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What are you reading? May 2022 Edition

Annie Deighnaugh
9 months 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.


Link to April 2022

Comments (75)

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    Original Author
    8 months ago

    I finished The Girl You Left Behind and give it 4 stars. Interesting story of German occupied France in WWI (not WWII for a change) and a portrait that was done that gets intermixed with a story today of the woman who owns the portrait. Not sure there's enough meat there for a book group. I read the discussion questions at the end and thought them pretty weak. The copy I have includes a separate novella of the story of when the woman today acquired the painting which so far is eh.

  • blfenton
    8 months ago

    I read The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams that I think was posted here over the past couple of months. I really enjoyed it and recommended it to my book club and so far everyone who has read it is really liking it as well.

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  • salonva
    8 months ago

    I finished Still Life ( Louise Penny) and really enjoyed it more than I expected. It's a really well done mystery with lots of humor and context. I gave it 4 or 4.5 stars out of 5. It was a book club book but I missed the meeting unfortunately. I do think it's a great choice.

    I have a few books to pick from now as I will be traveling the next few weeks so I am trying to have options on my kindle. I am going to try The Orphan Master's Son which is for another book club. It is supposed to be really good but it 's a Pulitzer Prize winner, which for me is not enticing.

    I also loaded the first of the Corfu Trilogy on my kindle so that should be a nice balance.

    Options.

  • hhireno
    8 months ago

    @blfenton For our discussion, my book club members all brought a reading list. The books could be favorites, something they would recommend, made a difference to them, something they can’t forget, etc. Someone then complied the lists into a master list. There were a few duplicates (which turned out to be titles we read for club), many new titles, and an interesting look at our outisde club choices. I highly recommend the exercise.

  • Funkyart
    8 months ago

    @salonva I haven't read the Corfu Trilogy but I watched it on PBS-- what a delight! I adored the series. I did give the trilogy to one of my sisters and I have gotten the sense that she's luke warm on the books because she hasn't gotten past the first book in more than a year. She did note that she wasn't in the right headspace to read them so it could be just that.

  • Kswl
    8 months ago

    I'm reading a book on productivity. It's interesting but is not setting any houses (or my behavior) on fire. Mainly I am using my free time practicing singing, as I am performing with a master chorale at Carnegie Hall in June---not bragging, just still can't believe I have been given this opportunity. We are premiering a new work!


    If anyone is interested in the book it's called The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy and was written by Chris Bailey

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    Original Author
    8 months ago

    Book group discussed Hamnet last night and it was loved by all... a rare occurrence for our group.

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    Original Author
    8 months ago

    Congrats kswl! Quite impressive...but I'm sure you know how to get to Carnegie Hall!

  • Funkyart
    8 months ago

    Oh what an honor, Kswl! Congratulations! I am sure it will be exciting and fun!

  • Bunny
    8 months ago

    Wowee Kswl. I love choral singing, a late in life discovery. I doubt I'll be invited to Carnegie Hall, but I envy your talent and this opportunity.

  • woodnymph2_gw
    8 months ago

    In my view, the "Corfu Trilogy" was one of the most delightful series I've ever watched.


    Having liked Lief Enger's "Peace Like a River" I checked out his "Virgil Wander." I was quite disappointed. I could not get interested in the characters or the setting, so back it went to the library. Now, I'm reading a book of essays by Canadian poet Margaret Atwood. Some of them are quite good.

  • faftris
    8 months ago

    Kswl--what a rare accomplishment! Beyond wonderful!

  • Bunny
    8 months ago

    woodnymph, I'm sorry you didn't like Virgil Wander. I loved it as well as Peace Like a River.

    I seem to be in a reading slump right now. It's not through lack of trying. But I've started and then bailed on 4-5 books in succession: too cutesy, too boring, too graphically violent (The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter). TGD was highly recommended by a very good friend whose taste in books is close to mine. I don't know how she managed that one. It was ghastly.

  • Zalco/bring back Sophie!
    8 months ago

    Kswl, wow, bravissima ! What a thrill that will be to perform in such a special venue! So many years of practice to get there, incredibly impressive.

  • salonva
    8 months ago

    Wow KSWL ! Major accomplishment! ( you must have practiced - right? lol)


    Re Hamnet- I have read it with 2 book clubs and everyoe adored it. I suggested it for another group because I think it's just so special. I was beginning to wonder if I was pushing my luck but I think it' will be well received.


    I liked Virgil Wander more than Peace Like a River.


    I started The Orphan Master's Son I am not sure what to make of it. It's definitely a heavy one although it does get my interest...just not a "fun" or uplifting read. I am trying to stick with it and am at about 20% now. ( it's long).


    I think and hope the Corfu will be a nice touch after Orphan Master's Son.




  • Olychick
    8 months ago

    I also loved Virgil Wander and was anxious to read Peace Like a River, but didn't enjoy it nearly as much. I can't even say why. it was a good story, but there was a LOT of story packed into that book! I didn't really understand the inclusion of the little girl's poetry/story and I eventually skipped it all. By the time I was 3/4 of the way through I forgot who some of the people in the beginning were....when their names came up. Not really the author's fault because it took me quite a while to finish the book, but I always appreciate a prompt from the author that hints at who the character is in the story, if they haven't appeared for a while. I also found the sophistication/knowledge/wisdom of the little girl pretty unbelievable for her age. Maybe a young teen, but 8 years old? I don't think so. I have his other book to read next. I wonder how it will be: So Brave, Young and Handsome.

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    Original Author
    8 months ago

    Just finished The Guncle which was recommended here. What a wonderful story. I really enjoyed it. 4+ stars. Not sure if I'll recommend it for book group or not....wouldn't hurt to have it on the list and people can vote on it...

  • runninginplace
    8 months ago

    Annie, I also loved The Guncle and BF, The Reading List was a book club selection which was a thumbs up from everyone including me.


    I'm plowing through a couple of books; we've been moving ourselves back upstairs so my attention has been scattershot lately. I'm enjoyingLeft on Tenth: A Second Chance at Life by Delia Ephron, a memoir about her experiences during the period in which her husband died, she very unexpectedly fell in love and remarried AND was diagnosed with the same form of leukemia that killed her sister Nora(!).


    I am also reading You're Invited: The Art and Science of Cultivating Influence, which is about exactly what the title says. Though much of it is geared toward a business/networking audience the principles are fairly universal and I'm finding it quite interesting.


    I also just started reading The Homewreckers by Mary Kay Andrews for a light reading alternative. Have only gotten into the first chapter but it looks promising.


    And last but also least, I've given up on this month's book club pick The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories. Partly it's my own reading weakness; I simply do not care for short stories. When I read I like to settle in for an immersive experience, and short stories always feel like a nibble instead of a literary meal. I'm also no fan of science fiction/augmented reality which is very much the underpinning of the stories.


    And this particular author leaves me cold-somehow the characters in each story don't draw me in and the plot/themes are often quite off putting. DNF this one.

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    Original Author
    8 months ago

    runninginplace, I hear you about short stories...so many of them just seem to leave me hanging. I want a short story with a punch line.

  • faftris
    8 months ago

    What I love about short stories is that you can read one, be done, and not feel that you are married to the book if you have things you need to do. The master of wonderful short stories is John O'Hara.

  • Funkyart
    8 months ago
    last modified: 8 months ago

    I have been needing light easy reads the last month and a half. I read through all the Anne Hillerman books (19-25) in the Leaphorn, Chee and Manuelita series. I will be returning to read Tony Hillerman's books 1-18. I have really enjoyed them-- just what i needed. I rated them between 2-4 stars-- but note that it is very rare that I rate a mystery series over 3 stars. I love them for what they are -- but they just don't rank up there with my 4 and 5 star reads.

    I also read the latest in the cozy mystery Secrets, Scone and Book Society, The Vanishing Type -- this is total candy as most cozies are but i enjoy them when I have a lot going on outside of the book. This series isn't as twee or cutesy as many (but again, still "candy"). I don't tend to rate or recommend cozy mysteries... other than to other cozy fans.

    I just started The Change by Kirsten Miller. UPDATE - i removed my earlier update and blurb. I DNF'd this book.

  • SeattleMCM
    8 months ago

    I wanna thank whoever previously recommended Maybe You Should Talk to Someone -- just finished it and it was good!

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    Original Author
    8 months ago

    Seattle, don't know if it was me, but I read it recently and recommended it for my nonfiction book group. Glad you enjoyed it!

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    Original Author
    8 months ago

    faftris, my favorite short stories are those by Saki, or O'Henry or DuMaurier or Shirley Jackson...a twist, some meat or some fun, a beginning, an end and a point. So many modern short stories seem to be just a snapshot of someone's life that's all middle...I get done and I think, why did I spend time reading that? Clearly it's I who am missing something as so many of these head scratchers are prize winning...I just don't get it.

  • Zalco/bring back Sophie!
    8 months ago
    last modified: 8 months ago

    Alice Munro's short story collections are great. Too Much Happiness is one excellent compilation. Munro is Canadian and a recipient of the Nobel in literature.

    I think O'Henry's short stories gave rise to the belief of there needing to be a twist in the plot to one. No such device is actually a part of the form. From Wikipedia:

    A short story is a piece of prose fiction that typically can be read in one sitting and focuses on a self-contained incident or series of linked incidents, with the intent of evoking a single effect or mood.

  • chisue
    8 months ago

    Too many short stories sound like ideas that came up short of further development. "Oh, well, none of these have 'legs'. I'll salvage something by submitting them as Short Stories."

  • chinacatpeekin
    8 months ago

    I recently read Tasha: a Son’s Memoir by Brian Morton. It’s a wonderful, touching, and frequently hilarious read about the author’s smart and difficult mother. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has or has had a mother.

  • Olychick
    8 months ago

    Although I don't often read collections of them, I love short stories...esp the ones in the New Yorker. One anthology that I loved was

    Unaccustomed Earth

    by Jhumpa Lahiri

  • faftris
    8 months ago

    Finally, I got around to The Glass Hotel. I had a neighbor who lost everything to Bernie Madoff, so I had some interest in the story. It was a good read, without being life-altering. I am trying to work up to Station Eleven, which, as I understand, is a disturbing premise.

  • Bookwoman
    8 months ago

    Just popping in to say that I am not a sci-fi/fantasy fan, but Station Eleven (which is more of a post-apocalyptic novel) is a brilliant book. And a couple of characters from Station Eleven show up in The Glass Hotel, but with different destinies.

  • Bestyears
    8 months ago

    chinacatpeekin, I want to thank you immensely for the recommendation of Tasha: A Son's Memoir. I read your post yesterday, and binge-read it in one day, which happened to be the two-year anniversary of losing my mom. Like the author's mother, mine was a difficult woman, but also a fantastic woman. And just as he did, at the end, we grappled with living arrangements for her, trying to keep her safe but happy. The experience left me revisiting some of those difficulties as I navigated my grief. This book, more than any other, has helped me so much. Like the author, I can see now that we all did the best we could. This isn't to say that we did anything perfectly or even close to it, but we did our best. There is a lot that goes unsaid at times like that, and I found the way the author dealt with his and his mother's own unspoken thoughts to be very healing. I wasn't familiar with Brian Morton, but will now read some of his novels, as I found him to be a terrific writer. Thank you agian.

  • salonva
    8 months ago
    last modified: 8 months ago

    I;m not a sci fi fan at all, and I did read Station Eleven several years ago for book club. It was pretty good, especially looking back now at the events of the past few years.

    I still don't really care for most sci- fi though. I know I am in the minority and most people would recommend the book.

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    Original Author
    8 months ago

    I read Station Eleven and wasn't enthralled.

  • olychick
    8 months ago

    I really don't like sci-fi or apocalyptic fiction at all...so wasn't ever tempted by Station 11. About as heavy into those genres I could get were the Hunger Games, and that was a stretch for me.

  • chinacatpeekin
    8 months ago

    Bestyears, I am so glad that the book, “Tasha”, came to you on such a poignant day. I’m touched by your post.

  • salonva
    8 months ago
    last modified: 8 months ago

    Well, I finished The Orphan Master's Son this morning, and I still don't know that to make of it. Parts were very difficult to read and then probably almost equal to those were some really great passages and descriptions.. It is fiction based in North Korea and the story was very much all over the place, back and forth, from different narrators. It doesn't take much to confuse me and this did. I just looked it up and yes it was a Pulitzer winner in 2013.

    I think I would probably rate it 3 stars but again, I'm not sure if I was just not focused enough to really follow it. Your mileage may vary.

    I was curious to see what my book club thinks of it, as it's our June read. I just got a notifcation that they changed the book selection so all that suffering for nothing! Ha. I don't know why it was changed, but it was changed to Have You Seen Luis Velez which I heard was very good.

    We will be away for 2 weeks so I loaded up my kindle and I have the first two Corfu Trilogy books and I think they will be a great balance to Orphan Master. I also have some other goodies on the kindle so we'll see.

  • mtnrdredux_gw
    8 months ago

    Believe it or not, our book club just read Dostoevsky's The Idiot.


    I am really glad I learned about him and the novel; his life is quite interesting. But the book was torture. NO ONE liked it. It was a rambling mess. I read he was very poor and under a tight deadline to deliver each chapter without having planned out the next. It also had a very silly soap opera quality, which I often find in less-than-modern literature.


    However, we were all glad we had exposure to the book (None of us finished it! That's unheard of for us). In particular, Dostoevsky's discussion of a how a prisoner sentenced to execution spent his last 5 minutes will really stick with me. I found it very profound, especially knowing that Dostoevsky himself faced this very fate at one time, and then his execution was then stayed.


    Skip the 600 or so pages and watch the first 3 min or so of this video for a tiny bit of edification

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWUXb_TMVDc&t=3s

  • chisue
    8 months ago

    I nearly passed on what I thought would be another tiresome rehash of her 1926 'woman scorned disappearing act', but DH recommended it. I'll give 3.5 stars to Nina de Gramont's The Christie Affair, told largely in the voice of Archie Christie's mistress, Nan O'Dea. I think it suffers from a bit too much emotional restraint -- certainly uncommon today, but perhaps appropriate given the era...and the English. ha-ha!

  • faftris
    8 months ago

    I started and bailed on Station Eleven. There's too much sadness and distress in the world right now to immerse myself in fictional Armageddon.

  • Kathsgrdn
    8 months ago

    I finshed reading Private London a James Patterson/Mark Pearson book a day or so ago. It was okay. 2.5 out of 5.


    Now reading In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware. I stayed up until 5:30 this morning reading it so I must've liked it. Big mistake because then I got up late today and have to work early dayshift on Monday.

  • lonestar123
    8 months ago

    I am reading the first 4 books in Lucy Arlington's mystery series. The first, 2nd and 4th are better.

  • chisue
    8 months ago

    I hadn't planned to even mention this book, but in the face of a glowing review I read today, I want to warn my KT friends. The Lost Summers of Newport reads the way you'd expect a novel to read if it were lifted from the 'Chain Reactions' thread here on the KT. Indeed, it is authored by three novelists, Beatriz Williams, Luaren Willig, and Karen White, but something has gone awry since their prior success, All the Ways We Said Goodbye. Silly, silly, silly nearly sums it up for each of the three forced plot lines. Add 'formulaic' to the stew.

  • ghoghunter
    8 months ago

    I'm reading "And Their Tails Kept Wagging" by Stephen Birchard. If you love dogs its a great read. The author is a Vet and these are his memories of some really sick and/or injured dogs that survived and recovered against all odds. I highly recommend!!

  • sweet_betsy No AL Z7
    8 months ago

    Just finished Lightning Strike by William Kent Krueger. I loved his This Tender Land--this one, not so much. Maybe 3 stars. I felt worn out from the grindingly slow progress of the story.

  • Bunny
    8 months ago

    I just finished While Paris Slept by Ruth Druart. 2.0 stars, and that's being generous. I only finished because a friend recommended it and I thought it was worth sticking it out, but it really wasn't.

    It's a story that goes back and forth between 1944 Paris and 1953 Santa Cruz, CA. A newborn Jewish infant is handed off to a kindly French railway worker as his parents are being herded into a train car headed for Auschwitz. Nine years later the Jewish parents, who survived, want him back.

    Coincidentally I lived in Santa Cruz at one time and it's not very accurately portrayed, other than being on the coast and having a boardwalk. At one point one of the characters takes a short taxi ride to the airport to fly to Paris and the nearest one at that time would have either been San Jose (only a municipal airport then), but more likely San Francisco, over 70 miles away.

    It's a lot of reading for not much story. The writer used "ironic" 8 times, enough to make the word go ding-ding. What was "ironic" about what a person said was never explained.

    The author used "play date" for two kids getting together in 1953. My daughter was born in 1976 and we didn't use that term. Google said it came into being in 1975, but I missed the boat. Anyway, I hate it when authors use anachronistic terms.

  • Bunny
    8 months ago

    Bookwoman, yes!!! I don't expect younger writers to always realize it, but where are the copy editors?!! So lazy. This author doesn't look young enough to have that excuse anyway.

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    Original Author
    8 months ago
    last modified: 8 months ago

    Just finished The Blue Dahlia...#1 in the In The Garden trilogy. I'd already ready #2 The Black Rose. Perfect summer reading...some romance, some mystery, women making it without men in their worlds, definitely chick lit but certainly not fine literature nor good for book group....more like a palette cleanser between meatier courses. I'll look forward to reading #3 The Red Lily.

  • runninginplace
    8 months ago

    Add me to the grateful throng Chinacatpeekin. I was able to check out the library kindle version of Tasha:A Son's Memoir and I also devoured it, finishing in <2 days. What a great book! Tender, funny, and so very well conveys the agony of the last few years of a complex and difficult parent's life.


    I also inhaled These Silent Woods, a beautifully written suspense novel about a father and his young daughter who live a very isolated life in a remote area of the Applachians. As is the usual trope, their carefully chosen world crumbles due to people invading their hermetic world. Very gripping although the ending was a bit pat.


    Just started reading The Homewreckers and it's definitely a summer gossamer light work of literature LOL. It's about a young contractor who gets involved as talent on an HGTV-style home improvement 'reality' show. Set in Savannah and so far entertaining if not very believable.



  • Annie Deighnaugh
    Original Author
    8 months ago
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