Jennifer's 2019 Reading (japaul22)

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Jennifer's 2019 Reading (japaul22)

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1japaul22
Dez 29, 2018, 12:32pm

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 age 9 and 6. I play the french horn in the U.S. Marine Band.

My reading is fairly predictable. 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 welcome all book discussion!

2japaul22
Editado: Jul 2, 2019, 7:04pm

Reading Plans:
library: An American Marriage and The Thirteenth Tale
group read of Pilgrimage
The Stone Angels

Library Holds:

Reading Outloud with my Kids
William (age 9):
The Vile Village by Lemony Snicket

Isaac (age 6):
Dragon Masters #7, #8, #9

Vocabulary
iniquitous
didactic
inveighed
fulminate
assiduity
orgulous
diuturnity
peroration
surfeit
cynosure
pablum
inchoate
peripeteias
apostasy
spurious
uxorious
solecism
solipsism
accrete
labile
inimical
palimpsest
immanent
atavistic
noisome
hortatory
parturition
agglutinative
otiose
recrudescence
matutinal - of, relating to, or occurring in the morning
exiguity - the quality or condition of being scanty or meager
abstruse - difficult to understand
prurient - characterized by an inordinate interest in sex
perspicacious - having or showing penetrating mental discernment; clear-sighted
integument - a natural outer covering or coat, such as animal skin or a membrane
palaver - idle chatter; talk intended to charm or beguile
coeval - originating or existing during the same period; lasting through the same era
sartorial - of or relating to a tailor or tailored clothing
ignominious - deserving shame or disgrace
liminal - intermediate between two states or conditions; transitional or indeterminate
2019:
revenant - one that returns after a lengthy absence or after death
pabulum - intellectual material that is bland, trite, or insipid
senescent - growing old, aging

3japaul22
Editado: Jul 2, 2019, 7:06pm

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
Trollope
Thomas Mann
Doestoevsky
Tolstoy
Haldor Laxness
Sigrid Undset
Faulkner
Zola
Scandinavian classics

4japaul22
Editado: Jul 2, 2019, 7:12pm

Books Read in 2019

January
1. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
2. Quicksand by Nella Larsen
3. SPQR by Mary Beard
4. The Sea House by Esther Freud
5. Augustus by John Williams
6. Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
7. The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson
8. Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston
9. Pointed Roofs by Dorothy Richardson

February
10. Becoming by Michelle Obama
11. Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver
12. The Colour by Rose Tremain
13. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
14. Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
15. Backwater by Dorothy Richardson
16. Proust and the Squid by Maryanne Wolf

March
17. Honeycomb by Dorothy Richardson
18. The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
19. The Kellys and the O'Kellys by Anthony Trollope
20. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
21. Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset on audio

April
22. During the Reign of the Queen of Persia by Joan Chase
23. Thousand Cranes by Yasunari Kawabata
24. Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
25. The Tunnel by Dorothy Richardson
26. Interim by Dorothy Richardson
27. Madame President by Helene Cooper
28. The Maze at Windermere by Gregory Blake Smith
29. The Bunner Sisters by Edith Wharton

May
30. Fools of Fortune by William Trevor
31. A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore
32. Educated by Tara Westover
33. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah on audio
34. Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier

June
35. Tombland by C.J. Sansom
36. The 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
37. Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan
38. Our Spoons Came from Woolworths by Barbara Comyns
39. Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
40. The Summer Without Men by Siri Hustvedt

5frahealee
Jan 9, 2019, 8:27pm

Hiya! Star dropped on top for a ticket to ride! Enjoy your year. =) Both BFBs and lesser counts. Many ingredients make for intriguing flavours and aromas from a full soup pot!

6japaul22
Jan 9, 2019, 1:36am

>5 frahealee: Welcome! Glad to see you here.

I've finally finished my first book. It seems to happen every year that I'm reading something long - often because I take vacation days over the holidays and can read something "non-portable". In this case, I read (well, reread) Crime and Punishment in a beautiful Folio Society Edition that I received last Christmas. Fantastic illustrations and a beautiful oversized hardcover edition.

7japaul22
Jan 9, 2019, 1:47am

#1 Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

I started off 2019 with a reread of a favorite that did not disappoint on a second reading. This book centers around Raskolnikov, a young student who is poor, ill, depressed, and possibly a bit insane. He decides to murder an old woman that he has pawned some items with and steal her stock and cash. Most of the novel concerns the aftermath of this event - how Raskolnikov deals with his fear of being caught, his guilt, and his changing life.

For a big, Russian classic, this book is a page turner. Though there is a lot of interior thought and some over-dramatic, long conversations, the story moves along pretty well. It's a book that I don't think you could read too many times; there is always something new to ponder or a new theme to follow. This time I was really interested in the way some of the characters were set up to parallel each other and then diverge in how they handle life differently.

I'm glad I took the time to reread this and highly recommend it for the first or second time to anyone.

Original publication date: 1866
Author’s nationality: Russian
Original language: Russian
Length: 512 pages
Rating: 5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: folio society edition, gift
Why I read this: reread

8NanaCC
Jan 9, 2019, 2:06am

>7 japaul22: This is a book that I keep meaning to read. I think that I will try to get to it this year. Thank you for the push.

9kac522
Jan 9, 2019, 4:11am

>8 NanaCC: Me, too!

>7 japaul22: It's always sort of scared me, but your review makes it sound almost accessible, so thank you! :) Maybe this is the year...

10lisapeet
Jan 10, 2019, 11:08am

>7 japaul22: I read it in high school and am not sure I got much out of it, or at least not what was there to be gotten. The books I read at that age that moved me really did so on such a visceral level, and that one didn't. So I imagine it would be a good one to revisit as an adult.

11AlisonY
Jan 10, 2019, 2:38pm

Great book to start off the year with! Also inspiring me to give it a go!

12frahealee
Editado: Jan 10, 2019, 7:16pm

Me too. It came as a free download from Kobo/ebook last year, alongside War and Peace, so I hope to tackle both before the year is out. I have only ever read The Idiot and Tolstoy's short stories, so am looking forward to diversifying. Anna Karenina and The Brothers Karamazov (supposedly in the gothic strain) are also on my TBR list. I usually support 'underdogs' and these selections are so well known that I have avoided them intentionally. Now it's time to chip away at them. Anyone else read these beasts recently/in past?

Zola was brought to my attention in a CanLit option about the art world in Paris, called The Painted Girls by Buchanan. Her novel made me want to seek him out, and study this realism thing. ; )

13jojoasdwer123
Jan 10, 2019, 4:54pm

I am accually currently reading a series of unfortunate events right now

#VFD

14dchaikin
Jan 10, 2019, 6:02pm

possibly a bit insane - possibly? Great book to kick off with. Curious which translator you used (and how they translated that opening paragraph).

15NanaCC
Jan 10, 2019, 6:33pm

>12 frahealee: I avoided Anna Karenina forever, and then I read it about five years ago. It was terrific, and not as intimidating as I thought it would be. I haven’t read the others, so can’t comment on those.

16japaul22
Jan 10, 2019, 6:48pm

Excited to inspire some contemplation of reading or rereading Crime and Punishment! I think it well worth it. I think it's much, much easier than The Brothers Karamazov. That one I need to reread sometime because I didn't get a lot of it.

>14 dchaikin: Dan, the translator for this edition was David McDuff. He did this in the 1990s, I think for Penguin Classics. I thought it read smoothly and I didn't notice often that it was translated. (You know how sometimes you can just tell it's not "right" or "original" - I didn't feel like that with this). Thinking too much about translations, especially for the Russians, makes me crazy. There are SO MANY translations out there and they really read very differently.

McDuff's first paragraph:
At the beginning of July, during a spell of exceptionally hot weather, towards evening, a certain young man came down on to the street from the little room he rented from some tenants in S--- Lane and slowly, almost hesitantly, set off towards K---n Bridge.

17dchaikin
Editado: Jan 10, 2019, 6:59pm

Thanks for posting the whole paragraph. They key for me is how they set up the atmosphere and the instability of Raskolnikov by this “almost hesitating.” Just an aesthetic, maybe. It should be hot and he should be unsteady, but not in a way casual observers (or readers) will notice.

Totally agree about C&C vs TBK, TBK is work. C&C is a rush.

18japaul22
Jan 10, 2019, 7:11pm

>17 dchaikin: I'm curious if you have a certain translation in mind that you think doesn't do this well? When I read this the first time I read Constance Garnett. I actually really like her Anna Karenina translation, but I don't think she works as well for Dostoevsky.

19dchaikin
Jan 10, 2019, 7:59pm

>18 japaul22: I wasn’t paying attention to translators then... I think it was Constance Garnet. I didn’t mind or even think about the translation at the time, though.

20lyzard
Editado: Jan 10, 2019, 8:46pm

I think not noticing a translator is the highest compliment you can pay them. I recently read The Song Of Bernadette and found it a completely smooth read with respect to its language; on the other hand, my edition of The Road Back was full of British-isms that kept jerking me out of the narrative. Both from the German but a very different standard of translation.

ETA: Oops, just realised I haven't posted here before---so, welcome back, Jennifer! :)

21ELiz_M
Jan 11, 2019, 12:12pm

>17 dchaikin: "At the beginning of July, during an extremely hot spell, towards evening, a young man left the closet he rented from tenants in S----y Lane, walked out to the street, ans slowly, as if indecisively, headed for the K----n Bridge."

Pevear & Volokhonsky translation

I thoroughly enjoyed TBK, even the dreaded "Grand Inquisitor" chapter fascinated me.

22dchaikin
Jan 11, 2019, 6:08pm

On an exceptionally hot evening early in July a young man came out of the garret in which he lodged in S. Place and walked slowly, as though in hesitation, towards K. bridge.

Constance Garnett. David Magarshack had the exact same opening. !! ?? I’m thinking I used an old paperback inherited/taken from my childhood home and my fuzzy memory recalls the word “garret” - and that connected my memory, hazy mind you, to an introduction by Magarshack. So, I suspect that is what I used.

23japaul22
Jan 11, 2019, 7:36pm

I love seeing all the different translation openings. They do all have a different flow and emphasize things differently. I have to admit to not being a fan of the P&V translations. I think they translate so literally that it always feels stilted to me. But I know many experts love them, so maybe I'm missing something!

>20 lyzard: Hi Liz - always good to see you here! Yes, a bad translation is a noticeable translation to me.

24auntmarge64
Jan 11, 2019, 1:16am

>4 japaul22: Crime and Punishment as an opener? Tip o' the hat to you!!!!!

>20 lyzard: Oh, I just love the movie of The Song of Bernadette! Completely corny now, but so delightful, and such great character actors (Vincent Price, Charles Bickford, Gladys Cooper, even Lee J. Cobb, although he'll always be the gangster in On the Waterfront for me.)

I'll definitely be following you this year.

25japaul22
Jan 12, 2019, 4:18pm

>24 auntmarge64: Thanks! I feel like I always start off the year with a big book because I'm home from work so can choose something "non-portable"!

I'll be following you as well!

26japaul22
Jan 12, 2019, 4:36pm

#2 Quicksand by Nella Larsen

This was a great find from the 1001 books to read before you die list. The brief googling I did about Nella Larsen made me interested to read her work. She was an American writer in the 1920s and is considered part of the Harlem Renaissance. She was mixed race, with a black father, possibly of Caribbean descent, and a Danish immigrant mother. I had never heard of her, which I find sad.

Quicksand is largely autobiographical and explores Helga's search for identity. When the novel opens, Helga is teaching at a black college in the South. She quickly becomes disillusioned, though, and wonders what this closed community is really achieving or even trying to achieve. This disillusionment will follow Helga through all of the different communities she subsequently belongs to. She first goes back to Chicago, where she was raised, thinking she will get aid from her white Uncle who has helped her in the past. But he has a new wife who won't acknowledge Helga at all. Helga is helped by a wealthy black woman who gives her some connections in Harlem and Helga moves to New York. There she is happy at first, living among educated and creative black society, but she again becomes disillusioned, partially with their isolation from wider American culture. She travels to Denmark to live with her Aunt. There she is fully welcomed, but realizes that she is treated mainly like a novelty. At first she appreciates the freedom she has to fully participate in Danish society, unlike in America, but again she becomes disillusioned. So she returns to New York.

At the end she falls into the most common and expected trap of religion, marriage, and childbearing. A sad and disappointing ending for this bright and yearning young woman.

I found the writing beautiful and mature and the themes of race and belonging explored deeply and subtly. This was a really excellent surprise and I look forward to reading Nella Larsen's other novel, Passing.

Original publication date: 1928
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 132 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: kindle edition, purchased
Why I read this: 1001 books group challenge

27dchaikin
Jan 12, 2019, 7:07pm

>26 japaul22: sounds wonderful, also sounds partially autobiographical. Noting Nella Larsen.

28kac522
Jan 12, 2019, 9:40pm

>26 japaul22: Glad to see you enjoyed Quicksand, because I have Passing on the TBR. The author sounds interesting to read about as well.

29auntmarge64
Jan 12, 2019, 1:55am

>25 japaul22: I'm home from work so can choose something "non-portable"!

And therein lies the joy of a Kindle :)

30japaul22
Jan 12, 2019, 2:23am

>29 auntmarge64: I have a kindle that I love and use a lot, but I also like to read traditional format books. And I’ve been waiting to reread Crime and Punishment until I would have time to read my enormous but beautiful Folio Society edition. I do love my kindle, though - I just got my third one for Christmas this year.

31BLBera
Jan 13, 2019, 4:33pm

I read Crime and Punishment in college, so it's time for a reread. I love the translation discussion. It reminds me that if a certain translation isn't working, to try another. There are lots of good ones available now. And it's nice to see translators get more credit than they used to.

I loved Passing but haven't read Quicksand. It sounds like a winner. It is too bad that Larsen isn't well known, probably mostly read in African American Lit classes.

32japaul22
Jan 13, 2019, 9:26pm

Glad to drum up some new and/or renewed interest in Nella Larsen - she definitely deserves to be more widely known.

#3 SPQR by Mary Beard

Mary Beard has put together an intelligent, in depth, and readable book about at ancient Rome. She covers Rome's founding, the changing politics (predominance of the Senate shifting to the Emperors), some of the famous (or infamous!) characters, and also the lives of the middle and lower classes. She really gives a good overall picture of the empire - it's people, politics, and how it hung together for so long. I really liked how she didn't get bogged down in any one famous person.

I think this is one of those books that, while I won't remember all the specific details, it will inform my awareness of all things Roman. I really didn't know much going in, so it was great to get a better picture of this long-lasting and influential empire.

Definitely recommended.

Original publication date: 2015
Author’s nationality: British
Original language: English
Length: 608 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased paperback
Why I read this: interested in the topic

33japaul22
Jan 14, 2019, 5:29pm

>2 japaul22: I've decided to keep a list here of words that I encounter in my reading that I need to look up to understand. Some of these are familiar and I feel like I get them, but I look them up to be able to verbalize the meaning. I think it will be interesting to see all the new words I learn in a year. I will go back and add the definitions as I have time.

34dchaikin
Editado: Jan 14, 2019, 5:40pm

>32 japaul22: Happy to read this. I was looking forward to your comments on this. Can’t count how many times I’ve thought about picking it up

35dchaikin
Jan 14, 2019, 5:41pm

>33 japaul22: love the word list!

36Simone2
Jan 16, 2019, 7:14pm

>26 japaul22: Passing is so good, even better than Quicksand in my opinion. I can recommend the audio version, read by Elizabeth Klett on LibriVox!

37auntmarge64
Jan 16, 2019, 10:40pm

>30 japaul22: Well, I'll admit that a Folio edition makes a difference. I have one for The Worst Journey in the World and the next time I read the book I'll pull out that copy. They are indeed lovely.

38japaul22
Jan 19, 2019, 9:08pm

#4 The Sea House by Esther Freud

I really liked this quiet but deep book about a woman who goes to a seaside town for a vacation/escape and to work on a project researching an architect who lived in the town briefly. Lily is in a relationship that she's not sure is working and quickly gets wrapped up in the architect's letters to his wife. There is also an alternate timeline of about 50 years previous that follows this wife, Elsa, and a deaf artist named Max who meet in the same seaside town.

This book is full of secrets and it doesn't seem Freud's intent to ever really unearth all of them. Instead, the parallels between characters and the quiet unfolding of events peel back some of the layers of secrecy. There's drama here, but it's presented in an understated way. I found the writing very effective. I'm looking forward to reading more by Esther Freud.

Original publication date: 2004
Author’s nationality: British
Original language: English
Length: 288 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: library kindle book
Why I read this: LT recommendation

39dchaikin
Jan 20, 2019, 9:52pm

enjoyed your review. I wasn't familiar with her.

40AlisonY
Jan 21, 2019, 12:55pm

>38 japaul22: I loved this when I read it last year. I think she's a very interesting writer - there's a great wistfulness to many of her characters. I've read 3 of her books now - I think this one was my favourite so far.

41japaul22
Jan 21, 2019, 1:21pm

>40 AlisonY: I'm sure you put this book on my TBR list, so thank you! I will definitely read more of her novels. Mr. Mac and Me sounds particularly appealing to me. I will also read Hideous Kinky since it's on the 1001 books to read before you die list.

42AlisonY
Jan 21, 2019, 1:31pm

>41 japaul22: i'm also keeping my eye out for a copy of Mr Mac and Me. I enjoyed Hideous Kinky, and also The Wild. Both have quite bohemian characters, but they're quite different. The Wild is darker.

43rachbxl
Jan 21, 2019, 1:44pm

>40 AlisonY:, >41 japaul22: Yes, Alison put this one on my wishlist as well! Enjoyed your review, Jennifer.

44japaul22
Jan 21, 2019, 7:15pm

#5 Augustus by John Williams

Augustus is John Williams's last of three novels and won him the National Book Award, very deservedly so. I found this historical novel about the Roman Emperor Augustus to be smart, emotional, and creatively done. I'm so glad I read this after reading Mary Beard's SPQR because I think I understood all of what Williams did much more deeply. He grounds his book in accurate and detailed historical detail, and creates memorable and flushed out characters of those involved.

Williams chooses to use the technique of letters and journals to tell this story. Octavius Caesar (Augustus) is revealed through the experiences of his friends, enemies, wives, and daughter. His daughter, Julia, is explored particularly well. It was nice to have an active female voice in this world of men. In a last, brief section, Augustus finally gets his own voice, summing up his life in a succinct letter.

Much of Williams's view of Augustus seems to be that history happened to him. Yes, he made decisions over his time as Emperor and greatly influenced the empire and life of Rome, but "fate" and "destiny" is also an important concept here. As Augustus says at the end of his life "It was destiny that seized me that afternoon at Apollonia nearly sixty years ago, and I chose not to avoid its embrace."

Williams also explores the rise to power and loss/changing of friendships, dutiful marriage vs. love, and the drama of choosing a successor - a problem for most long-lived emperor/kings.

I really enjoyed this work and recommend it highly to anyone with a grounding in Roman history. I can't say how it would work for someone who didn't know a bit of the history first. It paired very well with SPQR.

Original publication date: 1972
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 305 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased NYRB book
Why I read this: on my shelf, fit with SPQR

45dchaikin
Jan 22, 2019, 5:41pm

Enjoyed your review and interesting to see how reading Beard affected your reading of this. Fun combination. I would have trouble with this because of my own opinions on who Augustus may or may not have been - not the facts, but in how I extrapolate from them. Williams would have to defuse my inner critic.

46japaul22
Jan 22, 2019, 7:29pm

>45 dchaikin: I think I knew just enough about Augustus to understand John Williams's take on the era but not so much that I had my own ideas to be disrupted. Probably why it worked so well for me.

47japaul22
Jan 23, 2019, 2:11pm

#6 Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
I've been meaning to try Sarah Moss for a while now, so when avaland/Lois mentioned how much she was enjoying Moss's new book, I snapped it up. I was not disappointed.

This is a brief novel, only 130 small pages, but it delivers a big story. Sylvie and her family join a group of anthropological students who are spending a couple of weeks over summer break living as people may have in pre-Roman times. It's really not a very successful venture and doesn't seem particularly well thought out to begin with. Then things get really out of hand as the men involved become obsessed with building a ghost wall (a wall with human skulls on it meant to scare away the invading Romans). This ancient way of life meshes in a toxic way with the family father's abusive nature.

I liked this book and definitely recommend it, though I thought the story could have been better explored with some added material. But, then again, I prefer long books - if you like your novels succinct I think you'll be happy the way this was written.

Original publication date: 2018
Author’s nationality: British
Original language: English
Length: 130 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased
Why I read this: interested in the author, LT rec

48RidgewayGirl
Jan 23, 2019, 4:41pm

I just picked up Ghost Wall from my library a few days ago. Can't wait to get to it. I really loved Cold Earth, but haven't read anything else by Sarah Moss, although I've always wanted to.

49avaland
Jan 23, 2019, 12:38am

>47 japaul22: I have yet to put words to paper (so to speak) about Ghost Wall, but it's coming. I have read her Cold Earth and more recently Bodies of Light. I happened to see Ghost Wall advertised in a bookstore trade publication as I finished Bodies, so ordered it. I also have a copy of The Tidal Zone and Night Waking in the pile.

50japaul22
Jan 27, 2019, 9:20pm

>48 RidgewayGirl: and >49 avaland: I'll be very interested to hear thoughts from both of you - especially regarding whether you thought the length was "right".

51japaul22
Jan 27, 2019, 9:32pm

#7 The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson

This was one weird nonfiction book. I had no idea this was a "thing" but apparently there is a small but dedicated group of men (at least there were no women mentioned in the book) who are obsessed with the Victorian art of fly tying. Fly tying, which I had never heard of, stemmed from the need for a lure for salmon, who will lunge at something floating on the water and be caught that way. So feathers were used and cut and tied in a manner to attract the fish. However, like other Victorian excesses, this turned into an art utilizing feathers from the rarest birds possible that were being discovered and brought back by explorers and naturalists of the time. Of course the obsession with birds and feathers was also a part of women's fashion and the Victorians quickly hunted many of these prized species to extinction. Today there is still a fringe group that covets the feathers of the extinct or nearly extinct birds so that they can create their fly ties (which they never even fish with).

So where does the "thief" part of the title come in? Well, a young flautist who also became obsessed with fly tying decides to rob a natural history museum and steals hundreds of birds to use and sell their feathers. This book is the author's obsession to figure out how this art of salmon fly tying came to be, whether this young man had an accomplice, and if he can recover any of the birds in the name of science.

This was an incredible story and quite fun to read, though I was rolling my eyes and shaking my head through much of it. It's hard to believe these fringe groups exist, but then again, the internet makes all things possible. My main annoyance with the book is that this is one of those nonfiction books where the author is a character - his quest for the truth and his personal issues color some of the writing. I didn't mind it terribly in this book, but I'd pretty much always prefer that authors not make it "all about them" when they write nonfiction.

Original publication date: 2018
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 320 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: library kindle
Why I read this: read a review somewhere that piqued my interest

52RidgewayGirl
Jan 27, 2019, 10:10pm

>50 japaul22: I just finished Ghost Wall and I think that the length was perfect for the story she was telling. I did turn the last page and feel unhappy that it was over, but she really pared the book down to its essential length. As someone who is happy to read a novel that arguably could have been much shorter, just because I enjoy spending time in the world of a well-written novel, I would have liked more, but I think it ended at the right place.

53avaland
Jan 27, 2019, 10:25pm

>50 japaul22: I finished the book a week or so ago, but haven't reviewed it. I did think the length was perfect for the kind of book it was.

54lisapeet
Jan 28, 2019, 5:05am

I read both Ghost Wall and The Feather Thief in the last two months. Feather Thief was nutty, right? Those weird spectrum-y obsessive men. (NOT implying anything negative about being on the spectrum, just that the subculture seemed to be pretty well shot through with them.) It's a little sad to read of a grand obsession that doesn't end up getting resolved, but I enjoyed the journey anyway.

55japaul22
Jan 28, 2019, 12:50pm

>52 RidgewayGirl: >53 avaland: In the end, I think you're both right that the length suits the story. I'm just not used to a book that length. I'm curious to read more of her work. Any favorites?

>54 lisapeet: Yes, so nutty! I had a really hard time getting over the fact that none of them seem to actually fish with their creations! Although, when you're spending that much on feathers I do understand why! It's an art form instead of a practicality for them.

56BLBera
Jan 28, 2019, 1:16pm

I enjoy your comments, Jennifer. I'm waiting to pick up a copy of Ghost Wall from the library. I'm adding Ester Freud to my list. I am not familiar with her.

I like the idea of a word list.

57japaul22
Jan 28, 2019, 3:40pm

>56 BLBera: Thank you! I'll be curious to see how you like Ghost Wall.

58RidgewayGirl
Jan 28, 2019, 3:46pm

Jennifer, the only other book of hers that I've read was Cold Earth, which I really enjoyed. It was regular novel length, so it might be more to your liking. I do plan to read more by Sarah Moss.

59japaul22
Jan 29, 2019, 1:18pm

#8 Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston

"This is such an important book" may be something that we toss around too often, but in this case it certainly applies. In Barracoon, Zora Neale Hurston interviews Cudjo Lewis in the late 1920s. Cudjo was brought to the American South as a slave in 1860 on the last shipment of African slaves, decades after the slave trade was supposedly outlawed. Hurston gives this man a chance to tell his story in his own voice. He relates his life in Africa - he was captured at age 19 by a rival tribe - and of his trip to America. He was a slave for about 5 years, but when he gained his freedom after the Civil War, he had to try to craft a life for himself in a hostile land. It will be no surprise that he had a hard and tragic life.

I loved that Hurston writes his words in his dialect, truly giving this man a voice after a lifetime of being treated as subhuman. This is a brief book that I really think everyone should read.

Original publication date: 2018, written in 1927-9
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 169 pages
Rating: 5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased
Why I read this: interested in the topic

60dchaikin
Editado: Jan 29, 2019, 1:27am

>59 japaul22: an amazing window, no? Glad you enjoyed (if that's the right word).

61japaul22
Jan 30, 2019, 7:17pm

#9 Pointed Roofs by Dorothy Richardson

Glutton for punishment that I am, I've decided to read Dorothy Richardson's Pilgrimage this year. This is a 13 part 2000 page semi-autobiographical novel told completely from the protagonist, Miriam's, point of view. I've decided to count each part as a book for my thread this year. Richardson is viewed as the first author (before Proust or Woolf) to attempt a stream of consciousness style. Her book didn't really catch as much attention as some think it should have considering the innovative style. One reason for that may have been that publishing a pro-German book in England 1915 just wasn't going to go over well.

Pointed Roofs introduces us to a young Miriam. She is seventeen and her family has fallen on hard times financially, so she decides to go to Germany as a governess to earn her keep. She ends up in a situation where she is living with a handful of other girls in a boardinghouse and she is responsible for teaching English. This mainly seems to consist of her listening to the German girls read in English and conversing with them in English. In between we hear Miriam's thoughts about living with so many women (not fun), wondering about her family back in England, cultural observations about Germany, and her lack of teaching skills.

I like Miriam. She seems to be the sort of person that is hard to get along with. She's sort of stand-offish and opinionated and not one to open up. But her voice and observations strike me as honest and authentic and I'm enjoying getting to know her.

Original publication date: 1915
Author’s nationality: English
Original language: English
Length: 185 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased Virago edition
Why I read this: 1001 books, group read

62baswood
Jan 31, 2019, 9:45am

>61 japaul22: I will be interested in following your reading Dorothy Richardson's Pilgrimage series. I came across Richardson when reading H G Wells. He will be the character Hypo Smith in Richardsons semi autobiography. Perhaps I can read Richardson vicariously through your reviews as I probably won't get to her books sometime soon.

63AlisonY
Jan 31, 2019, 10:07am

>61 japaul22: really interesting, and quite the challenge at 2,000 pages! I've not heard of Dorothy Richardson before - off to Google her....

64japaul22
Jan 31, 2019, 2:01pm

>62 baswood: >63 AlisonY: I'm really interested in Dorothy Richardson. I think it's interesting that she predates Woolf and Proust but is so little known. I only heard of her because of the 1001 books to read before you die list and the Virago publications group. Pilgrimage isn't even in print now as far as I can tell. I'm purchasing used Virago publications, I think from the 1970s.

65dchaikin
Jan 31, 2019, 6:32pm

I’m also looking forward to following your progress. I know someone here had a go at these 2000 pages several years ago. Maybe StevenTX ??

66japaul22
Jan 31, 2019, 6:38pm

>65 dchaikin: Yes, StevenTX did. Also there was a Virago group read and I'm not sure if some Club Read members were involved in that.

67BLBera
Fev 3, 2019, 3:16pm

>59 japaul22: I am a Hurston fan but haven't read this one. It's getting a lot of love around here.

I am unfamiliar with Richardson but will certainly look for this although it does sound a bit daunting.

I'm still waiting for my copy of Ghost Wall from the library. At least now I am #1 on the reserve list, so I shouldn't have to wait too long.

68japaul22
Fev 3, 2019, 4:12pm

>67 BLBera: I'm not sure I've found your main thread - can you point me in the right direction?

I'm excited to hear what you think of Ghost Wall. And Barracoon was such a good book - it's an important slice of American history to hear through a voice that lived it.

69BLBera
Fev 3, 2019, 4:38pm

Sorry, Jennifer.

Here it is: http://www.librarything.com/topic/303237

70japaul22
Fev 5, 2019, 8:08pm

#10 Becoming by Michelle Obama

Like the rest of you, I loved this book. I listened to it on audio and thought it was fantastic to hear Obama's voice read her own words. It made me so nostalgic for their time in the White House and I teared up many times. It's sad to think how much of their hard work has been undone.

She pulls no punches when it comes to describing her feelings about Donald Trump, and I appreciated that. I loved hearing about her childhood and early life with Barack. Though there isn't much here that is revolutionary, it's worth the time to read or listen to. She pulls some consistent themes through which makes it deeper than just a conglomeration of memories.

Original publication date: 2018
Author’s nationality: English
Original language: English
Length: 15 hours
Rating: 5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: library audiobook
Why I read this: why not?

71karspeak
Fev 5, 2019, 8:24pm

>70 japaul22: I very rarely cry, so I was surprised how often I teared up while reading this, too.

72japaul22
Fev 5, 2019, 8:27pm

>71 karspeak: Me neither - and very rarely from books.

73VivienneR
Fev 5, 2019, 8:34pm

>70 japaul22: I felt the same about Michelle Obama's book. Both of the Obamas were wonderful. I read the print version but I placed a hold on the audiobook because her narration is said to be beautiful.

74BLBera
Fev 5, 2019, 8:54pm

Hi Jennifer - I read the print book. A couple of the things that stuck with me were how much she hates politics and how much pressure there was to be "perfect" as the first black family in the White House. It did make me feel more optimistic than I've felt in a while.

I would like to listen to the audio; I imagine it would be great to hear her voice reading it.

75NanaCC
Fev 5, 2019, 10:44pm

>70 japaul22: There are so many things that have stuck with me, such as her not being able to go out on the balcony to have her morning coffee without the secret service approving it. I can’t imagine living with all of the restrictions. The fact that she and the girls found it so “freeing” to go skiing because once the helmet and goggles were on, no one would know who they were. There were so many little things like that, which were actually huge in their day to day.

76lisapeet
Fev 5, 2019, 1:38am

She hooked me in the intro, describing what it felt like to be by herself for the first time in years and make a plate of cheese toast. That was a really wonderful passage.

77Jim53
Fev 5, 2019, 1:46am

Just stopped by and took a bullet on Nella Larsen. I'll be trying to fit her in soon. Thanks for the pointer!

78avaland
Fev 6, 2019, 10:59am

>59 japaul22: Agree with you re: Barracoon.

>70 japaul22: I do want to get to Michelle's book on audio. I have listened to a fair number of memoirs written by women that way (Hillary, Madeline Albright, Anita Hill...etc). There is definitely something about hearing it in their own voices.

79dchaikin
Fev 8, 2019, 6:13pm

>70 japaul22: just quietly post... yay

>76 lisapeet: Her opening got to me too, and I thought it set the tone for the whole book and made it hers, as opposed to, say, the wife of.

80japaul22
Fev 9, 2019, 4:55pm

#11 Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

In Kingsolver's latest novel she explores the topics of middle class poverty and the destruction of the earth by using two different time periods. The modern day story is of Willa Knox and her family. Willa is an out-of-work writer and her husband, Iano, has lost his college professorship and pension after his college closes. They move to a house they've inherited in Vineland, NJ. Both of their adult children are also down on their luck so they are still caring for them and Iano's father, who is elderly and dying. The other story is set in the late 1800s in the same town, where Thatcher Greenwood brings his wife and mother-in-law to a home that they have inherited. He teaches in the town and is dismayed at the hostility he finds when he tries to teach the science of the day (Darwinism). He also meets a next door neighbor, Mary Treat, who is a respected natural scientist. These two timelines share a common desire for something better in life, but obstacles at every turn. And crumbling homes - literally built so poorly that the houses are falling down.

I usually enjoy Kingsolver's work and there is certainly something in this book to appreciate, but I found the message very heavy-handed and a bit over-dramatic. I'm also not quite sure that the two timelines worked so well together. The whole thing felt a bit unfocused or forced.

I'd like to hear if others have the same opinion, but at the same time I can't recommend this as a book to run out and read immediately.

Original publication date: 2018
Author’s nationality: English
Original language: English
Length: 480
Rating: 3 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: library kindle
Why I read this: like the author

81dchaikin
Fev 10, 2019, 6:50pm

Interesting. I found Kingsolvers Lacuna also, as you put it, heavy handed. I still liked it, but I did not like that aspect of it at all. I’m curious about this one, and so was happy to read your review, but I’m maybe not curious enough to read it.

82japaul22
Fev 10, 2019, 12:09am

>81 dchaikin: I really liked the Lacuna and found Unsheltered much less developed and more preachy. So, I'd maybe skip it if I were you!

83kac522
Editado: Fev 10, 2019, 2:59am

>81 dchaikin:, >82 japaul22: I've enjoyed Kingsolver's essay collections much more than her fiction. I tolerate, even expect, a point of view in an essay, and she does a wonderful job of making her case, even when I may not agree.

But I want fiction to be fiction--yes it can have a moral, but don't give me an Op-Ed piece in the middle of the story. After reading The Poisonwood Bible I stopped trying to read her fiction.

84dchaikin
Fev 12, 2019, 6:29pm

>83 kac522: essays sound like a good way to go. I’ve been curious about and have put off The Poisonwood Bible so long, I might give it a try anyway, one of these days.

85kac522
Editado: Fev 12, 2019, 3:58am

>84 dchaikin: Thing is, I don't remember feeling this way about the early books (Animal Dreams, The Bean Trees).

86BLBera
Fev 13, 2019, 9:27pm

>80 japaul22: Jennifer - I think I liked Unsheltered more than you did, but I really liked the modern timeline and resented the jumping into the past for most of the book. I warmed up to Mary's story by the end, but the juxtaposition didn't work well, I thought. I think it would have been a better book with just Willa's story. And it was a bit heavy handed with the environmental stuff.

I didn't like Lacuna, perhaps my least favorite Kingsolver.

87japaul22
Fev 14, 2019, 8:23pm

>86 BLBera: I agree that the modern timeline was much stronger than the historical one. This is odd for me, because I generally feel the opposite when authors try this technique. There was plenty in Unsheltered to enjoy, it just didn't work very well for me.

88japaul22
Fev 16, 2019, 9:32pm

#12 The Colour by Rose Tremain

A crazy work schedule is leaving me with no brains leftover to review right now. I did very much enjoy this historical fiction set during the New Zealand gold rush, late 1800s. If you like well-written historical fiction with a strong setting, good character development, and a strong female character, you'll probably like this.

Original publication date: 2003
Author’s nationality: British
Original language: English
Length: 352
Rating: 4 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: library book
Why I read this: 1001 books group read

89BLBera
Fev 17, 2019, 7:00pm

I've loved the books by Tremain that I've read, Jennifer. This one gets added to the list.

90japaul22
Fev 18, 2019, 9:06pm

#13 An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

In An American Marriage, newly married Roy and Celestial find their world and marriage turned upside down when Roy is falsely accused of a crime and sentenced to 12 years in prison. Roy and Celestial are African American, from different backgrounds, but both making their way in the world with optimism and budding success when Roy is sent to prison. There is never any question about whether Roy is guilty, he isn't and that isn't what the book is about. In fact, no one seems surprised at all that a black man would be sent to jail for a crime he didn't commit - and that is one of the things this book is about. It's also about what marriage means and if it can survive distance and separation.

This book is told from alternating points of view, both Roy and Celestial's, and also their mutual friend, Andre, who complicates things romantically for Celestial. There was a lot in this book that I really liked; interesting themes and good and believable character development. I didn't particularly like the addition of Andre's voice, though. I thought he ended up speaking to Celestial's side of things too much and I lost some of her voice in the book.

It's a strongly written book and I enjoyed reading it, but I didn't think it achieved quite what it set out to.

Original publication date: 2018
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 320
Rating: 3.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: library kindle
Why I read this: lots of buzz

91dchaikin
Fev 20, 2019, 6:42pm

>88 japaul22: hmm. Well, I like Rose Tremain

>90 japaul22: this title turned me off, but after reading your review, I’m interested. I’ll visit a similar story when I get to If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin (which happens to be in theaters now...)

92japaul22
Fev 25, 2019, 1:10am

#14 Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

I loved this book and was sort of surprised at how well done it was. The books opens in a 1880s pub on a cold rainy night when an injured man shows up carrying a dead 4 year old girl who appears to have drowned in the river. He collapses from his injuries and she, hours later, is unexpectedly no longer dead. The rest of the book strives to discover who this little girl, who can't talk, is. Is she the child of a couple who's daughter was kidnapped two years ago? Is she the daughter of a young woman who killed herself and may have drowned her child a few towns over? Or neither?

The book has a mystical, fairy tale quality to both the plot and the telling. But it is balanced with some very realistic, down to earth characters. It has the feel of a mystery genre at points as well. I found it very entertaining and well-written. Definitely recommended.

I read Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale a few years back and liked it, but I don't remember it being as good as this. This was a welcome surprise.

Original publication date: 2018
Author’s nationality: British
Original language: English
Length: 480
Rating: 4.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: library kindle
Why I read this: new release I was interested in

93BLBera
Fev 25, 2019, 1:36am

>92 japaul22: I'm waiting for this from the library, Jennifer. Like you, I don't remember being too impressed with The Thirteenth Tale, so now I have something to look forward to.

94japaul22
Fev 25, 2019, 1:38am

>93 BLBera: I'll look forward to hearing if you like it. Something about the tone really worked for me. I'm curious to hear if it works for others.

95AlisonY
Fev 26, 2019, 1:58pm

>92 japaul22: sounds good. I remember liking The Thirteenth Tale, but it can't have been that great as I don't remember a single thing about it now! Will look out for this one.

96rhian_of_oz
Fev 26, 2019, 3:07pm

>92 japaul22: I'm another one who liked The Thirteenth Tale but can't remember much about it. I've added Once Upon a River to my wishlist.

97Jim53
Fev 26, 2019, 12:28am

>96 rhian_of_oz: Me three (or four, or however many it is).

98japaul22
Fev 27, 2019, 1:55am

#15 Backwater by Dorothy Richardson

Backwater is the second part of the 13 that make up her book, Pilgrimage. In this part, Miriam has come back to England after being a governess in a German school for young women. Now she is teaching in a school for younger girls, hired by the Misses Perne, two sisters. Miriam thinks about many topics that a teenage girl would - attraction to young men and feeling attractive to them, ideas about religion, reading novels late at night. She also finds out her mother needs surgery and their family can no longer afford the nice house they've been living in. So she needs to find a job that pays more than her current one. She resigns from her job and hopes to find a job as live-in governess to a wealthy family.

I liked this installment even more than the first. I'm getting used to Richardson's writing and finding a lot of insight and beauty in it. Looking forward to continuing on.

Original publication date: 1916
Author’s nationality: British
Original language: English
Length: 147 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased virago edition (not currently in print that I've found
Why I read this: 1001 books, group read

99ELiz_M
Fev 27, 2019, 2:51am

>98 japaul22: For some reason, I really liked the awkwardness and unevenness of Pointed Roofs so much more than Backwater, which seemed more straightforward and a little....duller. I still love the writing and have just started Honeycomb.

100japaul22
Fev 28, 2019, 12:52pm

>99 ELiz_M: Interesting, Liz. I assumed that I was getting a feel for the writing, rather than the writing being more traditional. I'll have to reassess!

101japaul22
Editado: Mar 1, 2019, 6:38pm

#16 Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain by Maryanne Wolf

This is a fascinating look at how humans developed reading and writing and what reading does to the brain. It is divided into 3 sections: the first a history of the development of reading, the second a look at how children learn to read and how it changes the brain, and the third looking at learning anomalies such as dyslexia and what they further tell us about the brain.

I really liked this. The language can be a bit dense and scientific, especially in the latter sections, but it was very interesting. One of my big takeaways was the idea that reading is not an inherited skill but something that each human attempts to learn from scratch. I also was very interested to read about the way the skill of reading changes neural pathways and the implications for how these pathways can lead to a deeper way of thinking in many ways.

Wolf briefly addresses her concerns about how an increasing digital age may again change our neural pathways, much as happened when the Greeks discussed the move to written word away from "dialogues" and memorization for oral retelling. This was a big concern for Socrates, at the cusp of this mental shift.

Original publication date: 2007
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 306 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased paperback
Why I read this: interested in the subject matter

102lisapeet
Mar 1, 2019, 3:44pm

>101 japaul22: I've had that one on the shelf for ages. Glad to hear you liked it.

103BLBera
Mar 2, 2019, 3:43pm

>101 japaul22: I love neuroscience stuff, especially related to reading, and have had this on my shelf for a while. Your comments make me want to pick it up right away.

By the way, I am loving The Great Believers; I'm thinking about the characters even when I'm not reading.

104japaul22
Mar 3, 2019, 1:25am

#17 Honeycomb by Dorothy Richardson
Honeycomb is the third volume in Richardson's Pilgrimage series. In this, Miriam attempts to make more money by being a governess in the wealthy home of the Corries. She is just responsible for the Corrie children and in her considerable free time, she reads, ponders life, and is introduced to the scandalous society of the Corries. She meets divorced couples and hears about Oscar Wilde and his trial for homosexuality. So her world seems both wider and smaller in this volume as she is introduced to a wider berth of society but is also confined to a country house.

I'm finding it interesting to think about her different teaching circumstances so far - in Germany as a companion to speak English with girls basically her age, in England at a boarding school with middle class girls, and now at an English estate with only one family of children. Her interactions with the outside world differs greatly in these three situations and of course the teaching itself is different as well.

In this novel, I felt like I lost Miriam's voice a little when she got so involved with thinking about the Corries and their friends. But then the last section completely turned that around. She goes home for the summer and two of her sisters marry and then she spends time at a seaside resort with her mother. In this section, Miriam's voice felt strong, authentic, and honest again to me.

I've now finished what is generally grouped as the first volume of this four volume/13 novel work. I'm very much enjoying it and I'm glad to have started this as my project for the year.

Original publication date: 1917
Author’s nationality: British
Original language: English
Length: 141 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased paperback
Why I read this: 1001 books group read, year long project

105dchaikin
Mar 4, 2019, 6:34pm

Fun following your progress through Pilgrimage.

106japaul22
Mar 8, 2019, 7:34pm

#18 The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

What a wonderful, wonderful book. Makkai has brought to life the tragedy, fear, and trauma of the AIDS crisis in 1980s Chicago. She does this through wonderfully real characters, the kind of characters who you think about and wonder what they are doing while you aren't reading the book. It's sad - I rarely cry at books and couldn't contain it here - but it's so beautifully done that it isn't as depressing as it could be, somehow.

Makkai uses an alternating timeline, between 1985-90 and 2015, and sometimes these don't work for me, but here I thought it was perfect. Though I never wanted to leave the 1980s characters, flashing forward to 2015 helped put the crisis in perspective - sometimes deepening the sadness, sometimes showing the lasting trauma it cause for those who survived, and sometimes giving glimmers of hope.

Highly recommended - please give it a try!

Original publication date: 2018
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 432 pages
Rating: 5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: library kindle
Why I read this: following the crowd

107thorold
Mar 8, 2019, 8:08pm

>106 japaul22: Oh dear! It really does seem that I’m the only person who didn’t think this book was amazing... Maybe I missed something?

108japaul22
Mar 8, 2019, 8:19pm

>107 thorold: Maybe I connected to it partially because I kept thinking how I was growing up while this was all happening, right outside Chicago. I was only 7 in 1985, but I remember watching that "made for TV" movie about Ryan White in middle school in the 90s and not knowing at all about AIDS beyond that. It was meaningful to me to read a novel about all this that was happening right under my nose when I was too young and too sheltered to even know it was happening. And I did think the characters were so well developed and the Chicago setting worked so well for me.

109AlisonY
Mar 8, 2019, 8:59pm

>106 japaul22: noting this one. Not heard of it before.

110thorold
Mar 8, 2019, 9:04pm

>108 japaul22: Yes, that’s probably it - it grabs you because it’s stuff you didn’t know about at the time, whilst I’m asking what it is that Makkai can add to all the books I was reading about the AIDS crisis 30 years ago. Which is probably unfair.

111lisapeet
Mar 8, 2019, 12:37am

One of the other criticisms I read about the book was that even though its heart was in the right place, it read like someone writing about the AIDS crisis who didn't live through it. And while I think that may be a little unfair itself—certainly it's not a requirement that an author have lived the reality of the fiction they write—I also totally get the comment and wonder if I might not agree with her when I do get to it. This from a friend who's my age with a lot of similar background, so I know exactly what she means. It was a really raw time and I think I'd have a low tolerance for anything that doesn't ring true or tries too hard in trying to capture it. I still plan to read the book, though, because I've been curious about it for a while and that's a time period I particularly like reading about.

112kac522
Mar 8, 2019, 3:10am

>108 japaul22: Thanks for the review, Jennifer. I can't remember seeing Makkai's name before, but always good to hear of another Chicago-based author, since I've lived in the city for 40+ years and grew up in Park Ridge. This might not be the book for me, but I'll take a look at her other books.

113BLBera
Mar 9, 2019, 12:08pm

Jennifer - I also loved it. For me, one of the things that really made the changing timelines work is the parallel between Nora's story and Fiona's. Makkai doesn't hit us over the head with the comparison, yet I found it very powerful. The characters were so well done.

114NanaCC
Mar 9, 2019, 6:35pm

>106 japaul22: This has been getting so much buzz lately, that I think your review tipped me in the direction of adding to my wishlist. When I’ll get to it is another story.

115japaul22
Mar 9, 2019, 10:08pm

>111 lisapeet: interesting. I guess the thought that the author didn't live it so doesn't know how to write about it doesn't deter me from liking the book. I read a lot of historical fiction and that is always the case - it's the author's creativity at work to imagine what a certain era was like (hopefully with some good research involved). Maybe this topic is "too close" and since there are people who did live through this still alive, certainly she wouldn't be able to actually recreate the experience those people had while still writing a novel (vs. nonfiction). Without that expectation though, I think the book was moving and well-done.

116Simone2
Mar 10, 2019, 7:13am

>106 japaul22: I will. Great review.

117japaul22
Mar 19, 2019, 4:46pm

#19 The Kellys and the O'Kellys by Anthony Trollope

I read this early Trollope novel with a group read led by Liz, always a rewarding experience. This is set in Ireland - different than I'm used to reading from Trollope, where I'm used to an English setting. There's a bit more mixing between the social spheres here. I also felt the characters were a little more one-sided than in Trollope's later novels.

This novel revolves around two women, Fanny and Anty, who inherit large fortunes and therefore become the target of marriage. There is manipulation and threat from those who stand to benefit if they don't marry or marry differently than they would prefer.

I liked this, and it's interesting to see the early seeds of Trollope's later excellence, but I wouldn't say it is quite present yet. Enjoyable, certainly, but most likely to be enjoyed by those with a good grounding in Trollope already.

Original publication date: 1848
Author’s nationality: British
Original language: English
Length: 516 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: kindle
Why I read this: group read

118RidgewayGirl
Mar 19, 2019, 1:29am

>106 japaul22: If I had to pick just one, The Great Believers was the best book I read last year. And I'm still thinking about it.

119japaul22
Mar 28, 2019, 9:05pm

#20 Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

I finally read this American classic and I loved it. I get why it is as popular as it is - great characters, interesting time period and setting, exciting plot - what's not to like? Well, I didn't love all the violence and I think the relations with Native Americans were certainly oversimplified. And I wished that I personally had more background on the Texas Rangers, as the two main characters had been Rangers and I don't know much about that time period. I gather there are prequels to this novel that cover some of that. For a Western, there were some decent women characters, which is sort of a rarity, so I appreciated that.

I think the greatness here really lies in the characters and the way McMurtry slowly reveals characteristics and relationships throughout the novel. Gus, Call, Lorena, Clara, Newt, Pea Eye, Deets - they are all unforgettable.

I'm betting most have already read this, but if not I definitely recommend it. Don't be put off by the page count - it really does read quickly.

Original publication date: 1985
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 864 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased kindle
Why I read this: group read, has been on my TBR for a long time

120NanaCC
Mar 28, 2019, 12:29am

>119 japaul22: I think this is one of my favorite books. There is something about it that really stuck with me.

121BLBera
Mar 30, 2019, 2:51pm

>119 japaul22: I think you may have convinced me to read this, Jennifer. I have never been a fan of Westerns, so I've never picked it up. From your comments, it sounds like I might like it.

122janeajones
Mar 30, 2019, 2:57pm

Catching up here --you seem to have had a successful reading year so far!

123japaul22
Editado: Mar 30, 2019, 9:10pm

#21 Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset, read by Erin Bennett

This was a reread for me that I listened to as an audiobook. I've been listening to this for months - it's 45 hours long! I also took some breaks to listen to other audiobooks and podcasts and such. I don't have a lot of tolerance for listening to audiobooks.

I liked the reader for this, but she has sort of a monotone delivery. At first I wasn't sure she'd work for me, but I stuck with it for a few hours and it really grew on me. I think she got the tone right, in the end.

When I read this the first time, in print, it was a 5 star read for me. I was blown away by Undset's ability to develop her characters over a lifetime, realistically having them stick with some of their faults and also showing how their experiences change them over time. And I loved the setting of medieval Norway and all the detail about life then. The historical side of this book is revealed through the plot, characters, etc. and is never approached as a side note - it's just part of the story.

The thing that grated on me this time around was the religious aspect of the book. I remember that from the first time, but I didn't remember that it was as detailed as it is. Maybe I skimmed over some of the sermonizing when I read this - not possible during an audiobook! So this didn't remain quite the 5 star read for me that it was the first time I read it, but I still love it and highly recommend it.

Original publication date: 1920-22
Author’s nationality: Norwegian
Original language: English
Length: 45 hours/1168 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: audible book
Why I read this: reread

124NanaCC
Mar 31, 2019, 2:57pm

>123 japaul22: I listened to the audio version, as well. The reader’s monotone delivery was annoying at times, but I enjoyed the book overall. I had the same feeling about the religious aspects as you, and can’t compare to how I would have felt if I had read the print version. When I finished, I had a difficult time recommending the audio version. It worked for me, but I’m not sure it would work for everyone.

125japaul22
Abr 2, 2019, 7:14pm

>124 NanaCC: I agree, I can't imagine this audiobook would be for everyone. I think this book worked better in written form, personally.

126japaul22
Abr 2, 2019, 7:24pm

#22 During the Reign of the Queen of Persia by Joan Chase

The "Queen of Persia" is Lil/Gran, the matriarch of an Ohio farm family in the mid 1900s. Gran had 5 daughters and 4 of her granddaughters spend their summers and some years at the farm. The five daughters also keep coming back to the family home, when fallen on hard times financially, after divorces, when ill, or just to visit. They are all drawn back repeatedly. One of the first generation of sisters, Grace, gets breast cancer and her illness and death is central to the book. She is mother to two of the four girls growing up in the home. But outside the spectre of death, we also see the four girls growing up. Their experiences are related in a disjointed manner, but a complete picture of girlhood emerges nonetheless.

One of the interesting things for me was the narration of the book. It's a first person narration, but from the point of view of all four girls as a collective. All of the older generation of daughters are referred to as "Aunt so and so", even though some of these Aunts are mother to some of the narrators. I was confused at first, but came to really like it. It's an interesting way of describing identity, and I can't really recall another book that has used this same technique. I guess sort of like a greek chorus, but they weren't commentating on events, they were living them.

This won't be for everyone - it's a bit quirky and a bit depressing - but I quite liked it.

Original publication date: 1983
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 215 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased NYRB edition
Why I read this: NYRB off the shelf

127japaul22
Abr 4, 2019, 12:25pm

#23 Thousand Cranes by Yasunari Kawabata

This is a post-WWII Japanese novel, focused on a young man, Kikuji, who is in contact with two of his deceased father's former mistresses. One, Chikako, is trying to marry him to a young woman she knows, and the other, Mrs. Ota, he ends up having a sexual relationship with. When Mrs. Ota commits suicide, he becomes close to her daughter, Fumiko.

These relationships are all wrapped up in fine detail about tea ceremony and the bowls used in them. To be honest, I think it was all too foreign to me to really understand. I gathered that Kawabata was exploring the post-war cultural shift, but I didn't understand enough to know exactly what he was getting at. As always, Japanese novels seem very subtle to me - nothing is spelled out - so without the cultural knowledge that a Japanese reader would have I feel that I miss so much.

The writing is lovely and descriptions are beautiful, but I ended feeling a bit bewildered.

Original publication date: 1952
Author’s nationality: Japanese
Original language: Japanese
Length: 148 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: kindle purchase
Why I read this: 1001 books

128thorold
Abr 4, 2019, 7:51pm

>127 japaul22: I ended feeling a bit bewildered - Nothing a nice cuppa wouldn't fix, I'm sure...

129lilisin
Abr 5, 2019, 6:02am

>127 japaul22:

Kawabata, despite his quiet prose, is, I find, to be one of the most difficult Japanese authors to read without lots of knowledge in Japanese culture. When people ask me for Japanese literature recommendations I never list his name and always stear beginners away from him when they suggest reading one of his books as their first.

For post-war literature I would recommend Shusaku Endo first.

130japaul22
Abr 5, 2019, 4:16pm

>129 lilisin: This is good to know! I read Endo's Silence a year or two ago - obviously an earlier time period but interesting.

131japaul22
Abr 7, 2019, 12:05pm

#24 Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto

Another brief novella by a Japanese author that I had on my kindle. This one is about a young woman who connects with a new family after her grandmother dies. She goes to live temporarily with a young man and his mother. She finds quickly that this beautiful mother is actually a man. This doesn't phase her, but I found it interesting that this book written in the 1980s was so accepting of this alternative life style.

The crux of the story is really whether or not the two young people will fall in love. The "kitchen" of the title references the narrator's obsession with kitchens and cooking.

I liked this quirky and cute novel.

Original publication date: 1983
Author’s nationality: Japanese
Original language: Japanese
Length: 152 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: kindle purchase
Why I read this: 1001 books

132dchaikin
Abr 8, 2019, 5:17pm

Just posting to say I enjoyed catching up here. Still working my way through LD. It’s fun reading, I’m just not giving it enough time.

133avaland
Abr 9, 2019, 10:32am

>101 japaul22:. Seems I have the newest Maryanne Wolfe—Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World in the TBR pile.

134japaul22
Abr 9, 2019, 11:18am

>133 avaland: oh, interesting - I will check that out!

135japaul22
Editado: Abr 19, 2019, 6:27pm

#25 The Tunnel by Dorothy Richardson

I feel like Richardson has really hit her stride in this 4th installment of Pilgrimage. Miriam's mother has died and she has struck out on her own, away from the traditional governess scene. Instead, Miriam gets a "room of her own" (yes she uses this term a decade before Woolf) in London and works as a secretary for a dental office. The descriptions of her office work are amusing as she tries to keep on top of everything. But, the real interest here is Miriam discovering London, going to concerts, and reading avidly. She wanders and bikes!! around London, meeting new people and observing the city. In her musings a streak of feminism is becoming more and more prevalent. She notices the limiting expectations on women and the differences between the sexes.

I was so struck in this novel that Virginia Woolf must have been influenced by this work. Miriam being out in London reminded me of Clarissa Dalloway and the importance of Miriam's own space both within her flat and in claiming London is also a prevalent them in Woolf's later work.

Richardson has come up with a unique style. It is all Miriam's point of view and to keep that narrow focus characters flit in and out, sometimes without much explanation of who they are. I think this was Richardson's way of keeping Miriam the focus, but it does make for challenging reading.

I'm really impressed with this work and so glad to be reading it.

Original publication date: 1919
Author’s nationality: British
Original language: English
Length: 287 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased used virago edition
Why I read this: 1001 books, group read

136japaul22
Editado: Abr 19, 2019, 6:27pm

#26 Interim by Dorothy Richardson

In the 5th novel of Richardson's Pilgrimage, Miriam mainly observes others. Particularly noticeable was her rendering of different accents and pronunciations of the people she meets. This was spot on and amusing. There are new boarders in the house with her that provide a lot of this observation.

Also, her sister leaves her governess job with the Greens for a job in the city and her own apartment, presumably following in Miriam's footsteps. This doesn't work out for her, though, and she's back to governess-ing by the end of the novel. I'm sure this gives Miriam some personal satisfaction, that she can survive in London on her own despite it not being easy.

Miriam also gets her own bike - exciting! - and even more freedom.

Original publication date: 1919
Author’s nationality: British
Original language: English
Length: 163 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased used virago edition
Why I read this: 1001 books, group read

137japaul22
Abr 19, 2019, 6:27pm

#27 Madame President: The Extraordinary Journey of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf by Helene Cooper

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was the first woman President of Liberia (and first woman President of any African country) and took the reins of the country at its rock bottom. When she was elected in 2006 her country had been through over a decade of bloody civil war. The country, both its people and its infrastructure was decimated. Sirleaf's background made her an excellent choice to lead this country. Sirleaf had a father with roots in one of the local tribes and a mother who was "Congo-born", i.e. the designation for former American slaves who moved to Liberia after being freed and founded Liberia. She had excellent schooling in economics and had worked for Citibank and the World Bank. Most importantly to her election, she rallied the women of the country who were sick and tired of war and violent men. Something like 70% of Liberian women had been raped when Sirleaf took office - they had survived decades of violent civil war and women were virtually the only economy Liberia had as they bought and sold necessary goods at roadside stalls. Sirleaf worked tirelessly to get Liberia's considerable debt forgiven so the country could begin to rebuild. As they were on the road to recovery, ebola hit Liberia killing many, many people. Liberia was able to contain the disease with considerable help from outside countries.

This book opened my eyes to both Liberia's history and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's life. I'm sorry to say I knew virtually nothing about this country or this remarkable leader before reading this book. This is highly recommended.

Original publication date: 2018
Author’s nationality: Liberian/American
Original language: English
Length: 336 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: kindle library book
Why I read this: interested in the topic

138BLBera
Abr 22, 2019, 6:10pm

Hi Jennifer: I read and loved This Child Will Be Great, a memoir by Sirleaf. What an amazing woman she is. This bio sounds like one I would like.

139japaul22
Abr 22, 2019, 12:14am

>138 BLBera: her memoir is now on my TBR list - I'd be curious to hear how the biography compares to her own words.

140japaul22
Abr 22, 2019, 12:23am

#28 The Maze at Windermere by Gregory Blake Smith

In this novel, the setting of Newport, RI is the backdrop to centuries worth of characters. The modern-day setting is about Sandy Alison, an almost tennis star, and his relationships with several women in the town. Then there are 5 more characters/time periods: a gilded age gay man trying to marry money, Henry James as a young man during the Civil War, the diary of a British nobleman during the Revolutionary War, and a young woman in pre-Revolutionary days who finds herself on her own when her parents die young.

If it sounds like a lot, it was. I thought there were too many different timelines going on for most of the book. But about halfway through I started to accept the jostling around and realize how interestingly Smith was creating connections and parallels between the people and using the setting to create connections as well. These were done with subtlety and nuance and I started to enjoy the book more when I focused on those details rather than each of the different characters for themselves.

Overall, I would recommend this book if you happen upon it.

Original publication date: 2018
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 368 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: kindle library book
Why I read this: new book that caught my eye

141japaul22
Abr 23, 2019, 5:32pm

#29 The Bunner Sisters by Edith Wharton

Having just finished a book set in Newport, RI, where one of the plot lines takes place during the Gilded Age, I was led to read a book by Wharton. The Bunner Sisters is the last entry of hers that I've not read from the 1001 books to read before you die list.

The Bunner Sisters is a brief novella that I felt packed quite a punch. Wharton strays from the world of the wealthy elite and instead explores the lives of two sisters living one small step away from poverty. They have a small shop in NYC and make just enough to get by and set a little aside. They are happy, but then meet Mr. Ramy and both sisters see a chance at marrying him and having a different life. Let's just say the novel doesn't end happily.

Towards the end of the book, this passage really summed up the moral of this novella. This is the thought of the older sister, who sets aside her desires to allow her younger sister a chance for a happy life.

Hitherto she had never thought of questioning the inherited principles which had guided her life. Self-effacement for the good of others had always seemed to her both natural and necessary; but then she had taken it for granted that it implied the securing of that good. Now she perceived that to refuse the gifts of life does not ensure their transmission to those for whom they have been surrendered; and her familiar heaven was unpeopled.

As always, I love Edith Wharton's writing.

Original publication date: 1916 (but written in 1890)
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 59 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: kindle freebie
Why I read this: 1001 books

142dchaikin
Abr 23, 2019, 5:37pm

>135 japaul22: the Virginia Woolf connection is really interesting
>137 japaul22: loved this book and story.
>138 BLBera: noting

143BLBera
Abr 24, 2019, 6:07pm

It's been a while since I read the Sirleaf Johnson memoir, but one thing I did note is that she really concentrated on her life as an activist more than on her personal life. I would have liked a little more of the personal, but I can understand why she would want to guard her privacy somewhat.

144NanaCC
Abr 24, 2019, 6:09pm

>137 japaul22: I’ve added this to my wishlist. Thank you for the review.

145japaul22
Maio 1, 2019, 12:41am

#30 Fools of Fortune by William Trevor

I really like Trevor's writing. The style is simple and straightforward, but the plot and characters are always deeply drawn. This novel begins during the Irish war for independence in the early 1900s and introduces a family whose house is burnt down, killing several family members, by the Black and Tans. The aftermath of this for the remaining family members is the subject of the book.

Though I really liked this, it wasn't my favorite book by William Trevor, which remains The Story of Lucy Gault.

Original publication date: 1983
Author’s nationality: Irish
Original language: English
Length: 207 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased paperback
Why I read this: 1001 books

146Simone2
Maio 4, 2019, 10:51am

Catching up on your thread. Great reviews as usual. You’ve been reading many chunksters of the 1001 list! I loved Kristin Lavransdatter as well.

147japaul22
Maio 10, 2019, 12:01pm

#31 A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore

A disjointed, forgettable novel about a young woman's first year at college. I wasn't sure what the point was or what the focus was supposed to be.

Too busy to post more!

148japaul22
Maio 11, 2019, 12:11pm

So tomorrow I leave for a 9 day whirlwind trip to Japan with work. We (the Marine Band) are performing 5 concerts in Yokohama (outside Tokyo), Kanazawa, Hamamatsu, and Iwakuni. It's a ton of travel in a short amount of time, but I have my kindle loaded up with options, especially for the 14 hour plane ride! I wanted books that are absorbing and easy to get into, not challenging to read, and familiar authors or genres.

I'm bringing:
Educated by Tara Westover
Tombland by C.J. Sansom
The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
Georgia by Dawn Tripp
Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

I also, of course, brought 4 paperbacks in case my kindle breaks or something. Must be prepared!

In reality, I will probably only read 1.5 of these, but . . .

149rhian_of_oz
Maio 11, 2019, 2:17am

>148 japaul22: Must be prepared!

This made me grin - in recognition. :-D

I hope you have a great trip.

150kac522
Maio 12, 2019, 4:51am

>147 japaul22: Whew--thanks for the warning. This has been on the TBR for ages, and for some reason I had the mistaken idea that it was short stories. Out the door it goes.

>148 japaul22: Have a great trip--quite the whirlwind tour!

151BLBera
Maio 12, 2019, 1:31pm

Safe travels, Jennifer.

>148 japaul22: And yes, it is important to be prepared!

152Simone2
Maio 14, 2019, 5:04am

>148 japaul22: Have a great trip. I so love Japan and am very jealous!

153kidzdoc
Maio 15, 2019, 8:04pm

I absolutely hated A Gate at the Stairs.

Have a great trip to Japan!

154RidgewayGirl
Maio 15, 2019, 8:14pm

Have a fantastic trip! I'm glad you have packed back up paperbacks -- the one trip I made with only my kindle is the trip where my kindle died a sudden and permanent death the night I arrived at my destination.

155avaland
Maio 17, 2019, 11:00am

Hope your trip is going well!

156japaul22
Maio 23, 2019, 12:23pm

I'm back from Japan - a fabulous and interesting country, though it was such a busy work trip that I didn't have much time to really get to know it. I'd love to go back sometime with my husband for a vacation. I got very little reading done, but did get half way through the newest mystery in C.J. Sansom's Tudor series and finished Educated by Tara Westover.

#32 Educated by Tara Westover

This was one of those memoirs that is like watching a car crash - you can't really look away out of morbid curiosity, but it sickens you all the same. Tara Westover was raised in an abusive family with a father who probably had some sort of serious mental illness (schizophrenia or bipolar), a mother who repeatedly looks the other way, and a physically abusive older brother. The family lives off the grid, not sending their children to school or believing in established medical care. The memoir is Westover's struggle to educate herself and try to separate herself from her abusive family.

The book left me fairly unimpressed. I guess it was interesting to see the life of someone raised by a person with undiagnosed mental illness, but that's really what it boiled down to. I thought the family was less of a fringe society (which would have been more interesting) and more just a case of an abusive family, which can and does occur in all walks of life and stratum of society.

I think I'll be left mainly remember the string of crazy injuries - severe concussions and whole body burnings - that pepper the book.

I can't really recommend it despite the rave reviews.

Original publication date: 2018
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 352 pages
Rating: 2.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased kindle
Why I read this: to see what the buzz was about

157lilisin
Maio 27, 2019, 6:21am

>156 japaul22:

Another member to the "meh" club! Welcome!

158japaul22
Maio 27, 2019, 4:35pm

#33 Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

I finished this a while ago and forgot to review it. I listened to this book on audio, read by the author, and it was fabulous. Trevor Noah is a comedian/actor and this book is about his life growing up in South Africa as apartheid ends.

Highly recommended, especially as an audiobook.

Original publication date: 2018
Author’s nationality: South African
Original language: English
Length: 9 hours
Rating: 5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: audible credit
Why I read this: great reviews

159japaul22
Maio 29, 2019, 5:13pm

#34 Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier

This was a reread of an old paperback that I've had since I was 16. For my birthday that year, my grandparents took me on a 2 week vacation to London, Devon and Cornwall, and Paris, and we stopped at Jamaica Inn. They bought me this book before we went, knowing me to be a reader.

**Spoilers are definitely included in the following summary**

Jamaica Inn is set in the 1800s and has a gothic feel. Mary Yellan is the heroine. When her mother dies, she goes to live with her Aunt Patience who is married to the owner of Jamaica Inn. Mary immediately finds that something is wrong here - no locals will frequent the Inn and her Uncle has a terrible reputation. Mary later learns that he is a "wrecker", meaning that he and his team lure ships into the the rocks with false lights and then salvage and sell the cargo from the wrecked ships. Of course Mary also meets and falls in love with the Uncle's brother, though she is unsure of his involvement or his character.

This was a very satisfying read, a gothic romance page turner. I really enjoyed it.

Original publication date: 1936
Author’s nationality: British
Original language: English
Length: 269 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: paperback off the shelf
Why I read this: reread

160AlisonY
Maio 30, 2019, 1:25pm

>159 japaul22: I keep meaning to go back to Du Maurier after loving Rebecca. You've given me a little prompt.

161avaland
Jun 3, 2019, 7:36pm

>156 japaul22: An intriguing and different review, thanks. I've not read it and probably wasn't going to, but I appreciate other opinions.

162japaul22
Jun 5, 2019, 12:33pm

#35 Tombland by C.J. Sansom

This is a continuation of Sansom's historical mystery series set in Tudor England. The main character is Matthew Shardlake, a lawyer who works for a string of high ranking people, royalty and such.

I enjoy these because of the historical setting. The mystery is usually sort of tangential to the history and that's ok with me. This particular installment wasn't my favorite because the focus was on civil war/strife between the landholders and the commoners. While it was interesting, I never love reading battle descriptions. I did like that is was set in Norwich, a place I've visited, so I could sort of picture what was happening with a better frame of reference.

This book was really long. As in 880 pages long. I imagine the author will start losing readers if they are all this long, but I will keep going with the series as it comes out.

I was interested to see that this was longlisted for a historical fiction prize. Goes along with what I was saying that though this series really started with a mystery genre feel, it's very much switch to historical fiction.

Original publication date: 2019
Author’s nationality: British
Original language: English
Length: 880 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased for kindle
Why I read this: reading the series

163NanaCC
Jun 5, 2019, 4:01pm

>162 japaul22: I felt much the same about Tombland, Jennifer, but I’ll also continue because I love the series. I just hope they aren’t all this long.

164japaul22
Jun 6, 2019, 12:47am

#36 The 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

OK, mystery lovers, this one's for you! Stuart Turton's first book is a unique puzzle-type mystery. A man wakes up and finds himself at an estate, Blackheath, for a party on the 19th anniversary of the death of a child who was murdered. He has little memory of who he is, but figures out he is a doctor, Sebastian Bell. That is, until he wakes up again on the same day in a new body. Then he figures out (with a little help) that he is going to inhabit 8 different bodies on this same day and he only will escape living this loop over and over if he is able to discover who murders Evelyn Hardcastle, who will be murdered at 11 pm that day. There are others also trying to solve the mystery and escape the loop, though they are all there for different reasons.

There are actually several "mysteries" going on. The first is the main character figuring out what is happening to him. He's a person/soul waking up each morning in a different body and reliving the same day. Why he is there and who he really is are questions to solve. Then there is the mystery he's charged with solving - who killed Evelyn Hardcastle. Through his various bodies (he sort of takes on the personality of each while retaining part of himself and his memories of the day lived as each previous person) he sees different parts of this same day and must figure out who killed Evelyn Hardcastle before his 8th body falls asleep at the end of the day. Otherwise he starts the day over, not remembering anything about his failure. A third mystery is who his companions are and why they are trapped at Blackheath with him. And a 4th is who killed the child that died 19 years ago that really started the whole thing.

The whole book is an intricate puzzle. It really worked very well, though of course, I think you do have suspend reality and not think things through too deeply. And because the plot is so intricate, the characters aren't as deeply drawn as they could be. That always bothers me a little, but the book was innovative in so many other ways that I was ok with it. I found this a lot of fun and was able to just go along for the ride.

I hope others read this because I'm very curious whether people will like it. I think it could be a love it/hate it type of book.

Apologies for the convoluted review - it's really hard to put into words what it's about without giving too much away.

Original publication date: 2018
Author’s nationality: British
Original language: English
Length: 432 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased for kindle
Why I read this: read a review that intrigued me

165rhian_of_oz
Jun 7, 2019, 4:13pm

>164 japaul22: This is a relative newcomer to my TBR pile being only purchased in January. I will come back to your review once I've read it.

166japaul22
Jun 8, 2019, 12:19pm

>165 rhian_of_oz: I'll be curious to hear what you think!

#37 Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan

Bonjour Tristesse was written by 18 year old Françoise Sagan in the 1950s. It centers around a 17 year old girl, Cécile, who lives with her bachelor father. They are vacationing in the Mediterranean and he arrives there with one young mistress and ends the vacation planning to marry a different woman. Cécile is not happy about this marriage idea and crafts a plan to break them up. She also experiences love herself for the first time with a local boy named Cyril.

As with most books written about a teenager, by a teenager, there is definitely a self-centeredness to the main character. I liked this brief book, though, finding it a pretty realistic depiction of a girl growing up in this situation. There are several lines that really sum up the feeling of being a teenage girl very well and I can see why this book was a success. It probably is better read when you are a teenager yourself, but I missed the boat on that!

Original publication date: 1955
Author’s nationality: French
Original language: French
Length: 137 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased paperback
Why I read this: 1001 books group read

167lyzard
Jun 8, 2019, 1:22am

>159 japaul22:

I realise to my bemusement that I haven't read Jamaica Inn; can't think why I wouldn't have, really. :)

Heather and I recently read du Maurier's The King's General, another piece of Cornish history, though a more serious (and rather depressing) one.

168janeajones
Jun 10, 2019, 2:38am

> 166 -- I think I read Bonjour Tristesse when I was about 16 or 17 -- it was pretty notorious back in the 1960s.

169japaul22
Jun 12, 2019, 5:29pm

>167 lyzard: I will probably read The King's General despite it being "rather depressing"!

>168 janeajones: I can imagine that Bonjour Tristesse made a big impact in it's day, though it has definitely lost some of that since then.

170japaul22
Jun 12, 2019, 5:35pm

#38 Our Spoons Came from Woolworths by Barbara Comyns

In this mostly depressing novel, a young woman recounts her early adulthood. She married way too young and had a baby right away, lived in poverty, gets ill, husband is unsupportive and leaves her, etc. It was sort of like a first person Hardy novel set in the mid-1900s.

I liked it, but not as much as the other Comyns novel I've read (The Vet's Daughter). I mainly liked the voice of the narrator in this one. She is very straightforward and matter of fact about all the terrible things happening to her. I actually found it sort of funny at times.

Original publication date: 1950
Author’s nationality: British
Original language: English
Length: 224 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased paperback
Why I read this: nyrb off the shelf

171lyzard
Editado: Jun 13, 2019, 10:16pm

>169 japaul22:

"Realistic" might be a better term, it's dealing with civil war after all. :)

(If you are thinking of reading it, I'll give the usual warning: if your edition has an introduction, don't read it first, it will certainly give away an important event at the end.)

172Simone2
Jun 14, 2019, 6:45pm

>164 japaul22: Great review. I am really looking forward to it now. I’ve had it on my shelves for a while but I have been afraid that it would be a very complicated book with lots of characters. You make it sound like a fun ride!

173japaul22
Jun 16, 2019, 12:46pm

>171 lyzard: Thanks - I've definitely learned my lesson with introductions!

>172 Simone2: It's a little complicated, but I recommend just going along for the ride and not overthinking it.

174japaul22
Jun 16, 2019, 12:55pm

#39 Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

I'm going to admit that I got nothing out of this book. You are immediately thrown into the life of Stephen Dedalus and I really didn't care a bit. It's short, which is a blessing, but is full of long tirades/philosophical discussions of family, country, sex and attraction, and the church. There are moments of pretty writing, but I wasn't at all invested in the character before it was all too dramatic.

I've read other books in this vein that I love - like Proust and Woolf and the part of Dorothy Richardson that I've read so far - but this I just couldn't connect with. Does not make me look forward to Ulysses, which I've always meant to read some day.

Original publication date: 1916
Author’s nationality: Irish
Original language: English
Length: 250 pages
Rating: 1.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: kindle
Why I read this: 1001 books group read

175japaul22
Jun 18, 2019, 6:09pm

#40 The Summer Without Men by Siri Hustvedt

I really like Hustvedts's writing. It's always smart and emotional and just on the right side of being pretentious. She's smart in that she picks intelligent, worldy, artistic characters as her voice so that her novels are believable.

In this short novel, 50-something year old Mia has been left by her husband, had a mental breakdown, and gone to visit her mother for the summer. During this summer, she is surrounded by women. She is a poet and author and teaches a summer course on poetry to a group of seven drama-filled young teenage girls. She also gets to know her mother's aging circle of friends in her nursing home. Setting up the contrasts and similarities between these two groups gives the book structure and depth. And then she also meets a neighbor who is a young mother in an abusive marriage.

This is not my favorite Siri Hustvedt novel (that remains The Blazing World), but it's a good and accessible intro to her writing.

Original publication date: 2011
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 182 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: used paperback
Why I read this: off the shelf

176RidgewayGirl
Jun 18, 2019, 10:07pm

>175 japaul22: The only Hustvedt novel I've read is The Blazing World, which was extraordinary. I've got to read more by her.

177japaul22
Jun 18, 2019, 10:25pm

>176 RidgewayGirl: I've only read What I Loved which is really good but a hard topic and now this one. Neither has really measured up to The Blazing World, though they were both very good. I'm excited for her new book that just came out, Memories of the Future.

178BLBera
Jun 20, 2019, 5:53pm

The Summer without Men was the first Hustvedt novel that I read, and I loved it! After reading The Blazing World and What I Loved, I'm not sure how it would compare. I loved those as well. Sorrows of an American is also very good. I have Memories of the Future on my shelf and am really looking forward to it.
Este tópico foi continuado por Jennifer's 2019 Reading (japaul22) - Part 2.