torontoc reads books from her shelves

Discussão2023 ROOT CHALLENGE

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torontoc reads books from her shelves

1torontoc
Dez 31, 2022, 10:50 pm

Hi, I'm Cyrel and I want to read 30 books from my bookshelves this year. My definition of a book that qualifies is - it has been sitting on the to be read pile for at least 6 months.

2cyderry
Dez 31, 2022, 11:05 pm

Welcome back!

3Jackie_K
Jan 1, 2023, 6:18 am

Good to see you back again!

4rabbitprincess
Jan 1, 2023, 11:06 am

Howdy! Welcome back!

5mstrust
Jan 1, 2023, 11:07 am

Happy ROOTing!

6cyderry
Jan 2, 2023, 1:38 pm

Welcome back!

7MissWatson
Jan 5, 2023, 5:52 am

Great to see you're back!

8connie53
Jan 5, 2023, 10:36 am

Happy New Year, Cyrel. Happy ROOTing in 2023. Glad to see you back.

9torontoc
Jan 8, 2023, 10:45 am

Thank you, all! I started the year reading shiny new books but I do have a pile of books that I have had for over six months.

10rocketjk
Jan 8, 2023, 1:16 pm

>9 torontoc: "a pile of books that I have had for over six months."

Just for fun, see if you can pull out the bottom one without tumbling all the others across the floor, and read that one first. Or, to put it another way, Happy Books off the Shelf Year!

11torontoc
Jan 25, 2023, 4:01 pm

I will be reading from my book piles but-- Jan is my birthday month and I received a lot of wonderful new books. I will be reading from my older books-honest!

12connie53
Jan 28, 2023, 4:11 am

Happy belated birthday wishes!

13rabbitprincess
Jan 28, 2023, 8:28 am

Hope you're having a great birthday month!

14torontoc
Fev 3, 2023, 4:52 pm

1. Masaryk Station by David Downing This is the last in the series featuring John Russell. The story take place in post war Berlin where John and his Russian spy friend Shchepkin are trying to figure out how to untangle themselves from the spy business. This is the time of the Russian blockade of Berlin. ( all trains and highways are blocked-the Americans bring all goods on planes)There is also the issue of helping a few spies for the Americans. There are complicated plans as Shchepkin obtains an incriminating video of Beria committing murder. I think that the earlier books that dealt with spying before and during World War Two were more thrilling. I had a lot of difficulty finishing this novel- I don't know why although a book seller that I know attributes it to the pandemic.

15torontoc
Mar 7, 2023, 10:54 pm

2. What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad This novel won the 2021 Giller Prize. The focus is on a boy who has been on a ship filled with refugees who try to reach a Greek island. The story has alternating chapters that tell the story of life on a vessel on the Mediterranean Sea and the attempt of a young girl on the island to help the boy. The situation of the migrant crisis and the people who try to find a better life is a focus of the novel. However, I found the backstory of how the boy gets on the boat puzzling. The writing is good but I guess that I wanted a more cohesive plot.

16torontoc
Mar 17, 2023, 7:58 pm

3. Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard by Kiran Desai. This novel is a cheerful read- the reader is introduced to the Chawla family in the small Indian village of Shahkot. The son of the family , Sampeth is not happy in his job. He eventually leaves home and climbs up a guava tree where he is determined to stay. His mother , Kulfi, dreams of cooking all sorts of delicacies for him. Mr. Chawla eventually moves the whole family out to the guava orchard in order to mange the crowds of people who come to see and listen to Sampeth. Sampeth's sister, Pinky is very annoyed with all the fuss about her brother. And finally the monkeys who have been bothering the villagers in the local market move to be with Sampeth, disturb everyone and feast and drink and their new obsession- liquor. How the various officials try to figure out what to do is fun to read. I enjoyed this imaginative story.

17torontoc
Abr 18, 2023, 4:47 pm

4. Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel I reread this novel because my RL bookclub is discussing it next week. It is still a very compelling story involving time travel and the issues of pandemics. Highly recommended.

18connie53
Maio 22, 2023, 7:35 am

Hi Cyrel! I've been neglecting my fellow ROOTers in the last few months. And now visiting some of the threads to make up for that and see what everybody has been reading. I hope you are doing fine and have been reading some nice books since your last visit here.

19torontoc
Maio 22, 2023, 8:45 am

>18 connie53: I know- I have too many nice recently acquired books. I will catch on reading my books that have been on my bookshelves for a while!

20torontoc
Maio 22, 2023, 11:56 am

5. In The Wings by Carole Corbeil This novel is about theatre people and the progression of the casting and rehearsals for Hamlet. The story is set in Toronto and there is a lot of writing about the tangled relationships of actors, the director and a theatre critic. Alice Riverton is a noted actress set to play Gertrude. Her lover, Allan O'Reilly will be playing Hamlet. Each one has their own tortured past. In addition, the theatre critic, Robert Pullwarden is grieving over his wife's decision to leave him and take their young son to Vancouver. There is a lot of space given to hopeless love and passionate affairs. The best part of the story , in my mind, is given to the interpretation of the play and the description of how the themes of the play are teased out during rehearsals. This was an interesting book to read. The late author was a noted arts journalist in Canada.

21torontoc
Maio 31, 2023, 12:36 pm

6.. An Odyssey A Father, A Son and An Epic by Daniel Mendelsohn I reread this book for my in person book club meeting the end of June. It was so nice to realize that the book was so good. I enjoyed the rereading of the author's description of his father's participation in his seminar on the Odyssey at Bard College. Jay Mendelsohn was opinionated in many ways as his son, Daniel told the stories of his father's life. The reader also benefits from a thorough discussion of the Odyssey. The author took his father on a cruise of the sites of the epic. The reactions and interactions between father and son were so touching to read. Again, highly recommended.

22mstrust
Jun 20, 2023, 12:48 pm

You've had so many good ones lately!

23torontoc
Jul 1, 2023, 7:04 am

Yes, - but I haven't been able to add to my ROOT list because I am reading a new 900 page book this month!

24torontoc
Jul 22, 2023, 12:46 pm

7. Bachelor Brothers Bed & Breakfast Pillow Book by Bill Richardson I had a need to reread a very comforting and funny book this past week. ( doctors' appointments that turned out ok, and the replacement of two cantankerous toilets) This book is hilarious laugh out loud and great to read. Bachelor Brothers Hector and Virgil are running their bed and breakfast and along with the narrative about the people and animals that are part of their lives offer book lists and recipes from their clients. The best book to read( and reread) when real life is tense.

25torontoc
Jul 23, 2023, 11:43 am

8. The Good Wife of Bath by Karen Brooks This historical fiction novel imagines the life of the "good wife" of Bath from The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. I think that it is written with a " 21st century sensibility". In this story, Eleanor is married when she is very young( about 12 years) to a very old man. The reader follows her as she marries five times and goes from being very poor to wealthy and then back to poverty. She is a friend of Geoffrey Chaucer. Sometimes he is not happy with her choices but does help her in times of danger and distress. Eleanor is smart and has to withstand the rules of the time that limit the freedom of women. She makes both good and bad choices in life. The reader certainly gets an education in the times during the reign of Britains' King Richard 11. This is a very readable history and does give the point of view of the problems of working women. Highly recommended.

26torontoc
Jul 28, 2023, 2:53 pm

9. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese I have had this novel on my book pile for a while. I am glad that I have finally read it. Marion Stone is a twin born in Ethiopia. He and his brother, Shiva were lucky to be in the Missing Hospital where the staff struggled to save them. Their mother, Sister Mary Jospeh Praise died in childbirth and their father. Dr. Thomas Stone promptly disappeared. Raised by doctors, Hema and Ghosh, in the hospital compound. the brothers were witnesses to the rule and fall of the Emperor and the generals who tried to take over the country. The narrative is by Marion. His brother, Shiva, although talented, remains a bit of a mystery to him.Both brothers become doctors and Marion is forced to leave Ethiopia because of a false accusation regarding helping Eritrean revolutionaries.The reader learns of Marion's time in the United States and his discovery of his father. This novel is more than a good story- the history of recent Ethiopian politics and the details about operations and surgeon's work were educational to me. Again , highly recommended.

27torontoc
Ago 2, 2023, 5:29 pm

10. Toronto Between the Wars Life in the City 1919-1939 by Charis Cotter. This book was given to me by the daughter of one of my friends who died a few years ago. It was a favourite of hers. The author uses many photographs from the Ontario Archives and the City of Toronto Archives. Each photo is used to describe the lives of people in the cities well as show some of the interesting architecture of the times. It is a very interesting photographic history of the city.

28torontoc
Editado: Ago 13, 2023, 9:40 pm

11. Private Palaces Life in the Great London Houses by Christopher Simon Sykes This history had great photographs, drawings and paintings of the very big and elaborate houses built from 1665 to the early 20th century. It is very hard to call these buildings houses as they were enormous places with ballrooms capable of holding hundreds. The author writes about the patrons and the architects who worked on these city estates. There are excerpts from diaries that describe the events and the owners. I enjoyed this book but wondered- these houses displayed the enormous wealth of the nobility in the 18th and 19th century. Most of these places were destroyed in the 20th century and replaced with new streets and apartment buildings. The society of the very rich was replaced with a very different group of people. The history was more than a listing of estates. In a way once the reader put aside the photos and drawings, you could see how life and the geography of the city changed after World War 1.

29connie53
Ago 20, 2023, 5:36 am

Hi Cyrel! Here I'm again.

>23 torontoc:, Now I'm curious what this Big Fat Book is called and if you did finish it?

30torontoc
Ago 20, 2023, 10:25 am

>29 connie53: The book is The Books of Jacob by Olga Tokarczuk and I did finish it- it is very good. I hadn't read anything about Jacob Frank-the second " false messiah" in Poland in the 1750's

31connie53
Ago 21, 2023, 2:39 am

>30 torontoc: Excellent. I never even heard of Jacob. Interesting.

32torontoc
Ago 25, 2023, 9:25 pm

12. Our Town by Thornton Wilder I had to reread this play after I read Tom Lake. It is a little dated but there is wisdom in the words of the Stage Manager. I was in an amateur production of this play many years ago. The last act is very touching. The role of Emily is key to the story but I appreciated the actions of the Stage Manager the best. It is a story ( play) about hard times and optimism. It is both sad and hopeful. I think that I will revisit some of Wilder's other work as well.

33torontoc
Ago 27, 2023, 11:16 am

13. Stone Blind by Natalie Haynes The author writes about Greek myths, Gods and Goddesses from what I have been calling a " 21 century" point of view. No longer are women in these stories portrayed as monsters or shown without any personality. In this story, Haynes retells the story of Medusa. She still has the capacity to turn any living creature to stone is they look at her and her hair of snakes. However, her back story shows this young woman as the loving sister of the Gorgons who are quite humane. Perseus, who cuts off her head, is described as a rather clueless young man who needs the help of a number of gods if he is to be successful in his quest. The other stories in this novel are about the birth of Athena, the crisis when Andromeda is nearly sacrificed for her mother's bad behaviour and the issues with Poseidon. The dialogue is really refreshing.I highly recommend Haynes retelling of the many Greek myths and legends.

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34torontoc
Set 4, 2023, 7:31 pm

14. The Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder. Well, after rereading Our Town I had to read another play by Wilder. Produced in the US in 1942, I can see all the allusions to the state that the world was in at the time. I wonder if today's readers could understand all the biblical references in the play. It is also very surreal in the structure.

35torontoc
Set 22, 2023, 4:26 pm

15. Belles Saisons A Colette Scrapbook assembled with commentary by Robert Phelps I find that the pandemic or end of the pandemic ( who knows?) interfered with my reading. I am not reading as much and do tend to put books down and return to them after a while. I guess that this book was more of an" intermission" between serious reads. The intent of this books is really a series of photos and drawings about the life of French writer Colette. I did get an understanding of the events in her life. I was interested in the different people who were part of her life.

36torontoc
Set 27, 2023, 1:27 pm

16. Babel by R. F. Kuang Wow! This is an amazing story. The author has created an alternate society where the most important tools in the working of society are enchanted silver bars. The bars are activated by the use of translation and the connection between words and their meanings. Set in 1828 onwards, the reader meets Robin Swift, a young boy born in Canton, China. After being tutored in English, he is taken to England by the man who is his guardian, Professor Lovell. Robin is tutored in Latin, Greek and Chinese.After a few years, he is enrolled in the Royal Institute of Translation at Oxford University. Robin meets the other students in his year-Victoire, Letty and Ramy. All, except for Letty, are different than the rest of the Oxford Students. Robin is half Chinese, Ramy, Indian, and Victoire Haitian. Their gifts are their fluency in their own languages. The description of the classes and the development of words and their origins is fascinating. Robin and his friends learn slowly why they are being educated and how their skills will be used to increase the power of the English empire. They do fight back at first tentatively and later in revolution. The story held my interest and the author introduces issues of power and revolt that seem contemporary. Highly recommended.

37torontoc
Set 29, 2023, 1:43 pm

17. Mother Courage and her Children by Bertolt Brecht and translated by Eric Bentley I must admit that I read this play many years ago. When I was in university, I created the props for a production of another Brecht play A Man's A Man. The themes are certainly universal- the futility and corruption of war, the suffering of the innocent and the cynicism of the common man. Mother Courage follows the battles and armies during the seemingly unending 30 Years War. Her sons become soldiers and her mute daughter is lost when she tries to save a town. Mother Courage carries on no matter what tragedy happens. The staging is always a little surreal.

38torontoc
Out 31, 2023, 11:28 am

18. Deacon King Kong by James McBride. When I started to read this novel , I was very confused by the quick introduction of the many characters who lived in the Causeway Housing Projects in Brooklyn in 1969. However, quickly I was able to follow the many story lines. Sportcoat sees and talks to his dead wife frequently, drinks an awful lot and for some reason shoots a young drug dealer, Deems. This act sets off a series of actions that Sportcoat really doesn't understand. Deems survives and there are several attempt by his drug dealer employers to wound Sportcoat. Oblivious to the threats against his life, Sportcoat visits his friends who are concerned about him. There are the ladies who are the mainstay of the Five Ends Baptist Church, the conscientious Italian smuggler Elephante who is looking for the valuable sculpture that his father brought back from Europe after the war and the incorruptible policeman who will be retiring in three months. There are more mysteries-who has been supplying the free cheese to the inhabitants of th Causeway Houses? The author makes points about the problems of living in the public housing for the Black and Latinx population. The story is funny and gives the reader some hope as parts of the novel do read as a contemporary folk tale, Highly recommended.

39torontoc
Nov 16, 2023, 10:31 am



19. Neo-Impressionism by Robert L. Herbert This catalogue describes the painters and paintings from this show that was at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City in 1968. It is a comprehensive study of the Neo-Impressionist movement. I have owned this book for a while but never looked at the works carefully.

20. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams and illustrated by William Nicholson I was at an education conference many years ago. One of the session leaders( who was so inspirational) said that this book was important to him for understanding the value of education. I did buy a copy years later but was puzzled as to why it was so important. So, I reread it. Now, what I see is the power of love and affection.

40torontoc
Nov 19, 2023, 3:43 pm

21. Say Her Name by Francisco Goldman The author 's wife died tragically after body surfing on a beach in Mexico. They had been married for almost two years and and together for longer. This memoir is a tribute to Aura Estrada as her husband believed that she had died too young and that she was a talented writer who hadn't had a chance to reach her potential. Goldman writes about what he knows of her background after reading her diaries. Their meeting and life in New York and Mexico was a mix of love, many plans for living in two countries and writing. Aura was enrolled in a doctoral programme at Columbia University and in a Masters in Creative Writing course at Hunter College. Her upbringing was directed by her mother who in turn had a number of tangled relationships. Francisco Goldman was a journalist, writer and teacher. He was passionately in love with Aura and one main feature of this memoir was his grief at losing her. The memoir relives Aura's life and the time that she lived with Francisco. It is a remarkable story.

41torontoc
Dez 15, 2023, 10:57 am

22. The Sleeping Car Porter by Suzette Mayr I am reading this novel for a second time in preparation for my book club meeting. It is as wonderful as it was on the first reading. Mayr describes the days and nights of a black sleeping car porter name Baxter in 1929. The train is going from Montreal to Vancouver. The style of the writing gives the reader a sense of the never-ending work, the unfair practices, and the people who have to take these jobs. Baxter is actually saving his money in order to go to dentistry school. He also has be be careful as he is gay and has to hide this fact from everyone. This was the Giller prize winner last year.

42torontoc
Dez 20, 2023, 10:29 am

23. The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak. This story centres around the lives of Kosta-a Greek Cypriot, his love Define- a Turkish Cypriot and their daughter Ada. The story is also narrated by a Fig Tree that has been part of a taverna in Cyprus. I learned so much about the role that trees and insects play in the continuation of nature in the face of destruction. The novel uses the history of Cyprus and the role played by the members of the Committee on Missing Persons on Cyprus as they look for and try to identify the bodies of those killed and buried during the war on the island. The next generation, as embodied by Ada, looks for answers that perhaps parents and relatives don't want to talk about. This is a very interesting book that combines facts with some fantasy.