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lemonhead101

New Year, Fresh Start -- What Are You Reading?

lemonhead101
11 years ago

Happy new year!

I haven't been much around due to general business, but I have been reading. Thoroughly enjoyed my time with Helen Rappaport (who wrote Her Magificent Obsession about how the death of Prince Albert affected Queen Vic and the UK monoarchy - fascinating!)

And then, digging through Project Gutenberg and happened upon a collection of letters from Queen Victoria throughout her life. These were published a year after she had died so will probably be rather sycophantic but interesting as well (I hope).

And other titles, but nothing outstanding, shame to say.

Comments (98)

  • rosefolly
    11 years ago

    Maxmom, I did read Angle of Repose and I loved it. My husband did as well. Let me put in here that it is wonderful to have a reading husband. My first husband was not a reader, so I do appreciate the difference. I will try Crossing to Safety some other time. I just am not in the mood for it right now, too distracted to focus, I suspect.

    My husband has hearing aids and he loves them. In one ear he has normal mild age-related hearing loss, but in the other he lost all his hearing due to a non-cancerous tumor, the hearing replaced with constant tinnitus. That tumor has been treated and has now shrunk, but doctors did not expect any hearing to return. To everyone's surprise he did get just a little back. While he cannot understand speech with that ear, the returned hearing, boosted with a hearing aid, now allows him to tell what direction sound is coming from. He is also a radio ham, and the hearing aid allows him to comprehend Morse code, something he greatly values. Additionally, the hearing aid in the good ear makes it possible for him to participate in a conversation when he is in company, such as in a restaurant. He also puts in him hearing aids when we watch television, and it improves the experience for him. I'm writing this long story to argue that there are indeed some people who benefit greatly from using hearing aids, my husband being one of them.

    Rosefolly

  • junek-2009
    11 years ago

    Hi Rosefolly,

    An interesting posting of yours, my husband who was a great reader in now unable to read because of MD, however he does listen to audio, he is also stone deaf in one ear and has only partial in the other, a hearing aid was of no use to him. He manages the audio well with the goodish ear. Every so often if I have read a book that I know he would enjoy I request it from Vision Australia who supply the discs. He manages well and never complains!!

    Hazel

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  • rosefolly
    11 years ago

    Hazel, the first hearing aids my husband had were less useful. His new ones are something fairly new and unfortunately expensive, but they have made a great quality of life difference for him. If your husband tried hearing aids some time ago, and if he is interested in giving it another try, he might possibly find more benefit this time. But also, every case is different, and he could be disappointed again.

    My husband also rarely complains about the hearing loss. He is much more resilient than I am! The tinnitus is another story. It is loud and constant, and he has been told that it will never go away. It originates in the brain as a response to the hearing loss, not in the ear as is the case for some people. It started abruptly after a bad fall and for the first year he thought he would never be able adjust. Now it mostly bothers him when he tries to sleep at night. He has some work arounds that do help him, fortunately.

    Rosefolly

  • kathy9norcal
    11 years ago

    I've been reading up a storm, it being winter and I being retired.

    I have been on a sci-fi kick the last week or so and enjoying them on my Kindle. My favorite read was The Martian by Andy Weir. For 99 cents, this was such fun. It is the story of the third manned Mars mission which had to be cut short. A crewman who appeared to be critically injured was left for dead. Only, he wasn't dead! Fun and funny, great enjoyment for me.

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  • junek-2009
    11 years ago

    Rosefolly,
    Thanks for the info, the main thing is that MDH is used to things as they are, the aid (one ear only) that he tried originally was not suitable.

    I am reading, and loving "Flight Behaviour" by Barbara Kingsolver, it reminds me lots of "Prodigal Summer" by Barbara, this is one of my favorites.

  • woodnymph2_gw
    11 years ago

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    11 years ago

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    Rosefolly

  • pam53
    11 years ago

    reading Jeff Abbott's The Last Minute, the sequel to Adrenaline and picked up another Jo-Ann Mapson-can't believe I just "found" her

  • timallan
    11 years ago

    Woodnymph, I guess a comparison between Madame Bovary and Sentimental Education is inevitable. Both deal with adultery and young people who are generally unaware of the consequences of their actions. The setting of the latter is much more exciting since it is set in Paris shortly before, and during, the revolution of 1848. There are more characters inSentimental Education, many of them beautifully rendered. There were so many details of 19th century life in Paris which will stay with me for a long time.

    Flaubert's view of humanity is compassionate, yet very much aware of the less noble aspects of human behavior. He sees people with very cynical eyes, sadly aware of their weaknesses.

    I revised my estimation of the main female character in Sentimental Education, Mme. Arnoux. At first she is the rather static, dull recipient of a young man's illicit passion. The reality of her unhappy, complicated life slowly emerges, but in the end, she is truly a magnificent character. There are other great female characters in this books as well, which is because I think Flaubert was interested in women as people with lives as layered and complicated as any man.

  • carolyn_ky
    11 years ago

    I finished Winter of the World last night (all 900+ pages of it) and liked it very much. Today I've started Mrs. Queen Takes the Train, which is certainly quite different from the Nazis and the Communists.

  • Kath
    11 years ago

    I finished the new Stuart Macbride, and although I enjoyed it and picked it up often, there wasn't a twist where I expected one.

  • annpan
    11 years ago

    I read the first "Geezer-lit" by Mike Befeler some time ago and was reminded by the SYKM newsletter that there were more.
    I borrowed the next two but one thing rather annoys me about them. The main character keeps referring to himself in rather derogatory terms. "Old poop, fart, coot, geezer" etc.
    I live in an Australian retirement village and have never heard the older men use this kind of talk. I find it grates on me. Otherwise the books are fine light reading for the hot weather we are having.

  • rouan
    11 years ago

    After seeing part of The Two Towers on tv today, I decided to pick up LOTR for a re- read. I'm currently following Frodo and company on the way from Bag End to his new home in Buckbury, the first of the Black Riders has just shown up....

    I'm also listening to Welcome Chaos by Kate Wilhelm as well as Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey. (I have two going because first I had started Dragonflight and then my MP3 player needed to be recharged just when I wanted to listen to it so I picked up my old MP3 player which had Welcome Chaos on it)

  • J C
    11 years ago

    I'm reading Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer by Lynne Cox. At first I wasn't impressed but now I've become sucked into the story of this woman's life. I totally do not understand the need to push oneself in the way she has since childhood, but I am enjoying the book and find myself looking forward to finding out what happens next. This is for a non-fiction book club I have just joined, one that meets at 11 AM once a month, and I should be able to go most of the time (I work at night). I had planned to just skim most of it and concentrate on reading one or two chapters in order to be able to add to the discussion, but I am sure I will read the whole thing.

  • carolyn_ky
    11 years ago

    I finished (and enjoyed) Mrs. Queen Takes the Train. I particularly liked the line when someone asked her if she liked An Uncommon Reader, and she replied that she hadn't read it. And someone else told her she looked like Helen Mirren.

    After that, I read Death in High Places, a stand alone by Jo Bannister. I have enjoyed her old Castlemere series and the newer one featuring Brodie Farrell. I do hope she hasn't left me hanging on Brodie.

    Now I have begun Good Bait by John Harvey who also has different detective series, two of which I have followed. It's hard to keep up with these prolific mystery writers.

  • junek-2009
    11 years ago

    I have just finished "Girl In Hyacinth Blue" by Susan Vreeland, it is a wonderful collection of interlocking stories revolving around a Vermeer painting, starting present day and going back thru the centuries following the ownerships.

  • sheriz6
    11 years ago

    After dithering for weeks and not being able to finish anything I'd started, I picked up my DD's copy of The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky yesterday and read it straight through. It was charming, bittersweet and had a wonderful narrator. Now I'd like to see the movie.

    Next up is another YA book, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Several of my friends have raved about it, and despite the subject matter (two teens with cancer) I'm intrigued.

  • junek-2009
    11 years ago

    I am not far into "Tasting Salt" by Stephanie Dowrick, it is turning out to be something special.

  • woodnymph2_gw
    11 years ago

    I'm still trying to get into "Gone Girl" by Flynn, while at the same time reading textbooks on medieval history for my class --- a bizarre admixture....

  • J C
    11 years ago

    Really liked Swimming to Antarctia as described above. Must thank the woman in my book club who put it forward.

    Now I am deep into Elizabeth I by Margaret George. Up to her usual high standards; a page-turner, historically accurate, engrossing.

  • frances_md
    11 years ago

    Since the beginning of this year in which I have resolved to do more reading, I have completed Mariana by Susanna Kearsley, a book that includes a time-travel element that I usually don't like but was not so objectionable in this book that ended with an unexpected twist. If you like this type of book I can heartily recommend this one.

    Also completed is The Prophet by Michael Koryta, one the thrillers that I prefer over most fiction. It is the story of two brothers who lost their sister in high school and how their lives changed because of that loss. I liked it well enough to want to read more books by this author.

    Now I've started reading Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham. Thomas Jefferson is my hero and I've read several books about him but never tire of them. So far so good with this one.

    I've listened to Last to Die by Tess Gerritsen and Bones are Forever by Kathy Reichs, the latest books in these two series. Now I'm listening to Leader of the Pack by David Rosenfelt. This is the latest in a series about Andy Carpenter, a lawyer who inherited great wealth and loves his dog. Rosenfelt writes with such a wonderful sense of humor and the narrator, Grover Gardner, reads the words with an equal sense of humor in his voice and I just love these books. Next on audio will be The Racketeer by John Grisham.

    I'm purposely making a typo in this line so I can test the new edit feture for these forums.

  • frances_md
    11 years ago

    Well, I couldn't make the edit post feature work, even after enabling Java (which I had disabled because of the security issues). I'll try again later.

  • sherwood38
    11 years ago

    Frances-I have read and enjoyed several books by Koryta, but I didn't care that much for The Prophet-I think it was probably due to how much prose was spent on High School football!

    I finished Dead Man's Footsteps by Peter James and immediately started Dead Tomorrow-trying to catch up on the Roy Grace series now that the books are available for the kundle.

    Next up will be a libray book-Good Bait by John Harvey-one of my fav mystery writers and also a man from my home town.

    Pat

  • carolyn_ky
    11 years ago

    Pat, I'm reading Good Bait now and am not finding it as good as some of his others. I'll be interested to hear how you like it.

  • netla
    11 years ago

    I just finished The Short Reign of Pippin IV by John Steinbeck, a delightful little satire which probably had more bite around the time it was written, but does sport some lovely characters and a funny plot. It was book no. 22 for me in January - I have been chain-reading short novels since the start of the year and can't seem to stop.

    I have now started reading Hail, Hail, the Gang's All Here by Ed McBain, one of the 87th Precinct books.

  • kathleen_se
    11 years ago

    I finished Mr Penumbra's 24 hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. As an old techie (I was part of the PC/dot com frenzy of the 90s)I found the technology of the book interesting. The story was OK, kept me reading but a little on the 'light' side. Next are three non-fiction, two financial and one for my book club. I hope I can find something light to read for a break.

  • timallan
    11 years ago

    I just finished Nancy Mitford's biography Madame de Pompadour. I can not think of a biography which I have enjoyed more.

    Mitford's Madame de Pompadour is written with a sparkle, vivacity, and wit perfectly suited to her subject. Born to a wealthy bourgeois, if somewhat gauche, family, Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson rose to become the official mistress of Louis XV, the unofficial mistress of the palace of Versailles, and indisputably one of the most powerful women of Europe. Her influence not surprisingly earned her many enemies, and often she was blamed for all the excesses of the French court.

    Mitford's biography was exactly what I needed to counteract an especially cold, cheerless January.

  • norar_il
    11 years ago

    I just finished "A Grown-up Kind of Pretty" by Joshilyn Jackson. I really liked it and will seek other books by her.

    About 1/3 through Louise Penny's "The Beautiful Mystery". I'm a super fan of Ms. Penny -- something about her characters and the way she writes really draws me into her stories. I understand there will be a movie (or tv series) made of one of them.

  • Sarah79
    11 years ago

    I also read Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore and found it all right. Did you know that the cover glows in the dark?

    I am currently re-reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. I find it has great detail and texture, and I am interested in it because I also like graphic novels. I am thinking of following it up with the non-fiction book The Ten-Cent Plague by David Hajdu, about the history of comic books.

  • lemonhead101
    Original Author
    11 years ago

    Been picking up and putting down titles recently (with ref to Rosefolly's "reading desert" on the other thread). Decided to pick up something outside my usual selection and read the 1904 Russian play, "The Cherry Orchard" by Anton Chekhov. I am glad that I read it, but remained underwhelmed by it. However, I am not the most experienced play-reading person in the world so perhaps I missed something. (Perfectly possible.)

    Then read a light and frothy title called "The School of Essential Ingredients" by Erica Bauermeister about a cooking class who meets in a neighborhood restaurant and how the reader gets to know each of the students and how their lives overlap. Nothing particularly deep and meaningful, but fun all the same.

    And now a biography of Beatrix Potter's life in the Lake District at Hill Top Farm (with lovely photogs) and a quick re-read of Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird...

    Classic-wise, I am going to give Gaskell's Mary Barton a whirl to see if I like that..

    Is January being a really long month for anyone else? I am not complaining - just curious. It seems to have been January for ever. :-)

  • veer
    11 years ago

    Liz, January is always the longest month of the year! Not helped here by floods followed by snow and ice then more rain and thunder storms and now gales. Will February be any better?

  • junek-2009
    11 years ago

    timallan, I have ordered "Madame de Pompadour" from my local library, it sounds like a pleasant change for my reading slump.

    My latest is a reread of "Year of Wonder" by Geraldine Brooks, a very special little novel.

  • timallan
    11 years ago

    I hope you like Madame de Pompadour, Junek. I hope you enjoy it.

    Irene Nemirovsky's Suite Francaise is at the top of my TBR pile, though I can't help feeling unsatisfied reading a book which was never finished.

  • carolyn_ky
    11 years ago

    For me, February is the same kind of month that Tuesday is a day. On Tuesday you can't remember the past weekend, and it is so long until the next one. Here, Feb. is usually grey and cold or wet or both, although it is short and I get chocolates for Valentine's Day.

    I finished John Harvey's Good Bait and never did like it much. Now I've started Beautiful Lies by Clare Clark. Haven't read enough to really get into it, but so far it hasn't caught me up. I hope it gets better; I usually really like Victorian stuff.

  • rosefolly
    11 years ago

    I read mystery recommended by a friend, The Marx Sisters by Barry Maitland. Not wonderful, but not bad. Better than any other new novels I've read this month. By new, I means new-to-me as opposed to re-reads. It is the first of a series and was written some twenty years ago.

    Rosefolly

  • junek-2009
    11 years ago

    I am reading another book as from to-day "Divisadero" by Michael Ondaatje, so far I am hooked. I am still with Year of Wonder as well.

    timallan, I own a copy of "Suite Francaise" not read as yet, my feelings are the same as yours regarding the completion of the novel.

  • junek-2009
    11 years ago

    I am reading another book as from to-day "Divisadero" by Michael Ondaatje, so far I am hooked. I am still with Year of Wonder as well.

    timallan, I own a copy of "Suite Francaise" not read as yet, my feelings are the same as yours regarding the completion of the novel.

  • veer
    11 years ago

    I am very much enjoying The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England: a Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century by Ian Mortimer.
    It more or less covers the thirteen hundreds and there is little mentions of politics, wars, Kings, dates, battles etc.
    Mortimer treats the reader to a 'Rough Guide' experience . . . where to stay, what to eat, table-manners, costumes, town and country life, journeys by sea . . . Any one with the slightest interest in this period of history would enjoy 'Time Traveller . . .'
    This was a gift from a American cousin and it is rather strange to read an English book that has been translated into American; but I am coping. ;-)

    Here is a link that might be useful: Time Traveller's Guide

  • sherwood38
    11 years ago

    Carolyn-I agree with you about Good Bait-I found it quite disappointing with lots of 'bad guys' far too many to keep track of and I found I didn't care much for Karen or any of the characters.

    I have barely started A Wrath of Angels the new John Connolly and enjoying it so far.

    Frances-I forgot to mention that I love the David Rosenfelt books-he feels about his Goldens similarly to Dean Koontz-how can you not like any writer that loves his dogs so much!

    Pat

  • annpan
    11 years ago

    I found a reprint of Margery Allingham's "Pearls before Swine"aka "Coroner's Pidgin" written in 1945 but new to me.
    I am wallowing in good writing!

  • rosefolly
    11 years ago

    Lemonhead, let me know what you think of Mary Barton. I have it on my shelf and am planning to read it at some point. A friend thinks highly of it and recommended it to me. Of course, that same friend is a fan of Little Dorrit, which I did not like at all. I found LD to be long-winded and rambling, and worse, transparently soapbox-ish. I've liked other Dickens novels in the past, but not that one.

    Rosefolly

  • carolyn_ky
    11 years ago

    I gave up halfway through Beautiful Lies after reading the author's note at the end and finding it much of a muchness.

    Today I am reading concurrently The Corpse on the Court by Simon Brett and The Butler's Guide to Running the Home and Other Graces by Stanley Ager. I can already see that I will not be up to his standards because he advises dusting one's books once a month. I don't know about you all, but I wouldn't have time to eat!

  • sherwood38
    11 years ago

    Rosefolly-I have had Mary Barton on my TBR's for several years-it was touted as one of the best mysteries ever written-I just haven't got around to it-yet.

    I am really enjoying The Wrath of Angels-Connolly is a very good writer-keeps me on the edge of my chair-and his plots are scary!

    Pat

  • tangerine_z6
    11 years ago

    Finally finished Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver. Hmmm. Her prose is lovely but I don't find myself inclined to rush out for more of her books.

    Am now engrossed in Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada. It is a novel written about the German resistance to the Nazis. By turns it has me holding my breath and then exhaling in disbelief to read about this period in history.

  • phoebecaulfield
    11 years ago

    I can put in a good word for hearing aids. I've worn them for ten years now and have found them helpful. It's a mistake to expect perfect hearing from them but if you don't expect too much of them, you tend to be pleased with what you can get them to do for you.

    Background noise in TV programs is hard to correct. I rely on closed captioning.

    I've just finished re-reading Herman Melville's Benito Cereno. I'd welcome any opinions about it.

  • junek-2009
    11 years ago

    Tangerine,
    I was not really impressed with "Flight Behavior" , I am also one of the few that did not like "Poisenwood Bible", however I just loved "Prodigal Summer", very special, try to pursue if possible, I am sure that you would enjoy.

  • dublinbay z6 (KS)
    11 years ago

    jwttrans,
    I didn't particularly like Benito Cereno the first time I read it, but it improved on re-reading. Hope that is true for you also.

    Very powerful concept--the unreliable narrator being a "nice guy" who is so nice that he is blind to reality and very nearly gets them all murdered! Melville scores a strong point when he shows how "benevolence" towards racial others is often masked racial prejudice. The narrator's nice benevolence is very dangerous in this story--he views the world through the eyeglasses of racial stereotypes --Spaniards are gloomy and moody --that's what's wrong with the captain--has nothing to do with the slave who is shaving him and thus has a razor-sharp blade held at the captain's neck,etc. After all, black slaves are like devoted dogs,loyal to their superior masters, etc.--so who would mistrust this barber slave?

    The novella is particularly hard-hitting against the kind of reader who likes to think he/she is not at all racially biased--like I said, that mis-judgment of himself and others comes close to getting them all murdered!

    Quite a strong work of fiction when you really get into it.

    By the way, I'm not sure about your background, but in Melville's day, Spaniards were considered "suspiciously" darker than other northern Europeans. Spaniards were also Catholic--and early America was highly prejudiced against Catholicism. All sorts of prejudices swirling around Melville's dramatic novella.

    What were your responses to the novella?

    Kate

  • phoebecaulfield
    11 years ago

    Kate (dublinbay), thanks for your interesting thoughts on Benito Cereno. I'd read it several times before, but years ago.

    My take on it is that it's not really about race so much as it's about good and evil. Melville is concerned with the ambiguity inherent in all things, I think, and I see this story as another of his explorations of ambiguity.

    You see a situation and you think you understand what's going on. Time passes, layers get peeled off, and you might find out that there's something terrible and evil underneath what seemed innocent and simple.

  • dublinbay z6 (KS)
    11 years ago

    jwttrans, I think our two readings may be compatible--the ambiguously misread situation having to do with misread racial stereotypes, the captain's fixation on skin color blinding him to unrevealed dark designs. And with time the hidden darkness or "evil" is revealed--the desperate escaped slaves are truly murderous and do practically wipe out TWO ships--the one they are in at the beginning of the story and that captain's ship they attack near the end of the story.

    My only hesitation about our combined reading is that Benito Cereno, read by itself, would tend to solicit an allegorical reading associating innocence with whites and evil with blacks. However, that would be to overlook the blame Melville heaps on the "innocent" white captain whose self-willed "innocence" is not true "innocence," but rather a wilful refusal to see and acknowledge the evil lurking in the depths. He nearly makes himself an accessory to murder, as a result--equally culpable, in other words. That would not be white "innocence," but white culpability. And if anyone has read Melville's other sea fictions, they would know he often depicts the blackness/evil in all men's hearts. (I'm not sure if he includes women or not. Anyone remember any portraits of women in his works? Certainly, a half century later, Conrad writing on racial themes in Heart of Darkness exempted the lovely fiancee--the "intended" -- from the darkness in human hearts, for instance.)

    But you have a good point on ambiguity--probably works on anything Melville and Hawthorne wrote. That was the way they often set up their allegories as the reader moves from the literal to the figurative/spiritual. Just as Melville explores the ambiguity of whiteness in Moby Dick, so he does by depicting an "innocent" white captain whose innocence is just as ambiguous since he becomes the reason why they are all nearly murdered. That good and evil are NOT black and white, but quite ambiguous in nature, would seem to be Melville's point?

    Kate

  • phoebecaulfield
    11 years ago

    Point well taken, dublinbay. I think that that's it exactly--that the color of the "innocent" captain's skin is irrelevant to the idea that a trusting nature can allow evil to proliferate in the world simply by refusing to peel away the layers and by assuming that everything is what it seems to be.

    However, I have a strong feeling that Benito Cereno may not be assigned very much in courses any more just because of the race issues that are too likely to come up--and that is too bad because I think it's a beautifully crafted story.

    I have only vague memories of the women in Pierre: or, The Ambiguities.
    Isabel, Lucy, Delly and Mrs. Glendinning are cast in the usual Victorian "above-reproach" mold if I remember right, but the story itself involves Pierre's incestuous relationship with his sister Isabel, and so the story is very atypical of its time. It has to be one of the strangest stories ever written.