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kathy_tt

January 2022 - What are you reading?

kathy_t
13 days ago
last modified: 13 days ago

I feel like I threw akilter our monthly "What are you reading?" tradition by posting my "Turning the page on the new year" thread. I didn't actually intend it as a replacement, though it's been used like that a bit. No problem with that, but to set things back on track, I'm starting this "official" monthly thread to return us to our usual path. (Yes, in case you are wondering, I have a bit of OCD about me.)

I have started reading The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles and am enjoying it.

Comments (48)

  • sheri_z6
    13 days ago

    I was pleased to discover Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie series at the end of December and I've finished three of them this month: Case Histories, One Good Turn, and When Will There Be Good News? They're a mash up of mystery, police procedural, and literary fiction. I've loved her other books and these have been quite enjoyable.


    I've also been chipping away at the Alexander McCall Smith Scotland Street books (excellent bedtime reading with the short chapter structure) and I've just started The World According to Bertie.


    The Lincoln Highway is my book group's choice for our February meeting, and I'm looking forward to it.

  • yoyobon_gw
    13 days ago
    last modified: 13 days ago

    The Secret Life Of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams.

    Just finished The Only Woman In The Room by Marie Benedict and really enjoyed it.

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  • bigdogstwo
    13 days ago

    Hello!

    I am reading:

    The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. Although I am only about 100 pages in, I am not a fan. I don't care about the main character at all.


    The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon by Richard Zimler. Technically historical fiction but very well done. The cover states it is similar in style to The Name of the Rose. I don't completely agree because Umberto Eco is in a class by himself. But this is a really well done mystery set in Lisbon, Portugal in the 1490's. Again, only 100 pages in, and while it is too stark and somewhat graphic in the portrayal of the expulsion of Jews from Lisbon to say that I am "enjoying" it, I am glad that I am reading it. This is a part of history that has never been taught in any detail. And, it is apparently based on a manuscript written as a diary by a Jewish man recalling his experiences as a boy in Lisbon at the time.


    PAM

  • vee_new
    12 days ago

    Like PAM. I been reading Matt Hague's The Midnight Library.

    The 'story' centres around Nora Seed a young woman suffering from feelings of inadequacy, depression and ultimately suicide.

    She has a crummy job, her potential as a champion swimmer was wasted, she is distanced from her family and then her cat dies.

    At midnight she finds herself in a 'library' which floats about with no apparent beginning or ending. There she recognises Mrs Elm the kindly librarian from school. This woman helps her to access the different lives she could have led had she made better decisions.

    She seems to fit in with these 'lives' with little trouble whether a pop musician, an Arctic explorer, a dog-walker, a top Cambridge University lecturer . .. and many more. When she realises each 'life' is not for her she fades out and is back to the library.

    Philosophy is not really my thing and may be if I knew what existentialism was and understood the beliefs in parallel/lives/universes I would have appreciated it more.

    I should add that many many people thought this was a wonderful life-affirming read so I might be out on a limb here.


  • woodnymph2_gw
    12 days ago

    I was fortunate in that I received no less than 4 books as Xmas gifts. I just finished reading "The Story of More: How we Got to Climate Change and Where we go from Here." The author, Hope Jahren, is a scientist from the upper midwest who now lives in Norway. I really enjoyed this book, as it broke down the scientific facts into something this non-scientist could readily understand. She covers all topics from our diet to food waste to changing our consumer habits and more. And it's not a "preachy" book.


    Pam, glad to see you back. The Zimler book sounds like one I would be interested in reading.

  • Carolyn Newlen
    12 days ago

    I have started The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles, which my daughter gave me for Christmas but had not read. About a quarter into it, I love it and have already found a couple of sentences that I could have written and that rend my heart. It takes place in the American library in Paris at the beginning of WWII and in a small town in Montana in the late 80s. The unifying character is a French War Bride.

    I started it last night and wanted to watch a 9:00 TV show. I looked at my watch at 8:45 and the next time I looked it was 9:10. I do enjoy a book that does that to me, and the TV show was easy to pick up on.


  • sheri_z6
    8 days ago

    I just finished a genealogy memoir by Buzzy Jackson, Shaking the Family Tree. I always enjoy tales of how other people get into and then become addicted to genealogy, and this did not disappoint. She's a good writer and her journey from newbie to competence included a genealogy cruise (not recommended), a couple of cemetery crawls (always wonderful, IMO), and a trip to the LDS Salt Lake City Family History Library (a dream trip for most genealogists). The author was an early user of DNA testing (the book was published in 2010) and due to her common last name it helped a great deal with her research.


    I've also started the next Scotland Street book, The Unbearable Lightness of Scones.


    Netla, thank you for mentioning the Marie Brennan books, I'm glad to hear you like them. I've had them on my Amazon "maybe" list for ages, it might be time to order one and try it. I agree, the artwork on the covers is stunning.



  • Carolyn Newlen
    7 days ago
    last modified: 7 days ago

    I'm reading An Image in the Lake written in 2021, the most recent to be published by my beloved Gail Bowen. She has written a lot of books in this series, and it has taken me a long and happy time to read them all. She seems to write one a year, so now I'll have to wait for them. She is one of Canada's most popular mystery writers.

  • masgar14
    7 days ago
    last modified: 7 days ago

    I was thinking, and it is not the first time. Yeah, some time I stop daydreaming and think. Why do I have this compulsion to read always novels I haven't read so far?

    Most of the time it is because I think , oh I remember that novel, I found it very beautiful, but I already know the plot and how it ends. Instead when I reread some novels whose I seem to remeber the plot and the end, I am always amazed at how many details I have forgotten, and I find the novel new and original as if it were the first time I read it.

    Now I want to take the resolution to reread more, I could do, a new one and a reread.

    It is seems to me fair enough

    My re-reading goes to "Atonement" by Ian McEwan.

    A young girl kid, misurandestood a scene She has see from the window, then misenterpret something happening in the house. A bad thing happens, she gives a false testimony on purpose or maybe innocently , and ruins the live of two people. Since then , she's looking for atonement, she found it at the end. Cant say more , it would be a spoiler.

  • masgar14
    7 days ago

    vee about "Midnignt Library"

    my two cents.

    I think you don't have a real freedom of choices, you choose one path rather than another one, because of how you spent your childhood, how you had felt with your schoolmates and so on. All this made you how you are , and you are compelled to do that choice, in a sense.. If you lived again another life you would have a second chance, but the only second chanche, I know, it is to do the same mistake twice, (also if ina different way and on other topics). Of course , with hindsight, if you could re-live your life with the experiences you had in your former life, probably you would change something, and you could bettermenr your life ,but no one can live one life twice.

  • vee_new
    7 days ago
    last modified: 7 days ago

    masgar, I tried to send you a reply about an hour ago but Firefox 'froze' and the computer went into lockdown! DH was able to sort it out and blames all these errors/malfunctions onto Houzz.

    I enjoyed reading your ideas about the 'Midnight Library' and the choices we make throughout life whether right or wrong.

    Of course if we were really able to get a second chance at reliving our life and realising the mistakes, paths not taken etc would the 'new' life turn out more to our satisfaction!

  • annpanagain
    7 days ago

    I had a "fork in the road" in my life when I chose to migrate to Australia as opposed to staying in the UK. I may know what would have happened to me as my younger sister took the staying at home path. Not guaranteed of course but quite likely! However, I didn't stay so I shall never know. My adventurous impulse beat my desire for security!

  • woodnymph2_gw
    7 days ago

    I am re-reading an oldie: "Mutant Message/Down Under" by Marlo Morgan. It seems a bit dated at this point. I am looking forward to delving into some of the new books I was given for Xmas. How to choose?


    I'm glad to hear I am not the only one who constantly re-reads former favorites.


    Vee, Houzz and Firefox both went down for me this morning at the same time that you had problems.

  • msmeow
    6 days ago

    I read The Maidens by Alex Michaelides. It was billed as a psychological thriller. I liked it well enough, but I’ve read psych thrillers that were much more intense. Mariana, a psychoanalyst who specializes in group therapy, has to leave her group in London to go to Cambridge when a classmate of her niece Zoe is murdered. We learn a lot about both women’s lives, and two other girls are murdered. It had quite a few twists and was a good read.

    Now I’m reading The Noise by James Patterson. Now this one is intense! Also a bit on the gory side, but I just skim over those parts. An incredibly loud noise phemonenon happens in the Oregon wilderness, wiping out an entire settlement of survivalists. A team of diverse scientists is basically kidnapped by the government and brought to the scene to try to determine what it was.

    Donna

  • yoyobon_gw
    6 days ago

    The Secret Life Of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams. I'm about half way through this book and am enjoying it.


  • Rosefolly
    6 days ago
    last modified: 4 days ago

    I didn't love The Midnight Library either. I think my book club read it a couple of years ago.

    On the subject of second chances, I used to re-think choices I once made that turned out not to be so great. In the end I decided that it would not have done me much good to do things differently. If I had take another path, it would have lead me to a new series of choices. Who knows how those decisions would have turned out? I might have ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time while making consistently wise choices.

    I believe that it is an illusion that we have control over our lives. Influence, yes, we can certainly influence our lives for better or worse, but there are simply far too many outside factors for actual control.

  • Carolyn Newlen
    6 days ago

    I have started The Late Show, the first Renee Ballard book by Michael Connelly. I miss Bosch.

  • yoyobon_gw
    5 days ago
    last modified: 5 days ago

    I'm reading The Secret Life Of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams and enjoying it ! I hope that the ending holds up the rest of the tale and that Ms. Williams doesn't drop her 3 x 5 cards and lose her train of thought ! It happens.

  • annpanagain
    5 days ago

    Rosefolly, you are right about outside factors. I was learning to drive a car when I was hit in the back. I have never been able to get any confidence after that in spite of trying. This has made life different to what I would have been as a driver in ways I can hardly imagine.


    I have almost finished Richard Osman's The Man Who Died Twice which I started this morning and only put down to go shopping! It was such a pleasant day that I had to get outdoors for a while even though we have to wear masks on the bus. Will this never end?

  • bigdogstwo
    5 days ago

    Hello - I am reading with interest all of the perspectives on The Midnight Library.


    ** No spoilers here, but I do mention themes in the book. **


    My book club read it this past month and just discussed it last week. Very few of us liked it. We thought the main character was in search of some utopia that she had created in her mind and not grounded in reality. Every time something went wrong, she wanted a new choice. We never really knew what she was searching for... she seemed to just meander through the book without any direction. We were all irked by the main character, and her lack of emotional maturity. We came up with several main points: Perfection doesn't exist; there will always be adversity. If you choose a different path, so might others so the things you counted on as constants would not necessarily remain so. Nothing is so bad that you cannot grow, heal, and take the next step. And ... the most dangerous book in the library was the Book of Regrets because it was only after dwelling on that one that she wanted to choose others from the shelves. Not a fan... I had no sympathy for any of the characters.


    PAM


  • Carolyn Newlen
    5 days ago

    I finished The Late Show which ended much better than it began. I should have known; Connelly is a pro.

  • woodnymph2_gw
    4 days ago

    I'm in the beginning phases of "The Perfect Meal: In Search of the Lost Tastes of France" by John Baxter. It is a gastronomic tour of Europe, mostly France. The author is from Australia, married une francaise, well-traveled, and is truly a gourmand. In this tome he researches the origins of certain traditional foods and beverages, giving their histories. He seems to know of many famous authors, whom he quotes at length. It's a quite lively read, but builds my appetite....

  • Carolyn Newlen
    4 days ago

    I'm reading Icy Clutches, another Gideon Oliver book by Aaron Elkins. Gideon is the famous "Skeleton Detective" who can read bones the way we read books.

  • kathy_t
    Original Author
    4 days ago

    Icy Clutches - That's a great title! I hope the book lives up to its title, Carolyn.

  • annpanagain
    3 days ago

    I have come across a query that puzzled me when an ex-military character says to someone "Arizona is to New Mexico as.."and gets the immediate reply "Donald Duck is to Daffy Duck" which wasn't the expected answer but was satisfactory.

    Does anyone know if this is a well-known recognition code?

    From Tender is the Bite by Spencer Quinn.

  • friedag
    3 days ago
    last modified: 3 days ago

    Annpan, I don't know anything about recognition codes, but I have heard the analogy "Arizona is to New Mexico as Donald Duck is to Daffy Duck." In other words, Arizona and New Mexico are side by side, sharing a boundary on a U.S. map, but the citizens of each state get annoyed when outsiders don't know which is which and can't distinguish what is Arizonan and what is New Mexican. They like to rag each other -- sometimes in good humor but often sarcastically -- by saying, "We're not related."

    Donald Duck, created by Disney, and Daffy Duck, created by Looney Tunes, are not related either, despite both being cartoon ducks. Thus the analogy works on that level and could be used as a code for persons who recognize the distinction. I have heard and read similar analogies with different places named.

    Does that fit the context in your book? It's really just a guess on my part, but that's the way I would probably interpret it, coming onto it without warning.

  • yoyobon_gw
    3 days ago

    Just finished The Secret Life Of Violet Grant and REALLY enjoyed it !

    It was one of those rare books that I could not put down .

  • Carolyn Newlen
    3 days ago

    I'm reading Spook Street, a Slough House mystery. Slough House is where failures or people who have had too much in MI5 get sent in the hope they will resign. They're a goofy bunch with problems, but they manage to solve some crimes in some unusual ways. This is Book 4 of the series by Mick Herron. You have to persist awhile before they get good.

  • annpanagain
    2 days ago

    Friedag, thanks for that.

    I am wondering why that code was used. I think it was to let the people who used it in the story identify themselves as former military.

    Perhaps I should write to the author. I have been gratified by replies when I have tried that.

  • annpanagain
    2 days ago

    I got a reply right away from the author! He said the question was to do with an old SAT verbal test and not a code at all! No wonder the reference went over my head.

    The only verbal tests I ever did was for French conversation.

  • friedag
    yesterday
    last modified: yesterday

    Wow! One bit of the mystery solved. Annpan, good thinking on your part to go directly to the source. Thanks for doing it. I am impressed by the author's speedy response, as well.

    I didn't know the analogy was used on an SAT test (probably long after I took my SATs), but I can see how the test could have caused it to spread, in a meme-like way. What I learn from sharp-brained but perplexed readers! That's what I like most.

  • annpanagain
    yesterday

    Friedag, I am hopeless with some quizzes, like "spot the difference" visual ones but I pick up discrepancies in books. They are like splinters sticking out for me! The couple of authors I have written to have been very kind with replies. I thought they might be too busy but perhaps they could welcome a distraction if they are stuck!

  • Rosefolly
    yesterday

    Annpan, I think sometimes they are just grateful that readers are engaged enough to care. After all, they put a huge amount of effort into writing their books.

  • annpanagain
    yesterday

    Rosefolly, I once wrote to ask an author if he would write another book in a favourite series of mine. He said he wasn't planning to but did a couple of years later. I was so pleased!

  • Rosefolly
    19 hours ago

    As well you should be!

  • annpanagain
    19 hours ago

    I am sheltering at home from the 40C/100+F outdoors. My Support Worker drove me to the local library so that I could collect the requested "Agatha Christie's Poirot The Greatest Detective in the World", a couple of quick reads and an audiobook to tide me over the next few scorching days. I notice that the jacket cover has dropped the " 's" of the title. Ooh!

  • vee_new
    15 hours ago
    last modified: 15 hours ago

    Annpan, it is almost impossible to think of temps in the 100's F . . . here it is hovering around freezing but with sun and blue skies; a rare colour in a UK Winter's day!

    I've just finished The Night in Question by Laurie Graham. Ms Graham is a very talented writer and manages to 'get into' the speech patterns of her characters whether English or American idioms/dialects.

    This book is set in the East End of London in the later part of the 19th century as seen through the eyes of a female Music Hall 'artiste'. She performs comic songs and has much to say about her fellow performers and their talking birds, women jugglers, Latvian plate-throwers etc. It wasn't until well into the book that I realised we were in Jack the Ripper territory and LG has done considerable research into the cases as they would have been understood at the time . .. not with benefit of hindsight and as witnessed through the eyes of those 'on the scene'. Wisely she reaches no conclusions as to whodunnit although she brings in a real character, a so-called doctor of Irish-American background in whom the police have an interest as a possible Fenian suspect rather than the mutilator of women of the streets.

  • annpanagain
    12 hours ago
    last modified: 12 hours ago

    Vee, I recall my Grandmother talking about those times but not much around us as we were children and "Little pitchers have big ears!" I think that there was a wariness of men carrying black Gladstone bags. I suppose it was because of the instruments, possibly surgical, that the murderer used.

    I don't know if he was referred to as Jack the Ripper generally or that was a media thing. I expect your author would know.

    Regarding the heat, it will be with us for several days yet.

    At present Covid isn't a problem much as we take precautions but I am waiting on a TV Press Conference in five minutes to find out if our borders are finally opening or not.

    We expect trouble if they do and the medical advice has been to stay closed for a while longer.

    Later...yes we are to stay closed with extended special exemptions. It is a better situation than a Lockdown. A friend is trying to get me a better mask for breathing in for when I go shopping!

  • sheri_z6
    10 hours ago

    I just finished Night of a Thousand Stars by Deanna Raybourn, a 1920s continuation of her Lady Julia mysteries series featuring the next generation of Marches taking to the espionage and adventure business. I always enjoy her books and this was no exception. I discovered I should have read City of Jasmine first, so that book has been ordered. I'm also eagerly awaiting her next Veronica Speedwell, The Impossible Imposter (coming mid-February).


    I also finished a Victorian romance by Mimi Matthews, who always writes a good story, The Sussex Siren. She's an expert on Victorian clothing (see her non-fiction book, A Victorian Lady's Guide to Fashion and Beauty - interesting and quite detailed if a bit dry IMO) which I think adds an additional layer of period accuracy to her books.


    I have another Scotland Street book to pick up from the library today, The Importance of Being Seven. As I've mentioned before, these are the perfect bedtime books with their short chapters and soothing plot lines. I'm also completely invested in Bertie, so I know I will be reading them all eventually.


    It is 32F and sleeting/snowing in Connecticut today. Temps will be dropping as the day goes by, down to 16F if my phone app is accurate. I can only imagine 100 F!


  • yoyobon_gw
    10 hours ago

    Foreign Affair by Alison Lurie

  • annpanagain
    9 hours ago

    Sheri, it depends on the conditions, if it is humid, it is like going into a sauna! We are fortunate in having an ocean breeze come in the afternoon to stir the hot air around.


    I like to open up all the doors and windows when I get up until it gets to around 28C/ 82F indoors then I use the Air Conditioner, which I put on at Full Fan to start with then drop to Slow Fan at 24C/68F and keep it there all night. I have an open plan one level place so one A/C provides for all the rooms if I leave the inside doors open.

    I got a fright last week when the A/C malfunctioned but the helpful Retirement Village Manageress, when contacted, came by with new batteries for the remote control, which was all it needed. I didn't want a breakdown at present!

  • woodnymph2_gw
    9 hours ago

    I've just started "The Huntress" by Kate Quinn, and so far so good. The only thing I object to is the use of certain slang words in the 1940's speech. I find that questionable.


    Here in sunny South Carolina, we are awaiting a major ice storm to arrive tomorrow and last for 2 days.

  • kathy_t
    Original Author
    8 hours ago

    Last night I finished reading The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles. I won't say too much because spoiler opportunities abound. I will say, however, it's nothing at all like A Gentleman in Moscow, but if you enjoy crazy adventures, you'll like it ... in a different way than ... well I think Amor Towles will have to abide constant comparisons between his latest two novels for a long time.

  • friedag
    7 hours ago

    Kathy, I agree with what you say about the two books by Amor Towles. For me, I wish there was a way to appreciate the attributes of both books without constantly comparing them. Too many readers, I think -- myself included, often -- tend to want 'more of the same'. There is pleasure and comfort in a fulfilled expectation of a certain amount of sameness, after all. IMO, at least Towles is willing to stretch his writing in different directions.

  • kathy_t
    Original Author
    5 hours ago
    last modified: 5 hours ago

    Good point, Frieda. I am starting to think that perhaps most male authors (being sexist here) have a Huckleberry-Finn-like adventure story rattling around their brains, and a financially successful novel allows them to write it down and get it published. The other example I can think of beside Amor Towles is William Kent Krueger. I, and many others, loved his Ordinary Grace which he then followed up with his Huckleberry-Finnish novel, This Tender Land.

    Weather update in Mid-Missouri: We woke up to 4F (-15C) degrees this morning, and at 1 PM we are now at 13F (-10C). Brrrr....

  • vee_new
    4 hours ago

    Annpan, I have wondered if the W Australian weather was a shock to your system when you first arrived 'Down Under'. Poms often refer to it and the array of flies and other insects as the most difficult aspects of life after arrival. I suppose I'd feel more at home in Tasmania!

  • annpanagain
    6 minutes ago

    Vee, I first went to Melbourne which is known as a four seasons in one day place. I was more shocked at the Winter with it's bone-chilling cold winds from the Antarctic than the Summer heat as I had been on a ship for weeks and had got used to warm days.

    My landlady thought I should be used to cold weather but as I came from the South rather than Northern UK, I wasn't really. Sure, we had cold weather but not like that!

    I don't remember flies bothering me as I mostly lived in city areas but learned to stay in at twilight to avoid mosquito bites. The worst bite I ever had that sent me to hospital was from something that crawled up my leg and bit me in the High Wycombe bus station! I don't know what it was but the bite went septic and my leg swelled up. After all the dangers in Oz, I got an insect problem at Home!