Ellen (EBT1002) reads what she can in 2023 - Thread 5

Discussão75 Books Challenge for 2023

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Ellen (EBT1002) reads what she can in 2023 - Thread 5

Out 7, 3:42 pm

Hello all. Ellen here, an unreliable but enthusiastic member of the 75ers since 2011.

I'm in my last few months of working! While I manage the pressure and stress, I'm giving myself permission to read what I want when I can. I will most certainly not reach the 75-book mark this year. I have started learning to sketch and paint (a bit) with watercolors and that is also occupying my free time these days. I also do jigsaw puzzles, play Wordle every day, spend time with partner Prudence and ginger cat Carson...

My last day of work will be the Winter Solstice!

Editado: Out 7, 3:44 pm

Carson, my favorite laptop (and yes, that is a heated bed in which he snoozes in the winter when not occupying my lap)

Editado: Out 7, 3:50 pm

A sketch I did of clothes on the line on our back deck. Ink and watercolor pencils.

Editado: Out 7, 4:14 pm

Prudence and yours truly in Ireland.
September 2023

Editado: Out 7, 3:56 pm


1. The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O'Farrell 4.5 stars
2. Out of Bounds by Val McDermid 4 stars
3. The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel by Diane Setterfield 3.5 stars
4. The Furrows by Namwali Serpell 3 stars
5. The Candy House by Jennifer Egan 4.5 stars
6. The Magic Kingdom by Russell Banks 4 stars


7. What Are You Going Through by Sigrid Nunez 3.5 stars
8. Horse by Geraldine Brooks 4.5 stars
9. The Cape Cod Mystery by Phoebe Atwood Taylor 2.5 stars
10. A Death in Vienna by Frank Tallis 4 stars


11. Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver 5 stars
12. I Have Some Questions For You by Rebecca Makkai 4.5/5 stars
13. The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff 4.5 stars
14. Dinosaurs by Lydia Millet 4 stars
15. Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett 2.5 stars

Editado: Out 7, 3:58 pm

Editado: Out 7, 4:00 pm


29. Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt 4 stars
30. Galatea: A Short Story by Madeline Miller 5 stars
31. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel 4.5 stars
32. A Children's Bible by Lydia Millet 3.5 stars
33. The Wind Knows My Name: A Novel by Isabel Allende (Frances Riddle, Translator) 3 stars
34. The Queen of Dirt Island: A Novel by Donal Ryan 4.5 stars


35. Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson 4 stars
36. Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands by Kate Beaton 4.5 stars
37. Black Butterflies by Priscilla Morris 5 stars
38. If I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery 3.5 stars
39. 11/22/63 by Stephen King 4.5 stars


40. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks 4 stars
41. This Other Eden by Paul Harding 4 stars
42. Tom Lake by Ann Patchett 5 stars
43. Prophet Song by Paul Lynch 5 stars

Editado: Nov 26, 10:14 pm


44. Old God's Time: A Novel by Sebastian Barry 4 stars
45. Skippy Dies by Paul Murray 4 stars
46. Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead 4 stars


47. Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood 4 stars
48. The Sullivanians by Alexander Stille 3 stars
49. Tin Man by Sarah Winman 4.5 stars
50. The House of Doors by Tan Twan Eng 4.5 stars

Editado: Nov 26, 9:19 pm

These are my shared / planned (so far) reads for the rest of the year:

Skippy Dies by Paul Murray with Mark, Stasia, et al. --- COMPLETED
Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood with Kim+Beth --- CURRENTLY READING
Prophet Song by Paul Lynch (currently reading) for RLBG --- COMPLETED

The House of Doors for RLBG and Kim+Beth --- COMPLETED
The Sullivanians by Alexander Stille for RLBG --- COMPLETED

The House of Doors by Tan Twan Eng with Mark, Stasia, Beth, Kim, et al.
The Vaster Wilds by Lauren Groff with Kim+Beth

Editado: Out 7, 4:11 pm

Carson helping me celebrate my last-ever September working day. We've been enjoying bubbly the last day of each month for about the past year.

Out 7, 3:46 pm

Carson---best boy!

Out 7, 3:49 pm

Happy New Thread, Ellen!

Out 7, 4:00 pm

Happy new one, Ellen!

Out 7, 5:00 pm

Happy new thread, Ellen!

Editado: Out 7, 5:41 pm

>3 EBT1002: Love it.

>4 EBT1002: Happy hikers.

>10 EBT1002: ooo, I like that idea, despite my retirement being narly 3 years away.

Hi Carson. Skritch.

Out 7, 5:54 pm

Happy Saturday, Ellen. Happy New Thread. I am 60 pages into Skippy Dies and I am enjoying it. Lots of characters to work through.

Out 7, 6:03 pm

Happy new thread, Ellen!

Out 7, 6:58 pm

Happy new one, Ellen (and Carson)!

Out 7, 10:19 pm

Happy new thread Ellen!

Well wishes to Prudence!

Out 8, 12:05 am

Happy new thread, my dear Ellen.

Out 8, 1:01 am

I’m on page 46 of Skippy Dies. If I don’t care more about the characters or what happens to them by page 100, I’m bailing.

Out 8, 1:05 am

>21 EBT1002: Well, that is not the kind of news I want to hear since I am starting on the book tomorrow. I am sorry it is not a better read for you, Ellen.

Happy new thread, by the way.

Out 8, 1:20 am

I made it to page 60 of Skippy Dies. It’s just not for me. Too much adolescent boy energy and I just don’t care. Maybe it’s profound. I shall never know.

I’m moving on to Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood.

Out 8, 1:55 am

>23 EBT1002: I felt quite the same about Skippy Dies.

Out 8, 5:43 am

Happy new thread, Ellen!

>10 EBT1002: What a lovely way to count towards your last day.

>23 EBT1002: Sorry Skippy Dies doesn't work for you. I loved it a some years back, and go for a reread this month. At that time I hadn't read as many books as I have now, so my experience might be different this time.
I do remember much adolescent boy energy ;-)

Out 8, 8:19 am

>23 EBT1002: Sorry to hear you are bailing on Skippy Dies, Ellen. I am also at the 60 page mark and I am quite liking it. Hey, you gave it a reasonable try, right?

Out 8, 10:48 am

Wordle 841 4/6*


early, scone, knife, binge

Out 8, 11:40 am

>23 EBT1002: I heard a lot of similar comments about Skippy Dies, Ellen.

Editado: Out 8, 12:03 pm

>11 laytonwoman3rd: and >12 vancouverdeb: and >13 drneutron: and >14 katiekrug:
Thanks for the greetings, Linda, Deb, Jim, and Katie!

>15 Caroline_McElwee: Hi Caroline. We started the bubbly-on-the-last-day-of-the-month thing last August when I thought I would retire at the end of summer 2023. So it has carried on a bit longer than the full year. Still, it's a fun way to mark the time until 12/21/23. :-)

>16 msf59: Hi Mark. Yes, the characters in Skippy Dies take some time to sort through. I think that may have contributed to my impatience with it, although that quality doesn't usually lead me to avoid a novel. In any case, as I mentioned this morning on your thread, I'm going to hang in there. I'm giving Murray up to page 100 to garner my commitment. Heh.

Out 8, 12:05 pm

>17 figsfromthistle: and >18 jessibud2: and >19 quondame: and >20 PaulCranswick:
Thanks for the greetings Anita, Shelley, Susan, and Paul!

Out 8, 12:09 pm

>22 alcottacre: Hi Stasia. Last night I decided to bail on Skippy at page 60. This morning, in the fresh light of day, I'm deciding to hang in there. I read some with my breakfast cereal and it may pull me in after all. I'll do as originally planned and give it to page 100.

>24 quondame: It would be interesting to identify the demographics for whom Skippy Dies has appeal, Susan. I'm assuming age and gender might both affect how it lands for a reader. That said, as I dug back in this morning with my wheat flakes and milk, it may have started to grow on me. We'll see. I'm also interested in comparing Skippy with The Bee Sting, which sounds really good. I would assume an author might evolve pretty significantly over a decade or so of life and writing.

Out 8, 12:11 pm

>25 FAMeulstee: Good to know you liked Skippy Dies when you originally read it, Anita. Yes, our reactions to books can certainly change over the years. I'll be interested in how you like it this time around. I'm still hanging in there with it. Feeling less grumpy than I was last night, I suppose.

>26 msf59: I do think 60 pages is a reasonable try, Mark, but I'm going to give it the full 100 page effort (Pearl Rule without the subtraction, haha). I usually like to hang in there with group reads because it's so fun to compare notes!

>28 BLBera: We'll see which side of the fence I land on after at least 100 pages, Beth.

Out 8, 12:15 pm

Sunday in October. It's supposed to be sunny and 80F today so I've hung the sheets on the line. We'll go to the women's volleyball match on campus at noon. We haven't been to a match in a long time. I am not a fan of the coach's style off the court, but the Cougs are ranked #4 in the country, playing #3-ranked Stanford. It should be a good match.

I didn't paint yesterday after all. My current puzzle is a challenging one and I got pretty sucked into that. I ma paint today. I'd at least like to do some sketching as I've learned that learning to sketch/paint is like learning anything else: it takes patience, practice, and persistence. :-)

Out 8, 6:49 pm

I sometimes have trouble with books that are about teenage boys. I had checked this book out back in 2015 and only read a few pages, so I am determined to try to read the entire thing this time around. However, I may have to use discipline in order to make it through the book. Books like this aggravate me to no end. I didn't finish reading Black Swan Green and I quit on other YA novels about this same age group, like Stargirl. I am going to give this one the "old college try" and see how it turns out.

Out 8, 9:22 pm

>31 EBT1002: I have opted not to start Skippy Dies right now. I did not realize how long the book was and am already reading another of Murray's lengthy books, The Bee Sting. I feel as though I would have to rush to finish Skippy Dies and I do not want to have to do that because I do not think it is fair to either me as the reader or to the author. I am at least going to give it a try at some future point though.

Out 9, 8:53 am

Wordle 842 4/6*


haste, filth, north, truth

Out 9, 9:24 am

I’m on page 113 of Skippy Dies and now I’m glad I stuck with it.

Editado: Out 9, 9:28 am

>34 benitastrnad: I hope Skippy Dies goes better for you this time, Benita. What pulled me in last evening was Howard’s story. And now I’m kind of curious as Skippy’s parents — or at least his dad — have made a minor appearance.

>35 alcottacre: That makes total sense, Stasia. At 660 pages, Skippy will certainly eat up a chunk of my October reading time. Are you liking The Bee Sting?

Out 9, 1:59 pm

>38 EBT1002:
I have a good start on Howard's story, but didn't read as much this morning on the book as I would have liked. I will get back to it over lunch. So far there are lots of parallel's between Howard's story and so many of the Middle Grade books for boys that I have read over the years. I smiled reading Howard's clumsy attempts at impressing the substitute teacher. (Asking to carry her books, when his own arms were full and there was no way he could carry them. So fifth grade.) Do men, of any age, really act like that around women?

Of course they do. I have the same reaction as the substitute when I go to a store or restaurant. Men will stand there and stand there and stand there holding the door open when I am still 50 feet away weaving my way through the parking lot. Do they really think that I can't open the door for myself? If I was in a walker or wheelchair, perhaps I would be grateful for the open door, or to have some man carry my books - but really? Just leave me alone. I can be more efficient by myself.

On-the-other-hand, when I need help, like carrying all my groceries in at home, there is no Johnny-on-the-spot then. This behavior totally flummoxes me and Murray did such a good job writing that one little scene in Skippy Dies.

Out 9, 5:45 pm

>38 EBT1002: >39 benitastrnad: Glad you are hanging in there, Ellen. I am nearly a third of the way through Skippy Dies. I was not paying close attention to the length of the book. I thought it was 550. Turns out it is 650. Hope it keeps my attention. So far so good.

At this point, I like Skippy best.

Out 9, 6:10 pm

>37 EBT1002: That is good to hear!

>38 EBT1002: Yes, I am enjoying The Bee Sting although it still does not top Prophet Song for me, but I still have a ways to go.

Out 9, 6:58 pm

I'm flummoxed. I thought all the Booker prizes were for new books, but Skippy Dies is definitely not new. I'll look up the criteria.

Out 9, 7:43 pm

Personally , I am really loving The Bee Sting, Ellen. I particularly the lengthy portions about the adults in the novel , Imelda and Dickie, who are married to each other. I'm not sure yet whether Prophet Song or The Bee Sting will be the better read , from my point of view.

Out 10, 8:51 am

Wordle 843 3/6*


heart, plain, snail

This was a fun one!

Out 10, 8:54 am

>39 benitastrnad: Your post made me chuckle, Benita.

>40 msf59: You’ll finish way ahead of me, Mark, but I’m glad I’m enjoying the book. I definitely like Skippy best of the characters. I suppose we’re meant to.

Out 10, 8:59 am

>41 alcottacre: I’m glad to hear The Bee Sting is good, Stasia. I have it on hold at the library.

>42 ffortsa: You’re correct, Judy. Our conversation is kind of two threads intertwined. Paul Murray is nominated for this year’s Booker for The Bee Sting but several of us are also reading Skippy Dies, his novel published in 2010. Sorry to confuse you!

>43 vancouverdeb: Wow, Deb, The Bee Sting is that good? Because Prophet Song was a 5+ star read for me. I’m glad I have TBS on hold at the library.

Out 10, 9:16 am

Regarding Skippy Dies, I chuckled out loud on page 134 when Skippy muses that he thought his life would have more narrative arc to it.

Out 10, 2:21 pm

I bought a new iPad today....

Out 10, 3:52 pm

>48 EBT1002: Oooo. Which one? I have a Samsung tablet, but every once in a while I think of betraying my breed and getting an iPad, especially for music. All the really hip classical music players have them.

Editado: Out 11, 12:11 am

>47 EBT1002:
Ruprecht became an interesting character for me when he says (p.25) "everything this is, everything that has ever been - every grain of sand, every drop of water, every star, every planet, space and time themselves - all crammed into one dimensionless point where no rules or laws apply, waiting to fly out and become the future. When you think about it, the Big Bang's a bit like school isn't it? ... one day we'll leave here and become scientists and bank clerks and diving instructors and hotel managers - the fabric of society, so to speak. But in the meantime, that fabric, ... us, the future, is crowded into one tiny little point where none of the laws of society applies, vis., this school."

I thought this captures the essence of Middle School and at the same time totally captured the thinking of the nerdiest kid in the class. You gotta love books about school. It brings out all those fond memories.

Editado: Out 11, 12:35 am

Two of my closest friends/colleagues and I reserved an AirBnB for Veterans Day weekend— a “readers’ retreat.” We’re going to have a quiet weekend, no spouses, just us, books, probably food and wine. Haha


Out 11, 12:34 am

I finished The Bee Sting this evening, Ellen. I'm pretty sure it is a 5 star read for me, but I'll think on it overnight.

Enjoy your new Ipad.

Out 11, 8:04 am

>51 EBT1002: - What fun! My best friend and I have done that before, and it was lovely.

Out 11, 8:57 am

Wordle 844 4/6*


arise, spout, slunk, skunk

I was pretty sure this would be the word even as I made my third guess but just couldn’t bring myself to go with those double letters so early.

Out 11, 9:02 am

>49 ffortsa: I got the iPad Air, Judy. My current iPad is the 9th generation so I really did not need a new one (they’re just on 10th generation now) but I think I’ll like this even better.

>50 benitastrnad: Great quote, Benita. And that general theme — the chaos and unexplainability (not a word, I know, but it feels more accurate, somehow, than inexplicability ) of the universe is recurring. I like it.

Out 11, 9:05 am

>52 vancouverdeb: Well, whether you give it the full five stars or not, Deb, it sounds like I’ll be glad I’ve got it on hold at the library!

>53 katiekrug: I’m really excited about it, Katie. It’s a house in a pretty isolated location with great views, a wood burning fireplace, hot tub, and what look like comfy couches on which to read.

Out 11, 10:38 pm

>51 EBT1002: That sounds great.

Editado: Out 12, 8:48 am

Wordle 845 2/6*


A very lucky first guess today. And, frankly, a lucky second guess.

dealt, knelt

Out 12, 8:49 am

>2 EBT1002: Carson is an endearing pet, and what better to have him near you when you completely unnoccupied. It's lovely that you try and read when you can. Reading is a wonderful thing.

Out 12, 8:50 am

>4 EBT1002: happy couple

Out 12, 8:52 am

Sweet Thursday, Ellen. Are you still hanging in there on Skippy Dies? I am hoping to get close to the 500 page mark today. It sure helps, that he has a fairly easy narrative. I also have The Bee Sting on my TBR but I may not get to it until early next year.

Out 12, 8:52 am

>27 EBT1002: great attempt...

Out 12, 9:20 am

>59 sarah_d_writer: and >60 sarah_d_writer: and >62 sarah_d_writer: hi and thanks, Sarah.

>61 msf59: I’m only on page 198 of Skippy Dies, Mark. Overall, I’m enjoying it but this scene at the Hop is dragging on and on…. I assume it’s going somewhere but at the moment it’s just not that interesting. So, the book is up and down for me.

Out 12, 9:45 am

>63 EBT1002: It sounds like you are at the point of no return. LOL. I agree the Hop did drag out a bit too long but I thought it ended up setting up a couple of important things, moving forward.

Out 12, 9:54 am

>64 msf59: I just finished the Hop, and Section I, and I’m definitely pulled back in. Looking forward to reading more this evening. Now I have to get ready for work. Bleh.

Out 12, 10:19 am

How many days left?

Editado: Out 13, 2:03 pm

I am on page 130 and got totally sucked in last night. So much so that I had to read on it this morning before I starting working on other things. Like you and Mark, I am finding this novel easy to read. By that I mean that the narrative just flows.

When I said earlier that I had the plot figured out, I meant that I think I can see what literary devices the author is using and how the novel will be resolved. The author has introduced plenty of characters and each one has something intriguing about them that is a question just waiting to be answered. Since we already know the outcome (that was given to us in the first scene) a reader can start out knowing that all of these characters are connected to that event in some way. If you were going to map this novel it would look something like a river that has one single stream, but then it hits a low spot and starts to diverge into smaller streams that meander through the swamp, finding that one way out where the meanders come back together at one single point. (perhaps that is why Murray included the English teacher Slattery in the story - see page 123 in my copy?) Most of us readers are accustomed to a story starting and ending with the events between moving in a straight line. I think that the reason that Murray is being cited by the Booker Award people is for his technique of splitting the narrative in the manner I described above. This makes his novels intriguing for many readers and frustrating for others. Those who get frustrated will not continue to read to see how he resolves the problem he has set up in the first chapter, those who will continue reading. This type of book demands patience from readers.

By-the-way, has anybody read the Robert Graves book Goodbye to All That? This is the book that Howard reads aloud in his history class and finds that the boys become engrossed in it. Howard feels that he has imparted actual knowledge to the class and feels satisfaction with what he has done as a teacher. (pg. 121) I took a quick look at Murray's Wikipedia entry just to see if he is a teacher. He is not, but he has managed to capture the ennui in his description of Howard. Most teacher's experience ennui at some point in their careers. This teaching ennui is very common among teacher's and many refer to it as the mid-career blues, or mid-career slump. Nowadays, it is called burnout.

Out 12, 11:25 am

>46 EBT1002: I also finished The Bee Sting yesterday and I gave it 4.5 stars to Deborah's 5. I will be curious to see what you think of the book when you have a chance to read it, Ellen.

Out 12, 12:41 pm

I became a bit? interested in Robert Graves. I knew that he was a British War Poet. One of those poets and artists who served in World War I and whose lives were affected by their experiences. I also knew that he was the author of Goodbye to All That. Goodbye is considered to be one of the best autobiographical books by the War Poets.

Graves full name was Robert von Renke Graves. (Similar to Ruprecht Van Doren?) I couldn't find out if there was any significance to this name like, was it a family name? or something his parents thought had cachet? Graves served in the British Army from 1914 to 1919 and was friends with Wilfred Owen - another war poet. He served in the same regiment as Siegfried Sassoon and he had a relationship with Sassoon. Graves was bisexual. After the war Graves was a prolific and long lived writer and lived a colorful life. He wrote poetry, literary criticism, and historical novels. He might be most popularly known for being the author of I, Claudius and its sequels.

I realize this is a digression from the topic of Skippy Dies but now I wonder if all of the digressions in the book work the same way?

Out 12, 5:05 pm

>51 EBT1002: Ooo, Enjoy Ellen. Glad to see you are practicing for retirement.

Out 12, 7:42 pm

>66 BLBera: SEVENTY days, Beth!

>67 benitastrnad: Love your analysis, Benita. "Since we already know the outcome (that was given to us in the first scene) a reader can start out knowing that all of these characters are connected to that event in some way." Just so.

I have not read Goodbye to All That but Skippy Dies is making me want to do so.

>68 alcottacre: I'm looking forward to it when my turn comes, Stasia!

Out 12, 7:45 pm

>69 benitastrnad: Digressions are welcome, Benita. I do feel like Skippy Dies is so much more complex than it appears. I'm glad we're doing a group read. And thank you for sharing your digressions since I don't (yet) have time to go down research bunny trails. :-)

>70 Caroline_McElwee: Ha, I had not thought of the retreat as practice retirement, Caroline, but now I will!

Out 12, 8:11 pm

>51 EBT1002: Have fun!

>58 EBT1002: Excellent wordling.

Out 13, 12:47 am

Seventy days! Not long now, Ellen!

Out 13, 7:49 am

>65 EBT1002: >67 benitastrnad: I don't think I am spoiling anything, but Skippy Dies does take a darker turn in Part 3, which I wasn't expecting. The novel keeps drawing you in, that is for sure. I will finish it this weekend. I loved doing a shared read of this one.

Happy Friday, Ellen.

Out 13, 8:59 am

Wordle 846 4/6*


realm, stole, guile, uncle

Out 13, 9:57 am

I’m on page 258 of Skippy Dies. Carl and Barry just got into a scrape with their dealers.
Not yet halfway. I hope to spend some good time with it this weekend.

Out 13, 2:09 pm

Is there an actual group thread for Skippy Dies?

Out 13, 2:46 pm

>78 ffortsa:
No. That is why I have been posting on both This thread and on Mark's.

Out 14, 11:12 am

Wordle 847 3/6*


heard, paste, agent

Out 14, 11:55 am

>78 ffortsa: and >79 benitastrnad: We're just commenting here and on Mark's thread as we go.

Out 14, 12:00 pm

It's Saturday! Yay!

On the docket for today is laundry (no more hanging it on the line, though, as it's cool and cloudy and damp), reading, starting a new jigsaw puzzle, maybe some sketching. We'll probably watch the Cougs play football. Making meatballs from scratch.

Tomorrow we have a rum-tasting event with friends.

I'm slowly making my way through Skippy Dies and very curious to see how all these characters come together in the novel's predetermined denouement.

Out 14, 7:19 pm

I ended up putting some daffodil bulbs in the ground this morning. They'll be lovely come spring.

I'm just past the halfway mark in Skippy Dies. I'm enjoying it and I feel like I'm ultimately going to say it was an excellent 500-page novel crammed into 660 pages

Out 14, 9:43 pm

I'm glad you are enjoying Skippy Dies, Ellen. I found that The Bee Sting read really quickly for me. But I really understand wanting to wait a while before diving into a chunkster. I'm hoping to get to The Covenant of Water sometime in the New Year. I had considered November, but like you, I want to space out my 650 - 750 page books. Starting a new jigsaw puzzle! How fun! I have one a I need to finish, as I have a fun Halloween jig saw puzzle waiting for me.

Out 15, 6:05 am

>83 EBT1002: THat reminds me that I have to put some bulbs in the ground as well. I have a lot of daffodils but not tulips. The squirrels prefer eating tulips. Do you have problems with squirrels eating bulbs?

Out 15, 8:11 am

Happy Sunday, Ellen. I rated Skippy Dies 4.3 stars. It certainly gets an A for effort. It's admirable to keep a 650 page book interesting. I don't want to spoil anything, so I will leave it there.

I hope you can get plenty of reading time in today.

Out 15, 10:36 am

Wordle 848 4/6*


ideal, leash, learn, leaky

Out 15, 1:24 pm

I started a new jigsaw puzzle this morning after reading some in Skippy Dies with my coffee. Watching the Seahawks at Cincinnati now but I'm not sure I want to sacrifice too much of my day to it. I did a bit of laundry. We're going to a bourbon tasting this afternoon.

Out 16, 9:02 am

Wordle 849 3/6*


pearl, tramp, graph

Out 16, 2:57 pm

I found another reference to Robert Graves in Skippy Dies. This one is on page 160 in my copy and it is the scene in the classroom where the kids get the Irish teacher to talk about Halloween and its significance in Irish culture. The teacher tells them about the "White Goddess." This caught my eye as Robert Graves published a work of literary criticism titled White Goddess: a Historical Grammar Of Poetic Myth in 1948. It has never been out-of-print since then. In the book, Graves suggests that there is a White Goddess of birth, death, and love. Graves makes a case that true, or "pure" poetry is linked to this Goddess.

I haven't heard about the "White Goddess" myth until this book, and I am finding that Graves is now becoming an author of interest to me. I wonder if he is to Paul Murray?

Editado: Out 17, 12:05 am

>90 benitastrnad: I think he must be, Benita. Graves comes up several times throughout the novel (I just finished Part II, getting ready to start Part III, “Ghostland”). So far that section about the White Goddess discussion in class is the most detailed. I certainly find myself wanting to read some Graves.

Out 17, 8:44 am

Wordle 850 2/6*


aisle, adult

What a lucky first guess!

Out 17, 12:33 pm

I managed to read a bit more in Skippy Dies this morning and am now on page 286. This is the part of the novel where the boys are discussing another legend. That of the Lorelei. They get the story a little twisted, but I do see a connection between the legend and the character Lorelei in the book.

The Lorelei refers to a rock with that name located in the middle Rhine Gorge. The river makes a bend around this rock and until the early 1900's there was a small waterfall there. (It was blasted out to make the Rhine the river highway it has become since then.) This was a dangerous section of the river and there were lots of shipwrecks at that spot. The acoustics of the Gorge produces a murmuring sound that was quite audible in the past, but can't be heard today due to the urbanization of the Gorge. This murmuring sound gave rise to the legend of a beautiful siren sitting on the top of the 1400 foot rock luring ships into dangerous waters.

This legend proved irresistible to authors. The first poem about the Lorelei was written in German in the early 1800's. Henrich Heine wrote the most famous one that was translated into English. Even Apollinaire wrote a French version.

What I found curious about this discussion in the novel was that in German the name is actually two words. Lurein, which means murmuring in the Rhine dialects and ley, which is Celtic and means rock. (The early Germans were Celts.) The English translation would be "murmuring rock." Isn't that what Lorelei in the book is - a whispering in the ear of wandering sailors? The characters, in this case, the sailors and Lorelei the rock on which they are lured to crash?

Out 18, 8:50 am

Wordle 851 5/6*


laser, route, fiery, nerdy, mercy

As so often happens, I had two words in mind for my fourth guess and I simply chose wrong. 50/50 odds. Oh well.

Out 18, 9:47 am

"...history, in the end, is only another kind of story, and stories are different from the truth. The truth is messy and chaotic and all over the place. Often it just doesn't make sense. Stories make things make sense, but the way they do that is to leave out anything that doesn't fi. And often that is quite a lot."
~Skippy Dies, p. 556

I have about 100 pages to go in the novel and my opinion is still up and down but the scene where Howard takes the boys to the Memorial Garden is powerful, poignant, and a good place to stop reading for the morning.

Out 18, 3:52 pm

One of the things I'm most excited about is later this fall, after laundering a work outfit, folding it up and putting it in the giveaway box rather than back in the closet because I'm certain I'll never need to wear it again. :-)

Out 18, 6:35 pm

Happy Wednesday, Ellen. I am enjoying both of your comments on Skippy Dies, especially about Robert Graves. I had not heard of this author. I also liked the part when Howard took the boys on a field trip. I hope the last 100 pages works for you.

Out 18, 7:15 pm

>96 EBT1002: A great feeling to have!

Editado: Out 18, 7:48 pm

>93 benitastrnad: Interesting interpretation of the Lorelie element, Benita. I'd never have gotten there but I'm getting the idea that Paul Murray is well-read and a sophisticated thinker.

>97 msf59: Hello Mark and Happy Wednesday to you as well. I'm hoping to do some reading this evening although with a trip to Seattle this weekend for a joint memorial service (FIL and BIL, both of whom died in the spring), there is much prep to do. But I'm looking forward to the wrap-up of this story.

>98 quondame: I know, right?

Out 19, 5:27 am

>93 benitastrnad: I like your intrepetation, Benita.
I do know the Lorelei legend, as I was fairly young when I learned the song based on Heinrich Heine's poem. I think it was the very first German song I ever learned.

Out 19, 6:07 am

Another work-related milestone.
I was just thinking the other day about how I hardly ever need to take clothes to the cleaners anymore ...

Out 19, 6:21 am

Hi Ellen. Happy new thread.

From your last thread, I enjoyed your comments about Carson’s weight. I think Wash weighs about 11-12 pounds. Zoe’s about 6 or so, and poor decrepit old Inara is 5-6. She eats, grooms, goes outside, and uses the box regularly, but she keeps getting skinnier and skinner. Sigh.

I’m glad Prudence’s recovery went well. Most surgeries are easier to recover from than knee replacement surgery. For me personally, recovering from a C-section was a walk in the park compared to KRS.

>1 EBT1002: You should give yourself permission to read what you want when you can fit it in. I’m so happy to hear that you’re retiring on the Winter Solstice.

>3 EBT1002: Wow. Love it.

>50 benitastrnad: For me the essence of middle school was “I hate hormones and can’t wait to get to high school.” I don’t think I had a philosophical thought in my head.

Out 19, 8:55 am

Wordle 852 3/6*


blade, talon, splat

In retrospect I don’t love my starter word but it got me there.

I’ll read some more in Skippy this morning and then to work. Tonight we have several chores related to the weekend trip to Seattle: create the two Remembrances books, bake cookies, pack. Hopefully I can still get in a bit more than just bedtime reading.

Out 19, 1:24 pm

>96 EBT1002:
One of the first things I discovered, after I had time to think about it, was that I didn't have any summer clothes. All my clothes were office clothes, and shirts, blouses, tops that I could layer under sweaters or jackets. I had to make an emergency purchase from Land's End of shorts and short sleeved tops. I had only one pair of shorts in my wardrobe.

Last week I cleaned out my shoes. I took most of them to Goodwill, they were office shoes. I decided that if my shoes weren't Birkenstock's or some kind of tennis shoe, I didn't need it anymore. I still have my fancy shoes from the 1980's and 90's. I have put in a query to the UA Theater department to see if they need them for costumes.

When I get back to Tuscaloosa, I am going to start getting rid of the office dresses. I think I will only need one or two of those in the future.

Out 19, 1:45 pm

I reached the halfway point in Skippy Dies and have just read the part about asking permission to take the boys on a field trip. The thought struck me that the headmaster's reaction is typical of administrators. His comment on textbooks made me laugh out loud.

"I have to say, Howard, departures from the textbook always set alarm bells going in my head. These dead facts on a page, as you call them, are the same ones that your class are going to have to reproduce in their exam papers next year. Engaging the boys is all well and good, but your job first and foremost is to get those facts off the page and into their brains by any means necessary. Not to start confusing them with a whole slew of new facts." page 341 He goes on to say "Sorry Howard. Just can't do it. Still, I appreciate your initiative ... But in the meantime let's not have any more disparagement of the textbook, all right?" page 344

Compare this with a quote I read in this the Salina (Kansas) Journal for Tuesday, October 17, 2023. The article was about a state audit requested by the Kansas Legislature to try to discover way the state test scores have gone down while the state spending on education has gone up. (The whole article was interesting regarding what was discovered - none of which was a surprise to me because I work with researchers who have been publishing the reasons why this happens for years and years.)

"Sen. Mike Thompson, R-Shawnee, said "The reality if spending has gone up, performance has gone down and there needs to be more examination of what is being taught. If we're going to examine increasing one thin dime of funding, we have to be sure that what we're doing is going to work," Thompson said. "And that means examining everything. What is being taught? Why aren't we able to teach kids math, English, science, things of that nature? How do we justify to the taxpayer spending more money and getting less results?"

Notice that he questions WHAT is being taught. Same thing that the Automator did in Skippy Dies.

Out 19, 7:36 pm

>104 benitastrnad: It will be interesting to see how the wardrobe really changes, Benita. I know I'll only have flip flops, Birks, and sneaker-like shoes after December 1. Of course, I wear comfortable shoes (right now I have on a cool pair of Vans) to work anyway, and mostly comfortable clothes. But there are definitely some dress pants and shirts that will go away.

>105 benitastrnad: Yep, the industry of education has changed a lot over the years. Most of us remember teachers who not only taught us content, but engaged our curiosity and challenged us to think differently about things. I believe in accountability (usually implemented in the form of standardized content and associated test scores) but it has definitely squelched some of the best teachers in our society.

Out 20, 8:47 am

Wordle 853 4/6*


learn, fruit, scrum, occur

Happy Friday!!!

Out 20, 12:12 pm

>96 EBT1002: That is bound to feel good Ellen.

Out 20, 12:50 pm

>108 Caroline_McElwee: I'm looking forward to it, Caroline.


It's a beautiful day here on the Palouse and it will be nice for a drive across the state to Olympia for tomorrow's memorial service. I will be glad when the service is over. As too often happens, events like this can bring out tensions and old resentments in family and community. It's all going to be fine, but it will be good to have it behind us.

Out 20, 5:05 pm

>96 EBT1002: >104 benitastrnad:

I've had a terrible time getting my work style clothes out of the closet. (And my ideas of what I'd like to wear are sort of simmering without major resolution.) I usually dressed in slacks and a blouse, with a casual sport jacket on top, and flat shoes that didn't look like sneakers. They could take me anywhere.

They are in good shape, they are comfortable, they fit me. Of course, after living in my sweats and sneakers all through the pandemic, I don't always bother to wear all the nice clothes I own. I do like to dress reasonably well, but we spend so much time at home, even in this city, I don't make the effort.

Yesterday i went to a photography exhibit opening, and actually wore a brightly colored pair of pants and a coordinating top, and then my denim jacket and leather flats I almost never put on. But it worked out nicely - I even remembered to put on earring.

Out 21, 10:47 am

Wordle 854 3/6*


tough, abide, smirk

Out 21, 12:46 pm

I finished reading Skippy Dies this morning. I was in the east facing windows sitting at the dining room table. We have had a weeks worth of unseasonable weather here in Kansas. It was 83 degrees yesterday and today it will be the same. The trees are beautiful and aside from the business at the nursing home this has been a restful trip.

Skippy Dies was a wonderful novel! It will be one of two novels that are going to be my best of the year. I think I waited all year for this novel. It was sad, happy, thrilling, amazing, and full of gripping tension, with the outcome in doubt until the very end. It was full of characters who were interesting and a plot that kept the reader guessing, while at the same time sticking with the hints and themes set down at the beginning.

I have two minor quibbles with the novel. It took too long to get going and it takes lots of prior literary knowledge to pick up on the themes presented. This is a book that demands patience and most readers are going to have trouble sticking with it to the end. I am not sure how the author could have changed it so that it had a bigger bang closer to the beginning because he had many threads to present and then connect. There were lots of characters that had to be connected to the main events and themes. Then the author had to work in the background information needed to understand the themes and then tie them to later events. All this makes for a complex work that many readers are not going to stay with to the end. And that end - what a big bang!

That denouement! Perfect. That is how one is written and an object lesson to other authors. It will keep everyone who reads it wondering what happened and how things worked out for the characters. Just as the denouement of Gone With the Wind has stayed alive for almost a hundred years. The denouement of Skippy Dies may not be as well known as that of GWTW, (After all, tomorrow is another day) but it is also one that will keep the reader questioning for a long time.

Out 21, 1:38 pm

I finished Skippy Dies last night. Still processing.

Next up: I started Harlem Shuffle on my kindle this morning because the reading light by the guest bed is rather poor. I’ll start Cat’s Eye in book-book form when we get home.

Out 21, 6:05 pm

>113 EBT1002:. Yay! Cat's Eye is my favorite Atwood.

Out 21, 8:20 pm

>113 EBT1002:
I enjoyed Cat's Eye but can't say it is my favorite Atwood. That is Blind Assassin.

Out 22, 12:12 am

>113 EBT1002: I'll be interested on your final thoughts on Skippy Dies, Ellen. I'm one who usually needs to process a book before I write a review or any comments. I really did love The Bee Sting.

Out 22, 7:55 am

Happy Sunday, Ellen. Regardless of your final word on Skippy Dies, I am glad you hung in there and finished it. I enjoyed our shared read. I plan on reading The Bee Sting early next year. Thanks to Stasia, I now have a copy.

Out 22, 11:08 am

Wordle 855 5/6*


alert, scone, ennui, neigh, given

Out 23, 12:44 am

The readers' retreat sounds wonderful, Ellen, like a relax and recharge weekend.

Interesting that Robert Graves is mentioned so much in Skippy Dies. I haven't read the book but I saw the comments on your thread. I have read Goodbye to All That and it was a book assigned in a college level class. Interestingly enough, Graves name was invoked today at a literary function I attended. This time it was for his work that invoked Eve which I believe is in Hebrew Myths: the Book of Genesis if Google is to be believed.

Out 23, 8:53 am

Wordle 856 3/6*


clear, trope, tempo

Out 23, 8:54 am

It is good to be home. It was an exhausting but satisfying weekend with lots of family, lots of driving, and not much reading.

Out 23, 3:52 pm

>110 ffortsa: I will keep a few things for fun or dressy occasions, but I'm mostly going to live in comfy clothes for the rest of my life.

>112 benitastrnad: Great comments, Benita. Thank you for sharing them. You definitely enjoyed Skippy Dies more than I did but I did end up giving it four stars. Part of it may be that I am in that group who do not have "...lots of prior literary knowledge to pick up on the themes presented." Your comments along the way helped but, for the most part, I was more aware of the philosophical themes than those of literary reference. I enjoyed the philosophy a great deal which saved the book for me. The characters are indeed richly wrought and exquisitely imperfectly human. Overall, a satisfying read but not necessarily one I would recommend to a significant subset of my reading friends and family.

Out 23, 3:55 pm

>114 banjo123: and >115 benitastrnad: Rhonda and Benita, I know I read Cat's Eye decades ago but I don't recall it. We'll see how it lands for me.

>116 vancouverdeb: You can see my reactions to Skippy Dies in my comment to Benita in >122 EBT1002:. I probably won't write more than that. I am glad I read it and will definitely keep my place in the long library queue for The Bee Sting.

>117 msf59: Thanks for spearheading the group read of Skippy Dies, Mark. I ended up giving it four stars and being glad I read it. My comment to Benita in >122 EBT1002: summarizes my overall reaction.

Out 23, 3:56 pm

>119 Familyhistorian: One outcome of reading Skippy Dies, Meg, is that I'm interested in investigating Graves' work. I don't know which I will dig into; maybe I should start with some poetry....

Out 24, 9:00 am

Wordle 857 2/6*


loupe, cause

I love a Tuesday two! 🙂

Book club was fun last night. For the most part, Tom Lake was a hit.

Out 24, 9:11 am

It's your day for a 2! Congratulations. 3 for me, which I'm totally okay with. Have a great day Ellen!

Out 25, 8:55 am

Wordle 858 4/6*


arson, fiery, berry, retry

Out 25, 11:54 am

I have a weird question. I know there have been many conversations about what folks are watching and enjoying. As the weather turns cold and wet, I need to force myself to ride the stationary bike a few mornings a week. I cannot read while riding; it's just not comfortable or distracting enough (I find the stationary bike to be about the most boring activity on earth). SO - I need something to watch. Suggestions? Series are of course welcome and it doesn't matter which streaming service (assumption there) is involved. I'll give anything a one-week trial. :-)

Thank you!

Out 25, 12:41 pm

>128 EBT1002: I'm always watching police procedurals, especially the British ones, most of which seem to be available on Prime streaming. If you want something that has humor in it as well, I'd try 'New Tricks'.

Out 25, 12:50 pm

>128 EBT1002: - For ~60 minute episodes, I am liking 'Happy Valley' (British crime drama on Acorn). For shorter, ~30 minutes and much lighter, 'Welcome to Wrexham' on Hulu is great.

Out 25, 6:37 pm

>129 ffortsa: I'm also a fan of the British crime shows, Judy. I have not seen "new Tricks" so I'll give that a try.

>130 katiekrug: "Happy Valley" is a great one, Katie. I may have a season I haven't yet watched. "Welcome to Wrexham" will go on the list of shows to try.

Thank you both!

Out 25, 6:42 pm

I second Katie's recommendation of Happy Valley. We loved the first 2 seasons. I also recommend Last Tango in Halifax.

I also liked "The Bear", Silo and "Trapped".

Out 26, 8:54 am

Wordle 859 3/6*


haunt, purse, pique

Out 26, 8:56 am

>132 msf59: Thanks Mark, I appreciate the recommendations. I’ve watched and really enjoyed both Happy Valley and Last Tango in Halifax. The other three are new to me so I’ll give them a try!

Out 26, 11:17 am

I've just started watching ''Bodies' on Netflix, 8 eps I think. Intriguing.

Out 26, 10:39 pm

>135 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks Caroline. I'll give Bodies a try!

Out 27, 4:24 am

I also loved The Bear!

Editado: Out 27, 8:09 am

>135 Caroline_McElwee: I plan on starting "Bodies" too, Caroline.

Happy Friday, Ellen. Have a book-filled weekend.

Out 27, 8:50 am

Wordle 860 3/6*


laser, elbow, noble

Out 27, 2:30 pm

I would recommend the Van Der Walk series. They are well done. And if you like dark mysteries for TV Babylon Berlin will do it. It is a series set in 1929 Berlin when the city was a hotbed. I watched the first season and want to watch the second season. However, it is made for German TV and is in German. You have to be able to read subtitles and I found it hard to follow my knitting pattern and watch at the same time.

Out 28, 10:40 am

Wordle 861 4/6*


drone, tonal, bacon, mason

Out 29, 10:35 am

Wordle 862 4/6*


satin, novel, prong, phony

Out 29, 12:03 pm

>137 ursula: and >138 msf59: Thanks Ursula and Mark. Now all I have to do is get myself to leave the reading chair and go downstairs to the stationary bike.

>140 benitastrnad: Thanks Benita. We're already fans of Van der Walk but Babylon Berlin is new to me. It sounds interesting!

Out 29, 12:07 pm

I finished Harlem Shuffle this morning. It was a fun read, very different from works like The Nickel Boys and. Underground Railroad. Carney is a likable character and his cousin Freddie does get him into some scrapes.

Next up: Cat's Eye.

Out 29, 12:14 pm

My Real Life Book Group selected The House of Doors by Tan Twan Eng and The Sullivanians by Alexander Stille for our November reads. I'm already planning to read The House of Doors with an LT group in December but also the copy I pre-ordered from Amazon got lost in the mail. I'm in the library queue but I may go to the bookshop in Moscow, ID (8 miles away) to purchase a copy.

Out 29, 12:18 pm

>143 EBT1002:
In some ways Babylon Berlin is a bit much. There are lots of story lines and it is very dark and bloody. It is now 5 seasons in Germany and is very popular there. The TV series is based on a series of books. There is now a graphic novel series based on the books and the TV series.

It takes some concentration to watch because of the subtitles, so it is not going to be one that I will watch when I am trying to follow a complicated knitting pattern. I find the story compelling with heroes and antiheroes of all kinds. There is lots of betrayal and of course the sense of a coming storm permeates the whole atmosphere.

I found out about it from some German friends of mine who are retired and now live in Germany. I was surprised to find the series at the library. Our public library has the first three seasons on CD. There is a strong German presence here in Tuscaloosa because of the Mercedes plant so they do have a selection of things in German.

Out 30, 8:55 am

Wordle 863 4/6*


aster, larch, royal, grail

Out 30, 8:56 am

>146 benitastrnad: Thanks Benita. It sounds like it might not be an early morning stationary bike show but I’ll still look into it.

Editado: Out 30, 8:57 am

This member has been suspended from the site.

Editado: Out 30, 8:57 am

This member has been suspended from the site.

Out 30, 9:24 am

>145 EBT1002: I loved The House of Doors Ellen, I'm sure you will too.

Out 30, 9:40 am

>151 Caroline_McElwee: I loved his first two novels, Caroline, and I’m looking forward to this one.

I’m almost 100 pages into Cat’s Eye, about a fifth of the way, and I’m loving it.

Out 30, 9:54 am

>146 benitastrnad: Oh thanks for this comment, I didn't realize there was a 4th season released! I guess it came out while we were moving from Istanbul to Germany so slipped under the radar. Exciting.

Out 30, 2:44 pm

>153 ursula:
I think they were slow to release season 4 because of COVID, but according to Wikipedia there is a season 4 and 5. Our library only has 1 -3.

Out 31, 8:55 am

Wordle 864 3/6*


stale, laden, bleak

Nov 1, 8:47 am

Wordle 865 5/6*


slice, guise, arise, poise, noise

Chasing it today.

Editado: Nov 2, 8:52 am

Wordle 866 2/6*


later, until

Two on a Thursday!

Nov 2, 11:41 am

It is a gray rainy day here on the Palouse. It would be a perfect day to curl up on the couch with a mug of hot tea and a book and a cat. But I am at work. (And that is really fine.)
Forty-nine days to go.
Seven weeks to go.

What felt like it was approaching now feels like it's looming. I'm so ready and excited and the next few weeks feel like they are going to be super busy and surreal. Trying to be in the moment and enjoy this part of the ride.

I'm a bit past the halfway point in Cat's Eye and it's really very good. Oddly, my copy's copyright page gives 1972 as the original copyright date but the novel was first published in 1988. Weird.

Nov 2, 11:45 am

Updated >9 EBT1002:

These are my shared / planned (so far) reads for the rest of the year:

Skippy Dies by Paul Murray with Mark, Stasia, et al. --- COMPLETED
Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood with Kim+Beth --- CURRENTLY READING
Prophet Song by Paul Lynch (currently reading) for RLBG --- COMPLETED

The House of Doors by Tan Twan Eng for RLBG and Kim+Beth
The Sullivanians by Alexander Stille for RLBG

The House of Doors by Tan Twan Eng with Mark, Stasia, Beth, Kim, et al.
The Vaster Wilds by Lauren Groff with Kim+Beth

Nov 2, 4:25 pm

We're doing Canadian authors this month in the American Authors Challenge, Ellen. If you'd like to drop by and leave comments on the Atwood, it would be welcome!

Nov 3, 8:51 am

Wordle 867 3/6*


sepia, board, ardor

Nov 3, 8:52 am

>160 laytonwoman3rd: Thanks Linda! I’ll swing by this weekend.

Nov 4, 10:08 am

Wordle 868 4/6*


slide, input, chain, mania

Nov 5, 10:32 am

Wordle 869 5/6*


steal, learn, glare, blare, flare


Nov 6, 8:31 am

Wordle 870 1/6*



*that moment when you watch green square after green square turn over….* Fun!

Nov 6, 8:57 am

I finished Cat's Eye this morning. I have to think about it a bit.

Nov 6, 8:58 am

>165 EBT1002: - You are clairvoyant!!! Wow!

Nov 6, 11:26 am

>165 EBT1002: Oh my goodness. What a great Wordle day, Ellen! I have yet to get it in 1, and imagine I would just stare at the grid in disbelief.

Nov 7, 8:51 am

Wordle 871 3/6*


intel, filth, limit

Nov 7, 8:54 am

>166 BLBera: I’m really close to finishing Cat’s Eye, Beth.

>167 jessibud2: and >168 lauralkeet: It was fun watching those green tiles flip over, Shelley and Laura. And yes, there is a bit of staring in disbelief. I hope you both get to experience it someday. I think this is my third One. I know CEDAR was a One for me a few months ago.

Nov 7, 10:05 am

Did you write down our next meeting and our next book?

Nov 7, 2:40 pm

Looks like you have a lot of planned reading to fill in the time as you count down the days, Ellen. Enjoy, retirement will be here before you know it!

Nov 7, 3:06 pm

I am not even going to try and catch up, Ellen, but just swinging by to say "Hello!"

I hope all is well there with you and yours.

Nov 7, 6:43 pm

>171 BLBera: Hi Beth. I've got it down for Wednesday, Dec. 6, to discuss The House of Doors (for which I am still in the slooooow library queue).

Nov 7, 6:45 pm

>172 Familyhistorian: Thanks Meg. I am so excited about retirement. The past few weeks have been SUPER busy -- I can't believe I only read three books in October. I feel like everything work-related is getting crammed in as tightly as possible with my last day looming.

>173 alcottacre: Hi Stasia. I appreciate you stopping by!

Nov 7, 6:50 pm

I finally completed Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood and I'm giving it four stars. I need to think about it a bit, but overall, I think it's an excellent novel. Her management of the complex issue of childhood trauma and how it manifests and lives in the body well into adulthood, and how it also resolves... was quite well done. I found the movement back and forth in time challenging to follow now and then. I always figured it out, but it required some attention and patience as I started a new section of the narrative ("okay, which time period are we in now?"). Atwood makes writing seem effortless; it reads as if she just sat down at the typewriter and the words flowed out of her although I know she puts tremendous effort into the construction of the novel. I'm glad I read it.

Nov 7, 6:50 pm

I'm glad you are so excited about your retirement and not long too go now. Dave has decided that he will retire at the end of March, 2024. I'm looking forward to that too.

Nov 7, 8:40 pm

Nov 8, 9:00 am

Wordle 872 4/6*


aisle, diary, tibia, ninja

It took me a looooong time to get from my third guess to the answer.

Nov 9, 1:14 am

Some farmer was digging with an excavator and broke a main gas line for the region. A large swath of eastern Washington is without gas with no idea about the duration. Our home relies on natural gas for heat, hot water, cooking. The overnight low is supposed to be 30F ( it could be so much worse) so we are piled into bed with lots of covers and a ginger cat for warmth.

I’ve started The Sullivanians.

Nov 9, 6:53 am

>180 EBT1002: Oh no, Ellen, that's awful! I hope Carson helped you stay warm last night, and that service is restored soon.

Nov 9, 9:05 am

Wordle 873 5/6*


alert, place, blade, flame, glaze

Chasing it.

Nov 9, 9:06 am

It’s 32F outside and 55F inside. They’re saying we could be without power for several days. Ugh.

Nov 9, 9:49 am

Stay warm, Ellen. I hope the temps warm up.

Nov 9, 10:15 am

>180 EBT1002:, >183 EBT1002: That's scary... when you say "without power" does that mean your electricity is affected as well, or are small electric space heaters an option? In anticipation of wintertime power outages we had a generator installed this summer. Everything in our house is electric, so we would have no "go-to" in the event of several days with no power in cold weather.

Nov 9, 12:34 pm

Not good Ellen. I hope your power is reconnected sooner rather than latter.

Nov 9, 2:54 pm

>176 EBT1002: I have not yet read that one by Atwood. I will have to see if I can locate a copy. Thanks for the recommendation, Ellen!

>180 EBT1002: Oh, wow! I hope it gets fixed soon!

Nov 9, 5:23 pm

IS the outage affecting the university, too? I would imagine they have generators or something? Maybe time to camp out in your office!

Nov 10, 9:52 am

Wordle 874 4/6*


flame, learn, leach, leash

Nov 10, 10:02 am

It’s a holiday and I leave today for my weekend readers’ retreat with friends Kim and Erin.

Sorry friends, I should have been clearer: we do have electricity so we’re sometimes running a small space heater to take the edge off. It’s 37F outside and 58F inside. The pipeline has reportedly been repaired but it will take at least a couple days for them to go house to house turning back ON the gas they turned OFF yesterday. They want to relight pilot lights themselves. All about safety (and liability). So the best case scenario is that we’ll have heat and hot water late tonight. More realistic is sometime Sunday. P is being really sweet, happily staying here with Carson while I go on my adventure. There will be heat and hot water where I’m going.

We went to a women’s basketball game last night, then came home and sat in the hot tub before crawling into bed under a pile of blankets.

I’m reading The Sullivanians and taking Quietly Hostile and GN Berlin with me. I may take one more, a novel, but I haven’t decided yet. Kim is picking me up in 3 hours. 😀

Nov 10, 10:04 am

Enjoy your adventure!

Nov 10, 12:00 pm

>184 BLBera: and >191 BLBera: Thanks Beth!

>185 laytonwoman3rd: Hi Linda. We have electricity but no natural gas. A farmer broke a main gas line using an excavator. Our house uses gas for heat, hot water, and cooking. So we have lights and we can use the electric kettle to make mugs of hot tea, we can cook using our electric countertop oven / air fryer. But the house is cold. It could be much worse.

Nov 10, 12:05 pm

>186 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks Caroline.

>187 alcottacre: I ended up really liking Cat's Eye, Stasia. I hope you can obtain a copy pretty easily.

>188 katiekrug: The university's steam plant was able to switch to backup power source pretty easily, Katie. We have one residence hall and some graduate family apartments without heat or hot water but mostly it's fine. We're keeping the student union building and another facility on campus open 24/7 for folks to come warm up if they need to.

Nov 10, 12:45 pm

I liked Cat's Eye as well. It is a very deep novel and one of Atwood's earlier books. It is very clear that she is exploring "feminist themes" in her early novels and that could be why I like them. When Cat's Eye was published back in the 1990's the concept of bullying and the carryover trauma it causes was just becoming a topic of conversation. I thought Cat's Eye was a great fictional way to start talking about that kind of trauma.

For a couple of year's I tried to read one Atwood book per year, but I haven't done so lately. Perhaps I should start that again next year? I really adore her writing and hope against hope that she will win a Nobel Prize for literature.

Nov 10, 1:02 pm

>190 EBT1002: Have a wonderful readers' retreat, Ellen!

What does one do on a readers' retreat anyway? If everyone has their noses in books, why do you need to retreat with them? I can keep my nose in a book at home :) Lol

Nov 10, 1:30 pm

>190 EBT1002: Your readers retreat sounds perfect Ellen. Have a lovely time.

Nov 10, 5:23 pm

>194 benitastrnad: I would love to read an Atwood work each year, Benita. Folks around here used to do "Atwood April." Maybe we should restart those?

>195 alcottacre: Excellent point, Stasia. It's really a weekend away -- we're in an AirBnB on Lake Coeur d'Alene and it's a beautiful location. We're reading by the fire, but also talking, eating, and just hanging out. Maybe working a jigsaw puzzle. Drinking wine. 🙂

>196 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks Caroline!

Nov 10, 7:32 pm

>197 EBT1002: Sounds like heaven.

Nov 11, 10:40 am

Wordle 875 4/6*


drone, moral, razor, actor

Nov 12, 10:03 am

Wordle 876 4/6*


lathe, tread, beast, meant

Nov 12, 10:10 am

Hope your enjoying your mini-getaway, Ellen.

I've done a couple of reading retreats, and they are always fun.

Nov 12, 11:08 am

>201 katiekrug: We've had fun, Katie. We've all done a fair bit of reading but also some chatting and we watched a movie last night. I could've skipped that but it was fine. I did make some headway in The Sullivanians which is very interesting.

Nov 12, 12:05 pm

What film was it?

Nov 12, 1:54 pm

Glad you are enjoying your weekend reading retreat!!

Nov 12, 8:49 pm

>203 katiekrug: We watched the most recent James Bond, "No Time to Die." It was predictably over the top.

>204 Berly: it was a good weekend, Kim. Now P and I are sitting here at home, reading and waiting (hoping) for the Avista crew to come restart our natural gas service. They are going house to house, lighting pilot lights and ensuring safely restarted. We know they're in our neighborhood but....

Nov 12, 9:34 pm

Hope they reach your house soon! Yikes! Why did it go out?

Editado: Nov 13, 6:17 am

>205 EBT1002: the most recent James Bond, "No Time to Die." It was predictably over the top.
Not to mention LONG! We watched it just because it was Craig's final bond film, but I would have lived an equally happy life without having seen it. Good for you, going along with the group Ellen.

fingers crossed the gas comes on soon.

Nov 13, 8:06 am

>205 EBT1002: - Oh. Not what I would have guessed!

Nov 13, 9:01 am

Wordle 877 4/6*


coral, shire, rebut, green

Nov 13, 9:02 am

>206 Berly: A farmer was excavating in his field about 4 miles north of here and hit the main line that feeds this region. “Call before you dig.” Apparently he didn’t.

Nov 13, 9:05 am

>207 lauralkeet: Yes, Laura, it was indeed long. I played Tiles through most of it.

>208 katiekrug: I hadn’t seen this one yet so I’m glad to be in completist mode for the Bond movies but it wasn’t my favorite.

Nov 13, 9:07 am

Still no gas. We know friends in our larger neighborhood who got it yesterday evening or last night. I’ll work from home this morning while P goes to her doctor appointment, and then I’ll go to the office for most of the day. We do not want to miss being here when the crew comes to our house!

Nov 13, 9:08 am

I’m about 65% through The Sullivanians and I’ve read the first essay in Quietly Hostile. Has anyone else read the latter?

Nov 13, 5:18 pm

I've read some essays by Irby but not this collection. I'll watch for your comments. I am reading a collection edited by Roxane Gay Not that Bad, which is harrowing. Starting the day reading about sexual assault is hard. Still, it is important to hear these voices.

Nov 14, 8:56 am

Wordle 878 4/6*


anise, roast, palsy, sassy

Nov 14, 10:18 am

Hoping the gas man comes soon!!

Nov 14, 12:07 pm

>214 BLBera: I am going to set my copy of Quietly Hostile on the bedside table and try to read at least one essay each day. They are pretty short so this should be something I can do. I'll let you know how they land.

>216 Berly: The natural gas crew came yesterday around 10:30am! YAY!!! It was so nice to come home to a warm house last evening and to take a hot shower this morning.

Nov 14, 12:09 pm

P is off for an adventure for the next couple days -- going to a cabin along one of our favorite rivers in Oregon. I fly to Vancouver, WA, tomorrow for the Board of Regents meeting (my last one!). She and I will meet up Friday afternoon and go to Seattle for the weekend. We'll be attending a memorial service on Saturday. I'm not sure what else we'll do.

I have Five. More. Mondays!! of waking to an alarm and going to work!

Nov 14, 12:30 pm

>197 EBT1002: Sounds wonderful! I would go on a reader's retreat if I knew of any - and could find someone to go along.

>217 EBT1002: Hooray for the gas being back on! I am sure that is a huge relief to you both.

Nov 14, 12:43 pm

Five more Mondays! The time seems to be flying. I imagine your last month will go by quickly. Have a great weekend.

Nov 14, 1:14 pm

Three cheers for the gas company! They had a herculean task getting everyone up and running, and you & P are wonderful people for being patient with it.

I bet that farmer feels like an idiot ...

Nov 14, 2:31 pm

>218 EBT1002: Exciting. Pee green as I've said before.

Glad the gas is back on too Ellen.

Nov 14, 8:44 pm

>210 EBT1002: I am surprised that he did not get charged. My province has a law that if you don't call before you dig and massive damage and inconvenience to others occur then there is a fine.

Glad the gas is back on!

Nov 14, 10:03 pm

>219 alcottacre: We kind of made up the reader's retreat, Stasia. We got an AirBnB for two nights, planned some meals and snacks, and away we went. We'll certainly do it again! And yes, it's lovely to have heat and hot water again.

>220 BLBera: it does feel like it's flying, Beth. Every day something happens that makes me a wee bit sad to be retiring. And every day something happens that makes me think "thank goodness I'm getting outta here!"

Nov 14, 10:07 pm

>221 lauralkeet: Yeah, I'm guessing the farmer feels pretty dumb. The gas/pipeline company had crews from Idaho, Colorado, Oregon, and Wyoming here to help. Some workers got in some overtime!

>222 Caroline_McElwee: It's all very surreal, Caroline. I've been talking about retiring for several years and it's actually happening!

>223 figsfromthistle: Well, he likely got fined and his insurance will be picking up a huge tab. I don't - and likely won't - know the particulars but I'm guessing the outcomes are not fun for him.

Nov 14, 10:08 pm

I'm about 80% through The Sullivanians. What a fascinating story!

Nov 15, 8:53 am

Wordle 879 3/6*


slate, shout, sight

This worked out nicely for me.

Nov 15, 1:57 pm

I have a book recommendation question.

I feel like I need to increase my understanding of the situation in the Middle East -- certainly the current situation but also and most especially the history. Anyone have good recommendations for books to help me with this?

Nov 15, 4:24 pm

Hi Ellen - I have a few recommendations:

NY Times bureau chiefs Thomas Friedman and Isabel Kershner have both published memoirs/histories, From Beirut to Jerusalem and The Land of Hope and Fear.

A noted Israeli peace activist, Ari Shavit wrote My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel.

Two more from the Israeli point of view: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn by Daniel Gordis and Israel - A Simple Guide by Noa Tishby.

All of these are written by Israelis of European background, but about 50% of Israel is made up of Jews who were expelled from Arab countries post-1948, and there's a great book called Not The Enemy by Rachel Shabi.
There's also a large population of Ethiopian Jews who were rescued from Sudan in daring fashion. I think it's called Saving the Lost Tribe.

There's so much propaganda and disinformation about the current situation and I admire you for wanting to dig into the situation. There are no easy answers but for me it's important to listen to those voices who can hold two basic positions at the same time: Israel has the right to exist as a nation, and peace with its Palestinian neighbors should be a primary goal.

Sorry for the rant - it's a situation I feel strongly about!

Nov 15, 4:43 pm

I second the recommendation for My Promised Land. It was excellent.

Editado: Nov 15, 6:09 pm

I read Lemon Tree: An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East by Sandy Tolan back in 2010. It was about a young Palestinian who went back to Israel in 1967 to see the house his family had abandoned in 1948. He meets a 19 year-old woman whose family had fled Europe after WWII. They become friends and the book is the story of that friendship and how it almost broke down. There is alot of history of the 1948 conflict in this book.

I forgot to add that I am currently reading My Father's Paradise by Ariel Sabar. This is the story of the Iraqi Jews and their settlement in Israel in 1951. There is not much Palestinian/Israeli history in it, but there is a ton of history about the politics of Israel from 1945 - 1965. From this is suspect that Israel prior to the 1967 Six Day War was a different place than it is today.

Nov 15, 6:53 pm

>229 vivians: Thank You Vivian.
”Israel has the right to exist as a nation, and peace with its Palestinian neighbors should be a primary goal.”
This is exactly the place from which I want to learn!

Nov 15, 6:55 pm

>230 laytonwoman3rd: Thank you Linda. I always like it when a recommendation gets a second.

>231 benitastrnad: Thank you Benita. I appreciate your recommendations.

Editado: Nov 15, 8:46 pm

Not long at all until your retirement, Ellen ! Great! I was chatting with my brother and he is a big non -fiction reader. His wife is what I would describe as a " nominal Muslim" , that is to say her dad is a practicing Muslim, he prays , used to kill a goat for some Muslim celebration when her family lived in Tunsia . But her mom is German and not of the Muslim faith. My SIL is not a practicing Muslim. Anyway, my brother recommended The Hundred Years' War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917–2017 He is reading it and I hope to read it soon. My sister in law does not eat pork , she tells me , and I bite my tongue when she often serves broccoli and bacon that she has pan baked. :-) When I was younger, we had many practising Jewish neighbours who kept kosher, but they would invite themselves to my parents home in order to eat pork, and we did not mind that either.

Nov 16, 12:39 am

>234 vancouverdeb: Thank you Deb. I’ve put a number of these books on hold at the library.

Nov 16, 12:41 am

I finished The Sullivanians on the plane today. It was an interesting read.

Then I started Tin Man by Sarah Winman on the second flight. This author is just wonderful. I loved her Still Life and this one is equally beautiful.

Nov 16, 7:20 am

Oh, I adored Tin Man when I read it a few years ago!

Nov 16, 8:00 am

>228 EBT1002: I would recommend The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years by Bernard Lewis. It was published in 1995.

This were my thoughts back in 2017:
Extentive history of the Middle East, starting at the Hellenistic, Roman, Persian and Egyptian civilisations. The break in the Roman empire, leaving the Byzantine Empire as a factor in the Middle East.
The Islamic history in the region (and beyond) from Mohammed, the divide of Sunni and Shia factions, the influences of the Mongols and the long reign of the Ottoman Empire.
Finally the last century, when after the decline of the Ottoman Empire in 1918 Brittain and France divide their influences in the Middle East, finally leading to independent states. The writer claims the western influence has benefited the region, I am not sure he is right.

Nov 16, 8:45 am

Wordle 880 4/6*


leant, shout, burst, trust

Nov 16, 8:49 am

>237 katiekrug: I remember your enthusiasm about Tin Man, Katie, and I’ve had the book on my shelves for eons.

>238 FAMeulstee: Thanks Anita. That sounds like a good comprehensive overview of the longer history. I feel like I need some of the foundation that goes that far back.

Nov 16, 10:05 am

I’ll be in the Board of Regents meeting all day. No speaking part (yay) so I get to just sit and listen, and keep up with email and Teams chats from campus.

Five weeks.

I forgot to pack my atorvastatin so I’m a little freaked out. I’m hoping I can squeeze in a visit to a pharmacy to see if they will give me an emergency few.

Editado: Nov 16, 11:43 am

>240 EBT1002:
I was going to go through my list and get you some more comprehensive histories of the Middle East as a whole. I think that these make good reference points because this is an area of the world that has been conquered and reconquered many many times with lots of ethnic groups moving in and out and having power and then being deported. In fact, when I thought about it, the area of Turkey and Iraq that I am currently reading about was part of the world that Xenophon conquered and then wrote about in 400 BCE. Even then, the area had a mixture of ethnic groups. All of that makes for a complicated history, and sometimes I find myself mentally screaming - but what about the Kurds? Or the Armenians? It does get murky and weird.

I went to our main campus library last night (as a retiree I have checkout privileges) and since I was looking for another book listed in My Father's Paradise (my current read) I checked the shelves to see what there was about the Palestinians. I was surprised to find that there were about 4 shelves devoted to just that one subject. There seems to be lots of materials that would be of interest and probably helpful when you get to the pinpointed study stage.

I concur with the post #238. Bernard Lewis is very good. His writing tends towards the academic, but you have to consider that he was writing for people studying the Middle East and not a general audience. I would put one note of caution about Lewis. He was British and, in my opinion, excuses the British. I am sure that the same can be said of American authors as well.

I did already recommend Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan and will now enter the caveat that it only covers from 1948 to 2010. The Intifada's are not covered in this book. It is a personal memoir and not a history, but there is lots of history in it. It is easy reading and very intimate and personal. It gets into the matter of the Jewish peace activists and about some of the restrictive Jewish laws regarding Palestinians who still live in Israel. It is the first time that I realized that Israel is not a democracy. It is a theocracy.

I find that reading about current events helps me to understand them better, and to realize that most of our news coverage is very superficial. Perhaps that has always been the case, but I find that I would like commentators to deal more with the history, or the political philosophy history of the country they are talking about. For that reason, to understand the problem better, I find myself looking at multiple tomes and thinking that I only have so much time and which one do I read?

My second piece of advice for this kind of quest is something that I often told graduate students to do. Think of a book or journal article that impressed you and that you remember. Take a look at the list of references found at the end of the book or article. Go through that list and check the titles that interest you. If you need the most recent information, look at the publication date and pick the most recent books or articles. Take a look at the authors listed in those references. If an author is listed more than once or twice, that author is most likely an authority in that field. Pick the most recent of those titles and read that book or article first. This process narrows down the list of possibilities for study.

If the field you are pursuing is brand new to you, pick a book that is a broad overview. This is most likely going to be a longer book (700-1000 pages) but don't be intimidated by the size. Go to the Table of Contents and look at the chapter titles. Pick the 2 or 3 chapter titles that have words in them that you recognize or are about events you recognize. Read those first. If you understood those chapters and liked the writing style, then go back to the Table of Contents and pick out more to read. There is no law that says you have to read a book linearly. Or that says you have to read the entire book. Books are reference points and should be treated as such. Take what you need from them and don't feel bad if you don't read every word. You only have so much time in your life and you shouldn't waste it. Read what you need.

Good luck on your quest.

Nov 16, 12:22 pm

I've heard good things about Tin Man, and I have loved what I've read by Winman. I'll watch for your comments. I just picked up The House of Doors from the library! :) Enjoy your regents' meeting and weekend in Seattle.

Editado: Nov 17, 12:19 pm

Today’s edition of The Ezra Klein Show on New York Times audio is really good. It’s called “The Sermons I Needed to Hear.” I recommend it.

Nov 18, 11:18 am

Wordle 882 4/6*


arise, build, joint, think

Nov 19, 10:54 am

Wordle 883 4/6*


lathe, score, guide, queue

One of my favorite words!

Nov 19, 8:08 pm

Whew. We're home after a long tiring weekend. The memorial service was fine and we spent the evening with family. The report on Santiam Pass this morning was dicey so we got on the road a bit early. The roads really weren't bad -- a bit of slush at the top of the pass -- and we decided to take a detour to Trevari Vineyards outside Yakima. They do sparkling wine only; we served Trevari at our wedding ten years ago and have talked about serving it at my retirement party December 21. So we got a mixed case.

I did make a trip to Third Place Books in Seward Park yesterday. My book haul included:

Stamped from the Beginning: A Graphic History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi (I have the nonfiction work but thought I'd like to start with this version.)
So Late in the Day by Claire Keegan
The Shortest History of Israel and Palestine by Michael Scott-Baumann
The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years by Bernard Lewis
The Land of Hope and Fear: Israel's Battle for its Inner Soul by Isabel Kershner
The Librarianist by Patrick deWitt
The House of Doors by Tan Twan Eng (the book I was specifically shopping for)

There were a couple more books about Israel and Palestine that I wanted but they didn't have them on the shelves. I do have a couple on hold at the library.

Then my niece-in-law gave me two books she is done with:
These Precious Days by Ann Patchett and
Stay True by Hua Hsu

Editado: Nov 19, 8:17 pm

>247 EBT1002:
That is a big book haul! There are some really good titles in that group so you will have many happy hours of reading ahead of you. I picked out my book for my Bozeman Thanksgiving trip and will take one big book. House of Always. It is book 4 in an epic fantasy series and at 650 pages I think it will keep me occupied for the duration of the trip. That includes hours at airports and flying time. My sister told me that it will be cold and snowing when I arrive on Thanksgiving Day. That will be a big change from here where it is barely autumn.

Nov 19, 8:43 pm

Nice haul, Ellen! I just started The House of Doors, and I think it is going to be a good one.

Nov 20, 8:49 am

Wordle 884 3/6*


leant, nomad, candy

Editado: Nov 20, 8:51 am

I’m starting The House of Doors this morning.

I did not want to get out of bed this morning!!!!

Editado: Nov 20, 6:46 pm

Hi, Ellen. Glad to hear you started and are enjoying The House of Doors. A few of us will be reading it next month. I love his writing.

These Precious Days was a joy to read. Patchett Rocks!!

Nov 21, 8:42 am

Wordle 885 2/6*


siren, piano

Well that was fun!

Nov 21, 8:45 am

>252 msf59: Hi Mark. So far, The House of Doors is very promising. I’ll join in the conversation next month but my RLBG wanted to read it this month so I’m getting a head start. 🙂

Nov 21, 10:03 am

I am enjoying The House of Doors as well, Ellen.

Nov 21, 1:02 pm

>253 EBT1002: Excellent Wordle-ing!

Karen O

Nov 21, 3:44 pm

>228 EBT1002: I would recommend A Day in the Life of Abed Salama by Nathan Thrall. This book has a more limited focus, and it is much more personal than some of histories other people have recommended, but it really helped me understand the situation in the West Bank since the Oslo Accords for the Palestinians who are basically trapped there. It also helped me understand why the West Bank Israeli settlements promoted by Netanyahu (SP?) and the religious right are so inflammatory for the Palestinians. It's an extremely moving book, and coincidentally was published just days before the Hamas terrorist attack in October.

Congratulations on your upcoming retirement!

Nov 21, 4:25 pm

>247 EBT1002: Nice haul! I just finished reading So Late in the Day this part Sunday. Looking forward to reading The House of Doors next month. I loved These Precious Days when I read it. Stay True not so much - it was just OK for me. I hope you like it better than I did.

Nov 22, 8:55 am

Wordle 886 4/6*


slice, ideal, peril, pixel

Back to normal.

Nov 22, 1:11 pm

Ellen, Thanks for your presence on the 75 challenge group. I hope to be able to visit more often in '24. In the meantime, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Nov 22, 5:19 pm

Nice book haul, Ellen! I'm looking very forward to my husband's retirement end of March, 2024. Like you, he is counting down the work days. I think he has 60 work days to go.

Nov 22, 7:30 pm

Dear Ellen,

Happy Thanksgiving from an appreciative non-celebrator.

Nov 23, 11:35 am

Wordle 887 4/6*


shade, liner, women, queen


Nov 23, 4:17 pm

Happy Thanksgiving to you and P, Ellen!

Nov 24, 10:44 am

Wordle 888 3/6*


trail, tenor, throw

Nov 24, 10:46 am

I’m about halfway through The House of Doors and finding it quite interesting. It doesn’t feel as amazing as The Garden of Evening Mists — and I’m realizing I don’t remember that novel in much detail at all. It might be calling for a reread.

Nov 25, 10:10 am

Wordle 889 3/6*


leant, shore, guide

This was satisfying — I was just looking for letters!

Nov 25, 10:18 am

Day 3 of my 4-day weekend. We’re going to our favorite nearby wildlife refuge for a hike. It’s chilly (high today of 38F) but no precipitation.

I stayed up a bit late reading The House of Doors last night. Tan Twan Eng is one of those authors whose writing makes it look easy — the storytelling is deceptively straightforward. And the story is really interesting.

Nov 25, 10:57 am

>268 EBT1002: Tan is a very fine writer Ellen, its difficult to make things look easy. I will definitely be rereading, as it takes him 7-8 years to produce a novel. My RL book group will give me the excuse next year to reread The Garden of Evening Mists. I read all three of his novels this year. The year of Tan.

Nov 26, 10:24 am

Wordle 890 3/6*


laden, doily, solid

That probably should have been my second guess.

Editado: Nov 26, 9:22 pm

>269 Caroline_McElwee: I would love to do a reread of all three of Tan Tan Eng's novels, Caroline. I remember loving The Garden of Evening Mists and I gave it 4.5 stars. I think I also gave The Gift of Rain 4.5 stars but I don't remember it at all. I am giving The House of Doors 4.5 stars. He's a consistent novelist and I'm a consistent rater of his novels? Not that the ratings matter -- or they shouldn't -- but I feel like each novel has landed in a really profound way. I would like to reread them in the order of publication.

Editado: Nov 26, 9:42 pm

I finished The House of Doors by Tan Tan Eng today and it was a very satisfying read. In some ways it is a simple story but the characters are richly and subtly developed. The story is told from two mingled points of view: Lesley Hamlyn written in 1st person and Somerset “Willie” Maugham, written in 3rd person. The two characters intersect in 1921 in Straits Settlement of Penang. Lesley lives in Cassowary House together with her husband, Robert, and her two sons. When Maugham comes to visit for a few weeks, along with his secretary and lover, Gerald, Lesley finds herself telling him the story of her involvement in 1910-1911 with Sun Yat Sen, a famous Chinese revolutionary, and his team of followers.

Still, with all the politics swarming around, the story is really one of love, gender, sexuality, marriage, passion, secrets, infidelity.... All with a bit of murder trial tossed in to highlight the hypocrisy of both traditional English society and radical Chinese visionary thought. This makes the novel sound prurient and shallow. Nothing could be further from the truth. Human desire and practicality are explored with wisdom and insight, and set in an interesting historical context. Highly recommended.

Oh, and... phew. This was my 50th completed book in 2023. That is far behind my usual pace but it was what I could accomplish this year.

Editado: Nov 26, 9:35 pm

Nov 26, 9:37 pm

I see that Prophet Song won the Booker Prize for 2023. So well deserved.

Nov 26, 10:16 pm

I'm thinking about hosting, in 2024, a group read of some sort of Somerset Maugham work or works. Thoughts anyone?

Editado: Ontem, 12:29 am

I have this impulse to read authors in chunks (this as part of my retirement reading "plan"). That is, I'd like to explore certain authors in whole, or near-whole, so as to follow their development and really get to know them. Authors that come to mind include:

Hilary Mantel
Ali Smith
Jane Austen
The Brontës
Lauren Groff
Tan Twan Eng
William Faulkner
Louise Erdrich
John Banville
Gabriel García Márquez
Alice McDermott
Colm Toibín
Emil Zola

I know there are others....
Some of these authors I have read widely, others would be new-ish territory for me.

I remember back in 2012, we did a "Steinbeckathon," in which we read a different novel by Steinbeck each month. I felt like I really got to know him and his work.

Nov 26, 11:33 pm

>272 EBT1002: I loved this as well, Ellen. I can't wait to discuss it. How many days?

Editado: Ontem, 12:30 am

Twenty-five days until the winter solstice. ;-)

Nineteen days of actually going to work.

Ontem, 3:32 am

>276 EBT1002: I am terrible at reading more books by a single author, and I also have fond memories of the Steinbeckathon. I might be interested in joining you for some of those (no particular preferences at the moment, aside from "not Austen" ;)).

Ontem, 6:29 am

>273 EBT1002: Ellen, I've had the The Vaster Wilds on hold and it's just come in. I'll start reading it in the next few days (as soon as I finish my current read).

Ontem, 7:12 am

I'm sureI will join you for some of your readathons Ellen.

Ontem, 8:59 am

Wordle 891 3/6*


stand, paint, tawny

Today’s starter word was a risk because one vowel. I have always started with a word containing at least two vowels, preferably but not always A and E. It worked out okay. *smile*

Ontem, 10:46 am

>276 EBT1002: Love seeing William Faulkner on your list!

Ontem, 12:33 pm

>272 EBT1002: I am starting that one shortly - I am reading it with Mark. I have not read a Tan Twan Eng book that has disappointed me yet and I do not expect any less from this one.

>274 EBT1002: Completely agree. I was rooting for Prophet Song to win!

>275 EBT1002: I would be interested, Ellen, as long as I can get hold of the books.

Have a marvelous Monday, Ellen!

Ontem, 5:01 pm

>276 EBT1002: a great idea. Louise Erdrich and William Faulkner and John Banville would be especially tempting to me.

Hoje, 8:43 am

Wordle 892 4/6*


haste, slice, scone, scope