What are you reading the week of December 14, 2019?

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What are you reading the week of December 14, 2019?

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Dez 14, 2019, 1:23am

Arrgh! It's the holidays, and I have a bad case of the "mean reds." I didn't do much reading this week. I just wanted to not do anything. Just a couple of more weeks to go to get past the holidays. Last year I was reading Seneca's Letters of a Stoic. He mentioned a friend who bemoaned the fact that Saturnalia used to just be a month. Pohl Anderson once wrote a short story titled "Happy Birthday, Dear Jesus" that was all about the crass commercialization of Christmas. That was in 1956. There is nothing new under the sun. But let's face it, as kids, the crass commercialization of Christmas was what it was all about. Curiously, the memory that sticks out the most is being home from school and watching reruns of "Family Affair" on daytime television.

Sorry for the bleak start. This too shall pass. :-)

Happy memories of Christmas: Getting Arthur C. Clarke's Expedition to Earth and Reach for Tomorrow as gifts. Reading William Golding's The Inheritors. Listening to Dire Straits' "The Sultans of Swing" on my new headphones.

Dez 14, 2019, 6:44am

Hang in there, Fred!

I'm just past the 3/4 point of Easter 1916: The Irish Rebellion. It's a fascinating, well-written history.

Dez 14, 2019, 9:06am

Grinch away, Fred, it's a nasty thing to feel jollified. A run of bad luck with my chronic condition means I'm in a similarly vile mood, and while I had a half-dozen reviews scheduled, I got not one tarted up.

It doesn't help that it's a dank, foggy day. But yes, this too shall pass.

Dez 14, 2019, 12:33pm

I'm back to reading A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. It's been a busy week at school which did not leave much time for reading or Christmas merriment. Hopefully this weekend I can get all the things done!

Dez 14, 2019, 12:49pm

>1 fredbacon: Christmas was always better as a kid. Doesn't help that the days are growing shorter but we will prevail!

Editado: Dez 19, 2019, 3:21pm

An Amish Cookie Club Christmas (The Amish Cookie Club, book 2) (4+ stars)
by Sarah Price

(a Kindle eBook Alexa can narrate for me/Amish Christmas tales are always uplifting and a reminder of what Christmas is actually about)

Dez 14, 2019, 2:35pm

>1 fredbacon: >3 richardderus: I certainly have a case of the Christmas blues as well. I've bought nice gifts for everyone, so I've done my share, but I have no interest in putting up a tree or lights. Bah, humbug.

>3 richardderus: I also had a nasty flare-up of chronic illness as well - Richard, I hope the resurgence of it is short-lived. I spent Thursday night in the ER, and missed work on Friday, but I'm back to it today.

I finished reading The Boy in the Headlights by Samuel Bjork yesterday. Bjork's first two Norwegian crime novels were really good, but this one was a disappointment. As I'm not up to much I've selected more Norwegian crime for my next read: Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbo.

Dez 14, 2019, 2:37pm

I'm another Christmas grump. Seems there are a number of us. Today in a sparsely used grocery store, there was a Santa and his helper sitting in one corner awaiting a customer. One could multitask, do your grocery shopping and take care of the obligatory take-the-kid-to-Santa task.

Dez 14, 2019, 2:55pm

Haven't really done much reading which is why I'm still on the same three books: Fire & Blood, Maggody and the Moonbeams, and Deeper Than the Darkness.

Dez 14, 2019, 3:08pm

>7 ahef1963: BLECH! I am so sorry you're having a flare-up as well.

I got a jolly surprise: My Young Gentleman Caller visited without letting me know he planned to! It was a nice way to spend time with him. The lunatic came to surf the good waves *in*the*fog* and dropped in to take a hot shower and canoodle for a while.

Editado: Dez 14, 2019, 7:24pm

those drop ins are always a nice surprise! I have been in the doldrums since Halloween it seems. Part of it was my situation at work last year and now that I am retired I haven't found something I want to put my all into. Part of it is the miserable news and state of affairs. Luckily had two great book groups last week (for Little, and Overneath) (missed one group, reading They Call Us the Enemy - did you guys go out to the camp yet? Id be interested how it goes)) Ive picked up and put down several books and have stuck to catching up on magazine - nothing it calling me. Anyway I really have nothing to complain about, gotta roof over my head have food and money to buy books, and time to read them. Just trying to get rid of the blues does indeed put a crimp in the reading.

Dez 14, 2019, 7:26pm

>1 fredbacon: Pohl Anderson once wrote a short story titled "Happy Birthday, Dear Jesus" that was all about the crass commercialization of Christmas. That was in 1956. There is nothing new under the sun.

even farther back - remember the Puritans didn't take too kindly to celebrating the holiday at all. Dickens put a stop to that, for better or worse

Dez 16, 2019, 11:52am

Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War
Mary Roach
4/5 stars
Mary Roach, one of my favorite non-fiction authors, loves to explore the most unusual subjects and she doesn’t fail in this book about the science behind the problems that crop up when soldiers are defending us. Topics include stink bombs, flies on the battlefield, how to make shark repellent and much more. Not for everyone but for those curious in unusual topics.

Dez 16, 2019, 2:09pm

I finished the LTER book Hill Women. This memoir starts out in a small valley of Appalachia and proceeds on to Yale, Harvard, and back to Louisville, KY. In telling her story and that of numerous relatives she gives a picture of rural Appalachia, admitting its problems but emphasizing its strengths.

Dez 16, 2019, 2:15pm

I finished Easter 1916: The Irish Rebellion by Charles Townshend. This is a fascinating, detailed (to the extent possible) and well written history. Townshend does an admirable job of assembling the history of the rise of the fractured Irish separatist movement at the beginning of the 20th century. There was a strong party urging Home Rule for Ireland as a first step toward independence, and several groups urging for a more immediate and total independence from Great Britain, obtained through arms if need be. The history moves through the decision for a country-wide armed rising, the damaging confusion caused when a countermanding order was sent across the counties that caused a day-long delay and sent many potential insurrectionists home, never to re-engage. In the end, the fighting took place mostly, and certainly most famously, in Dublin itself, with the most important and memorable (and horrific) action centered around the Dublin General Post Office. He also discusses quite cogently the effects of the event on Irish history, both in the years immediately following and then in later decades. Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in the subject matter.

Dez 16, 2019, 9:46pm

I enjoyed Reif Larsen's The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet. Now I'm reading Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips.

Editado: Dez 17, 2019, 1:53am

I finished The Jane Austen Book Club, which is more intelligent and Austen-ish than I ever would have predicted. I enjoyed it quite thoroughly.

Not sure what to read next. I'm feeling low both in physical health and mental health, and in the whole Christmas thing that I have come to loathe. Yes, it's great that God became incarnate and that there is a feast to celebrate it, but with all the hype and crowded places and forced jollity I find myself wishing that angels on high and wise men hadn't made such a fuss about a newborn, even a special one as He was.

Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto is lovely and short. That's the nice thing about novellas - they're quickly devoured and therefore give one a sense of accomplishment in short order. I'll read that next.

Dez 17, 2019, 1:52am

Wow - re-reading my post. It is apparent that by next summer I'll be grumpy enough to tell neighbourhood kids to get off my lawn.

Dez 17, 2019, 11:20am

Having finished and reviewed the excellent history, Easter 1916: The Irish Rebellion, I moved on as usual to a stack of my "between books" . . .

* “A Reasonable Guide to Horrible Music” from Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung by Lester Bangs
* Excerpt from Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde from The Norton Book of Women's Lives edited by Phyllis Rose
* “Germany’s Home Front” from The Secret History of the War, Volume 2 by Waverley Root
* “The Give and Take of Travel: A Study in Petty Larceny, Pro and Con” from Laugh with Leacock by Stephen Leacock
* “Fortidue/Fortaleza” from It's All In the Frijoles: 100 Famous Latinos Share Real-Life Stories, Time-Tested Dichos, Favorite Folktales, and Inspiring Words of Wisdom by Yolanda Nava
* The Off Broadway review column” by Edith Oliver from the December 2, 1967, issue of The New Yorker Magazine

Now I'm on to an English whodunit from the late 1970s, Death of a Mystery Writer by Robert Barnard.

Dez 17, 2019, 1:13pm

Not decorating for Christmas makes me feel jolly! Not going overboard buying Xmas presents makes me feel -- well, divine! Not sending greeting cards makes me feel all warm and like I left my (Hall)mark.

But feasting, eggnogging, and laughing with family lifts my spirits if they're down in the dumps.

Yet, the BEST-est of all is curling up under the plush blanket in front of the fire, surrounded by books and cats puts me in the holiday mood like nothing else can.

Reading on in the HUGE Howitch tome, The Wheel of Fortune and loving all the complicated personalities who are master of Oxmoon manor in Wales. Supposedly, Susan Howitch claims that in this novel she wrote a retelling of the Plantagenet family of Edward III down through Henry V. If you want to delve into that family tree, I heartily rec Thomas B Costain's multi-volume history, A History of the Plantagenets. Both fiction and history books are marvelous.

Started my Secret Santa Thing gift book, Two years in the Forbidden City by Princess Der Ling. WOW! Learning so much about the Dowager Empress Cixi and the court behavior of the ruling Manchus. The book is full of descriptions of palatial architecture, court and religious ceremonies, gorgeous robes and dress of courtiers both male and female, emblems of status among eunuchs, gossip, and personalities that existed at the turn of the 20th C. in China. Love it!

Happy Reading Holidays to all LTERs!!

Dez 17, 2019, 1:18pm

>20 Limelite: Two Years in the Forbidden City sounds excellent. I will put that on my wishlist. Please let me know if there are descriptions of torture or anything of that sort; I get nightmares from reading about it.

Dez 17, 2019, 1:45pm

>21 ahef1963:

Nothing torturous yet. So far it's about life as a lady-in-waiting to the Empress and attempts to exert influence on her to modernize China. The author was the daughter of a diplomat, spent her youth abroad because her father wanted both her and her sister to receive a thorough Western education, which they got in France. Will let you know if any nightmarish scenes arise.

Dez 17, 2019, 4:55pm

Reading Bill Brytons The Body. I will assume it will be filled with his usual anecdotes and puns, along with really interesting information (Loved Summer 1927 and Mother Tongue) Its huge so I may be a while at it. Will also start Solaris by Stanislaw Lem because Ursula told me to....

Editado: Dez 18, 2019, 12:03am

Just finished listening to All Mortal Flesh, a wonderful installment in the Clare Ferguson series.

Next up for listening is Red At The Bone by Jacqueline Woodson.

Dez 18, 2019, 12:17pm

Alice Hoffman
4/5 stars
This wonderful children’s novel about acceptance revolves around Twig, a young girl and her family who keeps to themselves because of her brother’s mysterious condition. When a new family moves to town everything changes for them when the sisters befriend Twig. I have read Hoffman before but I never knew she wrote children’s books.

Editado: Dez 19, 2019, 3:15pm

OverDrive audiobook ~

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

(floating bookshop/mating books and patrons is Perdu's daily goal in life/literary apothecary)

Editado: Dez 18, 2019, 11:52pm

Just finished Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto, which interested me because of its descriptions of Japanese lifestyle and cooking, and which frustrated me, as I spent the entire book feeling like I was missing something. I gave it 3/5 stars.

No idea what to read next. It's nearly midnight, so I'll decide tomorrow.

Dez 19, 2019, 4:00am

I love that her first name is Banana

Editado: Dez 19, 2019, 6:08am

Just finished listening to the absolutely lovely Red At The Bone

Next up for listening is a Stepanie Plum installment, Notorious Nineteen by Janet Evanovich.

Dez 19, 2019, 12:59pm

I finished Disappearing Earth an amazing debut novel by Julia Phillips.
Now I'm reading The House of Unexpected Sisters by Alexander McCall Smith.

Dez 19, 2019, 1:31pm

I finished Death of a Mystery Writer by Robert Barnard. This is a fun oldish (1978) English murder mystery, published as Unruly Son in England. Well known whodunit author Oliver Fairleigh-Stubbs is a tyrant and a bully to his wife, his three grown children and everyone else he has dealings with and runs into. Given the title of the book, we are not surprised when he gets bumped off. The only problem for inspector Idwal Meredith is that the most likely suspect couldn't have done it. Or could he? This book is a load of fun for fans of the genre, well paced and plotted with mostly believable characters and a good dash of humor thrown in. Barnard wrote one additional mystery with Meredith on the case, At Death's Door, which I think I'll read sooner rather than later.

Dez 19, 2019, 3:13pm

>26 Molly3028: I enjoyed that book!

Dez 20, 2019, 6:02am

I'm reading “Solomon Gursky Was Here by Mordecai Richler. The story pivot aound Moses Berger, who is obssed about Gursky family, a very weathy hebrew family, that starting from the scratch build an economic empire. Moses Berger is especially concerns on Solomon Gursky , probably the founder of the empire. Solomon died in a plan crash, he was piloting the airplane, but if he wasn't dead ? Moses can gather a lot of information on every member of the family less Solomon, and this fact nags him. The novel is not easy to read because there a lot of flashback and characters

Editado: Dez 20, 2019, 4:46pm

Enjoying this library MP3 audiobook disc ~

Murphy's Law (Molly Murphy Mysteries, book 1) by Rhys Bowen

(around 1900, NYC/Irish immigrant/woman detective)

Dez 20, 2019, 11:50am

Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks
Annie Spence
3.5/5 stars
Annie Spence, real life librarian, writes of her love of reading and the books she adores by writing quirky love letters to them. Of course she also writes about some of the duds that she has read and those get breakup notes. A very charming book but be warned this may increase your to be read book list!

Editado: Dez 20, 2019, 3:42pm

Finished my LTER book, Little Gods, a debut novel by Meng Jin and now must write the review, which is going to be hard because the book is written in multiple pov and keeps the reader in a constant fugue state of roiling emotions and indeterminate reality or unreality states.

Continuing a fine wallowing read in the immense family saga set in Wales over the first 60 years of the 20th C. titled The Wheel of Fortune by Susan Howitch. Splendid novel.

Delving into my Secret Santa Thing selection, a memoir by Princess Der Ling, Two Years in the Forbidden City. Fascinating and full of detail about Manchu court life during the reign of the Last Empress, Dowager Cixi.

Can't find time to go back to listening to my Chirp Book, The Red Coat: A Novel by Dolley Carlson, an Irish immigrant tale set in the first half of 20th C. Boston.

In short, I'm thoroughly enjoying my winter holiday season reads. Happy reading to all!

Dez 20, 2019, 1:08pm

After finished Robert Barnard's Death of a Mystery Writer, as usual I read through a set of my "between books," as follows . . .

* “A. J. Liebling Meets a Ghost of W. W. I” from A Treasury of Great Reporting: "Literature Under Pressure" from the Sixteenth Century to Our Own Time edited by Louis L. Snyder
* “Cigarette Makers Are After the Teen-Agers” from Magazine Digest - August 1949 edited by Murray Simmons
* The chapter on the St. Louis Cardinals from 1963 Official Baseball Almanac by Bill Wise
* “On the American Soldier” from Leaves in the Wind by Alpha of the Plow (a.k.a. A. G. Gardiner)
* “Creek Walk” from Creek Walk and Other Stories by Molly Giles
* “Letter from London” by Mollie Panter-Downes from the December 2, 1967, issue of The New Yorker Magazine

I've now started In My Father's Court by the wonderful Isaac Bashevis Singer.

Editado: Dez 21, 2019, 2:08am

Just finished the delightful Notorious Nineteen!

Next up for listening is Maybe You Should Talk To Someone by Lori Gottlieb, a memoir.

Editado: Dez 21, 2019, 8:08am

The new thread is up over here.

Thanks to everyone for your empathy. I used to love buying presents for people, but my brothers and I stopped exchanging gifts years ago. My parents have both passed away now, I have no wife or children, and my best friend from college asked that we not exchange gifts. So there is no one but my dog for me to celebrate the holidays, and he's pretty agnostic. It just feels like salt rubbed in a wound. But I'm better now.