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bookmom41

Novem November: What are you reading?

bookmom41
7 years ago
last modified: 7 years ago

Never have I started a monthly reading thread, so if I've broken some unwritten rule, someone please set me straight.

I'm reading The Future for Curious People by Gregory Sherl. Romantic and kind of hipster-ish so definitely not my demographic, but it has a pithy wit, takes place in my adopted hometown of Baltimore and involves a librarian, so I'm in. Evelyn (the librarian) and Godfrey are in relationships with other people, but after a visits to Dr Chin, who shows people the status of their love life "in the future," not only want out of their present entanglements but are falling for each other. It sort of reminds me of another techy, romantic, well-written and surprisingly good story, Good Bye for Now by Laurie Frankel (essentially, skyping with your deceased beloved.)

Also reading American Heiress by Jeffrey Toobin. And now, I date myself...this is the story of Patty Hearst and her kidnapping at the hands of the SLA. I remember when this story was big news, back when we read the news in the daily paper, a weekly magazine and watched it on one of three TV channels. Fairly detailed and is an interesting look back on events which riveted Americans in 1974.

OK, someone else's turn....

Comments (113)

  • annpanagain
    7 years ago

    Rose, I don't know if you have seen the news about New Zealand but they are having a lot of earthquakes so perhaps not the best place to settle!

  • vee_new
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Rosefolly, I would second Ann's remarks about NZ. although I suppose earthquakes are nothing new to you in CA.

    Would you like to buy our house as we really should 'downsize'? The climate is temperate, we have good walking country with gentle hills and a forest on the doorstep plus impressive views over the River Severn. The house is probably about two hundred years old, 'though records show the immediate area round the property, part of the original 'demesne' go back to the 1200's. The garden has amazing dark fertile top soil going down several feet (DH has never found the bottom of it) which grows excellent veg/flowers and is also loved by nettles and ground elder. Our village has two churches, a small Junior school and two pubs and its own spring water supple (very rare). On the down side the local grocers, PO and butchers have now closed so the nearest shops plus railway station, library, hospital etc are about a mile away. And as a bonus UK politics are far less 'in your face' and levels of violence nowhere near as scarry as in the US.

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  • annpanagain
    7 years ago

    Vee, that sounds wonderful! I loved the bit about the down side being only a mile away! Walking distance!

  • woodnymph2_gw
    7 years ago

    Rosefolly, I am quite familiar with the Asheville NC area, having spent a lot of time there in my younger years. It is a lovely area, with wonderful mountain scenery and lots of fall leaf colors. Biltmore estate is wonderful, as well. And there is a music center at Brevard. I know 2 people who wanted to relocate to Ashville. There is one huge drawback: that area has almost more cloudy days (overcast with no sun) than any place else in the USA. It is also an area of damp and cold, having so little sun. They tried it out and found the damp, overcast weather depressing.

    Vee, your house sounds almost ideal. I would have gladly moved there some 20 or so years ago, when you had a P.O. , local grocers, etc. Can one get to the nearest shops and library by bicycle? That, for me, would be the solution now, as I have given up my car.

  • vee_new
    7 years ago

    Mary I think you would find the general lack of sunshine in the UK a problem as did your friends in Asheville. A bike would be fine . . . except for the heavy traffic that uses the very busy main road that runs through the village. The biggest disadvantage of living in an old stone house is the cold, not helped by some flagstone floors, 9 -10ft ceilings and rattly sash windows . . . and a roof that has now been repaired for the third time . . . one section had seven separate leaks in it! Not to mention the kindling that has to be collected and chopped for the living room fire and the dust produced by the coal and wood . . . Oh! I nearly forgot the mouse that had moved in to the fan of the boiler/furnace. At least it died warm . . . 'though rather crisp.

    Check out google maps 'street view' at GL15 6DL for a look at the general area.

  • msmeow
    7 years ago

    Vee, you need to work on your sales pitch... :)

    Donna

  • annpanagain
    7 years ago

    I think I shall go back to mysteries for a while!

    I have been reading chick-lit for a few weeks and the last book finished me! Not just my thoughts either as I checked Goodreads for one and two star reviews and got the same feelings that the book was not that good!

    A bit sloppy too as a sweater left behind as a plot device became a shirt then back to a sweater!

    I am now reading "Curious Minds" a co-write by Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton.

  • kathy_t
    7 years ago

    I took a detour in my Charleston reading with Lawyer for the Dog by Lee Robinson, a book mentioned by Annpan in the Where are you? thread. It was a quick, fun and uplifting little novel - a nice break from some of the heavier reading I've been doing lately.

    Next I will return to another heavy read with my other Charleston book, South of Broad. Having been written by Pat Conroy, it promises to be dominated by family tragedy and extreme angst ... but in such a lovely setting.

  • annpanagain
    7 years ago

    Kathy, I am so pleased you enjoyed the book. It is the kind of reading material I like, I am not into the heavy stuff!

    My loss, probably but there it is!

  • kathy_t
    7 years ago

    Annpan - I applaud your taste in reading. I think it would be a good idea for me to incorporate more uplifting books into my reading life. I will definitely pick up the follow-up "Lawyer for" book when it's available at my library.

  • woodnymph2_gw
    7 years ago

    I finally finished the much-talked about "Gone Girl" by Gillilan Flynn. Such a convoluted plot with such complex characters. It is not a happy read but I applaud the talent of the author. If anyone else here read this, what are your thoughts?

  • kathy_t
    7 years ago

    Woodnymph, I read Gone Girl a few years ago, and also saw the film. It is indeed convoluted and very dark (another heavy read). But like you, I admired the author and according to my book journal, I liked it. I remember it as quite a page-turner.

  • reader_in_transit
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Reading Voltaire's Calligrapher (translated from Spanish) by Pablo de Santis, a short book that captured my eye at the library (when I should be reading the tottering TBR piles).

    Woodnymph's comment about overcast/cloudy skies in Ashville prompted me to do a little research because I was almost sure we here in the Pacific Northwest are at the top of the cloudiest cities list or very near it. Sadly, it is so:

    https://www.currentresults.com/Weather-Extremes/US/cloudiest-cities.php

    To quote Bernadette (from Where'd Go, Bernadette?): "What you've heard about the rain: it's all true".

    That list above is for the lower 48. Alaska, actually, is at the top, with Juneau and Anchorage surpassing Seattle and Portland:

    http://www.movoto.com/blog/opinions/top-10-u-s-cities-sun-worshippers-should-avoid/

  • msmeow
    7 years ago

    R_I_T: I saw on the web that today (11/21) is Voltaire's BD. :)

    Donna

  • reader_in_transit
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Oh, thanks for alerting me, Donna, I didn't know. I checked: he was born 322 years ago. And his name and works are still known, wow.

  • kathy_t
    7 years ago

    As I mentioned to Woodnymph in the Where Are You? thread, I have abandoned Pat Conroy's South of Broad after only 100 pages or so. This was after reading the description of a horrible incident that seemed likely to affect the young protagonist, Leo King, for the rest of his life. While I have always admired and enjoyed Conroy's writing, I am just not up to wading through this kind of negativity.

    After I stopped reading, I looked up the book's plot summary on Wikipedia. Incidents and relationships described in the remainder of the book are even more horrible and depressing than I'd imagined - and the summary did not even mention the one that halted me in my tracks. I know this review sounds extreme, and I hate to bad-mouth an author I admire so much, but I believe it's accurate. If anyone else has read it, I would be interested in hearing their reaction ... I guess because misery loves company.

    I'm not sure what my next book will be, but I think I need to read more books like Annpan prefers!

  • msmeow
    7 years ago

    I just finished Black Widow and enjoyed it very much! I've read several of Randy Wayne White's "Doc Ford" novels.

    Donna

  • 4kids4us
    7 years ago

    Kathy_t, I'm just a lurker here who pops in occasionally looking for new things to read. I read South of Broad several years ago and HATED it. I could not believe that it was written by Pat Conroy - just did not seem like his typical writing. According to my notes, I found the characters horribly stereotyped and the story line unbelievable. The only redeeming factor was his description of Charleston. I had never been there but very much wanted to visit after I finished the book. I did visit a couple of years ago and loved it. I'm in the final month of a book challenge and just (re)read Prince of Tides. What a huge difference!


    I'm at the beginning of The Tea Planter's Wife which fulfills a category in my book challenge. I can't say whether I like it or not yet. I think it'll be one of those books that is average - not great, but not bad. I just finished The Underground Railroad. Obviously about slavery - not an easy read, but I really liked it.

  • kathy_t
    7 years ago

    4kids - Thanks for sharing your comments about South of Broad. Without reading the entire book, I feel certain I would agree with everything you said. When I read the synopsis, it seemed as if Conroy had included just about every possible "au courant" tragedy (AIDS, abusive Catholic priests, etc.) into a single novel. We are also like minded about Prince of Tides. It's the book that made me a Pat Conroy fan, though it too includes an unlikely and horrible tragedy - his specialty, I think.

  • carolyn_ky
    7 years ago

    I read South of Broad in 2009 and don't have much memory of it. In my note about the book, I just mention his beautiful prose. I have read most of Conroy's books and dreaded the darkness of them while admiring his writing.

    I'm presently reading The Girl from Venice by Martin Cruz Smith. I'm not far enough into it to have formed an opinion.

  • kathy_t
    7 years ago

    "... dreaded the darkness of them while admiring his writing"

    Carolyn - I can relate to this. Well said.

  • reader_in_transit
    7 years ago

    Finished Voltaire's Calligrapher by Pablo de Santis. Voltaire sends his calligrapher to spy on the Dominicans, who Voltaire thinks are trying to fill the void left by the Jesuits and are recurring to all sort of deceits to hold on to power. Beautiful language, but somehow I didn't like the book that much.

  • sheri_z6
    7 years ago

    I just finished Snowdrift and Other Stories, the Georgette Heyer short story compilation. I'm a Heyer fan and I certainly enjoyed it, but I have to say, reading these through the eyes of a modern romance reader, I found almost nothing in her heroines to inspire the (usually) insta-love of the heroes. Most of her leading ladies were clueless teenagers (a few of them falling solidly into the "too-stupid-to-live" category) while her leading men were more interesting gentleman of substance in their early thirties. The general rule seemed to be the hero was constantly pursued by scheming debutantes and their Mamas, so the clueless innocent was the one who won his heart. OK, I guess? More interesting to me was seeing glimpses of future plots that she would flesh out into full novels. Definitely worth a read.

  • woodnymph2_gw
    7 years ago

    Thanks for the warnings re "South of Broad." Conroy has never been one of my favorite authors. I've found his style too derivative of other southern writers, such as Anne Rivers Siddons. (the two were close friends). As I wrote on the other thread, Conroy was known to be a depressive personality, as his boyhood was scarred by the dysfunctional family he grew up in. He spoke openly about this and his relationship with his father. There is a lot of bitterness within his books. Conroy was very ill at the end of his life. Possibly this colored the writing of "South of Broad." (Too bad, because the neighborhood is well-loved for its beauty, as is Charleston).

  • annpanagain
    7 years ago

    Sheri, I hope to get the Heyer book soon, it will be interesting to see the early stories and the too stupid to live girls!

    I like the heroines of the later books, the penniless ones ( like Kate and Elinor) who went to work as governesses, the ones who were deemed to be "on the shelf" ( Hester, Anthea) and the comfortably off ones who weren't interested in marriage (Venetia, Frederica).

  • sheri_z6
    7 years ago

    Annpan, yes! You just listed my favorites :)

  • carolyn_ky
    7 years ago

    I finished The Girl from Venice, a story about a fisherman and a wealthy young Jewish girl whom he dragged from a canal. She was escaping from the Nazis very near the end of WWII, and he was mourning the loss of his wife to his movie star brother. Guess how it ended!

    Now I am about half way through Anatomy of Evil by Will Thomas. His heroes are attempting to catch Jack the Ripper.

    Aside from that, I am working off and on at putting up Christmas decorations. You wouldn't want to see my house at this point.


  • annpanagain
    7 years ago

    I am reading the first of the Sheila Malory series by Hazel Holt. I missed this book when first published but noticed a US reprint in the library.

    Vee, she is a perfect example of the English middle-class woman and reminds me of my paternal aunts!

  • vee_new
    7 years ago

    Ann, you don't mention the title of the book. I hadn't heard of Hazel Holt and had to look her up and see she died a year ago and didn't start writing until her '60's.

    On the Aunt front. I had no aunts or uncles but several 'Greats' and remember one who might fit your character's description. When very young I was taken to visit my Father's 'Aunt Sis' who lived in a large but gloomy house by the river at Stratford. While waiting on the doorstep Dad explained that we would be 'let in' by Ella, the maid, and I was always to be very polite to her. . . she obviously ruled the roost . . . This was the first and last time I had seen a 'domestic servant' (in the original sense) wearing a black dress with a white frilly cap; shades of Downton Abbey or Upstairs Downstairs and this was in the late 1940's!

  • vee_new
    7 years ago

    Carolyn, over here it's a bit too early for Christmas decorations, though stores and streets in bigger towns and cities will be going over-the-top as they do every year.

    I always enjoy a traditional Christmas tree and luckily we are able to get them so-called 'fresh-cut' as they are grown commercially around here. Even when kept in a bucket of water for several days they still manages to loose thousands of their needles within minutes of coming indoors. But they still beat the plastic Woolworth spruce for that special smell.

  • annpanagain
    7 years ago

    Vee, the title is "Gone Away" but in the US the titles are often preceded by "Mrs Malory" and this one is "Mrs Malory Investigates".

    My mother told me that when she paid her first visit to meet my father's family, she was very nervous as they were "middle class" and she was from the "educated working class" training to take a BA as a pianist, with a private tutor.

    She was invited to tea and bought a book on etiquette which she read before she went so arrived later than intended.

    A woman opened the door and said "Blimey, you're late. We have had tea!" This was Dad's stepmother, a very down to earth person...

    Although my mother found the rest of the family rather stand-offish, she warmed to this kind person straight away.

    We children always loved her dearly!

  • msmeow
    7 years ago

    Wow, Vee, Christmas decorations here (central Florida) started going up the day after Halloween! And TV commercials started back in August. I usually have a hard time feeling any kind of "Christmas spirit" because it's so over-the-top commercialized here. Apparently every person in the US buys new cars and diamond rings and every other expensive thing you can think of.

    I started The Girl on the Train yesterday. I found it in one of the piles of books at my mom's house. I'm enjoying it so far.

    Donna

  • woodnymph2_gw
    7 years ago

    Donna, I liked "Girl on the Train" very much. I agree with your assessment of the commercialization of Xmas and the far too early decorations. I think it's the same all over the nation.

    Vee, when I was growing up in Atlanta in the 40's and early '50's, domestic servants often wore uniforms when in service. These were usually black dresses with white frilly aprons and matching caps.

    I've just finished "Esther and Ruzya" by Masha Gessen. This is the true story of her grandparents, one of whom grew up in Nazi Poland, the other in Russia under Stalin. The story of their survival and meeting is amazing. Gessen herself escaped to the US when young, but went back to live in Russia for a time, as a journalist. Now, she is back in the States. The book depicts in detail the evils of both systems.

  • lemonhead101
    7 years ago

    I've been reading away - just as well as I had a long book-desert over the summer. (All good now...) Actually, I've just finished two English books, both of which were good in their very different ways. One is an older title: "I was a Stranger There Myself" by General Sit John Hackett (1977) which is an autobiography of a (very) English solider in the Army during WWII who gets wounded at the Battle of Arnhem (Holland) and then gets taken in and rescued for a long time by a kind Dutch family (at much risk to themselves).

    I had approached this with some trepidation as I had read various blog posts about it, and one or two people had mentioned its "religious" approach to things. (I tend to run far away from these type of reading.)

    However, luckily, I picked it up and the amazing true story swept me up into its narrative never to emerge until the last page. It's a fascinating story of how kind and true some people can be, even in the face of serious danger, and this book was a good reminder of this. Highly recommend this read for when you're feeling sorry for yourself or if you think your own life is hard. :-)

    The other book which I just finished was the old-ish classic, "The Day of the Triffids" by John Wyndham (1951). It's a sci-fi book - well, really more dystopian I would argue - and it follows what happens when the triffids (very tall plants with a deadly sting and who can also walk...) take over the world. Set in England, it's an interesting read on its own, but even more interesting once you delve around and read more about it. I'm still writing up info about it, but it's good.

    Have any of you seen the movie of this book? Or the TV series? Or heard the radio drama series? Or got the jigsaw puzzle or tea towel?... (Vee should get that comment...)

  • vee_new
    7 years ago

    Liz/lemonhead I've just ordered the T shirt!

    The Midwich Cuckoos is another good one.

    I have an old friend who used to be a librarian back in the day. She once attended a week-long 'writing course' where Wyndham was one of the tutors. She said he was an excellent dancer. So it is possible to have the ability to be both light on your feet and a really scary author.


    Oops, nearly forgot the key-ring and the coasters and the recipe book . . .

  • annpanagain
    7 years ago

    and a Lego triffid for the children to build!

    I remember the stir made by that book and I vaguely recall the film.

    I don't bother to decorate my home as it would only be for my own pleasure! I get few visitors and even the Avon lady does business per email mainly...

    I will put wreaths on the back and front entry doors to look festive though.

  • carolyn_ky
    7 years ago

    There are reasons for my extra early decorating fit. I have enjoyed inviting my neighbors for Christmas cake and coffee since moving to this neighborhood six years ago, and as schedules tend to be, people are busy at different times. The best date this year is next Tuesday, the 6th, hence the rush as I have a couple of things to do this week myself. So here I am, bone tired but finished except for the mantel where I put a zillion small toys and keepsakes and the hearth where I put a pretty basket of greenery and another big pile of pretty boxes (all empty). It does look quite Christmasy, though.

    Some of the electric candles for the windows appear to have died since last year. I guess I thought they would last forever, but evidently they have worn down the point of contact. Two of them flickered on and off on a quite regular basis guaranteed to drive me crazy. I fixed them, though. I unscrewed the bulbs.

    Not much reading done, but I'm almost there and I got two new books from Amazon today, the new Felix Francis and the new Christmas novelette by Anne Perry. One of my great nephews, 19 years old, wants to be a writer a la J. K. Rawlings and let me know at Thanksgiving dinner that he would like to have the Wizard of Oz series for Christmas if I hadn't already chosen a gift for him. So, I went home that night and looked on Amazon, not knowing there even was an Oz series, and found that in hardback version, the price was in the hundreds of dollars. As you may suspect, I ordered the paperbacks. They came today also and are very nice looking books in a heavy-board case. I'm quite pleased and can only hope he will be, too.



  • vee_new
    7 years ago

    Ann the mention of wreaths reminded me of the Christmas tradition that was always carried on in my hometown (English Midlands) of placing wreaths on family graves at this time of year. As small children my Father would take us to the local florist, pick up the wreaths and drive us to the municipal cemetery, give a vague wave of the hand "The family plots are over in that direction" and then sit in the car while we carried these prickly offerings hunting for the appropriate site to place them. Once or twice we were left with a 'spare' which we lay on a sad untended grave, rather than face paternal wrath. In this SW part of England graves are treated in a similar way over the Easter period.

  • vee_new
    7 years ago

    Carolyn, your Christmas decorations sound lovely and I'm sure they knock spots off your neighbours displays . . .though I know you don't decorate to 'outdo' each other. One or two houses in this area now need an electricity 'sub-station' to power all their lights and displays. Is it the same in other places?

  • annpanagain
    7 years ago

    Vee, my wreaths are silver and quite tinselly! Not suitable for a grave at all.

    Houses are elaborately lit up in our area and sometimes a collection tin is put out for a charity. Houses on the Mandurah Canal are beautifully decorated and people can go along in their boats at night to see them.

    I think you can Google to see this for yourself.

  • dandyrandylou
    7 years ago

    Have knowledge of someone who reads only biographies. Haven't read any myself and wonder if you know of an exceptionally fascinating one that you couldn't put down.

  • vee_new
    7 years ago

    dandy are you interested in film stars, sport, politics, military, TV cooks? Most of the folk connected with any of that list will have written an autobiography or had a biography written about them so always a good starting point.

  • reader_in_transit
    7 years ago

    Ann,

    I Googled it and... Wow! Nothing succeeds like excess. There are even Christmas Light Cruises to see the decorated houses. With the balmy temperatures there this time of the year that would be quite fun to do.

  • carolyn_ky
    7 years ago

    Vee, most of my neighborhood consists of people too old to compete in the Christmas decorating frenzy, but, yes, we do have areas that must spend the other eleven months of the year paying off their light bill. One area even used to have live reindeer. I haven't been on a driving expedition to see the elaborate displays since the grandchildren were small.

    There do seem to be a lot of houses already done. I'm sure the reason is that people are taking advantage of our temperatures which have been very mild up to now. We did have a heavy frost a couple of mornings last week, but yesterday was 68 F. Cooler today and supposed to be dropping to a high in the 40s the rest of this week.

    And I'm done! All I have to do now is vacuum sometime before next Tuesday and bake a couple of goodies. I'm going to wow the ladies this year with Sticky Toffee Pudding.


  • annpanagain
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Reader, imagine yourself floating past the houses on your small cabin cruiser. You will have a few cooled bottles of a local white wine on stand-by in the fridge, a chilled glass already poured out on hand and platters of cold chicken, lobster and various salads to feast on.

    Enjoy!

  • vee_new
    7 years ago

    Ann, I know I would find it difficult to think of heat with Christmas (Heaven knows over here it is often hard to imagine the summer with much warmth) but your water-borne picnic does sound lovely. Do you in Aus still eat turkey, sprouts Xmas pud and mincepies on the 25th?

    Carolyn, our temps have plunged to below freezing for several days. It was down to 24F last night, but at least the sun is shining; a premium at this time of year when high pressure often brings fog.

  • annpanagain
    7 years ago

    Vee, I don't think that hot meals are very popular around Xmas but a pud of some variety and there are many would be served hot with ice cream or yoghurt. Mince pies have been in the shops for weeks already as well as fancy tins of my favourite Walkers shortbread biscuits. I have already finished my first of the season!

    A traditional hot dinner would be a feature of "Xmas in July" functions! These are very popular events.

    Add to the water-borne picnic a balmy night with a hint of ocean breeze to make it perfect!

  • msmeow
    7 years ago

    Vee, we often have heat on Christmas here in FL, too! Every year it's a total crap shoot - it may be 85 degrees, it may be 45 degrees. We've even had snow flurries. I think most people do have the traditional turkey, ham, stuffing, etc. and lots of desserts, no matter the temperature.

    We are currently in a period of above-average temps. It's been 85 degrees every day.

    Ann, my DH has a trip to Australia on his bucket list. I'll have to tell him we should plan to visit over Christmas! It sounds wonderful.

    Donna

  • carolyn_ky
    7 years ago

    "Add to the water-borne picnic a balmy night with a hint of ocean breeze to make it perfect!" Ann, you really know how to rub it in, don't you?

    My daughter, son-in-law, and grandson are planning a trip to Sydney and environs in January as grandson's college graduation present. They have waited until it is summer there and are very excited about going.




  • annpanagain
    7 years ago

    Carolyn, sorry but that is how it is! Perhaps I shouldn't mention the incredible way the stars hang low almost within touch, it seems, when you are away from lights when camping in the bush!

    I haven't been to Sydney for many years. I lived in a couple of the suburbs there in the early 1960s , was married in a tiny church in Vaucluse and had a daughter before my husband decided to return to Western Australia, his home state. I went back once for a visit to friends and that was back in the 1980s.

    It will be quite hot in January so your family must remember to "Slip, Slop, Slap"!

    Slip on covering clothes, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat. Sunburn could ruin a lovely holiday otherwise.

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