What are you reading the week of January 18, 2020?

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What are you reading the week of January 18, 2020?

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Jan 18, 2020, 9:08am

I'm about halfway through Anti-Intellectualism in American Life by Richard Hofstadter. The book won the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction in 1964, and it's easy to see why. This isn't some dry historical dissertation. It's been a captivating read filled with fascinating characters and sharp insights into American history.

The first third of the book traced the rise of evangelicalism in America beginning with the Great Awakening in the post Revolutionary War period. The subject is fascinating. According to Hofstadter, in the late 18th century, during the Revolutionary War era, America was the least religious country in what we today call the western world. Only about one in 15 people were church members in 1790. That works out to a little more than 90% of the population having no religious affiliation. That's not the same as saying that they were agnostic or irreligious. They simply didn't belong to or attend a church of any kind. This is why The Great Awakening was such a big deal in American history.

I need to read more on The Great Awakening. Only having one perspective on an historical era such as this can lead to misconceptions. Every author has a point of view, and it's important to distinguish between that point of view and the facts.

Jan 18, 2020, 9:39am

I consistently read a chapter of The Seduction of Water by Carol Goodman every night this week and am about halfway through. It's starting to get into the heart of the mystery so I hope I get a lot of time to finish up this weekend!

Jan 18, 2020, 10:42am

I remains hard to focus on reads above the simplest level, but the good news is I see a doctor to get the apnea-amelioration process in train on Tuesday.

Jan 18, 2020, 10:54am

Enjoying this OverDrive audiobook on what promises to be a snowy Saturday ~

The Nightingale Before Christmas: A Meg Langslow Christmas Mystery by Donna Andrews

(cozy mystery/interior decorators/Christmas showcase house theme)

Jan 18, 2020, 11:14am

Someone (I wish I remember who so I could personally thank them) suggested that as a lover of Ken Haruf novels, I might like those by Laura Pritchett. It took me a while to get to it, but I just finished The Blue Hour. I thoroughly enjoyed the story of a community of people living on a Colorado mountainside told by each person as they review their lives and try to come to grips with the suicide on one member.

Jan 18, 2020, 12:23pm

>1 fredbacon: Hofstadter was a very important historian. That book looks fascinating. My first reaction to a book about anti-intellectualism in America published in 1964 was, "If he thought it was bad then . . . . "

>3 richardderus: Apnea is awful, no doubt about it. Been dealing with it for years, now.

I'm about halfway through the very entertaining mystery, The Black Camel, the fourth of Earl Der Biggers' Charlie Chan mysteries. This one was first published in 1929.

Jan 18, 2020, 12:41pm

I'm reading Olive, Again

Jan 18, 2020, 4:03pm

And another week of making no significant progress on any of the books I'm reading.

Jan 18, 2020, 5:49pm

>5 snash: I adored Stars Go Blue. Hell’s Bottom, Colorado is also wonderful. Glad she has a new fan!

I just finished Little Fires Everywhere, and as I search my shelves looking for my next read, I’ll be continuing to wonder why it received so many rave reviews.

Jan 19, 2020, 11:19am

Yesterday night at work, between calls, I completed Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. If you're looking for the literary equivalent of a romantic comedy film, this is the one to read. The twist is that it is two men in love - the son of the President of the United States, and the Prince of Wales. The characters are delightfully drawn, the challenges they face are realistic and saddening; I enjoyed the story and the thoughtfulness about being gay in the public eye very much.

I think I'm going to read Lonesome Dove next. It's January, seasonal depression hangs heavily on me, and my brain is really picky about what I can concentrate on and what I can't.

Editado: Jan 19, 2020, 3:55pm


Editado: Jan 19, 2020, 3:54pm

Jan 19, 2020, 4:23pm

>6 rocketjk: Well, I can highly recommend the book. It's quite readable. It's easy to see why he was a highly regarded historian. The section on businessmen's attitudes towards college education during the Gilded Age was a bit of a slog. It just didn't connect with me.

Jan 19, 2020, 6:57pm

Last year I managed to meet the goal of 75 books read. I did that, in part, by shying away from books of more than 400 pages. Having achieved the goal once, I decided that choosing my books to meet the goal kind of missed the point. Sooo.. Now I've picked up Grant by Ron Chernow. Checking in at 960 dense pages, it certainly breaks that pattern. I'll be at it for a good while. So far I'm enjoying it and find it quite interesting.

Jan 20, 2020, 10:40am

Just finished The Silent Patient, a well-written, fast-paced thriller highly recommended for those that like that kind of thing. Quick and absorbing weekend read. I imagine they'll make a movie out of it shortly.

Jan 20, 2020, 12:15pm

Pied Piper
Nevil Shute
4/5 stars
Englishman John Howard, alone in life decides to take a fishing trip to France. On his way home, he is asked to escort a couple of children home to England. Unfortunately, Germany invades France just while he is trying to get the children home. Travel is very hard and along the way he picks up a few more children that desperately need to leave France. I enjoy Shute’s works and this one didn’t disappoint me. Poignant!

Jan 20, 2020, 12:33pm

I finished The Black Camel, the fourth of Derr Biggers' "Charlie Chan" mysteries, was originally published in 1929. In this novel, Chan is back home in Honolulu after solving a big case or two in San Francisco. Truly, these books are a lot of fun. For one thing, they're well written, both in terms of the plots themselves and also Derr Biggers' skill at using natural descriptions at creating atmosphere. Derr Biggers does have Chan speaking in a heavily accented and even caricature-like Chinese-English. But he is always, clearly, the smartest person in the room and is acknowledged by his boss as the best detective in town.

Jan 20, 2020, 12:35pm

After The Black Camel, it was time for another round of "between books" . . .

* “Hal Boyle Tells How ‘Shorty’ Plotnik Came a Long Way to Die” from A Treasury of Great Reporting: "Literature Under Pressure" from the Sixteenth Century to Our Own Time edited by Louis L. Snyder
* “Prices Must Drop 25% to Revive the Boom” from Magazine Digest - August 1949 edited by Murray Simmons
* “On Fear” from Leaves in the Wind by Alpha of the Plow (a.k.a. A. G. Gardiner)
* “Survival in the Wilderness” from Creek Walk and Other Stories by Molly Giles
* “War in the West” a letter from the collection, History of the First Regiment of Iowa Volunteers, by Henry O’Conner from The Union Reader edited by Richard B. Harwell
* “Down the Islands” A Winter Trip Through the West Indies” by Sherril Schell from The Mentor, November, 1924 edited by W. D. Moffat

I've now started Little Women. Hey! Better late than never. Thought I'd finally read it before seeing the new movie version.

Jan 20, 2020, 12:56pm

Off to look through PBS* for Laura Pritchett. I'm a huge fan of Kent Haruf and have never understood why his work isn't more widely read. (I keep pushing him on my F2F book club and they keep resisting because the books aren't "new".)

*PBS, for the uninitiated, is Paperback Swap , which is only the best book swap site out there, IMHO!

Editado: Jan 22, 2020, 8:06pm

First read of the week was Abbi Waxman's Other People's Houses. I just discovered her late last year, via The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, and this novel doesn't disappoint.

This one centers on marriages and parenting rather than singles, but includes the sharp characterization and sly humor of 'Nina Hill'. I'm off to find The Garden of Small Beginnings now.

Next up is Tanith Lee's Night's Master.

ETA - Just finished 'Night's Master'. The goosebumps may recede by the end of the week. These very dark, very erotic fantasies are definitely NOT happy-ever-after stories, but rather intertwined tales of greed and evil, all stitched together by magnificent prose. Lee is not often read today, which is too bad, because before her death in 2015, she produced a body of work that is rich in allegory and texture.

Jan 20, 2020, 1:36pm

Tomorrow I will be starting this iBook ~

A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump's Testing of America
by Philip Rucker

Jan 20, 2020, 4:13pm

Scent To Her Grave – India Ink

Beginning of a new series starring Persia Vanderbilt, who, together with her Aunt, runs the local bath and body store -Venus Envy in Gull Harbor, WA.

I liked the basic premise and Persia's skill with scents and botanicals to create specialized compounds for her clients. I also liked the slow-burn potential romance. Her friend Barbara is a great sidekick.

That being said, the mystery was a little weak IMHO and the ending seemed rushed. Overall, it’s a decent cozy, but I’m in no hurry to read another in the series.

Jan 20, 2020, 4:17pm

Right now, I am just starting on Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

I have heard of the book but I just got around to reading it.

Jan 20, 2020, 4:24pm

Started today Wild, Wild Rake by Janna MacGregor I won.

Jan 20, 2020, 5:02pm

Just finished The List by Patricia Forde. sci fi by Irish author. :)

Now reading Devil in the White City. Eric Larson

Editado: Jan 20, 2020, 6:03pm

I'm reading The Midwife by Jennifer Worth. I watched a bit of the Netflix series. I am really enjoying the book...the author is very authentic in her retelling of events. She includes history of midwifery and hospitals too -- Very interesing.

Jan 20, 2020, 7:53pm

Imagine! I picked up a doorstop and have sunk into the delight of doing an activity I rarely do -- re-reading a novel from my distant past. The book is Charles Palliser's debut (12 years in the writing!!) novel, The Quincunx.

It's complicated, involved, mysterious, duplicitous, deceptive, murderous, convoluted, and absolutely fascinating. This is Charles Dickens on steroids. We're talking 780 pp of the smallest possible readable typeface, set with the tiniest of margins top and bottom and side to side,with minimum white space throughout. Maps, genealogical charts, index of characters, and Latin mottoes all over.

The time -- late Regency (early 1800s, think Austen)
The place -- village England and wicked London
The hero -- riddled with innocence
The "complication" -- Law + Equity = Fraud
The "titillation" -- "hidden" graphic clues (the coats of arms, perhaps?)

What could be better on a cold winter's night than a massive novel, a roaring fire, a cozy reading spot, with cats on one's lap and dogs at one's feet?

Jan 21, 2020, 11:49am

Just finished listening to Lola, a very good Suspense debut.

Next up for listening is Blowout by Rachel Maddow.

Editado: Jan 31, 2020, 1:51pm

Enjoying this OverDrive Kindle eBook Alexa can read to me ~

Desperate Creed by Alex Kava (4 stars)

(Ryder Creed, book 5/search and rescue dogs/tornado-torn area)

Jan 21, 2020, 3:29pm

I finished The Help on Saturday - quick read, very much enjoyed it. Then started Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino, alternating chapter by chapter with Pilgrimage 4 - two books where not very much happens.

So, decided to throw a third in the mix, and have my first DNF in years... I pretty much complete every book even if it's difficult and I don't really 'like' it as long as it has some redeeming value or maybe I have to write a review for it... well, this one, The Brownstone by Ken Eulo, meets neither of those criteria.

Now debating whether I should replace it with something or just stick with the two I'm still reading...

Jan 21, 2020, 4:48pm

One trick I've found to keep up my annual book count is to include some very short ones, too. ;-)

Jan 21, 2020, 4:52pm

I think the level of rigor in the research that goes into the Trump and Tell books varies, and I try to limit my diet of Trumpfreude, but I did get a copy of this one today, and I might as well start on it before the twitterstorm starts.

Jan 21, 2020, 6:13pm

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett with illustrations by Tasha Tudor
I read this book as a kid and am re-reading with renewed pleasure. There's a new movie adaptation coming out this spring--the last one was in 1993.

Editado: Jan 21, 2020, 8:49pm

Finished Blood of Elves and started The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski. Also added Nevernight by Jay Kristoff to my reading rotation.

Editado: Jan 24, 2020, 6:49pm

An Irish Country Doctor – Patrick Taylor
Audiobook performed by John Keating

Taylor tells the tale of a young physician learning the ropes from an older, wiser, well-established practitioner in an Irish village, in the mid 1960s. Barry Laverty is happy to have this position, and he has an experienced, if unconventional, teacher in Dr Fingal Flaherty O’Reilly.

I’ve heard this described as “James Herriot for people” and I think that’s a perfect description. Some of the cases are quite serious, some patients are malingerers. While O’Reilly’s main advice is to “never let the customers get the upper hand,” he still shows great compassion for serious problems, teaches the young Laverty how to admit being wrong and helps him learn to apologize for his own mistakes. Which, of course, doctors do make – being human, after all.

The book is full of wonderful characters, from the steadfast housekeeper Mrs Kincaid, who prefers to be called Kinky, to the young doctor’s first love, Pamela, from elderly patients suffering mostly from loneliness, to young children with appendicitis, from shopkeepers with heart disease, to farmers with work-related injuries. There are some very humorous moments, and a few tender ones as well. Very entertaining.

John Keating does a marvelous job of performing the audiobook. I loved how he interpreted both O’Reilly and Laverty. And he does a passable job of the various women characters, as well.

Editado: Jan 24, 2020, 6:48pm

The Diva Haunts the House – Krista Davis
Digital audiobook narrated by Hilary Huber

Book five in the cozy series featuring Domestic Diva Sophie Winston and her rival Natasha. As the title implies, this one focuses on Halloween. Sophie is in charge of the community’s fund-raiser Haunted House, which Natasha takes as a personal affront to her own “fabulous” costume party. The rivalry escalates when one of the displays in front of Natasha’s house turns out to be an actual body, and, of course, it’s Sophie who discovers the grisly scene.

There’s no lack of suspects, and plenty of costumed vampires around to confuse everyone from the police to the amateur sleuths. Add a gaggle of teen-age girls (and the teen boys they’re interested in), a séance, a riled parent, and the drama of both an ex-husband and a police detective who are quick to come to Sophie’s aid and you have a formula for a successful cozy.

I like the decorating tips at the beginning of each chapter. While I don’t ever throw a Halloween party, I certainly liked some of the suggestions. And the recipes at the end were a nice addition.

Hilary Huber does a fine job narrating the audiobook. She has a good pace and handles the many characters easily.

Jan 22, 2020, 11:03am

Well, I had to set Little Women aside temporarily. It is somewhat interesting reading the novel, in that I'm keen to gain for myself a knowledge of this cultural icon of a book. I was inspired to take on the project by the latest movie version, which has gotten good reviews. But I am just not enjoying the reading. Obviously, at almost 65 years old, I am not the target audience, and I've been finding the going a bit of a slog. My Signet Classics edition is 500 pages, and I've made it to page 160. The thought of pushing through for another 340 pages became just too much for me last night. I do want to finish the book, but I'm going to do it gradually, maybe in 100-page chunks, between my other reading.

In the meantime, I'm going back to the mystery genre, as I've started The Dragon Scroll, the first of I.J. Parker's "Sugawara Akitada" series, which takes place in 11th century Japan.

Jan 22, 2020, 11:43am

>37 rocketjk: I read that last year and it was a annotated version. I agree it was a real drag to read along with the annotations I thought I would never finish it. I always thought there was a smaller version- maybe it was a children's version of the book that I loved.

Jan 22, 2020, 12:12pm

For any wanderers who are not lost, but merely stumped as to which way to go, Tor.com offers a guided Ursula K. LeGuin reread.

If you've wondered what the fuss was about, looked at the sheer volume of her output and thought "help" in three-point type, this is the place and the moment to delve.

If you're nostalgic for another dispatch received by ansible from the Ekumen, this is the place and the moment to re-up your love for Old Music and Estraven and Ged and Tenar.

Jan 22, 2020, 12:18pm

>38 JulieLill: As a former used bookstore owner, I can tell you that there are many abridged editions of Little Women (and of most other longer children's books). I was surprised to see the Signet Classics edition I bought check in at 500 pages. There are no annotations in my edition, but I am finding the tone of the narrative and the events themselves making it hard for me to maintain interest. Don't get me wrong: if I had read this at age 9 or 10, I'm sure I would have reveled in the book's length and wish it had gone on longer.

Jan 22, 2020, 12:32pm

>39 richardderus: Thank you for that link! I had an In Memoriam category for LeGuin last year, and want to read more than what I have on my shelves and that link is perfect.

Editado: Jan 22, 2020, 10:17pm

>38 JulieLill:, >40 rocketjk:

Yes, many people are reading Little Women for the first time this year due to the movie coming and I keep scratching my head at these 500+ page behemoths people are pulling out of their bags. Either the type is really big I thought or it's an omnibus including Little Men and the other book I can't remember the title of.

But looking through the covers on LT I remember the cover of my book and it was indeed the Signet Classics edition which means it wasn't abridged. So perhaps I had loved the book so much in middle school that I never noticed the length. I mean, I did read the 1463 page Signet Classic version of Les Miserables so obviously page length wasn't a deterrent to me back then.

Editado: Jan 23, 2020, 1:11pm

Ahead of last year's adaptation of Little Women on PBS's "Masterpiece," I borrowed and read a library copy of the omnibus edition from Library of America, copyright 2005. It was great to have the complete series about the March family in one volume. It has the original illustrations throughout the text.
If you own or want to buy the Library of American edition, Louisa May Alcott is featured on the iconic black jacket.

Editado: Jan 24, 2020, 5:01am


Jan 24, 2020, 4:53am

>37 rocketjk: You might try a non fiction take, a biography Marmee and Louisa You'll get a splendid accout of Alcotts background, the society at the time, and how the story developed. Might find the story more interesting that way

I seem to have lost the thread, but bck on target. Been in a big of a reading slog the last few weeks, but seem to be firmly intrenched in Pachinko. and a reread of one of my favorite books by Eliz Von Arnim (Enchanted April), Christopher and Columbus. Love this story about twin orphan young ladies who are sent to America by their german hating uncle. Lots of fun hijinks and very good writing.

Jan 24, 2020, 6:48pm

Flight Behavior – Barbara Kingsolver
Audiobook read by the author

Dellarobia Turnbow is ten years into a marriage that has never satisfied her. Unsure how to deal with her restlessness she flirts with a younger man, a telephone lineman, and suggests a tryst in a hunter’s blind deep in the woods behind her home. But as she climbs to this ill-thought-out meeting, she encounters a strange sight that literally stops her in her tracks. The only way she can describe it is “a lake of fire.”

Kingsolver has crafted a story of one woman’s awakening, and simultaneously a warning about climate change. I found the story compelling from both perspectives. I know many people criticize Kingsolver for being preachy, but I did not find her message overbearing.

Dellarobia is a fascinating character. She’s intelligent but lacks education, having gotten pregnant and married right out of high school. Her community is small and somewhat restrictive. People are mostly struggling to survive in deep Appalachia. They do not have time to ponder philosophy or global impact. And they are quick to judge anyone who tries to break out of the mold. Focus is on family and church. Dellarobia and her husband live on his parents’ land, in a house just a stone’s throw from his mother and father. Yet they have limited say in their own future. It’s no wonder she’s feeling suffocated and unfulfilled.

But when her in-laws discover the amazing sight on the mountain things begin to change. Dellarobia becomes the focus of media attention and her image goes viral. She begins helping the scientist who comes to study the phenomenon, and this opens her eyes to new possibilities.

While the book begins with a self-described rash act, I found Dellarobia to be much more cautious than that initial impression. I liked the way she thought about, questioned, researched, and considered her life, her family, her relationships and her future. I liked that she begins to make some hard decisions that are first about her own survival, and ultimately about her family as well.

Certainly, there are references to religion (just google “lake of fire” and the bible). And Kingsolver is questioning how people can believe something in the face of contradictory evidence – in this case about climate change. I know many people criticize Kingsolver for being preachy, but I did not find her message overbearing in this book. It certainly gave me plenty to think about.

I did find the ending somewhat abrupt and would love to have some discussion about it with one of my F2F book clubs. Unfortunately for me, this book has not yet made it to the reading list for any of them … yet.

Kingsolver narrates the audiobook herself, and she does a fine job. She makes no effort to give the characters significantly different voices, though she does attempt a vaguely “Caribbean” accent for Ovid.

Jan 25, 2020, 12:12am

Latinos In Milwaukee – Joseph A Rodriguez Ph.D. & Walter Sava Ph.D.

This is a short history of the various Latino immigrant populations in Wisconsin’s largest city. This is part of a series of books that document various historical events in cities around the nation. I found it interesting but not particularly compelling.

The authors interviewed many current residents, some whose families had been in the area since the early 20th century; and outline the various reasons and opportunities that brought these immigrants north. From Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Central America, people came for opportunities in the cities tanning operations, factories and colleges. They formed civic organizations, sports leagues and arts boards. They joined the US military, opened businesses, and got elected to local office.

My book club had the pleasure of welcoming Dr Sava for our discussion. THAT meeting / discussion was stimulating, informative and enjoyable.

Jan 25, 2020, 9:46am

The new thread is up over here.