Banjo has Plenty to Read! 2020 Thread 3

É uma continuação do tópico Banjo has Plenty to Read! 2020 Thread Two.

Discussão75 Books Challenge for 2020

Entre no LibraryThing para poder publicar.

Banjo has Plenty to Read! 2020 Thread 3

1banjo123
Out 11, 2020, 4:45pm

Welcome to my third thread for the year.



2banjo123
Editado: Out 11, 2020, 4:48pm

This thread's poem:

Defeat
By Kahlil Gibran

Defeat, my Defeat, my solitude and my aloofness;
You are dearer to me than a thousand triumphs,
And sweeter to my heart than all world-glory.

Defeat, my Defeat, my self-knowledge and my defiance,
Through you I know that I am yet young and swift of foot
And not to be trapped by withering laurels.
And in you I have found aloneness
And the joy of being shunned and scorned.

Defeat, my Defeat, my shining sword and shield,
In your eyes I have read
That to be enthroned is to be enslaved,
And to be understood is to be leveled down,
And to be grasped is but to reach one’s fullness
And like a ripe fruit to fall and be consumed.

Defeat, my Defeat, my bold companion,
You shall hear my songs and my cries and my silences,
And none but you shall speak to me of the beating of wings,
And urging of seas,
And of mountains that burn in the night,
And you alone shall climb my steep and rocky soul.

Defeat, my Defeat, my deathless courage,
You and I shall laugh together with the storm,
And together we shall dig graves for all that die in us,
And we shall stand in the sun with a will,
And we shall be dangerous.

3banjo123
Editado: Dez 29, 2020, 11:58pm

Books read in 2020

1. Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
2. Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
3. sabrina and Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine
4. Normal People by Sally Rooney
5. Good Talk by Mira Jacob
6. Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami
7. Evolution of Love by Lucy Jane Bledsoe
8. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

9. The Freedom Artist by Ben Okri
10, Saudade
11. We Cast A Shadow
12. Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
13. Mean by Myriam Gurba
14. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
15. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
16. Felon by Reginald Dwayne Betts

17. Trust Exercise by Susan Choi
18. Your House Will pay by Steph Cha
19. Gender Queer
20. Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout
21. Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
22. Lessons in Murder by Claire McNab
23. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

24. Maid by Stephanie Land
25. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
26. Simon the Fiddler by Paulette Jiles
27. Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
28. The Middlesteins by Jami Attenburg
29. All of Us with Wings by Michelle Ruiz Kell.

30. The Authenticity Experiment by Kate Carroll de Gutes
31. Art and Lies by Jeanette Winterson
32. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
33. Darkness Now Visible
34. Great House
35. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
36. Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit
37. Landed by Emma Donaghue

38. Russian Tattoo by Elena Gorokhova
39. Untamed by Glennon Doyle
40. The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall
41. Passing Strange
42. A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore

43. Malcolm X: A life of reinvention by Marable Manning
44. All this Could be Yours by Jami Attenberg
45. Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle
46. The Salt Eaters by Toni Cade Bambara
47. Slammerkin by Emma Donaghue
48. FranKissStein by Jeannette Winterson
49. The Jewish Writer by Jill Ktrementz
50/ Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar

51. Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert by Terry Tempest Williams
52. There, There by Tommy Orange
53. A House Is A Body by Shruti Swamy
54/ Aquamarine by Carol Anshaw
55. The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

56. Theory of Flight by Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu
57. Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor
58. Samarai's Garden by Gail Tsukayama
59. A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell

60. Jam on the Vine
61. Late Migrations by Margaret Renkl
62. Mirrored World by Debra Dean
63. No Knives in the Kitchens of this City
64. The Yellow House by Sarah Broom

65. The Secret Lifes of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
66. The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok
67. Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
68. Adam by Ariel Schrag
69. The Cold Million by Jess Walter
70. A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian

71. the night, and the rain, and the river
72. Residue Years by Mitchell Jackson
73. The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For
74. Dearly by Margaret Atwood
75. American Chica by Marie Arana
76. Summer For the Gods
77. Mexican Gothic

4banjo123
Editado: Out 11, 2020, 10:11pm

Banjo and Willi relaxing



5banjo123
Editado: Out 11, 2020, 10:12pm

From our apple picking excursion



6banjo123
Editado: Out 11, 2020, 4:52pm

Welcome to my new thread! I meant to add in a couple more photos, and have a couple of recently read books to review. But perhaps later. I am due to watch a friends "Coming Out" story on a zoom story-telling event, and then scheduled for a phone bank to encourage voters in Georgia.

7jessibud2
Out 11, 2020, 5:04pm

Happy new thread, Rhonda. Love that topper! ;-)

8lkernagh
Out 11, 2020, 5:25pm

Happy new thread, Rhonda!

9BLBera
Out 11, 2020, 7:45pm

Happy new thread, Rhonda. Great to encourage voters! Go!

10drneutron
Out 11, 2020, 7:46pm

Happy new thread!

11Oregonreader
Out 11, 2020, 8:06pm

Happy new thread, Rhonda. Love your topper.

12RebaRelishesReading
Out 11, 2020, 8:11pm

Happy new one, Rhonda. Thanks for including Kahili Gibran. I haven't read anything by him for years and it's nice to be reminded to do so.

13PaulCranswick
Out 11, 2020, 8:55pm

Happy new thread, Rhonda.

>1 banjo123: I love that!

>2 banjo123: I "discovered" Khahil Gibran when I worked in Egypt in the 1980s. We had a Lebanese agent who had a collection of his work and who made a present of some of it to me. An influence on me certainly.

14banjo123
Out 11, 2020, 10:03pm

Thank you, Shelley, Lori, Jim, Beth, Jan, Reba and Paul!

Recently I did a Strength-Based Leadership class at work, and one of the other participants introduced my to the Gibran poem. She is a refugee from Iraq, and when she read the poem it felt very powerful.

The phone bank was pretty OK. I am feeling very anxious about the election (in spite of all the positive polls), and it sort of helps to do some election work. Now we get to relax, and watch soccer (football). Though perhaps relax is not the word? We have decided in our house that Banjo the cat is good soccer luck, as there are frequently goals when he is in the room with us. However it causes us to scream and stand up, so he has sort of decided that soccer is not his thing.

My reading has taken a hit to the worry, political work, and the soccer. I do have two books to review: Jam on the Vine and Late Migrations. Hopefully I will get to them later tonight.

15jessibud2
Out 11, 2020, 11:07pm

>14 banjo123: - I loved Late Migrations, for what it's worth.

16banjo123
Out 12, 2020, 12:40am

>15 jessibud2: Also a fan! My copy is from the library, but now I sort of want my own copy.

17banjo123
Editado: Out 12, 2020, 12:50am

Late Migrations by Margaret Renkl

This book is a memoir, I think, told in a series of mini-essays about family, birds, nature, and grieving. Renkl's brother contributed the illustrations, which are lovely. Here are some parts that I marked:

In "Imperfect-Family Beatitudes" she ends with "Blessed are the parents whose final words on leaving--the house, the care, the least consequential phone call--are always "I love you." THey will leave behind children who are lost and still found, broken and somehow, still whole."

"One evening I looked out, and there in the growing twilight was a male scarlet tanager taking a drink. I had never seen one in this yard before, and I have not seen one since. But I think often of that beautiful bird, of the few seconds I could stand at my window and watch him taking drink of water in the gloaming. To me he looked like a blood-red, hollow-boned embodiment of grace.

18RebaRelishesReading
Out 12, 2020, 11:24am

Good for you doing photo bank work! I tried that in the last election and discovered that I'm really not good at it so this time I wrote letters instead, definitely more my thing. Now just waiting, hoping, worrying, etc.

19FAMeulstee
Out 13, 2020, 6:20am

Happy new thread, Rhonda!
I love your topper, made me think by what I would be offended.

20bell7
Out 14, 2020, 9:31pm

Happy new thread, Rhonda!

21Berly
Out 16, 2020, 10:37am

Happy new thread, Rhonda!! Thanks for trying to get the voters out.

22Oregonreader
Out 16, 2020, 7:22pm

Happy new thread, Rhonda. I admire anyone who can do phone banking. I share your nervousness about the outcome of the election even with all the positive signs.

23figsfromthistle
Out 16, 2020, 10:06pm

Happy new one!

>5 banjo123: Those apples look delicious!

24banjo123
Out 17, 2020, 2:32pm

>18 RebaRelishesReading: Hi Reba! Thanks for doing letters. We just sent off two big bins, between our household and a friend. Since the letters are done, I feel like I need to phone bank, although I confess it's not my favorite. I figure that if everyone does what they can, we can make a difference.

>19 FAMeulstee: Isn't that a fun image? I saw it on social media and immediately wanted to share it here.

>20 bell7:, >21 Berly: >22 Oregonreader: Thank you Mary, Kim and Jan!

>23 figsfromthistle: Those were honeycrisp apples, Figs, and very tasty.

And happy weekend to all! Here are the voter letters ready to send out:


25banjo123
Editado: Out 17, 2020, 2:46pm

The Mirrored World by Debra Dean

I really enjoyed this book, which had been sitting on my shelves a while. I had previously liked Dean's The Madonnas of Leningrad, and this was a good book for me to read now, historical fiction that didn't remind me too much of current events.

Dean has a nice style, writing about historical events as if they were contemporary, and not over-explaining. This is a fictionalized account of St. Xenia (c. 1719–1730 – c. 1803). I didn't know anything about St Xenia, but was familiar with the era from reading Massie's Catherine the Great. Xenia was born into minor nobility, and married Colonel Andrey Fyodorovich Petrov. When he died in an accident, she mourned extravagantly, and became a "fool for Christ," giving away her belongings and living in the streets of St. Petersburg, where apparently she became a beloved character thought to bring blessings on those she encountered.

This book is narrated by a close relative (a fictional character, I believe) which allows a contrast between Xenia's emotionalism and spirituality, and that of a more conventional young woman. (who nonetheless ends up with an unconventional life, highlighting the narrow life options available for women in this time and place.) The book raises a lot of issues about religiosity, marriage, parenting, and social roles, but never tells the reader what to think.

26BLBera
Out 17, 2020, 3:08pm

Great comments, Rhonda. I should try something by Dean. Which one would you recommend?

27jessibud2
Editado: Out 21, 2020, 6:17am

>25 banjo123: - Oh, I read The Madonnas of Leningrad years ago, when it first came out and really enjoyed it, if *enjoyed* is the right word. I found it very sad, but as you say, very well-written. I did not know she has a new one.

28msf59
Out 17, 2020, 6:29pm

Happy Saturday, Rhonda! Happy New Thread! I love the "Defeat" poem up there. Strong stuff. And good job on the Voting mailers. Yah!!

29EBT1002
Out 17, 2020, 10:15pm

>1 banjo123: that is awesome.

Hi Rhonda. Happy new thread. I liked Jam on the Vine and I'm super interested in Late Migrations.

30banjo123
Out 21, 2020, 12:40am

>26 BLBera: Thanks, Beth! I think probably The Madonnas of Leningrad would be the best, it has better ratings. I liked both of her novels.

>27 jessibud2: I thought that was a really unique story, though, as you say, sad.

>28 msf59: Thanks, Mark! 2 weeks until the election.

>29 EBT1002: Hi Ellen! Late Migrations is quite good. A nice book to read slowly.

31banjo123
Out 23, 2020, 2:11pm

We have taken a few days off, and are staying at an AirBnB in the Gorge. It's lovely here, but cold. And more Trump lawn signs than I am used to seeing in the city.

Yesterday we bought more apples, the season is almost over as there was frost the last couple of nights, and snow expected tomorrow. Hopefully just a dusting, as we don't wish to drive in snow.

I did finish a book... No Knives in the Kitchens of This City. It's for book group; I am not sure what I thought of it, but will review later.

32BLBera
Out 24, 2020, 10:01am

It's good to be able to get away, Rhonda. Fingers crossed that you don't have to drive in snow.

I'll look for The Madonnas of Leningrad; I might have a copy around somewhere...

33RebaRelishesReading
Out 26, 2020, 11:40am

Enjoy your time away! Our daughter and family had been to a farm somewhere east of Portland a couple of weeks ago and she shared some of the wonderful HoneyCrisp's they had picked with me. Still have one in the fridge for later today :)

34BLBera
Out 27, 2020, 12:22pm

I finished Empire of Wild, Rhonda, and loved it! Very vivid description and very atmospheric. I will look for more by her. I love Native American lit but haven't read many First Nation writers from Canada.

35PaulCranswick
Out 29, 2020, 9:50pm

Nice to see you being able to get away for a few days, Rhonda. This year has been more than a little surreal.

36banjo123
Nov 1, 2020, 1:39pm

>32 BLBera:, >34 BLBera: Thanks, Beth! No snow, and altogether a nice get-away. Wasn't Empire of Wild good? But I think that her other book is YA.

>33 RebaRelishesReading: The honeycrisps are great! That's what we bought also.

>35 PaulCranswick: Yes, Paul, a very odd year! We are lucky to have many close-to-home places that we can explore.

37banjo123
Nov 1, 2020, 1:46pm

No Knives in the Kitchens of this City by Khalid Khaliffah

Our book group picked this, I ended up the only one who finished it. (though one member was within 5 pages, and planned to finish). So not a favorite, I think largely because it is told in stream of consciousness, which made the story hard to follow. It's about a family in Aleppo, and I think the point of the novel is to compare the dysfunction of the family to the dysfunction of the regime. Most of the people in the family were unappealing, and they didn't seem to stay in character. (not sure what that was about.)

The book may have lost some in translation. In the beginning, I thought it was really well-written, but then I stopped enjoying the writing. I think that might have been different if I could read Arabic.

In the end, I was glad I read the book, as it did give me things to think about, and also I think it is the only Syrian book I have read. But all-in-all, I think for a more literary reader than myself or most of my friends.

38msf59
Nov 1, 2020, 1:57pm

Happy Sunday, Rhonda. I hope you are having a good weekend. I can't wait until this election is over with and we send "you know who" packin'...

39banjo123
Editado: Nov 1, 2020, 2:28pm

The Yellow House by Sarah Broom

This is a memoir, about Broom's family, it's relationship to New Orleans, and the loss of the family home in New Orleans East due to Hurricane Katrina. It took me a bit to warm to this book; the first 100 pages are family history, and there is lots of family (Broom is the youngest of 12). I was a bit confused about the characters (book could have benefited from a character list or family tree in the beginning.). Also, I wondered, to begin with, why I should care about Broom's family story.

I kept going because Broom is a really good writer. And I am glad I did, because once Broom centers the story around herself, and around the relationship of her family to the family home, it becomes way more interesting and relatable. She also does a good job describing how there were larger political issues that impacted the family (it took 11 years for her mother to get payment for the home after Katrina); but there were also personal and family issues that impacted how they were in the world. I would recommend this book, and also look forward to reading more from Broom in the future.

Broom's mother, a widow, was for a variety of reasons unable to maintain their home in a normal state of repair. This is one of those odd quirks people and families can have, her mother was very functional and capable in other ways. As a result, the family avoided having anyone else in the house. " By avoiding showing people the place where we lived, we unmoored ourselves. No one did this to us."

40banjo123
Nov 1, 2020, 2:23pm

>38 msf59: Oh, Mark, I hope that you are right and we will all be happy after the election. I am so anxious about it.

I am afraid the anxiety has impacted my reading.... I am not getting as much reading time in, and trouble focussing on difficult books. But it's only a could of days until the election, and polls do look good.

41RebaRelishesReading
Nov 1, 2020, 3:14pm

>40 banjo123: I agree completely -- I hope, I pray but I'm worried. I was talking with friends about it yesterday and we couldn't find even one scenario we weren't worried about to some degree. I'm seriously worried about what the right-wing militias will do if (when) Biden wins not to mention what stunts the orange monster will pull.

42BLBera
Nov 1, 2020, 5:26pm

I've been having problems with concentration as well, Rhonda. The Yellow House sounds like one I would like.

43EBT1002
Nov 1, 2020, 6:33pm

I am SOOOO anxious about the election and the days that will follow. I hardly know how I will survive the next 48 hours. It is certainly affecting my concentration as well as my sleep.

If you have a chance to try a Cosmic Crisp apple, I highly recommend it. I may be biased since they were developed here at WSU but I don't think so. I think they are truly one of the best apples on Earth (and I'm a big fan of Honeycrisps).

Hang in there, Rhonda!

44banjo123
Nov 3, 2020, 12:57am

>41 RebaRelishesReading: Ugh, yes, Reba; the possibilities are so frightening. And I think we may not know the results right away, so that adds uncertainty to the mix.

>42 BLBera: Oh, I think you would like The Yellow House. And hopefully we will all regain the ability to concentrate soon.

>43 EBT1002: Yes, it's terrible. I am just trying to keep busy and distracted, but that doesn't work all that well.
I will have to look for the Cosmic Crisp next year. We like to go to Kiyokawa Orchards, but I am not sure if they have those.

45PaulCranswick
Nov 6, 2020, 9:50pm

>43 EBT1002: & >44 banjo123: Still in darkness but light is appearing in the tunnel.

Have a lovely weekend.

46msf59
Nov 7, 2020, 9:13am



I hope you have a great birthday weekend, Rhonda. I also enjoyed The Yellow House. I just finished another strong memoir called, Memorial Drive. Keep this one in mind.

47banjo123
Nov 7, 2020, 3:12pm

Thank you, Paul and Mark! And today is a great day!

It's my birthday, actually, and I have been saying for a month that the only thing I wanted for my birthday was a Democratic victory. And I got it! We are planning a pandemic birthday evening, mac'n'cheese and champagne, and we are going to watch Hamilton, which I still haven't seen, but somehow seems appropriate today.

48FAMeulstee
Nov 7, 2020, 3:15pm

Happy birthday, Rhonda, so glad your wish came true!

49banjo123
Nov 7, 2020, 5:33pm

>48 FAMeulstee: Thanks for stopping by Anita!

It IS a great day, though I have found myself crying throughout the day, and with lots of trouble focusing. People in the neighborhood are all very cheerful. I took a walk with my daughter earlier, and as we passed one house, an older woman walked on the porch and started shouting with joy. We wondered if she had just heard the news, or if she was just standing by the door and stepping out to cheer whenever anyone walked by. I think it was the second one, as we heard her cheering to another group of walkers a few minutes later.

It has been hard waiting for the results this week, but I was sort of expecting that. We had been doing a lot of volunteering--writing letters to voters and phone banking--with Indivisible and Swing Left; and the organizers had been telling us for week to expect this.

And I do feel that my volunteering was to good purpose, because we had been contacting voters in Arizona and Georgia.

50RebaRelishesReading
Nov 7, 2020, 5:53pm

Hi Rhonda -- HAPPY BIRTHDAY and thanks for asking for something that benefits us all :) I'm so relieved I too have found myself tearing up at random moments all day. Our neighborhood is in full celebration mode with lots of cars driving around honking, waving signs, etc. and people in the restaurants cheering back. Just talked to my granddaughter who said there were fireworks in their neighborhood at 2:00 a.m.

I volunteered with Swing Left too but all of my letters went to Texas so guess they didn't do any good :(

51banjo123
Nov 7, 2020, 6:26pm

>50 RebaRelishesReading: Thanks, Reba! And I bet your letters helped with some local/state elections.

52RebaRelishesReading
Nov 7, 2020, 6:32pm

Thanks Rhonda, I like that idea :)

53banjo123
Nov 7, 2020, 7:08pm

>52 RebaRelishesReading: Yes, and sooner or later Texas will be blue.

I do have a bit of reading news. I finished The Secret Lives of Bees. I think that I am the last one to read this book, so no need for a review, but I did really like the book. Here is a favorite quote, Lilly speaking to God:

“If I ever managed to get to heaven after everything I'd done, I hoped I would get just a few minutes for a private conversation with god. I wanted to say, Look, I know you meant well creating the world and all, but how could you let it get away from you like this? How come you couldn't stick with your original idea of paradise? People's lives were a mess.”

I was also able to hear a talk by Jess Walter for the Portland Book Festival (virtually). He was SO good. I am excited to read his new book, The Cold Millions

54BLBera
Nov 8, 2020, 9:34am

Happy birthday, Rhonda, and many happy returns. I'm glad you got what you wanted for your birthday. :) Now, I can go back to the rest of my life.

55jessibud2
Nov 8, 2020, 3:43pm

Happy birthday, Rhonda! And yay for your wishes coming true!

56banjo123
Nov 8, 2020, 7:43pm

Thanks Shelley and Beth!

An happy Sunday to all

57RebaRelishesReading
Nov 10, 2020, 12:48pm

OH NO! Sorry I missed your birthday. Hope it was a happy one and will be the beginning of a bright new year.

58Oregonreader
Nov 10, 2020, 8:01pm

A belated Happy Birthday, Rhonda. I'm glad it was a good one!

59EBT1002
Nov 15, 2020, 6:42pm

Hi Rhonda.

I read The Secret Life of Bees way back when but I kind of want to reread it. It's a book I remember better than I sometimes do. And I'm also excited to read The Cold Millions when I can get my paws on a copy.

The news continues to be crazy and wild but I am relieved that we appear to have chosen decency as a country. I'm furious and mortified by the Republicans' complicity in the current president's chaos, fear-mongering, and threats of a coup. The corruption runs deep and wide. But there is hope in the form of Biden and Harris.

60PaulCranswick
Nov 15, 2020, 7:00pm

>53 banjo123: I will keep my eyes open for his new book, Rhonda.

61banjo123
Nov 15, 2020, 7:33pm

>57 RebaRelishesReading: >58 Oregonreader: Thanks, Reba and Jan!
>59 EBT1002: Yes, the news is still infuriating, but I can ignore it for periods of time now. Hoping that I can get a bit more reading done in the last month and a half of 2020.
I am going to see if I can find a link the toe Jess Walter interview, it was pretty inspiring.
>60 PaulCranswick: I think you will like it, Paul!

And hope everyone is having a good Sunday. We had a family lunch, outside and distanced, to celebrate my dad's 90th birthday. He is doing great, completely independent. I felt bad that we couldn't have a more special event for his 90th, but he didn't care, and it was fun to get together. My sister made a fabulous red velvet cake.

62BLBera
Nov 15, 2020, 9:09pm

Happy birthday to Mr. BanjoSr.!

63EBT1002
Nov 15, 2020, 9:53pm

Another happy birthday post for Mr. BanjoSr.
:-)

Oh, and I LOVE red velvet cake. Yum.

64msf59
Nov 15, 2020, 10:30pm

Happy Sunday, Rhonda. I am also looking forward to The Cold Millions. We have been waiting for awhile.

65charl08
Nov 15, 2020, 11:09pm

>61 banjo123: Sounds like a great family get together. Belated birthday wishes to you too.

66banjo123
Nov 17, 2020, 12:07am

>62 BLBera: Thanks, Beth1
>63 EBT1002: Thanks, Ellen. My sister decorates her cake with a lot of fruit, which is delicious.
>64 msf59: Mark, Jess Walter is pretty awesome!
>65 charl08: Thanks for the birthday wishes, Charlotte.

67RebaRelishesReading
Nov 17, 2020, 4:33am

So glad you had a nice birthday celebration for your dad's milestone day!! There's a lot to be said for more intimate parties anyway, right?

68PaulCranswick
Nov 20, 2020, 9:16pm

Dropping by to wish you a lovely weekend, Rhonda

69jnwelch
Nov 25, 2020, 9:25am

Hi, Rhonda. A belated Happy New Thread and Happy Birthday!

Nice photo of Banjo and Willi up there.

Good review of The Yellow House. I had a similar experience with it, and would likewise recommend it. Your spoiler made me think again about the impact that had.

I'm glad to hear that Jess Walter is so good in person. I'll look for him appearing online.

70jessibud2
Nov 26, 2020, 11:13am

Happy Thanksgiving, Rhonda

71PaulCranswick
Nov 26, 2020, 9:38pm



This Brit wishes to express his thanks for the warmth and friendship that has helped sustain him in this group, Rhonda.

72banjo123
Nov 28, 2020, 8:18pm

Thanks Paul, Joe and Shelley!

We did have a good Thanksgiving. Since we couldn't do the normal, family thing, Mrs. Banjo, Banjo, Jr, and I went to the coast, and hung out at an AirBnB for a week. Walks on the beach, reading, and games. We aren't huge turkey fans, so no big meal. Very relaxing!

73banjo123
Editado: Nov 28, 2020, 8:50pm

The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok

This is a very good memoir about Bartok's relationship with her mother. Her mother, a gifted pianist, developed schizophrenia as a young woman, and so Bartok and her sister had very difficult childhoods. Her mother's erratic and paranoid behavior was so difficult that both sisters ended up changing their names, so that their mother couldn't find them.
Bartok kept in touch with her mother, who was homeless in Cleveland, Ohio, through intermediaries. Finally, when their mother developed cancer and was on hospice, the sisters reconciled with her.
Quite an interesting and powerful story.

74banjo123
Editado: Nov 29, 2020, 6:22pm

Caste by Isabel Wilkerson

I know that this book has gotten some great reviews, but I am afraid I found it a bit repetitive and long-winded. I liked her Warmth of Other Suns better as it was grounded in the oral histories.

Wilkerson's premise is that Caste provides a good explanation for racism in the US. She makes comparisons to India, and to Nazi Germany. In my opinion, this gives material for an essay, not a whole book. She gives lots of unneeded details with her examples, IMO. For example, in discussing her experience of being poorly treated when flying first class she spent about 5 pages with details about overhead bins, seats reclining, and people not meeting her eyes. All very annoying, and were she my friend I would expect to listen to all these details. In this book, however, I would've liked to see it distilled to 2-3 paragraphs.

I decided in the end that I didn't regret reading the book. As a white woman, it probably doesn't hurt me to read lots of details about racism.

Also, just for information, by take might have been influenced by the fact that I heard Wilkerson interviewed for the Portland Book Festival, and she was long-winded, not very relational, and hard to listen to. (Viet Thanh Ngyuen was the interviewer, and he tried hard.) Perhaps if I had only read, and not heard her, I would've liked her better.

75jessibud2
Nov 28, 2020, 9:04pm

>73 banjo123: - I have this one in the piles somewhere, Rhonda. Haven't read it yet but I have always been drawn to memoirs, and just finished a few, myself, this past week.

76banjo123
Nov 29, 2020, 6:15pm

>75 jessibud2: I like memoirs as well. And I thought that this one was well-written and thought provoking.

77BLBera
Nov 29, 2020, 7:13pm

The Bartok memoir sounds good, Rhonda. I am also a fan of memoirs. Too bad Caste disappointed. I will probably read it at some point.

78banjo123
Nov 29, 2020, 8:51pm

>77 BLBera: Caste has great reviews, so probably it was me.
But I will be interested to see your review when you get to it!

79banjo123
Nov 29, 2020, 9:01pm

the Cold Millions by Jess Walter

It was fun to read a book set in Spokane. This is the story of 2 brothers during the IWW labor struggles in the 1900's, and includes Elizabeth Gurley Flynn as a character. It's well-written, plotted, and really takes you into a different world.

I heard Walter interviewed for the Portland Bookfest. He took inspiration from the book from his grandfather's stories. One point that he made was that there are certain times in history, when if you are living through them history is sort of in control; and also how you respond to history reveals your character. He pointed to the labor struggle of the early 1900's as such a period, and also our current historical period as another.

Last week we finally got around to watching Hamilton on TV, and I was again reminded of this point.

80banjo123
Nov 29, 2020, 9:04pm

Adam by Ariel Schrag

Uggh. This book was offensive in so many ways. I read for a book group, and finished because I hoped it would redeem itself, but it did not.

81BLBera
Nov 29, 2020, 10:04pm

I've heard great things about The Cold Millions, Rhonda, so I look forward to it. I read a book about the labor struggles in northern Minnesota among the miners in the early 1900s recently that I really enjoyed. I do like reading about the early attempts at unionization. The book was Under Ground.

I'll pass on Adam. Thanks for the warning.

82banjo123
Nov 30, 2020, 11:14pm

>81 BLBera: I will look for Under Ground, Beth. It sounds good!

83banjo123
Nov 30, 2020, 11:24pm

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka

This book was short-listed for the Orange Prize, and long-listed for the Booker in 2005. It's a fun, comic novel.

Our narrator, Nadezhda's father, a Ukrainian immigrant in England, meets and marries a much younger Ukrainian woman, who appears to be a floozy and a gold digger. Nadezhda and her sister Vera are barely speaking, but they join forces to protect their father. The book story is told with lots of humor, but I also learned a lot about the Ukraine and Russia, and also tractors.

84The_Hibernator
Dez 3, 2020, 5:41pm

>83 banjo123: I've heard that book is really good.

>74 banjo123: Too bad you didn't like Caste. It's a book I'd really like to read soon.

85PaulCranswick
Dez 4, 2020, 10:15pm

>83 banjo123: I remember thinking the book was OK, Rhonda, but what really interested me (no, not the tractors) was that Marina had settled in my home area. I know she goes to one or two of the bookshops in Sheffield and Holmfirth that I patronise when I'm home.

Have a great weekend.

86banjo123
Dez 5, 2020, 7:38pm

>84 The_Hibernator: Thanks for stopping by, Rachel! I hope you like Caste when you get to it.

>85 PaulCranswick: That's pretty cool to read a book set in your home area! I always like reading books set in Portland. And I hope you have a good weekend as well, Paul!

87charl08
Dez 7, 2020, 2:55am

>79 banjo123: Looking forward to reading this one, as it seems to have only praise here on LT. I'm sure I've read something fictional about the "Wobblies" before, but author and title completely escapes me. Pretty brutal times to be a union organiser/ activist.

88banjo123
Dez 9, 2020, 11:59pm

>87 charl08: Hi Charlotte! the Cold Millions does seem well reviewed here. Hopefully that won't jinx your reading.... sometimes when I read a very well reviewed book, my expectations have a negative impact on the reading experience.

I do think that it was especially fun for me because of the Pacific NW setting.

89BLBera
Dez 11, 2020, 10:28am

I think high expectations sometimes do work against a book, Rhonda. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian does sound good. I'll add it to my pile for next year's reading.

I think I'm # 20 on the list for The Cold Millions, but I do have some reading material in my home... :)

Happy Hanukkah. I just showed Scout a video of Daveed Diggs doing a song "Puppy for Hanukkah," and she thought eight days of celebration sounded pretty good.

90jessibud2
Dez 11, 2020, 11:50am

Hi Rhonda. Have you seen this? Bohemian Chanuka. I think it is rather brilliant, actually. And well done.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9P30ckBf1wk&feature=emb_rel_end

91banjo123
Editado: Dez 12, 2020, 5:50pm

>89 BLBera: We love the Puppy for Hanukkah video, Beth. In fact, here is the link in case anyone else wants to smile.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbxyZAduGvY

>90 jessibud2: Thanks, Shelley! That was fun.

We are in the midst of Hanukkah in the Banjo household. Normally that means lighting candles (when we don't forget) for 8 nights and one evening with friends and latkes. But with the lockdown, we can't get together with people and so we are trying to up our in-home game a little bit; we got some decorations, and trying to do something a little extra each night. Tonight we have latkes AND chocolate cookies. Also, happy hour and Menorah lighting with neighbors (socially distant and outside).

92banjo123
Dez 13, 2020, 2:47pm

And for the news on reading, there is not much.

I am trying to read books off my shelves, and completed the night, the rain, and the river a book of short stories by Oregon writers. The stories are pretty good, but not memorable for me.

Otherwise, I am in the midst of several books, all of which are good, but they are all the kind of book where I can only read about 10 pages at a time. One is poetry - Dearly by Margaret Atwood; The Residue Years by Mitchell Jackson -- which is a novel, but his writing reads like poetry, so it's slow' Summer for the Gods (nonfiction about the Scopes trial); and The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For (for the Lesbian Book group).

Hopefully I will complete most of these by the end of the month, which would get me to the 75 marker. I also have to read American Chica for my other book group.

93banjo123
Dez 13, 2020, 2:49pm

I had thought that I'd read more during the pandemic, as there is not that much to do. However, it seems that anxious worrying takes up a lot of time, and also leads to more time on TV. We are watching the Great British Baking Show, which is a good anxiety cure.

Hopefully 2021 is a less worrying year, because we are almost done with the baking show, and I don't know what else we could do to cope!

94BLBera
Dez 20, 2020, 10:24pm

I just finished two episodes of the Great British Baking Show! Great minds. I'm only on the fifth series though, so I still have some seasons to go. Also, I have introduced Scout to the show, and have started watching with her from the beginning. Her comments: She could be a judge, and our cookies would win.

I just watched the Puppy for Hanukkah again. Good for the endorphins.

95msf59
Dez 21, 2020, 8:16am

Happy Hanukkah, Rhonda. I hope you and the family are doing well. As soon as I finish my short story collection, I am jumping into The Cold Millions. I then have Transcendent Kingdom waiting in the wings. B.A.G.

96jessibud2
Dez 22, 2020, 4:46pm

Happy everything, Rhonda. Here's to good health, above all, and of course, good books.

97Berly
Dez 24, 2020, 5:45pm



Rhonda--Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
May 2021 bring you less need for masks, loads of peace and joy, good health and, of course, books!

98PaulCranswick
Dez 25, 2020, 1:02am



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

99banjo123
Editado: Dez 26, 2020, 9:06pm

>94 BLBera: So great that you are watching GBBS with Scout, and how awesome that she wants to be a judge!

>95 msf59: Thanks for stopping by, Mark! I loved The Cold Millions; and I got a copy of Transcendent Kingdom for Christmas, so will be reading that soon.

>96 jessibud2: Thanks, Shelley, what a cute picture!

>97 Berly: Thanks, Kim! I am looking forward to a better 2021!

And >98 PaulCranswick: thank you Paul! It has been a nice holiday.

We enjoyed our Christmas holidays, even without the usual get togethers. Christmas eve was baking extravaganza in our house, and we spent a good bit of Christmas delivering plates of goodies to friends and families.

Plus, lots of time for watching our current favorite shows: The Great British Baking Show and the Derry Girls.

Today we met up with my sister and brother-in-law for a long (five mile) walk in South West Portland. It was fun, and hopefully made up for some of the Christmas treats.

And, happily, I have several books completed and ready to review. Hopefully I will have time today or tomorrow.

100banjo123
Dez 26, 2020, 9:16pm

Residue Years by Mitchell Jackson

This book takes place in Portland, Oregon, during the 90's, and explores the crack cocaine epidemic, the African American community in Portland, and an intense, very sweet mother-son relationship. Jackson is an amazing writer, here was the paragraph that sold me on the book:

"You dump the cash in your bag, grab your keys, and hike outside to where your raggedy Honda is parked too far from the curb for you to have owned a license for as long as you have. There's a trick to starting the Honda, which you've learned after getting stranded beaucoup times: pumping the gas a few times but not so many it floods the engine."

This book is difficult at times, but totally worth it.

101banjo123
Dez 26, 2020, 9:22pm

Dearly by Margaret Atwood

I still like Atwood's novels better than her poetry, but there is good stuff here. A quote from "The Tin Woodsman Gets a Massage."

Me, it’s the heart
that’s the part lacking.
I used to want one:
a dainty cushion of red silk
dangling from a blood ribbon,
fit for sticking pins in.
But I’ve changed my mind.
Hearts hurt.

102EBT1002
Dez 27, 2020, 9:18pm

>73 banjo123: Thanks for this review, Rhonda. I'm definitely putting it on my wish list. I have an older brother who has schizophrenia and his illness is one of the defining elements of my growing up. It was the 1970s (my teen years) that his illness most dramatically affected our family and the science, not to mention the social science, was far behind where it is today. Wally Lamb's I Know This Much is True spoke to me so intimately because of this history and I suspect The Memory Palace will, as well, though having a parent with the disease would be much different than having a sibling.

>100 banjo123: I have had Residue Years on my TBR shelf for a while now; perhaps 2021 will be the year I get to it.

I wish you (early, I know) the Happiest of New Years. May 2021 be immeasurably better than the year we are leaving behind!!!

103banjo123
Dez 27, 2020, 11:30pm

>102 EBT1002: Thanks, Ellen! Having a loved one with schizophrenia can be so difficult. I hope that you like Memory Palace when you get to it.

We had a lovely evening today with our book group. We had designed a potluck Peruvian meal, and all met up and exchanged food, then later met by zoom to eat and discuss the book. I think having the shared task, and seeing each other in person briefly, helped our discussion.

Our book was American Chica by Marie Arana. Arana's mother was from the US, and her father was Peruvian. The book talks about growing up in Peru and also about her experience of being bi-cultural. I think that everyone liked the book.

104banjo123
Dez 27, 2020, 11:42pm

The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel

We read this for my other book group. Mrs. Banjo and I used to look forward to reading Dykes to Watch Out For in our local Gay and Lesbian newspaper back in the late 80's and early 90's. I was curious to see if they would hold up; which mostly they did. Bechdel does a good job showing the intersection of the personal and political, and making fun of herself. It isn't a book I could read at one go, however, I read a few cartoons a night. The earlier stuff was more satisfying to me, perhaps because it focused on the energy and hopefulness of youth.

105banjo123
Dez 27, 2020, 11:44pm

And, hooray! This takes me to 75 books, and just in time.

106msf59
Dez 28, 2020, 7:52am

Congrats on hitting #75, Rhonda. Yah! The Cold Millions was a 5 star read for me. I have been a fan of Walter for awhile but I was still surprised how good this was.

107BLBera
Dez 28, 2020, 9:36am

Congrats on reaching 75, Rhonda. I will look for Dearly. Like you, I like Atwood's novels better than her poetry, but I loved the poem you quoted.

I remember liking American Chica as well although it's been a while since I read it.

The Bechdel sounds good; I loved her graphic memoirs.

Happy new year. Maybe we'll get to see each other in person in 2021. Anyway, it will be better.

108FAMeulstee
Dez 28, 2020, 5:17pm

>105 banjo123: Congratulations on reaching 75, Rhonda!

109EBT1002
Dez 29, 2020, 10:22am

>103 banjo123: That’s a terrific pandemic book group structure. Shared food, brief f2f interaction, and zoom discussion.

>104 banjo123: I have similar memories of looking forward to and reading DTWOF every week. I also have this compilation and will read it in 2021.

110banjo123
Dez 30, 2020, 12:02am

>106 msf59: Thanks, Mark and hooray for Jess Walter!

>107 BLBera: Hi Beth! I am hoping for lots more in person in 2021!

>108 FAMeulstee: Thanks Anita!

>109 EBT1002: It did work out well for the book group, Ellen! And hope that you enjoy DTWOF... I recommend reading it slowly, a few strips at a time.

And I have now two more books read, hooray!

111Berly
Dez 30, 2020, 12:11am

112banjo123
Dez 30, 2020, 12:14am

Summer for the Gods by Edward Larson

This book won the Pulitzer in 1998, for history, and covers the Scopes trial. I read it for more background about the conflict between Religion and Science in the US, it seems very relevant now. It's a well written and researched book, I learned a lot. I hadn't realized how much of the Scopes trial was about show, and bringing attention and business to Dayton, Tennessee. I was also interested to realize how much of the fight against teaching evolution focused on high school, and high school text books.

Also interesting, and somewhat frightening to learn, that the percentage of people in the US who believe literally in the bible creation story has not changed a lot in the years since the Scopes trial. In 2019, a Gallup poll found that 40% of the US believed in Creationism.,

113banjo123
Dez 30, 2020, 12:24am

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

This was a creepy page-turner, that also made me think! The writing is fine, but pedestrian, but the plot and characters were good, and pulled me right along. It is Gothic Horror (not my normal genre, but I am flexible). It takes place in 50's Mexico, and Noemi, a bright and glamorous young woman, travels to a small town to check on her cousin. Her cousin had married the heir to a defunct silver mine, and moved to his families creepy Victorian home in a remote area.

The book addresses issues of sexism, racism and colonialism. Occasionally it's a little heavy handed, but mostly it focuses on suspense and action.

114banjo123
Dez 30, 2020, 12:26am

>111 Berly: and hi, Kim, thanks! We cross-posted.

115BLBera
Dez 30, 2020, 9:10am

>113 banjo123: Hmm. Do you think this is one I would like, Rhonda? I've heard mixed reviews about it.

116banjo123
Dez 30, 2020, 11:59pm

>115 BLBera: I think you would like it Beth, just don't expect great literature.

117PaulCranswick
Dez 31, 2020, 11:53pm



Rhonda

As the year turns, friendship continues

118banjo123
Jan 1, 2:16pm

thank you, Paul. I am very much looking forward to another year of reading and friendship on the 75's.

and my 2021 thread is up. http://www.librarything.com/topic/328104#n7366046