jfetting 100 reads in 2015
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1) As always, to read 100 books. Last year was the first year since I started keeping a challenge thread on LT that I failed to do this.
2) 38 1001 books, bringing me to a total of 400 off the combined list.
3) War and Peace
4) Reduce the TBR pile (note to self: as of 1/6/2015, you have 174 books tagged "TBR")
5) Reduce the total amount of books on shelves. Its time to purge, and reading the TBR will help.
Thanks @ hemlokgang for setting this up!
I am looking forward to seeing what you read, though I always end up being hit by loads of book bullets from you!
And it's hot and humid in Sydney. Bleurgh.
#1 Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn
Back in grad school, my therapist (doesn't that make me sound fancy and neurotic? But 80% of PhD students at that particular institution ended up in the therapist's office at some point. $10 sessions! So cheap!) gave me a copy of Kabat-Zinn's body scan, which disappeared along with a chapter of my dissertation when my hard drive crashed, but not before it was really helpful. So I read this to help deal with stress and anxiety without having to pay $100 for a therapist now. It is great, and I'm building up a meditation practice slowly.
#2 Runaway Horses by Yukio Mishima
Book number two in his Sea of Fertility tetralogy. I loved it. I love Mishima's writing, I love the storyline with the reincarnation of Kiyaoki (sp?), I love the descriptions. On to the third one!
This book was terrible. I borrowed the audiobook version from the library because 1) it is set in Maine and 2) it is described as being "based on King Lear". I suppose that last is true, since King Lear is that play about a dad and his three loving daughters who bicker a little bit but basically get along and their dad loves them all pretty much equally but just in different ways, right?
Oh no wait. Sorry, but you don't get to call your story "inspired by Lear" if the dad and the three girls all get along. I call bullshit.
All sorts of bad things happen to this family - drownings of children, maternal suicides, epic storms with heart attack victims on boats that lose power on the sea in the storm and people get swept overboard and then murder and drug running and rape and honestly. It just got ridiculous.
It also involved the shooting of two dogs, and the death of one. I never like this, but particularly now when my own Most Perfect Dog was just diagnosed with lymphoma. I don't need this manipulative bullshit right now.
#4 The Temple of Dawn by Yukio Mishima
The third book in the Sea of Fertility tetralogy. This one was not as good as the first two. It is about sex and Buddhism. Our friend Honda from the first two books - noble, upright Honda - turns out to be a giant creeper who spies on couples making out in the woods, becomes obsessed with the latest incarnation of Kiayoaki (sp?) who is a 19 yo Thai princess, arranges to have her raped at his villa so that she won't be a virgin when he starts sleeping with her, and is just gross, gross, gross. Honda, how could you? I liked you.
I'm sorry to hear about your dog. It's hard to overestimate the importance pets have in our lives.
It was almost perfect, up until the totally unnecessary last section. He should have stopped before that and it would have been great. I'm worried about climate change too, and I'd be happy to read a different book set in the time/place of the last section, but it didn't fit this one.
Two stars. Profoundly boring. I don't like Westerns (novels, movies, etc) and only watch them to humor my dad who LOVES them. This is a Western. I didn't care about any of the characters, and I didn't care what happened to them. If I hadn't had this book recommended to me by a friend/coworker with good book taste, I would have given up and not finished it. I don't actively loathe it, but I don't think it was worth reading.
Great title though.
5 stars. I loved it. Funny, lots of goodnatured SNL cast gossip, and some of the things she wrote really resonated. There is this bit about how there is a demon inside many women's heads that goes like this:
"I hate how I look. That is the mantra we repeat over and over again. Sometimes we whisper it quietly and other times we shout it out loud in front of a mirror. I hate how I look. I hate how my face looks my body looks I am too fat or too skinny or too tall or too wide or my legs are too stupid and my face is too smiley or my teeth are dumb and my nose is serious and my stomach is being so lame. Then we think, 'I am so ungrateful. I have arms and legs and can walk and I have strong nail beds and I am alive and I am so selfish and I have to read Man's Search for Meaning again and call my parents and volunteer more and reduce my carbon footprint and why am I such a self-obsessed ugly asshole no wonder I hate how I look!'"
and if you are lucky enough to NOT have ever had that be your interior monologue, good for you. I am still trying to figure out how Poehler got inside my head.
Back with our ex-friend, current-perv Honda. He finds Kiyaouki's latest incarnation in the form of the 16 year old sociopath Toru. He adopts Toru, naturally, and is treated horribly and waits for him to die before 21 also. There is a bit of a twist at the end, that makes the reader wonder how much of this ("this" meaning "all of the books") was legitimate and how much was in Honda's head.
And with that, the Sea of Fertility tetralogy is done. As a whole, I loved the first two books and tolerated the second two. Very impressive series, and too bad that Mishima decided to kill himself after finishing it. I love his writing.
#12 The Art of Mindfulness and Mindful Eating by Thich Nhat Hanh
I thought these were real books but they're like digests or pamphlets or something. I'm combining them and counting them as one. Mindfulness is the theme of the year, apparently. I very much enjoyed these although I was already a Thay fan to begin with.
With the knowledge of what is going to happen in 20 years, it is interesting to read Churchill's perspective on the Paris peace conference and what should have been done compared to what was. He wrote this in 1931, when it was already clear that things were not going great, but before it was obvious how very, very horrible things were going to get.
So after reading #11 and then #2 I'm starting the series at the beginning. These are quick, mindless fun. Allon, an art restorer and former Israeli assassin, is reluctantly dragged back into the service to take out a terrorist. We learn a lot of details about his family and training. There is a lot of bouncing around Europe and a lot about paintings and a lot of spycraft. Le Carre it's not, but the book was really entertaining. I have a kindle version from the library that is a bundle of the first 4 novels, so it'll be all Gabriel Allon, all the time for a few days.
This was extremely entertaining and the reader was fantastic. I've been hooked into my headphones at work all day every day for the past week listening to this. I loved it - the descriptions of the different cultures and their supernatural creatures and New York at the turn of the century. Highly recommended. 4 stars.
A little Lenten reading. According to the blurb on the book, its about "From the New York Times bestselling author of An Altar in the World, Barbara Brown Taylor’s Learning to Walk in the Dark provides a way to find spirituality in those times when we don’t have all the answers."
It is one of those kind of fluffy "here is my experience and also let me tell you a bunch of random stuff about nighttime" religious/spiritual books that I sometimes enjoy reading but never really understand the point of. What is this exactly? And then there are church-y reading groups and discussion questions that other people have very profound answers to but that leave me basically saying "What? No, I've never been afraid of the dark. Where are you all getting all these words from?" I mean, I'm as afraid of the unknown as the next person, and I'm afraid that this book did not provide me a way to find spirituality etc. But it was well-written and entertaining and short, so it has that going for it. I think I'm changing my rating to 3 stars.
A lovely book that makes me want to be in the middle of a warm green summer (it is currently snowing here in Maine with a sharp wind). I loved the book and would have given it 5 stars if it wasn't for the last section. Just didn't work for me - the people who got married had never exhibited any behavior that suggested they would want to get married. It was a bit like Edward whats-his-name in Mansfield Park who falls in love with his idiot cousin Fanny in a paragraph on the second to last page. Oh, ok. Sure.
This was incredibly fun, and I'm usually pretty leery of pop biology books. He starts with current research in neuroscience and AI and computers, and then starts talking about where it could go maybe eventually someday. He gets into some pretty sci fi stuff that I just can't imagine will actually come to pass but who knows? Like moving our consciousnesses into computers and aliens and all sorts of crazy stuff. Really entertainingly written, too, which is always impressive when physicists do that.
An oldie-but-goodie. I can't believe she won the Pulitzer for this, given how much I usually hate non-Marilynne-Robinson Pulitzer winner. This book blew me away. Part nature study, part spiritual guide, part theodicy, entirely what I needed right now. Five stars.
Liked it but didn't love it. Its about a blind French girl in WWII, and a radio-obsessed German boy, and how they end up in the same bombed out city. There is some stuff with a giant diamond. I'm going to stop analyzing it, because the more I think about it the less impressed I am with it.
(You'll want to allow a lot of time to read this one... I read fairly fast, and it took forever. An enjoyable forever, but something to consider if you're on a bookclub schedule.)
So I have a tale of woe: despite being located in Portland, ME (home of LibraryThing!), my employer has BLOCKED LIBRARYTHING AT WORK. I can't even. They blocked a lot of database stuff, but since this has zero to do with science I can't ask them to unblock it for me. Tragedy! Woe!
#23 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (re-re-re-re-read)
Sometimes I just need to escape, you know? I feel like rereading a children's book is actually a more adult means of escape than putting myself and my dog in the car, driving away, and never coming back. So.
#24 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets because obviously once I start, I can't stop until I'm finished.
I've been meaning to reread Harry Potter. I've only read them once, in 2011, so I think it's just about time. I just know that once I start they are all I'll read til I'm done so I keep hesitating.
Definitely with you on children's books for escape. That's why I was forced reread most of Keys to the Kingdom this month. Obviously I'm just vetting books for my nieces and nephews though...
Random book available through the download library for kindle. Three stars. Thought provoking but not profoundly so.
#26 Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Hilarious. I actually laughed out loud in several places. 6 stars out of 5.
#27 Plenitude by Juliet B. Schor
I like the idea, about the life of Plenitude and spending less and working fewer hours and making less, thus allowing companies to hire more people who all work less and plant gardens and make furniture and knit and hike and trade favors and share and live in a happy shiny land. I just can't afford it yet.
#28 The World Crisis by Winston Churchill volume 5 (The Eastern Front)
Too much war. Not enough politics.
Ishiguro is one of the few writers whose books I preorder (others: Jasper Fforde, Marilynne Robinson). I love his writing - the quiet atmosphere, the unreliable narrators, everything. His books are all the same and yet all completely different. This one is sort of fantasy, set in ancient Briton in the time just after the time of Arthur and his knights. Gawain shows up, but he isn't Malory's Gawain or White's Gawain or the Green Knight Gawain. He's Ishiguro's Gawain. It is unclear what is going on at the beginning, when an elderly couple who has trouble with their memories leaves to go find their son's village. They remember nothing about their son - nobody in this land seems to remember anything (again with Ishiguro and the memory theme) very well, except maybe Gawain. And Wistan, a Saxon warrior. And they meet with adventures and companions, and slowly we get a sense of who Axl was, and why everyone is forgetting everything.
There are dragons. There is love. There are a couple of swordfights and some evil monks and some ogres. It is nothing at all like the usual books containing these elements. I loved it. 5 stars. I've seen quite a few negative reviews from people who complain about the slow pace and about how the ending is confusing and how nothing is resolved. If you are reading Ishiguro for a fast-paced, clear story with a tidy ending, you have been misinformed.
Piketty's thesis is that the postwar years were an aberration, economically speaking, allowing for increased income and wealth equality due to the enormous growth and productivity. However, that funtime is at an end, and inherited wealth is going to take over the world and things are going to become even more unequal than they already are unless there is a global tax on high amounts of capital.
I say go for it. I am one of The Poors and have nothing to lose.
I am a HUGE Downton Abbey fan, and loved Gosford Park, and so I tried this book by the man who is responsible for them both. It was ok, about rich debutants and their gentleman callers in the late 60s in Britain, which for the aristocracy was apparently not that different from the 30s. The story is actually told in flashback, with one rich guy trying to figure out which of the rich girls was knocked up by another, dying rich guy back in 1970. There are TONS of references all through the book to this awful evening in Portugal that ruined everyone's life, but when the story is revealed at the end is quite disappointing. I was hoping for a dead body, at the very least. It was well written, but I don't like the ending.
5 stars. Truly excellent. I normally avoid biology-based pop science books because I know the science (especially for cancer, since I am a cancer biologist) and the dumbing down annoys me. Not here. The history of cancer treatment was fascinating, the history of cancer research was not new to me but he writes it incredibly well, the state of the current research and the new hot topics in cancer biology (like cancer stem cells and heterogeneity) are presented in a very approachable way.
Highly recommended to any and all. Seriously, please read it.
#33 Mindfulness for Beginners by Jon Kabat-Zinn (audiobook)
The audiobook is the best because the last hour is a guided meditation.
ETA: That is an incredible personal question - please forgive my rudeness. There is no need to discuss your brother's illness with a stranger on the internet, so go ahead and ignore me.
The coincidence with my project and my sister's cancer (she had stage I kidney cancer, which isn't a secret at all since she was featured on the news about it!) is pretty eerie. I think that in a lot of ways I've been able to help her understand some things better. I don't think that I'm better off knowing as much as I do about it. I'd rather not.
I enjoy the poetry of ee cummings. I think that his attempt at prose is truly, deeply, profoundly boring and I'm glad he stuck to poetry.
I really enjoyed this book, and it made me think a lot about what I would miss in the post-apocalyptic future. Internet. Reading after dark. Frozen berries. Flush toilets.
#37 The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
Five stars! So great! I'm going to clean everything. Tomorrow, maybe. Later. Definitely not today.
5 stars. Spectacular and important and touching and thoughtful but not sad or scary. He writes about the current state of nursing homes and assisted living and cancer treatment, and how the goals and expectations of the medical establishment often differ from those of the patients. It is so so important to think about how you want your end of life to occur, and to make sure everyone knows your wishes. I think everyone everywhere should read this book.
I'll reserve it again. You reminded me that I really want to read this one.
I also liked Station Eleven.
I thought The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up was hilarious. I laughed all the way through it.
I guess I am NOT a likely candidate for that kind of ruthless purging.
#39 10% Happier by Dan Harris
Three stars. Whatever. He's so busy and famous and blah blah blah. Meditate. No more name-dropping.
Also I now want to go on a 10 day silent Buddhist retreat.
One star. HATED it. It's not a bad book, or a badly written book, and I imagine that if you are the kind of person who likes your war books disgusting, filled with torture and killings and surgeries and shit and beatings that last 4 chapters, you will undoubtedly like this book and find it important. War is disgusting and horrifying. I realize this, as much as one can without having fought in one. This book was just too much for me.
#43 Look Evelyn, Duck Dynasty Wiper Blades. We Should Get Them by David R Thorne
2 stars. I was hoping for so much more. His website (27bslash6.com) is hilariously, laugh-out-loud funny. This wasn't, really.
#44 Martin Dressler: the tale of an American Dreamer by Steven Millhauser
This won the Pulitzer in 1996 and was not written by Marilynne Robinson, so it should come as no surprise that I did not like it. It was recommended by a coworker with fairly good taste in books, but this was a coming-of-age story set in the turn of the century that read a lot like a crappy version of a Theodore Dreiser novel. The main character starts out poor, works like 4 jobs, gets rich, and **spoiler alert** overextends and loses it. I work two job. I'm tired of work. I don't want to read about it.
#45 The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig
Recommended by the same coworker. If it wasn't for the silly unnecessary twist ending, this would have been a five star book. As is, it gets four. I want to move to Montana right now.
#48 No One Writes to the Colonel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
A short story collection by a writer whose novels I very much enjoy. The short stories weren't as strong (although this is a 1001 book). No magical realism, really, and they were all quite sad, starring people whose lives aren't going so great. I'm not sure the audiobook format was the best choice for this one, although I appreciated all the different readers for the different stories. Usually with short stories I like to read one a day, and this one had to be a binge because I was in the car. Still, three stars. Definitely worth reading.
#49 Claudius the God by Robert Graves (audiobook)
I really liked I, Claudius, and this one is good too although maybe not as interesting (fewer murders). HOWEVER, the audiobook is DEFINITELY the way to go as it is read by Derek Jacobi and he does it brilliantly. All audiobooks should be narrated by Derek Jacobi.
The further adventures of Gabriel Allon, Israeli assassin/art restorer extraordinare. These are pretty formulaic, but I enjoy this formula and so I enjoyed this book too.
#51 Women and Money by Suze Orman (audiobook)
On long road trips, I like to listen to personal finance authors lecture me on how I should be saving more for retirement and have a bigger emergency fund. It is like riding in the car with my dad.
Sometimes one just needs a little escapism, and this is one of my favorites in the series. 5 stars.
#55 Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey
One of those books I appreciate how good they are but that I hate. Kesey's writing is beautiful and the story is epic. It's one of those brother vs. brother stories set in a logging family in Oregon. The older brother, Hank, is introduced as an arrogant, union-busting jerk who is ruining everyone's life. This impression is kept up through the background-setting first 100 pages and in the point-of-view paragraphs of the younger brother, Leland (Lee). The POV switches between Hank, Lee, their dad Henry, and Hank's wife Viv from sentence to sentence without warning, but it is usually pretty easy to figure out who is talking. I found Hank to be a very sympathetic character once we got to is POVs, and it quickly became clear what Lee was going to do to destroy him. I'm not sure if Kesey wants the reader to sympathize with Lee, who is the more educated and cultured character. He is also a total jerk and I couldn't stand him.
As I said, it is well-written and the story has stuck with me, which should be enough to give it a good rating but I really, really disliked reading it so I'm only giving it 2 stars.
#56 The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
Entertaining collection of vignettes about different people who work for a newspaper and live in Rome. Some of the stories were better than others. 4 stars.
Darker than the Barset books or the Palliser books. There is one, maybe two good characters in the novel (I pick Roger Carbury and Marie Melmotte for these slots) and everyone else ranges from annoying to dreadful. The story was great, though, and Trollope's writing was delightful as ever.
I forgot how much I like Vonnegut's writing. This was the story of Kilgore Trout and his book and how it drove an already-crazy man to violence. Very funny.
A detailed if fawning biography of the midcentury German theologian who was murdered by Hitler just days before the end of the war. Quite heavy on the theology and treats Bonhoeffer as if he were a saint. If you are looking for a warts-and-all bio, this is not the book. I wasn't, and therefore enjoyed it thoroughly.
#65 The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen. R. Covey ****
Extremely interesting and eye opening. My gcal is so colorful now!
I remember synergize, be proactive, seek to understand, sharpen the saw!
Easy summer read, neither great nor awful. I spent a lot of time looking up Renoir paintings on my phone and trying to figure out who "Gustave" was and what he painted.
So I had applied for a much more business-y type job than I am really qualified for based on the advice of a friend who works for the company and who told me that the president of said company saw my resume and wanted me to actually apply. Sounds promising, right? But no. However, I did choke down a business book. It was fine. I'm never going to take a company from good to great, and that's ok. Also I found it funny that one of his "great" companies was Circuit City, which no longer exists. Oops.
Loved it, just as much as I loved Life After Life. I adore this family, and this companion novel that tells Teddy's story is fantastic. Teddy himself is great, and this novel was filled with heartbreaking nostalgia. Like Brideshead Revisited, I found myself homesick for a time that I didn't live through in a country where I've never been (airports do not count). I couldn't put it down, and I can't wait for the next installment. Please tell me she's writing one...
TOTAL SHIT. Terrible, terrible book. It appears to be written by someone who was given a list of names and major plot points from Pride and Prejudice but who never actually read it. Darcy is entirely unlike Darcy, Elizabeth is entirely unlike Elizabeth. The "mystery" is stupid. I'm offended this was published.
#70 Wind/Pinball by Haruki Murakami ***
His first two novellas. They're mostly interesting to see how his style begins, and how even early on he was obsessed with girls, food, music, and cats. I wouldn't recommend it as a first Murakami, but if you are like me and want to read every single thing he has written then go for it.
"This was just terrible. How terrible? Let me count the ways (POTENTIAL SPOILERS):
1. Why write a follow-up to Pride and Prejudice if you seemingly make little effort to capture the essential essence of the primary characters?
2. Why write a follow-up to Pride and Prejudice that turns Elizabeth into a simpering, boring, obedient little wifey-poo and Darcy into a complete uptight prig (granted, he always kind of was but he was also charming and there is none of that here)?
3. Why write a follow-up to Pride and Prejudice that is a murder mystery and make it SO INCREDIBLY DUMB AND BORING that the reader can barely bring herself to care?
4. Why write a follow-up to Pride and Prejudice that is a murder mystery and include plot holes so big you could drive a chaise-and-four through them? Why didn't anyone bother asking Lydia what Wickham and Denny were arguing about?!?!?!
5. Why write anything if you are basically just going to phone it in and tell your story completely through terribly awkward exposition and long speeches?
6. .... I can't go on. I don't know why I bothered to finish this except that maybe because it was on audio. Had it been a "real" book, I am fairly confident I would have just skipped to the last few pages to see whodunnit. Oh, except that would have told me nothing because we learn whodunnit well before the end of the book, after which time, Ms. James just goes on and on about nothing at all and won't let her crappy story die. I wanted to stab myself in the ears by the end of it.
So, yeah, not recommended."
Saramago is one of my favorites, and Cain is an extremely entertaining look at the Old Testament God through the eyes of Cain of "Am I my brother's keeper?" fame. Its basically a rationalist's argument against the God of the Israelites, bringing up all the inconsistencies in the Bible and some of God's really horrible and inexplicable behavior. Definitely worth a read. Plus its a 1001 book that is only about 150 pages.
This book is SO GOOD, and the whole trilogy is so good, and everyone should read it. This final installment covers Henry II's last few years. What a ridiculous family. Honestly. But so much fun to read about! And now I want to go watch A Lion in Winter YET AGAIN because I just cannot get enough of Henry, Eleanor, and their batshit crazy sons.
I enjoy this one. Its not terribly preachy, it just reminds you that saving your money is as important a part of the equation as high income. If you blow your entire 6 figure income, you're still broke.
#75 Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee ***
From what I remember of the furor about this book when it was first published, this was Harper Lee's initial attempt at the story. An editor or something suggested she write a new-ish book focusing on Scout's childhood and making her father Atticus some kind of pre-civil rights era saint. This book was shelved, Mockingbird was published and won the Pulitzer, and Lee went into seclusion until some less-than-scrupulous people convinced her, now suffering from dementia, to allow Watchman to be published. I'm not in the book world, so any and all of this may be incorrect.
This book's literary merits are lacking. Its badly written, although in places you can see the promise in Lee's prose and imagine what it could have been had an editor focused on this book, too. The flashbacks to her childhood were charming - I loved the dance story and its aftermath. I wish Watchman had been published after some serious editing and after Mockingbird. What a story arc THAT would have been, Scout's childhood hero worship of her father followed by her loss of ignorance, realizing that her father was just another flawed man and not the Perfect White Man in the Jim Crow South. The rebellion scene at the end where Scout confronts Atticus about his beliefs and he spews all that disgusting racism that has everyone up in arms could actually have been really powerful, and what is more Atticus Finch-like than his pride in his daughter's ability to stand up for her beliefs, even against him?
That would have been a powerful story, and we'd have a much more complex picture Maycomb and the Finches than we were given. Not to mention that I would not have had to listen to all those people lose it earlier this year when Atticus was revealed to be a racist, announcing that they couldn't read it and how could she and ATTICUS IS NOT A RACIST. Sorry, folks. He's his author's character. If she shows you he is a racist (and she did. Way to show-not-tell, Ms. Lee!), then he is a racist. Get over it and learn something.
I'm all about recycling and reducing and lowering my carbon footprint and living sustainably, so none of this was new to me except for the long list of things one can compost. It was pretty funny, though.
Not his best and a bit of a mess. The characters' feelings and motivations kept switching inexplicably. The resolution of the main plotline was unbelievable. The only character I actually cared about ended up with an unhappy outcome. Not going to be re-reading this one.
For an Important Book, this was incredibly readable. It wasn't easy reading - heartbreaking in spots - but it was really interesting to hear about the struggle of black people in America through one man's story. It's written as a letter to his 15 year old son, and Coates's love for this kid is palpable. How wonderful for the son to have this document of how his dad adored him. Highly recommended to anyone and everyone, but especially people who think they are white (a Baldwin phrase, I think, that Coates uses throughout to describe white people).
#80 The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins ***
When I want to read Tana French, I read Tana French. This was fine, but she's no Tana French. Plus I had to wait about 8 months to get the ebook version of this from the library and I have no idea why it is so popular.
Always good fun to be had with Gabriel Allon and co.
#83 The Dust that Falls from Dreams by Louis de Bernieres ****
I always love books set in England in the Edwardian era and WWI and between WWI and WWII. This was a great read, but like with Corelli's Mandarin I thought it should have ended about 100 pages earlier.
YES! This. All of this. It's true. She's describing me. How can she know me so well? I'm what she describes as a "pseudo-extrovert", a former shy kid and forever introvert that can fake extrovert well enough that many of my current acquaintances argue that I am NOT an introvert. This has led to trouble with some friends, actually.
So when I started reading this book, I thought it was going to be one of those stories where a woman overcomes a sad childhood tragedy and an even sadder loss of her husband after a few years of marriage to start a business, make friends with some tailors, become successful and live happily ever after. This is not what happens. A lot of the book is horrifying. Did this sort of thing really happen in India in the 70s and 80s? Forced castration, burning entire families in their home because of a caste grudge? Whenever you start to think things are going to be ok for any of the four main characters, something really spectacularly awful happens. It's very well written, though.
I am from KY. and need books for my kids Grade 3 Math.
Delighted to hear about a Nancy Pearl book l haven't seen yet.
Thanks for the tip.
This is one of those alternative universe, magic-kids-go-to-magic-school-to-learn-and-defeat-evil books. This time, however, they go to the Library of Alexandria to become librarians. The Library is both a good (preserve knowledge!) and a bad (only we can have the knowledge! and you only get the knowledge we say!). Owning paper books is illegal. The protagonist and his friends are trying to earn places in the Library and have to go rescue some books in a war-torn Oxford. Chaos ensues.
It would be a 5 star book except that by the end I couldn't stand the protagonist, Jess. He's super, super annoying and the inevitable teenage love story is not believable because the love interest is poorly drawn. It is hard to see why Jess or anyone should care about her at all, but all of a sudden Jess's motivations shift in a way that is ALSO does not work for me.
I do love Wolfe and Santi though, and Khalila, and props to Caine for a very multicultural and multinational cast.
Kindle First freebie and one of the worst books I have ever read. Seriously terrible. The sex scenes in particular are both abundant and atrocious. There is even one where the protagonist performs a sex act on a gay man just after he announces his complete disinterest in women. Because... it doesn't matter who performs said act? I'm not completely sure that this is how sexuality works. And no, there is no indication that the gay male character is actually bi. Unlike the protagonist! So there is something for everyone.
By halfway through the book I was hoping the main character wouldn't survive.
#91 Helen of Sparta by Amalia Carosella ***
Another Kindle First freebie but this one was a lot more fun. Still pretty trashy, and I wouldn't pay money for it, but I don't necessarily want those hours back. Its a re-telling of the Helen of Troy story in which things go differently.
This one was deceptively short, meaning that it took me a long time to get through the 300 pages. It was beautifully written, and the story was interesting (King Christian the somethingth of Denmark and the Danish revolution and ensuing scandal that resulted from his physician Stuensee), and I really enjoyed it. Poor Stuensee.
It has been awhile since I've read an Anne Lamott book. I loved it, as I love all her books. This one had me in tears. There is a chapter in which her dog, Sadie, who from the description sounds like my dog Sadie, got lymphoma, as did my Sadie this year. She went with chemo (so did I), her dog went into remission (so did mine) for a couple years (not there yet) and then died, and she found grace in the people who gathered around her to comfort her and her son when this happened (not there yet thankfully). So I was a sobbing wreck and woke my Sadie up to pet her and tell her that she is the best and cry on her some more, which she absolutely does not enjoy but will tolerate for a couple of minutes.
He's a cranky old curmudgeon, attempting to travel around the Mediterranean starting at Gibralter and going all the way around to the tip of Morocco. He tries this in 1994, which is a particularly bad time to undertake this. He whines about tourists and tourist traps, then spends 200 pages raving about a free eastern Mediterranean cruise he is given. Theroux can be pretty funny, and some of his descriptions are lovely, and it is interesting to read about the countries. He isn't very pleasant, though.
Infuriating. Why aren't these people in jail? Why do they still have their millions?
#97 The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman ***
Acts of Service and Quality Time, here. I like the part about how you can love your partner (and appreciate all the people in your life) better by using their love languages and not your own. I don't like how he really has no solutions as to what to do if the other person does not care about filling your love tank.
I read the first three books ages ago and thought that they were ok but really overhyped and really poorly written (the grocery lists... the Ikea shopping list...). This addition, written by a different author because the original author is dead, was surprisingly good. There is some of the same nonsense about how Blomquist is an aging sex god who is irresistible to women, but for the most part it was an entertaining story.
The last even remotely Wallander-related book left to me, now that Henning Mankell is dead. I thought it was fantastic; I really liked getting the view of Wallander, Martinsson and the gang from Linda's point of view.
#100 Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbo ****
My 100th book of the year finishes my Scandinavian crime novel binge. A new-to-me author whose Henry Hole books are going to have to fill the place of the Wallander series. This was an entertaining short novel told from the POV or a contact killer.
For my Christmas/Hanukkah/Solstice/Holiday image this year (we are so diverse!), I've chosen this photograph by local photographer Mark Lenoce of the pier at Pacific Beach to express my holiday wishes to you: Peace on Earth and Good Will toward All!
Oh boy. Where to begin. It's like this is two books. One is an entertaining foodie travelogue (or travel-y foodologue), broken down into 12 ish traditional French dishes (can't remember exactly) she eats/investigates/learns to cook during her first year living in Paris. This part is fascinating, and funny, and well-researched. The OTHER part ruins the book, because of course she can't just stick to foodie travelogue, she has to make it a damned memoir too. And not just any memoir - a memoir of a privileged, whiny diplomat's wife who apparently has no sense of self outside being her husband's wife. When he leaves for Baghdad for a year and she can't go too, she carries on as if the world was ending. As if there was no worse fate than being rich and stuck in Paris for a year on your own, landing a sweet job in a library and writing her second novel. I'm sure it is hard to have your spouse away for a whole year (although in my field, academic science, couples live on separate continents for YEARS while doing their training) in a war zone. However, there are two ways to react to this. One is to put your big girl pants on and do what you can to meet people, make friends, explore your amazing city, and cook something. The other is to whine and only eat toast. A good third of the book is her banging on about how she's incapacitated because she misses her husband. This is boring to read about, and it is worse when you are listening on an audiobook and can't skip these parts.
I don't know how the foodie part actually happened, tbh.
Apparently this guy lives in Maine now and goes to my church. He had a reading from this book a couple weeks ago so I picked one up. It provided a nice spiritual exercise for Advent (a reading a night - either a sermon or some poetry).
#103 Spring Flowers, Spring Frost by Ismail Kadare ***
What a strange little book. I don't think I really understand it. It was about this artist, Mark, in Albania just after the dictatorship ended. He has a girlfriend. He gets locks for his door because he is worried about theft. He's also obsessed with the blood feud tradition in the rural area he moved to from the city. There is a shooting, and a bunch of stuff about Oedipus, and some bits about Death. I'll have to read it again, I think.