What are you reading the week of February 20, 2021?

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What are you reading the week of February 20, 2021?

Editado: Fev 20, 12:21am

I've had an incredibly busy week, so there was little time for reading. I'm about a third of the way through The Landmark Thucydides.

In other news, NASA landed another rover on Mars. Barsoom may not exist, but Mars is always a fascinating place. A Princess of Mars, Geology of Mars.

A woman visiting an outhouse in Alaska was bitten on the...um...hind quarters by a bear in the toilet. While the woman has my sympathies, I have to side with the bear. She started it. https://www.wlns.com/news/bear-attacks-alaska-woman-from-below-as-she-used-outho...

That beats the heck out of the time I found a frog in my toilet in the middle of the night.

Editado: Fev 20, 12:25am

Hmm, apparently, if you edit a post too many times the touchstones stop working. The Landmark Thucydides. A Princess of Mars, Geology of Mars.

Fev 20, 8:06am

>2 fredbacon: You might say the touchstones are touchy? Yeah...I've noticed that tendency myself.

Fev 20, 8:08am

Besides the collection of partially finished books that I noted last week I also read The Field of Blood. This week's books are Hellfire Boys and The Relentless Moon.

Fev 20, 10:53am

>1 fredbacon: Thank you for an interesting kick-off to the weekend! Still waiting to hear about bears in the classroom.
>2 fredbacon: I had that problem last year, and I thought it was just my computer or something. Good to know it's not just me!

This week I'm reading Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid with my sister. I started it yesterday and it feels like it's going to be a quick read, which is nice after 6 weeks and 714 pages of Wolves of the Calla by Stephen King (it was v.g.).

Fev 20, 11:20am

>1 fredbacon: That bear didn't seem to know much about social distancing!

I need something lighter so I picked up Pennant Race, relief pitcher Jim Brosnan's memoir about the 1961 Cincinnati Reds, who surprised the baseball world by winning the National League pennant. It's a breezy, day-to-day retell of the season from the perspective of the bullpen. Nothing profound, but fun to read.

Fev 20, 11:46am

Don't mess with bears. I'm reading Why We Sleep and wishing I could go back in time 20 years and give this to my teenage self. "Dude, get sleep. It will change your life."

Fev 20, 1:53pm

Thanks for the chuckle, fredbacon!!

Fev 20, 3:38pm

Mostly I have been reading The Stories of John Cheever. I read the first 30 stories without stopping, but I have put the book aside temporarily as I don't think I can read another 30 stories right now.

Read The Midnight Library last night. Loved it.

Will be starting A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes next.

Fev 20, 3:40pm

Small As an Elephant – Jennifer Richard Jacobson
Book on CD performed by William Dufris

Jack Martel and his Mom have gone on a camping trip to Acadia National Park over Labor Day Weekend – a last outing before school starts. But when Jack comes out of his tent on the first morning, he notices something wrong. His Mom’s car and tent are both missing. There’s no note and she never said anything about going somewhere. So where could she be? It’s not the first time his Mom has taken off, but in the past, he’s been at home in their Boston apartment. Now he has to travel across Maine on his own, with only a small plastic elephant in his pocket as a companion.

I loved Jack. He’s resilient, intelligent, resourceful and deeply loyal to his Mom. It’s clear that she suffers from mental illness – most probably bi-polar disorder – and Jack believes he needs to protect her (and himself) from authorities who would separate them. I like the way that Jacobson writes Jack. He’s a believable eleven-year-old kid, especially given his circumstance and experience being on his own and secretive about his situation. Of course, he does come across adults and other kids who help him … sometimes unwittingly.

I also appreciated the information about elephants that began each chapter. And how those tidbits related to what happened in the story. Although, Jack’s obsession with elephants seems like something a younger child would cling to.

This is classified as children’s fiction in my library system. I think some children might find this story distressing.

William Dufris does a fine job narrating the audio version, although I did think his interpretation of Jack’s voice made him sound younger than age eleven.

Fev 20, 6:48pm

Finished the so-so Remarkable Creatures. Next up for listening is A Woman Of No Importance by Sonia Purnell.

Fev 20, 6:55pm

The Dog Who Could Fly: The Incredible True Story of a WWII Airman and the Four-Legged Hero Who Flew At His Side
Damien Lewis
4/5 stars
This is a heartwarming story about Robert Bozdach, a WWII Czechoslovakian pilot who finds a German Shepard puppy on a mission after he was shot down. He refused to leave the dog to his own devices and he soon became a passenger aboard Bozdach’s plane when the airman went on missions and a friend to the other soldiers wherever Bozdach fought. I thought this was wonderfully written.

Fev 20, 7:40pm

>1 fredbacon: Lol, seriously, poor bear.

Starting to get into Peter Lovesey's The Last Detective.

Fev 21, 2:51am

Started on The Brushstroke Legacy by Lauraine Snelling, so far so good.

Fev 21, 10:40am

Finished Under This Unbroken Sky. It was very well written with good character development, all in all a very good book. I, however, cannot say I enjoyed it, with every scene a sense of impending inevitable disaster loomed. I guess I wasn't in the mood to handle that.

Fev 22, 8:46am

I am finishing up The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony, which I am really enjoying. I started Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks. It is a powerful historical fiction book about the plague.

Fev 22, 5:21pm

Finished A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness and added Water Memory by Daniel Pyne to my rotation.

Fev 22, 6:18pm

Just finished Mink River, and absolutely loved it. If you've ever spent time on the Oregon coast, you'll be in awe of how completely Brian Doyle recreates the physical landscape, and if you haven't -- well, just take his word for it.

This is Magical Realism, so don't look for car chases, explosions, hot sex scenes, or spies. Just sink into the dreamscape Doyle has created and spend some time drifting between Spoon River and Brigadoon.

Best of the Month, and a sure bet for the short list of Best of the Year.

Fev 23, 2:12pm

I started The Short Reign of Pippin IV by John Steinbeck last night--a political satire about restoring the monarchy in France.

Fev 23, 3:02pm

Finished listening to the outstanding A Woman Of No Importance by Sonia Purnell.

Next up is a trilogy of novellas by Chilean author, Roberto Bolano, Cowboy Graves.

Editado: Fev 25, 12:36am

Audible audiobook/Kindle eBook combo ~

The Shadow Box
by Luanne Rice
(domestic suspense)

Fev 23, 10:56pm

Just finished what may be my oddest book of the year -- Pissing in the Snow. which is essentially a collection of bawdy stories collected in the Ozarks in the early 20th century by folklorist Vance Randolph. They were considered unpublishable by the scholarly press of the day, because of the subject matter, though by today's standards, most are pretty tame.

I'll go back to the mainstream tomorrow, when I plan to begin Emily Giffin's Where We Belong.

Fev 24, 12:46am

>23 LyndaInOregon: I have Pissing in the Snow! Haven't read it yet, though.

Fev 24, 1:21pm

Finished: Age of Empyre by Michael J. Sullivan
It's the finale and #6 in his Legends of the First Empire series.

Fev 24, 2:55pm

Am still listening to Grant and reading The Saddest Words. I finished The Mill on the Floss, a reread I loved so much that I’m thinking of making reading or rereading all of George Eliot’s novels a reading challenge for 2021. With that in mind, I’ve moved on to Middlemarch, which I’m actually listening to in the outstanding narration of Juliet Stevenson. I love Eliot’s narrative voice and am finding her stories most suitable for me in what is still a pretty chaotic and frustrating time. I never thought as an English grad student that there might come a time when I would consider Eliot a comfort read!

Fev 24, 5:27pm

I finished the baseball memoir, Pennant Race, relief pitcher Jim Brosnan's entertaining memoir about life on the 1961 Cincinnati Reds, a team that surprised the baseball world by winning the National League Pennant.

I'm now going back to the wonderful world of Travis McGee via the 6th book in John D. McDonald's classic series, Bright Orange for the Shroud.

Editado: Fev 25, 2:19pm

Couldn't finish Water Memory by Daniel Pyne. Not my cup of tea. Added The Deadly Mystery of the Missing Diamonds by T E Kinsey instead.

Also finished The Mask Falling by Samantha Shannon. It was OK. Added Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness to my rotation.

Fev 25, 3:24pm

Ian McEwan
4/5 stars
Neurosurgeon, Henry Perowne wakes up to what was supposed to be an uneventful day of work and time with his family. However, the opposite occurs and an after a traffic accident between him and someone who is not so happy about the outcome starts off a chain of events that will affect him and his whole family. I enjoy McEwan’s books - you never know what is going to happen in them.

Fev 25, 8:44pm

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
Digital audiobook performed by Sissy Spacek
5***** and a

Is this the quintessential American Novel? Will it stand the test of time as Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has done? Time will tell.

I do know this, however. This is a singularly powerful novel that had a great impact on me when I first read it at age 13 (shortly after it was first published), and has never failed to move and inspire me as I’ve re-read it over the years (at least 20 times by now). It has touched generations of readers in the 60 years since it was first released, and remains high on many “must be read” lists.

There are many reasons for this. It’s a well-paced novel, a fast read with elements of suspense, family drama, humor and moral lessons. Scout is a wonderful narrator, both as a child and as an adult looking back on her childhood; and the fact that Lee was able to seamlessly move between these two viewpoints is a testament to her skill as a writer.

Many people feel this is a book about racism. I don’t think that is the core theme of the book, though it is the central plot device Lee uses. I think the major theme of the novel is personal integrity and courage – doing what you know is right when all about you seemingly disagree and even when it may be dangerous to do so, being true to your own moral compass, and instilling those values in your children by example not just words.

In this respect Atticus Finch shines as the protagonist of this work. He is a man of strong moral fiber, a man who is “the same in his house as he is on the public street,” a man “who was born to do our unpleasant jobs for us.” He embodies the lessons he tries to impart to his children: that courage is not a man with a gun in his hands but rather, “It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.”

The novel aims a spotlight on a particular time and place in America’s history. Lee writes with clarity and colors this world for the reader with descriptions that put us squarely in Maycomb, Alabama circa 1935: Somehow it was hotter then: a black dog suffered on a summer’s day; bony mules hitched to Hoover carts flicked flies in the sweltering shade of the live oaks on the square. Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon, after their three-o’clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.”

The minor characters, especially the women, are as richly drawn as the major players. I was struck by what a wide range of personalities, strengths, weaknesses and ethics Lee was able to express using characters such as Calpurnia, Aunt Alexandra, Helen Robinson, Mrs Merriweather, Lula, Miss Maudie, Mrs Dubose, Miss Caroline and Mayella Ewell. Some of them appear for only a page or two, but they come alive on the page and remain in the reader’s memories.

The audio book is performed by Academy-Award-winning actress Sissy Spacek. She does an admirable job, though her accent is wrong. She is a Texan, and the Southern Alabama accent is softer than her twang. Still, by the second disc I had stopped noticing this, and allowed myself to be carried into the story by her expert reading.

Fev 25, 9:08pm

The Last Detective picked up considerably in the second half and turned into a fine mystery.

Now reading M C Beaton’s Death Of a Dustman. Lighthearted and fun.

Fev 25, 10:34pm

Finished Where We Belong, and rated it 3 1/2 stars. It wasn't awful, but it was awfully close to being "A Woman's Book".

Just dipped into John Lithgow's Dumpty, and it looks like a deliciously wicked set of poems on the foibles of that person who until recently occupied the White House.

Editado: Fev 26, 2:17am

Finished listening to the very disappointing Cowboy Graves.

Next up for listening is I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes.

Fev 26, 1:26pm

Finished Dumpty last night -- it's about an hour's worth of reading.

Written before the 2020 elections, this slim collection of light verse probably won't be around too long, but it's amusing enough for a quick read. (Folk singer Tom Paxton refers to current-events pieces as "short shelf-life songs".)

Actor John Lithgow takes aim here at the ousted 45th President and his various tantrums, peccadillos, felonies, and overall government-by-tantrum, frequently parodying poems by Lewis Carroll, Gilbert and Sullivan, or Mother Goose.

Fev 26, 11:49pm

The new thread is up over here.