Jennifer's 2021 Reading (japaul22)

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Jennifer's 2021 Reading (japaul22)

Dic 31, 2020, 7:52am

Hi everyone! I'm back again to share my reading and get inspired by all of your reading threads. My name is Jennifer and I live outside of Washington D.C. I have two kids, boys ages 11 and 8. I play the french horn in the U.S. Marine Band.

I've settled into a great groove of reading over the past decade. I like the classics and use the 1001 books list to push my reading out of my comfort zone. I also read new fiction where I tend towards "literary fiction" by women authors. I also usually have a nonfiction book on the go, usually historical biography or cultural studies. To lighten things up, I read the occasional mystery or historical fiction.

Thanks for visiting my thread! I'm very much looking forward to starting a new year in 2021!!!

Editado: Feb 24, 8:28pm

This is one of the first years I can remember that I don't have a reading project planned. I'm kind of excited about that. In 2020, I didn't have one big book I was reading all year, but I had group reads planned for just about every month. This year, I'm just going to see what it's like to read without a plan. I will hop into group reads that fit my mood. I use the category challenge to organize my reading, so you can also find me there.

These lists are to help me pick books when I don't have a "next book" in mind. They will also give you an idea of the kinds of books I enjoy.

Contemporary Authors that I follow (i.e. I'll probably read any new novel they put out and am reading any backlog I haven't gotten to yet):
Hilary Mantel
Kate Atkinson
Eleanor Catton
Eowyn Ivey
Amor Towles
Tana French
Marilynne Robinson
Hannah Tinti
Barbara Kingsolver
Ann Patchett
Kamila Shamsie
Chimamanda Adichie
Margaret Atwood
Madeline Miller

Series/Mysteries that I follow:
Robert Galbraith, Cormoran Strike mysteries
Tana French
Jane Harper
C.J. Sansom
Sharon Kay Penman

Classic authors I love (reading novels I haven't read yet or rereads):
Jane Austen
the Brontes
Virginia Woolf
George Eliot
Thomas Mann
Haldor Laxness
Sigrid Undset
Scandinavian classics

Kindle TBR (because I never remember I have these):
Daughters of the Winter Queen by Nancy Goldstone
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Devil in the Grove
Martin Chuzzlewit
Our Mutual Friend
Nicholas Nickleby
Lost Children Archive
The Fire This Time
Sandhamn Murders by Viveca Sten books 1-6
Titan by Ron Chernow
Dead Mountain by Donnie Eichar
The Imprisoned Guest by Elisabeth Gitter
How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran
The Lost Garden by Helen Humphreys
Three Lives by Gertrude Stein
The Wicked Girls

February Orley Farm, library books - The Push, Braiding Sweetgrass, Beheld,
March: Love, Book of Evidence

Dic 31, 2020, 9:32am

Welcome, everyone!

Dic 31, 2020, 1:29pm

I like your list of authors you follow. Happy New Year, Jennifer!

Ene 1, 10:51am

Hi, Jennifer, I look forward to following your reading again this year:).

Ene 1, 11:20am

Happy New Year, Jennifer. I look forward to following your reading this year. We share many favorite authors.

Ene 1, 1:12pm

Happy new year, Jennifer. Here's to the end of home schooling hopefully in 2021. We're just going back to it again after a great run from the end of August in school. Ugh. Anyway, will be enjoying your reviews again this year.

Ene 1, 2:01pm

>8 AlisonY: Oh, sorry to hear you're back to school from home. As you know, we've been home since March. Honestly though, we've gotten in a pretty good routine with it. Not ideal, but everyone is adapting. Thanks for popping in!

>5 dchaikin:, >6 karspeak:, >7 BLBera: Happy new year to all of you! I'll be following your threads as well!

Editado: Ene 1, 6:30pm

Interesting list of Contemporary Authors you have in this list - not to mention the classics list.

Happy new year and happy reading!

Editado: Ene 2, 5:25am

Happy New Year, Jennifer! I'm a fan of several of your favorite contemporary authors (Mantel, Atkinson, Catton, Shamsie, Adichie and Miller), so I look forward to your thoughts about their books in particular.

Have you read any of Sarah Moss's books?

Ene 2, 7:41am

>10 AnnieMod: thanks! I'm hoping having this list helps me pick books since I haven't done much planning this year as to what I'll read.

>11 kidzdoc: I'm sure I found some of those authors through your threads over the years, Darryl! I have only read Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss, but it made me want to read more.

Ene 2, 7:54am

#1 Academy Street by Mary Costello
I've started 2021 with a wonderful, concise, emotional novel. Academy Street follows the life of Tess Lohan, from the death of her mother when Tess is six, through her old age. Tess is born in Ireland and immigrates to America when she is in her 20s. Costello describes Tess's life - both her internal character and her outward connections with others - in a series of what I would call vignettes of her life. Large time periods are skipped and events don't always seem completely explored, but in spite of this, or maybe because of it, I got to know Tess inside and out in just 179 pages.

I must have heard about this book on LT, so I will do everyone a favor and continue highly recommending it! It's one you can read in a day, and you'll be glad you did.

Off to a great start!

Original publication date: 2014
Author’s nationality: Irish
Original language: English
Length: 179 pages
Rating: 5 stars
Format/where I acquired the book: Christmas present
Why I read this: off the shelf

Ene 2, 8:11am

Happy New Year, Jennifer. I look forward to following your reading this year. Academy Street sounds good. Like you, I'm sure I've heard of it here before. I can't remember the source but I see some familiar LT names on the book page.

Editado: Ene 2, 1:18pm

>13 japaul22: I think the title and author are new to me. Good start, and I'm noting the book.

Ene 3, 4:45am

Happy new year Jennifer, looking forward to following your reviews again so dropping my star!

Ene 5, 7:21pm

#2 The Book of Not by Tsitsi Dangarembga

The Book of Not is the second in autobiographical fiction trilogy by Zimbabwean author, Tsitsi Dangarembga. I absolutely loved the first book, Nervous Conditions, for its authentic voice, look at Zimbabwean culture, and feminist voice. Unfortunately, I didn't think this sequel was quite as successful.

In this book, Tambu, the main character, goes off to her next level of schooling, one of the best high schools in the country, which is mainly populated by white Rhodesians. There she deals with racism but also run-of-the-mill girlfriend drama and academic pressures. She is searching for her identity and torn between responsibilities to her country and culture and her desire to escape to a better life.

While these typical teenage dramas are playing out, the country is going through serious war and violence as the native people try to oust the white colonist. Tambu is involved and there are some brutal scenes of her family's experience, but she seems to remain on the outside of the violence and the focus stays on her high school experience.

While I still liked this book and will read the next in the trilogy, it was definitely less enjoyable for me. I felt like the writing was a bit overdone and the focus was more narrowly on Tambu. I missed some of the characters from the first novel.

Original publication date: 2006
Author’s nationality: Zimbabwean
Original language: English
Length: 246 pages
Rating: 3 stars
Format/where I acquired the book: purchased paperback
Why I read this: off the shelf, continuing the trilogy

Ene 5, 7:32pm

Stopping in to say Happy New Year to you, Jennifer. and rather hoping we all have an easier year than the last one. I'll be watching your reading.

Ene 5, 7:34pm

>18 sallypursell: Thank you! Yes, I do hope 2021 ends up better for all. Looking forward to following your thread as well. I know I don't chime in often, but I read every Club Read thread religiously!

Ene 7, 7:54am

>13 japaul22: I've had Academy Street on my wish list for ages. You're right - someone on LT did give it a glowing review, but I can't remember who. You've nudged it back up towards the top of my wish list.

Ene 8, 1:15pm

>17 japaul22: i think this is the first review I’ve read of this so you had my attention. I plan to read it this year as I read the trilogy.

Ene 8, 1:17pm

I’m wrong. In 2012 (!) i read rebeccanyc’s review and thumbed it. I’ll re-read her again after I finish.

Ene 8, 4:46pm

>22 dchaikin: Rebeccannyc.. it’s sweet and wonderful to remember her.

Ene 9, 7:40am

>22 dchaikin:, >23 Simone2: I noticed her review when I posted mine - I think there were under ten reviews for the book and hers was, as always, the most insightful. So many good books she led us all too!

Ene 9, 5:26pm

Hi Jennifer. I've had Nervous Conditions on my shelf for years, and now that I've gotten my books back from almost 2 years in storage, perhaps this will be the year I read it. It definitely sounds like a good one.
I hope you were nowhere near the mayhem on Wednesday!

Ene 9, 6:30pm

>25 arubabookwoman: I hope you get to Nervous Conditions - I'd love to hear what you think of it.

Yes, I was home safely on Wednesday, watching in awe and fear as the stage I'll be performing on for Inauguration was overrun by rioters. I do work inside the Capitol several times a year and I've never imagined it could be infiltrated in that way. Scary stuff. Thank you for thinking of me!

Ene 10, 10:37am

Nice review of The Book of Not, Jennifer. I've owned my copy of Nervous Conditions for several years, but I haven't read it yet. Have you read This Mournable Body yet? If so, is it necessary or recommended to read the first two books ahead of it?

I'll definitely be thinking of you on January 20th, and I assume, and pray, that there will be a much larger armed police presence for the inauguration, given the recent comments by the insurrectionists.

Ene 10, 11:00am

>27 kidzdoc: Darryl, I have read This Mournable Body yet, so I can't definitely speak to reading the first ones ahead of it, but so far I think you'd have the best reading experience if you at least read Nervous Conditions first. It really sets the stage for the character's early experiences and focuses on the culture she grows up in - how she accepts and denies it. I imagine it would be important background for This Mournable Body. I'm planning to read it later this year, so I'll let you know if I feel differently after reading it.

Thanks for your thoughts on Inauguration day! I have to trust that security, which is usually intense anyway, will be even more heightened and well-planned.

Ene 10, 12:30pm

>28 japaul22: Thanks, Jennifer. I'm in no great hurry to read This Mournable Body, so I'll read Nervous Conditions first.

I'm working on Inauguration Day, but I'm sure that I'll pay as close attention as I can to it, using my mobile phone and televisions in patients' rooms.

Ene 10, 1:52pm

>17 japaul22: I read Dangerous Conditions a very long time ago. So long ago, that I’ve completely forgotten what it was about, but I remember enjoying it. I wanted to revisit that one before reading her later books.

Ene 10, 6:39pm

>28 japaul22: etc. — I launched into This mournable body not knowing it was the third part of a trilogy: it wasn't hard to follow what was going on, because Tambu went back over the events of her childhood and schooldays a lot in the course of the book. But I imagine it's more interesting if you've read the other two, because what she's saying about her past now is probably quite different from what she was saying then.

Ene 12, 8:13am

#3 The Age of Homespun by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich is one of my favorite nonfiction authors. Her writing often attempts to illuminate the every day lives of those living in the Northeast region of early America, and this book fit that theme. In it, she explores eleven everyday objects that have survived hundreds of years and uses them to study everyday life, cultural trends, political issues, and many other topics. As with all of her books, the focus is on women's lives, which are often not documented to the same extent as their male counterparts.

One of the tenets of this book is that women's "wealth" was typically in moveable objects: linens, kitchen items, small furniture, items of clothing, and decorative luxuries. Men's wealth was in land, business, and education. As such, studying the objects presented in this book is a study of women's lives. The objects studied were created between 1676 and 1837 and include items like an Indian basket, spinning wheels, a pocketbook, a decorative cupboard, a linen tablecloth, and silk embroidery. The items lead to explorations of the settlers interactions with the local Indians (some of the objects are made by Indian women), how women spent their days, what genealogical records leave out about women, the methods of fabric making, spinning as a a political act so as not to rely on England's manufactured goods, and many more topics.

I was interested and excited that there was so much focus on Indian culture (specifically the Abenaki people) in this book, because one of my focuses this year is going to be on reading more books by and about American Indians. This unintentionally fit that category, so it was a good way to start my reading year.

Ulrich's writing won't be for everyone; her style is not the popular narrative nonfiction prevalent today. The writing is scholarly and dense, though I found I got in a pretty good rhythm with it and was able to get immersed in the topic. I suspect her book, A Midwife's Tale, will always be my favorite, but this is a close second and one I would like to read again some day. There is so much information that it was impossible to absorb it all in one reading.

Original publication date: 2001
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 481 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars
Format/where I acquired the book: purchased paperback
Why I read this: off the shelf, favorite author

Editado: Ene 12, 9:38pm

>32 japaul22: Sounds very interesting, adding it to my list!

Ene 12, 9:47pm

>33 karspeak: Me, too.

Ene 15, 5:02pm

Happy New Year, Jennifer. I’ll be following along this year. You’ve added many books to my wishlist in the past. Looking at the military presence in DC right now, I think that the danger is being taken very seriously.

Ene 15, 5:32pm

Hi, thanks for the books mentioned in >32 japaul22: from me too.

Ene 15, 6:19pm

>33 karspeak:, >34 sallypursell:, >36 LolaWalser: I know there are several Laurel Thatcher Ulrich fans in this group. Glad to have sparked some interest.

>35 NanaCC: Hi Colleen, I visited your thread as well and I'm very glad to see you back!

Ene 15, 6:28pm

I'm still catching up with threads, and I'm excited to see where your no-plan approach this year will lead you. I've got a copy of Tsitsi Dangarembga's first book on the stack to read soon.

Wishing you a great (and safe) experience performing during the Inauguration!

Ene 15, 6:43pm

#4 Jack by Marilynne Robinson

Jack is the fourth book in Robinson's series about characters from the fictional town of Gilead, Iowa. This novel explores the prodigal son, Jack, whose behavior was such a source of drama and gossip and grief in the other books. Jack, who is white, is basically homeless, an alcoholic, has had a stint in prison, and then meets a young Black woman who he falls in love with. Like Jack, Della is also the daughter of a minister and is living on her own in St. Louis as a teacher.

Their relationship is unlikely to me, and I had a hard time figuring out why they would have been attracted to each other, especially on Della's end. This is the 1950s, so there is really no way they can be together as a mixed-race couple. Jack is depressed, poor, and drinking too much. Yes, he is intelligent and kind but I can't imagine Della even discovering that beneath his poor, sad exterior.

Robinson's writing is, as always, beautiful and observant. Her writing is subtle and complex. So I did love this book, but I didn't like it quite as much as her other novels. I think Jack's story works better as a catalyst for conversations and character reactions in her other novels. When explored on its own, I thought Jack wasn't quite as interesting of a character as I found him when he was more mysterious and distant in the other novels.

Original publication date: 2020
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 306 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars
Format/where I acquired the book: library book
Why I read this: a favorite author

Ene 15, 7:51pm

Nice comments on Jack, Jennifer. I need to get back to Robinson. I've only read two.

Good luck performing for the inauguration.

Ene 16, 2:31am

I’m late getting started this year, but Happy New Year anyway. I look forward to following another year of your reading. Looks like you’re off to a good start already. Last year I resolved to make more of a conscious effort to read more by writers whose work I have enjoyed (along the lines of your list of writers you follow, I suppose), but Mary Costello is one I’d forgotten about. I hadn’t heard of her when I picked up her book short stories (The China Factory) on a trip to Dublin getting on for 10 years ago, and I was blown away. I will happily add Academy Street to my wishlist - and I see there’s a second novel too, The River Capture (2019).

Ene 16, 6:33am

>40 BLBera: Thank you! Have you read Lila? After Gilead, it is my favorite.

>41 rachbxl: Welcome! I always enjoy following your reading as well. I did put The River Capture on my wish list after loving Academy Street.

Ene 16, 3:46pm

>32 japaul22: fascinated by this review.

>39 japaul22: I’m happy to read your review of Jack, but hesitant to read it. I thought Gilead was terrific (i read it twice) and I really enjoyed Home, but Lila didn’t work for me (it felt a little bit like an author doing a “this is how i want the little people to behave” kind of thing, which I know may be more my problem than the book’s.)

Ene 16, 3:56pm

>43 dchaikin: Gilead is the best, in my opinion. I really did like Lila. I think if you've invested in reading the other three books, you'll probably be happy to revisit the characters, but I would understand not prioritizing it when there are so many books out there to read!

And you should try Laurel Thatcher Ulrich sometime - I highly recommend A Midwife's Tale. It's a nonfiction book that takes the diary of an everyday woman in the 1700s and uses it to illuminate life in early America. It's really fascinating.

Ene 16, 4:01pm

Audible has A Midwife’s Tale... Also A House Full of Females on early Mormonism.

Ene 16, 4:35pm

>45 dchaikin: I liked both, but A Midwife's Tale is special. It is dense though - I'm not sure how well it would work on audio. Although you listen to a lot of audiobooks, so it might work for you.

Ene 17, 1:03pm

Lila and Jack are the two I haven't read. I did love Gilead.

Ene 17, 6:44pm

Very nice review of Jack, Jennifer. I liked it more than you did, but would also say I agree with your last sentence about Jack being a better character when he was behind the scenes and more mysterious.

Ene 18, 7:22am

I loved Home and Lila, but have yet to make it through Gilead. (two tries) I got bogged down in the cemetery with Jack & Della, so have dnfd Jack as well. Robinson is an excellent writer.

Ene 18, 9:57pm

I (somehow) missed that Gilead was the first of a series so yay.

Ene 19, 3:31am

>39 japaul22: I enjoyed your review, but I found Jack's story so utterly bleak in Home that I think I'm done with the Gilead series.

Editado: Ene 19, 8:19pm

>32 japaul22: One of my favorite NF authors, also (I've read all but the one on Mormonism) and I even have the DVD of the PBS docu-drama of A Midwife's Tale. Gosh, I should re-read or re-watch that. The last of hers read was Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History, which I thought not quite as good as her early work, but certainly worthy of reading.

Touchstones not working, apparently.

Ene 20, 11:33am

A beautiful inauguration. I'm watching while pretending to get stuff done, and I'm pretty sure I spotted you in the band. Hope you were warm enough!

Ene 20, 3:05pm

I was thinking of you today, Jennifer. It would be interesting to hear what it was like to be there.

Ene 20, 3:42pm

Yes please! It was a wonderful ceremony, even constrained by social distancing and the lack of a crowd.

Ene 20, 4:49pm

>53 RidgewayGirl:, >54 lauralkeet:, >55 lisapeet:

I'm home from the Inauguration swearing in ceremony and it was a wonderful day! It was very different than years past (this is my fifth Inauguration - GW Bush, 2 for Obama, Trump, and now Biden). It was so odd to not have a crowd there, on the platform or on the Mall. I missed the energy and definitely missed the applause as people are announced and speeches are given. We accompanied Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez, both of whom were wonderful to work with - very gracious and professional. It was cold and windy, but not the worst I've done in terms of weather. It's a long day (our report time was 0345), but in a normal year as soon as the ceremony is done, we are bussed over to our spot in the parade, march the parade, and then we go to play at an Inaugural Ball, usually wrapping up around midnight. Today, because of coronavirus restrictions, we only did the swearing-in ceremony. So I'm tired, but it was much easier than a normal year.

It was very special to me to be seated just 20 feet below the swearing in of the first female VP. It will be one of my more memorable jobs.

Ene 20, 5:12pm

>56 japaul22: Thanks for sharing your day with us. How exciting to be there. I found the ceremony very moving in places, particularly the women singing, Kamala's swearing in, and the poet laureate's presentation.

Editado: Ene 20, 5:45pm

What a great milestone memory. Congrats on the new president.

ETA: Heh, I thought you might like this comment I picked up somewhere (Vox video on YouTube):

"Dayum that Marine band is amazing. We're used to hearing school bands; it's such a rare treat to hear professionals playing this music."

Ene 20, 6:46pm

Jennifer, it sounds wonderful even if quite different from previous Inauguration Days. Thanks for sharing the experience with us!

Ene 20, 8:18pm

The band sounded excellent as always and the arrangements were so interesting, especially This Land is Your Land, going into America the Beautiful. Thanks for sharing your day, and despite all the angst over security, etc., glad it was a shorter one for you.

Ene 20, 9:02pm

The music was wonderful, Jennifer. Thanks for sharing. Lucky you to have witnessed history today.

Ene 20, 10:57pm

>56 japaul22: Oh, how nice it was to have your first-hand account. I tried to look for you, but I'm not sure I found you. You must be awfully good.

Ene 20, 11:15pm

Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Jennifer. The performances were fantastic. You must be extremely proud to have been a part of it.

Editado: Ene 21, 2:23am

>56 japaul22: 'm home from the Inauguration swearing in ceremony and it was a wonderful day! It was very different than years past (this is my fifth Inauguration - GW Bush, 2 for Obama, Trump, and now Biden). It was so odd to not have a crowd there, on the platform or on the Mall. I missed the energy and definitely missed the applause as people are announced and speeches are given. We accompanied Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez, both of whom were wonderful to work with - very gracious and professional. It was cold and windy, but not the worst I've done in terms of weather. It's a long day (our report time was 0345), but in a normal year as soon as the ceremony is done, we are bussed over to our spot in the parade, march the parade, and then we go to play at an Inaugural Ball, usually wrapping up around midnight. Today, because of coronavirus restrictions, we only did the swearing-in ceremony. So I'm tired, but it was much easier than a normal year.

It was very special to me to be seated just 20 feet below the swearing in of the first female VP. It will be one of my more memorable jobs.

Ah, that all seems so nice. Says a Canadian. Also, so cool. What an experience, whoever the president is.

Ene 22, 9:45am

I forgot you'd have been playing in that, Jennifer. That's so amazing. What a fantastic experience to play at any of these, never mind 5 of them.

Even though you're obviously at the top of your game in terms of your instrument, do you still get nervous that you'll drop a note or something beforehand?

Ene 22, 11:05am

>65 AlisonY: Honestly, I don't get very nervous about the actual playing, though it is very difficult to play in the cold. I do get nervous about the sum total of the day. I got up at 1:30 am both for the day of Inauguration and the full dress rehearsal two days before. This is mainly to facilitate the intense security at every Inauguration. So your body does not feel great. We are outdoors a lot of the time, it's cold, and the pressure to perform well even though feeling physically exhausted is high. But, this is why my unit is incredibly close and supportive of each other. We are all in it together and it's an amazing feeling to know how intensely difficult the conditions are and still be able to work together to create an excellent product. I deeply respect and am bonded to my colleagues. Jobs like these are difficult in the moment but create lasting memories and bonds.

Ene 22, 1:24pm

What a great account, thank you! I really loved Lady Gaga's performance—and I'm not a huge fan otherwise (though I don't dislike her either). It was so clearly heartfelt and 100% earnest, which is such a nice thing to see leak through the general aura of professionalism I see from performers.

Ene 22, 2:42pm

>66 japaul22: It's so interesting hearing all about it - thanks for sharing that. You've definitely got a one in a million job!

Ene 22, 4:34pm

Kudos Jennifer! Appreciate hearing about this inauguration from your perspective.

Ene 22, 9:55pm

Thanks for sharing your Inauguration Day experiences. We watched the whole thing on TV, but how exciting to actually be there and participate!

Editado: Ene 23, 8:23am

Thank you for your account of your performance on Inauguration Day, and for your service that day, Jennifer! I tried looking for you, but I didn't realize that you were performing below the main platform, rather than above it. I (and probably all of us) have a newfound respect and appreciation for what you and your colleagues did that day.

Ene 23, 9:17am

That sounds like a gruelling day...but what a wonderful experience. Thanks for telling us about it.

Ene 24, 2:41pm

>56 japaul22: What a great experience!

Ene 25, 7:48am

#5 Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I finally got around to reading Adichie's 2013 novel that explores the experiences of Nigerian-born Ifemelu and Obinze, and I'm so, so glad I did. Ifemelu and Obinze grow up comfortably upper middle class in Nigeria, but have to contend with the challenges of living in a developing country. When they are in college and the teachers continually go on strike, they begin seriously looking for ways to leave. As a female, Ifemelu is able to get a visa to America to live with her aunt fairly easily. Getting a work visa is not as easy. Obinze, as a male in the post-9/11 world, is unable to legally emigrate. He ends up briefly in London and then back in Nigeria.

Ifemelu is the focus for most of the book. She becomes successful in America writing a blog about race. She writes about how she never thought of herself as Black until she came to America - Black doesn't exist in Nigeria. She writes about the differences between Non-American Blacks and American Blacks. Her words are powerful and honest and entertaining - as a good blog should be. I was immediately struck by how her observations line up with Isabel Wilkerson's book, Caste. Though Americanah is a novel, it felt like real life observation of how the American Caste system is implemented and how it affects all of us.

Amidst these observations and experiences with race in America, the UK, and Nigeria, life happens. Ifemelu has various relationships, jobs, and family drama. Through it all, she thinks about Obinze, her first love. When she moves back to Nigeria, the question is whether she and Obinze will still love each other and whether life will allow them to be together.

I really loved this novel. For me, the most successful parts were the revelations about race and the immigrant experience. Also about the different lifestyles in Nigeria, America, and Great Britain. I was less interested in the romance between Ifemelu and Obinze. That took just a little bit of the glow off of this novel for me, but I still highly recommend it. I'll read anything Adichie writes. I think she's a wonderful writer.

Original publication date: 2013
Author’s nationality: Nigerian and American (dual citizenship, I believe)
Original language: English
Length: 588 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars
Format/where I acquired the book: library kindle
Why I read this: 1001 books, books about Black American experience for category challenge

Ene 25, 9:10am

>74 japaul22: It’s good, isn’t it? Your review took me right back. I wonder what it’s like to read it now, against the backdrop of a broader discussion about race which wasn’t there when I read it (or when it was written). This is one of the few audiobooks I’ve listened to, and I remember my younger stepdaughter, who must have been not quite 4, stomping around the kitchen imitating the reader’s Nigerian accent (my stepdaughter doesn’t speak English, so it was even funnier).

Ene 25, 12:46pm

>74 japaul22: I loved Americanah too, Jennifer and like you, will read anything by Adiche.

Ene 25, 1:13pm

I haven't read her first novel, Purple Hibiscus, yet, but I'll get to it some day.

Ene 26, 2:41pm

I will also read anything Adiche writes. I read Purple Hibiscus and loved it, but each novel keeps getting better and better.

Ene 27, 5:33am

Great review of Americanah, Jennifer. I enjoyed it as well.

Ene 30, 7:41am

#6 The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

I've read both of Stuart Turton's mystery novels now, and I've detected a pattern. :-) Turton writes highly entertaining but over-complicated plots. His first book, 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, was a clever mystery with a sort of time warp where the main character keeps waking up in different bodies on the same day trying to solve a mystery to get out of the cycle. The Devil and the Dark Water is set on a 1600s merchant ship and involves the Devil, hidden cargo, and greed.

What I liked about this book was the pace, the setting, the captivating characters. What I didn't like was the overly complicated solution to the mystery and that the characters seemed too modern for their 1600s setting. I softened on this last point when I read Turton's afterward where he explained that he purposely did not write this as a historical mystery. He used the setting and idea to create his mystery and characters and then easily threw out any historical details that didn't serve his conception. It made me feel better that this was purposeful.

I like Turton's writing and his plotting is very creative. It's just good to know going in that he really enjoys these overly complicated plots that require some suspension of belief to enjoy. I suspect I'll read whatever he writes next - his writing is just so entertaining.

Original publication date: 2020
Author’s nationality: British
Original language: English
Length: 480 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars
Format/where I acquired the book: library kindle
Why I read this: like the author, wanted something fun

Ene 30, 1:22pm

I'll have to check out Turton when I'm in the mood for an entertaining mystery. I think Evelyn Hardcastle has been on my list for a while. I probably got it from you, Jennifer!

Ene 31, 7:49am

>80 japaul22: The Devil and the Dark Water is already on my list (I'm waiting for it in smaller format) so I was glad to read your positive review.

Ene 31, 4:46pm

>81 BLBera: even though his books have the same feel, the plot/setting is very different. I'm not even sure which I liked better.

>82 rhian_of_oz: I'll be curious to hear what you think!

Ene 31, 5:13pm

#7 Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne

This is an informative nonfiction account of the clash between Texas settlers and the Comanches in the 1800s. I learned a lot about the Comanche way of life and why it was never going to mesh with the lifestyle of white settlers. In a nutshell, the Comanche were nomadic, following the buffalo herds and ranging over hundreds of miles, and the white settlers wanted to farm and graze cattle. Though the Comanches were skilled fighters and horsemen, they were vastly outnumbered by the American army and also didn't understand the end goal of Americans until it was too late.

The subtitle of the book highlights the life of Quanah Parker. Quanah was a mixed blood Comanche. His mother, Cynthia Ann Parker, was famous for being violently abducted by the Comanches from her family's Texas settlement. She was nine years old. She was adopted by the tribe (they often kept and assimilated girls her age, though killing anyone else they encountered, because they would be able to bear children later and they badly needed to grow their tribe). Cynthia Ann, by all accounts, fully adapted to the Comanche way of life. She married a Chief and Quanah was one of her sons. In her adulthood she was "rescued" and forced to reenter American life, to which she never readapted. Quanah's story in this book feels incomplete to me. Though he ended up being considered the last Comanche chief (even that is complicated to say because the Comanche were made of smaller bands that really had little to do with each other), little is known about his time as a Comanche before surrendering and moving to a reservation. At that point, he became famous and developed into a skilled negotiator for his people, though there was only so much he could do. I was more interested in his earlier life.

I was a little uncomfortable with the ways this author chose to describe the Comanche. He uses words like "primitive", "Stone Age", "irredeemably hostile", "remarkably simple". He also dwells often on how they never had any sort of agriculture - is that truly the mark of a civilized society? I guess his judgment is true in ways, and was used as a comparison to other contemporary American Indian tribes which might also be fair. But it still troubled me and I wondered if the author was really coming at this from a fair, unbiased angle.

I'll be curious as I read more by and about American Indians if my criticism of this aspect changes.

All in all, an interesting and engaging history.

(And now I see it was a Pulitzer and National Book Critics Circle finalist - maybe I'm being overly sensitive . . . )

Original publication date: 2011
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 388 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars
Format/where I acquired the book: kindle
Why I read this: topic of interest

Ene 31, 5:28pm

#8 Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory by Raphael Bob-Waksberg

There are many, many reasons why I would never have read this book if it hadn't been gifted to me by a good friend this Christmas.

1. It has a super-modern cover that strikes me as "male" and "trying too hard" (even though it's pink)

2. It's short stories which I don't like.

3. They are described as being about love.

4. The title is stupid.

5. The cover talks about how the author writes some tv show that sounds awfully annoying.

HOWEVER, I actually really enjoyed this. I'm having a hard time admitting it. The stories are quirky and creative (words I also usually would not associated with a book that I enjoy) but don't lose the everyday observations that I enjoy in a book. The stories are memorable. The pacing of the story order was great. I read it in a couple days and was always looking forward to what the next story would bring. I might even suggest this to a couple of friends who I think would like it.

I guess I shouldn't always judge a book by it's cover!

Original publication date: 2019
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 242 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Format/where I acquired the book: gift from a friend
Why I read this: gift from a friend

Ene 31, 8:32pm

>84 japaul22: I'll stick with Margaret Mead's idea that the earliest sign of civilization is a healed femur.

Editado: Feb 1, 3:27am

>84 japaul22: Great review, even though you felt mixed about the book in the end. I too feel like I need to read more non-fiction about Native Americans, especially to whitewash the last of those awful Hollywood misrepresentations from my mind that I innocently sucked up as a child on many a summer holiday in front of the TV. I studied the Navajo in depth at one point, but I'm interested in any recommendations for great non-fictional books on any of the Native American tribes.

Maybe Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is as good as any.

Editado: Feb 1, 7:20am

>86 janemarieprice: Meaning the society would have the skill to set a bone? Makes more sense than agriculture! There are so many regions where agriculture isn't necessarily needed (well, when population was lower and natural resources more abundant) or didn't suit the land. I feel that's very true for the arid plains where the Comanches were - I mean look at what ended up happening due to farming - Dust Bowl!

>87 AlisonY: Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is definitely on my list. I set this idea up in the category challenge, thinking I'd just commit to reading 5 books this year by or about American Indians and I got so many great suggestions that it might have to be a multi-year focus. I don't know if I can read too many books on this in a row since it is a pretty depressing and guilt-inducing topic!

Feb 1, 11:28am

>88 japaul22: I think that the society would have the skill to set a bone, and also that they would have the resources (physical and psychological) to care for a member of the group that wasn't producing food and who could actually be a liability. That altruism isn't always a given in very early societies.

Feb 1, 11:39am

>85 japaul22: Excellent review. You liked this book more than I did, although I was charmed by it, I just thought the stories began to feel samey. Especially point 5 - that show does sound annoying.

Feb 1, 12:10pm

>89 lisapeet: That makes sense, about not just the medical knowledge but the willingness/ability to care for a hurt member of the group.

>90 RidgewayGirl: I don't remember that you read this, probably because I'm not one to note short story reviews. Because I read them so seldom, I don't have a great frame of reference as far as the "samey-ness" of them. :-) I did enjoy it though. Possibly because it was so different from what I normally read!

Editado: Feb 1, 4:39pm

>74 japaul22: this is a really motivating review. I got such mixed vibes about the book when it came out that i avoided it. But now I read this (and the follow up comments). And I need to Caste!

>84 japaul22: and interesting. Comanche’s are fascinating. And I have no idea why agriculture would play a role in evaluating the, what, “progress”(?) of the culture. Seems astoundingly boneheaded. Their lack of agriculture was essentially a kind of cultural and practical choice, as was their use of horses and guns. It’s not like there were Comanches who hadn’t thought of it before. Anyway interesting. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is essential, even if dated and depressing. It works on audio. Blood and Thunder may apply too if you want to expand to Navajos, who were quietly dependent on agriculture - although the focus is Kit Carson - the destroyer of Navajo independence. (Not light books)

Feb 1, 4:49pm

>84 japaul22:, >92 dchaikin: Or perhaps the newer The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee (I haven't read it, but my mom who reads mostly non-fiction recommends it).

Feb 1, 4:58pm

Your review got me on a real Googling quest this morning for Native American books, and my husband was rolling his eyes at my endless commentary on the subject at 7:30 this morning.

I came across a book on my work laptop that I'll have to find again as it sounded fascinating. It was focused on the Native Americans before Columbus' 'discovery' of America and got me thinking about that era of history and where they descended from.

I just wonder how much of that book is focused on supposition rather than fact. Now I really need to find that title again.

Feb 1, 5:07pm

>93 ELiz_M: i’ve read good reviews of that.

Editado: Feb 1, 5:21pm

>84 japaul22: Thanks for that wonderful review. I think you're wise to pay attention to the language used to describe the Comanche; it is imho most likely an indication of the author's attitude toward this group.

I remember a year or two ago when I read a book about US history from a Spanish-got-here-first perspective running across the idea that many plains cultures were shaped in part by being caught between the hammer and anvil of the Spanish and French, then later between the US and Spanish.

I'm also interested in The heartbeat of Wounded Knee. I tried to read Bury my heart at Wounded Knee and it tripped too many emotional triggers for me.

Feb 1, 5:29pm

>97 markon: Thank you! That's exactly what it was. Have you read it?

Feb 1, 6:54pm

>92 dchaikin: Something about the Americanah reviews when it first came out also put me off reading it, but I read her book Half of a Yellow Sun which I loved and then I knew I needed to get to Americanah also.

>92 dchaikin:, >93 ELiz_M: I've added the American Indian reading recs to my ever-growing list.

>96 markon: I wasn't sure if I was being over-sensitive, but it was noticeable to me and it's not the sort of concept that I'd want to be simply accepted by the average reader.

>94 AlisonY: I'll be watching to see if you get to any Native American books this year that I can add to my list! I remember when that 1491 book came out, but I never read it. I feel like it had a lot of positive reviews.

Feb 1, 8:11pm

I loved The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee and Treuer's earlier Rez Life.

Feb 6, 9:06am

#9 A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes
Modern Library put this book on its list of "100 best novels of the twentieth century". I am perplexed. This is an odd story of an English family living in Jamaica in the early 1900s. When they experience a hurricane, the parents decide it's a good idea to send their young children (all under 10) back to England on a ship by themselves. The children set off on a ship which is promptly overrun by pirates. This sets them on a strange, sometimes violent, dangerous voyage.

I was disengaged a lot of the time from this. I guess it was an adventure story, but it didn't grab my attention. I would often read a couple of pages and then think, wait, what just happened?! And go back to reread some unbelievable chain of events. Maybe I just wasn't in the right mood for this. It seems to be a book that many people love. It just wasn't for me.

Original publication date: 1929
Author’s nationality: British
Original language: English
Length: 279 pages
Rating: 2.5 stars
Format/where I acquired the book: purchased nyrb edition
Why I read this: nyrb off the shelves

Editado: Feb 7, 11:27am

>98 AlisonY: Listened to an audio of 1491 on my commute over 10 years ago and enjoyed it. My clearest recollection is of wonder at some of the complex societies and human-made landforms in Central and South America. And I think this was the first time I'd had population estimates before and after Europeans came brought together in one place. Anyway, it made enough of an impression that I immediately thought of it when I saw your description.

From Wikipedia: 2006 winner of the National Academies Communication Award for best creative work that helps the public understanding of topics in science, engineering or medicine.

& The book presents recent research findings in different fields that suggest human populations in the Western Hemisphere—that is, the indigenous peoples of the Americas—were more numerous, had arrived earlier, were more sophisticated culturally, and controlled and shaped the natural landscape to a greater extent than scholars had previously thought.

>92 dchaikin: I seem to remember that there were a lot of reviews of Americanah by Americans that didn't like her depiction of race in the US, but I thought it was good. Her mirror of our society didn't reflect well on us.

Feb 9, 1:55pm

>101 japaul22: hmm. Interesting. This now sums what I know about A High Wind in Jamaica. (Seems one would not want their children in a boat...but anyway)

>102 markon: that criticism wouldn’t have bothered me, I think. Anyway, thanks. Also I’m noting the National Academies Communication Award - because that sounds like something to follow. (I’ve only read one winner, Your Inner Fish. I really enjoyed it.)

Feb 9, 5:39pm

>101 japaul22: I’m one of those who loved A High Wind in Jamaica and gave it four and a half stars. I found it quite disturbing ...

Feb 9, 6:02pm

>101 japaul22: Same as my birthday twin in >104 SandDune: I also gave 4½ stars to A High Wind in Jamaica.

Feb 10, 7:52am

>102 markon: You're selling it even more. Sounds fascinating.

Feb 10, 11:52am

>104 SandDune:, >105 kidzdoc: Interesting! It certainly was an inventive, disturbing book. It was just a little too wild for my taste right now. Maybe it would have worked better for me at a different time.

Feb 10, 12:06pm

#10 Kindred by Octavia Butler
This book has been on my mental TBR list for quite a while, and I'm kicking myself for not getting to it sooner! Butler is a great writer. In this novel, she takes an unbelievable premise and turns it into an absolutely believable and complex look at slavery.

Dana, a Black woman living in the 1970s, is recently married to Kevin, a white man. They move into a new home, and strange things begin happening. Namely, Dana is repeatedly sucked into the past, 1815 Maryland, to the slave plantation of Tom Weylin and his son, Rufus. She appears to be sent back in time to save Rufus every time his life is in danger. And she is only sent back to the present when her life is in danger. Dana comes to realize that Rufus is an ancestor of hers and a free black woman (child when she first meets her), Alice, will be mother to her ancestral line. With every trip back to 1815, Dana experiences first hand what it was like to be a slave and some of the complexities and powerlessness of slave life.

I thought this book was very successful. Though the premise is fantastical, the brutal realities that are explored take the book right back down to earth.

It's hard to believe this was first published over 40 years ago.

Original publication date: 1979
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 264 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Format/where I acquired the book: kindle library book
Why I read this: on my TBR list for a long time

Feb 10, 12:21pm

>108 japaul22: I just discovered Butler as well and I am halfway through Kindred. It seems like such a weird premise for a book, but she's amazingly talented and pulls it off. I can't wait to finish (but with the foreshadowing in the beginning, I'm reading through my fingers).

Feb 10, 1:00pm

Nice review of Kindred, Jennifer. I'll try to get to it later this year.

Feb 10, 1:52pm

I loved your comments on Kindred, Jennifer. Have you read Parable of the Sower? That, along with its sequel, is also wonderful. Butler was ahead of her time.

Feb 10, 2:41pm

>109 Yells: I'll look for your review when you finish! Yes, that foreshadowing at the beginning was very effective.

>110 kidzdoc: I hope you do, it's really excellent and I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.

>111 BLBera: I haven't, this was the first book by Olivia Butler that I had read. I have heard great things about Parable of the Sower.

Feb 10, 5:20pm

>111 BLBera: I read the Earthseed series last month (she was the chosen author on the Monthly Read thread) and that is what got me hooked on Octavia Butler and reading Kindred. I look forward to reading more of her stuff.

Feb 12, 4:34pm

>101 japaul22: I'm another fan of High Wind in Jamaica. Reading your review though, I'm wondering if I was influenced by the film of the same name with Anthony Quinn and James Coburn. I saw it on TV and then got it on DVD.The relationship between the children and the pirates came out really well there, as did the moral dilemma at the end. The hurricane scene was really convincing too.

Hughes has another gripping hurricane book, In Hazard.

>103 dchaikin: There wasn't really another option for travel for the period in which the book was set (sort of mid nineteenth century, but unspecified)

>108 japaul22: There was a 25th anniversary issue of Kindred, which was how I discovered it, prominently displayed in the bookstore. It was excellent as you say. I have to admit I'm a sucker for time travel.

Feb 13, 7:59am

>101 japaul22: I enjoyed A High Wind in Jamaica, but was reading it to my son at the time and I think part of the fun was that interactive thing. As I've mentioned in someone else's thread, there was that disconnect of reading a book to a 9-year-old boy that had a character named "Titty," but all intervals of snickering aside, it was a fun read with the kid.

Feb 14, 8:06am

Interesting comments from everyone on A High Wind in Jamaica. I could definitely see it working as a movie. And also reading it to a child would give it a different vibe. I think if my expectations had been set differently, I would have enjoyed it more.

Editado: Feb 14, 8:39am

#11 Constance Ring by Amalie Skram

Constance Ring is a 1885 Norwegian novel that explores the limited, powerless life of a young married woman. Constance's first marriage happens when she is still a very young woman to a husband 20 years older than her. At first things are ok, but she is increasingly disgusted by him and refuses any intimacy with him. She is young and beautiful and her husband tries everything to make her open to him, but in the end he turns to their also young and beautiful maid. When Constance finds out she considers divorce, to the horror of her family. They understand her situation and expect her to accept it.

Constance's second marriage starts slow, but she grows to love her husband. Discovering his past lovers, though, ruins her trust and love. Her last lover also betrays her, which is the final betrayal she can handle.

I thought this was a really good novel that explores the double standard imposed on women. Constance simply can't accept that men are allowed to indulge their sexual desires with any woman at any time and people simply accept it or pretend not to see it. She feels badly for the women of a lower social stratus who are even more powerless than she is. She feels betrayed that men she is married to and/or loves would indulge in these sexual relationships without love, whether it occurs before her relationship with them or during. And she seems to only partially ever awaken to the joy of physical intimacy with any of her lovers because of these thoughts and feelings.

I found this book in the 500 Great Books by Women that I've been exploring this year. I've read a bit of Norwegian literature (well, of what is available in English translation) and I hadn't heard of this author. I'm glad I read it and recommend it to readers who enjoy this era and topic.

Original publication date: 1885
Author’s nationality: Norwegian
Original language: Norwegian translated to English by Judith Messick
Length: 289 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Format/where I acquired the book: purchased used copy
Why I read this: 500 great books by women

Feb 14, 3:42pm

>74 japaul22: Catching up. Wonderful review of Americanah. My favorite read of last year. Someone told me The Thing Around Your Neck is even better so I’m getting to that one soon too.

Feb 15, 1:42pm

>117 japaul22: kind of fascinating and glad it still works. Great review!

>114 SassyLassy: I was thinking, if I know a hurricane is coming and my choices are hunker down or take a boat... the boat idea sounds a little iffy. : )

Editado: Feb 15, 1:44pm

Constance Ring sounds good, Jennifer. Great comments. I will have to check out 500 Great Books...

Because I need to add books to my WL.

Feb 16, 12:30pm

I started reading your thread this morning and realized by the second post that we have much in common, starting with a love of Eowyn Ivey. I reviewed The Snow Child as an ER in LT, and it became an instant favorite. I didn't realize she had written another book. Thank you, it went straight to my wishlist. Another shared favorite is Sigrid Undset. When I looked at your library, I learned that I have a quarter of your books (23%) in my library too.

Sadly, I do not share a fondness for Haldor Laxness and disliked Independent People quite a bit.

>24 japaul22: RIP rebeccanyc

>32 japaul22: I liked The Midwife's Tale (The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812), too, but that is all I have read by Ulrich. Which book would you recommend as your second favorite?

>45 dchaikin: Adding House Full of Women to my wishlist.

>52 avaland: PBS docu-drama of The Midwife's Tale? Running to see if I can stream it...

>56 japaul22: Echoing others in thanking you for sharing your day at the inauguration with us.

>60 kac522: "the arrangements were so interesting, especially This Land is Your Land, going into America the Beautiful" That stood out for me too.

Phew. Stopping for a bit, but I'll be back. Wonderful stuff

Feb 16, 6:54pm

The variety of responses to High Wind in Jamaica makes me curious to read it myself. I have a copy, so maybe I'll read it after The True Deceiver, which arrived today.

>108 japaul22: I read and liked Kindred several years ago. Her way of handling time travel reminded me of Connie Willis, especially her book Passage.

And I'm caught up!

Feb 17, 3:47pm

>121 labfs39: Glad to see you here! I remember quite enjoying your past threads as well. We do have a lot of favorites in common. For Laurel Thatcher Ulrich I think my favorite after A Midwife's Tale would be The Art of Homespun.

I enjoyed The True Deceiver, though not as much The Summer Book. Interested to see what you think and if you get to High Wind in Jamaica.

Feb 17, 4:07pm

#12 Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice
A recent review by nickelini of this book made me want to pick it up. I've committed to reading some books by Native Americans this year and this is written by a First Nations member. It has great detail about this Anishinaabe community trying to save some of their traditions and get back to their roots. It actually tied in surprisingly well to a nonfiction book I'm reading called Braiding Sweetgrass. A lot of Native American traditions especially regarding respect for the land are described in both.

This novel is a little hard to describe, but it's basically an apocalyptic suspense/thriller. The community is in northern Ontario and suddenly, as winter is beginning, they lose power and cell service. At first they believe it is just a fluke and will be repaired. But then they learn that it is not just their community that has lost power. They need to decide how, together or apart, they will survive the winter.

I really liked this. The setting is great, both in terms of the location and the cultural setting. I will say that it wasn't quite as "thrilling" to me as it was set up to be. I wasn't really surprised by any of it and I thought something even more dramatic would happen than what actually did happen. But, overall I'd still recommend it.

Original publication date: 2018
Author’s nationality: Wasauksing First Nation
Original language: English
Length: 224 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars
Format/where I acquired the book: kindle library book
Why I read this: caught my eye, Native American reading

Feb 17, 4:11pm

Regarding my last post, I need to confess my ignorance of best practice in the naming of what I call Native American or American Indian. I only heard the term "First Nations" recently, but I think it's how Canadians and maybe Australians refer to original inhabitants of their regions? In the U.S. we've moved from Indians to Native Americans to American Indians, and I'm not even perfectly certain which is most accepted currently. If anyone has any insight, I'd love to improve my understanding of this!

Feb 17, 4:27pm

>125 japaul22: Indians to Native Americans to American Indians

Had we really moved away from Native American as the collective term? The term I hear (and read in the local newspapers) the most seems to be Native Americans (when the tribes/nations/groups are not called by their own names (which is usually the case in Arizona)). American Indians seems to be used as an almost complete synonym and not as a replacement.

Feb 17, 4:31pm

#13 My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg

I'm sorry to say that though I love and admire Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I didn't think this book was very good. The problem with it is that it is a compilation of not her writing, but her speeches. And speeches don't translate very well to reading in my opinion.

Original publication date: 2016
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 370 pages
Rating: 2.5 stars
Format/where I acquired the book: purchased paperback
Why I read this: purchased several RBG books after her death

Editado: Feb 17, 4:35pm

>126 AnnieMod: You could definitely be right. I think the naming of the relatively new Smithsonian Museum as the National Museum of the American Indian swayed me to thinking that was the preferred name currently.

Editado: Feb 17, 5:25pm

Greetings! Well, I've finally caught up, here. I found Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee to be heartbreaking and depressing but definitely a book every non-Native American should read. A fictional account that had a lot to do with Native American history that I thought was very good was Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier, better known for writing Cold Mountain. Also, there is the much more obscure but enlightening novel The Surrounded by D'Arcy McNickle that I read a couple of years back.

I've never read A High Wind in Jamaica but very much enjoyed Hughes' two novels about Europe between the world wars and the rise of Nazism, The Fox in the Attic and The Wooden Shepherdess. One is a sequel to the other, but I can't remember which is which right now. Anyway, I found them somewhat odd but very much worth reading.

I got curious about the Native American/American Indian question. A quick online search brought me to the Native American Rights Fund website. So that would be one "vote" for Native Americans. But it's a 50-year-old organization, so they would not be likely to change the name of the organization with changing terminology. I note that from there you can follow a link to "Indian Law News Bulletins {which} are a current awareness service of the National Indian Law Library." So that's a vote for "Indian." We also find "The American Indian College Fund" and "First Nations Development Institute."

Here's a relevant entry on Wikipedia, for whatever that's worth:
Common usage in the United States

The term Native American was introduced in the United States in preference to the older term Indian to distinguish the indigenous peoples of the Americas from the people of India.

In 1995, a plurality of indigenous Americans, however, preferred the term American Indian214 and many tribes include the word Indian in their formal title.

Criticism of the neologism Native American comes from diverse sources. Russell Means, a Native American activist, opposed the term Native American because he believed it was imposed by the government without the consent of natives. He has also argued that the use of the word Indian derives not from a confusion with India but from a Spanish expression en Dios meaning "in God"215verification needed (and a near-homophone of the Spanish word for "Indians", indios).

A 1995 U.S. Census Bureau survey found that more Native Americans in the United States preferred American Indian to Native American.214 Most American Indians are comfortable with Indian, American Indian, and Native American, and the terms are often used interchangeably.216 The traditional term is reflected in the name chosen for the National Museum of the American Indian, which opened in 2004 on the Mall in Washington, D.C.

That page links to a Wikipedia entry for Native American name controversy

An excerpt from this page is:
In the 20th and 21st centuries, indigenous peoples in the Americas had been active in discussions of how they wish to be known. They have pressed for the elimination of terms they consider to be obsolete, inaccurate, or racist. During the latter half of the 20th century and the rise of the American Indian rights movement, the United States government responded by proposing the use of the term "Native American" to recognize the primacy of indigenous peoples' tenure in the nation. The term has become widespread nationally but only partially accepted by various indigenous groups. Other naming conventions have been proposed and used, but none is accepted by all indigenous groups. Typically, each name has a particular audience and political or cultural connotation, and regional usage varies.


Feb 17, 6:33pm

First Nations is used in Canada and in the Pacific Northwest of the US.

Feb 17, 7:22pm

>129 rocketjk: Wow, thank you for all of that!

Feb 17, 7:50pm

Moon of the Crusted Snow caught my eye as well, Jennifer. My indigenous friends prefer Indigenous today. It's probably best to ask.

Feb 17, 9:51pm

>131 japaul22: You're welcome, but mostly it was just a bunch of cutting and pasting. :)

Feb 18, 1:31am

Oh wow, you found Moon of the Crusted Snow quickly. I'm glad you liked it too.

I see you've found lots of answers to your questions about names. I'll just add that in Canada, using Indian, American Indian, or Native American is generally frowned upon. We mostly use First Nations, Metis, and Inuit, or Indigenous which covers all three groups. Sometimes you'll see Aboriginal, perhaps more in a government or academic context. That word used to seem to me like it belonged only to Australia, but I'm getting used to hearing it for Canada too.

My all-time favourite First Nations novel is Kiss of the Fur Queen by Tomson Highway. Others that I really enjoyed were Green Grass Running Water by Thomas King and Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese. I think all of these are pretty quick reads. The other one I want to mention is Halfbreed by Maria Campbell. I read this memoir at university, but I hear she's published a new edition that includes the sexual abuse she suffered and that the original publisher took out. Humphf! I mean, I read between the lines and it's not a surprise that this was part of her experience. Anyway, she's Metis, so that's a unique angle that you don't come across often.

Happy reading!

Feb 19, 8:18am

In my work (journalism), I use the term Indigenous when I don't know the more specific tribal affiliation. That also works for Australia, Canada, etc. and I think it's a very safe term if you don't have more information. I always ask my subjects how they'd like to be affiliated for articles, but you can't exactly do that with novels... though possibly the author's bio or webpage might include it if you were interested in digging. Otherwise, you probably won't go wrong with Indigenous.

I've wishlisted Moon of the Crusted Snow... noted that the Kindle version is $4.99, but I'm trying to put the brakes on ebook buying for the moment (we'll see how long that lasts).

Feb 19, 9:14am

>108 japaul22: I'm pleased to see how much you enjoyed Kindred - I have a library hold on an e-book. It's come up a couple of times recently but at times when I've had more than enough to read so I've put it off, but I'm really looking forward to reading it. All the more so now given comments from you and others on this thread.

I'm also kind of pleased to note the American Indian/Native American debate, but only because I don't know either. I remember it came up in something I was writing on my CR thread last year and I really didn't know what to say - but I just assumed that that was because I'm European!

Feb 19, 12:28pm

>134 Nickelini: THank you, I'll add those suggestions to my list..

>135 lisapeet: Yes, you've stated the crux of my issue perfectly. In a situation where I can ask a person's preference, I definitely would, but for a more general term, I like knowing the Indigenous seems to be the most widely accepted/preferred currently.

>136 rachbxl: I had also put Kindred off for some reason, I think because it's often described as sci-fi which I'm generally not interested in. But the time travel in Kindred facilitates the exploration of slavery so it felt right and necessary.

Feb 25, 8:36am

#14 Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Braiding Sweetgrass is a collection of essays exploring Indigenous relationships with plants and the earth. Kimmerer is a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and also a botanist who teaches at traditional American universities. She explores the differences in how her Indigenous culture and the typical American culture teaches interaction with their environments. This book flipped a lot of narrative for me; even from our earliest origin stories, our cultures have a different relationship with the world. The Christian origin story of being shut out of the garden of Eden and of having the earth provided for our comfort and use is a huge contrast with the reciprocity involved in most Indigenous origin stories. My writing of that is hugely over-simplified, so please don't take offense. There isn't any culture-bashing here, even when the author takes a hard look at choices we've made as a nation. Kimmerer takes 385 pages to provide context and examples of how we can all treat our earth better - benefitting the plants and animals here and also benefitting ourselves in a reciprocal relationship. She has many essays on specific plants and how, seemingly by design, our responsible use can benefit both the plant and the human. I learned so much about sweetgrass, maples, strawberries, leeks, and many more native plants.

I highlighted hundreds of passages in this book. Some books change your point of view and thinking for the better and this one definitely verbalized a perspective that I was ready to hear. I loved Kimmerer's sentiment that everyone is Indigenous to some land. As a nation of immigrants in the U.S. and Canada (her focus areas) we should strive to create an indigenous mindset to our current land by learning about our national landscape and how we can live in a reciprocal relationship with the mutual environment that we share with plants and animals.

Certainly, there aren't easy answers here. We are a transient population. It's hard to connect with the land when you move through multiple diverse regions. It's hard to connect with the environment when you live removed from green spaces. It's hard to connect with plants when they are endangered from our actions. I think it's best to look at this book as a way to inspire a desire to connect with our environment. By spending time in it, I think most people will naturally want to protect it. I will say that one of the few highlights of this pandemic has been the incredible amount of time I've spent in our local woods behind our house with my two young boys. We've spent countless hours hiking through barely navigable paths, splashing in our creek, scrambling over rocks, looking at mushrooms and weird bugs. And they've spent countless more hours playing - masked :-) - with a small group of friends creating a whole world back in the woods. I feel lucky that we ended up living in an area that is both incredibly suburban and beautifully wooded.

I highly recommend reading this book. It's a slow book, a challenging book, and an uncomfortable book at times, but it really challenged my perspective in a good way and the ideas will definitely now make up a part of my worldview.

Original publication date: 2015
Author’s nationality: Citizen Potawatami Nation
Original language: English
Length: 385 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars
Format/where I acquired the book: library kindle
Why I read this: came up in searching for books on Indigenous culture