What are you reading the week of February 13, 2021?

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What are you reading the week of February 13, 2021?

Fev 12, 11:27pm

I'm about a quarter of the way through The Landmark Thucydides. I haven't been making much progress this week. :-(

Editado: Fev 14, 1:51pm

While I'm still working on Engines of Diplomacy (60% done) and Operation Don's Main Attack. I did knock off Mesa of Sorrows. Just starting A Pale Light in the Black.

Fev 13, 11:55am

I'm also at the quarter point of my current book, which is Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism by Patricia Hill Collins. It's rather slow going because it is a scholarly study, very academic in tone. I'll be sticking with it, though. It's only 307 pages, and I'm always looking to learn.

Fev 13, 12:47pm

I finished The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett last night, and I am sad to report that I did not like it. I felt like nothing really happened in the book. It was dull. I see that most people are raving about it, but I am over here in the minority.

I'm reading The Stories of John Cheever, of which there are sixty, one a day. I like them, the little slices of New England life.

Today I'll be starting a volume containing five plays by Anton Chekhov. It will be my classic fiction read for February.

Fev 13, 1:41pm

Still working on A Promised Land -- about 3/4 finished, and occasionally dipping into Back Talk, which is a short-story collection, when I just need a little break.

Fev 13, 3:56pm

Still reading CoDex 1962 and listening to Troubled Blood.

Fev 13, 10:09pm

I'm still reading Wolves of the Calla by Stephen King, but I'm down to about 200 pages to go. My goal is to finish this week!

Editado: Fev 14, 1:38am

I just started Sapiens. Very interesting so far.

Fev 14, 12:18pm

>4 ahef1963:

I'm with you on vanishing half. Was not a favorite. No real resolution at the end.

Fev 14, 2:35pm

I finished Simon the Fiddler, a fun, although sometimes scary, tale set in Texas immediately after the civil war. The trials of the main characters are made more difficult by the chaos of the times. The culture, history, and landscape are vividly presented as the backdrop for a musical band of intriguing characters and a love story

Editado: Fev 15, 6:06am

Finished Three Women by Lisa Taddeo, a well-researched and written book about three women's sexual and emotional lives from different parts of the U.S.

Just started My Dark Vanessa.

Fev 15, 9:29am

I plan to get a good bit of reading in today since our roads are iced over and more snow is predicted. Current read The Winter Garden by Jane Thynne. WWII story.

Touchstone goes to wrong work and I don't know how to make it connect to the Thynne work.

Fev 15, 2:26pm

Finished A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik. Really enjoyed it. Quirky.

Next up is An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors by Curtis Craddock.

Fev 15, 11:56pm

Beginning The Art Of Keeping Secrets by Rachel Johns lots of 5star reviews from Goodreads.

Fev 16, 3:24pm

Salt: A World History
Mark Kurlansky
4/5 stars
Kurlansky has always been one of my favorite non-fiction writers who makes reading a pleasure with the interesting accounts of the subject he is delving into. This book is no different and is broken up into three parts, 1) A Discourse on Salt, Cadavers and Pungent Sauces, 2) The Glow of Herring and the Scent of Conquest and 3) Sodium’s Perfect Marriage. There is some repetition of material in the different sections but overall it wasn’t a bother. Some fun facts about salt included that salary actually came from the word salt because soldiers were paid in salt, salt was also needed to make gun powder, Tabasco sauce was invented in 1869 and the Morton Salt company patented the metal pouring spout. I definitely recommend this book.

Fev 17, 9:48am

Stories I Only Tell My Friends – Rob Lowe
Book on CD read by the author.

In general, I’m not a great fan of celebrity memoirs, but I was pleasantly surprised by this one.

Lowe was bitten by the acting bug when still in junior high school. I liked learning about his determination and drive as a child back in Dayton, Ohio; the steps he took to hone his craft and to keep working toward his goal. What a brave kid to take the risk to meet those he admired. I particularly love the story of how he came to meet Liza Minelli and Jack Haley Jr.

I also enjoyed learning about Lowe’s early career in Hollywood, the movie roles he got, and those he didn’t (or turned down). And growing up where he did resulted in high school friendships with the likes of Emilio Estevez, Charlie Sheen and Sean Penn.

I applaud his honesty about his alcoholism and the difficult road to sobriety. And I particularly liked the background on The West Wing, especially since my husband and I recently began watching it on Netflix. Lowe routinely hung out at the Sheen home as a young man. No wonder Sam Seaborne had such a close relationship with President Bartlett!

Lowe reads the audio version himself. He’s a trained actor, of course, and also quite a good mimic. His President Clinton is spot on!

Fev 17, 10:04am

Fortunately, the Milk – Neil Gaiman
Digital audio performed by the author.

Mom’s away at a business conference and she leaves detailed directions with Dad, among them “We need more milk.” But, of course, he forgets and so he runs to the corner store to get some milk so that his children can have their breakfast. He does return with the milk but also with an amazing tale of the adventure he had across time and space.

This is a delightful fantastical romp of a story. There’s so much in this book it would almost be easier to list what is NOT in the book (no broccoli … that I recall). We have pirates, spaceship abduction, a stegosaurus in a balloon (or as she calls it “a floaty-ball-person-carrier”), sharks, piranhas, a volcano, unpredictable time travel, dancing dwarves, vampires, sparkly ponies, and, fortunately, the milk.

Gaiman performs the audiobook himself. He is a marvelous storyteller, employing numerous voices and sound effects to the delight of adults and children alike. 5***** for his audio performance.

Fev 17, 7:10pm

Finally finished A Promised Land, and I feel like I should book myself a sauna session and massage. At nearly 700 pages, this is a real marathon, but well worth reading as a chronicle both of Obama's early political career and as a foreshadowing of the Cult of Personality which seems to have overtaken our entire political system.

Personally, my takeaway is "who in their right mind would even want this job?" Crisis upon crisis, slogging through the knee-high molasses of party politics to achieve even the smallest goal, carrying the awesome responsibility of taking actions that will impact the lives of millions of people. And echoing behind it, always, is the Douglas Adams quote about leadership: "It is a well-known fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. ... Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.”

Editado: Fev 17, 7:36pm

Finished My Dark Vanessa which I read in a day. Disturbing, well-written and not easily forgotten.

Started The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule, her first book and fascinating as she was friends with Ted Bundy before his infamy.

Editado: Fev 18, 3:03am

Currently making an effort to finish Evenings with the Orchestra by Hector Berlioz which I've been reading for too long. Not as enjoyable as the great man's Memoirs, but the book has its moments and is a valuable reminder of composers, soloists, operas, etc largely forgotten today.

My wife and I are reading aloud Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising Sequence and are now on to the fourth and penultimate book, The Grey King. Good rather than great children's fantasy novels, but enjoyable enough.

Just finished Wintering for the book group (we meet via Zoom due to lockdown). Katherine May discusses a variety of subjects from the Aurora Borealis to bees and it's an engrossing, informative read when the author isn't contemplating her own navel.

Fev 19, 2:24pm

Cherry Cheesecake Murder – Joanne Fluke
Digital audiobook read by Suzanne Toren

Book Number Eight in the Hannah Swenson cozy mystery series, featuring the Cookie Shop proprietor, her two sisters, and their mother, along with a regular cast of town residents. A movie is being shot in Lake Eden, and many of the townspeople get roles in the production. But a terrible accident on the set of the climactic scene results in a death, that is ruled a homicide.

This is bad on so many levels. I read it only to fulfill a challenge, because I had stopped reading this series a while back. I am completely over Hannah’s dithering over her two suitors, her mother’s constant interference, her sister Andrea’s histrionics, and Hannah’s penchant for correcting everyone’s grammar.

On the other hand, the cookie recipes are very good. Frankly, I’d rather that Fluke just published a cookie cookbook and forget about the tortured plots.

Suzanne Toren overacts every scene and character on the audiobook, making a bad thing worse. Unless, perhaps, she was purposely trying to make it campier than it already was.

Fev 19, 3:03pm

I finished Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism by Patricia Hill Colliins. Collins outlines her views here on the development of gender roles and identification within the Black community in America. In particular, she focuses on the ways in which these roles have been shaped, one might say warped as well, by the histories of slavery and subsequent oppression, and how they have evolved through the lens of popular culture, movies and television in particular. Published in 2004, the book is somewhat dated in that social media is barely mentioned and that constructive Black representation, it seems to me, has improved in our culture over the intervening years. That's not to say that this isn't still an extremely valuable book. I certainly learned a lot about how post-Civil Rights Movement racism (referred to by Collins as "color-blind racism") has continued to affect millions of Americans.

Looking for something a bit lighter and excited about the opening of Major League Baseball's Spring Training, I'm now reading Pennant Race relief pitcher Jim Brosnan's memoir about life in the Cincinnati Reds' bullpen during the team's unlikely pennant winning season in 1961.

Editado: Fev 19, 6:17pm

Last week I finished Embers of War and Mind of My Mind, very different books, but both very good, 5 and 4 stars respectively for me. Embers of War by Friedrik Logevall presents an exhaustive, thoroughly researched and documented history of Indochina/Vietnam’s struggle for independence from the 1920’s to the late ‘50’s, when the war had become the American war. Mind of My Mind is the second installment in Octavia Butler’s Patternist series. I had high expectations from the book and was not disappointed, though it lacked the broad scope and engrossing conflict of Wild Seed.

This week I expect to finish The Mill on the Floss and The Saddest Words and have started listening to Ron Chernow’s Grant.

Editado: Fev 19, 3:41pm

Just finished the short story collection Back Talk, and am underwhelmed. I'm not a big short story fan, anyway, and these tales of mostly 20-something women just sort of meander about pointlessly and appear to end when the writer got tired of them.

I did start Mink River the other night, and am utterly enchanted by it.

Editado: Fev 19, 5:58pm

Finished listening to the somewhat disappointing Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith.

Next up for listening is Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier.

Fev 20, 12:17am

The new thread is up over here.