Banjo Bookin' It in 2023

Discussão75 Books Challenge for 2023

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Banjo Bookin' It in 2023

Editado: Dez 31, 2022, 4:29 pm

Happy New Year, Reading Friends!

I am starting my 2023 thread with a picture of a Marten, from the Oregon coast. This is in honor of my last read of 2022, Martin Marten by Brian Doyle. I loved the book, and of course then wanted to learn more about Martens, and when I googled them, I found out that they are amazingly cute. Now I want to see one in the wild, although that's not likely to happen unless I start spending a lot more time outside in the woods.

Editado: Dez 31, 2022, 4:37 pm

A bit about me:

This is going to by my 11th year on Library Thing, and my 10th year in the 75 group. I do love this group. All of the lovely book-bullets from my friends here in the 75-ers have lead to just higher quality reading over-all.

I am a 64 year old social worker, working in the field of geriatric mental health, and living in Portland, Oregon with my wife (Mrs. Banjo), our 26 year old daughter (Banjo, jr) and 3 cats. I think that I read mostly literary fiction and memoir, with a sprinkling of more popular fiction, SciFi, and non-fiction.

Editado: Dez 31, 2022, 4:43 pm

New Year's Poem. I found this in a poetry box, on a walk I took with my family, on Christmas. It is by Stuart Kestenbaum, a poet I had not previously been familiar with.

"Holding the Light"

Gather up whatever is
glittering in the gutter,
whatever has tumbled
in the waves or fallen
in flames out of the sky,

for it’s not only our
hearts that are broken,
but the heart
of the world as well.
Stitch it back together.

Make a place where
the day speaks to the night
and the earth speaks to the sky.
Whether we created God
or God created us

it all comes down to this:
In our imperfect world
we are meant to repair
and stitch together
what beauty there is, stitch it

with compassion and wire.
See how everything
we have made gathers
the light inside itself
and overflows? A blessing.

Editado: Dez 31, 2022, 4:49 pm

Favorite Books of 2022:

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zanier
The Unseen by Roy Jacobsen}}
The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki
Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
Marten Martin by Brian Doyle

Editado: Maio 27, 11:47 pm

Books read 2023

1. Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann
2. By The Sea by Abdulrazak Gurnah
3. In The Country of Men by Hisham Matar
4. Eyes of the Rigel. by Roy Jacobsen
5. An Island by Karen Jennings

6. Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett
7. Horse by Geraldine Brooks
8. The Sojourn by Andrew Krivak
9. The Tender Grave by Sheri Reynolds
10. The Keeper Kelcey Ervick by Kelcey Ervick
11. The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen
12. The Book of Chameleons by José Eduardo Agualusa
13. Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

14. Bright by Duanwad Pimwana
15. Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
16. Hotel World by Ali Smith
17. Lost & Found by Kathryn Schulz
18. Burning Questions by Margaret Atwood
19. To End All Wars by Adam Hochschild

20. The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob
21. Unspeakable by Meghan Daum
22. Rooted: Science, Nature, and Spirit by Lyanda Haupt
23. Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
24. Aue by Becky Manuwatu
25. It Goes So Fast by Mary Louise Kelly
26. Hamnet. by Maggie Farrell
27. Cutting for Stone. by Abraham Verghese

28. Their Eyes were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston
29. Quicksand by Nella Larsen
30. Dead End Memories by Banana Yoshimoto
31. Fieldwork: a Forager's Memoir by Iliana Regan
32. Dawn Raid by Pauline Vaeluaga Smith
33. The Childhood of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee
34. Weasels in the Attic
35. Like The Appearance of Horses by Andrew Krivak

Dez 31, 2022, 4:50 pm

and welcome visitors:

Dez 31, 2022, 5:44 pm

Hello Rhonda and Happy New Year! I lOVE the marten! I'm currently reading The Marriage Portrait and a marten has a very small role in this novel. I also think I have Martin Marten on my shelves so I'll see about reading it soon.

I'm dropping off a star but, honestly, I don't expect to be able to visit much in 2023. I do still plan (or hope?) to retire this year so 2024 will be the year I come roaring back!

That said, I hope for a Portland meet-up sometime this year and, once I do retire, P and I plan to move back to the Willamette Valley, so there is much to look forward to!

Very best to you, Mrs. Banjo, Banjo jr., and all the furkids for 2023!

Dez 31, 2022, 5:48 pm

Happy new thread, Rhonda and happy new year too. LOVE your topper and though I am not, generally speaking, a big fan of poetry, that >3 banjo123: really spoke to me. Thanks for posting it.

Dez 31, 2022, 6:59 pm

Welcome back, Rhonda!

Dez 31, 2022, 8:31 pm

Wishing you a comfortable reading year in 2023, dear Rhonda.

>1 banjo123: You are right - they are amazingly cute.

Dez 31, 2022, 9:40 pm

Happy New Year, Rhonda! Your topper is full of adorable.

Jan 1, 2:40 am

Happy new thread for the new year Rhonda! Martens really are adorable little critters.

Jan 1, 2:46 am

Martens are really adorable! I'd also like to see one out in the world. We're going to be living near some forests, so maybe I have a shot at it.

Happy reading (and everything else) in the new year!

Jan 1, 8:08 am

Happy New Year, Rhonda! We are closing out another wonderful year of books and banter and I am looking forward to sharing another with you. I love your best of list. A few of my favorites too. I recently requested White Shadow, so I should get to it, in the coming weeks. Thanks for putting it back on my radar.

I love the marten up there. I have never seen one but I tried to, when I was in MN. They have pine martens there.

Jan 1, 1:00 pm

Hope 2023 treats you and yours well!!

Jan 1, 2:16 pm

Happy New Year, Rhonda. Great list of favorites from 2022. We share some of them. Others are on my WL. I love the poem.

Jan 1, 3:45 pm

Hope 2023 brings lots of good reads your way!

Jan 1, 11:08 pm

Jan 2, 4:40 pm

>7 EBT1002:. Thanks for stopping by, Ellen! I am excited for a meet up in 2023. And I will have to look for Marriage Portrait, to keep up with my Marten reading.

>8 jessibud2:. Thanks, Shelley, and glad you liked the poem. I always love the serendipity when I run into a poem in the "wild" that seems to match my current mood.

>9 drneutron:. Thanks for stopping by, Jim.

>10 PaulCranswick:. Thanks so much, Paul! I look forward to following your reading in 2023 as well.

>11 Crazymamie:. Thanks, Mamie!

>12 WhiteRaven.17:. Thanks for stopping by, White Raven. Yes, so cute.

>13 ursula:. Ursula, hope that you do see a Marten! It sounds like that they are hard to spot in the wild.

>14 msf59:. Hi Mark! Looking forward to another year of following your books, birds, beer (and Jackson!). I hope you like white Shadow

>15 RebaRelishesReading:. And you as well, Reba.

>16 BLBera:. Thanks for stopping by, Beth.

>17 thornton37814: and >18 Berly:. Thanks Lori and Kim!

Jan 3, 2:34 pm

Happy new year, Rhonda. Here’s to some good reading this year!

Jan 4, 2:06 pm

>20 Oregonreader: So happy to "see" you, Jan!

Jan 7, 6:36 pm

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

I finally got around to reading this book, which I've been meaning to read since it was published in 2017. It's kind of a true crime book, about a series of murders of Osage Indians, during the 20's. The tribe was rich, due to oil in their land, and were being murdered for "head rights". This was one of the first cases investigated by Hoover's FBI, and the investigation seemed pretty stumbling, but then, the white establishment didn't seem to care a lot about the murders of Native Americans. Well researched and written, showing the amount of casual evil that happens when people have power over other people. Most of the Osage were not thought to be competent to handle their own affairs, and so were assigned guardians to manage their affairs. This led to lots of corruption and murder, and was very sad to read.

Jan 8, 2:47 pm

I realized this thread is lacking in cat pictures! The first is of Willi and Francis, the second is all three cats, Banjo, Willi and Francis on my daughter's bed.

Editado: Jan 8, 3:41 pm

Your Willi and Francis remind me of my own Theo and Owen! And, now that you mention it, could I have forgotten to add them to my first thread of the year? I bet remedy that!

Well, as it turns out, I did not forget. But I put up another, just because!

Jan 8, 3:42 pm

Happy Suday, Rhonda. Love the kitties. We are dog folks but I don't mind the felines. Thanks to you, I have my copy of White Shadow from the library. I plan on starting it, after my current story collection.

How are your books treating you?

Jan 8, 3:45 pm

By The Sea by Abdulrazak Gurnah

I put this book on hold at our library, more than a year ago, when the author won the Nobel prize. At that time, the library had only one copy, and it took me more than a year to get the book. (now they have more copies, but still more holds!)

This was a great book, and I can see why the Nobel prize. Well written, intricately plotted, with plenty of surprises. It is a book that requires some patience, the writing is dense, and if you blink you can miss a plot twist. The book starts with an older man, claiming refugee status in Britain. (actually, he is 65, so not really all that old, in my opinion.). A few minutes later, he is describing how, years earlier, as a furniture seller, he sold a small table, to a man, who perhaps intended it as a gift. There is a lot of detail about the family he intended to gift it to, while all the while I am, let's get back to the guy and his immigration story.

But no, it all makes sense, but is told in a non-linear way, and I bet this will be one of my best reads of the year.

Jan 8, 4:41 pm

Cats do love their sleep, don't they? I've had some very sweet kitties in my life, but not for a long time. Haven't a dog for almost as long either actually :(

Jan 8, 6:24 pm

Love the cat pics, Rhonda. I'll add By the Sea to my WL; Afterlives did not work for me.

Jan 8, 6:27 pm

>23 banjo123: I love how the kitties are all lined up at the bottom of the bed.

Jan 8, 7:54 pm

>24 jessibud2:. Thanks, Shelley, and you can never have too many kitty pictures!

>25 msf59:. Hooray for Roy Jacobsen, Mark. I have Eyes of Rigel lined up to read, maybe next. I do miss our little dog, but the cats are good company, and less work.

>27 RebaRelishesReading:. Our cats are so sweet, except when they are wicked. You travel so much, Reba, that pets would be hard.

>28 BLBera:. I am sorry Afterlives didn't work for you, Beth. I just put it on hold, since I liked this one.

>29 Berly:. Thanks for stopping by, Kim! I do love it when they sleep together.

Jan 9, 5:41 pm

>26 banjo123: Thanks for the BB! It might be a good one for one of our reading groups.

Jan 10, 3:45 am

Happy reading in 2023, Rhonda!

Jan 10, 10:06 pm

I'll be interested to see what you think of Afterlives, Rhonda.

Jan 11, 3:56 pm

Hello, Rhonda! Love the cat photos. And this - "Our cats are so sweet, except when they are wicked." Same.

>26 banjo123: Excellent review! I have this one in the stacks, so I will eventually get to it. I will remember to pay close attention.

Jan 11, 5:46 pm

I am 60 pages into White Shadow and I am really enjoying. His writing his hypnotic in a simplistic way.

Jan 12, 12:53 am

>31 ffortsa:. I was wishing I had read it for a discussion group, Judy, because there is lots in it.

>32 FAMeulstee:. Thanks, Anita!

>33 BLBera:. Yes, Beth, me too. A friend heard the author speak at Portland Literary Arts last year, and she said he was a great speaker, but his books sounded so tough she didn't think she could read them. Curious, because I didn't really think that this was too tough, though of course there were some tough issues.

>34 Crazymamie:. Thanks, and hope you enjoy it when you get to it.

>35 msf59:. That's great, Mark! I am going to pick up Eyes of Rigel soon. We can be the LT Jacobsen Fan club.

Jan 14, 8:21 pm

Happy MLK Jr. Weekend everyone.

I seem to be reading slowly this year also, and don't have any recently read books to review. I have been reading Palace Walk, for the Africa Challenge, honestly am not liking it so far. I am surprised, because most people seem to love it. I am going to give it a bit longer to see if it clicks.

Since the reading is slow, I will give a bit of a life update. I think one reason that I am not getting a lot of reading done is because work is just stressful and hard.

I work in community mental health, with older adults with serious mental illness. The clients are great, but we are so short staffed, the systems are funky, and not enough resources. This has been an issue for many years, of course, but the pandemic has made everything worse. Health care in this country is just plain broken.

If things continue this stressful, I may retire next year. Financially we'd be OK, but I worry about money anyway, and also worry about what I'd do with myself if I didn't work. On the other hand, part of me feels like I can do the most good by continuing working. The mental health system needs people who know what they're doing.

On the home front, we are trying to plan some exciting travel. We may go to New Zealand this Summer (winter?) for the Women's World Cup.

Also we are trying to get a bunch of house projects done, new carpet upstairs, new floors and counters in the kitchen. Luckily my wife is retired and can oversee these tasks. Hopefully they will all be done in a few months and I can post some glamour shots of our home.

On a positive note, we have formed a new book group in our neighborhood, and had a great first meeting. We discussed Martin Marten, which got mixed reviews. Mrs. Banjo and I really loved it, but others liked parts of the book, but also felt it was slow, wordy and they did not like the anthropomorphism. It's a really bright group of women, and was one of the best book discussions I've ever had. I am hoping we can keep the group going!

Jan 15, 5:11 am

>37 banjo123: I'm a bit surprised that Palace Walk has fallen flat for you, Rhonda. I guess some of the characters are a bit unlikable!

Have a lovely Sunday.

Jan 15, 8:46 am

Happy Sunday, Rhonda. Sorry to hear about all the stress. I hope things begin to ease up for you at work. I finished White Shadow. Not quite as good as The Unseen but more than enough to continue the series. I managed to snag an ebook copy of the third one. How far did you and Wendy get?

Jan 15, 11:35 am

>37 banjo123: I hear your dilemma re retiring vs continuing to work. What you do is very important but you also need to take care of yourself. As to "what you would do with yourself if you didn't work": I retired in 2003 and have had one (yes 1) day since then when I didn't know what I was going to do. I doubt you'll have any problem with that.

Jan 15, 1:29 pm

Hi Rhonda - Good luck with your new book club! It's great to find a group that clicks. What are you reading next?

It's always fun to do house projects. I can't wait to see the photos.

Jan 15, 3:13 pm

>38 PaulCranswick:. It's interesting, isn't it Paul, how some books just work for one person and not another? I think I started Palace Walk once before, and didn't get very far. My memory is that my sister loved the trilogy.

>39 msf59:. Thanks, Mark! It's nice to have a 3 day weekend. I would agree with your assessment of White Shadow. Wendy liked Jacobsen even better than I do, and tore through all three. She says that the first is the best, but she was pretty riveted when reading the third. I started the third last night (avoiding Palace Walk) and it's off to a good start. The kind of spareness with both the landscape and dialog continues, and, according to our Norwegian neighbor, is quite accurate to the culture.

>40 RebaRelishesReading:. That's great, Reba! It seems there are two groups among my retiree friends, most folks love retirement from day one, but some of them struggle with finding purpose. I thought about trying to get myself more involved in other activities ahead of retirement, but I feel too busy to do that. I might look at trying to find some part-time work, to kind of split the difference.

>41 BLBera:. Yes, it was a relief to have the group click so well. Our next book up is Mostly Dead Things, which was my choice actually, so hopefully it works.

Jan 16, 5:50 pm

Just stopping by to say hi, Rhonda. I hope your new book group is a winner.

Jan 17, 3:15 am

Good luck figuring out whether to hang in there ( I am sure you are making a difference) or retire. Just choose whichever makes you happier and more fulfilled. And have fun with your bookclub!

Jan 18, 9:37 am

I think part-time work in your field would be a great way to ease into retirement. I've mostly found myself too busy, a chronic problem of mine involving a little too much FOMO, but I'm getting better at remembering to save time for relaxation.

Jan 19, 5:55 pm

Hi Rhonda! Good luck with your new book group. I have tried book groups several times, but finally settled to just reading books with my friend. One book every couple of months or so. It's nice, because that means I can have as long as I want to finish the chosen book. lol

Your job sounds stressful.

Jan 21, 8:18 pm

>43 Oregonreader:. Thanks, Jan! I think it's going to be good.

>44 Berly:. Thanks, Kim! I really wouldn't retire until next fall, so I have time to think about it.

>45 ffortsa:. Yes, Judy, that's one thing I am trying to take from the pandemic; the idea that it's OK to slow down and not do so many things in a day.

>46 The_Hibernator:. It is stressful, Rachel! Usually I am good at dealing with stress, and not taking work home with me.

Book groups can be tricky! But I do get a lot from listening to other people's thoughts, and it's nice to be pushed to read things I wouldn't otherwise.

Jan 21, 8:22 pm

Another slow reading week. I decided to concentrate on Eyes of the Rigel but unfortunately I seem to have left it at work, so I have another pile of books that I keep picking at.

I like to follow the Tournament of Books, so I put those books on hold at the library, and several have come in. I still have Palace Walk, but I may put that off to see if I am in a better mood later.

Jan 21, 8:32 pm

>48 banjo123: Sometimes that works for me, Rhonda. If I am struggling with a book or just not quite in the right mood for it, I will pick up something else and try to get going again with a view to a revisit in early course.

Have a great weekend.

Jan 22, 2:40 pm

>49 PaulCranswick:. Thanks, Paul, it's worked for me before, though sometimes it just confirms that it's not the book for me.

Jan 23, 12:08 pm

A belated "Happy New Year" from me, Rhonda!

>48 banjo123: I just finished Palace Walk the other day myself. It is definitely a book that you need to be in the mood for, I have found. I am very much of a moody reader. Maybe try a comfort read?

Jan 28, 2:31 pm

>51 alcottacre:. Thanks! I am waiting on the Palace Walk, and comfort reads are probably a good idea.

But I did manage to finish 2 books this week!

Jan 28, 2:44 pm

In the Country of Men by Hisham Matar

I liked the author's memoir, The Return, really well, and so decided to read this, his previous novel which was written in 2006. This isn't as strong as his later work, but still really good.

It tells the story of a young boy, Suleiman, living in Qaddafi's Libya. He doesn't quite understand what is going on, as neighbors, and his father are endangered and detained. His mother is trying to cope with a life in which she has limited choice or agency. Suleiman makes some bad choices, mostly out of ignorance, and finds that under this kind of regime, selfish choices can have huge consequences.

Jan 28, 2:52 pm

Eyes of Rigel. by Roy Jacobsen

This is the third and last book in the Barroy trilogy. Beautifully written, but often confusing. I think I just don't know enough about Norwegian history. It mostly came together in the end, and I realized that Norwegians had a difficult position during/after WWII; in between the Russians and the Nazi's and then there's Sweden, which apparently is also annoying. It's hard to tell who's a collaborator and who is a partisan.

Our heroine, Ingrid, travels searching for information about her daughter's father. No one that she meets will tell her the whole truth.

The theme of the book is how world events and politics can impact even people who live in the nooks and crannies of the world, and who are not political.

Jan 28, 3:34 pm

>54 banjo123: There is a fourth book, Rhonda, not yet translated.

Jan 31, 6:16 pm

>54 banjo123: Sounds like an interesting series

Jan 31, 10:33 pm

>54 banjo123: I've heard good things about this trilogy. One of these days...

In the Country of Men sounds really good as well.

Fev 1, 8:16 am

Happy February, Rhonda. I have an ebook copy of Eyes of Rigel and I plan on getting to it later this year.

Fev 4, 12:07 am

>55 FAMeulstee:. Wow! Thanks for letting me know, Anita, looks like it will be translated later this year.

>56 ffortsa:. It really is interesting. The first book is, I think, the best, and stands on it's own, so I truly recommend that one.

>57 BLBera:. Thanks, Beth. I haven't got a lot of reading done in January, but everything I've read has been good.

>58 msf59:. Thanks Mark! It will be interesting to see what you think.

Fev 4, 12:17 am

An Island by Karen Jennings

I read this as it was on the list for the Tournament of Books, which I like to follow, and easy to get from the library. It's a bit allegorical, about Samuel, a lighthouse keeper on remote island,escaping from his past, who finds a refugee washed ashore.

It's nicely written, and covers lots of issues, colonialism, political violence, dictatorship, etc. At times I would have liked a story that was more specific, instead of being an unnamed country with an unnamed dictator.

Fev 4, 12:18 am

>54 banjo123: I haven't come across that series, Rhonda, though I do have a couple of his other books.

Have a great weekend.

Fev 4, 12:22 am

Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett

This was for our new book group, so I will probably have more to say about the book later. I am a little worried about how the book group will react. I wasn't thinking when I suggested it, but there are some rather squeamish members of the group, and this book is about a family with a taxidermy business, and is quite graphic on the process.

I liked the book over all. Its super funny in places, about a dysfunctional (but loving) family, dealing with grief, as the father recently died, and both the narrator and her brother are still in love with the brother's ex-wife, who left the family years ago.

Fev 4, 12:23 am

>61 PaulCranswick:. I think he's a really good writer. And have a great weekend also!

Fev 4, 11:54 am

>60 banjo123: This one sounds good to me, Rhonda, and I have been wondering about the Arnett. I do tend to be squeamish but the premise sounds interesting.

Fev 5, 2:21 am

>62 banjo123: Interesting! I read With Teeth last year, maybe? I was on the fence about it, but I'd definitely give this one a try.

Fev 5, 10:04 pm

>64 BLBera: I liked the Arnett, Beth, but I'll report back on how the book group likes it. It's definitely a book with some issues, the writing is OK, but the plotting has some issues.

>65 ursula:. Maybe I will give With Teeth a try...

Fev 11, 7:09 pm

OK, report from the book group on Mostly Dead Things. This is a book group including myself, Mrs, Banjo, Banjo, jr; and 4 neighbor women. One member couldn't make it, and one had only just started the book. Two of us (Banjo, jr and I) enjoyed the book, but thought there were some flaws, especially in the plotting. Two people found the book very engaging, but disturbing. And two found it sort of "meh."

The end of the paperback copy had an interview with Arnett, which was very interesting and added to my understanding of the book. (Which sort of shows that she didn't get everything across in the book as well as she wanted to. ). One thing that was interesting to me is that she said that taxidermy is common in Florida and the south, she grew up around taxidermy. So it seems that it didn't have as in-your-face a meaning for her as it did for me.

Editado: Fev 11, 7:13 pm

Horse by Geraldine Brooks

I will probably save most of my thoughts on this book for the group thread, but just to say it was engrossing, edifying and heartbreaking. I love the way that Brooks can create a character in just a few pages, so that you feel you know them. And I thought it was unique to tie together past and present race issues through the story of Lexington, a famous 18th century race horse.

Fev 11, 11:50 pm

I am reading Horse now, Rhonda, and am not finding it so engrossing. I am only a little over halfway though, so maybe it will come together for me.

Fev 12, 11:34 am

I, too, am reading it. About 1/3 of the way in and loving it!

Fev 12, 11:35 pm

>69 BLBera:. Too bad, Beth. It's a pretty consistent book, so I doubt it's going to work for you. Have you liked Brooks' other works?

>70 RebaRelishesReading:. I really loved how how well researched this was.

Fev 13, 12:10 am

Diving into Horse this week! I am about 50 pages in and had to put it aside to finish up another read and I was liking it already. We'll see...!

Fev 13, 8:19 pm

I do like Brooks generally, Rhonda. I liked the historical parts of Horse but found the modern parts not well done and am not sure she needed them.

Fev 14, 11:12 am

>73 BLBera: I think the modern parts showed the racism that continues and imho were most important. I could have done without the bits on Covid at the end. That seemed a bit out of left field to me.

Fev 14, 11:26 am

I was a big fan of Horse too, Rhonda. I am glad to see that you enjoyed it.

Have a terrific Tuesday!

Fev 17, 11:22 pm

>72 Berly:. It's fun that everyone is reading Horse! I saw that you liked it, so that's great.

>73 BLBera:. That's interesting, I liked the modern parts, and the parts about the Smithsonian. But it did kind of chop the book into a lot of smaller stories...

>74 RebaRelishesReading:. I agree, Reba, the pain was that things didn't really change that much

>75 alcottacre:. Thanks!

Editado: Fev 17, 11:35 pm

Well, it's Friday, I took the day off work, and have Monday off for President's Day, so a 4 day weekend. Today we went to the Columbia Gorge, had lunch at Thunder Island Brewery (delish) and a nice hike. I will try to post some pictures later.

We are a bit stressed right now in the Banjo household, because Francis the cat is sick, not eating much, and acting very quiet and sweet (unlike him), He had some tests done, and it's probably either early kidney disease or cancer. We talk to the vet next on Tuesday, and in the meantime are trying to coax him to eat more.

Book-wise, I was looking at my TBR shelves, and have come up with a plan that divides them into 3 main shelves, and to try to have one from each on my reading pile at all times. One pile is fiction that I have been meaning to read for more than 3 years. Then there is the non-fiction from the same period. Finally, there are the books that I've put on my reading pile in the past 3 years (this includes library books). So the first three books I came up with were The Sojourn by Andrew Krivak; To End All Wars by Adam Hochschild, and Burning Questions by Atwood .

If I keep up with this plan, and don't add more than 1 book a month to the piles, I should be caught up with my reading in 2-3 years!

Fev 17, 11:40 pm

The Sojourn by Andrew Krivak

Honestly, I have no idea why I had this book on my shelves, I don't remember acquiring it. The author recently wrote a dystopian novel The Bear, which had good reviews.

This book is about WWI, from the perspective of a young Slavic, sharpshooter. It's a short, very well-written book. An interesting perspective on the war, but definitely sad and hard to read about so much senseless death.

Fev 18, 2:57 am

>77 banjo123: Good luck with the reading plan. I keep adding more books. Oops! Sorry to hear about Francis. : ( Enjoy your long weekend.

Fev 18, 7:12 am

Sorry to hear about Francis, Rhonda. How old is he? Always a sad time...{{hugs}} to you all.

I have also come up with a reading plan of sorts, too: one room per month. January, I read only books from my bedroom, this month, from my second bedroom, etc. Not that I have that many rooms (and there are books in all of them!) but once I go through them, I will just start over. Of course, that doesn't include library books which have a due date. Well, it's a plan. We'll see how it goes.....;-)

Fev 18, 8:18 am

A hike and then a brewery? Now, you are talking. Someday, I would like to join you. I am so glad you enjoyed Horse. It was a good Group Read choice.

Happy Saturday, Rhonda.

Fev 18, 10:41 am

Sorry to hear about Francis.

Good luck with your reading plan. You are off to a good start. To End All Wars sounds good. I loved his book about the Spanish Civil War. And I LOVED Burning Questions.

Maybe I should have a plan...

I am finding al the comments about Horse interesting.

Fev 18, 2:33 pm

>79 Berly:. Yes, I suspect I will keep adding more books as well, Kim! Most likely the best I can expect is that my TBR list doesn't get a lot bigger.

>80 jessibud2:. Francis is 14. I am hoping that the vet has some tricks up her sleeve, and that we get to keep him a few more years. But knowing his personality, he'd rather burn out than fade away, so we will see.

>81 msf59:. Thanks, Mark! Next time you are here, we should take you. There are lots of good breweries in the Gorge these days.

>82 BLBera:. I did get Burning Questions based on your review, Beth! So far, it's good.
If you are happy with no plan, that seems easier. I just get to feeling bad about all the books I have bought, and not read.

I do enjoy the comments, and sometimes it's especially fun to read comments where I disagree on the book. I don't think I ever change my overall opinion on a book, but sometimes I notch it up or down half a star.

Fev 18, 2:46 pm

And here's the man himself, Francis,

Fev 18, 2:53 pm

From our excursion yesterday:

Editado: Fev 18, 3:01 pm

And here is a picture of our new carpet, part of our home projects. We really like it!

We are also replacing the floor and counters in the kitchen, having the kitchen re-painted, and fixing up the tiny half-bath downstairs. So more pictures to come! The new floor is in downstairs, and looks great. The bathroom is torn up, so we are temporarily a one bathroom household, which we find more difficult than anticipated. But everything should be done in the next few weeks.

Fev 18, 4:20 pm

Love the stairs carpets! I should do mine, too, but my Owen has decided that the stairs are his personal scratching post(s) and he has managed to lift the corners of the carpet of just about every step. Is it worth it to replace them with brand new (scratching) material? I am not so sure. None of the many cats I have had before ever did this... and I have several real scratching posts throughout the house which he uses faithfully....

Fev 18, 4:35 pm

I love the carpet.

Francis is pretty.

>85 banjo123: Great photos.

My opinion might go up a half star after a discussion, but you're right. I've never suddenly loved a book I hated.

Fev 19, 1:04 am

>84 banjo123: His personality may not be sweet normally, but he has such a sweet face! I hope the vet has some insight and something to offer as well.

Fev 19, 6:01 am

>86 banjo123: Great pattern and colour for the carpet. Looks great!

Fev 19, 8:01 am

Sorry to hear about Francis, hope the vet can help. Your waterfall photo is so impressive, what wonderful scenery for a walk.
Good luck with the reading project- sounds a very practical approach to the TBR.

Fev 20, 11:10 pm

>88 BLBera:. Thanks, Beth! Even if I don't change my opinion, it can be fun to think about different perspectives.

>89 ursula:. Actually, he is very sweet, except when he is very wicked. I think the vet will do an appetite stimulant, hopefully that helps him feel better.

>90 figsfromthistle:. Thanks!

>91 charl08:. The Columbia River Gorge is pretty amazing.

I think the reading project will have limited success, but I will be happy if I am able to read some of the books that have been hanging around a while. I am reading a book of short stories by Viet Thanh Nguyen, that I bought 4 or 5 years ago and I remember being excited to read it at that time. And it's very good.

Today is a good example of how it won't work: we went out to coffee in Multnomah Village, and since we were there, had to go to Annie Bloom's books. I am being picky about bringing in new books, so I only bought one, a graphic memoir called Keeper, about women's sports. But then we were leaving and there was a sweet little free library in a phone box. (sorry, I didn't take a photo, but very cute). So I ended up picking up another book Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy Impossible not to have brought those books home, but if I do something similar every week, that's 8 books a month into the house, when normally I read 6 or 7.

Fev 22, 3:08 am

I hope Francis is a bit better now, Rhonda.

Fev 23, 3:16 pm

How's Francis doing today?

Fev 23, 5:27 pm

Thanks for asking Anita and Rachel! Franny is a bit better, the vet gave an appetite stimulant, and he is getting lots of treats. He is supposed to have an ultrasound tomorrow, but I am guessing it will be postponed, as we are having a lot of snow here.

Fev 26, 5:06 pm

Happy Sunday! We are recovering from a snowstorm here in Portland. There were about 8 inches some places, which came unexpected. Really we get very little snow here, and as a result no one knows how to drive in it, and the city has only 5 snow plows. So it doesn't take too much to bring the city to a halt. Things are melting now, but there is a chance of more snow tonight.

Honestly the worst is when the snow melts and refreezes, so here's hoping that doesn't happen and I get to work OK on Monday.

I did manage to complete 3 books this week, so will try to get those reviews done soon.

Fev 26, 5:56 pm

The Tender Grave by Sheri Reynolds

I read this one for the Lesbian book group. It's a good book, about dysfunctional families and about trying to create a better family/space for yourself. Dori is 17, leaving home to avoid the law after having participated in a hate crime against a gay boy at school. She decides to find the older half-sister who is estranged from their mental ill, artistic, evangelical mother. Her sister is Teresa, a high school teacher, married to Jen, and trying to become pregnant with their child.

That sounds melodramatic, and it is, but it also works. Good characters and writing. I like that the author brings up moral/ethical dilemmas, but doesn't tell you how to think about them.

The hardest thing for me in the book was the cat. Teresa and Jen have an elderly, very sick cat, and with Francis's current health issues, that was hard to read about.

Fev 26, 6:11 pm

>97 banjo123: So sorry to hear about Francis' health issues, Rhonda. It is always hard when one of our furkidz is not feeling well. You may have said up above and I missed it in skimming, but how old is he?

The Tender Grave sounds interesting. I will add it to my wish list.

Hang in there.

Fev 26, 6:51 pm

>98 EBT1002:. Thanks, Ellen! Francis is 14, so not a spring chicken, but we were hoping for a few more years with him. And maybe we still will have that, once we get the ultrasound, I think we will know more. He is doing OK now, doesn't seem to have any pain. He is more loving and cuddly than usual, which is sweet, but I think a little sad.

Fev 26, 6:58 pm

The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen

This is a book of short stories by Nguyen, author of The Sympathizer. All of the stories deal with Vietnamese refugees, and family relationships; but there is a lot of variety in the characters and situations, The writing is great. I think the most memorable story is "Fatherland" in which our narrator Phoung is visited in Vietnam, by an older half-sister Vivien, whose mother had taken her to the US when she was a baby. It was fascinating to see both sister's reacting to their father's shortcomings and to the roles assigned to them by their families.

Editado: Mar 26, 2:56 pm

The Keeper Kelcey Ervick

This is a graphic memoir that cover's the writer's high school and college experience's as a soccer goalkeeper, the history of women's soccer (football), Title IX, etc. The art in this is really good, and I thought she did a good job covering the issues. I saw some reviews who thought it didn't have enough detail, but that seems unrealistic in a graphic format. I did think that the author's own story was not super-interesting, but honestly, that made her relatable.

Fev 26, 9:06 pm

The Book of Chameleons by José Eduardo Agualusa

So, this was the book I could find in my library, for the Africa Lusaphone challenge. It's short, literary, narrated by a gecko who somehow represents Jorge Luis Borges. The gecko is telling the story of an Angolan who makes a living selling fake family histories to people who want a more upscale genealogy.

Now that I have read it, I remember reading someone else's review, here on LT, and thinking that it sounded too strange and literary for me, so I would skip it. It turns out that was right, but it is very well written, so if you are more literary than me, or a Borges fan, I bet you'd like it.

Fev 26, 9:48 pm

>102 banjo123: Your description of this makes it sound very appealing, Rhonda.

>101 banjo123: This graphic memoir sounds good as well.

In fact, all of your recent reading sounds great.

Fingers crossed that Francis continues to do well.

Fev 26, 10:28 pm

>85 banjo123: Your hike looks wonderful. Have to say - kind of wish I lived somewhere that only need five snowplows. Best of luck with your weather.

Mar 4, 2:12 pm

>103 BLBera:. Thanks, Beth! I have been having a good reading month. And Francis is doing OK. He has some more tests next week, so we will see what that shows.

>104 Oberon:. The gorge is pretty amazing. We really need more snow plows, but we don't have them and every time it snows, the city just grinds to a halt.

Mar 4, 2:25 pm

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

I really enjoyed this novel, which is about the off-and-on again friendship between Sadie and Sam. It covers decades, and also topics of friendship, gender, work, and family. They meet as pre-teens, in a hospital where Sam is recovering from a traumatic car accident, and Sadie's sister is being treated for cancer, and bond over a shared love of video games. In college, they develop an innovative video game together, and form a successful gaming company.

I am not a gamer at all, so at first wasn't sure how much I'd relate to the book. But as it went on, I got caught up in the characters, cheering for them even though they all made lots of bad decisions. It's well written, easy and fun to read.

Mar 4, 2:28 pm

Bright. by Duanwad Pimwana

The author of this book is the first female Thai writer translated to English. It's a slim volume, a series of vignettes about a young boy (5-6) who is abandoned by his parents, and raised by a small, impoverished community. The theme is sad, but the book is sweet, as we see how the community comes together to support the boy, and he enjoys various antics with his friends.

I read it for our new book group, so it will be interesting to see what others think of the book.

Mar 4, 2:31 pm

And happy weekend, readers! we are apparently done with our snow, and this weekend is taxes, a play, and a walk with my sister and brother-in-law. Our kitchen renovation is getting close to being done, the counters and backsplash are in, next week the kitchen is being painted, which I think means we will be without a kitchen for a week. Luckily there is lots of good take-out nearby.

Mar 4, 4:06 pm

Happy Saturday, Rhonda. I also really enjoyed The Refugees. I need to read Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow. It has been on my WL for ages. I absolutely loved Migrations. I hope you feel the same way.

Mar 5, 2:24 pm

>109 msf59:. Thanks, Mark! It's nice to get a up vote for Migrations.

Mar 12, 1:24 am

I am in the middle of Tomorow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow right now! Also not a big gamer myself, although my kids are. Sending good wishes to Francis (and you). You're nearing the end of the kitchen overhaul, right? Hang in there!

Mar 12, 2:55 pm

>111 Berly: Thanks, Kim! hope you enjoy Tomorrow and Tomorrow as much as I did.

The kitchen is virtually done, and very elegant. We need to get some pictures on the walls, and knick knacks to cosy it a bit. Pictures soon!

Last week was busy, with two book groups! The Tender Grave got mixed reviews, but I still like it. Bright was pretty popular, and the discussion helped. I am thinking of looking for her other translated into English book, Bright was from the perspective of a 6 year old, which gave it a simplicity and sweetness. I think her other book of short stories might be more biting.

Mar 18, 9:06 pm

Happy weekend, everyone! It has been a busy week, and I am tired, with not much reading done. I am blaming it all on daylight savings time, which I do not like.

We have been spending lots of time watching soccer. Our Timbers are doing terrible. To be fair, half of the players are out with injury, and also, the Timbers have never been a first half of the season kind of team. Still, they are looking disorganized and lost to an expansion team, and right now losing to Atlanta..
Luckily, we have better hope for our women's team, the Thorns. We have season tickets, and so have been attending their pre season games, which has been fun.

Thursday, Mrs. Banjo and I went to hear Ruth Ozeki speak, as part of the "Everybody Reads" program. She was great, and very funny. She had talked about how much she likes Portland. Our library had bought 8000 copies of A Tale for Time Being to give away, so she talked about how that literally supports her, and said that she uses it when she talks to other cities that want her to come and talk. "Did you know that Portland bought 8000 copies of my book?"

She talked about how she wrote A tale for Time Being and The Book of Form and Emptiness, which was very interesting. I took some notes, so will try to share more later.

As for the Francis update, it's mixed. He had the ultrasound and has IBS, and probably also some cancer. We don't want to do a biopsy to confirm the cancer, due to his wonky heart. However, we are treating him with steroids, and some other meds and he is pretty comfortable, and acting like his normal bratty self. The vet thought we could have months, or up to a year. We are hoping for the longer time.

Mar 18, 9:12 pm

And I did read one book!

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Grams

Not great literature, but a quick, entertaining book, about a woman in the early 60's, who trains to be a chemist, derailed by sexism and an unplanned pregnancy; she ends up with a popular cooking show, teaching women about the chemistry of cooking and encouraging empowerment.

Part of the book is narrated by her extremely intelligent dog, which I thought was just too silly. So I think this is one that's fine to skip. However, it is a good reminder of how few options women had in the 50's and 60's.

Mar 19, 4:35 pm

Hi Rhona. I'm glad Francis seems to be handing in there.

I have The Tender Grave on my bedside table.

And I loved both A Tale for the Time Being and The Book of Form and Emptiness. I'm already looking forward to whatever her next novel turns out to be!

Mar 19, 4:36 pm

I saw so many people reading Lessons in Chemistry on the beaches on Kauai last month. It seemed to be a popular vacation read. I think I'll give it a pass, though.

Mar 20, 12:19 am

>115 EBT1002:. Sadly, Ellen, Ozeki is not working on anything right now, and she explained that she writes a book about once every 10 years. So I think we have 9 years to wait.

Lessons in Chemistry does seem like a beach read, and I think you are safe to skip it.

Mar 20, 12:31 am

Regarding Ruth Ozeki, she talked a lot about her writing process. She believes in going slow, and inviting random factors into her fiction, and then finding the connections. She also often starts a book by hearing the voice of one of the characters, and A Tale for Time Being Started with Nao's voice in 2006.
Nao was writing her diary, and speaking to an unknown reader, so she was looking for the reader, and tried out a number of different characters, who could alternate and dialogue with Nao. However, none of them worked, and the book would just go flat.
Eventually she wrote a bad first draft, in which the reader was unknown, and sent it to editor in 2011. This had a large section in a library, which came out very vivid, with included lots of interesting characters as denizens of the library. However, then the 2011 earthquake/tsunami happened in Japan, and she felt that made the book irrelevant. So she withdrew it.
Her husband actual gave her the idea to "acknowledge the broken" and step in the work.

So she unzipped the novel, and took out 300 pages. Then she put in the Ruth and Oliver bits. She said that "this is not a very efficient way of writing a novel," but said also that novels are also "time-beings."

So the 300 pages she took out, went into The Book of Form and Emptiness and she called the two books sibling books.

Mar 24, 11:05 pm

>117 banjo123: "I think we have 9 years to wait" for another novel from Ruth Ozeki. Oh well.

Mar 24, 11:06 pm

>118 banjo123: That makes me want to go back and read both novels in closer proximity, time-wise.

Mar 25, 8:43 am

Happy Saturday, Rhonda. I also need to read The Book of Form and Emptiness. How can I ever keep up? Sighs...I am really enjoying Woman of Light. Keep this one in mind. Expect more warbling...

Mar 25, 1:50 pm

The Ozeki talk sounds fascinating. I love to hear writers talk about their work. Great comments on the Zevin book - I'm not a gamer, so I have been hesitant about picking it up.

Mar 26, 2:43 pm

Hi Ellen! I did think about re-reading A Tale for Time Being, but I probably won't. Eventually the talk will be on the Portland Literary Arts Archive Project, I think.

Thanks Mark, I did love Form and Emptiness I will look for Women of Light

Thanks, Reba! I need to post some kitchen photos also.

Mar 26, 2:49 pm

I haven't finished any books recently, but am hoping to have a pile done in the next week. I am reading 5-6 books right now, and at least a couple of them should finish up next week. Also, I have the next week off work. I took the time up, because I needed to use some PTO, and also need to do some house projects.

We had our kitchen professionally painted, but decided we could do two other small projects ourselves. (painting the small bathroom and the basement landing.). Somehow, though these are small projects, they seem to take a ton of time.

Also, spending time watching soccer. I went to the Timbers game yesterday, against the LA Galaxy, which was a nil-nil draw. The Timbers are not doing well this year, and lots of injuries. Today is the Thorns (women's team) season opener, so looking forward to that.

Mar 26, 3:00 pm

Here are some kitchen pictures. We are really happy with it. I might mess around later, and see if I can get some better pics; these don't really do justice to how well the floor works with all of the colors.

Mar 26, 3:08 pm

Looks beautiful, Rhonda! It's a great colour!

Mar 26, 5:13 pm

Kitchen looks great!! Love the colors and the pass-through.

Mar 26, 9:37 pm

I really love the blue cabinets!

Mar 27, 12:11 pm

The blue cabinets are gorgeous!

Mar 27, 12:34 pm

>126 banjo123: Attractive color!

Mar 27, 1:29 pm

I love your kitchen, Rhonda. I love the blue cabinets.

Mar 28, 7:37 pm

Thanks so much, Shelley, Reba, Jim, Micky, Kathryn and Beth! We are loving the kitchen.

We actually had the blue cabinets before, and the walls were orange, which was lively, but we were ready for a change. We used a designer from the flooring store to help pick colors, tiles, etc, and she really liked the blue and picked colors and flooring that really help the blue to pop.

Mar 28, 7:44 pm

Hotel World by Ali Smith

So this was for book group and hopefully the book group, when it meets, will help me like this better! One of the book group members loves Ali Smith, and this was the only book of hers that she hadn't read, so that's why she picked it. It didn't work so well for me. It's about a young woman, who works as a housecleaner in a hotel, and dies in a freak accident falling through the dumbwaiter. Part of the book is told by her ghost, and I liked that part, it was very creatively done to think about how a person would think and feel after death. But then the book is turned over to four other characters in turn, and none of them really worked for me. I later looked it up and found out that the book is supposed to be about the 5 stages of grief. Honestly, I thought if that was the case it should have been more obvious to me, and I shouldn't have had to look in up on line.

This is the first Ali Smith that I've read, and I wish that I would have started with one of her more popular later books.

Mar 28, 9:52 pm

>126 banjo123: What a great kitchen! The colour is modern but nice and cozy a well.

Mar 29, 12:14 am

The Kitchen look great, Rhonda! Lovely colour!Sorry to read that Francis is not doing so well heath wise. It's so hard when our furbabies get older. My sister has a lovely cat named Harriet, and she is likely about 15 as well, not sure because she was adopted from the SPCA . Harriet has been having trouble with lack of appetite, constipation, infections etc. The vet cannot seem to pinpoint what is wrong, other than to say Harriet is getting older and occasionally giving her pain medication and antibiotics.

Mar 30, 1:07 pm

>135 figsfromthistle:. Thanks, Anita!

>136 vancouverdeb:. Thanks for stopping by, Deb. I hope that Harriet feels better soon. Franny is getting spoiled, lots of treats and not much in the way of discipline. He's definitely an Old Man Cat.

Mar 30, 1:18 pm

Lost & Found by Kathryn Schulz

I read this memoir for the Lesbian book group, and it will be interesting to see how the group feels about it. Schulz writes about two years of her life, when her beloved father dies, and she also meets and falls in love with her wife.

I am ambivalent about the book. The writing is lovely, but super meandering and philosophical. Not direct enough for me. Also, everyone in the book is nice, and wholesome and all the relationships are unrelentingly positive. Nice for Schultz, but a bit boring to read. I wanted to hear her exasperated with her father's long-windedness and forgetfulness; or enraged with her wife for some petty reason.

Here's a passage to show the writing style:

“What an astonishing thing it is to find someone. Loss may alter our sense of scale, reminding us that the world is overwhelmingly large while we are incredibly tiny. But finding does the same; the only difference is that it makes us marvel rather than despair. In all the vast reaches of space, among all of life's infinite permutations, out of all the trajectories and possibilities and people on the planet, here I was, in this house, following along beside C. as she took my hand and led me out of the living room and into the kitchen, where, she told me, there was something else she wanted me to see.”

Mar 30, 1:27 pm

Burning Questions by Margeret Atwood

Thanks to Beth for recommending this! Its a book of essays or small writing pieces by Atwood written between 2004 and 2021. I read a few a day, she is an amazing writer, and so smart,. She knows so much about so many things, and I feel that some of that knowledge has now rubbed off onto me.

Also it made me want to look up some of the authors she writes about, like Gabrielle Roy.

Mar 31, 9:56 am

>138 banjo123: Thanks for making me feel less guilty about getting stuck half way through this book!

Mar 31, 12:58 pm

>140 charl08:. Glad to help, Charlotte!

Mar 31, 5:25 pm

>139 banjo123: Isn't this great? I just got her new collection of stories from the library and will be starting them. And yes, to reading some of the Canadian writers she mentions. I am glad I bought this one.

I look forward to your book club's comments on the Smith; my first one was Autumn, which I loved. I would recommend the seasons quartet.

Abr 2, 4:58 pm

>142 BLBera:. Yes, I love Atwood. I will have to look for her new one.

I should try Autumn; it seems that quartet is well-liked.

Abr 2, 5:13 pm

To End All Wars by Adam Hochschild

Here's another book off of my TBR shelf! I had been very impressed with King Leopold's Ghost, and so had picked this up and been meaning to read it for years. I was motivated by having just read Sojourn and thought I was ready for more WWI. However, it turns out that this book focused on British involvement in the war, and especially the impact of Pacifism and of class issues. So more of a pair for Barker's Regeneration series. I will have to look elsewhere for a understanding of the war from the Austro-Hungarian side.

Hochschild does a good job of tying together different pieces of history and introducing us to many complicated characters. I am glad that I read it.

Abr 3, 1:13 am

I love the kitchen, it seems so bright, which makes it able to support that gorgeous blue.

Abr 3, 2:05 am

>126 banjo123: The kitchen looks beautiful!!!!

>134 banjo123: Interesting. I've loved everything I've read by Ali Smith but this one is unknown to me.

Abr 4, 8:53 pm

>145 ursula:. Thanks, Ursula

>146 EBT1002:. Thanks, Ellen, this is one of Smith's first books, so her later work is most likely stronger.

Abr 5, 11:25 pm

>144 banjo123: I have both of those Hochschild books on the shelves, Rhonda, and it looks like I should get to them soon!

Abr 8, 2:07 pm

>148 PaulCranswick:. You definitely should, Paul! Happy weekend.

And happy weekend to all, happy Passover and happy Easter. It is starting to be a little spring-like here, though still rainy and not all that warm, the tulips are out.

Abr 8, 2:13 pm

The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob

I had picked this up some time ago, after reading Good Talk. This was Jacob's debut novel, a family saga that centers on grief, and the narrator's father's terminal illness. The writing is good, but I think that the book had too many disparate parts, and didn't hold my interest well enough. I liked it while I was reading it, but never in a hurry to pick it back up. I think it could have benefitted from editing and focus.

Abr 8, 2:22 pm

Unspeakable by Meghan Daum

This is a book of personal essays, so sort of like a memoir. I liked it, the author is honest and talks about her own shortcomings directly. I especially liked the first essay, about her mother and her mother's death from cancer. She talked about how she and her brother stayed with her mother and provided care at the end, despite and ambivalent relationship. She describes them as less sentimental than other families, and describes packing up her mother's apartment in NY during this time, as they couldn't afford to pay another month's rent. Somehow I felt this captured the mixture of guilt and caring that a lot of us feel.

Some of the essays are stronger than others, but overall I am glad to have finally read this.

Abr 8, 6:03 pm

>149 banjo123: It's obvious you live south of me (lol) -- daffodils are out here but no tulips yet. Head we're supposed to get an inch of rain tomorrow!!

Abr 8, 6:06 pm

>152 RebaRelishesReading:. That's funny, you are so close. I bet you will get tulips any minute.

So much rain and cold this year! But we are bound to get some sunshine soon,

Abr 9, 2:52 pm

Rooted: Life at the Crossroads of Science, Nature, and Spirit. by Lyanda Lynn Haupt

The author's main point is that we can benefit from deeper connection to the world around us; she recommends walking barefoot in the woods, for example, to connect with the earth around us, spending time with individual trees. I do wish that this book had a bit more science to balance the Nature and Spirit bits. She does mention studies about the inter-connectedness of life on this planet, but I think that she could have gone deeper into the science. Personally, I liked the nature writing, but the spiritual bits are mostly not for me.

Abr 9, 4:42 pm

Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck

This is Steinbeck's book, written in 1962, about travelling across the US in the company of his French poodle, Charley. Some parts of the book drag, or seem dated, but others are funny and seem topical today. The end of the book, where he travels to Louisiana and observes the reaction to school desegregation, is one of the strongest parts of the book.

Abr 9, 4:45 pm

>153 banjo123: May be the variety of tulips -- I was just teasing about being further north (which we are of course but not by enough to make the difference I imagine)

Abr 10, 9:30 pm

What a variety of reading you've been doing, Rhonda! The Daum essays sound interesting. I enjoyed the Jacob novel when I read it, but I don't remember much about it. I wonder what she's working on now?

Abr 15, 6:29 pm

> 157. I think trying to read off of my TBR shelves has helped on the variety. I think that Jacob is working on another graphic novel about race issues... I heard a radio interview with her a little while ago, but I couldn't find anything about it on line, so I guess we will have to wait.

Abr 15, 6:36 pm

The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate

I thought I would try to increase my reading with audio books, and this one was available from the library. I had liked Wingate's Before We Were Yours, and this is not as good, but I was still caught up in the story. The letters to lost friends were letters written by formerly enslaved people and published in newspapers when families that were separated by slavery tried to find each other. Heartbreaking.

In this book there are two narratives, Hannie, who is looking for her family in Louisiana and Texas, and Benny, an Italian-American schoolteacher teaching in an underfunded Louisiana school.

I don't normally do audiobooks, so it's a bit hard to know how to rate this as I am not sure if I would like it more or less if I read it in print.

Abr 16, 8:43 am

Happy Sunday, Rhonda. As usual I really like your book choices. Like you, I thought King Leopold's Ghost was outstanding. I think he has a new one out too, but I forget the title. It looks like we agree on "Rooted" and I loved Travels with Charley but I am a big Steinbeck fan.

Abr 16, 12:26 pm

>159 banjo123: I liked Before We Were Yours too. Had forgotten all about it til you mentioned it. I don't need any more books nagging me from the table next to "my" chair though so glad you didn't like this one as well :)

Abr 16, 2:23 pm

Happy Sunday, Rhonda! I am way behind here, but you've been reading some great books and your kitchen looks awesome. I was thinking maybe we should do a Portland meetup soon. What do you think?

Abr 16, 10:44 pm

>160 msf59:. Thanks, Mark, I will have to look for the new Hochschild.

>161 RebaRelishesReading:. Not as well, but you probably would still like it. The plot and structure were pretty similar to Before We Were Yours, so that's one of the things I didn't like, but it was still a compelling story.

Abr 16, 10:45 pm

>162 Berly:. Definitely yes to a meet up, Kim! It's been too long.

Abr 16, 10:49 pm

And happy Sunday night to everyone. It's been a good weekend, but I am afraid not enough reading.

Two soccer games, the Thorns (our women's team) played Friday, and we thought they would win, but it was a draw, so disappointing. Then Saturday, the Timbers, who have been a real losing team this year, played Seattle, who we hate. I almost didn't go to the game, even though I had a ticket. So glad I did, we won 4-1 and were apoplectic with happiness. Also, Asprilla scored on a bicycle kick, which is always fun.

Today we went to the Portland Baroque Orchestra, with a friend, for a Mozart concert, which was lovely.

Abr 17, 2:37 pm

>165 banjo123: Totally relate to hating the Sounders. Glad the Timbers got the win!

Abr 17, 6:35 pm

>163 banjo123: I'm going to try to ignore that thought -- I really need to catch up a bit :)

A meet-up would be lovely though.

Abr 22, 4:52 pm

>166 Oberon:. Thanks, Erik, always good when we gut the fish.

>167 RebaRelishesReading:. I understand, Reba! We should think of a good meet-up time. Weekends are best for me, as a working person.

Abr 22, 5:01 pm

Aue by Becky Manawatu

We are planning a trip to New Zealand this summer, for the Women's World Cup, so I am trying to do some reading from New Zealand authors. This book took me a while to get into, there are multiple narrators and timelines, which I found confusing. I thought that it was my fault for reading too quickly and not paying enough attention, but I liked at some reviews and others found this difficult as well. Also, the book deals with gang and drug activity, with a fair amount of violence, which was hard to read.

One of the main narrators is Ari, a 6 year old boy. I am not usually a fan of child narrators, ad I do think that this device provided a certain amount of sentimentality, cheaply. However, Ari was a sweet character.

About half way through the book, it came together for me and I found myself really enjoying it. So I am glad that I stuck with it. One of the points of the book, which I liked is that "no one is just one thing." So all of the characters are nuanced, with good and bad sides.

Abr 22, 5:21 pm

It Goes So Fast by Mary Louise Kelly

I received this as an Early Reviewers book--thank you! A quick and enjoyable read. Kelly is the NPR journalist, and this book is about her attempts to juggle career and family. She takes her oldest son's last year of High School off, in order to write this book, and to be present for her sons.
Her intent is to explore the way that we make choices, and honestly there is no way to have it all. I think that Kelly intended this to apply generally, and not just to relate to parenting. However, it's hard not to read this book about an exploration of motherhood and I am not sure it will appeal as much to non-parents.
However, the parts about her career and the understanding of how important journalism was to Kelly were the strongest parts of the book for me.

Abr 22, 6:25 pm

>168 banjo123: Sunday's aren't very good for me but Saturday would work fine.

I loved New Zealand when we traveled there and am feeling a tiny bit jealous of you planning a trip there. Hope you have a great time!

Editado: Abr 23, 1:56 pm

>171 RebaRelishesReading:. A Saturday could definitely work! Do you have an idea of where you'd like to meet? We could do the traditional brewery lunch and Powell's visit, or something else...

I am excited for New Zealand, everyone says its lots of fun. But a bit nervous, we have hardly traveled in the past few years, and honestly, I never did much international travel.

Abr 23, 4:59 pm

>172 banjo123: New Zealand is about the easiest country in the world to travel in. The people are super friendly and helpful. English is the national language. Tipping isn't done (at least when we were last there...back in the last century...people actually declined tips when we offered) and it's beautiful. Christchurch was a lovely city and has recovered from the earthquake by now I think. Milford Sound area is lovely. Rotorua area is interesting. I would love to go again.

Abr 24, 6:50 am

How exciting that you are going to New Zealand. Like Reba I am jealous! Are you stopping on the way or is it airport transfer only? Do you have plans to travel around or will the World Cup dominate your time?

Abr 24, 4:07 pm

Take me to New Zealand with you! I'm glad you liked Aue; I loved it as well. Great comments. It is hard to read.

Abr 24, 6:06 pm

>171 RebaRelishesReading: >172 banjo123: I could make a Saturday meetup work. : ) Do you want me to set up a thread again so we can talk details?

Abr 25, 1:21 am

Stopping by to say hi, Rhonda. Lucky you and your wife and daughter. I am sure you will all have a fabulous time.

Abr 27, 3:22 pm

>173 RebaRelishesReading: New Zealand sounds awesome! And it would be so nice to have places just raise the prices and get rid of tipping.

>174 charl08: No stops, and lots of World Cup. We will be in Wellington and Aukland, we are going to the Bay of Islands on a tour. Planning the trip was hard, for various reasons, so we ended up keeping it simple.

>175 BLBera: Sure, Beth, come on with us. You have to root for either the US or Japan for the world cup. And yes, Aue was good, I will be interested to see what she comes up with next.

>176 Berly: That would be great if you could do a thread, Kim! It's been too long.

>177 vancouverdeb: Thanks, Deb!

Abr 27, 4:16 pm

Have a fabulous trip, Rhonda. When do you leave? If you already mentioned this, I missed it, sorry.

Abr 27, 5:13 pm

>179 jessibud2: We don't leave until the end of July, so hopefully I can get some more New Zealand reading done in the meantime!

Abr 28, 10:01 pm

>173 RebaRelishesReading: I agree with that Reba. I never enjoyed a holiday more than the ten days we spent traveling around the South Island (including Megan meet-up).

>175 BLBera: I would do my best to squeeze into the suitcase with you Beth!

Have a lovely weekend, Rhonda.

Abr 30, 8:42 pm

>181 PaulCranswick:. Thanks, Paul! It sounds like New Zealand is a great place to visit.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend. Ours was pretty fun; we had a fair dash of sports in that we went to a Hillsboro Hops (Minor League Baseball) game on Friday. It was super fun, nice win, and it was "Wine and Nine" night, and so we were able to do wine tasting, with some really good local wineries, and also got a lovely charcuterie board. And last night was the Thorns soccer game. The Thorns actually didn't play that well, plus some bad reffing. The game ended in a tie, but amazingly, the kind of tie that feels like a win---our goalie came up for a corner kick, and scored in stoppage time.

And on the book front, Saturday was Independent Bookseller's Day. We went to Broadway Books, lots of fun and hoopla, they had cupcakes, a prize wheel, discounts, etc. Also, a book psychic who did a reading to tell you what to buy. I bought a copy of Poverty by America; and then at the psychic's suggestion Fieldwork. Mrs. Banjo got only a Mother. We also went to out local Powell's, but they were much more subdued in celebration. I did buy The Committed as it was on sale, and I've been wanting to read it.

I have done some reading, finished Cutting for Stone, and also Hamnet. Reviews later. I am also reading Their Eyes Were Watching God for our book group.

Maio 6, 10:20 pm

Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell

I think I am late in reading this book. I listened to it mostly, as I had a training in Eugene, so lots of driving time. I loved this book, which is historical fiction, an imagining of Shakespeare's family, and especially his wife, and the death of their son, Hamnet. Of course, very little is actually known about Shakespeare, so O'Farrell had a good chance to explore themes of family relations, village live, grief, and the changes in English life as traditional medicines and values are being squeezed out.

The characters in this book are very compelling and I did love the writing.

Maio 6, 10:25 pm

Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verges

I read this one for the Africa challenge, and also glad as it had been on my TBR shelves for some time. Not my favorite read, the writing was OK, but not stellar, and the plot was too Grey's Anatomy for my taste. (I did like the first 7 seasons of Grey's, but you kind of need some eye candy to cope with the melodrama,

Maio 6, 10:33 pm

I'm so glad you loved Hamnet, Rhonda. It may be one of my favorites. O'Farrell is becoming one of my favorites. I need to get to her new one.

Maio 6, 10:36 pm

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston

I read this for our book groups looking forward to the discussion. This is the third read for me, the first time about 30 years ago, I loved it then, for the innovation of telling the story with dialect, and for giving a voice to women who have not had much of a voice. The second time around was a few years back, not as charmed that time, and a bit upset by the domestic violence. This time, somewhere more in the middle. I did think it a bit ironic that Janie's life was defined by her relationships with men, when Hurston had led a different kind of life. But one thing I got from the book this time is a better idea of what it meant for the characters in the book to live so much in the shadow of slavery, with formerly enslaved people still a part of the community.

Maio 6, 10:36 pm

>185 BLBera:. Yes, me too! It's my first reading of her.

Maio 7, 10:25 am

Hi, Rhonda! I got behind, of course, and just read through this thread. Some great reading! I must remember to read King Leopold's Ghost - it's been hanging around the periphery of my head for a long time.

Your kitchen looks WONDERFUL.

Maio 7, 1:10 pm

>188 ffortsa:. Thanks, Judy! We are super happy with the kitchen. Yesterday we did a long walk in a fancy neighborhood (Irvington) and stopped in a couple of open-houses. The houses were nice, but we like our kitchen better.

Maio 7, 11:30 pm

and I have read one more book, Quicksand by Nella Larsen. I had this on my shelf, and after the Their Eyes reread, I thought it would be interesting to read something else from the Harlem Renaissance. It was an interesting and quick read. Larsen isn't as good a writer as Hurston, and I think that her novel Passing was better, but this feels like an insightful peek into what it would be like to be a mixed race woman in the early part of the century.

Maio 8, 10:16 am

I've liked everything I've read by O'Farrell.

Great comments on Their Eyes Were Watching God; it's been years since I read it. I also want to read Nella Larsen again. Have you seen the Netflix film based on her book Passing?

Maio 8, 5:57 pm

>183 banjo123: I loved Hamnet when I read it last year, Rhonda. I've yet to read The Marriage Portrait, but I'm sure I will enjoy it.

Maio 8, 6:32 pm

Hi, Rhonda. I am so glad you loved Hamnet. It is such a terrific read. I am jealous that you are making it to NZ. We are still trying to get there, but always something comes up.

Maio 13, 7:52 pm

>191 BLBera:. No, I haven't seen the Netflix special. Is it good? I am kind of wary of movies based on books that I've liked. And yay for Maggie Farrell!

Our book group had a great discussion of Their Eyes, there is definitely a lot in that book.

>191 BLBera:. Now I see why everyone was so excited by Hamnet!

>193 msf59:. New Zealand is a big commitment, because of the long flights. Wendy insisted we stay at least 3 weeks, because of that, and then you need time to recover from jet lag after, so it ends up a lot of time off work and away from home.

Maio 13, 8:08 pm

Dead End Memories: Stories by Banana Yoshimoto

This is a collection of short stories by Japanese writer, Yoshimoto. Apparently it was published in Japanese in 2003, and translated more recently. All of the stories are about young women dealing with relationships, grief, and finding their way in the world. The first story was probably my favorite, "House of Ghosts" tells of a young woman whose family owned a yoshoku restaurant, and who hopes to run the place herself one day. She meets a young man, Iwakura, who's family owns a bakery famous for its cake rolls. He is hoping to get away from the family business.

Iwakura lives in an apartment that is inhabited by the ghosts of an older couple who had lived there. The relationship between the narrator, Iwakura, and the ghost couple has a slow build, exploring issues of family and identity.

Maio 14, 8:39 am

Happy Mother's Day, Rhonda! Give Wendy a hug from me too! I hope those books are treating you well.

Maio 14, 1:46 pm

Happy Mother's Day, Rhonda!

I have wondered about Before We Were Yours and glad to see that you (and Reba) liked it.

Also glad you enjoyed both Hamnet and Cutting for Stone. Verghese has a new novel out and I'm very interested in reading it.

Maio 14, 9:47 pm

Happy Mother's Day my friend.

Maio 16, 2:54 pm

While The Marriage Portrait isn't as good as Hamnet, it is still excellent historical fiction. O'Farrell knows how to bring an age alive.

Maio 16, 10:01 pm

I hope you had a Happy Mother's Day!

Maio 20, 5:40 pm

Our Book group took a look at Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda

also a collection of lively women centric short stories with a touch of magic realism into the bargain we loved it

Maio 20, 8:25 pm

>196 msf59:. Thanks for the Mother's Day wishes, Mark!

>197 EBT1002:. Thanks for stopping by, Ellen! I am excited to read more by O'Farrell.

>198 PaulCranswick:. Thanks, Paul!

>199 BLBera:. Thanks Beth, for letting me know that Marriage Portrait is not as good as Hamnet. I will temper my expectations.

> 200. Thanks! It was nice.

>201 magicians_nephew:. I will have to look for that one! Thanks, Jim.

Editado: Maio 20, 8:57 pm

I think you can safely skip my last read, Rhonda, Looking for Jane. Though everyone enjoys different books, so your mileage may vary, as they say. What are your reading now? I was just looking on your home page and didn't see anything there. Perhaps you are like me and don't declare you are reading a book until you are well into it, so you know if you actually continue to read the book. Your book group sounds like fun.

Like Ellen, I'm also interested in reading The Covenant of Water, since I enjoyed Cutting for Stone some years ago.

Enjoy your weekend!

Maio 20, 9:22 pm

>203 vancouverdeb:. Somehow, I never keep up with my currently reading, so I have kind of given up on it. One of these days I will organize myself better!

Right now I am reading The Childhood of Jesus (for the African reading challenge.), That one is a bit too allegorical for me, but interesting. Also reading Dawn Raid, as part of my prepping for New Zealand. This is a Children's book, I am enjoying it and think it's giving me some good background.

Last week I read Fieldwork by Iliana Regan, which was interesting. I will do a review later.

Maio 21, 2:38 pm

Dawn Raid by Pauline Vaeluaga Smith

I don't usually read children's books, so I am a little unsure of how to review/rate it. It's told as the diary of a 13 year old New Zealand girl in 1976. I thought pretty good, and I learned a lot about New Zealand, painlessly. For example, I learned that there was a group called the Polynesian Panthers, inspired by the Black Panthers in the US. That group was organized against Dawn Raids, which were attempts to deport Polynesian's in New Zealand, who might have overstayed their visas.

I also learned what hokey-pokey ice cream is, and that in the 1970's kids in New Zealand often had milk runs, which were like paper routes here, only with milk.

I think it could be a good book for middle school age kids who wanted to learn a bit about diversity from a global perspective.

Editado: Maio 25, 11:00 pm

Fieldwork by Iliana Regan

I think that I mentioned seeing a book psychic, at Broadway Books, for Independent Bookseller's Day. The psychic used a deck of cards to figure out a book for me, and this was it.

Overall, this was a really interesting read that kept me going. Regan is a chef, and had owned a Michelin rated restaurant in Chicago. She opened a small bed and breakfast with her wife, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. This book alternates between her experience in the Hiawatha forest, and stories about her childhood as the daughter (or maybe son?) of an Indiana steelworker. She deals with issues around gender identity, addiction, connection to the earth, and lots about mushrooms.

My quibbles with the book: going back and forth in time was confusing at points, and I felt there were things left out, or not fully explored. Some of that might be clearer if I had read her first memoir Burn The Place. But definitely, she leaves a lot unsaid, which has the advantage of leaving the reader to think, but I would have liked a bit more certainty.

Also, she has this writing quirk of writing lists of things. It's OK once in a while, but is pretty much every page or two and got old for me. Example:

"There were lots of squirrels, chipmunks, field mice, porcupine, fox, coyotes, deer and other small creatures that made a surprising amount of noice, considering how small they were, walking around at night. It was probably just that."

But lots to think about, and glad that I read this.

Maio 26, 11:27 am

>206 banjo123: So would you visit the book psychic again?

Maio 27, 11:32 pm

>207 RebaRelishesReading:. Reba, I think she did it mainly for fun, and as a novelty, so not sure I will have the opportunity again. But I am glad I did, as most likely I wouldn't have picked this one up without her!

Maio 27, 11:39 pm

The Childhood of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee

I picked this up for the Africa challenge, as it's Nobel Prize winner month. I had a copy on my TBR pile, so, hooray for me for reading it! It's really too allegorical for me, I am afraid. It's about a man and boy who come to a strange city, and are given new identities. The new city is pretty bland, people are nice, but not passionate, they eat mostly bread, and hardly any meat.

The book did bring up some issues around belonging, and what it means to come to a new place. However, not sure what else it meant, and no idea where Jesus comes into it.

I really liked Disgrace, so I may try other books by Coetzee, but this one wasn't for me.

Maio 27, 11:44 pm

Weasels in the Attic by Hiroko Oyamada

Another book that I didn't like that well. It was for book group, so hopefully others will have more to say about it. It is short, and easy to read. I was not fond of the writing, but perhaps it lost in translation? The plot, which is about parenthood and becoming a father, I think might also depend some on a greater knowledge of Japanese culture than I have. It is three interconnected stories about three men, their relationships and reactions to becoming fathers.

Maio 28, 12:29 am

The idea of book psychic sounds fun, Rhonda! I've never heard of Book Psychic. Glad she suggested a good read for you.

Maio 28, 12:43 am

Like the Appearance of Horses by Andrew Krivak

I got this book from Early Reviewers, and I just love it. Krivak's writing is lovely, and this book is a multi-generational family saga that centers around the role of war in the lives of four generations of men, and by extension, in the lives of the women in their lives. I didn't know when I requested it, but turns out this is the third in a trilogy. I actually read the first The Sojourn, and will have to look for the second, but (per online reviews) you don't need to have read the others in the trilogy to appreciate this one.

I liked The Sojourn, but liked this one much better. I think because large parts of this book take place in the US (Pennsylvania) and concern marriage and family, and so are easier for me to relate to, than the landscape of The Sojourn which is Austro-Hungary before and during WWI. However, I do like the way that Krivak shows that individuals have complex relationships between their country of origin, their culture, and their nationality. A large part of the book centers on Bexhet Honor, who is half Roma, half Hungarian, and who comes to Pennsylvania and is taken in by Jozef Vinich, a Slovak American who had fought in WWI.

Maio 28, 6:49 pm

>209 banjo123: I liked Disgrace too but none of his other books have ever appealed to me.

Maio 28, 8:06 pm

>209 banjo123: & >213 RebaRelishesReading: I have to agree that Coetzee is a difficult author to get along with and also that Disgrace is by far and a way his most approachable work.

Maio 29, 5:29 am

I most enjoyed his two memoirs about his young life, Boyhood and Youth, Rhonda. It's been some time since I read them though, so not sure how they would hit me now.

Maio 29, 2:53 pm

Happy Memorial Day, Rhonda. Hoping you are enjoying a nice holiday weekend. Thanks for sharing the New Yorker article with me. I really enjoyed it and shared it with some of birding buddies.

Maio 29, 3:41 pm

I"m glad you finally read the Krivak, something you enjoyed, Rhonda, after the two previous reads. I need to get back to Coetzee although, maybe not this one. I hope you're having a lovely long weekend.

Maio 29, 7:34 pm

>211 vancouverdeb:. Missed you before, Deborah, it was a creative idea. Broadway Books really does a good job with those kind of celebrations.

>213 RebaRelishesReading:. Yes, I think this book would work for the right person, but that's not me.

>214 PaulCranswick:. Paul, it turns out, based on my catalog, that I read and enjoyed Michael K. I remember none of it, however, so I think maybe my rating was too high.

>215 charl08:. I was "meh" with Boyhood, but I think I am just not fond of books about childhood, in general. I think that I still have Waiting for Barbarians on the TBR shelf, and it has good reviews, so that's probably my next on.

>216 msf59:. Awesome, Mark! It's a lovely day here today, we had a nice walk and now lazing around.

>217 BLBera:. Thank you Beth. I was so happy to read a book that just sucked me in! The other two reads weren't that bad, and Weasels In The Attic took about an hour to read, so I am not complaining too much.