torontoc reads and see films in 2020!

Discussão75 Books Challenge for 2020

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torontoc reads and see films in 2020!

Editado: Dez 31, 2019, 9:59am

Well. for the first time I missed reading 100 books in 2019-there were many reasons- I had a book read freeze in Dec after I started ( and eventually put down) two books by authors that I did like but their current work was depressing and I didn't want to go on reading. My solution? I reread Pride and Prejudice and am now reading happily.
I also have seen some great films recently- I recommend the new " Little Women", "A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood", and "Bombshell"

Dez 31, 2019, 9:58am

oops -forgot the extra "S" !

Dez 31, 2019, 10:32am

Hi, Cyrel! Happy new year! I saw the Tom Hanks film and am hoping to see the other two you mentioned, soon. I didn't make my reading goal this year either but still, it was a high for me (I am not a fast reader!)

Dropping a star here.

Dez 31, 2019, 10:43am

Best wishes for 2020!

Dez 31, 2019, 11:10am

Another resolution is to keep up in 2020 with all my friends on LT. Happy New Year!

Dez 31, 2019, 1:26pm

Welcome back!

Dez 31, 2019, 4:19pm

I hope your reading freeze is all thawed out for January, Cyrel!

Dez 31, 2019, 6:06pm

Happy reading in 2020, Cyrel!

Editado: Jan 1, 2020, 7:11pm

Thank you all!
Here is my first book finished this year. I did start it last week. ( touch stones not working this morning)

1. Black Earth: The Holocaust As History and Warning by Timothy Snyder Admittedly a heavy read for my first book this year, but this author writes so well about disturbing topics. His book Bloodlands Europe Between Hitler and Stalin was so clear about the killings in the Ukraine and Eastern Europe before the beginning of the Second World War. This history concentrates on the fate of Jews and Poles from 1938 on. Snyder describes the conditions present that led to the massive killing of Jews and the destruction of Poland and its society. He also talks about the area of the Ukraine that was a land conquered twice-first by the Russians and then by the Germans-the " double occupation".The Russians killed many of the inhabitants of this area that had been part of Poland before they were defeated by the Germans. The author talks about the conditions led to the killing by not only the conquering Germans but also by the people in these areas who were trying to gain favour with the present rulers of their land. Snyder argues that the myth of people not knowing about the killing of Jews is untrue on the eastern front. His figures on those killed are devastating. He compares Estonia and Denmark in terms of Jewish people saved or killed. One of the conditions for the saving of lives was a democratic set of institutions and rules regarding citizenship. He talks about the idea that concentration camps were the sole place of genocide but shows that the destruction of people on the Eastern front happened first. Then Snyder ends his book with a discussion how present day conditions ( including climate change) in the world could lead to similar fates for parts of the world. He considers the safeguards that prevent genocide. This book is an eye opener and valuable addition to the knowledge of 20th century history ( and perhaps a warning for the 21st century.

Jan 1, 2020, 12:59pm

Hi, Cyrel - Happy 2020.

>9 torontoc: Oh, Timothy Snyder's amazing! In 2018, I read and loved On Tyranny and will definitely be looking for Black Earth and others of his work.

Editado: Jan 1, 2020, 1:29pm

>9 torontoc: I’ve read Bloodlands so I was very interested in Black Earth. As it turns out it’s now on sale for Kindle for only $4.99. So of course I purchased it. Putting on the brakes for book-buying in 2020 isn’t going very well so far!

Jan 3, 2020, 8:57pm

>11 arubabookwoman: >10 Storeetllr: Timothy Snyder work is compelling !

2. Women Who Read Are Dangerous by Stefan Bollman. I was given this book by my sister-in-law. It is a summary of reading done by women with wonderful photos of paintings ( almost all European except for some American) through the ages on this theme. Each painting is described by the author. From Early Renaissance to mid twentieth century, the paintings represent women and their positions in society. I really liked the selections and variety of art styles represented. This book was a nice interlude for me after reading Timothy Snyder.

Jan 4, 2020, 12:26am

Women Who Read Are Dangerous sounds like a fun book and a perfect book to read after the Snyder, whose writing is intense. I'll have to see if my library has it.

Jan 5, 2020, 9:18pm

Enjoy your 2020 reading, and hopefully you can get back to 100+ books!

Editado: Jan 7, 2020, 11:37pm

I saw two films recently- both were terrific( not doing full reviews until the film festivals in April and Sept.)
"1917" is about two British soldiers in 1917 who are given the task of travelling through enemy lines to deliver a message to another army division- the message will prevent an ambush-
"Song of Names" is a little flawed but still very good- a man searches for someone who had lived with his family during World War Two and who was a violin virtuoso and the only survivor of his family who perished in Poland. The young man had vanished before he was supposed to play in a concert.
Both are worth seeing!
My nephew said that he saw "Cats" (with the help of alcohol) at a very small venue- he said that the use of digital cat hair made him nauseous.

Jan 9, 2020, 1:21pm

Happy New Year, Cyrel!

A re-read of Pride and Prejudice sure sounds like a good idea to me. That Sanditon tv movie comes out soon; I didn't like the book much (I'm sure she would've rewritten what there is of hers, for one thing), but I'm hoping they turn it into good TV.

I loved On Tyranny, too. Thanks for the tip on his Black Earth.

Jan 12, 2020, 10:19am

3. Less by Andrew Sean Greer.This novel relates the travels and life of Arthur Less, a moderately successful writer who is reaching his 50th birthday. He embarks on a round the world travel plan to avoid the marriage of his former lover, Freddy to another. The reader learns about Andrew's life- he was previously a companion and lover to a renounced poet for many years. Andrew's career is not going well as his latest manuscript was rejected by his publisher. His round the world trip consists of paying gigs for talks and teaching as well as some stops for rewriting his novel. Each stop involves something going wrong- some parts are funny and some are sad. It was an easy read but... this book won the Pulitzer prize. Of that I am mystified as I certainly read better novels published the same year as this one. I look at the blurbs on the front pages- wonderful accolades. I liked the story but don't agree with the adulation.

Jan 13, 2020, 1:08pm

4. My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite This satiric novel was so much fun to read- it is comedic, tragic and sad at the same time. Korede is a nurse in Lagos. Her younger sister, Ayoola, has a habit of killing her unwanted suitors. Korede has helped her dispose of three bodies so far. Korede and her sister live with their mother who hasn't a clue about Ayoola's activities. Ayoola is very attractive and has many boyfriends. Korede is in love with a doctor who she works with at the hospital,Tade. Tade becomes attracted to Ayoola and Korede fears for his safety. The novel also deals with Korede telling all to a comatose patient in the hospital. The reader also learns about Korede and Ayoola's terrible father and the fate that befalls him. This was a great read!

Jan 14, 2020, 9:43pm

I have three of the four books you've read on the shelves (I don't have the other because, well she's your sister!) and the Snyder and Braithwaite books appealed the most to me before and certainly do now.

Jan 15, 2020, 9:48am

>19 PaulCranswick: The Braithwaite is an easy read- and the Snyder- very tough!

Jan 17, 2020, 10:28pm

5. Orange World by Karen Russell I really like short stories and remember reading Karen Russell's first collection St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves This collection is amazing. From fantasy to dystopian, each story is quirky. The author's use of descriptive language leads the reader into new worlds where one can raise tornados on a farm, dance with the dead on a mountain to women gondoliers on the waters that cover the remains of Old Florida. I enjoyed the flights of fantasy and some horror.

Jan 17, 2020, 10:48pm

>9 torontoc: >21 torontoc: Adding those to the BlackHole. Thanks for the recommendations, Cyrel!

>17 torontoc: I think I will give that one a pass.

>18 torontoc: I get to dodge that BB since it is already in the BlackHole. I really need to get it read!

Jan 22, 2020, 10:31pm

>22 alcottacre: good to see you back! I think that you would like this book #6 as well.

6. Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout I really liked the book Olive Kitteridge with the linked short stories and I liked this one as well. It is such a pleasure to read a good book with great descriptions and and some great characters. The author continues the story of Olive Kitteridge and the people who live in Crosby, Maine. Olive gets married for a second time to Jack Kennison. She is still rude and prone to saying the wrong thing but through the stories, she learns more about herself and her relationships. The reader meets more people who live in the small town of Maine. Their lives and dilemmas make up the series of stories that follow Olive and her contemporaries as she (and they) grow older. Beautifully written, this book of short stories is a worthwhile read.

Jan 28, 2020, 9:06am

I saw a very good film but it is too long! "The Irishman" is terrific but at 3 hours and twenty minutes!!!!! Thank goodness I was in a very comfortable and small theatre ( TIFF Lightbox in Toronto)

7. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead This is a reread because my bookclub will be talking about it tomorrow. Again the story is a mixture of real and fantasy but certainly emphasizes the terrible injustice of slavery. This novel is a must read for anyone interested in history!

Editado: Fev 6, 2020, 11:10am

8. The Archive Thief The Man Who salvaged French Jewish History in the Wake of the Holocaust by Lisa Moses Leff I went to a lecture by the author on this topic last week and had to buy her book. The story is intriguing. Zosa Szajkowski was a Jewish Historian who published many articles in scholarly journals on French Jewish History. However he was caught stealing materials from Archives in France and later the United States. He took these documents and sold many of them to Jewish Archives in the United States. Leff tells his story and shows how the theft was possible and why it was covered up in France. Szajkowski had a fascinating history. He was born in Poland and found his way to France before the second world war. He was never formally educated except for early schooling in a Polish Jewish primary school. He always had a love of books. In Paris he met Ilya and Riva Tcherikower who were associated with YIVO(The Jewish Scientific Institute -a very important organization founded in 1925 that was dedicated to the study of Jewish life- the centre was in Vilna but during the time before and after the second world moved its headquarters to various cities and eventually to New York)The focus of YIVO was Yiddish culture and Jewish life in the diaspora ( outside of Israel) Szajikowski was working as a journalist but eventually became involved in collecting and writing about Jewish life for YIVO. His life during the war was the stuff of novels-he joined the French Foreign Legion, fought against the Germans, was wounded, managed to be put on the list of intellectuals who were given US visas, landed in New York, and joined the American army as a paratrooper and translator. In the aftermath of the Allied Forces victory, he was in Germany collecting and sending many packages of documents to YIVO-it was sort of illegal but he literally went through abandoned German buildings collecting what he could. At the end of the war , Szajkowski did manage to get a job at YIVO in New York but it was only enough to live modestly. He turns up In France in the 1950's, writing and researching in many French Jewish archives. In fact there are over 200 articles on various aspects of French Jewish history that he wrote. The author explains how many archives were not organized in the way that they are today. She also answers the question of why the many American Jewish Archives bought this material. They thought that any documents could have been rescued from postwar Europe where hundreds of thousands of Jewish books, documents and artifacts were lost and displaced. Szajkowski came to a very sad end, He was caught stealing from the New York City Public Library, was charged by the police( in France- he had been banned from entering the country) and he committed suicide. The author shows both the bad and the good that Szajkpwski was responsible for in scholarship on French Jewish history.Many scholars and librarians attended his funeral. Arther Hertzberg -a very important Jewish historian- spoke. This was a very satisfying book to read. Leff is also a very good speaker.

Editado: Fev 6, 2020, 11:36am

9. Dot Unplugged -original character of Dot created by Randi Zuckerberg. This is a very nice book for young children- the illustrations are bright with colours. The story is about a family that finds how to entertain themselves when the power is out and they cannot use their electronic devices. The tie-in is to "National day of Unplugging". What is interesting is that the characters and story are copyrighted by the Jim Henson Company and there is an animated series on a number TV channels. This book is a link to the animated series. It is a very attractive book with a simple storyline that teaches a lesson. Although we are very attached to our electronic devices we cannot forget how to connect with others and learn/do creative activities. I find it interesting that the premise is that electronic devices are primary in our lives and we should remember how to create, interact with others through games and think of activities that involve nature. I think that in our changing world we should try to reverse this process- communicate and create first and then use technology. This is an ER book for me.

Fev 11, 2020, 7:09pm

10. Dreaming in French The Paris Years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag and Angela Davis by Alice Kaplan. The author looks at these three women and their one year that they spent in Paris as part of a college junior year programme or in the case of Susan Sontag-a year to recharge. Each woman was in Paris in a different decade. Kaplan looks at education and the influence of talking or being in a specific French milieu. She then discusses how that year influenced future actions. Jacqueline Kennedy lived with a family in 1949-50. Paris and France were still recovering from the second world war. She was able to immerse herself in the culture and literature of the time. Susan Sontag was older. She left her husband and child and went to Paris where she was involved with expatriate Americans. Her Paris was one of film and relationships. Although the crisis of Algeria was the most important political event in 1957-8, Sontag was not involved. Angela Davis was perhaps the most proficient in French and took advanced courses at the Sorbonne during her year 1963-4. Davis studied radical philosophy and was able to translate her work into action with politics when she returned to the United States. Later here was much French support when she was charged and put on trial in California. Her studies in France and later work with leading scholars helped shape the person that she became. The studies by Kaplan show the differences in time and how the immersion in French studies and culture were key components of each woman's later life choices. A wonderful read.

Fev 11, 2020, 8:12pm

>27 torontoc: - That sounds like a really good one!

Fev 18, 2020, 11:13pm

Yes - it was !
11. House of Names by Colm Toibin This novel retells the story of how Agamemnon sacrifices his daughter Iphigenia in order to have favourable winds for his ships as he goes to fight in the Trojan War. And then the story continues with Clytemnestra and how she has revenge for the murder of her daughter. In turn Electra and Orestes do the same to avenge Agamemnon's murder. The three-Clytemnestra, Electra and Orestes - each narrate and the reader learns about the story from different points of view. The narration is powerful and bring to life the terrible lives of this family. A great read.

Editado: Fev 20, 2020, 3:09pm

12. Pogrom: Kishinev and the Tilt of History by Steven J. Zipperstein This was a very interesting history because of the structure of the account. Steven Zipperstein not only talks about the massacre and riot that occurred in 1903. He traces the attitudes of the Russian government, the police, and shows how the rioters went from throwing stones to murder, rape and destroy homes and businesses of the Jews living in the town. There were many reasons for the savage attack on the Jewish population. The aftermath is also telling. The Jewish poet Bialik wrote a poem that became for both good and bad reasons a cornerstone of Jewish studies in the state of Israel. An Irish writer, Michael Davitt wrote a definitive study of Jewish persecution in Russia. Both writers interviewed survivors of the pogrom. The writer of one of the most infamous books about Jews( The Protocols of the Elders of Zion) that inflamed anti semites during the 20th century was probably influenced the the Kishinev events. In the United States, many people were affected by the Kishinev pogrom. In fact two of the organizers of the forerunner of the NAACP( In 1908) in the US had been involved in writing about Russian political events. The pogrom showed many Jews that their future was not in Russia or the Pale of Settlement but in the US or in Palestine. Zipperstein uses many contemporary sources and new discoveries to track this event and later influences. A difficult but good read.

Fev 20, 2020, 3:08pm

13. A Bookshop in Berlin by Francoise Frenkel translated by Stephanie Smee This memoir was originally published in 1945. The author was a Polish woman who studied in France and opened a French language bookshop in Berlin in 1921. Francoise Frenkel had to close her shop in 1939. She travelled to Paris and eventually had to go to Avignon and then Nice. Frenkel writes about the changing atmosphere in France and how she was helped by friends to hide and move around to avoid capture. The book is really about her life as she tries to find a safe place to live and avoid being deported. She eventually escapes with help to Switzerland on her third attempt to cross the border. This is memoir about hiding, finding friends and avoiding those who helped the Nazis in France from 1940-2.

Fev 22, 2020, 8:41am

>30 torontoc: That looks like a book that would engross me, Cyrel.

Have a lovely weekend.

Fev 22, 2020, 6:49pm

Thank you!

14. Waiting for the Weekend by Witold Rybczynski This book has been on my TBR pile for way too long. I used to love to read Rybczynski's works. I found his opinions and ideas on architecture and on the history of interiors refreshing and informative. This book is about the origins and structure of the weekend. As well, the author looks at the development of leisure and recreation. This is an interesting study on habits that we take for granted.

Fev 22, 2020, 7:07pm

>33 torontoc: - I have this one on my shelf too, Cyrel, also for waaaaay too long! I also have a couple of others of his, as well. I need to get to them.

Fev 24, 2020, 10:22am

15. Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Penelope BagieuOne of the reasons that I am on LT is so that I can pick up book recommendations. and I am sure that I got this one from this group ( Shelley?- I think that this book recommendation is from you?) The author/artist has created a graphic collections of stories about gutsy women. They have good lives, bad lives, great accomplishments and in some cases are not recognized for their work. The range of women is contemporary and also historic. I knew about some of the women but not the majority. The illustrations are wonderful and the narrative is engaging. I felt energized after reading this work.

Editado: Fev 24, 2020, 1:34pm

>35 torontoc: - Yes, Cyrel, probably from me but I am sure I got it from someone else here! The LT cascade effect!

Another similar type book (a la Shelagh Rogers' "If you like that you will like this") is one called Women in Science by Rachel Ignotofsy. She wrote and illustrated it and it celebrates women in science (many unsung) going back hundreds (or more) years and right up to present day. I actually bought the wall calendar based on this book and love it. I bet you'd love it. I read it last month so my review (with pictures) is on my last thread.

Mar 1, 2020, 10:17am

16. Family Papers A Sephardic Journey Through the Twentieth Century by Sarah Abrevaya Stein. This was a very interesting history as the author traces the lives of the Levy family of Salonica during the 20th century. At times the thread of continuity was a little confusing as each chapter described a different member of the family while still keeping a linear narrative. So although the reader knew about the early life of one of the sons of Sa'adi a. Levi, David, his later life is described in a later chapter. The story is about the time when the Jewish population made up the majority in the city of Salonica when it was part of the Ottoman empire. The abrupt changes in nationality after the first world war led some of the Levy children to emigrate to England,India, France and Brazil. Tragically the Levy family that remained in Salonica were murdered in Auschwitz. The author was able to interview members of the family and to access the correspondence held by them. She was able to track down many stories both good and bad. ( One of the family was executed in Greece after the war because of his collaboration with the Nazis that resulted in many deaths.)

Mar 3, 2020, 2:45pm

17. Women Talking A Novel by Miriam Toews This novel is based on a event that took place in Bolivia. A Mennonite colony was facing a situation where the women were drugged at night and sexually bused by men in the group. The men were charged and sent to prison. In this story, women in a similar colony were discussing what to do. They had the choice of forgiving the men or leaving their home. These women did not know how to read or write and knew only their world of farming. An outcast man- August - is asked to take minutes for the group as they try to figure out what to do. In the course of the talking , the reader learns about some of the terrible abuses and the contradiction of blind faith and doing the right thing. The women's narrow proscribed lives are in conflict with doing good so that their children will not face the same fate. This is a hard story to read although the authors' wonderful prose and character development makes the story flow.

Mar 10, 2020, 11:25pm

18. What's Up Maloo? by Genevieve Godbout This ER story is written and beautifully illustrated for very young children and the person who reads this story to them. A Kangaroo gets tired of hopping and his( or her) friends try to help. They encourage Maloo and do bring joy back into his/her life. The illustrations are the focal point with very little dialogue. In a way, the drawings of Maloo and friends are magnified on the pages with a very dynamic use of white space. I think that very young children will enjoy this book.

Editado: Mar 17, 2020, 10:07am

19. A Legacy by Sybille Bedford This novel has so much of the author's real life history in the characters and plot. The families of the von Feldens and the Merz's are joined when Baron Julius marries Melanie Merz. Before this event the reader learns about the Von Felden sons and the Merz family who live in Germany and parts of France and Spain in the 1890's. The sons are quite tragic- born and bred to be fairly useless. They are eccentric, they lose money, travel, and for some reason usually marry well. In fact most of the wives are the stronger people- arranging lives and supporting their brothers and husbands. There is the tension between the Jewish Merz family and the Catholic Von Feldens. The writing is strong and gives the reader a sense of the lives and ideas of a specific group whose lives will be upended in the 20th century.

Mar 17, 2020, 10:07am

20. The Europeans Three Lives and The Making of A Cosmopolitan Culture by Orlando Figes This history looks at the lives of three people -opera singer Pauline Viardot, her husband Louis ( to a lesser extent) and her friend and lover Russian writer Ivan Turgenev. Although the author does examine their lives, he uses the opportunity to explore and write about the issues that these three faced. So the reader is introduced to the problems of how writers were paid for their work and the options open to them, the development of music performances in the mid 19th century and the role that railway development played in the building of a European culture. The scope of this book is almost encyclopedic. There are so many topics covered- especially in the growth of music and the development of translation in Europe's countries. Turgenev's role in introducing Russian writer to the west is an important topic. Pauline Viardot not only sang in the opera houses of St. Petersburg, Berlin, London and Paris. She promoted music of many (now ) important composers. I found this history engrossing with information that shows what was important to the beginning of a " European" sense of culture.

Mar 18, 2020, 1:58pm

21. Old in Art School by Nell Painter. This memoir describes the author's time in art school after she retired after a very illustrious career as a professor of history at Princeton University. She is also an acclaimed author. Painter describes her development in making art as she works through Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers in New Jersey for her BFA and Rhode School of Design for her MFA. The transition from noted historian to art student is humbling. Painter is Black, "old"( 64) and has what she calls 20th century ideas about art making. Her development as an artist, her experiences as a student seemingly out of touch with contemporary art practice, her dealing with the problems of her parents and their health make this account so riveting. Painter learns to defend herself from the criticism of her teachers while acknowledging those who helped her. There are issues about the role or lack of a role for Black artists and Painter's own view of history and influences on her art. I was really informed about her work as the book has wonderful images of the drawings and paintings that Painter made and continues to make. This is a must read for those who want to develop as artists and teachers of art as well as hmm... everyone else!

Mar 20, 2020, 1:00pm

Hi Cyrel, here's a little music to uplift:

It's terrific.

Mar 20, 2020, 1:23pm

Lots of good reading you've been doing, Cyrel. Yay for Brazen Rebel Ladies! I loved that one, too.

Mar 20, 2020, 4:17pm

>43 jessibud2: that was lovely! Thank you!
>44 jnwelch: Thank you- I have a good stash of books to get me through this extended period of time ( who knows how long?)
Some of them..... Soot by Dan Vyleta, The Mirror and The Light by Hilary Mantel, Savage Feast Three Generations, Two Continents and a Dinner Table by Boris Fishman and On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong and a lot of cookbooks to read and make stuff from- I have to make some cookies as my supply of chocolate won't be replenished until next Wed.

Mar 21, 2020, 10:58am

22. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong This was a hard novel to read. The author is a poet and this (first novel for him) book is very sad and full of terrible stories of survival and loss. Framed as a long letter to his mother, Little Dog as he calls himself, relates the story of his life with his mother and very damaged grandmother and his love for a young man, Trevor. Lan, the grandmother lived through the war in Vietnam and eventually ended up with her daughter in Hartford, Connecticut. Her American soldier husband had abandoned her but in later years he did keep up a relationship his grandson. Little Dog was beaten by his mother who did leave her abusive husband. Little Dog endured discrimination by school mates and in many cases was saved by his grandmother. A good portion of the story is about Little Dog and his continuing relationship with Trevor- who he meets when he works on a tobacco farm in the summer. There is much suffering described in this story that does turn to poetry at times. The bond between Little Dog and his mother is one of love-hate. There is a sense that although Little Dog does go on to college, he will always be scared by the events that shaped his mother and grandmother in Vietnam.

Mar 22, 2020, 8:10pm

23. The Night Manager by John Le Carre This is definitely a reread- at this time I think that some good spy stories are great escapism. Jonathan Pine is the night manager of a Swiss hotel-he was a soldier in the British army. He also was friends with a woman who was invoked with a very dangerous man -she was beaten to death. Jonathan accepts an offer to spy for the British - he is to gain the support and confidence of a man suspected to be a major arms dealer. Unfortunately, the British spy service has problems of its own with competing branches and selling out of allies. The story is very tense as the reader is not sure of who will betray whom. A great read for these times.

Mar 24, 2020, 10:32pm

24. Double Threat Canadian Jews, The Military, and World War II by Ellin Bessner I found this history interesting as it lists and describes the contribution of Canadian Jews who fought in World War II. Many of the chapters really talk about many individuals who were part of the various sections of the armed forces from Naval, Merchant Marine, Army to Airforce. The chapters are in chronological order recounting enlistment, women in the armed forces, the role of religion, and the various parts of the world where Jewish soldiers fought. I liked the book although it was not really a complete history of the war- the author interviewed as many survivors as she could. Still this history gives the many individuals who took part a solid place in the story of the war.

Mar 27, 2020, 12:57pm

25. My History A Memoir of Growing Up by Antonia Fraser I like reading memoirs. This one really gives the reader an idea of the life and attitudes of a young English girl growing up during and after the second world war. Antonia Fraser has lived a life of privilege. Her parents were not particularly wealthy but their place in English society and politics gave their children introductions to leaders of the government and notable writers. The author is actually quite modest. Her anecdotes are funny and demonstrate the influences that led to her writing books on history. ( Her mother was also a noted writer who wrote many histories). A good read when one is self-isolating!

Mar 29, 2020, 3:14pm

26. Must You Go? My Life With Harold Pinter by Antonia Fraser Once I read the author's memoirs of her early life, I had to go back to do a reread of her memoir of her life with her second husband, Harold Pinter. It really was a love story. Pinter wrote love poems to Fraser- many are in this account. The book is composed of diary headings and some commentaries. There are a lot of famous names in literature, theatre and film mentioned as friends and colleagues. A second good read for self-isolation.

Mar 31, 2020, 10:53pm

27. Savage Feast Three Generations, Two Continents and a Dinner Table A Memoir with Recipes by Boris Fishman. This is a memoir and a history of the author's family in Minsk and subsequent immigration to the United States. It is also an accounting of the favoured food of three generations of the author's family. There are many recipes as well. I must admit that I was not interested in making any of them- there is a lot fo work involved. This is a story of the author's feelings toward his family, their habits and his growing understanding of how his upbringing colours his own life. The reader follows the author through his unsuccessful relationships and how he comes to know himself.It is also a tribute to his grandfather when he understands what he has gone through in his life. I did like the book.

Abr 1, 2020, 1:57pm

I just finished Old in Art School and loved it too.

Abr 4, 2020, 4:30pm

28. English Music by Peter Ackroyd One thing about isolation- I unearthed this novel that has been on my book tower for a long time. And I really enjoyed the read. The main character, Timothy, has been working with his father as a sort of mind reader/healer. The reader first meets Timothy when he is twelve years old in England of the 1920's. He has not been to school and has been taught by his father. The main characteristic of Timothy's education is the history of England. In fact this boy seems susceptible to dreams so that every other chapter in the story has Timothy dreaming or in a trance.The subjects of the dreams are the uniqueness of English music, visual art and literature. Timothy seems to interact with a number of famous authors and artists. His own story is one of wandering from the security of his grandparents's house in the country to the vagabond life of his father in London. The story is very poetic. However the reader really needs to have some knowledge of English music, visual art and literature to really appreciate the dreams, I think. A good read.

Abr 5, 2020, 11:04pm

Hope you have had a lovely, peaceful, safe and healthy weekend, Cyrel.

>53 torontoc: I really enjoy Ackroyd's history volumes of England.

Abr 9, 2020, 9:18am

Thank you!

29. The Bug Girl a true story by Sophia Spencer and Margaret McNamara It is not often ( or ever) that a memoir is written (with some help) by a young girl in the fourth grade. Sophia Spencer has always been interested in bugs. She studied them and in kindergarten shared her enthusiasm with her fellow students. However when Sophia was in the first grade, children mocked her interest and were cruel to her. Seeing that her daughter was so unhappy, Sophia's mother wrote an email to a group of entomologists. (scientists who study insects) She asked for someone to be her daughter's " bug pal" and show Sophia that it was not weird to enjoy the study of bugs. The response was overwhelming. One scientist asked that Sophia's letter be posted online. There were so many replies. Sophia and her mother were interviewed on television. Sophia helped to write an article about how to get young people interested in the study of insects. The book is beautifully illustrated by the team of Kerascoet At the end of the story there is a section on insect study. Children who feel that their interests are different and who feel that no one is like them will enjoy this book.

Abr 9, 2020, 7:44pm

30. Canadian Haggadah Canadienne by Rabbi Adam Scheier and Richard Marceau. At this time of year families usually gather for the seder and Passover meal together. This is not happening this year as people are urged to stay home and only have a seder with the family that they live with. Many synagogues and individual have been very inventive and resourceful in creating "Zoom" seders and gathering and religious services. I took part in a Zoom seder- it was a good but not perfect substitution for the usual gathering. I took out all my Passover Haggadahs. (or service for the meal.) This one was published in 2015 and had some good resource material and archival photographs. Many Canadian Rabbis wrote commentary for the various sections of the service. This book is unique as it is written in English and French in addition to the Hebrew. I must admit that I did take out all my different copies of Haggadahs to look at over the next seven days. This is a practice that my late brother in New Jersey followed.

Abr 10, 2020, 11:45am

31. Little Book of Jewish Appetizers by Leah Koenig I am reading a very long book about the birth of Modernism. However in these times my repertoire of food to make is getting boring. So I picked up this very attractive and brief guide to tasty appetizers. To my dismay I don't have all the ingredients for many of the recipes- the one that I will be making next week ( a really interesting meatball recipe that has Moroccan and Jewish Spanish roots before the Inquisition) has a lot of stuff that I have . I will just have to add mint and Italian parsley to my online order if possible. The other recipes-dips and baked goods- I will have to try when I am able to go out and buy what I need.( Chopped Egg and Caramelized Onion Spread, Smoky Sweet Potato Hummus, Barley Stuffed mushrooms, Persian Zucchini and Herb Frittata) Alas, the recipes are all for big groups and use lots of eggs. I am being careful with eggs as they are sometimes hard to find now.The author Leah Koenig is a really good food writer- I have some of her other books and and made wonderful things from them.

Abr 12, 2020, 8:47am

I wanted my message this year to be fairly universal in a time we all should be pulling together, whatever our beliefs. Happy Celebration, Happy Sunday, Cyrel.

Abr 12, 2020, 6:37pm

>58 PaulCranswick:. Thank you! and have a good weekend.

32. The First Moderns by William R. Everdell I have had this book on my book tower for a few years. My late brother gave to me because of the chapters on Picasso, Kandinsky and Georges Seurat. I read the whole book and marvelled at the scope of knowledge of the author. I know that he is a historian who has taught at a private high school in New York. I also found that each chapter had exact details about the inventors, musicians, scientists and artists who were selected to represent the growth of new discoveries of modernism at the beginning of the 20th century. The first chapters shows that Vienna represented the end of the 19th century in thought and culture. The ascent of Paris as the centre of 20th century culture is detailed in later chapters. The discoveries in mathematics, and physics are explained as eloquently as those in the visual arts and music and literature. Some of the work on visual arts I knew. But the way the authors synthesizes the many changes in science and art is really amazing.

Abr 15, 2020, 2:01pm

33. Smoke by Dan Vyleta i think that I have read all of Dan Vyleta's novels. When I heard that he had written a sequel to Smoke I decided that I had to reread the book in order to go to the new. I am glad that I did. This book has momentum. The plot lines owe a lot to Charles Dickens but the author's dystopian view shows the reader a new and altered world. The opening chapters take place in a boys' school in England sometime in the late 1880's. The class lines of English society are based on wealth and the ability to control one's Smoke. Smoke will pour out of the bodies of those who are wicked or evil in their thoughts and deeds. London is an evil and dying city populated with those who always have Smoke. The wealthy boys learn how to control any Smoke that they have. Two of them , Thomas and Charlie, are invited for the Christmas holidays to the estate of a Baron who is the uncle of Thomas. What the two boys discover is the mysterious Lady of the house, her mad husband, the daughter Livia and the arrival of the evil step brother Julius. Charlie, Thomas and Livia embark on an adventure to thwart a dangerous plot. There is much killing and maiming but the story is an engrossing one and I enjoyed the read. I am ready to take on the next book-Soot.

Abr 19, 2020, 7:27pm

34. Beaufort by Ron Leshem This is a novel that I had started to read over a year ago and just got back to it now. The story is told by an Israeli soldier Erez, a squadron leader who is stationed with his men in the post of Beaufort in the south of Lebanon. The narration is about war- the horror and brutality of the life and death. At times the narration by Erez shows how screwed up he is by the situation and how his friends and fellow soldiers deal with the uncertainty of their time in Beaufort. The narration is like a stream of consciousness. The futility of this particular war between Israel and Lebanon is a major theme in this story. Although this is a fictional account the author talks in a section at the end of the book about the real people who he interviewed and how he incorporated some of their stories into the book. The author worked with film maker Joseph Cedar and co-directed a film version of this book. I saw it and it was very powerful.

Abr 26, 2020, 2:04pm

35. Soot by Dan Vyleta ( no touchstones today) This dystopian novel is a sequel to the author's work of a few years ago ,Smoke. I reread the first in order to remind myself about the characters and plot. In the new story, the reader follows a number of new characters as well as some of the old. The unleashing of " new" smoke on England by Lydia, Thomas and Charlie has had serious repercussions. Ten or twelve years after this event, England has split into two sections. The South is ruled by former school master Renfrew who searches for his niece Eleanor. Mowgli or Nil-the boy brought from South America to be the fuse that unleashed the Smoke- is living in New York City as a pickpocket. Balthazar Black runs a circus that travels to England and America. Lydia and Charlie are living in a new utopia called Minetowns in the North of England. Thomas is on a mission to find out about a mysterious substance that was found in Nepal. Eventually most of the people end up in England either trying to prevent a cataclysmic event or to inaugurate one. There is drama, tragedy, and eventually hope after terrible events. I found the story perhaps a timely read but now.. I have to reread Pride and Prejudice!

Maio 1, 2020, 1:46pm

36. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Well, this is my comfort read. ( and all round get out of the book blahs read) I felt the need to reread about the problems of introductions, class, manners, and not saying what you feel because of polite rules of society. Again, this book does the trick- I feel better and am ready to tackle more books! Thank you Lizzy, Jane and Jane A!

Maio 3, 2020, 8:18pm

37. Second Person Singular by Sayed Kashua. This is a story about identity. The author is an Israeli Arab writer and his novel follows two men. One not named, is a successful Israeli Arab lawyer living with his wife in Jerusalem. This man stops in a book store and picks up a used book with the name 'Yonatan" inscribed it along with a scrap of paper with a section of a supposed love letter in the handwriting of the lawyer's wife. Immediately the lawyer suspects his wife of infidelity and his story follows his attempts to catch his wife in a series of lies. The second story is more interesting. Amir is also an Israeli Arab who has trained to be a social worker. His background is more murky with a supposedly disgraced father and mother who lives in a village protected by another family. Amir takes on a night job helping to take care of young man named Yonatan who is severely disabled and barely alive. Amir learns about Yonatan's life and eventually takes on the life that Yonatan should have had. He becomes a photography student using Yonatan's old camera. The connections between the two stories becomes clearer as the reader progresses through the novel. The idea of identity- both modern and traditional- is an important theme as Kashua looks at how the two men live between two different cultural worlds.

Maio 7, 2020, 1:30pm

38. Village of Secrets Defying the Nazis in Vichy France by Caroline Moorehead I really like this author's attention to detail and research. Moorehead examines the work of the inhabitants of the village of Le Chambon-sur- Lignon and other surrounding villages during the Second World War. There was a very large group that managed to save the lives of Jewish children and adults. Moorehead interviewed many of the survivors and their saviours. The book is a detailed history of who helped and what they accomplished during the rule of Vichy France. This book is important as there were documentaries and books that gave credit to a select few-Moorehead describes the work of the many who had crucial roles in that terrible time.

Maio 7, 2020, 1:45pm

>65 torontoc: - I read this one a few years ago and found it fascinating and very well-written.

Maio 18, 2020, 12:04pm

>66 jessibud2: I agree!

39. Natasha's Dance A Cultural History of Russia by Orlando Figes. I enjoy reading this author's take on Russian history. This account descries the many themes that make up the cultural history of Russia. The differences between the culture developed in St. Petersburg and Moscow, the myths and realities of Asian or " Barbarian" influence on peasant living, the influence of European music and literature, the beginning of dance as a serious art form and the political ramifications of nineteenth revolts and the Soviet control of life-all are described clearly. I found the design of the history in this book to be very clear and helpful in the descriptions of the pull of Russian landscape and life-real and imagined -on the lives and work of Russian artists and writers.

Maio 24, 2020, 7:54pm

I am celebrating the end of Ramadan, Cyrel, a time of thanks and forgiveness and I want to say my thanks to all my LT friends for helping keep me somewhat sane these last few years.

Maio 25, 2020, 8:28pm

>68 PaulCranswick: Thank you! Keep well!

40. To End All Wars A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918 by Adam Hochschild I find that I am most satisfied reading non-fiction these days although I have started two really good novels. This history fills in the gaps for me in the story of World War 1. I have read Margaret Macmillan's Paris 1919 and the novels of Pat Barker among other works) and saw the film "Oh, What a Lovely War" but this book was eye-opening. Hochschild concentrates on the work and views conscientious objectors and opponents of the war, the attitudes of the generals directing the army of Great Britain, and one interesting brother and sister-who both have extremely different views. He describes the work and changes in views of the suffragette Pankhurst family( sister Sylvia was opposed by her mother Emmeline and sister Christobel). General Haig was responsible for the orders in battle that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of soldiers. The old fashioned views that radio signals were unreliable and that calvary should have a decisive role in battle were some of the views that led to tragedy for thousands. The attitudes that led to unsuitable young men being placed into battle are described with the story of Rudyard Kipling's son John,(a 17 year old with very bad eyesight made a lieutenant) Conscientious objectors and their treatment along with sham trials are described. And there is the story of John French, an army leader and his sister Charlotte Despard- an important objector to the war. There are so many connections to the role of class structure in Great Britain and how the treatment of the many Commonwealth soldiers probably led to the dissolution of the British empire. This was a very good read!

Maio 27, 2020, 5:22pm

Cyrel, you might be interested in The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman, an excellent description of the beginnings, false and otherwise, of that war, as well as the society it would destroy.

Maio 29, 2020, 11:13pm

>70 ffortsa: I did read that book a number of years ago- it was very good!

Jun 6, 2020, 1:29pm

41. The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates I have to say that this was a five star read. I thought that the language was wonderful and the story was engrossing( and so important in these times that we are living in) Hiram Walker is a young slave at a plantation in Virginia when the story begins. His mother was sold years ago and his father was the plantation owner. Hiram seems to be possessed of a power that he doesn't understand-it has to do with memory and the harnassing of power near water. The reader learns how Hiriam is noticed by his father, sent to work in the main house, educated and then ordered to be the servant for the heir, a reckless young man named Maynard. Tragic events with the owners and the problems with the farm( too much tobacco growth has weakened the soil in all the neighbouring plantations) lead Hiram to try to escape. Eventually he becomes part of the Underground that saves Blacks and transport them to the northern states. Hiram does make mistakes in judgement but learns who and what to trust. He works with the legendary Harriet Tubman. ( who is described in poetry as well as given her own magical powers)Hiram's own power of " conduction" shows that he is descended from legendary water dancers. The author describes the pain of separation of black families by the plantation owners and the determination of the Underground guerrilla movement to save and reunite families. This is a really excellent novel.

42. Antisemitism Here and Now by Deborah E. Lipstadt The author teaches at Emory University. She is probably best know as the person who was sued for libel in Britain by the Holocaust denier David Irving ( she won and was the subject of a film)This book is a measured look at the definition of antisemitism. The book is set up as a series of letters to the author by a student and professor.The letter writers are fictional but they represent real people and the dilemmas that they faced . The author covered current events up to 2018-9 when the book was published. She looks at the fatwa given to Salman Rushdie and the commonalities of discrimination. An excellent source book.

43. Immigrant City Stories by David Bezmozgis This is a reread for my book club. It is very interesting to compare the stories in this volume with the ones from the author's first book Natasha and Other Stories. The stories are now about immigrants who have made Canada their home for a long time as opposed to those who have arrived recently from " Natasha".

Jun 14, 2020, 7:49pm

44. The Second World War by Antony Beevor I certainly am focusing on very long books- ( over 800 pages but well worth the read. ) The author very carefully relates the actions of both the Allies- Britain, the United States and Russia- and the German and Japanese forces as they conquer and battle from 1939-1945. Beevor does make judgements about bad decisions by leaders and generals on all sides. He traces all the battles and the very high number of deaths by battle, bombing and capture. It seems shocking to read about the very high number of soldier deaths. My late father was an officer in the Canadian army during World War Two, serving in France, Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany. He never wanted to talk about what happened. After reading this history I can understand why.

Jun 23, 2020, 12:02pm

45. The Race to Save the RomanovsThe Truth Behind the Secret Plans to Rescue the Russian Imperial Family by Helen Rappaport I find that I am attracted to non- fiction lately. This book traces the many plans and plots ( all unsuccessful and not very well planned) to take the Imperial family out of Russia right after the revolution. If a reader has not read about the 1917 Russian Revolution or the history of the deaths of the Royal Family-this is not the book to start with. The author looks at the actions or non-action of most of the European royalty. They jungled the impulse to help the deposed Tsar -as he and his family were related to almost all of the various kings and queens- with the political problems of the time. King George V is England initially wanted to provide sanctuary but was persuaded by his advisors that this was a bad idea. England and Germany were in the midst of the world war and there were considerations to be made about angering the Russian governments of the time. In fact the only time that it might be possible to have the family leave Russian was right after Nicholas abdicated. In fact the family did not know the trouble that they were in and wanted to remain in Russia initially. The savagery of the killings of the royal family members who were imprisoned in Russia was not something that anyone considered would happen. This was an interesting study as the author discovered new information from various archives

Jun 23, 2020, 2:04pm

>74 torontoc: - And this is not her first book about them either! She must have a PhD in the Romanovs by now! I read another by her about them, The Romanov Sisters and really enjoyed it. If I remember correctly, her research for that one was based almost entirely on letters found.

Jun 23, 2020, 7:39pm

>75 jessibud2: I had read one of her earlier books on foreigners caught in Russia during the revolution- I have to put her other books on my wish list!

Jun 26, 2020, 11:42am

46. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens This has been a very popular book on the most purchased book lists but I think that I have to disagree. The last half of the book did move quickly and was interesting. The plot was, in a lot of ways, stereotypic. The abandoned girl living and surviving on her own in the swamp lands, the love of two boys and the quiet revenge when wronged seemed to me to be somewhat cliched. I thought of a much older book that I read -A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter published in 1909! ( my copy was published in 1990 and I found it at a church sale in cottage country). I liked that one better. However one of my book club members recommended it and I think that the majority of members will love it. Sigh..... on to the next book

Jun 28, 2020, 10:57am

47. Galileo's Daughter A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love by Dava Sobel I really enjoyed this account of the lives of Galileio, his daughter, Suor Maria Celeste and Galileo's family and contemporaries. The author explains the theories of his work and the books that Galileo wrote as well as documenting his struggles with the very powerful Roman Catholic Church. The book includes some of the letters that Suor Maria Celeste wrote from her home in the convent. Her relationship with her father was so important - she was his champion. She sent her father remedies for his many ailments and sometimes food. Her needs at the convent were met as well by Galileo's support. The author details Galileo's examination by the inquisition and the support of his many friends and patrons. I enjoyed reading this account!

Jun 29, 2020, 9:52am

48. Turbulent Souls A Catholic Son's Return to His Jewish Roots by Stephen J. Dubner This is a very interesting memoir. The author grew up on an isolated farm with his very observant Catholic parents and was one of eight brothers and sisters. His father died when he was ten. There was no mention of any extended family. Later, the author learns that both parents were born Jewish but individually converted to Catholicism. Dubner learns about the history of his parent's families later in his life. He also decides to explore his Jewish roots and eventually makes the decision to practice the Jewish religion. This memoir explores how he found out about his Jewish past and his challenging relationship with his mother. Dubner looks for the story of why his father embraced the Catholic religion and learns to accept that he will really never know the true story. I found this memoir to be really interesting.

Jul 2, 2020, 2:13pm

49. My Dear Ones One Family and the Holocaust A Story of Enduring Hope and Love by Jonathan Wittenberg I have always liked memoirs. This one I received from one of the LT members- she was deaquisitioning some of her book collection ( jessibud2). The author writes about the lives of his very large family. Wittenberg is a Rabbi in London, England. He really didn't know much about the lives of his father's family -most died in the Holocaust. Two brothers escaped to the United States and Palestine before the war started.He discovered a collection of letters from his father's relatives when he visited a cousin in New York. With the help of family, Wittenberg constructed the family tree of his father beginning with his great great grand father-Rabbi Israel Meir Freimann. The family lived in Germany and were considered leaders of the Jewish community. By reading the letters of his great grandmother, Regina and his aunt Sophie, the author reconstruct their lives and the futile efforts that were made to leave Europe. Sophie and her husband lived in a town that was part of Czechoslovakia and later Bohemia/Moravia. Regina joined her daughter and Wittenberg was able to trace their eventual journey to Auschwitz. I must admit that I needed the family tree that the author included to track the various threads of the narrative. The letters themselves were very touching and dignified, and they focused on love and affection for the family.

Jul 2, 2020, 2:47pm

>77 torontoc: I enjoyed the book Where the Crawdads Sing but felt that the author should have ended the story sooner. What seemed to me a tag ending--the tying up of loose ends--was a slight let down for me.

Jul 5, 2020, 11:31am

50. The Splendid and the Vile A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson This is a very well written history about the first year of Winston Churchill's time as Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1940-41. This book is more than a political retelling of the actions of the government. It is also a social history of the Churchill family and the lives of his aides, his daughter Mary and some of the American emissaries. The story recounts the history of the bombing of the cities in England by the Nazis. The reader learns about Churchill's habits and his view of running the government during this time of crisis. I really enjoyed this books and the information about the lives of those who surrounded Churchill as friends, colleagues and family

Jul 5, 2020, 11:42am

>82 torontoc: That looks an interesting one, Cyrel.

Have a lovely Sunday.

Jul 6, 2020, 9:17pm

Thank you!

51. The Witness House Nazis and Holocaust Survivors Sharing a Villa During the Nuremberg Trials- by Christiane Kohl and translated by Anthea Bell Actually the title is not exactly true- the main occupants of the guest house were German Nazis who were waiting to be interrogated as witnesses. The author tries to make a dramatic story about this guest house. It was established in Nuremberg just after the war by the Americans to house various Germans who were to testify at the trials. The author interviewed the woman-Countess Ingeborg Kalnoky- who ran the establishment as well as some of the American lawyers and interpreters. The children of the some of those who stayed at the guest house were also interviewed. I thought that the stories of the guests and their relationship to the German Nazi government was interesting. Most of the guests were trying to minimize their previous work during the war. I felt that the story seemed incomplete-what was written was good but there was something missing...perhaps a sense of responsibility for the carnage and destruction of so many people and countries.

Jul 12, 2020, 6:02pm

52. The House of Twenty Thousand Books by Sasha AbramskyThis biography/memoir is a letter of love by the author for his grandfather. Chimen Abramsky had a remarkable career- collector of memorabilia and books relating to Marx, Lenin and Communism and later literature, bookseller in London, expert in Jewish books for major auction houses, professor of Jewish Studies and more. Chidden and his wife Miri presided over a salon of visitors who were important thinkers and writers on Communism and later on Jewish studies and history. Chimen's background is also notable -his father was one of the chief Rabbis of England after being imprisoned by the Soviets in the Gulag. The author uses the various rooms of his grandfather's house to describe his life and collections. There are numerous explanations of the philosophy of the writers who came to the house (Hillway) to debate and eat. This was a lovely tribute to Chimen Abramsky.

53. A Moorland Hanging by Michael Jecks This medieval murder mystery of the fourteenth century was an interesting read- with betrayals, feuds, lies and of course the two main characters solve the murders. Former Knight Templar Sir Baldwin Furnshill and Bailiff Simon Puttock puzzle over the clues and deduce who has done the killing.

Jul 23, 2020, 6:52pm

54. Appetite for Life The Biography of Julia Child by Noel Riley Fitch This is a case of too much information. I know that the author had permission to use all of Julia Child's papers( diaries, letters.) However this 500 page volume seems to let details take over the story of Julia Child's life. The best part is the section where the reader learns about Child's work with the OSS during World War Two in India and China and her meeting with Paul Child. The story of their romance is lovely. The section on Julia Child's education as an extraordinary cook and her meeting with Simone Beck is also really interesting. The amount of research Child put into her books and TV shows is minutely documented. Julia and Paul Child had a wonderful relationship-that is made quite clear in this work. Personally I think that the story could have been told clearly with less detail on the people who helped Julia Child with her work.

Jul 26, 2020, 8:32pm

55. A Cool and Lonely Courage The Untold Story of Sister Spies in Occupied France by susan Ottaway I must admit that the stories of these two sisters is amazing. Both Jacqueline and Eileen (Didi) Nearne were recruited by the British Special Operations during the Second World War. Although they were both English, their family and lived in France for many years. At the start of the war both sisters travelled to England and were recruited to be trained as spies and they were sent separately to France to act as a courier and wireless operator respectively. Didi was captured and sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp but she escaped at the end of the war. The author found out about the actions of Eileen Nearne and reconstructed her story as it was not known by the British public. I thought that the writing style was perhaps not to my taste but I did appreciate the author's research and publication about the activities of these two brave women.

Jul 27, 2020, 2:37pm

56. Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson I really enjoyed reading this novel. Jared is a 16 year high school student living with his mother and her boyfriend in British Columbia. Jared's life is complicated. He earns money by making weed cookies and does go on drug benders with his friends. He also helps his estranged father with rent money and helps his elderly neighbours. His mother is neglectful although she did nail gun the feet of her former abusive boyfriend to the floor when he attacked Jared. Jared contends with his mother and her dislikes and frequent absences from his life. There is a love/hate relationship as Jared deals with the discovery that he is the son of a trickster and a witch. He fights off man-eating otters, talking crows and animal ghosts. All through the story the reader learns about Jared's Indigenous heritage and the gifts and curses the he has to deal with.This is really good story and apparently there is a sequel that I am going to find and read!

Jul 31, 2020, 12:04pm

57. Heading South, Looking NorthA Bilingual Journey by Ariel Dorfman This is a very intense memoir by the author. He explores his feelings of changing identity, and displacement. Born in Argentina, Dorfman's father moved the family to New York City where he had a job with the United Nations. At that point the very young Vladimiro ( his parents were ardent communists) decides not to speak any more Spanish and grew up speaking and identifying with American culture. However, during the McCarthy era, the Dorfman family was told to leave the US and they went to live and work in Chile. The pre-teen author had to learn how to integrate into a Spanish culture and society. The pull of writing in English or Spanish, the rejection of North American culture and politics and eventually identifying with the work of Salvador Allende, led Ariel Dorfman ( now using his middle name) to participate in the politics of Chile. The memoir ends with Dorfman leaving Chile after the fall of Allende. He always acknowledges his status as a middle class writer who has connections due to family and influential friends. The memoir show the reader the tensions as the author wrestles with his work, culture and language.

Ago 4, 2020, 11:02pm

58. The Ward The Life and Loss of Toronto's First Immigrant Neighbourhood by John Lorinc Ellen Scheinberg Tatum Taylor Michael McClelland This is reread of a really good history- there are many histories by a lot of authors. I reread this for my bookclub and a research project.

59. The Woman Before Wallis by Bryn Turnbull This is a great summer read. The author looks at the story of the Duke of Windsor's mistress before Wallis Simpson in this very easy to read historical fiction novel. Thelma Furness was married to a Duke before she became the mistress of the Duke of Windsor. In addition this is the story of her twin sister, Gloria who was involved in an infamous court case for the custody of her daughter " Little Gloria Vanderbilt". I enjoyed the story.

Editado: Ago 6, 2020, 11:40am

>90 torontoc: - Hi Cyrel. I just heard an interview with the author, Bryn Turnbull, on the radio this morning. It sounds like an interesting read. I also own The Ward but have yet to get to it.

Ago 6, 2020, 8:30pm

>91 jessibud2: The Woman Before Wallis is an easy summer read and satisfies my need for royalty gossip.
I loved The Ward The Life and Loss of Toronto's First Immigrant Neighbourhood and saw the musical performance based on the book.

60. The Order by Daniel Silva More summer reading- The author publishes a new chapter about spymaster Gabriel Allon every summer. This new book is all about electing a new pope, the murder of the previous pope, the discovery of a hidden Gospel and a plot to take over democratic governments. Always an engrossing read!

Ago 10, 2020, 6:42pm

61. The Jewish Woman and Her Home by Hyman E. Goldin This is a book that I found doing some COVID cleaning. It was published in 1941 and it is really, really patronizing. The material is about creating a household with some information on the holidays. However the author assumes that the intended audience has no Jewish education. The prayers listed are very long and in English- and really I don't know what prayer book ( Reform, Reconstructionist Judaism) that they would fit. The tone is very serious and in some cases grim. The main leader of the Jewish family is assumed to be male. And .. there is no joy in the descriptions. As well some of the history is too fragmented.
Hmm- this is a real artifact- so much has changed not only in religious practice but in responsibility.

Ago 18, 2020, 8:15am

62. Plays The Circle, The Letter, The Constant Wife by W. Somerset Maugham Again I am reading a book that belonged to my mother- it was published sometime in the 1920's or 30's. These three plays written by Maugham are really dated. The view of women is so stereotypical- the vamp, the muse, the object of adoration, the betrayer- should I go on? As well, the characterizations of Blacks and Chinese in the play The Letter are terrible and I can see why these plays are not produced or read today. The play The Constant Wife was produced in 1926 with the actress Ethel Barrymore in the lead role and the play is dedicated to her. The role is a " star" one but again the attitudes are really dated. Interesting read.( I did like the author's book of short stories about spying.)

Ago 20, 2020, 2:24pm

I just saw two great documentaries on
( the ontario educational tv channel)
one on rescue dogs and the other on singer Linda Ronstadt- I had missed that film when it was at the Hot Docs theatre.,

Ago 20, 2020, 3:10pm

>95 torontoc: - I saw the Linda Ronstadt one at Hot Docs. I have been taking advantage of their films online. As well, for members, they are offering several freebies per months. Just yesterday, I watched a really good sit down discussion with 3 of Toronto's former mayors (David Crombie, David Miller and Barbara Hall) discussing the past and more importantly, the future for our city, post-covid.

I still have a few more lined up. Did you see Made You Look, the story of fake art? I hope to get to that one tonight or tomorrow

Ago 20, 2020, 7:09pm

>96 jessibud2: Yes i saw Made You Look at the online Hot Docs Festival!

Ago 20, 2020, 7:16pm

>94 torontoc: His plays have not aged well, Cyrel, have they?

I love his novels and short stories but even those are very much of their time.

Ago 20, 2020, 11:21pm

>98 PaulCranswick: The plays have not aged well. I agree with you about his short stories and novels

Ago 20, 2020, 11:57pm

>99 torontoc: I think my absolute favourite novel of his is Moon and Sixpence

Ago 26, 2020, 10:08am

63. The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom This is a memoir of the author's family and her attachment to the life in New Orleans East. Sarah Broom is part of a very large extended family. The Yellow house refers to the house that her mother bought. However the area was always the "poor relative " of New Orleans. During the terrible times of the storm Katrina, the Yellow House was badly damaged. The stories of the poor city planning and neglect of New Orleans East run through this narrative. The reader learns of the author's life and travels and the study of her family as well as th injustice inflicted on the poor, and Black residents of New Orleans.

Editado: Ago 28, 2020, 9:21am

So many good reviews, Cyrel. You got me with the Water Dancer; adding it to the TBR.

I'm another fan of Galileo's Daughter. Her really good Longitude got me started with that author. I LOVED The Splendid and the Vile; it was my favorite of the year so far, but I think Isabel Wilkerson's Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, which I'm in the middle of, is catching up to it.

I liked The Yellow House, and I'm glad I read it, but I somehow expected more after all the buzz.

Ago 28, 2020, 7:52pm

> Thank you! all and all it has been a good reading year so far.

Yes, there is a film festival happening-The Toronto International Film Festival is from Sept 10-19. however the films-only 50 instead of the usual 200 plus- will be shown at a drive-in, in one movie theatre -the Bell Light Box and digitally in the comfort of one's own home. I will see I hope 12 films at home. However the registering for films online has been very bad in past years-so I hope things have improved. I will review what I see.

Editado: Ago 28, 2020, 9:01pm

>103 torontoc: - Thanks for the reminder, Cyrel. I should go check the TIFF website and see what is on offer. If I do any, it will be streaming online. I won't be going to any theatre any time soon.

Set 2, 2020, 8:07am

64. Hamnet & Judith by Maggie O'Farrell ( Just a note -the title of this book is also " Hamnet" but the version I read was published in Canada) The author imagines the story of Shakespeare's family, beginning with the story of his wife "Agnes" -a young woman who follows in the footsteps of her late mother. Agnes is a healer, gatherer of herbs and beekeeper. Escaping a harsh step-mother, she marries a young man who is not satisfied with his life in Stratford. The story follows their marriage , birth of their children and later the effects of the plague on the family. Agnes encourages her husband to go to London where he finds his calling in the theatre. Their children, Susanna and twins Hamnet and Judith live with Agnes close to Shakespeare's parents. ( although his name is not used) Both twins come down with the plague and one dies. The effects of this death haunt Agnes and the reader eventually sees how the father handles this tragedy. This is a well-written novel with a very touching and effective ending.

Set 5, 2020, 7:08pm

65. The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel. I have mixed feelings about this kind of literature. Recently there have been a number of novels published that use various themes from the Holocaust and World War Two. I usually don't read them although I have read some outstanding books about this same topic. I understand the contradiction. In fact this story focuses on forgery and the role that certain French villages played in saving Jews and particularly children. I have read the non-fiction books that are about these themes and two of the books that the author used as her inspiration. Both were excellent reads- the biography of Adolfo Kaminsky and the history by Caroline Moorehead. The author writes that readers have told her that they were not aware of the true stories behind her novels and now have an appreciation of the history. So.. the question- do we the readers have any right to dispparage the work of authors who turn this kind of history into romances? This story also has one of my pet peeves- heroes and heroines who make incredibly stupid choices that advance the plot. One of my friends who is a child of Holocaust survivors gets very angry when she hears about writers who use this history for new novels. And in Canada there has been a backlash about writers who use Indigenous histories ( that are not part of their heritage) for their fiction. There is the argument that good writing should win out in any discussion about who has the right to use a heritage that is not their own. But the opposing view is the writers of a specific heritage should be heard and perhaps they have not been heard. This book is not a good example of defending anyone's right to take any experience for their work. In fact I want to mention the Azrieli Foundation that publishes the memoirs of survivors. One of the memoirs published won "Canada Reads" last year.

Set 5, 2020, 7:29pm

>106 torontoc: - I recently purchased this book, Cyrel. Interesting to hear your perspective. I have also read the book by Caroline Moorehead and was very impressed with it (you are talking about Village of Secrets, right?). And the book that won Canada Reads, I also own but have not yet read that one (the title is on the tip of my tongue and I can't remember it right now). I am also a bit divided about the argument. I do think a good writer should be able to write and enlighten a reader. I don't believe it is always cultural appropriation if the author is open, and transparent in his/her intentions. It's a tricky subject, to be sure.

Set 5, 2020, 10:08pm

>107 jessibud2: Yes , I read Village of Secrets. Max Eisen's memoir won Canada Reads. I agree- I loved Joseph Boyden 's novels but he has been silenced for a number of years. Have I read the work of some new Indigenous authors recently- yes. ( and been more aware of reading new authors who have been writing about their heritage) It is a tricky subject about cultural appropriation.

Set 10, 2020, 1:21pm

66. Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier The author writes about a part of the history of the Cherokee Nation. I didn't know about this history and I am glad to learn about it. The hero is also modelled after a specific man- I have to note down the histories that the author used as his inspiration. I did find the reading not easy although I did appreciate the language. Will is a young boy who is "bound" ( or indentured to another) by his aunt and uncle to a man who runs a trading post in the area of North Carolina where the Cherokee Nation lived. He meet two Indigenous men , Bear and Featherstone, who have a lasting impression on his life. He also meets and loves, Claire- a very enigmatic young girl whom he loves all his life. The novel follows Will from boyhood to old age. The reader learns a lot about the treatment of Indigenous people and how they were forced to go west. I am glad that I read the book but it was a tough read at times.

67. Sylvie by Sylvie Kantorovitz This ER graphic novel tells the story of a young girl and her family in France. The story relates the struggles of growing up with loving parents who argue and have issues in their own relationship. The reader sees Sylvie grow up and learn what she wants in life.
The illustrations are charming and an adolescent reader ( as well as adult) will appreciate both the story and the art. Besides the theme of growing up, the issue of being the only Jewish family in the town is touched upon but not explored in depth. We leave Sylvie as she leaves her family to go to teachers college in Paris. I hope that there will be a sequel.

Set 13, 2020, 9:05am

68. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand This is a remarkable book not only for the story of Louis Zamperini but the history of the planes and what airmen faced in the Pacific during World War Two. The author has written a biography of Zamperini -a man with a fascinating life story. Zamperini was a young man who was going towards a delinquent life until his brother encouraged him to take up running. Louis became so good that he was part of the US team that went to the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Afterwards he went to college and began training for the 1940 Olympics that were suppose to be held in Tokyo. The war interrupted his plans and Louis joined the Air Force and trained to handle the bomb sites on the bombers. Stationed in the Pacific, Louis took part in a number of dangerous missions. After one mission, his plane was damaged and sank in the Pacific. He survived along with two other members of the crew. They spent over 46 days on a raft. They were picked up by the Japanese and Louis was sent to a series of prison camps. The suffering and torture of the prisoners and especially Louis was pretty horrible. Hillenbrand not only tells the story of one man but also writes about the effects faced by American soldiers after they were rescued. Louis Zamperini was lucky- after a rocky start to life after the war and his bouts with alcoholism, he did find help. I enjoyed this account and learned about history that I was not familiar with.

Set 17, 2020, 3:00pm

69. The Overstory by Richard Powers I put this book down for a couple of months and took it up last week. The writing about trees and nature is so interesting. The overlapping stories of the characters are fascinating. The style of writing is dense ( in a good way) yet... I found that the narrative took a long time to reach the goal of the novel ( I think) and sometimes the writing was overwhelming. I can say that the book is very good but it was not my favourite. Maybe in this time of the pandemic, I need more simplicity and clarity in style and narration

Set 25, 2020, 6:38pm

70. Arch of Triumph by Erich Maria Remarque. I have been reading books that belonged to my late parents recently. This novel was published in 1945 and is set in Paris in 1939. It reads like a 1930's or 40's film with Humphrey Bogart or Clark Gable. The story is about a refugee doctor named Ravic. He was originally from Germany, and lives illegally in Paris. He does complex operations for doctors who are too old to work. Working and living under an alias, he tries to avoid notice by the authorities.Ravic has good friends who are in the same position that he is. He rescues another woman refugee named Joan. He fall in love with her but their relationship is tempestuous. So is the dialogue which is very dramatic. As France falls, Ravic is ready to be captured and sent to a concentration camp. The writing is dated but interesting!

Film Festival
I did see films from the Toronto International Film Festival but on my computer- I'll start to review them. The festival had about 60 films. In past years there were around 200 or more. I will start with films that were taken from books.

A Suitable Boy- BBC production in six episodes. I saw all six hours in one afternoon. This was a terrific series based on the book by Vikram Seth. I hadn't read the book ( over 1400 pages) but I will now. It was like an Indian " Pride and Prejudice" and wonderful. Great characters, beautiful sets and I loved it! See it if you can.

The Inconvenient Indian Canada directed by Michele Latimer and based on the book by Thomas King. The book related the history of Indigenous peoples in the US and Canada and was really good. I learned so much. The film was more
" impressionistic" in content. In fact the author was in the film seated in a taxi driven by a coyote in some scenes. There was also an unapologetic scene of a Innuit man hunting seal and giving the meat to a family. The film emphasized identity and reclaiming identity by indigenous peoples. I am glad that I read the book first- I liked the detailed historical background.

Directed by Michele Latimer
I hadn't realized that I was going to see the first two episodes from the CBC series that will be shown on television in Oct.
It was well done.I had read the book that this series is based on- Son of A Trickster by Eden Robinson I really liked the book and this series is faithful to the characters and plot of the novel. The main character is a young man who lives with his out of control mother in a very small town in British Columbia. He tries to help his father and his issues and during the course of the series learns about his real origins and perhaps the magic that his family is part of. A really good series.

More later

Out 1, 2020, 11:57am

71. The Art of Leaving by Ayelet Tsabari. This is a well written memoir that covers a lot of issues. The reader learns about the author's Yemenite background and family, her shock over the early death of her father, her continuous travel, and her feelings about discrimination against " Mizrachi" culture in the Israel of her childhood. * Mizrachi refers to those Jews who came from Middle Eastern and North Afrian countries. The Jews from European backgrounds who immigrated to Israel considered themselves to be the political and cultural leaders. Of course today the Mizrachi culture is so important in the food industry as well as controlling the political future of Israel. ( IMO). Tsabari moved around the world and really didn't work on her writing until she was in her thirties. Her family history is very interesting and certainly I gained an appreciation for her work. Tsabari seemed to understand her family dynamic as she grew older, gained success as a writer and established a stable relationship and life.

Out 5, 2020, 11:51am

72. The Fair Fight by Anna Freeman This is a really engrossing novel. The chapters are narrated by several of the characters in the fictional account set in eighteenth century England. The reader is introduced to characters from the very poor to the very rich. Ruth Webber is a daughter of a brothel owner and she becomes a fighter. Lady Charlotte Sinclair has been scarred badly by smallpox. She forced by her brother to marry a man-Granville Dryer- who is very cruel to her. George Bowden originally wanted to marry Charlotte but we find out has some ulterior motives. The characters do meet as Ruth's husband is taken on by Granville to train and challenge a prominent boxer. Ruth and Charlotte meet in unlikely circumstances and eventually teach other how to stand up for their rights. This is an excellent account of life for women both rich and poor in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

Out 8, 2020, 11:57am

73. The Flight Portfolio by Julie Orringer. I have mixed feelings about this novel. Orringer writes about Varian Fry and how he saved over 2000 artists by arranging visas for them to travel to the US in the early days of World War Two. Bankrolled by a group of wealthy Americans, the Emergency Rescue Committee worked out of Marseille and relied on the help of a sympathetic official-Harry Bingham- at the American consulate. There were visas to obtain, artists to convince to leave and the increasing threat of the Vichy government. The story is true and some of the characters were larger than life in reality and in this fictional tale. The description of life in 1940 France is very detailed and give the reader a good sense of the gruelling work done by Fry and his staff to save lives. So what is my issue? Orringer adds a fictional lover to Varian Fry's life. In fact the story of the two lovers is a strong theme in this story. Was Varian Fry gay? His family denies it but other sources say that Fry was indeed attracted to men. The story of the love affair seems to take over the book. There is also a plot twist that involves the lover and his friends. I liked the story of the times but find myself eager to read a non-fiction account of Fry's work. My next book is a re-read of Villa Air-Bel:World War 11, Escape and a House in Marseille by Rosemary Sullivan. There is also a good review of Orringer's book by Cynthia Ozick.

Out 10, 2020, 10:25pm

Happy thanksgiving weekend, Cyrel.

Out 11, 2020, 11:23am

74. Villa Air-Bel by Rosemary Sullivan. I am so glad that I reread this account of Varian Fry's work in saving the lives of over 2000 people and helping them escape from France in the early years of World War Two. This history does begin with detailed accounts of the situation in France before Germany conquers the country. The reader learns about the lives of Andre Breton and Victor Serge and their dilemmas. The heiress Mary Jayne Gold, adventuress Miriam Davenport, and Dunkerque survivor Danny Benedite and his wife Theo are introduced before the reader meets Varian Fry and the American emergency Rescue Committee. The lives of artists waiting for a complex series of visas and documents both legal and illegal are described as they live in the Villa Air-Bel. The events that seems to be the stuff of fiction. I must admit that after reading the fictional novel about these people I prefer this history- it is really good.

Editado: Out 11, 2020, 11:24am

Happy Thanksgiving, Cyrel. Do you do anything for this holiday? It's not one we celebrated in my family when I was growing up. I don't even remember it being much of a big deal when I was in school. But I am getting together for a small dinner tomorrow with just 2 other friends. All of us live alone so we are still within the parameters set by (the somewhat reluctant) Doug Ford, I believe. He sounded particularly upset when he realized that if he wanted people to behave and follow his instructions, he, himself, would also have to. Boo hoo hoo... (bad Shelley). ;-) I am heading out for a walk soon, while this beautiful weather holds.

Out 11, 2020, 11:28am

>118 jessibud2: Hi-thank you! My family really didn't celebrate Thanksgiving as it was so close to the Jewish holidays where we did get together for dinners. I am going to my pottery studio tomorrow- ( only two people allowed in at one time-we have a schedule)
and I have great leftovers from my dinner with my brother and sister-in-law on Friday!
Have a nice celebration!

Out 15, 2020, 7:39am

75. Island of Hope, Island of Tears by David M. Brownstone Irene M. Franck and Douglass Brownstone This book is a collection of interviews by Americans who immigrated to the United States at the turn of the twentieth century. The authors do relate the general history of how the travel took place and what these people experienced on the ships and on Ellis Island when they arrived. The interviews are edited by theme so that the reader will only learn about the life of a specific person after reading all the chapters. It is an interesting book and a little dated. ( having been written in 1970.) When comes through is the perseverance and tenacity of those people who made the journey.

Out 15, 2020, 6:22pm

Congrats on reaching your goal!

Out 15, 2020, 6:32pm


Out 16, 2020, 4:45pm

>120 torontoc: Congratulations on reaching 75, Cyrel!

Out 25, 2020, 10:11am

Thank you!

76. How To Read the Bible A Guide to Scripture Then and Now by James L. Kugel I have been reading this 700 page book on and off for about three months. I found if very interesting as the author looks at the varying interpretations of the Old Testament. He writes about the studies in language to determine authorship and placement, and archeological finds in the Near East. Kugel writes about the possible reasons why certain stories were included in the various books. There were certainly many authors of the Hebrew Bible and Kugel explores many of the theories that explain the discrepancies in various sections. This was a very thoughtful and sometimes provocative volume.

Out 26, 2020, 5:00pm

77. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett This is a reread for my book club. It is still a great read. The prose, plot and characters led me to read the book in a day and a half- I couldn't put it down.

Nov 4, 2020, 7:47am

78. Dancing at the Pity Party a dead mom graphic memoir by Tyler Feder This graphic novel was loaned to me by a friend. The author gives an account of growing up, her mother's diagnosis of cancer, her death and the funeral that follows. The story is a tribute to her family and especially to her mother. I felt a certain identification with the author's feelings about how people talked to her at the funeral and shiva and her account of what to do and not do when comforting a mourner. Despite the subject matter, this book is a very worthwhile read and well written and illustrated by the author. Tyler Feder's mother died when Tyler was in college and a number of years later she completed this work. This was a very worthwhile read for me.

Nov 7, 2020, 5:51pm

79. The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna This is the second novel that I have read by
Aminatta Forna. The plot follows the lives of three main characters who are living and working in Sierra Leone just after a civil war. Each person has secrets that have shaped their lives. The reader moves seamlessly back and forth in time as we try to uncover the puzzle of damaged lives. Elias Cole has lived through the terrible times- and recalls his love for Saffia and his friendship with her husband Julius. Years later, Adrian is a therapist who tries to help the broken souls in the mental hospital. Searching for more meaning in his life, Adrian has relocated from England to Sierra Leone. Kai is a surgeon who is trying to move to the United States. Each one has secrets that show betrayal. The many layers of the plot and personalities are complex and yet-the prose reads so well.I highly recommend any book by Forna.

Nov 12, 2020, 3:27pm

80. Here The Dark by David Bergen This book of short stories was on the shortlist for the Giller Prize. I thought that the stories were expertly written. Most of the subjects were men working through difficult situations.Many of the men were caught in a life not of their own choosing. The last story or novella describes the life of a young woman who rebels against the Mennonite community that she lives in. Some of the stories show heartbreaking situations. This could have been the winner of the prize- it is that good.

Nov 14, 2020, 3:18pm

81. The Nature of Things Essays of a Tapestry Weaver by Tommye McClure Scanlin This memoir was sent to me via the LT Early Reviewer programme. The author takes the reader through her development as an artist and educator. There are wonderful photos of her art work ( watercolours, drawings and tapestries) and her inspiration in nature. The area of the Appalachian Mountains provides a steady flow of flowers, trees and landscapes that figure in her tapestries. During the present pandemic, this book seems to reduce stress as I look through the beautiful photos of nature and the artist's work. McClure Scanlin also provides a guide to tapestry technique, definitions and resources.

Nov 14, 2020, 4:29pm

>129 torontoc: - This one sounds good, Cyrel.

Nov 16, 2020, 8:06pm

82. How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa This book of short stories won the 2020 Giller Prize. The stories are brief and are for the most part very unsentimental. The situations of the immigrants to Canada are really unglamorous. Parents look to make a living with menial jobs. Children navigate through schools and learn lessons of survival. The writing is precise and worthy of the award. ( although I did like Here The Dark as a possible winner )

Nov 19, 2020, 7:38pm

83. Polar Vortex by Shani Mootoo This is one of the Giller Prize shortlist books. Priya is an artist living with her wife Alex in a small Ontario town. She receives a message from an old friend, Prakash, and impulsively invites him to visit. The reader learns of their history together and the separate paths that their lives took. Alex is not happy about this visit as she believes that Priya and Prakash had a sexual relationship. Actually we learn about the changes that Priya made in her life to accommodate Alex. Priya also seems to have lapses in memory about her past. I thought that the first part of the story was somewhat repetitive but found the last part really interesting with the revelations about Priya and Prakash's past lives. I think that the two books of short stories that I read earlier were better suited to win the Giller.

Nov 27, 2020, 12:16pm

84. Old In Art School A Memoir of Starting Over by Nell Painter. This is a reread for my book club meeting next week. I must admit that it was better on the second read. ( and I did love it the first time as well) Painter covered so many issues- the absence of women artists, Black women artists and Black men artists, ageism in the Art World and art schools and more. Her description of having a " twentieth century mind" as opposed to a " 21st Century outlook in art school was an eye opener. I loved her descriptions and photos of her own work as she tackled art school criticisms.

Nov 28, 2020, 1:19pm

85. The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel This novel was on the shortlist for the Giller Prize and I thought that it was terrific!. There are several narrators carrying the story in this novel. It is a story about an elaborate Ponzi scheme and it's founder Jonathon Alkaitis. However the reader first follows Vincent, a bar-tender at the Hotel Caiette on an island in British Columbia. Vincent has a troubled history- her mother disappeared when she went for a canoe ride. Vincent was placed with her aunt but left and lived with friends. She eventually got a job as a bartender at the Hotel where she meets Jonathan after a distressing incident . The story moves back and forth in time. Vincent is soon living in luxury with Jonathan in New York as he works at his investment firm. Mandel calls this life "the World of Money". As Jonathan's firm is investigated by the FBI and collapses, the reader meets the people who knew what was happening, those who got caught up and lost everything, Vincent's long lost brother Paul and others whose lives change drastically. The story moves back and forth in time. This is a well written novel that I think was a very strong contender for Giller Award.

Dez 5, 2020, 11:37am

86. Field Notes From An Unintentional Birder by Julia Zarankin This book is a lovely memoir about the author's life and how it relates to her interest and development as a birder. I know that author as a great lecturer( having taken some courses with her in past years). The book takes the reader through Zarankin's background and how she learns about her own life as she begins and pursues her new hobby. However, learning about how to see birds becomes a bit of an obsession. I now appreciate how the listing and counting of species by dedicated volunteers helps scientific research. This is a good read for our times! Highly recommended!

Dez 9, 2020, 12:35pm

87. Indians On Vacation by Thomas King Thomas King is a noted Indigenous author of both fiction and non-fiction. This novel seems light-hearted in the depiction of a couple who are vacationing in Prague. Bird and Mimi are getting older and have had good careers in Canada. They have travelled to Europe before. Besides being tourists , they are also looking for any evidence of Bird's Uncle Leroy who disappeared about a hundred years ago after he joined a travelling Indian show that toured in Europe. Leroy sent post cards back to Canada. He also took the family medicine bundle with him. The reader learns about Bird's Greek mother and Indigenous father. Bird has a number of health issues and as readers, we eavesdrop on the issues that Bird and Mimi have as a couple, and with their family's past. This has been a very good read for me.

Dez 9, 2020, 11:07pm

Solid month plus of reading, Cyrel!

Is 100 still within grasp this year?

Dez 10, 2020, 12:58pm

>137 PaulCranswick:
Hi Paul
I think not- maybe 90 "ish". I like what I have read this year and did tackle some 700 plus page books.

Dez 14, 2020, 8:45am

88. The Grammarians by Cathleen Schine Laurel and Daphne are two identical twins.From a very early age, they have had a fascination with words, meanings and usage. The reader follows their lives as they grow up and take different paths in career and relationships. The characters in this novel are all affecting( I am not sure ironically which word to use) in a good way. I was very touched by this story and the manner of the telling by the author.

Dez 23, 2020, 9:48am

89. The Women's Torah Commentary New Insights from Women Rabbis on the 54 Weekly Torah Portions edited by Rabbi Elyse Goldstein I have had this book for a number of years but used it as a reference book. I decide to read through the whole book this year. The book was published in 2000. A lot has changed since then. Women Rabbis are accepted more readily. The interpretations of text were very interesting and each portion was written by a different author. Looking for feminist takes on some of the writings was a challenge. But I appreciate the work to make religion inclusive.

Editado: Dez 23, 2020, 5:28pm

>140 torontoc: - Cyrel, do you know the book, A Weave of Women. It's about a Haggadah that was written by a group of women, including Michelle Landsberg, from Toronto quite a few years ago. There was also a lovely documentary about it. I own the book but had purchased the documentary to gift to a friend so no longer have that. But maybe the library would have it in the system.

Editado: Dez 23, 2020, 4:33pm

>141 jessibud2: I think that I have that book! ( from many years ago) Yes- I have it- I can't recall when I read it so, before Librarything and I can look at it again.

Dez 25, 2020, 12:23pm

I hope you get some of those at least, Cyrel, as we all look forward to a better 2021.

Dez 25, 2020, 2:09pm

Thank you Paul! I am starting to count all the people I know who have been vaccinated against Covid! ( three so far)

90. Becoming Duchess Goldblatt by Anonymous This is such an inspiring and funny ( and a little bittersweet) memoir. The author who is anonymous has had terrible experiences in her life. Her husband asked for a divorce, her friends seem to ally with her husband, she will have to move out of her home and she is losing her job.And she shares custody of a beloved 4 year old son with her ex. On a whim she sets out to create a new personality on twitter with the help of a friend. She takes the name " Duchess Goldblatt"-the duchess part comes from a friend's dog. Duchess Goldblatt is a 81 year writer living in Crooked Path, New York. Her daughter , Hacienda is in prison in Mexico. The Duchess has written two books-"Grind: Feasting on the Carcasses of My Enemies, a Love Story" and "Not if I Kill You First". On Twitter she makes many friends, gives out really good advice and creates a new persona. Throughout the book the reader sees how the real person learns to appreciate her strengths. I found this a good book to read in these times!

Dez 27, 2020, 9:19am

91. The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish. This 560 page ( gasp) historical fiction novel certainly had a lot of themes to consider. There are two linked stories. In the 1660's in London, a young woman-Ester Velasquez is a scribe for a blind rabbi. She has come from Amsterdam with her brother and the Rabbi after the death of her parents. In 2000, an ailing scholar, Helen Watt has come across manuscripts that need identification and translating. The stories describe the effect of the plague on London, the needs of Ester for knowledge and debate with Spinoza and other learned intellectuals of the time, many deceptions, failed relationships, scholarly fights, the debate regarding Sabbatai Zevi followers, and finally a possible link to Shakespeare's Dark Lady.( although not really part of the main stories)

Dez 28, 2020, 11:12am

92. Northern Lights A Canadian Jewish History This book was published by one of the main sources of Canadian Jewish news that in turn shut down in April. The Canadian Jewish News did publish columns by a variety of writers but it was seen as the " establishment" paper. The print edition did become obsolete and paper was not sustainable. This book theoretically tells the story of Canadian Jewish history through the lens of the "CJN". There are many gaps in the telling. There are some interesting parts and good photos. But this is not a complete history of Jews in Canada or Ontario. Interestingly enough the CJN will come back in the coming months but online.

Dez 30, 2020, 3:13pm

I just attended a webinar where the actress Janet Suzman spoke/lectured about Shakepeare's women- focusing on Cleopatra. Wow- what a great talk!
The webinar is part of a series presented by a foundation in England-" Lockdown University"

Jan 1, 12:20am


As the year turns, friendship continues