Anki's 2021 Reading and Book Thoughts

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Anki's 2021 Reading and Book Thoughts

1shadrach_anki
Editado: Feb 24, 5:36pm

I'm Anki, and I live in New Hampshire. This is my fifth year in Club Read; I am looking forward to reading and talking books with everyone again!

My reading tends to gravitate toward genre fiction (fantasy, science fiction, and mystery) and manga/graphic novels, with a sprinkling of non-fiction works over the year. In terms of format, about half my reading is physical books, and the other half is some split of ebooks and audiobooks.

When it comes to my reading goals for 2021, I want to continue reading books that I own, and I really want to cut back on the number of books I buy. Things got, ah, rather out of hand in the latter half of 2020 in terms of book acquisitions, and as a result my owned and unread books list is currently extra overwhelming. I am not typically the sort of person who makes extensive and detailed reading plans, mostly because I have found that when I do make lists of that sort, I am actually making a list of books I won't be reading any time soon. That said, 2021 is shaping up to be the Year of the Buddy Reads, which means...well, it means I have made lists of books I am going to be trying to read each month. Rather ambitious lists, particularly for the beginning of the year. We'll see how it actually ends up playing out.

Currently Reading
Saints: The Standard of Truth by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
One Corpse Too Many by Ellis Peters
Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart
Upstairs at the White House by J. B. West

----
2021 Reading by the Numbers

OWNERSHIP
   Owned: 15
   Borrowed:

FORMAT
   Print: 7
   Ebook: 4
   Audio: 4

CATEGORY
   Fiction: 10
   Non-fiction: 2
   Comics: 3

Total Books Read: 15

2shadrach_anki
Editado: Dic 31, 2020, 12:42am

Last Year (2020) by the Numbers

OWNERSHIP
   Owned: 157 (98%)
   Borrowed: 3 (2%)

FORMAT
   Print: 82 (51%)
   Ebook: 37 (23%)
   Audio: 41 (26%)

CATEGORY
   Fiction: 93 (58%)
   Non-fiction: 13 (8%)
   Comics: 54 (34%)

Rereads: 43 (27%)

Total Books Read: 160

I feel like 2020 was something of an aberration in terms of owned books versus borrowed books read. I know I have said I want to continue to read books I own, but I'm actually hoping 2021 is more in the 70/30 or 60/40 range.

3shadrach_anki
Editado: Feb 24, 5:37pm

Books Read January - March
* indicates a reread

January
   1. Maison Ikkoku Collector's Edition, Vol. 2 by Rumiko Takahashi (comic, print, owned)
   2. French Polished Murder by Elise Hyatt (fiction, ebook, owned)
   3. The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare (play, print, owned)
   4. Madam, Will You Talk? by Mary Stewart (fiction, ebook, owned)
   5. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (fiction, print/audio, owned/borrowed)
   6. The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien (fiction, print/audio, owned) *
   7. Witch Hat Atelier, Vol. 7 by Kamome Shirahama (comic, print, owned)
   8. The Warden by Anthony Trollope (fiction, ebook, owned)

February
   1. Her Caprice by Keira Dominguez (fiction, ebook, owned)
   2. Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson (fiction, print, owned)
   3. Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops by Shaun Bythell (non-fiction, print, owned)
   4. The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien (fiction, print/audio, owned) *
   5. White Sand, Volume 3 by Brandon Sanderson (comic, print, owned)
   6. All the Money in the World by Laura Vanderkam (non-fiction, print, owned)
   7. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (fiction, print/audio, owned)

March
   1.

4shadrach_anki
Dic 31, 2020, 12:34am

Books Read April - June
* indicates a reread

5shadrach_anki
Dic 31, 2020, 12:35am

Books Read July - September
* indicates a reread

6shadrach_anki
Dic 31, 2020, 12:35am

Books Read October - December
* indicates a reread

7shadrach_anki
Ene 2, 2:10am



Maison Ikkoku Collector's Edition, Vol. 2 by Rumiko Takahashi
(manga, print, owned)

It seems to be something of a habit of mine to start off a new reading year with a volume or two of manga, at least in part because it provides a more or less immediate sense of accomplishment. This is a classic manga series that I have been wanting to read for quite a while, but the English translations have been difficult to come by. I'm really glad that Viz is doing a new release, because it means I can finally read the series.

8dchaikin
Ene 2, 7:55am

Happy 2021 Anki. I’m still interested in Manga, even if my last attempt didn’t work out.

9shadrach_anki
Ene 2, 9:38am

>8 dchaikin: Happy 2021 to you as well, Dan! I will likely be posting about a fair amount of manga this year, so hopefully something in there catches your interest. Though with this year also being my Year of the Buddy Reads, things might wind up changing. None of those buddy reads are for manga, after all.

10markon
Ene 3, 10:11am

Happy 2021! Hope you have a good reading year.

11shadrach_anki
Ene 3, 5:16pm



French Polished Murder by Elise Hyatt
(fiction, ebook, owned)

The continuing adventures of Dyce Dare, furniture refinisher and amateur sleuth. I particularly liked the fact that the mystery in this one starts out with an old letter found inside a piano, that leads to a missing person case from the 1920s (which, of course, turns out to be murder). So many cozy mysteries seem to focus on more...immediate murders, which may or may not make a whole lot of sense if you think about it for too long, so it was a nice change of pace to have the amateur sleuth essentially investigating a cold case.

I have one more book in this series, and I am looking forward to reading it.

12sallypursell
Ene 5, 10:48pm

Happy New Year, Anki, just making my first trip around for the year, and dropping off a star. Good reading!

13shadrach_anki
Ene 10, 11:17pm



The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
(play, print, owned)

My local book group is still meeting, but some things have changed: we're meeting via Zoom, we've added in bookish topic discussions every other month, and the books we are choosing are all works found in the public domain. Our January title is this Shakespeare play, which I do not remember ever reading before. I found it to be delightfully absurd, and I am looking forward to our group discussion.

While I do have the Norton Shakespeare on my shelves, I picked up this No Fear Shakespeare edition of the play as a more portable copy of the text. I kept my focus on the left-hand pages (original text) as much as possible, but I appreciated having the modern language version available if I ever found myself confused (or just wanting to make sure I caught all the nuance bits). Another thing I added to my collection and referenced while reading play this was Asimov's Guide to Shakespeare, and I found it quite useful and informative. I want to read up the section on As You Like It, which I read back in November, and I plan to keep it handy as I explore more of Shakespeare's plays.

14baswood
Ene 12, 5:51am

>13 shadrach_anki: While I was looking at various editions of the Shakespeare plays I came across the No Fear editions and didn't realise that they were modern translations alongside the original text - what a good idea.

Yes The Comedy of Errors is delightfully absurd.

15shadrach_anki
Ene 12, 11:03am

>14 baswood: I found it to be really helpful, and I really liked how they did the layout as well. It's very clear which side is the original text and which is the modern translation (every page is labeled). The modern translation side also has the occasional explanatory note, usually (at least for this play) regarding wordplay nuances.

16dchaikin
Ene 15, 4:19pm

>13 shadrach_anki: fun play. An interesting about the No Fear method. I might want to try that some time.

17shadrach_anki
Editado: Ene 20, 12:13pm

One downside to having a lot of concurrent buddy reads is that it takes a whole lot longer to finish anything that I'm reading. And I am discovering that I get a bit antsy if I am not regularly finishing books, even though I know that reading is not a race or any other sort of competition, and even if I am enjoying all the books I am reading (which I am). So, time for some thoughts on my current active reads, since I have so many of them going.

Saints: The Standard of Truth - I am a little over half-way through this volume of history. Mostly I read this on Sundays, averaging about a chapter a week. I could probably read it more quickly, but I always seem to struggle with nonfiction, even of the more narrative variety. And this book references a lot of different people that I have varying degrees of familiarity with.

Rhythm of War - Loving the latest installment of the Stormlight Archive, but I did not expect to take quite so long reading it. There were large gaps in my reading around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year, however, and then I entered buddy read territory. Currently just over the halfway point in the book.

The Warden - My first introduction to Anthony Trollope, and one of the aforementioned buddy reads. I'm in a group on Instagram that plans to read all the Barsetshire Chronicles in 2021. I'm about a third of the way into this one, and I am reading it on my Kindle.

The Fellowship of the Ring - This one is a reread, and also part of an Instagram buddy read. Currently paused at the Council of Elrond. I forgot how much more competent Merry and Pippin are in the book. I have this in print and in audio, and I am doing a combination read.

All the Money in the World - Third buddy read for January, part of the Everyday Reading book club. Nonfiction self-help type book, so it doesn't exactly have the most compelling narrative. I'm enjoying it, and it definitely brings up things to think about, but I still have to remind myself to read it.

The Moonstone - This is only the second work by Wilkie Collins that I've read (the first being A House to Let back in December, and I don't know if that quite counts the same way, since that was a collaborative work). I'm in the Second Period, the Discovery of the Truth. Miss Clack bears an unfavorable resemblance to Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice, and I find myself regularly rolling my eyes as I listen to and read her narrative. This is a buddy read for the Shire Book Club on Instagram.

Madam, Will You Talk? - Last week I decided all my reading felt too "same-y" so naturally the right thing to do was to start one of the other buddy read titles I had waiting (this is for the Mary Stewart Fan Club on Instagram). It has the advantage of being set in the real world at a much more contemporary time than anything else I am reading, and the overall pace of the story is just faster.

I still have four other titles I "should" be reading this month, and six or seven I am looking forward to in February. This is probably the most planned my reading has been since I was in school, and I have mixed feelings about it. There's got to be some sort of middle ground I can reach.

18dchaikin
Ene 20, 1:26pm

It’s cool to see all the books you are reading and your thoughts in progress. Wish you well. They all sound good.

19jjmcgaffey
Ene 20, 4:32pm

>17 shadrach_anki: Love Mary Stewart...now I want to reread Madam, Will You Talk?. Not right now, though. I'm also reading more books at once than usual - not nearly as many as you are, though, and not buddy reads, just what appealed.

20sallypursell
Ene 20, 10:38pm

>17 shadrach_anki: I'm really looking forward to Rhythm of War, but I'm in a group read right now, too, and with reading others on the side, I'm not yet getting to it.

Also, I am trying to decide if I ought to reread the whole kit and caboodle for maximum understanding. What do you think? Did you have trouble remembering what happened before, or did you do some rereading also?

21shadrach_anki
Ene 21, 11:32am

>20 sallypursell: This time around I only reread Oathbringer, as it is the book in the series I had read the fewest times. I also read the new novella Dawnshard before starting Rhythm of War. That said, my father has been (re)reading the entire series in Spanish, and we work at the same place, so we've been having discussions about the books on our noon walks for over a year, and that helped remind me of various things that happen in the earlier books.

22shadrach_anki
Ene 21, 11:38am



Madam, Will You Talk? by Mary Stewart
(fiction, ebook, owned)

I was this close last night to finishing this, so I stayed up a bit later than I probably should have to do so. I loved all the descriptions of the scenery and also of the driving. The characters were quite a lot of fun, and I am really glad I am part of a group that is reading all of Mary Stewart's novels over the course of the year (more or less in publication order). I may not read every single one, but I'm definitely going to be picking up more of them. I loved all the various literary references sprinkled throughout the book (and not just in the chapter headings).

23markon
Ene 21, 6:15pm

>17 shadrach_anki: There's got to be some sort of middle ground I can reach.

Yeah, I'm having trouble finding that balance too. My solution right now is no more group read or buddy reads until I get caught up.

24shadrach_anki
Ene 21, 8:39pm

>23 markon: In my case, the difficulty is compounded by the fact that most of the buddy reads I am in are multi-month/year long deals. So I'm not exactly looking at a one and done situation. Definitely going to avoid joining any more this year, though. Even if they sound really interesting.

25dchaikin
Ene 22, 1:27pm

I got into this problem in Litsy. Suddenly I’m reading Cather and Shakespeare and other things with groups and they’re fun. But i had stop joining groups (no matter how appealing the NYRB group looks)

26RidgewayGirl
Editado: Ene 22, 2:12pm

>22 shadrach_anki: Wow, they have really changed the cover on this one! This is the cover of the one I read (long, long ago)



Which isn't too bad -- I remember that some of those gothic thrillers went heavy on the flowing nightgown and blue eyeshadow.

27shadrach_anki
Ene 22, 5:47pm

>26 RidgewayGirl: Cover design definitely goes through phases! I think I've seen some of the covers that leaned on the flowing nightgown and blue eyeshadow, which would not suit Charity Selborne at all. Maybe her friend Louise, though....

28shadrach_anki
Ene 22, 5:53pm

>25 dchaikin: I wonder if the photographic element doesn't play some part in it, as basically all the buddy reads I have joined have been on Instagram, which is, like Litsy, photograph-heavy.

29dchaikin
Ene 23, 8:24am

>28 shadrach_anki: not sure. There is something to that.

30shadrach_anki
Ene 25, 1:13pm



The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
(fiction, print, owned)

This was a combo read (print and audio), and I read it as part of the Shire Book Club on Instagram. I really enjoyed it; the multiple narratives and the viewpoints they provide give a different feel to this mystery novel than what you would find in more modern works in the genre. The narrator of the audio version I listened to did a wonderful job of differentiating between the different characters, and I think that really added to my overall reading experience.

At the end, the only real mystery I have left is how (or, more accurately, why) my print copy came into my possession in the first place. Based on my records, I bought it at the local Barnes & Noble back in 2009, and I believe my records to be correct. However, at that point in time, I had not heard of Wilkie Collins, nor had I really read that many classics. So what inspired me to pick up this book?

31NanaCC
Ene 25, 1:46pm

>30 shadrach_anki: I’m curious about your audio version of The Moonstone. I got mine years ago from audible, and it has some weird music accompaniment at the beginning which turned me off listening to it. Does yours have that, and if so does it continue throughout?

32shadrach_anki
Ene 25, 4:22pm

>31 NanaCC: I listened to the Tantor Audio version narrated by James Langton. I don't remember any musical accompaniment; if there was anything at the beginning, it was of very short duration and not at all memorable. My version did have a random "this is the end of the CD" bit at one point, but I chalk that up to poor conversion and editing (digital file borrowed from the library via Hoopla, no CDs involved whatever).

33shadrach_anki
Ene 28, 12:21pm



The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien *
(fiction, audio/print, owned)

It has been years since I read these books, so I was excited to join a read along for the first three months of 2021. I have audio versions for all the books, as well as print editions. Yes, more combo reading, especially since the "unabridged audio recording" is missing the prologue. They included the forward to the second edition (at the end of the book), but the prologue? Apparently they decided "who needs this?" and left it out! I...might be a bit salty about that. Apart from the missing prologue, the audio version are excellent. I really like the fact that Rob Inglis sings all the songs, and I especially liked how he performed Tom Bombadil.

Prior to this reread, my most recent experience with the story was the Peter Jackson films, which are excellent. But they are also adaptations, so there are going to be differences in how things are portrayed, or when certain events are shown (if they are shown at all). I am looking forward to rewatching the films after I finish rereading the books. I'm also looking forward to reading more of the books I own that are set in Middle Earth.

34Julie_in_the_Library
Ene 28, 1:04pm

>33 shadrach_anki: I would also be salty about the exclusion of the prologue, especially from something claiming to be "unabridged." It's not "unabridged" if you cut parts out. I read that bit of your review and I heard Inigo Montoya in my head saying, "you keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means." :-)

I've read LotR, and seen the Peter Jackson movies, but I've never listened to any audio editions. Your mention that the songs are actually sung has me wanting to try one, now. I almost always have a better appreciation for Tolkien's songs and poems when I hear them performed than I do just reading them on the page.

I'm pretty salty, myself, about Jackson's Hobbit trilogy, but one thing from them that I absolutely love is the rendition of Over the Misty Mountains.

I also really love Clamavi de Profundis's versions of Tolkien's Middle Earth poetry in songs.

35shadrach_anki
Ene 28, 2:02pm

>34 Julie_in_the_Library: In doing a bit more research, it appears that the exclusion of the prologue is actually a problem with the digital files I got from Audible. The book on CD is approximately 90 minutes longer, and per at least one Audible review, does contain the prologue. Unfortunately, it appears that all the digital audiobook platforms have the same truncated version of the book. I think the Gaffer (or Gandalf) needs to stare disapprovingly at the audiobook publisher.

Thanks for the link to Clamavi de Profundis! I can see much happy listening in my future. :-)

36Julie_in_the_Library
Ene 28, 2:11pm

>35 shadrach_anki: That's a weird technical glitch. I wonder how it happened. You're welcome for the link - I especially like their version of the Lament for Boromir and the Song of Durin. A lot of their stuff is also available on Spotify if you've got it.

37dchaikin
Ene 28, 4:33pm

>33 shadrach_anki: fun! I loved the Peter Jackson movies when they came out, but tried to watch them recently and lost patience. Oh well.

38shadrach_anki
Ene 28, 8:46pm



Witch Hat Atelier, Vol. 7 by Kamome Shirahama
(manga, print, owned)

So I discovered this manga series last year, and I basically devoured all the volumes that were currently available. This volume was originally slated to be released in English in December, but the release date was changed. I preordered it, and got a call from my local Barnes & Noble that it was available for pickup, so I swung by the store on my way home from work, then spent a delightful 45 minutes once I got home reading it.

The art on this series is absolutely gorgeous, and I love the world-building and the way the magic works, and all the hints of shadows in the story. The characters are fascinating, and I just want to read more.

39shadrach_anki
Ene 29, 9:12pm



The Warden by Anthony Trollope
(fiction, ebook, owned)

I liked this one, but I didn't love it. I am, however, looking forward to continuing the Barsetshire Chronicles (I've heard from multiple sources that this is the weakest story of the lot). While I did not guess the ending, I was able to see the general shape of how things would likely wind up fairly early on, particularly as regarded the bedesmen living at Hiram's Hospital (i.e. things were not going to turn out the way they expected, and ultimately they would be worse off than they were at the start). Overall I would say this is a thought-provoking book, as it touches on so many different things in life, many of which are still pretty relevant today, albeit taking a slightly different form.

It will be interesting to see which characters (if any) show up in later books in the series. I'm looking forward to the group discussion that will be happening on Instagram. There has been some already, but mostly in the vein of impressions while reading.

40NanaCC
Ene 30, 9:17am

>39 shadrach_anki: You have a lot of good reading coming up with the Barsetshire Chronicles, Anki. The first was definitely the weakest. I’ll look forward to your comments.

41avaland
Ene 31, 6:33am

Hi Anki, Finally getting over here to see what you are reading. I agree with the assessment of The Warden being the weakest. I believe we did it in the Classics group at the bookstore (before 2006) and I recommended starting with the 2nd book, Barchester Towers Have you seen the adaptation of the latter starring a young Alan Rickman?

42AlisonY
Ene 31, 6:50am

>39 shadrach_anki: The Warden is the only Trollope I've read and it put my totally off reading anything else by him. I found it incredibly tedious. I know he's much revered in CR, so I really should give him a second chance, but there are so many other books out there...

43japaul22
Ene 31, 7:09am

I don't think of The Warden as "weak", but I consider it more of a prequel or first section or set up of the entire series. I think that, with Trollope, you have to be in it for the long haul concerning pacing! I've read 17 or 18 of his books, so I'm obviously a fan. I would give Barchester Towers a try before you decide if you like his writing.

44shadrach_anki
Ene 31, 10:23pm

>41 avaland: I have not seen that adaptation. I'll have to go look for it, but I will probably wait until after the group I'm doing the Barsetshire Chronicles read along with finishes Barchester Towers. We're reading that one over February and March.

>42 AlisonY: This was my first experience with Trollope, and it did take some time to get used to the style. I think it probably helped that I went into it knowing that it might be a slower read. And having the buddy read has helped me. I could drop commentary in the group chat, and see what other people were thinking about things.

I think probably the most surprising thing was finding I had to look up words that I was sure I already knew, like "hospital" and "ranges" and "close". Because I could tell the words were being used differently than I normally use them. And then I got frustrated with the built-in dictionary on my Kindle, since it was regularly inadequate in providing me with the information I wanted.

>43 japaul22: I can see the need to be in things for the long haul when it comes to pacing. I'm generally pretty good with that (I do have a fondness for massive epic fantasy series, after all, and those most certainly require commitment). I agree that The Warden does feel more like a prequel/setup novel for something larger; I'm keeping that in mind as I move forward. I did like what I saw, and I quite delighted in any number of turns of phrase, so as long as that continues I think I will be quite content. :)

45shadrach_anki
Feb 5, 10:01am



Her Caprice by Keira Dominguez
(fiction, ebook, owned)

I got this as something of an impulse buy last year after several people I follow on Instagram were talking about it and how much they loved it, and I'm so glad that I did! This is a sweet, slightly magical Regency romance with delightful characters and a good amount of adventure. Beatrice Thornton has a secret, one that has the potential to ruin her family should it come to light (Beatrice has a supernatural ability to float into the air, one that has apparently cropped up in the Thornton family at random for generations, and could very well get her thrown into Bedlam, if not burned as a witch. It would also likely destroy the lives and prospects of her older and younger sisters and her parents. While the family is wealthy, they are not titled.). But people will talk if she stays holed up in Dorset, so the plan for her (late!) first Season in London is to make her come across as mousy and unappealing, someone no suitor would consider. A failed Season and a few judiciously spread comments about her health would quell any gossip, allowing her to fall into obscurity back at home. Beatrice accepted this plan as smart and sensible...until she met Captain Henry Gracechurch, a soldier recently returned from war in Spain, who saw past the mousy facade she had erected, and liked what he saw. Suddenly the Plan was no longer acceptable, and Beatrice found herself daring to love and hope for an entirely different life than the one she had expected....

I find I tend to enjoy novels that blend genre elements together. This is primarily a historical romance set in the Regency time period, but it has touches of historical fantasy blended in. I have the not-precisely-a-sequel-but-definitely-set-in-the-same-universe novel waiting on my Kindle; it was actually one of my buddy reads for January, but I wanted to read the books in order, and the timing didn't quite work out with all my other reading. It's definitely high on my list of books to read next, and the author has a third book coming out soon.

46dchaikin
Feb 8, 12:55pm

>44 shadrach_anki: interested in your review and discussion about The Warden. Someday i hope to read some Trollope

47sallypursell
Feb 9, 12:36am

Anki, I read The Warden last year, and I really liked it. I have a review up, if it is worth looking for it in my thread from last year.

48shadrach_anki
Feb 9, 10:49am

>47 sallypursell: I found your review, and I really liked the points you raised.

All the stuff with the articles in The Jupiter felt very relevant to the news and reporting cycles of today. And Tom Towers was the only character I felt had absolutely no redeeming qualities about him.

49shadrach_anki
Feb 10, 4:26pm



Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson
(fiction, print, owned)

Let's see.... Basic facts, because there is no way I can give a particularly concise summary that is satisfying. This is the fourth volume of the Stormlight Archive, and like the previous three it is over a thousand pages in length, with complex world-building and an increasingly large cast of characters. I specifically took the day after its release date off from work so I could read as much as I wanted. Through a sequence of events and the timing surrounding them, it actually took me three months to read through this book (the previous book I read in less than three weeks). In some ways, I think taking a longer stretch of time to read allowed me to enjoy things more, but it also tied up one of my reading "slots" for longer. It's a trade-off.

While the pacing of this particular book is almost leisurely for long stretches, I can definitely feel the series pacing picking up. I think this is in part due to the sheer amount of Cosmere-level things that come into play here. (Basically all of Brandon Sanderson's adult fantasy works are set within the same universe--the Cosmere--and while each series works as its own thing, there are...significant points of overlap. World-hopping characters, for example.)

I am quite satisfied with this installment in the series, but I also still have lots of questions. And lots of emotional responses. It's probably going to be at least two years before the fifth book comes out.

50dchaikin
Feb 12, 1:28pm

>49 shadrach_anki: I’m unlikely to read more Sanderson, but I do like reading about his books. Enjoyed your review.

51shadrach_anki
Feb 16, 12:30am



Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops by Shaun Bythell
(non-fiction, print, owned)

This was an impulse buy off the "new and notable" shelf at the local indie bookstore back in December, based on a combination of cool cover design and author recognition (though I have yet to read either of Bythell's other works). It's a fast and humorous read, and I quite enjoyed it. This is actually the second "book about bookish people" that I've read recently, and it is by far the superior title. While both books were humorous in nature, this one never felt mean or biting.

52rhian_of_oz
Feb 18, 8:04pm

>51 shadrach_anki: This sounds like fun so onto the wishlist it goes.

53shadrach_anki
Feb 19, 4:56pm



The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien *
(fiction, audio/print, owned)

I'm continuing my reread of The Lord of the Rings, largely via the audio editions. I remember the very first time I tried to read this I got horribly bogged down and abandoned it part of the way through (in my defense, I was probably about twelve years old at the time). I appreciated it far more when I went through the stories in audio the first time, and my appreciation has only grown in this latest rereading.

The differences between the books and the Peter Jackson films are far more obvious here than they were in the first installment, and not just because what is good and beautiful storytelling structure in a book would frequently be horrible in film and vice versa. The character portrayals feel very different, more for some characters than others, and I'm still not sure how I feel about that.

If it weren't plainly stated at the beginning of the story, I think the ending of The Two Towers makes it very clear that this was intended to be one continuous story, not a trilogy.

54shadrach_anki
Feb 21, 12:17am



White Sand, Volume 3 by Brandon Sanderson
(comic, print, owned)

The concluding volume of this graphic novel series that is part of Brandon Sanderson's Cosmere. The sand mastery magic system is a very visual one, so it works well in a graphic novel format. That said, the graphic novel format is not necessarily as good at conveying background information and world history as a text-based format, so I can't help but feel that some of that is...missing.

I'm pretty sure I spotted Hoid's appearance (he shows up somewhere in basically all the Cosmere books), and sand from the world of Taldain shows up in Rhythm of War. Still not sure how they managed that. I'm also not sure where the White Sand graphic novels fall in the greater Cosmere timeline. Lots of questions.

55dchaikin
Feb 22, 1:22pm

>53 shadrach_anki: when I tried rewatching the Peter Jackson movies a few months ago, it was The Two Towers that really turned me off. I remember the book being gripping - but in a way the movie wasn’t able to capture. In my head The Two Towers is a strong part if the written trilogy but a weak part of the movie trilogy.

56shadrach_anki
Feb 22, 10:57pm



All the Money in the World by Laura Vanderkam
(non-fiction, print, owned)

I'm not entirely sure how to rate this personal finance book. The information is decent and still reasonably current, and there are a lot of good takeaways. I liked it fine, but I don't know that I would necessarily go recommending it to all my friends in gushing, glowing tones. Now, a fair amount of that could just be a result of how I often read self-help type non-fiction--either I zip through it super quick, taking in minimal amounts of information and insight, or I take forever to read a book that is fewer than 300 pages, losing the overall shape of the topic as a result.

I'll probably need to reread this at some point in the future to see about getting more out of it, but for now I am content to leave things where they are.

57shadrach_anki
Feb 22, 11:03pm

>55 dchaikin: I want to say that for the movies they ended up shunting at least some of the Two Towers content into the first and third movies, which would contribute to the sense that it is the weakest of the three. But it's been several years since I watched the movies, so I'm drawing on half remembered recollections. I do know the shape of things is different between the two mediums. And I'm just shaking my head at some of the movie characterizations. We lose the poetic aspect of Gimli in the films (no singing the praises of the caverns around Helm's Deep), and the way I remember them portraying Faramir....

58dchaikin
Feb 22, 11:22pm

>57 shadrach_anki: yes, I see it now, the loss of the language. Oddly I didn’t think about that when they first came out.

59jjmcgaffey
Feb 23, 12:46pm

>53 shadrach_anki:, >55 dchaikin: I stopped watching in the middle of Two Towers and never went back. It was when they were running and Gimli started whining about "but I'm a dwarf, we're not supposed to run...". I utterly love that scene in the book - it's such a rich distillation of the three friends - and Jackson screwed it up. I'd managed to handle the dwarf tossing at Helm's Deep (just barely), but this was the last straw. Not just eliding the dialog, but completely changing it...no.

Huh, I got that backward. The running scene was what I managed to tolerate, it was the dwarf tossing that broke my willingness to go on (but it was the running scene that I remembered as the worst). Jackson was really nasty to Gimli throughout.

60dchaikin
Feb 23, 7:23pm

>59 jjmcgaffey: yes, that sounds about right. But mainly for me ... i found the second movie a little one-dimensional and boring. :}

61sallypursell
Feb 23, 7:29pm

The Two Towers does not emphasize the Battle of Helm's Deep the way the movie does. Most of the movie is based on it, and it was filmed lovingly, whereas that is such a little piece of the book.

62shadrach_anki
Feb 24, 11:19am

>61 sallypursell: Yeah, in the book the Battle of Helm's deep is essentially a sidetracking of the main purpose of going to deal with Saruman in Isengard. It still makes up a reasonable chunk of the book, but the sense is very much one of "and here is one more thing we need to deal with". The movie pulls the whole thing much more front and center by making Helm's Deep into the established point of refuge for all Rohan. And I can understand why the film would focus on it, because it makes an amazing set piece, and that part of the book is some of the most action-y content, with lots of cool visuals that can be drawn on or extrapolated. But it's definitely a tonal shift.

I'm still planning on rewatching the movies when I finish reading the books, and I do appreciate the visual awesomeness contained within the movies, but there are a lot of things that they miss out on.

63markon
Feb 24, 11:28am

>61 sallypursell: Yes, the battle took up a lot of time & energy - hadn't thought of that piece.

The dwarves were mostly comic relief in the movies which irritated me. I watched two towers with a friend who hadn't read the books, and he found Gandalf's escape from Orthanc confusing. I also thought it cheapened the character of Saruman by painting him as evil from the get go.

I watched Fellowship multiple times, but only once for the other two.

64sallypursell
Feb 24, 12:36pm

>62 shadrach_anki: >63 markon: The worst thing about the movies was the inserted character of Liv Tyler. She took up some stuff that was in the book, but her whole role was out of proportion, and I didn't get any chemistry between Aragorn and her.

Further, when I heard about the movies, what I had looked forward to was the scene with the character of Tom Bombadil, and he never appears.

65shadrach_anki
Feb 24, 12:53pm



North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
(fiction, audio/print, owned)

Another one of my many buddy reads for 2021. As with many classics, I first encountered the story of Margaret Hale and John Thornton via a BBC mini-series. Which, overall, I do not view as a bad way to learn the general shape of the story, but any film adaptation is going to have to leave out bits and pieces (and often times large chunks). So I am very glad I made the time to read the book. My first real introduction to Gaskell's writing was in A House to Let, and I quite enjoyed the section she wrote of that, so it was delightful to read a longer work.

And as regards the Penguin Classics edition, I greatly appreciated the included warnings on the Introduction and Notes section that "New readers are advised that the Notes make details of the plot explicit." Far too many volumes of classics do not include such warnings, and I truly wish it were just a standard practice.

66shadrach_anki
Feb 24, 1:00pm

>63 markon: In the books, Gandalf's escape from Orthanc is shown and brought up in The Fellowship of the Ring, though. It seems that book-wise, Saruman being an issue is known more or less from the get-go. Oh, maybe not the extent to which he is a problem, but he definitely falls into the category of "we don't trust this guy".

>64 sallypursell: The only film...variant I have found that includes any sort of Tom Bombadil reference/inclusion is actually the Veggie Tales Lord of the Beans....

67NanaCC
Feb 24, 6:02pm

>65 shadrach_anki: This book of Gaskell’s was one of my favorites the year I read it. And, agreed, the spoiler warnings were much appreciated. I rarely read introductions for that reason.

68shadrach_anki
Feb 24, 6:15pm

>67 NanaCC: I have been of the practice of not reading the introductions until after I read the text of the book ever since high school, at least when it comes to my first reading. Footnotes and end notes have been included in that self-imposed ban more recently, because they can also contain spoilers. Really, my biggest objection is when the book doesn't even acknowledge that this could be an issue (looking at you, Penguin Classics edition of Jane Eyre....). Especially with the notes, since you would expect them to contain things like definitions of more archaic terms; translations of non-English passages of text; and contextual information that has been muddled or lost in the intervening years since the work's publication. So, you know, things a first time reader of the book would be wanting to know. I will confess that I still do not expect the notes to contain what amounts to "and this is foreshadowing of this major thing that happens in ten chapters, and little did the main character know that other thing is going to happen", and I am vaguely annoyed when such notes pop up without warning.

69AnnieMod
Editado: Feb 24, 6:56pm

>65 shadrach_anki: Unless I am absolutely sure that I had read the book before, I never read Introductions and Forwards and what's not. There are some that may be useful but 95+% are better as Afterwords so I just stopped trying. And with classics, the percentage is probably higher - all those famous people who get commissioned to write an introductions are asked because they know the work/context and they turn in an essay on the topic of the book.

The only case where I may read something is if there are cultural notes or translator notes although even they can be a problem sometimes...

Back to the book - I need to get back to Gaskell...

>68 shadrach_anki: Ouch. Notes doing this? That's... stupid! At least mark these differently...

70shadrach_anki
Ayer, 1:19pm

>69 AnnieMod: I don't think it's a widespread phenomenon. At least, I sure hope it isn't. I may just be really salty about that one edition of Jane Eyre, where most of the notes felt less explanatory/informational and more...I don't know, "let's cram bits and pieces of my final paper/dissertation in wherever I can make it fit"? So it was a lot of commentary and musings and "look at this allusion here, it's so profound", and honestly it just felt very overdone. And spoilery.

71AnnieMod
Ayer, 1:35pm

>70 shadrach_anki: Shaking head. I hate when most of the notes are just pointing to references (mostly in non fiction but I had seen it in fiction as well) but you cannot just ignore them because some of them are actually useful but that sounds even worse.

Classics can be tricky - most people assume everyone had read them and is rereading for some reason... :(