Markon dogpaddles into 2019

DiscussãoClub Read 2019

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Markon dogpaddles into 2019

Editado: Jan 14, 2019, 7:36pm

Hi, I'm here for the 2nd year on club read, and doing some cross-posting in the 75ers group.

This dog paddle is what my life feels like right now - I'm busy at home and at work and don't feel like I'm in control of anything. Nothing is wrong, it's just busy, and I'd really like to have some kind of order somewhere . . .

Headed "home" to visit my dad this week; he turns 91 in about 10 days. He injured himself in a fall at the end of October, and has been falling every 10 days or so since then, although without hurting himself, thank goodness. Looking forward to seeing him and my siblings, and hoping to have some frank conversation on how he is feeling and what he wants going forward.

No themes or goals for my reading this year, just reading what interests me. I hope to post at least once a month this year; we'll see how that works out.

Editado: Abr 2, 2019, 10:28pm

1st quarter

1. Jane Crow by Rosalind Rosenberg (biography of Pauli Murray)
2. Outside the gates by Molly Gloss (juvenile fantasy)
3. Whichwood by Taherah Mafi (juvenile fantasy)
4. The invention of wings by Sue Monk Kidd
5. Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingid Rojas Contreras
6. The Babylon Eye by Masha du Toit (science fiction)
7. Song in a weary throat by Pauli Murray (autobiography)
8. The strange by Masha du Toit (science fiction)
9. Desolation mountain by William Kent Krueger (mystery)
10. Trail of lightning (fantasy/alt history) by Rebecca Roanhorse

11. Birth of the firebringer by Meredith Ann Pierce (juvenile fantasy)
12. The bear and the nightingale by Katherine Arden
13. Well-read black girl edited by Glory Edim (audio, non fiction)
14. The round house by Louise Erdrich (reread for Wiley Cash online book club)
15. Tower of thorns by Juliet Marillier (fantasy, book 2 of 3)

16. Visitor by C. J. Cherryh (reread, science fiction)
17. The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst (fantasy)
18. The bird king by G. Willow Wilson (fantasy)
19. Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett (fantasy)

The tangled tree
Life class by Pat Barker
The Language of thorns by Leigh Bardugo
The good neighbor by Maxwell King
Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore
America is not the heart by Elaine Castillo
The way of all flesh by Ambrose Perry (husband and wife team) (mystery set in Edinburg in mid 1800s, too predictable, though I'm curious about whether this will continue as a series.

Editado: Dez 9, 2019, 1:39pm

2nd Quarter Reading

20. The last policeman by Ben H. Winters (mystery & science fiction)
21. Homeward Hound by Rita Mae Brown (mystery, Sister Jane)
22. Countdown City by Ben Winters (Last Detective, Book 2 of 3)
23. Dead Water by Ann Cleeves (mystery)
24. The bookshop of yesterdays by Amy Meyerson
25. Forest of Memory by Mary Robinette Kowal (science fiction)
26. World of trouble by Ben Winters (mystery & apocalypic science fiction)
27. The green glass sea Ellen Klages (historical fiction)
28. The gown by Jennifer Robson (historical fiction)
29. The American agent by Jacqueline Winspear


The raven tower by Ann Leckie

Editado: Set 1, 2019, 2:40pm

Editado: Dez 9, 2019, 1:33pm

September & October
Witch Week by Dianna Wynne Jones
Gamechanger by L. X. Beckett (Canadian writer A.M. Dellamonica)
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
Velocity weapon by Meagan O'Keefe
City of Lost Fortunes by Bryan Camp
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Abandoned The Plateua by Maggie Paxson, but would like to read A good place to hide (Peter Grose) and Village of secrets by Caroline Moorehead

The deep by Rivers Solomon (fantasy, middle passage)
Wild country by Anne Bishop (fantasy, others series)
A bitter feast by Deborah Crombie (mystery, Gemma James/Duncan Kincaid series)
The raven king by Maggie Stiefvater (fantasy, raven king series)
A tree grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (historical fiction)
From here to eternity by Caitlin Doughty
Travelers by Helon Habila
The starless sea by Erin Morgenstern

The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull (scifi)
Bark of night by David Rosenfelt (mystery)
Knife children by Lois McMaster Bujold (fantasy, audio)
The priory of the orange tree by Samantha Shannon (fantasy)

ETA to add two more titles

Cantoras by Carolina de Robertis (historical fiction)
Hope and other dangerous pursuits by Laila Lalami (historical fiction)

Jan 15, 2019, 7:13am

>1 markon: Hope you are having a nice visit with family. Happy birthday to Dad. Glad to find another "goal-less" and "theme-less" reader. I have called it ricochet reading, organic reading....etc over the years (it sounds sexier than being defined by what one is NOT doing, don't you think? :-)

Jan 15, 2019, 7:21am

Oh I know that dog-paddling feeling too well. My call to action for 2017 was "less game face, more game"—in other words, less keeping up and keeping it together and more proactivity—more situations of my own making. It's good being competent and dealing with what life hands out, but there needs to be more. My take, anyway. Hope you have a good visit. (My mom turns 91 next month.)

Jan 15, 2019, 8:15am

Loving the doggy paddle title! I think a lot of us here can relate! Looking forward to seeing where your random reading takes you. I'm on a similar path myself.

Jan 15, 2019, 1:06pm

>7 avaland: I love it! organic reading it is (and sometimes it truly is ricochet reading, like the Pauli Murry autobiography I'm reading now in response to the biography of her I finished recently.)

>8 lisapeet: I agree, there needs to be more to life than competency & reaction. That's what gives me meaning and satisfaction.

>9 AlisonY: Thanks Alison. Good luck with your random reading too.

Editado: Jan 16, 2019, 11:24pm

Outside the gates by Molly Gloss (juvenile fantasy)

Vren is cast out from his walled village when he demonstrates an affinity for animals. He is befriended by Rusche, a weatherworker, and by a family of wolves. When Rusche goes missing, Vern and his wolf-friend Trim set off to find him.

This is Molly Glass' first novel, and I enjoyed it. It's mostly a fable about being different and outcast. I read it to get an idea of her writing style because I've been hearing some buzz about the reissue of some of her previous novels. (This one is the only juvenile.) Wild Life won the Tiptree award, but I may read Dazzle of Day next.

Whichwood by Taherah Mafi (juvenile fantasy)

Laylee is the only mordeshor in her village after the death of her mother and the abandonement of her father whose spirit is crushed by her mother's death. Laylee does her best to complete the task of washing and burying the dead to prepare them to successfully move on to the afterlife. Unfortunately, the village doesn't appreciate what she's doing or pay her appropriately, she is getting behind during a hard winter, and when the dead aren't properly handled, their spirits don't move on and they eventually start looking for a new skin (body.) Then two strangers appear and offer to help, but can Laylee trust them?

Editado: Jan 18, 2019, 9:42pm

Jane Crow: the life of Pauli Murray by Rosalind Rosenberg

The words “nevertheless, she persisted,” describe Pauli Murray well. She weathered having multiple doors shut in her face on the basis of race, gender, and activism, and she kept her sexual orientation? status? secret from all but a very few close friends. (Today we would most likely refer to her as transgendered.)

Trained as a lawyer at Howard University in the early 1940s her research and paper for a class her senior year provided a springboard for Thurgood Marshall’s and the NAACP’s civil rights litigation in the 1960s. A paper she co-wrote in the 1960s provided one leg of Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s litigation on behalf of women’s rights in the 1970s. She served on JFKs Presidential Commission on the Status of women in the 1970s, and also helped found NOW, though she quickly backed away from the organization when she realized that it was going to cater to middle class white women. And in the 1980s she became the first black Episcopal priest in the U.S.

The words that came to mind when I finished this biography were guarded, visionary, and persistent.

I also found it rather depressing reading about all the nay sayers she faced in her life. This may be in part because of the academic orientation of the biography. The narrative also focused primarily on her external accomplishments and lack of the outward trappings of success, and not on her inner life or personal relationships. Personally, I found Julie Phillips' biography of Alice B. Sheldon/James Tiptree more compelling reading.

I had more questions about Murray when I finished the biography than when I started. Questions like, why did she want to become a priest? (her spiritual life and choices are not described in this biography.) How did she withstand the lack of professional success and economic instability of her early adult life? I wondered how a biography that focused on her spiritual life and family and personal relationships, would differ from Jane Crow. Was Murray satisfied with her life? What did she see as her greatest successes?

While Jane Crow is well worth reading, I found it rather dry and incomplete because it doesn’t discuss what motivates Murray and drives her. I hope there will be other biographies that explore these parts of her life.

I am currently reading Song in a weary throat, Pauli Murray’s autobiography. I find the voice and the story more compelling here, though since she was so guarded about her sexual inclinations she does not discuss them, or the struggles she had because she felt she was a male in a woman's body. I’m glad Rosenberg does. A lifelong Episcopalian, she doesn't discuss her spiritual life in detail, but it is present throughout the book. I will probably obtain a copy of Proud Shoes, her memoir of her family as well. I'm finding her interesting, admirable, and likable.

Editado: Jan 18, 2019, 9:39pm

Book discussions

I hope to participate in two online book discussions this month and next.

Literary fiction by people of color

I recently finished Fruit of the drunken tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras, and though I don't have a review yet, if you're interested in discussion of the book check out this link on Goodreads.


In the name of identity: violence and the need to belong by Amin Maalouf is the group read for January-February, with identity being the theme through April. Discussion is here.

Editado: Jan 17, 2019, 1:17pm

>12 markon: I’m not familiar with Pauli Murray. This review was really interesting to me. I’ll look forward to what you have to say about her autobiography.

Jan 18, 2019, 7:58am

>12 markon: Echoing Dan.

Doggy paddling is such a great way to describe this feeling of controlling little but hanging in there. I so relate...

Jan 18, 2019, 10:03pm

>14 dchaikin: & >15 labfs39: Thanks Dan and Lisa.

Fev 8, 2019, 4:32pm

Multiple points of view in fiction: When do you like it, when do you hate it?

I found myself frustrated by the use of multiple points of view (POV) in a couple of novels last month, and, inspired by some discussion on the Questions for the Avid Reader thread (my question is at post 22) and with co-workers, I have started poking around the internet to try to learn something about when using multiple POVs makes sense and when it doesn’t. (There are many articles describing what point of view is and naming different types; I’m coming up with a working list of categories to use.)

My plan going forward is to pay attention to when, how, and maybe why multiple POV are used in books I read & what I think about it. I’m hopeful that in six months or so I may start to see some patterns, or at least understand what about it I dislike when I get frustrated..

This technique is used frequently in science fiction & fantasy, genres I read; when I looked back at the books I read in 2018 I identified several titles that I thought used it successfully.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
The Muse by Jessie Burton
The Overstory by Richard Powers
Three Pines mysteries by Louise Penny
The Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras

Science Fiction or Fantasy
Convergence and Emergence by C. J. Cherryh
Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Semiosis by Sue Burke (this wasn't my favorite novel, but the use of multiple POV was fine.)
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

What are some novels you’ve read recently that used multiple points of view well? Have you come across any lately that use it poorly?

Editado: Fev 9, 2019, 3:02pm

Song in a Weary Throat: Memoir of an American Pilgrimage by Pauli Murray, ©1987

First off, I’m happy to say that Pauli Murray’s autobiography was a more enjoyable read than Jane Crow. Conversational in style, it provided insight into Murray’s attitudes and viewpoint that Rosenberg’s biography did not. Murray also mentions her (and her family’s) membership and activity in the Episcopal church at various points in the book so that her choice to attend seminary and become a priest makes sense, instead of coming out of the blue as it does in Jane Crow.

On the other hand, Murray never mentions her lifelong sense that she is a man in a woman’s body, her attempts to get hormone treatment to make her appear more male, or the mental health issues this ongoing difference from the norm exacerbated. Neither does it mention, except in passing, the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid issues that Rosenberg argues addressed some of the mental health issues.

And while she does mention her long-term relationship with Irene Barlow (Rene), it is couched in such a way that without knowing about her sexual identity, one could easily read the autobiography without considering that it was more than the deep friendship she shared with, for example, Maida Springer Kemp.

This is partly, I think, a generational reserve about speaking of personal thoughts and feelings in public. It is also, in my opinion, a survival concern. Murray’s race and gender limited the roles Murray was allowed to assume in society; a public transgender identity would have cost her jobs, and I doubt she could have been ordained in the 1980s as a publicly transgendered person.

One of the questions that kept recurring while I was reading Jane Crow was, “how does she keep going in the face of so much rejection? What motivates her?” I think the factors are multiple, and include the following.

Family: Murray was raised with her mother’s extended family close by, and with a strong sense of the respected place this family had in Durham, NC. These relationships, especially with her Aunt Pauline and Aunt Sally and her sister Mildred, sustained her over time.

Education: Murray and her family valued education (Har paternal grandfather, father, and two maternal aunts were teachers) and used their knowledge to make their lives, and lives in their communities, better.

Contributing to the Negro (Murray’s favored term) community was a strong motivation for Murray and her family. She helped organize demonstrations to integrate restaurants in Washington D.C. while attending law school during World War II. In the 1970s Murray served on the President’s commission on the status of women and helped found NOW (the National Organization for Women) while getting her PhD.
Faith: Raised in the Episcopal church, Murray was active throughout her life, and a shared faith was one of that drew Murray and Irene Barlow together. Thus her activism to increase women’s formal power in the denomination, both for lay women and as a priest, makes sense.

Relationships: These include family relationships, but also friends Murray made both in educational arenas and in activism.

So, I’m glad I read both of these books. Jane Crow supplied facts about Murray that she didn’t address in her autobiography, but the autobiography helped me understand her motivations and attitude.

Fev 16, 2019, 1:04pm

Finished within the last two weeks:

Well-read black girl edited by Glory Edim (audio, non fiction)
The round house by Louise Erdrich (reread for Wiley Cash online book club)
Tower of thorns by Juliet Marillier (fantasy, book 2 of 3)

Currently reading:

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James (fantasy, book 1 of 3 in projected trilogy)
Don't call me crazy edited by Kelly Jensen (non fiction)
The secret history of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore (non fiction)
Hearts of the missing by Carol Potenza (mystery)

Point of View Information
Two non fiction books are essays written primarily by authors: Well-read black girl and Don't call me crazy. Most essays are written from the point of view of the author, since they are personal reflections. I'm not counting these as multiple point of view books. They are both collections of personal reflections on a topic

The round house Completely written from Joe's point of view, unusual for author Erdrich.

Tower of thorns is written from 3 points of view: 1. Geiléis, who seeks help to break a curse, 2. Grim, 3. Blackthorn. Each chapter is headed with the name of the character who is telling what they see, hear, do & feel. Geiléis also tells us piecemeal throughout the book about the beginning of the curse. I found this one a page turner, and didn't have any trouble following the story.

Geiléis is a an unlikeable character. While I felt sympathy for the young girl she was at the beginning of the curse, the idea of immediate and undying love springing up between two individuals who have just met is pet peve of mine - infatuation happens that way, but not love. And I didn't like what seemed to me the manipulative use of others, including Blackthorn.

Blackthorn, alas, is too trusting and naive in this 2nd of a 3-book series, which seems out of character for her. I did greatly enjoy learning some of Grim's backstory. I will continue to read Marillier, this one was a little under par in my opinion.

Hearts of the missing Completely written from the protagonist's (Sergeant Nicky Matthews.) This first in a series and winner of the 2017 Hillerman prize for best book set in the southwest holds promise. Not finished yet, but enjoying it so far.

Score? - 2 books from a single point of view, and 1 with multiple points of view that was enjoyable.

Editado: Fev 19, 2019, 1:13pm

Have been enjoying the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival the last two weekends I've been off. I was drawn to documentaries this year, seeing four of them, and one fiction movie.

The most unsettling was Who will write our history? based on the book linked here. It is the story of a group of Jewish intellectuals (code named Oyneg Shabbes) who collected accounts of everyday life from people in the Warsaw ghetto during World War II, as well as artifacts (playbills, newspapers, armbands, drawings, etc.) Their work expanded throughout Poland as refugees continued to gather in Warsaw; they were responsible for getting the Grojanowski report about Chelmo to England. The archives were buried so that the Jewish side of the story could be told in addition to the one the Nazis documented.

Three of about 60 of these people survived. One of them was Rachel Auerbach, a journalist and author who ran a soup kitchen in Warsaw, and later became the head of the Department of the Collection of Witness Testimony at Yad Vashem in Israel. of Two of three caches have been recovered. The documents are held at the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, and are available in digital format to researchers there and at the U.S. Holocaust Museum's archives. A 36-volume edition of the archive in Polish was finally published in 2018.

Fev 20, 2019, 9:14pm

>20 markon: that’s an amazing story and sounds like a really powerful movie.

Also, hoping you’re enjoying Jill Lepore. It’s an odd book, odd story on Wonder Woman.

Fev 22, 2019, 12:45pm

>21 dchaikin: Yes, it is an odd story. I don't find Marston very likeable, but it's a curious and interesting story of Marston, Holloway & Byrne, as well as Wonder Woman.

Fev 22, 2019, 10:27pm

>12 markon: Thanks for this review. I'm a fan of Murray's life and writing. It sounds as if this one won't shed much light on her spiritual side.

Fev 26, 2019, 10:33am

>23 Jim53: Yes, Jim, that's one of two things about the biography that I found lacking. Her spiritual side and lifelong involvement with the church were not discussed, and I didn't get a sense of Murray as a person. The facts and historical context in this biography are great, but there is something missing.

I'm glad I read Murray's autobiography, Song in a weary throat as a counterweight. I felt like I got a better sense of who she was and what motivated her from this book. However, she doesn't discuss the health issues that plagued her a good part of her life, or even mention (understandably) that she tried to get hormone therapy to make her more like the man she felt she was. So, it was a lot of pages to read, but well worth it.

I see you've read Proud Shoes I'm going to have to buy that one, since my library doesn't own it.

Editado: Fev 26, 2019, 3:33pm

Recently Completed
Den of Wolves by Juliet Marillier (fantasy, volume 3 of 3)
The round house by Louise Erdrich (reread)
Puppies, dogs and blue northers by Gary Paulsen
This side of wild by Gary Paulsen

Finished section 1 of Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James last night. It's a bit confusing, knowing what is myth, what is real and whether we're in the present, or telling the story of how we got where we are now (and I'm not sure where that is, yet.) Rich and layered and we'll see what I think when I get to the end of this volume.

Editado: Fev 26, 2019, 3:43pm

Headed into a few days off! We've had two days in a row without rain! Do I dare hope for a few more? Having dinner with some friends tonight and will go see my last film from the AJFF Wednesday, It must schwing! the Blue Note story Wednesday night. I hope to drive up into the North Georgia Mountains for an overnight of hiking and reading this weekend.

Fev 26, 2019, 7:34pm

>26 markon: Oh my, the movie sounds wonderful! I'm gonna see how I can find a chance to see it.

Fev 28, 2019, 10:29am

>26 markon: Enjoy your hiking. It's still a bit hot here (and then there's snakes to worry about) but maybe towards the end of March we will start bushwalking again.

Editado: Mar 5, 2019, 6:51pm

>27 Jim53: It was quite enjoyable, and I didn't know the story of the two men who founded Blue Note - I've heard of the label obviously, but didn't know the story behind it. The movie is relatively new (copyright 2018 I think), but hopefully you'll find it somewhere.

>28 rhian_of_oz: Thanks Rhian. Hoping the weather will cooperate.

Mar 3, 2019, 8:49am

>7 avaland: I love avaland's idea of ricochet reading or organic reading. It describes so well the pattern, or the absence of pattern, that some of us follow (or don't follow).
I think I'm going to use this expression a lot, if you don't mind me stealing your idea...

Mar 3, 2019, 9:21am

Yup, "ricochet reading" exactly describes my reading habits. I tried reading by category for several years, but my mind kept wandering over to whatever else caught my eye, and then I didn't want to read what I was already reading. Now I just follow my instincts.

Mar 3, 2019, 9:23am

>26 markon: I will have to catch that.

Mar 5, 2019, 5:09pm

>11 markon: I am slow to get around, but is that a new Molly Gloss? I read her easy books when they came out: The Dazzle of Day, Jump Off Creek and Wildlife but not the horse books, perhaps they broke the spell and I've just lost touch. Not sure I'd take her up again, but I guess it would depend on the book.

Mar 5, 2019, 6:55pm

>33 avaland: >11 markon: It's not new, I heard about a new one by her and decided to try an older one first. I'm partway through, with mixed reactions so far.

>32 dukedom_enough: Like I said to Jim, I hope you find it streaming somewhere, or at a film festival near you.

>30 raton-liseur: >31 auntmarge64: Ricochet reading is a great term, and sounds less tame than organic reading.

Mar 5, 2019, 7:03pm

>28 rhian_of_oz: Alas, I didn't get to hike this weekend. Not only was it pouring down rain, I was sick from 2 am to 2 pm with a stomach bug, and had a headache til evening. I have a couple more days off coming up, maybe I'll try it during the week.

Meanwhile, I have a question to run by you all.

Sleep, insomnia & audio: What helps you when you wake up at 3:00 a.m.?

Do you listen to audiobooks in the middle of the night? Music? What have you noticed about the experience? Has it affected your sleep patterns? If so, how?

For at least a couple of decades, I've taken a prescription medication to help me sleep all night. I don't usually have trouble getting to sleep, but I often wake up around 3:00 or 3:30 in the morning and have trouble going back to sleep. And then the alarm goes off and I can't wake up. Not a good combination.

A few years ago, I also started having an audiobook available to listen to when I woke up around 3:00 am. It helped me lie quiet and kept my brain from running off in many directions, and I would usually go back to sleep, Somewhere along the line, I started listening to a book while I went to sleep, and migrated from CDs to using my smart phone (books or a podcast) & setting a timer.

Then I noticed that I was waking up and listening 2-3 times in one night. The version of Libby I have right now doesn't let me click and drag back and forth in an audiobook easily to find my place. I have to swipe, which wakes me up 'cause I have to watch the screen to make sure I'm doing it the right way. I noticed one morning recently that I woke up and it seemed odd to me that there was no voice running in the background. I'm not sure this is a good thing.

While I'm not looking for advice, I'm curious if others have run across this or similar dilemmas.

What helps you rest well?

Mar 5, 2019, 8:01pm

>35 markon: I also wake up at least once during the night. Then I have thoughts running through my head making it hard to get back to sleep. Lately I’ve tried a trick that my daughter suggested. I start listing book titles alphabetically.. at first I tried one book per letter, but I was going too far into the alphabet. So now I try to do three books per letter. I rarely get past K or L before I’m back asleep. It sounds silly, but it seems to work if I’m tired enough.

Mar 6, 2019, 7:19am

>35 markon: This has been an issue for me in the past few years—I think a combo of age and a job with a million million moving parts to keep track of. Preventatively, I've cut out alcohol except for very few special occasions—I used to love that glass of wine with dinner, but it doesn't really agree with my head any more. No cannabis too close to bedtime, because that keeps me awake. And sugar ditto gives me indigestion, which doesn't help either. Non-consumable-wise, I like to make a list before bed of all the things I need to take care of the next day or beyond—I have a physical date book that I write EVERYTHING down in, even though I have an Outlook calendar for work related stuff. Just knowing that all the things I need to be thinking/worrying about are on the list often helps me turn off the hamster brain at 3 am... it's all outsourced, so no reason to obsess over it again.

In the dark hour of the soul itself, I use meditation techniques. I've been doing a ten-minute phone app (Headspace) guided meditation in the mornings, which I really like as a way to start my day with the goal of feeling a bit more focused. Those meditations have a series of steps, so the combination of scanning through the body and feeling its presence/weight and then concentrating on the breath tends to slow me down and knock me out. I don't do audiobooks so I can't speak to that, and in general try not to do anything that involves a screen when I wake up. Music might be nice, but too many steps to get out headphones etc., so I just try to trick my brain into relaxing.

Mar 6, 2019, 12:24pm

>35 markon: Although common wisdom is that you shouldn't just lie in bed if you're awake, my mother taught me that that's exactly what to do, so that even if the mind is awake the body is resting. I just try to let my mind wander, or I think of some book I've been reading or some idea I've been contemplating. Sometimes it works, sometimes, not, but I usually feel like I've gotten enough rest even when I think I've been awake all night.

Mar 8, 2019, 12:54pm

>36 NanaCC:, >37 lisapeet:, >38 auntmarge64: Thanks all for your input. I've used counting successfully sometimes (I don't visualize the sheep, just count) and generally don't make it past 3-4 minutes. Thinking about the alphabet - I'm afraid it might engage my mind too much, but may give it a shot.

Lisa, I may try some journalling before sleep - getting everything out of my head might help. (Note to self: replace the colored pencils the dog stole.)

Mar 9, 2019, 6:01am

>39 markon: Just came across this article arguing that we’re all worrying far too much about the problem of sleep:

FWIW, I’ve found that the only sure-fire way of getting a good night’s sleep is to have spent the day doing something active in the open air. Best of all is to be on a sailing boat or in a tent. At home I’ve sometimes experimented with playing ambient sounds in my bedroom (breaking waves, rippling water, etc.) but it doesn’t seem to have much effect. Darian Leader is probably right in saying that the problem is not with our “sleep hygiene” but with the kind of lives we lead during the daytime.

Mar 11, 2019, 8:25pm

>35 markon: Nothing is more utterly guaranteed to keep me awake forever than hearing words in my ears. My brain cannot shut them out, and it cannot shut off with them echoing around in there. This was a huge problem when I lived with a guy who apparently couldn't go to sleep without the radio or a television on.

These days, I practice very careful sleep hygiene. I work rotating shift, going from days to evenings to nights, so it's extremely important for me to be able to send the right signals to my brain saying "now is the time to shut off and sleep," even if what time "now" is varies from week to week or even day to day. Among other things, that means no reading in bed, and no audio, either. I read on the comfy sofa before bed, then go in to bed to sleep, so my brain knows bed is for sleeping, not for stories.

As for waking up at 3 AM (at least, when I'm not supposed to be awake a 3 AM), I find the very best solution is not looking at the clock. If I don't look at the clock, I might be able to roll over and be fine. If I do look at it, I might be doomed. Although, actually, that's much less of a problem at 3 AM than it is at 1 PM, on those days when I only get to sleep at 8 AM. If I look at the clock and it says 1 PM, then I very probably am doomed to no more sleep, even if I should have hours of rest ahead of me yet.

Mar 14, 2019, 8:00pm

>40 thorold: I joined the Y towards the end of January this year after my yoga studio closed, and find the exercise is helping with sleep. If weather permits, I want to spend some time outside with my dog tomorrow!

>41 bragan: I know I would struggle with working rotating shifts like you do. Routine is really helpful to me.

Editado: Mar 28, 2019, 10:26pm

Reading update:

Currently reading

The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson (fantasy) As a result of this novel, I've moved The Conference of the Birds from the someday pile to my hold list at the library. (Sufi poetry)

Bangkok wakes to rain by Pitchaya Sudbanthad (fiction)

Women's Minyan by Naomi Ragen (play)

Shell Game bySara Paretsky (mystery, audio)

The Alice network by Kate Quinn (historical fiction, audio)

Mar 16, 2019, 12:04pm

>43 markon: I'm looking forward to hearing what you think about The Alice Network.

Mar 28, 2019, 12:13pm

Well, since the last time I posted I've had a medication issue that isn't quite sorted yet (i.e., I've run out, the insurance company won't let me refill, and I can't find the 3rd bottle they think I have.) Thanks to GoodRx, I think I'll get a month's worth that I pay for out of pocket, and a chance to talk with my local pharmacist. I've also had a flood due to a pipe bursting at my house. My patience is short and trigger time is quick, but I don't have to be at work for a few days. Plan to head to the gym after lunch, then cook dinner for my Artist Play group tonight. Tomorrow - time to brave pulling wet carpet off the basement stairs. Ugh. But assuming the weather is good I also plan a walk with Milio and planting a few herbs in the yard.

Shell Game and The Alice Network (eaudios) both went back to the library before I finished them. I've put myself back on the list for The Alice Network, as I was really enjoying it, but only got about halfway through in the three weeks I had. I enjoyed Paretsky's The Shell Game, but will save finishing it for sometime I need a quick read.

I'm still reading the other three books listed in post 43, but my focus this week has been on Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett, which I'm finding fascinating. The story itself interests me, as well as the discussion of using sigils (writing) to change reality.

Mar 28, 2019, 9:14pm

>45 markon: Ugh, that sounds like a bad convergence of hard luck. I hope you get things sorted soon. Have you read any of Bangkok Wakes to Rain? I've heard a lot of good general buzz about it, but nothing very specific.

Editado: Mar 28, 2019, 10:24pm

>46 lisapeet: I've read a few chapters of Bangkok wakes to rain, but since the only common thread in each chapter so far is the setting is Bangkok, I don't have specific comments. I think this is one that will take some time to read before I start making connections. I like the writing so far.

Mar 29, 2019, 5:00am

>35 markon: It's 3:47 am, so the discussion about insomnia was particularly apropos! I too have no trouble falling asleep, but for two months I've woken between 2 and 3 am. Having only five or six hours of sleep a night is taking it's toll. I haven't tried audiobooks, although I have a friend who falls asleep to them all the time. She says the trick is to find ones that aren't too engaging. Like >37 lisapeet: I keep a notepad beside my bed, and I've tried the app Insight Timer for nature sounds. I've also created a "sleepytime" playlist of music for my pre-bed sleep routine, and now my body begins to shut down when it hears it. I agree with >40 thorold: that exercise out-of-doors is a great soporific, but it's not always possible with my schedule. Sudoku sometimes helps me. Ones that are difficult enough to keep my brain from wandering, but easy enough that I don't have to shift into intense focus. Blackout curtains and temperature control helps alleviate potential sleep-wreckers. This morning is a rare exception in that I turned on my laptop. I woke with a sudden jolt, remembering something I had to do and then was wide awake. Wish me luck in returning to sleep before it's time to get up. Good night!

Mar 30, 2019, 8:48am

>48 labfs39: Hope you got some rest!

She says the trick is to find ones that aren't too engaging

So true. But if they aren't engaging enough, my mind starts wandering . . .

Right now exercising is making a big difference. On days I exercise, I sleep better and have less trouble going back to sleep if I wake up.

I guess it's a never ending balancing act.

Mar 30, 2019, 4:52pm

>45 markon: Insurance companies! Don't get me started!!! I had one a few months ago that wouldn't fill a script because they wanted the doctor to explain his reasoning. I called them and told them, "let me get this straight, my doctor thinks I could die without this med but you're willing to wait till after the weekend to fill it. Really?" It got filled, though I don't know if my rant did the trick. I probably could have simply paid for it, but it was really expensive and I didn't want to. Glad to hear you've got a lead on GoodRX. Did that work OK?

Abr 2, 2019, 10:19pm

>50 auntmarge64: Long story short, Yes.

My doctor must have convinced the insurance company I needed medication now, not in 7-10 days, so they actually let me fill it at a local pharmacy. (It was not life threatening, but was affecting my ability to function and plan what to do to get ready for tomorrow.)

And get this:

At Kroger I paid an annual membership fee ($36.00) for their pharmacy club plus the associated GoodRx price of $24-something for a 30-day supply of the two medications I needed (total $60-something.)

Filling the same prescriptions at the same pharmacy and running it through my insurance company, my copay for the two medications was $80-something.

So what are my employer and I paying a pharmacy plan for?

Yes, it will still be cheaper to get a 90-day supply of one medication via mail order rather than pay what a local pharmacy with GoodRx discount will charge me. And the GoodRx price can change at any time.

But I think mail-order pharmacy is poor medical practice. I like to look my pharmacist & pharmacy techs in the eye and know them by name, and have them know me. My nurse mother and my Dad's experience with medications taught me that it is your pharmacist who knows medication interactions, not the doctors who write the prescriptions. I'm contemplating paying the extra money so I can once again have a personal relationship with my pharmacist.

Of course, my medications are both available as relatively cheap generics. Someone taking a newer and more expensive drug (or multiple meds) can't do that.

Editado: Abr 13, 2019, 2:06pm

Abr 14, 2019, 9:56am

>52 markon: Does the fact that you read Countdown City mean that you liked The Last Policeman? Asking for a friend ;-).

Abr 27, 2019, 2:48pm

>53 rhian_of_oz: Rhian, if your friend is still interested, yes, I liked the series. As long as you like stories that don't have happy endings (They are apocalypic fiction after all.)

Editado: Abr 27, 2019, 3:19pm

I've completed 9 books this month, and while I've enjoyed them, there isn't one that I'd give five stars to. Hmm. The last five are listed below.

I think I liked Ellen Klages The green glass sea the best. This YA story is told from the points of view of two adolescent girls, Dewey and Suze, who move with their families to "The Hill" (Los Alamos, New Mexico) during World War II. It is supposedly the first in a four-volume series, currently titled White Sands, Red Menace, and Out of Left Field.

A close 2nd was Mary Robinette Kowal's novella Forest of Memory because of the treatment of memory as unreliable when you haven't documented what happened, and because of the ambiguity of determining what actually is happening to the deer population and whether/how that will affect humans.

Forest of Memory by Mary Robinette Kowal (science fiction)
World of trouble by Ben Winters (mystery & apocalyptic science fiction)
The green glass sea Ellen Klages (historical fiction)
The gown by Jennifer Robson (historical fiction)
The American agent by Jacqueline Winspear (mystery)

Editado: Abr 27, 2019, 3:07pm

I am reading a fantasy right now which I'm enjoying quite a bit - Ann Leckie's The Raven Tower. I'm close to the end, but was too tired to finish it last night.

I've also got a couple of short story collections going that are good.

A people's future of the United States edited by Victor LaValle
Sooner or later everything falls into the sea by Sarah Pinkser

Off soon to work in the yard, and then go eat Chinese.

Maio 2, 2019, 10:55am

>55 markon: Thanks for alerting me to the publication of the next Maisie Dobbs book

Editado: Jun 30, 2019, 5:43pm

I'm obviously not spending a lot of time online talking about what I'm reading. But I am still reading, primarily light fiction like

My friend Rose by Jane Duncan
A presumption of death by Jill Paton Walsh
Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

Also dipping into

El Norte: The epic and forgotten story of Hispanic North America by Carrie Gibson


The illustrated Mahabharata published by DK (reference books arm of Penguin/Bertelsman)

Jul 12, 2019, 6:29pm

>58 markon: Which Jane Duncan is this one? I've only read the first two.

Jul 24, 2019, 3:52pm

Lisa, it's a later one in the series (or maybe towards the middle) and not one of my favorites. But I've finally purchased and reread most of the My Friends books in electronic format. If you've only read two, I'd try My Friend Monica or Annie or Sandy next.

Editado: Jul 24, 2019, 4:02pm

I watched A League of their own on a whim recently, and then ran across Out of left field by Ellen Klages. (A juvenile set in the 1950s about a girl who likes to play baseball.) I think this is the third book about the Gordon family - now I just have to grab White Sands Red Menace to fill in the gap.

Editado: Jul 27, 2019, 10:43am

Finished White sands, red menace, so I read this series out of order. Fun easy reads with good historical information. I also liked the depiction of girls' relationships, and the theme of intelligent women and their challenges that runs throughout.

Sea is about two eleven-year-old girls whose families have been moved to Los Alamos to work on what becomes the nuclear bomb. It's my favorite, as the girls each struggle with being "different" from the other kids, and their view of the camp and the test results gives personal insight into what it was like to be present for the first test of a nuclear bomb in the US.

White sands is the weakest, in my opinion, but it's still a good story, following Dewey and Suze and their relationship and family conflicts. The historical background is there, but it's not as well developed.

Left field can be read as a stand-alone, and I learned a lot about women and baseball. It was fun, and I enjoyed the view of picking your battles and the complex view of women's role in a sport considered to be for men only.

Editado: Jul 27, 2019, 9:11am

>60 markon: I'm not sure if it was intentional or if they are favorites, but Monica, Annie, Sandy are numbers 3,4,5. I'll have to look for Monica. I purchased the first two in the Corgi paperback editions. I like the muted colors of the covers.

ETA: I placed an order for My Friend Monica. It should be here in a week or so.

Jul 27, 2019, 10:29am

>63 labfs39: labfs39: I did look up the order:) Monica was a favorite in high school.

Jul 27, 2019, 11:41am

>64 markon: Ha! I liked the second one (Muriel), but it was a distant second to the first. The story of her childhood in the Highlands was fantastic. Little things, like her descriptions of the lichen on the rocks and how she would hop across on them, have stuck with me. Truly magical.

Ago 16, 2019, 8:47pm

>65 labfs39: I agree, the parts that go back to her childhood are favorites.

Ago 16, 2019, 8:56pm

My favorite of recent reading:

Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones (fantasy)
Anyone who has read Diana Wynne Jones books knows she's an excellent writer. This one is complex. I love that this title has a planned structure. Wordplay, music, poetry, memory, time.

Polly, age 19, has a photo of hay bales burning in a field on her bedroom wall, and she is reading a book with a similar photo on the cover and has a suspicion (or is it a memory?) that this book used to have a story in in called Fire and Hemlock. And that she used to see figures (and sometimes a horse) in the photo on the wall. Also a story about a character with two sets of parallel memories . . .

And we're off with a story of Polly excavating her childhood memories.

Other's I've read recently and enjoyed are

Reread of Terry Pratchett's Going Postal

Paper Son by S. J. Rozan (mystery); my first read by this author.

PI Lydia Chin (2nd generation Chinese-American) and her partner Bill Smith are sent by Lydia's mother to Clarkesdale, Mississippi to assist family she didn't know she had – a cousin is accused of murdering his father.

Ago 16, 2019, 9:00pm

I also began reading Waste Tide by Chen Quifan (science fiction, c 2013) translated from Chinese by Ken Liu (translation c 2019)

Set on Silicon Island in Guangdong province where migrant workers break down imported trash into recyclable components. So far the story has focused on Mimi, a migrant waste worker, and Kaizon, born on Silicon Island, emigrated to the US as a child, returned as a translator for an American executive here to study conditions on the island and how to remediate the pollution there.

Editado: Ago 17, 2019, 2:44pm

These truths: a history of the United States by Jill Lepore

I am just starting this book and going back to the 75ers group threads for others input/insight. I think the focus of this tome on politics and slavery is quite interesting. I also hadn't realized John Locke was wrote the constitution for the colony of Carolina, or his involvement in development of a pro-slavery argument and an argument that Native Americans had no government because they didn't own property, so the land was up for grabs.

I'm on p. 54 in a library copy; I may have to buy this one, because I'm reading glacially.

Anyone interested in doing a buddy/group read with me? Either now or later in the year?

Editado: Set 1, 2019, 4:36pm

This may not be all I read in August, but it's what I remember.

The Rosewater Insurrection by Tade Thompson (science fiction)
I found this 2nd of three novels an easier read than Rosewater structurally and quite compelling. The plot is complicated, with conflicts over power, resources, and who decides who is worth saving or sacrificing in a time of war. Strong character development.

The waste tide bu Chen Quifan, translated by Ken Liu (science fiction)
This also needs some time to mull over. Set in a not-so-far future on Silicon Island (an island
off China's coast where migrants recycle imported technological waste, especially including medical technology) there are many conflicts. Conflicts between developed world values and developing world values, conflicts between migrants and native islanders, clan conflicts.

Baltimore Blues by Laura Lippman (mystery, 1st in series)
Inspired by a radio interview with the author, I put her latest standalone, Lady in the Lake, on hold at the library. But while I'm waiting, I decided to read the first of her Tess Monoghan mystery series. I liked it well enough, and may put these on my easy comfort reads list.

The tea master and the detective by Aliette de Bodard (fantasy/science fiction)
A novelette I've been hearing about for awhile. I'd call it a pleasing enough meditation on friendship between two damaged women - er one mindship and one woman. My first read of anything by de Bodard.

Alliance rising by C. J. Cherryh and Jane S. Fancher (science fiction)
Comfort science fiction for me. This one is about conflict on Alpha (1st station out from Sol, read earth) regarding use & distribution of resources and who controls trade between Sol & the First Stars (or Hinder Stars), and Pell, Cyteen, & the Farther Stars & Beyond.

Set 1, 2019, 4:48pm

Plan to try rhiannon of oz format in the future.

What I liked

What I'm ambivalent about

What I didn't like

Why I read this


Editado: Set 1, 2019, 4:53pm

What's next? Probably Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips or The women of the copper country by Mary Doria Russell

Still reading These Truths by Jill Lepore

Editado: Out 20, 2019, 6:04pm

What have I been reading?

Witch Week by Dianna Wynne Jones
juvenile fantasy

What I liked:
Examination of who is in and who is out via the accusation that someone is a witch (witchcraft is illegal in the world of this juvenile novel set at a boarding school)

Accidental frientdship between two of the girls in the class

Chrestomanci can't correct the problem without the help of a skeptical member of the class.

No one is entirely good or bad

What I'm ambivalent about:

the ending or solving of the problem

the "mean girls" ending up at a different school

What I disliked:

This one felt somehow unfinished to me, I think because of the ending (I can't remember how to hide spoilers, so I'm not going to be more explicit here.)

Why I read this:
Ran across a couple of postitive reviews, I usually like Dianna Wynne-Jones , and I wanted a light read.

Set over the week before Halloween in a boarding school where an anonomous letter accuses someone in class of being a witch.

This is probably the least favorite of my Dianna Wynne-Jones read. It was a fun light read but I found the end unsatisfying.

Gamechanger by L. X. Beckett (A.M. Dellamonica)
science fiction

Set in the 22nd century, a world where everyone's actions are recorded and your social capital is measured and affects what price you pay for goods and services. People meet virtually more often than in physical person, and recovery from ecological disaster is slow and uncertain.

What I liked
Growth of complexity in the thinking/strategy behind the action of the novel - it starts off simply with Rubi's client Luciano being a no show for a meeting that the police show up for instead, and ends with the playing of a virtual game that exposes a hidden group and has the potential to change society

Exploration of whether/how development of independent AI is possible

What I'm ambivalent about
The importance of gaming in creating social captial.

What I didn't like
Hard to wrap my mind around the ideas being explored in the midst of fast action, but this does make the book deeper than a simple action-packed science fiction/mystery story.

Why I read this
I'm not sure what attracted me to this initially - I think I found it while browsing the library's new book shelf, so probably it was science fiction by an author I was unfamiliar with, and it has a theme of exploring climate change/collapse. After finishing this, I think climate collapse is more background than theme.

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

What I liked
Easy read, action moved along quickly
Development of Aunt Lydia's character

What I didn't like
character development of teens lacking

action and relationships too predictable, solving of problems too easy

Overall story arc felt facile and characters, with the exception of Lydia. were one-dimensional.

Why I read this
Had to find out what Atwood had to say about Gilead (and our society) at this stage of the game.

While it was enjoyable while I was reading it, reflecting on it left me disappointed. Fascinating depiction of Lydia, but I wish some of the other Aunts, the commander, and the teens had been more complex.

Editado: Out 20, 2019, 6:43pm

Currently Reading

Becoming Superman by J. Michael Straczynski
Fascinating memoir, makes me want to watch Babylon 5

The Plateau by Maggie Paxson
Interesting sidelight on a village I read about in the 1980s, Lest innocent blood be shed. Makes me want to read A good place to hide by Peter Grose to get a more historical take on the network of villages on the Vivarais Plateau in France who sheltered Jewish children during World War II.

Link to Holocaust Encyclopedia entry on Le-Chambon-sur-Lignon

Editado: Out 20, 2019, 6:55pm

Places to visit in Montgomery, AL

My friend Michelle and I visited Montgomery last weekend, and I highly recomend The National Memorial for Peace and Justice (otherwise known as the lynching memorial). I liked the Legacy Museum as well, but I think it needs a bigger space, and I found the multiple sound feeds from various exhibits noisy and distracting.

Editado: Out 28, 2019, 7:57pm

Well, I added three more books to Mt. TBR today due to looking at a review in Strange Horizons

A spy in time by Imraan Coovadia
This is a time travel novel set in South Africa, with issues of race woven into it.

Here is a link to articles by author in LA Times book review. Coovadia is the head of the creative writing program at the University of Cape Town.

Two more titles come from an interview with Imraan Coovadia where he mentions the author Masande Ntshanga, winner of THE 2013 PEN International Voices award.

The Ntshanga novels I'm interested in are The reactive and Triangulum

The reactive was published in South Africa in 2014, the US in 2016, & the UK in 2017. Set in the early 2000s when President Thabo Mbeki's government banned the use of anti-retrovirals for HIV in hospitals, It follows three young men, one who is HIV+, as they live day-to-day.

Reveiws here and here.

Ntshanga's 2nd novel, Triangulum, presents a collection of found documents and covers a time period from about 20 years before the end of apartheid to 30 years after, blending historical and science fiction narratives.

Reviews for Triangulum can be read here and here and here.

Editado: Out 29, 2019, 8:20pm

Deleted: duplicate content.

Editado: Out 29, 2019, 8:58pm

I read three first novels recently, and liked all of them. Which one did I enjoy most?

The city of lost fortunes by Bryan Camp

Although I guessed (hoped?) early on what the overall arc of the story was, getting there was a pleasure. This one was told from a single point of view. Set in New Orleans, City of lost fortunes is the story of Jude, who has a knack for finding things that has gotten overwhelming post-Katrina. When the fortune god of the city calls in a favor, Jude finds himself involved in a poker game with several deities and high stakes.

What I liked

  1. The use of Tarot cards at the beginning of each section, (and a card game to structure the story.)
  2. No one got off with no consequences for their actions.
  3. This world felt real, and dealt with change and how once one thing changes, other things connected to it have to change to accommodate.

What I didn't like
Very little.

No table of contents. I personally have a bias: if there is no TOC, the author hasn't thought about, or been given enough time to think about, the organization/structure of the story.

This author clearlly had thought about the structure of the book and had it set up in seven sections, with a title for six of the seven sections!

Why I read this

I wish I remembered on which blog I read about this novel, but I don't – just that it came across my radar, the library had a copy, and I ordered it.


The ten thousand doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

The Ten Thousand doors of January also has something to say about change, growth, and creativity, though this content, for me, was buried in the less interesting second point of view.

It's a portal fantasy, set primarily in the late 19th century US. The main character, January is left as a child with her father's employer, Cornelius Locke, in New England while her father travels the world looking for artifacts for Mr. Locke's collection and the archaeological society he heads.

At age 7 or so, January finds a door to another world while traveling with her “guardian,” who calls her back to this world, and tells her she's making up stories when she truthfully answers his question about where she was. Her growing up becomes a struggle between how Mr. Locke wants her to behave (and can force her to behave), and what she is actually interested in.

What I liked

  1. January's story. I kept reading to find out more about the doors and how she gets away - she has to get away!
  2. The way words create reality for January.
  3. Yule Ian (Julian's) idea that doors are necessary for growth & development, connecting them to change in human society versus stagnation/permanence.

What I didn't like

  1. The alternating POV. January's story was much more compelling and intense than the 2nd point of view (Ten Thousand Doors: being a comparative study of passages, portals, and entryways in world mythology). The 2nd story enriches the first, but is not necessary to it.

    In fact, I was so interested & invested in January's story that I stopped reading the secondary pov about 1/3 of the way through. It was only after I'd finished January's story that I could go back and read the secondary story.

  2. Again, no TOC. And yet the chapters all have titles. Why not put them in a table of contents?

  3. The use of race? The mention of race without actually thinking through what it means or how it might influence the story?

    January, her father, and her friend Jane are black. Her friend Samuel is an Italian immigrant. Mr. Locke is white. His wealth and whiteness protect her while she's his "ward." January is depicted as being conscious of her dark skin. Samuel doesn't seem to notice.

    It seems to me that this same story could have been written without skin color being mentioned, and it would have been the same story. Why mention race at all if it doesn't influence the story?

    Why I read this

    A portal fantasy with a pretty cover. What's not to like?


    Velocity weapon by Megan E. O'Keefe is a space opera & the first in a series. It is set up as a conflict between the planets Ada Prime (at the edge of Prime space) and Incarion, who resent having to pay to use Prime's gateways, which allow fast travel between parts of the galaxy.

    What I liked

    1. Multiple points of view done well!

      Ultimately there are several points of view with the primary two being Sanda, a soldier who takes part in a battle on the Protectorate's side, and her brother, Biran, who has just become a Prime, someone who guards the gateway technology and assists in governing the planet Ada.

      I was quickly interested in both POVs, as well as the the third substanative POV, Jules, on another planet. I also didn't have trouble transferring between one POV and another or remembering what had happened previously. This was helped by the short chapters.

    2. Fast pacing. Rocketed through, couldn't stop reading to find out what happened next, and to figure out what the hell is going on in the first place.

    3. Self aware emotionally immature AI Beros

    4. Sticks the landing: Many major questions answered, but not all.

      What I'm ambivalent about
      Pacing too fast. I was exhausted when I stopped reading each time, and when the end came. Well, that's my preference, too. I like the stories that wallow a bit. In developing character, or description, or just take their time telling a story. That aren't in a rush. Yes, I like an occasional page turner, and this fit the bill, but I don't want another any time soon.

      What I didn't like
      No table of contents! Again, the author had a title for each chapter. Why can't the publisher use that?

      Why I read this
      Recommended by Liz Bourke of Between the devil and the deep blue sea, though I think I saw her review on

Nov 3, 2019, 10:09am

I'm enjoying your continued focus on POV. It's an interesting way to analyze your reading. I recently read Half of a Yellow Sun, narrated by three characters, and thought of you.

Nov 5, 2019, 8:15pm

>67 markon: I first heard of Fire and Hemlock on this podcast, which you might find interesting too.

Editado: Nov 10, 2019, 3:30pm

>79 labfs39: Thanks Lisa. I think the next one I'm reviewing had so much going on I didn't have time to think about POV til I was done reading.

>80 wandering_star: Definitely downloaded the podcast! And a few others on books I've also read. Thanks!

Editado: Nov 10, 2019, 4:11pm

Helon Habila's writing grew on me slowly in Oil on water and what seemed a simple story on first reading was actually more layered and complicated than I realized.

Travelers is not a simple story, even on the surface, and I've paged back and forth through it to refresh connections and impressions.

I couldn't read it all in one sitting, but it kept me coming back for more, both to find out what happens next, and to figure out which puzzle pieces fit together and which don't.

Yet I don't want to liken it to a puzzle, for this is life after all, and though there are enough connections to keep things interesting, there are a lot of loose ends as well.

This novel centers the experiences of African immigrants to Western Europe. The common thread is the unnamed narrator, originally from Nigeria, living with his American wife in Berlin at the beginning of the book. For the most part the people from the west are peripheral characters. It's the stories of the Africans, both the narrator and those he encounters, that matter and are fleshed out.

And yet most of the stories are unfinished, unless someone dies. And even then, family may still be trying to find out what happened or understand why someone acted the way they did. Our narrator associates with someone, hears their story, and takes his next step.

Encountering these people as individuals, housed in the "Heim" in German, the welcome center in Italy, the prison in Bulgaria, I couldn't help thinking of the displaced persons camps & centers in Western Europe after World War II, and wondering how they compare and contrast with the present situation. They aren't the same situations, but there are similarities I think.

I'm also curious about how Laila Lalami's Hope and other dangerous pursuits compares in mood and tone with Travelers.

And finally, I'd like to know how a novel that talked primarily about women's experiences would be different than this one.

I enjoyed the reading and thinking. I don't recommend it for someone who needs a plot, or a story that ties up most of it's loose ends.

Editado: Nov 10, 2019, 5:13pm

I've finished several other books recently that I'm listing here. May do a review of A tree grows in Brooklyn in a day or two - this was my first read of this classic, and it was lovely.

A tree grows in Brooklyn review to come?

The Deep by Rivers Solomon
Novella, fantasy wherein the infants of pregnant women thrown overboard during the middle passage are born with gills and create their own society in the ocean with little memory of where they came from. (One individual, the historian, keeps the memories in each generation, until Yetu, our main character can't stand the pain.)

Wild country by Anne Bishop
Latest in The Others series, fantasy set in an alternate North America. Light and fun escape reading.

Mystery in the Gemma James/Duncan Kincaid series. Melody has invited Doug, Gemma & Duncan and their family to visit her parents in the country. A car accident knocks Duncan for a loop, and the passenger in the other car was dead before the accident.

The Raven king by Maggie Steifvater
Re-read of the final volume in the Raven King fantasy series in preparation of publication of Call down the hawk, 1st book in The Dreamer Trilogy, featuring Ronan Lynch from the first series (where is Adam? Adam better be in this one!)

Nov 12, 2019, 12:57pm

Working in a library is a problem! Here are four titles I ran across today that I want to read.

From here to eternity: traveling the world by Caitlin Doughty
Cantoras by Carolina de Robertis
Suzanne's children by Anne Nelson
To keep the sun alive by Rabeah Ghaffari

Nov 21, 2019, 8:26pm

>82 markon: I think this would be a tough book for me to read right now, given the political situation in the US. Sounds like a worthwhile read though.

Nov 24, 2019, 11:17am

>85 labfs39: I think it was easier for me because it wasn't set in the US. I can distance myself from it because it's not happening on "home turf." That doesn't diminish the difficulties, but gives me some distance from which to regard the situation. But it's really a global situation, it's just the specifics that change from one location to another.

Editado: Nov 24, 2019, 12:03pm

From here to eternity by Caitlin Doughty

Interesting, but I think I enjoyed Smoke gets in your eyes more. The book describes how a few cultures deal with their dead. Most intersting to me was the description of the open air crematory in Colorado, US. (You have to live in the community it's located in to be creamated there.)

For those interested in an alternative to the funerals I grew up attending (embalmed body in casket, cemetary burial), check out The order of the good death.

Editado: Nov 24, 2019, 12:30pm

Esta mensagem foi removida pelo seu autor.

Editado: Nov 24, 2019, 12:31pm

I've also started Cantoras by Carolina de Robertis and am listening to Erin Morgenstern's The starless sea this weekend.

Watched The Public with some coworkers one night this week. (I work in a public library, and a movie about chronically homeless patrons refusing to leave when it's subzero outside is pertinent to our work lives.) It was a good discussion starter, but there was a huge (to me) logic error in the middle.

Why, when the reporter asks the librarian inside with the patrons what's going on, doesn't her simply say, It's 20 below 0, the shelters and warming shelters are full, and these people don't want to freeze to death." instead of quoting Steinbeck?

And although the ending was fun, I think it was totally unrealistic and didn't advance the needs of the people in the shelter.

The movie had great potential. And the setup was good: the opening acquainted us with the main characters, both inside and outside the library. But the situation in the library was never made clear to those outside, and I didn't see any growth in the characters or any real negotiation between the police and the librarian.

Editado: Dez 18, 2019, 1:21pm

Favorite reads this month

Toil and Trouble by Augusten Burroughs (memoir)


Cantoras by Carolina de Robertis (fiction)

Currently listening to The last painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith

Dez 18, 2019, 2:41pm

>91 markon: I really liked the Sara de Vos.

Dez 29, 2019, 6:49pm

Lisa, I also enjoyed this one!

The last painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith (historical fiction)

Listened to this on audio, and it worked better than when I tried it in print earlier this year. This is another novel with multiple points of view.

This book was billed as a novel about art forgery, and I think that's a bit off the mark. Its' a book about how one women, passed over for art restoration jobs she's trained for, and is one of the best in her class at, is provoked into forging art works. So yes, it's about forgery. But for me the larger picture is of two women who struggle professionally, and the relationship at two different time periods, of the forger-turned-art-historian and the owner of the original painting.

In the world of the novel, Sarah de Vos is the first female painter to be admitted to the painters guild in Holland in the 1600s (when Rembrandt was painting.) She paints flowers, because that's what it is acceptable for women to paint. Her husband paints landscapes. In the twentieth century, only one of her paintings still exists – a landscape. The novel weaves together three viewpoints:

Sarah's: Sarah's young daughter Katherijn dies early in the novel. Sarah tells of her death, how she comes to paint the landscape that survives, and what happens to she and her husband after Katherijn's death.

Eleanor (Ellie) Shipley who, as a grad student. is enticed to paint a copy of the only known de Vos painting in the late 1950s, and becomes a world renowned art historian with expertise in Dutch painters. The process of how Ellie is persuaded to create copies (or forgeries) is told from her point of view.

Martin (Marty) DeGroot: the lawyer who inherits the painting, and doesn't realize it's been stolen until several months after it has been replaced in his home by the fake that Ellie painted. What he does when he realizes he now owns a forgery.

And how both the fake & the original are brought together in the early 21st century at an exhibit Ellie is curating in Australia. This piece of the novel is narrated both from Ellie's viewpoint and Marty's.

This was a solid 4-star read for me. Good character development, enough tension and questions about what happens next to keep me reading. Neither Ellie nor Marty were completely likeable for me, but I liked or sympathized with them enough to keep going. It also carries a theme of the struggle women go through to make a way professionally, though it's never in your face with the theme.

Editado: Dez 29, 2019, 6:56pm

Toil & trouble by Augusten Burroughs (memoir)

This was pure fun for me. My first Augusten Burroughs was not his memoir, Running with scissors. It was a collection of essays about Christmas, You better not cry. I think of it every year during the holiday season, and occasionally reread it. He manages to combine humor and poignancy in a way I find entertaining and meaningful.

Toil and trouble is a memoir of his move to the country with his partner tied together by his description of how being a witch affects their lives.

Editado: Out 28, 2020, 3:44pm

Hope and other dangerous pursuits by Laila Lalami (historical fiction)

Why I read this now
I read this because I wondered how it would compare to Travelers by Helon Habila, which I read earlier this month. They are both books depicting immigration to Europe in the early 21st century.

Anyone remember when we started seeing migration across the Mediterranean in the news? Wikipedia (European migrant crisis) says it began in 2015 and was declared over in 2019. But I'm sure it was on my TV screen much earlier than 2015. Lalami's book is copyright 2005. And of course the Mediterranean has always been a point of cultural mixing.

I tried to read Hope and other dangerous pursuits when it first came out, but couldn't stick with it. For some reason, I found it a relatively easy read this time around. I found Travelers (post 82) a bit more complicated / hard to keep track of, even though it went in linear time and was told from one point of view.

How they're alike
Both depict immigration to Europe in the early 21st century from African countries.
Both are episodic, in that you're introduced to the stories of several different people. They are not plot driven.

How they're different

  • Experience of one person versus experience of several people. Travelers focuses on the experience of one Nigerian man and immigrants he encounters from a variety of countries while he is in western Europe. Dangerous pursuits focuses on four individuals (and their families) who attempt to cross the Mediterranean to Italy from Morocco.

  • Point of view: Travelers is one story, told from the unnamed narrator's point of view. Dangerous pursuits tells the story of four different individuals and their families who travel on the same boat across the Mediterranean.

  • One is chronological, one is not. Travelers is chronological – it follows the unnamed narrator from one person to another. Dangerous pursuits tells the story of the crossing from one passenger's point of view, introducing all the other characters. It then jumps back in time to cover what leads up to each person making the trip, then jumps forward in time to how each person's life (and their families' lives) are affected after the Mediterranean passage.

I enjoyed seeing immigration (migration?) portrayed outside of the United States. I know what it looks like to me in my home, and this gave me a glimpse of it elsewhere. I also liked how both books centered the experience of the Africans, rather than depicting them simply as immigrants adjusting to their new environments, or writing about them from the viewpoint of the dominant culture they've moved into. Particularly in Pursuits, I could see how people's attitudes and relationships changed over time.

Link to 2020 thread