labfs39 (Lisa): Books, books everywhere, Nor any a moment to read

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labfs39 (Lisa): Books, books everywhere, Nor any a moment to read

Editado: Nov 27, 2019, 8:52pm

Editado: Jul 30, 2019, 8:55pm

Jan-June Books Read:

1. The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George (TF, 3*)
2. Epistolophilia : writing the life of Ona Šimaitė by Julija Šukys (NF, 2.5*)
3. Amulet : The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi (YA, GN)
4. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (F, 3.5*)
5. In the Shadow of Wolves by Alvydas Šlepikas, translated from the Lithuanian by Romas Kinka (TF, 3.5*)
6. A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson (F, 3.5*)
7. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (F, 4*)
8. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden (F, 4*)
9. Circe by Madeline Miller (F, 4.5*)
10. The Pendragon Legend by Antal Szerb, translated from the Hungarian by Len Rix (TF, 4*)
11. Julius Caesar by Shakespeare (Drama, 3*)
12. The Everything German Shepherd Book by Joan Hustace Walker (NF, 3.5*)
13. Madame Fourcade's Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France's Largest Spy Network Against Hitler by Lynne Olson (NF, 4.5*)

Editado: Out 27, 2020, 3:29pm

July-December Books Read:

14. Naturally Tan: A Memoir by Tan France (NF, 4*)
15. Love by Hanne Ørstavik, translated from the Norwegian by Martin Aitken (TF, 4*)
16. Bitter Almonds by Laurence Cossé, translated from the French by Alison Anderson (TF, 4*)
17. My Struggle, Book One by Karl Ove Knausgard, translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett (TF, 4*)
18. My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk, translated from the Turkish by Erdağ M. Göknar (TF, 4*)
19. My Friend Monica by Jane Duncan (F, 3.5*)
20. The Volunteer: one man, an underground army, and the secret mission to destroy Auschwitz by Jack Fairweather (NF, 3.5*)
21. An Allaghash Haunting: the Story of Emile Camile by Tim Caverly (CF, 2*)
22. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (F, 4,*)
23. The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng (F, 4.5*)

2020 Books Read:
1. Operation Mincemeat : How a dead man and a bizarre plan fooled the Nazis and assured an allied victory by Ben Macintyre (NF, 4.5*)
2. The Summer Guest by Alison Anderson (F, 3.5*)
3. No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod (F, 3.5*)
4. The Emigrants by W.G. Sebald, translated from the German by Michael Hulse (TF, 2.5*)
5. ?
6. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante, translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein (TF, 4*)
7. The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante, translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein (TF, 3.5*)
8. Still Life by Louise Penny (F, 3*)
9. Tea of Ulaanbaatar by Christopher R. Howard (F, 3*)
10. Cilka's Journey by Heather Morris (F, 3*)

Editado: Nov 21, 2019, 8:20pm

Reading Globally:

Books I've read in 2019 by country (excluding US & UK):

France: 1
Hungary: 1
Lithuania: 1
Malaysian: 1
Nigerian: 1
Norway: 2
Turkey: 1

List of books I've read by Nobel Prize Winners can be found here.

Editado: Jan 11, 2019, 8:44pm

2018 in Review:

56 books read (8 more than in 2017, 53 fewer than in 2014)

30 fiction (53%)
7 nonfiction (13%)
19 fluff (34%)

4 young adult
6 translated fiction (11%)

17 (plus 19 fluff books) by female authors (64%)
20 books by male authors (36%)

Global Reading in 2018

Australian: 4
Cambodian: 1
Chinese: 1
Colombian: 1
German: 1
Hungarian: 1
Lithuanian-Canadian: 1
Pakistani: 1
Swedish: 2

Editado: Jan 11, 2019, 7:46pm

Welcome to my 2019 literature thread! I can't believe it's my eleventh year on LibraryThing. It all began with an NPR story I heard on March 20, 2008. Social networking for bibliophiles? I'm in! I joined four days later. In 2011, I joined Club Read and began to meet all of you. My life has been so much richer for having heard that blurb on the radio eleven years ago. Thank you, Tim. And thanks to all of you for joining me on another year of my reading odyssey.


Jan 11, 2019, 8:05pm

Have a great reading year!

Jan 11, 2019, 8:09pm

June 6th, 2019 is the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. As my longtime friends know, World War II is a topic of special interest for me, and I was fortunate to visit Normandy six years ago. In August I will be returning, this time on a tour for veterans and their families. The trip begins in London, a new destination for me, and ends in Paris, an old friend, for a nine-day whirlwind tour of D-Day sites. It will be a week packed with interesting history, and I'm particularly interested in the tour of Bletchley Park and visiting La Pointe du Hoc. To prepare, I've scrounged both my collection and the public library for interesting titles. My first two selections, a book by espionage historian Ben Macintyre and a pictorial history of the second front, are both promising to be winners.

For once, my year of reading has a focus!

Jan 11, 2019, 8:28pm

I'm quite jealous of your planned Bletchley Park tour. I look forward to reading your review of the Macintyre book.

Editado: Jan 11, 2019, 8:51pm

>7 auntmarge64: Thanks!

>9 rhian_of_oz: I have read two other books by Ben Macintyre. Rogue Heroes: The History of the SAS, Britain's Secret Special Forces Unit That Sabotaged the Nazis and Changed the Nature of War was amazing. Have you any recommendations of books about Bletchley Park? I read and enjoyed Between Silk and Cyanide: A Codemaker's War, 1941-1945 by Leo Marks, and I got half-way through a tome of a biography of Alan Turing after watching The Imitation Game.

Jan 11, 2019, 10:37pm

>10 labfs39: My interest in Bletchley Park comes from an interest in cryptography so the non-fiction books I have read - The Code Book by Simon Singh and The Emporer's Codes by Michael Smith - aren't specifically about BP.

I read The Amber Shadows by Lucy Ribchester a couple of years ago and my brief comment at the time was "This was interesting. It had some promise but I didn't find the ending convincing."

My recent interest is in female spies, fostered by Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein, and The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. The latter has a list of recommended reading which I haven't delved into. Yet.

Jan 11, 2019, 10:41pm

Nice to see your thread pop up. Always wondering about you and the state of storm recovery in your area. Your trip in June sounds fantastic and cool, a focus. I imagine some interesting titles will make appearances here.

Jan 12, 2019, 7:06am

It’s nice to see you here, Lisa. I’ve read two of Ben Macintyre’s books, Agent Zigzag and A Spy Among Friends. His books are really good. I have a couple of others on my shelf or kindle, and hope to get to them this year. Your trip sounds amazing. I look forward to hearing about it when you return.

Jan 12, 2019, 9:33am

>11 rhian_of_oz: If you are interested, here are a few of nonfiction titles about female spies and cryptography from my wishlist. Haven't read them yet, but they were recommended by fellow LTers.

A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Missing Agents of WWII by Sarah Helm

Résistance : a woman's journal of struggle and defiance in occupied France by Agnes Humbert

The woman who smashed codes : a true story of love, spies, and the unlikely heroine who outwitted America's enemies by Jason Fagone

and two I have read and highly recommend:

Between Silk and Cyanide: A Codemaker's War, 1941-1945 by Leo Marks

A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France by Caroline Moorehead


Nancy Wake : SOE's greatest heroine by Russell Braddon

If you are interested in espionage in general or fiction titles, I can list some others, if you like.

Jan 12, 2019, 9:48am

>12 dchaikin: Thanks, Dan. The recovery for Hurricane Michael is extremely slow. I did disaster relief for two months, ending with the holiday toy drive. I thought volunteering would make me feel better, like I was doing my part, but the opposite was true. The devastation is so great that anything I did felt inadequate. Such a small drop in such a large bucket. David and I went to Savannah for five days over the holidays, and fallen, twisted trees and blue-tarped roofs extended 100 miles to the northeast. It's very depressing here. I wish I could share some pictures. Do you know how I could do so efficiently? I don't do Facebook. Maybe Google Drive?

Unfortunately my trip is in August, so I will miss the actual D-Day landing day (which will probably be a zoo), but the special events continue all summer. August is vacation month in France, so I'm hoping Normandy will be less of a zoo then. I am currently reading Double Cross, about the D-Day spies, and so far it is fantastic.

Jan 12, 2019, 9:53am

>13 NanaCC: Hi Colleen, thanks for dropping by. I've read A Spy among Friends and Rogue Heroes, the latter of which I loved. I have Agent Zigzag and Operation Mincemeat on my shelf. I agree: his books are consistently very good.

Jan 12, 2019, 11:16am

>14 labfs39: Thanks Lisa! I've requested A Train in Winter from my local library (I love the internet!) but sadly it doesn't have the others. I'm particularly interested in A Life in Secrets so I'm going to see if I can find it secondhand.

Jan 12, 2019, 11:41am

Not totally about female spies, although they are included: Les Parisiennes: How the Women of Paris Lived, Loved and Died in the 1940s. I am part way through it.

Jan 12, 2019, 11:50am

>17 rhian_of_oz: I thought A Train in Winter was great. I'll be curious what you think.

>18 SassyLassy: I purchased Les Parisiennes recently, but haven't started it yet. Do you like it so far?

Jan 12, 2019, 1:58pm

Here you are!

>8 labfs39: tour for veterans and their families
That sounds interesting. Who organized it?

>15 labfs39: I wish I could share some pictures. Do you know how I could do so efficiently?
You can upload pictures to LibraryThing directly though it's tedious. There are various photo sites w/ free tiers (which limit the number of photos or limit the organizational features). I use Flickr, which I like in part because you can upload the high resolution original and it'll give you a link to a low resolution version automatically for embedding on a web page. I'm sure others do similar.

>11 rhian_of_oz:, >14 labfs39: I'm trying really really hard to focus on books that I already have this year... My grandfather was a cryptographer in WW I and his Manual for the Solution of Military Ciphers was one of my favorite childhood books. He died before I was born, so alas I have no stories.

Editado: Jan 12, 2019, 2:24pm

>15 labfs39: like qebo (>20 qebo:) I was going to recommend Flickr for pictures because it's easy and desktop friendly and link friendly. My daughter and wife would use Instagram...but I haven't signed up.

Seconding A Train in Winter. I used an audiobook and the sound+content has left a long standing mark in my brain.

ETA - August is a great time not be in FL. : )

Jan 12, 2019, 7:20pm

>20 qebo: David is an ex-fighter pilot, and his squadron has an association for reunions, etc. They are coordinating the trip with Normandy American Heroes. My grandfather was in WWII, but he worked on building a road from Baghdad to Tehran, so nowhere near the beaches. My ex-father-in-law was D-Day plus 4. He worked in detecting poisonous gases.

Hmm, I'll look into Flickr. Loading pictures into LT is not only laborious, but they take up a lot of bandwidth on a thread. I have an Instagram account (mainly to see pictures of my daughter, who doesn't share them otherwise!), but it doesn't work well with large numbers of photos.

That is so cool about your grandfather being a WWI cryptographer. I would be interested to learn how cryptography changed between the two wars. I could see the manual being super fun and special for a kid. I had to settle for learning Morse code and the braille alphabet. ;-)

Jan 12, 2019, 7:27pm

>21 dchaikin: Have you read A Train in Winter author, Caroline Moorehead's, book Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France? I liked it almost as much.

No kidding! I had heat exhaustion several times this summer, my first in Florida. This Maine, then Seattle, girl is not made for such heat! The beaches of Normandy will be a delightful break. Are you in the Austin area, Dan? I forget. How are the summers there?

Jan 12, 2019, 7:49pm

>23 labfs39: I’m Houston. Weather is not a draw. I’ll look for Village of Secrets. Another great audiobook idea.

Jan 12, 2019, 8:56pm

>24 dchaikin: Who narrated A Train in Winter? You said it was well done, perhaps the same narrator reads Village of Secrets.

Jan 12, 2019, 9:35pm

The narrator is Wanda McCaddon.

From LT author page: Wanda McCaddon has recorded audiobooks under many "noms-de-mike", including: Donada Peters, Nadia May, Leonora Stafford, Ann Miles, Margaret McKay

Village of secrets is narrated by Suzanne Toren.

Jan 12, 2019, 9:46pm

>20 qebo: My only reading goal for the year was to make a dent in my TBR pile, but I've realised by choosing to become more active on LT that a subconscious goal was to expand my reading repertoire :-). Many thanks for the recommendation.

Editado: Jan 13, 2019, 9:25am

Have a good trip. I had clients that did a cruise in this area and it was a memorable trip for them.
I am reading Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer now. Chapter 9 has the invasion of Poland by the Germans. The book has two characters born on the same day; one is poor and in Poland and the other rich and in America. I am in Part One 1906-1923.

Jan 13, 2019, 6:35pm

>19 labfs39: I am only reading it in bits and pieces and haven't advanced that far. When I do get going, I enjoy it, but then a deadline for something else comes along, I put it down, and for some reason am slow to pick it up again. Then when I do, it takes off again. I think some of this may have to do with a certain amount of repetition on the author's part. I like the premise, but find it weighted (so far) toward the higher echelons of society, with a bit too much name dropping. The work behind it seems sound though. Time to pick it up again. It is a good resource.

Jan 14, 2019, 7:13pm

Hi Lisa, thanks for dropping by my page. Your trip in August sounds fantastic. A coworker and his wife visited the beaches of Normandy a couple of year's ago, and he enjoyed it.

I'll look forward to a link if you do find a way to share photos from your area.

Jan 16, 2019, 8:03am

>26 dchaikin: I didn't know that narrators could have "noms-de-mike," especially so many. Too bad it's not the same narrator, since you liked her so much, but maybe Toren will be good.

>28 mnleona: Hi Leona, thanks for stopping by. I haven't read much Jeffrey Archer, maybe one or two a long time ago. Are they mysteries? I love historical fiction tie-ins.

>29 SassyLassy: Do you know if the author was in Paris at the time, or is it a researched-only book? If the former, it might explain the upper class focus, if that was her experience. It doesn't sound like I should run and put it at the top of my reading list.

>30 markon: I'm getting excited about the D-Day trip. I've been to Europe five times, twice studying there, but I've never been across the channel. So London will be a new experience, and although I've been to Normandy, I've never had a guided tour of the sites. I'm sure I'll learn lots. I have already in the book I'm reading, called the Second Front. It's pictorial, and I love the photos. Sometimes a photo is worth a thousand words.

I am going now to see about getting a Flickr account. I'll definitely post a link if I do upload my photos.

Jan 16, 2019, 9:00am

>31 labfs39: I did feel I was somewhat damming with faint praise, but I'm not really that far in (p 55).

Sebba was born in 1951 in London, but currently lives in New York. It turns out she has also written a biography of Wallis Simpson, so I will keep that focus in mind as I read! Her website says that Les Parisiennes is going to be made into a series, which makes sense as I read it.

Jan 16, 2019, 10:39am

>32 SassyLassy: A series? Huh.

Jan 17, 2019, 2:59pm

>6 labfs39: I had never heard that Tim was on npr. Thanks for linking to it!

Your trip sounds exciting! I went in the early nineties in the winter and it was interesting, but I'd certainly get a lot more of it now.

Jan 17, 2019, 5:42pm

>33 labfs39: Should have said a series à la Netflix or its equivalent variety, not the bookish kind.

Jan 17, 2019, 8:58pm

>34 RidgewayGirl: Tim didn't have a large role in the conversation, but he piqued my interest! I worked with him as a beta tested of TinyCat, and he was a pleasure.

I was in Normandy six years ago, in August as well. A humorous anecdote: We spent a night on Mont Saint Michel, in the only privately held inn on the island. It was great because all the tourists leave, and you feel like an insider getting to stay. But at 5 am we woke to a pounding on the door and orders to get out. It was the fire brigade! Someone had reported a whiff of gas, and, in such cramped and flammable quarters as on the island, that is taken very seriously. They hosed down everything, and we spent the next hour wandering the streets in our pajamas until we could get coffee and croissants. Memorable...

>35 SassyLassy: Ahh. I still might check it out. I liked the first season or two of Call the Midwives, although the books were better. ;-) And I thought The Handmaid's Tale (on Hulu) was/is great. Captures the atmosphere so well, and none of the characters are all good, or all bad. Serena is the perfect example. That adaptation broke my prejudice against adaptations.

Jan 18, 2019, 8:36am

Favorites from 2018:

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman, translated from the Swedish by Alice Menzies (TF, 5*)

My Friends the Miss Boyds by Jane Duncan (F, 4.5*)

Siberian Exile by Julija Šukys (NF, 4.5*)

Educated by Tara Westover (NF, 4.5*)

Music of the Ghosts by Vaddey Ratner (F, 4*)

Journey by Moonlight by Antal Szerb, translated from the Hungarian by Len Rix (TF, 4*)

Jan 18, 2019, 12:28pm

The Second Front is very interesting. It gives a general history, peppered with personal anecdotes. But most importantly are all the photos. I'm enjoying, but I only have 20 minutes a day to read, during family read time. FRT is a time in the evening when we sit together and each read our own book. It's good modeling for the eight year old, as well as a time for him to practice some sustained reading. Hard to progress very quickly on twenty minutes per day.

*Touchstone not working. If interested, it's linked at top of thread with my current reading.

Jan 19, 2019, 4:13pm

wish I could convince my 12 & 14 year into 20 minutes of FRT. Life must be busy, Lisa.

Jan 19, 2019, 5:13pm

> 36 That was an experience. Glad you were OK.

Jan 19, 2019, 5:18pm

>36 labfs39: Wow, that would be a memorable moment for your trip. I’m glad you are able to call it a humorous anecdote.

Editado: Jan 19, 2019, 7:41pm

Envious of your trip to the D-Day beaches. We took a riverboat cruise from Normandy to Paris a few years ago and spent a few days at the beaches and cemetery. I was incredibly moved. If you get a chance, the Museum at Caan was very informative. Also, even though it is not WW II-related, I loved seeing the Bayeux Tapestry!
A few years ago I read a book by Daniel Silva (having a senior moment so I will have to go look up the name), about a spy charged with finding out where the allies planned to land. There was tons of interesting information about D-Day preparation, in particular about the invention and construction of the portable piers they had to put in place on the Normandy beaches to unload all the gear and supplies after the initial landings. A good spy novel, not sure how historically accurate it is, but I enjoyed it.

ETA the book is The Unlikely Spy.

Editado: Jan 20, 2019, 7:51pm

>39 dchaikin: It's easier when they're younger. My 13-year-old is unfortunately a bit more difficult: first I have to pry from her phone...

>40 mnleona:, >41 NanaCC: Oh it was only scary that first meeting when we opened the door to men in gas masks. After we learned it was a precaution, it became rather humorous.

>42 arubabookwoman: Interestingly, the tour is going to three cultural sites: the Bayeux tapestry, Mont-Saint-Michel, and Giverny. I have been been to all of them previously, but I am hoping to read more before going this time. Maybe Henry Adams' Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres, for one. I read it in college, but my memory is not what it used to be.

I'm hoping for recommendations...

Jan 20, 2019, 7:49pm

>42 arubabookwoman: Oh, and thank you, Deborah, for recommending The Unlikely Spy. It will be a nice break from all the nonfiction.

Jan 22, 2019, 8:23am

My mom is visiting from Maine (during the Panhandle's coldest weather of the year) and brought me two books that she is done reading. One is The Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II by Liza Mundy.

It's a good book to add to our list of recommended reading about female spies and cryptography. I've already learned something from the back-of-the-book blurb: the US recruited 10,000 women to break German and Japanese codes in WWII.

Mom also brought an uncorrected proof of Curse of The Narrows: The Halifax Disaster of 1917. The ship that blew up in Halifax harbor was the largest pre-atomic explosion, and Robert Oppenheimer studied the explosion in his research. Some quick facts: 3,121 tons of the Mont Blanc's hull vaporized in a cloud that reached 2000' high; a giant wave damaged every building (12,000) in a 16-mile radius; black rain fell for 10 minutes; 1,600 died, 6,000 were injured, more blinded by flying glass as people rushed to their windows to see what was happening; and within 24 hours a blizzard cut Halifax off from the rest of the world. Yikes.

And yesterday we went to Seaside, FL, and I spent time in Sundog Books (our nearest bookstore). Three of the books I wanted (Mamushka cookbook, the newest translation of The First Circle, and Helen Dunmore books that I haven't read yet) they didn't have, but I did pick up Operation Columba : the Secret Pigeon Service : the untold story of World War II resistance in Europe by Gordon Corera. It had been on my wishlist since it came out, but now with a D-Day/Normandy reading theme, it seemed like the time to buy a copy.

Jan 22, 2019, 1:34pm

Kind of stunned by the brief summary of the Halifax disaster.

Jan 22, 2019, 9:10pm

>46 dchaikin: I haven't read the book yet, and book is uncorrected proof, so I need to do more research, but here is a couple of links:

History channel

Photographs of explosion

Mar 28, 2019, 9:22am

Last Sunday, the 24th, was my 11th Thingaversary, and I was determined to actually buy myself books this year to commemorate the occasion. I ended up with 13 books--whoops! I spread out the purchases over a week and five different book stores. Here is a brief summary:

From Third Place Books outside Seattle. I was in Seattle for a quick trip and visited my favorite Indie bookstore.

1. The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

I chose this one because it has bookshop in the title. I'm a sucker for books about books. I read this one first, as it was a light read. Meh. The author tried to write about multiple themes: the power of books to heal, grief over a lost love, and a river journey that read like a Three Men in a Boat wanna be. As a result, the book failed to succeed at any. 3*

2. The Missing of the Somme by Geoff Dyer

I picked up this book because it is about how remembrance is created, in this case of WWI. I am interested in shared social memories, especially of historical events.

3. My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard

I have been wanting to read this for some time now, but was hoping to run into Archipelago editions. I impulsively bought the FBG edition and now wished I had continued to wait...

Mar 28, 2019, 9:28am

>48 labfs39: Archipelago only has translation rights for hardcover editions. I am lucky enough to be in NYC and was able to get most of them used by requesting the specific editions from the Strand. :)

Mar 28, 2019, 9:52am

Next I visited a store in Hogansville, GA called Blue Train Books. It was hanging on by a thread in a quaint, historic village that was now nearly deserted. The owner was lovely, and we talked books and bookstores for a while.

4. Père Goriot by Honoré de Balzac

I already had a Nonesuch edition, but this Franklin edition had a different translator and illustrator. Plus it's s pretty. And thus I justify the purchase. Besides it cost less than $10. :-)

5. Gargantua and Pantagruel by Francois Rabelais

A classic I've been meaning to read. Also like new and with Mylar dust jacket cover. Under $10.

6. In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick

A hardback replacement copy for a paperback edition that has been well-loved.

Mar 28, 2019, 1:05pm

Next up was my favorite of the new-to-me bookstores I visited, Underground Books in Carrollton, GA. For those of you familiar with the old Elliot Bay Bookstore, you would recognize a similar maze of rooms, each filled with scads of books and comfy chairs. The owner was engaging and recommended some books, as well as letting me know about an antiquarian book fair in Florida. Once again I purchased three books.

7. The Folly by Ivan Vladislavić

This one and the next are Archipelago Books editions. I love the texture and French flaps of their books, as well as their mission to published quality translated fiction from around the world.

The author is South African and his book is variously described as "a cryptic, haunting tale" and "mysterious, lyrical, and wickedly funny." One reviewer muses about whether it is "a parable about land, ownership, and power? A fable about the imagined other? An allegory of contestation and co-existence, or the building (and dismantling) of systems?" Hmm...

8. Love by Hanne Ørstavik

This novel is about a mother and her son who have just moved to a village in northern Norway. It is the night before the son's ninth birthday, and the mother realizes she forgot to get him a gift.

9. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

This book was recommended by the bookstore owner as one of his wife's favorites. We had been talking about The Snow Child, and he said this was another rewritten Russian fairy tale. Not my usual fare, I nevertheless thought I would give it a try. It's the story of a young girl and her evil stepmother, but instead of magical mice, there is Frost, the winter demon. A major theme is the confrontation of Russian folk ways and Christianity.

Mar 28, 2019, 8:18pm

While in Valdosta, GA, I attempted to go to the university bookstore, but it was closed for spring break. Defeated, I turned to the ubiquitous Books-a-Million to try and find my last two books. I came away with three rather generic titles.

10. A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

I had put off reading Life after Life for a long time, but when I finally read it, I was pleasantly surprised. This is the sequel, about protagonist Ursula Todd's younger brother, Teddy. I still might not have picked it up, except it is set during and around WWII. :-)

11. Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

This novel is a sequel to Beartown, a book about hockey in a small town obsessed with hockey. I did not care for the book, which was disappointing as I had loved his others. So why did I purchase the sequel? I like the author so much that I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, despite my reservations.

12. The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland

I loved Neal Stephenson's book Cryptonomicon and enjoyed some of his others, so I chose to bring this one home. It sounds fun and a bit wacky (Galland's influence?), but intelligent too. It's the first collaboration I will have read by Stephenson, and I'm curious what it will be like.

Mar 28, 2019, 8:26pm

And my last stop, My Favorite Books in Tallahassee on the way home.

13. Operation Nemesis: The Assassination Plot that Avenged the Armenian Genocide by Eric Bogosian

With a provocative cover and the word genocide in the title, what's not to attract a reader? At least a reader of the depressing books club. I've wanted to learn more about the Armenian genocide, and this seemed like an interesting digression.

And thus ends my two week jaunt across the country, buying books in three states in five different bookstores. It was good fun, and I look forward to my next Thingaversary!

Mar 28, 2019, 11:16pm

Wow, Lisa, when you celebrate a Thingaversary, you really celebrate! I've never paid much attention to mine, though I do celebrate my birthday with some books in September.

The cover of the Balzac looks gorgeous.

Mar 29, 2019, 2:23am

You set a high standard of thingaversarying! Makes me tremble for my next one, coming up in a few weeks...

Mar 29, 2019, 4:17am

>54 markon: I rarely celebrate my Thingaversary, but this year I decided to treat myself. Since I was travelling anyway, it was fun to visit new Indie bookstores, as well as my favorite in Seattle. Best of all, I only paid full price for one book. I love searching used bookstores and bargain tables for serendipitous finds.

>55 thorold: How many years will you be celebrating, Mark?

Mar 29, 2019, 5:36am

Twelve. I don't have that much free space on the TBR shelf - maybe I can do it with poetry collections...

Mar 29, 2019, 7:06am

That sounds like quite a celebration and book store tour. You would love a few of the used book stores up this way. One is a barn, two stories, wall-to-wall floor-to-ceiling books (8 ft shelves on the 1st floor (fiction), 14 ft shelves on the 2nd (nonfiction)....

Mar 29, 2019, 9:25am

>57 thorold: Ha! I had to rearrange my bookshelves to make room. I recently moved to an apartment and am down to four floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. All the others, and the rest of my books, are in storage. It feels odd to be separated from them.

>58 avaland: Don't make me drool, Lois. None of the bookstores I visited come close, but since we don't have a bookstore here in PCB, anything is better than nothing. Where are you in NH? I didn't remember you as living there. I'm from Maine, but went to college in NH. Maybe I can visit the barn when next I'm visiting. Is that the name of the bookstore?

Mar 29, 2019, 9:31am

Happy Thingaversary! Had I been with you, I would have warned you away from The Little Paris Bookshop. I hated that book so very much. What ridiculous treacle. It was a book club pick and I even skipped the meeting that month because I didn't want to offend anyone in the group who liked it.

Mar 29, 2019, 9:52am

Epistolophilia : writing the life of Ona Šimaitė by Julija Šukys

I heard the author speak at the Decatur Book Festival last year and subsequently read her book Siberian exile : blood, war, and a granddaughter's reckoning, which I enjoyed. Recently I was gifted with her first book, Epistolophilia. It's about a Lithuanian librarian who helps rescue Jews from the Vilna Ghetto. She is caught by the Gestapo, tortured, and sent to camps. She spends the rest of her life in Paris and Israel, writing copious numbers of letters to her friends, family, and colleagues.

Although the premise was promising, it was not the book I was expecting. Ona's life, which sounds so fascinating, is left with gaping holes. Nothing of her time with the Gestapo or in camps is known, no interviews flesh out her personality, only excerpts of her letters are left to outline her life and inner world. The subtitle is a more telling description of the book, "Writing the Life of Ona Šimaitė." This is as much the author's story as Ona's. The author does offer some insights into the nature of letter writing and the writing of women's stories, but as a biography, the book disappoints.

The author includes a chapter called "Librarians," in which she denigrates the work that women do in libraries, especially that of catalogers, "the lowest of the lows." She writes, "Cataloging requires attention to detail and the endurance of boredom, repetitive work, and even pain--characteristics traditionally considered to be feminine." I'm not sure how many catalogers she has known, but having been one myself, I must disagree and say that the organization of knowledge into discrete categories, assigning metadata so that users can find and access the information they need when they need it, and exploring books to discover and share the knowledge they contain is hardly a boring profession. Having done a lot of other jobs in the information sector, I would go back to being a cataloger anytime. Aren't we all on LT catalogers in our own ways? Are you in pain?

Mar 30, 2019, 10:02pm

>53 labfs39: On the Armenian Genocide - A friend of my mother interviewed her own mother, a survivor of this genocide. She put it together in a book. I remember it leaving a mark on me - but please note this was several years ago and I had never really known anything about this event before. The book, if you’re interested and can find it, is A Knock at the Door: A Journey Through the Darkness of the Armenian Genocide by Margaret Ajemian Ahnert.

Enjoyed your list of stores and books.

Mar 31, 2019, 1:45pm

>62 dchaikin: Hi Dan, it's nice to be active on my thread, even if only to say hi to friends. :-)

You won't believe this, but I have A Knock at the Door in my books somewhere in storage. Talk about a coincidence. It's always nice to have a personal connection to a book, even if somewhat removed. I wish I had the book out, now I want to read it.

Mar 31, 2019, 1:46pm

>62 dchaikin: Hi Dan, it's nice to be active on my thread, even if only to say hi to friends. :-)

You won't believe this, but I have A Knock at the Door in my books somewhere in storage. Talk about a coincidence. It's always nice to have a personal connection to a book, even if somewhat removed. I wish I had the book out, now I want to read it.

Edited to fix touchstone

Mar 31, 2019, 2:11pm

That does put a different twist in finding a copy. That’s cool. I knew Margaret for a while, long before the book. But lost contact as my mother lost contact with most of her friends (care of dementia).

Abr 1, 2019, 4:29pm

>61 labfs39: I think I enjoyed your review better than I might enjoy the book itself. Your review was very good.

Abr 2, 2019, 9:06am

>65 dchaikin: I'm sorry about your mother, Dan. It must be hard to have lost a network of friends-once-removed, as well as your mother. Our lives are a web of relationships.

>66 avaland: You flatter me, Lois. I'm afraid I'm out of practice writing reviews (or anything else).

Abr 3, 2019, 1:45pm

>67 labfs39: yes, for her especially. She’s lonely and doesn’t quite realize it. But it’s an odd side effect - losing contact with people because she was the contact.

Editado: Abr 3, 2019, 6:04pm

The Tattooist of Auschwitz: A Novel by Heather Morris

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a book that blurs the lines between history, fiction, memoir, and historical fiction. Because the subtitle of the book is "A Novel," that is how I began reading it. But I had only read a few chapters when I began to suspect that it was weighted more toward memoir than novel. A blurb reads "Based on the Powerful True Story of Love and Survival." But how far along that scale between fiction and history was it? It's a question I struggle with often, along with how accurate are memories (and translations). Then I finished the book and read the appendices, which include three photos of the couple and an afterward by their son. The author was able to interview the protagonist, Lale Sokolov, over a period of three years. Evidence that slides the book further toward the history/memoir side of the scale.

Lale Sokolov is a smartly-dressed ladies man with a bright future when the Nazis order one man from every Slovak family to join a group of would-be workers for the Germans. Lale volunteers, and arrives at the rendezvous point in a sharp suit and with a suitcase of books. The true purpose of the selection becomes more clear when the men are loaded into cattle cars heading toward Poland. Lale's story of life in the camps, how he landed a protected job in the camp, and how he met Gita is honest, but upbeat and a bit sugarcoated. It's an unusual tone for a Holocaust book, but seems to suit his personality (both in the book and real life).

Despite being a close retelling, there are a couple of errors, I found puzzling. Lale's name is actually spelled Lali, and Gita's tattoo was the number 4562, not 34902. This latter has created some consternation among historians and survivors. The tattooed number was used to replace a person's name and make it easier for the Nazis to think of people as things, dehumanized and nameless. It was both an ugly practicality and a symbolic loss of self. To not correctly associate a survivor's tattooed number with their name, is to further separate the person from themselves. To many survivors, this was an affront.

Overall, I found the book a quick and not depressing book, which I enjoyed more when I read the matter at the end of the book. Knowing the details of the real Lali and Gita added depth to the fictionalized account. 3.5 stars

Edited to fix touchstones

Abr 8, 2019, 2:01pm

>48 labfs39: Over several visits I was able to get 3 of the Knausgaard volumes in Archipelago editions at Third Place Books (back on the Bargain Book tables). I am now on volume 5. You are in for a treat if you are just beginning.

>52 labfs39: God in Ruins isn’t really a sequel. Ursula hardly appears, and there are no magical do-overs. I liked it just as much as Life After Life—maybe more.

Did you drive back from Seattle? Or were the Georgia stops a day trip from Florida?

Abr 10, 2019, 10:56am

>70 arubabookwoman: True, simply because I bought the first volume from a different publisher, doesn't mean I can't buy a set of Archipelago editions as I find them. Finding them is hard here though. I haven't found a good new/used bookstore closer than Carrollton in GA, five hours away. I miss Third Place!

I had started God in Ruins, but then received an Early Reviewer book, my first in over a year, and switched to it. I hope to post a review of In the Shadow of Wolves later today, then pick up the Atkinson again.

No, I flew to Seattle for a quick visit, then flew back to Atlanta. I spent the nine days of spring break there, in LaGrange and Valdosta, GA. Valdosta has a small, pretty campus in its center, but the bookstore was closed for spring break.

Hope all is going well with you

Abr 10, 2019, 12:34pm

Very belatedly catching up on your thread. A lot of great reviews and tales to catch up on!

Abr 10, 2019, 1:54pm

In the Shadow of Wolves by Alvydas Šlepikas, translated from the Lithuanian by Romas Kinka

The Wolfskinder, or wolf-children, were German children, mainly from East Prussia, who went to Lithuania after the Second World War looking for food and often a home. Newly occupied by the Soviet army, eastern Germany was a grim place after the war. Many were forced from their homes and lived on the streets, and that first winter of occupation the weather was particularly harsh. Food shortages became famine, as supplies were sent east by the trainload. Women were often the sole breadwinners, but with no work, they and their children became scavengers and prey for Soviet soldiers. Some families resorted to trying to sell children to Lithuanian farmers at markets, in exchange for food that might save their other children. Older children began migrating east into Lithuanian looking for food to bring home to their families. Some were taken in by strangers and stayed.

The author originally intended to make a documentary about the wolf-children, but lacked funding. Over a decade later, the idea became this novel, the author's first. It won book of the year when it was first published in Lithuania in 2011 and became the most widely read novel in Lithuania in 2012. Although the author was able to interview one woman who had been a wolf-child and learned a great deal about another through her son, most of the people and their stories seem to be largely forgotten.

The novel begins with Eva and Martha, two friends who are trying to bring home scavenged potato peels to their children. Chased by Soviet soldiers, they make it to their homes, only to be accosted later. Eva and her children are living in a shed on the property they formerly owned. A tiny stove keeps them from freezing, but starvation is eminent. The arrival of Heinz, a son who made it to Lithuania and back, means enough food to survive a little longer. As things deteriorate, more children decide to attempt the journey to Lithuania for food. Their story, and particularly that of Renate, one of Eva's children, is the core of the novel.

The tone is bleak, and the story grim; yet the language is poetic at times and the backdrop cinematographic. It is hard to discern how the translation has effected the novel, but a more vigorous editing might have tightened the plot line and smoothed the sometimes rough transitions. Overall, the story was gripping and could easily become a movie script. I would read more by this author and would love to see his documentary made at long last.

Abr 14, 2019, 12:07am

Great review of In the Shadow of Wolves, Lisa.

Abr 15, 2019, 12:34am

Hi, Lisa, where do you live in the Panhandle?

Abr 16, 2019, 2:34pm

Two interesting semi-nonfictional wwii books. Hope you are enjoying A God in Ruins, at least you’re still mostly in the same time period.

Abr 18, 2019, 10:32am

>72 AlisonY: Welcome, Alison. I hope you find something interesting

>74 kidzdoc: Thanks, Darryl. The book and it's topic were unusual, but within my normal spectrum.

>75 karspeak: Panama City Beach. Wow! I see you are in Destin? We should meet up sometime. Do you know of any bookstores besides B&N in Destin and Sundog Books in Seaside? Perhaps we could meet at one of those.

>76 dchaikin: Hi Dan, I feel a little embarrassed by the decline in my nonfiction reading, to say nothing of my reading in general. But at least I'm reading again...

Abr 18, 2019, 10:35am

>75 karspeak: Of the books you have in your LT library, Karen, we share 36%. I need to find your thread :-)

Abr 23, 2019, 10:01am

>77 labfs39: >78 labfs39: What a small world! We just moved to Florida last summer from Colorado. It's been quite a change in many ways. Those are the only bookstores I know of, also. Message me if you want to meet up sometime, I am usually off of work 1 or 2 days during the week!
I need to enter books that I have read in the past few years into my LT library--I am bad about that!

Abr 24, 2019, 11:45am

>79 karspeak: Small world indeed. We moved here from Seattle last April/May. I visited Colorado a couple of years ago and loved it. Where did you live? I'll send you a personal message thru LT the next time I head to Destin. It would be fun to meet up

Maio 1, 2019, 6:24am

>73 labfs39: Oh, that does sound like a book I would like. If only my literary eyes were not so much bigger than my literary stomach!!! Still, I might put that on a wishlist somewhere.

Maio 2, 2019, 10:31am

>81 avaland: I think you would like it, Lois. In some way it reminded me of a book I reviewed for Belletrista, Children in Reindeer Woods.

Editado: Maio 9, 2019, 8:58am

Finally finished reading A God in Ruins. Not sure if I will review it. Don't have strong feelings about it and don't have much to say. That says something in and of itself, I guess.

My daughter is reading Jane Eyre for school, and since I haven't read it in a long time, I started it this morning. The edition I am reading is wonderfully illustrated with wood engravings by Fritz Eichenberg. It was published in 1943. Here are some additional images to the cover at top of page:

edited to fix image

Maio 2, 2019, 12:50pm

>83 labfs39: Those are great images.

Maio 20, 2019, 4:49am

>83 labfs39: particularly love that bottom brooding image!

Editado: Maio 24, 2019, 4:41pm

>83 labfs39: I read Jane Eyre a few years ago and absolutely fell in love with it. Those images are really cool. Your thread reminded me that I have yet to read Atkinson's A God In Ruins but maybe I'm not missing anything after all (I loved Life After Life.

Maio 24, 2019, 6:41pm

>86 avidmom: Thanks for stopping by. I thought I would like A God in Ruins more than I did, because, I too, liked Life after Life and because a good friend highly recommended the book. Perhaps it was a case of wrong book at the wrong time.

Maio 28, 2019, 6:38am

>83 labfs39: I read an oversized edition once upon a time that had these same illustrations. It was part of a set of two (with Wuthering Heights) Oh, I found a image of the ones on ABE, it says it was published in '43 (I actually read Jane Eyre first in a Classics Illustrated comic book (!)

Maio 28, 2019, 9:48am

>88 avaland: Intriguing. I have the same boxed set, and although the box seems to have disappeared I know I had it. However, with mine, although the spine and size are the same, and the spine is the same colour, the cover does not have illustrations, rather looks like crinkled paper - I'm sure there is a technical term for that.

Inside, it does indeed say published in 1943 by Random House. The illustrations are those same woodcuts by Eichenberg. This makes me wonder where in the world I got this set. It was not in my parents' house as their Bronte editions were quite different. I wonder if it was through a reprint of some kind.

Maio 28, 2019, 8:25pm

>88 avaland:, >89 SassyLassy: Same editions I have. Fun to read

Editado: Jul 12, 2019, 6:34pm

I have gotten behind in writing reviews, even after so few books read: Jane Eyre (a reread), The Bear and the Nightingale (a good retelling of a Russian folktale reminiscent of The Snow Child), Circe, and The Pendragon Legend recommended by rebeccanyc.

I wanted to skitter by my own thread long enough to recommend my current read, Madame Fourcade's Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France's Largest Spy Network Against Hitler by Lynne Olson. Published earlier this year, Madame Fourcade is a fascinating piece of narrative nonfiction that I simply cannot put down. Highly recommended for those of you interested in the French Resistance and espionage in general.

Edited to fix typos

Jun 7, 2019, 1:50pm

Hi Lisa,

I'm also delinquent on my thread, but thanks for the reccommendation of Madame Fourcade's secret war. I've just finished reading The Alice Network, so I think I'll request this one from the library.

Jul 14, 2019, 2:53pm

Madame Fourcade's Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France's Largest Spy Network Against Hitler by Lynne Olson

Marie-Madeleine Fourcade was an amazing person. At the age of thirty-one, Fourcade became the head of France's largest Resistance intelligence group, Alliance. The fact that she was a woman made her accomplishments even harder won and more remarkable. Lynne Olson's readable narrative of Fourcade's life and years as chef de résistance brings to the attention of Western readers a woman whose story deserves to be known and honored.

Often underestimated because of her privileged upbringing and glamorous pre-war life, Fourcade was a force of determination and daring who bucked societal norms to become a pilot, get a job, and separate from her husband. When she was approached by Navarre, a former French military intelligence officer, to help him establish a clandestine journal trying to sway French military opinion prior to the war, she didn't hesitate. Their partnership led to the creation of Alliance, a nationwide resistance organization that provided key information to the Allies about submarine installations and movements, the V-2 rocket, the Normandy coast, and much, much more. In the last months of the war, Alliance provided information directly to General Patton as he moved his army into Germany. When Navarre was arrested in 1941, Fourcade stepped into the breach and became the head of Alliance for the rest of the war.

Fourcade had to learn as she went: how to be a spy, how to organize and run a resistance organization, and how to persuade men, many former military, to accept the leadership of a woman. Despite being separated from her children, being constantly on the run, and captured by the Nazis twice, Fourcade was unstoppable. Her personal bravery was only outshone by her organizational skills. Alliance operated over all of France, and she built cells in all the major cities, only to have them be destroyed by the capture of its agents, but would rebuild them with single-minded determination and dedication.

Despite her amazing leadership during the war, Fourcade was not named a Compagnons de la Liberation, France's highest honor for heroes of the Resistance. In fact, of the 1,038 members, 1032 were men. Perhaps now, with this book, Fourcade will receive the admiration and accolades that she should have received during her lifetime. Highly recommended.

Jul 15, 2019, 12:11pm

The Everything German Shepherd Book by Joan Hustace Walker

We are getting a new addition to the family. My daughter is getting a two-year-old German Shepherd service dog named Ace. We have been looking for a service dog for a year and a half, and she was finally matched with a dog. Ace was in training for 18 months, since he was 10 weeks old, and previously worked for a young deaf woman. She no longer uses his services and surrendered it back to the Pawsitive Love Foundation. We are super fortunate, because handlers often have to wait up to two years for a dog to be trained. My daughter started training last week (four hours a day four days a week) and will train for 4-5 weeks. She and Ace will be tethered together 24/7 for 90 days when we bring him home in a week. She is nervous, but excited. This dog could allow her to resume a normal life, maybe go back to school, get a driver's license. I am so hopeful. If you would like more information on service dogs, feel free to message me or check out resources like the ADA website FAQ page or the American Kennel Club which has vetted information and stories about real service dogs (as opposed to emotional support animals).

As for the book, I enjoyed the sections about the history of the breed and the breed suitability tests. Much of the rest would be of interest to first-time dog owners of any breed.

Jul 15, 2019, 1:07pm

Hooray for new pets. Sounds really nice for your daughter. Does the book touch on German Shepard hyper-alertness? (i call it anxiety for my loony pup)

>93 labfs39: I’m looking for new audiobook options. Noting your enthusiasm.

Jul 15, 2019, 4:16pm

>94 labfs39: That's wonderful news. My niece takes care of service dogs through their puppyhood and on a recent family visit we all got to see her work in action as she was training a young lab named Seraphina. It's amazing how she was a goofy puppy until her vest was put on, at which point, all her focus turned to my niece for the entire length of a long family event.

Jul 15, 2019, 6:03pm

>95 dchaikin: Do you have a German Shepherd puppy, Dan? The trainer says hyperfocus is helpful for service dogs, as is the shepherd's aloofness with everyone except their handler.

>96 RidgewayGirl: It's amazing how the dog transforms into a working dog when "in uniform." I've been learning so much as we've gone through this process, and I am in awe of people like your friend, who raise and train the pups. I wouldn't be good at that because I would have such a hard time giving them up!

Jul 15, 2019, 6:27pm

Naturally Tan: A Memoir by Tan France

My daughter and I often have a tv series that we watch together. When she was younger, it was Gilmore Girls; now she has me watching Queer Eye with her. I was vaguely aware of the show and its concept (makeovers for straight guys), but had no idea how interesting it could be. Each show features a different man that has been nominated for the makeover. The "Fab Five" arrive to help him with home decor, grooming, cooking, fashion, and culture, and at the end of the week, the guy goes solo hosting a party or attending a significant event.

Naturally Tan is the memoir of the fashion guru, Tan France. He is from northern England, and the first chapters of the book are about growing up a gay Pakistani in a small English town. Next Tan talks about his career in fashion, from following his grandfather around the family clothing factory to owning three successful fashion businesses simultaneously. He writes about the toll work stress can have on oneself and one's family. Tan works hard to maintain a work-life balance in his relationship with his husband, who is a rancher's son from Salt Lake City. Finally, Tan writes about being asked to audition for Queer Eye and what it has been like to be on the show.

If not for my daughter, I would never have picked up this memoir, but I'm glad I did. I was mesmerized by the twists and turns of Tan's life, and how grounded he has remained through adversity, business success, and now fame. The book is written in a straightforward, unpretentious manner, and I admired both his candor and his desire for privacy (for instance, he refuses to talk about being Muslim, saying religion is personal). An interesting and enjoyable read, great for a summer day relaxing with some lemonade.

Jul 15, 2019, 7:05pm

Love by Hanne Ørstavik, translated from the Norwegian by Martin Aitken

I love the books published by Archipelago Books. I like the small square size, the textured paper covers, the French flaps, and the interesting cover art (this book features a work by Edvard Munch). And I usually like the works they choose to translate. This novel by Norwegian author Hanne Ørstavik is no exception.

Vibeke and her son, Jon, have just moved to a small town in northern Norway. Vibeke has a new job and is excited about the success of the presentation she did that day. Jon is an imaginative boy excited about turning nine the following day. The book is the story of that one evening, the eve of Jon's birthday.

The narrative flows seamlessly between mother and son without breaks, but without confusion either. I had no trouble following who was speaking. The thoughts of each often mirrors the other despite their being apart, each doing their own thing. The tone is intimate and the intertwining of their thoughts seems to indicate a close and loving relationship, yet their actions that evening reflect a genuine disconnect. As the evening progresses, the pace of the narrative increases and the mood darkens. The reader knows something is coming, but is unsure what.

An enjoyable and quick read. Recommended

Jul 15, 2019, 7:17pm

I'm almost caught up on reviews, although the obsessive follower of my thread would see that I have skipped doing reviews on the following books:

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George (F, 3*)
Amulet : The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi (a young adult graphic novel)
A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson (F, 3.5*)
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (F, 4*)
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden (F, 4*)
Circe by Madeline Miller (F, 4.5*)
The Pendragon Legend by Antal Szerb, translated from the Hungarian by Len Rix (translated fiction, 4*)
Julius Caesar by Shakespeare (Drama, 3.5*)

I know, however, that my friends here will grant me some license and let me stand by my desire to be "caught up" after my review of Bitter Almonds by Laurence Cossé, which I finished reading today.

Jul 15, 2019, 8:00pm

>97 labfs39: I have a rescue mutt with stronf German Shepard aspects. (She was born in rescue, so no early scars of life).

Jul 15, 2019, 8:26pm

>101 dchaikin: Ah, nice. She's landed herself a good home.

Jul 16, 2019, 8:07pm

>94 labfs39: That sounds an excellent combination, your daughter and a service dog. If this isn't an intrusion on privacy, I'm curious what sorts of things the service dog will do?

Jul 16, 2019, 10:33pm

>103 qebo: Hi qebo, I'm so glad you stopped by. I sent you a PM to catch up.

Jul 21, 2019, 11:41am

Great review of Madame Fourcade's Secret War, Lisa.

Love sounds interesting; I'll keep an eye out for it.

Jul 22, 2019, 6:00am

>98 labfs39: Sounds like a nice tradition for you and your daughter...and a nice reading experience.

All forgiven re: reviews. I think we all can relate to the desire to be caught up :-)

Editado: Jul 22, 2019, 6:53am

>98 labfs39: interesting. I read an article about Tan France not too long ago, and I was curious about how exactly he'd made his money in fashion before becoming a TV personality.

I haven't caught this series yet here in the UK, but I enjoyed it first time around when it was first around at the start of the early Noughties.

Looking forward to hearing what you think of Knausgaard's Book 1.

Jul 27, 2019, 9:39am

>105 kidzdoc: Thanks, Darryl. I have found some treasures among the Archipelago Books. Jean Poulin's and Yuri Rytkheu's books to name a few.

>106 avaland: Hi, Lois. For years and years my daughter and I used to read together, at first aloud and then the same book separately. Unfortunately my daughter is not able to read as she used to, so we create a shared experience from the much less satisfactory tv. It does give me an insight into her current stage and mindset. Queer Eye reflects her current interests in social justice and sexuality. I have very little pop culture cache, so the ability to talk about some of these shows makes her a little less embarrassed about me socially. :-)

>107 AlisonY: I just finished reading book one, My Struggle, this morning. I was surprised at how engrossing it was and how quickly I read it. I feel like it ended abruptly on a cliffhanger: how did his father die? Is this continued in the next book? I wish I had a copy of the second book. I would start reading it now.

Editado: Jul 27, 2019, 9:55am

>108 labfs39: I've read two of the three Archipelago books I own by Jacques Poulin, Translation Is a Love Affair and Mister Blue, and I enjoyed both of them. I have a copy of The Chukchi Bible by Yuri Rytkheu, but I haven't read it yet.

I cancelled my subscription to Archipelago Books several years ago, not because I didn't enjoy the books, but because they were piling up faster than I could read them. I probably have 15-20 or more unread Archipelagos in my library. I'll visit their web page now, to see what's on offer, and order a copy of My Struggle: Book Six while I'm there.

I may have just contradicted myself.

Jul 27, 2019, 11:38am

>109 kidzdoc: In addition to the two you mention, I also have Poulin's Spring Tides; Translation is a Love Affair is my favorite. I enjoyed Rytkheu's A Dream in Polar Fog because of it's importance in illuminating and hopefully preserving knowledge of the Chukchi language and way of life, not because of strictly literary value. I own but have not read The Chukchi Bible. Other favorite Archipelago books are The Waitress was New, The Bottom of the Jar, and In Red. I don't think I enjoyed Khoury's books or The Twin as much as you did.

Perhaps you can support Archipelago through occasional purchases, not a subscription, and feel less conflicted? Wink.

Jul 27, 2019, 11:57am

>110 labfs39: I also own a copy of Spring Tides; hopefully I can get to it this year or next. I also enjoyed The Waitress Was New. I have The Bottom of the Jar and In Red, but I haven't read them yet.

I did order My Struggle: Book Six directly from Archipelago Books, but held off buying anything else at the moment. I'll take your suggestion and at least pay more attention to their new releases than I have in the past.

Jul 27, 2019, 2:08pm

>108 labfs39: It's fun to get a little ahead of the curve and you are indeed one of the "cool moms." My daughter and I loved to watch RuPaul's Drag Race together when she was in high school and it gave us the opportunity to talk about a lot of weighty issues.

I can't justify a subscription to Archipelago Books, but I will buy copies when I find them.

Looking forward to seeing you soon in Decatur. I hear you may make it up for the festival.

Jul 28, 2019, 9:15am

>111 kidzdoc:, >112 RidgewayGirl: I too have avoided an Archipelago subscription. Although it is more cost effective, I prefer to purchase only the ones I am interested in reading in the near future. Love was the Feb 2018 selection, I believe.

>112 RidgewayGirl: I don't know about being a "cool mom:" I am so far out of the pop culture loop. Last night, for instance, I learned that birds were being called birbs and that is supposed to be funny. (!?) ...She shrugs and returns to her book...

I hope to make it to the Decatur Book Festival, but I'm not sure yet. I'll let you know. It would be fun to meet up again.

Jul 28, 2019, 9:19am

Last night I started reading My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk. It's the first book by this Nobel-winning author that I have attempted. I was hesitant because I had read some reviews that were not raves. Dan (dchaikin), however, liked it, so that was enough for me to pick it up. Interesting structure. I'm 70 pages in and holding on so far. I am fascinated by Pamuk's depiction of 16th century Islamic art traditions and how they were being challenged by styles from the West. Like with so many things I read about, I had no idea. How small my world would be if I couldn't read.

Editado: Jul 28, 2019, 10:52am

Bitter Almonds by Laurence Cossé, translated from the French by Alison Anderson

Fadila Amrani is someone whom it's easy to overlook, or perhaps, look through. She is one of the numerous immigrant women making their living as housekeepers, laundresses, and cooks in middle class households around the world. It is usually only when there is a problem--a misunderstanding due to "broken" language, being late due to a difference in the conception and importance of being prompt, or the inability to read instructions, a receipt, a phone number--that the employer sees the worker, usually to fire them. Like so many of these women, Fadila is illiterate, not only in her new language (Parisian French), but in her old (Berber Arabic) as well.

Fadilla's new employer, Édith, is more attuned to language and literacy than most because she is a translator. She also taught her precocious son to read. Surely it wouldn't be too difficult or time-consuming to teach Fadila? But from the beginning, things do not go as Édith expects. Despite her earnest desire to help Fadila learn to read, all her research, and her attempts to cajole Fadila into a regular habit of lessons and homework, Fadila doesn't make progress. Why?

The story of Édith and Fadila is one of unlikely friendship, the day to day realities of cultural differences, and the struggles of older students trying to learn a new language and their teachers. There is no sweeping plot line, rather the slow character development that comes from the accumulation of the intimate details of life. I enjoyed Bitter Almonds, not least because I, like Édith, have experienced the breakthroughs and disappointments of teaching an older woman my language. In the end, it's the relationship, not the progress, that defines the experience.

(Edited to fix touchstone and grammar mistake.)

Jul 29, 2019, 7:31am

>108 labfs39: no, book 2 of My Struggle is set in Sweden at a much later point, so it doesn't follow on from Book 1. Book 3 goes back to his childhood, and then it does get more chronological, as in 4 he's just finishing school and doing a year out teaching, and then in 5 he starts at the Writing Academy. He talks about his dad a lot in many of the books, so if it wasn't obvious in Book 1 what he died of it does become very clear later.

Jul 29, 2019, 10:16am

>114 labfs39: I took a bullet on this one. Thanks, I think.

Jul 29, 2019, 4:57pm

>116 AlisonY: Thanks for the info, Alison. I won't rush off to get the second volume then, although I will read it.

>117 Jim53: Hi Jim, I haven't gotten much further yet, due to RL, but I'm still enjoying it. I hope you do too.

Ago 14, 2019, 9:06pm

>115 labfs39: That sounds extremely interesting - onto the wishlist it goes!

Ago 16, 2019, 8:43pm

>115 labfs39: Bitter Almonds sounds quite interesting. I often like character driven books, so onto Mt. TBR it goes.

Set 10, 2019, 8:39am

I just found Bitter Almonds in the second-hand bookshop near work.

Editado: Set 11, 2019, 9:46am

>114 labfs39: slinking in here a couple months late and wondering what you ended up thinking of My Name is Red. I remember pushing myself through, so it wasn’t a smooth reading experience. But I still think about it all these years later, fondly, and with the idea of rereading it. Also, waving hello.

Set 11, 2019, 5:36am

>114 labfs39:, >122 dchaikin: I almost commented on My Name is Red yesterday, and since Dan has mentioned it again, I’ll join in. It was one of the first translated novels that I read, and at the time (soon after it came out in English), it was way off the beaten track for me. I can’t remember what made me read it, but I do remember that I enjoyed it, whilst being slightly bemused by it. I also remember feeling excited by the very idea that you mention, Lisa, of reading making the reader’s world so much less small (my undergraduate degree was in Modern & Medieval Languages, and mainly involved reading lots of novels in French and Spanish, so it’s not like I was a stranger to the idea of reading books from other cultures...but none of them had seemed so gloriously, puzzlingly, exhilaratingly foreign to me as My Name is Red). So I’d be interested to hear what you ended up making of it as well.

Set 13, 2019, 6:26pm

My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk, translated from the Turkish by Erdağ M. Göknar

I've had this novel on my shelves for some time, acquired more because I wanted to read something by this Nobel laureate than knowing the story itself. Recently, on a day when I didn't know what to read next, I picked it up and, unsure whether I would like it, I read some LT reviews. Definitely a mixed bag, but dchaikin was not altogether dismissive, so I decided to give it a go. I'm glad I did.

The basic premise is that a man named Black returns to Istanbul from self-imposed exile. He had left the home of his uncle, Enishte, when his uncle refused to permit Black to marry his daughter, Shekure. Upon return Black learns that his Enishte has been commissioned by the Sultan to create an illustrated book glorifying the empire. The work is highly controversial, because the Sultan wishes the book to be illustrated in the European style. Enishte has hired other local miniaturists to help, but keeps each one's work secret from the others. Now one of them has been murdered, and Enishte wishes Black to discover who the murderer is.

Aside from the murder mystery, the book is about the conflict in the sixteenth-century between Eastern and Western art. As depicted in the book, an Eastern artist's prestige is based on how well he can mimic a historical style. Individual style is discouraged and signing a work is practically sacrilegious. New works are created by putting different elements together, each element a replica of the ideal form first iconized generations ago. Thus a horse in one painting will look identical to a horse in another painting. Even people are drawn as ideals, not as reflections of reality. In the West, however, and particularly Italy, painting is highly individualized, and portraits are very popular. In addition, Western art uses perspective, whereas Eastern art is still using a horizontal line. Other differences, such as the placement of a person in the center of the canvas, is seen not just as a stylistic choice, but as a religious one. Enishte, who visited Italy as an envoy, is eager to fulfill the Sultan's desire for a Western-style chronicle, whereas the local leader of the miniaturists sees such a commission as dangerous and possibly an affront to Islam.

Another interesting aspect of the novel is that each chapter is told from the first-person point of view of a different character, including the subjects of paintings, such as a tree or a dog, and Death itself. The first chapter, for instance, is entitled, "I am a Corpse." This technique heightens the tension of the search for the murderer, who narrates his own chapters. It also allows for the author to play with who has a voice and contrast their internal dialogue with their outward actions.

Although not a mystery reader, I found this one to be highly literary, historically interesting, and clever. In addition it was fun, and I read it quite quickly. Recommended for those who like art history or The Name of the Rose.

Set 13, 2019, 6:44pm

>119 wandering_star:, >120 markon:, >121 rachbxl: I am glad I inspired you to try Bitter Almonds. If you get a chance to read it, please let me know what you think!

>122 dchaikin: I would be curious to learn what you think of My Name is Red after a reread, Dan, but I don't know how likely that will be given your ambitious reading schedule. Perhaps you found it a slog because it was the wrong book at the wrong time?

>123 rachbxl: Thank you for commenting on My Name is Red, Rachel. I love your description of it being "gloriously, puzzlingly, exhilaratingly foreign." You inspired me to finally write a quick review. Although it's been weeks since I read it, it was fun to focus on it again.

Set 14, 2019, 1:32pm

My Friend Monica by Jane Duncan

The My Friend books are a series of nineteen autobiographical novels, told from the point of view of her surrogate protagonist, Janet Sandison. Each book relates a chapter of her life, as it relates to one of her friends. For instance, the first novel, My Friends the Miss Boyds, depicts Duncan's childhood in the Highlands, with a focus on a family of spinsters who move into the local village. It remains my favorite. My Friend Monica is the third book in the series and loosely depicts the author's time in the Air Force operations room during World War II and her marriage to Alexander "Twice" Alexander. Monica served with Jane during the war and later Monica attempts to break up her relationship with Twice.

Set 14, 2019, 2:54pm

>125 labfs39: wasn’t a slog, but I had to push myself a bit. It’s easy reading, yet it’s hard to make sense of, and sometimes I have trouble figuring out how to read books like that. But I was and am really happy to have read it. Enjoyed your review.

Set 14, 2019, 3:01pm

>127 dchaikin: Sorry to have misinterpreted your comments on My Name is Red. I did have a hard time keeping the voices and perspectives of the three miniaturists separate and linked to their names, especially toward the end when they were together. Have you read any other Pamuk?

Set 14, 2019, 6:11pm

I was so ready to read more, bought Snow in 2008. It's now long neglected on my tbr shelves somewhere. sigh.

Set 15, 2019, 5:40am

Enjoyed your review of My Name is Red. I’m about 50 pages into Bitter Almonds, and I’m enjoying watching the characters slowly taking shape.

>129 dchaikin: I remember enjoying Snow, Dan, but that’s all I remember about it. It was before I was on LT, so no review, unfortunately.

Set 15, 2019, 7:02pm

>129 dchaikin: Snow is the other Pamuk I have languishing on my shelves as well.

>130 rachbxl: I hope you enjoy Bitter Almonds, Rachel.

Set 15, 2019, 7:08pm

Started a new book yesterday, one I received through Early Reviewers. So far I'm finding it very interesting, reminiscent of Jan Karski's book, The Story of a Secret State.

The Volunteer: one man, an underground army, and the secret mission to destroy Auschwitz by Jack Fairweather

Set 16, 2019, 3:47am

Catching up with your thread. Interesting review on My Name Is Red. Not a title I'm familiar with, so noting it. Interesting that you mentioned The Name of the Rose as a similar type of book - I bought that last week, and hope to get to it at some point before Christmas (the TBR shelve are heaving right now!).

Set 16, 2019, 10:42am

>133 AlisonY: Thanks for dropping in, Alison. I was reminded of Name of the Rose because the cadre of miniaturists reminded me of the brotherhood in a monastery. In this Guardian article, the reviewer writes:

The combination of historical setting and murder mystery will remind many of Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose (1984). Eco's medieval crime puzzler led us through the byways of antique learning and made the solution of the whodunit depend on a knowledge of medieval literary theory. Comparably, to solve the murders in Pamuk's novel we must find out something about theories of art in the Ottoman court. Pamuk seems to have had Eco's bestseller specifically in mind (and in his title?), for he appears to invite us to use our knowledge of that novel's denouement.

There follows a tiny spoiler, so I didn't include the entire paragraph.

Out 4, 2019, 9:40am

Great review of My Name Is Red, Lisa! I'll have to move it higher on my TBR list.

Nov 6, 2019, 11:25am

The Volunteer: one man, an underground army, and the secret mission to destroy Auschwitz by Jack Fairweather

There is no question that Witold Pilecki was a brave man. How many would willingly be sent to Auschwitz on an intelligence gathering and sabotage mission? A member of the Polish Resistance, on September 19, 1940, Pilecki sat in his sister-in-law's apartment waiting for the Germans he knew were coming. After the well-known hellish trip by cattle car, on September 21 Pilecki was processed at Auschwitz as a political prisoner (his role in the resistance was successfully kept secret).

Opening in May 1940, Auschwitz was originally conceived as a concentration camp, and it's original prisoners were Polish criminals, quickly followed by Polish political prisoners, intellectuals, and Catholic priests, but few Jews. The first gassings began in September 1941, a year after Pilecki arrived in the camp, and it's first victims were Soviet prisoners of war. It wasn't until March 1942 that the first mass deportations of Jews arrived at Auschwitz, the same month women began arriving there. Pilecki was there to witness it all.

From the moment Pilecki arrived, his life was in danger, and he was subjected to violent abuse and illness. He began writing reports on the numbers and composition of prisoners, the layout of the camp, and any information he thought would be useful to an Allied attack, and had them smuggled out of the camp. He also began organizing resistance cells, with the ultimate goal of staging a mass breakout in conjunction with an attack. His decision to remain in the camp himself, despite opportunities to escape, is nothing short of heroic.

While Pilecki's story is fascinating and deserving to be told, the execution of a true account was problematic. The author had to rely on a few reports and diaries, collaborating historical documents, and general interviews with survivors. In order to craft a logical narrative, many assumptions had to be made. For a history buff, the lack of consistent evidence is frustrating, although understandable. At times, the shift between the third and first person perspective is jarring. Overall, however, the book is well-researched with extensive notes and bibliography. It is very readable and accessible, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in the Holocaust and the Polish resistance.

Nov 6, 2019, 5:48pm

Pilecki sounds insane to me, must be quite a story...Although it’s always difficult to learn more about these camps. Nice to see more posts from you, Lisa.

Nov 6, 2019, 9:42pm

Thanks, Dan.

Although Pilecki's actions seem insane looking back, from his POV he was going to a concentration camp for political prisoners, which it was at the time. He didn't know what was coming. In fact, even after the Jews began arriving, he thought the Nazi's were targeting Jews for their money, because he saw how much was confiscated during the Selections. It was hard for him to believe that the Nazi's meant to exterminate an entire people. That seemed as unfathomable to him, as going to Auschwitz seems to us.
(Although called The Volunteer, Pilecki was actually coerced into doing it by his leader in the resistance. He refused at first.)

I couldn't help but compare Pilecki's experience and reports with those of Jan Karski, also in the Polish resistance. Karski was snuck into both the Warsaw ghetto and a transit center for Belzec to witness first hand the horrors. His reports went higher, faster. In late '42 and early '43, Karski travelled to London and met with Anthony Eden (Churchill wouldn't see him), then to Washington to meet FDR face to face. The Allies chose not to act despite the growing first-hand evidence.

Karski wrote a memoir called The Story of a Secret State, which I found more interesting, perhaps because of the intensity of the first-hand account. It was published in 1944, thus making available to everyone what he knew.

I know so much reading about the Holocaust makes for grim discussions. Sometimes even I wonder why I do it. I think it's a combination of feeling a desperate need to remember and a desire to try and understand how some ordinary people can commit acts of utter depravity, while others are capable of incredible bravery and self-sacrifice. How? Why? And what would I do? Perhaps ultimately reading these things is an attempt to understand my own soul and what I might be capable of.

Editado: Nov 6, 2019, 10:16pm

I didn't think about that when reading your review, it is very different from that perspective. When I visited Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, there were videos of Karski being interviewed after the war. He has a presence you don't forget. I appreciate your drive to learn about this.

Nov 6, 2019, 10:20pm

ps - hope you like The Gift of Rain as much as I liked Eng's The Garden of Evening Mists. The audiobook version of TGoEM was magnificently done, with several wonderful accents.

Nov 7, 2019, 9:07am

>139 dchaikin: I'll have to see if I can find the Karski interviews online. Thanks for mentioning this.

>140 dchaikin: I loved TGoEM and so picked up Gift of Rain some time ago. I don't know why it has taken me this long to get to it. The language is so beautiful. I think I could read a grocery list by Tan and be mesmerized.

Nov 7, 2019, 11:33am

Good to see you posting! I loved both TGoEM and The Gift of Rain. Mesmerizing writing, as you say; just beautiful.

Interesting review of The Volunteer, BTW.

Nov 7, 2019, 5:54pm

>142 rachbxl: Thanks, Rachel. I should have mentioned that I received The Volunteer as an Early Reviewer book.

Editado: Nov 10, 2019, 3:23pm

Glad to hear you're enjoying The gift of rain. I loved both rain & The garden of evening mists when I ran across them, I think perhaps initially a mention on kidzdocs thread, and then a lucky find in an airport.

I'll be interested to hear what you thought of Half a yellow sun if you review it.

Nov 21, 2019, 8:13pm

>144 markon: Hi Ardene! Thanks for stopping by. I finished reading Gift of Rain today and loved it almost as much as Garden of Evening Mists. The only slight detraction was the sometimes distracting shifts from the past into the present. But I love the author's writing. I wish he were prolific.

I liked Half of a Yellow Sun, but don't know when/if I'll review it. Have you read it?

Nov 24, 2019, 1:12pm

>145 labfs39: Yes Lisa, I read it seveal years ago, and then got to see the author at the Decatur Book Festival. Unfortunately I didn't post a review on LT, but I remember that I liked it. I also enjoyed, if that's the right word, Purple Hibiscus and Americanah.