Discussão75 Books Challenge for 2020

Entre no LibraryThing para poder publicar.


Editado: Jan 4, 2020, 4:39am


This may be the swan-song of the Challenge, but then again............

Editado: Jan 4, 2020, 4:38am

Well we are stuck with him for another 5 years.

This year starts here.

No Brexit, no food banks, no zero-hour contracts - just books!

Jan 4, 2020, 4:43am

Jan 4, 2020, 5:00am

Thanks so much, Paul ,for setting up this challenge.

Jan 4, 2020, 5:01am

Jeanette Winterson was born in 1959 in Manchester. Her famous first novel is "Semi-Autographical" as she was adopted into a religious family from which she rebelled. She came out as a lesbian at just 16 and left home; putting herself through a series of jobs in order to go to Oxford University.

She succeeded Colm Toibin as professor of Creative Writing at Manchester University.

She has won The Whitbread Prize, The John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, The EM Forster Award, twice won LAMBDA awards and has been longlisted for the Booker Prize

I aim to read Oranges are not the Only Fruit and Sexing the Cherry

Jan 4, 2020, 5:01am

>5 Ameise1: You are welcome, Barbara. Sorry I am a bit late with it.

Jan 4, 2020, 5:06am

Never mind, I haven't started Mothering Sunday yet.

Editado: Jan 4, 2020, 5:10am

Thanks for setting it up Paul! I have starred this thread and hope to do better than last year.

Jan 4, 2020, 5:11am

Londoner Graham Swift is ten years Winterson's senior. He studied at Queen's College Cambridge and has won the Booker Prize - in 1996 for Last Orders. In addition he has been further longlisted as well as winning the Geoffrey Faber Memorial prize in 1983 and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1996.

I have read Mothering Sunday

Jan 4, 2020, 5:13am

>8 Ameise1: I'm glad that it will be helpful, Barbara.

>9 EllaTim: Great to see that you'll be dipping your toe into the challenge, Ella.

Jan 4, 2020, 5:28am

Glad to see this thread up. I already have reading lined up for this month so won't join in with the January read, but hopefully later in the year. Have the thread starred, at least.

Jan 4, 2020, 6:09am

>12 PawsforThought: More than welcome to dip and dip out at will, Paws.

Jan 4, 2020, 12:24pm

I found my Jeanette Winterson books and took Oranges are not the only fruit to read for the January challenge.

Jan 4, 2020, 8:20pm

Thanks, Paul. I'll be reading Graham Swift's England and Other Stories.

Jan 4, 2020, 9:40pm

>15 kac522: & >15 kac522: Thanks Diana & Kathy. I look forward to seeing what you make of them.

Editado: Jan 4, 2020, 11:02pm

I suppose nobody will be surprised that I've already finished a few BAC books.


Weight: The Myth of Atlas and Heracles by Jeanette Winterson

In this entry in Canongate's Myth series, Winterson tackles Atlas and uses the myth to look at the burdens people carry through their lives. It's not terribly subtle in its metaphor, but it's well worth reading.

Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift

A stream of consciousness novella about a maid's eventful day off. It's pretty repetitive at times, but there's a creeping sense of unease that starts to build that made it difficult to put down.


Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard

I can't say I really understood it, but I did enjoy it. It reminded me quite a bit of Waiting for Godot, another play I liked but don't entirely understand.

Jan 4, 2020, 11:05pm

>17 amanda4242: Glad to see you're off to your usual slow start!

Jan 5, 2020, 4:47am

>17 amanda4242: Not surprising that you felt it was similar to Waiting for Godot - many people make that comparison and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is frequently referred to as "Waiting for Hamlet".

Jan 5, 2020, 8:34am

I’m skipping this month’s authors, Paul, because of a “No New Books” resolution (cue hollow laughter), but I’ll certainly follow the challenge.

Jan 5, 2020, 9:03pm

I'm hoping I get to at least one of these. Too many challenges, so little time!

Jan 5, 2020, 9:10pm

>20 bohemima: Sound policy, Gail. I wouldn't manage to keep to that myself though for sure!

>21 thornton37814: The too little time bit is definite. Where did the last decade go?!

Jan 5, 2020, 10:08pm

>22 PaulCranswick: Shall I answer that with a book title? The Way of All Flesh

Editado: Jan 7, 2020, 8:03pm

Our world could sure use Silver, Gabriel, and TANGLEWRECK.

Though the plot eventually wears down with only the two tiny Good Guys against the many Monster Evils,
readers will still enjoy and be challenged by the exploration of our concepts of Time.

Younger readers will not benefit from the instances of torture, death, and murder.

"Grown-ups were always worrying about money, she knew that,
but what did you need if you could eat and sit in front of the fire and read books?"

Jan 8, 2020, 6:42am

>1 PaulCranswick: thanks for setting up the 2020 thread! I follow your challenges though don't always participate.

For January I've gotten a copy of Waterland out of the library, and it's sitting on the table by my recliner...I just need to finish up my current read.

Jan 8, 2020, 7:57am

I've finished Mothering Sunday. I loved it and can highly recommend it.

Jan 12, 2020, 8:47am

>26 Ameise1: Ditto. A short read, but it made me think, it made an impression.

>19 PawsforThought: LOL! Now I'm curious.

Jan 12, 2020, 5:27pm

>27 EllaTim: It's really fun and an easy read - I read it a few years ago and rated it highly.

Jan 19, 2020, 3:20am

Finished Swift's England and Other Stories. They didn't keep my attention, although the title (and last) story, "England", seemed the best of the lot.

Jan 19, 2020, 5:59pm

Following TANGLEWRECK for January, I moved into the 1990s with Harry Potter AND THE SORCERER'S STONE
and am looking around for Chocolat.

Not being a big fan of the dark side, this first Harry Potter is my favorite.
It's also one of those rare books where the movie is better.

Hope you enjoy them both, Paul!

Jan 20, 2020, 9:13pm

I read Christmas Days: 12 Stories and 12 Feasts for 12 Days by Jeanette Winterson. I didn't really enjoy it that much. I probably picked the wrong book to read. I'd rated her Hogarth Shakespeare installment with 3 stars a couple years ago. She's probably just not the best author for me.

I liked the Graham Swift title much better.

Editado: Jan 24, 2020, 11:33pm

I have started Waterland.
Jan 24
I have now finished Waterland ->Comments

It seems more like I've been reading it for 5-6 days rather than 3 and a bit.

Jan 28, 2020, 8:22pm

Last Call by Graham Swift

Four men meet at a bar to carry out their deceased pal's last orders and take his ashes to the north of England for dispersal into the sea. During the course of their journey the backstories are all detailed and provide the basis of the story. It was a slow start but this turned out to be a very well written and incisive novel and although it was a little bit hard to follow I found it to be enjoyable. It's my second novel by Swift but won't be my last.

Jan 29, 2020, 4:37pm

Lighthousekeeping by Jeanette Winterson

I don't know how to describe this one except as a story about stories. It looses steam at the end when it becomes a bit more realistic, but it's still good.

Fev 3, 2020, 12:37pm

For the 1990's I'll be reading Julian Barnes' England, England (1998). I have read 2 other novels by Barnes and enjoyed both.

Fev 10, 2020, 4:17am

For the 1990's I've read M. C. Beaton's Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener (July 1994).

Fev 15, 2020, 9:55pm

I just downloaded Chocolat by Joanne Harris (1999) to read for this challenge.

Fev 17, 2020, 8:17pm

I just completed Chocolat for the BAC.

Fev 18, 2020, 7:36pm

>37 thornton37814: & >38 thornton37814: That one is in the great position of fitting two months in the challenge as Joanne Harris features herself in October.

Fev 18, 2020, 8:41pm

>39 PaulCranswick: I'm sure I can find another one of hers then. I couldn't find the one by Murdoch on my shelf so it must be boxed. I didn't feel like digging through boxes.

Fev 18, 2020, 8:43pm

>40 thornton37814: I have emptied all my boxes and SWMBO would be spitting fire about now if she weren't safely two continents away!

Editado: Ago 26, 2020, 2:21am

Well, I'm just two books shy of completing the decade. I have a couple lined up so I may make a clean sweep before the end of February.

1990: The Shining Company by Rosemary Sutcliff

I read Y Gododdin a few years ago and mostly just took away that its elegies for a band of warriors who feasted for a long time and then promptly got themselves slaughtered. Sutcliff's retelling of the story really fleshes out character and the logic behind the forming of the company, as well showing off her masterful ability to evoke historical periods.

1991: Imajica by Clive Barker

A big, sprawling beauty of a book. Sure, the focus could be tighter, but Barker created a rich, wondrous world I will happily revisit.

1992: Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry Pratchett

Young Johnny Maxwell is happily shooting alien hoards in his new video game when suddenly the screen flashes a message saying the aliens surrender and are begging him to stop slaughtering them.

I was a little confused as to what Pratchett was getting at here when it dawned on me that Only You Can Save Mankind was written around the time of the Gulf War, when the nightly news was full of images of missile lighting up the night sky like a video game. Having a game become a horrifying war actually works pretty well as a way of exploring desensitization to violence.

Fans of Good Omens will pick up more than a whiff of The Them in Johnny and his friends, which is no bad thing. I especially liked Kirsty, who is smart and talented and has the emotional intelligence of a box of rocks; it's surprisingly refreshing to read a female character who *isn't* the empathetic one.

1993: Johnny and the Dead by Terry Pratchett

Johnny Maxwell is back and this time he can see ghost, who are pissed off that their cemetery is slated for demolition after being sold to developers in a dodgy real estate deal.

There's a lot about the importance of tradition in this one; not tradition in the "this how we've always done things and why should we change them now" sense, but tradition as a way to respect and remember those who came before. Of course since this is Pratchett, he turns it all topsy-turvy so the living become keepers of the past while the dead get a new lease on, er, life.

1994: Brother Cadfael’s Penance by Ellis Peters

I've enjoyed the few Cadfael books I've read, but this one didn't do much for me. I went in expecting a mystery, but the murder and the search for Cadfael's missing son take a backseat to the politics behind the war that was devastating the country at the time.

1995: High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

The narrator is an asshole. All I wanted to do was tell him to grow up and stop whining.

1996: Johnny and the Bomb by Terry Pratchett

Johnny and his friends accidentally time travel back to the Blitz and have to figure out a way to escape the grandfather paradox.

The final Johnny Maxwell book is more polished than it's predecessors, but I didn't find it quite as memorable.

1998: The King’s Swift Rider by Mollie Hunter

A not very enthralling YA historical novel about Robert the Bruce. Hunter really didn't do much to bring the period to life, and her protagonist mostly just wanders around Scotland watching battles from a distance. Her portrayal of the warring factions is very black and white, with everyone on the Bruce's side as good and virtuous, while the English and those who side with them are all cruel villains.

I have Ivanhoe on deck for next month and am debating on either Lady Susan, The Watsons, and Sanditon or a re-read of Northanger Abbey for my Austen selection.

Fev 26, 2020, 3:22pm

>42 amanda4242: Wow, very impressive 1990s reading. I have only one book to read, and I haven't even started it yet.

Re: Austen: of the ones you haven't read, I would unequivocally say that Lady Susan is by far the best. And the funniest. But a re-read of NA is always worth it; the last time I read it references to literature popped up that I had completely forgotten.

Fev 27, 2020, 8:05am

I finished Chocolat but with mixed feelings.

>42 amanda4242: One book for almost every year, well done! I am tempted to do some rereading. I love Terry Pratchett, and I have read Johnny and the Dead but it was ages ago.

I have read Ivanhoe and liked it. So another Walter Scott maybe, but which one?

Fev 27, 2020, 9:38am

For March, I'll try a Jane Austen = Persuasion.

Fev 28, 2020, 8:42pm

>43 kac522: I am leaning toward Lady Susan, although Northanger is also calling out to me.

>44 EllaTim: I enjoyed Waverley even though it was a little wordy for my taste.

Editado: Mar 3, 2020, 1:19am

I managed to finish the 90s with a few hours to spare!

1997: Farm Boy by Michael Morpurgo

A sequel to War Horse, although it has little in common with its predecessor other than sharing a few characters. Albert bets that he and his horse Joey can out plow a tractor.

It's not a deep tale, but it's well told and kids will probably like it. It reminded me of the story of John Henry, but with a thankfully happier ending.

1999: Dominion by Nick Walters

A Doctor Who novel featuring the Eighth Doctor, Sam Jones, and Fitz Kreiner. Sam disappears and the TARDIS is severely damaged after an encounter with a dimensional anomaly; the Doctor and Fitz get stuck in Sweden where there's been a rash of mysterious disappearances.

I didn't much care for this one as it's mostly just running from monsters and people shouting at each other. That sort of thing can work okay on screen, but reading nearly 300 pages of it gets old.

And to start of March right I read a collection of some of Jane Austen's minor works: Lady Susan, The Watsons, and Sanditon. Lady Susan is a treat, with a deliciously wicked title character; it's slightly trashy and catty as hell and I really can't recommend it enough.

The Watsons is an abandoned novel of an impoverished woman of respectable family trying to find a suitable match; it's little more than a sketch and most of what's there looks like it would become parts of Austen's major novels. The unfinished Sanditon is a satirical look at a seaside resort and is much more polished than the other two works; it has the seeds of what could have been a masterpiece.

Mar 12, 2020, 9:53pm

If anyone is looking for books for May's theme, the latest Humble Book Bundle has The Best of Michael Moorcock at the $1 level.

Mar 25, 2020, 5:49pm

I finished a re-read of Austen with Sense and Sensibility: an annotated edition, annotated by Patricia Meyer Spacks. This is a lovely coffee-table sized volume, which is part of a series put out by Belknap. I read Spacks' annotations along with listening to the audio version read by Juliet Stevenson, who is always a delight. Spacks' notes include all the mentions of the words "sense", "sensible" and "sensibility", in the novel, and how each is being used, which I found most interesting. She also points out places where characters have these qualities.

Mar 25, 2020, 8:56pm

I was late in finishing Possession for the 1990s because it's such a large book, but it was well worth the time I spent with it. I've read Austen's major works multiple times, so I read Love and Freindship and The History of England over the weekend.

Mar 25, 2020, 9:38pm

Forgot to report I've finished Ivanhoe. Once you get through (or skip) Scott's terminally dull introduction and dedicatory epistle you're treated to a fine Romantic (capital letter intended) adventure. I'm tempted to pick up another of Scott's novels later in the year; maybe The Talisman?

Mar 25, 2020, 9:50pm

>51 amanda4242: Since The Talisman has a major character in blackface for a good part of the novel, I wonder if it has gotten flack for that.

Mar 25, 2020, 10:18pm

>52 quondame: Fewer than 1,000 people have it catalogued here, so it's probably escaped much criticism because most people haven't read it!

I was struck by Scott's treatment of the Jewish characters in Ivanhoe: although I cringed at the stereotypical greed of Isaac of York, he is still a very sympathetic character and is portrayed as a victim of villainous fanatical Christians. And Rebecca! Is there a finer heroine in 19th century literature than the wise and virtuous Rebecca?

Mar 25, 2020, 11:27pm

>51 amanda4242: I am hoping to finish Waverley before the month is out. Scott told a great tale.

>53 amanda4242: Have to agree that it is not the rabid anti-semitic tale I have seen elsewhere. Rebecca is a wonderful heroine.

>52 quondame: Susan, some of the PC stuff does irritate me nowadays, the book has to be read in the context of its time. I saw a wonderful show on YouTube the other day from 1974 when Dean Martin and selected guests did a "roast" of Sammy Davis Junior" - the jokes on race and religion were abundant but with somehow a fondness and generosity of sprit that made the show both hilarious as well as heart-warming. Sammy Davis loved it more than anyone else.

Editado: Mar 25, 2020, 11:47pm

>53 amanda4242: In high school, my essay was about how Rowena was the better heroine. Not that I was sincere or anything, but I really had no sympathy with Rebecca's histrionics about throwing herself out the window. Of course, my Jewish mother's snarking about the blue eyed Elizabeth Taylor in the movie was probably echoing in my head.

>54 PaulCranswick: I don't agree with totally dismissing books that don't suit modern standards, but at no time do I feel standards that promote politeness and inclusiveness should be relaxed or derided. If I had the energy and anything but negative charisma I'd be out in full SJW regalia.

Editado: Mar 26, 2020, 4:14am

>55 quondame: Agree with you totally about politeness and inclusiveness, Susan.

ETA Amended to put your proper name Susan. I am beginning to worry I have a kind of dyslexia for names developing!

Mar 30, 2020, 8:08pm

I'm not sure I'll get to the April authors in April due to COVID-19. The authors are not readily available here. The Evaristo Booker winner is, but it will be months before it is available to read because of the wait list. I'll try to catch them later when book supply is easier. (Most libraries suspended ILL if they are even open now. I don't want to spend the amount a full-price e-book costs.)

Mar 31, 2020, 11:56am

>57 thornton37814: have you tried

Mar 31, 2020, 12:31pm

>57 thornton37814: Scribd has a few titles by both authors. It's a subscription service, but they have a free thirty day trial.

Mar 31, 2020, 6:24pm

>58 fuzzi: I didn't think about checking Open Library. I'll look later.

>59 amanda4242: I don't know if I want to try Scribd or not.

Abr 2, 2020, 2:13pm

My first April read was Caryl Phillips's Rough Crossings, a play based on Simon Schama's nonfiction Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution. It's a fascinating story of former slaves promised freedom if they fought for the British and how they were lied to and generally screwed over. Unfortunately, Phillip's play is really boring, with terrible dialogue and horribly wooden characters.

Abr 3, 2020, 1:36pm

>61 amanda4242:
There are two good works of Young Adult fiction on the subject of American slaves being offered their freedom if they fought for the British. They are both by M. T. Anderson. Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume 1: The Pox Party and the second volume in the series. Most of the action with the British military is in the second book.

Editado: Abr 3, 2020, 3:52pm

>62 benitastrnad: I have volume one on the shelves! I'm also thinking of picking up Schama's book once the libraries re-open; I've only read one of his books before, but I remember enjoying his writing.

Editado: Abr 3, 2020, 3:52pm

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

Abr 3, 2020, 4:29pm

Hi - I read A Distant Shore by Caryl Phillips.

Abr 4, 2020, 8:41am

The library where I work is closed, but I have a key and I need to check in once or twice a week. We have a few books by Caryl Phillips in the collection, and The Lost Child came home with me to read this month.

Abr 11, 2020, 9:56pm

And I've rounded out the April authors with Bernardine Evaristo's The Emperor's Babe. Billed as a novel in verse, which here mostly means the paragraphs are split into couplets, it's the story of an African girl making her way in Roman Britain. It's sometimes funny, sometimes sad, and often raunchy as hell. I'm not sure I'll ever read it again, but I did enjoy it immensely.

Abr 11, 2020, 11:31pm

>67 amanda4242: In ordinary times that would be a BB, but alas, only paper copies are available (not) from my libraries.

Abr 11, 2020, 11:40pm

>69 amanda4242: Oddly, my library *doesn't* have paper copies of it and I might not have even discovered it if I hadn't been forced to scrounge up an ebook!

Editado: Maio 7, 2020, 2:02am

Caryl Phillips is on hold until my library opens up. Years ago I read Cambridge which I enjoyed.

For May I'm taking the Wild Card drama option. I just finished The Silver Box (1906), the first play and literary success of John Galsworthy. Although today he is remembered for his novels, in his early career he was best known for his plays. This first play contrasts how Justice is "served" for the haves vs. the have-nots. And it is not so far off from what still happens today. After the play's success, Galsworthy started on the first Forsyte novel, The Man of Property.

There are 2 more Galsworthy plays to read in this very used 1912 Tauchnitz edition, which I'll read in the coming days.

Maio 7, 2020, 2:23pm

For May, I read The Best Science Fiction stories from New World, with J.G. Ballard included.

Maio 8, 2020, 10:15am


Amazon and others have the first three books by Winston Graham on Kindle for $4.99 US:

Hurry! Hurry!

Maio 8, 2020, 1:43pm

>72 fuzzi: I snagged it from Google for $3.82!

Maio 8, 2020, 3:29pm

>73 amanda4242: excellent!

Maio 10, 2020, 4:33am

>42 amanda4242: I am a little late for February, but the Johnny Maxwell series was a good idea, thank you, Amanda.

For May I read Alle Tränen dieser Erde / The Book of Brian Aldiss by Brain W. Aldiss

Maio 18, 2020, 8:09pm

>75 SirThomas: I find that Terry Pratchett is usually a good idea.

Jun 2, 2020, 2:11pm

My May roundup:

Gloriana by Michael Moorcock

A glorious allegoric fantasy, which owes more than a little to Mervyn Peake. Definitely something I will reread.

The Crystal World by J. G. Ballard

Strange and hallucinatory. It's good, but it came across as a bit of a rehash of The Drowned World.

An Island Called Moreau by Brian Aldiss

Really bad. Like Island of Dr. Moreau with Marlon Brando bad.

Editado: Jun 2, 2020, 3:27pm

For June BAC, I read THE BEGINNING OF SPRING (timely) by Penelope Fitzgerald.

2.5 stars.

Vivid rendering of Birch trees - characters wishy-washy or forgettable - needless cruelty to bear cub very unwelcome
anywhere and added nothing to slow moving plot with silly ending.

Jul 1, 2020, 12:22pm

for July - there don't seem to be many of us left here -

I'm adding my first POLDARK -

and, if I'm making that big step, maybe our Leader here won't be afraid of his first POTTER!?!

Jul 1, 2020, 12:25pm

I read The Bookshop in June. Just never posted an update. It was an odd little book that I liked more than I disliked.

I will be reading The Crossing Places this month. If I have time at the end of the month I will also read Ross Poldark, but at the pace I've been reading this year I doubt I'll get to it.

Editado: Jul 1, 2020, 12:41pm

My June reads:

Ease by Patrick Gale

A successful playwright decides to slum it because she's bored, I guess? Almost all the characters were assholes or idiots.

The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald

A buffoon becomes obsessed with an empty headed twelve year old, who, in grand Romantic fashion, dies of consumption. I don't understand why there are so many glowing reviews of this one: the plot is crap and the writing has the stilted quality of a very poor translation.

Jul 1, 2020, 12:48pm

>79 m.belljackson: I forgot to post, thanks for the reminder.

I tried a Moorcock, Stormbringer but finally put it down, wasn't something I wanted to slog through just to say I'd finished it.

I've read all the Poldark books, and am going to read Poldark's Cornwall for the July challenge. Winston Graham wrote other books, too. I have The Grove of Eagles listed in my library, but don't recall reading it...I wonder where I have it stashed...?

Jul 1, 2020, 4:06pm

>81 amanda4242: >78 m.belljackson:

It would be welcome if someone would write a glowing Penelope Fitzgerald review to help
readers to understand why she's on this list.

Jul 1, 2020, 5:01pm

>83 m.belljackson: I liked Human Voices and thought The Bookshop was pretty good, so I've enjoyed 2/3 of the Fitzgerald books of read.

Jul 2, 2020, 12:50pm

>84 amanda4242:

Thank you! I will look for these and anticipate better reading times.

Editado: Jul 19, 2020, 6:43pm

I read the first Ruth Galloway mystery The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths. Nice diversion and the mystery solution was all within the story, which I liked.

The Caryl Phillips and Penelope Fitzgerald books have now come in from the library, so I will be reading them this month.

Jul 19, 2020, 4:37pm

The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths

A very enjoyable mystery set around the theatrical word in 1950s Brighton. I've already downloaded the sequel and will be starting it in the next few days.

Editado: Jul 28, 2020, 2:55pm

Well, Griffiths Stephens and Mephisto series is proving popular in my family: I'll be starting the third book after I finish my re-read of Ross Poldark and my dad is currently devouring book five.

Ago 1, 2020, 4:00pm

For August, an old favorite, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

Editado: Ago 1, 2020, 6:22pm

Catching up here with BAC reading: I read Caryl Phillips' A View of the Empire at Sunset (April author) and Penelope Fitzgerald's The Gate of Angels (June author).

Loved the Fitzgerald--so many ideas on so many levels, but was disappointed with Phillips. I had loved his Cambridge, but this more recent work just did not hold my interest. It was well-written, but didn't pull me in. It is supposed to be a fictionalized version of the life of Jean Rhys, best know for Wide Sargasso Sea. I felt like I knew no more about Rhys than what I learned on Wikipedia--this book is distant and obscure.

Shirley will be my selection for August--it is the only major work of the Bronte sisters that I have not read.

Ago 1, 2020, 6:56pm

For my August selection I chose a collection of the Brontës' juvenilia, Tales of Glass Town, Angria, and Gondal: Selected Writings, but read it back in April because that's when the ILL came in.

I had vaguely known that Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne had created and written about a fantasy world, but didn't really know anything about the tales going in. The collection is separated into one section for each of the siblings and begins with Charlotte, who wrote most of the stories of Glass Town and Angria. They start out fantastical, with miles-high giants and guiding spirits, but quickly become straight-forward melodrama with an odd obsession with the Duke of Wellington and his fictional descendants. Although the stories are decidedly strange, it's not difficult to see the seeds of Charlotte's later work there.

I chose this collection partly because it also contained selections from Branwell Brontë and I was curious to see how his writing compared to that of his sisters. I found his style to be much the same as Charlotte's, if slightly more bellicose. A pity he didn't live longer as he might have turned into an interesting writer.

Emily's poems of the imaginary realm of Gondal were even more emo than I had expected them to be. I really should have made a count of how many times the word "drear" appeared--I'm certain it was in the double digits!

And lastly were Anne's writings. I wouldn't call her writing cheerful, but she didn't wallow in the misery of her characters. Although her poetry didn't bowl me over, I found it to be the work of an intelligent, sensible mind.

Editado: Ago 31, 2020, 2:26pm

No love for the Brontës this month?

Editado: Ago 31, 2020, 2:33pm

>92 amanda4242: I had intended to read Shirley, but....I'm hoping to read it this month. I admire you making it through the juvenilia; I tried a few months ago, but it wasn't for me.

For the WWII books I'm going to read One Fine Day by Mollie Panter-Downes, which is really a post-war book, showing how one family's lives were changed by the war.

Ago 31, 2020, 3:15pm

For September, I planned to read Daughters of Mars, which had its moments, but turned out to be World War I.

So, I moved to Defending the Rock which was both highly informative and perplexing.

For World War II fiction, I read The Burning Mountain.

Altogether, the three made for true depression with no redemption due to our current endless predicted ruin.

Editado: Ago 31, 2020, 3:25pm

>93 kac522: I had intended to read Shirley, but....

I know what you mean! I meant to reread Jane Eyre, but ended up rereading Rebecca instead.

I probably wouldn't have made it through the juvenilia either if the libraries hadn't closed down and I had access to other titles.

Ago 31, 2020, 5:51pm

>92 amanda4242: I started Wuthering Heights. I've tried it two times years ago, and couldn't get through. Now I'm using the serial reader app, just around a chapter a day. I liked the beginning, but I am starting to like it less now...

Set 1, 2020, 6:58am

>92 amanda4242: I had The Tenant of Wildfell Hall on my list, and found it online in pdf, but I don't care for most ebooks. I have to be really excited about a book to read it in a non-paper format. I tried finding it at the used bookstore, too, but he didn't have any Brontes!

Set 1, 2020, 10:53am

>97 fuzzi: What kind of bookstore doesn't have any Brontës?!

Set 1, 2020, 2:15pm

>98 amanda4242: one that hasn't accepted any trade-ins since April?

Set 1, 2020, 2:34pm

>99 fuzzi: I always assumed Brontë books came with the building: walls, ceiling, 500 copies each of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights...

Editado: Set 1, 2020, 3:23pm

>97 fuzzi: I actually coughed up the cash to buy a new(ish) Penguin edition (from an Independent bookstore) of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall with an Intro by Stevie Davies, which I read in January. It was well worth it for her intro/analysis (best to read AFTER you've finished). There are a lot of ground-breaking ideas in the book, if you examine it closely. Perhaps a library might own this edition?

Set 1, 2020, 6:26pm

>96 EllaTim:
I loved Wuthering Heights. It is one of my favorite books of all time. Of course, I haven't read it lately, but I always remember it with fondness. I am not a Heathcliff or Catherine fan, but I totally got the idea of the negative attraction between them and the terrible results. I also get why it can be a boring read now. The plot is so hackneyed by now, but considering when it was written, it was a trailblazer. It must have been a real shocker when it was published because it pushed so many boundaries and buttons at all levels of society.

Set 1, 2020, 6:37pm

>102 benitastrnad: I think opinions are divided on it, a love it or leave it book?
I guess so. One thing that seems renewing to me is that the main protagonists are not black or white, good or bad. The good ones come across as a bit dull.
I am certainly not finding it boring!

Set 2, 2020, 4:17am

BBC's podcast In Our Time did an episode about Wuthering Heights a few years ago that was re-aired this summer. It gives you a really good insight into the way the book was written and why. I've listened to it several times and keep picking up new things.

Editado: Set 5, 2020, 10:45am

I started my WWII reading with some Terry Deary books. The Apple Spy, The Bike Escape, The Barrel Burglary, and The Phantom Farm are all short, illustrated novels which deal with some aspects of life in Britain during the war: spies, evacuations, the Home Guard, and rationing. Woeful Second World War is non-fiction that focuses more on individuals than on battles, which is a good choice as there's no way such a short book could ever succeed in adequately covering even one of the minor battles.

Adults may not get a lot out of these books, but I think they'd be excellent supplements for children studying WWII.

Up next: J. G. Ballard's Empire of the Sun

Editado: Set 2, 2020, 6:52pm

I was thinking of reading The Miracle of Dunkirk but just realized the author, Walter Lord was born in the USA. I do have a book about WWII by Helen MacInnes which should qualify.

EDIT: I have a couple Hammond Innes stories that are set in WWII, yes!

Set 2, 2020, 7:05pm

>104 PawsforThought: Thanks for the tip, Paws!

Editado: Set 4, 2020, 4:20pm

PaulCranswick shared this link on one of his threads and I thought I'd repost it here.

Furrowed Middlebrow's WWII fiction list

Editado: Set 4, 2020, 4:56pm

>108 amanda4242: Thanks for re-posting that...I saw so many titles I want to read.

From that list, one of the best books I've read in recent years is Marghanita Laski's Little Boy Lost. Tackles all sorts of personal and ethical problems of war and identity in one small volume, yet still with a very good story underneath. It's published by Persephone books, and this month is featured on their website:

Set 5, 2020, 10:41am

Finished Jane Eyre yesterday

Set 5, 2020, 8:21pm

>110 mnleona:
Jane Eyre is another book that I enjoyed. I didn't read it until a few years ago and I found the reading boring, but then I realized that the book was published in the 1840's and the light bulb went off. Back then that plot was unheard of. Today it is copied by so many people. I am not sure that I liked the way it ended, but I do think it deserves it's place in literary history.

Set 15, 2020, 7:41pm

I did my WWII reading in Russia, with The Siege by Helen Dunmore. Very good. Several people here mentioned liking her books, and then this one was mentioned in a list of best books of the 21st century. It was published in 2001, but it did remind me of older books. Not in a bad way.

It is a dramatic story, of a very tough time. The siege of Leningrad, telling of hunger and winter, and what the people of the city went through. It is of course a war story but not focussed on the military happenings, but on the human aspect of it.

Set 18, 2020, 5:58pm

>112 EllaTim: I think The Seige is her finest book Ella. It's sequel isn't bad, but not as good. I liked her early books too.

Set 18, 2020, 6:14pm

>113 Caroline_McElwee: That is too bad Caroline! It's so nice to find a new writer you like. I wasn't really tempted by the sequel. But I'll keep her early books in mind.

Set 30, 2020, 3:33pm

A few more WWII novels:

Empire of the Sun by J. G. Ballard

Many of Ballard's science fiction novels are apocalyptic or feature the breakdown of society, but none of them really come close to the harrowing nature of this novel, which was inspired by Ballard's own experiences at a prison camp in Shanghai during WWII.

Dawn of Fear by Susan Cooper

Three English schoolboys living in a London suburb during the start of the Blitz find more excitement than fear in the nightly bombings. My enjoyment of this one suffered a bit because I read it immediately after Empire of the Sun; although the horrors of war eventually hit home for the boys in Dawn of Fear, their obsession with building a secret hideout just seems frivolous when my last read featured a boy whose main concern was trying to get himself sent to a POW camp so he'd have a *slightly* reduced chance of starving to death.

Put Out More Flags by Evelyn Waugh

The Bright Young Things of Waugh's previous novels have grown older but not any wiser. Set during the "Phoney War," the first months at the start of WWII when there were few battles on the Western front, the affluent characters spend there days lamenting the shortage of servants, trying to get into fashionable regiments where they think they will see no action, arguing in cafes, and dealing with the "horror" of having to house evacuees. Waugh's satire is as vitriolic as ever, so expect no happy endings here.

Set 30, 2020, 3:51pm

If anyone is looking for an Orwell book to read for October, I recommend Homage to Catalonia. It's a nonfiction account of his time spent fighting in the Spanish Civil War, and I found that reading it gave me greater insight into Animal Farm and 1984.

Editado: Out 2, 2020, 10:46am

>116 amanda4242:

Great recommendation for Homage to Catalonia!- yet I just completed Tolstoy's
Sevastopol Sketches, so for now, I'll stay with less fighting in Animal Farm.

Out 2, 2020, 11:34am

>115 amanda4242: I read the Ballard when it first came out Amanda. A very fine novel.

Nov 1, 2020, 2:38pm

Despite getting a late start, I managed to finish both of my October books before the end of October. I re-read Animal Farm and still find it an extremely well-told tale; Orwell's disgust with tyrants of any sort really shines through. My other pick was Joanne Harris's The Gospel of Loki, an entertaining re-telling of Norse myth narrated by the trickster Loki.

Off to find November books now.

Nov 1, 2020, 3:18pm

Hi - Le Carre's Absolute Friends got off to a decent start then proved to be around 1.5 STARS.

Hope someone can recommend a great one!

Nov 1, 2020, 3:45pm

>120 m.belljackson: Afraid I can't help you there. I've only read The Constant Gardener and The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and didn't care for either of them.

Editado: Nov 1, 2020, 5:07pm

The one LeCarre I've read Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy left me befuddled. I've got 2 Fay Weldon books on order from the library: Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen about reading and writing, and a biography of writer Rebecca West.

Nov 2, 2020, 1:19pm

I guess I’m the only one here who likes Le Carré. I’ve read the Karla trilogy and thought it was really good, but it’s very dense and you have to pay attention the whole time or you’ll be out of the loop. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold was superb. I’ve not read any of his non-spy novels, but I intend to.

Nov 2, 2020, 2:40pm

For those who appreciated Ballard's Empire of the Sun I can strongly recommend his Miracles of Life: Shanghai to Shepperton, An Autobiography. He provides more details of his (and thus young Jim's) early life in Shanghai as well as telling us what was changed from real life. I was very impressed with it.

Nov 2, 2020, 6:47pm

>123 PawsforThought: Oh that can't be. I've enjoyed the Le Carré books I've read.

Editado: Nov 3, 2020, 9:17am

>123 PawsforThought: I agree that The Spy Who Came in From the Cold was superb. It's just not something I care to revisit.

(Touchstones down again)

Nov 3, 2020, 7:26pm

I tried Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris. And couldn't finish it, I got stuck on a chapter about bullying, but it was a rather black book overall. I guess I was misled by the title. Maybe I will finish it, later, but I don't really think so.

Nov 3, 2020, 7:28pm

>123 PawsforThought: No I like Le Carré as well, but you are right, you really have to pay attention.

Editado: Nov 4, 2020, 6:18pm

>127 EllaTim:
I read Five Quarters of the Orange some years ago and thought it was a worthy read and thought provoking. It was the first time that I had to think about French collaboration in WWII and what that meant for the French on both sides of collaboration. I agree, that it isn't for everybody, but I liked it.

Nov 4, 2020, 8:05pm

The Rules of Life by Fay Weldon

Some sort of hand wave-y technology allows for the dead to be summoned up to talk, although they can't be questioned. An unoriginal premise which is not saved by focusing on a self-absorbed dead woman with a laundry obsession.

I've checked out le Carré's Pigeon Tunnel from the library. Hope I like it more than I do the other books of his I've tried.

Nov 8, 2020, 3:01pm

Hi all! The BAC 2021 planning thread is up. Please stop by and feel free to offer suggestions!

Nov 13, 2020, 5:22pm

My le Carré read was his memoir, The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life. I found it generally interesting, especially the chapter about his con artist father, but my enjoyment was hampered by the fact I'm not old enough for many of the people and events he talked about to be much more than stuff I vaguely remember from history class. Still, people who are older than I and/or have a deeper knowledge of the Cold War than I do will probably find it fascinating.

And a reminder that the BAC 2021 planning thread is up. I'll probably start announcing some selections Sunday, so there's still time to chime in.

Nov 16, 2020, 7:58pm

>124 RBeffa: Thanks for the rec for Miracles of Life. I'm halfway through and totally engrossed.

Nov 17, 2020, 10:51am

>133 amanda4242: I'm glad you are enjoying it. It is a great book both as memoir and a document of history in China.

Nov 17, 2020, 12:37pm

>129 benitastrnad: Hi Benita. I had more difficulty with the more personal aspects, like the way she was treating her mother. And the chapter where her restaurant starts getting bullied. In all it was just too much for me, but that's personal as well, I just wasn't feeling up to it.

Nov 17, 2020, 4:46pm

I've started announcing the 2021 BAC picks. Stop by and let me know what you think.

Dez 2, 2020, 3:02pm

Yes, I started early again and am already finished with December's books.

2010: The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde
2011: The Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde

The first two books in the Chronicles of Kazam series are delightful.

2012: Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

Much the same as the preceding volume except Mantel replaced her ambiguous use of pronouns with the clear, if cringe-worthy, "he, Cromwell." Earned an extra fraction of a point for using "defenestrate," which is one of my favorite words.

2013: Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor, read by Zara Ramm
2014: A Second Chance by Jodi Taylor, read by Zara Ramm
2015: No Time Like the Past by Jodi Taylor, read by Zara Ramm
2016: Lies, Damned Lies, and History by Jodi Taylor, read by Zara Ramm
2017: And the Rest is History by Jodi Taylor, read by Zara Ramm

Yes, I used this theme as an excuse to revisit the time traveling historians of The Chronicles of St Mary's. I love this series and I expect I'll find some way to work it into my reading next year, too.

2018: Heroes: Mortals and Monsters, Quests and Adventures by Stephen Fry, read by the author

I enjoyed it, but not quite as much as I did the previous volume; Mythos jumped around a bit more so it seemed very fast-paced, but Heroes stuck with one hero for large chunks, making it a bit plodding at times. Still, looking forward to Fry's volume on the Trojan War.

2019: A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

A very enjoyable look at the Trojan War and surrounding events as seen through the eyes of the female characters. Some parts don't work as well as others, but Haynes' stroppy muse and her increasingly frustrated Penelope are highlights, and there's an incredibly touching scene between Cassandra and Clytemnestra near the end.

I'd also like to recommend Haynes's podcast, Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics. Her episode on The Iliad is, in addition to being a good primer for A Thousand Ships, very funny (spoiler: she really doesn't like Agamemnon).

Dez 26, 2020, 9:42pm

The general thread for the 2021 challenge is up!

Editado: Dez 27, 2020, 7:24pm

Thought I would wrap-up my BAC reading for 2020--not always read in the stated month:

January: Graham Swift, England and other Stories--didn't do much for me, except the title story
February: The 1990s - both the Graham Swift (above) and the Fitzgerald (June) were written in the 1990's, so I consider I did my part here.
March: Jane Austen--I ended up reading all of JA this year, except Emma. This includes the other 5 complete novels, plus Sanditon and Lady Susan. Most were on audiobook; 2 in print. Major comfort reads in a year of chaos.
April: Caryl Phillips, A View of the Empire at Sunset: disappointing, as I had loved Cambridge, but this was an odd book based on the life of Jean Rhys.
May: Wildcard: Playwrights: John Galsworthy--three plays--cutting social commentary
June: Penelope Fitzgerald: The Gate of Angels; brilliant; wish someone would make the film.
July: Elly Griffiths: The Crossing Places; entertaining mystery
August: The Brontë Sisters: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Bronte. Surprisingly good and ahead of its time.
September: World War II: One Fine Day, Mollie Panter-Downes; a post-WWII day in the life of a small town and one family
October: Wildcard: Playwrights: G. B. Shaw: "Major Barbara": social, political and religious commentary that sometimes was beyond me.
November: Fay Weldon: Two books: Letters to Alice: Well done fictitious letters to a fictitious niece about reading Austen and writing. Rebecca West: wrongly categorized as "biography", this is again letters to Rebecca West (2 years after she died!) that have mostly made-up dialogue, advice and just dumb. Almost creepy. Might have worked as a play about a specific time in West's life.
December: The 2010s : had planned on reading Kate Summerscale's Mrs Robinson's Disgrace, but did not get to it. Perhaps it will fit somewhere next year.

Dez 27, 2020, 8:18pm

>139 kac522: Next year's wildcard is books off the shelf, so perhaps you could fit Mrs Robinson's Disgrace in there.

Jan 1, 1:21am

Well, I finished the year with a total of 55 BAC books and all months completed.

January: Jeanette Winterson & Graham Swift
Weight: The Myth of Atlas and Heracles by Jeanette Winterson ★★★1/2
Lighthousekeeping by Jeanette Winterson ★★★1/2

Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift ★★★1/2

February: The 1990s
1990: The Shining Company by Rosemary Sutcliff ★★★★
1991: Imajica by Clive Barker ★★★★1/2
1992: Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry Pratchett ★★★1/2
1993: Johnny and the Dead by Terry Pratchett ★★★1/2
1994: Brother Cadfael’s Penance by Ellis Peters ★★1/2
1995: High Fidelity by Nick Hornby ★★1/2
1996: Johnny and the Bomb by Terry Pratchett ★★★1/2
1997: Farm Boy by Michael Morpurgo ★★★1/2
1998: The King’s Swift Rider by Mollie Hunter ★★1/2
1999: Dominion by Nick Walters ★★1/2

March: Jane Austen & Walter Scott
Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sanditon by Jane Austen ★★★★

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott ★★★1/2

April: Bernardine Evaristo & Caryl Phillips
Rough Crossings by Caryl Phillips ★★1/2

The Emperor’s Babe by Bernardine Evaristo ★★★1/2

May: Michael Moorcock, JG Ballard, & Brian Aldiss
Gloriana by Michael Moorcock ★★★1/2
Tales from the End of Time by Michael Moorcock ★★★1/2
Modem Times 2.0 by Michael Moorcock ★★1/2

An Island Called Moreau by Brian Aldiss ★1/2

The Crystal World by J. G. Ballard ★★★

June: Penelope Fitzgerald & Patrick Gale
Ease by Patrick Gale ★★

The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald ★1/2

July: Elly Griffiths & Winston Graham
The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths ★★★
Smoke and Mirrors by Elly Griffiths ★★★1/2
The Blood Card by Elly Griffiths ★★★1/2
The Vanishing Box by Elly Griffiths ★★★1/2
Now You See Them by Elly Griffiths ★★★★

Ross Poldark by Winston Graham ★★★★

August: Charlotte, Anne, & Emily Brontë
Tales of Glass Town, Angria, and Gondal by The Brontës ★★★

September: World War Two
The Barrel Burglary by Terry Deary ★★★1/2
The Phantom Farm by Terry Deary ★★★
Woeful Second World War by Terry Deary ★★★
The Bike Escape by Terry Deary ★★★
The Apple Spy by Terry Deary ★★★
Empire of the Sun by J. G. Ballard ★★★★★
Dawn of Fear by Susan Cooper ★★1/2
Put Out More Flags by Evelyn Waugh ★★★★

October: Joanne Harris & George Orwell
Animal Farm by George Orwell ★★★★

The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris ★★★1/2

November: Fay Weldon & John le Carre
The Rules of Life by Fay Weldon

The Pigeon Tunnel by John le Carre ★★★

December: The Last Decade
2010: The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde ★★★★
2011: The Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde ★★★★
2012: Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel ★★★
2013: Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor ★★★★
2014: A Second Chance by Jodi Taylor ★★★★
2015: No Time Like the Past by Jodi Taylor ★★★★
2016: Lies, Damned Lies, and History by Jodi Taylor ★★★★
2017: And the Rest is History by Jodi Taylor ★★★★
2018: Heroes: Mortals and Monsters, Quests and Adventures by Stephen Fry ★★★★
2019: A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes ★★★1/2

Wildcard: Playwrights
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard ★★★1/2