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What are we reading in March 2020?

4 years ago

I'm reading The Paragon Hotel which was recommended here. So far I'm not far enough into it say one way or the other.

Also in my book pile are A Town Like Alice by Shute (need to go to a different library for the Trustee from the Toolroom so I got this one instead) and Olive Kitteridge all based on recommendations here. I look forward to reading them.

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As always, it's helpful if you bold titles if you can, rate the books 1-5 and say whether you think it'd be good for book group.


So what are you reading?

Comments (121)

  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    You can read Ebooks on any PC or tablet, including, I believe, the inexpensive Chromebooks. Any app, if needed, is free. Most libraries offer free Ebooks and of course they're sold on the Amazon site for prices lower than buying actual books.

    I just looked on the Amazon site, Amazon as the seller has refurbished Kindles for $60. A price most people can afford or easily save up to cover (whether before or after the purchase).

  • 4 years ago

    I’m listening to Julie/Julia on audiobook. I watched the movie recently, so now the book. It goes into much more detail, of course. And clarifies for me that yes, sometimes Julie and Eric didn’t eat dinner until after 9 pm.

    Then, last weekend my local PBS station played several French Chef episodes. And yesterday I picked up the series videos from the library, and along with my regular groceries got some beef, mushrooms, and red wine, to try bœuf bourgignon from my mother’s old Mastering the Art.

    I kind of tend to obsess, sometimes.

    Here‘s an interesting thing about Mastering. My copy is a 1967 printing. I gave my dear friend a newer edition last year. We were comparing editions, then read an intro to hers that said, in short, some foods have changed since 1961, such as some dry goods are processed differently, etc, so the recipes have had to change accordingly. Bœuf bourgignon doesn‘t have many processed foods, although I wonder if less beef was corn-fed in 1961? And will that matter for this?

    I love when something takes me down a rabbit hole like that.

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  • 4 years ago

    I have had my kindle for a few years and cannot believe how much I love it. I have grown to strongly prefer to read on it as opposed to an actual book. The convenience, the lighting, all of those factor into this. But now, especially, to be able to borrow without leaving my house is just the best. By the way, I think I have paid for one or two books in the 3 or more years that I have been enjoying my kindle. Most I am able to borrow from the library. Some of the older classics are available (FREE) on various websites. If anyone is considering a kindle, the paperwhite is superb because it is glare free and you can read it outside, inside, anywhere.

    (I get no $$ from the promotion. Lol)

  • 4 years ago

    My daughter and I have of course been texting constantly-we just had to cancel a long planned visit from her for spring break (sigh). Anyway her message last night was a screen shot that most local DC-area libraries are shutting down with a two word personal comment: "I'm f**ked" Which is a sentiment I share LOL.

    We're extremely fortunate to be retired and living a lifestyle that is easily conducive to staying away from crowds.....but drying up my book source, now that's a national emergency!

    Fortunately I've got a pretty solid set of to-be-reads on my shelf including the first two volumes of Hillary Mantel's Cromwell trilogy; I had checked those out to re-read before tackling The Mirror and The Light which was just released. Both are wonderful if dense so time to head back to Tudor England and stay there corona-worry free :).

    I'm also lucky enough to have access to two systems which use Overdrive so I can maintain a steady supply of my favorite addiction.

  • 4 years ago

    If what I'm reading is engaging me, I stop noticing the medium altogether. While there's a certain homeliness to a physical book, reading on an iPad has some real benefits, e.g., adjusting font and text size, not having to hold the darn thing, quick search for a person or episode in earlier chapters.

    I'm about 2/3 through The Splendid and the Vile and it's quite heavy for its size with text on the small side. It's definitely added more physical weight to a weighty subject.

  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    DH is at our library now, 'stocking up'. We had news yesterday that the doors will close this afternoon for 'however' long.

    I have The Mirror and The Light and Arthur Phillip's The King at the Edge of the World -- which I like well enough to ask DH to look for more. I'm reading about Cromwell, beginning with Anne Boleyn's execution, where Elizabeth is a toddler, then I go to the Phillips' novel, where Elizabeth is dying without issue -- and the powers that be are spying, trying to determine if James is the Protestant he claims to be or (unsuitably) Catholic. Plenty of nasty skulduggery in both novels. (I just had to look up 'skulduggery'. Ha-ha! It's Scots!)

  • 4 years ago

    Chisue, if you haven't read any of them you may want to check out the Matthew Shardlake series by C.J Sansom. Apologies if you already know and may have commented on these. Shardlake is a hunchback lawyer who becomes involved in mysteries and plots that start out during the latter part of Henry VIII's reign and the latest book is set after his death during the brief period during which Henry's only son Edward was king. Wonderfully interesting plots and extensive historical detail-highly recommend.

    I just requested The King at the Edge of the World so fingers crossed it comes in before the library system shuts down!

  • 4 years ago

    I gotta chime in with loving the Matthew Shardlake series! And they're long, each one is longer than the one before. Collectively the series will keep you busy for the longest quarantine.

  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Thanks for the C. J. Sansom tips. I wonder if spinal deformities were more common then...or maybe we can remedy them now. Each of my current reads has one hunchback. The Phillips' novel also has an epileptic duke, banished from court once he has a seizure in public. Elizabeth sees him off (to the end of the world, Cumberland) with the 'gift' of a major character, a Turkish physician who had been his sultan's 'gift' to her!

  • 4 years ago

    Chisue, lucky you getting to experience all the Shardlake series for the first time. Definitely a case of A.R.E. here: avid reader envy ;).

  • 4 years ago

    Olychick, coincidentally, I just finished On the Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous yesterday also. I don’t think I heard about the book here but I may be mistaken. I started listening to it yesterday - I had a ten hour round trip drive to pick my son up from college. It was so short, I finished it about an hour into my return trip home. The format did confuse me at times because I couldn’t go back and reference previous sections (for example, did Lan have two daughters and if so, what happened to the other one?). There were other things that didn’t make sense to me, but not being able to reread, I just had to overlook. But all in all, such beautiful prose. The whole time I was reading/listening, I thought it was a memoir but only realized when I got home that it is actually fiction.


    Our local libraries have decided to close. Just a week ago, I was annoyed at myself for mismanaging my holds list and receiving three (physical) books at the same time, as well as another thru Libby. In hindsight, how fortuitous! With my kids all home (school closed) for at least the next two weeks, as well as all of their activities canceled, I’m going to have a lot of free time on my hands. I’ll also have to limit my use of WiFi to ensure I’m not taxing our bandwidth, as my kids and Dh, who is on 2 week quarantine from work due to overseas travel, need to be online for work and school. My kids‘ schools decided to continue with online teaching. Great excuse to read!

  • 4 years ago

    4kids, I think the reference to the other daughter was the one that she miscarried?

  • 4 years ago

    Maybe I should read Love in the Time of Cholera?

  • 4 years ago

    salonva, does your library have a system where you can get online books on the Kindle Paperwhite? That's what I have and it is the only kindle which will not do library downloads. Shoot, I got the kindle best for reading and the library system won't download books on it. Seems odd.

  • 4 years ago

    norar, that does seem odd. I have the Kindle Paperwhite and get library downloads all the time. Have you spoken to them about this?

  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    @norar_ilr that seems very odd. Occasionally a book is available as an ebook ( Help me I can never remember the right terminology) or maybe it's overdrive so it will work on other devices (phone, ipad?, laptop chromebook) and not on kindle. However, any KINDLE that is available should work on any kindle. I do have the paperwhite and yes I absolutely borrow from the library.

    I think on here I learned another tip- that if you have amazon prime (which we do) you may borrow a kindle book from amazon for free once a month. It took me a while to understand how- as I think for that free one you have to actually do it on your kindle device. I did it one month and am just thinking I may try it again.

    I have The Huntress on my kindle from the library but for some reason I can't seem to get started. I heard it is a bit slow in the beginning but everyone I spoke to said they really liked it. (trying to talk myself into trying it).

    @bpathI really enjoyed Love in the Time of Cholera. I tried 100 Years of Solitude and I thought it was one of the worst books ever. Truly ymmv.


    May have to give a look at the CJ Sansom books. I don't think I ever heard of them

  • 4 years ago

    Our system uses Cloud Library. I'll ask at the library again, but a year ago I could not download on my kindle.

  • 4 years ago

    I needed a quickie for a flight, so I read a mystery by Sandra Brown called Chill Factor. It was great, kept me guessing. I would give it a 4 out of 5 if you like mysteries. Not book club material.

    I am currently about 1/2 way through The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. Why, oh why, havent I read this before, what a dope I am. My sister told me to read it about 6 years ago, I bought it and it was just sitting on my Kindle. It's luscious. It's set in turn of the century NYC, with great descriptions of the lower East side, as well as other parts of the city. The mythical creatures from different cultures are in human form and have a chance encounter, they share so much of their cultures. I am very much enjoying this book. I would call it historical fiction with a literary twist. Delightful.

  • 4 years ago

    localeater, I loved The Golem and the Jinni. It was a recommendation from my dental hygienist. Every time I get my teeth cleaned we swap book titles.

  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    I just finished The Splendid and the Vile, accompanied by not a few tears.

    As I mentioned upthread, it was slow-going for me at first, and I considered setting it aside until another time. I'm glad I didn't. I agree with Elmer to the extent that for me it didn't have the same irresistible read as some of his other books (e.g., Dead Wake, Devil in the White City) that are also nonfiction but read like thrillers. Eventually I couldn't put it down.

    What grabbed me in the end was the man himself, Churchill, and the indomitable spirit of the British people.

    I had no idea of Rudolf Hess's caper over Scotland!

    There was an unfortunate decision of Churchill's to keep quiet the sinking of a Cunard liner carrying troops, the Lancastria, because it was more bad news on top of the fall of France. More people died than on the Lusitania and Titanic combined. I had never heard of it before. Incredible.

    One other thing that struck me, especially early on. Today news travels at the speed of a tweet. It constantly amazed me how much easier it was to control the flow of information.

    4.5 stars.

    ETA: I don't think I've ever read a book with 101 chapters, not including the epilogue.

  • 4 years ago

    Listening to another Harry Bosch book in the car. Still reading an A.G. Riddle book called The Atlantis Plague about a pandemic. It's the second book in a trilogy and is okay but I've only been reading it at home before I fall asleep so not getting it done too fast. These days I seem to fall asleep while reading too easily. I have the last book to read and then two others I ordered from Amazon last week. I wish I had bought more because I just got a notice from Amazon saying they were concentrating on only selling necessities and medication for the time being. I didn't check to see if you can buy books when I was on a few minutes ago looking for soap...maybe I should just buy a few if I can.

  • 4 years ago

    Well, you can buy books at Amazon. Maybe I read the notice wrong.

  • 4 years ago

    Yes! The Golem and the Jinni! I adored this book. Such an original and unusual story. Supposedly there was going to be a sequel, but after years of following the author to no avail, I've given up. Localeater describes it well!

  • 4 years ago

    There are so many great places besides Amazon to buy books online. Maybe support your local bookstore - they might have online ordering...or Powells in Portland Or is a great place to order online. You might even find used. If you're near a larger city and your town doesn't have a bookstore, check the closest city. So many bookstores will ship. And Amazon doesn't need your business. The others do.

  • 4 years ago

    I just started reading "Fire and Blood" by George R R Martin. It tells the stories of 300 years before "The Game of Thrones". When dragons ruled. Not my normal genre but am enjoying it.

  • 4 years ago

    Our library is now open but for curbside pick up only. You call ahead and they pull your books for you, let you know when it's ready and then you go pick up at curbside. Not sure how it's all going to work, but I sure appreciate their trying to do what they can in this crazy time.

  • 4 years ago

    Just completed another Randy Wayne White book. He writes about Florida and some of the goofs who live there. Doc Ford, the main character, even has three bar/restaurants named after him.

    For our library book group I read The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead. I cannot recommend it, even though most everyone else has.

    A friend, a retired librarian, sent me six books that have yet to be published. Advance Readers Copy books are interesting in that there are generally a few errors prior to final printing. I completed The Paladin by David Ignatius (a spy novel) which is due to be published in May. Good reading. The one I am working on now is Days of Distraction by Alexandra Chang. No real chapters, just a bunch of paragraphs that sort of tie together. I am on page 154 out of 318.

  • 4 years ago

    I'd been jamming to finish The Splendid and the Vile before it was due, since I know there's a huge waiting list and couldn't be renewed anyway. My library was planning to stay open, but now everything's shut down, including the book return drop. So Churchill et al will shelter in place at Casa Bunny.

  • 4 years ago

    Our library closed last Saturday and I really miss it. On my last visit I picked up The Dutch House by Ann Patchett, which I had been waiting several weeks for. I inhaled it, a quick read and very enjoyable. Today I did a porch drop off of groceries for a dear friend who is sheltering in place for health reasons. She too has been reading The Dutch House and we plan to discuss it by phone when she finishes it. She stepped out on her porch and we chatted briefly (keeping a safe distance) and she gave me Commonwealth, also by Patchett. I started it today and so far it's engaging. A Christening party that has first a bottle of gin and then other liquors added, well I can imagine where this story is going! I belong to three large library systems so I expect to have enough reading material to keep me occupied.

  • 4 years ago

    Audrey, I started reading that book when it first came out. Then got bored and started reading something else. It's still in my locker at work. Will eventually get back to it.

  • 4 years ago
  • 4 years ago

    Kathsgrdn I have the whole series now. I am starting with this one, as its 300 years before the saga begins.

    Quite a stack of reading material lol

  • 4 years ago

    Just started reading Long Bright Riverby Liz Moore. So far, it is holding my interest.


  • 4 years ago

    I just finished The Wives, by Tarryn Fisher. It's a psychological thriller vaguely similar to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, but much less dark in my opinion. It's about a woman married to a polygamist who has two other wives. I finished it very quickly and loved it....until the end. I don't want to say anything that might spoil the convoluted plot, but it is a fun, easy read.

    When I went to the library to return it, and pick up another ordered book (Keep the Home Fires Burning), a librarian told me they were closing the next day. We can still order books online, call ahead, and will be met at the front door with our books. What service!

  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    I just downloaded The Book of Ebenezer LePage from my library, via the Kindle store.

  • 4 years ago

    The intro to Ebenezer LePage annoyed me, so I returned it. Possibly a big mistake, but, despite abundance of time, I don't have that much patience. I have a couple of eBooks on hold and I wish they would lift whatever restriction keeps them in limited supply. I guess it's the publisher?

  • 4 years ago

    Walnut I recently read Long Bright River and liked it very much. Interesting characters and definitely a riveting plot.

    My lovely little library system came through and I picked up The Mirror and the Light yesterday, so excited to read this one! I'm not going to re-read the entire trilogy, Wolf Hall is just too huge to tackle right now. I'll read Bring up the Bodies which is more tightly plotted anyway since it deals with a very brief timeline during the Henry-Anne Boleyn phase of Cromwell's life.

    When I got the Mantel book I also picked up The Museum of Desire, the latest Jonathan Kellerman. His books are entirely formulaic but since I've read them since the start I feel reassured every time I spend time with Alex, Robin and Milo while they solve gruesome murders :).

    And I am intrigued to read The Sober Diaries, which I read about somewhere online. Although I don't have a drinking problem since alcoholism and addiction runs in my family these stories have a lot of resonance for me.

  • 4 years ago

    I'm reading series by Florence Linnington. It's 1870s mail order brides and hot cowboys/ranchers.

    Oh to live on a ranch in Montana

    SamKaren Your resident dj

  • 4 years ago

    I have been fortunate to get several kindle books I had on reserve from the library but I am in such a messy brain mode that I just cannot seem to read. I am really hoping that I can get back with it because it really is such a simple joy.

    I enjoy reading about what everyone else is reading and I do still add to my goodreads list from this thread.

    Well, here's hoping I can contribute again soon.

    Happy reading.

  • 4 years ago

    Yesterday, was able to download The Golem and the Jinni. Library did not have The Book of Ebenezer LePage nor Trace Elements or any of the Guido Brunetti series (but I did recommend them to the library) nor any of the Matthew Shardlake series (which again were recommended by me). This morning I reached a point in the Long Bright River where I had to stop reading, because it was getting too scary to me for an early morning read, but I will say it is hard to stop reading this one.

  • 4 years ago

    @runninginplace, per your interest in addiction: DH and I have just streamed from Amazon the first horrifying -- yet sometimes hilarious -- episode of "Patrick Melrose", staring Benedict Cumberbatch. This is a thousand times darker than his portrayal of the addicted Sherlock Holmes.

    Back to books -- DH enjoyed From Sea to Stormy Sea, a compilation of short stories based on famous paintings, edited by Lawrence Block. (There are two others also based on paintings.) He also liked Eight Perfect Murders, Peter Swanson. He's starting Red Letter Day, Sara Jane Stratford. He's getting way ahead of me! I'm making slow, but fascinated progress in Arthur Phillips' Prague. I can see why critics compare this to Proust.

  • 4 years ago

    I just finished The Golem and the Jinni and am still in love with this book. @WalnutCreek I hope you enjoy it.

    Now I am starting a book I selected solely on author. Many years ago I read a book called Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford. It is a beautiful story of love and hope and family set against the beginnings of World War 2, the bombing Pearl Harbor and the mistreatment and internment of Japanese-Americans. If you havent read it, I highly recommend it.

    In my pre-vacation, pre-Corona quarantine, library spree I grabbed another of Jamie Ford's books, this one is called Love and Other Consolation Prizes. I have yet to start, I'll keep you posted.

  • 4 years ago

    I finished The Paragon Hotel and would give it 3 or 3.5 stars. It was ok, but I found it difficult to warm up to most of the characters. With all that's going on I've not been reading as much so the length of time between when I put the book down and picked it up again may have been part of it. But the other part was this bit where she would try to be suspenseful by waiting until the end of a long paragraph before she told you what she was talking about. Rather than suspenseful, I found it annoying. And I know some in my book group are fans of books that keep flipping between the past and the present, but I generally am not. This is one of those books that I think a bunch in my book group would like, even though it wasn't up my alley.

  • 4 years ago

    I got notification that The Beneficiary: Fortune, Misfortune and the Story of My Father by Janny Scott was available from my library via kindle a few days ago.

    I finally am somewhat reading again! It's a fascinating story of the Scott/Montgomery families of the Main Line Philadelphia fame. I am about 1/3 through, and although I am not really too focused (hello corona) I am enjoying the history and the amazing opulence described. It also helps that I recently moved to the general area and am a little familiar with some of the locations and family names.

    @dedtired I think you might really find this interesting.

  • 4 years ago

    chisue, I like Cumberbatch, I think his talent is quite special. I tried the Melrose show on your recommendation and had to turn it off after maybe 20 minutes (that seemed like 2 hours). It was dragging. Does it deserve one more crack, does the pace pick up and move away from one scene after another of his being woozy from ingesting different substances?

    (That doesn't offend or bother me a bit, just enough is enough. I got the message, the character has an addiction problem). Does what's next come soon and move along?

  • 4 years ago

    I just finished The Alice Network and enjoyed it. I recently read The Girl with Seven Names. It was not very well written but the info was very interesting. I am ready to begin The Paris Architect.

  • 4 years ago

    Melrose didn't get better for me-- I think I watched 3-4 episodes? I agree that Cumberbatch is an extraordinary actor. The show has some great scenes but such vile characters-- and much as I love Cumberbatch, the show just made me so tense I couldn't watch it-- I don't mind some tension.. or a window on the "ugly" parts of real life.. but Melrose was over the top for me. I credit/blame Cumberbatch's acting for this-- I felt and absorbed the mania and the pain.

    For a point of reference so you can make your own decision: I had the same reaction to Breaking Bad. It wasn't the violence that made me stop watching-- it was the anxiety Cranston portrayed in his character. And the wheezing.

    On the other hand, I loved Sherlock!

  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Melrose was over the top for me. I credit/blame Cumberbatch's acting for this

    He did a superb job of bringing the books to life, so you can also credit/blame Edward St. Aubyn. The books, although novels, are quite autobiographical.

    In 1991, as Edward St. Aubyn was about to publish “Never Mind”—the first of five highly autobiographical novels, in which extremes of familial cruelty and social snobbery are described with a tart precision that is not quite free of cruelty and snobbery—he went for a walk with his mother in the English countryside and told her that his father had repeatedly raped him as a young boy. Her response “wasn’t totally satisfactory,” St. Aubyn said, several weeks ago. “She said, ‘Me, too’ ”—meaning that his father had raped her as well. “She was very, very keen to jump the queue and say how awful it was for her.”
    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/06/02/inheritance

  • 4 years ago

    I inhaled the latest Joe Pickett novelwhich was a pretty good installment. The protagonist is a Wyoming game warden who manages to get embroiled in all kinds of murder and mayhem. Since this is the 20th installment the cast of characters is familiar and I have to say these series books are definitely reading comfort food during this stressful time.


    I also just finished All That You Leave Behind by Erin Lee Carr. This quote from the Amazon reviews expresses exactly how I felt about this one:


    This is a challenging book to comment on, because I totally didn't like Erin Carr (but "liking" is not a requirement for a memoir, and actually can be a detriment), didn't especially like the affected way of including direct emails because it felt dated already, and was generally put off by a lot of Carr's traits - but I was totally connected to it the whole way through and it never flagged and never struck me as anything less than honest.

    This book - and basically Erin Lee Carr's career - is 100 percent nepotism-driven. This book's blurbs from her father's professional acquaintances are more evidence that if you're born into connection, you're going to get a break that 99.9 percent of the world will never see.


    I thought her father David Carr's book The Night of the Gun was remarkable, and I always enjoyed his NYT pieces. So in a way, I am guilty of feeding into what clearly was her life pattern of pretty much riding on dad's coattails.


    I downloaded The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo which was recommended by my daughter. We both read Daisy Jones and the Six, and since I loved that book (she was meh) she suggested this one by the same author; she says it is a much better read so we shall see.