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What are you reading? November 2023 Edition

8 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 October 2023

Comments (57)

  • 8 months ago
    last modified: 8 months ago

    Now reading The Covenant of Water for January selection. It’s interesting but far too long, another reminder that authors do not have to display every morsel of knowledge they have in every single book. I probably will not read another Verghese book after this one.'



    I love Verghese books having just discovered him this summer. You might have thought Water was too long or detailed but try reading his book Cutting for Stone which was written earlier. Personally I think it was even better. It's a whole different story. I loved it.

  • 8 months ago
    last modified: 8 months ago

    The East Indian, Charry, was a letdown after being so wrapped up in Groff's The Vaster Wild -- bothset in the historic Jamestown Colony. Charry's characters walked around through a well researched history, while Groff provided plenty of time and place for her engrossing runaway. They were integral to her character.

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  • 8 months ago

    Finished The Exchange: After The Firm by John Grisham. Maybe 2 stars. My husband read it along with me and we both agreed we will never get those hours back. Started out good and went downhill from there. Glad we got it free from the library instead of paying for it.


    Now reading book 10 in the Cork O'Connor series by William Kent Krueger called Vermilion Drift. I have nothing but praise for his writing and this series. Have also read some of his other books not about Cork.

  • 8 months ago

    Just finished The Marriage Portrait and loved it. 4 stars. I think we'll have good discussion in our book group.


    Next up is to get back to "Mindful Path to Self Compassion".

  • 8 months ago

    I finished my Shakespeare book, and I have to say that I feel dirty for having visited Stratford-upon-Avon and buying into the myth. It was 24 years ago, so I will chalk it up to immaturity. I have just begun my last (sob) Ann Petry book, A Country Place. I enjoyed all the others. DD1 did not feel that this one was as well-developed as the others. We shall see.

  • 8 months ago
    last modified: 8 months ago

    Yesterday I finished All the Broken Places by John Boyne. I think it's the first book by him I've read and I think his writing and storytelling are excellent. I devoured it, despite its mostly difficult subject matter. I'm not sure I liked the ending or found it at all satisfying. With the final page I realized if I'd read The Boy in Striped Pajamas the ending might have been more meaningful. I found several meetings or episodes to be way too convenient (e.g., the one in Sydney).

    Spoiler alert:

    Gretel was around 12-15 when she lived adjacent to the camp. While she had a dawning awareness of bad stuff going on beyond the fence, I don't hold her as responsible for the Nazi atrocities as many other characters did. Aside from running away (where?) what was she to do at such an age?

    I don't know how to rate this book. 4+ for the writing, 3-minus for the story itself.

  • 8 months ago
    last modified: 8 months ago

    Is this thread updating for people? I see a postn I maden 4 hours ago, but on the main page it says it hasn't been updated since yesterday.

    ETA: It seems to be working now.

  • 8 months ago

    @bunny I don't see anything from today. I see your post ( now it says 2 hours ago modified one hour ago) but the one before that is from yesterday faftris about A Country Place?

  • 8 months ago

    I am almost done with Horse by Geraldine Brooks, which I thought was very good, 4-41/2*

    It is based on the true story of the record-breaking thoroughbred Lexington. It had three different timelines, all of which were connected to the horse through artwork, science, and the storyline of his life. Racism themes from the 1850s with slavery and the remnants of it today were a part of the story. I find her to be a well researched and good writer and although I found the more current timeline a bit overdone, I enjoyed it and would recommend it for bookclub. Our bookclub liked it and had a great discussion.

  • 8 months ago
    last modified: 8 months ago

    Wow now that sounds amazing, vee!

    I read Horse for a book club a few months ago and I liked it but did not love it.

    We did take a road trip to Kentucky which was really interesting and of course, seeing the Derby Museum in Louisville was incredible even for this non horse couple.

    I just read The Secret Life of Sunflowers which was a pretty good read, and would probably make a good book club pick. I found parts of it really drew me in but I had to keep pushing myself on. It is one of those split time periods, going between present day and late 1800's to early 1900's weaving together Theo and Vincent Van Gogh. I loved the parts about Van Gogh and now feel like I'd like to try to read a biography about him, as this was historical fiction.

    I would give it 3.5 stars.

  • 8 months ago

    Horse is sitting on my coffee table. I'm about 50 pages into it yet it languishes while I read other things. If it were a library book it would have been returned by now, but it belongs to a friend and now I'm feeling a little guilty.

  • 8 months ago

    I recently read Lives of the Wives by Carmela Ciuraru, about five literary marriages. It's a quirky and engaging little book (nonfiction). How the alcohol flowed, the casual affairs, betrayals, and desertions, and the consistent expectations for the wives to be wholly in service of their writing spouses (even when their wives were writers). It's a look back in time, maybe not relevant (I hope) to today's unions, but I enjoyed it. Maybe a 3.5? Not sure it would engender a lively discussion—I think any reader would be quite sympathetic with the wives' plights. Re-read Little Drummer Girl and was struck by how Palestinian/Israeli issues described therein are virtually the same, using the same language, as what we hear today. Now reading Bradbury's Farenheit 451 which I must have read an eternity ago, but didn't remember; relevant, of course, to today's book banning sprees. Next I'm planning to read Turgenev's Fathers and Children (alternately titled Fathers and Sons). I don't know what to expect, but a friend recommended it.

  • 8 months ago

    Continuing my Lauren Groff kick, I'm reading her novel, Arcadia, and have her short story, Annunciation, in The Best American Short Stories of 2023.

    I agree with what Richard Russo says in a blurb for the novel, "It's not possible to write any better than this without showing off."


  • 8 months ago

    chisue, I don't think I've read any Lauren Groff books. What would you recommend I start with, or if I could just read one?

  • 8 months ago

    Oh no, my trip was delightful. Stratford is lovely, and I enjoyed myself immensely. How lucky of you to have a connection to the birthplace. I was proud to sign the visitor book. The author of the book I read said that if you believe that Shakespeare existed, visiting is a must. Her view was that somebody else wrote the plays--Francis Bacon, The Earl of Oxford, Mary Sidney--and that the whole biography of a William Shakespeare is just a feel-good story. For me, the jury is still out. There have been centuries of debates among academics about it. I would never knowingly hurt someone's feelings about their hometown. I am from the South Bronx, so you can see why.

  • 8 months ago

    My book club just read The Stationary Shop by Marjan Kamali. It held my attention. I'd give it a 3.


    @Bunny...Historical fiction....aka...Horse. I made it through it...but I'm not really interested.

  • 8 months ago

    faftris, glad you enjoyed your trip to Stratford. Without the Shakespeare connection the town would probably be one of those small forgotten places on the road to nowhere. I have no beef with who did or who didn't write the plays. It seems just because he was a boy from a humble background with little formal education it is assumed by some people that he couldn't possibly have produced that quality or quantity of work.

    I haven't visited NYC since 1950 as a very young child but can remember a yak in the small zoo in Central Park and visiting an automat cafeteria with those little compartments for individual dishes . . . the yellow cabs . . . and being tired and foot sore. We were waiting to get to the Cunard pier to board the Queen Elizabeth for our return trip to England. We had been visiting our grandparents in VA.

    I do have a long-ago ancestor buried in Trinity churchyard, a child born to Huguenot settlers in the early 1700's. I imagine the Bronx was covered in trees and undergrowth back then.

  • 8 months ago

    nicole, historical fiction is my favorite genre. I have a problem when animals are in books. Even when nothing bad happens to them, I worry that it will.

  • 8 months ago
    last modified: 8 months ago

    I just finished Alfie & Me by Carl Safina. If you are familiar with his books, this is about an injured owlet he and his wife cared for and released by their home during the Pandemic. It is very, almost meditative, alternating between the owl story and deep dives into humanity's relationship, or lack therof, with the universe. I loved it and will probably ask for my own copy for Christmas because it is not a one and done type book for me. Photos of the owl are a bonus. Yes for book clubs - some, anyway. His summaries of some of the various belief systems did get a bit repetitive but maybe that's because I was reading it pretty much at one go, since it was a library book.

    I read two books in this order : Non-fiction The Heat Will Kill You First by Jeff Goodell and fiction The Light Pirate, by Lily Brooks-Dalton. I'm going to recommend them in that order at my club's book pick meeting this week. Both were 4 or 4.5 and I've found myself thinking about both.

    Goodell is an excellent non-fiction writer, managing to make science and a rather dark topic both understandable and even humorous, at times. He is matter of fact but not hopeless. And no, staying hydrated is not going to be the answer. Seriously, he made me realize there were warning signs I ignored last summer while working at something that I will pay attention to in the future.

    The Light Pirate is a fiction story starting in the near present and moving into a future where Florida (and Louisiana and...) have been abandoned by the US government but things are falling apart one hears pretty much everywhere. It follows one family, then narrows to one girl; slowly turning over the family's story and meta-story, and examining how we communicate or don't, and self identity, survival, loneliness, strength, and love. Some reviewers found it bleak. I didn't. But reading it after The Heat Will Kill You First had conditioned my acceptance of the narrative the author spun. My one quibble was the dialect choice the author imposed on her two remaining main characters by the end. But I have a really low tolerance for reading dialects.

  • 8 months ago
    last modified: 8 months ago

    Bunny -- Matrix is the first Groff novel I happened to read. I like her most recent novel too: Into the Wilds. I'm not sure, but think that women may appreciate her themes more than men. I don't care becuse She Can Write.

    OOPS! The novel is The Vaster Wilds.

  • 8 months ago

    I am reading The House of Doors, by Tan Twan Eng. It's very good. Somerset Maugham is a character in the novel, and it feeds off of his short story "The Letter", so perhaps reading that ahead of time might be a good idea. I did not. Thank you, Wikipedia, for coming to the rescue!

  • 8 months ago

    I havent kept up with posting here, although it’s nice to get your feedback. Also nice to see Vee here since I read her comments on Readers Paradise.

    I am about finished with Demon Copperhead but Libby took it away. You can read my woeful tale on my Dammit Libby thread. Now I plan on watching Dopesick on Netflix. Enjoyed and learned a lot from Demon.

    BTW, on Annie’s recommendation I borrowed The Marriage Portrait and am totally hooked. Thank you! Of course, I adored Hamnet.

    Will try to report more recent reads before December. Love this thread.

  • 8 months ago
    last modified: 8 months ago

    Thank you to the contributor who recommended The Majority. The author, Elizabeth L. Silver, is a little uneven, but the story sings. 4 Stars.

  • 8 months ago
    last modified: 8 months ago

    I probably commented before but I adored Hamnet, and liked the Marriage Portrait.

    I thought she went overboard with wordiness. Just my opinion.

    I loved Demon.

    I just read The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett and enjoyed it quite a bit. There was a part that seemed a little too contrived but overall it was a great read, and brought up some very good points to ponder. I think it would make a good discussion for a book club. I gave it 4 stars.

    I think I am going to start The Scent Keeper which was recommended here.

    (all on kindle from the library).

  • 8 months ago

    Still trying to get through The Boys on the Boat. I keep falling asleep before I get far.

  • 8 months ago

    Just finishing The Storyteller by Dave Grohl. It’s autobiographical but moves around in time, so it’s sometimes confusing. It skips much of the life of Foo Fighters except for a few anecdotes, so the book feels incomplete. All in all, interesting to me since I know very little about music or musicians. 3.5 of 5 stars.

  • 8 months ago
    last modified: 8 months ago

    11/22/63, by Stephen King. Other readers give it a 4.8 overall. I am not far enough to tell you what I feel yet. I wanted to read something by him, as I have not read any of his books?! quelle surprise, and so I picked one I knew nothing about. I asked my child to read it with me, but they wouldn't. Dunno why, they like to read? And so I picked it up after they moved away. I realized today, the date is current. So good timing.

  • 8 months ago
    last modified: 8 months ago

    I just finished listening to a memoir, Tastes Like War, by Grace Cho. Admittedly, I'm a bit of a memoir geek, and I don't think this book is for everyone. But I loved it. There is always a separate layer to evaluate in an audio book, which is the quality of the narration. This one was excellent, and I'll look for more books narrated by this woman. It's the story of Grace Cho's mother, who although not diagnosed until she was 40, was schizophrenic. This book presents a much different version of schizophrenia than I've ever come across. Her mother is not a danger to others, she's not violent in any way, etc. Grace Cho does a great job of dispelling those common misunderstandings of the disease, some of which, among others, have been disproven. I found it to be a compassionate, well-written book.

  • 8 months ago

    rob, I loved 11/22/63! It was the first Stephen King book I read until Fairy Tale last year.

  • 8 months ago

    I like Sigrid Nunez, but her new book, The Vulnerables, was just meh. It was supposed to be about a character's experiences during the Covid lockdown, but it was really just a recounting (and a bit of a boast) about all the authors she ever read. Good thing it was short!

  • 8 months ago
    last modified: 8 months ago

    For book group, I'm now reading Our Missing Hearts. I've been flying through it, and surprising since I usually don't like dystopian novels. But this one is particularly topical. I'll wait til I finish it before I rate it.


    ETA: 4 stars, I'm sure it will lead to good discussion. Very thought provoking.

  • 8 months ago

    Just started The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey -lovely writing. Debut novel and a finalist for Pulitzer 2013.

  • 7 months ago

    Well, early morning is my preferred reading time, so ahead of the activity today I finished reading The Scent Keepers which Jennifer Hogan praised above. It really was so different and I too loved it.

    I will say the first maybe 10% I wasn't too sure but after a little more, I was really swept into it. I don't know how I'd classify it, but it was a great read and I think it would yield a good discussion for book club.

    I too give it 5 stars and am thankful for this monthly thread. The book would never have crossed my radar but it was so enjoyable.

  • 7 months ago
    last modified: 7 months ago

    I now have The Scent Keepers on my shelf -- thanks, Salonva!

    I've barely started Michael Chabon's 2007 novel, The Yiddish Policemen's Union. The primary detective reminds me of our much-loved Bernie Gunther, the creation of...oh-oh, can't remember the (recently deceased) author! Chabon's novel takes place in a fictional Jewish state in Alaska that was created after a fictional 1948 failure of the State of Israel in Palastine. Kinda timely reading.


    Philip Kerr created the Bernie Gunther character, a German cop who continued to serve -- and subvert the occupiers -- in post-war East Germany.

  • 7 months ago


    Posted this on the other side, but it also seems to belong here. 4 out of 5 stars…haha.

  • 7 months ago

    I just finished Sigrid Nunez’s new novel, “The Vulnerables”, and just LOVED it. I read it in one day. It’s a lovely, ruminative piece about writing, aging, grief, life, animals and the Pandemic. And more! I loved her book “The Friend” (National Book Award winner) and I thought this one was just wonderful, too.

  • 7 months ago

    i just finished: FRIENDS, LOVERS AND THE BIG TERRIBLE THING, By Matthew Perry.

    i didn't realize he had so many issues. i would give it 4 stars b/c i think we all need a reminder about addiction. i was not a FRIENDS fan, watched randomly and was not my cup of tea, so i went in with no pre-conceived notion of him as Chandler Bing.

    RIP


  • 7 months ago

    I am in the middle of something really good. It is Our Friends in Berlin, by Anthony Quinn (no, not the Zorba one!). It's about a spy in WWII England, who poses as a Nazi sympathizer in order to weed out the real Nazi sympathizers. Not my usual, but I loved his Freya, and my OCD requires me to read everything he's written.

  • 7 months ago

    Well I just wrote a post and when I clicked submit, it deleted. oh well.


    I just finished The Forgotten Girls which is a non fiction book about the plight of those in small towns with inferior services and the like. It was an interesting read, and it struck me as a non fiction version of Demon Copperhead in a way. The author tells the story of her hometown, Clinton Arkansas and the people she grew up with. I'd say it was mostly well done but to me, the shortcoming was that there was too much of the author's opinion in what she presented as basic facts.

    I think it was an eye opening read, and definitely worthwhile. I gave it 3.5 stars,


    Next I am going to read either The Railway Children or When We Believed in Mermaids.

    The mermaid book is available on kindle for free to borrow from Amazon prime.

  • 7 months ago
    last modified: 7 months ago

    Reading the same book, picked it up last night and they mentioned Joe Louis, the famous heavyweight boxer who defeated the German boxer and I had to google him. Read through almost his whole Wikepedia page and then was too tired to continue reading my book. I'm never gonna finish this book.

  • 7 months ago

    I put aside The Marriage Portrait. I was not in the mood for something grim. Now Im reading A City Baker‘s Guide to Country Living. Im enjoying it. Not too heavy, what my overstressed brain needs at the moment.

    In good news, my book club has been resurrected! One woman who always took charge said she was done with us after a few had to cancel. We have not met since last May. Now a bunch of us, all neighbors, have decided to reconnoiter and we have a meeting at my house next week. First meeting will be organizational, no book. So glad to be doing this again.

  • 7 months ago

    Our book group has come up with the reading list for 2024:

    The Dog I Loved

    The Stolen Marriage

    Remarkably Bright Creatures

    Dust Child

    The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot

    All the Broken Places

    The Dictionary of Lost Words

    The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store

    The Art Thief

    The Book of Lost Names

    The Anomaly

    Tom Lake


  • 7 months ago

    Annie- one of my book clubs just voted on our list-

    quite a few similarities and I've read a few on yours. ( loved Remarkably BC and One Hundred Years )

    Here's my group list.


    The Stolen Marriage (I've read this and liked a lot)


    The Art Thief


    The Dollhouse


    Finding Dorothy ( This was one of my offerings.I've read this and liked a lot)


    Becoming Nicole


    The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store


    The Caretaker


    Absolution


    The Mother-In-Law (I've read this and remember liking it, but it was a while ago)


    Horse ( I read this and liked it)


    Lady Clementine - ( read this and liked it)


    Each person suggests 2 books, and then we vote. on each person's books to select one.


  • 7 months ago

    Thanks for sharing your lists. My book club would only be that organized in my dreams! How many people are in your clubs?

  • 7 months ago

    The number varies in our group, but typically around 7-9, though many more are on the list but often don't show...it's run by the director of the library. We all vote on a book list and she makes sure we have the books we need for the next month. Makes it very convenient. But she needs the list ahead of time so she can order the books, so we vote once a year on our list.

  • 7 months ago
    last modified: 7 months ago

    A while ago my book club read Leave the World Behind, by Rumaan Alam. We all enjoyed it and had a great discussion about it. Someone noticed that it's been made into a movie for Netflix, so we are going to have a viewing party to watch. Staring Julia Roberts and Ethan Hawke. If you are at all interested in the movie, I would suggest reading the book first - just because it's one that I think using your own imagination would be better before the visuals are put in place for you by the movie. I'm quite interested in how they depict some of the elements of the book. It's "light" dystopian/thriller- I am not a fan of dystopian usually (tho I did like the Hunger Games) but did really like this book.

  • 7 months ago

    My last post of the month! How time flies! I read The Museum of Failures. It was a pretty good read, probably a 3.5. It's about a son who discovers family secrets. It has a Hallmark Channel movie ending that seems a little on the gaggy side, but I did enjoy it. I think it would be a good group choice. I have the new Michael Cunningham sitting here, calling my name.

  • 7 months ago

    Faftris,so funny you should mentionaHallmark Movie. Thats exactly what I was going to say about A City Baker’s Guide to Country Living. Thats just what it reminded me if - everything tied up neatly in a shiny bow.

    it even included a recipe for apple pie at the end.

    Here it is just to wrap up the month









  • 7 months ago