RidgewayGirl Reads Some Books in 2021 -- First Quarter

Converses2021 Category Challenge

Afegeix-te a LibraryThing per participar.

RidgewayGirl Reads Some Books in 2021 -- First Quarter

des. 30, 2020, 8:47pm

Here we are again!

Recently, I read Hamnet, Maggie O'Farrell's excellent novel, which reminded me of a time, twenty years ago, when I lived for six months in Warwick, England in a row house (called a cottage) on Bridgend, a small road that faced onto the back of the Warwick castle gardens. The house was built in the late sixteenth century, so we'd visit the Shakespeare Trust properties in nearby Stratford-upon-Avon and find out about it. I also took a series of falconry classes at Mary Arden's farm, where a very large owl named Jessica taught me how to handle her. So my theme this year is in honor of Jessica the owl.

It really was a ridiculously beautiful place to live.

Editat: març 21, 3:17pm

Currently Reading

Recently Read

Books Acquired

Reading miscellany:

Owned Books Read: 9

Library Books Read: 18

Netgalley: 1

Books Acquired: 10

Rereads: 1

Editat: març 20, 1:44pm

Category One.

The Global Owl: Books from around the world

Create Your Own Visited Countries Map

1. Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica, translated from the Spanish by Sarah Moses (Argentina)

Editat: març 1, 12:34pm

Category Two.

We Need Diverse Owls

1. Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
2. Memorial by Bryan Washington

Editat: març 12, 5:53pm

Category Three.

Expat Owls, Immigrant Owls and Owls in Translation

1. The Kingdom of This World by Alejo Carpentier, translated from the Spanish by Pablo Medina
2. Sansei and Sensibility by Karen Tei Yamashita
3. Aftershocks by Nadia Owusu

Editat: gen. 29, 8:39am

Category Four.

The Owl is a Lady: Books by Women

1. The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue
2. The Harpy by Megan Hunter
3. Monogamy by Sue Miller
4. Lord the One You Love is Sick by Kasey Thornton

Editat: feb. 25, 9:31am

Category Five.

CATs and My Book Club

1. Figuring by Maria Popova (February HistoryCAT)
2. Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras (February RandomCAT)

Editat: març 9, 9:35am

Category Six.

The Rooster: Books from the Tournament of Books (the tournament or the longlist)

1. Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart (2021 Competitor)
2. Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam (2021 Competitor)
3. Telephone by Percival Everett (2021 Competitor)
4. Red Pill by Hari Kunzru (2021 Competitor)
5. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (2021 Competitor)
6. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (2021 Competitor)
7. We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry (2021 Competitor)
8. Deacon King Kong by James McBride

Editat: gen. 5, 2:48pm

Category Seven.

The Ominous Owl: Crime Novels and True Crime

1. Unspeakable Acts: True Tales of Crime, Murder, Deceit, and Obsession edited by Sarah Weinman

Editat: feb. 7, 12:00pm

Category Eight.

I Brought This Owl Home, Now What Do I Do? Books I Own

1. Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh

Editat: feb. 6, 11:08am

Category Nine.

(art by Kenojuak Ashevak)

The Electronic Owl: Ebooks

1. Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi

Editat: març 20, 1:46pm

Category Ten.

A Familiar Owl: books by authors I've read before.

1. Mother May I by Joshilyn Jackson
2. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Editat: març 21, 3:00pm

Category Eleven.

I Like New Owls: Books Published in 2021

1. The Divines by Ellie Eaton
2. No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood

Editat: gen. 9, 2:56pm

Category Twelve.

(by Albrecht Dürer)

Extra Owls: The Overflow

1. The Paris Hours by Alex George

Editat: març 20, 1:48pm

(I've modified this quite a bit because I wanted to.)

1. A book published in 2011.

2. An Afrofuturist book.

3. A book with a heart, diamond, spade or club on the cover.

4. A book with a gem, mineral or rock in the title.

5. A book where the protagonist works at your current or dream job.

6. A book that won or was shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction.

7. A book with a family tree.

8. A book published in the 1990's.

9. A book about forgetting. -- Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi

10. A book you've seen on someone else's thread. -- Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh

11. A crime novel in translation.

12. A genre mash-up.

13. A book set mostly or entirely outdoors.

14. A book with something broken on the cover.

15. A book by a Muslim author.

16. A book about a fresh start. -- The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

17. A book with magic realism. -- The Kingdom of This World by Alejo Carpentier

18. A book set in multiple countries. -- Memorial by Bryan Washington

19. A book set in a country you'd like to visit.

20. A book starting with "Q," "X" or "Z."

21. A book about a social justice issue.

22. A book set in a restaurant.

23. A book with a black and white cover.

24. A book by an indigenous author.

25. A book with the same title as a song.

26. A book about something you are passionate about.

27. A book from a Black Lives Matter reading list.

28. A book your best friend would like.

29. A book about art or an artist.

30. A book over 600 pages. -- Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

31. A book you meant to read last year.

32. An ARC.

33. A book by a Latinx author. -- Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras

34. A book bought at an independent bookstore.

35. A book written in German.

des. 30, 2020, 10:12pm

And there it is, my 2021 category challenge, compiled at the very last minute. Welcome, come on in and make yourself comfortable.

Editat: des. 30, 2020, 10:20pm

For a last minute creation, you did a fabulous job! How very creative! Speaking of owls, for Christmas I received Owls of the Eastern Ice, which if you need an non-fiction book, this is a possibility. It was recommended to me by a fellow prof.

des. 30, 2020, 10:25pm

Excellent theme! And the houses in your first post do indeed look lovely.

des. 30, 2020, 10:37pm

>18 Tess_W: Thanks, Tess! I admit that I'd been considering owls for a few weeks and that my categories were largely unchanged from last year.

>19 rabbitprincess: rp, it was a really beautiful, if impractical, place to live. I've been lucky.

des. 31, 2020, 12:25am

>1 RidgewayGirl: Warwick! In eighth grade I spent three weeks as a foreign exchange student in a small town (Barnoldswick, north of Manchester) and one of our day trips was to Warwick Castle. I haven't heard that town name in years. :)

Editat: des. 31, 2020, 1:05am

In 2002 I spent 2 weeks in London, it was the year of the Queen's golden jubilee. We often took day trips from London and on one such trip we visited Warwick Castle and I think we also went to an old court house? I don't remember the 2nd stop and don't feel like digging out pics right now--no such thing as cellphones w/cameras, then. On one of our day trips we went to Stonehenge and then Stratford-Upon Avon. I think it was a couple of hours bus ride between the two. I loved both sites, but 3 hours in Stratford was not enough time! We discussed going back ourselves, but the Queen opened up Buckingham Palace, the rooms that contained artwork, and it was a chance of a lifetime--so we chose that instead of a return. One can't really see everything there is to see in a small time frame, but if I had to pick a favorite city/place I would choose Bath. It was so very historical, quiet and serene, loved the Abbey with the American flag as part of England's history.

As a funny aside, we went to a play in London at the New Globe Theatre where "As You Like It" was being performed. We were super excited! However, the actors spoke so "fast" that we couldn't understand it, and it was in English! The irony was that my friend was an English teacher. At the intermission, we went to the gift store and bought a copy of the play and read some summary so we would know a little of what was said.

Editat: des. 31, 2020, 4:03am

These owl pictures are so cute!!!

I‘ve also been to Warwick, to see Warwick Castle and other historic sights, and also to visit the church where J.R.R. and Edith Tolkien were married. I really miss traveling!

Well, at least we can travel in the mind and read!!!

Happy reading in 2021!!!

Editat: des. 31, 2020, 5:13am

Love the owl pictures and the captions. Looking forward to what you read.

>22 Tess_W: That's amusing. We think that parts of the US speak somewhat slowly. I can back from a year in Texas and people were finishing my words for me, I'd slowed down that much!

des. 31, 2020, 5:11am

I love all your owls, but especially the model Athena's owl. I have a similar one but in bronze. I also love the print by Owlbrecht Dürer (sorry, I'll get my coat...).

Good luck with your reading in 2021!

des. 31, 2020, 6:26am

Hi Kay - Nice to have you back again. Looking forward to the BBs you'll push my way.

des. 31, 2020, 7:07am

I was looking out for your thread. I love the owls. Hamnet is on my short list of possibilities for my alphabet challenge, so I'm glad to hear it inspired you. Happy new year!

des. 31, 2020, 7:15am

Aw, I love your owls! And wow, life in that cottage sounds lovely!

des. 31, 2020, 8:50am

Wonderful owl pictures! I especially like the ominous owl!

des. 31, 2020, 9:10am

The owls are terrific!

des. 31, 2020, 9:30am

Just dropping by to wish you happy new year, Kay. I look forward to seeing what you read this year, I'm sure I'll get some ideas!

des. 31, 2020, 10:07am

>24 Helenliz: I can agree with you there, Helen. I'm from the Midwest and we think Texans, and the south in general, speak slowly. And also think people from New York speak really fast!

des. 31, 2020, 10:42am

I'm always here for an owl - what brilliant pictures! Looking forward to threads full of excellent reviews and BBs - hope you have a great year in 2021.

des. 31, 2020, 5:44pm

>21 ELiz_M: I'm very fond of Warwick, which is far smaller than the next town over, Royal Leamington Spa. We went back to the castle when the kids were small and it had become quite the tourist attraction, but when we were there, the back gardens were lovely and uncrowded.

>22 Tess_W: Tess, the best thing about having gotten to live in England (twice! The second time in Oxfordshire) was getting to explore so many places in a leisurely way.

>23 MissBrangwen: Oh, I missed the church. I guess I'll have to go back. Six years later, I was living in Oxfordshire and drove by the churchyard where George Orwell is buried every weekday. I found that out a week after we'd moved.

>24 Helenliz: Thanks, Helen. I look forward to following your reading next year.

>25 spiralsheep: Welcome, spiralsheep! Please come by with puns about artists anytime you want.

>26 dudes22: Betty, I almost feel ready for this new year. One last review on my 2020 thread and a glass of prosecco should get me there.

>27 sturlington: Shannon, Hamnet is fantastic.

>28 scaifea: Amber, life in that cottage was lovely, although since the doorways were all 5'6" tall, my husband's forehead was permanently bruised. I, however, was just fine. This was perhaps the only time when being short proved to be an advantage.

>29 NinieB: & >30 hailelib: Owls are lovely birds and looking for pictures for my thread taught me that they are also hilarious.

>31 lsh63: Hi, Lisa! I'm looking forward to following your reading again in 2021.

des. 31, 2020, 5:48pm

>32 Tess_W: Regional accents are so interesting. It's like deciphering a new code in each place we live.

>33 Jackie_K: Thanks, Jackie. I'm cautiously hopeful that 2021 will be an improvement on the year we're currently in.

des. 31, 2020, 7:32pm

Great theme! Hope you enjoy your 2021 reads!

des. 31, 2020, 9:05pm

Oh, falconry classes, that must have been fantastic!

gen. 1, 8:23am

Loving all the owls. Looking forward to seeing where your reading adventures take you.

gen. 1, 9:16am

>34 RidgewayGirl: Ha! At 5'5" I'd be just fine, then!

gen. 1, 1:22pm

I love the personal story behind your theme choice! Owls (and all birds of prey) fascinate me. I have always wanted to take up falconry... maybe when I retire. The pictures to adorn your categories are amazing. Wishing you a Happy New Year and a 2021 filled with wonderful reading.

gen. 1, 1:51pm

Hooray, you're here! Great set up and I look forward to following along and being introduced to some new books and authors.

gen. 1, 3:01pm

Happy New Year, Y'all! Let's get reading!

gen. 1, 4:10pm

Happy New Year! Popping in to follow a few people's threads, but I'm afraid there may be too many to keep up. So, I may or may not continue throughout the year! Happy reading!

gen. 1, 4:26pm

>43 LibraryCin: The Category Challenge gets bigger every year.

gen. 1, 5:04pm

>44 RidgewayGirl: I keep mine pretty much the same every year, but I did change two categories this year.

gen. 1, 5:18pm

>45 LibraryCin: Every so often I get clever in my categories and then struggle to fill them. This year, it's reading what I want, no apologies.

gen. 1, 11:52pm

Lovely owls and Warwick photo! The only anecdotes I can add are lame ones regarding Harry Potter and Doctor Who, though I will say -- falconry classes? That's so impressive I'm pushed into the couch. Since I read My Side of the Mountain as a child it's always caught my fancy. Fantastic that you were able to successfully handle Jessica!

gen. 2, 11:42am

>47 pammab: I was so lucky in getting to live there and in touring Mary Arden's farm early in our time there. And the bird they let me handle was the easiest one they had! While several people were on hand for the beginner class, it was me and a few trainers for the "advanced" lessons, so a lot of traipsing around fields in the rain while getting to hear all the stories of their experiences with the birds.

gen. 2, 2:18pm

As a nurse working in a busy Dublin hospital during the influenza epidemic, Julia is used to hard work and figuring things out on the fly, but for three days, when too many nurses are out sick, she's the only nurse for a small fever ward for pregnant women and her only help is an untrained, but willing girl from a Catholic orphanage.

Emma Donoghue does such a good job with historical fiction and her novels are always so well-researched. The Pull of the Stars is no exception, digging into what hospitals in Dublin looked like a century ago, the impact the First World War had on the men who were lucky enough to return, the Irish struggle for independence, how Catholic charities treated both unwed mothers and their offspring, and what giving birth looked like, among other things. In the end, the history took precedence over the story, with the majority of the book simply following Julia as she tries to care for the women on her ward as best she can. The final section of the book segues abruptly into Julia's personal life and what might have been an integral part of the story was simply tacked on to the end and felt unlikely, largely because so many huge events happened on top of each other.

This novel is worthwhile for a well-written look at a specific time and place, but if you prefer more story and less detail, this one's not for you. I enjoyed it, but I prefer the novels where Donoghue allows her characters to exist fully as people, although I learned a ton about what a horror giving birth was in Ireland a hundred years ago and there's one particularly vile procedure, called a symphysiotomy, that was in use until the 1980s, because although it caused permanent pain and disability to the woman, it preserved her ability to have more children. If your reaction to that is, "oh, that sounds interesting," read this novel, but if you just want great historical fiction, choose Frog Music or Slammerkin instead.

gen. 2, 2:44pm

Happy New Year, Kay! I love your theme and the cute owl pictures. I only drove through Warwick once, but visited Stratford-upon-Avon for a day about ten years ago. It's just so beautiful, I would like to go back right now. Enjoy your reading!

gen. 2, 3:14pm

>50 Chrischi_HH: It's harder these days because not only are there no plans to travel anywhere, we can't travel anywhere responsibly, but at least we can dream!

Editat: gen. 2, 9:15pm

>49 RidgewayGirl: I liked this one, but there was just a bit too much birth for my tastes! LOL!

ETA: And I also preferred both "Frog Music" and "Slammerkin", but "Frog Music" best of the three.

gen. 3, 1:29am

And keep up with my friends here, Kay. Have a great 2021.

gen. 3, 11:27am

I love the owl pictures - I'm being pretty slow this year but will be following along for lots of suggestions from your reading. I've yet to see a bad review of >49 RidgewayGirl: so really must try to get hold of a copy.

>51 RidgewayGirl: I'm definitely dreaming of travel this year. Hopefully some will be possible, but who knows?!

gen. 3, 11:52am

>52 LibraryCin: Those were my favorite parts! I very much appreciate that I was lucky enough to give birth in Germany in the twenty-first century and not a hundred years ago in Ireland.

>53 PaulCranswick: Happy New Year to you, too, Paul! Keeping up with everyone's thread is an impossible task, especially at the beginning of the year when we're all chattier than usual.

>54 charl08: It's really interesting, Charlotte. And at this point, I'm hoping that the late summer book festivals take place.

gen. 4, 11:28am

Just stopping by to drop my star and admire your owl pics!

Editat: gen. 4, 4:08pm

I didn't want to read Shuggie Bain, Douglas Stuart's Booker Award-winning novel about growing up poor in and around Glasgow in the eighties, being raised by a single alcoholic mother. I thought it might end up being too much of a misery memoir, like Angela's Ashes, which it almost was. And I was wary of reading something that was emotionally manipulative, like A Little Life, which it wasn't.

Shuggie Bain is the youngest child of an alcoholic mother who constantly seeks excitement and conflict. By the time he's in school, his mother has lost her second husband and her oldest daughter and is living in the public housing adjacent to a closed coal mine. It's not a great environment, even less so for a boy who doesn't know how to blend in with the rough, active boys in his community. Shuggie clings desperately to his mother, his one bit of stability, even as she does her best to drink herself to death.

This isn't a cheerful book, although there were enough points of hope; the promise in the opening chapter that Shuggie survives, a tentative friendship with another child of an alcoholic, his brother's attempts to care for him, for the book to not sink under the weight of the unhappiness and desperation.

This was a safe and solid choice for the Booker Prize being a traditionally-structured and told story about a specific time and place in British history. It will be interesting to see where Stuart goes from here as a writer.

gen. 4, 3:42pm

>57 RidgewayGirl: - I'm still on the hold list at the library and not sure how far down I am. Hope it's soon while your review is fresh in my mind.

gen. 4, 4:29pm

>57 RidgewayGirl: I just cannot talk myself into that one even though I have heard only good things. Excellent review.

gen. 4, 4:31pm

>58 dudes22: I had quite a wait for it myself.

>59 Crazymamie: I fully understand that. Had it not been chosen for the Tournament of Books in March, I might well still be planning to read it sometime in the future maybe.

gen. 5, 12:34am

>55 RidgewayGirl: I do seem to be able to keep up with most threads even at this time of year which I relish by the way.

I have racked up in excess of 1,000 posts to my threads in January before now and regularly keep up with 200 threads on the 75er group. I will not follow as many threads over here as I want to leave a little bit of time for reading!

On that subject, I am currently half way through Shuggie Bain and enjoying it immensely. Your review of it was very good, Kay, and scrupulously fair, I think. It was a solid choice for the Booker and IMHO far superior to most of the recent winners.

gen. 5, 7:33am

>57 RidgewayGirl: I worry about this one being too unhappy for me, too, but your excellent review has me reconsidering it.

gen. 5, 10:47am

Such a great idea, Kay. I love the surprised look on the owl's face in >10 RidgewayGirl:!

gen. 5, 12:36pm

>57 RidgewayGirl: I got a few chapters in and returned it to the library, just a bit much for me.

gen. 5, 1:31pm

>61 PaulCranswick: Very interesting comment about the Booker, Paul. It's interesting to see what they reward in a given year. In the recent past, there's been a focus on writers doing something unexpected, or pushing the boundaries of literature - and then in 2019, they split the award between traditional storytelling (Atwood) and innovative structures and new stories (Evaristo), before returning to tradition in 2020. While I sometimes disagree about what they choose (Vernon God Little was just terrible), the shortlist generally contains enough novels that push the envelope to make me happy.

>62 scaifea: It's an authentic story well-told, Amber. And the details of life in Glasgow in the 1980s were interesting.

>63 MissWatson: Thank you! I did have fun finding suitable pictures of owls.

>64 charl08: It's not a light-hearted romp, Charlotte. I'd have put off reading it had not it made the list for the Tournament of Books around the same time I got to the front of the library holds list.

gen. 5, 2:47pm

I was actually happy that it didn't come in around the holidays, knowing that it's somewhat bleak from what I've heard.

gen. 5, 9:00pm

I love your theme! The story that inspired it is wonderful. The Bingo owl's eyes look like the dots on the bingo card!

My favourite bird is the little saw whet owl and the picture in your book club category looks like a saw whet.

gen. 7, 10:01am

>66 dudes22: Betty, I wouldn't call it bleak, exactly, but close.

>67 VivienneR: Thanks, Vivienne. Here's a bonus picture of owl legs.

gen. 7, 10:51am

Sarah Weinman's latest project has been to gather together a collection of long-form journalism articles about crime. Unspeakable Acts: True Tales of Crime, Murder, Deceit, and Obsession assembles some of the best non-fiction crime writing published today, from well-known crimes like the story of Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blancharde, and the two girls who stabbed their friend to please Slenderman, to the story of the first woman shot by the sniper in the tower of the University of Texas in 1967, long before mass shootings became ordinary, and how an untested forensic procedure became accepted in criminal trials. Each article is fascinating and different from the others.

If you have any interest in long-form journalism, I highly recommend this book.

gen. 7, 4:16pm

>68 RidgewayGirl: Oh my --- owl nudity!

gen. 7, 4:25pm

>68 RidgewayGirl: That is just as freaky a hell!

gen. 8, 2:22am

>69 RidgewayGirl: Oh dear, this is the second book by Sarah Weinman that I am adding to my list, the other being The Real Lolita. Good thing I have a non-fiction category this year!

gen. 8, 3:34am

>69 RidgewayGirl: This does sound good. Adding it to the wishlist.

gen. 8, 12:52pm

>70 NinieB: & >71 Helenliz: Isn't it unexpected? I love those cowboy legs he has.

>72 DeltaQueen50: & >73 charl08: It's a wonderful collection and I wish it had been longer. Weinman lists other articles, so I'll be back to reading off of my laptop.

gen. 12, 10:51am

As she turned the first page, a single tear fell onto the still paper, washing the words beneath it into gentle oblivion, lost forever to her sorrow.

Set in 1927, The Paris Hours by Alex George follows four characters as they live their romantically tragic lives walking around Paris and interacting with famous people. Each feels their emotions deeply and is able to get advice and insight from everyone from Josephine Baker to Marcel Proust. There's Souren, a young man who escaped the Armenian genocide and now puts on a puppet show in the Luxembourg Gardens. Camille was Marcel Proust's maid and she deeply misses her former employer, even as she harbors a terrible secret. Jean-Paul lost his wife and infant daughter to a bomb, and because his daughter's body was never found, he continues to search for her. And
Guillaume is an artist who is still struggling after years of work. He fell in love with an acrobat he watched perform and is deeply in debt to a violent loan shark.

Over the course of a single day, the four characters walk around Paris, frequently noting where they are and what they can see from their vantage point, as they think their tragic thoughts and slowly circle each other, until they finally all converge at a single nightclub where tragedy is about to strike.

Yeah, I didn't like this one at all. I have a high tolerance for anything set in Paris, but the market seems to be dictating that novels set there indulge in an exaggerated sentimentality and an emphasis in mentioning locations as though the reader is on a bus tour of Paris. There are some fantastic recent novels set in Paris, like Paris, 7 A.M. by Liza Wieland or Paris Echo by Sebastian Faulks, but for the large majority, referring to the city in the title is a message about not just the setting, but also the kind of book it will be, unabashedly treacly and filled with heightened emotion. Will I stop jumping on novels with Paris in the title? Probably not. But the likelihood of finding a well-written novel where Paris is something other than a sparkling stage set is becoming rarer by the day.

gen. 12, 11:01am

Hoping your next read is a better one, Kay. I appreciate the mention of the two books set in Paris that you thought were fantastic - making a note of those.

gen. 12, 11:44am

>76 Crazymamie: I feel like a mouse in an experiment, pushing on the lever hoping for a treat, but finding more frequently that I receive an electrical shock. Yet, there I am, pressing my paw on that lever, hoping for a different result.

gen. 12, 11:36pm

>75 RidgewayGirl: a BB for me. I will add it to my "France" category this year!

gen. 13, 11:33am

>78 Tess_W: I hope you like it a great deal more than I did!

gen. 15, 1:12pm

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi is a complex look at the many ways one can be an outsider; by being an immigrant, by being Black in white spaces, by religion, by education, by income, by having mental health issues, by addiction. Transcendent Kingdom is the story of Gifty, her girlhood in Alabama through her work to complete her Ph.D in neuroscience at Stanford University.

I don't want to give anything away, although the plot is very much not the point of Gyasi's second novel. There's a lot of heart and honesty here, without a single wasted word. Parts of this novel made me uncomfortable, teaching me about lives far removed from my own, while other parts felt so familiar. Gushing in a review is tiresome, so I'll stop here.

gen. 17, 5:14pm

Lucy's life is full of raising her two small sons. She's taken a lower pressure job, but she and her husband are secure and building a future together. Then she receives a message from an acquaintance; her husband and his wife are having an affair.

Her husband promises to end the affair and as they struggle to repair things, Lucy is left with her overwhelming anger. The Harpy by Megan Hunter is a novel about a woman's anger, about her learning to embrace her anger and how unsettled that makes the people around her. This isn't a comfortable book to read, but it is a fascinating one about the expectations we have for women and for mothers.

Editat: gen. 21, 7:15pm

A Brooklyn family finds the perfect holiday rental on Long Island. It's not near the beach, but it's beautifully appointed, has a pool and they can afford it. They settle in for their summer holiday, playing in the pool, relaxing in the jacuzzi, taking a day trip to the beach and enjoying themselves. Then things begin to happen. Someone knocks on the door. The daughter sees something extraordinary in the woods.

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam is the kind of novel that you don't want to know too much about before you read. It depends on atmosphere and the reader's imagination for it's effectiveness and it ends at exactly the right point. This is also a novel where the characters remain somewhat unnuanced. I can see this being easily adapted for the screen because the novel doesn't depend on the interior lives of the characters, or more precisely, the characters outward appearances perfectly coincide with their thoughts and reactions. I did enjoy this novel. It was well-paced and unsettling.

gen. 21, 9:40pm

>82 RidgewayGirl: That one is sitting on my shelf waiting for me to get to it. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

gen. 21, 11:49pm

>82 RidgewayGirl: Going on my wish list~

gen. 22, 7:31am

>82 RidgewayGirl: - I hope that zipping over to look at the tags isn't "knowing too much about before you read". But that pushed me over the edge to taking a BB for this one.

gen. 23, 10:31am

>82 RidgewayGirl: A BB for me, too! I think your thread is one where I'll get many BBs from this year - you read such interesting books!

gen. 23, 5:48pm

I'm very interested to find out what all of you think of it.

gen. 23, 10:58pm

I'm very happy to see your positive comments (gushing is just fine!) about Transcendent Kingdom and Leave the World Behind, as my family gave me copies of these books for Christmas and they are at the top of my TBR stack. My family kept asking for a Christmas wishlist but I had to wait until the Tournament of Books shortlist came out. I'm sure you, of all people, would understand! I also hope to get to Shuggie Bain before the tournament starts.

gen. 24, 1:18am

>68 RidgewayGirl: Aah, now I'm not so critical of my own legs!

>82 RidgewayGirl: That one sounds intriguing. I'll investigate.

gen. 24, 10:52am

>88 mathgirl40: What a lovely family you have! I'm working my way through the ToB shortlist and I hope to finish before the tournament starts, although there are two I'm not excited to read that I haven't started, so late February will be a grind.

>89 VivienneR: I think those owl legs are hilarious. Poor guy.

Editat: gen. 24, 2:10pm

There is nothing worse, certain painful and deadly diseases notwithstanding, than an unsatisfactory, piss-poor truth, whereas a satisfactory lie is all too easy to accept, even embrace, get cozy with.

Zach Wells is doing fine. He's a geologist/paleobiologist professor who feels like he's teaching on autopilot some days and there's a woman in his department who is probably not going to get tenure, but that's not his problem. His marriage feels dry, but they both love their daughter, so she keeps them together and, overall, life in Altadena, California is fine enough.

Then Zach has to deal with a pushy student and he finds himself drawn into his colleague's tenure worries. He receives an odd note, tucked into a jacket he ordered on-line and his daughter has been having some memory issues and blank spells that can't easily be explained.

In Telephone by Percival Everett, a father is stretched to the breaking point by his daughter's illness. Searching for distraction, he focuses on the slip of paper found in a garment he ordered off of eBay. This is a novel about loss and about discovering what's really important, about doing something because it's the right thing to do, without much hope of success, and also about how we distract ourselves from things that are too painful to be present for. I'm a huge fan of Percival Everett's work and this novel amplifies my admiration. Everett plays with the trust the reader has for the protagonist-narrator as he has done in previous novels.

Telephone is a novel published in three different versions, I read the "A" version and now am on a quest to find the other two. It's a challenge because it's impossible to tell the difference when ordering on-line, so it may take awhile, in this age of COVID, to track down the other two versions.

Editat: gen. 24, 2:38pm

>91 RidgewayGirl: this book sounds very interesting! I'm most interested in the "versions." Do you get the complete story in each version. Is there significant change in each version, or just nuances?

gen. 24, 2:59pm

>92 Tess_W: Tess, from what I've been able to find out (which is not a lot!), it's mostly differences of tone, so that the protagonist's actions are described more sympathetically in one version, or an event more emphasized in another. I'm very curious, but I wouldn't bother if I didn't like the book enough to want to read it again right away. I'm tempted to ask Barnes and Noble to order me a copy. I may run over there this week and ask - letting them know I'll only take it if it's one of the versions I don't have.

Also, Percival Everett had a pet crow.

I've been hunting for clues and found this in a review:

Having read all three versions, I can say without divulging spoilers that the stories diverge at three different fulcrum points, in which thoughts either do or do not lead to actions, plans then are or are not followed to completion. What may flummox readers is not knowing whether these choices make any difference.


But here, depending on the version you’ve received, you’re getting a slightly different Zach, a slightly different story. In one version he’s perhaps more reticent, another more daydreaming, another more at odds, but these differences seem overall negligible. Across the versions, they average out to the same man, the same-ish experience. But to be wise to Telephone’s instantiations is to believe that perhaps somewhere else things might work out differently.


Sorry, Tess, I know that was vastly more than you asked for!

gen. 24, 5:18pm

>91 RidgewayGirl: - I took a book bullet from you a couple of years ago for Everett's book Assumption which I still haven't gotten to, and now I'll take another.

Is there something that tells you which version it is? I mean, how did you know it was the "A" version?

This is a Rooster book, right? I just got Interior Chinatown from the library and I have Shuggie Bain on request. Maybe I should look and see how many requests there are for this.

gen. 24, 10:59pm

>93 RidgewayGirl: Oh no, that exactly answered my q!

gen. 25, 2:13am

>93 RidgewayGirl: Wow. The only book I've read that sounds anything like that is How to be Both - but that was just the order of the two narratives in the book.

gen. 25, 6:37am

>96 charl08: Differing endings has been a theme in science fiction longer than mainstream fiction but there are some examples. The films Clue (three different films) and Sliding Doors (two endings in one film) are some of the better known. I currently have Reading the Ceiling on my unread shelf, but that has all three endings in the same book if I understand correctly.

gen. 25, 10:06am

>94 dudes22: Betty, I'm still thinking about Assumption and how the foreshadowing was right there in the title.

To tell which version of Telephone you have, you can go by the direction of the compasses on the cover, the dedication on the inside or the letter (A, B or C) printed on the back cover next to the isbn. Ordering the book on-line, it's impossible to tell.

>95 Tess_W: : )

>96 charl08: & >97 spiralsheep: I think, from what I've read, that the difference here is not that there are more than one ending, but that readers don't know which version they are reading. We all read differently, and come to different conclusions, find different parts of a novel important, etc...when we read the same book. Here, we can disagree not just because of what we bring to the reading of the book, but also that the book itself is emphasizing different things. Everett is messing with us, and I am delighted with the idea.

gen. 25, 12:04pm

>98 RidgewayGirl: Yes, I think Clue was the first (?) to release three equal versions, A, B, and C, and they presumably did it to try tempting people to see the film multiple times. I suppose selling three copies of any one story is a win for the business, lol.

gen. 25, 12:44pm

>98 RidgewayGirl: - It sort-of amazes me that an author would go to the trouble to create three different versions of a book. I'll be interested if you read the other ones how they are different. (if it doesn't give thins away)

Editat: gen. 25, 8:34pm

>93 RidgewayGirl: I was indifferent to this book from reading the blurb in the TOB long list announcement, but now that I know there are three different version, I am fascinated.

>96 charl08: >97 spiralsheep: There is also Dictionary of the Khazars which has a "male" and a "female" version, with a supposedly crucial difference in a single paragraph. But since it can also be read out of order (which I did), I wasn't able to parse how that one paragraph made such a difference after googling it....

gen. 26, 11:10am

>99 spiralsheep: The notable difference with Clue, besides Tim Curry, is that while you'd most likely go to the movie with the same people you discuss it with, whereas the readers in a book club might have very different reactions to the book based on reading different books.

Apparently, the original plan was to not disclose that there were three versions until later, but COVID got in the way.

>100 dudes22: I suspect that Everett enjoyed himself.

>101 ELiz_M: I was excited about the book because I really like the author, but was perfectly content to just read it once, but now my interest in reading at least one other version and comparing is strong. Probably because of being home so much these days...

Editat: gen. 26, 8:14pm

There is possibly nothing more calming than a traditionally-structured novel about ordinary people leading ordinary lives, especially when that novel is solidly written in a way that doesn't draw attention to itself.

In Monogamy, Sue Miller writes about the marriage of Graham and Annie, from when they met in the seventies at the opening party for his bookstore, until a few years after Graham's death. This is a novel about grief; the pain of missing someone you love as well as the pain of discovering that that person was not who you thought he was. It's also about the roles we end up taking in a family and how impossible it is to change that.

This is a quiet novel, with a lot going on and I appreciated getting to spend time with each member of this family. It felt very honest and real and normal.

gen. 28, 8:39am

>103 RidgewayGirl: - Adding this one to the list. Couldn't agree more with the first sentence of your review.

gen. 29, 8:32am

>104 katiekrug: I'm going to seek out other quiet novels. Probably grab something by Anne Tyler or Marianne Robinson.

gen. 29, 11:05am

Mary Wesley is another good one for quiet novels.

Have a nice weekend, Kay!

gen. 29, 12:00pm

>106 katiekrug: You, too, Katie! And look at that, I have a copy of The Camomile Lawn on my iPad...

gen. 29, 12:50pm

Oh, that's the first of hers I read. It was ages ago, but I remember loving it.

feb. 1, 4:08pm

Bree is one of those moms. The ones who stay at home to care for their kids because they have so much money already. They're active in every area of their kids' private school and are kept busy taking their kids to expensive extracurriculars and making sure that their kids get the right kind of snacks after drama club. But while waiting to put out the carrot sticks and hummus for the kids, her infant son is kidnapped. Left behind is a note telling her to go home and wait for instructions if she wants him back.

What follows is Mother May I, a thriller by Joshilyn Jackson where a mother works to keep a kidnapper happy, find out who the kidnapper is and why she kidnapped her son and how to get him back, all without letting anyone else figure out that anything is wrong. She's soon joined by an old friend, an ex-cop who now works as an investigator with her husband's law firm on the proverbial race-against-time to save her son and discover some hard truths.

I'll give Jackson credit for purposefully choosing a heroine whose situation makes it difficult to cheer for. Her family is perfect, her daughter is the most talented one in the school play, she's gorgeous and she and her husband are in love in their perfect house. it's a lot, and while it's greatly mitigated later by learning about how she grew up and, of course, having her infant son kidnapped, it took me a long time to warm up to Bree. It wasn't helped by half of the chapters being narrated by the man helping her, a man who is deeply in love with her and likes to talk about how perfect she is.

Jackson is willing to tackle difficult issues, like how income inequality means unlimited do-overs for some and a half chance, at best, for others, and how what is seen as youthful hi-jinks for some, are life-destroying for others. This is a well-written and well-plotted thriller that is marred by an unrealistic too-happy ending and characters who remain stereo-types.

feb. 1, 4:27pm

>91 RidgewayGirl: You hit me with this one, so I ordered it - my version is the B one. I'm planning on reading it this month and would be happy to send it your way if you want it. Just PM me.

>103 RidgewayGirl: Also adding this one to The List.

>109 RidgewayGirl: I love this author - I have read three or four by her and liked all of them. Too bad about the ending of Mother May I.

feb. 1, 4:32pm

>110 Crazymamie: Mamie, I will let you know! I have a copy waiting for my at the local Barnes and Noble, and if it's not the B version, I will take you up on that generous offer!

I've really liked the books by Joshilyn Jackson that I've read, but I much preferred her more complex earlier novels. I'm sure that writing domestic thrillers is far more lucrative than writing Southern Lit, so more power to her, but I am sorry that she's changed genres. gods in Alabama is a wonderful, funny, heart-breaking book.

feb. 1, 4:36pm

>111 RidgewayGirl: Crossing my fingers that the one waiting for you is the C version, and then you would have the set.

My favorite by her so far is Between, Georgia, but I also really liked gods in Alabama.

feb. 1, 4:41pm

>109 RidgewayGirl: - I read this late last year and it hit the spot for me at the time, but I agree about the too-pat ending and that Bree was hard to warm up to.

feb. 2, 10:12am

>113 katiekrug: It was a solid thriller, with a good plot that held together throughout, which is not always the case with thrillers! I would have rated it much higher, but the ending really annoyed me.

feb. 2, 11:03am

The kudzu had already taken over the silver post of the sign. No one had bothered to clean it off for a while, because they knew it would just swarm it again in a week or so. Why bother? Why bother.

Lord the One You Love is Sick by Kasey Thornton is a collection of tightly inter-connected short stories set in the small town of Bethany, North Carolina. Really, it's a novel where the focus shifts from one character to another, circling back to look at people and events from different perspectives. Beginning with a young man's overdose and the subsequent shattering of his family and his former best friend's guilt, this book looks at the darkest corners of small town life, how it smothers those who don't fit in, how it allows a judgmental complacency to thrive as well as a fear of the unfamiliar. It's also a novel about how deep roots in a place can sustain us and how we might need to come to terms with the place that nurtured us in order to move forward. It's telling that the most clear-headed character is an agoraphobic young man living in his mother's basement.

This is a gorgeously written book and by changing the viewpoint throughout, the reader is given a complex picture of the various characters. It's very effective method of story-telling, but makes the often difficult subject matter much more difficult to read. Thornton doesn't gloss over a single dark corner of small town life. This is an excellent addition to current Southern Lit and I look forward to reading whatever Thornton writes next.

feb. 4, 4:50am

>115 RidgewayGirl: Sounds like a beautiful book. On my WL is goes!

feb. 4, 10:44pm

>115 RidgewayGirl: Taking a BB for this one. I love collections of interconnected short stories when they're done well.

Editat: feb. 5, 11:00am

Benson and Mike share a place in Houston's Third Ward. Their relationship isn't going well. Then Mike's mother comes to visit from Japan and the next day Mike flies out to Osaka to see the father he hasn't spoken to since he was a child. They are estranged, but when he hears that his father is dying, Mike finds that he needs to go care for him. Left behind with Mike's mother, Benson develops a cautious relationship with her, and along the way begins to come to terms with his feelings about his own family, one that kicked him out years ago but now needs him.

Memorial by Bryan Washington is a quiet novel about families and about figuring out how to still love your family after things have gone wrong. It's not quite about forgiveness, Washington isn't aiming for fairy tale endings, but here he looks at two men from fractured families and how in coming to terms with their families, they may be able to find a way to move forward together.

The writing in this novel is structured in short segments, some a paragraph long, some a few pages, making the novel read quickly and changing the emotional direction of the books to shift a lot. Washington was not afraid to make this novel as episodic and chaotic as life; this isn't a book where the reader knows where things are going and can settle in and enjoy how Washington gets there.

feb. 6, 5:53pm

Figuring by Maria Popova begins with an unforgettable image, that of the mathematician and astronomer, Johannes Kepler, racing through the night to rescue his mother, who was being tried for witchcraft. From there, Popova sets off on a wide-ranging look at a variety of things, from asking how it is that genius arises to examining how people negotiated lives outside of the traditional heterosexual framework in times when there wasn't even the language to speak about sexuality. At first the book seemed to be a scattershot of ideas and historical tidbits which, while interesting enough, do not make a coherent narrative. But Popova settles down into the meat of her book, a series of biographies of women, mostly living in the mid-nineteenth century, who lived extraordinary lives, far outside of the parameters allowed American women at the time.

Her subjects range from women who are now largely unknown, like Margaret Fuller and Harriet Hosmer, to household names like Emily Dickinson and Rachel Carson. Popova lets each woman's story speak for itself, but she also is primarily interested in how each woman dealt with chronic health issues and how they negotiated love and relationships, which were often found outside of what was seen as acceptable at the time they lived. Margaret Fuller's life was the most revelatory for me; I'd never heard of her, despite her having been famous in her time and a woman who was able to forge an independent path for herself. Rachel Carson's story was also particularly well-told.

I'd recommend this book for anyone who likes an author to explore side trails and ask questions as they arise, or for anyone interested in the lives of women, early feminism, women in science and in how people negotiated love lives that were not traditional and heterosexual in the nineteenth century. I felt early on that Figuring was too episodic, but Popova had a plan and I'm glad I stuck with it. It's a book that gets more fascinating as it goes.

feb. 7, 9:26am

>119 RidgewayGirl: - I'm going to take a BB for this. Our book club read Visionary Women by
Andrea Barnet which talked about the lives of Rachel Carson, Jane Jacobs, Jane Goodall, and Alice Waters in 2019. I'm going to pass this title along to some of the book club members that I think might enjoy this also.

feb. 7, 10:08am

>115 RidgewayGirl: Adding this one to the wishlist, sounds good.

I'm going to pass on Figuring though: I got a copy from the library a while back and was put off by the chunksterness of it. Maybe a digital copy will tempt me at some point in the future.

feb. 7, 11:47am

>120 dudes22: Visionary Women sounds interesting, Betty. Learning about Rachel Carson's life was fascinating.

>121 charl08: It is a big one, Charlotte. It would probably still be sitting unread on my shelf, but my son gave it to me and I try to get to the ones that my kids give me quickly, just in case they ask. And it took me a while to warm to it because it takes Popova a few chapters to settle into the specific women she writes about.

Editat: feb. 7, 2:15pm

Because today is Superb Owl Sunday, here's a bunch of owl pictures.


feb. 7, 2:27pm

Well, they are indeed superb owls! What a bunch of beauties.

feb. 7, 2:34pm

>124 Jackie_K: The owl I got to handle at Mary Arden's Farm was a Eurasian eagle owl and it was fun to see one represented in the article! They really are enormous, but not at all heavy.

Editat: feb. 7, 2:58pm

The narrator of Red Pill is married with a small child and while his wife works as a lawyer, he's at home, caring for his daughter and finding himself unable to write. When he gets a three-month residency at a German center, he and his wife agree that he should take it and that he should return less angry. It doesn't work out that way. Wannsee, a lake community outside of Berlin, is gray and grim in the winter. It's also the site of the infamous Wannsee Conference, and the presence of that house across the lake weighs on him, as does a nearby monument erected in the memory of a histrionic and angry romantic poet who committed suicide on that spot. The narrator is upset that the center has rules and expectations and that his individuality as an American is not given the right amount of deference. He dislikes his fellow residents, it's not going well, he's not writing, the center is not inclined to let him stay, but he also feels like he can't go home.

Hari Kunzru has written a novel with an absolutely unlikeable character who always makes the worst choice possible as he cycles into angry despair, and yet this was a book I raced through. Kunzru can write and while I didn't want to spend time with the narrator, especially as he reacted to his brushes with white supremacists, I didn't want to put this book down and not see what would happen next. Kunzru wrote especially well about Berlin in the winter and how the dark, gray days take a toll on one's spirits.

Kunzru posted some pictures of Wannsee in winter on twitter. Here are a few of them:

feb. 7, 3:58pm

>123 RidgewayGirl: Love it! They are beautiful!

Editat: feb. 7, 4:24pm

This sounds like a fascinating and unusual read, although I'm not sure I could stomach the negativity! Who is the poet who committed suicide there? Kleist?

feb. 7, 4:30pm

feb. 7, 5:56pm

>123 RidgewayGirl: I think I'm going to have nightmares about the long-eared owl in that article, but I loved the burrowing owls!

feb. 7, 9:44pm

>127 LibraryCin: Aren't they? And my father was over for dinner this evening and he had never heard the whole Superb Owl thing, so it was fun to make him laugh with a very, very old joke.

>128 MissBrangwen: I'm impressed! Yes, it was Kleist.

>129 Tess_W: Tess, it sounds like your virtual tbr is as monstrous as mine is!

>130 rabbitprincess: The burrowing owls are awfully cute.

feb. 8, 2:19am

>131 RidgewayGirl: Ha! I must admit that I would never have guessed that, but I just read Kein Ort. Nirgends which is about a possible meeting of Kleist and Karoline von Günderrode and alludes to his suicide. You can find my review in my thread in case you are interested.

feb. 8, 9:55am

>132 MissBrangwen: I'll admit to have never having read any Christa Wolf. Kleist was depicted as such a ridiculous person in Red Pill that it might be interesting to see him in a more favorable light.

feb. 8, 5:17pm

>131 RidgewayGirl: I hadn't heard of it before, either (and I shared the link to my facebook, as well. :-) ).

feb. 10, 12:17am

>131 RidgewayGirl: About 3 years ago I started using my WL instead of buying books and putting them on my TBR! The only books I buy now are on my Thingaversary. (or with Christmas giftcards) I have my TBR down to less than 500 (it used to be 1500 in 2014), but my WL is at about 3500!

feb. 10, 8:54am

I put in a request on the NYPL's OverDrive system to purchase Lord the One You Love is Sick and got an email yesterday that it was available for download. Hooray for quick responses. Thanks for putting it on my radar.

feb. 10, 3:54pm

>134 LibraryCin: I'm glad to have brought that to your attention, then. It will never not be funny to me.

>135 Tess_W: That's laudable and I do not plan to do that!

>136 katiekrug: I'm glad they were willing to add it to the collection for you. I can suggest purchases to my library system but they don't notify me when they comply with my wishes, so the only way to find out if they listened is by keeping an eye out for the book.

feb. 10, 3:55pm

Antara and her mother have always had a difficult relationship and now her mother, in her fifties, has dementia. As she struggles to find a solution to her mother's care Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi goes back in time to her unconventional upbringing in an ashram where her mother leaves her to be cared for by an American woman when she becomes the guru's newest paramour. Her adolescence and young adulthood are likewise marked by abuse and insecurity. Neither Antara nor her mother are able to relate to each other with love or respect and their other relationships are marked by conflict and manipulation.

An author takes a risk in choosing to write about an unsympathetic character. It's a balancing act to make the narrator unpleasant and to still have the reader invested in what happens to the narrator. And whether you think that Doshi succeeds in this will determine how you react to this novel. Doshi provides Antara with a childhood that should make the reader root for her and to understand why she is unable to form bonds with anyone, but then she multiplies the many ways Anatara's inability to form attachments harms the people around her.

This isn't an easy novel to read, nor is it intended to be.

feb. 11, 6:40am

>137 RidgewayGirl: It was necessary in my down-sizing scheme. I could not have done it when I was younger, or even just 15 years ago......but now I can!

feb. 13, 1:41am

>123 RidgewayGirl: The little horned owl looks like his coat has been crocheted. Thanks for sharing that Superb Owl collection!

feb. 14, 6:06pm

>126 RidgewayGirl: I didn't like Red Pill as much as White Tears, partly because I found none of the characters appealing, but I agree that Kunzru did a great job at conveying a sense of despair in his descriptions of the setting.

However, I don't really know what Berlin in the winter is like. I've visited once, in the summertime, and it was lovely then. :)

Editat: feb. 15, 1:40pm

Vivienne, I will continue to share owl pictures all year!

Paulina, Berlin is lovely in the sunshine. And in the rain. It's one of my favorite cities.

I'm far enough east and south to avoid the cold that everyone has been dealing with, but it's been cold for South Carolina and rainy, too and the cats are forced to take over my bed until things improve.

feb. 15, 2:03pm

Your kitty on top looks like a sibling to our Leonard:

feb. 15, 4:06pm

If you haven't discovered the unique pleasures of Allie Brosh's unique view of the world, you're in for a treat.

She has a great understanding for both children and dogs, a willingness to be unsparingly honest and she's really, really funny.

Her latest book, Solutions and Other Problems is a graphic collection of personal essays that range from childhood memories to some tragic events in her adult life to observations about dogs.

Throughout, Brosh represents herself as a small, not quite human creature who wears hot pink and keeps her hair in a ponytail. Even in her essays about her life as an adult, she remains very small. It's an effective choice and it's remarkable how such a simply drawn character can display such a wide range of emotions. While some chapters packed more of a punch than others, all were excellent. If you're already familiar with Hyperbole and a Half, you've probably already read this. And if you aren't, you are in for a treat.

feb. 16, 1:48pm

>143 katiekrug: LOL. I saw that picture and thought, "when have we ever had a quilt like that?" What a gorgeous boy he is. Is he loud, too? Tarzan does not have an indoor voice and he likes to chat, especially when I'm the first person up in the morning and trying to quietly make a cup of tea.

feb. 16, 2:05pm

He's the most vocal cat I've ever encountered, but has mellowed a bit as he's gotten older. So we definitely know when he wants something, but otherwise, he's usually just asleep somewhere where the dog can't stick her snout in his face.

feb. 16, 2:36pm

The Kingdom of This World is a modern classic by Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier about the revolution in Haiti. First published in 1949, this is not a book that would be written today; it's overwhelmingly male-oriented, with women existing mainly as objects of lust, prostitutes or to rape. And there's some interesting phrasing around issues of race. But setting that aside, this is an interesting look a the first successful slave rebellion in the western world.

The novel is told primarily through the eyes of an enslaved Black man named Ti Noel, who witnesses the first attempts to break free, lives through the successful revolt, accompanies the man who enslaved him to Cuba and finally returns to Haiti, where he lives through the oppressive reign of Henri Christophe and long after, always just trying to live free in that corner of Haiti he considers home. This is a slender novel that packs a lot in, provides a lot of information while being full of action, magic realism and life.

feb. 16, 2:46pm

>147 RidgewayGirl: "with women existing mainly as objects of lust, prostitutes or to rape"

Of course, in the real Haitian revolution there were women military commanders such as Sanite Bélair. Although the French ensured she didn't survive long enough to also rebel against Henri-Christophe.

Editat: feb. 16, 3:04pm

>148 spiralsheep: I think that had Carpentier written this now, he'd portray the women differently. The writing style is what I would describe as "muscular," the kind of writing I have previously encountered in American men writing in the sixties. That said, he did have one female character, Pauline Bonaparte, who represented the moral vacuity of the French colonizers and while very much an object of lust, did at least seem to have some fun.

The details about the revolution were fascinating and I looked up quite a bit while I was reading. Really, we learn far too little about the histories of the countries around us in American schools.

feb. 16, 5:52pm

>142 RidgewayGirl: Awwww perfect round kitty donuts! :) They look very comfortable.

Editat: feb. 16, 9:06pm

>149 RidgewayGirl: I heartily second your last sentence. I taught grades 9-12 for 30 years and not once did our State Standards contain anything on the Caribbean. Mexico was only taught to 6th graders in the context of the Texas fight for independence. Cuba was only taught as the place where the Russian placed their missile silo's during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Nothing on South America and Central America only mentioned as the location of the Panama Canal. I also made it through a Master's program and a PhD (ABD) with not one Latin American history course.

feb. 17, 6:29pm

>146 katiekrug: Now that Tarzan is older, he spends a lot of time napping. His other favorite spot is the back top corner of the closet. In

>150 rabbitprincess: They put a lot of time and energy into being comfortable!

>151 Tess_W: That's about what I learned in school. Time to play catch-up. I'm currently reading a book set in Colombia in the 1980s and it's amazing how little I know about this stuff. I remember that Colombia was considered a dangerous place when I was young and I'd heard about the cartels and Pablo Escobar, but only in the broadest and most superficial of ways.

feb. 18, 11:40am

>152 RidgewayGirl: I'm trying to make it a priority to read more globally and it seems that South America is getting the short shrift. The problem is that I absolutely detest magical realism; and at least 80% of Latin American novels are written in this manner.

feb. 18, 11:43am

>153 Tess_W: I have the same problem! I wouldn't say I detest it, but it's definitely not my favourite genre. I think South America will be the only GeoKIT category I'll have trouble filling.

Editat: feb. 18, 1:01pm

>153 Tess_W: I'm also trying to read more globally, but luckily I think that magic realism, at least as it's written in Central and South America, is just great. I've got a few more books on the stack from south of here I hope to read soon.

The one I'm reading currently, by a Colombian author, has no magic realism in it whatsoever. Since it's such a distinctive part of the South American literary tradition, I expect that any book that features it, however minor, will have it mentioned in the jacket copy? Anyway, good luck finding at least a few books to fill your category!

>154 MissBrangwen: I recently discovered that magic realism arose in Germany, which surprised me. It referred to the Neue Sachlichkeit art movement, and not literature, but I still prefer Expressionism.

Editat: feb. 21, 10:42am

In a house where the lower levels are full of ocean and the upper levels full of clouds, lives a young man called Piranesi by the only person he knows. He doesn't remember his real name and so Piranesi will do as well as any other. The house has many rooms, staircases and vestibules, and statues of every size line the walls. Piranesi spends his time getting what he needs from the ocean, keeping a journal, which he painstakingly indexes, charting the tides and exploring the house. He also meets with the one other person in this place twice a week, always at the same time and always only for an hour. Oddly, he never encounters the other man at any other time.

If you like world-building, Susanna Clarke's novel will delight. It's rich in detail, and the info-dumps are kept to a minimum. The reader learns about the house as Piranesi goes about his life and learns about who Piranesi is and how he came to this place along with Piranesi. As a narrator, Piranesi is a good companion, scrupulous in his explanations and endlessly good-natured and curious. And the story itself is well-paced. My quibbles with this book are largely personal or having to do with the genre itself. Clarke has done a good job at what she set out to do.

Illustrations are by Giovanni Battista Piranesi.

feb. 18, 5:41pm

>153 Tess_W: Agreed! I rarely read South American stuff, and it's the same reason.

Editat: feb. 19, 6:27am

>156 RidgewayGirl: that's my subscription book this month. No idea what to expect, so at least it doesn't sound like a duffer.

feb. 21, 10:44am

>158 Helenliz: Helen, it's a fun and easy read. Clarke writes well and done a great job with the world-building. My own quibbles with it have everything to do with not loving the genre and nothing to do with the book itself.

feb. 23, 4:40pm

So, hey, there's this book, Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica, and it's about this guy named Marcos, who works for a slaughterhouse, as the second-in-command, doing all the meetings and employee-related stuff since his boss is not that great with people. It pays well, which is good because his father's nursing home is expensive. He's married, but his wife isn't living with him as they both deal with the sorrow over the death of their daughter. Oh, and the world has changed a little -- a mysterious virus rendered all animal meat poisonous to humans and so they switched to eating people. First poor people, but now humans are being raised for meat, it's a whole thing.

This novel is Marcos, going about his day, visiting butcher shops and suppliers, giving tours to new employees, and feeling not that enthusiastic about any of it. In fact, Marcos is feeling very judgmental about everyone, from his co-workers to the suppliers and customers he's supposed to be smoozing. And that's what this novel is, mostly. Marcos walks a pair of job applicants through the slaughterhouse, carefully describing the process. He visits a butcher shop, where he bangs the butcher and also describes what the butcher does, how she cuts the limbs and torsos and heads she receives from his slaughterhouse into cutlets and chops. He visits a customer, who shows off his hunting lodge, which has switched over to a Greatest Game sort of scenario, and discusses with him which specific kinds of people his clientele like to hunt and Marcos stays to lunch. Marcos visits a laboratory where experiments are run using people and even though he has been there many times, he is still taken on an exhaustive tour.

So this is pretty much a book about this world Bazterrica has dreamed up and all of the details of that world. The characterization is minimal, as is the plot, but those are not the point of this book. Tender is the Flesh is a sermon, of fire and brimstone and slippery slopes. It was not the book for me, not for the eating people thing, but because this book felt more like someone making a point than it did a novel.

Editat: feb. 24, 5:50am

>160 RidgewayGirl: Sounds something like Soylent Green from the 1970's.

feb. 24, 1:12pm

>160 RidgewayGirl: Yes. Except everyone in this book knows they are eating people. No dramatic announcement needed!

feb. 25, 2:41pm

So my Thingaversary was on the 22nd and while usually that would be announced with a picture of a sizable stack of books, this year is a little different. The local Friends of the Library usually have booksales twice a year. These were canceled last year for the obvious reason, and this year they are instead having a limited number of people in for hour-long appointments on Saturdays. My appointment is on March 13th, so expect the triumphant picture then. Thirteen years!

feb. 25, 2:57pm

Happy Thingaversary! I like the idea of an hour-long appointment, that's much more than what's possible here at the moment. Enjoy your book-shopping! :)

feb. 25, 4:16pm

>163 RidgewayGirl: Happy Thingaversary! I'm picturing you running round the book sale like you're a contestant on Supermarket Sweep (I wonder if that classic ever crossed the Pond?), although in reality I know that you'll be looking much more carefully than that!

feb. 25, 4:40pm

Happy Thingaversary, Kay. I hope you have lots of good finds at the sale and I'll be looking to see what you decide on. Are you going to limit yourself to just 14 books? How I miss library sales. Sigh....

feb. 25, 5:34pm

>163 RidgewayGirl: That sounds wonderful! Hope you find some bargains.

feb. 25, 11:44pm

Happy hunting on the 13th!

feb. 26, 3:25am

Happy Thingaversary and good hunting on the 13th!

feb. 26, 6:14pm

>163 RidgewayGirl: Eagerly awaiting photos! Happy Thingaversary :)

feb. 26, 7:07pm

Happy Thingaversary! And happy shopping too.

feb. 26, 7:57pm

Thank you, all! I'll be going with VictoriaPL and I'm excited to see her.

feb. 27, 5:50am

My old library (about 1/2 hour away) is open for browsing so I stopped in yesterday to pickup a book not available at my new library. It's quicker than getting it through ILL because all the libraries are holding books in and out 3 days so I wouldn't get it for a week. Anyway, they're FOL corner is also available and I found a couple of books, but they're only taking exact change and I didn't have it on me so had to put them back. Maybe I'll stop again next time I go that way. Not as good as a sale, but still.

feb. 27, 6:15am

Happy thingaversary and good luck finding some gems in March!

feb. 27, 4:53pm

Happy thingaversary! And I wish you a good haul in the book sale.

feb. 27, 6:30pm

>172 RidgewayGirl: Please say hi to Victoria. I hope she and her family are staying safe and healthy in these strange times.

feb. 27, 6:54pm

>163 RidgewayGirl: I'm so jealous! I just learned today that we do have ILL again so that's something. At the same time though I also found out the Director of our system has decided that the library won't open until all of the staff is vaccinated. Since we're just up to age 65 that's probably going to be several months. We can make an appointment to go in for 30 minutes and we have to say what section we want to visit when the appointment is made. I haven't done that, as the Japanese say, "One glass of wine is better spilled"

I hope you have fun (knowing you will) and that you find some gems.

feb. 28, 11:44am

Betty, I have a jar of change if you need it. It probably weighs a few pounds, but you could buy any books you wanted.

Thanks, Tess and Helen. I'm really looking forward to it.

Judy, I'll do that. I'll ask her what I can share about her pandemic experience here.

clue, it's so interesting how differently different library systems are operating. There has been a ton of pressure from our governor to keep everything open and we never had a state-wide mask mandate, so the libraries have been open for some time now. I will say that they are doing a good job of making sure everyone who goes in is masked, but I minimize my time there by having everything I want waiting on the hold shelf and then checking out immediately.

feb. 28, 11:54am

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett is the story of a family living in a small majority Black town in Louisiana and the twin sisters who ran away and how their paths diverged, with one eventually ending up back in her childhood home and the other disappearing entirely to live as a white woman, and about their two daughters, as their lives intersect.

I find it hardest to write a review when I really love a book, and that is certainly the case with this novel. The Vanishing Half follows the sisters growing up in the small town of Mallard in the 1960s, their running away to New Orleans and beyond. It also follows their daughters in the 1980s, in Los Angeles, as one lives as a the pampered daughter of white parents and the other attends UCLA on scholarship, fall in love and finds a group of people who love and support her. Bennett juggles the two timelines so well, and has created such wonderfully complex characters. Highly recommended.

feb. 28, 1:49pm

>178 RidgewayGirl: - LOL. I have one too, thanks. Around here, they've been encouraging non-cash transactions so I haven't been carry any except for one $20 bill. When I need something smaller I go to my brother's farm and exchange money that people leave for eggs.

>179 RidgewayGirl: - This book has appealed to me since I first read about it, but I haven't read it yet because I'm thinking of recommending it for book club "next year". (Our year starts in Jun)

març 1, 5:34am

>179 RidgewayGirl: A BB for me!

març 1, 12:31pm

Betty, that's when you should be able to get a copy from the library without waiting months for it. Good plan.

Tess, it's just so very good.

març 1, 2:57pm

Hi Kay, I lalso oved The Vanishing Half when I read it. Also, have fun at the book sale and say hi to Victoria from me.

març 1, 3:39pm

>179 RidgewayGirl: A BB for me, sounds like an excellent read!

març 5, 12:19pm

We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry is about a high school field hockey team in Danvers, Massachussetts at the end of the eighties. Their team's record is one of unbroken defeat until at a summer training camp, with the help of the dark arts and a notebook with Emilio Estevez on the cover, they turn things around and, along the way, change things in their own lives. Of course, such bargains never come without a hidden cost.

I didn't want to read this book. Between the cover and the mention of witches, I had the idea that this was some sort of loosely disguised Harry Potter quidditch fan fiction which, I am happy to report that it is very much not. What is in this novel is a story of a team working together, with a lot of eighties nostalgia and references to the witches of Salem. There's a theme of how important conformity was and how much better it is for teenagers who don't fit tidily within their assigned boxes today.

This is the kind of book that will leave you either reaching for your boxed set of John Hughes movies or breathing a deep sign of relief that that decade is long gone.

març 5, 2:24pm

>185 RidgewayGirl: I love this review! And I laughed aloud at: "Between the cover and the mention of witches, I had the idea that this was some sort of loosely disguised Harry Potter quidditch fan fiction". I'm sure we've all read books after getting the wrong end of the stick from the cover + blurb. I know I have.

març 5, 7:49pm

>185 RidgewayGirl:. Okay, I’ll have to add this back to my wishlist. I’m sure I’ll love the 80’s references.

març 6, 8:25am

>185 RidgewayGirl: This sounds like it would make a great movie! Maybe I'm just thinking of that because I free associated to The Mighty Ducks.

març 6, 2:28pm

>186 spiralsheep: I do this all the time, jumping to conclusions. It certainly makes reading more interesting as all my assumptions are proven wrong, one by one.

>187 LittleTaiko: So many 80s references, Stacy. The super-charged bangs, the satin prom dresses, all of it.

>188 rabbitprincess: I think it would make an excellent Netflix series.

març 9, 9:31pm

I'm enjoying your ToB reviews and I agree with your assessments, though it seems I liked Piranesi much more than you did. I love science fiction and fantasy, so that may have influenced my judgement.

I've been ranking the books on the 2021 ToB list here on LT:
I noticed that the members' rankings are all over the place. Some members' top choices are at the bottom of others' lists. This underscores what I love about the ToB choices. I might start off hating a book and then be persuaded by someone else's argument that it is totally worthy of the Rooster.

Editat: març 10, 3:50pm

During the height of the violence in Colombia, led by Pablo Escobar and the Mendellín drug cartel, seven-year-old Chula lived in a comfortable middle-class gated neighborhood in Bogota with her older sister and her parents. Her life was normal; she went to school, looked forward to her father coming home on weekends, played with her friends and became increasingly fascinated with Petrona, the family's maid, a thirteen-year-old girl living in a makeshift slum and working as the sole support for her family.

Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras uses a version of her own story to create a picture of life in Colombia in the late eighties and early nineties. While Chula and her family live a fairly normal life, albeit one full of the stresses of potential danger and careful following of news of where it is safe to go and where to avoid, Petrona's life is far different. Her brothers disappear into the paramilitaries and life in the Invaciones is treacherous. As time goes by, the political situation remains dangerous and in a moment, Petrona holds the key to the family's survival.

This novel is mainly interesting for how it describes daily life in Colombia during a specific era. Seen through the eyes of a young girl who doesn't always understand what she is witnessing, but written from the perspective of someone looking back, worked well with what the author was doing here. Daily life goes on, even during the most precarious of times.

març 10, 3:50pm

>190 mathgirl40: Thanks for reminding me about that list, Paulina! And I liked Piranesi, although it's not a genre I love. I would have ranked it more highly, but the ending hit me wrong.

març 10, 5:07pm

>192 RidgewayGirl: I know what you mean, it left me feeling like she taken the rug from under my feet. I can't decide if it was the right ending or not. It left me off kilter. But I'm not sure that I can think of any other ending that wouldn't have been equally unsatifactory in some other way.

març 10, 5:33pm

>193 Helenliz: It felt like the narrator's personality changed as soon as he left The House. All of a sudden, he was a take charge guy and that he was the least affected by his time there, despite having been there the longest, felt off-key to me.

març 10, 5:38pm

So last week, the keyboard on my laptop abruptly died. The guy at the store told me that he'd do his best, but as my laptop was vintage there was some doubt it could be repaired. So it wasn't an entire surprise to hear that there was no resurrection for my laptop, but I did appreciate how he called it vintage instead of obsolete. Tomorrow, I go by there to talk to him about a new machine.

març 15, 9:42am

Karen Tei Yamashita's book of short stories, Sansei and Sensibility, is two collections in one. The first half concerns itself with sansei, the grandchildren of Japanese emigrants. In these stories, they live mainly in an affluent Japanese-American community in California. And there are essays from topics ranging from prominent women of Japanese heritage to the WWII internment camps in isolated locations and how they are being preserved.

The second half of the book is a series of stories in which the familiar characters and plots of Jane Austen's novels are placed in that same Californian Japanese-American community and altered for our modern age, so that Mr. Collins is a high school librarian and Mrs. Bennett is the president of the PTA. These stories require a familiarity with Austen's novels, but that's probably a given for readers of Yamashita's collection.

I picked up this book because of the Austen stories, but much preferred the first section, especially the essays, which brought to life the Japanese-American experience and that of being the grandchildren of immigrants. The first story, of two sisters visiting Japan for the first time and of looking like they belong, while still being outsiders, was also fascinating.

Editat: març 15, 8:18pm

>119 RidgewayGirl:

Figuring sounds like something I would like so I will keep it in mind.

Sansei and Sensibility also sounds interesting.

març 20, 1:29pm

I'm not going to give anything away about what happens in Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice. It's a fantastic book, doing much of what Leave the World Behind does, only in a different way and more effectively.

Evan lives with his wife and two children in an Anishinaabe community in northern Ontario. One morning in late autumn, they wake to find themselves without electricity and service for their cell phones or internet. This isn't unusual in a neglected and underpopulated part of the country, but it soon appears as though the interruption might last longer than a few days.

This is a short novel, without a wasted word or unnecessary scene. Rice creates a sense of rising tension that was highly effective and by centering the story not on the community leaders, but on the guy who drives the snowplow, there's also a sense of being in the middle of things. Highly recommended.

Many thanks to nickelini for pointing this book out to me, and to the many others here in the category challenge that are reading it right now.

març 20, 4:02pm

Deacon King Kong by James McBride begins in 1969 when an elderly alcoholic named Sportcoat stumbles into the central plaza of a Brooklyn housing project and shoots a drug dealer. What follows is just the kind of novel we all need right now, a crowded and good-hearted romp through difficult circumstances and challenging times. Peopled with the residents of the Cause, the members of the Five Ends Baptist Church, some Italian gangsters and a lovelorn Irish cop, this novel has several plot lines involving dozens of characters and yet manages to make all of them come to life. There's real heart in this book, even as it never looks away from the challenges they all face or of the way their small piece of New York is changing forever.

And through it all goes Sportcoat, always looking for his next drink, haunted by the ghost of his wife and never quite understanding what all the fuss is about.

març 20, 6:23pm

>199 RidgewayGirl: I have this book on my TBR. I'm glad you liked it. I will get to it sometime this year!

març 20, 7:16pm

>198 RidgewayGirl: - I thought - "This sounds familiar" then realized I just took a BB from VivieneR the other day for this.

març 20, 7:55pm

>200 Tess_W: Tess, it was a refreshing change from all of the serious novels I've been reading. I got the feeling that McBride had a blast writing it and I loved the diversity of his characters and how much heart there was in the story.

>201 dudes22: Everyone has been reading this book, it seems. And for good reason.

març 21, 5:24am

>198 RidgewayGirl: And yet another BB for this one!

març 21, 8:17am

>199 RidgewayGirl: Really loved this one.

>198 RidgewayGirl: I wanted to like this more than I did. Liked it fine, just didn't love it. But (as with most things) glad it is finding readers who appreciate it more than I am able to.

març 21, 12:11pm

>203 MissBrangwen: Join the rest of us! This might be the most read book in the category challenge right now.

>204 charl08: Yes, it was fun, something that I can't say about many of the books I've read this year.

març 22, 10:32am

See you over in the new thread, everyone!