What are you reading the week of June 20, 2020?

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What are you reading the week of June 20, 2020?

1fredbacon
Jun 19, 2020, 11:08pm

I don't have anything interesting to report on. I'm still slogging away at Kuby Immunology which is fascinating but tough going.

2LyndaInOregon
Jun 19, 2020, 11:34pm

GURDEESH - Thanks for pointing me toward Saki. Humor, Horror, and the Supernatural was the first one to come to hand.

I enjoyed the 22 stories, though I purposely put the book aside after each one. They are very short, and it would have been easy to devour it in one sitting, which I think would have been less enjoyable than taking each one separately.

Interesting to note that they were in fact released separately, in periodicals of the day, so his original audience did in fact have to wait between tales.

Gearing up to read Zora Neale Hurston's Barracoon for this month's F2F book club. I'm a bit reluctant, being somewhat of a contrarian. (Oh, gee, African-American people are currently in the news, so let's us white folks read something by a Black author.)

In addition, much of it is written in dialect, which I personally find distracting and somewhat off-putting. I'm sure Hurston had a reason for this choice, which may come up in the discussion, or in ancillary reading as I prep for the discussion. But reading long stretches of dialect (of any flavor) is like reading a language of which I have only the barest understanding. Ideas don't flow and pacing is interrupted while my brain translates the sentence structure, idiom, and phonetic spelling into words that make sense to me.

This might be one of those rare works best approached through a spoken version.

3Gurdeesh.Kaur.Sethi
Editado: Jun 20, 2020, 5:31am

>2 LyndaInOregon:
Glad to be of service :-)
Try reading his whole collection

4Molly3028
Jun 20, 2020, 8:12am

Continuing to enjoy this OverDrive audiobook ~

Texas Outlaw (A Texas Ranger Thriller, book 2) by James Patterson

(continues the tale of Texas Ranger Rory Yates/nice change of pace)

5Gurdeesh.Kaur.Sethi
Editado: Jun 21, 2020, 12:22am

>1 fredbacon:
What is Kuby immunology?
Are you a Doctor by any chance?

6rocketjk
Jun 20, 2020, 10:31am

I'm about a third of the way through Janesville: An American Story by Amy Goldstein. It is a very lucid and human-natured based non-fiction report on what happened in Janesville, Wisconsin, after their GM plant, where generations had worked, closed down.

7cindydavid4
Jun 20, 2020, 12:34pm

in one of those reading blocks, usually happens when any book I see does nto in any way match the last excellent book I just finished. so I am reading my magazines (NYer, Smithsonian, Archaeology Today) Very excited that my indie bookstore opens on Tues, I've got my list so hopefully I will have more to report later!

8ahef1963
Jun 20, 2020, 1:26pm

>1 fredbacon: I would also like to know about Kuby Immunology! Please tell us more!

Suddenly, the reading slump has disappeared and I'm chowing down on books as if I've been starving. It helps that I took a delivery of three Discworld books this week - I'm reading Witches Abroad and giggling a lot. I'd forgotten how funny it is, and how much I love Granny and Nanny.

Somebody here - more than one somebody, I think - recommended Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalban books some time ago. I bought The Shape of Water but couldn't get into it, on two separate occasions. I decided to give it a third and final try this week, and oh, I loved it, and I loved the inspector. The story is so character-driven, which is always a good thing. I've ordered the second book in the series and it's making its way here. Thanks to all who recommended it.

9JulieLill
Jun 20, 2020, 1:41pm

Started Beartown by Fredrik Backman.

10cindydavid4
Editado: Jun 20, 2020, 1:57pm

>8 ahef1963: oh yes, Discworld is amazing, and that might just do the trick!!!

11BookConcierge
Jun 20, 2020, 7:31pm


Meet Me Halfway: Milwaukee Stories – Jennifer Morales
4****

From the book jacket: An urban neighborhood must find ways to bridge divisions between black and white, gay and straight, old and young. … In nine stories Morales captures a Rust Belt city’s struggle to establish a common ground and a collective vision of the future.

My reactions:
I love short stories and was expecting that format. But this is really a novel told from nine different viewpoints. It begins when a black teenager, Johnquell, goes to help the elderly Polish widow who lives next door move a bookcase. He is a high school senior facing a bright future, having gotten into a good university. But a tragic accident ends that dream. The subsequent stories reveal more about Johnqell, his family and friends, as well as about Mrs Czernicki and her friends and relations.

It’s an engaging and interesting look at an urban struggle that is all too familiar. Morales explores how one’s opinions might be changed (or at least softened) by more contact, by listening and being open to other people’s stories and viewpoints. She also shows how difficult it is to move from that entrenched position, and how rewarding it is to “meet in the middle.”

This was to have been my F2F book club’s April selection, but that’s been put off to October now. The author is going to join us and I’m very much looking forward to that discussion.

12cindydavid4
Jun 20, 2020, 8:56pm

Equal rites sooooo good!

13Gurdeesh.Kaur.Sethi
Editado: Jun 21, 2020, 12:19am

I'm reading Cold steel. Lakshmi Mittal and the multi million dollar battle for a global empire by Tim Bouquet and Byron Ousey

14manavipradhan
Jun 21, 2020, 6:34am

Essa mensagem foi considerada abusiva por vários usuários e não mais será mostrada. (mostrar)
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15Molly3028
Jun 21, 2020, 8:23am

Enjoying this OverDrive Kindle eBook Alexa is narrating for me ~

Agony of the Leaves (A Tea Shop Mystery) by Laura Childs

(book 13/cozy mystery/Charleston/drowning murder)

16PaperbackPirate
Jun 21, 2020, 1:35pm

I'm reading a few articles a day from The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2009 edited by Elizabeth Kolbert. So far my favorite article is Faustian Economics from Harper's Magazine by Wendell Berry. Though written in 2009, I found this quote applicable to the "freedom" debate about wearing a mask out in public:

In our limitless selfishness, we have tried to define "freedom," for example, as an escape from all restraint. But, as my friend Bert Hornback has explained in his book The Wisdom in Words, "free" is etymologically related to "friend." These words come from the same Indo-European root, which carries the sense of "dear" or "beloved." We set our friends free by our love for them, with the implied restrains of faithfulness or loyalty. And this suggests that our "identity" is located not in the impulse of selfhood but in deliberately maintained connections.

Then after that I read Blue Rodeo by Jo-Ann Mapson for fun.

17cindydavid4
Jun 21, 2020, 3:16pm

wyrd witches its been a very very long time since I read this, and forgotten how Macbeth it was!

18princessgarnet
Jun 21, 2020, 4:03pm

From the library: Katheryn Howard: The Scandalous Queen by Alison Weir
The latest and #5 installment in the "Six Tudor Queen" series

20ahef1963
Jun 21, 2020, 11:30pm

I finished Witches Abroad this evening - my reunion with this book was a very happy one, and I've continued to give it five stars.

Am just beginning Leaving the Witness: Exiting a Religion and Finding a Life by Amber Scorah, which has grabbed me thoroughly despite being only 28 pages in. I've always been interested in books about people finding/leaving religious groups, whether they be considered cults or established faiths.

21cindydavid4
Jun 22, 2020, 6:50am

witches abroad is next for me, having so much fun revisiting these!

22GURDEESH
Jun 22, 2020, 6:55am

>21 cindydavid4:

jealous of you..haha..

23mnleona
Editado: Jun 22, 2020, 7:55am

Finished yesterday, Coconut Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke. This one gets a 3 star from me.
Re-reading a book from my shelf by Mary Stewart, Thornyhold.

24snash
Jun 22, 2020, 11:43am

I finished A Spool of Blue Thread which was a character driven story of a family, their relationships, and a house. It was an enjoyable read although it felt a little disjointed at times, jumping from generation to generation.

25LyndaInOregon
Jun 22, 2020, 1:44pm

>24 snash:
I remember reading that and thinking that it probably started out as a short story -- the section about the grandparents' early marriage (and bringing the spool of blue thread into the narrative) could stand alone very nicely. The rest of the novel was less satisfying.

26JulieLill
Jun 22, 2020, 2:28pm

>23 mnleona: I love Mary Stewart

27snash
Jun 22, 2020, 4:11pm

>25 LyndaInOregon: I got hooked into the story of Abby and family so that I found the grandparent's story (while also good) an irritating interruption. Any way you look at it, it's not obvious how the two stories fit together.

28Bcteagirl
Jun 22, 2020, 4:50pm

Digging into the back of mount TBR for any shorter books I haven't finished off yet. I just finished Short Stories about Saskatchewan the Canadian province where I was born and raised. It is a very prairie province (with lakes and forest on top) and at the time largely a farming province. As such many of the short stories are set in towns, farms, and more remote areas. I was able to dig all the way back to 2010 and clear this off my TBR pile!

This is a nice set of (mostly) heartwarming short stories with a few sad ones worked in. There are a few that tell the sad truth about negative attitudes towards First Nations at the time (and today). Many of the tales are very humorous. For example in 'Betting Sam's Last Bet' the entire town catches a fever of betting on who can find the grasshopper that can make the largest jump, and all are on the trail of legendary 'Jumping Jake'.

If you are looking for something different to read, and enjoy short stories I would highly recommend this short set.

29ahef1963
Jun 23, 2020, 6:17pm

I read all day yesterday (my weekend is Monday and Tuesday and most of Wednesday), and completed Amber Scorah's excellent book Leaving the Witness about her upbringing as a Jehovah's Witness, her missionary work for them, and her eventual disillusionment with them. I heartily recommend this memoir, and would give it more stars than five if it were possible. (This one goes to eleven!!)

Next up, I think, is The Huntress by Kate Quinn.

30cindydavid4
Jun 23, 2020, 7:14pm

>24 snash: >25 LyndaInOregon: I was a huge fan of Anne Tyler, her first books Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant Accidental Tourist and Breathing lessons were fantastic (short listed for the pulizer) The last one I really liked was Ladder of years After that, all of her subsequent novels felt repetitious, same basic idea, just in diffeent places with different characters, Kinda gave up on her. I did try A Spool of Blue Thread and didn't get far. I know she is still very popular, but I got tired of reading the same ole.

Finished Wyrd Sisters. Pratchetts shakesperian tale thats hilarous. Next is Witches Abroad then move on to Sci fi with Annihilation for a book group

31snash
Jun 23, 2020, 7:25pm

>30 cindydavid4: I also loved her first books, but haven't read any of hers for some 20 years. I was looking for something pleasant and easy to read to counter the present situation and it fit the bill. I don't remember enough of my earlier reading of her books to be bothered by the repetition.

32BookConcierge
Jun 23, 2020, 8:09pm


The Women in the Castle – Jessica Shattuck
Book on CD narrated by Cassandra Campbell
3***

Three German widows are brought together shortly after World War II ends. Marianne von Lingenfels returns to her deceased husband’s ancestral castle – now in ruins. He had conspired with other resisters to assassinate Hitler and was himself murdered. But Marianne had promised her husband’s conspirators to find their families and help them, so that is what she sets out to do. First she rescues Martin, the young son of her childhood friend, from a Nazi re-education camp. They then find Martin’s mother, Betina, a beautiful but naïve, young woman. Finally, Marianne locates Ania, a quiet, resourceful and determined mother of two boys who have been in one of the many refugee camps that house the many citizens displaced by the war.

I liked the idea of this novel’s story more than I liked the actual book.

Make no mistake, there are some interesting and thought-provoking themes here. How does one move on after enduring such traumatic events? How do we recognize the ways we may be complicit – by willful ignorance, by standing by, by NOT making waves – and atone for that? Can we “allow” someone else to find happiness (let alone celebrate it), when we are so angry, hurt, fearful, ashamed? Can we allow future generations to NOT carry the burden?

However, on the whole I found the novel completely forgettable. I’m sure this is ME and not the novel. I’ve only just now looked at the back cover with all the blurbs by authors I love, singing Shattuck’s praises. And, of course, many people whose opinions I trust have rated the book highly. Perhaps I’m just completely over the desire to read about WWII and its aftermath.

Cassandra Campbell did a marvelous job performing the audiobook. She’s a gifted voice artist and has become one of my favorite audiobook narrators.

33cindydavid4
Jun 23, 2020, 9:07pm

>32 BookConcierge: Perhaps I’m just completely over the desire to read about WWII and its aftermath.

Been there done that. Learned about the holocaust as a very young child our sunday school teacher wa a survivor and he diddn't mince words. So Ive read a lot, and at some point just had to stop. A book has to really call me for me to read it (Book Theif wa one) I thought the book was well done - but totally get where you are coing from

34aussieh
Jun 23, 2020, 10:50pm

35cindydavid4
Jun 24, 2020, 10:41am

>8 ahef1963: and any other pratchett fan, just discovered this Knights of Madness: Further Comic Tales of Fantasy a series of shorts, with pratchett a a contributor!

36BookConcierge
Jun 24, 2020, 4:17pm


O Pioneers!– Willa Cather
4****

Cather’s first novel follows one family over decades as they settle the great plains of Nebraska. The heroine is Alexandra Bergson, who comes to the prairie near Hanover, NE, as the only girl in a family of brothers. Yet it is Alexandra who grows up to take over the farm from her father and ensure the family’s prosperity.

I loved Alexandra, despite her blind spots. This is a strong woman! Her love of the land is evident, but she is no romantic. Her eyes are wide open to potential disasters, but her shrewd instinct and even handedness in the way she husbands resources and manages both the land and the farm workers help her avoid disaster and recover from set-backs.

In addition, Alexandra is also completely dedicated to her family and to helping her younger brother, in particular, achieve his dreams. Her devotion, however, comes with a price, and she foregoes more than one chance at her own personal happiness. And yet, the story encompasses triumph as well as tragedy.

Cather’s writing is gloriously descriptive. I can smell the scent of freshly turned earth, hear the animals, feel the dusty grit. Her work evokes in me a kind of nostalgia for a simpler time, and at the same time, great relief that I do not have to perform that hard work today.

37rocketjk
Jun 24, 2020, 5:23pm

I finished Janesville: An American Story by Amy Goldstein. This is a well researched and extremely readable book about life in Janesville, Wisconsin, from 2008 through 2013, in the years following the closure of what had been the longest-running GM plant in the country. Literally generations of Janesville residents had made their livings from the plant and the many manufacturing companies that existed to supply parts to the cars built there. Interestingly, Janesville is also the hometown of Paul Ryan, Republican champion of governmental austerity and former Speaker of the House, a somewhat ironic fact given how solidly Democratic and pro-union the town has always been.

Janesville is an extremely valuable resource for understanding the economic and cultural issues besetting so much of American society today. You can see my more in-depth review on the book's work page or on my 50-Book Challenge thread.

Next up for me is Trailblazer: A Pioneering Journalist's Fight to Make the Media Look More like America by Dorothy Butler Gilliam. Hired in 1961, Gilliam, when she was hired in 1961, became the first Black woman reporter at the Washington Post. The book is her memoir of those times.

38framboise
Jun 24, 2020, 8:32pm

Reading the novel The Bright Side of Going Dark by Kelly Harms, a light fluffy kind of read.

Also started One Simple Thing A New Look at the Science of Yoga and How it Can Transform Your Life by Eddie Stern, which is very interesting but will take longer as I will read it slowly and in bits.

39LyndaInOregon
Jun 25, 2020, 12:15am

Just finished The Golden Thread, by Kassia St. Clair, which was a wildly uneven study of "how fabric changed history", ranging from the earliest examples of man-made cloth through present-day attempts to duplicate the miracle of spider web.

This book cries out for color plates -- I spent almost as much time on Google Image Search as I did reading -- and desperately needed one more pass across a good editor's desk. Parts of it were fascinating, others were snoozers.

Worth a read if you're interested in textiles, but not really the reference book I had thought it would be.

40BookConcierge
Jun 25, 2020, 4:31pm


The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek – Kim Michelle Richardson
Digital audio performed by Katie Schorr.
4****

Deep in the Appalachia Mountains of Kentucky is the community of Troublesome Creek. Life is difficult here in the best of times, during the Great Depression it is particularly challenging. But thanks to Franklin D Roosevelt’s Kentucky Pack Horse Library project, Cussy Mary Carter has a job as a librarian, delivering books and magazines to the most remote homesteads of the area. Cussy is also unique in that she is the last of the “blue people,” having inherited a medical condition that results in a blue tint to her skin. In addition to the dangers of the terrain, she also faces the prejudice against her kind – and the Jim Crow laws that oppress all “colored people.”

I love reading historical fiction, particularly when it focuses on an element of history about which I know little. I had heard of the pack-horse librarians before. (In fact, at least 10 years ago, I wrote a letter to another author suggesting she explore this part of history for a book – to my knowledge, she never did.) So, I was immediately interested in this story. The added element of Cussy’s medical condition was new to me, and I was intrigued. And the author’s use of vernacular dialect helped to transport me to a different time and place.

Cussy is a marvelous lead character. Strong – both physically and mentally. A kind and compassionate woman who stands up for herself, whether against her father’s insistence that she marry or those residents who would harm her for nothing more than her skin color, she’s dedicated to her work and brings more than just books to the remote homesteads on her route. She also champions the cause of other oppressed people, as her father toils in the mines that provide a livelihood while stealing one’s health. Despite multiple setbacks, Cussy perseveres.

Katie Schorr does a marvelous job of performing the audiobook. She brings these characters to life, and truly transported me to a different time and place.

The text version, which I also had handy, includes Author’s notes on the history behind the novel, as well as photographs and an interview with the author.

41cindydavid4
Editado: Jun 25, 2020, 5:06pm

You might be interested in a YA book I read this summer Upright Women Wanted about a group of librarians traveling by wagon through the dystopian south west. , but their job is not quite what it seems. Interesting idea

42snash
Jun 25, 2020, 5:41pm

I finished the YA LTER book Making Friends with Alice Dyson. I've read very few YA books but enjoyed this one. It was written in the present tense which managed to pull the reader more closely into the character's shoes. It seemed a good portrayal of the high school social anxieties and the characters were intriguing.

43JulieLill
Jun 25, 2020, 5:45pm

Beartown
Fredrik Backman
3.5/5 stars
Set in a rural area where hockey is king, the author explores the dynamics of small town life and the importance of hockey to everyone in town. The junior hockey team is going to compete in the national semi-finals. However, a young girl is assaulted by a hockey player and this pits the hockey community against the people who believe her. Well written and hard to put down.

44BookConcierge
Jun 26, 2020, 10:33am


Peach Pies And Alibis – Ellery Adams
Digital audio read by C.S.E. Cooney
3***

Book two in the Charmed Pie Shoppe series, starring Ella Mae LeFaye, who discovered her magical powers in book one of the series. In this outing she’s been hired to cater a wedding, and she’s experimenting with her new craft, trying to understand how she got these powers and getting tutored by her mother, her aunts and her protector and pie-shop partner, Reba. She’s also warming up to handsome Hugh Dylan. But when a prominent citizen dies and a wedding guest gets ill, her business is suspect, and she feels she must investigate.

I like this installment much better than the first or third book. I was more entertained by the cozy mystery aspect, and as Ella Mae is learning about her family’s magical history, this reader is beginning to understand some of the relationships. I did find out how it came to be that her mother becomes a tree (a major plot point in book 3), and at least that subsequent book makes more sense to me now…though I’m not changing my rating of it. I guess this series really should be read in order.

It’s not great literature, but I did find it entertaining (if predictable). The text version includes some interesting recipes for various pies – both savory and dessert.

C.S.E. Cooney does a reasonable job on the audio. I think her accents are a bit over-the-top (especially for Reba), but she sets a good pace and has clear diction.

45BookConcierge
Jun 26, 2020, 10:34am

>41 cindydavid4: I recently heard about Upright Women Wanted ... already on the TBR. Thanks for the reminder.

46fredbacon
Jun 27, 2020, 1:22am

Oh gee. Okay, no I'm not a doctor or a medical student or anything like that. I just have an absurd curiosity about things. I tend to veer off into these strange tangents and start digging into some arcane field for an extended period. Then some new shinny thing comes along and catches my attention. :-D

Kuby Immunology is rather like Gray's Anatomy. There was a famous Immunology textbook that was written by a woman named Kuby. She passed away a few years ago, and four women immunologists took over the authorship of the book. Since the textbook was widely used, the publisher wanted to maintain that "brand" identity. So the name of the book is now Kuby Immunology.

It's challenging to read since I'm not a biologist, but I read Molecular Biology of the Cell last year which gave me enough background to tackle this book. My goal isn't to become an expert or anything like that. I just want to be able to listen to the experts and be able to follow what they're talking about.

Last winter I tried reading Molecular and Cellular Immunology but I wasn't fond of it's organization or writing. It was let down after the molecular cell biology book. The cell biology book was one of the best written science textbooks that I've ever read. Kuby Immunology is in that same class. It's extremely well written. The concepts are broken down into short, digestible portions. Their discussions are well motivated and precisely explained with clear illustrations. It is by far the better of the two textbooks on immunology that I've sampled.

Frankly this all came about because my old office mate from graduate school, Eric Smith, co-authored a book a couple of years ago titled The Origin and Nature of Life on Earth. I bought a copy and wanted to read it, but I realized that I really didn't know much about biology. I haven't been in a biology class since high school! So much has changed since then. So I decided to read up on the subject, focusing on molecular biology since it seemed most relevant to Eric's book. Now I'm deep down another rabbit hole, and I still haven't gotten to Eric's book. That's pretty typical for me. :-D

Here's a youtube video of a lecture by Eric Smith. Eric is a scary smart guy.

47fredbacon
Jun 27, 2020, 1:26am

The new thread is up over here.