Laytonwoman - Reading for Pleasure in 2023 - FINAL STRETCH

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Laytonwoman - Reading for Pleasure in 2023 - FINAL STRETCH

1laytonwoman3rd
Out 9, 2023, 11:59 am



A brief introduction, or reminder of who I am: My name is Linda, and I am a retired paralegal. I've spent most of my life in Northeastern Pennsylvania, with brief interludes for college, my husband's military service, and paralegal training, in Central PA, New Orleans and Philadelphia, respectively. Since giving up the legal grind, I have kept busy with volunteer work centered around libraries, cemeteries, and genealogy. I serve on the Board of Directors of the Scranton Public Library, and several of its committees. I am President of the Equinunk Cemetery Association, which is located in my home village along the Delaware River, and do as much grave-hunting and photographing as time and weather will allow for the website Find-A-Grave.com. I also participate as I can in the reclamation and restoration of a long-neglected cemetery in the area where I now live.

LT has been an essential part of my life since I joined in 2005, after my daughter lycomayflower told me about "this site where you can catalog your books." My response was something like, "Why would I want to do that?" HA! I simply can't imagine life without it anymore. I never knew how much I needed a reading community, until I found one. There are links on my profile page to my earlier reading threads. My goal is always to read more of the books I already own, and to acquire fewer books than I remove from the house. In past years this has been a big joke, but it has become an absolute necessity due to space considerations, and the older I get the less stuff I feel the need to keep, so not only books, but a lot of "I-might-want-that-someday" nonsense is being deaccessioned these days.

I've been hosting an American Authors Challenge in the 75 Book Challenge Group for a few years, and details of this year's monthly challenges can be found down-thread.

And as some of you know, I'm averse to gifs and listserve-type greetings, but I LOVE visitors who comment on my reading, or on other topics introduced here. Everyone is welcome to lurk or engage, as you see fit.

2laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Out 9, 2023, 12:04 pm

My ticker for keeping track of my total books read:

3laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Dez 31, 2023, 3:27 pm



Here will be a list of the books I read in the current quarter of 2023.

I use some shorthand to help me keep track of my reading trends:

ROOT identifies a book that I have owned for at least a year at the time I read it.
CULL means I put the book in my donation box for the library book sale after finishing it, or otherwise gave it away.
DNF means I didn't finish the book, for one reason or another, usually explained in the related post.
ER means I received the book from LT's Early Reviewer program.
GN refers to a graphic novel, GM a graphic memoir This is not a category I use much.
An * asterisk indicates a library book.
LOA means I read a Library of America edition;
SF means the book was a Slightly Foxed edition, (NOT science fiction, which I so rarely read);
VIRAGO means it was an original green-spined Virago edition from my own collection;
FOLIO indicates a Folio Society edition.
AUDIO and e-Book are self-explanatory, and probably won't appear very often.
AAC refers to the American Author Challenge.
NF indicates a non-fiction read.
TR indicates a work in translation
RR means it's a re-read for me

Clicking on titles in this post will take you to the message in which I reviewed or commented on that book.

DECEMBER

81. A Minister's Ghost by Phillip DePoy
80. Chasing Bright Medusas by Benjamin Taylor NF
79. Matrix by Lauren Groff
78. A Whistling Woman by Louise Shivers ROOT
77. The Tie That Binds by Kent Haruf ROOT
76. The Cooking Gene by Michael W Twitty NF, ROOT
*75. Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire Sáenz AAC

NOVEMBER

74. Let Us Descend by Jessmyn Ward
73. Grant and Twain by Mark Perry NF, ROOT
72. The General and Julia by Jon Clinch
71. In the Morning I'll Be Gone by Adrian McKinty
70. The Beggar Maid by Alice Munro AAC, ROOT
69. I Hear the Sirens in the Street by Adrian McKinty

OCTOBER

68. Under the Whispering Door by Tj Klune CULL
67. The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher AAC, ROOT
66. Wait for Signs by Craig Johnson
65. The Boys by Ron and Clint Howard NF
*64. The Last Devil to Die by Richard Osman
63. The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich ROOT

4laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Nov 29, 2023, 9:32 pm

Third Quarter Reading:

SEPTEMBER

62. Endangered Species by Nevada Barr
*61. Seven Dead by Jefferson Farjeon
60. Big Panda and Tiny Dragon by James Norbury
59. Murder on the Red River by Marcie Rendon AAC
58. The Blank Wall by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding AAC, ROOT
*57. The Trees by Percival Everett AAC
*56. The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye AAC
*55. The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager

AUGUST

DNF Ravage & Sons by Jerome Charyn ER
54. Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey
DNF Midnight Atlanta by Thomas MullenCULL
53. Bald Eagles, Bear Cubs and Hermit Bill by Ron Joseph ER, NF
52. Consolation by Garry Disher
51. The Golem and the Jinni by Helen Wecker ROOT

JULY

DNF Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen CULL
50. Dinners with Ruth by Nina Totenberg NF
*49. Mourn Not Your Dead by Deborah Crombie
48. The Art of the Chicken by Jacques Pepin NF
47. Under the Cold Bright Lights by Garry Disher
46. The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop by Fannie Flagg

5laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Out 9, 2023, 12:06 pm

Second Quarter Reading:

JUNE

45. Stonewall by Martin Duberman ROOT, CULL, NF, LGBTQ
*DNF. Gray Mountain by John Grisham
44. Memoirs of a Book Snake by David Meyer ROOT, NF
*43. Leave the Grave Green by Deborah Crombie
42. Alfred & Emily by Doris Lessing NF, ROOT
*41. A Share in Death by Deborah Crombie
DNF. Pearl by Mary Gordon AAC
40. A Moment of Silence by Anna Dean ROOT, CULL
*39. All Shall Be Well by Deborah Crombie

MAY

38. Once Upon a Tome by Oliver Darkshire NF
37. Damballah by John Edgar Wideman AAC
36. Writing to Save a Life by John Edgar Wideman AAC, NF
35. Firestorm by Nevada Barr CULL
*34. The Bullet That Missed by Richard Osman

APRIL

33. Love Songs From a Shallow Grave by Colin Cotterill ROOT
32. Memorial Drive by Natasha Trethewey NF, CULL
31. Willnot by James Sallis
30. The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich ROOT
*29. Bleeding Heart Yard by Elly Griffiths
28. This is Happiness by Niall Williams ROOT
DNF Sacred Time by Ursula Hegi
27. Trudi & Pia by Ursula Hegi, Ill. by Giselle Potter AAC, CULL

6laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Dez 28, 2023, 9:01 pm

Here is the list of my reading in the first quarter of 2023:
MARCH

26. Native Guard by Natasha Trethewey AAC, ROOT
25. Owls and Other Fantasies by Mary Oliver AAC
24. Delaware's Forgotten Folk by C. A. Weslager ROOT, NF
23. Scranton Lace by Margot Douaihy AAC
22. Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
*21. The Carrying by Ada Limon AAC
*20. The Boys From Biloxi by John Grisham
19. Shore Road to Ogunquit by Harold Plotkin ROOT, CULL, AAC

FEBRUARY

18. Peace by Garry Disher
17. Night Came with Many Stars by Simon Van Booy ROOT
16. Sidewalk Saint by Phillip DePoy ROOT
DNF The Overstory by Richard Powers ROOT, AAC, CULL
15. The Judge is Reversed by Frances and Richard Lockridge ROOT
*14. Girl at War by Sara Novic
*13. Any Other Name by Craig Johnson
12. Giving Up the Ghost by Hilary Mantel ROOT, SF, NF
*11. A Serpent's Tooth by Craig Johnson

JANUARY

10. The Bottom of the Jar by Abdellatif Laabi TR, ROOT, CULL
9. The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum ROOT, AAC
*8. The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman
7. Wreckage by Sascha Feinstein NF
6. Dust Child by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai ER, CULL
5. Nineteen Reservoirs by Lucy Sante NF
4. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
*3. The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi TR, ROOT
DNF Freeman by Leonard Pitts, Jr.
2. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo ROOT, AAC
1. 97 Orchard by Jane Ziegelman ROOT, NF

7laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Dez 31, 2023, 3:29 pm


Maybe not, but the list of new acquisitions is getting embarrassingly long, so I'll keep track here from July 1 on. The list for the first half of 2023 can be found here.

36. Fen, Bog & Swamp by Annie Proulx
37. Midnight Atlanta by Thomas Mullen
38. Walk the Blue Fields by Claire Keegan
39. Crook Manifesto by Colson Whitehead
40. The Way it is Now by Garry Disher
41. Consolation by Garry Disher
42. Straight, Bent and Barbara Vine by Garry Disher
43. A Month in the Country by J. L. Carr (rec'd in March)
44. Day's End by Garry Disher
45. The Crowded Grave by Martin Walker
46. We Know You Remember by Tove Alsterdal
47. Bald Eagles, Bear Cubs and Hermit Bill by Ron Joseph
48. Ravage & Son by Jerome Charyn
49. The Bill of Rights by Learned Hand
50. A Living Bill of Rights by William O. Douglas
51. Appalachia in the Sixties by Walls & Stephenson
52. Franklin and Winston by Jon Meacham
53. The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store by James McBride
54. Songs of America by Jon Meacham and Tim McGraw
55. The Appalachian Trail National Geographic
56. Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey
57. Murder on the Red River by Marcie Rendon
58. The Girls Who Fought Crime by Mari K. Eder
59. Library of America volume: Stories by William Faulkner
60. Trust by Hernan Diaz
61. Vesper Flights by Helen MacDonald
62. Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk
63. The Books of Jacob by Olga Tokarczuk
64. The Book of Hope by Jane Goodall
65. I Hear the Sirens in the Street by Adrian McKinty
66. Let Us Descend by Jesmyn Ward
67. Where I Come From by Rick Bragg
68. The Orenda by Joseph Boyden
69. Everything Begins & Ends at the Kentucky Club by Benjamin Alire Saenz
70. The Dixie Limited by M. Thomas Inge
71. New York by Edward Rutherford
72. Chasing Bright Medusas by Benjamin Taylor

8laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Dez 10, 2023, 5:55 pm



There IS such a thing as not enough shelf space...so here's where I'll keep track of the ones I give up for adoption (the cat is NOT available).

My list of culls for the first half of the year is here, on my previous thread. From July 1st, I'll keep track below:

45. Stonewall by Martin Duberman
46. Jane Austen; The Complete Novels
47. Chestnut Street by Maeve Binchy (never catalogued)
48. Becoming by Michelle Obama
49. Memorial Drive by Natasha Trethewey
50. Trudi & Pia by Ursula Hegi
51. Celia's House by D. E. Stevenson
52. Midnight Atlanta by Thomas Mullen
53. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
54. 22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson
55. Make Way for Ducklings duplicate paperback copy
56. Taking What I Like by Linda Bamber
57. The Innocents by Michael Crummey
58. Silk by Alessandro Baricco
59. The Doctor's Wife by Sarako Ariyoshi
60. Philip Larkin Collected Poems

9laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Dez 10, 2023, 5:59 pm

I'm hosting an American Authors Challenge again this year.

Here's a link to the General Discussion Thread for that challenge. Links to individual monthly threads will be posted there (and maybe here, if I remember) as the year progresses. I'll also keep track of my own AAC reads in this post.

This is what we'll be reading in 2023:

JANUARY: Children’s classics
The thread is here.

Finished The Tale of Despereaux and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

FEBRUARY: Richard Powers
Here is February thread for Powers.
DNF The Overstory

MARCH: Poetry
The March Poetry thread is here.
Finished The Carrying by Ada Limon
Finished Shore Road to Ogunquit by Harold Plotkin
Currently reading Old Poets by Donald Hall, and sampling the work of the American poets he writes about (so far, Frost and Eliot)
Finished Scranton Lace by Margot Douaihy
Finished Owls and Other Fantasies by Mary Oliver
Finished Native Guard by Natasha Trethewey
Read selections from James J. McAuley's New and Selected Poems as well as some Billy Collins

APRIL: Ursula Hegi
Here is the APRIL thread, for Ursula Hegi
Finished Trudi & Pia
DNF Sacred Time

MAY: John Edgar Wideman
finished Writing to Save a Life and Damballah

JUNE: Mary Gordon
The Mary Gordon Thread
DNF Pearl

JULY: US Presidents as authors
Discussion thread for July
Read portions of The Autobiography of Theodore Roosevelt

AUGUST: Percival Everett
The August Thread
Finished The Trees

SEPT: American Ladies of Crime
Here they are.
Finished The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye, and The Blank Wall by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding

Finished Murder on the Red River by Marcie R. Rendon, and Endangered Species by Nevada Barr

OCT: Dorothy Canfield Fisher
Here's the Dorothy Canfield Fisher thread.
Finished The Home-Maker

NOV: Reading Canadian authors this month.
Finished The Beggar Maid by Alice Munro

DEC.: Benjamin Alire Saenz
Finished Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World

WILD CARD: AAC 2014 REDUX (A list of what we read in 2014 can also be found at the above link) Here's a thread for discussing these Wild Card choices.

10laytonwoman3rd
Out 9, 2023, 12:19 pm



Come join the party...you never know...it could get crazy.

11katiekrug
Out 9, 2023, 1:07 pm

Nice new digs you've got here, Linda!

12laytonwoman3rd
Out 9, 2023, 1:10 pm

>11 katiekrug: Thanks, Katie! For being first, you get to choose the best seat in the house...they've all got cat hair, though.

13SandyAMcPherson
Out 9, 2023, 2:51 pm

Hi Linda 👋
Waving as I wander by. This is my lunch break, so not any bookish comments today ~
I'm processing the final round of garden produce and doing yard work. Good drying weather, though we sure could use more rain!
Have a lovely time on the new thread.

14foggidawn
Out 9, 2023, 4:54 pm

Happy new thread!

15quondame
Out 9, 2023, 4:58 pm

Happy new thread Linda!

Ah I didn't not previously catch that you were a fellow avoider of gifs. They are hazard.

16PaulCranswick
Out 9, 2023, 5:33 pm

Happy new one, Linda.

>10 laytonwoman3rd: Cute!

17alcottacre
Out 9, 2023, 6:29 pm

>7 laytonwoman3rd: Absolutely agree with that! I always told my girls "You cannot have too many books or too much money."

Happy new thread, Linda!

18figsfromthistle
Out 9, 2023, 7:32 pm

Happy new thread!

19drneutron
Out 9, 2023, 7:46 pm

Happy new one, Linda!

20FAMeulstee
Out 10, 2023, 3:22 am

Happy new thread, Linda!

21laytonwoman3rd
Out 10, 2023, 10:09 am

>13 SandyAMcPherson: Hi, Sandy! Glad you could stroll through. I harvested
windfalls from our apple tree and made applesauce over the weekend. Most of them are too high for us to pick, even with our long-handled picker, so we get what we can from the ground, and leave the rest to the deer and squirrels. Lack of rain hasn't been our problem here. The grass remains early-summer green, as the leaves turn color and fall.

>14 foggidawn:, >16 PaulCranswick:, >18 figsfromthistle:, >19 drneutron:, >20 FAMeulstee: Welcome, Foggi, Paul, Figs, Jim and Anita! Thanks for joining the party.

>15 quondame: Hi, Susan! Yeah, my internet is faster these days, and it's not SO much of an issue, but I still prefer no gifs on my thread. Thanks for noticing.

>17 alcottacre: Stasia...good to see you've claimed you seat again! A proliferation of books comes with some challenges, but it's way better than the alternative, right? As for the money thing...well...if I ever feel I have "too much" I'll let my friends know.

22alcottacre
Out 10, 2023, 9:00 pm

>21 laytonwoman3rd: I always figured if I had to have a vice it might as well be being addicted to books as opposed to things like drugs or alcohol :)

23quondame
Out 10, 2023, 9:24 pm

>22 alcottacre: Not that I had a choice or anything, but yeah, books or well reading. Good for what ails me.

24laytonwoman3rd
Out 10, 2023, 9:48 pm

>22 alcottacre:, >23 quondame: And...on that subject...my daughter is visiting, and we took a trip to the bookstore today. We were shameless, and bought a ridiculous number of books. Neither of us know when enough is enough. I suspect some people here may understand...

25PaulCranswick
Editado: Out 10, 2023, 10:13 pm

>24 laytonwoman3rd: "Never! I will never understand the craven need to add books when you already have plenty of reading material available".................................................................................................
I think both my mother and my wife have said those words to me so many times!

26laytonwoman3rd
Out 10, 2023, 10:45 pm

>25 PaulCranswick: It is hard to explain to anyone who does not share the propensity. There may have been some expression of amazement from the husband/father in this house this afternoon, upon seeing the sacks we brought in.

27PaulCranswick
Out 10, 2023, 11:10 pm

I wish I had been there, Linda, to wallow in your misdeeds! Will you be listing down the new additions?

28laytonwoman3rd
Out 11, 2023, 8:05 am

>27 PaulCranswick: I'll try to post a photo of the stack, Paul. Lots of activities planned while Laura is here, though, so it may be a while.

29MickyFine
Out 12, 2023, 5:08 pm

The familial visit off to a grand start, I see.

Happy new-ish thread, Linda!

30jnwelch
Out 12, 2023, 7:20 pm

Happy New Thread, Linda!

One of your acquisitions, The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store, just won the Kirkus prize. I can add my two cents that it’s another mighty good one from James McBride.

I’m sorry I missed when the American Author Challenge when it was Ada Limon’s turn. She’s one of my faves.

31laytonwoman3rd
Out 12, 2023, 10:58 pm

>29 MickyFine: Indeed it did...and it's been going well since, too!

>30 jnwelch: Ada Limon certainly was impressive, although I struggled to connect with most of the poems. To be clear, though, we did poetry in general for the AAC, and her collection was just one of several I read that month.

32laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Out 13, 2023, 8:22 am



The haul from Tuesday's bookstore jaunt. (MINE only...)

33lauralkeet
Out 13, 2023, 4:47 pm

Ooh that is some haul, Linda. Very nice selections.

34Caroline_McElwee
Out 14, 2023, 10:43 am

>32 laytonwoman3rd: Nice Haul Linda. I enjoyed Vesper Flights (Still to get to H is for Hawk which is in the tbr mountain). I like Jane Goodall too.

35laytonwoman3rd
Out 14, 2023, 12:11 pm

>33 lauralkeet:, >34 Caroline_McElwee: I'm looking forward to all of these, although the size of The Books of Jacob is a little daunting!

36laytonwoman3rd
Out 14, 2023, 12:16 pm

64. The Last Devil to Die by Richard Osman These are so much fun...and yet poignant and sad as well. This time the Thursday Murder Club delves into the world of drug smuggling and art forgery when an antique dealer of their acquaintance turns up dead, execution style. Lovely to see Joyce taking the reins at times, when Elizabeth is pre-occupied. I understand there will be a pause in the action as Osman turns his talent to a new set of characters for his next book, but he promises the Club will be back, and he's left us some tantalizing loose threads in the personal relationship department.

37SandyAMcPherson
Out 15, 2023, 10:44 am

>36 laytonwoman3rd: Sounds like Osman does a good job keeping his stories fresh and the characters evolving rather than stuck as being the same. I read the first two The Thursday Murder Club instalments but the series fell off my radar since then.

38laytonwoman3rd
Out 17, 2023, 12:26 pm

>37 SandyAMcPherson: So far the series isn't feeling stale or formulaic. And I wonder if writing something different in between is Osman's way of guarding against that.

39laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Out 17, 2023, 12:42 pm

65. The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family by Ron Howard and Clint Howard. Not your standard tell-all memoir of shenanigans and scandals, this is really a coming of age story by two of the nicest guys in Hollywood. The Howard boys were brought up by two loving parents, in a stable home environment, with a father who understood "show bidness", and was more concerned with protecting his sons than with promoting their careers, although as their manager, he did a great job of the latter as well. Told in alternating sections by Ron and his younger brother Clint--two very different personalities--the insights into their upbringing are heartening to read. While there is not one instance of back-stabbing, betrayal or hostility mentioned, the boys do not lead us to believe life was always rosy in their household or on their sets. Their problems, however, were mostly the kind that every family will recognize, from scheduling overload to generational disagreements about dating and curfews, and more serious stuff like substance abuse. The overall impression is of mutual love and understanding, and a sense of family unity in addressing both the ups and the downs. I'm not surprised to close the cover liking these people, but I was a little surprised at how much they all liked each other and most of the professionals they have worked with over the years, including the bear. Network executives don't always come off so well, but no names were mentioned. There's not a clod of dirt thrown anywhere in these pages. So, if you like this kind of thing, this is very much a thing you will like.

40klobrien2
Out 17, 2023, 8:13 pm

>39 laytonwoman3rd: “The Boys” memoir sounds great! I’ve got it requested at my library. Thanks for the reccie!

Karen O

41SandyAMcPherson
Out 17, 2023, 10:33 pm

>39 laytonwoman3rd: Nice review, Linda. Nothing wrong with a feel-good retrospective of life in 'show bidness'.

42lauralkeet
Out 18, 2023, 6:52 am

>39 laytonwoman3rd: I recall watching an interview with Howard bros when the book was published, and came away with exactly the same impressions as you took from the book. Their individual personalities were evident, as was that sense of family unity. I was really impressed. Not sure why I didn't run out and the get book ...

43jessibud2
Out 18, 2023, 6:55 am

>39 laytonwoman3rd: - I read this book last year and really enjoyed it. I have always liked Ron Howard. I wasn't really familiar with Clint at all before reading it. It was not only refreshing but heart-warming to read a *celebrity* memoir that wasn't full of ego and nastiness.

44msf59
Out 18, 2023, 7:18 am

>32 laytonwoman3rd: Nice haul up there, Linda. Not everyone liked Trust as much as I did, but I thought it was excellent. I hope you feel the same. I also loved Vesper Flights. The Howard memoir also sounds fun. Nice review.

Happy New Thread!

45EBT1002
Out 18, 2023, 4:06 pm

>32 laytonwoman3rd: What a book haul! I have Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead and Vesper Flights on my TBR shelves. I am in the queue for Trust and I really want to read The Books of Jacob although it is seriously a tome.

46laytonwoman3rd
Out 18, 2023, 4:49 pm

>40 klobrien2:, >41 SandyAMcPherson:, >42 lauralkeet:, >43 jessibud2: I knew about the memoir, but I don't remember how it came to my attention. Then, in the bookstore last week it was 10% off with my library card discount, so bringing it home was a no-brainer.

>44 msf59:, >45 EBT1002: I had pretty much decided Trust wasn't for me, but then I heard Diaz do an interview recently, and was waffling about reading the book...and again, seeing it in the bookstore while binging with my daughter (and on the buy-one-get-one-50%-off table!) put me over the line. Vesper Flights has been on a my wishlist a long time. I really liked H is for Hawk.

>45 EBT1002: I really hadn't heard of Olga Tokarczuk's work, or if I had it hadn't registered, but The Books of Jacob sounded like exactly my sort of looooonnng story. Funnily enough, she was featured in a Jeopardy clue earlier this week!

47laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Out 18, 2023, 5:12 pm

66. Wait for Signs by Craig Johnson A collection of short stories in which Sheriff Longmire is mostly off-duty, and not engaged in hair-raising adventures, but rather spending time with his daughter Cady or his friend Henry Standing Bear, rendering justice in small affirmative ways. It fits between No. 10 in the series, Any Other Name, which vexed me when I read it, and Dry Bones, which I have not read yet. There are references to incidents in the preceding novels, but most of the stories stand alone very well as long as you are at least minimally familiar with the characters.

48laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Out 24, 2023, 8:50 pm

67. The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher For the AAC.

Dorothy Canfield Fisher turned gender roles upside down in this novel about a dysfunctional family, set in small-town America in the 1920s. Eva Knapp is the epitome of the devoted housewife of the time. While she loves her husband and children, she is driven by a sense of duty to keep the household running like clockwork, and has little time for expressions of affection. She is plagued by eczema, and nothing the doctor prescribes seems to improve it. Her husband, Lester, is a forlorn bookkeeper with a going-nowhere job in the local department store. He's miserable with indigestion whenever he eats anything. Nothing the doctor prescribes seems to improve it. Their oldest child, Helen, is a mouse...always trying and failing to meet her mother's expectations, nervous and frail. Eleven-year-old Henry has inherited his father's weak stomach, and is often ill. All manner of special preparations and diets have been prescribed, but nothing seems to improve his condition either. And Stephen, the toddler...well, he's simply unmanageable. Prone to temper tantrums, to hiding under the stairs clutching his beloved Teddy Bear, and always, always tracking dirt into his mother's clean house. His mother faintly hopes he will one day grow out of it. When Lester fails to get a promotion, it appears that near-poverty is to be the family's permanent condition. But then a freak accident (or an opportunity seized to escape it all) lands Lester on his back...crippled and confined to a wheelchair. Out of necessity Eva seeks a job, and finds one in the ladies' wear department of the store where Lester had been employed. Lester and the children set about learning to keep house in her stead. Subtle changes begin to set in. Lester and Helen find they can quite well manage meals with the help of "cookery" books. Stephen has fewer tantrums, and is seen smiling at his father. Eva takes satisfaction in turning her organizational skills to tasks more suited to her nature. The family spends evenings together, sharing stories of their days, and playing whist. Some dust gathers in corners, but Eva's eczema disappears, and Henry becomes a boy who eats store-bought cookies without dire consequences. Everyone is obviously healthier and happier with the new arrangement. It's all cleverly laid out, from multiple perspectives, including the childrens', a nosy neighbor's, and the department store owner's. My only quibble is that there comes a day when it appears that Lester may "get well"...his spinal injury has healed to the point where he may actually walk again, and no one knows how to handle this. God forbid they carry on with what's working so well for them...what would people SAY? And not even the adults can discuss this honestly with one another. The ending felt a bit contrived, and at the same time underdone. Still well worth reading for an early take on role reversal, and understanding what it takes to make a happy life.

49msf59
Out 24, 2023, 11:48 am

Hi, Linda. Thanks for the very kind and thoughtful card that you sent. It really meant a lot. Yep, losing a sibling is tough stuff. My youngest sister was only 24, so that was especially tough, although I was not as close to her as I was to Kathy. Only me and my younger brother left. ☹️

50laytonwoman3rd
Out 24, 2023, 8:15 pm

>49 msf59: I'm glad the card made it, Mark. Even without your assistance, I guess the mail still gets through!

51laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Out 24, 2023, 10:34 pm

Hark, everyone. I know I've plugged this upcoming novel before, but I see no reason to quit until every reader has a copy.

Heading North by Holly Wendt is due out on November 7th.

Read all about it and its marvelous author.

52figsfromthistle
Out 24, 2023, 8:53 pm

>32 laytonwoman3rd: Nice haul! I have read 3/5. I have been avoiding the book of Jacob because of the length. It will be interesting to see what you think about it. Jane Goodall's book looks like one I would enjoy. I will put that one on my list.

53laytonwoman3rd
Out 31, 2023, 10:16 pm

>52 figsfromthistle: I hesitate to pick up chunksters, but this one sounded like my sort of thing...we'll see!

54laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Nov 1, 2023, 9:15 am

68. Under the Whispering Door by Tj Klune Well, my daughter thought I might like this author, and recommended a couple titles; I chose this one, based on its description. It's not my usual fare, and suffice it to say it did not fare well with me. The premise is that Wallace Price dies suddenly, and finds himself whisked off by a quirky young woman called a Reaper, to a very oddly configured tea shop where he meets Hugo, a Ferryman, who says he will "help" Wallace understand, accept and cross over (through a mysterious door) when Wallace is "ready". For approximately 200 pages, nothing much happens other than some unsatisfying (for both Wallace and the reader) conversations full of reassuring platitudes but seemingly little substance. We do get to know the characters (now including Hugo's grandfather Nelson and his dog, both dead) verrrrry gradually, and meet some of the living patrons of the tea shop, who naturally cannot see Wallace, Nelson or the dog. Wallace begins to get the hang of existing in this limbo, learning that he can manipulate solid objects, but can neither eat nor sleep, and must not under any circumstances try to leave the shop. OH, and btw, he's falling for Hugo. Despite the insurmountable obstacle that one man is alive and the other is dead, the romance is the most believable part of this cozy fantasy. I just thought there were too many holes in the fabric of the world being presented here---too many inconsistencies and "wait-what-nows"--that made it impossible for me to fall into the story and be swept along, although the character development was pretty good. As I said, it's not my usual thing and my expectations might be unrealistic, so YMMV.

55quondame
Out 31, 2023, 11:20 pm

>54 laytonwoman3rd: Likewise. And it felt manipulative. Of course all fiction is manipulative but it is a sin to seem so.

56laytonwoman3rd
Nov 1, 2023, 9:17 am

>55 quondame: Exactly.

57foggidawn
Nov 1, 2023, 9:46 am

>54 laytonwoman3rd: In my opinion, that's the weakest of the books I've read by that author. If you ever want to try again, I liked The House in the Cerulean Sea best -- but maybe he's just not your thing, and that's okay, too.

58laytonwoman3rd
Nov 1, 2023, 10:43 am

>57 foggidawn: That's the other title I was considering. I may give Klune another chance one day; I do know where I can borrow The House in the Cerulean Sea (lycomayflower) if I do.

59Caroline_McElwee
Nov 1, 2023, 12:34 pm

>36 laytonwoman3rd: I didn't indulge in this one, waiting for the paperback. I've enjoyed the others, but don't plan to keep them. Still trying to keep incoming volumes down. I know, the library...

60laytonwoman3rd
Nov 1, 2023, 1:12 pm

I've read them all from the library, except the first one, which was a gift. I, too, am trying HARD to keep the new stuff to a minimum. Not succeeding very well...

61laytonwoman3rd
Nov 5, 2023, 1:00 pm

69. I Hear the Sirens in the Street by Adrian McKinty No. 2 in the Sean Duffy "Troubles Trilogy"...set in Northern Ireland in the early 1980s when being a member of the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) was about as dangerous, thankless and unsatisfying a job as could be imagined. And if you were "one o' them fenians", i.e., a CATHOLIC, not even your fellow peelers could always be counted on to have your back. Rugged and suspenseful, very well done...just the thing if it's this kind of thing you're looking for.

62lauralkeet
Nov 5, 2023, 6:54 pm

>61 laytonwoman3rd: Excellent review, Linda. I'm really enjoying the Sean Duffy series too.

63laytonwoman3rd
Nov 5, 2023, 7:41 pm

>62 lauralkeet: I kinda want the next one NOW...

64katiekrug
Nov 5, 2023, 7:56 pm

>63 laytonwoman3rd: - I just finished #2 and am *forcing* myself to wait to start #3...

65lauralkeet
Nov 6, 2023, 6:47 am

I know the feeling!

66laytonwoman3rd
Nov 7, 2023, 9:38 pm

>63 laytonwoman3rd:, >64 katiekrug:, >65 lauralkeet: I caved and put in a hold request at the library, but it isn't in our county system, so have to wait for them to find one in the wider district...it may be a while.

67laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Nov 11, 2023, 6:23 pm

>66 laytonwoman3rd: Well, nope...the hold came through today! And from the library where my Mom used to volunteer, so that's cool. I'm already well into In the Morning I'll Be Gone.

68laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Nov 12, 2023, 10:17 pm

70. The Beggar Maid by Alice Munro A collection of interconnected short stories, read for the AAC. Flo is Rose's stepmother, and we get vignettes of their lives over several decades, from Rose's childhood to Flo's dotage, and it's all quite compelling. Flo reminds me of my mother-in-law (also a Canadian), who has a platitude for every situation and a fairly pessimistic attitude toward most things, despite having lived a comfortable life with no more than the ordinary sort of trials and tribulations. Rose manages to break out of the confining small-town she grew up in, to live in the wider world, where she finds love affairs and creative outlets, disappointments and satisfactions. Both women are as real and alive as people I've met in person, so sharply drawn I can hear them speaking in my head. Munro's talent is both subtle and stunning. I love her writing.

69alcottacre
Nov 11, 2023, 10:26 pm

Not even trying to catch up, Linda, just dropping in to wish you a lovely Sunday!

>68 laytonwoman3rd: Sounds like one that I need to read! Thanks for the recommendation.

70lauralkeet
Nov 12, 2023, 6:40 am

>67 laytonwoman3rd: Hurray! I love surprise library holds. I've read 4 books in the series and you are tempting me to request book 5.

71SandyAMcPherson
Nov 12, 2023, 9:50 am

Hi Linda,
Good readings here, though I found McKintry's Sean Duffy books quite grim and haven't read more than the first three. A reflection on my sensibilities rather than implied criticism of the novels.

>68 laytonwoman3rd: I'll have to try out The Beggar Maid . Alice M's short stories don't always grab me but I'm very fond of her talents and creativity. She's a lovely person (though I lost touch once she moved from Victoria).

72katiekrug
Nov 12, 2023, 10:08 am

>68 laytonwoman3rd: - Pretty sure I have this on my shelf or Kindle. I do love interconnected stories...

73Berly
Nov 12, 2023, 9:50 pm

>68 laytonwoman3rd: Nice write-up! I've read Munro before, but not that one. On my radar.

74laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Nov 17, 2023, 11:37 am

71. In the Morning I'll Be Gone by Adrian McKinty Our man Sean Duffy is back at work, thanks to MI5, which apparently thinks he might have an "in" that will help locate an IRA bomb-maker who has managed to escape prison and disappear. Harrowing stuff ensues, as the ordinary risks of being a peeler in Northern Ireland in the early 1980s are elevated by the likelihood that a major terrorist event is in the works. AND there's a locked-room mystery for fun. Another page-turner.

75PaulCranswick
Nov 22, 2023, 7:49 pm

Dear Linda,



Happy Thanksgiving from an appreciative non-celebrator.

76laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Nov 22, 2023, 9:01 pm

>75 PaulCranswick: Thank you, Paul. My kitchen has been very busy today, so tomorrow's feast should come together easily. Just 3 of us for dinner. My table is set, and I wish you all could join the party, but there isn't enough pie...



77SandyAMcPherson
Nov 24, 2023, 10:10 am

78laytonwoman3rd
Nov 24, 2023, 11:56 am

>77 SandyAMcPherson: Thanks, Sandy. It did taste good....and even better for breakfast this morning!

79laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Nov 24, 2023, 12:36 pm

72. The General and Julia by Jon Clinch I may sound like a broken record when it comes to reviewing Clinch's books, but there's nothing to be done about it. He's just so good. My only quibble is that I wait and wait for his next novel to appear, and then I have it, and then...I've finished it...and I want MORE.

The General and Julia takes us back and forth in time with Ulysses S. Grant and his beloved wife, touching on the high and low points of his life, featuring the final "Forty Days and Forty Nights" during which he labored through pain and drug-induced disorientation to finish the memoirs he hoped--and Sam Clemens promised--would assure his family's financial future after the General was gone. The prose is never flowery, nor even poetic, and yet Clinch can take my breath away with a simple turn of phrase. Describing the rising KKK, for instance, there's this: "...they are organized the way a hurricane is organized, madly a-spin around a terrible void. That void is hatred, and it draws every weak and broken thing to it." Why has no one ever put it quite so succinctly before? Even in this relatively short and intentionally limited treatment of his life, it is clear that Grant was more than a General, less than a God, human to the core. I need to read his memoirs now, and isn't it lucky they're right here on my shelf?

80SandyAMcPherson
Nov 24, 2023, 12:45 pm

>79 laytonwoman3rd: That quote is *splendid* Linda. Thanks for posting 'cause it is relatively unlikely I would personally read the Clinch book anytime soon.

81m.belljackson
Nov 24, 2023, 7:58 pm

>79 laytonwoman3rd: Read long ago, yet still remember how impressive were U.S. Grant's Memoirs - still on one Save Forever Shelf.

82Caroline_McElwee
Editado: Nov 27, 2023, 5:15 pm

>76 laytonwoman3rd: Adding yums to the pie Linda. Hope it all went off smoothly.

83laytonwoman3rd
Nov 26, 2023, 11:20 am

>80 SandyAMcPherson: Isn't it a perfect summation, Sandy?

>81 m.belljackson: I picked up the memoirs, and dipped in. His style is very approachable, and I'm looking forward to getting immersed. First, however, I picked up a book from the same shelf (one I had forgotten I owned)-- Grant and Twain. It's a quick account of the late friendship between those two greats, and how it resulted in the publication of the memoirs. It also compares their earlier lives in an interesting fashion.

>82 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks, Caroline. The pie is history, the carcass is soup, and the day did go very well.

84laytonwoman3rd
Nov 27, 2023, 9:54 am

>79 laytonwoman3rd: I want to thank you, whoever you are, for the thumb to my review of The General and Julia. It must be a slow reading/rating period on LT, because that one was enough to put me on the Hot Review list. HOWEVER, I'd love to put this book and author on as many radar screens as possible, so if more of you would care to read and thumb my review to keep it on the list for a while (maybe even at the top?) I'd appreciate it on behalf of Jon Clinch. He's too good to be overlooked, I promise you.

85alcottacre
Nov 27, 2023, 12:43 pm

>79 laytonwoman3rd: And yet my local library still does not have any of Clinch's books, no matter how good they are. *sigh*

Have a marvelous Monday, Linda!

86RBeffa
Nov 27, 2023, 1:02 pm

>84 laytonwoman3rd: That was me! I'm very interested in the book and my library system has one copy which I hope to borrow one day. I read Grant's memoirs many years ago (not long after the landmark PBS series by Ken Burns) and have held on to it. I was mighty impressed with that book and it certainly gave me a good opinion of Grant.

87laytonwoman3rd
Nov 27, 2023, 1:40 pm

>85 alcottacre: "my local library still does not have any of Clinch's books"
A crime against literature! Who do I speak to??

>86 RBeffa: Well, thank you indeed, Ron. I'm thinking it may soon be time to revisit the Burns documentary. We've watched it all the way through at least twice but it's so good.

88jessibud2
Nov 27, 2023, 2:06 pm

>86 RBeffa:, >87 laytonwoman3rd:- Which Burns doc was this? I have made it a personal goal of mine over the last few years to watch as many of his films as I can get my hands on. I think I only have a small handful left.

89RBeffa
Nov 27, 2023, 2:38 pm

>88 jessibud2: it was the Civil War series from about 89 or 90.

90RBeffa
Editado: Nov 27, 2023, 2:46 pm

>87 laytonwoman3rd: one of my very few disappointments with LT is how few people give a thumbs up to reviews that bring books, good and bad, to light. I actually rely quite a lot on opinion and reviews, which are rare on things other than the hottest best sellers in particular when the book isn't working for me. A good review with a stick with it is appreciated. Anyway i know you are a big Clinch fan and the book sounds perfect for me so i was happy to thumbsup.

91jessibud2
Nov 27, 2023, 4:20 pm

>89 RBeffa: - Oh, thanks. I did see that one. That may, in fact, have been the very first Ken Burns I saw.

92laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Nov 29, 2023, 9:27 pm

73. Grant and Twain by Mark Perry A short history of the last days of Ulysses Grant's life, when, in the throes of oral cancer, he was struggling to complete his memoirs, to be published and sold by subscription by Twain's fledgling company. Grant had resisted writing his memoirs, but when he fell victim to his financial partners' ill-advised investment practices and found himself both bankrupt and dying, he realized his only option was to sell his recollections. His friend Sam Clemens encouraged him to break with The Century magazine which had paid Grant to write several articles on his military campaign, and to allow Clemens to publish a two volume edition of memoirs. The offer, according to Clemens, would assure Grant that his wife and family would be well-provided for. The book provides background on both Grant and Twain, comparing their lives in intriguing ways. Well written, if a tad repetitive. Lots of vivid detail about Grant's final, personal battle, with sources fully documented in end notes, and a helpful bibliography.

93laytonwoman3rd
Nov 30, 2023, 1:49 pm

A very nice interview with Jon Clinch on Kate & Charlie Gibson's podcast.

94laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Nov 30, 2023, 10:26 pm

The December thread for the AAC is now up. This month's author is Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

95laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Dez 1, 2023, 2:12 pm

74. Let Us Descend by Jesmyn Ward I don't know how to talk about this book. I nearly gave up on it about half way through, but my daughter had finished it, and her comments made me decide to go ahead.

The subject here is endurance and triumph over deprivation, cruelty and abuse. Nothing is softened or euphemized, yet often while reading I felt the way I sometimes feel reading poetry...the words wash over me as the meaning sinks away beneath the tide. Metaphor and symbolism are as thick as mosquitoes in the Louisiana swamps. Some of it works, a lot of it doesn't. I had a very hard time with the narrative voice--first person, present tense, modern excellent English, from a 19th century unlettered, 3rd generation enslaved African woman half dead from starvation, physical punishment and exhaustion. I just couldn't suspend my disbelief, first that any human being could endure for over a year the overwork, lack of food (and I mean near absence of food), constant harassment and fear of beating or being consigned to "the hole", and retain any sense of self, no matter how well trained in martial arts nor how determined she might be; and second, that even the basest of slave-runners or slaveholders would fail to provide their human "livestock" with the minimum requirements of life to protect their investment. A horse treated as Annis and her companions were treated would soon fall down dead and useless. Cattle driven to market under the conditions we are shown would arrive with little value left on their bones, if they hadn't drowned or collapsed before reaching their destination. I know that conditions for enslaved people were brutish, filthy, and dangerous; I know that a great many died of their mistreatment and a great many were intentionally mutilated or killed for minor transgressions, let alone for outright rebellion or attempts to escape. I know that to some white people they were considered expendable in ways that farm animals were not...not just less than human, but less than alive. I still balked at a mistress who made no provision whatsoever (as far as I could gather from the text) for feeding her house slaves, even punishing them for trying to cook a dead wild animal no white person would eat, because it was hers and so was the fire. Yes, the woman was demented, but there was no counterpoint to her ...nothing to suggest that her approach was atypical in any way. Let Us Descend is literary; it has some "good bones" as a story. Ward's descriptive talent is huge. (Rarely have I encountered such marvelous use of the English language to present such unpalatable content.) But overall, I cannot rate this book very highly, as it simply failed to work for me.

96lycomayflower
Dez 1, 2023, 12:45 pm

>95 laytonwoman3rd: What did you think of the end, where she rejects her "god" in favor of faith in herself and the people who helped her? This is what "saved" the book for me, in as much as it was saved at all. Because you know I had similar problems as you with the rest of it.

97lycomayflower
Dez 1, 2023, 12:46 pm

>95 laytonwoman3rd: P.S. Post to the review page so I can upgethumb it.

98laytonwoman3rd
Dez 1, 2023, 1:19 pm

>96 lycomayflower: I think that was right and proper, and I applauded. But still...the rest of it.

>97 lycomayflower: Did it. Had to break for lunch.

99lauralkeet
Dez 1, 2023, 1:39 pm

>95 laytonwoman3rd: Hmmm. I have this on hold at the library, and just yesterday suspended my hold because I knew I wouldn't want to read this one during the holiday season. Now, much as I've loved Ward's other novels, I'm wondering if I want to read it at all.

100alcottacre
Dez 1, 2023, 1:59 pm

>95 laytonwoman3rd: Well, I certainly wish that book #75 had been better for you!

Congratulations on hitting 75 though!


101quondame
Dez 1, 2023, 2:01 pm

Congratulations on 75 reads! And a whole month left for??

102laytonwoman3rd
Dez 1, 2023, 2:13 pm

>100 alcottacre:, >101 quondame: Oh, shucks...it was a typo! That was only book 74. But thanks for the premature wishes anyway. My next book will be a YA selection, which my husband is off to pick up at the library for me...so it won't be TOO long before I hit the magic number for real.

103alcottacre
Dez 1, 2023, 2:37 pm

>100 alcottacre: Well, rats. Congratulations on getting close?

104katiekrug
Dez 1, 2023, 3:54 pm

>95 laytonwoman3rd: - I still plan to read it because I'm a Ward completist, but you have prevented me from raising my expectations too high...

105laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Dez 1, 2023, 4:53 pm

>103 alcottacre: OK...I'll take that!

>99 lauralkeet:, >104 katiekrug: Well, I feel a little bad about that. I could be way wrong, after all. And there is a lot more in it to talk about. I think, Laura, that I would encourage you to read it, trying to ignore what I've said about the language particularly, and see what you think. Laura K. and I have been talking about it quite a lot, and for that reason I'm not sorry I read it. Sometimes the ones that don't work provide the most the chew on.

106laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Dez 1, 2023, 5:14 pm

Just mentioning...the amazing Holly Wendt is giving away a few copies of their recently published novel, Heading North, RIGHT HERE as part of the LT Early Reviewers program. Take a chance.

107lauralkeet
Dez 1, 2023, 6:40 pm

>105 laytonwoman3rd: good advice, Linda. I'm putting it off until after the holidays but like Katie, I'm a completist and it would feel weird not to read it.

108SandyAMcPherson
Dez 1, 2023, 6:57 pm

>90 RBeffa: I agree... we have a very erudite group here (not to disparage other groups) and good insights in reviews mean upthumbing is a valuable contribution.

109PaulCranswick
Dez 4, 2023, 10:10 am

Slightly belated congrats for hitting 75 books, Linda.
Do we have the selections for the AAC next year confirmed yet?

110laytonwoman3rd
Dez 4, 2023, 10:17 am

Thanks, Paul...although the partiers were relying on a mistake in numbering...I've only hit 74, actually.

The final AAC selections will be posted within the next week. Stay tuned.

111PaulCranswick
Dez 4, 2023, 10:44 am

>110 laytonwoman3rd: Yikes then I somehow managed to be belatedly early!

112laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Dez 4, 2023, 10:46 am

113alcottacre
Editado: Dez 4, 2023, 1:40 pm

>106 laytonwoman3rd: Take a chance. I did :)

>112 laytonwoman3rd: Took a chance on that one too :)

Have a marvelous Monday!

114laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Dez 4, 2023, 10:38 pm

>113 alcottacre: I feel so powerful! AND, my pre-ordered copy of Heading North arrived today. I am eager to start it.

115laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Dez 8, 2023, 3:57 pm

75. (Really, this time.) Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire Sáenz A follow-up to Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, in which our two young men learn a lot more about themselves, life and love. It's a long book, and I thought after the first 100 pages or so that I wouldn't go on with it; I thought it was well done, and important, and probably would be marvelous for its target audience. But it wasn't meant for the 70-something straight white woman demographic, and it didn't seem to be moving the chicos along very far from where we left them in the first book, so even though I love the characters I almost let them carry on without me. But the pace picked up, and a lot more exploration---"mapping" is the recurring metaphor--of their place in the world started to happen. Events developed very quickly once Ari and Dante accepted that they were in love, and
began working through their quest for identity on several fronts.

This story is set in the late 1980s, when AIDS was devastating gay men, and families were doing their best to hide the true nature of their deaths. It seems to me that that aspect of the time is not given quite enough weight here. I know teenagers consider themselves bullet-proof, but the adults in their life were not worried enough. I remember that epidemic, and there was palpable fear everywhere, because nobody truly understood the disease or who was at risk.

If anything, this novel is a bit too affirmative, as friends and family of the protagonists are overwhelmingly accepting and supportive of their relationship. I know the author himself did not experience this sort of happy youth, and was not even able to acknowledge to himself that he was gay until mid-life, with the aid of a therapist. Perhaps he has written this story as an alternate narrative for himself...a dream of what might have been. Not that everything is sunshine and roses---there is insecurity, grief, angst, muddled-up emotion, but nobody is ever seriously floundering for very long before a friend or a parent buoys them up. There are stupid adults and typical teenagers too, but they get their comeuppance or see the light eventually. At one point near the end, Dante quotes Hemingway's Jake Barnes...and it's very apt. It would be pretty to think that this all could have happened.

116laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Dez 14, 2023, 9:59 pm

76. The Cooking Gene by Michael W. Twitty Michael Twitty is a culinary historian, an interpreter of living history at such sites as Colonial Williamsburg and Monticello, and an impressive story-teller. The subtitle of this book is "A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South"--that's more than a mouthful, in more than one sense. And it still really doesn't do justice to the content. Twitty explores the origins and history of many of the ingredients and preparations we associate with Southern cooking, in the context of his own family history and origins. Twitty is a black man, with both Scotch-Irish and Native American ancestry; he is also gay, and a convert to Judaism. "Complex" does not begin to describe the journey he undertook with the aid of professional genealogists, chefs, historians, relatives and friends to trace his ancestral lines, and to connect himself--and all of us--to the rich heritage of so-called soul food, barbecue, Low Country cuisine, and Southern cooking in general. He shares a few recipes, attacks a few myths, locates many varieties of veg in their African or Caribbean homelands, and instructs us in the realities of picking cotton, staking tobacco and curing meats. The book is dense with information, and includes an extensive bibliography as well as a number of color photos. A fascinating read, which I highly recommend.

117laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Dez 8, 2023, 4:16 pm

118FAMeulstee
Dez 11, 2023, 8:06 am

>115 laytonwoman3rd: Congratulations on reaching 75, Linda!

119quondame
Dez 11, 2023, 5:50 pm

Congratulations on 75 reads Linda!

120drneutron
Dez 11, 2023, 10:16 pm

Congrats!

121vancouverdeb
Dez 11, 2023, 11:58 pm

Congratulations on 75 reads. I really need to get around to reading Adrian McKinty. I have the first in the series.

122laytonwoman3rd
Dez 12, 2023, 7:39 am

>118 FAMeulstee:, >119 quondame:, >120 drneutron:, >121 vancouverdeb: Thanks, Anita, Susan, Jim, Deborah---it seemed to take forever this year, and I'm pleased to have made it.

123laytonwoman3rd
Dez 14, 2023, 8:04 pm

>116 laytonwoman3rd: contains my review of The Cooking Gene now.

124laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Dez 31, 2023, 4:13 pm

In case you haven't visited the planning thread for the 2024 American Authors Challenge, here's the final line-up for next year:

JANUARY: Mark Twain

FEBRUARY: Susan Sontag

MARCH: Truman Capote

APRIL: General Non-Fiction (with host Caroline Caroline_McElwee)

MAY: William Maxwell

JUNE: Queer Authors (with host Dr. Laura Koons lycomayflower)

JULY: Susan Power a/k/a Mona Susan Power

AUGUST: Jeffrey Lent

SEPTEMBER: Living American authors who were born outside the US but adopted this country as their home.

OCTOBER: Katharine Anne Porter

NOVEMBER: Jewish American Authors (with host Kristel kristelh)

DECEMBER: The Heartland (regional authors from the middle of the country)

WILD CARD : 2015 Redux Pick an author from the 2015 Challenge

EXTRA POINTS CHALLENGE

Complete the challenge by reading at least one work from the author or category featured each month AND one work from the Wildcard list each month.
(Just like the main challenge, this earns you no points whatsoever.)

125laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Dez 18, 2023, 4:41 pm

77. The Tie That Binds by Kent Haruf This is Haruf's first novel, set in his fictional Holt, Colorado. It's a bit darker than the later stories. Although there is always trouble, and curmudgeonly behavior abounds in the rest of the Holt cycle, this story features a man whose meanness knows no bounds, and whose family is tragically doomed, in the classical sense, to endure it. Grim and unsettling in a way that reminded me of Faulkner, but was harder to deal with since I've never cared very deeply for any of Faulkner's characters, as people. Edith Goodnough, on the other hand, is a woman you'd want to rescue...a woman who has made her own choices for the noblest of reasons, and who could not have been blamed for giving a little less to ungrateful menfolk. The circumstances of her life are presented to us by a narrator who loved her and felt she should have been his mother (genetic impossibilities notwithstanding), so our sympathy is with her from the beginning. Haruf's beautiful writing and clear insight into human foibles is fully evident here but there's a suggestion of rottenness that I have not found in his other work.

126laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Dez 19, 2023, 9:17 pm

78. A Whistling Woman by Louise Shivers A quick read about the consequences of youthful infatuation, a mother's sacrifice, and second chances. As a young girl, Georgie Weeks is smitten by the handsome son of her mother's employer, John Fleeting. He pays her just enough notice to keep her avid for his attention, until finally he takes takes ultimate advantage of her obsession before turning his back on her completely. Too immature to evaluate his morals or his motivation, Georgie revels in his favors, even celebrating the creation of the child he would never know existed. "A baby! Me and Mr. John Fleeting made a baby out of ourselves!" Georgie thinks to herself. But she refuses to tell her mother who is responsible for her condition. To save Georgie's reputation, her widowed mother Chaney Weeks hides her away, pretends to be pregnant herself, and raises the child as her own, sacrificing her standing in the church which has sustained her for years. It is not until Georgie is happily married with a large family, and her mother is on her death bed, that Chaney explains what led her to go to such lengths to protect her only daughter from disgrace. The reveal won't come as much of a shock to most readers, but this story, told in Georgie's voice, unfolds with just the right amount of tension and suspense.

127RBeffa
Dez 18, 2023, 4:48 pm

>125 laytonwoman3rd: I think that is the only Holt novel I didn't read.

Congrats on making 75. I won't.

>124 laytonwoman3rd: I read Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's collection this year and it will be high on my favorite reads of the year list for this year.

128laytonwoman3rd
Dez 19, 2023, 8:30 pm

>127 RBeffa: Thanks, Ron. I wasn't winning any reading races in July and August, so my numbers are down from my average, but we all have those slumps.

I think Capote deserves more attention than he gets, especially for his short fiction. "A Christmas Memory" is one of my all-time favorites.

129lauralkeet
Dez 20, 2023, 6:07 am

>125 laytonwoman3rd: I haven't read that Haruf/Holt novel either. My library doesn't have it, so I'm not sure I'll seek it out but it's tempting, since I've read all of his other novels.

130laytonwoman3rd
Dez 20, 2023, 9:31 am

>127 RBeffa:, >129 lauralkeet: I have one more Haruf to read, Where You Once Belonged, which is listed as the 2nd in the "Holt Cycle". I'm saving it.

131Caroline_McElwee
Dez 20, 2023, 3:46 pm

Congrats on reaching and passing 75 reads Linda.

132lauralkeet
Dez 21, 2023, 6:02 am

>130 laytonwoman3rd: You mean to tell me I've missed not one, but two Haruf novels? What the .... ?! My library doesn't have either of them but fortunately both are available on Kindle or in paperback. I'm making a note of this for next year's reading. Thanks!

133laytonwoman3rd
Dez 21, 2023, 10:35 am

>131 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks, Caro. I was visiting my 2017 threads, and that year I hit 75 in September. I don't know what's slowing me down these days.

>132 lauralkeet: So, Merry Christmas to you! I live to serve. I think maybe Haruf's popularity began with Plainsong and a lot of people overlooked the first two books.

134lauralkeet
Dez 22, 2023, 5:35 am

>133 laytonwoman3rd: That must be it, Linda. I'm really glad you brought these early books to my attention.

135PlatinumWarlock
Dez 22, 2023, 4:05 pm

Wishing you and yours a sweet and joyful holiday season, Linda - may the coming year be filled with happiness!

136laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Dez 22, 2023, 5:08 pm

>135 PlatinumWarlock: Thank you so much, Lavinia! I wish the same for you and yours.

Here's this year's array of carolers, singing everyone's favorite seasonal music:

137PlatinumWarlock
Dez 22, 2023, 5:10 pm

>136 laytonwoman3rd: Love this!!! ❤️

138Caroline_McElwee
Dez 23, 2023, 6:29 pm

>236 I always enjoy seeing these Linda.

139SandDune
Dez 24, 2023, 10:11 am

Nadolig llawen a blwyddyn newydd dda i ti!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you!


140laytonwoman3rd
Dez 24, 2023, 10:56 am

>139 SandDune: Lovely, Rhian. Thank you. Here's to a HEALTHY holiday for all.

141quondame
Dez 25, 2023, 3:23 am



Merry Christmas, Linda!

142PaulCranswick
Dez 25, 2023, 7:11 am



Thinking about you during the festive season, Linda

143laytonwoman3rd
Dez 25, 2023, 4:59 pm

>141 quondame: Thank you, Susan! Love the penguins.

>142 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul. It was a bookish Christmas around here, as usual!

144laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Dez 27, 2023, 9:50 pm

79. Matrix by Lauren Groff This is the sort of historical novel I devoured as a teenager, and have craved ever since. Except for Hilary Mantel, no one has done for me what Lauren Groff does here since Anya Seton, Jean Plaidy/Victoria Holt and that crowd. (I have resisted revisiting those works that enthralled me decades ago, in case they failed to live up to my memory.) I plunged into the world of medieval nuns and relished every cold, dirty, disease-prone moment of it. Inspired by what very little is known of the life of Marie de France and conflating her with the Abbess Mary of Shaftesbury, Groff has created a woman of such complexity and substance that, history be damned, we must believe she lived her life just this way. Marie, illegitimate half-sister of Henry II, is an unattractive giantess with no marriage prospects, and so is bundled off to a remote impoverished Abbey by Henry's wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Taking on a role she never would have chosen for herself, Marie eventually turns the fortunes of the Abbey around, making it prosperous, directing feats of engineering that result in the design and execution of an elaborate protective labyrinth, a fine Mother House, and a dam with a system of locks to assure a constant supply of water for the sisters, their animals and gardens. This is a world not just run by women, but exclusively for women. Wealthy widows confer hefty dowries on the Abbey in exchange for the opportunity to live out their remaining days in peaceful refuge. After one unfortunate incident involving a crew of what Marie had considered necessary workmen, she resolved that never again would men be allowed into the Abbey for any reason. Not even priests were exempt from the proscription. When Marie assumed the priestly duties of saying Mass and hearing confessions, it was nearly her downfall, but she remained steadfast and prevailed even in this. This novel has nearly everything...lovely prose, crystalline characters, historical detail, drama, sexual tension, mild suspense, hints of royal intrigue. I'm not sure I've read anything better in 2023. (Oh, and it did send me frequently to the dictionary, not just for ecclesiastical terms, but for several other words I didn't recognize!)

145katiekrug
Dez 27, 2023, 10:16 am

>144 laytonwoman3rd: - Interested in your thoughts! I really loved it, but it seemed to be rather divisive...

146lauralkeet
Dez 27, 2023, 11:32 am

>145 katiekrug: She's being a bit terse, isn't she?! 😃

Looking forward to your thoughts as well, Linda.

147laytonwoman3rd
Dez 27, 2023, 12:25 pm

>145 katiekrug:, >146 lauralkeet: HA! Didn't mean to stir up suspense...just started by listing the book, and then didn't have the time and brain to write about it. It's coming sooon.

148alcottacre
Dez 27, 2023, 1:42 pm

I got a message from Abigail letting me know that I am getting an ER copy of Holly Wendt's new book :)

Happy holidays to you and yours, Linda! I wish you a happy and healthy new year!

149laytonwoman3rd
Dez 27, 2023, 1:54 pm

>148 alcottacre: Oh, I'm so happy about that, Stasia! It will be one of the first things I read in 2024, but I have already sampled the beginning, and as I expected the prose is wonderful.

150quondame
Dez 27, 2023, 2:47 pm

>144 laytonwoman3rd: Matrix was a good read for me as well. Of the historical authors that have held up, Dorothy Dunnett is surely one, and Cecilia Holland another.

151laytonwoman3rd
Dez 27, 2023, 2:48 pm

>149 laytonwoman3rd: Interesting, Susan. Thanks for those recommendations. I am not familiar with either author.

152quondame
Dez 27, 2023, 5:22 pm

>151 laytonwoman3rd: They are very different. Dunnett's characters are moved by passions while the writing isn't overwrought it does communicate intense feelings. Holland's writing usually has a remote dispassionate tone. The Corban Loosestrife Saga has fantasy elements, but they don't impact the historical.

153alcottacre
Dez 27, 2023, 6:06 pm

>149 laytonwoman3rd: I will read it as soon as I get it! I am looking forward to it.

154lauralkeet
Dez 28, 2023, 6:38 am

>144 laytonwoman3rd: superb review, Linda. I'm delighted to see you how much you enjoyed this book. I was perhaps slightly less enthusiastic, but I absolutely love anything that illuminates women's lives and history.

155laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Dez 31, 2023, 4:16 pm

156SandyAMcPherson
Dez 29, 2023, 9:45 am

Hi Linda, Catching up slowly before all the 2024 threads start...
>144 laytonwoman3rd: "I have resisted revisiting those works that enthralled me decades ago, in case they failed to live up to my memory."

That is so true and I should follow that philosophy. I re-read The Blue Castle this year (after 20+ years) and found it sadly lacking. There were still aspects I really enjoyed but in this re-read, I was more aware of the prolonged, repetitious descriptions of Valancy's life in her rigid family until she struck out on her own. So I am going to adopt your wise point of view.

All the best for a healthy, satisfying year ahead.

157laytonwoman3rd
Dez 29, 2023, 9:49 am

Thanks, Sandy. Those 2024 threads are already making me twitch!

158katiekrug
Dez 29, 2023, 9:56 am

Great review of Matrix, Linda. I really loved it, too.

159lycomayflower
Dez 29, 2023, 11:14 am

>79 laytonwoman3rd: Excellent review, Mims. And, of course, you know I loved it too.

160weird_O
Dez 29, 2023, 11:47 am

Just here to wave goodbye. "So long, farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, goodbye, to you and you and you." I believe I'll take the rest of 2023 off, and commence to begin anew in 2024. See you again. Then...

161laytonwoman3rd
Dez 29, 2023, 5:08 pm

>158 katiekrug:, >159 lycomayflower: Thank you, ladies. Especially the one of you who put this book in my hands. You know who you are.

>160 weird_O: I do hope you make it safely over the New Year's mountain into friendlier territory, Bill.

162laytonwoman3rd
Dez 29, 2023, 5:17 pm

80. Chasing Bright Medusas by Benjamin Taylor. A quick read, and an enjoyable one for fans of Willa Cather's work. It is a stretch to call it a biography, as it is more a chronological account of Cather's writing than a narrative of her personal life, though pertinent incidents certainly inform Taylor's discussion. The style is very easy-going-- insightful, but not heavy "lit crit" in any way. I was particularly taken with the sections dealing with the novels I have read, naturally; as I fully intend to read more of Cather, I expect I will return to this little volume as I go. It's almost a handbook, and it contains that most appealing of features, an excellent bibliography for further exploration.

163laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Dez 31, 2023, 3:22 pm

81. A Minister's Ghost by Phillip DePoy This is the third entry in DePoy's Fever Devilin series. Fever is an academician, a folklorist who has recently returned to his roots in Appalachian Georgia, partly to undertake a story/song collecting project, and partly for personal reasons he doesn't fully grasp himself. These stories always include a bit of maaaaybe supernatural stuff, and hints of the folk mythology of rural, by which I mean backwoods rural, Georgia. In this instance, two beautiful, beloved, lively young girls are killed when their car is inexplicably struck by a train one night. Their aunt, Fever's lady friend Lucinda, does not believe it was a simple accident. WHY did the car stop on the tracks? WHY didn't they just get out when it seems there was plenty of time for them to do so? WHY was the car's engine not running when it was struck by the train? She asks Fever to help, putting him at odds with his old friend, Skidmore Needle, who is now uncomfortably ensconced as Sheriff. Storytelling just doesn't get any better than this; there's mystery, there's myth, there's suspense, there's eeriness, there's romance. I loved it...maybe DePoy's best outing yet.

164laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Jan 1, 12:46 pm

So I will finish this thread with that lovely Q&A summary of my 2023 reading, thus:

1. Describe Yourself: Girl at War

2. Describe How You Feel: This is Happiness

3. Describe Where You Currently Live: 97 Orchard

4. If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Shore Road to Ogunquit

5. You favorite form of transportation is: The Carrying

6. Your favorite food is: The Art of the Chicken

7. Your favorite time of day is: Night Came with Many Stars

8. Your best friend is: The Beggar Maid

9. You and your friends are: Endangered Species

10. What the weather is like: A Serpent's Tooth

11. You fear: Murder on the Red River

12. What is the best advice you have to give: Mourn Not Your Dead

13. Thought for the Day: Wait for Signs

14. What is life for you: Time of Wonder

15. How would you like to die: Giving Up the Ghost

16. Your soul’s present condition: All Shall Be Well

17. What was 2023 like for you: I Hear the Sirens in the Street

18. What do you want from 2024: Peace

165laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Jan 1, 12:45 pm

And now, I invite you all to join me in my 2024 Digs.

While I'm at it, Here is the general discussion thread for the 2024 American Authors Challenge. Our January author is Mark Twain, and the thread for that is right here. Come join the discussion any time.

166thornton37814
Jan 4, 10:09 am

>164 laytonwoman3rd: Great meme answers. You had some better options than I did.

167laytonwoman3rd
Jan 4, 12:18 pm

>166 thornton37814: Thanks, Lori. I thought a couple of my answers were kind of a stretch, but that's what makes this meme fun for me year after year.