend to anyone interested in well-done long form journalism.

Now reading Ibram X. Kendi's How to Be an Antiracist, because the times seem to call for some doubling down on being better.

Editado: Feb 7, 2020, 3:47pm

I wasn't going to review anything because of the self challenge STACK 2020, but then a novel came around about the Pilgrims at Plymouth Plantation and y'all know that's my thing. Beheld. It's not great but it's pretty good - it's about the first murder that took place in the colony - well, first, if you don't count the murders of the native peoples, certainly the first that someone was executed for. It swaps POV a lot - the murdered man, the killer, his wife, other colonists - I thought that Nesbit was very good at the back story of some of the characters, esp Ann Bradford, William Bradford's second wife.

But it was funny because there's a teeny bit of sex here and there and it feels so self conscious as if it's verrry important to the author that we know that pilgrim husbands went down on their goodwives occasionally or that the ladies knew how to get themselves off. See, they are just like you and me! Anyway, I'm no prude but it felt very unnecessary.

Nesbit is right, there are no first hand accounts by women and it is interesting to think about their lives as well as the enormous financial pressures the pilgrims were under to repay their sponsors back in England and attract new colonists.

Next up in the stack, Little House in Brookfield a prequel to the Little House books about Laura's mother. A friend who knows I am a Little House freak gave this to me. It''s sweet but so poorly edited that in the first 5 pages, Caroline and her sister braid eachother's hair and then their grandmother braids their hair on the NEXT PAGE.

Feb 10, 2020, 7:26pm

I am very late to A Little Life but that's what I'm tackling during a Zola break. It reminds me of about fifty other things, so I can't decide if I like it or if that's because I liked the things it reminds me of.

Feb 10, 2020, 9:36pm

I have very strong feelings about that book. I alternated between really loving it and wanting to throw it across the room.

Feb 11, 2020, 7:24am

I gulped it down but then hated it when I was done.

I took a short break from How to Be an Antiracist to read Laura Van den Berg's newest (upcoming) short story collection, I Hold a Wolf By the Ears for an LJ review that I'd like to actually file on time for once. It was a terrific collection that mines the overlap between loss, grief, and horror... which, when you think about it, is a pretty broad swath. The stories are deceptively dense, packed with strata of their narrators' lives, and they both demand and reward careful reading. Some common themes emerge—Van den Berg's female narrators are often less functional younger sisters or daughters (there's a lot of mileage to be plumbed from that one—plus I still remember the feeling well—so I have no issue with her bringing the trope out a few times), the often unsettling or destabilizing effects of travel, natural disasters, death, and that thin membrane between the supernatural and the just weird. Great stories, very well written.

Now back to the Kendi, which is surprisingly immersive for a polemic (not to give it short shrift by calling it that, either).

Feb 11, 2020, 9:36am

So glad that somebody posted!

Reading The Black House. This is a VERY Kat Warren book which I will pop in the mail if she hasn't read it.

Feb 11, 2020, 10:07am

I think they turned those May books into a series. I quite enjoyed it.

I'm reading Lolita as part of a GoodReads challenge, almost done Milkman, and back to Spring of the Ram. I gulped down The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms last weekend. I appreciated the distraction it provided.

Editado: Feb 14, 2020, 5:04pm

Finishing up my reread of Wolf Hall for the 2020 category challenge book read. Still think its a fine book esp as it turns Cromwells and More's histories on their heads. But this time around I realize she is getting us ready for the switch. Towards the end we start to see examples of Cromwell going over the top when all along he is shown as the perfect gentleman who does no wrong. Then More's final speech and execution. then in the next read she shows the true cromwell. Well played.

Also reading mobituaries; was a bit worried it would be silly over the top and with lots of laughs and little history. But no, he does a fine job here. Its one of those books that you can pick up and put down, so I'll be reading it now and then for a bit.

Feb 13, 2020, 9:59pm

How to Be an Antiracist is a smart and necessary book, and though I knew a lot of the basic premises around the antiracism and areas of intersectionality Kendi examines, I found it really useful to have those thoughts laid out point by point in organized fashion. He scaffolds each area with his own autobiography, outlining how he has grappled with his own racism, and is very, very careful with his words so there isn't any confusion as to what he's saying. While it slows down the progression some, I think that's ultimately for the better. There's a certain cadence to his writing that recalls a preacher's intonation, which—again—slows it down, but also serves its purpose. For me, it's a good set of definitions to have under my belt for the purposes of checking myself and weighing my words, as well as being an effective template to look at these times. Kendi's a good historian, which adds both substance and value to the book, and I'm glad I read it.

Next up, Curious Toys, which I put a hold on because of someone's recommendation somewhere.

Feb 14, 2020, 3:42pm

Huh, a new(ish) Hand book. She's uneven, but I often enjoy her books despite the unevenness. Plus she has a queer aesthetic that I appreciate.

Thanks for the review of How to Be an Antiracist. I will add it to my tbr pile.

Feb 18, 2020, 9:47am

I loved the setting of The Black House but I felt like the resolution to the crime was kind of silly and thin. Not sure I'll read another.

Still reading Small Town Talk. It's the 80s and there's too much money and WAY too much cocaine. The bands are mediocre MOR. it's sad.

I read Pew which is very strange - a person of undeterminable race or gender is found sleeping on a church pew in a small town. They are taken in by a family, taken for medical testing, passed along to another community - the responses are all based on people's inability to accept this being for what they are, without labels. How 'helping' is all bound up with ideas of identity. It's fascinating and creepy with a definite dystopian The Lottery vibe. I liked it.

Mir, Lisa,- I think this is one you'll want to read. We seem to be the only people here anyway.

I am reading a kid's book that wound up on the home stack When You Reach Me.

Editado: Feb 18, 2020, 10:36am

Rereading Wicked for a RL book group. Actually it feels like a first read to me; loved the book when it first came out, read the two sequels, but haven't picked it up since. So its been fun seeing all the parts I missed or forgot the first time. And trying to keep the musical numbers out of my head.

Feb 18, 2020, 12:31pm

>162 laurenbufferd: Oh good, I have the e-galley of Pew—I thought it sounded either cool or awful, but was willing to roll the dice. I liked Lacey's short story collection Certain American States from a couple of years ago, though it wasn't super memorable (and I think I only read part of it, because it was in my Best Books entries pile).

Feb 19, 2020, 1:51pm

It's cool, Lisa. A little wobbly at the end, maybe deliberately so - but very intriguing.

Feb 20, 2020, 7:19am

Thanks, and noted.

Curious Toys was fun but not particularly satisfying. What I loved was all in the setup: a 1915 Chicago amusement park, a teenage girl disguised as a boy, a creepy murder mystery, and Henry Darger as a character! That last might have sold me on pretty much anything. But the story was spread thin among too many characters, and you couldn't get inside any of them—even a red herring has to matter to the reader, or it's not effective—and somehow, even with a crazy child killer on the loose, there was almost no tension whatsoever. All propulsion came from a) short chapters and b) a lot of good period detail, the last being worth the price of admission.

Next up, The King at the Edge of the World, which rings a whole other bunch of my historical fiction bells.

Feb 21, 2020, 12:46pm

I am attempting a decades later re-read of The Quincunx by Charles Palliser, which I first read shortly after it was published and while I remember my feelings of being deeply impressed by it then, can not remember any other details of the experience.

I'm wondering if any other LTers have read it, or are interested in reading it, as I'm interested in folks' commentary about its style, the plotting, aspects of retro-fiction, and discussion and opinion in general about the book, characters, and readers' impressions of stylized fiction in general. Am willing to create a thread, if folks are interested in discussion.

Sorry, Q. is a HUGE novel set in what I call VERY close type. It's a retro stylistic novel deliberately reminiscent of Dickens' Victorian works.

Feb 21, 2020, 1:03pm

When You Reach Me was very very clever. A time travel fantasy disguised as a slice of NYC life in the 1970s book, rather like a mashup of Harriet the Spy and A Wrinkle in Time. It won me over.

Next fiction in the Stacks 2020 challenge That Eye the Sky.

Feb 21, 2020, 1:04pm

Limelite, I read The Quincunx and I am sorry but I don't remember a bloody thing.

Feb 21, 2020, 1:32pm

>169 laurenbufferd:

Don't apologize, nor do I! Stylistically, it's a masterpiece. And one has to admire the patience of the author to have spent years writing it.

i don't know how I found the time to read it when in the prime of life, what with all the tasks and chores one has to occupy time and make one sleepy after sundown.

The novel is more a piece of furniture than a book one would be OK with propping on the stomach at bedtime. And the 19th C. literary style requires "on your toes" attention to reading. I'm surprised anyone in the 21st C. would have the attention span to read it!

But, despite all those drawbacks, it's reading like a magnum opus and has entranced me -- almost literally.

Feb 22, 2020, 1:46pm

Dang, Lime, your description of your first read of The Quincunx is practically a mirror reflection of my own experience. I can't remember anything about it, other than it was a real trudge, at times, and a sense of achievement when I finished it. I would like to reread it. If there's one thing I've learned it's that some books provide surprisingly different experiences during different phases of my life. The one book that tops my reread list, for the number of times reread, is Anthony Burgess' A Dead Man in Deptford. I've probably read it a half dozen times. Every single time, is like reading a different book.

I'm still reading Penman's The Land Beyond the Sea. I'm in one of those too frequent hard-to-concentrate funks. It's all good, though, because I don't want the book to end. The cunning rivalry between King Baldwin's mother and his priest/mentor was unfamiliar to me. The detailed progression of his disease (leprosy) is vivid and heartbreaking. Besides being obviously tragic, his short reign was such a paradox. His court and people were utterly devoted to him, yet recoiled in fear and horror whenever in too close proximity. They loved him and were repulsed by him. The Saracens held him in high regard, too, despite being enemies. A great story told by one of the best storytellers.

Editado: Feb 22, 2020, 4:41pm

cant wait for March 5th!!

the local indie just happened to have two books recommended here: Doc a Novel by Mary Doria Russell and mindfulness for chocolate lovers. Both are just perfect for a cold rainy day read!

Feb 22, 2020, 4:40pm

Never read The Quincunx but have heard of it. Looks like one I should add to the list......

Feb 22, 2020, 6:32pm

>171 Pat_D:

Total agreement that the reading experience differs with the passage of time. Interesting phenomenon, no? And about that "attention funk," I have that, too. Overwhelming selection of excellent books in my library. Perhaps because of that, I can't settle?

Did rolic through a humorous Golden Age Brit mystery, though. Surprised me how good it was on every level, plot construction, character, puzzle, and tone. A little heavy with English law jargon, but the author is excellent explaining relevant terms readers both sides of the Atlantic need to know. Try Smallbone Deceased by Michael Gilbert to pry you out of your funk.

>173 cindydavid4:

Think of the reading experience as a Quest when it comes to Quincunx.

You'll never guess, I recently downloaded Durrell's The Avignon Quintet, which is a collection described as a "quincunx of a collection of associated novels." There's no escape!

Feb 25, 2020, 11:28am

I really liked Smallbone Deceased.

I finished Small Town Talk. It gets a bit grim in the 80s when the music is all MOR and every one is doing coke. But it brought back loads of happy memories of actually going to Woodstock in the late 70s and hanging out and hoping we'd meet Todd Rundgrun (which as 18 and 19 year old girls, it's probably best we didn't) and the fall jazz festivasl at the Creative Music Workshop. I also bought a few cds as described in the book and will probably do a Woodstock the town show as opposed to Woodstock the festival Different Every Time so stay tuned for that!

I read Tim Winton's That Eye, The Sky which was a perfect little gem. A coming of age novel set in a rural community outside of Perth - it had everything I love about Winton - an irreverence, a gift for language and place, a scrappy believable family. It was in my stack and I'm so bloody happy I read it.

Next up, a rather ghastly illustrated bio of Duncan Grant - it's from the 80s but someone is identified as a 'jewess' and another has a dusky complextion. Problematic. But it was in the stack and it's Bloomsbury so...………. and Margaret Drabble's The Waterfall.

For those of you who aren't following my every move, I have challenged myself to reading down one of the stacks of books by my bed. It's made for some curious reading as things have iled up there from a plethora of sources. But in the Winton case, it was marvelous.

Editado: Feb 26, 2020, 9:48pm

Oh, my silly book of the week is that terrible old Kitty Kelley bio of Elizabeth Taylor and she really had it in for her, it's very funny. Fat, lazy, stupid, fat, lazy, stupid, rinse, repeat, that's the whole book -- Kelley actually writes those words over and over. The best part is the looooong stretch that rehashes the Taylor/Burton series of terrible movies -- and make no mistake, it is a LONG SERIES. Kelley practically says "I have no idea how this fat, lazy stupid person kept getting parts."

It was seventy-five cents in hardcover at the used bookstore, and that seems about right. I'll get back to la-ti-da Zola next week.

Editado: Feb 27, 2020, 3:58am

ok now go and read Mobituaries Mo Racca' collection of mini bios touching on unusual characters, Liz being one. I was worried, starting out, because he can go over the top sometimes. But his stories were moving as well as fun, and love the focus on history.. The best part is the respect and compassion he gives to each one of his the people in them, even if reallty they didn't deserve it. Anyway, the one on Liz is funny but kind at the same time. And he mentions Kelleys bio,.

so I started All the Lives We Never Lived, a title that, if yu think about it, sounds like a soap opera eg "all the days of our lives", about a man in India searching for the mother who left her familu to start a career in painting during WWII, There is a Titantic moment at the end, something is thrown from the ship. The writing is good, but I think I wanted a book about India, not a man's search for his mother. Put it down and dug out my copy of Kim Rather worn; it was my sisters that I snuck off her shelf one day and was immediately in that world. Reread it several times in the last few years, and still get the same feeling about India. The writing, the the setting, the characters were in a much different league. I may come back to Roys book later, but for now I am where I want to be.

Feb 27, 2020, 4:01am

ok now go and read Mobituaries Mo Racca' collection of mini bios touching on unusual characters, Liz being one. I was worried, starting out, because he can go over the top sometimes. But his stories were moving as well as fun, and love the focus on history.. The best part is the respect and compassion he gives to each one of his the people in them, even if reallty they didn't deserve it. Anyway, the one on Liz is funny but kind at the same time. And he mentions Kelleys bio,.

so I started All the Lives We Never Lived, a title that, if yu think about it, sounds like a soap opera eg "all the days of our lives", about a man in India searching for the mother who left her familu to start a career in painting during WWII, There is a Titantic moment at the end, something is thrown from the ship. The writing is good, but I think I wanted a book about India, not a man's search for his mother. Put it down and dug out my copy of Kim Rather worn; it was my sisters that I snuck off her shelf one day and was immediately in that world. Reread it several times in the last few years, and still get the same feeling about India. The writing, the the setting, the characters were in a much different league. I may come back to Roys book later, but for now I am where I want to be.

Mar 2, 2020, 9:03am

Had a lot of travel time this week so I got to really live head-down in Arthur Phillips's The King at the Edge of the World, which was great fun—the story of a Muslim physician from Constantinople stranded in late-16th-century England at the time of Elizabeth I's decline and the potential rise of Scotland's James VI, with the crucial question being whether or not he was a Catholic. The story involves much spying and counter-spying to that effect, and the fact that you know how it ends—that he becomes James I of England—doesn't take away from the thrill of the chase. And I say thrill with the caveat that it's not a particularly fast-paced book... but I didn't find it suffered for that, because the storytelling was good and it pulled me in. I think it helped that I like reading about that period, and Phillips's multiple close third person POV owes at least a little debt to Hilary Mantel, which is not a bad thing at all.

I also read Heather Cristle's The Crying Book, which is a long, complexly braided essay (but a short book) about tears, crying, grief, despair, depression. Which sounds grim but is actually really interesting—it's a subject much on my mind lately, anyway. It's strong on poetry with a little science and history, in good proportions, and the footnotes alone are worth the price of admission because they reference so much good material. A thoughtful book, and far less sad than it sounds.

Now on to Optic Nerve, a book I regret not picking up the galley when I had the chance so thank you, NYPL.

Mar 2, 2020, 9:19pm

The Duncan Grant bio is really wretched but it has lots of pictures. But barely readable. Shit, those Bloomsberries did a number on their kids.

I am seriously digging The Waterfall. It's way weirder, deeper, and darker than the blurb on the back. A woman starts an affair with her brother-in-law. The chapters alternate pov - third person where the woman is meek, demure, disturbed and passive, 1st person where the woman is fiery, romantic, destructive, and dismissive of conventions. And the writing - just exquisite - precise, evocative, specific.

Mar 2, 2020, 10:04pm

That is a freaky deaky cover on The Waterfall, like some 1970s Roman Polanski knockoff film poster.

Editado: Mar 3, 2020, 4:22pm

>179 lisapeet: So we were in Edinburgh at one of the cathedrals and happened upon a priest explaining the kings of UK to an elderly lady. He mentioned James VI and James 1, and she turned an said 'oh were they brothers, then' He gave us a very dirty look (deserved) when we both broke into laughter and went running out the doors. I think of that poor lady every time I read those names together.

Speaking of things Britain, I have started Bring Up the Bodies, for the 2020 group read challenge. I havent read it as much as I have Wolf Hall so I am still having some fresh new reading that I didn't remember.

Mar 4, 2020, 3:56pm

I am reading The Mirror and the Light. Damn skippy, I am.

Editado: Mar 4, 2020, 8:17pm

>183 laurenbufferd: YOU DOG. Seriously, though, you totally deserve this and I hope it's fun.

>182 cindydavid4: Brothers, heh. You should try the Phillips book, Cindy—I think you might like it. And I'm really considering rereading both Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies but we'll see. There aren't enough hours in the day.

Optic Nerve is really odd and different and thoughtful—fiction about writing/thinking about art (but more complex than that description sounds).

Editado: Mar 4, 2020, 8:59pm

>183 laurenbufferd: And I have to wait a whole other week! (that will give me time to finish the previous book, so its ok)

Mar 8, 2020, 10:21pm

OK, I take back the dog comment, seeing as I got a copy the next day. And now that I've gotten my sweaty little paws on this, which I've been lusting after for a good half year, I'm tempted to reread Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies first. They were so good, and I can only imagine the new one will be amplified by reacquainting myself with the first two. It's been more than a dozen years since I read the first, at least eight or nine since the second.

But first I'm reading my book club book, which is bell hooks's All About Love. I'm early in, but I'm thinking this is a good book to read right around now. By way of great synchronicity, I was having a cooking/baking day with my friend Sonya today—whom I've always thought would enjoy this book club—and she's reading the same book, so that was kind of literary kismet and I invited her along next weekend.

BUT yesterday I finished María Gainza's Optic Nerve, which was just sparklingly different from anything else I've read in a while. It's at least somewhat autofiction—the narrator, also named María, is an art critic in Buenos Aires, as is the author, and she's said in interviews that there are some overlaps with her life, but only some. Whatever the case, the book is a really well done set of very loosely linked chapters that take off from the idea of how looking at art, and thinking about it, intertwines with a person's life (and often changes it). She's a very good art critic to begin with, so her thoughts on the artists who are part of her stories—from Rothko and El Greco through more obscure and local painters—are really interesting, but also very accessible. There's also a very sub-subtext that caught my eye as a writer and researcher, which is where and how do you get to depart from the record and start building your own story? She's obviously researched these artists very closely, but there are also wonderful textural details about their lives that she could have totally woven in herself. Or not—I was toggling back and forth in Wikipedia and WikiArt to look at the pictures and artists Gainza was talking about, but at a certain point I (and probably most readers) will just sit back and take the narrative on faith, so those authorial nuances are always fascinating to me.

Anyway, if you like looking at art and thinking about it past the moment when you're standing in front of the canvas, this is a lot of fun. Very fresh, I thought. And the translation, by Thomas Bunstead, is excellent.

Mar 10, 2020, 9:47am

OOOH. That sounds good, Lisa.

Mar 11, 2020, 7:16pm

In case you were wondering The Mirror and the Light is sooooooooooooooooooooooo good.

now back to the stack - Margaret Drabble and oddball bio of Duncan Grant.

Mar 14, 2020, 6:22pm

>187 laurenbufferd: Yeah I think you'd like it. As would the usual suspects, you know who you are.

I'm about halfway through All About Love and am not really feeling it... I'd hoped that because it was bell hooks it would be a little more, I don't know. Political? Feminist? But even though everything she says is spot on, it still feels a bit like a slightly dated self-help book. I'll probably keep on with it because who knows, maybe there's something in there for me to take note of. But the book club meeting today that I was reading it for was canceled, so I'm ditching it temporarily for more engaging reading. I was totally chuffed to have a copy of The Mirror and the Light before its release date, but made the mistake/not really a mistake of (virtually) cracking open Wolf Hall to see if I remembered enough of it, and... oh damn, it is SO good. I'm three chapters in already, so I think I'm in it for the long haul. And then, I guess, The Mirror and the Light—might as well be a completist.

Editado: Mar 28, 2020, 3:47pm

double post, nevermind

Mar 14, 2020, 11:27pm

Just did that for the 2020 group read challnge, and I just got my copy of the new one. Started reading, and it felt like the 15 year old gap between books made not a bit of difference. Loving it

Mar 16, 2020, 10:25am

Duncan Grant and Bloomsbury Group was ghastly. Look, nobody could love the Bloomsburies more than me but this book is so dated and dreary, please just look at the pictures and don't read the text which has the words 'Jewess' and 'dusky-skinned' and basically laughs off Duncan Grant's pattern of picking up teenage boys which I am pretty sure is the behavior of a sexual predator.

I need a shower!

Still, I love the art.

I picked back up the Jenny Odell and am also reading A Capitol Death.

Mar 25, 2020, 10:34pm

I finally finished up Book 7 in the Rougon Macquart cycle, L'Assommoir. The longest of them so far and the saddest, which is really saying something because oh, they're all sad. It was a hard one to focus on -- especially this last week or so -- but I was determined to finish, it had just gone on too long. That determination may have done it a disservice; it's very very good, but man, I needed to be done with it. Next up in the series is a minor one, A Love Story, and then Nana.

But what I really want is a book like Andrew Sean Greer's Less right now. I wish I hadn't read it yet! One of you must have access to the new Peter Cameron, What Happens at Night. I AM BEGGING YOU. I can't wait until August.

Mar 28, 2020, 3:15pm

dg, I wish I could scope out the shelves at BookPage for you....

I finished the second Ferrante book The Story of a New Name and it was riveting. It completely took me out of myself and into a another place and time - I loved it. Absolutely what I needed. I am almost done with How to do nothing which is really fitting the bill right now, even with the service social media provides right now, I am much more tuned in to what is happening outside, the amazing amount of birdsong, the visibility of the night sky, and the feeling of camaraderie in my neighborhood. I think Odell makes a good argument for tuning in to where you are and exploring the connection you have with your local environment.

goodreads send me a free copy of Daughters of Smoke and Fire a new novel about a Kurdish family in Iraq. I think the writing is pretty awful but the story is powerful - it reminds me of a novel about a Palestinian family that I read years ago Mornings in Jenin that had a big influence even though it was hardly a literary masterpiece. In this, a young Kurdish woman survives a suicide attempt and becomes politically active after her brother is jailed in Tehran for filming a government crackdown.

In other words, I made bagels today. Or rather, I'm halfway through the recipe. It's a 2 day-er.

Mar 28, 2020, 4:21pm

DG, ditto for the LJ shelves. I can only imagine the riches that will await whenever I get back to work, so I'll keep an eye out.

I really need to start the Elena Ferrante series. It sounds like very much my thing and I have at least the first two book. Someday.

But for now I'm STILL reading Wolf Hall. And loving it, don't get me wrong. Just a bit sad that I have less time to read than before, because work is really, really busy—it's been a lot of 10- and 12-hour days and there goes all that extra time I thought I had because I'm not commuting. Turns out those two-plus hours a day were my free time, who knew? I could read, listen to music or podcasts, or nod off. Now I really have to steal my time back. I guess that's a work in progress. Anyway, WH is marvelous and tomorrow I'm going to at least attempt part of a Mrs. Dalloway real time read.

Mar 29, 2020, 11:20pm

I have started on a re-read of Love In The Time Of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez not far in but so far what a joy, the main character Dr Juvenal Urbino owns a parrot that speaks in voices male and female and many languages, what a character, a real hoot.

Mar 30, 2020, 7:10am

This is a good time to revisit books that have given us pleasure/comfort in the past.

Mar 31, 2020, 8:47pm

Lisa, I can't wait for you to read the Ferrante.

I thought Daughters of Smoke and Fire was not good. Interesting story, writing that lay on the page like a block of wood.

I participated in Amy Crea's Sunday reading of Mrs. Dalloway (although it took me three days, not one) and it is amazing, maybe more so than when I've read it before. I am older than Mrs Dalloway, for one. I have some thoughts and sme questions but may go bac kto Twitter where the 'conversation ' is. I read a charming book from my 2020 stack called Literary Witches with wonderful illustrations and just opened Women in Clothes from the same pile. It's a behemoth but there are lots o f illustrations.

Abr 2, 2020, 5:13pm

Two books on my TBR are very different from each other but in some was similar celestial bodies and little fires everywhere Im enjoying both, reading them in tandem.

Abr 5, 2020, 11:19pm

So I started the Mrs. Dalloway all-day read last week, and that was a cool thing, though I didn't end up participating much with the hashtag. For most folks taking part it was a reread, but I had somehow never read it before, though I had a copy—an ancient Harbrace Modern Classics edition that was my mom’s in the 1940s or 1950s, given her first married name on the flyleaf. Which is probably why I didn’t finish it either—Woolf takes close, close attention, especially the first time with a book. Her sentences are so precisely, complexly structured, and if you miss or misread a word, the whole thing falls apart and you have to go back and piece it all together. But the rewards are large.

Anyway, I finished it today, with good timing—hitting the description of evening in London just as the light was starting to go here in New York. And wow, it was pretty wonderful. Calling something a tour de force sounds so pretentious, but Woolf was breaking new ground then and it still feels fresh and surprising with every sentence. I love how she accomplishes that POV that swoops and darts, alighting on first one person and place and time and then another, and making it all work narratively. It's both extremely cinematic and also just impossible to imagine as an actual film—I know it's been done, though I've never seen it. And that wonderful weight given to things, objects, without giving them agency—just existence and primacy. "Admirable butlers, tawny chow dogs, halls laid in black and white lozenges with white blinds blowing."

The setting resonates too, in these strange social distancing days—not London, but the fact that the characters have just emerged, somewhat shell-shocked, from a World War and a pandemic. They've changed from their ordeal, and at the same time the world has changed out from under them. They are working hard to preserve their respective status quos, yet under the surface they’re stunned, appreciative but disoriented, slightly breathless. And there but for the grace of 100 years go we, I think.

I'm kind of surprised I haven't read it before this, but maybe that's reasonable in context:
When one was young, said Peter, one was too much excited to know people. Now that one was old, fifty-two to be precise (Sally was fifty-five, in body, she said, but her heart was like a girl's of twenty); now that one was mature then, said Peter, one could watch, one could understand, and one did not lose the power of feeling, he said.

And now back to Wolf Hall.

Editado: Jul 17, 2020, 4:27pm

Hi! I just got Indian-ishfrom the library the same day I scored groceries including flour. I could use some new recipes. Mark is sick of pasta. Reading a biography of Mitchell Leisen because my late read friend Jeff gave it to me.I'm going to try The Leopard again. Also, pulled out The Dud Avocado.

Now I'll go catch up with this thread.

Abr 12, 2020, 12:04am

Little Fires Everywhere will go on my best of year list, despite being thrown out of the book by an event so unbelievable that I had to stop. Curiousity got the best of me tho, and I am very glad I finished

Now reading Driftless given to me by a friend who just moved here from Wisconsin.Liking it so far and may want to take a look at his earlier books (the author was in a motorcycle accident in 1977 which left him parapalegic. This is the first publication he has written since.)

Editado: Abr 17, 2020, 8:17am

Well, I finally finished my reread of Wolf Hall. I can’t remember the last time I spent this long on a single book, which I’ll chalk up to losing my two-hour-a-day commute, and also to the fact that about halfway through, I discovered the excellent online Wolf Hall book club over at the Washington Post, led by culture writers Alyssa Rosenberg and Eugene Robinson. I’ve been spending almost as much time with that discussion as I did with the book, and since it runs through May 11, I’ll be going back to it.

I have to say, this was a great read for me right now, though—I needed something that would absorb all my attention and take my head away from the world of 2020. And I just adore Thomas Cromwell as Mantel has written him. Maybe not something I should admit so readily, but I relate to him in a way—his ambition, his regard for social capital, the way he works to balance his pride in what he's made of himself and his strengths and his intelligence with the gentle parts of his nature. Obviously I'm not responsible for burning people at the stake, and hope my personal balance sheet comes out better than his did, but there's something about him that clicks with me. And the writing is absolutely brilliant from start to finish.

It’s been a bit weird, in a nice way, to see that what I think of as my own very personal choices are actually part of a larger social distancing zeitgeist. All those people reading Wolf Hall makes sense, I guess—like me, a lot of folks probably got their hands on the long-awaited third book of the trilogy and decided they wanted to start from the beginning. Finding out that my friends and I weren’t the only people reading Virginia Woolf was also kind of a neat surprise (“Why Anxious Readers Under Quarantine Turn to Mrs. Dalloway,” in the New Yorker)—and as post-pandemic Modernist literature that celebrates running errands, that adds up too. And now it seems that my stockpiling of pretty USPS stamps and letter-writing is also hip. So there you go—I guess I’m a lot more mainstream than I thought.

Now, for a little change of genre, I’m reading Sarah Pinsker’s novel A Song for a New Day, a dystopian post-pandemic rock’n’roll tale, where public concerts are illegal—and I placed my library hold on this one before sheltering in place was even mandated. Hmm, maybe I should start playing Powerball… do they still have Powerball?

Abr 17, 2020, 1:10pm

ok I guess I will subscribe to the post so I can get to that book group!!! be there soon!

Editado: Abr 22, 2020, 9:30am


Sorry, I got super excited for a moment.

It was amazing to read Mrs Dalloway. A re-read for me and interesting too now that I am older than the main character. Yes to the fluidity and yes to the thingness of it all - the descriptions of place and things are so vivid, I always feel like someone has just cleaned my glasses after I read Woolf.

There is a superb passage about friendship and memory that I've marked every time I 've read it - according to my notes at the end of the book - the way our mind associates certain people with sounds, smells or places even over decades and it puts into words something that is almost impossible to articulate. Sigh. Perfect writing.

I am working through my book stack with a few detours to read mysteries or things for review. I loved the new Ferrante (due to come out in the summer but now pushed to September) and I fell right into it - a coming of age story set in a more progressive, middle class Neapolitan neighborhood than the quartet is but with just as much emotion and power - a young woman torn apart by her parents' lies and her complicated relationship with her father's family. I've been reading Radical Acceptance which is about as close as I get to self-help and is very helpful in a time of much contemplation and worry, March New Yorkers and two years worth of a sweet British quarterly I subscribed to for a minute called Slightly Foxed - mini essays and reviews of OP books.

Lisa, and other Mantel readers, one of the book 'reviewed' in Slightly Foxed was novel that came out in the 50s called A Man on the Donkey about Tudor England and the Pilgrimage of Grace (which is an issue in The Mirror and the Light ) - a rebellion against Henry VIII and the dissolution of the monasteries which started in and around York. I'm going to look for that!

I am reading An Unmarked Grave mostly interesting because its set during the flu epidemic.

Editado: Abr 22, 2020, 10:01am

Its in two volumes; not bad pricing (I went to to search)

Editado: Abr 22, 2020, 10:27am

Oh I forgot to say HEY KAREN!! Good to see you around these parts.

Lauren, that's so cool you subscribed to Slightly Foxed! I coveted it back when I couldn't afford it (I think one of my Readerville tag lines was "Slightly foxed but still desirable," which is a bookselling term). Is it good? I don't need another subscription, really (hello, four-month New Yorker backlog), but it's tempting. As is that The Man on a Donkey.

Still reading A Song for a New Day, which is entertaining—rock'n'roll dystopian fiction—although slightly eerie, since she got a lot of the post-pandemic stuff so spot-on. I'm going to see if she's the right age for a Bloom profile, since I have one sneaking up on me fast and this would be really timely.

Also started Jill Lepore's newest, If Then: How Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future—she's on a panel I'm moderating for LJ's virtual Day of Dialog at the end of May. I have a bunch of hefty current events books to read for that—Lepore's, Eula Biss's Having and Being Had (I was a big fan of her On Immunity, a book I've been thinking about a lot lately for obvious reasons), Becky Cooper's We Keep the Dead Close: A Murder at Harvard, and Mychal Denzel Smith's Stakes Is High: Life After the American Dream. That's gonna be a kickass panel, and a LOT of dense reading. Not complaining, though.

Editado: Abr 22, 2020, 2:01pm

Someone hereabouts exclaimed over The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and others agree that it changed their life. Its a YA, and its about a toy rabbit; I usually don't care for talking animals as an adult but this came well recommended. So I ordered it from my indie and just finished it. Oh my. I am teary over a china rabbits journey. The lesson is not new, it is universal and bears repeating - to love and to be love, is all.

Abr 24, 2020, 10:53am

Jill Lepore has to be one of the smartest people in the world. She has new book every year.

Editado: Abr 29, 2020, 5:48pm

>209 alans: I know! One of these days I'd like to tackle her These Truths, but I think my current events reading dance card is full for the time being.

>208 cindydavid4: I bought The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane after reading the article that raved about it... haven't read it yet, though. Maybe that will be my palate cleanser when I'm done with this round of big nonfiction books.

I finished A Song for a New Day, which was fun but surprising in a few ways. First off, it felt a bit more YA than I had expected—not that there's anything wrong with that. The storyline was a good one—corporatized music as a symptom of post-pandemic ills, and those of an alienated, segmented society in general. But what captivated me most was how Pinsker, who wrote this well in advance of the onslaught of Covid-19 (it was expanded from a story in her 2019 collection Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea, and was published in September 2019), got so many of the social isolation details scarily right. She spins that out into an exploration of what happens when public gatherings are banned, music is channeled into mega-retail VR channels, and live music is forced underground. It's a great premise, superimposing the rise of giant corporate entities with American fear, and how a desire to stay safe can become stifling legislation—very punk rock. But what may have felt more like an allegory when Pinsker wrote it is a sharp what-if right now. Things are going to be different post-Covid, and this outcome is a bit more plausible than it was six months ago. So that was an interesting overlay to an entertaining dystopian novel... creepy, for sure, but also uplifting in the end, which is certainly welcome.

Abr 26, 2020, 11:49am

>210 lisapeet: make sure you have a box of kleenex nearby :)

Abr 26, 2020, 6:49pm

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is on Kindle for 99 cents--so I splurged. I could use a good cry. Thanks!

Abr 26, 2020, 7:50pm

Any time :) its one of those books I want to put into everyones hands, Ive been talking it up for a week now...

Abr 29, 2020, 12:38am

I am hooked to Girl Woman Other and am having trouble putting it down so I can get some sleep. I see why it won the booker. Just amazing

Editado: Abr 29, 2020, 12:04pm

I've been a fan of Evaristo's for over a decade and love seeing her get so much positive acclaim.

Is it Ann Patchett's piece on Kate DeCamillo that has everyone exclaiming about Edward Tulane. It is an incredibly moving book.

My reading has been sporadic. I found Unmarked Grave to be so wooden as to be unreadable but someone left The Cuckoo's calling in my free little library and I got hooked. It's very undemanding. I am also reading Equipment for Living but I can't figure out if Robbin's is a jerk or not.

I have a huge media crush on Jill Lepore. HUGE.

Editado: Mayo 1, 2020, 1:54pm

>215 laurenbufferd: Found out from my sis that this was made into a play! It was produced and directed by a former student at the Childsplay theatre, and she saw it twice! I am very jealous

Mayo 1, 2020, 12:11pm

Lisa, thanks for mentioning that WaPo book group for the Mantel books. I am also reading Wolf Hall, because I never finished it the first time I tried it. Right now, since I'm not reading much, when I do read, I am taking my time with it and noticing how well-written it is. But I think the book discussion will also be good for these times. So I had to re-sub to WaPo again, which is good because I miss reading the book coverage anyway!

Lauren, let me know what you think of The Cuckoo's Calling when you finish it. I have read all the books in the series a couple of times (audio) and watched the series over and over. I don't know why, but I really love the characters of Cormoran and Robin. And in the show, Holliday Grainger is about one of the prettiest women ever.

Editado: Mayo 4, 2020, 10:28am

I think it's worth subscribing to the Washington Post no matter what—between that and the NYT I feel like I'm getting all my covid coverage without having to go down the rabbit hole of random news sources.

I stayed up late finishing If Then: How Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future—it was pretty compelling, for an account of a company that went belly-up more than 50 years ago. The book traces the rise and fall of Simulmatics Corp., a fascinating slice of political, sociological, and computational history that I had never heard of. Which is interesting because I know a few things about all three sectors, but this data science startup, launched in the 1950s and bankrupt by the end of the '60s, was a new piece of the puzzle for me. And it really is, literally a piece of a lot of bigger things—algorithms, advertising, the big elections of the 1960s, efforts to quantify the Vietnam War and race riots, and the genealogy of big data and Cambridge Analytica, among other aspects. Very, very interesting and engaging.

Now on to the second of my Day of Dialog books, Mychal Denzel Smith's Stakes Is High: Life After the American Dream. It opens with him preparing to speak as part of Hillary Clinton's election night coverage in November 2016... sigh.

Feeling like I need to I need to try more virtual author readings, both because I really liked the first one I watched/attended recently—Christine Coulson on her book Metropolitan Stories, about the Metropolitan Museum—and because I'll be doing that virtual Day of Dialog author panel for LJ at the end of the month, and I have a feeling there are things I should know that are different from sitting on a stage in an auditorium with four writers. For one thing, where previous Day of Dialogs have had maybe 150 people in the audience, because this one's online we have FOUR THOUSAND registrants. That's a lot of eyeballs.

Mayo 4, 2020, 11:19am

Lisa, I have subscribed to the post,and can see the conversation between the two journalist, but am not able to get on to the comment page. Any idea? Oh my copies of The Man and the Donkey has arrived so I'l get to that soon.

Ended up not liking Girl Woman Other as much as started to; about 3/4 of the way suddenly every character is going thro the same thing and the same time and I am getting totally mixed up who is who. Still the writing is amazing. Probably needed a family tree to keep track of it all at the beginning

Starting Penmans Land beyond the Sea

Editado: Mayo 5, 2020, 9:58am

>219 cindydavid4: If you scroll down to the bottom of each week's discussion, there's a rectangular box that says "x number of Comments"—click on that and you can see them, although some of the older sessions have the comments closed.

Mayo 5, 2020, 12:04pm

I just convinced my book group to read Girl, Woman, Other. I loved reading it. Probably the book that has been the most successful at allowing me to escape our current world situation.

I finished The Topeka School last week. It was also well written, and structurally interesting, but I was anxious throughout. Still not sure how I feel about Darren/Adam and what he was doing there with time and actions. The Jane chapters were the most satisfying -- I wanted more of her. Nevertheless, an interesting go at dealing with toxic masculinity in middle-class America though. Lots of stuff to think about.

Now I'm reading The Innocents (thanks Lauren!) and loving it, just like everyone else. Currently worried about the blind bear cub, but I expect that will get resolved in some way.

Mayo 5, 2020, 12:09pm

Oh, and despite my dislike of the Rowling empire, I found that series of books quite engaging. The demanded nothing of me, and I like the characters.

Editado: Mayo 5, 2020, 1:02pm

>220 lisapeet: I thought I tried that. I keep getting a message Sorry, we can’t seem to find the page you’re looking for. I am subscribed and all. Think I'll contact the paper, see whats up

Miriam Id love to hear how your group feels about GWO. I still ultimately liked it; I saw someone say it was a series of short stories; I can see that, but I still needed a family tree!

Now reading The Man on a Donkey, an older book about the Tudor era as seen through the chronicles of a variety of people living at the time. So whats happening with the kings and queens are in the background. Very interesting

Mayo 9, 2020, 1:27pm

I finished Mychal Denzel Smith's Stakes Is High, a short and very good call to arms and critique of the state of the nation. It's not pretty, but Smith's wide-lens view is smart and lays out the root of American problems succinctly, shining a hard light on endemic racism, toxic masculinity, capitalism, the justice system, politics, and the longstanding delusion labeled the American dream. There are no easy answers or binary rhetoric, which makes this a good book to read right now. How we got to this place—or the place we were at when Smith wrote the book, which is just short of this even harsher point in time—is not easily answerable, but it is understandable, and he does a good job of making the case for a broad and deep revolution. I'm in, as long as I don't have to go to any marches (I was never a marcher, even before this).

Now reading the next Day of Dialog book on my pile, Eula Biss's Having and Being Had. I really liked her On Immunity—I though often about who gets sick and who doesn't long before this pandemic—and this one, on consumerism, should be up my alley as well.

Editado: Mayo 9, 2020, 2:12pm

>220 lisapeet: finally got in, having fun discussing it. BTW I posted about this elsethread. wanted to be sure you saw it; very interesting! The Reith Lectures: Hilary Mantel

Mayo 10, 2020, 11:59am

Still reading Wolf Hall. I guess I've turned into a slow reader who can only read for a short amount of time in the morning. Which kinda sucks. I just can't seem to get back that fully-immersed joy I used to get.

Mayo 11, 2020, 10:23pm

I've been the same as you for quite a while, Julie.

I blame the state this country's been in since Trump and the GOP cheated their way into the WH. I don't have a history of being all that politically involved or letting any political controversy get to me. But like many, I worked my butt off in anticipation of retirement, and then along comes a level of corruption and chaos unlike any I've ever known. I feel like I've been living under a 3 1/2 yr sense of impending doom. Then along comes COVID-19, and all my fears for my country have come to fruition. Rationally, I know I shouldn't let it interfere with my peace of mind (and my reading!), but I just can't help the way it's messed with my level of concentration. I've also had a terrible case of insomnia since retiring. After almost 20 yrs of nightshift work, my body simply refuses to adjust. Which makes my inability to concentrate on reading books (normally a panacea) even worse. /whiny vent

Mayo 11, 2020, 11:38pm

I hear you loud and clear, and totally agree with the feeling of impending doom. I try to shake it and think it will be all fine, when I hear about something else he said or done and it comes right back. And yeah the virus hasn't helped, just shows even more how corrupt and incompetent he is. Gayle Bassham is on FB with a weekly post 'this is not normal' reminding us not to be complacent and accepting.Bless her heart I don't know how she keeps it up, but it helps me to read it knowing Im not the only one!!

Actually it hasn't affected my reading, Im choosing historic fiction or sci fi/fan books that I can sink into and not come up for air till I finish. Gives me a chance to visit another time and place for a while. I hope you are able to go back to reading. Wonder if it would help to reread a fav book?

Mayo 12, 2020, 6:34am

Funny you should suggest that, Cindy. I have a WaPo account and checked out the book discussion Lisa and you were mentioning. I'm thinking I might try a Wolf Hall reread.

Editado: Mayo 16, 2020, 3:11pm

I tossed Equipment for Living - it was occasionally funny but mostly man-splainy and mean spirited. It reminded me of almost every guy I've ever met who wanted to talk to every man in the room about rock and roll but wouldn't deign to talk to me. Other books from the stack challenge were the very brief Transcendental Oats Alcott's satirical piece on the communal experiment at Fruitlands - which I found highly plausible and a really sweet book of letters from Laura Ingalls Wilder to her husband when LIW went to San Francisco to visit her daughter and the Panama Exposition of 1915. It had all the liveliness and adventure and interest that the Little House books did. Very satisfying.

I had two books to review last month Miss Iceland which has a terrible title and misleading cover - it is not the least bit twee, rather, it's a portrait of an artist coming of age in Iceland in the 1960s. I liked it but there is a Jimi Hendrix fact that is wrong and I don't know why but I truly couldn't shake that. The book is like a much milder Elena Ferrante - the sexism is there but there is more agency as well. The other book was The Party Upstairs which is the kind of NYC novel you kill to read - about a super and his wildly under-employed adult daughter in an upper west side coop. It's really fresh and darkly funny - and sometimes really not funny at all - but very well plotted. I really appreciate how many new writers are writing about wealth, class, and shame. For all the usual suspects.

Lisa, I am finally reading In the Shadow of King Saul - I don't know what took me so long - this book of autobiographical essays is fantastic. Charyn is insanely prolific but I really want to read more of him. I am eating it up. I am also reading Empire of Wild. Mir, have you read that?

Mayo 14, 2020, 7:07pm

Finished Everything I Never Told You this is very well written and kept me turning pages. I found it very real esp for the 70s, but I just had the urge to bitch slap ever adult in the book -. Her follow up with Little Fires Everywhere was excellent, but for a first novel this wasn't too shabby.

Editado: Mayo 14, 2020, 9:56pm

>230 laurenbufferd: Charyn's a really underrated writer. I have another one of his, Bitter Bronx, that I picked up for obvious reasons but haven't read. I did grab a galley of The Party Upstairs based on your recommendation.

I'm enjoying Having and Being Had—it's chatty but also surprisingly erudite, and her thoughts around consumerism, work, class, and money totally hit home for me.

Editado: Mayo 16, 2020, 9:16am

Last night I finished Eula Biss's Having and Being Had, which is a very interesting and engaging exploration of her relationship to capitalism and its many incarnations: money, possessions, class, leisure, value, art, investment, and work. It cycles, in short chapters, from personal reflections to broader inquiries through other writings and literature. It's a neat approach, and while her experience might not be yours—though it's very much like mine in a lot of ways, which made the book particularly relevant for me—there's enough of a wide-angle take that stays rooted in lived life, pop culture, and what it is to be an adult in a world where you're expected to know the worth of things, but need to figure out how to assess that as you go. Good stuff. Not published yet, but keep an eye out.

Now I've started Becky Cooper's We Keep the Dead Close: A Murder at Harvard and a Half Century of Silence, which is the last of the books I'm reading for my panel. I may have to do some skimming with this one, since I need to come up with questions by the end of next week, but I'll see if I can get in some some big chunks of reading time this weekend. The only barriers to that being that it's sunny, warm but not hot, and perfect weather for working outside.

Lauren, I grabbed a galley of The Party Upstairs on your say-so.

Mayo 22, 2020, 7:06am

We Keep the Dead Close: A Murder at Harvard and a Half Century of Silence was a very meta true crime/memoir—the crime being the 50-year-old murder of a young Harvard archeology student, and the meta part the author's nuanced interrogation of her own motives, assumptions, and context for pursuing the case. As Cooper digs deeper into the murdered girl's story she turns up any number of loose ends, dead ends, and a large cast of tangential characters whose stories become intertwined with hers. I'm dancing around the story itself because it is, at bottom, a crime story that has a resolution... or does it? And I wouldn't want to spoil that for anyone. But it's the many ripples and reverberations set off by the murder that make up the substance of Cooper's story, and keep it weird and slightly off-kilter. This is a bit of an unclassifiable book, which is something I liked very much.

Though not all the galleys I read feel like they have a lot of editing before they hit bookstores, I think this might—at 460+ pages it's a bit shaggy. But maybe the shagginess is what makes it—you certainly get a strong sense of all the threads Cooper had to chase down for years. I'll be interested to hear what regular readers of crime lit think of it, and how it wound up.

That's the last of the four books I'm reading for my panel next week, right on schedule—I have to come up with my list of questions for the authors today (including who talks in which order, since the virtual format can't deal with anyone talking over anyone else). This should be an interesting event to do, and hopefully for the thousands (!) of people watching.

Now I'm reading Madeleine St. John's The Women in Black, which I put on hold at the library ages ago because of someone liking it. And also the Hilary Mantel blurb, where she says this is the book she gives people as gifts... my deep dark secret is that I'm always a sucker for a blurb, not necessarily what they say as who provides them.

Mayo 24, 2020, 8:35am

I'm reading A Beautiful Crime, which has to be the most uninspired title of the season. Venice-set, though, and very Highsmith-ian (THE BLURBS SAY SO A THOUSAND TIMES so it must be true). It's a con-goes-wrong story and it's fun to watch the plot work out (or rather, not work out).

Mayo 25, 2020, 11:58am

Just finished Rolling the Rs which was recommended by a friend after I raved about America is not the heart. It was equally fabulous but differently. Fun to read a book with all my childhood touchstone -- Love Boat, Charlie's Angels, Grease, and Donna Summer -- although lots of stuff going on that wasn't particularly fun.

Now I'm listening to The Golden Notebook, and started reading an early Murdoch (can't remember the tile) and am reading a bunch of work-related non-fiction (How to take Smart Notes, which was actually really good, and 8 keys to Parenting Children with ADHD, and A New Understanding of ADHD in Children and Adults).

Mayo 26, 2020, 10:18pm

I finished The Women in Black, which I ended up really liking. I went in thinking this was going to be a bunch of women being catty to each other, and/or a funny-but-mournful study of how oppressive women's lives were—kind of a mid-century Aussie Dawn Powell. But it was actually none of that. Rather, it was sweet and funny and quite charming, lightweight but not dumb. And just the thing to read after four fairly serious nonfiction books in a row. This was unexpected (I can't even remember where I got the recommendation) and fun.

Now rereading Iris Murdoch's Under the Net for a little book club action.

Mayo 27, 2020, 3:02pm

I am also reading Under the Net and people, it is so wack!

I am also reading John Lydon's memoir Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs which is surprisingly interesting. It was in my bedside stack which I am pleased to say now looks like a dent has been made in it.

Editado: Mayo 28, 2020, 5:31am

>237 lisapeet: Lisa as you have been my book buddy for a while,Women in Black must be my next read. " it was sweet and funny and quite charming, lightweight but not dumb." sounds like just the ticket for me now.
And like you, enjoyed '“The book I most often give as a gift to cheer people up.” —Hilary Mantel' So, thx! :)

Editado: Mayo 28, 2020, 5:36am

>229 Pat_D: oh yes, and just keep continuing through to her last one, which I have already read twice!! Then read The Man on a Donkey a book Mantel recommends, about the 'Pilgrimage' the rebellion to stop the reformation in Britain. Definitely shows how much and why Cromwell was hated among the populace. Its almost like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead - What is happening is in the background, and upfront is how everyone envisions and reacts to it.

Mayo 28, 2020, 5:33am

DG check your LT mail please

Mayo 28, 2020, 10:33am

>239 cindydavid4: I think you would like it. Short and fun.

I'm definitely interested in The Man on a Donkey, though I wish my library had it to lend. You can read it in the library itself, but a) it's not open and b) I don't think I'm going to keep coming back to read 800 pages, much as spending that much time in the NYPL reading room sounds lovely. has it in two volumes, but I think I'm going to hold off buying anything much for a while. Perhaps all this attention will convince them to reissue it.

Mayo 28, 2020, 11:05am

The book actually comes in two volumes at least the one from 2008. I can send you mine if you'd like, I think Im done reading it for a while!

Mayo 28, 2020, 6:36pm

>243 cindydavid4: Thanks, Cindy—probably no need to, since I have no idea when I'd ever get to them. Next on my agenda are a reread of the second Hilary Mantel and a first-time read of the last, plus I have a bunch of other stuff lined up—a few gifts I've gotten lately that are calling and calling me in their plaintive little book voices. One of my best friends just sent me the Maira Kalman illustrated Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and I'm all hummuna hummuna over it as we speak.

Mayo 28, 2020, 8:12pm

huh, Ive heard of that like forever. but never read it. Let me know what you think

Mayo 29, 2020, 11:40am

I have it too, Lisa, it's so beautiful. Some afternoons I just sit and look through it. I read it ages ago but I am due for a re-read.

Mayo 29, 2020, 12:28pm

I remember... I was swooning over it at your house. It's just lovely.

As is this video with Maira Kalman playing Toklas.

Jun 2, 2020, 11:02am

Under the Net is kuh-razy. Lisa, have you gotten to the part about the dog??

did I mention I read two books by Cherie Dimaline Empire of Wild and Marrowbones, her YA fiction. I really like how she incorporates fantasy/dystopia with a First Nations narrator but the books weren't really my thing. Mir, have you read these? I can send to you.

I am enjoying Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs - its very well written and Lydon does not suffer fools, let's just say. I started Margot Livesey's forthcoming The Boy in the Field. I'll pretty much follow that woman anywhere.

Jun 2, 2020, 11:27am

>248 laurenbufferd: This is a reread for me, so I remember the part about the dog in a vague way... looking forward to getting to it again, though. There's a lot I'm appreciating much more, both about the story and in the writing, this time around.

Jun 2, 2020, 3:22pm

I have both Lauren, no need. YA isn't my thing as a rule but I like her perspective so I'll keep reading. But speaking of which, I'm reading Empire of Wild currently.

The dog in Under the Net is a real treat.

Editado: Jun 4, 2020, 10:31pm

Finished upright women wanted, its actually a YA (at least it reads that way) and I thought the concept Librarians in the wild west whose task is to distrubute books approved by the government to the small towns. But then its not. Interesting but I wanted to slap the narrator a few times

Now reading The Mothers which has hooked me and I didn't come back up for air till mid way through. A short book but very well written. She apparently has anew one vanishing half that looks very interesting. The review here has convinced me that I must read it (tho beware, lots of spoilers)

Jun 10, 2020, 12:44pm

I enjoyed Under the Net so much more the second time around. And I use the word enjoyed, rather than liked, on purpose—it was a thoroughly fun read and I did like it, but I'm also fascinated by Murdoch's talents for: plotting (especially set pieces), description, evoking characters (I won't say character development because most of them don't develop anywhere, but she certainly can set them up), and one of the best dog/human relationships I've read in a while. You could say that's actually the central love story, since Murdoch's human affairs aren't particularly touching—think Shakespeare's characters all running around in the woods hooking up with the wrong people (thanks, Iris Murdoch Fan Girls Book Club, for that image). And the nominal sex is awful. But everything else is pretty wonderful, and it's interesting to see how Murdoch pieces all together. The ending is more uplifting than I remembered, too, and sweeter in general.

Though speaking of pacing, one thing that I get a kick out of is the way she interjects these little philosophical treatises into the narrative. It reminds me, if Ms. Murdoch will beg my pardon, of the way middling erotica is set up: you have the story line, and then the doorbell rings and it's the plumber, which sets the scene so everyone can have sex, and then they're done and the rest of the story goes ahead until there's another bit set up for the express purpose of more sex—or in Murdoch's case, more philosophical discussion—etc. It's quite charming.

And now for something completely different, my hold of N.K. Jemisin's The City We Became came in, so that's what I'm reading next.

Editado: Jun 10, 2020, 3:06pm

Mothers ended up to be really disappointing, the ending just fell apart. However The authors new one Vanishing Half looks really interesting tho and very timely

Finished The Poppy War, and oh my god I can hardly wait for tomorrows book group to discuss this! Its about the Sino Japanese war, but in a fantastical world. (sorta like Guy Gabrial Kay) Warning - there is very graphic details of Japanese atrocities, but I found i was able to skim those since they are in one particular section of the book. If you like fantasy, this is one of the best I have ever read

Lisa I am very interested in that Jemisin book, let me know what you thing

Jun 11, 2020, 12:08pm

What Lisa said about Under the Net.

Rotten: No Irish, no Blacks, No Dogs was really a fantastic read and such a fun surprise. He is super opinionated about everything and had loads of bones to pick but he is also unrelentingly tender about his own parents and not afraid to share the regrets he does have. I don't have a dog in the hunt about the origins of punk or whether the Pistols learned it all from Johnny Thunder or the New York Dolls or whatever but I thoroughly enjoyed reading about it. I also liked that there were segments written by others included in the book - a childhood friend, some of the other Pistols, journalist Caroline Coon, Chrissie Hynde - and sometimes their memories or recollections completely conflict with Lydon's.

I'd forgotten that Lydon married Ari Up's (the Slits) mother Nora so that was interesting. She was significantly older than him - he and Ari were probably only a few years apart.

Did everyone hate Nancy Spungeon? It seems so.

I also read Margot Livesey's newest book The Boy in the Field which was so controlled as to be a bit slight. Its beautiful but there's not enough there there. I want more from her.

Cindy, I just bought The Vanishing Half for Mr Fufferd. I'm very interested in reading it too.

I just cracked open All Over Ireland.

Jun 13, 2020, 12:04pm

I'm a couple of chapters into The City We Became and not loving it. It sounds like something I'd really enjoy, but the total lack of character development and any kind of subplot besides the action is a bit alienating. I'll give it another chapter or two and then bail if I don't like it any better. 464 pages is too many to feel this lukewarm about a book... though I will say the all-action pacing makes it a speedy read.

Jun 14, 2020, 11:38am

I ditched The City We Became. By all accounts this should have been up my alley—NYC-centric, a vaguely punk vibe, good vs. evil—but the lack of character development and nonstop manic pacing just didn't work for me. Very cool idea, though.

Not sure what's up next, so I'm just catching up on New Yorkers.

Jun 15, 2020, 4:42pm

I completely agree with you on The City We Became. I only finished it because it was given to me by a friend and I'm a big Jemisin fan. I'll probably read the next one in the trio, when it comes out, but that one I'lll ditch if it doesn't get better. It really is too bad. As Lisa says, it's a cool concept.

I had a weekend of reading, rare in my life. I read Writers and Lovers, Saudade by Suneeta Peres da Costa (super short and more of a sketch than a novel), and, topically The Mothers. I agree that the novel doesn't really come together and I wondered at her decision to stay with Audrey rather than Nadia at the end, but there was lots to like in the novel. Plus it was engrossing, which counts for a lot these days.

Now I'm reading Winter by Ali Smith.

Editado: Jun 18, 2020, 12:07pm

I wish I had the Ali Smith gene but I just don't.

Mir, I think you weren't crazy about Empire of Wild, is that right? To me, it felt stuck between a YA and something else - the tone never seemed quite right. But I thought it was interesting and a very different read for me.

The stories All Over Ireland were all over the place. some felt very amateurish and it was pretty remarkable how much better the Toibin and the Lucy Caldwell were than the others in the collection.

I am reading the Sandy Denny biography I've always Kept a Unicorn which is workmanlike but solid and of great interest to a solid Sandy fan like myself. I am also reading Independence Square which quite frankly, I am finding a bit of a snooze. I just put about 10 new books on reserve at the library (curbside pickup only).

Jun 18, 2020, 3:37pm

starless sea third time I tried and can now say that its growing on me

Jun 20, 2020, 6:58pm

Just finished up Bryan Washington's Lot, a 100% random pick—it was one of the books I had read 3/4 of when I was judging LJ's Best Books last year, and I saw it sitting on the shelf the other day and remembered that it had been really good, so why not finish it. And then when I started reading I decided I might as well start over from the beginning, since I didn't remember the part I'd read all that well—the downside of having to read books for a deadline is that you have to pound them.

I'm glad I did because it's a great collection, just what I was in the mood for, a vivid and affecting window onto a place and population I wasn't well acquainted with before. While I read fiction for many reasons, one of them is to visit lives unlike my own—when it's done well it's like traveling, eye-opening and engaging. Washington's writing swings from rough to smooth, bluff to sweet (but never maudlin, no matter how harsh a picture he's painting), with a great dose of compassion floating beneath the surface at all times. Very good work—unpredictable, satisfying, kind.

My real life book club has decided to go ahead with a Zoom meeting in a couple of weeks, so I guess I'll go back to the bell hooks (All About Love) that we had planned to talk about when Covid hit—though I wasn't super feeling it when I started it back in March. That might be a result of my expectations, but it feels heavy handed to me… maybe I'll have a fresh take on it now. I think I'm about halfway through.

Jun 23, 2020, 10:45am

I totally 'heart' Bryan Washington. My review from whenever it was.

Jun 23, 2020, 10:59pm

A collection of short stories River Dogs by Robert Olmstread I just love this author's works especially after reading Cole Black Horse.

Editado: Jun 25, 2020, 11:21am

I read two mysteries Nine Lessons which was pleasing but had a really preposterous crime and The Lady in the Lake. I think that might have been my first Laura Lippman and it was surprisingly good - great sense of Baltimore in the 60s, I loved that the protagonist was Jewish and although sometimes it veered into silliness, I thought the shifting POV was very cool.

Someone left Walzing the Cat in the FLL and I was a fan of Cowboys are my Weakness way back in the 80s, so...………..

Editado: Jul 4, 2020, 12:05am

Vanishing Half is fantastic ! A timely book about race, acceptance, identity, family I'd love to read this with my RL book group. I was a little worried because her earlier work Mothers started out great then fell apart for me at the end. Neednt have worried here - this book was a page turner, This one was a page turner. Eager for her next book

Editado: Jul 4, 2020, 6:04pm

I finally finished bell hooks's All About Love: New Visions for a long-delayed book club meeting, which we ended up doing via Zoom. I was pretty much the only person out of all of us who didn't care much for it, which makes me think I'm probably the wrong audience. I don't care for self help literature much (OK, at all), and I was hoping for something a bit more political. Some of her statements, especially around greed, rang really false, though of course I can't speak to her interpretation of her own experience and I realize she was looking at this through a relationship lens rather than a socioeconomic one. But the places where she separated out greed from poverty really tossed me out of the mix. I did like the chapter on loss and grieving, where she talked about how mourning long and hard is an appropriate reflection of the love you felt for someone:
Love knows no shame. To be loving is to be open to grief, to be touched by sorrow, even sorrow that is unending. The way we grieve is informed by whether we know love. Since loving lets us let go of so much fear, it also guides our grief. When we lose someone we love, we can grieve without shame.

That's something I think about a lot of the time these days—I'm still very much immersed in sadness for all my loved ones I lost in the past year, and I don't really feel like I should be "getting over it." It actually feels appropriate and right that I'm this sad (and to be clear, I'm not depressed—feeling this way isn't keeping me from being productive and involved in life, or at least as involved as I can be in a lockdown). So I feel clear on that, but it's always reassuring to hear the sentiment from someone else. She had some interesting stuff to say about love and power, also, but again—wrong book for me just now. I just wasn't in the mood.

So now I'm reading John M. Barry's The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History, for which I'm very much in the mood. He does the panoramic deep history thing, which I like a lot, so I'm learning something about the history of medical education in the 18th and 19th centuries, how viruses work, and the clamped-down communications system in the U.S. around the first World War. Interesting stuff.

My library hold of The Selected Letters of Ralph Ellison just came in, but I might let that go for one more hold cycle—it's 1,000 words, and between my current book and Iris Murdoch's The Bell, which should be showing up in my mailbox any day, that might be plenty to have lined up. Also Penguin Random House is doing a two-month read-along of Ron Chernow's Alexander Hamilton, and I do have the book—and 15 pages at a shot sounds like a reasonable way to do it. (My husband and I finally saw Hamilton last night, the streamed version of it. That was fun, and it was good to see that it actually lived up to all the hype. I can see why people want to see it a few times, too—there's SO much there, between the songs and the choreography and the sets. We split a set of earbuds to hear the lyrics better, which I think really helped.)

Editado: Jul 5, 2020, 11:11pm

Lisapeet-I started Lot a few months back because of all of the excitement and I think it was the first book I told myself I could put down. We’re all different readers as you know and maybe it just wasn’t right for my head at the time and if I return to it at some point I’ll like it a lot more. I found the grittiness so affected and same just really bothered me. I know Washington comes from that hood but I just couldn’t stay with it.
I started reading What we talk about when we talk about Anne Frank by Nathan englander. First time around I really disliked the collection and having read three of his books couldn’t understand why he got so much praise. But this time-at least with the title story I found it very moving. I haven’t read the Carver inspiration in years so I have to get back to it. When I started that first story I was grinding my teeth because the use of Anne Frank’s name in the title struck me as being very crass and exploitative. Can’t writers leave the poor girl alone! But I see why he did what he did,still feel that using that story for the title of the book was somewhat dishonourable. Makes me uneasy. I’m sure he sold more books because of that title.

Finally Lisa P any new great short fiction passed by your desk lately?

Editado: Jul 6, 2020, 11:22pm

"Also Penguin Random House is doing a two-month read-along of Ron Chernow's Alexander Hamilton, and I do have the book... "

Thanks so much for this, Lisa. I'm not a big fan of non-fiction, but Chernow's bio of Hamilton isn't just inspirational. It corrects so much. I, too, have the HC and will be following along.

Finishing up Maggie O'Farrell's Hamnet which is not your ordinary reimagining and is a lovely read (linking to the U.K. cover that I have that's even prettier in person).

Editado: Jul 7, 2020, 11:09am

Pat D, I want to read that.

The new Yaa Gyasi is fantastic! I was iffy on Homegoing - it was interesting, but man it tried so hard, especially at the end. It almost hurt to read it . But Transcendent Kingdom is superb and very different. The novel is about a Ghanaian family in Huntsville Al and the older daughter who is pursuing a Ph.d in neuroscience at Stanford. When she moves her clinically depressed mother to California, she begins to crave the comfort of the evangelical church she grew up in and the novel becomes a story of her journey from Alabama to California, the structure of the church and the unanswered questions that science offers. Such rich topics and Gyasi absolutely rises to the occasion. A much more mature work.

Jul 7, 2020, 3:29pm

>266 alans: alans, I so totally agree with you. several years ago I read a book called 'the boy who loved Anne Frank" Tje premise is that Peter is still living and wants to protect her name. He is horrified by the way the diary has been represented as well as the depiction of the family in the movie. You might like it

Jul 7, 2020, 3:35pm

>267 Pat_D: Pat I have Hamnet coming to my doorstep soon. And I am very interested in Transcendent Kingdom, thats for the rec

Thinking I also should be reading the Chernow; I have now watched Hamilton the movie 3 times and may need to again . Ive been putting it off but this might be a good time for me as well

Jul 7, 2020, 7:48pm

It's a really good read, Cindy.

Jul 8, 2020, 11:21pm

Thanks Cindy.

Editado: Jul 13, 2020, 7:37am

>266 alans: I haven't been reading a lot of short stories this year, alan—I guess I'll probably ramp that up in the fall. Plus I'm still trying to figure out what my reading time is now—used to be those two hours on the subway, but now time is weird and amorphous and I have to fight not to let work seep osmotically into the hours before and after my regular day (plus I've had to prioritize 45 minutes of walking every morning or else bounce off the walls the rest of the day). But have you seen the NYT's Decameron Project?—30 new short stories by contemporary writers. That's going to be my project for the next couple of weeks, I think... we should check in and compare notes. Is there a short story thread here? We could meet over there and revive that.

ETA: I guess there isn't one. If anyone's interested we could start one up, so as not to bore the folks who don't like short fiction.

I spent the weekend reading Iris Murdoch's The Bell, which is just SO propulsive without leaning on cliffhangers or mysteries. I've never binge-watched a series, but I imagine it would be something like reading this.

Jul 13, 2020, 8:53am

Hi Lisa,yes I did see The Decameron Project-quite remarkable on the paper’s part. Great for them. Unfortunately i don’t have a paper copy and I don’t know how long it will remain online. Will try and start reading today.

Jul 13, 2020, 11:07am

Just found a paper copy of the times!! Used to subscribe but it was impossible to keep up.

Editado: Jul 13, 2020, 12:52pm

>273 lisapeet: But have you seen the NYT's Decameron Project?—30 new short stories by contemporary writers. That's going to be my project for the next couple of weeks, I think... we should check in and compare notes. Is there a short story thread here? We could meet over there and revive that.

I have put that aside till I finish my current read, because I really want to just focus m time on those stories. Just reading through the list of writers is making my heart beat fast!

Still on my reread of Night Circus and am feeling like I read this for the first time. Soooo good.

Editado: Jul 13, 2020, 8:35pm

Lisap-the most highly acclaimed new collection around here is How to Pronounce Knife. I think the author is of Sri Lankan background. I just downloaded a copy. Seems like her work has been published in all the heavy hitters like Paris Review and there is a very favourable review from Library Journal. Do other people at work cover the short fiction beat? I’m wondering if this was written by you.
We have been put on this earth to devour short story collections.

Jul 15, 2020, 12:59am

I have started to read book # 6 related to my Memory Loop Action Art Project.

This time is a book by the Italian writer Italo Calvino. It's the first time that I am reading an Italian author translated in English (Italian is my first language). Just to add more languages into the mix, so far he has quoted Polish. Who knows what's coming next.

This is not your mainstream read. In fact it may be a rather frustrating read. Its plot is unusual and we, the readers, seem to be the main characters…something that is circling back to my art project.

Original title: "Se una notte una notte d'inverno un viaggiatore"

English title: "If on a winter night a traveler"

Editado: Jul 15, 2020, 7:23am

>275 alans: I don't have a paper copy, and doubt I can get hold of one—even though my husband works for the NYT. Though it's not like he's going into the office and can pick me up one. Guess I'd best get reading.

>277 alans: I tried to get an e-galley of that, but Little, Brown is notoriously mingy about giving those out. At least to me, even though I said I was interested in taking a look for LJ's Best Books, because I'm sure it'll be a contender. If it does get into the running, I'll have to get the Reviews editor to email them on my behalf. I'm one of the main folks on staff there who reviews short stories, but we have hundreds of outside reviewers. If they relied on me they'd be seriously screwed, since reviews are actually outside the purview of my real job and I'm almost always running late when I have one.

>278 TigerBetty: What's your art project about? Calvino seems like he'd lend himself well to multidisciplinary work.

I finished Iris Murdoch's The Bell, which I liked very much. The book was such a good balance of plot and detail, with some non-trite ruminations on character, religion, sexuality, and power imbalances (I was going to just say relationships, but let's call 'em as Murdoch saw 'em). Does anyone write books like Murdoch's any more? They're very particularly English, in a way, but that's not what I'm talking about... more that sort of plotty setup that makes you think it's going to be a murder mystery (manor house, nuns, people sneaking around at night, a planned great ceremonial unveiling with counter-plotting behind it, etc.). The whole effect was very propulsive, and the setting kept me Googling photos of English country houses, which is never a bad thing. Good fun without being silly at all.

Still reading both The Great Influenza and Alexander Hamilton (which I'm far behind the weekly reading on, and can catch up now), but I've also started The Baddest Bitch in the Room, since I'm interviewing Sophia Chang for Bloom next week. That one's a little out of my usual orbit, only because while I love all sorts of popular music, hip-hop is not a genre I've listened to much. Nothing against it, just out of my musical network a bit. But since she's a major hip-hop impresario—so the jacket copy says, at least—I'm going to try and up my hip-hop 101 listening a bit. Any suggestions are welcome.

Jul 15, 2020, 5:35pm

Reading Daughter of Time, Ive read her books before but for some reason never read this. Saw it at a bookstore going out of business (sob!) and picked i up along with several others. Really really liking it, probably because of reading Sunne in Splendour
Interesting that Tey was on to this mystery several decades previous.

Jul 17, 2020, 5:59am

I would love to have a short story thread! I'll join if you'll set it up. Crazy busy mom excuses :")

Jul 17, 2020, 12:23pm

tigerbetty, I love Calvino and that was my first. Just thinking about it makes me want to dig in again.

I've been on a great novel run - Like lisa, I read The Bell which I loved - Murdoch has a way of making the most prosaic thing seem magical and this had so many elements that are my jam - a wise abbess, a country house, lake swimming, madrigals and just enough bad behavior. Delicious. I loved Brit Bennet's The Vanishing Half which is influenced by Larsen's Passing and Morrison's Tar Baby but also it's own thing. One tiny quibble which I wish an editor had plucked out but I'm not sure anyone would have noticed but me - a third person reference to a bystander in a hospital is identified as Jewish without any other information. In a novel where people are literally not what they appear to be, this seemed pretty clunky.

I am currently reading Deirdre Madden's Molly Fox's Birthday which is a lovely novel about a playwright and an actress that takes place in Dublin with just a bit of the Troubles as background and The Age of Comfort which is about 18th century developments in architecture, furniture design and (best of all) clothing which led to our ideas of modern comfort (think sofas and flush toilets)

Jul 17, 2020, 1:10pm

>282 laurenbufferd: Oh gosh I've had Molly Fox's Birthday on the shelf for something like ten years. I need to really up my reading-off-the-shelf game, but it's hard when there's so much catching my eye (Lauren, part of this is your fault—I just got the Gyasi and it looks really good).

The Baddest Bitch in the Room is turning out to be a lot of fun. Anyone who changed the course of her life at age 20 by walking up to Joey Ramone in a club and starting a conversation can be a friend of mine (and I'm totally stoked that I'm interviewing her).

I've added a Short Story thread. Want to start out talking about stuff from the NYT Decameron collection? That will motivate me to read it sooner than later... though really, anything short-fiction-wise goes.

Editado: Jul 17, 2020, 4:37pm

I'm reading The Plot Against America which is a real change of pace from the Murdoch. Scary and relevant. The first Roth I've read in many years.

I don't think the book links work on my Fire tablet.

Jul 17, 2020, 9:56pm

Finished the Tey and really liked it, however I'd not recommend it to anyone who didn't have a passing command of that time period in british history, I was having trouble keeping track of names. Still it was a nice break from the world now. Looking for something else to keep me away from now - Been wanting to read the land beyond the sea but think i'll go for Tarr queen of swords which will refresh my memory of that time before I get into that tome!

Jul 17, 2020, 9:57pm

Finished the Tey and really liked it, however I'd not recommend it to anyone who didn't have a passing command of that time period in british history, I was having trouble keeping track of names. Still it was a nice break from the world now. Looking for something else to keep me away from now - Been wanting to read the land beyond the sea but think i'll go for queen of swords which will refresh my memory of that time before I get into that tome!

Jul 17, 2020, 11:37pm

>laurenbuffered You should. I am at page # 77 and I want to read it from the beginning already! :)

Editado: Jul 18, 2020, 12:25am

>277 alans: Alans Sorry I have made a mistake. It's not easy to navigate this forum.

Jul 18, 2020, 12:12am

Sorry I am new to this site and I am still figuring out how it works. I guess I sent my answer to a different reader. I need to find it I guess I am lost in this sea of posts.

Jul 18, 2020, 12:19am

>279 lisapeet: lisapeet My project is about looking for a book in a free little library, read it, write a letter to the next reader, invite the reader to do the same, put the letter inside the book and re-shelve it in the FLL where I found it. The goal is to collect several letters related to a specific book to create a new book if you like and share it with a pop-up exhibition. The structure of this project is a bit similar to the structure of Calvino's novel...I started this project last January and so far it has been a very interesting journey. You may check my website page:

and blog:

Editado: Jul 18, 2020, 8:31am

Betty Welcome!! I love that idea; we have a little library down the block, I'll start doing that with the books that I put in

Love your blog!!

Let us know if you have questions, it is a bit hard to navigate, we can help

What are you reading?

Editado: Jul 18, 2020, 10:53pm

Many years ago I tried to read The Bell and it just wasn’t the right time. I knew a professor of philosophy who had done his PhD at Cambridge in the sixties. He was crazy about Murdoch and had been working on a book about her for years. When I told him about my experience with The Bell he said during his student days it was the novel that all of the gay students passed along.

Jul 19, 2020, 4:45pm

I'll take all the Murdoch!

Karen, I really liked The Plot Against America even though I have a very fraught relationship with Philip Roth. But it's very timely and super creepy. And plausible. The HBO adaptation is very good.
I have had Cloudsplitter on my shelf for ever and I started it this morning.
tigerbetty, I love your project! I have a FLL and I'm going to start leaving notes in the books.

Editado: Jul 19, 2020, 6:41pm

Hi CindyDavid4,

Thank you! It's great that you are planning to start this process at your little library. Good luck!

I am reading ML book #6 = "If on a winter's night a traveler" by Italo Calvino

What about you?

Editado: Jul 19, 2020, 6:46pm

Sorry another mistake. I wish the developer of this platform would make the forum less confusing and more user friendly. It's hard to figure out where my replies end up and I am getting the recipients mixed up...It's like the book I am reading now.

Jul 20, 2020, 2:07am

The ebook I'm currently reading is one of my favorite authors, Pearl S. Buck's Dragon Seed about the Japanese invasion of China during WWII. I'm also listening to a WWII audiobook, The Thief of Auschwitz; hoping something will happen as I'm halfway finished and I'm still waiting to find a good, solid plot!

Jul 20, 2020, 12:05pm

I finished Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell which I enjoyed. It's a quiet re-imagining based upon a thesis she doesn't reveal until the very end. It's also a poignant study of familial loss specific to a time when there was much more mystery and unknown scientific facts surrounding death. It's no earth-shattering read, just a touching, sad, and unique possibility that may have informed the famous play.

I'm half-way through Arthur Conan Doyle's "A Study in Scarlet" which introduces everything Sherlock Holmes (I did not know Dr. Watson suffered from PTSD due to the Afghan wars in the late 1800's), and I'm a couple days behind in the Penguin Read-A-Thon of Alexander Hamilton. It's a reread for me, though, so I'm not fussed about that.

I also have a Joseph O'Connor I'm anxious to start. So much to read, so little time.

Jul 22, 2020, 7:23am

Are we OK if I start a new page for this? It's loading slowly, and LT has that little hint at the bottom that it's time to roll the topic over.

Sep 28, 2020, 12:05am

>298 lisapeet: sure fine by me
Este tema fue continuado por The Eternal Question: What Are You Reading? 7.