Jackie's 2021 ROOT thread

Converses2021 ROOT CHALLENGE

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Jackie's 2021 ROOT thread

Editat: gen. 1, 1:08pm

Hello everyone, welcome to my thread! I'm Jackie, and I've been a member of this group since 2014, so I think that means this is my 8th year ROOTing. I've found this (and the Category Challenge) group really helpful for getting a bit of a grip on Mt TBR, and I love the book and other chat in the group. I read a lot of non-fiction, and nature/place writing is my reading happy place, but I do try and fit in some regular fiction as well.

I've kept my goal the same as 2020, 60 books. In 2020 I exceeded that by quite a lot, but this year I want to feel less stressed and so I'm not going to go too all out on trying to exceed the goal. If I read more than 5 books a month that's great, but I'm not going to put myself under pressure to do more than that. There are a few books which I'm going to read over the entire year, so if I manage 5 books a month then those books will help me exceed my goal by year end.

I'm also going to keep my goal of trying to reduce Mt TBR. The last couple of years I've been successful in slowly chipping away at it. I'd hoped to start 2021 with the total number of books still left to be read under 400. I didn't quite manage that, but I did reduce the pile by 20 books. I've decided to try and aim for 375 books or fewer by the end of 2021. My main strategy is to try and only acquire a book when I've read 2 books from Mt TBR (I haven't managed it yet, but even just trying has helped!). I don't count books I receive as presents in that 2 for 1 (trying to give myself a bit of wiggle room!). I'll keep trying to get closer to that goal in 2021.

Happy reading everyone, and may 2021 be a big improvement in all areas on 2020!

Note to self so I don't have to look everywhere - code for inserting a picture (surrounded by less than and greater than signs): img src="URL" width=200 length=150

Ticker 1: ROOTs read

Ticker 2: Acquisitions

Ticker 3: Books left on Mt TBR

Editat: abr. 11, 1:55pm

ROOTs 1-50

1. Svetlana Alexievich - Chernobyl Prayer. Finished 6.1.21. 4.5/5.
2. J.D. Vance - Hillbilly Elegy. Finished 9.1.21. 3.5/5.
3. Jessica J. Lee - Two Trees Make a Forest. Finished 16.1.21. 4.5/5.
4. Janey Godley - Frank Get The Door!. Finished 18.1.21. 4/5.
5. Nevil Shute - A Town Like Alice. Finished 18.1.21. 3.5/5.
6. Roger Deakin - Waterlog. Finished 30.1.21. 4.5/5.
7. Various, ed. Robyn Sarty - B is for Beauty: A Beauty and the Beast Anthology. Finished 31.1.21. 4/5.
8. Dan Fagin - Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation. Finished 8.2.21. 4.5/5.
9. Alice Vincent - Rootbound: Rewilding a Life. Finished 14.2.21. 3.5/5.
10. Various, ed. Robyn Sarty - A is for Apple: A Snow White Anthology. Finished 15.2.21. 4/5.
11. Dara McAnulty - Diary of a Young Naturalist. Finished 18.2.21. 5/5.
12. Akala - Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire. Finished 19.2.21. 4.5/5.
13. Mark Stay - The Crow Folk. Finished 27.2.21. 5/5.
14. Kassidy Shade & Andy Chapman - Dinosaurs, Jetpacks, and Rock Stars!. Finished 28.2.21. 4/5.
15. Michel Foucault - The Will to Knowledge: The History of Sexuality Vol 1. Finished 5.3.21. 3/5.
16. Craig Packer - Into Africa. Finished 11.3.21. 4/5.
17. David H Mould - Postcards from the Borderlands. Finished 23.3.21. 3.5/5.
18. Danny Katch - Why Bad Governments Happen to Good People. Finished 24.3.21. 3.5/5.
19. Fiona de Londras & Mairead Enright - Repealing the 8th. Finished 27.3.21. 4/5.
20. Jane Williams - The Merciful Humility of God. Finished 28.3.21. 3.5/5.
21. Diane Ackerman - Cultivating Delight: A Natural History of My Garden. Finished 28.3.21. 4.5/5.
22. Frank Kusy - Life Before Frank: From Cradle to Kibbutz. Finished 11.4.21. 3.5/5.

Editat: des. 30, 2020, 9:44am

ROOTs 51+

Editat: abr. 8, 5:34pm


1. Dr Laura Markham - Calm Parents, Happy Kids. Finished 15.2.21. 3/5.
2. Joanna Penn - The Successful Author Mindset. Finished 15.2.21. 4/5.
3. Joanna Penn - How to Market a Book. Finished 25.2.21. 4.5/5.
4. Joanna Penn - How to Make a Living with your Writing. Finished 28.2.21. 3.5/5.
5. Henry David Thoreau - Walden; and, On the duty of civil disobedience. Finished 9.3.21. 3/5.
6. Florence Williams - The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative. Finished 8.4.21. 4/5.

Editat: abr. 11, 6:55am

Acquisitions 1-50

1. Various, ed. Robyn Sarty - B is for Beauty. Acquired 1.1.21.
2. C.K. McDonnell - The Stranger Times. Acquired 18.1.21.
3. Jane Williams - The Merciful Humility of God. Acquired 30.1.21.
4. Mark Stay - The Crow Folk. Acquired 4.2.21.
5. Michael McCarthy, Jeremy Mynott, Peter Marron - The Consolation of Nature: Spring in the Time of Coronavirus. Acquired 15.2.21.
6. Corinne Fowler - Green Unpleasant Land. Acquired 25.2.21.
7. Kassidy Shade & Andy Chapman - Dinosaurs, Jetpacks, and Rock Stars. Acquired 27.2.21.
8. Tom Cox - Notebook. Acquired 1.3.21.
9. David H. Mould - Postcards from the Borderlands. (LTER) Acquired 6.3.21.
10. Robin Wall Kimmerer - Braiding Sweetgrass. Acquired 13.3.21.
11. Philippa Perry - The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read: (And Your Children Will Be Glad That You Did). Acquired 16.3.21.
12. Leslie Kern - Feminist City. Acquired. 16.3.21.
13. Musa Okwonga - One of Them - An Eton College Memoir. Acquired 1.4.21. (*** note to self - all books up to and including this one in Jar of Fate ***)

Editat: des. 30, 2020, 9:44am

Acquisitions 50+ (hopefully an empty post!)

Editat: abr. 11, 1:55pm

Nerdy stats

ROOTs (total: 22)

fiction: 6
non-fiction: 16

female author: 9 (%)
male author: 13 (%)
non-binary author: (%)
mixed anthology: 2 (%)

paper book: 5 (%)
ebook: 17 (%)

completed: 22

ratings (4* and above): 14

Non-ROOTs (total: 6)

non-fiction: 6

female author: 5
male author: 1

paper book:
ebook: 6

completed: 6

Acquisitions (total: 12)

fiction: 4
non-fiction: 8

female author: 6
male author: 8
mixed: 1

paper book: 2
ebook: 10

Amount spent overall: £79.14


kobo - 5
hive.co.uk -
Unbound - 2
amazon marketplace -
birthday presents -
LTER - 1
Verso - 1
Barter Books -
amazon.co.uk - 2
Christmas presents -
Outwith -
Book Depository -
Peepal Tree Press - 1
random gift - 1

(via Bookbub - )

2 for 1 progress (minus presents)

ROOTs 22
acquisitions 12

des. 30, 2020, 10:16am

Hi Jackie. Good to see you back again. Happy ROOTing!

des. 30, 2020, 10:26am

Yay, Jackie's here! :D Have a great reading year!

My parents and I were just talking about Barter Books yesterday... we were imagining our first post-pandemic trip to the UK (likely 2022 at this rate, haha). I've been reading the Vera and Shetland books so maybe we'll have to do an Ann Cleeves special -- Northumberland and Shetland! (But I also want to go to the Hebrides and fly to Barra, and land on the beach runway...)

des. 30, 2020, 10:28am

>8 connie53: Thank you Connie! I intend to have a very happy reading year!
>9 rabbitprincess: Northumberland and Shetland would be an amazing twofer - two of my favourite places! The Barra flight is on my bucket list too, it looks amazing.

Editat: des. 30, 2020, 12:26pm

I like your idea of the total books on TBR ticker. I'm trying to decide if it would be good for me to have one or if I would just totally stess out!

Hope you have a great year!

des. 30, 2020, 4:44pm

I may have to steal your stats form! You know I am a numbers person!

Good luck holding down those acquisitions - I did terribly in 2020.

Happy 2021 Reading!

des. 30, 2020, 10:59pm

Wishing you good luck with your ROOTing goals. Really fun nerdy stats. I agree with Chèli, as I am also tempted to borrow them. ;-)

des. 30, 2020, 11:07pm

How are you feeling, Jackie? I just noticed you mentioned in Henrik's topic that you recently had your first dose of the vaccine. I hope any side effects are minimal and you are okay.

des. 31, 2020, 3:17am

>14 This-n-That: i noticed that too. Great! I can't wait to get the vaccine. So I will be watching you closely.

des. 31, 2020, 10:16am

>11 clue: I like it as a nice visual aid (and a bit of an incentive) to try and acquire fewer books - not *no* books (I couldn't do that!), but fewer! It's not for everyone, but I've found it helpful and motivating. It took me ages to figure out how to do it, but it turns out tickerfactory do a debt ticker as well as a savings ticker, and it's the debt ticker that counts down!
>12 cyderry: >13 This-n-That: You're welcome to borrow the stats. I kept it as I went along in 2020 and it was useful to track what I was reading and spending etc.
>14 This-n-That: >15 connie53: Thank you, I'm doing fine! It's been 48 hours (well, 49 actually, now I look at the clock) since I had the injection, and I've felt absolutely fine. My arm was a bit sore yesterday, but no worse than any other injection I've ever had, and better than some! I'm glad to have got the first dose out the way, and I already have the appointment for the next one, 28 days later. It was actually my wedding anniversary that day, so a strange way to celebrate, but I wasn't going to delay it! :D

des. 31, 2020, 4:42pm

Happy ROOTing in 2021, Jackie!

Glad to read you got the vaccination, and belated happy anniversary.

des. 31, 2020, 4:49pm

>17 FAMeulstee: Thank you very much, Anita! Our anniversary was quiet, it wasn't a 'significant' number (well, it's significant to us, but you know what I mean!). We usually get a curry to celebrate (eating out or getting a takeaway), but our 7yo wanted pizza, so we decided to live dangerously and got pizza delivered instead!

des. 31, 2020, 5:57pm

Hi Jackie, Happy New Year to you, and happy ROOTing in 2021!

2020 was a year of distractions for me but hope to see more of you, and fellow ROOTers in 2021!

des. 31, 2020, 6:45pm

>19 floremolla: Thank you, Donna, and also to you!

gen. 1, 5:03am

>18 Jackie_K: I just missed the anniversary thing. Congrats on that.

gen. 1, 6:13am

Have a happy and healthy year of ROOTing, Jackie, and congrats on the anniversary

gen. 1, 12:50pm

>21 connie53: >22 Robertgreaves: Thank you Connie and Robert! 13 years (we were late bloomers!), it's gone really quickly!

My 2 for 1 has got off to a start, in the wrong direction, as I had a preorder arrive on my kindle today. I also heard that I have won an LTER book (the first one I've requested in a year and a half - although the last one never arrived, so I'll only count it when I actually get it). I'd better get on with some ROOTing!

gen. 1, 12:51pm

>5 Jackie_K: Love it, you're not wasting any time!

gen. 1, 12:55pm

>24 ritacate: In my defence, the anthology is edited by a friend, and includes stories by her and a handful of other people I know, and I preordered it in 2020. And it's just typical that the first Early Reviewer book I've been remotely interested in reading in ages is awarded at the start of the year as well!

gen. 1, 1:04pm

Hi Jackie and Happy New Year!

I'm glad to hear that you got your first COVID vaccination and that you only had a sore arm and no other side effects.

Happy anniversary, too, and here's to another great ROOTing year.

Editat: gen. 1, 1:30pm

>26 karenmarie: Thanks so much Karen! My arm's no longer sore, and I'm just relieved to have started the process of vaccination. The hospital where I work, like others up and down the country, is very busy - I'm on leave right now, but I'm wondering what I'm going to find when I get back to work at the end of next week. We had a nice quiet anniversary, and a pizza delivered (A's choice - we usually have a curry for our anniversary but we'd had one a week or so ago so we decided to ring in the changes!).

gen. 1, 7:28pm

Happy new year, Jackie! Great news on the vaccination! It's so exciting to hear of more and more people getting it. Can't wait to get mine, though as a young, healthy person who can work from home I'm last in line!

Editat: gen. 1, 9:02pm

Happy new year, Jackie! That's awesome that you reduced your TBR pile by 20. I would be overjoyed to manage that :). I like the debt ticker idea, too.

gen. 2, 11:22am

>28 curioussquared: Thank you! It looks like the UK are delaying the 2nd doses of the vaccine (trying to get as many people as possible to have the first dose first) so I don't know if I'm going to get my 2nd dose when I expect, but probably not (I'll know for sure when I get back to work at the end of next week). I have mixed feelings about this - on the one hand, I expect the modelling has shown that this will be more effective at suppressing the virus across the entire population than some of us being fully vaccinated while others have to wait for longer before even getting their 1st dose. But on the other hand, particularly as someone who works with vulnerable patients, I would like to know that I am fully vaccinated and less likely to catch/pass on the virus. I'm also concerned that it will get logistically much more complicated - it's not been so bad in here Scotland, but in England I have no faith that the government could organise a proverbial **** up in a brewery, never mind a more complex vaccination schedule. I suspect it will be harder to ensure all people have both doses if they're waiting longer between doses. I hope I'm wrong.

>29 readingtangent: Thank you, I'm really happy to have reduced the pile a bit! I'd have liked it to have been a bit more, but I'll take it! I have good intentions this year too, we'll see how well I do :D. To get to 375 I'll need to reduce it by 32, which is quite a big ask!

gen. 2, 12:36pm

Hi Jackie! That's great news about the first shot of the vaccine. I hope they don't stretch out your your second shot for too long - if anyone needs to be as fully vaccinated as possible it's medical staff and people working in healthcare settings.

gen. 2, 4:01pm

>31 susanj67: Thank you, I agree! Looking at some of the recent papers (specifically a briefing by JCVI, in whom I have much more faith than in Johnson, Hancock & co), they seem to be suggesting that leaving it a bit longer to have the 2nd dose may actually confer a greater level of individual protection than you'd get by having them only 4 weeks apart, which is encouraging. But, as with so much about covid, there's a lot of hypothesising without necessarily having all the data because it's all been so quick (wonderfully quick, I'm not saying it's been overly rushed). Anyway. I'm not going to worry about it, and I'm glad to at least have some partial protection already!

gen. 2, 6:17pm

>30 Jackie_K: My parents in Reading are scheduled to have their second vaccination dose tomorrow (Monday).

gen. 3, 5:47am

Glad to hear vaccination is going along smoothly and without sideeffects of any significance.

Interesting to hear the decision to wait with the second dose. I had not heard about that possibility and the policy here is to aim for three weeks apart - at least initially. Probably to get the most vulnerable and exposed groups finished first.

Good luck ROOTing!

gen. 3, 11:20am

>33 Robertgreaves: Fingers crossed it still goes ahead for them! I presume there will be a lot of local variation.
>34 Henrik_Madsen: Thanks Henrik! Our policy was initially 21-28 days apart (my appointment for the 2nd dose is 28 days later), but just in the past couple of days the talk about extending the time between doses has started.

gen. 3, 3:25pm

Welcome back, Jackie!

SO glad to hear you've gotten your first dose of vaccine. Last week some chatter started in the US about also delaying second doses but there's no traction on that yet. Methinks no one conceived how large-scale a mass-vaccination plan was needed here ... available stock isn't even being utilized.

gen. 4, 9:22am

It was great to see the first person getting the Oxford vaccine today.

I'm just watching Nicola Sturgeon locking Scotland down from midnight, Jackie - inevitable I suppose. No word yet on what England's going to do.

gen. 4, 10:55am

>38 Jackie_K: Yes, I think it was inevitable. It's the right thing to do, but I'm going to have to get my head round home school again (sigh) and how to organise my time (looks like I'll be doing my tax return in the evenings!). Johnson's going to do an announcement at 8pm, so I'm assuming there'll be a lockdown across England too. Not before time.

gen. 5, 9:17am

Welcome back, Jackie. Such exciting news about the vaccination!

gen. 5, 9:53am

>39 MissWatson: Thank you, welcome back to you too, Birgit! I'm still in full working order after it (much to the disappointment of the conspiracy theorists, I expect).

gen. 5, 9:56am

>40 Jackie_K: Those people are unbelievable. A vaccination centre went operational here in Kiel, but they still don't have a lot of the vaccine, so things are going slowly. Care homes and medical professions are first in line.

gen. 5, 6:04pm

Happy new year, Jackie and happy ROOTing!

gen. 6, 12:35pm

>41 MissWatson: I hope things start to speed up for you there soon!
>42 Carmenere: Thank you so much!


My first book of the year was excellent, if harrowing. Nobel Laureate Svetlana Alexievich's Chernobyl Prayer is an oral history, she interviews people who lived and worked in the area of Ukraine and Belarus near the Chernobyl nuclear power reactor - clean up workers, widows, conscripted soldiers, scientists, politicians, volunteers, journalists. As usual she does not include any of her own questions or commentary, it is just the people talking, which leaves a raw and powerful account of the aftermath of the nuclear disaster. Very powerful and harrowing. 4.5/5.

gen. 8, 10:16am

I'm reminded that I didn't post my 2020 reading stats yet (they're at the front of my 2020 thread, but I don't expect anyone to be looking there!). My fiction and non-fiction ROOT reading and acquisitions very accurately sum up my preferences I think! (75% non-fic read, and 82% non-fic bought). I was surprised I had acquired so many paper books - I much prefer reading on my kobo these days.

ROOTs (total: 86, of which there was only 1 DNF, and 59 were 4* or higher)

fiction: 19 (23%)
non-fiction: 65 (75%)
poetry: 2 (2%)

female author: 30 (32%) (must do better!)
male author: 58 (62%)
non-binary author: 1 (1%)
mixed anthology: 5 (5%)

paper book: 38 (44%)
ebook: 48 (56%)

Non-ROOTs (total: 13)

fiction: 1
non-fiction: 8
poetry: 4

female author: 7
male author: 6

paper book: 4
ebook: 9

Acquisitions (total: 66)

fiction: 12 (18%)
non-fiction: 54 (82%)

female author: 29 (43%)
male author: 29 (43%)
mixed anthology: 9 (14%)

paper book: 27 (41%)
ebook: 39 (59%)

Amount spent overall: £332.73 (I'm not sure this is accurate - I think it's a bit more and I forgot to count a handful of books. So let's say about £350).


kobo - 33 (of which 7 were via bookbub)
Unbound - 2
amazon marketplace - 4
amazon.co.uk - 3
birthday presents - 7
Christmas presents - 4
British Trust for Ornithology - 1
Big Green Bookshop* - 1
Little Toller - 1
twitter giveaway - 1
Outwith* - 2
Book Depository - 1
Janey Godley Store - 1
Book-ish* - 1
Granta - 2
direct from author - 1
(* = indie bookshop)

gen. 8, 10:25am

>43 Jackie_K: Svetlana Alexievich writes excellent books. I have read Chernobyl Prayer, Second-hand Time, and The Unwomanly Face of War. Last December I have read Last Witnesses about the memories of people who were children when the war started. All were powerful reads.

gen. 8, 10:29am

>45 FAMeulstee: Yes - I read Secondhand Time a year or two ago too. I have The Unwomanly Face of War lined up for a challenge a bit later in the year. I keep getting Boys in Zinc recommended too, so I might give that a try at some point.

gen. 8, 11:48am

Nice stats, Jackie!

gen. 8, 12:25pm

Very nice stats!

gen. 8, 8:27pm

>44 Jackie_K: Always interesting to see what stats people think are significant

gen. 9, 7:02am

Chernobyl Prayer does sound pretty harrowing, Jackie. I read Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy last year (I think) and that was bad enough.

I hope home-schooling isn't too bad this time around.

Editat: gen. 9, 9:07am

>47 connie53: >48 curioussquared: >49 Robertgreaves: Thank you! They're the same stats I cobbled together a couple of years ago - I'm thinking I really ought to also look at how many books I'm reading by people of colour, and perhaps also the non-US/UK totals too.

>50 susanj67: I must admit I find the whole history of Chernobyl fascinating, and I do mean to get to the other two Chernobyl books (including the one you mention) at some point. I think it's one of those subjects though where you have to ration your reading, as it is so harrowing. Homeschooling starts on Monday for us - so far my daughter seems a lot more enthusiastic than she was last year, we'll see how long that lasts!!


I have mixed feelings about J.D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy, which is his memoir of growing up in a poor hillbilly extended family in the USA and turning his life around. It is really well written, and the fact that he was able to move beyond his troubled childhood is really impressive. He creates a vivid picture of his significant family members, particularly his grandparents Mamaw and Papaw, who were his refuge while his mother's life was so chaotic. But I found his conclusions about what the problems are and how to tackle them simplistic and contradictory - (rightly) criticising policies drawn up by faraway elites without considering the reality of lived experience, but ultimately seeming to make it primarily about individual good and bad life choices. Of course he is not saying it's only one thing and not the other, and both individual choice and government policy and programmes are important in tackling poverty and alienation. But I ultimately found his criticisms of policy and large emphasis on individual choice and behaviour unsatisfying and unconvincing. I'm glad I read this, but I think I'd want to read other accounts rather than basing my entire view of white working class poverty in the USA on just the one book. 3.5/5.

Editat: gen. 9, 11:40am

>51 Jackie_K: A thoughtful review. I also had mixed feelings about Hillbilly Elegy and thought by the end of the book, the author came off as pompous. I also found his stance on people receiving financial aid to be contradictory, especially since he himself received a substantial amount of financial aid to get through college and law school. Unfortunately, I still don't have a well balanced book about poverty in the US to recommend. Perhaps some readers here have good recommendations on the subject.

gen. 9, 2:26pm

>51 Jackie_K: My mixed feelings about Hillbilly Elegy went eventually to the more negative side, I rated it 2.5/5.
My thoughts: The book is both memoir and political, and the last part bothered. He is one of few who made it, yet he has no compasion at all for the ones who didn't make it. Based on a few people who misused social securety, he pledges to take all benefits, forgetting he profited from the system himself, as he would never been able to attend Yale without a scolarship.

gen. 9, 2:35pm

>52 This-n-That: >53 FAMeulstee: Yes, you've both put better into words what I was trying to express. I'm not sure I'd say he had no compassion, but I think that he was contradictory - compassionate when it suited him, but also blaming them just as much. And yes, benefitting from the system but then saying the system is making it worse did jar.

gen. 9, 2:42pm

Hi Jackie!

Impressive statistics, especially the 75% nonfiction.

>51 Jackie_K: Hillbilly Elegy has never once called my name. The one book that I can recommend unequivocally about poverty in the US is Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed. It's probably somewhat dated, but it's about the working poor, whose plight has not changed in 19 years even if the specifics might have. Here's Amazon's blurb:
In this now classic work, Barbara Ehrenreich, our sharpest and most original social critic, goes "undercover" as an unskilled worker to reveal the dark side of American prosperity.

Millions of Americans work full time, year round, for poverty-level wages. In 1998, Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that a job―any job―can be the ticket to a better life. But how does anyone survive, let alone prosper, on $6 an hour?

To find out, Ehrenreich left her home, took the cheapest lodgings she could find, and accepted whatever jobs she was offered. Moving from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, she worked as a waitress, a hotel maid, a cleaning woman, a nursing-home aide, and a Wal-Mart sales clerk. She lived in trailer parks and crumbling residential motels. Very quickly, she discovered that no job is truly "unskilled," that even the lowliest occupations require exhausting mental and muscular effort. She also learned that one job is not enough; you need at least two if you intend to live indoors.

Nickel and Dimed reveals low-rent America in all its tenacity, anxiety, and surprising generosity―a land of Big Boxes, fast food, and a thousand desperate stratagems for survival. Read it for the smoldering clarity of Ehrenreich's perspective and for a rare view of how "prosperity" looks from the bottom. You will never see anything―from a motel bathroom to a restaurant meal―in quite the same way again.It came out in 2001 and I had read it by 2007 when I joined LT and cataloged it.

gen. 9, 2:53pm

Greetings and happy reading in 2021.

I'm with you on Hillbilly Elegy, which I read last year. I thought it was well written but ultimately self-indulgent and tone deaf to the condition of the people he purported to be in sympathy with.

gen. 9, 4:00pm

I'm glad to have started a book discussion so early in the year!

>55 karenmarie: Thank you for the recommendation, Karen - I'll add it to my BB list. I also came across an article on medium.com recently by an Appalachian woman who is also a writer, and who was very critical of Hillbilly Elegy, and I'd love to read some of her work. I just need to see if I can find the article again, because I can't for the life of me remember her name! (one day I'll remember to write things down when I actually see them and not rely on my ageing memory).

>56 rocketjk: Thank you, happy new year to you too! 'Tone deaf' is a good way to put it. I'm glad it's not just me being the awkward squad with this book - I know it got lots of plaudits when it was published, and it's not every book that gets made into a Netflix film (although his family story, which he does write about really vividly, is the kind of thing that I could imagine would be very watchable on the big screen).

gen. 10, 7:27am

Hi Jackie, I can't participate in the conversation about the book, so I'm sorry to change or interrupt the conversation.

I have a question though. How do you get the line next to a quote as in >55 karenmarie: ? It looks real cool.

gen. 10, 8:10am

>58 connie53: I have no idea! Karen? 😁

gen. 10, 8:25am

Okay, that was a stupid question. I now see that Kare made that post!

gen. 10, 9:24am

>60 connie53: LOL at the emoticon!

Not Karen, but it is HTML code called "blockquote".

gen. 10, 9:26am

Not Karen, but it is HTML code called "blockquote".

Got it! Thanks RP.

Editat: gen. 10, 12:40pm

>60 connie53: haha I love that emoticon! We've all had those moments!
>61 rabbitprincess: Thanks RP! Every day's a school day.

gen. 10, 3:56pm

Great stats, Jackie!

I second the recommendation of Nickel and Dimed -- enlightening when it was published. And I eagerly read her next, Bait and Switch about white-collar work, but recall that her voice had turned angry and mocking and I haven't read more than maybe an essay by her since.

>57 Jackie_K: Is it Cassie Chambers (author of Hill Women)? Hers is my favorite of recent memoirs about Appalachia.

gen. 10, 4:06pm

>64 detailmuse: I've just googled, and it wasn't Cassie Chambers. Actually (I didn't fully appreciate this when I read the article initially) she's reviewing the film primarily, and it sounds like the film has focused on the family drama to an exaggerated degree. But her points about the book more widely did resonate with how it made me feel (and she too recommended the Chambers memoir). The article is here: https://gen.medium.com/when-will-the-rural-mother-rise-up-4ffed08ea438

gen. 11, 11:23am

>65 Jackie_K: Thank you, I've favorited your post to keep the link. I liked the article's referrals for further reading on Appalachia and the Rust Belt (though they're pretty dispiriting in an already low time). Also liked the characterization of Vance's “literary strip-mining. He mined it but didn’t put anything back.” -- Cassie Chambers returned to provide legal aid to the impoverished.

gen. 12, 8:40pm

Yes, glad you were able to get the answer about blockquote.

In case you've never seen some of the fun stuff, here's a great thread for html code.

How to do cool stuff in your threads

gen. 13, 6:46am

Yes, I know. I saw the blockquote HTML-code there too, but did not quite know what it meant.

gen. 17, 9:42am


Jessica J. Lee's Two Trees Make a Forest is a memoir of discovering her family's roots in Taiwan. She herself has Canadian and British citizenship, her father is Welsh and mother is Chinese-Taiwanese; it was her mother's parents who had to flee to Taiwan from China in 1947. In this book she returns to Taiwan to discover the place and to try and make sense of her family history, helped by recordings she made with her grandmother before she died talking about her life, and also by a letter written by her grandfather, already starting to feel the effects of the Alzheimer's that would eventually kill him, about his life in China and Taiwan. The book includes lush descriptions of the Taiwanese countryside and mountains and nature that she explores, and meditations on identity, belonging and language.

The first couple of chapters I was a bit unsure about the book - the prose did feel like it was veering towards the purple a bit, and there were some words that I just didn't know (she's particularly fond in the early chapters of the word 'lithic'). But it was so worth persevering - as I got a few chapters in, and got more used to the rhythm of her prose, and got more fascinated by both her family history and the nature of Taiwan, I was drawn in and felt fully immersed in her journey. I also found the chapter where she discussed Taiwanese nature writing fascinating. 4.5/5.

Editat: gen. 18, 4:47pm


Ever since lockdown began last year, the Scottish First Minister's daily covid briefings have been considerably livened up by comedian Janey Godley's voiceovers. Using the visuals from the briefings, she provides an alternative commentary in (very sweary) Scots, and it has been a real highlight of the last year. Frank Get The Door! is a book with the transcripts of the first 5 and a bit months (from the second half of March to the end of August) of the voiceovers. As is often the case with these things, the actual video and sound is funnier than reading it on the page, but there were still plenty of things here which made me laugh out loud (especially the briefing where she was asked about Donald Trump's remarks on light and bleach, and the following day when she was talking about face coverings in shops: "DON'T PUT A G-STRING OAN YER HEID"). A welcome bit of light relief now we're in lockdown again. 4/5.

gen. 18, 9:28am

>70 Jackie_K: Now you have me googling to find the video so I can watch Nicola Sturgeon's face seeming to exclaim "DON'T PUT A G-STRING OAN YER HEID!" because I think that might be just the thing to cheer me up.

gen. 18, 9:33am

>71 Caramellunacy: Haha, happy to help! If it's any help, it's the episode from 28th April 2020, and the episode title is "Face masks".

Editat: gen. 18, 1:16pm


Nevil Shute's A Town Like Alice is a book I started in April 2020, but don't let the fact that it has taken me months and months to read it put you off - I did like it! I just kept getting distracted! It is the story of English woman Jean Paget, who unexpectedly inherits a fortune from her uncle. She initially decides to return to Malaya, where she had been a prisoner of the Japanese along with other British women and children and where they had been forced to march from town to town with the Japanese soldiers unwilling to take responsibility for them. While on the march she got to know Joe, an Australian soldier, also a prisoner, who is killed after stealing some chickens from the Japanese for the women. Her time as a prisoner takes the first third of the book. Thereafter, when she returns to Malaya to build a well to help the village which eventually took them in, she discovers that Joe in fact wasn't killed, but recovered and eventually returned to Australia. She goes on to Australia to try and find him, and finds that he's been holding a candle for her too. The rest of the book is the story of her settling in Australia and finding love. It has to be said that some of the language in the book is 'of its time' (particularly about the Aborigines in Australia, and Japanese in Malaya) which I could overlook as it was of its time, but also couldn't overlook and I wish it wasn't there. But I'm glad I've read it (eventually!) and would read more Shute if it comes across my path. 3.5/5

Also, the man on this cover always reminds me of Keir Starmer (leader of the UK Opposition). Once I saw it I just couldn't unsee it.

gen. 19, 6:16am

>73 Jackie_K: I read this one several years ago - picked it up when I was flying through Alice Springs, which seemed fitting. I enjoyed the story, but definitely was uncomfortable with some of the language/attitudes, which impacted my enjoyment as well.

gen. 19, 12:45pm

I have to get to that book again. I have good feelings when I think of the book, but don't remember much about the story. Just an impression of 'That was a good book'.

gen. 30, 7:17am

>74 Caramellunacy: I think that's a common reaction - good book, good story, shame about the racism.
>75 connie53: I'd read it again, I think, but forewarned about the less savory bits!


Waterlog: A Swimmer's Journey Through Britain by Roger Deakin is a wonderful, immersive book. He undertakes to spend a year swimming in as many wild and random swimming spots in the British Isles as he can - taking in rivers, sea, lakes, open air pools and lidos. I enjoyed this immensely - I'm never going to be a wild swimmer myself, I'm not a strong enough swimmer, but I enjoyed the journey from my armchair. There were a few places where he turns back without swimming (a super-scary sounding pothole in Yorkshire and, thank goodness, the Corrievreckan whirlpool north of Jura in Scotland, trying to swim that would be madness), but he still manages to convey the emotion and physicality and nature and beauty of the places. There's plenty about the wildlife and plants and manmade structures he encounters. I'm keen to read some of his other books now. 4.5/5.

gen. 30, 9:43am

>76 Jackie_K: Beautiful cover on that one!

gen. 30, 10:07am

>76 Jackie_K: How perfectly put, I am going to go add that as a tag to my copy now.

Waterlog sounds so interesting - although I am wrapping myself in a thicker blanket thinking of swimming as I look outside.

gen. 30, 12:29pm

>77 rabbitprincess: Isn't it? So simple, but so evocative.
>78 Caramellunacy: Yes, I was glad to be considering wild swimming from the vantage point of my centrally heated house whilst under a duvet!

gen. 31, 5:22pm


My final completed read for January is B is for Beauty: A Beauty and the Beast Anthology, a collection of ten short stories retelling the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale in various different genres - from sci-fi, romance (Regency, paranormal, sweet), through to urban fantasy. I bought this book (and its predecessor, A is for Apple: A Snow White Anthology which I'm planning on reading in February) because my friend Robyn Sarty edited and contributed a story to it; regular readers of my reviews will know that none of the above genres are my reading comfort zone! That said though, I really enjoyed this, and whilst (as with any collection of short stories) there were stories that I liked more than others, there were no stories (unlike most collections of short stories I've read) that I actively disliked or thought was weak. Short stories are so hard to do well, so for every story to have sufficient depth to be satisfying is a real achievement. 4/5.

feb. 1, 12:50am

I read on the group thread that you had finished a book that you started last year sometime. For a minute I thought you might mean Jerusalem, Jackie. I haven't cracked the covers of that book in ages.

feb. 2, 12:06pm

>81 Familyhistorian: Same here with Jerusalem, Meg, although I am full of good intentions for this year!

feb. 2, 12:11pm

January got off to a good start, with 7 ROOTs read and 3 books acquired. I did find reading 7 a bit stressful though, I need to be disciplined enough to let myself not take on too much. Note to self: 5 a month would be fine!

The books I finished this month were:

1. Svetlana Alexievich - Chernobyl Prayer.
2. J.D. Vance - Hillbilly Elegy.
3. Jessica J. Lee - Two Trees Make a Forest.
4. Janey Godley - Frank Get The Door!.
5. Nevil Shute - A Town Like Alice.
6. Roger Deakin - Waterlog.
7. Various, ed. Robyn Sarty - B is for Beauty: A Beauty and the Beast Anthology.

And January's acquisitions are:

1. Various, ed. Robyn Sarty - B is for Beauty: A Beauty and the Beast Anthology.
2. C.K. McDonnell - The Stranger Times.
3. Jane Williams - The Merciful Humility of God. (I'm going to read this one for Lent this year).

feb. 2, 5:14pm

>80 Jackie_K: retelling the ... fairy tale in various different genres
What an interesting idea. I read little genre fiction so that would be fun exposure.

feb. 4, 9:15am

>84 detailmuse: It was - as you know I'm not a big fiction reader, but shorter versions (especially when done well) were easier to pick up and dip into. And the different genres meant that if I was less fussed about one story, the next one was likely to be better.

feb. 9, 3:24pm


Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan Fagin won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 2014, deservedly so. This chunkster of a book details the story of the town of Toms River, New Jersey, and the growing realisation of the impact of industrial pollution on the town. As well as meticulously detailing the various players: there was a big Ciba-Geigy chemical plant there from the 1950s, the town's biggest employer until it was eventually closed in the 1990s; also Union Carbide used a local farm to dump waste; the local water company neglected to add filters or report about known pollution in some of their wells; local and federal government neglected to order or follow up on studies, and brushed rumours of pollution hazardous to health under the carpet; and meanwhile families throughout the town were unwittingly drinking water polluted with industrial waste, or working with minimal protection with highly hazardous waste. Over the years there seemed to be more and more cases of both adult and childhood cancers, and this book looks at each study which eventually built up a bigger picture of what was happening. At times it read like a detective story, at others like an epic family tragedy. I was absolutely gripped - with admiration for the investigative writing, rage at the incompetence, indifference and focus on profit over health and environment, and sorrow for the families affected. 4.5/5.

Editat: feb. 10, 2:29pm

Hi Jackie! I hope you're doing well. Are you in lockdown, and is A in school or at being schooled from home?

>70 Jackie_K: What a riot! I found that April 28 2020 YouTube video and laughed my head off, especially at the end when she was muttering about her handbag, shoes, and sandwich.

>73 Jackie_K: Excellent, enticing review. I have A Town Like Alice on my shelves, and have tagged it 2021 read. Who knows, I may actually read it in 2021… *smile*

>83 Jackie_K: Congrats on a great start to 2021. You’re ahead of the game for sure.

>86 Jackie_K: Excellent review.

Editat: feb. 11, 10:04am

>87 karenmarie: Hi Karen! Yes, we're in lockdown in Scotland currently, and have had to homeschool since schools returned in January. But the youngest children are returning after the half term holiday in a couple of weeks, including A (she's in the oldest year that is returning, Primary 3). To be honest I'm relieved - there will be fewer children in the school, but the socialisation that's so important for the younger children will be there. She's really missed her friends, and we're getting by with homeschooling but not loving it! Meanwhile, I now have a date for my 2nd covid vaccination, in mid-March, so that's another relief.

I'm so pleased you enjoyed the Janey Godley voiceover video. I think she's brilliant. She gets a horrific amount of abuse on Twitter (mainly from football fans) but she keeps going - I have a lot of time for her.

Right now A is having a Google Meet meeting with her class and teacher, and it is chaos, but fun to listen in!

feb. 11, 1:03pm

>88 Jackie_K: A class meet sounds like fun. My grandkids are back to school and daycare too. Fiene loved to go again, Marie is happy where ever she is and she is not going every day and Lonne is in daycare on Monday only. But it's just for this one week, because next Monday the Carnival Holiday is starting so I think the Netherlands should have done the same as in Scotland and waited until after that week.

feb. 11, 1:31pm

>89 connie53: Marie is happy where ever she is - this made me smile so much!

I think you're right about the holidays - next week is our half term holiday; originally schools were provisionally meant to go back on 1st February but they extended it to the holiday, and then it's only the younger 3 years that are going back; older children have to homeschool for longer.

feb. 12, 4:09am

Here it's a bit unclear. The schools can make their own rules for the the 2 oldest years. So they can choose to split the class up in two parts and switch between them. One group in the morning and the other in the afternoon, or one group in class and one group attending through zoom. What they decide is depending on the amount of teachers that are available. Some are sick at home or in quarantine. Some are older and don't want to be in physically.

feb. 12, 10:47am

>86 Jackie_K: What a beautiful review, such a terrible tragedy. I feel the rage and impotence -- against regulators in nearly every industry, who for decades (and right now) have looked away from the public interest and contributed to catastrophe.

feb. 12, 2:44pm

>92 detailmuse: Yes, it really was a tragedy. As I read it, it reminded me of Erin Brockovich, and also the ongoing campaign in Flint. These lessons just never seem to be learnt :(

feb. 14, 12:53pm


Alice Vincent's Rootbound: Rewilding a Life was longlisted for last year's Wainwright Prize. It's part memoir, part discovery of the healing power of gardening and green spaces. After a breakup and having to live out of suitcases for several months, Alice finds solace through planting and growing, and discovering the green spaces of London and other cities around the world (I enjoyed her account of the High Line in New York particularly). Large parts of this are really beautifully written, and I'm sure I'll come back to this again and get even more out of a reread, but curmudgeonly me would have preferred a bit more of the plants and a bit less of the relationship angst. 3.5/5.

Editat: feb. 15, 9:27am

ROOT #10

A is for Apple: A Snow White Anthology, edited by Robyn Sarty, is from the same stable of anthologies as the Beauty and the Beast anthology I read last month. If anything I think I preferred this one - 6 stories retelling the Snow White fairytale from a number of different genres, including fantasy and contemporary literature (including one which recast Snow White and her stepmother as rival beauty influencers). The only one which didn't really work for me was the paranormal fantasy story, but that's more the genre than the author, as the writing was good, it just wasn't my cup of tea. I think my favourite was probably the first story, where the author Phoenix Xiao drew on Chinese mythology to explore the question of what if it was the stepmother who was the victim? Honorable mentions also to Julian Barr's fantasy retelling, and to Mark Hood's aforementioned beauty influencer contemporary story. A solid 4/5.

feb. 15, 1:58pm

Non-ROOT #1

Calm Parents, Happy Kids by Dr Laura Markham is a parenting book which focuses on building connection with children and fostering resilience. It gives practical tips, as well as an easy presentation of the science behind espousing this approach. I pretty much agreed with the approach, although I didn't always find it obvious what the practical tips were, and I preferred another book which she recommends, Lawrence J Cohen's Playful Parenting. 3/5.

feb. 16, 6:40am

Non-ROOT #2

A couple of years ago I got a box set of 3 of indie author Joanna Penn's books for authors, and am just now working my way through them. The first is The Successful Author Mindset, which looks at the issues which can plague authors at all stages of the creative and publishing journey (self-doubt, perfectionism, etc) and offers thoughts on how to deal with these. It's a short book that will be good for dipping in and out of. There's nothing here that I've not heard on her excellent podcast, but it's good to have it all in one place. 4/5.

feb. 18, 1:28pm

ROOT #11

My first 5* book of the year - Dara McAnulty's Diary of a Young Naturalist won last year's Wainwright Prize and I can certainly see why. It's a diary of a year in his life (when he was 14 - he's 17 now) chronicling his interaction with nature, his growing nature and climate activism, his life with his family, and his experiences of growing up as an autistic teenager (including how commonplace bullying and isolation was). I loved how he was able to explain how he experiences nature and how autism brings it into such sharp focus, but also how he so clearly and naturally explained how he experiences the neurotypical world and how exhausting it can be. He is a really impressive and accomplished writer, and this is a wonderful book. 5/5.

feb. 20, 11:51am

ROOT #12

Akala's Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire is an impressive and highly readable book about race and class, primarily in the UK although acknowledging there are global issues and threads. It is part memoir of his life growing up as a mixed-race, black-identifying boy in the 80s and 90s, and his experiences of racism, prejudice in education and at the hands of the police, as well as violence in his community and beyond, and part polemic about the roots of institutional racism in imperialism and capitalism. Highly recommended. 4.5/5.

feb. 21, 3:16pm

>98 Jackie_K: Always appreciating your reviews of nature books. This one sounds fabulous. It looks to be available in the US (maybe??) but also looks like it'll be released this summer...looking forward to it.

feb. 25, 5:48am

>100 detailmuse: Thank you, MJ! I definitely highly recommend The Diary of a Young Naturalist. I'm trying to read at least one nature book a month this year, there are plenty of really good ones out there so this is a project I'm enjoying immensely! :)

feb. 25, 6:20am

>101 Jackie_K:
That sounds like a wonderful project, I look forward to seeing what you choose.

feb. 26, 4:36pm

>102 Caramellunacy: I was looking at all the nature books on my wishlist yesterday, and wondering if I could afford to give up absolutely everything and just spend the entire time reading. So many lovely books, so little time!

Non-ROOT #3

The second of my Joanna Penn boxset of writing books, How to Market a Book is a really excellent primer for all stages of the book marketing process and I'd highly recommend it. 4.5/5.

Editat: març 6, 4:48pm

A fiction two-fer to finish off the month!

ROOT #13

The Crow Folk by Mark Stay is the first book in the Witches of Woodville trilogy (book 2 is due in October 2021), and I loved it! It's 1940 in a Kent village, Woodville, around the time of the Battle of Britain in WW2. 17 year old Faye finds a book left her by her dead mother, full of recipes, runes and spells, and a previously unheard-of bellringing method. Meanwhile, strange goings-on are happening in the village. Scarecrows are walking round, led by the charismatic Pumpkinhead, and Pumpkinhead wants Faye's book. The only thing that can stop Pumpkinhead are Faye, two eccentric village witches, and a bunch of church bellringers. Stylistically, think Dr Who meets Dad's Army - this is a cosy, and funny, historical fantasy, and I can't wait for the next installment (also, isn't the cover stunning?). 5/5.

ROOT #14

Dinosaurs, Jetpacks, and Rock Stars! by daughter and father team Kassidy Shade and Andy Chapman is a bonkers chapter book for young children just starting on their reading adventure. 8 year old Tommy makes a wish as he blows out the candles on his birthday cake, and gets an awful lot more than he bargained for. Featuring a giant dinosaur called the Tommysaurus, a swimming pool full of jelly, a giant child-eating gummy worm, and a mysterious character known as the Disco Voodoo King (plus plenty of disgusting farts), this is the sort of mad and silly story that young kids will love, and I think it's sorted out my birthday presents for the many 7-8 year olds in my life for the next little while! 4/5.

Editat: feb. 28, 12:02pm

Non-ROOT #4

The third and final of the books in my Joanna Penn boxset is How to Make a Living with your Writing (which actually she's in the process of rewriting and updating at the moment). Again, nothing here I'd not already picked up from her podcast, but again, handy to have all in the one place. I do think though that the price of the boxset was worth it just for How to Market a Book, I'll definitely be returning to that one later this year. 3.5/5.

Editat: març 6, 4:49pm

I'm not going to get any more books read before tomorrow, so here's my February round-up. It was a good month, with 7 ROOTs and 4 Non-ROOTs finished, and 4 acquisitions (2 of which were pre-orders). My 2:1 ROOTs:acquisitions ratio is spot on, at 14 ROOTs and 7 acquisitions. But the last couple of years I've started off well, and fallen off the wagon in August/September time, so I'm not going to rest on my laurels!

This month's ROOTs:

1. Dan Fagin - Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation.
2. Alice Vincent - Rootbound: Rewilding a Life.
3. Various, ed. Robyn Sarty - A is for Apple: A Snow White Anthology.
4. Dara McAnulty - Diary of a Young Naturalist.
5. Akala - Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire.
6. Mark Stay - The Crow Folk.
7. Kassidy Shade & Andy Chapman - Dinosaurs, Jetpacks, and Rock Stars!.

The non-ROOTs were:

1. Dr Laura Markham - Calm Parents, Happy Kids.
2. Joanna Penn - The Successful Author Mindset.
3. Joanna Penn - How to Market a Book.
4. Joanna Penn - How to Make a Living with your Writing.

(the 3 books by Joanna Penn were a boxset)

And these are my acquisitions:

1. Mark Stay - The Crow Folk.
2. Michael McCarthy, Jeremy Mynott, Peter Marron - The Consolation of Nature: Spring in the Time of Coronavirus.
3. Corinne Fowler - Green Unpleasant Land.
4. Kassidy Shade & Andy Chapman - Dinosaurs, Jetpacks, and Rock Stars!.

març 2, 10:30am

Hi Jackie!

>106 Jackie_K: Congrats on your good reading month.

març 2, 1:09pm

>104 Jackie_K:. That Crow book sounds good!

març 2, 2:46pm

>106 Jackie_K: Thanks Karen! A few of them were hangovers from January, but I'll take the numbers! I'm trying to slow my reading down a bit, so I don't have too much going on at once.
>108 connie53: It really is! Only just out in the UK, so I don't know if there'll be a translation of The Crow Folk at some point or not - hopefully there will, as this book really deserves a wide audience.

març 4, 12:21pm

>109 Jackie_K: I've put it on my wishlist so as not to forget it. And it now officially is a BB.

març 5, 5:55pm

>110 connie53: Excellent! I've pre-ordered the next in the series this week, it's out in October 2021.

ROOT #15

When I was doing my PhD, I bought all 3 volumes of Michel Foucault's A History of Sexuality. I only managed to read the first volume, The Will to Knowledge, at the time. I found it really fascinating and helpful, and I always intended to get back to them just for interest and learning's sake. So I've started by re-reading Vol 1. Clearly in the 10+ years since I did my PhD, my intellectual capacity must have atrophied because I found quite a large chunk of this book pretty incomprehensible, and I ended up skimming quite a lot of it. The bits I'd highlighted still made sense, and there were a few other parts where I thought that the ideas were really interesting, but I'm really not sure I can muster up much enthusiasm for the other 2 volumes. The book considers Foucault's usual themes (knowledge, power, discourse) and was pretty groundbreaking at the time, influencing many (frankly much more readable) scholars working on sexuality. I may give Vol 2 a try at some point, but suspect though that I'll be giving these away to someone who'll appreciate them more. 3/5.

març 6, 2:51am

>111 Jackie_K: Interesting that time can change your own perspective on a book that much.

març 6, 8:58am

>112 connie53: I don't think it was a change of perspective (I still think it's an interesting and important book that was groundbreaking in many ways) so much as a change of environment (no longer in academia) meaning that I'm just not immersed in such academic/intellectual conversations, so it was much harder going!

març 6, 1:07pm

>113 Jackie_K: Oh I see what you mean. Thank you for clearing that up.

març 8, 12:04pm

>111 Jackie_K: I don’t think your intellectual capacity has diminished - then mine was flawed to begin with, at least. I have always thought reading Foucault meant enjoying truly brilliant parts but having to read through large chunks which wasn’t really accessible.

març 8, 1:32pm

>115 Henrik_Madsen: Thank you Henrik, that makes me feel much better! I remember a colleague telling me, when I was bracing myself to start reading Foucault early on in my PhD, that instead of trying to understand every sentence, I should just read it like a story, or a historical account. I found that amazing advice at the time, and found loads in this book that I thought was brilliant. I tried to do it again this time, but it was much harder work this time round! :D

Editat: març 31, 11:46am

Non-ROOT #5

This month's library book was Henry David Thoreau's Walden; and, on the duty of civil disobedience. Written in the mid-19th century, Walden is the account of the author's building a shack and living on the land by Walden Pond near Concord, Massachusetts. It's considered a classic of nature writing, and an American classic (one of my American friends told me that, at least when she was growing up and at school, everyone had to read it in high school). This particular copy also includes his later essay On the Duty of Civil Disobedience. Walden is a series of essays about the place, and I had high hopes!

Unfortunately, I found it pretty hard-going! I am coming to the conclusion that for the most part I'm really not suited to pre-20th century writing. I found this book verbose and a bit overblown, but most disappointingly for me, for the bulk of the book what I was wanting to know about - the nature and the place - were largely subsumed in Thoreau's writing about himself and his deep thoughts. A couple of the essays, specifically about the pond itself, were sublime (extra half star for them), and most of the others had bits of nature writing if you dug hard enough, but I found myself skimming more of this than I like to do in a book. 3/5.

Editat: març 10, 4:51pm

>117 Jackie_K: " . . . largely subsumed in Thoreau's writing about himself and his deep thoughts. "

Ha! I was reading a collection of excerpts from Thoreau's various works a couple of years back and finding it very tough sledding exactly for this reason (I had never read him before). I was sitting in front of a local small grocery when a friend passed by and asked what I was reading. I showed her the book and said that I was finding the work dull because Thoreau seemed so impressed with himself. She said, "Yup, that's the Transcendentalists for you. Not a self-effacing one in the bunch." I got a good laugh out of that.

març 10, 5:01pm

>118 rocketjk: Yes, exactly! I'm glad I can say I've read this, but I won't be rushing to read any more of his work.

març 10, 5:40pm

>117 Jackie_K: We read Civil Disobedience in high school alongside MLK's Letter from Birmingham Jail. I liked reading it in that context, but I don't think I'd pick up Thoreau again anytime soon.

març 11, 3:48pm

>120 curioussquared: I found Civil Disobedience really interesting. I'm not especially au fait with the finer details of historical US politics, but there were bits of it which felt very modern-day 'Republican' (small govt, etc), alongside the full-on anti-slavery stuff, which was an interesting juxtaposition.

març 12, 1:21pm

ROOT #16

Into Africa by Craig Packer is an account of a fieldwork trip in the early 1990s to the Serengeti and Gombe national parks in Tanzania. Packer is an academic who has worked on lion studies in the Serengeti since the 1970s, also working with Jane Goodall on chimp/baboon studies in Gombe. During this trip he is initiating some new field assistants who will be collecting data in the field, and helping a PhD student collect samples. This is written as a daily diary, but he also reflects on the things he has learnt about the animals and the place over the decades, and his past experiences as well as what happens during this field trip. It was very readable, not dusty and academic at all, and gave a great sense of the excitement and mundanity of the work, as well as the challenges of the setting. I really enjoyed it. 4/5.

març 12, 3:18pm

>122 Jackie_K:
That sounds like a lovely visit to the Serengeti - would love to travel to Tanzania - armchair or otherwise...

març 13, 11:42am

>123 Caramellunacy: It was perfect armchair travel - throughout the book I could really picture the scenes he was describing. I'd love to see Tanzania too, but may well have to make do with TV and books. Many many years ago I went to Namibia including a few days at Etosha National Park, and seeing all the animals at the waterholes was AMAZING. What an experience.

Editat: març 23, 6:01pm

ROOT #17

I received this book from the publishers as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers programme; thank you to the publishers and author for this opportunity.

Postcards from the Borderlands sees the author in several countries which have disputed, precarious, or otherwise not necessarily logical borders. He travels extensively, usually working as a consultant, and seeks out the more authentic experience of the countries than the average tourist would usually experience. I enjoyed reading this very much, although his accounts of some countries and in particular their issues around borders were more interesting and obvious than others, and in most of the chapters there were aspects which felt a bit more basic 'travel writing' than analysis of the impact of borders. The final chapter, where he sums up the main issues (eg different perceptions of borders depending on nationality, ethnicity, religion, etc), was very interesting - I'd have liked to have seen a bit more of that sort of discussion threaded more overtly throughout the whole book. 3.5/5.

març 25, 7:32am

ROOT #18

Danny Katch is an American comedian and activist, unashamedly politically left-wing. Despite the deliberate provocation of the cover image, Why Bad Governments Happen to Good People is not just "Trump is terrible" (although he does think that) - he's equally critical of the Democrats (even Bernie Sanders doesn't get 100% favourable coverage here!), and traces how mainstream politics and society going way back led to where politics is today. Having read this a few years after it was published, it didn't feel like there was much new as a lot of this has been hashed out in discussions and debates over the past 4 years. But as an outsider looking in at American politics, what was new to me was the sheer extent of wasted opportunities and general incompetence. It was a very readable account, and as someone who basically agrees with him I enjoyed this (if 'enjoy' is the right word for a book about so many missed opportunities and terrible politics). If you want an unbiased account of American politics then this won't be the book for you, but as a short introduction to the major issues and players then it's well worth a look. 3.5/5.

març 27, 5:38pm

I meant to add in my earlier post, I had my second covid vaccination a couple of weeks ago - like the first one, I just had a sore arm the next day and no other side effects, so I'm very happy about that. Even happier that my husband also had his first vaccination last weekend. The end is in sight! (I hope!)

ROOT #19

Repealing the 8th: Reforming Irish Abortion Law by Fiona de Londras and Mairead Enright is a short book, originally published in 2017, the year before the referendum where the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution was repealed. This book does have an epilogue from after the referendum was announced, but before it took place - I'd be interested in a further update now that it's been 3 more years further down the road. The two authors are law professors, and they look at the background to the 8th Amendment and related legislation regarding pregnancy and abortion, and propose an outline of new legislation based on their extensive discussions with interested parties. Law is not usually my field of interest, as it always seems so dry, but this book was interesting and it was really helpful to see how the legal situation was being analysed and proposals for future law being made. 4/5.

Editat: març 28, 5:00pm

ROOT #20

The Merciful Humility of God by Jane Williams is the book I've been reading for Lent this year. It is laid out in 5 chapters, which consist of an exposition of a relevant Biblical passage, an account of a saint or other holy person (eg St Francis of Assisi, St Teresa of Avila) whose life embodies the subject of the chapter, and some questions for discussion/contemplation. I think this would work better as a group read rather than an individual one - I'm probably a bit shallow, but I think I really prefer a more structured, day by day Lent read, and I'll try to go back to that structure for my Lent book next year. 3.5/5.

ROOT #21

Diane Ackerman's Cultivating Delight: A Natural History of my Garden is a lovely book detailing a year in her clearly very extensive garden in New York state. She is an avid gardener, and describes the seasons and lives in the garden beautifully. Occasionally I felt a bit cynical, I'm sure if I had access to that sort of huge garden I could rhapsodise that much too, but I got over myself, because cynicism is just antithetical to such a delightful book. Lots of memorable accounts, although I think my favourite was the short chapter about the hospice garden she volunteers at, and the birdhouse competition they came up with to raise funds. Definitely recommended. 4.5/5.

Also, hooray for me - this marks me getting below 400 books on Mt TBR for the first time in many many years! :D

març 28, 9:28pm

Congrats on the reduction, Jackie. Well done.

març 29, 4:42am

>128 Jackie_K: Oh, that's quite an achievement! My TBR is going out of control (again), I was so happy that bookstores were allowed to open that I splurged.

març 29, 1:31pm

>127 Jackie_K: Congrats on the second COVID vaccine!! And on reducing your TBR :) My fiance and I are not technically eligible in our state yet, but we were able to get leftover first doses at a nearby mass vaccination site -- basically, they had opened too many trays of vaccines and had some no-show appointments, so at the end of the day they just wanted arms to put them in, eligible or not. We were so excited!

març 30, 9:21am

>129 Robertgreaves: >130 MissWatson: >131 curioussquared: Thank you, I'm really pleased, even though it's only a sliver under 400 it's still under!

>131 curioussquared: Glad to hear you got your first vaccine!

març 31, 2:07am

Adding my congratulations on going below 400 - great work!

març 31, 11:08am

>133 Rebeki: Thank you very much!

I'm not going to get any more ROOTs finished in March (and in fact I've got some big books on the go so doubt I'll get another one read before the end of next week), so here's my March recap. It was a good month for reading, 7 ROOTs and 1 non-ROOT, as follows:

ROOTs read:

1. Michel Foucault - The Will to Knowledge: The History of Sexuality Vol 1.
2. Craig Packer - Into Africa.
3. David H Mould - Postcards from the Borderlands.
4. Danny Katch - Why Bad Governments Happen to Good People.
5. Fiona de Londras & Mairead Enright - Repealing the 8th.
6. Jane Williams - The Merciful Humility of God.
7. Diane Ackerman - Cultivating Delight: A Natural History of My Garden.

non-ROOT read:

1. Henry David Thoreau - Walden; and, On the duty of civil disobedience.

I acquired 5 books this month (1 was a pre-order, another was an Early Reviewer book, and another was a gift). As mentioned a few posts upthread, I'm now below 400 books on Mt TBR (398 to be precise). I'm also only just behind on the 1 book acquired for 2 books read - I've read 21 ROOTs this year, and acquired 11 (non-gift) books. I just need to get one more read to be back on track with that. Anyway, here are this month's acquisitions:

1. Tom Cox - Notebook.
2. David H. Mould - Postcards from the Borderlands.
3. Robin Wall Kimmerer - Braiding Sweetgrass.
4. Philippa Perry - The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read: (And Your Children Will Be Glad That You Did).
5. Leslie Kern - Feminist City.

abr. 1, 12:43pm

>128 Jackie_K: Congratulations on getting below 400. That is very well done and quite an inspiration for those of us who haven’t even dared counting them yet!

abr. 1, 2:51pm

Hi Jackie!

Congrats on getting your second dose of vaccine and on your husband getting his first.

I remember trying to read Walden once upon a time and not appreciating the navel-contemplation. I got rid of my copy without regret.

Nice reduction of Mt TBR. Even with the pandemic I've managed to acquire 75 books this year - 43 from a 250+ mystery book donation to the Friends that I was allowed to pick through first and not nearly enough discipline about saying no to other books.

abr. 2, 5:12pm

>135 Henrik_Madsen: Thank you Henrik! Of course, no sooner had I been pleased with myself for getting down to 398 books than a pre-order came in yesterday, so it's now 399. But still below the magic 400!

>136 karenmarie: Hi Karen! I feel so much better hearing all the 'me too' comments about Walden - I thought I was missing something, but apparently not! And I think I'd struggle to be restrained too if I had free reign to look through 250+ books!

abr. 3, 12:22pm

Wow, two vaccinations AND reaching -400 ROOTs is awesome. Job well done, Jackie. Even some books into the house is not going to spoil that.

I want to wish you and your family a very Happy Easter.

abr. 4, 7:39am

Thank you Connie, to you too!

And of course I wish all my lovely LT friends a very happy Easter, however you celebrate it (or not). Me, I'm in a rather agreeable chocolate haze at the moment :)

abr. 4, 4:15pm

Such good progress on decreasing the TBRs, Jackie! Yikes to the comments about Walden...it's in my TBRs, an annotated edition that I hope will help rather than slog the reading.

abr. 8, 5:00pm

>140 detailmuse: Thank you, MJ! I hope the notes help not hinder your reading of Walden too! I can't help thinking if I had someone explaining all Thoreau's deep and meaningfuls I might well have got a lot more from it!

Non-ROOT #6

I'm very much appreciating our library service's expansion of the digital book catalogue over the past year of the pandemic! Florence Williams' The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative is my most recent library book and I really enjoyed it. She's a journalist by background, and this translates to a very readable and non-stuffy book. She looks at all the various research going on around the world into nature's effect on our mental health and wellbeing, and visits a number of fascinating projects, in the US, Japan, Korea, Finland, Scotland and Singapore, amongst others. I found her writing style just the right blend of curiosity, critique, chattiness, openness, and snark. I'll probably get myself a copy of this to keep, as I'm sure I'd dip back into it. 4/5.

abr. 11, 2:05pm

Finally finished a ROOT this month!

ROOT #22

Frank Kusy is an indie author who has produced a series of 6 travel memoirs, all of which I've picked up over the years on Bookbub deals. This book, Life Before Frank: From Cradle to Kibbutz is the prequel memoir to that series, detailing his life before embarking on those travels. I must say he has some cracking anecdotes (including being puked on by Keith Richards, working for a while with Russell Grant the astrologer, and having his hair ruffled by Ronnie Kray when he was a boy, as well as his Polish dad having a connection to Wojciech the bear in WW2), and he's a good writer too. There are a lot of larger than life characters here - cruel Jesuit teachers, his friend Tristan who was into the occult, his Hungarian mother who is desperate for him to be a good Christian, his dim stepbrother, the cruel work manager at the kibbutz he ends up in towards the end of the book. I did feel sorry for his first girlfriend Addie (who he leaves at the end of the book despite her having supported him for years as he got sacked from job after job), but am interested enough to want to read the other books at some point. 3.5/5.

Avui, 4:28am

Hi Jackie! I'm visiting threads to see what everybody is doing and reading. I hope everything is going well with your family.

Avui, 2:35pm

>143 connie53: Thank you Connie, yes we're well here. It's the second full week of the Easter school holidays, so A is back to school next week. Pete took the first week off while I was working, and then I've taken this week off, as the holiday club she normally goes to a couple of days a week in the holidays still hasn't reopened. I hope that they are able to open in the summer, because neither of us have enough holidays from work to be able to take all that time off, even sharing it between us.

I'm also reading some really good books at the moment, so that's good too! :)