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What are you reading? December 2023 Edition

Annie Deighnaugh
3 months ago
last modified: 3 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 November 2023



Comments (68)

  • faftris
    3 months ago

    Book Covers! My college professor (during the middle ages of the early '70's) prided himself on teaching only from first editions of the novels in our Modern American Novel class. So he would bring them to class. He had some treasures, including a first edition of The Great Gatsby, WITH the dust cover. The company that produced those dust covers made them a quarter inch too tall, so when they ripped, people tossed them. So a first edition copy with the dust cover is worth a small fortune.

  • Bookwoman
    3 months ago

    Indeed it is, depending on the exact condition of the book and dust jacket. Modern first edition collectors are notoriously finicky about condition - one little nick in the dj and the price comes down. Here's a short video about it: https://youtu.be/B6Fj9ngTl84?si=Yr6ZjtcxAAR5Vwbb

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  • chisue
    3 months ago

    Now that I've finished The Scent Keeper, I'm giving it 3 Stars. there's a great story in there, but I feel the author spent too much time developing the narrator as a child. I wondered if she had the wrong 'handle' on it. You could really start halfway in, skip the fairy tale backstory , then enjoy the growth and meaningful human drama.

    Dictionary of Lost Words felt similarly slow starting, with another girl in an insulated, motherless life. Even given the era, and despite her traumatic misadventure, the young woman continued to mature *glacially* -- before we galloped along while the author skipped years before reaching the conclusion. (Good Theme. Needs Work.)

  • Kathsgrdn
    3 months ago

    I finally finished The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. I'd give it 3.5 stars, good story but it was a little too much about boat making and technical information about rowing, that I'd get bored. Restarted reading Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver. A borrowed book from a friend, that I started before my trip in the Fall. I swapped to the book mentioned above so I could take it on my trip since it was a lightweight paperback as opposed to the hardback borrowed book. I can't believe it took me so long to get through it but I only read it just before bed and not on all nights. I would immediatley fall asleep after starting to read. Not sure if that was the book's fault or my tiredness from sleep issues.

  • faftris
    3 months ago

    That was a wonderful video. Thank you, Bookwoman. When I think about what Professor Zeiger let us see!

  • dedtired
    3 months ago

    I pit aside the Barbara Streisand autpbiography. I never need to know that level of detail about anyone. Seriously, I dont need to know every excruciating detail of your life. Her life is interesting rising from poverty and dysfunctional family to superstardom, but not nearly 1000 pages worth.

    Have moved on to Homecoming by Kate Morton. Will report back.

  • Cindy 7 VA
    3 months ago

    I just started reading The Art Thief by Finkel. Non fiction.

  • nicole___
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    My book club is reading "The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe", By CS Lewis. Light, quick read for the busy holidays. I read it when I was 10 years old and loved it. A 5❣️

  • nicole___
    3 months ago

    @Bestyears....Never. I put a hold on it. One ahead of me. Thanks! :0)

  • Bookwoman
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    And then watch Shadowlands, with Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger. Lewis' A Grief Observed is IMO the best book ever written about losing someone you love.

  • salonva
    3 months ago

    I just finished The Railway Children by E Nesbitt, and yes it was so sweet and cozy. I really enjoyed it - just sweet, innocent, and touching with humor splashed in. As I mentioned above, I was suprised how the early 1900's British English was at times a challenge. Overall though I would recommend it. I gave it 4 stars.

  • Uptown Gal
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    Saw the TV Show first...and knew I should read the book:

    ******************************

    The Lincoln Lawyer is a 2005 novel, the 16th by American crime writer Michael Connelly. It introduces Los Angeles attorney Mickey Haller, half-brother of Connelly's mainstay character Detective Hieronymus "Harry" Bosch . It was adapted as a 2011 film of the same name, starring Matthew McConaughey.

    ******************************

    I have always enjoyed Connelly's books, but shouldn't watch a TV show first. LOL I

    watched parts of the Movie (with McConaughey), but prefer the new TV Show.

    It stars Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as Mickey Haller, a defense attorney in Los Angeles who often works out of a chauffeur-driven Lincoln Navigator. Neve Campbell, Becki Newton, Jazz Raycole, Angus Sampson, and Christopher Gorham also star. The first season is based on Connelly's 2008 novel The Brass Verdict, a sequel to his novel The Lincoln Lawyer .

    Am anxiously awaiting Season 2 Now...sometime in January (maybe?) ;)


    May get to "reading" the book this year)


    (the above info has been googled...so I knew I was getting it right. )

  • faftris
    3 months ago

    I am loving the new Michael Cunningham, called Day. Welcome to everyone's midlife crisis. But his words are delicious. It isn't The Hours, but, then, what is?

  • barncatz
    2 months ago

    Thanks for the suggestions of Becoming Mrs. Lewis and A Grief Observed. I've requested both from the wonderful public library system.

  • Bunny
    2 months ago

    I finished The Scent Keeper and I didn't like it. 2 stars and that's being generous.

    I had great hopes for it, for I find that scents are so emotionally evocative and can bring memories back to life. The premise for the machine was clever.

    I made myself finish the book because I thought there would be a revelation, a big payoff. I kept thinking, is this a book for young adults? I think it is. I found Emmeline's story and scent IQ to be unbelievable. Her big love, Fisher, was meh. The only people I cared about were Henry and Collette and Dodge the dog. I should have bailed with the story of the poor goat and bear.

    Do not recommend.

  • salonva
    2 months ago

    oh well, sorry Bunny. Usually we agree on books. I do agree that the Scent Keeper "tried" my patience at times, though mostly in the beginning. I just went along for the ride and enjoyed it. I too have a thing for scents and memories.

    I'm reading The Doll House for book club now. It's a good story but I am pushing myself to continue it because it's book club and it's under 300 pages. I think I've only read one other by Fiona Davis ( The Address) and really like that one. Her shtick is the stories of buildings.


  • Bunny
    2 months ago

    salon, it's okay. We do usually agree on books and sometimes something works for one and not so much for another. I'm glad I finished it.

  • chisue
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    I agree about Scent Keepers, although I gave 3 stars, mostly for the whole idea. It needed severe 'pruning' at the front. I did like the last sentence; it has stayed with me.

    Fraud didn't wow me, but it is 4 stars. I'm applying the title to the main character as much as the imposter. (The entire story makes me thankful for birth control!)

    If you read Stet, you can skip the first part. (IDK who, other than old newsies, get the title.)

  • grapefruit1_ar
    2 months ago

    Trial of the Century by Gregg Jarrett

  • salonva
    2 months ago

    I finished The Doll House. It was a good read and did keep me interested but I thought it was too formulaic. It flipped back and forth between present day and the early days of the Barbizon Hotel for Women in NY. The old time period was so much more interesting to me; the current day was borderline annoying.

    I gave it 3 stars.

  • LynnNM
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    With a lot of stress in my life lately (major water leak in our master bath, walls now knocked out, water shut off, with very, very slow repairs, among other things), it’s been especially hard to deal with during this busy Christmas Season. Anyhoo, I’ve discovered a great book that’s giving me a lot of comfort, smiles, and peace. “Where Angels Walk” by Joan Wester Anderson. “True stories of Heavenly Visitors” is how its described on the book’s cover. One or two stories per chapter have made it an easy, peaceful read before bed each night, leaving me in a (much needed) positive frame of mind.

  • Oakley
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Poor Lynn, been there done that with our master bath in September. I'm going to look up the book, thanks for the suggestion!

    ETA, I ordered the book, and they only had two left. Hmmmm. :)

  • juneroses Z9a Cntrl Fl
    2 months ago

    Just finished listening to The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason. A big thank you to the reader who recommended it. It's been a while since I've listened/read a book that was "too good to put down" but this was one for me. Narrator Laurence Dobiesz voice and delivery were a positive too.

  • jlsch
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    I’m currently listening to The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett by Annie Lyons, which was an impulse buy on Audible. I am only halfway through it but am enjoying it. It falls into the genre like Harold Frye and Eleanor Oliphant….older person done with life that finds a reason to live again. It’s certainly not great literature, but warm hearted and uplifting and I’m enjoying the characters. Despite being quite cantankerous, Eudora Is a very likeable 85 year old woman, and the girl in the story is wonderful. I’ll have to return with a rating when I’ve finished.

  • salonva
    2 months ago

    I read Eudora last month, and I really enjoyed it as well. I agree that it was along the lines of those books you mentioned - though as much as I enjoyed Eudora, I enjoyed those 2 more. I thought it really had shades of a Man Called Ove. Overall I gave it 4 stars.


    On a totally different road, or maybe not, I am reading Man's Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Someone had given me this book about 15 years ago, and somehow it was never the right time to read it. Recently a friend mentioned the book, and I decided I'd try it now. I have such a huge preference for ebooks , and was able to get it readily from the library and am now reading it on my kindle. It's a lot more "readable" than I expected. I'm only about 25% through, so I'll report back later.



  • Bunny
    2 months ago

    I just started The River We Remember by William Kent Krueger, one of my favorite authors. So far, so good.

    Like salonva, I prefer ebooks, particularly with the Kindle app on my iPad, syncing with my iPhone. However, when I went to download this book (published in 2023), my only options were Adobe EPUB or my browser. I had to get the Adobe Digital Editions app on my iPad and man, does it suck. I'm so used to the customized look available with the Kindle app and this one only gave me a single wide block of text. But even worse, unacceptable, was a couple of lines at the end of a paragraph were simply missing. The next page was a new chapter. Fortunately I was able to get the book loaded on Libby, which is feature-poor, but at least it includes all the text.

    Is this a new thing libraries are doing? Forcing one to use the Adobe app? Anyone figured out any workarounds to getting a legitimate EPUB file to use with Kindle or Books?

  • salonva
    2 months ago

    I finished Man's Search for Meaning and don't think it lends itself to being rated. So many people have mentioned this book over the years and I finally got to it. It's definitely a very meaningful book and I think I wll probably refer back to it, if not re-read it.

    Mostly, as you probably know, it's about his survival and observations from 4 concentration camps.. Prior to this, he had been a psychaitrist. The first part of the book is about that. The next parts were more technical and phiolosphical in nature , which I know I didn't quite digest fully.

    In any case it's certainly a book to read.


    I think I'm going to start Weyward. I know nothing about it, but it is a current book that has very good ratings and I reserved it a while ago and just got it on kindle f.. It also has a very pretty cover.


  • jlsch
    2 months ago

    salonva, I just found a site where Man's Search for Meaning can be read as a downloadable PDF so I think I will read it there. Although a potentially dark topic, I'm interested in reading it. Thanks for sharing.

  • lisaam
    2 months ago

    On Libby I happened upon A Box of Matches by Nicholson Baker. I’m just a few short chapers in but the jewel box level of detail is mesmerizing. Maybe not the best for plot lovers— not sure yet.


    I did preview the beginning of Barbra Streisand. She streamlines nothing and the voice is so clearly hers. I have reserved it hut not sure I’d last through all 900 pages.

    I’ve also previewed and reserved Demon Copperhead. I’m not a huge Kingsolver fan but it seems compelling and I’m anxious to read it for Jan bc meeting.

  • nicole___
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    @LynnNM...I'm in the same frame of mind, needing some peace in my life. I love positive stories. Putting that on my library hold list. Update: Nope. They don't have it.

    My stress: paid half down on a new roof, for my rental. Paid the other half when done. They did a GREAT job. My bill says "Paid in full", the check was cashed, then 3 weeks later I get another bill for $4K! I call the claims adjuster, who has now been replaced. New adjuster says, "Oh yeah. You have 2 deductibles since the garage is detached." ?? Weeks later... she calls, says she's mailing me a HUGE check. The roof was 18 years old. The cheapest thing they had back then AND...I upgraded to a class 4, the best they have. Everything works out! I hope your "event" turns out to be a positive like mine did. I'm so tickled!

  • Kathsgrdn
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Finished Demon Copperhead last night. I'd give it 5 stars. Depressing but very good story. Not sure what I'm going to start next. Maybe a Ruth Ware book, Zero Days? Picked it and a few other books up when I went to drop off a box of used ones at Half Price Books a couple weeks ago. When I no longer have enough books to buy used ones there to replace them, then I'm going to start using the library again. I got notified yesterday that my card is about to expire and I have to go in person and do that. So, hopefully next Tuesday I'll remember to do that.

  • Bookwoman
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    I'm just about to finish Jean Korelitz' The Latecomer. A family saga, it's an enjoyable read, especially if you know NYC. She manages to describe and skewer a lot of upper-class pieties, while propelling you along with an interesting plot.

  • Bestyears
    2 months ago

    I'm reading Banyan Moon by Thao Thai. It was a Jenna's Book Club pick, but I actually heard about it from Sarah's Bookshelves. Very enjoyable. I'm about halfway through, and already know these are characters I will long remember and miss..

  • dedtired
    2 months ago

    Finished Homecoming by Kate Morton. It was good enough but at 500 pages, too long. Probably not good choice for me since I don't care for mysteries.

    For bookmclub I read The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Liisa See.Very very good. Interesting reading about how China evolved culturally yet rural villages continued to exist . I learned a lot about tea!

    Now Im about one third of the way through The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store by James McBride which so far is excellent. It takes place not far from where I live, which makes even more interesting.

    TodayI bought The Art Thief as a gift for someone who won't be here until Wednesday, so maybe I can read it first!

  • 3katz4me
    2 months ago

    Liz Cheney’s Oath and Honor

  • nicole___
    2 months ago

    Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus, a book club read for next month. I'm a fourth of the way through. It's one of those books where she starts out a famous cook and proceeds to tell us how she got there. So I already know the ending. 🎅🎅🎅

  • salonva
    2 months ago

    I just finished Weyward. I wanted to really love it but I just didn't.

    I do think it will be one of the popular ones. It's got an interesting story but it was (for me) too woven together. It has 3 women, one from 1619, one from the WW2 era, and then one millenial .

    It would probably be a good book club read, but I gave it 3 stars.


    I read Tea Girl several years ago for book club and remember it being a very good read.

    My book club is also going to to the Heaven and Earth one later in the year as well as The Art Thief.


    On a totally different route, I'm going to read The Hidden Perusaders by Vance PAckard, in 1957, non fiction about advertising.

  • chisue
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    I'm liking Heaven and Earth but find myself putting it aside to laugh with Richard Jury and Melrose Plant and the rest of the old gang in Martha Grimes' Vertigo 42. I'm not up to the deeper tale. I'm dizzy with a crystal in one ear -- and tired of feeling tired!

  • Bestyears
    2 months ago

    I finished Banyan Moon and would give it 3.5-4 stars. Good story with memorable characters and some ideas about life worth pondering. Just started West with Giraffes.

  • Bunny
    2 months ago

    I just finished The River We Remember by William Kent Krueger. 4 grateful stars.

    I've been in the doldrums reading-wise since the spring. I've only finished a couple of books in that time. I've started many, and, like food that has a bad taste or no taste, I put them down, unable to read on. Maybe this book has ended the drought. I have loved many of Krueger's books before this one, and it was just the ticket for me, a good story, great characters, letting the story tell itself without fussing over it. Flawed people who find some redemption along the way.

  • Bookwoman
    2 months ago

    I'm currently really enjoying Elizabeth Taylor's (no, not that one) Angel. I've loved all her others that I've read, especially A View of the Harbour and Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont. I think of her books as more serious versions of Barbara Pym; if you like mid-20th c. writing about genteel (and sometimes not) British women, then she'll be your cup of tea. She writes beautifully.

  • faftris
    2 months ago

    I was at the library today and picked up that Mrs. Palfrey. They did not have any of the others. I am getting ready for the long weekend. Gone are the days of partying in the new year! Thank you for the recommendation.

    I was a little disappointed in President Obama's book list for 2023, because it seemed a little heavy on the non-fiction side. I usually like his choices. Just my personal inclination towards fiction. Here's to a new year of good reading.

  • sprtphntc7a
    2 months ago

    Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson non-fiction

    i am about 3 chapters in, and love it. it is so well written.


    i started Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole and i just could not get through it., it plodded instead of flowed......

  • Trapped
    2 months ago

    Just finished The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali. 4 stars. A young love story set in in 1953 Tehran against the backdrop of the Iranian coup.

  • Annegriet
    2 months ago

    Long Island (sequel to Brooklyn) by Colm Toibin. I got a publishers arc. VERY GOOD!

  • Bookwoman
    2 months ago

    Ooh, I'll definitely be reading that!

  • Bunny
    2 months ago

    I'm 20% into Tom Lake and enjoying it so far. I was many numbers down on the wait list at my library, and yet it was offered and I accepted.

  • faftris
    2 months ago

    My last book of the year is Prophet Song, by Paul Lynch. Absolutely devastating, and I understand completely why it won this year's Booker. I am not a fan of dystopian novels, but this one has lyrical cadences in the way that only Irish novelists can write. OMG.