detailmuse ROOTs through 2020

Discussão2020 ROOT CHALLENGE

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detailmuse ROOTs through 2020

Editado: Dez 30, 2020, 11:35 am


My main ROOT goal is to read 40 books acquired prior to 2020 -- likely lots of contemporary nonfiction and fiction. I’ll keep a list of my ROOTs (with links if I’ve posted a review) in msg#2 and non-ROOTs in msg#3.
UPDATE: 2020 ROOT goal met! - 40/40 ROOTs read

I also have a couple of secondary pursuits:
• indulge in new acquisitions when they’re at their shiniest

• continue to triage/purge TBRs that are no longer of interest to me; this includes finishing or abandoning at least 12 of the several dozen books I've previously started but then put aside:
UPDATE: finished 14/abandoned 1 books I'd previously started

Editado: Dez 31, 2020, 5:02 pm

ROOTs Read in 2020:

40. The First Paper Girl in Red Oak, Iowa by Elizabeth Stuckey-French (4) (See review)
38. Christmas Stories (3)
37. Taft by Ann Patchett (4) (See review)
36. The Plague by Albert Camus (3.5)
35. Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist (2.5) (See review)
29. Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson (3.5)
27. Tender Graces by Kathryn Magendie (DNF)
24. The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch (4)
20. I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh (4)
18. Brokeback Mountain: Story to Screenplay by Annie Proulx/ Larry McMurtry/ Diana Ossana (5)
15. Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson (4)
13. The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens (3)
12. Night of Miracles by Elizabeth Berg (3.5)
11. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (4.5)
6. Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson (4) (See review)
3. Stateway's Garden by Jasmon Drain (4) (See review)

9. I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O'Farrell (5) (See review)
8. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah (4.5) (See review)
2. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty (4) (See review)
1. Hill Women: Finding Family and A Way Forward in the Appalachian Mountains by Cassie Chambers (4.5) (See review)

34. Heart of Dark Chocolate by Rowan Jacobsen (3)
31. Here's Looking at Euclid by Alex Bellos (4.5)
28. Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew B. Crawford (4)
26. The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2017 (4)
19. How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan (4)
10. Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak (4.5) (See review)
4. The Only Plane in the Sky An Oral History of 9/11 by Garrett M. Graff (5) (See review)

39. Daily Guideposts 2020 (4.5)
33. The Little Black Book for Lent 2019 by Ken Untener (3.5)
32. The Little Black Book for Lent 2018 by Ken Untener (4)
30. Granta 120 Medicine (3.5)
25. The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010 by Lucille Clifton (4)
23. WeRateDogs 2020 Day-to-Day Calendar by Matt Nelson (4.5)
22. HomeBody: A Guide to Creating Spaces You Never Want to Leave by Joanna Gaines (3.5)
21. Bellevue Literary Review Vol 14 No 2 (3)
17. Bellevue Literary Review Issue 35 (3)
16. The World According to Mister Rogers by Fred Rogers (3.5)
14. 111 Places in Chicago That You Must Not Miss by Amy Bizzarri (4.5)
7. Bellevue Literary Review Issue 36 (4.5) (See review)
5. The Little Blue Book Advent and Christmas 2019-2020 by Ken Untener (3.5)

Editado: Dez 30, 2020, 11:20 am

Non-ROOTs Read in 2020:

Minimalism Room by Room by Elizabeth Enright Phillips (3.5) (See review)

How to Drink Without Drinking: Celebratory Alcohol-Free Drinks for Any Time of the Day by Fiona Beckett (3.5) (See review)


The Two Kinds of Decay by Sarah Manguso (4)

• Themes and Variations: An Essay by David Sedaris (3)

Too Much and Never Enough by Mary Trump (4.5)

No Laughing Matter by Joseph Heller (4)

This Telling by Cheryl Strayed (3)

Dumpty: The Age of Trump in Verse by John Lithgow (4)

Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh (4)

Trumpty Dumpty Wanted a Crown by John Lithgow (4.5) (See review)

Please Like Me by Mindy Kaling (3)

Big Shot by Mindy Kaling (3)

I'll Be Seeing You by Elizabeth Berg (4)

Editado: Jan 2, 2020, 10:56 am

Instead of saving whole issues of magazines, I’ve taken to tearing out articles of interest and collecting them to read later. Setting a space to bookmark some of them here:

Jan 2, 2020, 10:55 am

Welcome back to the ROOTers, MJ. Happy ROOTing.

Jan 2, 2020, 10:59 am

Thanks Connie!

Jan 2, 2020, 11:18 am

Happy new year, MJ, and happy ROOTing!

Jan 2, 2020, 11:33 am

Lovely to see you back, MJ - hope you have a great year, I'm looking forward to following your progress!

Jan 2, 2020, 12:56 pm

Happy ROOTing!

Jan 2, 2020, 7:59 pm

Welcome back and have a great reading year! Good idea to keep track of magazine articles as well :) I have about eight months' worth of Doctor Who Magazine to get through...

Jan 3, 2020, 12:57 am

Good luck with your ROOTs and magazine articles, MJ!

Jan 3, 2020, 5:45 pm

Ah, a person after my own heart - lists!

Jan 4, 2020, 3:25 pm

>7 floremolla:, >8 Jackie_K:, >9 MissWatson:, >10 rabbitprincess:, >11 Familyhistorian: Thanks for the welcomes and good wishes!

>10 rabbitprincess: Are the Doctor Whos collections of stories? - each could count as a ROOT!

>12 cyderry: Yes! any and every list. They’re so skeletal right now...I browsed my last five years so let me fill in by adding that I read about 80 books per year (goal = half will be ROOTs); almost always in paper format; published in the 20th and 21st centuries; largely nonfiction with frequent tags of cookery, essays, science or memoir; split pretty evenly among female and male authors. My favorites in 2019:

Home by Marilynne Robinson
Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout
The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo

Good Talk by Mira Jacob
In Shock by Rana Awdish
Becoming by Michelle Obama
The Economist Book of Obituaries
How to Cocktail by America’s Test Kitchen
Make Someone Happy: Favorite Postings by Elizabeth Berg
Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs by Beth Ann Fennelly
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
High-Risers: Cabrini-Green and the Fate of American Public Housing by Ben Austen
The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency by Chris Whipple

Jan 4, 2020, 4:34 pm

>13 detailmuse: The magazine is your usual collection of articles and reviews, plus a comic story, so I would likely not count them as ROOTs. I do have some Doctor Who comic books to get through as well, though, and those would count :)

Jan 5, 2020, 1:15 pm

Jan 5, 2020, 1:16 pm

1. Hill Women by Cassie Chambers, ©2020, ARC acquired in 2019 from LT Early Reviewers

Cassie Chambers’s relatives come from the poorest county in Kentucky (second poorest in the US), and Hill Women is her tender and loving memoir of growing up among the strong and proud people there in the hollers of the Appalachian Mountains. Incredibly readable, it’s also enlightening about her pursuit of education at Ivy League schools, her return to the mountains to provide legal aid to the impoverished, and her movement into politics to combat continuing disparities. It brought to mind Tara Westover’s overcoming of poverty and cultural isolation in Educated, and is my favorite of recent memoirs about Appalachia.

Jan 5, 2020, 2:38 pm

And because so many of those favorites are on heavy topics, I pulled a few others that were especially fun:

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern (See review)
The F***ing Epic Twitter Quest of @MayorEmanuel by Dan Sinker (See review)
The Gallery of Regrettable Food by James Lileks (or any of his satires about 1960s culture)
The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification by Julian Montague (See review)

Jan 5, 2020, 3:36 pm

>17 detailmuse: Being Mortal and Hyperbole and a Half were excellent! Great lists :)

Jan 6, 2020, 11:34 am

>19 rabbitprincess: I came late to Hyperbole..., a couple years after its publication, and was so happy to see her next book was already available then for pre-order. But it was pulled back, I think due to personal tragedies, and I've hoped since then that she's okay.

Jan 8, 2020, 5:29 pm

2. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty, ©2014, acquired 2019
Satisfied at having done my job and taken a man from corpse to ash, I left the crematory at five p.m., covered in my fine layer of people dust.
I thought this would be a fascinating and maybe disturbing memoir of the funeral industry and it is both, but it’s respectful and fun. It’s also Doughty’s platform to influence attitudes toward death and burial -- to encourage a more honest approach (including natural burial) as an alternative to the denial inherent in embalming and lush burial materials.

Jan 8, 2020, 5:34 pm

3. Stateway's Garden by Jasmon Drain, ©2020, ARC acquired from the publisher in 2019

The short stories in this collection are linked via Tracy and his older half-brother as they come of age at the end of the 20th century in Stateway Gardens, one of Chicago’s now-demolished high-rise public housing projects.

Navigating adults and poverty and sex, they’re fascinated by life outside Stateway; but later on, living elsewhere and even after the buildings have been demolished, the site still occupies them. Their vulnerability breaks my heart in nearly every story, yet there is tenacity and optimism in their keen observations. As an aside, the author’s Acknowledgment is the most heartfelt I’ve read.

Jan 8, 2020, 6:13 pm

>21 detailmuse: Sounds like an interesting read. I hadn’t previously considered the traditional processes and accoutrements of burial as being an expression of denial.

Ever the pragmatic environmentalist, I’ve already bought a woodland burial plot. Just hope it’ll be a very long time before it’s needed!

Jan 8, 2020, 7:39 pm

>21 detailmuse: I loved this and her other two books as well.

Jan 9, 2020, 10:12 am

>23 floremolla: Doughty frames it as denial due to the presentation of a beautifully styled corpse and its preservation in that state indefinitely via impenetrable caskets/vaults. I'm interested in cremation but it's fuel-intensive. Then I became aware of natural/green burial while reading Bernd Heinrich's Life Everlasting: The Animal Way of Death and so I love your woodland site, is it a natural burial? -- I haven't met anyone yet who's actually planning that for themselves or others.

Jan 9, 2020, 10:15 am

>24 rabbitprincess: Very good to hear this about her others! I have her videos ahead, too.

Jan 9, 2020, 12:26 pm

You've got off to a great start to the year! I want to read the Caitlin Doughty book, when Mt TBR finally gets a bit more under control (hahahahahahaha).

Jan 13, 2020, 1:07 pm

>25 detailmuse: Yes, it’s a natural burial. I arranged this for my husband. No embalming chemicals, a wicker casket - all items had to be biodegradable.

The burial ground is in the estate of Craufurdland Castle at Fenwick, Ayrshire - the laird is quite the environmentalist/entrepreneur.

Each grave has a young tree planted alongside. It’s only a half hour drive away from my home so it’s been nice to visit and watch Alan’s tree, a red oak, change through the seasons, and contemplate the circle of life.

Editado: Jan 13, 2020, 3:36 pm

>28 floremolla: Some friends of mine attended a burial there last week - it sounded really beautiful.

Jan 14, 2020, 5:07 pm

Donna that is such a lovely post. Thank you for the link, I've explored much of the info. In contrast, the sites near me offer zero information on the web and make me hesitant; some others, in states we might move to, seem dedicated to the practice and are more transparent. (Yes I had to smile -- the Castle has alot going on, I thought I'd gotten to the wrong site!)

>29 Jackie_K: It's encouraging that the practice is gaining.

Jan 17, 2020, 4:51 pm

4. The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by Garrett M. Graff, ©2019, acquired 2019
On September 11, 2001, {NASA Space Station astronaut Frank Culbertson} was the only American off the planet.
”Every {90-minute} orbit, we kept trying to see more of what was happening. One of the most startling effects was that within about two orbits, all the contrails normally crisscrossing the United States had disappeared because they had grounded all the airplanes and there was nobody else flying the U.S. airspace except for one airplane that was leaving a contrail from the central U.S. toward Washington. That was Air Force One heading back to D.C. with President Bush.”
This book is an expansion of Graff's 2016 article for POLITICO Magazine about President Bush’s path on 9/11 from a morning event in Florida back to Washington DC that evening. Here, he adds bits from the oral histories of hundreds of other people (or their surviving family members) who experienced or responded to the horrific events.

It’s riveting in its recall of that day, and will be in my year’s top ten (maybe #1). The bits that were new to me were mostly about the Pentagon or military, for example: 1) that the military planes (which were eventually scrambled to take down any confirmed hijacked commercial plane) didn’t hold weapons, so the pilots went in knowing it would be a kamikaze mission; 2) that as Air Force One abandoned the saturated commercial communications channels and shifted to military satellites, the US notified Putin so that Russia wouldn’t misinterpret the use of those satellites; and 3) that Obama’s first call after confirming bin Laden’s death in 2011 was to Bush.

I realize it was completely the author’s choice as to what material to include, and it felt fairly presented. I found myself Google-ing a lot, often to read more about various people. The book includes two sections of photographs and ends with a very good Index and Endnotes that spur further reading.

Jan 19, 2020, 3:41 pm

>31 detailmuse: That sounds brilliant. My first BB of the year from you (I'm sure it won't be the last!) - onto the wishlist it goes!

Jan 19, 2020, 9:50 pm

While I was in NYC we visited the Cooper Hewitt Museum of Design. They had a very interesting exhibit about biodegradable burial. Makes you think about our current practices.

Jan 20, 2020, 11:06 am

>32 Jackie_K: Just a note that it's 400+ pages of mingled snippets, each a sentence to a paragraph in length. (It reminds me of the format of Lincoln in the Bardo, if you know of it, and I understand this audio also uses dozens of readers.) But it's well organized, chronologically, moving among the sites. I gave up paying close attention to specifically who was "speaking" but started to recognize the people anyway, and their disparate snips build into little narratives in each section.

>33 Familyhistorian: Envious of your visit to the Cooper Hewitt!

Jan 20, 2020, 12:55 pm

>31 detailmuse: that does sound like a good read/listen, and onto the wish list it goes!

Jan 21, 2020, 11:53 am

>35 floremolla: Not sure why, since the events were horrific, but it was oddly comforting to read. Maybe because of some shared experience? Maybe a nostalgia for the pre-9/11 world?

Jan 21, 2020, 12:06 pm

6. Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson, ©2019, acquired 2019

Hmm what to say about this one … I liked it! It was a gift from a friend, and when I noticed the prominent LT tag of “magical realism” (some young kids catch on fire when angered), I thought not really my thing. But from the first page on, it was so fun and clever, and then the latter part turns more poignant, especially about detached parents and special-needs children. I looked to see what else the author has published and surprise! -- his first collection of short stories has been in my wishlist for years. This novel made me eager for more fun in my reading.

Jan 22, 2020, 10:19 am

7. Bellevue Literary Review Issue 36, ©2019, acquired 2019

This literary journal “at the intersection of literature and medicine” has been published since 2001 and remains my favorite. This specific issue is also one of my favorites, with very current content including several pieces about addiction. A memorable poem opens with the dangers that great white sharks pose off the California coast, and how safe from sharks people are in the Appalachian Mountains … except for the “great white SUV” sharks, which careen toward children’s dance studios as drivers shoot up behind the wheel.

I looked at many of the contributors’ bios to see what else they’ve published.

Jan 26, 2020, 4:53 pm

8. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah, ©2016, acquired 2019
Nearly one million people lived in Soweto. Ninety-nine point nine percent of them were black -- and then there was me. I was famous in my neighborhood just because of the color of my skin. I was so unique people would give directions using me as a landmark. “The house on Makhalima Street. At the corner you’ll see a light-skinned boy. Take a right there.”
This is a great memoir -- informative about race in South Africa during and after apartheid; interesting about the mixed-race comedian’s growing up and coming of age there; and inspirational about how his mother stepped ‘way outside societal and legal bounds to have him and raise him. It’s upbeat and often humorous. It’s also reflective, and the passages about domestic violence by his stepfather are among the most harrowing I’ve read.
{T}he highest rung of what’s possible is far beyond the world you can see. My mother showed me what was possible. The thing that always amazed me about her life was that no one showed her. ... She found her way through sheer force of will.

Jan 27, 2020, 8:15 am

>39 detailmuse: Oh, that was one of my favourite reads of last year, it's wonderful, isn't it? He could really teach fiction writers a thing or two about characterisation and telling stories.

Jan 27, 2020, 12:00 pm

>40 Jackie_K: It was great. He almost turned toward a very different life, and I'd love to read more about him getting to this point in life. And I'd love to read more about his mom!

Jan 31, 2020, 7:32 pm

Beginning total TBRs: 269
ROOTs read: 8
Other books read: 1
Books acquired: 2
Ending total TBRs: 262
YTD ROOTs read: 8 (year-end goal: 40)

Editado: Fev 11, 2020, 11:08 am

9. I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell, ©2017, acquired 2019

wow wow wow I loved this memoir. It’s structured as vignettes about O’Farrell’s 17 brushes with death from accidents, illnesses and dangerous strangers. They’re not exaggerated incidents; the dangers are dramatic and suspenseful and death seems imminent. Yet at the same time, her voice is gentle and reflective, steady in the present time and weaving in flashbacks and flash-forwards with a mastery that could serve as a writing class. I’m in awe that none of her experiences dim her relentless adventurousness.
The knowledge that I was lucky to be alive, that it so easily could have been otherwise, skewed my thinking. … What else was I going to do with my independence, my ambulatory state, except exploit it for all it was worth?

Fev 11, 2020, 5:34 pm

10. Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak, ©2005, acquired 2006

This is a thorough look behind the scenes at the Nancy Drew book series -- a biography of the early-1900s children’s book mogul/syndicate-owner Edward Stratemeyer and the two women involved in ghost-writing the books as Carolyn Keene. It’s also a light history of women’s suffrage, women’s rights and the Great Depression, and both women amazed me with their education and confidence of a hundred years ago. Some attention is given to how the series has been updated over the years.

Rehak’s narration begins as straightforward and journalistic but becomes gripping as drama develops in the economy, in the Stratemeyer family, and between the Carolyn Keenes.

Fev 12, 2020, 1:26 pm

>43 detailmuse: I've heard nothing but good things about this memoir, MJ. Yet another one for the list! (sigh, so many amazing books...)

Fev 22, 2020, 11:45 am

>45 Jackie_K: I'm eager for another by her!

Editado: Fev 23, 2020, 1:27 pm

11. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett, ©2019, acquired 2019

I loved Patchett’s Bel Canto but I liked this novel more. It’s Danny Conroy’s autobiography, particularly including his older sister, his father and mother and stepmother, and their big, hundred-year-old suburban-Philadelphia childhood home of the title. I’ve seen the story likened to Hansel and Gretel, and while this is not fantasy its story does have similarities and suspense and it’s just sooo readable, the pages fly.

Fev 22, 2020, 4:44 pm

12. Night of Miracles by Elizabeth Berg, ©2018, acquired 2019

Berg is my go-to writer for comfort reads. This novel, second in a series about a group of friends and cobbled-together family in small-town Missouri, is like reading ultra-soft fleece. It’s too soft, really, yet safe and optimistic.

Fev 29, 2020, 4:19 pm

Beginning total TBRs: 262
ROOTs read: 4
Other books read: 1
Books acquired: 3 (+1 already owned but only now entered into LT)
Ending total TBRs: 261
YTD ROOTs read: 12 (year-end goal: 40)

Mar 1, 2020, 2:34 am

>48 detailmuse: That sounds real good, an ultra-soft fleece book, MJ.

Mar 1, 2020, 5:00 am

>48 detailmuse: I love that description: "like reading ultra-soft fleece"! Sometimes you just need a bit of comfort, don't you?

Mar 4, 2020, 10:22 am

>50 connie53:, >51 Jackie_K: I'm enamored with Berg's ability to look directly at difficult emotions with gentle eyes. I'm so interested that she has a memoir coming out this fall about caring for her aging parents and I imagine it will be a brave and optimistic telling of difficult things.

Mar 29, 2020, 3:08 pm

13. The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens, ©2014, acquired 2016

This was okay: a college guy who’s struggling to get away from a bad background (a negligent/addicted mom … and a beloved autistic brother who’s still in that background) takes on a class project to prove a man innocent of the child murder for which he’s served 30 years in prison. It’s a debut novel and there were some terrific plot twists, some clumsy plotting, and some characters over-the-top in bravado or evil.

Early on, I noticed myself disliking the author (note: not the character) and avoiding the book. Then I came to this, where the protagonist’s new girlfriend sobs after describing being gang-raped … and he responds:
“You don’t have to say any more,” I said. “It doesn’t matter to me.”
WTF? And that was supposed to be a perfect response. Whew, so relieved she's not damaged goods. And then they had sex.

Abr 1, 2020, 5:44 pm

14. 111 Places in Chicago That You Must Not Miss by Amy Bizzarri, ©2018, acquired 2019

This “travel guide” is really more a guide to Chicago culture and history. The full-page color photos are very good and the full-page write-ups are informative and ooze a love and admiration of Chicago. I’ve been to a dozen or so and have marked another dozen as must-sees. There are similar “111” guides to cities around the world and I need to remember their existence when I plan my next big trip.

Abr 1, 2020, 5:49 pm

Beginning total TBRs: 261
ROOTs read: 2
Other books read: 0
Books acquired: 2
Ending total TBRs: 261
YTD ROOTs read: 14 (year-end goal: 40)

Abr 1, 2020, 6:01 pm

Q1 Notes
Books read YTD (ROOTs and non-ROOTs): 16
Books acquired YTD: 7

Favorite ROOTs:
The Only Plane in the Sky by Garrett M. Graff
I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson -- fun and distracting

Favorite Non-ROOTs:

Abr 2, 2020, 5:19 am

Hi MJ - hope you're not going too stir-crazy at the moment, and have plenty of good books to see you through! Chicago is on my bucket list, I have a friend who lives there who posts amazing photos of the city, it looks gorgeous. When we have a new 'normal' maybe I can think about my bucket list again :)

Abr 17, 2020, 4:29 pm

>57 Jackie_K: Yes visit Chicago! Beautiful park/lakefront spaces and fabulous architecture, shopping, museums, theater and FOOD! I've been pleased with the mayor's and governor's management in this time, and I like to be home so have not felt trapped. Sometimes it does feel like a full-time logistics job to source food and supplies, and then use them up without waste. Hope your family is faring well -- I can't imagine how you add work-at-home and home-schooling to the day!

Abr 17, 2020, 9:08 pm

Hi MJ!

I can't explain why I haven't visited your thread before today - I didn't even have you starred, *sob*.

Glad your year is going well so far, glad that you're not feeling trapped with the stay-at-home.

Abr 18, 2020, 7:01 am

>58 detailmuse: Thank you MJ - we are faring well, pretty much - most of my work-at-home work has actually dried up, so the homeschooling is instead of rather than as well as for us (Pete is working from home though, so the main thing we have to make sure is that A doesn't decide to join him in one of his work video meetings!). This week and last week though were school holidays, so we had a break from homeschool which we both appreciated! Back to it on Monday!

Abr 18, 2020, 12:25 pm

Hey MJ, glad I finally found your thread. Much to catch up with.

Abr 25, 2020, 9:26 am

>59 karenmarie: Hi Karen!

>60 Jackie_K: Stressful for you and Pete but it's fun to watch when children and pets "join" the video feeds! I'm also enjoying seeing so many of the rooms/backgrounds in people's homes.

>61 stretch: Kevin, hi neighbor!! Is your work carrying on -- at home or office or out in the field?

Abr 25, 2020, 5:48 pm

>62 detailmuse: It's mostly isolated hazardous field work, our clients are in infrastructure so to keep things from completely coming to a hault in the short-term the few us without vunlernable family memebers are doing field work in the most innefficent manner possible. Working alone and traveling home each night to minimize exposure. Everything takes 3x times a long and keeps you on your toes but staying busy. It's really eerie to see how all the small towns have empitied out.

Abr 29, 2020, 10:23 am

>63 stretch: I'm interpreting "inefficient" as meaning "safe practices" for you, for which I'm grateful. Agree about the emptiness, eerie at first and then the quiet in what's usually noisy here was a nice respite...noticing more traffic this week which is not good, since nothing has changed and we haven't yet peaked.

Maio 11, 2020, 3:24 am

Hi MJ. I like to be home too and since I retired in July 2019 I was home for most of the time so not much has changed. Measurements are easing a bit here. Daycare and elementary schools are opening up today as are libraries and museums.

Maio 16, 2020, 8:33 am

Hi MJ!

Chicagoland is still definitely a dangerous place to be (just checked the Illinois Covid-19 website). Stay safe!

Maio 22, 2020, 10:48 am

So good to hear from you, ladies! Time is funny...after every day in March feeling like a week, now the days fly by :0

Maio 22, 2020, 7:53 pm

>67 detailmuse: Agreed! And here it feels like summer already!

Jul 3, 2020, 4:52 pm

15. Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson, ©2019, acquired 2019

An exploration of race and class, narrated in vignettes by multi-generational members of a multi-racial family who have experienced consecutive teen pregnancies. There was a slight narrative arc, but mostly each vignette was simply lovely with revelations of character and historical backstory.

Jul 3, 2020, 4:54 pm

16. The World According to Mister Rogers by Fred Rogers, ©2003, acquired 2019
The values we care about the deepest, and the movements within society that support those values, command our love. When those things that we care about so deeply become endangered, we become enraged. And what a healthy thing that is! Without it, we would never stand up and speak out for what we believe.
A gift-book collection of his quotations, compiled after his death. This quote sure speaks to the times.

Jul 3, 2020, 4:56 pm

17. Bellevue Literary Review Issue 35, ©2018, acquired 2018

This issue is themed on "Dis/Placement," and a memorable entry is author Ha Jin’s reflection on his existence “in the margin” -- his consideration of himself as an immigrant to the USA vs. China’s consideration of him as a permanent and prohibited exile.

Jul 3, 2020, 5:02 pm

18. Brokeback Mountain: Story to Screenplay by Annie Proulx/ Larry McMurtry/ Diana Ossana, ©2005, acquired 2012, now a re-read
There was some open space between what he knew and what he tried to believe, but nothing could be done about it, and if you can’t fix it you’ve got to stand it.
This combines the original short story about two deeply closeted gay men in the 1960s American West, plus the adapted screenplay, plus essays by each of the three writers involved. I re-read it during Pride month and it grows more heartbreaking and tragic with each reading.
The shirts hanging on a nail shudder slightly in the draft.

Jul 3, 2020, 5:07 pm

19. How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan, ©2018, acquired 2018

A readable (but wordy) history of psychedelic (“mind manifesting”) substances, primarily LSD and psilocybin -- from pre-history, to the research of the late 1950s, through experimentation in the ‘60s counterculture, and now research again in psychiatric therapeutics. I’ve long been curious about it -- fascinated by its ability to stimulate life-altering experiences of awe and wonder.

Jul 3, 2020, 5:15 pm

Yes. This is for three months :0
I'm amazed at the reading fellow ROOTers have been doing during covid!

April, May, June
Beginning total TBRs: 261
ROOTs read: 4 (+1 re-read)
Other books read: 2
Books acquired: 3
Ending total TBRs: 258
YTD ROOTs read: 19 (year-end goal: 40)

Jul 11, 2020, 1:16 am

>74 detailmuse: I think a lot of our reading numbers are due to the fact that our libraries were closed.

Jul 13, 2020, 9:20 am

Hi MJ! I hope you're doing well and staying safe. It's funny what I wrote on May 16th - Chicagoland is still definitely a dangerous place to be as if things would be better soon. How wrong I was. Most places in the US are definitely a dangerous place to be two months later.

>73 detailmuse: When I lived in a beach cottage in California in 1974-1977, my drug was alcohol, but quite a few of the tenants in the 12 cottages were into peyote. I was scared to try it.

>74 detailmuse: You're almost halfway there, so you're actually in good shape. I haven't ROOTed since May, but I have been doing a lot of reading.

Jul 13, 2020, 5:10 pm

>75 Familyhistorian: I haven't had the attention span except for a lot of covid science, medicine and policy. Not even magazines -- lately, I pulled out a few issues from Feb and March and it was jarring to be re-immersed in the life of just a few months ago.

>76 karenmarie: I am enraged by the continuous federal (and enablers) failure but am grateful for the leadership in Illinois and Chicagoland (I'm in a suburb). I remember meeting a friend for dinner in late Feb -- we hugged and I was already wondering if we should have. I spent the next couple of weeks getting my house and freezer stocked. But I never got into a high anxiety because Chicago's mayor very early on began cancelling huge trade shows and events and that gave me confidence. We are very cautious; we're at home except for walks/bike rides early in the morning. I do groceries via online order/curbside pickup and, with some anxiety, now go to the weekly outdoor farmers market. Next step is to schedule a backyard hair appointment! It's inconceivable but I think (best case) there's still a year of this ahead. I've been monitoring several of the states we're considering retiring to and am discouraged. Three friends have lost their mothers (none covid), no funerals. One of my husband's cousins (in a different state) spent 5-1/2 weeks (!) in ICU on a vent beginning mid-May, but wow: he's now been weaned off the vent, seems quite functional, and is recovering/rehabbing!

Jul 25, 2020, 3:37 am

Hi MJ, so sorry to hear about all the anxiety. We hear awful things about the situation in the US.

About covid: It's still scary in the Netherlands. We had some rather good weeks and there were very few new covid patients, but now people are getting a bit sloppy with keeping distance. Especially the young people. And things are worsening again. And people are going on vacation in Spain, France and Italy. I just hope they don't come back sick. And starting new outbreaks. So we can have to start all over again with a new lockdown

>72 detailmuse: I have to read that book sometimes. I think it might be somewhere on my shelves.

Jul 25, 2020, 6:39 am

Yes - everything that Connie said! I hope you stay safe and well.

Our next door neighbour died early in lockdown (not due to Covid), and for the past few weeks her granddaughter and her family, who have lived in the US for 20+ years, have been staying next door in the empty house. I think they're due to return home to the US in the next couple of weeks; they must be feeling pretty apprehensive. She told me she was happy to be here in Scotland, where the rules are much more straightforward and people seem to be taking it more seriously.

Jul 31, 2020, 5:08 pm

>78 connie53:, >79 Jackie_K: yes awful and so much of it avoidable! It's stunning. Discouraging. Infuriating. Exhausting. I keep typing sentences here and then backspacing through them, I guess I'll leave it at that except to say I feel your frustration and worry about new outbreaks. Jackie -- depending where they're returning to in the US, they might seriously consider staying put near you, I'm sure they're in touch with friends and relatives here (plus I'm remembering my trip there last summer and really wanting to be there again :)

In good news, my husband's cousin is scheduled to be discharged home soon after 10 weeks in the hospital (almost 6 weeks in ICU on a ventilator), with a 46-pound weight loss. We are shocked at how well he's recovered, hope it continues, and are grateful at how much was learned about managing covid patients in the months before he got sick.

Ago 1, 2020, 11:41 am

>80 detailmuse: That is good news about your husband's cousin - I hope he continues to recover so well as he goes home.

Our neighbours are actually returning to the US early next week - because of the husband's job I don't think they have a lot of choice, he's been working (very!) remotely the last several weeks but I think has to go back now, and they also have school-age children who will be going back to school. They're feeling very apprehensive about it. We had a good chat over the washing lines yesterday (that's one thing they're going to miss when they go back, hanging out the washing!). Unfortunately the house will be going on the market almost immediately they leave, so there's no scope for them to stay for longer. I have put in my order for them to sell to nice people!

Ago 6, 2020, 4:45 pm

>81 Jackie_K: seriously crossing my fingers and hoping you get great new neighbors!!

Ago 6, 2020, 4:47 pm

20. I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh, ©2014, acquired 2016

This is the second woman-in-peril suspense I’ve read by Mackintosh and I’d read another.

Ago 6, 2020, 4:50 pm

21. Bellevue Literary Review Vol 14 No 2, ©2014, acquired 2014

This issue of the anthology of short stories, essays and poems was themed, “Our Fragile Environment,” and it evoked some lovely passages about nature. Odd thing though: the narrative voices all sounded so much the same -- gentle, rational, reflective -- and it makes me want to write a piece in a wild, offbeat voice.

Ago 6, 2020, 4:52 pm

22. HomeBody: A Guide to Creating Spaces You Never Want to Leave by Joanna Gaines, ©2018, acquired 2019

This is a big, beautiful, heavily illustrated book that showcases the interiors of a couple dozen homes that Gaines has designed. Accompanying text describes how to approach the design of various types of rooms, and deconstructs examples of those rooms. It was pleasant to read but Gaines’s tastes are far more rustic/ rough/ weathered than mine.

Ago 6, 2020, 4:59 pm

Beginning total TBRs: 258
ROOTs read: 3
Other books read: 1
Books acquired: 6 (I see this as a good reading sign -- I had acquired no books in May or June!)
Ending total TBRs: 260
YTD ROOTs read: 22 (year-end goal: 40)

My goal is to get on track and earn my star back in next month's update!

Ago 7, 2020, 8:58 am

Hi MJ!

>77 detailmuse: Enraged is a good word for the criminal negligence at the federal level. Our governor is trying to do a good job although I think the mask mandate came way too late. He has continued phase 2 through 9-11, only wanting to have one set of variables – schools reopening – to study the repercussions of before opening up more. Makes sense to me. I’m very cautious, too, and still haven’t even gotten a haircut. What I really want to do is get a massage, but that’s even more ridiculous because although my massage therapist works from home for me and a few other patients, she also started back at a chiropractor’s office giving massages. I can't blame her needing the money. However, there are way too many people she’s being exposed to for me to feel safe enough to spend 1.5 hours in close proximity to her, even with masks.

>80 detailmuse: I’m glad to hear that your husband’s cousin has been discharged. 46 lbs and 6 weeks in ICU. Wow.

Ago 16, 2020, 3:34 pm

>87 karenmarie: I feel your muscle tension! In this meantime, have you tried a foam roller? -- very lightweight yet dense foam in various lengths and densities.

Our area primary schools were going to begin with individual student choice of all-remote or part-remote (on-site with masks and socially distanced on Mon-Tues or Thurs-Fri, with deep cleans on Wed and weekend). But the high schools decided on all-remote (15% of teachers and 2/3 of substitute teachers had opted out), and about a week later the primary schools changed to all-remote. I 100% support remote ... and I 100% think it has huge downsides.

Ago 16, 2020, 10:21 pm

Catching up here late. You've done some great reading. The 9/11 book went on my wish list.

Ago 19, 2020, 3:19 pm

Hi MJ, just checking in to see how you are - hope that you are continuing to be safe, and that your husband's cousin is recovering well.

Ago 29, 2020, 4:25 pm

>89 Nickelini: The book felt oddly comforting back in January and now seems blatantly nostalgic: a unified reaction to a horrific event. Every day has horrifying aspects now, and the provocation and chaos are a nightmare.

>90 Jackie_K: We are well. I am absolutely bored with the past 6 months of meals and must get new recipes into rotation!

Ago 30, 2020, 12:39 pm

>91 detailmuse: Glad to hear you're well. It's funny how something so small, like a different meal, makes such a big difference to how we feel - enjoy your new recipes, I hope they do the trick!

Set 5, 2020, 4:23 am

Hi MJ, I'm so glad your husbands cousin is out of the hospital. I hope he is doing much better now. And that you are doing fine too. These are so challenging times for the whole world. Be safe.

Set 5, 2020, 5:32 pm

Hi Connie! My husband is getting far fewer updates about his cousin (a good sign), who finished with physical therapy last week and now almost never needs supplemental oxygen. He walked his daughter down the aisle for her wedding a week ago -- not sure when it had been planned or how it might have been modified for covid times, but it was formal dress with a father-daughter dance (and hopefully safely distanced for guests!).

Set 5, 2020, 5:36 pm

23. WeRateDogs 2020 Day-to-Day Calendar by Matt Nelson, ©2019, acquired 2019

I discovered We Rate Dogs on Twitter -- a guy who presents photos plus tiny narratives about dogs and then rates them on a 10-point scale, where every dog gets at least a 12. I kept up with the day-by-day aspect of this calendar until this month, but then it always seemed to be in my way and I read through all the rest of the year’s pups in one sitting. All very good boys (girls)!!

Set 5, 2020, 5:44 pm

24. The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch, ©2005, acquired 2009
I learned early on that if you tell people what you see at low tide they’ll think you’re exaggerating or lying when you’re actually just explaining strange and wonderful things as clearly as you can.
I enjoyed Lynch’s Border Songs, so I eagerly picked this up -- his debut novel -- at an independent bookshop while on vacation in Oregon. It’s about 13-year-old Miles O’Malley (a “marine-biologist whisperer”) who keeps noticing rare marine species in the waters of his Puget Sound area. The resulting media attention, scientists, cult followers and eclectic townspeople create chaos. The nature aspects and the boy’s independence would appeal to readers of 2018's Where the Crawdads Sing. I liked this a bit less than Border Songs, primarily due to the male teen angst.

But I opened it to a great coincidence: the independent bookshop had tucked in a bookmark … which had a quote by poet Lucille Clifton (whose omnibus I was also reading at the time)!

Set 5, 2020, 5:48 pm

25. The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010 by Lucille Clifton, ©2012, acquired 2016
why some people be mad at me sometimes

they ask me to remember
but they want me to remember
their memories
and i keep on remembering
For more than four years, I’ve been making my way through this omnibus of ~600 poems by the first African American woman to be awarded the Ruth Lilly poetry prize. Each poem is very short, but the memoir-ish topics and the images and emotions evoked are difficult: childhood sexual abuse, racism and Black history, loneliness, breast cancer, death of family members. I had planned to donate the book but I would have to scan so many pages of poems to save -- that I think I must keep it.

Set 5, 2020, 5:51 pm

26. The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2017 edited by Hope Jahren, ©2017, acquired 2017

I especially liked the essays about neurogastronomy (“how our sense of taste is interpreted and reinterpreted by the brain,” including differences in taste when eating/drinking with one's dominant vs. secondary hand); California’s Santa Ana winds; the decreasing use of antibiotics in factory chicken farms; sex abuse/discrimination in science workplaces; and the search for another Earth-like planet in the cosmos. A good collection … why don’t I get the new edition every year?!

Set 5, 2020, 5:55 pm

27. Tender Graces by Kathryn Magendie, ©2009, acquired 2010

In my opinion: confusing and amateurish, I gave up early.

And then, because this ROOT earned back my status star (in Cheli’s list) for August, I felt guilty and pressed through another book that I’d acquired long ago -- Joseph Heller’s No Laughing Matter, about developing Guillain-Barre Syndrome. HA! Turns out “long ago” was February of this year! (still, SO LONG AGO!) -- so it was not a ROOT and my star is earned courtesy of a DNF.

Set 6, 2020, 4:07 am

>94 detailmuse: That's a good sign when you don't get less updates than before. And I'm real glad he could walk his daughter to the aisle!

Set 6, 2020, 10:58 am

>100 connie53: So true!

Beginning total TBRs: 260
ROOTs read: 5
Other books read: 1
Books acquired: 1
Ending total TBRs: 255
YTD ROOTs read: 27 (year-end goal: 40)

Set 6, 2020, 11:00 am

>98 detailmuse: The neurogastronomy essay sounds really interesting! I can appreciate that the brain is involved in a major way in tasting things, but that is so interesting that food would taste differently depending on whether it's eaten with your dominant hand or your non-dominant hand.

Set 6, 2020, 11:27 am

>102 rabbitprincess: It's fascinating what happens when the brain is distracted from rote processing! The article is available here.

Set 27, 2020, 3:35 pm

28. Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew B. Crawford, ©2009, acquired 2010
…the degradation of work is ultimately a cognitive matter, rooted in the separation of thinking from doing.
This is a mechanic’s philosophical examination of work (specifically, the mental/abstract professions vs the manual trades/crafts) and education (specifically, college vs training). Along the way, there is humor and there are motorcycles.

Set 27, 2020, 3:37 pm

29. Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson, ©2011, acquired 2018

A middle-aged woman awakens, shocked and terrified, with no memory of the preceding couple of decades of her life. Her husband calms her and fills her in on the basics, but the amnesia returns the next morning, and the next, and every next morning. As she gradually finds a way to independently accumulate her memories, she realizes her husband is not giving her the full story.

Given enough suspension-of-disbelief, it’s a pretty good woman-in-peril thriller.

Set 27, 2020, 3:44 pm

>104 detailmuse: I've just added that to my wishlist, it sounds fascinating. I might buy it for my husband, who is a software professional, but relaxes by making and building and repairing physical things.

Hope you're keeping well, MJ!

Set 27, 2020, 4:23 pm

>106 Jackie_K: I think he will love it! The author talks about exactly that type of worker seeking to be refreshed by manual work.

Health wise we are good -- my husband and I are on the same page about avoiding exposure so I'm grateful for that compatibility, considering I think we're the most exposure-averse people we know.

Set 27, 2020, 7:54 pm

>105 detailmuse:
I really enjoyed Before I Go to Sleep, but like you say, you need to suspend belief. It was also made into a movie with Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth, and wasn't as good as the book. I really love both the actors, but maybe knowing the twists ruined it for me.

Set 30, 2020, 7:12 am

>105 detailmuse: I really loved that book but it had a lot of things that annoyed me. Like inconsistencies in the story-lines. It could have been a 9,5 but it got an 8 because of that.

Set 30, 2020, 7:14 pm

>104 detailmuse: I spend a lot of time watching crafts people make things. I'm not necessarily interested in the product, but the work and process. I'm going to add this to the TBR sounds right up my alley.

Out 10, 2020, 4:51 pm

>108 Nickelini:, >109 connie53: Suspense/thriller is my go-to for genre fiction, especially woman-in-peril stories. I'm not a big fan of the recent batch of alcoholic/unreliable narrators though.

>110 stretch: Hope you enjoy it! I'm also enjoying Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig ... not sure why my current draw to philosophy with a side of bike :)

Out 10, 2020, 4:58 pm

30. Granta 120 Medicine ©2012, acquired 2012

This is a health-themed issue of the literary journal, with short stories, essays and poems by well-published and (often) well-known writers. I finally got a piece with the original narrative voice I’ve been craving -- the short story, “Grand Rounds” by Chris Adrian, a poignant yet funny rollercoaster showing a doctor’s psychological meltdown during his formal presentation to an auditorium of hospital colleagues.

Out 10, 2020, 5:01 pm

Beginning total TBRs: 255
ROOTs read: 3
Other books read: 2
Books acquired: 7
Ending total TBRs: 257
YTD ROOTs read: 30 (year-end goal: 40)

Out 19, 2020, 5:26 pm

31. Here's Looking at Euclid by Alex Bellos, ©2010, acquired 2012

This was a fun (and mind-expanding) exploration of math -- about how relatively recent numbers and actually counting are, vs. having only a general sense of quantity; about number bases, pi and infinity; about arithmetic, algebra and geometry (including theorem proofs, which I loved doing in high school); about math puzzles, odds and statistics; about using an abacus and slide rule.

Its essays reminded me of Sam Kean’s explorations into science history and scientists, except applied here to math.

Out 20, 2020, 9:15 am

>114 detailmuse: I've bought another of Alex Bellos' books, Alex's Adventures in Numberland, as a gift for a few people. I must say, one thing I do really like is a good book title pun :D

Out 20, 2020, 11:22 am

>115 Jackie_K: Good gifts, Jackie! They're the same book, mine is the North American title I guess. I remember being very confused some years ago when I kept being routed among its various titles.

An aside: I've been wondering if you've heard of Andrew Cotter and his book, Olive, Mabel & Me? I've been enjoying his pup videos on Twitter during covid and look forward to the book being available here in December.

Out 20, 2020, 1:41 pm

>116 detailmuse: Ah, OK - Here's looking at Euclid is a most excellent alternative title - and yes, I've just seen the touchstone revert to Alex's Adventures in Numberland.

I haven't heard of Andrew Cotter - will check out the videos. I'm always here for pup videos.

Out 22, 2020, 11:01 am

Hi MJ! I hope this finds you well and safe.

>98 detailmuse: Fascinating, especially about taste when eating/drinking with dominant/non-dominant hands! I’ll have to experiment today. *smile*

>111 detailmuse: I read that when it came out. Is this a read or a re-read for you?

Nov 4, 2020, 10:55 am

>118 karenmarie: Hi Karen! It's my first go at Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance -- although I did start it in 2018 and restarted it this year and got 100+ pages in. I like it; but it's in no hurry (hello, zen :) and I need to get into a less-impatient frame of mind.

Nov 6, 2020, 4:21 pm


32. The Little Black Book for Lent 2018 by Ken Untener, ©2018, acquired 2018
33. The Little Black Book for Lent 2019 by Ken Untener, ©2019, acquired 2019

Found these Lenten daybooks unfinished on my Kindle. The meditations proved to be the short-attention span reading I could handle recently.

Nov 6, 2020, 4:30 pm

34. Heart of Dark Chocolate by Rowan Jacobsen, ©2010, acquired 2014, re-read 2020
Chocolate contains more than 600 flavor compounds. It is the most complex food we know. This one hit me with an intense chocolaty nuttiness, without any trace of bitterness -- a combination I’d never experienced. The flavor dove into a deep, rich place and then, just as I thought I had a handle on it, the bottom fell out and it dove some more.
Jacobsen is one of my favorite food/travel/nature writers, but when I first read this long-ish essay in 2014 I didn’t really like it. I didn’t trust that I’d given it a fair read and so I’d saved it to re-read someday.

It’s of his Kurtz-like quest (a la Conrad’s Heart of Darkness) to find the source of a cacao grown wild in the Amazon and finished into the fabulous dark chocolate of the quote above (Switzerland’s Cru Savage brand). Alas, I was bored again -- too much about everyone and everything except the chocolate.

Nov 6, 2020, 4:34 pm

Beginning total TBRs: 257
ROOTs read: 4 (includes 1 re-read)
Other books read: 4
Books acquired: 9
Ending total TBRs: 259
YTD ROOTs read: 34 (year-end goal: 40)

Nov 6, 2020, 5:29 pm

>122 detailmuse: You're getting so close to your goal! :D

>121 detailmuse: I'm glad I happen to be working on a small bowl of peanut M&Ms at the moment, because the thought of a book about chocolate would have had me craving chocolate!

Nov 7, 2020, 10:42 am

Hi MJ!

>121 detailmuse: Hmmm. Okay, so I won’t go looking for that one. I do have On the Chocolate Trail: A Delicious Adventure Connecting Jews, Religions, History, Travel, Rituals and Recipes to the Magic of Cacao by Rabbi Deborah R. Prinz on my shelves, already tagged as a 2020 read. I got it at last year's Fall Friends of the Library Book Sale. Sigh. That was the last one we have had so far, and the spring one isn't looking good either. Might be time to bring this book out out.

Nov 15, 2020, 2:03 pm

>123 rabbitprincess: For awhile, I wasn't able to find the trail mix my husband likes. So I bought some nuts and M&Ms to make my own ... and then was able to acquire the original. Now I have a yummy bag of M&Ms that I'm about ready to open and eat by the handful!

>124 karenmarie: No library sales here either, nor donations accepted. I had two boxes of books and resorted to donating them to Goodwill, which made me a little sad.

Editado: Dez 7, 2020, 5:27 pm

35. Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist, ©2018, acquired 2018 from LT Early Reviewers

I’ve started this several times since acquiring it in 2018. I finally persevered now because I craved an armchair experience of its long-hike of the Chemin (Camino de Santiago) pilgrim trail through France and Spain.

Like Simsion’s Rosie novels, this one is sweet and the aspects of adventure and camaraderie are pleasant. But the main characters (a recent divorce and a recent widow) are not interesting … and their narrative voices (in alternating chapters) are indistinguishable from one another … and the plot turns the same twist several times.

Dez 7, 2020, 5:32 pm

36. The Plague by Albert Camus, ©1947, acquired 2010, re-read now
Everybody knows that pestilences have a way of recurring in the world; yet somehow we find it hard to believe in ones that crash down on our heads from a blue sky. There have been as many plagues as wars in history; yet always plagues and wars take people equally by surprise.

. . . . .

{H}e recalled that some thirty or so great plagues known to history had accounted for nearly a hundred million deaths. But what are a hundred million deaths? … {S}ince a dead man has no substance unless one has actually seen him dead, a hundred million corpses broadcast through history are no more than a puff of smoke in the imagination.
Late in the Spring this year, there was a meme going around where people admitted how covid was their fault. Me: that I read The Plague last year in early December, and that my 3-1/2 star reaction (“meh, a philosophical exploration of quarantine and dystopian governmental actions”) didn’t show proper respect to an epidemic. I pulled it out to give it a re-read.

Published and set in the 1940s, it could be a recap of 2020. Authorities don’t! want! to! alarm! the! public!, so in the beginning there are false optimisms and inadequate public health measures. Eventually there’s a quarantine (although it’s mostly a lockdown at the city gates rather than restrictions inside the city), and then revolts against the quarantine until the fury burns itself down to despondence, fatigue and indifference. So, so familiar. I did, though, still experience meh at the predominance of philosopher talking-heads instead of story.

Camus concludes with optimism, and I hope to fully join in it.
…what we learn in a time of pestilence: that there are more things to admire in men than to despise.

Dez 7, 2020, 5:36 pm

Beginning total TBRs: 259
ROOTs read: 2 (including 1 re-read)
Other books read: 1
Books acquired: 6
Ending total TBRs: 263
YTD ROOTs read: 36 (year-end goal: 40)

Dez 8, 2020, 9:01 am

>127 detailmuse: That's one I've always meant to have a look at, but I'm not sure it's the year for me :)

Hope you're keeping well, MJ!

Dez 8, 2020, 9:04 am

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Dez 8, 2020, 5:13 pm

>129 Jackie_K: Hi Jackie, we are well. I've been wondering if you'll be deployed to administer vaccines?

Dez 13, 2020, 3:13 pm

37. Taft by Ann Patchett, ©1994, acquired 2008
Carl and Fay were the brother and sister in the fairy stories, the pretty white babies holding hands in the forest. Everything in the world was waiting to eat them up. This was not the job I was meant for, looking after other people’s children…
Black musician/bar manager John Nickel has grown more responsible in the years since he disrespected his pregnant girlfriend to the point that she omitted him from his son’s birth certificate. But is he up for the problems presented by a couple of teen siblings who are without their own father?

In an interview at the end, Patchett laments “the curse of the second novel” (in her case, Taft), and admits that it might be her favorite despite its “failure to thrive” in the marketplace. It’s one of my favorites by her, too.

Dez 16, 2020, 1:08 pm

>131 detailmuse: Hi MJ! I'm not doing the vaccinations (although as a health care worker I'm on the list to receive one in this first tranche, so hopefully I'll get it in a matter of weeks rather than months), but I am hoping to get involved in some of the covid research studies that are taking place at the hospital where I work. There's been some negotiating about budgets and I'm just waiting to hear from them about that. I can't see anything happening on that front till into the new year though.

Dez 17, 2020, 10:08 am

Hi MJ!

>125 detailmuse: I’ve got 2 grocery bags of books I’m saving for the Friends. Also, being on their Book Sort Team I was recently involved in the only Covid-times large scale book donation (we absolutely could not resist) and now have 35 bags of donated books in my Library. Since my daughter isn’t coming home for Christmas, the books can stay there and be behind closed doors and out of sight.

>131 detailmuse: and >133 Jackie_K: I don’t anticipate being able to get the vaccine until spring.

Dez 18, 2020, 4:58 pm

>133 Jackie_K: That all sounds interesting, good luck!

>134 karenmarie: Wow 35 bags!! - when things open up, that book sale is going to be a celebration!

My husband might be eligible for the vaccine in the spring, but I suspect I'll be later, even summer. For fun, I took the NY Times predictor ( and I was something like 268-millionth in line ... then in the accompanying graphic boiling it down to 100 people in line in Illinois, I think I was 10th from the end :0

Dez 18, 2020, 5:08 pm

38. Christmas Stories, ©2007, received as a gift in 2014

An anthology of Christmas/winter short stories/short novellas by preeminent writers, presented oldest to newest from Dickens to Richard Ford.

I’d previously read other works by some of the writers (Dickens, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Willa Cather, Capote) and appreciated the chance here to sample Gogol, Arthur Conan Doyle, Trollope, Nabokov and Alice Munro. My favorite stories were: “Bella Fleace Gave a Party” by Evelyn Waugh; “Christmas is a Sad Season for the Poor” by John Cheever (must acquire a Cheever collection); “The Carol Sing” by John Updike; and “Christmas Fugue” by Muriel Spark. I’d keep it for its dust jacket image, but honestly there was a fair amount of skimming of the stories…

Dez 18, 2020, 5:32 pm

>135 detailmuse: Oh, what a fun little assessment, I managed to come in 5 from the bottom. Pretty sure there'll be unborn child ahead of me in that line, as 287-millionth person. Best quiz of 2020!

Dez 20, 2020, 3:48 pm

>137 stretch: HA! I guess let's be glad for the factors that place us far back in the queue.

Editado: Dez 22, 2020, 11:24 am

39. Daily Guideposts 2020 ©2019, acquired 2019

The very short spiritual-experience essays in this daybook anthology are calming and inspiring. On days this year when I’d sit, staring at something like a birthday card and wondering what to write, I’d read an essay or two and feel my center again … writing Christmas cards is part of what caused me to finish the book early :) I’ve acquired the 2021 edition.

Dez 22, 2020, 3:27 pm

Hi MJ!

... and here's to a better 2021!

Dez 22, 2020, 4:44 pm

Karen I love that! Thank you so much, and every good wish for you, too!

Dez 25, 2020, 9:35 am

Happy Holidays from the Netherlands!

Dez 26, 2020, 3:01 pm

Beautiful and happy -- thank you so much Connie and Happy Holidays to you, too!

Dez 26, 2020, 3:05 pm

40. The First Paper Girl in Red Oak, Iowa by Elizabeth Stuckey-French, ©2000, acquired ~2000

The stories in this collection are about people (from ‘tweens to older adults) on the quirky end of normal in small-town USA, mostly Indiana. They’re assuredly written and extremely readable, almost as visual as films and sometimes quite funny. I’d love to read more -- the author has written two novels. It’s a fine book to reach my ROOT goal with!

Dez 26, 2020, 3:24 pm

>144 detailmuse: Congratulations on reaching your goal! I hope you had a lovely Christmas, MJ.

Dez 26, 2020, 3:32 pm

Thank you, Jackie! Like for so many, it was a quiet Christmas with so few of the "cues" that make it feel like Christmas...was it only yesterday?? :) We'll have a zoom call with my siblings and sibs-in-law tomorrow and that will feel festive.

Dez 26, 2020, 4:05 pm

We've been having Christmas just the 3 of us for the past few years, so for us it wasn't really much different to usual. In fact after a difficult year it was nice to have something that felt familiar. Today we had a 4-way zoom call with my in-laws, so A was able to see most of her cousins. My favourite thing was seeing her cousin closest in age (6 months older) hardly looking at the camera at all because he was so engrossed in his new book!

Dez 26, 2020, 4:15 pm

>147 Jackie_K: A kid after my own heart! :)

Dez 26, 2020, 4:32 pm

>148 rabbitprincess: Indeed, mine too! (the book was How to Train Your Dragon, I made a note of it to remember to get it for A sometime).

Dez 26, 2020, 6:42 pm

>149 Jackie_K: I have that one in audio, because of David Tennant doing the narration :)

Dez 27, 2020, 12:28 pm

Great job!! Congrats.

Dez 28, 2020, 12:38 am

Congratulations on reaching your goal, MJ!

Dez 28, 2020, 11:35 am

Congrats on reaching your ROOTs goal!

Dez 31, 2020, 4:00 pm

Jackie, RP -- I love to see anyone reading -- that boy has a great reading-life ahead! Also: I made a note of the title :)

Connie, Meg, Karen -- thank you so much!

Dez 31, 2020, 4:04 pm

Beginning total TBRs: 263
ROOTs read: 4
Other books read: 0
Books acquired: 7
Ending total TBRs: 266
YTD ROOTs read: 40 (year-end goal: 40)

I'm compiling some reading stats for the year, will post them when I create a thread in the 2021 group.

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Looking forward to ROOTing with everyone next year!