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What are we reading? March 2021 Edition

3 years ago

What are you reading?

As always, it helps to bold the titles, rate the books 1-5 stars, and let us know if you think it would be good for a book group.

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I'm 80% through The Paradine Case. Found it in my own library and didn't realize it was made into a Hitchcock movie with Gregory Peck which I've never seen. I'm anxious to finish it so I can watch the movie too. It's a little long winded for the plot with lots of thinking and surmising and a whole lot less action. But I'm enjoying it.


Book group books are Woman in Cabin 10 which I've read before and will just review before our session. And Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning which I've read halfway through before but never finished.

Comments (107)

  • 3 years ago

    4kids, I'm currently reading Force of Nature by Jane Harper. So far, so good.

    I read The Four Winds in February and left my review in that thread. I don't think it was very well-written. It takes a dreadful time in America (weather, economics, politics) and sticks fictional characters in. I did learn more about the history, which is really the only thing for which I can commend the book, although it wasn't worth the read for me. It wasn't a book I just had to stop reading; I kept waiting for it to deliver. It didn't for me. For instance, the main character, Elsa, is smart and always trying to keep afloat and find a way to care for her family while looking for a way out of their current misery. At one point in California she and her kids pick cotton for 10 hours/day. It wasn't a social time, chatting with her fellow cotton-pickers. All that time and we don't know where her thoughts and spirit go when she's working.

  • 3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    I just started The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne. I am enjoying it so far.

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  • 3 years ago

    Texanjana, ‘THE Heart’s... ‘ is high on my fav of the year, or more, list. A LESSON BEFORE DYING, Earnrst Gaines. “ From the author of "A Gathering of Old Men" and "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman" comes a deep and compassionate novel. A young man who returns to 1940s Cajun country to teach visits a black youth on death row for a crime he didn't commit. ...” It was a warm and moving story.

    I don’t read many mysteries , but just begin The Searcher, Tana French, and feel sure I’ve found a winner in this author. I’m looking forward to Klara and the Sun, Ishiguro.

  • 3 years ago

    Lynn, I have nearly finished `Imagine Heaven & may have to buy a hard back copy of it. Reading it on my kindle, but it would be nice to have a copy to refer to. Really have liked the book.

  • 3 years ago

    Skibby - I finished The Paris Library It wasn't exactly as I expected but a very good book. Hope you enjoy it too.


  • 3 years ago

    Just finished Amazing Grace. I'll go 3.5 stars. DH is liking it more than I did.

    Starting Hamnet and liking it.

  • 3 years ago

    Just finished “Anxious People” by Fredrik Backman. He also wrote “Beartown”, “Us Against You’” and “A Man Called Ove”. I really liked it. His writing style is loose and reader-inclusive. The story is about a failed bank robbery and the very relatable accidental hostages. The book is peppered with small truths throughout that made me smile. Each character is unique and worthy of his or her own book.

  • 3 years ago

    Just saying-- I don't think I know of anyone who did not really like Hamnet.

    I thought it was outstanding.


    I finished The Moviegoer and I really don't know how I did that. It was another award winner from back in the day, and it was so confusing to me. It's a southern thing, and it might have reminded me of Faulkner(not sure?) but just kind rambled and had a lot actually going on with so many characters that other than maybe 3 or 4, I really wasn't even sure of whose name was what.

    I read it for a different book club and since it was under 250 pages, I plugged along to get it done......but I still am not really sure what i read!

    Not sure what will be next.

  • 3 years ago

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  • 3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    Just finished Force of Nature by Jane Harper. Her books are set in Australia and this is the first one I've read that's not raging hot and dry. Instead it's mostly cold and wet. She definitely conveys the mood and discomfort from the climate, because I felt damp and chilled as I read this book.

    I enjoyed the chapter style of current, then flashback. What happened to a character who disappeared? Who's responsible? Several red herrings. I give it 4 stars for page-turnability and not resorting to contrivance.

    I'm not in a book group so can't speak to that, but there are book group topics/questions at the back of the book. I think a group would have some thoughts about this book.

  • 3 years ago

    Bunny, I recently read Force of Nature and liked it but....I felt a bit let down with the way the author solved the mystery and wrapped up the storylines. One of those books with a propulsively engaging plot that simply peters out in the end.

  • 3 years ago

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    3.5 stars.

  • 3 years ago

    Running, I hear ya. I was sure I had a surprise ending figured out and, after it played out, I think my ending would have been far better. I will say that after some recent reads where everything was tied up with a bow that you could see coming a mile away, I didn't mind the loose ends as much as I might have.

  • 3 years ago

    After reading a couple more-serious nonfiction books, I started Anxious People yesterday. Barely started and I’ve already laughed a few times. Can’t wait to read more.

  • 3 years ago

    I am still reading The Salt Path: A Memoir by Raynor Winn which i think i shared on the last day of last month. I am taking it very slowly because I am absolutely loving and savoring the book. It is beautifully written.. and get this, the author had never published or written a book until this one. She wrote this beautiful book as a gift for her husband who shared the 630 mi walk along England's South West Coast Path, from Somerset to Dorset, through Devon and Cornwall. Her daughter suggested that she look into getting it published-- and it was published by Penguin with only very minor edits.


    I think this would be a great book for anyone interested in nature, hiking, the human condition or just someone who appreciates a good story/memoir. Raynor and her husband went on the trek after losing their home (after a bad investment and some missteps) and a diagnosis of a terminal illness. They touch on these topics repeatedly-- and how they affect their perceptions of themselves and the world.. and we watch them come to terms with their lives. We also experience the amazing hike and some of the many interesting characters they encountered.


    I will be very sad when the book comes to an end.. but no worries! There is a second book to be released in April called The Wild Silence.


    I am not yet done but i don't imagine giving less than 4.5 stars (and likely 5 stars)

  • 3 years ago

    Bunny, I think maybe it was your review of The Four Winds that I had lurking in the back of my mind as I started that book. I decided to put it aside and read something else.


    I read Force of Nature a while back when it initially came out. I liked it well enough but did not enjoy as much as The Dry and The Lost Man. I don’t really remember the ending but perhaps, like runninginplace, that might be why I didn’t like it as much as the others.


    I recently finished The Boy in the Field by Margot Livesey. Some wonderfully written passages but a couple of things that occur just didn’t seem plausible or realistic to me, so that was a bit disappointing. I’d give it three stars for storyline, though it might make for an interesting book club discussion.


    I’m currently reading Betty by Tiffany McDaniel, a coming of age story about a girl growing up in OH in the foothills of Appalachia in the 50s-60s. Her father is Cherokee and her mother is white. I haven’t gotten too far in but she is facing racism from her classmates and neighbors due to her darker skin. It’s pretty good so far.


    i’m just about finished listening to Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker. Wow, such an unimaginable true story about a family with 12 kids, six of whom are diagnosed with schizophrenia. This book might already have been mentioned here before.

  • 3 years ago

    Funky, The Salt Path sounds wonderful and I was able to download the Kindle version from our library so I've got it ready to go!

  • 3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    Running-- i sure hope you enjoy it as much as i am. There are some great interviews with her on youtube and she really is just such a lovely, well-spoken, down-to-earth woman... and it carries forward in her writing. I appreciate that her writing isn't overly flowery or philosophical-- and yet i found it beautiful!

    I watched this interview last night-- there aren't really "spoilers" to be had but if you want to save the stories/experiences for the book, you may want to stop around 10 min. The first 5 min are background (and covered in the first chapter).


    ETA: Fair warning, not all reviews are glowing. Some complain that the trek was foolish and that the memoir is repetitive and slow moving. All are true. It hasn't bothered me one bit. The repetition and pace make me feel as if i am on the journey with them. YMMV

  • 3 years ago

    4kids, I too loved Hidden Valley Road. Fascinating, expert interweaving of research and the family story and so well-written.

    Texanjana and Bestyears mentioned it on this forum, which is how I found it. If you get a chance, watch I Know This Much Is True.

  • 3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    So it took me almost a month to finish Flights by Olga Tokarczuk, and it's probably one of the most original books I ever read, due to a very interesting structure (if you decide to pick it up-it's not a collection of stories, so I think very important to read in the order these beads of her are on this invisible thread she created, because there is inner rhyme and reason to that).

    At times, funny, but more often, highly unsettling. And sad. Very thought provoking. Actually sometimes I would read a sentence or two-and would become so immersed in some thought or association I'd drift away for a chunk of time. It might be I'm in a very strange place myself too, and the book played right into that strange place.

    Took me normal time to read and finish her Primeval. To say "I enjoyed it" would be wrong choice of words..I'm deeply affected by it. Here, the book is more what I'm used to, in terms of format-and if you love García Márquez or Bashevis Zinger-you're love Primeval too. They call it "magical realizm" and thank them for coining the term, means I don't need to come up with it myself:)

    In the imaginary Polish village of Primeval, times and events, personal and historical, are seen with eyes of very different heroes-kids and adults, sane and mad, "normal" and very quirky and eccentric..animals, mystical creatures, ghosts, and even God himself. The historical canvas is real-and it spans from World War One to eighties in last century, so it's not a jolly read either. One finds himself deeply attached to heroes, and very taken by ..well, everything.

    Very insightful book. It's complex even though the language is much simpler-seemingly-than in many parts of Flights.

    I really loved reading her take on the role of God, for example-except it made me at times slightly bitter, to the tune "April, it appears that you don't have an original thought in your head, and everything you ever though of writing, is written already". It's not that she's having exactly same thoughts and conclusions, but something is horribly similar there, like looking in a slightly broken mirror.

    I must say while I do believe-she's an atheist. Or so I read in Wikipedia.

    It's hard to peg her by the way she writes-and I often find it being a sign of genius.

    All three books I read by now-are very different.

    Which makes me want even more to find everything else by her that was ever translated.

    I really need time after Primeval though, because it's still very much there.

    PS jasdip, if you have an opportunity-watch the Scandinavian made movie first. I mean "The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo" one

    Out of other books mentioned here, I know only "The Reader" (great writing even though I found the first half of the book stronger-and surprisingly well done movie); and Victor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning" which I consider one of the best books in the field. I think he wrote the first part within several days only, after the liberation of the camp.

    There's for sure lots for me to explore with so many other books mentioned.

  • 3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    Did you know that the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; called the "Millenium series" continues? I didn't, I have the original 3 books.

    My friend picked up another book for me and it's about Lisbeth Salander; the hacker. It's a continuation of the Millenium series. It's called The Girl in the Spider's Web, so I have that one as well to read.

  • 3 years ago

    Sueb, I really liked Anxious People, but there were some here who did not. I thought it laugh out loud funny and quirky and enjoyed it very much right to the end.

    Jasdip, the Millennium series books after the first 3 as you know are written by someone else. I don’t know if you read the story about the issue, but the original author died, leaving his 4th manuscript and computer with his long time girlfriend, who was his research assistant or some such. Swedish law doesn’t recognize any rights of a girlfriend, and there were some animosities between the author and his family apparently. His family played hardball and basically the girlfriend got nothing. They engaged a different author to continue the series. They are pretty good, but there is something about them that I don’t think quite measures up. This is what I recall reading about the whole mess.

  • 3 years ago

    I just finished Tara Road. I'd give it 3+ stars, but too long (600+) for a typical book group. In fact, I thought the whole 1st half of the book was rather dull...it wasn't until the 2nd half that it got interesting. A soap opera...who's sleeping with who, who's getting pregnant, who knows what and who doesn't...

    Up next, not sure, but I have 3 to choose from, some recommended here I believe: 9 Perfect Strangers; Then She Was Gone; and A Thousand Acres.

  • 3 years ago

    Outside, yes this book is written by David Lagercrantz. It does say that the first 3 books are called the Millennium series and this is a continuation. I'm confused if there are others that I should be looking for that feature Salander and Blomkvist and the others.

  • 3 years ago

    I can definitely recommend “West with Giraffes.” (Sorry, I can’t get the bold feature on my phone to work today.) It’s a novel based on the true story of two giraffes that survived a 1939 hurricane at sea and were then taken on a twelve day journey across the continent to the San Diego Zoo. When I finished the last page, I just sat here, not ready to return to this time and place quite yet.


    Several friends have recommended The Overstory by Richard Powers. I‘ve read just a bit of it, but I’m eager to continue; this is a beautifully written book.

  • 3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    Starting Flights, after reading the tantalizing recommendation by Aprilneverends.

  • 3 years ago

    Just finished Then She Was Gone. I give it 4 stars...I think it would be good for book group, though not sure how much discussion it would foster. Thanks to whoever mentioned it here.

    Next up, A Thousand Acres which I also think was mentioned here.

  • 3 years ago

    Just finished Hamnet . Wow, what a beautifully written story. So evocative. I could feel the emotions of the characters. Loved it.


    Next up is Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu. It is a “darkly humorous “ story about the Asian American experience. Although a comedy, it seems quite timely even though what’s going on with Asians in the US at the moment is tragic.

  • 3 years ago

    I'm about 3/4 of the way through The Book of Lost Friends, which I believe was recommended on one of these threads (thank you). I'm thoroughly enjoying it. Really interesting, well written story. I can highly recommend it, too.

  • 3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    I started my April book club selection last night and may invoke my internal BC reading rule: of the 9 books we collectively pick to read each cycle I allow myself one free pass to skip or DNF a book if I simply can't stand it or am bored or something about it sets me off. Looks like Becoming Mrs. Lewis might be this year's pick. I'm due considering I made it through a Kristin Hannah, AKA the writer who never met a cliche she couldn't embrace-and a pulpy soapy The Last Train to Key West LOL.

    My only hesitation is that next month's book is The Vanishing Half. I tried to read that one awhile ago only to find it was, at least in the first few chapters, yet another typical pulpy melodrama with aspirations of literary significance that had little to interest or engage me. This could be a challenging year for your devoted book club member here!

    Noticing a trend as I link books: works on Amazon that combine thousands of reviews with high rankings seem to be popular reads that are often a mile wide and an inch deep. Then again there are the exceptions like this one and this gem so I may have to rethink my theory!


  • 3 years ago

    runningplace I vastly enjoyed your post:) didn't read the books mentioned, yet still. Ah, one of my friends did love "All the Light we Cannot See', a lot, I remember her talking about it..but I myself didn't get to read it yet.

  • 3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    I would read a collection of Jane Smiley's grocery lists! Loved A Thousand Acres. (And I don't pretend to have studied "Lear".)

    I really tried to read Liar's Dictionary, but returned it after 60 pages (and 'dipping in' a few places after that). I suspect I am too 'lowbrow' for this material.

    I have a few other choices now: Lisa Jewell's The Girls In The Garden, and Peter Swanson's mystery, All The Beautiful Lies (once DH finishes it). I've barely cracked The Lying Game, Ruth Ware, but find it heavily *larded* with description -- another 200 page story in 370 pages. I'm stretching to accept the characters as presented, even if they are supposedly upper class English, girls/women and thereby 'foreign' to the non-public-school reader. (me).


  • 3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago


    A Life without Water by Bolden, Marci its very good!



  • 3 years ago

    April, sorry I was unclear--actually I LOVED All the Light we Cannot See. It seems to be the exception to my popular=shallow equation.

  • 3 years ago

    All the Light We Cannot See is one of my favorites.

  • 3 years ago

    "Bernhard Schlink wrote The Reader" Thanks Funkyart.

    I checked this out from the library only to discover/remember that I read it many years ago when it first was published (1997). I think I really liked it, but too long ago to remember for sure!

  • 3 years ago

    runningplace, no, i got it)) I was stressing the fact that a friend loved it too, and maybe it's time for me to read it as well

  • 3 years ago

    I just finished reading The Dirty South, by John Connolly. It was pretty good, maybe give it a 4. Started a while ago reading another book that I can't even remember, by the author of Cold Mountain, but got bored with it so I guess I'll start reading it again after I finish Flight or Fright which is a bunch of short stories edited by Stephen King and someone else I've never heard of. I brought a new book to work to read later when things really slow down: Roadwork by Stephen King/Richard Bachman.


    I want to thank you all for these posts, have gotten a lot of ideas for new authors/books from you all. I have a pile from Amazon, some of them you all recommended here.

  • 3 years ago

    I just finished The Trustee from the Toolroom by Nevil Shute and I loved it so much.

    First of all I want to thank the person who mentioned it in one of these threads that I use a lot to get book recommendations. I had never heard of it and it's out of print. I usually prefer Kindle versions from my library but this was only in hardback. I picked up the book outside the library, in a brown paper bag (still Covid protocol), didn't open the bag till I got home. It's a good thing, because when I saw the book I was dismayed. Published in 1960, this is an original. I don't even know how it's lasted this long in circulation. To say it was funky is being generous. I almost turned around to return it. But I had just bailed on Last Bus to Wisdom (for another post) and needed something to read. The pages are so old, they are getting soft and hard to separate to turn the page. By a stroke of luck I found a website--Faded Page-- that had the book in Kindle format and I was able to download and put it on my iPad.

    The book got me from the first few pages. A rather nondescript middle-aged man and his wife, childless, living a quiet life in a London suburb, become the trustees of their niece after her parents die in a shipwreck. A missing inheritance is involved. The man, Keith Stewart, happens to be notable in the small world of miniaturized mechanics. That very singular niche interest/hobby is the backbone of the story in the way it connects disparate individuals who live halfway around the world. This is pre-internet, email, Zoom, word processor. It's told by a neutral narrator, just the story, not even Keith's exclusive POV. The story has movement, does it ever. I could not put it down.

    There are a few places where ethnicities are referred to in non-PC language (this was published in 1960), e.g., "Oriental" to describe an Asian man. Think back to those times, if you are able, and, unfortunately, we were a lot less enlightened than we should be now.

    I'm giving this one 5 stars. If there are any Nevil Shute fans out there, any other books you can recommend? Besides On the Beach. :)

    There were a couple of cigarette burns on the cover. I could see a checkout date of 1963, the year I graduated from high school.

  • 3 years ago

    Bunny -- I think you'd like Pied Piper. It was the first Shute we picked up; loved it enough to read Trustee, and then On The Beach. Extraordinary writing for a trained *engineer*, at least those I've known! Yep, all three of these were 'originals', as battered as what you found.

    I'm enjoying Hilary Mantell's collection of essays that she wrote for the London Review of Books, cleverly titled Mantel Pieces, ho-ho.

    DH liked Peter Swanson's All The Beautiful LIes better than I did. I don't think I want to read another of his novels. The women are all manipulators and the men 'fools for love' (not to say led around by their uniquely male appendages).

    Lisa Jewell is anothe author I've read for the last time. The Girls In The Garden has put me off her, although I liked The Family Upstairs. Maybe I'm just tired of reading about abysmal parents.


  • 3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    Chisue, thanks for the recommendation. It was nice to read about people who tried to do the right thing simply because it was the right thing to do.

    ETA: Yay, the Faded Page website has Pied Piper to download for Kindle.

  • 3 years ago

    On a very different note, (don't judge) someone had mentioned something about Jessica Simpson on another forum and her book, I was not reading anything and checked and saw the library had it available on kindle so voila! I am reading Open Book. It's not great at least so far, but is is a good read. It's pretty much what I expected , but it is interesting at least for how the singing was her calling.

    It's holding my interest. Not compelling, but a good diversion.

  • 3 years ago

    I tried to read Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig but I didn't make it past the 50-60% point. I give myself permission to stop reading a book any time it isn't working for me. It's always a gamble that the payoff is yet to come and I'll miss it. I just wasn't that interested in whatever it might be.

    The story was so slowly paced. This whole episode of the 11-year-old main character learning to play canasta with his aunt and her friends. It could have been hilarious or illuminating, but it just left me wanting the point of it. The kid was a gifted storyteller, but it involved a lot of lying and I just can't with that.

    Apparently this is a very popular book, but it just didn't work for me.

  • 3 years ago

    Reading, Greenlight By M McConahey , no sure if I like it or not. It is interesting.

  • 3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    After finishing Hamnet, I was looking for something to read for a couple days while waiting for my next book librare book to arrive. I borrowed Big Little Lies from Libby. What an awful piece of writing. I got about one third of the way through and just googled the ending to see who did what to who and why. Going from Hamnet, so evocative and beautifully written, to this carp was going from the sublime to the ridiculous.

    Started Interior Chinatown. Too soon to give an opinion.

  • 3 years ago

    A friend recommended Three Women (Lisa Taddeo) and I just started it yesterday. It’s nonfiction, intertwining stories about three different women who have sex lives that are unusual and/or abusive. It’s not tawdry or anything. The author spent 8 years researching and talking to these women, apparently. I am not that far into it so my description may not be great, but these women’s stories have really pulled me in already.

  • 3 years ago

    I really enjoyed Shute's A Town Like Alice.

  • 3 years ago

    I'm enjoying Pied Piper (as much as one can enjoy a harrowing tale). It's refreshing to read a story told without contrivance.

  • 3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    I also loved A Town Like Alice. It’s the only novel by Shute that I have read and have been meaning to try some others so with your recommendation, Bunny, I will look for Trustee in the Toolroom.

    I have been taking my time reading Betty by Tiffany McDaniel. It’s a coming of age story of a girl growing up in the Appalachian foothills in Ohio but it’s full of dark, depressing events so I have been reading in small bits.

    I went on a college visit this weekend with my son who is graduating. It was a long road trip which ironically took me right through the area in which Betty is set. It was very stressful drive, especially when crossing the mountains, as it was pouring rain the whole time. I downloaded Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlin to listen as I drove. It was perfect for the drive with an interesting story, albeit somewhat predictable. It held my interest and kept my mind totally preoccupied, making the weather/driving much less stressful. While I did enjoy it, it would make a good beach read but it’s not a book that I would go out of my way to recommend to friends. I’d give it 3.5 to 4 stars for its genre, which I suppose is a mystery of sorts.


    Edited to add, I just checked on Libby for Trustee in the Toolroom. My library has the audio version but not the kindle copy. I actually have a 4 hour road trip again tomorrow (going to get my first vaccine dose 2 hrs from home!). I’ll give the audio version a try but may look for a readable copy also (some books I prefer in print or kindle).