Torontoc reads books from her shelves.

Discussão2020 ROOT CHALLENGE

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Torontoc reads books from her shelves.

Jan 28, 2020, 9:09 am

Here is my first book from my shelves for 2020

1. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead This is a reread because my bookclub will be talking about it tomorrow. Again the story is a mixture of real and fantasy but certainly emphasizes the terrible injustice of slavery. This novel is a must read for anyone interested in history!

Jan 28, 2020, 7:31 pm

Welcome back! :D

Jan 29, 2020, 1:36 am

Welcome back and Happy ROOTing.

Jan 29, 2020, 9:23 am

Good to see you again!

Jan 29, 2020, 2:09 pm

Welcome back from me too!

Fev 22, 2020, 6:52 pm

Thank you!
2. Waiting for the Weekend by Witold Rybczynski This book has been on my TBR pile for way too long. I used to love to read Rybczynski's works. I found his opinions and ideas on architecture and on the history of interiors refreshing and informative. This book is about the origins and structure of the weekend. As well, the author looks at the development of leisure and recreation. This is an interesting study on habits that we take for granted.

Mar 3, 2020, 2:48 pm

3. Women Talking A Novel by Miriam Toews This novel is based on a event that took place in Bolivia. A Mennonite colony was facing a situation where the women were drugged at night and sexually bused by men in the group. The men were charged and sent to prison. In this story, women in a similar colony were discussing what to do. They had the choice of forgiving the men or leaving their home. These women did not know how to read or write and knew only their world of farming. An outcast man- August - is asked to take minutes for the group as they try to figure out what to do. In the course of the talking , the reader learns about some of the terrible abuses and the contradiction of blind faith and doing the right thing. The women's narrow proscribed lives are in conflict with doing good so that their children will not face the same fate. This is a hard story to read although the authors' wonderful prose and character development makes the story flow.

Mar 4, 2020, 1:14 am

>7 torontoc:

This one is on my wishlist but I've been waiting for it to come out in paperback first.

Editado: Mar 17, 2020, 10:08 am

4. A Legacy by Sybille Bedford This novel has so much of the author's real life history in the characters and plot. The families of the von Feldens and the Merz's are joined when Baron Julius marries Melanie Merz. Before this event the reader learns about the Von Felden sons and the Merz family who live in Germany and parts of France and Spain in the 1890's. The sons are quite tragic- born and bred to be fairly useless. They are eccentric, they lose money, travel, and for some reason usually marry well. In fact most of the wives are the stronger people- arranging lives and supporting their brothers and husbands. There is the tension between the Jewish Merz family and the Catholic Von Feldens. The writing is strong and gives the reader a sense of the lives and ideas of a specific group whose lives will be upended in the 20th century.

Mar 22, 2020, 8:12 pm

5. The Night Manager by John Le Carre This is definitely a reread- at this time I think that some good spy stories are great escapism. Jonathan Pine is the night manager of a Swiss hotel-he was a soldier in the British army. He also was friends with a woman who was invoked with a very dangerous man -she was beaten to death. Jonathan accepts an offer to spy for the British - he is to gain the support and confidence of a man suspected to be a major arms dealer. Unfortunately, the British spy service has problems of its own with competing branches and selling out of allies. The story is very tense as the reader is not sure of who will betray whom. A great read for these times.

Mar 24, 2020, 10:40 pm

6. Double Threat Canadian Jews, The Military, and World War II by Ellin Bessner I found this history interesting as it lists and describes the contribution of Canadian Jews who fought in World War II. Many of the chapters really talk about many individuals who were part of the various sections of the armed forces from Naval, Merchant Marine, Army to Airforce. The chapters are in chronological order recounting enlistment, women in the armed forces, the role of religion, and the various parts of the world where Jewish soldiers fought. I liked the book although it was not really a complete history of the war- the author interviewed as many survivors as she could. Still this history gives the many individuals who took part a solid place in the story of the war.

Mar 29, 2020, 3:18 pm

7. Must You Go? My Life With Harold Pinter by Antonia Fraser Once I read the author's memoirs of her early life, I had to go back to do a reread of her memoir of her life with her second husband, Harold Pinter. It really was a love story. Pinter wrote love poems to Fraser- many are in this account. The book is composed of diary headings and some commentaries. There are a lot of famous names in literature, theatre and film mentioned as friends and colleagues. A good read for self-isolation.

Abr 4, 2020, 4:31 pm

8. English Music by Peter Ackroyd One thing about isolation- I unearthed this novel that has been on my book tower for a long time. And I really enjoyed the read. The main character, Timothy, has been working with his father as a sort of mind reader/healer. The reader first meets Timothy when he is twelve years old in England of the 1920's. He has not been to school and has been taught by his father. The main characteristic of Timothy's education is the history of England. In fact this boy seems susceptible to dreams so that every other chapter in the story has Timothy dreaming or in a trance.The subjects of the dreams are the uniqueness of English music, visual art and literature. Timothy seems to interact with a number of famous authors and artists. His own story is one of wandering from the security of his grandparents's house in the country to the vagabond life of his father in London. The story is very poetic. However the reader really needs to have some knowledge of English music, visual art and literature to really appreciate the dreams, I think. A good read

Abr 9, 2020, 7:45 pm

9. Canadian Haggadah Canadienne by Rabbi Adam Scheier and Richard Marceau. At this time of year families usually gather for the seder and Passover meal together. This is not happening this year as people are urged to stay home and only have a seder with the family that they live with. Many synagogues and individual have been very inventive and resourceful in creating "Zoom" seders and gathering and religious services. I took part in a Zoom seder- it was a good but not perfect substitution for the usual gathering. I took out all my Passover Haggadahs. (or service for the meal.) This one was published in 2015 and had some good resource material and archival photographs. Many Canadian Rabbis wrote commentary for the various sections of the service. This book is unique as it is written in English and French in addition to the Hebrew. I must admit that I did take out all my different copies of Haggadahs to look at over the next seven days. This is a practice that my late brother in New Jersey followed.

Abr 10, 2020, 11:47 am

10. Little Book of Jewish Appetizers by Leah Koenig I am reading a very long book about the birth of Modernism. However in these times my repertoire of food to make is getting boring. So I picked up this very attractive and brief guide to tasty appetizers. To my dismay I don't have all the ingredients for many of the recipes- the one that I will be making next week ( a really interesting meatball recipe that has Moroccan and Jewish Spanish roots before the Inquisition) has a lot of stuff that I have . I will just have to add mint and Italian parsley to my online order if possible. The other recipes-dips and baked goods- I will have to try when I am able to go out and buy what I need.( Chopped Egg and Caramelized Onion Spread, Smoky Sweet Potato Hummus, Barley Stuffed mushrooms, Persian Zucchini and Herb Frittata) Alas, the recipes are all for big groups and use lots of eggs. I am being careful with eggs as they are sometimes hard to find now.The author Leah Koenig is a really good food writer- I have some of her other books and and made wonderful things from them.

Abr 12, 2020, 6:40 pm

11. The First Moderns by William R. Everdell I have had this book on my book tower for a few years. My late brother gave to me because of the chapters on Picasso, Kandinsky and Georges Seurat. I read the whole book and marvelled at the scope of knowledge of the author. I know that he is a historian who has taught at a private high school in New York. I also found that each chapter had exact details about the inventors, musicians, scientists and artists who were selected to represent the growth of new discoveries of modernism at the beginning of the 20th century. The first chapters shows that Vienna represented the end of the 19th century in thought and culture. The ascent of Paris as the centre of 20th century culture is detailed in later chapters. The discoveries in mathematics, and physics are explained as eloquently as those in the visual arts and music and literature. Some of the work on visual arts I knew. But the way the authors synthesizes the many changes in science and art is really amazing.

Abr 15, 2020, 1:56 pm

12. Smoke by Dan Vyleta i think that I have read all of Dan Vyleta's novels. When I heard that he had written a sequel to Smoke I decided that I had to reread the book in order to go to the new. I am glad that I did. This book has momentum. The plot lines owe a lot to Charles Dickens but the author's dystopian view shows the reader a new and altered world. The opening chapters take place in a boys' school in England sometime in the late 1880's. The class lines of English society are based on wealth and the ability to control one's Smoke. Smoke will pour out of the bodies of those who are wicked or evil in their thoughts and deeds. London is an evil and dying city populated with those who always have Smoke. The wealthy boys learn how to control any Smoke that they have. Two of them , Thomas and Charlie, are invited for the Christmas holidays to the estate of a Baron who is the uncle of Thomas. What the two boys discover is the mysterious Lady of the house, her mad husband, the daughter Livia and the arrival of the evil step brother Julius. Charlie, Thomas and Livia embark on an adventure to thwart a dangerous plot. There is much killing and maiming but the story is an engrossing one and I enjoyed the read. I am ready to take on the next book-Soot.

Abr 19, 2020, 7:29 pm

13. Beaufort by Ron Leshem This is a novel that I had started to read over a year ago and just got back to it now. The story is told by an Israeli soldier Erez, a squadron leader who is stationed with his men in the post of Beaufort in the south of Lebanon. The narration is about war- the horror and brutality of the life and death. At times the narration by Erez shows how screwed up he is by the situation and how his friends and fellow soldiers deal with the uncertainty of their time in Beaufort. The narration is like a stream of consciousness. The futility of this particular war between Israel and Lebanon is a major theme in this story. Although this is a fictional account the author talks in a section at the end of the book about the real people who he interviewed and how he incorporated some of their stories into the book. The author worked with film maker Joseph Cedar and co-directed a film version of this book. I saw it and it was very powerful.

Maio 1, 2020, 1:48 pm

14. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Well, this is my comfort read. ( and all round get out of the book blahs read) I felt the need to reread about the problems of introductions, class, manners, and not saying what you feel because of polite rules of society. Again, this book does the trick- I feel better and am ready to tackle more books! Thank you Lizzy, Jane and Jane A!

Maio 7, 2020, 1:42 pm

15. Village of Secrets Defying the Nazis in Vichy France by Caroline Moorehead I really like this author's attention to detail and research. Moorehead examines the work of the inhabitants of the village of Le Chambon-sur- Lignon and other surrounding villages during the Second World War. There was a very large group that managed to save the lives of Jewish children and adults. Moorehead interviewed many of the survivors and their saviours. The book is a detailed history of who helped and what they accomplished during the rule of Vichy France. This book is important as there were documentaries and books that gave credit to a select few-Moorehead describes the work of the many who had crucial roles in that terrible time.

Maio 11, 2020, 12:56 pm

Hi T! Your reading is going okay I see. Very good job. I hope you are still fine! Keep safe.

Maio 18, 2020, 12:07 pm

>21 connie53: Thank you! I am not reading as much as I thought that I would!

16. Natasha's Dance A Cultural History of Russia by Orlando Figes. I enjoy reading this author's take on Russian history. This account descries the many themes that make up the cultural history of Russia. The differences between the culture developed in St. Petersburg and Moscow, the myths and realities of Asian or " Barbarian" influence on peasant living, the influence of European music and literature, the beginning of dance as a serious art form and the political ramifications of nineteenth revolts and the Soviet control of life-all are described clearly. I found the design of the history in this book to be very clear and helpful in the descriptions of the pull of Russian landscape and life-real and imagined -on the lives and work of Russian artists and writers.

Maio 25, 2020, 8:31 pm

17. To End All Wars A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918 by Adam Hochschild I find that I am most satisfied reading non-fiction these days although I have started two really good novels. This history fills in the gaps for me in the story of World War 1. I have read Margaret Macmillan's Paris 1919 and the novels of Pat Barker among other works) and saw the film "Oh, What a Lovely War" but this book was eye-opening. Hochschild concentrates on the work and views conscientious objectors and opponents of the war, the attitudes of the generals directing the army of Great Britain, and one interesting brother and sister-who both have extremely different views. He describes the work and changes in views of the suffragette Pankhurst family( sister Sylvia was opposed by her mother Emmeline and sister Christobel). General Haig was responsible for the orders in battle that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of soldiers. The old fashioned views that radio signals were unreliable and that calvary should have a decisive role in battle were some of the views that led to tragedy for thousands. The attitudes that led to unsuitable young men being placed into battle are described with the story of Rudyard Kipling's son John,(a 17 year old with very bad eyesight made a lieutenant) Conscientious objectors and their treatment along with sham trials are described. And there is the story of John French, an army leader and his sister Charlotte Despard- an important objector to the war. There are so many connections to the role of class structure in Great Britain and how the treatment of the many Commonwealth soldiers probably led to the dissolution of the British empire. This was a very good read!

Jun 6, 2020, 1:41 pm

18. Antisemitism Here and Now by Deborah E. Lipstadt The author teaches at Emory University. She is probably best know as the person who was sued for libel in Britain by the Holocaust denier David Irving ( she won and was the subject of a film)This book is a measured look at the definition of antisemitism. The book is set up as a series of letters to the author by a student and professor.The letter writers are fictional but they represent real people and the dilemmas that they faced . The author covered current events up to 2018-9 when the book was published. She looks at the fatwa given to Salman Rushdie and the commonalities of discrimination. An excellent source book.

19. Immigrant City Stories by David Bezmozgis This is a reread for my book club. It is very interesting to compare the stories in this volume with the ones from the author's first book Natasha and Other Stories. The stories are now about immigrants who have made Canada their home for a long time as opposed to those who have arrived recently from " Natasha".

Jun 14, 2020, 7:51 pm

20. The Second World War by Antony Beevor I certainly am focusing on very long books- ( over 800 pages but well worth the read. ) The author very carefully relates the actions of both the Allies- Britain, the United States and Russia- and the German and Japanese forces as they conquer and battle from 1939-1945. Beevor does make judgements about bad decisions by leaders and generals on all sides. He traces all the battles and the very high number of deaths by battle, bombing and capture. It seems shocking to read about the very high number of soldier deaths. My late father was an officer in the Canadian army during World War Two, serving in France, Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany. He never wanted to talk about what happened. After reading this history I can understand why.

Jun 16, 2020, 3:06 pm

Hello from a newer Toronto member! Great thread. Hope you are doing well. Hoping to see if a few of the used book stores in town are open before July rolls around... add to that TBR pile lol.

Jun 17, 2020, 10:06 am

mmm- I haven't looked lately because I haven't been downtown- I did buy a book from Type Books-they are allowing 2 people in the store at a time- I just ordered and paid by telephone and then picked up the book.

Jun 18, 2020, 10:45 am

That’s fun! I love the used book stores in port Perry.. will see if they are open as well.

Jun 26, 2020, 11:48 am

21. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens This has been a very popular book on the most purchased book lists but I think that I have to disagree. The last half of the book did move quickly and was interesting. The plot was, in a lot of ways, stereotypic. The abandoned girl living and surviving on her own in the swamp lands, the love of two boys and the quiet revenge when wronged seemed to me to be somewhat cliched. I thought of a much older book that I read -A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter published in 1909! ( my copy was published in 1990 and I found it at a church sale in cottage country). I liked that one better. However one of my book club members recommended it and I think that the majority of members will love it. Sigh..... on to the next book

Jun 28, 2020, 10:58 am

22. Galileo's Daughter A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love by Dava Sobel I really enjoyed this account of the lives of Galileio, his daughter, Suor Maria Celeste and Galileo's family and contemporaries. The author explains the theories of his work and the books that Galileo wrote as well as documenting his struggles with the very powerful Roman Catholic Church. The book includes some of the letters that Suor Maria Celeste wrote from her home in the convent. Her relationship with her father was so important - she was his champion. She sent her father remedies for his many ailments and sometimes food. Her needs at the convent were met as well by Galileo's support. The author details Galileo's examination by the inquisition and the support of his many friends and patrons. I enjoyed reading this account!

Jul 12, 2020, 6:07 pm

23. A Moorland Hanging by Michael Jecks This medieval murder mystery of the fourteenth century was an interesting read- with betrayals, feuds, lies and of course the two main characters solve the murders. Former Knight Templar Sir Baldwin Furnshill and Bailiff Simon Puttock puzzle over the clues and deduce who has done the killing.

Jul 23, 2020, 6:53 pm

24. Appetite for Life The Biography of Julia Child by Noel Riley Fitch This is a case of too much information. I know that the author had permission to use all of Julia Child's papers( diaries, letters.) However this 500 page volume seems to let details take over the story of Julia Child's life. The best part is the section where the reader learns about Child's work with the OSS during World War Two in India and China and her meeting with Paul Child. The story of their romance is lovely. The section on Julia Child's education as an extraordinary cook and her meeting with Simone Beck is also really interesting. The amount of research Child put into her books and TV shows is minutely documented. Julia and Paul Child had a wonderful relationship-that is made quite clear in this work. Personally I think that the story could have been told clearly with less detail on the people who helped Julia Child with her work.

Ago 4, 2020, 11:07 pm

25. The Ward The Life and Loss of Toronto's First Immigrant Neighbourhood by John Lorinc Ellen Scheinberg Tatum Taylor Michael McClelland This is reread of a really good history- there are many histories by a lot of authors. I reread this for my bookclub and a research project.

Ago 10, 2020, 6:43 pm

26. The Jewish Woman and Her Home by Hyman E. Goldin This is a book that I found doing some COVID cleaning. It was published in 1941 and it is really, really patronizing. The material is about creating a household with some information on the holidays. However the author assumes that the intended audience has no Jewish education. The prayers listed are very long and in English- and really I don't know what prayer book ( Reform, Reconstructionist Judaism) that they would fit. The tone is very serious and in some cases grim. The main leader of the Jewish family is assumed to be male. And .. there is no joy in the descriptions. As well some of the history is too fragmented.
Hmm- this is a real artifact- so much has changed not only in religious practice but in responsibility.

Ago 18, 2020, 8:17 am

27. Plays The Circle, The Letter, The Constant Wife by W. Somerset Maugham Again I am reading a book that belonged to my mother- it was published sometime in the 1920's or 30's. These three plays written by Maugham are really dated. The view of women is so stereotypical- the vamp, the muse, the object of adoration, the betrayer- should I go on? As well, the characterizations of Blacks and Chinese in the play The Letter are terrible and I can see why these plays are not produced or read today. The play The Constant Wife was produced in 1926 with the actress Ethel Barrymore in the lead role and the play is dedicated to her. The role is a " star" one but again the attitudes are really dated. Interesting read.( I did like the author's book of short stories about spying.)

Set 4, 2020, 4:50 am

Hi, just popping in to see what you have been reading in these special times. Did you set a number for this challenge? I can't find that anywhere. Just curious.

Set 4, 2020, 9:22 am

> 36 Hi!
I set 30 books to read that I have owned for over 6 months- this way I don't stress myself out over reading.I usually reach my goal.

Set 4, 2020, 9:23 am

>37 torontoc: 30 sounds real doable. Only 3 more to go.

Set 10, 2020, 1:23 pm

28. Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier The author writes about a part of the history of the Cherokee Nation. I didn't know about this history and I am glad to learn about it. The hero is also modelled after a specific man- I have to note down the histories that the author used as his inspiration. I did find the reading not easy although I did appreciate the language. Will is a young boy who is "bound" ( or indentured to another) by his aunt and uncle to a man who runs a trading post in the area of North Carolina where the Cherokee Nation lived. He meet two Indigenous men , Bear and Featherstone, who have a lasting impression on his life. He also meets and loves, Claire- a very enigmatic young girl whom he loves all his life. The novel follows Will from boyhood to old age. The reader learns a lot about the treatment of Indigenous people and how they were forced to go west. I am glad that I read the book but it was a tough read at times.

Set 13, 2020, 9:03 am

29. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand This is a remarkable book not only for the story of Louis Zamperini but the history of the planes and what airmen faced in the Pacific during World War Two. The author has written a biography of Zamperini -a man with a fascinating life story. Zamperini was a young man who was going towards a delinquent life until his brother encouraged him to take up running. Louis became so good that he was part of the US team that went to the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Afterwards he went to college and began training for the 1940 Olympics that were suppose to be held in Tokyo. The war interrupted his plans and Louis joined the Air Force and trained to handle the bomb sites on the bombers. Stationed in the Pacific, Louis took part in a number of dangerous missions. After one mission, his plane was damaged and sank in the Pacific. He survived along with two other members of the crew. They spent over 46 days on a raft. They were picked up by the Japanese and Louis was sent to a series of prison camps. The suffering and torture of the prisoners and especially Louis was pretty horrible. Hillenbrand not only tells the story of one man but also writes about the effects faced by American soldiers after they were rescued. Louis Zamperini was lucky- after a rocky start to life after the war and his bouts with alcoholism, he did find help. I enjoyed this account and learned about history that I was not familiar with.

Set 17, 2020, 2:47 pm

30. The Overstory by Richard Powers I put this book down for a couple of months and took it up last week. The writing about trees and nature is so interesting. The overlapping stories of the characters are fascinating. The style of writing is dense ( in a good way) yet... I found that the narrative took a long time to reach the goal of the novel ( I think) and sometimes the writing was overwhelming. I can say that the book is very good but it was not my favourite. Maybe in this time of the pandemic, I need more simplicity and clarity in style and narration.
I reached my goal but will still read from my bookshelf to help clear books that have been unread for too long!

Set 25, 2020, 6:45 pm

31. Arch of Triumph by Erich Maria Remarque. I have been reading books that belonged to my late parents recently. This novel was published in 1945 and is set in Paris in 1939. It reads like a 1930's or 40's film with Humphrey Bogart or Clark Gable. The story is about a refugee doctor named Ravic. He was originally from Germany, and lives illegally in Paris. He does complex operations for doctors who are too old to work. Working and living under an alias, he tries to avoid notice by the authorities.Ravic has good friends who are in the same position that he is. He rescues another woman refugee named Joan. He fall in love with her but their relationship is tempestuous. So is the dialogue which is very dramatic. As France falls, Ravic is ready to be captured and sent to a concentration camp. The writing is dated but interesting!

Film Festival
I did see films from the Toronto International Film Festival but on my computer- I'll start to review them. The festival had about 60 films. In past years there were around 200 or more. I will start with films that were taken from books.

A Suitable Boy- BBC production in six episodes. I saw all six hours in one afternoon. This was a terrific series based on the book by Vikram Seth. I hadn't read the book ( over 1400 pages) but I will now. It was like an Indian " Pride and Prejudice" and wonderful. Great characters, beautiful sets and I loved it! See it if you can.

The Inconvenient Indian Canada directed by Michele Latimer and based on the book by Thomas King. The book related the history of Indigenous peoples in the US and Canada and was really good. I learned so much. The film was more
" impressionistic" in content. In fact the author was in the film seated in a taxi driven by a coyote in some scenes. There was also an unapologetic scene of a Innuit man hunting seal and giving the meat to a family. The film emphasized identity and reclaiming identity by indigenous peoples. I am glad that I read the book first- I liked the detailed historical background.

Directed by Michele Latimer
I hadn't realized that I was going to see the first two episodes from the CBC series that will be shown on television in Oct.
It was well done.I had read the book that this series is based on- Son of A Trickster by Eden Robinson I really liked the book and this series is faithful to the characters and plot of the novel. The main character is a young man who lives with his out of control mother in a very small town in British Columbia. He tries to help his father and his issues and during the course of the series learns about his real origins and perhaps the magic that his family is part of. A really good series.

More later

Set 26, 2020, 8:27 am

I read in the progress thread that you have reached your goal! Great job.

Set 26, 2020, 11:12 am

Thank you!

Set 28, 2020, 3:58 am

>42 torontoc:

You're the only person besides me that I've seen read Arc de Triomphe. I quite enjoyed it. And I have to say I quite like the type of drama that existed in older books. Sometimes it's fun to revel in such grandiosity.

Out 5, 2020, 11:55 am

>45 lilisin: yes, I agree the sentences were wonderful.
32. The Fair Fight by Anna Freeman This is a really engrossing novel. The chapters are narrated by several of the characters in the fictional account set in eighteenth century England. The reader is introduced to characters from the very poor to the very rich. Ruth Webber is a daughter of a brothel owner and she becomes a fighter. Lady Charlotte Sinclair has been scarred badly by smallpox. She forced by her brother to marry a man-Granville Dryer- who is very cruel to her. George Bowden originally wanted to marry Charlotte but we find out has some ulterior motives. The characters do meet as Ruth's husband is taken on by Granville to train and challenge a prominent boxer. Ruth and Charlotte meet in unlikely circumstances and eventually teach other how to stand up for their rights. This is an excellent account of life for women both rich and poor in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

Out 11, 2020, 11:33 am

33. Villa Air-Bel by Rosemary Sullivan. I am so glad that I reread this account of Varian Fry's work in saving the lives of over 2000 people and helping them escape from France in the early years of World War Two. This history does begin with detailed accounts of the situation in France before Germany conquers the country. The reader learns about the lives of Andre Breton and Victor Serge and their dilemmas. The heiress Mary Jayne Gold, adventuress Miriam Davenport, and Dunkerque survivor Danny Benedite and his wife Theo are introduced before the reader meets Varian Fry and the American emergency Rescue Committee. The lives of artists waiting for a complex series of visas and documents both legal and illegal are described as they live in the Villa Air-Bel. The events that seems to be the stuff of fiction. I must admit that after reading the fictional novel about these people I prefer this history- it is really good.

Out 25, 2020, 10:13 am

34. How To Read the Bible A Guide to Scripture Then and Now by James L. Kugel I have been reading this 700 page book on and off for about three months. I found if very interesting as the author looks at the varying interpretations of the Old Testament. He writes about the studies in language to determine authorship and placement, and archeological finds in the Near East. Kugel writes about the possible reasons why certain stories were included in the various books. There were certainly many authors of the Hebrew Bible and Kugel explores many of the theories that explain the discrepancies in various sections. This was a very thoughtful and sometimes provocative volume.

Out 26, 2020, 4:58 pm

35. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett This is a reread for my book club. It is still a great read. The prose, plot and characters led me to read the book in a day and a half- I couldn't put it down.

Out 27, 2020, 6:47 am

I went looking for a Dutch version, but to my amazement it is not translated!

Nov 7, 2020, 5:53 pm

>50 connie53: Really! Hopefully soon!

36. The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna This is the second novel that I have read by
Aminatta Forna. The plot follows the lives of three main characters who are living and working in Sierra Leone just after a civil war. Each person has secrets that have shaped their lives. The reader moves seamlessly back and forth in time as we try to uncover the puzzle of damaged lives. Elias Cole has lived through the terrible times- and recalls his love for Saffia and his friendship with her husband Julius. Years later, Adrian is a therapist who tries to help the broken souls in the mental hospital. Searching for more meaning in his life, Adrian has relocated from England to Sierra Leone. Kai is a surgeon who is trying to move to the United States. Each one has secrets that show betrayal. The many layers of the plot and personalities are complex and yet-the prose reads so well.I highly recommend any book by Forna.

Nov 27, 2020, 12:21 pm

37. Old In Art School A Memoir of Starting Over by Nell Painter. This is a reread for my book club meeting next week. I must admit that it was better on the second read. ( and I did love it the first time as well) Painter covered so many issues- the absence of women artists, Black women artists and Black men artists, ageism in the Art World and art schools and more. Her description of having a " twentieth century mind" as opposed to a " 21st Century outlook in art school was an eye opener. I loved her descriptions and photos of her own work as she tackled art school criticisms.

Dez 23, 2020, 9:52 am

38. The Women's Torah Commentary New Insights from Women Rabbis on the 54 Weekly Torah Portions edited by Rabbi Elyse Goldstein I have had this book for a number of years but used it as a reference book. I decide to read through the whole book this year. The book was published in 2000. A lot has changed since then. Women Rabbis are accepted more readily. The interpretations of text were very interesting and each portion was written by a different author. Looking for feminist takes on some of the writings was a challenge. But I appreciate the work to make religion inclusive.

Dez 25, 2020, 9:35 am

Happy Holidays from the Netherlands!

Dez 25, 2020, 10:28 am

Thank you!

Dez 27, 2020, 9:21 am

39. The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish. This 560 page ( gasp) historical fiction novel certainly had a lot of themes to consider. There are two linked stories. In the 1660's in London, a young woman-Ester Velasquez is a scribe for a blind rabbi. She has come from Amsterdam with her brother and the Rabbi after the death of her parents. In 2000, an ailing scholar, Helen Watt has come across manuscripts that need identification and translating. The stories describe the effect of the plague on London, the needs of Ester for knowledge and debate with Spinoza and other learned intellectuals of the time, many deceptions, failed relationships, scholarly fights, the debate regarding Sabbatai Zevi followers, and finally a possible link to Shakespeare's Dark Lady.( although not really part of the main stories)
Last book from my shelves this year- my goal was 30 books and I have reached 39.

Dez 27, 2020, 9:36 am

>56 torontoc: Great ROOT reading!

I'm usually more surprised when I see short historical fiction novels than long ones. The Maurice Druon "Rois maudits" books are about 250 pages or so in my editions, which makes them look lightweight in comparison to my 600-page (or more!) Dorothy Dunnetts or Sharon Kay Penmans!