Ursula's Books and Music Corner for 2023, part 4

É uma continuação do tópico Ursula's Books and Music Corner for 2023, part 3.

Discussão75 Books Challenge for 2023

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Ursula's Books and Music Corner for 2023, part 4

Out 9, 10:30 am

All right, let's do this!

Drawing done on location in Mannheim, Germany

Hello there, my name is Ursula. I'm 51 years old, and I've been married to my husband, Morgan, for 12 years. We are both Americans, but those of you who have followed along through the years know that we've done a lot of moving both domestically and internationally in my time here in the 75ers. We are currently living in western Germany with our 3 cats Archie, Cleo (adopted in California) and Rollo (adopted off the street in Istanbul).

I'm a reader of "literary fiction" and some non-fiction. Occasionally some genre things find their way in (I'm not a snob about it, I just tend to choose other things).

I have been listening to a lot of music for the last few years and in 2023 I intend to post more regularly about it. It's okay if no one is into the same things, I'm doing it mostly for me, just like my thoughts on my books. :) (If you're interested in my favorite books and albums of 2022, you can visit my first thread of the year.)

Editado: Out 9, 10:36 am

|||:. Januar .:|||:. January .:|||:. Ocak .:|||

Pines by Blake Crouch ☆☆☆☆
The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan ☆☆☆☆
New Animal by Ella Baxter ☆☆☆☆1/2
At the Edge of the Woods by Masatsugu Ono ☆☆1/2
The Golden Ass by Lucius Apuleius, translation by Robert Graves ☆☆☆☆
The White Mosque by Sofia Samatar ☆☆☆1/2

|||:. Februar .:|||:. February .:|||:. Şubat .:|||

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner ☆☆☆☆
Kaçırılan Çocuk by Robert Louis Stevenson ☆☆☆1/2
The Italian by Shukri Mabkhout ☆☆1/2
Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia ☆☆1/2
Case Study by Graeme Macrae Burnet ☆☆☆
The Simple Art of Murder by Raymond Chandler ☆☆☆1/2
Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke by Eric LaRocca ☆☆☆

|||:. März .:|||:. March .:|||:. Mart .:|||

Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield ☆☆☆☆
Patricia Wants to Cuddle by Samantha Allen ☆☆1/2
Death on Gokumon Island by Seishi Yokomizo ☆☆☆
Wayward by Blake Crouch ☆☆☆1/2
Ducks by Kate Beaton ☆☆☆☆1/2
Ghost Eaters by Clay McLeod Chapman ☆☆☆1/2

|||:. April .:|||:. April .:|||:. Nisan .:|||

Walking Practice by Dolki Min ☆☆☆
An Unlasting Home by Mai Al-Nakib ☆☆☆
Cyclopedia Exotica by Aminder Dhaliwal ☆☆☆1/2
Spare by Prince Harry ☆☆☆☆1/2

|||:. Mai .:|||:. May .:|||:. Mayıs .:|||

Death Is Hard Work by Khaled Khalifa ☆☆☆1/2
The Teller of Secrets by Bisi Adjapon ☆☆☆
Biography of X by Catherine Lacey ☆☆☆1/2
Three Assassins by Kotaro Isaka ☆☆☆
Trespasses by Louise Kennedy ☆☆☆1/2

|||:. Juni .:|||:. June .:|||:. Haziran .:|||

They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib ☆☆☆
The Book of Goose by Yiyun Li ☆☆☆☆
The Decagon House Murders by Yukito Ayatsuji ☆☆☆1/2
Palo Alto by Malcolm Harris - unrateable for me
Murder Book by Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell ☆☆☆
I Sing the Body Electric by Ray Bradbury ☆☆☆
Universal Harvester by John Darnielle ☆☆☆☆
Diary of a Void by Emi Yagi ☆☆☆1/2

Editado: Nov 24, 6:23 am

|||:. Juli .:|||:. July .:|||:. Temmuz .:|||

No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai ☆☆☆☆
Kitty Language by Lili Chin ☆☆☆ 1/2
How To Be a Rule-Breaking Letterer by Huyen Dinh ☆☆ 1/2
Things We Found When the Water Went Down by Tegan Nia Swanson ☆☆☆
Glow by Ned Beauman ☆☆☆
Where Are Your Boys Tonight? by Chris Payne ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Days at the Morisaki Bookshop by Satoshi Yagisawa ☆☆☆

|||:. August .:|||:. August .:|||:. Ağustos .:|||

The Golden Bowl by Henry James ☆☆☆☆
I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
No One Will Come Back for Us by Premee Mohamed ☆☆☆
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson ☆☆☆☆☆
The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa ☆☆☆☆
Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami ☆☆ 1/2
Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson ☆☆☆ 1/2

|||:. September .:|||:. September .:|||:. Eylül .:|||

Devil House by John Darnielle ☆☆☆☆
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka ☆☆
Honeybees and Distant Thunder by Riku Onda
Five Little Indians by Michelle Good
A Certain Hunger by Chelsea G. Summers
Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami

|||:. Oktober .:|||:. October .:|||:. Ekim .:|||

Our Hideous Progeny by C.E. McGill
Girlfriend on Mars by Deborah Willis
The Love of a Good Woman by Alice Munro
Revenge by Yoko Ogawa
The Absolutes by Molly Dektar
We Could Have Been Friends, My Father and I by Raja Shehadeh
1,000 Coils of Fear by Olivia Wenzel
Tokyo Ueno Station by Miri Yu
Nineteen Claws and a Black Bird by Agustina Bazterrica

|||:. November .:|||:. November .:|||:. Kasım .:|||
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
The Woman in the Purple Skirt by Natsuko Imamura
Mother of Strangers by Suad Amiry
The Flowers of Buffoonery by Osamu Dazai
Delicate Condition by Danielle Valentine
The Stranger by Albert Camus
A Day in the Life of Abed Salama by Nathan Thrall

Total: 72

Hall of Shame (Abandoned)
John Dies at the End by Jason Pargin

Editado: Out 9, 11:24 am

Weekly 5x5

Exile on Main St. - The Rolling Stones [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Ever Loving - Dogbreth [power pop] (self pick) +
Discovery - Daft Punk [electronic] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) +
Crispy Crunchy Nothing - Packs [indie rock] (new releases)
ANTI - Rihanna [pop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

The Slider - T. Rex [glam rock] (1001 Albums list)
Growing in Strange Places - Thank You, I’m Sorry [indie] (new releases)
Never Before Seen, Never Again Found [emo] (self pick, vinyl)
Metallica - Metallica [metal] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Heavy Rocks (2002) - Boris [metal] (Morgan’s pick, vinyl)

Bad - Michael Jackson [pop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Marchita - Silvana Estrada [singer-songwriter] (2022 lists)
Deceit - This Heat [experimental rock] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list) +
moving forward - absinthe father [indie] (self pick) +
Eagles - Eagles [rock] (1001 Albums list)

Oblivion Will Own Me and Death Alone Will Love Me (Void Filler) - short fictions [indie rock] (new releases) +
Boys of Faith - Zach Bryan [country] (new releases) +
Drink the River - Gabe Lee [country] (new releases) +
Damn the Torpedoes - Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Nozhet El Nofous - Nancy Mounir [experimental/Egyptian] (2022 lists)

Mole - Poolblood [alternative] (new releases)
All Directions - The Temptations [r&b] (1001 Albums list)
Master of Reality - Black Sabbath [metal] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) +
Giant Steps - John Coltrane [jazz] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) +
Untrue - Burial [electronic] (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list)

******Notes on this week:
  • Below the chart:
    The World Is a Ghetto - War (1001 Albums list)
    Close to the Edge - Yes (1001 Albums list)

    Skipped for recency:
    Something/Anything? - Todd Rundgren (1001 Albums list)
    Little Earthquakes - Tori Amos (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Ace of Spades - Motörhead (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

  • The T. Rex was fun; the War was good. My favorite Daft Punk album has always been Homework, but of course Discovery is probably the more accessible album. I liked the John Coltrane, like with all jazz I feel like I’ll have to listen to it more to have any sort of handle on it. I love Tom Petty, I love Damn the Torpedoes. This Heat was really weird, but in a really interesting and fun way.

  • Exile on Main St. is not my favorite Stones album, though I’m not sure what would be anyway. Ditto for ANTI and Rihanna. Another really great album from Black Sabbath this week. Morgan’s long-awaited Boris record arrived and we listened to that.

  • I listened to Zach Bryan's EP Boys of Faith, which he released right after his self-titled album and one of the songs just got me in a stranglehold and has just now maybe started to let up. Maybe. Morgan listened to the EP and tried to guess which song it was - he was torn between two but guessed correctly (it was "Deep Satin", you can listen to the audio here on YouTube if you're curious.

+ = added to my library
♡ = already in my library

Editado: Out 9, 11:20 am

The Love of a Good Woman by Alice Munro

Doing these out of order because this is the easier one to talk about. These are mostly longer-form short stories and I really enjoyed them. I don't always (often? ever?) fully enjoy a short story collection, but this one really worked for me. Such a variety of female characters in a variety of relationship situations. One of my favorite stories was the last one, My Mother's Dream. In it, there is this description of the husband and father:

The sort who never let people alone, who whipped them up to laugh. At his own expense occasionally, but usually at other people's. Jill recalls when she looks at him how he drank but never seemed drunk and how he occupied himself getting other drunk people to confess to him their fears, prevarications, virginity, or two-timing, which he would then turn into jokes or humiliating nicknames that his victims pretended to enjoy. For he had legions of followers and friends, who maybe latched on to him out of fear - or maybe just because, as was always said of him, he livened things up. Wherever he was was the center of the room, and the air around him crackled with risk and merriment.

Out 9, 10:37 am

oh man I just realized I have 2 books to comment on, haha.

Out 9, 10:40 am

The sketchwalk in Mannheim was fun! I am pretty sure I was the only real non-German speaker there. I was able to follow most things all right though. There were 4 options for walks - one kept very much to the center of the city, one went along the Rhine, one hit a couple of the typical sites (church, etc) and then went to a park, and the one I chose was sort of the "ugly Mannheim" one. It went to the more run-down, industrial area of the city and then ended in the Marktplatz. The sketch at the top was the first one of the day, at the canal between the Rhine and the Neckar.

Out 9, 12:22 pm

Nice sketch, Ursula. Thanks for posting.

Out 9, 1:01 pm

Happy new thread, Ursula! Love the sketch up top :)

Out 9, 4:20 pm

>1 ursula: I always enjoy your lovely sketches Ursula.

Out 9, 5:34 pm

Happy new thread, Ursula.

Out 9, 7:33 pm

Happy new thread, Ursula!

>1 ursula: You are quite the talented artist.

Out 9, 7:47 pm

Happy new one, Ursula!

Out 10, 2:54 am

>9 Kristelh:, >10 curioussquared:, >11 Caroline_McElwee:, >12 PaulCranswick:, >13 figsfromthistle:, >14 drneutron: Thanks all for the new thread wishes and for the nice compliments on the drawing. I really love urban sketching but I've mostly done it on my own over the years. It seems like this Mannheim group meets regularly and it's close enough that hopefully I can continue to meet up with them monthly-ish.

Out 10, 4:04 am

Happy new thread, Ursula!

Out 10, 7:49 am

Happy new one, Ursuala. I love the picture in your first post.

Out 10, 8:10 am

>8 ursula:, You sure made ugly look very appealing!

Out 10, 10:03 am

>1 ursula: Beautiful drawing, Ursula!

Out 10, 10:27 am

>16 FAMeulstee: Thanks!

>17 katiekrug: Thanks! We had a couple of drops of rain that interacted with the marker in a few places but that's part of drawing outside. :) Especially here, where rain is always a possibility.

>18 Kristelh: Thanks, I felt like it was the more interesting option of the sketchwalks. I had been intending to follow a different one but that was the route that spoke to me in the moment. I'll try to remember to post my second drawing from the day too, it was another unlikely location. :)

>19 norabelle414: Thanks!

Out 11, 1:23 pm

Up there in >7 ursula: I was intending to leave a space to put in comments about my second book that I'd finished, but it seems pointless to bury it up there now so I'm just going to do it here.

Girlfriend on Mars by Deborah Willis

First line: Amber Kivinen - drug dealer, lapsed evangelical Christian, my girlfriend of fourteen years - is going to Mars.

Basically that, yeah. Kevin is narrating that part of the story, and Amber has joined a reality tv show competition to be one of the first pair of people sent to Mars. She will not be coming back if she wins. It's a shock to Kevin's system to realize that 1. she would just join this competition without telling him, 2. she could actually win, and 3. she might even want to win.

Amber and Kevin grow weed in their house in Vancouver; she's got the plant know-how and he's ... got the time to sit around and sell to people? I'm not sure what he brings to the endeavor, or to the relationship, often. They met and started dating in high school, and they have stayed together in spite of having very different personalities. Amber was an aspiring Olympic gymnast who hurt her shoulder, ending her chances. Since then she seems to have been adrift. Kevin, on the other hand, seems to prefer being adrift. He lost his mother and seems to be cultivating, besides cannabis plants, some serious agoraphobia.

Sometimes I read a book and wonder if I read the same book the author wrote, if you know what I mean. Am I missing the point? Am I finding points that the author didn't intend at all? Recently when I talked about Devil House I said that the book was not the book I thought it was as I was reading it. In that case, I know that's what John Darnielle intended. Here, I'm not sure what book Deborah Willis was writing. If it was supposed to be a comedic sendup of reality tv, that didn't work for me at all. If it was supposed to be a scathing indictment of billionaires and how little their principles and ideals actually mean to them, I guess it hit the mark but it's an easy one. What I got out of it was a lot deeper than it feels like the book intended to go, though - thoughts about what it means when your purpose in life has been imposed upon you by others, maybe so deeply that you're not sure it's not your own will anymore. Thoughts about wanting to back out of something, and how to know when the voice in your gut is trying to keep you out of trouble versus just speaking out of fear. Thoughts about living, and dying, and what they both mean in how you carry on through your days.

Honestly, I had a really great conversation with Morgan about all of these things after I finished the book - I'm just not sure any of that was what it was supposed to inspire. It might have just been intended to tell you reality tv is fake, Elon, Bezos and all the other billionaires suck, and you can't just spend forever stoned on your couch.

Out 16, 4:31 am

Weekly 5x5

De La Soul Is Dead - de La Soul [hip hop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road - Elton John [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Critical Beatdown - Ultramagnetic MC’s [hip hop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Transatlanticism - Death Cab for Cutie [indie] (discography)
Ray of Light - Madonna [pop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

Fly - The Chicks [country] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
A Light for Attracting Attention - The Smile [indie] (2022 lists)
Plans - Death Cab for Cutie [indie] (discography)
The Definitive Collection - Patsy Cline [country] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
You’re the One - Rhiannon Giddens [americana] (new releases) +

Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers - The National [indie] (Morgan’s pick/90s list)
Aladdin Sane - David Bowie [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Narrow Stairs - Death Cab for Cutie [indie] (discography)
Something about Airplanes - Death Cab for Cutie [indie] (discography)
i don’t know who needs to hear this … - Tomberlin [indie folk] (2022 lists)

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot - Wilco [alternative] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) +
Warm Chris - Aldous Harding [indie folk] (2022 lists)
Billion Dollar Babies - Alice Cooper [hard rock] (1001 Albums list)
The Photo Album - Death Cab for Cutie [indie] (discography)
We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes - Death Cab for Cutie [indie] (discography)

Auto Locator - Del Paxton [emo] (new releases) +
Ugly Season - Perfume Genius [art pop] (2022 lists)
Javelin - Sufjan Stevens [singer-songwriter] (new releases) +
Catch a Fire - Bob Marley & the Wailers [reggae] (1001 Albums list)
God’s Country - Chat Pile [rock/sludge metal] (2022 lists)

******Notes on this week:
  • Below the chart:
    Future Days - Can (1001 Albums list)
    Made in Japan - Deep Purple (1001 Albums list)
    Faust IV - Faust (1001 Albums list)
    Ride the Lightning - Metallica (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
    The Redshift Blues - Dispirited Spirits (new releases) +

    Skipped for recency:
    Here’s Little Richard - Little Richard (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs - Derek and the Dominos (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Imagine - John Lennon (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Zen Arcade - Hüsker Dü (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

  • First off, I’m doing a Death Cab for Cutie discography run because with the 20th anniversary of Transatlanticism, I keep seeing rankings of their albums popping up and I didn’t feel like I could even decide how I felt about them without a re-listen (and a new listen to at least one of the ones still left to go). Aside from that, I finally got around to the Rhiannon Giddens, which was fun, and the new Sufjan Stevens, which was not. It was good, but not fun - it’s steeped in loss. He came out on release day, saying that the album was dedicated to his partner, who had died in April. Heavy enough on its own, but recently he also said he has been battling Guillain-Barre and has had to relearn to walk.

  • Normally I would expect that the worst thing I put in my ear holes this week would be The Smile, seeing as how it’s a Thom Yorke (Radiohead) project. But honestly the Perfume Genius album was probably the worst thing this week.

  • Not a ton to say about everything else - the live Deep Purple album was all right, as that sort of thing goes for me, Ride the Lightning is my favorite Metallica album so that was good, and for the rest, there were some good songs here and there but no back-to-front great albums for me.

+ = added to my library
♡ = already in my library

Out 20, 3:28 am

Just finished 2 more books yesterday, which I need to say something about.

61 books read puts me above my total for 2 years (2012 and 2020), and about to surpass the previous two years. I imagine I'll be able to edge out 2019 too, but anything beyond that seems unlikely.

Out 20, 11:04 am

Graphing your reads from year to year is good. Easy to do. I'll try it.

Out 20, 1:03 pm

>24 weird_O: Indeed! LT's charts & graphs offers this view, which I don't like very much.

(Also you can see that I've never gone back and entered all of what I read in 2019 and 2020.)

Out 20, 1:59 pm

Revenge by Yoko Ogawa

My second book by Yoko Ogawa this year (I read the novel The Memory Police earlier). This is a book of interconnected short stories, ranging from melancholy to eerie to downright disturbing. I loved all of them, and promptly told Morgan to read them too!

Out 22, 3:01 am

The Absolutes by Molly Dektar

First line: We left for the bobsled race in the afternoon.

Our narrator's name is Nora, and the bobsled race in the first sentence is at the Turin Olympics. Nora is there as an exchange student from the US, and she's attending with her host sister Federica. Most of the novel takes place in the present day, as an early-30s Nora is now living in New York and doing a job I didn't understand at all (I didn't try very hard, this may be on me). Anyhow, she has a boyfriend and a job and a lot of unresolved issues. Her thoughts often go back to her time in Italy and the relationship she had with Federica, as well as a brief encounter with a young man named Nicola.

Nora is kind of a mess, honestly. She had issues with self-harm when she was a teenager, which she has since overcome, but it is clear she hasn't really dealt with the underlying causes and she also has no clue who or what she is. Nicola re-enters her life and she gains some clarity - or does she?

I was very confused by this book. I don't know how Molly Dektar wanted me to feel about Nora and Nicola, but in a lot of ways it felt like a very misguided fan-fiction written by a teenager. Like, the things that seem exhilarating and exciting when you're 16 are not (hopefully) the same things you want in your life in your thirties. But then, maybe that was the point? Maybe Nora is a cautionary tale? I don't know; I've definitely been thinking about it, which I guess is one measure of success. But none of the conclusions I reach make me like the book, so unsuccessful on that front.

Also note: Dektar has an MFA and it shows all over this book. If that's not a vibe you enjoy, avoid at all costs!

Quote: Maybe I could scrub off my layers of anxiety and habit, and all the adjustments I made to feel consistent, all the choices constrained by previous choices, the part of me that ran straight for solitude, that didn't really believe that the most important things could be shared. A hope for discontinuity was what I felt.

Out 23, 3:47 am

We Could Have Been Friends, My Father and I by Raja Shehadeh

A Palestinian lawyer whose father was also a lawyer looks back on their lives together and realizes that they never really talked about the ways they each fought for Palestinian freedom.

Out 24, 3:51 am

Weekly 5x5

Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You - Big Thief [indie] (2022 lists)
Only Built 4 Cuban Linx - Raekwon [hip hop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Space Ritual - Hawkwind [space rock] (1001 Albums list)
Tha Carter III - Lil Wayne [hip hop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
CrazySexyCool - TLC [r&b/hip hop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

Recovering the Satellites - Counting Crows [rock] (self pick; 27th anniversary)
Preacher’s Daughter - Ethel Cain [americana/pop rock] (2022 lists) +
Calling the Dogs - Citizen [emo] (new releases)
Life Is Not a Lesson - Glitterer [alternative] (Morgan’s pick; new releases)
Sumday: Excess Baggage - Grandaddy [indie] (Morgan’s pick; new releases)

It’s Almost Dry - Pusha T [hip hop] (2022 lists)
Blade Runner - Vangelis [soundtrack] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
ILYSM - Wild Pink [indie] (2022 lists)
Sit Down for Dinner - Blonde Redhead [alternative] (new releases)
Asphalt Meadows - Death Cab for Cutie [indie] (discography)

Codes and Keys - Death Cab for Cutie [indie] (discography)
Kintsugi - Death Cab for Cutie [indie] (discography)
Thank You for Today - Death Cab for Cutie [indie] (discography)
Definitely Maybe - Oasis [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Skylight - Pinegrove [indie] (self pick)

Raising Hell - Run-DMC [hip hop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Janky Star - Grace Ives [pop] (2022 lists)
Solid Air - John Martyn [folk/psychedelia] (1001 Albums list)
Floating into the Night - Julee Cruise [dream pop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Berlin - Lou Reed [rock] (1001 Albums list)

******Notes on this week:
  • Below the chart:
    Selling England by the Pound - Genesis (1001 Albums list)
    Grievous Angel - Gram Parsons (1001 Albums list) +
    Paris 1919 - John Cale (1001 Albums list)
    Larks’ Tongues in Aspic - King Crimson (1001 Albums list)
    Violent Femmes - Violent Femmes (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
    Nightclubbing - Grace Jones (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
    From Her to Eternity - Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
    The Ascension - Glenn Branca (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
    Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list)
    Boys of Faith - Zach Bryan (self pick)
    Emergency, Exit - Aren’t We Amphibians (new releases)

    Skipped for recency:
    Raw Power - Iggy & the Stooges (1001 Albums list)
    Rage Against the Machine - Rage Against the Machine (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Deja Vu - Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Either/Or - Elliott Smith (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    American Beauty - Grateful Dead (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Wildflowers - Tom Petty (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    The Idler Wheel … - Fiona Apple (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Wild Is the Wind - Nina Simone (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Unknown Pleasures - Joy Division (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    The Birth of Soul - Ray Charles (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Eagles - Eagles (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Sticky Fingers - The Rolling Stones (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list)

  • Whew! Lots of stuff this week. Also the “skipped” section is pretty long, I hit a stretch where I’d listened to a lot of what’s on the RS500 in other places. Anyway, something that was totally new to me and was a standout this week: Gram Parsons. I listened to this one with Morgan and we both really liked it. Also interesting was Ethel Cain. I know she got a ton of attention last year with this album but I hadn’t gotten around to it, it somehow didn’t seem like my thing. But Morgan pointed out that this was a lot like a John Darnielle book - it leaves you never quite sure what album you’re listening to, it’s always heading somewhere different than you expect. I love me some Peter Gabriel-era Genesis, so I didn’t need to listen to Selling England by the Pound, but Morgan hadn’t heard it so we listened together.

    Finished my Death Cab for Cutie discography listen - my ranking of their 10 albums:
    1. Plans (2005)
    2. Transatlanticism (2003)
    3. The Photo Album (2001)
    4. Narrow Stairs (2008)
    5. We Have the Facts And We’re Voting Yes (2000)
    6. Something About Airplanes (1999)
    7. Codes and Keys (2011)
    8. Thank You for Today (2018)
    9. Asphalt Meadows (2022)
    10. Kintsugi (2015)

  • The worst thing I put in my earholes this week was probably Pusha T. Morgan and I had a difference of opinion on Glenn Branca: I thought it was weird, while he thinks it's weird and kind of loves it. Still have one Bruce Springsteen song I like, Born to Run, and not adding any to that list. Violent Femmes was fun at the time but in retrospect a lot of it is pretty ick.

  • Closing in on some milestones on the lists, but I'll keep that for next time!

+ = added to my library
♡ = already in my library

Out 24, 7:33 am

>23 ursula: I love that idea to graph you books read each year.You are definitely on your way to surpass your reading numbers from the past two years. Way to go!

Out 24, 8:21 am

>30 figsfromthistle: Since I have the spreadsheets for each year, it's a relatively easy task to get overview stats, and fun to see for a nerd like me. ;)

Out 27, 4:02 am

I went and looked at my new LT recommendations today and there near the top was The Door-to-Door Bookstore, which sounds like something I would absolutely hate, but it takes place in Germany and is by a German author, so I read the blurb.

"The charming international bestseller about an unlikely friendship between an elderly door-to-door bookseller and a nine-year-old girl that changes his life. Small-town German bookseller Carl Kollhoff delivers his books to special customers in the evening hours after closing time, walking through the picturesque alleys of the city. These people are almost like friends to him, and he is their most important connection to the world.

When Kollhoff unexpectedly loses his job, it takes the power of books and a nine-year-old girl to make them all find the courage to rebuild their bonds with each other.

A bestselling phenomenon internationally, Carsten Henn's The Door-to-Door Bookstore is a feel-good novel about books and friendship."

In what universe does even a mindless algorithm think this is something I would want to read? Ugh.

Out 27, 8:31 am

>32 ursula: - LOL. I recently read it and liked it well enough, but yeah. It does not seem like your sort of book :)

Out 27, 8:49 am

>33 katiekrug: It's absolutely the book for someone, the someone is just not me, haha. I think I have to avoid books with "bookstore" or "bookshop" in the title, or anything set in a bookstore, as far as I can tell. ;)

Out 27, 10:34 am

>32 ursula: Lol, it doesn't seem quite up your alley, does it?

The closest "bookstore" book I can think of that I would maybe recommend to you would be Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore, which is delightful more in a weird and wacky way than a saccharine way, but it still seems rather out of your wheelhouse. You might actually like his other book, though -- Sourdough.

Out 27, 11:48 am

>32 ursula: I'm afraid the algorithm is both accurate and useless to me. I checked, and out of 1800+ titles, at least half, probably three quarters of them, are mysteries. Now I do read a lot of mysteries, but I've been reading at least 24 non-mystery books for ten years now, and precious few of them seem to influence the selections. If I read the list back to front, there's a little more balance, but not much.

Now I have to go read my current mystery story.

Out 28, 2:51 am

>35 curioussquared: I have seen that one float by, I think I considered it at some point. You're right that wacky is probably not any more up my alley than saccharine. :) I'll take a look at the other one though!

>36 ffortsa: I did some clicking dismissing selections and dismissing authors, we'll see what happens several iterations of that down the line. I suspect it kind of does what my Apple Music recommendations do as well - pick one thing to base several recommendations off, and then move on to something else. So you end up with these blocks. And of course if it chooses one mystery, and then another mystery, and then another one ... well it probably ends up pretty samey-samey.

Out 28, 10:33 am

The new-ish recommendations system works by finding libraries that are similar to yours and recommending other books that are in their catalog. I've been toying around with it a lot lately and I do think it's better at finding obscure books that I want to read but not popular books that I want to read. Last month I got fed up with all of the picture books it was recommending me so I wiped the "use for recommendations" checkmark from all of my collections and made a new collection called "for recommendations". Since then there have been fewer recommendations that I am very not interested in. Plus it was kind of fun to go through my catalog and decide what I wanted to get recommendations based on.

Out 28, 10:50 am

>38 norabelle414: I couldn't find the "use for recommendations" checks, so I'm not sure what it's basing them on. I can't decide whether I care or not, since my choices for what to read are based on very little - this could either be another of the semi-random things or it could be totally useless. :)

(My choices are by author, or the cover, or where the author is from, or the first sentence of a blurb or someone's review here if I must, or maybe a glance at genre sometimes.)

Out 28, 10:59 am

>39 ursula: It's in the "edit collections..." menu. Each collection has three checkboxes: "include in connections", "include in recommendations", and "active"

Out 28, 11:43 am

>40 norabelle414: Oh okay then at one point I knew where it was because I had unchecked some of them. Good job, past me! :)

Out 28, 12:12 pm

I'll be back with real comments about both books, but I just have to say that I ended up reading two books concurrently that involved suicide by train.

I struggle with that a lot. I've talked about this before, but my friend Heather committed suicide by that method in 2009, and at the same time there was a cluster of high school suicides in Palo Alto, while my daughter was struggling with serious depression. It was a very dark and anxious time for me and I still have trouble with depictions of that. I actually have difficulty being at train stations at all sometimes. It's gotten better over the years but occasionally I just get seized by anxiety when a train approaches.

Out 29, 5:49 pm

>42 ursula: Oh how awful. I'm glad your daughter got through ok, so sorry about your friend.

Out 30, 5:00 am

>43 ffortsa: Thanks, it's easier over the years. I don't have to avoid media involving that as a plot point entirely anymore, but it still makes me react, and the synchronicity of more than one book at the same time was a lot.

Out 30, 5:00 am

Weekly 5x5

Manassas - Stephen Stills [rock] (1001 Albums list)
RENAISSANCE - Beyonce [pop/r&b] (2022 lists)
Midnight Marauders - A Tribe Called Quest [hip hop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
12 - Ryuichi Sakamoto [electronic] (new releases)
CRASH - Charlie XCX [pop] (2022 lists)

Household Name - Momma [indie] (2022 lists)
Tea for the Tillerman - Cat Stevens [folk] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Low - David Bowie [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Homogenic - Björk [electronica] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Strictly Business - EPMD [hip hop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

Census Designated - Jane Remover [emo] (new releases)
Mott - Mott the Hoople [rock] (1001 Albums list)
The Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Band on the Run - Paul McCartney & Wings [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Diamond Life - Sade [pop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

Stop Making Sense - Talking Heads [new wave] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list) + (new version)
Countdown to Ecstasy - Steely Dan [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Zach Bryan - Zach Bryan [country] (partial album)
I Love You Jennifer B - Jockstrap [art pop] (2022 lists, partial album)
Waiting Around - Lilts [indie] (new releases) +

New Preoccupations - Caracara [emo] (partial album)
The Town that Cursed Your Name - The Reds, Pinks and Purples [indie] (partial album)
Hootenanny - The Replacements [punk] (partial album)
Tubular Bells - Mike Oldfield [progressive rock] (1001 Albums list)
The Window - Ratboys [indie rock] (partial album)

******Notes on this week:
  • Skipped for recency:
    New York Dolls - New York Dolls (1001 Albums list)
    For Your Pleasure - Roxy Music (1001 Albums list)
    Pink Moon - Nick Drake (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Post - Bjork (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list)

    Skipped to not give him $.03
    Graduation - Kanye West (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

  • This was a short week, the total opposite of last time! Morgan took vacation days so we didn’t spend a lot of time at home/listening to music. We actually watched a couple of movies, which we haven’t done in years, haha.

  • Nice to have a reason to listen to Cat Stevens! In new releases, the Lilts record is by a duo, one half of which is John Ross from Wild Pink, who made one of my favorite albums of 2022. This EP is also good but didn’t grab me by the throat on a first listen like Wild Pink did.

  • Stephen Stills was okay. Dark Side is probably my second-favorite Pink Floyd album on a very short list of 2 albums, and is 2nd by a distance. Paul McCartney, whatever. The worst thing I put in my ears this week: A Tribe Called Quest, I guess. Bjork is also in contention of course.

+ = added to my library
♡ = already in my library

Out 30, 5:19 am

1,000 Coils of Fear by Olivia Wenzel

First line: My heart is a snack machine made of tin.

The "narrator" (in quotes for a reason I'll explain momentarily) is a woman in her mid-30s, from eastern Germany. She's biracial; her father is Angolan, and left Germany when she was a baby. Her German grandmother raised her and her twin brother after her mother leaves as well (to parts mostly unknown).

When they were 19, her brother committed suicide. She spends a lot of time talking around this rather than approaching it. In fact, she talks around most things - racism, feeling "other" in the country she is from, and yet not feeling part of cultures other people might associate her with from looking at her.

Now, "narrator" was in quotes because the form the book takes is mostly as sort of an interrogation. She is questioned, and she responds (or doesn't), sometimes telling seemingly unrelated stories instead. Which side of her is questioning and which is answering shifts as well - sometimes you get "WHERE ARE YOU NOW?" and occasionally "WHERE AM I NOW?" and the responses come from the seeming future. Can it be confusing? Probably. It's an odd style to get used to, but it's also kind of how internal dialogues work, if not quite so literally. It didn't entirely work for me, but overall I got into a rhythm with the storytelling style and found it a worthwhile read.

Quote: If I told her about the school in Kreuzberg that refugees occupied a few years ago, if I told her about the desperate man who stood on the roof of the school and threatened to jump to his death if they were kicked out, because he’d rather die than be deported, if I told my grandmother about the white policeman who stood across from him on the roof and beckoned to this suicidal man, first with a banana and then with handcuffs, how would she respond? If I asked my grandma Rita whether she can see parallels between the hatred my father faced in the GDR—even from her friends and colleagues—and the hatred my brother and I faced from classmates, parents, and everyone who was generally a fan of Hitler’s, if I asked her, if she could see the parallels between the hatred that Black people face in the U.S. systematically and the hatred that refugees face permanently, worldwide, what would she say?

Out 30, 12:33 pm

>42 ursula: Not something that will ever totally leave you I suspect Ursula, but I have noticed that suicide crops up quite a bit n fiction simetimes.

Out 31, 4:15 am

>47 Caroline_McElwee: Suicide is fine, just this particular method. And I realize I tend to read the type of books where it's more likely to come up - I could read light-hearted stuff and it would probably never arise again, haha. But yes, I suspect it will always be with me to some extent.

Out 31, 10:05 am

Tokyo Ueno Station by Miri Yu

First line: There's that sound again.

I was surprised to read this novel about a homeless man in Japan, and the community he lives in. I've never thought about whether or not there were homeless people in Japan (it certainly doesn't fit the (foggy) mental image I have of the country), and how they might be treated. Sadly but unsurprisingly I guess it's pretty similar to the US - they're figuratively invisible most of the time and forced to be literally invisible when anyone important is visiting the area where they have their camps.

The narrator is a ghost who hangs out in the area where he lived and died, reflecting on the homeless and on how his life led to this.

Quote: I used to think life was like a book: you turn the first page, and there's the next, and as you go on turning page after page, eventually you reach the last one. But life is nothing like a story in a book. There may be words, and the pages may be numbered, but there is no plot. There may be an ending, but there is no end.

Nov 1, 12:54 pm

Nineteen Claws and a Black Bird by Agustina Bazterrica

I managed to squeeze in one more finished book for October, bringing the total to 9 for the month. It's been a while since I got through that many books in a month. This was also my third book of short stories in the month, which is crazy. I sometimes read fewer short story collections in a year than that.

Anyhow! Bazterrica wrote Tender Is the Flesh about a dystopian future where humans are farmed for meat. As you might expect from that, these stories are often grim, sometimes graphic, and deeply, deeply weird. A lot of them are pretty short - just a few pages long. That's not my favorite length for a story, but I think most of the time she managed to communicate her idea and get out before it dragged on that way. A couple of them will stick with me, but I found the collection uneven overall. Extra half a star for the stories that had me wondering what on earth the inside of Bazterrica's mind must be like.

Nov 3, 7:58 am

>49 ursula: That sounds like an interesting one!

Nov 4, 4:53 am

>51 figsfromthistle: It was! It's not for the faint-hearted though, the bizarre can sometimes be gory or just ... let's just say some of them made me wonder what it was like inside her head!

Nov 6, 3:22 am

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

First line: Begin at the end: plummeting down the side of the ship in the storm's wild darkness, breath gone with the shock of falling, my camera flying away through the rain ---

There's a lot going on in this novel - the title hotel out in the middle of nowhere, British Columbia has the sort-of-main-character Vincent working as a bartender when she meets a rich customer, Jonathan Alkaitis, and they get involved with each other. Vincent's brother Paul is also briefly working at the hotel, and he'll come up later. The hotel will come back later, too, but not for a long time. Meanwhile, Vincent lives with Jonathan in the kingdom of money, until she doesn't. We also spend time with some of Jonathan's employees, and one of his investors, and a strange woman who turns up a couple of times and ...

I like multiple threads, and I like esoteric connections between people's lives, but I kind of struggled with this one. Some of that may be my own fault because I know that some of these characters turn up in Mandel's Sea of Tranquility, which I read last year, but apparently don't remember well enough to pick up on most of the overlap. So I spent a lot of my time wracking my brain for how things fit together, which a reader of her books in order wouldn't have done. I still tentatively say that the narrative in this one was too amorphous.

Quote: There is exquisite lightness in waking each morning with the knowledge that the worst has already happened.

Nov 6, 7:46 am

>53 ursula: - Good comments, Ursula. Her books have never called to me, despite them being very well-liked around here.

Hope you had a good weekend!

Nov 6, 10:46 am

>53 ursula: I read this one earlier this year and I think enjoyed it overall but I didn't love it. I did NOT know that some of the characters show up in Sea of Tranquility, which I just bought a copy of last weekend; maybe I'll have to get to it soon.

Nov 6, 10:52 am

Weekly 5x5

A Wizard, A True Star - Todd Rundgren [rock] (1001 Albums list)
AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted - Ice Cube [hip hop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
At Last! - Etta James [blues/jazz] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Slanted & Enchanted - Pavement [alternative] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
On Fire - Galaxie 500 [shoegaze/dream pop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list) +

Summer Moon - There Will Be Fireworks [indie] (new releases) +
Born in the USA - Bruce Springsteen [rock] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Isn’t Anything - My Bloody Valentine [shoegaze] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Dirt Femme - Tove Lo [dance pop] (2022 lists)
Come Away with ESG - ESG [funk] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

Autofiction - Suede [alternative] (2022 lists)
Laugh Track - The National [indie] (new releases)
Hold - Wild Nothing [synth pop] (new releases)
Sheet Music - 10cc [rock] (1001 Albums list)
As a Sketch Pad (Lp) - as a sketchpad [emo] (new releases) +

Willy and the Poor Boys - Creedence Clearwater Revival [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Brown Sugar - D’Angelo [r&b] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
The Sensual World - Kate Bush [art rock] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Animal Drowning - Knifeplay [shoegaze/dream pop] (2022 lists) +
Alpha Zulu - Phoenix [pop] (2022 lists)

EVOL - Sonic Youth [alternative] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Two Conversations - The Appleseed Cast [emo] (self pick)
How Is It That I Should Look At the Stars - The Weather Station [folk] (2022 lists)
Honky Tonk Heroes - Waylon Jennings [country] (1001 Albums list) +
Tres Hombres - ZZ Top [rock] (1001 Albums list)

******Notes on this week:
  • Below the list:
    Innervisions - Stevie Wonder (1001 Albums list)
    Bongo Rock - Incredible Bongo Band (1001 Albums list)
    Next … - The Sensational Alex Harvey Band (1001 Albums list)
    The B-52s - The B-52s (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Master of Puppets - Metallica (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
    Blending - High Vis (2022 lists)
    Reset - Panda Bear & Sonic Boom (2022 lists)
    Gold - Alabaster Deplume (2022 lists, partial album)
    Boom. Done. - Anthony Green (self pick)
    Love’s Holiday - Oxbow (new releases)

    Skipped for recency
    3+3 - The Isley Brothers (1001 Albums list)
    Body Talk - Robyn (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Songs of Leonard Cohen - Leonard Cohen (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Bad - Michael Jackson (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Licensed to Ill - Beastie Boys (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Tommy - The Who (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Electric Warrior - T. Rex (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    She’s So Unusual - Cyndi Lauper (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Double Nickels on the Dime - Minutemen (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

  • Favorite album I’d never listened to before: Galaxie 500, On Fire. Really good, not boring dream pop. Probably tied with Knifeplay from the 2022 lists. I wasn’t sure at all what that was going to be with a name like that, but it was really good.

  • I also enjoyed the new There Will Be Fireworks album, and the Waylon Jennings from the 1001 list. Master of Puppets isn't my favorite Metallica album, but it's a good one.

    I’ll be honest, there is a lot of competition for the worst thing I put in my ear holes this week. My gut feeling is that it was 10cc, but honestly the Todd Rundgren and Ice Cube were also lyrically repugnant. Oh, and The Sensational Alex Harvey Band. And Alabaster Deplume was sonically awful along with having the worst “positive” lyrics I’ve heard in a long time. I really don’t like Kate Bush’s voice, but she’s a distant contender in this crowd. And Born in the USA, well, I had to hear that enough when I was young, I listened with new ears and … I still hate it.

  • Hit some list milestones: I’m well into the top 200 of the RS list, and past album 300 on the 1001 list (which seems like it would follow but there’s a fair amount of overlap that results in skips on both lists, so it’s just sort of funny that it’s lined up like that). And I’m in the top 50 on the 80s list.

Nov 6, 10:54 am

>54 katiekrug: Thanks! I know what you mean, there are definitely some authors like that for me! The weekend was all right, just the usual, you know: nonstop rain.

>55 curioussquared: I'm a little sorry I couldn't fully experience it without that aspect (trying to remember the connections). But it seems a lot of people who hadn't read Sea of Tranquility still had the same experience as you: liked, not loved.

Nov 10, 11:14 am

The Woman in the Purple Skirt by Natsuko Imamura

First line: There's a person living not too far from me known as the Woman in the Purple Skirt.

This was an odd little book. The title character seems to be a bit of an oddity in the neighborhood, spending a lot of her time sitting on a specific bench in the park, maybe floating between jobs. The narrator calls herself The Woman in the Yellow Cardigan. She is unnaturally interested in the WitPS, seemingly benevolently. She tries to surreptitiously give her a lead on a job, for example. But as things progress, you start to wonder about the WitYC's motivations and ultimate intent.

The book never really gets totally dark, but it's also pretty far from normal. A short, quick read, but one I'm left unsure how I feel about.

Nov 10, 11:30 am

In other news, I had a crown fall out at the end of August. At the time, they said "just wait till your already-scheduled checkup for us to look at it". (The checkup was scheduled something like 3 weeks after it falling out.) At that checkup, they said "oh why didn't you come in earlier?" and then there was much talk about putting in a temporary crown ... after which they did an x-ray, discovered it had a root canal, and then said "oh it's not such a big deal then" and sent me home to wait for a letter from the insurance company telling me how much of the cost they would cover, and then they'd schedule an appointment for a temporary crown, followed by the appointment for the permanent one.

That first (!) appointment was today, something like 10 weeks later. They started drilling and then stopped and told me that there isn't enough gum, I think? to put in another crown, the problem goes down to the bone. So they will have to pull the tooth and then put in either an implant or a bridge. They recommend the implant because the teeth on either side of this one are healthy and the bridge would create the possibility of causing problems in them.

So uh, I guess I have an appointment in 3 weeks to have that tooth pulled and then possibly some of the bone under my gums shaved off (I have extra) and pulverized to be used as filling material to anchor the implant into. (Probably 3 weeks or so after the first appointment.)

Does that sound like a good time, or does that sound like a good time?

Nov 10, 11:44 am

>59 ursula: - Totally sounds like a good time... Yikes. I still haven't had my implants (3!) done. Bad Katie.

Nov 10, 12:08 pm

>60 katiekrug: Oh man! I'll shut up with my complaining about one! I'm just glad that they actually put something over the hole finally after 2 1/2 months.

Nov 10, 2:03 pm

>61 ursula: - No need to shut up :) It was a good reminder to me to get my big girl pants on and deal with it. Probably not until the new year, though, so there aren't any squirrelly insurance changes or anything...

Nov 11, 3:49 am

Weekly 5x5

The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway - Genesis [progressive rock] (1001 Albums list)
Blood on the Tracks - Bob Dylan [folk rock] (1001 Albums list)
Fear of a Black Planet - Public Enemy [hip hop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Blood Sugar Sex Magik - Red Hot Chili Peppers [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
1989 (Taylor’s Version) - Taylor Swift [pop] (new releases) +

Dig Me Out - Sleater-Kinney [punk] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Pacific Ocean Blue - Dennis Wilson [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Angels & Queens - Gabriels [r&b/soul] (2022 lists)
Surrender - Maggie Rogers [indie pop] (self pick)
Nymph - Shygirl [pop] (2022 lists)

LOGGERHEAD - Wu-Lu [alternative] (2022 lists)
Bringing It All Back Home - Bob Dylan [folk rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
The Grand Tour - George Jones [country] (1001 Albums list)
This Way Out - Idaho [slowcore] (self pick) +
Court and Spark - Joni Mitchell [pop] (1001 Albums list)

Tim - The Replacements [indie] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) - David Bowie [rock] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Lost Songs: Lines and Shapes (Demo) - L.S. Dunes [post-hardcore] (new releases) +
Two Ribbons - Let’s Eat Grandma [pop] (2022 lists)
Infinite Spring - Superviolet [indie rock] (new releases) +

History Books - The Gaslight Anthem [indie rock] (new releases)
You’re Living All Over Me - Dinosaur Jr. [alternative rock] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Bad Company - Bad Company [rock] (1001 Albums list)
No Other - Gene Clark [folk rock] (1001 Albums list) +
Skeleton Tree - Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds [avant-garde] (self pick) +

******Notes on this week:
  • Below the list:
    Life After Death - The Notorious B.I.G. (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list, partial album)
    Ghosted - Oren Ambarchi (2022 lists)
    Autobahn - Kraftwerk (1001 Albums list)
    The Great Adventures of Slick Rick - Slick Rick (200 Best Albums of the 80s list, partial album)

    Skipped for recency:
    Here Come the Warm Jets - Brian Eno (1001 Albums list)
    Head Hunters - Herbie Hancock (1001 Albums list)
    Beggars Banquet - The Rolling Stones (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Sweet Baby James - James Taylor (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Forever Changes - Love (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Otis Blue - Otis Redding (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Every Picture Tells a Story - Rod Stewart (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

    Skipped for not needing to hear it ever again:
    461 Ocean Boulevard - Eric Clapton (1001 Albums list)

  • It was a pretty good week overall. A decent number of albums already in my library, which I sometimes listen to and sometimes don’t when they come up on a list. Another Peter Gabriel Genesis album, always love that. Blood on the Tracks, which I actually listened to twice because after the first listen I realized Morgan had it on vinyl so I put it on. I put on Skeleton Tree because I’m listening to the audio book by Nick Cave, Faith, Hope and Carnage and he talks about it quite a lot. I listened to it before, it was on a best-of list for the year it came out, but it was good to revisit it.

    Taylor Swift’s re-recording releases continue with 1989. This is a pretty fun album, it’s nice to have Taylor’s version in my library and be able to delete the old one. It was also nice to revisit Public Enemy, I loved this album when it came out. The music they created by layering and cutting up so many samples is amazing.

  • Biggest discovery: Gene Clark, No Other. Loved that! One of the songs sounded a ton like Neil Young’s Cowgirl in the Sand but honestly I’m not sure which song I think is better.

    Worst thing I put in my earholes this week: probably between Let’s Eat Grandma and Slick Rick, which although he’s talented, the lyrics made me just completely unable to finish the album.

  • In just about a month, the 2023 best-of lists are going to start coming out, so I'm feeling some pressure to get through as much of the 2022 lists as I can, as well as to think about my own best albums of 2023.

+ = added to my library
♥ = already in my library

Nov 11, 3:50 am

>62 katiekrug: Ah yeah. I get to find out what insurance covers when the letter arrives. For the crown they were originally planning to do, insurance would have covered €200, or 2/3 of the cost.

Good luck on your implants whenever you end up doing them!

Nov 11, 7:19 am

Sorry about your dental problems Ursula. It does not sound like a picnic.

Nov 12, 5:57 pm

No fun and pricey! Bad combo. Wishing you the best with the teeth. Loving your recent reviews and you have certainly been reading some non-Bookstore interesting reads!! :)

Nov 13, 4:26 am

>65 Kristelh: Thanks, it does not! But I guess I'll find out for sure in 10 days. :)

>66 Berly: I'll see how pricey it is. I don't know that there's a set scale for what they cover, waiting for the letter to see. I guess I have been a bit off the beaten path in my reading lately. I kinda like that!

Nov 13, 9:53 am

Mother of Strangers by Suad Amiry

First line: It took a few ascending yells -- "Subhi! Subhi! Subhi! Goddamn, walak, Subhiii!" -- before he showed signs of hearing his name.

This novel begins in the 1940s in Palestine. Subhi is a teenager concerned with the usual things - his job as a mechanic, his plans to get through school, the girl he believes himself in love with, how to make all his friends jealous. He does a job for a rich orange grove owner and part of his payment is a fine English suit. But the reader knows that we're approaching the time of the Nakba and there is no way that things will go smoothly for Subhi or anyone else in the novel.

After that event, the novel broadens its focuses to include what happens to Shams (the girl Subhi was in love with). And it's here that I feel like things went off the rails a bit. If we had spent more time with her earlier in the novel, it may have been more effective. Or if we had spent more time with Subhi in the latter half (it felt like he disappeared entirely for too long, and when he reappears it is not as I might have expected). Anyway, I hesitate to criticize too much; the story is a personal one to the author (as laid out in the author's note) and I think there is something to be gained from reading Palestinian voices whether or not I find the end result completely satisfying.

Quote: Panic, horror, and hysteria took hold of the city. Those who were inside buildings rushed out, and those in the streets frantically hurried into buildings. The injured and the dead were left lying in the streets. Run for your life or join the dead. Everyone was searching for a way out: by car, by bus, on a truck, on a cart, on a bike. Looting was pervasive. Robberies were many. There was no water, no electricity, and no fuel. No ovens to bake a loaf of bread, or shops to buy food from - or, for that matter, banks from which to withdraw money.

Nov 15, 4:33 am

>59 ursula: Oh my. Sorry to hear about that Ursula. Like most people I hate dental work.

Nov 15, 4:53 am

>69 Caroline_McElwee: Yeah, I've had a lot of fillings, and I think 3 root canals, but this is making me a little queasy at the thought too. :) But I mean, it's been 3 months with a hole in my gum there so I'm glad to have something to fix it up, especially permanently.

Nov 15, 7:17 am

>59 ursula: Sorry to hear about your dental issues. Not fun at all. I hope that your appointment in three weeks goes well and that everything heals fast.

>68 ursula: What a nice cover that book has.

Happy week ahead.

Nov 16, 3:17 am

>71 figsfromthistle: At this point it's a week away, I appreciate the good wishes. I'm generally whatever about dental work but this sounds extremely not-fun so I'm dreading it.

It is a good cover! I feel like it's a little unusual too, so eye-catching. Hope you are having a good week as well!

Nov 19, 2:59 am

I've actually finished 2 books but I've been busy with other stuff (another urban sketchers meetup) and haven't been able to sit down and try to write anything about them. But I'm at 70 books on the year, which is exciting! I haven't hit that many since 2017.

Nov 19, 7:31 am

Congrats on your 70 books. Hope you post your sketches. I enjoy seeing them!

Nov 19, 7:35 am

I hope you'll share another sketch from your meet-up!

Congrats on the book total.

Nov 20, 3:06 am

>74 Kristelh:, >75 katiekrug: Thanks!

I'll post some more sketches. I finished the sketchbook up top and moved into another one, so I'm trying out various techniques and materials in the new book.

Nov 21, 4:14 am

The Flowers of Buffoonery by Osamu Dazai

First line: "Welcome to Sadness. Population one."

Earlier this year I read Dazai's No Longer Human and it was offputting and strange, especially with compared with his own life (uncomfortably close to the novel). This is an earlier novella featuring the same character from No Longer Human, and I feel no less uncomfortable.

The main character is a young man, Yozo, who tries to commit suicide with a woman by jumping into the ocean. The woman dies; the man lives. This story takes place while Yozo is in the hospital after the incident, and his friends are keeping him company. The narrator is the novelist, who keeps breaking the fourth wall and commenting negatively on his own writing.

It's ... interesting. But honestly I had a hard time with both of these books because of the closeness to his own life (5 years before he wrote this book, Dazai attempted a double suicide with a woman in the same manner - she died, he lived. And ultimately he would die by drowning with a woman). It is hard for me to separate that and see the character as someone other than the author.

Anyway, I'm also re-reading The Stranger right now and I'll tell you what - there's an interesting conversation to be had about these two books taken together.

Nov 21, 12:04 pm

Weekly 5x5

20 Golden Greats - Buddy Holly & the Crickets [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Hatful of Hollow - The Smiths [alterative] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Bad Brains - Bad Brains [punk] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Ivory - Omar Apollo [r&b] (2022 lists)
Higher - Chris Stapleton [country] (new releases)

Cherry - Daphni [electronic] (2022 lists)
DAMN. - Kendrick Lamar [hip hop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Daydream Nation - Sonic Youth [alternative] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Psychocandy - The Jesus and Mary Chain [alternative rock] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Southeastern - Jason Isbell [country] (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list)

The Harder They Come - Jimmy Cliff [reggae/soundtrack] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Good Old Boys - Randy Newman [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Heal My Head - Valleyheart [indie rock] (2022 lists)
Stew - A Will Away [emo] (2022 lists) +
HELLMODE - Jeff Rosenstock [punk] (new releases)

Graceland - Paul Simon [rock] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
11 - Sault [r&b] (2022 lists)
Pretzel Logic - Steely Dan [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Lucky for You - Bully [indie rock] (new releases)
Everything I Lack - Elliott Green [singer/songwriter] (new releases) +

Learning To Be Happy - Kayleigh Goldsworthy [pop] (self pick)
Country Life - Roxy Music [art rock] (1001 Albums list) +
Kimono My House - Sparks [art rock] (1001 Albums list)
Fulfillingness’ First Finale - Stevie Wonder [soul] (1001 Albums list)
The Stranger - Billy Joel [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

******Notes on this week:
  • Below the list:
    Rock Bottom - Robert Wyatt (1001 Albums list)
    Winter in America - Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson +
    Violator - Depeche Mode (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) ♥
    In the Garden, By the Weeds - Josaleigh Pollett
    Fugazi - Fugazi (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

    Skipped for recency:
    On the Beach - Neil Young (1001 Albums list) ♥
    Queen II - Queen (1001 Albums list)
    Sheer Heart Attack - Queen (1001 Albums list) ♥
    I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight - Richard & Linda Thompson (1001 Albums list)
    In Utero - Nirvana (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) ♥
    Bridge Over Troubled Water - Simon & Garfunkel (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) ♥
    Can’t Buy a Thrill - Steely Dan (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    The Joshua Tree - U2 (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
    The Lion and the Cobra - Sinead O’Connor (200 Best Albums of the 80s list) ♥
    Rain Dogs - Tom Waits (200 Best Albums of the 80s list) ♥

    Skipped for Eric Clapton (okay, and recency)
    Disraeli Gears - Cream (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

  • A decent amount of stuff this week that was already in my library, so a pretty good week in that way. I really liked this Roxy Music album. It was more approachable than their self-titled but not the completely smoothed-out version of them on Avalon. This is, I think, the second time I listened to this Kendrick Lamar album, and I liked it considerably more. Still not something I'd put on for myself, but I can understand the accolades.

  • The Stranger ❤️. I've probably mentioned before, it's literally the only Billy Joel album I listen to. I have 80 Billy Joel scrobbles; 70 are from this album. Vienna is one of my favorite songs of all time.

  • A good discovery from the 2022 lists: A Will Away, and one from the new releases: Elliott Green. The latter really reminds me of Julien Baker, who I love.

  • The worst thing I put in my ear holes this week: nothing really jumps out, but I was not into the Randy Newman, Daphni, or Bad Brains (it was like whiplash going from punk to reggae on the same record).

+ = added to my library
♥ = already in my library

Nov 21, 12:36 pm

What is a "scrobble"?

My parents had a cassette of 'The Stranger,' and my mom and I used to listen to it a lot when she drove me to elementary school. It's the first non-kid music I remember singing along to :)

Nov 21, 1:11 pm

>79 katiekrug: Fair question! A “scrobble” is what a play of a song is called on last.fm where I track all my listening (source material for all these charts).

That’s a great Billy Joel story! I have no recollection of any of his music before I was old enough to hear it myself (ie, in the MTV era).

Nov 22, 6:09 am

Delicate Condition by Danielle Valentine

First line: All mothers have one thing in common: pain.

This was terrible! I read it because it's the source material for the current season of American Horror Story. I've seen it described as a "feminist Rosemary's Baby" but I don't entirely understand what is feminist about it; I may be thick, or I may have just been blinded by the awful writing.

Plot outline: Anna Victoria Alcott, successful actor (well, currently successful - she was a child star, then not taken seriously, and is now suddenly in Oscar contention) is married to Dex, who has a mysterious ex-wife he never wants to talk about. Anna and Dex have been trying to get pregnant, going through round after round of IVF. Finally one takes, and everyone is overjoyed. But things go wrong, and no one will listen to Anna as she tries to convince everyone that she is being targeted by someone or some group that doesn't want her pregnancy to continue. She miscarries, but then she feels the baby move and tries to convince everyone that her miscarriage didn't actually happen.

Look, pregnancy is a great topic for body horror, and the gaslighting aspect for women's concerns/pain is a real issue. But I feel like this book just muddied the water with a bunch of unnecessary plot points. And did I mention the writing is cringe-worthy?

Quote: I pressed my lips together to keep a sob from breaking across my face.

Nov 24, 6:55 am

I had my dental surgery appointment yesterday - here's the result.

Pulled the tooth, drilled a hole for the sort of molly bolt thing, screwed that in, shaved off a bunch of bone from the outside of my gums, crammed it into the hole, then put in the implant screw and a covering over the top of that. Finally, stitched up my gum where the bone was taken from.

It was okay. The main complication is that I have to have the anesthetic without epinephrine because of my tachycardia condition, and it doesn't last as long so I had to tell them when I started feeling what they were doing so I could get another round of shots.

He looked at it again today and said it's looking good. Now in a week I come back to have the stitches removed, and then in another month or so they can put a crown on. I'm glad it's done, and I'm glad it went well, but it's also extremely expensive unfortunately.

Editado: Nov 24, 5:10 pm

>82 ursula: ooo. At least it looks like the worst is done. My problem at the dentist is I have such a high gag reflex.

Nov 26, 8:09 am

>83 Caroline_McElwee: Yeah, hopefully that was the worst of it. :) I can imagine that makes dentistry difficult for you. I have never minded the dentist that much even though I've had some uncomfortable procedures (lots of fillings, 3 root canals, this).

Nov 26, 8:51 am

>82 ursula: - It's interesting to me that they pulled your tooth and then put the anchor thing in. Mine were pulled but then I had to wait for the whole (hole? ha!) thing to heal. And that's where I've procrastinated ever since :)

I'm glad it went relatively smoothly but yeah. The cost is no fun...

Nov 26, 10:44 am

>85 katiekrug: I saw what you did there. ;)

He did say that was the way it usually went, but if you have enough bone (I think) they can do it all at once. He had said at the previous appointment that he wouldn't be sure we'd be able to do it all together until he got in there and looked at it. But my understanding was a little imperfect. I googled just now and apparently it depends if your jawbone is thick enough and hard enough. So I guess that, plus the fact that they could use my own bone to fill it in, made it possible.

Ontem, 7:14 am

I have the book of the Nick Cave audio you have been listening to Ursula. Hopefully will get to it soon.

Ontem, 2:55 pm

Weekly 5x5

It’s Too Late to Stop Now - Van Morrison [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Did you know there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd - Lana Del Rey [pop] (new releases)
Saturday Night Fever - Various Artists [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Mama’s Gun - Erykah Badu [r&b] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
The Black Album - Jay-Z [hip hop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

angel in realtime. - Gang of Youths [indie rock] (2022 lists)
Norm - Andy Shauf [singer/songwriter] (new releases)
Pieces of the Sky - Emmylou Harris [country] (1001 Albums list)
Cartwheel - Hotline TNT [indie rock] (new releases) +
Different Class - Pulp [britpop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) +

Murmur - R.E.M. [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) / (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Food for Thought - Che Noir [hip hop] (2022 lists)
the book about my idle plot on a vague anxiety - toe [post-rock] (self pick) +
Natty Dread - Bob Marley & The Wailers [reggae] (1001 Albums list)
Biff - Desolation Horse [alternative] (new releases) +

the whaler - home is where [emo] (new releases)
Long Way from Home - JD Clayton [country] (new releases)
DRILL MUSIC IN ZION - Lupe Fiasco [hip hop] (2022 lists)
Havasu - Pedro the Lion [indie] (2022 lists)
Stronger Than Pride - Sade [pop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

Toys in the Attic - Aerosmith [rock] (1001 Albums list)
I’m Your Man - Leonard Cohen [pop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Queen Serene - Queen Serene [alternative] (new releases)
Crime of the Century - Supertramp [progressive rock] (1001 Albums list)
There’s No Place Like America Today - Curtis Mayfield [r&b] (1001 Albums list)

******Notes on this week:
  • Below the list:
    Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms and Lava - King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard (2022 lists)

    Skipped for recency
    Another Green World - Brian Eno (1001 Albums list)
    Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen (1001 Albums list)
    That’s the Way of the World - Earth, Wind & Fire (1001 Albums list)
    At Folsom Prison - Johnny Cash (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) ♥
    Crosby, Stills & Nash - Crosby, Stills & Nash (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) ♥
    Ten - Pearl Jam (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Synchronicity - The Police (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) ♥
    Damaged - Black Flag (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

  • Let's see here - I've again got some competing goals here: to finish up the 2022 lists as quickly as possible, and to go through 2023 albums and rate them so I have some idea of what my favorites are by the end of the year. And of course continuing through my other lists. This was only a so-so week for me. But things I was surprised by are Erykah Badu, which I really enjoyed and Pulp, which I assumed I would hate but I actually found this album pretty good. I also liked the Leonard Cohen (no idea why I knew some of these songs) and the Curtis Mayfield.

  • Worst thing I put in my ear holes this week: Pedro the Lion, although Aerosmith almost bored me to death.

+ = added to my library
♥ = already in my library

Ontem, 2:57 pm

>87 Caroline_McElwee: Are you a fan? He is an interesting character, not always super sympathetic. My audio book is on hiatus because it had holds on it at the library and I didn't make it through in time.

Ontem, 3:11 pm

Last night Morgan and I went to see the Barbie movie at the theater that is literally next door to us. It was a free showing, put on by a group that shows American movies and has a brief talk before them to give cultural context. So there was a talk by a woman who has a PhD in American studies and pop culture or something, and she talked about the history of Barbie and the various controversies about her over the years and what was going on in the US during all of that. Then she also talked about various critiques of the movie and its reception in the US.

It was surreal, but interesting, to hear all of that. I was able to follow most of it, although the finer details probably escaped me (it was all in German of course).

The movie left me with some confusion about the message, but a lot of it was pretty fun.

Hoje, 6:35 am

A Day in the Life of Abed Salama by Nathan Thrall

The man in the title is the father of a 5-year-old boy who was on a school bus to a field trip when it crashed on a Palestinian highway and burned. It's about the complications involved in being Palestinian and trying to get information on where your son might be, and trying to travel to find him: circuitous routes necessitated by the system of roads, ID cards with different permissions, checkpoints.

But it covers much more ground than that. Why was the boy on a 27-year-old, poorly maintained schoolbus on an undivided highway in the first place? Why did he attend the underequipped elementary school he did? Why did Palestinian emergency services have so much difficulty responding to the scene of the accident? Why did Israeli emergency services (close enough to see smoke rising) take so long to respond?

The story of the bus crash is tragic, but the overarching circumstances are unconscionable.

Hoje, 2:12 pm

>89 ursula: I've liked a lot of his work across the years Ursula. I think I came to him through his cameo in Wim Wenders' 'Wings of Desire'. Such tragedy in his life more recently.