labfs39 wanders on in 2024

É uma continuação do tópico labfs39 wanders the world of words in 2024.

Este tópico foi continuado por labfs39 wanders the world of words pt. 3.

DiscussãoClub Read 2024

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labfs39 wanders on in 2024

1labfs39
Editado: Fev 20, 8:25 am

Currently Reading


My Vietnam, Your Vietnam: A Dual Memoir by Christina Vo & Nghia M. Vo

E-Book:

Short Fiction by Anton Chekhov, translated from the Russian by Constance Garnett

Podcast:

Wooden Overcoats by David K. Barnes

2labfs39
Editado: Fev 24, 6:14 pm

Books Read in 2023

January
1. Study for Obedience by Sarah Bernstein (F, 3.5*)
2. The Old Capital by Yasunari Kawabata, translated from the Japanese by J. Martin Holman (TF, 3*)
3. The Seventh Cross by Anna Seghers, translated from the German by Margot Bettauer Dembo (TF, 3.5*)
4. All Systems Red by Martha Wells (SF, 4*)
5. Chekhov by Henri Troyat, translated from the French by Michael Henry Heim (TNF, 4.5*)
6. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (F, 5*)
7. Artificial Condition by Martha Wells (SF, 3*)
8. Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker (NF, 4*)
9. Minor Detail by Shibli Adania, translated from the Arabic by Elisabeth Jaquette (TF, 3.5*)

February
10. Peter Duck by Arthur Ransome (F, 3*)
11. Days at the Morisaki Bookshop by Satoshi Yagisawa, translated from the Japanese by Eric Ozawa (TF, 3*)
12. Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells (SF, 3.5*)
13. Mãn by Kim Thúy, translated from the French by Sheila Fischman (TF, 3.5*)
14. River of the Gods by Candice Millard (NF, 3*)
15. The Day Lasts More than a Hundred Years by Chingiz Aitmatov, translated from the Russian by John French (TF, 4*)
16. Exit Strategy by Martha Wells (SF, 3.5*)

3labfs39
Editado: Fev 26, 7:19 am

Short Stories

Anton Chekhov
1. The Darling (1899)
2. The Bet ( 1889)
3. The Bishop (1902): It's my least favorite so far, about Bishop Pyotr who is ill but continues his duties, receives a visit from his elderly mother and niece, and reflects on times past. The best part was his conflicted feelings about his mother who is unsure whether to treat him with the deference due his position or with ease as her son.
4. The Black Monk (1893)

5. Living Chattel (Aug 1882)
6. Joy (Jan 1883): a young man runs home to his parent all excited to have his name in print. The newspaper made note of his being drunk and being run over by a cart.
7. At the Barber's (Feb 1883): A young barber is distraught when his godfather comes in to get his head shaved and learns that he has engaged his daughter to another. The barber was in love with her, but his godfather is adamant. So the barber refuses to shave the half of his head. The godfather is too cheap to pay for a haircut and dances at the wedding like that.
8. An Enigmatic Nature (Mar 1883): A pretentious psychologist meets a woman on a train and she reveals all to such a discerning man. She married an old general for his money and had to wait until he died to be able to pursue her love and happiness, but alas. She met another old general.
9. A Classical Student (May 1883): A stupid boy flunks his Greek exam and gets thrashed.
10. The Death of a Government Clerk (July 1883): While at the opera, a clerk sneezes and believes that he has sprayed the eminent man in front of him. He tries repeatedly to apologize, to the man's annoyance.
11. A Daughter of Albion (Aug 1883): A Russian man and his children's English governess both love to fish. He believes she doesn't understand a word of Russian, and when his hook gets snagged, strips naked and wades in.
12. The Trousseau (Aug 1883)
13. An Inquiry (Sept 1883)
14. Fat and Thin (Oct 1883)
15. A Tragic Actor (Oct 1883)
16. A Slander (Nov 1883)
17. The Bird Market (Nov 1883)

18. Choristers (Feb 1884)


1. The Victim by Junichirō Tanizaki, translated by Ivan Morris
2. Rome 16 October 1943 a visual adaptation by Sarah Laing of a short story by Giacomo Debenedetti

4labfs39
Editado: Fev 24, 2:35 pm

Unread E-Books:

2022
North to Paradise: A Memoir by Ousman Umar
Where the Desert Meets the Sea by Werner Sonne
American Seoul: A Memoir by Helena Rho
Light to the Hills by Bonnie Blaylock
Local: A Memoir by Jessica Machado
This Time Next Year We'll Be Laughing by Jacqueline Winspear
The Singing Trees by Boo Walker (accidental purchase)

2023
Bird of Paradise by Ada Leverson (public domain)
The Limit by Ada Leverson (public domain)
The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
Kamusari Tales Told at Night (Forest Book 2) by Shion Miura
Where Waters Meet by Zhang Ling
The Wren and the Swordfish Pilot by Stella Hutchinson
Elizabeth's Star by Rhonda Forrest
The Lost Girl from Belzec: A WW2 Historical Novel, Based on a True Story of a Jewish Holocaust Survivor by Ravit Raufman
Ester and Ruzya: How My Grandmothers Survived Hitler's War and Stalin's Peace by Masha Gessen
The Quiet American by Graham Greene
The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Guernsey Saga: The moving story of one English family under Nazi occupation by Diana Bachmann
Journey To The Heartland by Xiaolong Huang
Don't Forget to Write by Sara Goodman Confino
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes
Scorpio by Marko Kloos
Freydis by Gunhild Haugnes

2024
Intimacies by Katie Kitamura
Mr. Britling Sees It Through by H. G. Wells
The Lone Winter by Anne Bosworth Greene (book club selection, public domain)
The Great Escape: Nine Jews Who Fled Hitler and Changed the World by Kati Marton
Operation Columba—The Secret Pigeon Service: The Untold Story of World War II Resistance in Europe by Gordon Corera

5labfs39
Editado: Fev 27, 5:03 pm

Book Club
January: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
February: This Other Eden by Paul Harding
March: The Lone Winter by Anne Bosworth Greene
April: TBD
May: Heaven and Earth Grocery Store by James McBride
June: The Frozen River by Ariel Lawhon

Holocaust Literature
1. Rome 16 October 1943 adaptation by Sarah Laing, original story by Giacomo Debenedetti

Nobel Laureates
1. The Old Capital by Yasunari Kawabata

Graphic Stories
1. 1. Rome 16 October 1943 adaptation by Sarah Laing, original story by Giacomo Debenedetti

In French

6labfs39
Editado: Fev 24, 6:15 pm

Reading Globally

Books I've read in 2024 by nationality of author (a tricky business):

American: 7 (4 in series)
Canadian: 1
English: 1
French (Russian): 1
German: 1
Japanese: 2
Kyrgyz: 1
Palestinian: 1
Vietnamese Canadian: 1

Check out my Global Challenge thread, labfs39 reads around the world, for a look at a cumulative list since around 2010. And I've broken out the US by state in my labfs39 tackles the states thread.

7labfs39
Editado: Fev 24, 6:15 pm

Book stats for 2024:

I am trying to promote diversity in my reading and, for the lack of a more refined method, am tracking the following:

books:
total: 16 (4 in series)
countries: 9
translations: 7 (47%)
in French:
nonfiction: 3 (20%)

Authors:
women: 10 (60%)
men: 6 (40%)
nonbinary:

nonwhite and/or non-European/US/British Commonwealth: 5 (33%)
new to me authors: 7 (47%)

Genres:
literary fiction: 7
contemporary fiction: 1
children's fiction: 1
science fiction: 4
biography: 1
history: 1
medical history: 1

8labfs39
Editado: Fev 18, 5:32 pm

TIOLI Challenges

January
Challenge #2: Read a book with a garden or floral themed title or cover art
The Old Capital (Cherry blossoms on cover)
Challenge #3: Read a book with a title word that begins with A, B, C, Do, Re or Mi
Artificial Conditions
Minor Detail
Challenge #4: Read a book that's on a Best of 2023 list
Study for Obedience (Giller Prize winner)
Challenge #5: Read a book with a new chapter/section starting on p. 53, 53 in the ISBN, or an author's first name in the top 25 for Alabama in 1971
All Systems Red (978076'''53'''97522)
Hidden Valley Road (Robert)
Challenge #10: Read a book where the author’s first and last name begins with the same letter
Song of Achilles (Madeline Miller)
Challenge #15: Read a book with 250 pages or more
The Seventh Cross (402 p.)
Challenge #16: Read a book for the Zodiac challenge
Chekhov (Capricorn Health: will not accept physical limitations)

February
Challenge #2: Read a book whose average rating on LT is 4.0 or above
Day Lasts More than a Hundred Years (4.16)
Challenge #3: Read a love story
Days at the Morisaki Bookshop
Challenge #5: Rolling Challenge – Match first letter of book title to the phrase “Hearts and Flowers”
Rogue Protocol
Challenge #6: Read a book where changing one letter makes a new title
Mãn to Men (a much longer work by the same author)
Challenge #10: Read a book whose author has the same number of letters in both their first and surnames
River of the Gods by Candice Millard
Challenge #14: Read a book with two or three words in the title
Peter Duck

9labfs39
Jan 27, 4:08 pm

As usual, January is a hopping month in LT and Club Read. Thanks for making my thread a fun and invigorating place for me to spend time!

10Ameise1
Jan 27, 4:12 pm

Happy new one, Lisa. I'm impressed that you manage to read four books at the same time. I can only have one book and one audio at a time.

11labfs39
Jan 27, 4:21 pm

>10 Ameise1: I'm surprised too, as I usually read only one book at a time. And in actuality, that's the case now, as I'm really only reading Hidden Valley Road, with the others receiving only occasional attention. I'm rarely in the car without my nieces, so Apeirogon is dragging. The short stories I'm dipping in and out of, an experiment of sorts for me, and Peter Duck is my escape book when the adult books get to be too heavy.

12kjuliff
Jan 27, 6:57 pm

>11 labfs39: What do you think of Hidden Valley Road so far? I looked back to see how I rated it - unfortunately I didn’t review it - and see I only gave it a 3. I can’t remember why so I’m hoping your review may prompt my memory.

13Willoyd
Editado: Jan 27, 8:13 pm

Interesting that one of your measures of diversity is the number of women authors you read. There is evidence to suggest that most women read predominantly female writers, and most men read predominantly male ( but I couldn't quite where I read it). I notice you read 60% female writers last year, so, perhaps counter-intuitively, it actually may be that it should be the number of men you read that's the measure?! I'm 60-40 the other way (it reached 50-50 a couple of years ago, but I do now seem to be readiing more men again, not deliberately so), so it looks like it's the likes of me who should be doing the work on reading more women writers!

14labfs39
Editado: Jan 27, 10:01 pm

>12 kjuliff: I'm 100 pages into HVR and am finding it quite interesting. I especially like the chapters dealing with the history of the diagnosis and treatment of schizophrenia in general. Sometimes the chapters on the family members feels a little voyeuristic. Mental illness in families is such a difficult thing for everyone involved.

>13 Willoyd: Good question, Will, and one that is frequently discussed here in Club Read. My understanding is that yes, while women are much more likely to buy books by women authors then men, it's because men are reluctant to buy books by women. One survey found that while only 20% of a female's author's audience (in the first year after publication) will be men, 50% of a male author's audience will be female. As for myself, I tend to like translated literature, classics, and prize lists, all of which tend to be dominated by (white) men. In this past year when I was reading a lot of books from Africa, I made a point of looking for women authors because they are much less well-known and well-translated than their male counterparts. I don't read a lot of contemporary American literature where I think women are better represented. In my personal library, only 40.5% of the books are by women. And in the past, my reading skewed toward male authors. For instance, in 2012, only 38% of the 84 books I read were by women. So for me personally, I feel that I need to make an effort to seek out books by women, and that makes it one of my goals for diversity.

ETA: P.S. My gender stats are very skewed at the moment, because there are so few data points. I am currently reading four works, all by men, so there will be a rebalance shortly.

15JoeB1934
Editado: Jan 28, 10:22 am

>7 labfs39: These stats caused me to look at my female/male stats and found a 55% F and 44% M stat. I never consciously choose a book by author gender. If I have any gender bias it is toward books that portray strong women.

There is another factor that I learned years ago when I was a member of a Facebook group reading British mysteries. It became obvious that about 75% of the members were female (maybe higher) and it has always been obvious that the majority of classical mystery authors are female.

An interesting question for me has to do with the genres males write about. I don't have any answers about that, but I probably could try to correlate for my books it there is any differentiation in genres by gender.

16labfs39
Jan 28, 10:56 am

>15 JoeB1934: I read once that the most gender-biased genre is science fiction and the least is gardening.

17BLBera
Jan 28, 11:33 am

I used to look at the VIDA website to see the representation of women in publishing and reviews, but the website hasn't been updated recently. Women tend to be underrepresented in reviews and receive less money for advances. And that doesn't cover women of color! We still have a lot of work to do.

18BLBera
Jan 28, 11:33 am

oh, and happy second thread. I love the discussions you've gotten going.

19dianeham
Editado: Jan 28, 1:30 pm

I checked my gender stats for last year and even assigned genders to 6 authors who were missed. My stats were 29 female 29 male.

ETA: and 1 non-binary

20EBT1002
Editado: Jan 28, 7:53 pm

Hi Lisa.

Toodling off to look at my gender stats. It will be interesting to see if the stats match my intuition about the stats.

21labfs39
Jan 28, 7:53 pm

>17 BLBera: Agreed, Beth. I had never seen the VIDA counts before. Too bad they seem to have ended in 2019. I was shocked by NYRB: 2 men covered for every women and zero nonbinary. I wonder if it has changed at all in the last five years?

>19 dianeham: I go in and assign genders in LT sometimes too, Diane. Takes a village. As far as I know, I didn't read any nonbinary authors last year. Unless a book jacket makes the author's gender clear, it can be difficult to know, which raises lots of questions about whether my trying to track gender is meaningful and whether I am reinforcing stereotypes. But I feel like all I can do is try to read broadly and to be mindful of trends in my choices. And the only way to be mindful is to be aware of the data, dirty though it may be.

22EBT1002
Jan 28, 8:03 pm

FWIW, I am more evenly split than I might have expected: 52.5% women, 46.6% men, and 0.78% nonbinary. Last year, however, I was much more heavily reading women authors: about two women for every man and no binary.

I love this discussion. And I know it's not your usual fare, but Yellowface is a recent novel about bias in publishing, especially the publishing company attidude of "we have a woman of color on our books, we don't need another," etc. I didn't love the novel as much as some folks did but I found the exploration of publishing politics interesting.

23labfs39
Jan 28, 8:25 pm

>22 EBT1002: Kuang seems to write books on topics of interest to me—translation, publishing—yet I haven't read anything by (I had to look it up) her. Another Club Reader, Kevin/stretch, recently reviewed a nonfiction book on the politics of publishing called Big Fiction: How Conglomeration Changed the Publishing Industry and American Literature by Dan Sinykin. That sounded good too.

24kjuliff
Jan 28, 8:36 pm

>23 labfs39: I have Yellowface on my tbr list but can’t remember why I put it there. I usually make a note in the Private Notes section but didn’t for this.

25leamos
Jan 28, 8:49 pm

Fascinating discussion. I think the only time I consciously look at an author's stated gender is when it's relevant to the story - ie, if they're writing nonbinary and/or trans characters, and especially if it's a genre such as contemporary or historical romance that involves dealing with societal expectations and possible experiences of dysphoria.

26EBT1002
Jan 28, 9:16 pm

>23 labfs39: That does sound interesting.

27dchaikin
Jan 28, 9:42 pm

I think about the author's gender a lot. My ration is roughly 2/1 men to woman. Looking ahead I find that to some extent there is not much I can do about that because I'm reading classics and that's mostly men. (I did find a female author roughly contemporary with Chaucer, who wrote in Middle French. But I don't think anyone has identified her. I'll find out. But...that's only one.) I do search out books written by woman to try to reverse my trend.

>21 labfs39: NYRB is focused on modern classics, and that is still male dominated. So their imbalance makes sense to me. There are a lot of great modern classics by women, but the numbers probably tilt heavily male.

28labfs39
Jan 29, 7:39 am

>24 kjuliff: I too try to track where I first learn about a book, in my case with a "rec by x" tag. Otherwise I try looking at the list of friends who also have the book and see if that jogs my memory. I get most of my recommendations from Club Readers, so it narrows the field.

>25 leamos: Welcome to my thread, Andrea! Once I became aware of how gender biased my reading was, I've tried to keep an eye on my overall trend. I don't avoid a book simply because it's by a male author, but if I'm looking to read a book from a particular place or time, I will often look to see if there are women authors available, rather than default to a well-known male author. I do like the occasional espionage thriller, and the majority of those are by male authors and the history books I like seem to be by male authors as well. Recently authors like Anne Applebaum, Lynne Olson, Candice Millard have become popular, but in the past I can only think of Barbara Jelavich and Barbara Tuchman.

>27 dchaikin: Like you, Dan, for years I read the classics and only later did I stop to think how narrow that term is. First I tried to broaden my scope by looking at world literature, but the classics in other countries are also male-centric, though less white. Only then did I start deliberately looking for women and other voices that were less obviously present. It has enriched my reading tremendously. Plus I can read vicariously on your thread all the classics that I missed. :-)

As for the VIDA count, it was looking at the New York Review of Books serial, not books published as NYRB Classics. It is "tallying genre, book reviewers, books reviewed, and journalistic bylines". By focusing on who is reviewing and being reviewed and generally writing about publishing, they are attempting to see how publishing is being shaped and by whom. Women are conspicuously underrepresented.

29labfs39
Jan 29, 7:47 am

This weekend I put together the big heavy 6' wide bookcase that I had ordered, then reordered, weeks ago. It looks great, although I wish it were 6" taller to allow me to space the shelves more. I am using part of it for kids picture books, and they tend to be oversized. I put the two small bookcases that used to be on that wall in my bedroom, which already had three floor to ceiling cases. I am starting to feel like the protagonist in Too Loud a Solitude with bookcases crowding under and over my bed. Cozy.

I also finished Hidden Valley Road, a fantastic biography of a family with twelve children, six of whom were diagnosed with schizophrenia. Every other chapter was about an aspect of the history of the disease and the researchers trying to locate the genetic markers or devise treatments. Very interesting. Review to come.

What to read next?

We also got 6" of heavy wet snow last night, so part of today will be taken up with snow removal. I so envy Ellen's sojourn in Kauai right now!

30arubabookwoman
Jan 29, 9:42 am

Interesting conversation about reading female v. male authors. I almost never consider whether the author is female or male when choosing a book to read. To me the most important thing is what the book is about, and that's usually what I base my choices on. My choices usually come from reviews/recommendations here on LT, year end "best of" lists, the 1001 list, prize winners, etc. etc.
I took the time to look at what I've read so far this year and of the 15 books I've completed only 3 were by female authors, although I am well into two rather long books by female authors and may complete at least one this month (Ack! Is it already the 29th?)
So then I wanted to see if that was typical, and I went back to my 2023 reads for 2023, and sure enough it was 68% male authors. So it would appear that if I want my reading to be more evenly divided, I'm going to have to consider the gender of the author. I'm not sure I'm willing to forgo giving priority to my interest in the subject matter however.

31rocketjk
Jan 29, 10:46 am

Yeesh! I went back and looked at my reading for last year. 44 books were written or edited by men, and only 11 by women. I don't set any sort of goals along those lines, but it is instructive to realize how the numbers break down when looked at in retrospect.

This year, when I've finished the book I'm halfway through and the book I've got on deck, it'll be 3 by men and two by women.

32ursula
Jan 29, 11:09 am

I recently made a new chart in my spreadsheet to track how my authors line up - it's clear that early on I did a lot of reading from the 1001 list(s) because the books were almost entirely by male authors. In recent years it's evened out little by little, but I have had to consciously choose female authors to get it to do that. I won't clutter up your thread with that image, but I'll toss it on my thread if you're curious.

33RidgewayGirl
Editado: Jan 29, 11:56 am

>29 labfs39: When I moved into this house, it had several built-in bookshelves, but they're of a height that allows for four shelves of hardcovers with a half shelf left over. My solution was to fill that short shelf with large books in stacks. That might work for children's books, although their thinner size might mean it's not easy to access the book on the bottom of the stack without them all toppling.

The gender disparity in reading, like disparities based on culture and/or ethnicity, require paying attention, I think, because it's too easy to drift back into the comfortable. Another issue is the the genres that are dominated by women writers, or read more often by women, are treated as lesser genres. Look at how "women's fiction" is regarded, for example. More men might truly enjoy books centered on domestic issues -- they live in families too! -- but the marketing and social attitudes mean these kinds of books are set aside and treated as less serious. And certainly given less attention in the big book review publications.

34ELiz_M
Jan 29, 12:09 pm

>24 kjuliff: Maybe from the discussion on Kay's thread?

https://www.librarything.com/topic/354095#8299429

35labfs39
Jan 29, 12:43 pm

>30 arubabookwoman: I think it's easy to read more male authors because, according to statistics like those on the VIDA site, they are marketed more, talked about more, published more, and awarded more prizes. As I became more aware of the bias inherent in the publishing world, I tried to be more cognizant of my choices. Of course, if I want to read a book written by a male author, I do so. But all things being equal if I'm looking for a book set in Kenya or about the Holocaust, I keep my eyes open for one by a woman. I think of it as supporting women authors and giving notice to the publishing world and libraries who buy their books that women authors are important to stock, translate, publish, and pay. My small vote of conscience.

It would be interesting to see what the counts on LT would be, or specifically Club Read.

>31 rocketjk: I too was surprised by home male-centric my reading was. It's easy to do, especially when one relies on lists such as the 1001 or Nobel laureates or a more classical education. Because I like lists and stats, it's easy and enjoyable for me to keep tallies as I read and reflect on the direction my reading goes. It's one the ways I try to keep my reading diverse.

>32 ursula: Nice graph, Ursula. my reading was still pretty tied to what was most visible Exactly. Just as I've had to find smaller presses which publish translated literature and underrepresented voices, I've also started following lists and awards which focus on women. Looking in different places has changed what I see, and therefore what I choose to read. Club Read has helped enormously too.

>33 RidgewayGirl: That's what I've done too, create a 6" high shelf as the top. It works well for unusually sized books and for my binoculars, etc. The kids need to pull books out vertically though, or everything ends up on the floor.

Another issue is the the genres that are dominated by women writers, or read more often by women, are treated as lesser genres. Absolutely. This too is a conversation I've had on LT more than once, but is always interesting, and ties in with the stat I cited above about only 20% of a female author's audience being male, but male authors being read equally by men and women. I think that stat would be even more skewed if you took out women who wrote in male-dominated genres (like Stella Rimington) or who used a male pseudonym like Andre (Alice) Norton.

36RidgewayGirl
Jan 29, 1:14 pm

>35 labfs39: And male authors who write in genres mostly pushed to women have their books marketed as mainstream fiction. For example, Nick Hornsby writes romance novels, but they certainly aren't marketed as such. And male authors who set their novels in families, centered on those relationships, aren't pigeon-holed into "women's fiction," but treated as far more important than the same book would be had the gender of the author been female. And once we move on to racial disparities in publishing, things become even more imbalanced.

37dchaikin
Jan 29, 1:27 pm

Anyone have stats or a source for how literary awards tilt, gender and/or race? And how that might have changed over the last 5 or 10 years?

38RidgewayGirl
Jan 29, 1:33 pm

>37 dchaikin: Everything I could find was a little out of date. I am a little worried about the sudden loss of interest in tracking this. This article, albeit outdated, is interesting, especially the part where Griffith notes that the novels written by women that win awards are primarily centered on male characters.

https://nicolagriffith.com/2015/05/26/books-about-women-tend-not-to-win-awards/

39dchaikin
Editado: Jan 29, 1:39 pm

Booker Prize m/f by decade

1960’s 1/0
Lost 1/0
1970’s 5.5/4.5
1980’s 7/3
1990’s 7/3
2000’s 6/4
2010’s 6/4
2020’s 4/0
——-
37.5/18.5 - roughly 2:1 ratio

40dchaikin
Jan 29, 1:49 pm

Pulitzer prize - fiction m/f by decade - very interesting!

1910’s 2/0
1920’s 4/5
1930’s 4/6
1940’s 7/1
1950’s 8/0 => !!
1960’s 6/3
1970’s 5/2
1980’s 6/4
1990’s 7/3
2000’s 6/4
2010’s 7/2
2020’s 2.5/1.5
———
64.5/31.5 - roughly 2:1 ratio

41RidgewayGirl
Editado: Jan 29, 1:56 pm

Yes, I looked at the shortlists for five awards for novels given last year (Booker, Pulitzer, PEN, National Critics Circle and the National Book Award) and in each case men outnumbered women, with the single exception of the PEN American Award, where two men and three women saw their novels on the shortlist. I was wondering if I do should look at previous years and see if 2023 was an outlier, but I see from your own research, this probably isn't the case.

42dchaikin
Jan 29, 2:00 pm

>41 RidgewayGirl: somehow i had imagined the last 5 to 10 were better. That’s weird, in hindsight! What gave me that impression? Wishful thinking?

43ELiz_M
Jan 29, 2:23 pm

>35 labfs39: use the 6" shelf to collect all your Archipelago books?

44KeithChaffee
Editado: Jan 29, 4:15 pm

I didn't do a complete analysis, but I looked at the Nebula Award winners for Best Novel over three separate periods, 20 years apart. (This is the SF award given by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.) Different numbers of books are nominated each year, but I counted how many books were written by men, by women, and by non-binary authors. (A small number of books are collaborations, all of those are by 2 men; they count as one in this tally.) A fairly dramatic transformation, at least in this genre. I'm pretty sure the other major American SF awards would show similar results, and my hunch is that the transition probably starts earlier in the short fiction categories.

1974-1983:
Nominees: 52M, 14F (79%-21%)
Winners: 8M, 2F

1994-2003:
Nominees: 40M, 24F (63%-37%)
Winners: 6M, 4F

2014-2023:
Nominees: 15M, 43F, 4NB (25%-69%-6%)
Winners: 2M, 8F

45leamos
Jan 29, 4:14 pm

>28 labfs39: Thanks :)

>29 labfs39: I hate when big books don't fit in my shelves properly! And I love being surrounded by bookshelves.

>33 RidgewayGirl: totally agree on the gender stuff, and I've done similarly with my bookshelves :)

>35 labfs39: "The kids need to pull books out vertically" - I remember the struggle...

The changes you describe here are how I look for my books as well - smaller presses and even self-publishing, non-mainstream lists... I just generally lean towards the less conventional anyway in most areas of life, so it's been pretty natural for me to do that, since the really big popular books don't tend to appeal to me as often.

Re: all the gender discussion... I do think it's important to support authors who have a harder time getting published and promoted for systemic reasons, and I applaud the efforts to be more aware and to shift patterns.

I think for me, not looking consciously at the gender of an author is a matter of my current reading style, combined with prior experience. When I was active in academic and professional circles, I absolutely made a point to keep my reading and recommendations as diverse as possible in every area, including gender (I studied film, sociology and education).

Since I currently read mostly easily digested genre fiction, it seems to matter less. I did go take a look, and while my library here is far from representative of my actual reading, it's quite evenly split - and while it shows one trans woman author, it doesn't seem to recognize the trans male author or the nonbinary one.

46KeithChaffee
Jan 29, 4:27 pm

My reading for 2023 was more lopsided in gender than I'd have guessed: 40 male authors, 12 female, 9 multi-author collections. There are a couple of things in my reading interests that would partly explain the discrepancy. There are a few volumes of gay male fiction, and I don't have any particular interest in lesbian fiction. (No particular distaste for it, of course, just no reason to be drawn to it.) And I read a fair amount of older SF, a genre overwhelmingly dominated by men in its early decades.

Looking forward at the books I have tentativly pencilled in to fill all my Category Challenges, I'm doing a bit better in 2024, but still about 2-1 male.

47labfs39
Jan 29, 4:32 pm

>36 RidgewayGirl: And male authors who write in genres mostly pushed to women have their books marketed as mainstream fiction. Nick Hornsby is a great example of this and Nicholas Sparks.

>37 dchaikin: >39 dchaikin: >40 dchaikin: Thanks for this Dan. Ironically, the women's heyday with the Pulitzer was in the 20s and 30s! And let's not even mention the Nobel Prize for Literature. Ok, I will: 17 out of 119.

>38 RidgewayGirl: That's an interesting article, Kay. I like "The literary establishment doesn’t like books about women. Why? ...The answer matters. Women’s voices are not being heard. Women are more than half our culture, if half the adults in our culture have no voice, half the world’s experience is not being attended to, learnt from, or built upon. Humanity is only half what we could be."

>42 dchaikin: somehow i had imagined the last 5 to 10 were better. That’s weird, in hindsight! What gave me that impression? Wishful thinking?
Or perhaps because you started looking for women's books more in the last 5-10 years? As Ursula said, we pick up what is visible. So when we start looking in different places, we may pick up different books.

>43 ELiz_M: Unfortunately the opening is only 4" (6" inside). So I have to tilt books to get them out from behind the lip. Lying books horizontally seems to be the best use of the space. I do have all my NYRB (and Europa Editions) concatenated though. They look nice together.

48labfs39
Jan 29, 4:54 pm

>44 KeithChaffee: That's interesting, Keith. I scrolled through the Nebula Novel shortlists and one thing that struck me is how many of the women authors use only their initials, conveniently hiding their gender. I wonder if this has a subconscious effect on popularity?

2010-2023:
T. Kingfisher
R. F. Kuang
S. B. Divya
C. L. Clark
C. L. Polk
N. K. Jemisin
M. K. Hobson

Only 1 male author used his initials during this time period.

>45 leamos: I agree with you, Andrea, that where we are in our reading lives influences what is important to us in our reading. Are we reading for work, pleasure, information, etc. Access is another factor. I am fortunate to be able to afford to purchase books, request interlibrary loan, drive to libraries, and look for a wide range of books. If I were limited to a single local library, my reading options would be hamstrung. Reading translated literature, for instance, would drop to nearly nil. There are many reasons for why people choose to read the books they do. All reading is good reading, as I tell my niece.

>46 KeithChaffee: My reading for 2023 was more lopsided in gender than I'd have guessed My reading used to be as well. I find that keeping a running tally like I do helps to remind me to branch out when I start to find myself reading in too narrow a range, whether that range is related to gender, fiction/nonfiction, or geography. It would never stop me from reading a book I wanted to read, but it helps keep me going in the direction I desire.

49labfs39
Jan 29, 5:20 pm

I learned about this book from my book club. It was a selection they read prior to my joining.



Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker
Published 2020, 377 p.

Don and Mimi seemed to have the perfect, if unusually large, family. He was military, but liberal-minded. She was a supporter of the arts and active in the community despite having 12 children in 20 years. Good in school, athletic, musically inclined, the ten boys and two girls seemed cut from the All-American mold. Then one after another, six of the boys would suffer spectacular breakdowns and eventually be diagnosed with schizophrenia. At first, Don and Mimi tried to gloss over the violence and eccentricities that tainted their middle-class bubble. But soon, tragedy would make that impossible.

Interspersed with chapters about different members of the family, are chapters about the history of schizophrenia, it's diagnosis and treatment, and the researchers who tried to find the genetic markers and better ways to treat or prevent the disease. While researching the book, the author interviewed, not only all the living members of the family, but the doctors, researchers, and therapists who worked with the family or with their DNA. The result is a family biography put into context with the medical history. For me, this saved the book from being voyeuristic. I was glad to know that the entire family consented to having their very personal story told. I thought it was well-written and balanced, addressing many of the social issues surrounding mental illness with objective compassion.

Other books of this ilk:
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

50KeithChaffee
Jan 29, 5:47 pm

>49 labfs39: SF has always been such a tight-knit community that the initials aren't hiding much. None of the authors who are voting for the Nebulas don't know the gender of their colleagues who've reached an award-quality level of writing. Fifty years ago, sure, you had embarrassing moments like author/critic Robert Silverberg pompously declaring that there was no possible way James Tiptree, Jr. (the pseudonym of Alice Sheldon) was female, but even then, he looked like an idiot; most people had long since figured it out (and Sheldon actually was trying to conceal her identity; her husband was in the military intelligence community).

Even considering the Hugos, which are awarded by fans instead of authors (not mutually exclusive communities, of course), I don't think there's much hiding going on. The sort of fan who puts in the time and expense to become a Hugo voter knows the field well enough to know who those authors are.

Are there causal readers of the genre who don't know that Jemisin et al. are women? Probably, but whatever benefit the authors get from that ignorance is awfully small; most SF readers these days just don't care.

51Willoyd
Editado: Jan 29, 7:11 pm

Wow, that seems to have sparked off some debate - really interesting!

>14 labfs39:
My point was that women apparently tend to read more women, and men tend to read more men. To that end, the gender proportions of authors' readerships isn't relevant (and the fact that a man has a larger percentage readership of women may simply reflect that more women read fiction than men. So, if a male author has 55% female readership, but fiction readership is made up of a higher percentage of women, then it would actually suggest that men are read less by women). The fact that so many women here report something different with their reading may simply be down to the fact that it's a very narrow sample of a particular type of reader that is attracted to these threads. What I find perhaps most relevant is where you say that previously you read only 38% women - that suggest that indeed you do need to read more female authors to extend the diversity of your reading - which is what you were perhaps doing last year??

And, as you highlight in>35 labfs39:, we need to set all that in the context that the publishing industry itself may well be biased in terms of who it publishes.

I suspect that for many here, the bias is built in to what genres etc people are reading. As >15 JoeB1934: and >30 arubabookwoman: say, I am not for one second suggesting that people here are consciously choosing male authors (and I know I don't - but I still read only 40% female last year). As you suggest, I suspect the genres being read probably dictate this more strongly, such as that diet of classic authors which would probably be biased more towards men than modern fiction (although, as I'm currently reading Daniel Deronda, am enjoying one of the few prominent female classic authors!).

>37 dchaikin: >38 RidgewayGirl:
The awards are notorious for being male biased - which might partly reflect the male bias in the publishing industry as a whole. That is why the Women's Prize for Fiction was set up in the UK (a Non-Fiction prize has been inaugurated for 2024 - exciting). I find that far more rewarding to trawl for interesting reads than the Booker, which was particularly disappointing this year, with some stunning oversights.

>48 labfs39:
Yes, that technique is well documented. JK Rowling was open about why she chose initials: boy readers were more likely to buy her books than if she used her first name. Having said that, a fair number of male authors used their initlals too (DH Lawrence, EM Forster, JRR Tolkien jump instantly to mind) - which can only have helped those women using that technique to better hide their gender!

>28 labfs39:
and the history books I like seem to be by male authors as well.... in the past I can only think of Barbara Jelavich and Barbara Tuchman.
Our history reading may well be very different - not least with the 'pond' between us! - but some of the female history writers I have really enjoyed in recent years and can recommend:
Mary Beard - classical history, including SPQR and Pompeii, Wolfson winner
Lisa Jardine - an absolute favourite, including Worldly Goods, Ingenious Pursuits and Going Dutch. She used to record a regular essay for the BBC as part of their series A Point of View which I miss desperately in amongst the current mediocrity.
CV Wedgewood (those initials again!), old school historian, whose books are slightly out of date, but eminently readable and wonderfully lucid, including The Thirty Years War and a trilogy on the English Civl War, starting with The King's Peace.
Margaret MacMillan, especially good on the First World War: The War that Ended Peace, The Peacemakers, the latter winning the Baillie-Gifford/Samuel Johnson.
Lucy Wooding, Clare Jackson, Anna Keay all write on Tudor-Stuart period, and all excellent reads (Jackson won the Wolfson, Keay shortlisted for Bailie-Gifford)
Linda Colley - Britons, Wolfson winner, is probably her masterpiece to date, but a favourite of mine is the slim but very lucid Acts of Union and Disunion
Jenny Uglow - outstanding biographer (one of a quartet of favourite female biographers), but also written some great books on more general aspects of history, eg In These Times
Juliet Gardiner - social historian of Britain in first half of century. Enjoyed her The Thirties especially.
Jan Morris's Pax Britannica trilogy is rather old-fashioned and rather kind to the British Empire, but utterly readable. Published under her pre-transition name of James Morris. Her other writing (extensive), mostly on travel, counts amongst my favourites.
Gillian Tindall - excellent on miniaturist histories - I was introduced to her through The House by the Thames
Katja Hoyer - relatively young German historian, with 2 excellent books on German history already under her belt (apparently reviewed better in the UK than in Germany itself).
Hallie Rubenhold - The Five, Bailie-Gifford winner and Wolfson short-listed, is superb, but also enjoyed others.
And there are, of course, some outstanding biographers (my favourite 4 are all women: Uglow, Jardine, Claire Tomalin and Hermione Lee).
I do have plenty of others I couls also recommend in my history library (and biography) as well!

Interestingly, all my female history authors write on British/European history. I've none in my (admittedly fairly limited) American, Asian or African history books except for Barbara Tuchman.



52labfs39
Jan 29, 7:45 pm

>50 KeithChaffee: I was speaking to popularity, not to judges or voting fans, who one presumes, would as you say have done their research. I was simply noticing the numbers of women authors who were using their initials. It's a pretty well-documented way for women to attract male readers, especially I would think in a historically male-dominated genre like science fiction. I think it's fantastic if this trend is changing.

>51 Willoyd: I think you are referring to a survey published by Goodreads in 2014 in which 20,000 female members and 20,000 male members (all from the UK) participated. The results of the survey showed that of the 50 most-read books by men, 90% were by men; and the same was true for women. But I'm not sure that that negates the fact that out of the rest of the books that these readers read, men only make up 20% of women author's audience and women make up (according to the same Goodreads survey) 50% of a male author's audience. Women in the survey may have all grouped around certain female authors, but they also read a lot of male authors. Male readers did not return the favor.

As for nonfiction: Women are 65% more likely to read a ​non​­fiction book by the opposite sex than men are.

What I find perhaps most relevant is where you say that previously you read only 38% women - that suggest that indeed you do need to read more female authors to extend the diversity of your reading - which is what you were perhaps doing last year??

Exactly. That is why I track author gender in my reading. If I didn't think about it, my reading tends to end up male-dominated. So I think about it.

Thank you for taking the time to list out some female historians. I have heard of none of them, in part perhaps, because I don't read a lot of British history. You have made me interested in looking more closely at my own history shelves. I will report back what I find.

53labfs39
Editado: Jan 29, 8:22 pm

So I did a rough count of male and female authors on my history bookcases. I counted 241 books (excludes history of medicine, history of art, etc., most biographies, and Jewish history which is shelved separately). Of these, 54 were written by women (22%) and 187 by men. Despite the rough nature of this count, clearly this is an area where my reading is decidedly male authored. Whether this is comforting or not, I am not alone:

In a 2016 article, Is History Written About Men, by Men?, the authors were inspired by VIDA counts to do their own count of popular history titles:

We examined a set of 614 works of popular history from 80 houses, which either published books we defined as trade history or landed books we defined as trade history on the New York Times Combined Print & E-Book Nonfiction best-seller list in 2015. (For our full methodology, click here.) We found that 75.8 percent of the total titles had male authors. Interestingly, the effect was slightly less pronounced among titles that made the New York Times best-seller list—but only slightly (70.4 percent of those authors were male). University press and trade imprints had roughly the same proportion of male to female authors. The persistence of this imbalance, even among authors writing for presses that publish more academics, seems to reflect a continuing gender disparity among academic historians. In 2010, Robert Townsend of the American Historical Association wrote that among four-year college and university history faculty surveyed in 2007, only 35 percent were women.

Their find of 76% male authorship almost exactly matches my ad-hoc count of my own books.

>51 Willoyd: So Will, I don't know if you are just much better at finding and reading women historians than I am, or if the UK history scene is markedly different than the US. In any event, I can see that this is an area I really need to work on.

Edited to fix hyperlink

54dchaikin
Jan 30, 12:12 am

>49 labfs39: I take it that it was genetically 50/50. The book sounds fascinating.

55mabith
Jan 30, 12:23 am

Taking a book bullet on Hidden Valley Road for sure.

56chlorine
Editado: Jan 31, 10:57 am

Regarding the shift towards women for the Hugo and Nebula awads, for those who aren't aware of it there was a group that tried to actively counter this shift, the Sad Puppies:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sad_Puppies

They didn't like the shift so they proposed a list of works to nominate that fit their criteria for good science-fiction and urged readers to register to the convention to vote (anybody can vote as long as they register for voting to the convention, which costs less than $50 if I remember correctly). There was one year in which the nominees were predominently from this list, which led some authors to retract their works from award, and the award organizers to introduce the possibility for voters in the final round to vote that no nominated work should get the award (EDIT apparently this possibility existed prior to the sad puppies episode), and while many people supporting the list registered to vote in the initial nominating phase, even more people opposing the list registered to vote in the final phase.

In the manifesto for defending the list and their views of what is good SF, one of the main authors involved hilariously complained that you could not judge a science-fiction by its cover anymore, but I found the whole process less than hilarious.

(NB: another female here who tends to read more male writers than female ones if I don't pay attention. I'll try to track my stats regarding this in 2024. I'd be curious to know where the information that female readers read more female authors comes from).

57lilisin
Jan 30, 2:59 am

>51 Willoyd:

Two female nonfiction history writers I like representing the Asian history side would be Jung Chang (several books on Chinese topics) and Barbara Demick (North Korea and Tibet).

I have an academic level history book on the topic of comfort women written by a C. Sarah Soh, but my initial attempt at reading it didn't go smoothly so I can't recommend the book at the moment, yet, but it's worth noting.

58rv1988
Jan 30, 3:09 am

>56 chlorine: I remember following the whole Sad Puppies debacle when it went down. I do like that their description on the Wiki link opens by noting they are 'unsuccessful'. Heartening.

59KeithChaffee
Jan 30, 3:41 am

>56 chlorine: The only tiny correction I would make to this summary is that a “no award” vote had always been an option in Hugo voting; it wasn’t newly introduced in response to the Puppies debacle. But the two Puppies years were certainly when voters made the most use of the option.

60jjmcgaffey
Jan 30, 4:18 am

I read a lot more women than men (yes, I'm female). I don't _look_ for female authors, but it seems that women write more of what I want to read. Also, more than half of my reading is SF (science fiction and fantasy, grouped as speculative fiction); the rest is genre fiction, "general" fiction, and non-fiction in about that order. I haven't looked at my gender distribution per genre, but I suspect it's more females in almost every category (and a smattering of non-binary).

Last year I read 139 women and 41 men (including separate counts for male-female author pairs). And 138 SF books and 32 non-SF - I was doing a lot of comfort reading that year. 2022 I read 146 women and 31 men; 118 SF and 56 other.

My stats are very skewed, but in different directions from most people, it seems...

>16 labfs39: Old SF (1940s to 60s or so) was heavily dominated by men, and almost all the women writing used pseudonyms and/or initials. That's switched a lot in the last...30-40 years, nearly as long as I've been reading; there are women writing a lot of science fiction, including the hard SF the sad puppies wanted (idiots). The time in between was more gradual. That is, 40s to 60s was mostly men writing; late 60s to 80s-90s was still mostly men but the numbers of women kept ticking up (and the numbers using female names, too); since the late 80s, my feeling at least is that the numbers are pretty even. There are _probably_ more women writing sociological SF (culture clash etc) and more men writing military SF - but I can think of counter examples for both of those (Hal Clement did some amazing culture clash stories, and Lois McMaster Bujold and Tanya Huff have written some _excellent_ military SF).

61AlisonY
Jan 30, 6:59 am

Hidden Valley Road sounds really interesting. Onto the wishlist pile it goes.

62Willoyd
Editado: Jan 30, 7:24 am

>53 labfs39:
So I did a rough count of male and female authors on my history bookcases. I counted 241 books (excludes history of medicine, history of art, etc., most biographies, and Jewish history which is shelved separately). Of these, 54 were written by women (22%) and 187 by men. Despite the rough nature of this count, clearly this is an area where my reading is decidedly male authored.....So Will, I don't know if you are just much better at finding and reading women historians than I am, or if the UK history scene is markedly different than the US.

Not sure about that! Nudged by you doing your survey, I did one of my history books - same sort of criteria. I came up with a total of 307, 239 of which authored by men, 68 authored by women, representing a 78-22% split, exactly the same as you! I did find that I got 'runs' of one gender. Perhaps most noticeably: my non-European history is split 85 male to just 7 female, ie 92-8% (which leaves European history still only 28% female). I do also have a couple of long runs of specific male authors who are each writing a series of books on post-war Britain that I'm into (David Kynaston, Dominic Sandbrook, Peter Hennessy). My biggest female run was in the 16th-18th century, covering a fair chunk of those female historians I mentioned above. Social histories are stronger on female authors, military campaigns etc (fair amount on the Napoleonic Wars for instance) stronger on male authors.

I also had a look at biography. My bias is rather towards literary, but there's a fair spread of others in there. Of the 104 actually in my biography section (a few others are scattered under specific subjects), there were 43 male authored and 61 female authored, pretty much a 40-60% split, i.e. completely different.

I've not yet found anything completely contemporary on gender numbers in UK academic history, but a report from 2015 states that in 2012/13 UK academic historians were 39% female, and UK history professors just 21% female, yet at A-level (school leaver at 17/18) and at undergraduate level, the ratios were pretty much 50-50. (Link: https://files.royalhistsoc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/17210558/RHSGenderEqua...

So, overall my guess is that, no, the situation isn't much better if at all in the UK. However, what I would say is that these female historians are fairly prominent - or at least I see/listen to them pretty frequently on TV, radion and in podcasts. Maybe that's just me, and that I listen out for them, as a fairly high proportion count as 'favourite' authors.

>52 labfs39: I think you are referring to a survey published by Goodreads in 2014 in which 20,000 female members and 20,000 male members (all from the UK) participated.
Possibly - I really can't remember where I read that info (and my recollection may be unreliable anyway!). That would be interesting to look at. What I think is clear though is that, even if women do/did read more women authors*, the male tendency to cluster around male authors is far more marked, something I can never get my head around. I've even come across men who positively won't read a female author! Pathetically bonkers IMO. But there may be a subconscious bias going on - or it may be that men tend to read genres/subjects where more men write - those history figures for example! Most likely a combination. Certainly, going back to my reading records, out of the 1183 books I've read in the past 20 years, almost exactly 60% are male authored and 40% female authored, so there is a bias in there somewhere.

Hmmm. Maybe I need to rethink my reading too a bit more (again!).

(*I've just had a look at the book choices for the book groups I'm a member of, in which men are in the small minority (less than 20% in all cases). Book choices are almost exactly 50-50 male-female, and none of the groups make any effort to ensure gender equality/diversity. Which goes a small way to suggest your instincts are right.)

63labfs39
Jan 30, 8:24 am

>54 dchaikin: One of things that I found interesting in Hidden Valley Road was the nature/nurture argument over the years since schizophrenia was discovered. For a long while family environment was blamed, especially the schizophrenogenic mother: a cold, domineering mother who most likely worked outside the home and caused her children irreparable damage. The true workings are much harder to pin down. Many genes (over 100) have been found linked to the disease, making pharmaceutical companies reluctant to spend money targeting any specific one. Prenatal vitamins now contain choline which seem to help prevent schizophrenia and other brain disorders. What the Galvin DNA showed was that although all six boys had gene mutations, so did some of the kids (and one parent) without symptoms. Why was their predisposition to schizophrenia not triggered? They grew up in the same household and the two youngest, the two girls, had significant trauma. There are still a lot of questions about how the disease manifests and finding the relevant gene markers has not been the miraculous breakthrough that scientists hoped.

>55 mabith: It's an interesting book, Meredith, and others on CR have enjoyed it. I hope you do too. At times it was difficult to read, because of the trauma, but I thought it handled issues such as stigma and familial shame well and ends on a hopeful note.

>56 chlorine: Interesting about the Sad Puppies, Clémence. Good grief. Some people feel so threatened by letting women on the stage. I don't get it.

I used to read some science fiction, but they were mostly male (Orson Scott Card, Frank Herbert, John Scalzi). I have only recently read science fiction by Octavia Butler and Martha Wells.

As for the information about readers preferring authors of the same sex, I have only found a single Goodreads survey with that statistic. I'm not sure how the analysis was conducted. I'm sure there are women for whom that is true (my mother for one, as she tends to read romances), but anecdotally I would say that I have not found it to be true on Club Read.

>57 lilisin: I love Barbara Demick and have read her books on Sarajevo (Besieged: Life Under Fire) and North Korea (Nothing to Envy), although I tend to think of her more as a journalist than a historian. I also own two books by Jung Chang (her biographies of Mao and Cixi) but have not yet read them. At first I was actually confusing her with Iris Chang, author of Rape of Nanking, which I have read.

>60 jjmcgaffey: You also read a lot of series, Jennifer, and I think that tends to funnel our reading toward more extreme counts. For instance, last year I read books in two series, both by women. So that contributed to making my numbers so high for books written by women. Years where I read espionage series by Alan Furst or Daniel Silva, the numbers swing the other way.

Interesting how science fiction has evolved. I'm glad that women are having an easier time getting published in that genre now. It's a hopeful sign for publishing.

>61 AlisonY: I like the occasional medical history type book, Alison. Besides the two family bio type books I listed in my review, I've also really enjoyed The Great Influenza about the 1918 pandemic, Five Days at Memorial about the impact of Hurricane Katrina flooding on a hospital, and last year Bellevue a history of the famous NYC hospital and public health in early America. I've also been blown away by some autobiographies of doctors in war-torn areas such as I Shall Not Hate (Palestinian doctor) and The Oath (a Chechen surgeon).

>62 Willoyd: Interesting that the male/female author split in our history collections are the same, despite both of us being receptive to female historians. You are making me curious to know how my biography shelves are faring. Who knew your post back in >13 Willoyd: would lead to so much conversation and data crunching?

I've even come across men who positively won't read a female author! Although it doesn't surprise me, it stymies my imagination. Unconscious bias is one thing and blatant refusal another. What is their thought process, I wonder??

64rocketjk
Editado: Jan 30, 9:24 am

Regarding women history writers, I got curious and ran an online search and one of the first things I found was this list, which is titled "Influential Women Historians From the Last 10 Years" and provides a list of 25. To be clear, I entirely agree that women are way underrepresented in this field, but I thought this was a pretty good list for anyone who wanted to start investigating relatively recent women historians. The list is compiled by a man. Take that how you will. One writer I know of who was left off the list, for the Americans in the crowd, is Jane Leavy, who has written highly regarded biographies of Sandy Koufax, Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle.

The link to the list:
https://academicinfluence.com/rankings/people/women-scholars/history

65labfs39
Jan 30, 10:39 am

>64 rocketjk: Interesting list, although I have to question some of their choices. Tara Westover? Sure she wrote an memoir, but that's about it. How does that qualify her as a historian?? Is everyone who studied history in college a historian?

66rocketjk
Editado: Jan 30, 1:51 pm

>65 labfs39: Ha! I didn't fully vet the list, obviously.

One organization I'd like to read more about is the Association of Black Women Historians. Their website is here:
https://abwh.org

I also found a very interesting article about the 1970 Rose Report. This was a report based on a complaint to the American Historical Association (AHA) about the lack of support for women in the American history field. The article is by one of the co-writers of the report, Patricia Albjerg Graham. From Graham's piece:

"In 1969, the AHA Council received a petition from the Coordinating Committee on Women in the Historical Profession, protesting discrimination against women in academia. Surveys revealed the paucity of women teaching in US history departments, particularly in prestigious colleges and universities.

In response, the AHA organized a Committee on the Status of Women in late 1969. Willie Lee Rose (Johns Hopkins Univ.) served as chair of the initial committee, and its members included Hanna Holborn Gray (Univ. of Chicago), Carl Schorske (Princeton Univ.), Page Smith (Univ. of California, Santa Cruz), and me, Patricia Albjerg Graham (Barnard Coll., Columbia Univ.), as a replacement for Mary Wright (Yale Univ.), who was ill with cancer. The committee reported our findings with a document for the membership released on November 9, 1970, and presented to the December 1970 annual meeting in Boston. The report became widely known as the 'Rose Report,' named for the chair of the committee."


More here (including a link to the report itself):
https://www.historians.org/research-and-publications/perspectives-on-history/dec...

Also missing from the list I linked to in >64 rocketjk:, by the way, is Kate Clifford Larson, who, among her other books, wrote the astonishing Walk With Me: A Biography of Fannie Lou Hamer.

Again, though, I want to be clear that just because I'm pointing out some individual historians like Larson doesn't mean I don't agree that women have been underrepresented in this field, especially when it comes to major book publishers, since forever.

ETA: I did a quick survey of all the books in my LT library that I've given a "history" tag, and the results are miserable. Out of 494 of those books, only 59 were written by women.

67labfs39
Jan 30, 1:10 pm

>66 rocketjk: I appreciate your links to list of female historians as I obviously am lacking in that area. One of my issues is the type of history to which I'm drawn: wars, genocide, disasters, lol. If I were more interested in other types of history, authors like Laurel Ulrich, Doris Kearns Goodwin, and others would appeal.

68BLBera
Jan 30, 1:11 pm

I love this discussion about bias in publishing. When I taught, I was once at a book fair, and the Norton rep asked me what would have to happen for me to choose their anthology for class, and I said they needed equal representation of women writers and also writers of color. Well, ten years later, most anthologies do have equal numbers of women and men writers. And the number of writers of color represented has increased.

Coincidentally, in an essay I just read, Siri Hustvedt comments: "Prejudices against women writers run deep, and yet, all novelists of both sexes are read by women far more than by men. My friend Ian McEwan once said, "When women stop reading, the novel will be dead."

>41 RidgewayGirl: That's why the Women's Prize is still needed.

69AlisonY
Jan 30, 1:53 pm

>63 labfs39: I love a bit of medical history too so thanks for putting those titles on my radar.

70dianeham
Jan 30, 3:26 pm

I gave Hidden Valley Road four stars . What I found annoying about the book was that much later in the book there was more revealed about their upbringing including abuse.

71kjuliff
Editado: Jan 30, 9:59 pm

>70 dianeham: I don’t remember that bit. Was it abuse of all the children? I had thought it was genuine happenstance that the one family had so many children suffering from schizophrenia, though obviously that seems doubtful.

It is several years since I read the book.

Edited for typos

72dchaikin
Jan 30, 5:35 pm

>64 rocketjk: thanks for this link

It’s also worth noting 2024 will be the first time the Women’s Prize gives a nonfiction award.

I have spent time hunting good nonfiction by women authors. It’s not that easy, although easier today than ten years ago.

73Willoyd
Jan 30, 6:03 pm

>72 dchaikin:
I'm intrigued - why's it not that easy? There's loads IMO! Is it a particular subject area that's the problem?

74dianeham
Editado: Jan 30, 6:13 pm

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

75dianeham
Editado: Jan 30, 6:38 pm

>71 kjuliff: I still have the ebook. It’s talked about in chapter 26. One of the boys was abusing his siblings and when the girl told her mother, the mother said she had also been sexually abused when she was a kid.

76dchaikin
Jan 30, 6:19 pm

>73 Willoyd: maybe i’m picky. My library options were awful. Audible is better. But audible suggestions are not helpful.

77kjuliff
Jan 30, 6:24 pm

Lisa, How did you put the continuation message just below your topic title? Is it only available to admins? I’m talking about your header with the 3 dots in a black comment icon here.

78kidzdoc
Jan 30, 6:50 pm

Fabulous discussion here. My gender breakdown has shifted significantly since I joined LibraryThing, from 25-35% women to 50-60% women in the past 15 years or so. I would squarely place credit on several influential past and present female members of Club Read, including akeela, avaland, deebee1, FlossieT and, of course, rebeccanyc, who introduced me to fictional works by women authors I wasn't familiar with. Reading books listed as finalists for the Women's Prize certainly made a difference as well.

79lisapeet
Editado: Jan 30, 7:26 pm

Good conversation about publishing bias. It's not surprising to me, but it's interesting to see it born out in people's anecdotal experiences here as opposed to stats and data. I looked at my 2023 reading and it's easily 4:1 women to men, in a mix of fiction and non-, driven at least in part by my all-women-writers book club.

Hidden Valley Road sounds interesting and also sad.

80labfs39
Jan 30, 9:12 pm

>68 BLBera: Nice example of the impact enough voices can have on publishing. And I like the quote from McEwan.

>69 AlisonY: Always happy to share the titles of good books. Out of the 8 books, I see now that 3 are by women. I have another one by Sheri Fink that I'm looking forward to reading: War Hospital.

>70 dianeham: What I found annoying about the book was that much later in the book there was more revealed about their upbringing including abuse.
Did you feel that the abuse should have been disclosed earlier? Or that there should have been a trigger warning?

>71 kjuliff: I had thought it was genuine happenstance that the one family had so many children suffering from schizophrenia, though obviously that seem doubtful.
I'm unclear what you mean by genuine happenstance. Schizophrenia is a genetic disorder that appears to be triggered in some people who carry the genes, but not in others. It is unclear what the triggers are. Most of the members of the Galvin family carried the genetic mutations, but not all of them developed schizophrenia. The two girls who were sexually abused by their brother did not develop schizophrenia. While stress and trauma can be triggers, it's not always the case. And sometimes people develop schizophrenia with no apparent triggers at all. Some researchers think that there has to be a threshold of mutations (there are over 100 possible genes involved), others think perhaps the presence of protective factors, like choline, help prevent triggering. Since schizophrenia is genetic, it does run in families, often skipping a generation. In the book they talk about the importance of finding families with both schizophrenic and non-schizophrenic members, such as the Galvins but many many others as well, so that these issues can continue to be studied.

>72 dchaikin: Great topic for your LIST thread: great women nonfiction authors.

>77 kjuliff: After your thread reaches a certain number of posts (150?), a link will appear at the bottom asking if you want to continue in another thread. If you say yes, you will be redirected to a page with the subject line already filled in, but editable. You then create your first post, and LT will automatically create the link at the top of the threads connecting them.

>78 kidzdoc: The same happened with me, Darryl. Club Read opened my eyes to the bias in the publishing world and in my own reading. Since I get most of my recommendations from here, my reading horizons have expanded greatly.

>79 lisapeet: It's easy for me to think I'm reading more diversely than I actually am, the running tallies (an idea I got from a fellow CR member) help keep me honest.

Yes, Hidden Valley Road was both interesting and sad. One of the things I liked the most was that the author was compassionate with the family members who became ill and with those who did not. Mental illness is devastating for everyone in the family, not just those who are ill, but parents and siblings too.

81dianeham
Jan 30, 9:21 pm

>80 labfs39: I think the abuse should have been disclosed earlier. (I’m from the pre-trigger-warning world. )

82kjuliff
Editado: Jan 30, 10:12 pm

>80 labfs39: Thanks for the tip for starting a new topic.

Re schizophrenia- I know that there are many genes thought to cause schizophrenia under certain conditions, but to have six siblings having it still seems odd to me. Why did the other six siblings not have it? My message above was meant to be asking was it just chance that 50% suffered from the disease. That’s what one would think if it was a physical rather than psychological problem.

I recently read The Best Minds by Johnatan Rosen and from that book and from my own experience of people with this disease, it’s hard to imagine how a single family could cope with so many children suffering from it, and keeping on having children.

83labfs39
Editado: Jan 31, 7:16 am

>81 dianeham: Would you have stopped reading the book, had it been disclosed earlier? Or do you think it would have made the book better?

>82 kjuliff: To me, schizophrenia is a physical disease caused by genetic abnormalities. There are lots of families mentioned in the book where multiple siblings have it. What makes the Galvin family unique is that it is so large and that there are so many siblings both with and without it. Makes the perfect study group.

Unfortunately for the Galvins, they had no idea what was coming until after all 12 children were born. The oldest, Donald, did not have a breakdown until after his divorce in his twenties. I think the parents did the best they could given the state of medical knowledge at the time and their own issues, but in hindsight it's easy to see things they could have done better or at least differently. I can't imagine trying to cope in the situation in which they found themselves.

84kjuliff
Jan 31, 8:40 am

>83 labfs39: by physical disease I meant a disease that had physical symptoms, and so is more easily diagnosed.

I understand now that the parents of the Galvin family didn’t know their children had schizophrenia till they were out of their teens.

At least now the disease can be partly controlled by drugs. But the debilitating side effects lead many to stop taking them, leading sometimes to terrible consequences.

I think my attitude to Hidden Valley Road has been retrospectively influenced by The Best Minds: A Story of Friendship, Madness, and the Tragedy of Good Intentions.

85chlorine
Jan 31, 10:58 am

>59 KeithChaffee: Thanks for correcting me, I've edited my post about the Sad Puppies.

86Willoyd
Jan 31, 11:24 am

>76 dchaikin:
Ah. If you're relying on what you can get from a particular library, I understand. Yes, I would guess potentially very limiting. I tend to stick to fiction on audiobooks, although have enjoyed the odd biography too.

87markon
Jan 31, 1:59 pm

Very interesting discussion of publishing upthread. I particularly enjoyed Nicola Griffith's article, though I realize it's a very small sample set over a short period of time (>38 RidgewayGirl:). And I've added Big fiction: how conglomerations change the publishing industry (>23 labfs39:) to my reading list.

>49 labfs39: Lisa, your description of Hidden Valley Road has sold me. It sounds like a good combination of history/context interspersed with one family's story.

I look forward to seeing what is on the Women's Prize longlist for nonfiction this year.

88jjmcgaffey
Jan 31, 4:14 pm

>63 labfs39: last paragraph - my immediate thought was this post by Shannon Hale. https://shannonhale.com/blog-archive/2015/02/26/no-boys-allowed-school-visits-as... Training, I suspect...and not enough counter-examples (in school and home life).

89labfs39
Jan 31, 9:01 pm

>84 kjuliff: I read your review of The Best Minds with interest, knowing that Hidden Valley Road was on my read-next shelf. I will probably read it at some point as well.

>76 dchaikin: >86 Willoyd: This weekend, I will try to think about some good nonfiction written by women that I would recommend, Dan, although as you know from my posts above, I am not the most well-read in this area either. We can pool our knowledge.

>87 markon: The Women's Prize for Nonfiction sounds like it will be a good source for us moving forward. I was looking at the list of judges, and am familiar with Anne Sebba. I have her book Les Parisiennes: How the Women of Paris Lived, Loved and Died in the 1940s, although I haven't read it yet. And I loved Kamila Shamsie's Burnt Shadows. I have her Home Fire on my read-next shelf. Venetia La Manna seems like an odd choice from the little I've read about her. I wasn't clear what role Kate Mosse was playing in the award, but she's clearly involved to some degree.

>88 jjmcgaffey: Oh my, Jennifer. That's heartbreaking. I feel like our culture is getting better at providing girls with strong female protagonists, it's too bad that boys aren't being encouraged to embrace those same protagonists. I'm going to share that article more widely. Thank you for posting the link.

90jjmcgaffey
Fev 1, 12:27 am

>89 labfs39: Yes. I read it ages ago - shortly after she posted it, almost 10 years ago - and it continues to resonate so, so much.

91EBT1002
Fev 1, 1:02 am

I'm skimming through the discussion of The Best Minds and Hidden Valley Road, and the prevalence and appearance of schizophrenia in siblings, with interest. I have The Best Minds on my shelves but had not heard of Hidden Valley Road. My older brother suffered with schizophrenia and, perhaps unsurprisingly, I was well into my twenties before I felt "safe" from the disease. It also was a significant factor - perhaps the factor - in my decision not to have children.

The only comment I really want to add is a response to >82 kjuliff: "...it’s hard to imagine how a single family could cope with so many children suffering from it, and keeping on having children." I think you have responded to it, Lisa, with your note that the family would not have known their children had the disease until well after the other children were born. Spot on. My own brother was into his late teens before the diagnosis was made. We knew there was "trouble," but in the 1960s and 70s (and before that), the science was frankly still very young. I can tell you that coming to terms with the diagnosis took my parents years and left them out to sea and on their knees (if I may mix my metaphors for dramatic effect).

In any case, I'll be acquiring a copy of Hidden Valley Road. It sounds quite interesting and compassionately written. Thanks for a good discussion.

92Willoyd
Fev 1, 6:09 am

>89 labfs39: >76 dchaikin:
This weekend, I will try to think about some good nonfiction written by women that I would recommend, Dan, although as you know from my posts above, I am not the most well-read in this area either. We can pool our knowledge.
Will do the same (although my list is likely to be rather Anglocentric, with a few other Europeans in the mix). Any particular genres? This could be a very long list otherwise!

93rv1988
Fev 1, 7:27 am

>52 labfs39: I've been reading the discussion on publishing and reading more women with great interest. I don't have anything to add, except just to say I'm also consciously trying to read more books by women for the same reasons you laid out here. I liked how you described it as a 'vote of conscience'.

94labfs39
Fev 1, 7:55 am

>90 jjmcgaffey: The article does make me more understanding about why there are men who don't read women. We (meaning parents/teachers/librarians) have trained them that way.

>91 EBT1002: I hear you, Ellen. Two members of my family have bipolar disorder. Diagnoses like that effect the entire family. Several of the points you make were covered in the book too. The siblings without symptoms were terrified of becoming ill (and one was falsely diagnosed), and the two girls in particular consulted with doctors before having children, wanting to know what the odds were that their children would have schizophrenia. As of the time of the book, none of the next generation had been diagnosed, and I guess generation skipping is not uncommon. The Galvin parents struggled too. At the time (50s and 60s), parents were blamed and treatment facilities were often horrendous. So they tried to keep them safe at home. I think it was especially hard for them because their kids were so talented. How could such bright, athletic, musical, artistic kids be so terrifyingly ill? There is still so much that isn't known about the disease, but at least mothers are not taking the brunt of the blame as much anymore.

>92 Willoyd: >76 dchaikin: Should I start a LibraryThing list that we can all add to, or should we just post individual lists on Dan's LIST thread on Club Read?

>93 rv1988: I suppose another way to think about it is voting with our pocketbooks. If we buy more books by women, more will be published. I liked Beth's anecdote about telling a Norton Anthology rep what it would take for her to use their anthologies in her class. So much comes down to economics.

95labfs39
Fev 1, 8:27 am

I first learned of this book from a review by Ursula, but have since seen more reviews. It's a thin book, but powerful. I think the cover perfectly conveys a sense of distortion and fragmentation.



Minor Detail by Shibli Adania, translated from the Arabic by Elisabeth Jaquette
Published 2016, English translation 2020, 105 p., New Directions (a great indie publisher of translations)

The book opens on August 9, 1949, exactly one year after the Deir Yassin massacre in which 110 Palestinian men, women, and children were murdered in their village on the outskirts of Jerusalem. An Israeli officer and his men are in the South Negev desert along the Egyptian border searching for Arabs. They set up camp, and that night, the officer is bitten in the thigh by a spider. After several days of searching, they discover a small group of Bedouin by an oasis. Within minutes the Arabs and their camels are slaughtered, all except for a young woman and a dog. Four days later, she too would be dead.

"We cannot stand to see vast areas of land, capable of absorbing thousands of our people in exile, remain neglected; we cannot stand to see our people unable to return to our homeland. This place, which now seems barren, with nothing aside from infiltrators, a few Bedouins, and camels, is where our forefathers passed thousands of years ago. And if the Arabs act according to their sterile nationalist sentiments and reject the idea of us settling here, if they continue to resist us, preferring that the area remain barren, then we will act as an army.

The second chapter is about a woman in the present day who reads and becomes obsessed with an article about the girl's death because it occurred exactly 25 years to the day before she herself was born. She decides to investigate the incident further, but is hampered by borders: those that physically limit the movement of Palestinians and those that she has internalized in order to protect herself in a highly violent and unpredictable environment that is Israel.

It's the barrier of fear, fashioned from fear of the barrier.

The writing is very spare, and at first I was confused by the focus on minor details in the book (even despite the book's title, my first clue). Why write the minutiae about how the Israeli captain washes up and shaves every day? But as the story unfolded, I realized that every word was there for a reason.

But despite this, there are some who consider this way of seeing, which is to say, focusing intently on the most minor details, like dust on the desk or fly shit on a painting, as the only way to arrive at the truth and definitive proof of its existence.

Obsessions with cleanliness versus decay, the howling dog, chewing gum: every detail would have meaning. Everything ties together despite the fragmentation of history and the unending cycles of violence. The ending is as devastating as it is inevitable.

96ELiz_M
Fev 1, 10:24 am

>95 labfs39: I loved the narrative voice used for the first half of this story.

97kidzdoc
Editado: Fev 1, 11:10 am

Great review of Minor Detail, Lisa. I want to read fiction by Palestinian authors this year, and since I'm already familiar with Shibli Adania I'll be on the lookout for this book. I enjoyed Touch, the only book of hers I've read, and I did review it on LibraryThing. Dan and others wrote a conversation piece on Touch for Belletrista several years ago, which you can read here.

98arubabookwoman
Fev 1, 11:00 am

>95 labfs39: Skipped over your review of Minor Detail because it's on my shelf and I want to get to it soon. I too want to read more Palestinian authors as well as read more about Palestinian history, particularly 20th/21st century.

99labfs39
Fev 1, 11:38 am

>96 ELiz_M: On the back of my copy, one of the blurbers, J. M. Coetzee, calls the Israeli captain a psychopath and the Palestinian woman in the second half of the book autistic. I think I may have more tolerance for neurodivergence than he does. I thought the spider bite was an interesting way to visually depict his mental decay and moral putridity. As for the woman, her obsessions and fixations seemed a product of her environment, at least in part. The stress and absurdities of living under occupation have to have an impact on one's sanity.

>97 kidzdoc: This was my first exposure to Adania. Thanks for the links to your review and Dan's conversation (which I will read later). From the reviews, Touch seems to be more impressionistic and have less of a plot, but both seem to utilize a close look at details to tell a bigger story.

>98 arubabookwoman: The best two books about Palestine by non-Palestinians that I've read are The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Very Short Introduction and Palestine by Joe Sacco. My favorite memoirs by Palestinians are I Shall Not Hate and In Search of Fatima. My favorite novels are Mornings in Jenin and this one. I got bogged down in A Wall in Palestine about the construction of the dividing wall. It was good but hard for me to get through. I've read a few other things that I wouldn't necessarily recommend.

100kjuliff
Fev 1, 11:42 am

>95 labfs39: What a great review! Like arubabookwoman I skipped over a bit as I know I want to read it. I checked and it’s available free on Audible so I will start it after my current readings. It sounds like a very important book.

Ursula, unfortunately I missed your review. If you are reading this, can you post me a link?

101labfs39
Fev 1, 11:42 am

I picked up two interlibrary loan books at the library yesterday: River of the Gods: Genius, Courage, and Betrayal in the Search for the Source of the Nile by Candice Millard (whose River of Doubt I very much enjoyed), and The Day Lasts More Than a Hundred Years by Chingiz Aitmatov, the Kirgiz author whose book Jamila included beautiful descriptions of the steppes. Both are lengthy, so I need to get reading!

102labfs39
Fev 1, 11:45 am

>100 kjuliff: Thanks! Just a head's up, Kate, that (trigger warning): the Bedouin girl is raped.

103kidzdoc
Fev 1, 11:46 am

>99 labfs39: One book off the top of my head which I highly recommend is Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Life by Sari Nusseibeh. This is another book that I rated as 5 stars because I couldn't give it the 10 that it deserved.

104kjuliff
Fev 1, 12:01 pm

>102 labfs39: Thanks for the heads-up. I’ll skip that bit.

105RidgewayGirl
Fev 1, 1:34 pm

>95 labfs39: I have this on my tbr and you've certainly made me want to get to it soon.

106chlorine
Fev 1, 3:20 pm

Very good reviews of Minor detail. I've added it to my wishlist. I was glad to see it was translated to French as well as to English. Like many here I'd like to read more Palestinian authors but I have already two in my TBR so it seems unlikely that I'll get to it very soon.

107arubabookwoman
Fev 1, 4:09 pm

>99 labfs39: Thanks for the recommendations Lisa. I will keep an eye out.
>101 labfs39: I have The Day Lasts More Than a Hundred Years on my shelf but I've been deterred by its length. I'll be interested to see what you think, and whether you find it easy or compelling reading rather than dry and slow.

108kjuliff
Fev 1, 4:25 pm

>99 labfs39: On the back of my copy, one of the blurbers, J. M. Coetzee, calls the Israeli captain a psychopath ….
Do you mean Coetzee wrote that about Minor Detail? Or has Coetzee written another book. I find Coetzee very odd ever since he moved to Australia. His writing both in style and content changed. I used to really like his work but he seems to have taken another path.

109labfs39
Fev 1, 5:50 pm

>103 kidzdoc: Noting, Darryl. Did you write a review? I didn't see it on the work page.

>104 kjuliff: Its the second half of the first chapter.

>105 RidgewayGirl: It's one of those books that I'm thinking about more after finishing than I did while reading it. Things keep coming to me that I didn't see at first. I'll probably reread it at some point. A book I could have written a paper on in school.

>106 chlorine: Which two Palestinian books are on your TBR, Clémence?

>107 arubabookwoman: I decided to start with River of the Gods, in part because the copy of The Day Lasts More Than a Hundred Years is severely water damaged and has a broken spine. I'm afraid when I read it, it's going to disintegrate. The librarian took pictures before checking it out to me, so that the ILL library doesn't charge either of us if it falls apart. Hard to believe they had such a horrible copy in circulation.

>108 kjuliff: Coetzee wrote a blurb for Minor Detail.

110labfs39
Editado: Fev 1, 6:30 pm

So I started a list of books that I have read and would recommend: Club Read's Recommended Nonfiction Written by Women. Please feel free to add books you would recommend, and we'll see if we can't create a nice resource.

P.S. I didn't add memoirs, wasn't sure if we wanted to include those.

111msf59
Fev 1, 6:39 pm

Good review of Minor Detail, Lisa. On the obese TBR it goes. A beautiful day in Chicagoland. Not much activity at the feeders.

112kjuliff
Fev 1, 7:36 pm

>109 labfs39: oh, I see. I could not work out what book people were talking about. Same as with my other question re the second half of a book. I’m totally lost. It’s probably me. I shouldn’t come in halfway through a discussion but I was interested in one of the books and then I got lost.

113JoeB1934
Editado: Fev 2, 7:47 am

>110 labfs39: I have posted in my current thread two non-fiction books that I would consider candidates for your list. I'm not sure what the criteria will be for inclusion. This caused me to retrieve from my earlier library two such authors that have written books that I still remember to this day. They are non-fiction books involving study of early humans.

I have taken from Goodreads the essence of these two books. My main takeaway from both is that the authors focused on the people and tried to tell us how these early humans were so much like us.




Time Song: Searching for Doggerland

Julia Blackburn
3.84
427 ratings94 reviews
SHORTLISTED FOR THE WAINWRIGHT PRIZE AND THE HESSELL-TILTMAN PRIZE

A journey told through stories and songs into Doggerland, the ancient region that once joined the east coast of England to Holland

Time Song tells of the creation, the existence and the loss of a country now called Doggerland , a huge and fertile area that once connected the entire east coast of England with mainland Europe, until it was finally submerged by rising sea levels around 5000 BC.

Julia Blackburn mixes fragments from her own life with a series of eighteen 'songs' and all sorts of stories about the places and the people she meets in her quest to get closer to an understanding of this vanished land. She sees the footprints of early humans fossilised in the soft mud of an estuary alongside the scattered pockmarks made by rain falling eight thousand years ago. She visits a cave where the remnants of a Neanderthal meal have turned to stone. In Denmark she sits beside Tollund Man who, despite having lain in a peat bog since the start of the Bronze Age, seems to be about to wake from a dream...

'This book is a wonder' Adam Nicolson, Spectator

'A clairvoyant and poetic conversation with the past' Antony Gormley





Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art

Rebecca Wragg Sykes
4.02
2,859 ratings513 reviews
Since their discovery more than 160 years ago, Neanderthals have metamorphosed from the losers of the human family tree to A-list hominins.

In Kindred, Rebecca Wragg Sykes uses her experience at the cutting-edge of Palaeolithic research to share our new understanding of Neanderthals, shoving aside clichés of rag-clad brutes in an icy wasteland. She reveals them to be curious, clever connoisseurs of their world, technologically inventive and ecologically adaptable. Above all, they were successful survivors for more than 300,000 years, during times of massive climatic upheaval.

At a time when our species has never faced greater threats, we’re obsessed with what makes us special. But, much of what defines us was also in Neanderthals, and their DNA is still inside us. Planning, co-operation, altruism, craftsmanship, aesthetic sense, imagination... perhaps even a desire for transcendence beyond mortality.

It is only by understanding them, that we can truly understand ourselves.



114ursula
Fev 2, 10:30 am

>95 labfs39: Autistic? Because she was obsessed with the previous event? I guess I could see that, but it literally never occurred to me. I also feel like calling the Israeli captain a psychopath makes it easier to think of him as an outlier.

>100 kjuliff: I read Minor Detail in 2022, my "review" such as it is, is here: https://www.librarything.com/topic/342388#7965910

115arubabookwoman
Fev 2, 11:20 am

>110 labfs39: What kind of books do you want on the list? I went through my library and found many (more than 100), even omitting memoirs. But some were pretty bad, and some were about things like art, science, illness, Trump, true crime--not really history. Which ones should I include if I add them to the list?

116labfs39
Fev 2, 12:34 pm

>111 msf59: Thanks, Mark. I hope you are starting to feel better. The goldfinches have discovered my feeders and are eating me out of house and home!

>112 kjuliff: It's easy to get confused when there are multiple discussion going on simultaneously, especially if it's not clear from the post number indicators.

>113 JoeB1934: As this is a list for all of Club Read to make nonfiction recommendation by women authors, I think you should include whatever you wish. Certainly these two sound excellent. Should I add them for you?

>114 ursula: Right? I thought the Coetzee comments were stretches and not in helpful ways, especially for someone who has not yet read the book. I'm glad I didn't read the back cover until after reading the book.

>115 arubabookwoman: As I said to Joe above, the list is for everyone, so I think any nonfiction by women is okay. That said, it's supposed to be books that we would recommend, so if the books were horrible, I wouldn't add them.

117JoeB1934
Fev 2, 1:01 pm

>116 labfs39: Yes please add them for me, as I certainly don't want to mess with your outstanding display method.

118labfs39
Fev 3, 7:48 am

119JoeB1934
Fev 3, 9:24 am

>118 labfs39: Thanks, now I have to learn about saving lists!

120chlorine
Fev 3, 9:48 am

>109 labfs39: The two Palestinian books that are currently on my TBR are:
Palestine Speaks: Narratives of Life Under Occupation, which has been made available as a free ebook after the Hamas attack and Israel's reaction, and
The blue between sky and water by Susan Abulhawa, from who you read one book already if I remember correctly.

121labfs39
Fev 3, 1:24 pm

Duplicate post I made to the Just Lists thread:

Club Read's Recommended Nonfiction Written by Women is going great guns: 180 books by 13 members. The books cover a wide variety of topics. Only 48 are in my library or even wish listed, so I know that I personally will be able to find some new works and authors. I hope others find it a good resource as well. Some non-Club Read members seem to have found it already. A nice addition to the list section of LT. Thanks all!

>120 chlorine: Those two books both look good. I tried to find Palestine Speaks when Lola first mentioned the resource, but it didn't seem to be available in the states. I'm going to look again.

122dchaikin
Fev 3, 4:50 pm

Lisa - It’s busy here. I started going through my nonfiction by women books, but set it aside as I need more time. But I’m following the list posts.

123labfs39
Fev 3, 6:19 pm

Was a slow day, feeling a bit under the weather, so other than shoveling a little snow, spent the day reading and other quiet pursuits. Finally finished this one, which I had started shortly after the new year.



Peter Duck by Arthur Ransome
Published 1932, Rev. ed. 1983, 394 p.

I loved Amazons and Swallows, the first book in the famous children's series by British author, Arthur Ransome. Chronologically this book is second, although it was published third. In hindsight I wish I had read it in publication order, because we learn in Swallowdale that Peter Duck is a fictional tale written by one of the characters. That goes a long way to explaining some of the things I did not like about it, thinking that it was meant to be realistic.

The children have gathered in Lowestoft to join Captain Flint (Nancy and Peggy's uncle) on the schooner Wild Cat. They meet a crusty old salt named Peter Duck who volunteers to fill in for the other adult who is delayed and can't join them. Peter tells them a yarn about being shipwrecked as a ship's boy and seeing pirates bury treasure at the foot of a palm tree. Excited by the prospect of real buried treasure, Captain Flint and the Swallows and Amazons crew are off for the Caribbees, trailed by the notorious pirate Black Jake and The Viper. Adventures abound and once more the children must rely on their wits and each other as they sail across the Atlantic.

Although the middle of the book dragged a bit, the action in the last third is nonstop excitement. I look forward to returning to England and the adventures of the Swallows and Amazon in a more realistic setting.

124jjmcgaffey
Fev 4, 1:26 am

Yes. I like Peter Duck and Missee Lee the least of the Swallows and Amazons books, because they're stories told to/by the children. The rest of the series is the children actually doing things (for certain values of "actually", of course...but only one layer of fictionality).

125chlorine
Fev 4, 1:56 am

>121 labfs39: When Lola mentioned the free ebooks about Palestine I think she also mentioned that Palestine speaks was not available in the US, though it was available in France. I don't know the reasoning behind this. I hope they change their mind.

126rv1988
Editado: Fev 4, 9:39 pm

>95 labfs39: Great review, and I'll add my vote in for Joe Sacco, whose two books Palestine and Gaza are incredible, as is Safe Area Gorazde (on Eastern Bosnia).

(edited for grammar)

127dchaikin
Fev 4, 11:02 am

>123 labfs39: hope you feel better. Enjoyed your review.

128labfs39
Fev 4, 11:07 am

>124 jjmcgaffey: I've ordered a copy of Swallowdale and am eager to return to the children's "real" world. Good to know that Missee Lee is another metafictional story.

>125 chlorine: I checked to see if anything had shifted, but no. I may just order a paperback copy.

>126 rv1988: I'm looking forward to reading more by Sacco, the ones you mention as well as The Great War: July 1, 1916: The First Day of the Battle of the Somme, which looks incredible.

>127 dchaikin: Thanks, Dan.

129labfs39
Fev 4, 11:13 am

Despite wanting to read more nonfiction by women, I have stalled on River of the Gods for the moment, and after finishing Peter Duck started a random e-book pick called Days at the Morisaki Bookshop by Satoshi Yagisawa, translated from the Japanese by Eric Ozawa, because who doesn't love a book about books and bookshops. Unfortunately, this one is rather light and because the book references are all to Japanese authors of whom I am ignorant, even that aspect falls flat. It's short, however, so I should be able to move on soon.

130EBT1002
Fev 4, 5:01 pm

>94 labfs39: "How could such bright, athletic, musical, artistic kids be so terrifyingly ill?"
and
"...at least mothers are not taking the brunt of the blame as much anymore."
Yes to the first -- my brother was super smart and had artistic and musical talent.
Amen to the second.

>95 labfs39: That sounds like a terrific and powerful read. I will seek out a copy.

>121 labfs39: Awesome list! I'm favoriting that post. Thank you for duplicate posting it.

I hope you're feeling better.

131labfs39
Fev 4, 5:12 pm

Club Read's Recommended Nonfiction Written by Women

And we're up to 441 works from 19 contributors! There's something for everyone, check it out

132dianeham
Fev 4, 5:26 pm

Now I want to make more lists! But I don’t have a theme.

133kjuliff
Fev 4, 5:49 pm

>114 ursula: Thanks Ursula. Great review. I’ve finished Minor Detail now. I thought it was an important and impressive book, well written. I’m a bit behind in my reviews but will review it soon. Having trouble now typing.

134labfs39
Fev 4, 6:06 pm

>130 EBT1002: Minor Detail is worth a read, Ellen. It took me a minute to get used to the writing style, sparse with a focus on minutiae, but the work as a whole comes together powerfully.

>132 dianeham: I love lists! Dan's list thread has been a delight. This is Club Read's second recommendations list. The first was for graphic stories.

>133 kjuliff: I look forward to your thoughts, Kate. Are you able to use a speech to text app?

135BLBera
Fev 4, 6:36 pm

>131 labfs39: Thanks for this, Lisa. It is amazing. I love lists of books.

136kjuliff
Fev 4, 7:11 pm

>134 labfs39: I can use speech to text but I can’t write creatively that way. It’s similar to how many people prefer pen on paper for notes. Speech to text is ok for something like shopping lists. But now foy sentences that I am creating on the fly.

Also my problem with writing a review is that I can’t see what I type. I can see the keyboard but I can’t see what I’ve written. I seem often to repeat letter, like thiss. To me the word “this” in the last sentence looks correct. To see if it is incorrect I need to enlarge the screen by stretching to the extent there are only a few words on the screen.

Knowing the type of mistake I make I proofread about 6 times.

Still even though it’s time consuming I need to be able to write reviews.

I would have thought speech to text would work, but the mental process of describing plots and thoughts by “talking” a review doesn’t work for me.

137kjuliff
Editado: Fev 4, 7:13 pm

>134 labfs39: Accidental empty post

138JoeB1934
Fev 4, 7:39 pm

>136 kjuliff: What you are doing is doubly impressive with your reviews. I repeat what I said before, your work is incredibly important.

139kjuliff
Fev 4, 8:07 pm

>138 JoeB1934: Oh thank you so much for saying that Joe! You are such a lovely person.

I have two more to write in order to catch up with my reading. Vera by Elizabeth von Arnin and Minor Detail by Shibli Adania, both good books.

140labfs39
Fev 4, 9:17 pm

>135 BLBera: It's going to be a great resource for me. I appreciate everyone jumping in and contributing. For one thing it highlights books I own but haven't read yet. I can try and pick some of these up this year.

>136 kjuliff: I'm sorry speech to text doesn't work for you, Kate. I was hoping that maybe that might be an option for you. I could see how creative writing could be difficult that way, and there is still the problem of editing.

141labfs39
Fev 4, 9:36 pm

I picked this up as a free or inexpensive e-book, I think from BookBub. It's the debut novel by a (male) Japanese author, who has since gone on to publish a sequel.



Days at the Morisaki Bookshop by Satoshi Yagisawa, translated from the Japanese by Eric Ozawa
Published 2010, English translation 2023, 154 p.

One day twenty-five year old Takako is stunned when her boyfriend announces over dinner that he is getting married. It doesn't sound like a proposal. Come to find out, he has been in a relationship with another woman at their workplace since before they began dating. But don't worry, they can still see each other. Horrified, she quits her job and holes up in her apartment, sleeping thirteen hours a day. As her savings run low, she moves into a room above her uncle's bookshop, in exchange for opening the store in the mornings. Slowly she comes out of her depression, discovers the joys of reading, and reconnects with her uncle whom she hadn't seen in ten years.

I enjoy books about books and was looking forward to a light novel about readers. Unfortunately this one was even lighter than I expected, and my ignorance of modern Japanese authors made it difficult for me to appreciate the book talk. There is a sudden shift midway through the book, and the second half takes place a year and a half later with the return of her uncle's estranged wife. It felt like two stories cobbled together. Although the book didn't work for me, it was an inoffensive easy read, and not a bad way to spend a couple of hours. I appreciated the translator's note, which listed which books mentioned in the novel are available in translation.

142cindydavid4
Fev 4, 10:33 pm

too bad because that seems like it would be a wonderful book to read.

143ursula
Fev 5, 9:26 am

>141 labfs39: I read that last year and really was bored/dissatisfied with it. I'm not reading any more books with bookshop, bookstore, books, librarian, etc in the title.

144msf59
Editado: Fev 5, 9:36 am

Hi, Lisa. Glad you are having a good time with your feeders. I bet it is nice to see all those goldfinch. I need to pick up some fresh thistle, to lure them back into my feeders, which have been very quiet since our warm up. Are pileated woodpeckers common in your area?

145BLBera
Fev 5, 1:26 pm

>141 labfs39: This sounds like one I might be tempted to pick up, so thanks for the comments, Lisa. I think I'll pass.

146kjuliff
Fev 5, 8:01 pm

>120 chlorine: Susan Abulhawa’s books look so interesting. I was going to get one of them - forget which, but the audio narration is dreadful. Cloying and verging on condescending in tone.

147dchaikin
Fev 5, 8:36 pm

>131 labfs39: I’ve enjoyed this list tool. We definitely should make more lists like it. Thinking…

148labfs39
Fev 6, 7:47 am

>142 cindydavid4: I like the idea of bookshop books, but rarely do they work well for me.
Little Paris Bookshop, The Bookshop, Miss Hargreaves, and now Days at the Morisaki Bookshop were all mediocre reads. The one exception is A Novel Bookstore which had an interesting beginning before wandering astray.

>143 ursula: I have read some interesting nonfiction books about books, such as When Books Went to War, What We See When We Read, and Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of A Man Who Rescued A Million Yiddish Books, but too often the fiction seems weak.

>144 msf59: We did have pileated woodpeckers in this part of Maine, though I have not yet lured any to the feeder. In Seattle we had a pair nest next door and every year the young would be a delight to watch. Big babies.

>145 BLBera: I found it disappointing, Beth, so no loss if you skip.

>146 kjuliff: It's unfortunate that you have so much trouble finding good narrators.

>147 dchaikin: The list function works great for group lists, but I do also love our little CR list thread with odd personal lists. It's fun to both read and post on.

149kjuliff
Editado: Fev 6, 9:13 am

>148 labfs39: Agreed. i relyy 100% on audio to read books to “read”. I don’t have ebooks, paperbacks or hardcovers available. So some books I can never read, and not all books have good narrators, and most are not available at all.

So I don’t have the choice in books that most LT members have.

It is very frustrating I, and I have been reduced to tears when a book I really want to read is not available in audio. I find it most depressive and a getting counseling. I go to resource centers for the blind and have every reading aide available . I am now suffering from depression because of my lack of vision. I gave away my whole very extensive library and it is so weird for me to live in a house with no books.

150kidzdoc
Fev 6, 9:24 am

>149 kjuliff: That breaks my heart, Kate. Please know that I care, and my prayers are with you.

151kjuliff
Fev 6, 10:14 am

>150 kidzdoc: Thank you Darryl. I know you will understand about the depression. I’m doing ok and am getting used to my lack of vision. It is late- onset Vitelliform macular dystrophy - a genetic disorder.. It it was picked up 7 years ago and is progressive :(
But I’m managing ok.

Thank you so much for your kind thoughts especially during your own difficult time.

152chlorine
Fev 6, 3:20 pm

>149 kjuliff: I am so sorry for what you have to live through. Having to give up on one's books and not being able to read what one wants must be depressing indeed, and finding that an audiobook exists but the narrator is bad must be beyond frustrating.

153RidgewayGirl
Fev 6, 3:25 pm

>149 kjuliff: Tears are a very reasonable reaction to not being able to access a book in a form you can read. That you are so willing to battle on to get access to as much as you can and manage to write such insightful reviews is admirable.

154kjuliff
Fev 6, 3:29 pm

>95 labfs39: Great review Lisa. I had put off reading it until I’d read the book. Oh -and thank you for the spoiler alert.

I’ve now read the book. It’s reviewed here. I had much the same feelings as you toward the book and yes The ending is as devastating as it is inevitable..

I also had a problem at first in understanding why such detail was given in the officer’s dressing and ablutions. It took me more than it should to realise why.

I also liked that the book was short and to the point. There are so many books now about this conflict I found it Minor Detail to be a much-needed change both in length and clarity of message.

155labfs39
Fev 6, 3:32 pm

>154 kjuliff: Thanks, Kate. I'm glad you liked it too. Concise but powerful. I'm off to check out your review too.

156Jim53
Fev 6, 9:06 pm

>149 kjuliff: I'm sorry to hear about this. Holding you in the light.

Re: "bookshop" books, one I did enjoy was Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore.

157labfs39
Fev 9, 7:34 am

>156 Jim53: I have not read Mr. Penumbra. Good to know it's a decent bookshop book.

I've been AWOL from my own thread for a few days, but I did finish the next Murderbot book.

158labfs39
Fev 9, 7:57 am

Before I review the third Murderbot book, I wanted to report back on my informal "Do you think of Murderbot as male, female, or a gender?" poll back in my last thread. The final count is 4 male, 4 female, and 6 agender. Interesting! Liz even did a costume analysis of the first book cover to support her view, but I think the jury's hung if you compare multiple covers. Anywho, I read the third novella Tuesday.



Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells (Murderbot, 3)
Published 2018, 158 p.

Despite having run away from ProtectionAux and Dr. Mensah, our SecUnit continues to feel loyal, and as the lawsuit against GrayCris starts to fall apart SecUnit decides to go to another planet where GrayCris has done some shady terraforming and try to gather more evidence against them. No longer using the self-appellation Murderbot after finding out what really happened on the extra-galactic moon in the last book, SecUnit uses the alias of Security Consultant Rin to shadow an investigatory team headed for the partially terraformed, and now abandoned, planet of interest. She tries to dupe a "pet" robot named Miki that considers itself the team leader's friend in order to tag along in the shadows. But in exchange for not telling others about it, Miki makes Rin promise to help protect the humans in the team. Rin agrees and gets hip deep into the ensuing action.

I love the voice of "sci-fi's favorite antisocial." Murderbot/Rin is so sarcastic and funny, yet vulnerable at the same time. First with ART and now with Miki, you see MB struggle with what it means for a machine to be in relationships with humans. From pain-in-the-ass clients to colleagues to friends, are these types of relationships possible? For MB, even being friends with a nonhuman seems a stretch. Although I liked the interactions with ART in the last book, I liked this book more overall. The action was faster paced, and I could almost seem the wheels in MB's head turn as she watched the interactions between Miki and Abene. Great series!

159Willoyd
Editado: Fev 9, 12:32 pm

>148 labfs39:
I like the idea of bookshop books, but rarely do they work well for me.
For me too - I have also come to the conclusion that I don't really get on with Japanese lit either, so double-whammy. The one recent exception to the latter was Tokyo Express, but otherwise I find there's a certain feel to them that really doesn't agree with me. Hard to describe, but words that jump to mind are 'cold', 'over-precise', 'stark'. Have also found it with the (far) fewer Korean books I've tried. Although there are plenty of lean, spartan, books that I do enjoy, so these words are at best inadequate.

160kjuliff
Fev 9, 2:14 pm

>159 Willoyd: I would never think of reading a bookshop book. Same with books with titles like “The xxx’s Daughter”. Titles are important to me as I have a perhaps stereotyped view of the novel that follows.

161labfs39
Fev 9, 2:29 pm

>159 Willoyd: Although I am no expert on Japanese literature, I have found some enjoyable, although, as you say, the economy of both language and emotion can make it feel stark or cold to a Western ear. (I'm not sure how they sound to a native speaker.) This works well in some of the nonfiction that I have read. In addition, some of my favorite fiction books are

Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa (a light novella I found touching)
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami (my favorite by this author, and quite heartwarming)
Fires on the Plain by Shohei Ooka (a novel based on his WWII experiences, very powerful)
Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata (beautiful language although the protagonist is unlikable)
The Nakano Thrift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami (fun, light, but sweet novel)
Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse (classic, devastating novel about the atomic bombings)

I have not read many Korean books, and the ones I have have been mostly memoirs, so I don't feel I have enough data points to say anything meaningful.

162labfs39
Fev 9, 2:31 pm

>160 kjuliff: I never say never, but I do tend to be disappointed by bookshop books.

163rocketjk
Fev 9, 3:50 pm

>162 labfs39: fwiw, I highly recommend The Sentence by Louise Erdrich. Definitely a bookshop book, but most importantly a people book.

164kjuliff
Fev 9, 3:52 pm

>163 rocketjk: Yes I agree. I’ve read that. It’s an exception and exceptional.

165kjuliff
Fev 9, 3:55 pm

>163 rocketjk: And may be 84, Charing Cross Road though its ages since I read it and perhaps it doesn’t hold up.

166dianeham
Fev 9, 5:14 pm

>165 kjuliff: I just read something about that.

167kjuliff
Fev 9, 5:27 pm

>166 dianeham: I loved that book. It’s based on a true story. Very sweet. When in London I went to that address hoping the bookshop might have still been there, but knowing that it wasn’t.

168dianeham
Editado: Fev 9, 5:30 pm

>165 kjuliff: I remember - torontoc wrote a review of the sequel - The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street - https://www.librarything.com/topic/356286#8378650

I didn’t know there was a sequel.

169kjuliff
Fev 9, 5:34 pm

>168 dianeham: I think that sequel was embodied in the film adaptation of Charing Cross Road as I remember about the MC meeting the wife.

170Willoyd
Fev 9, 5:53 pm

>165 kjuliff:
Definitely an exception - a long-time favourite. How could I have forgotten it?! I've enjoyed all the Hanff I've read, including Duchess, and Letters from New York.
>165 kjuliff: Having so enjoyed Plague of Doves, must try this!
>161 labfs39: Sadly, I've tried several Murakami and Snow Country without success, although I recognise their quality. The Ibuse sounds to be worth trying.

171chlorine
Fev 10, 3:06 pm

Regarding Murderbot's gender or lack of it, I am among those who consider it as male. I wanted to point out that I may be influenced in this by the fact that in French it is not possible to talk about someone without assigning a gender (because adjectives are gendered, among other reasons) and the French translation assigns the male gender to Murderbot.
This being said, I read it in English and I really feel like the badass stereotype is the foremost reason for considering MB male.

172labfs39
Fev 10, 4:34 pm

>163 rocketjk: The Sentence is definitely one I would like to read, Jerry, but I've wanted some distance from the events before attempting it. I want to read more Erdrich in general, as the few things I have read have all been excellent (The Round House and Birchbark House trilogy).

>164 kjuliff: Good to know, Kate.

>165 kjuliff: et al. Yes, 85, Charing Cross Road is a good one too. It didn't come up when I did a "bookshop" search of my library. I haven't read the sequel yet.

>170 Willoyd: Too bad, it sounds like Japanese lit may just not work for you, Will. I know you like history—I've read some excellent nonfiction about the war and the atomic bombings if Black Rain appeals.

Hiroshima diary : the journal of a Japanese physician, August 6-September 30, 1945 by Michihiko Hachiya
Taken captive : a Japanese POW's story by Ooka Shohei (who also wrote the novel Fires on the Plain about his experiences prior to becoming a POW)
Kamikaze by Yasuo Kuwahara

If you read graphic novels at all, Barefoot Gen is a great series by a survivor, Keiji Nakazawa. And although most of the stories in The Crazy iris and other stories of the atomic aftermath are fictionalized, many are by survivors.

>171 chlorine: I thought the author did an amazing job not assigning gender in her books. I couldn't even write a review without sorting to weird contortions to avoid personal pronouns. In my mind, Murderbot is a badass, wise-cracking female. :-)

173labfs39
Editado: Fev 10, 6:12 pm

Today I received a copy of My Vietnam, Your Vietnam through the Early Reviewer program. It's written by a daughter and father duo about their different perceptions of Vietnam. The father fled Vietnam as a boat person, and the daughter was born in the US and didn't visit Vietnam until she was an adult. It looks promising.



I also stopped in at the Waterboro Public Library book and bake sale. The library occupies the two-room building which used to be a school, and where I went to kindergarten and first grade. I found several books in excellent condition.



I also picked up a copy of Purple Hibiscus, which I borrowed from Lois last year and loved, and two Mercedes Lackey novels of Valdemar which I hadn't read. I'll add those on my labfs39kids account.

Edited to fix cover image.

174WelshBookworm
Fev 10, 4:57 pm

>173 labfs39: I loved the Miss Read books. Also her Thrush Green series. I should put those on my maybe reread someday list!

175labfs39
Fev 10, 6:17 pm

>174 WelshBookworm: Every once in a while I get the urge for a British "cardigan" novel. These seem like they will fit the bill.

176Ameise1
Fev 11, 2:46 am

I love the Herron's series. I hope you'll enjoy it too.

177BLBera
Fev 11, 10:20 am

You are so lucky to have a lot of Louise Erdrich ahead, Lisa. She is one of my favorites.

>173 labfs39: Nice book haul. The book about Vietnam sounds interesting.

178JoeB1934
Fev 11, 10:40 am

>163 rocketjk: I want to echo this comment about Louise Erdrich as she is at the top of my favorites, especially for her portrayal of real indigenous peoples. Her presentation of such people emphasizes their strength and competence of extremely high accomplishments. Her use of language as presented in The Sentence struck me with such great force that I have read almost all of her books.

179labfs39
Fev 11, 11:36 am

>176 Ameise1: I started Slow Horses once before with a library book, and it didn't take. So many have enjoyed the series that I thought I should give it another try.

>177 BLBera: >178 JoeB1934: I hear nothing but praise for Erdrich's books, so I'm eager to read more.

>177 BLBera: The Vietnamese memoir does sound interesting, in part because of the father-daughter angle. I may read something else first though, because I just finished reading Thuy's book this morning and don't want to bias my reading of a new author after reading a favorite author on a similar topic, if that makes sense.

180labfs39
Fev 11, 12:01 pm

Thank you to a fellow LTer who passed this along, knowing how much I enjoy Thúy's writing!



Mãn by Kim Thúy, translated from the French by Sheila Fischman
Published 2013, English translation 2014, 139 p.

I love Kim Thúy's writing, and this novella is no exception. Whenever I pick up one of her books, I know I am going to be treated to beautiful, evocative writing; a semi-autobiographical plot; a delicate, nuanced view of immigration; a visceral longing for her Vietnamese homeland; and a love for her adopted country (Canada).

Mãn (which means "fulfilled") grew up in Vietnam with her adoptive mother, Maman, who would often leave Mãn with friends or neighbors when she had an assignment as a revolutionary. There Mãn learned to be invisible, to serve the families with deft hands, anticipating their wants so they would have no cause to turn on her. This prepared her for the life of a foreign bride to a Vietnamese man in Montreal. Maman wanted her to be assured of a safe life, and Mãn continued to take up as little oxygen as possible.

Once in Montreal, however, Mãn is befriended by Julie, a smiling, open-hearted woman who dissolves the boundaries that Mãn has set up around herself. Soon Mãn is running an increasingly famous restaurant built around remembered and reimagined Vietnamese recipes. In Paris Mãn meets someone who will dissolve the boundaries around her heart as well.

Kim Thúy is a restaurateur and chef, and her passion for food is evident in this novel. If you love food, you will enjoy her descriptions of the tastes and textures of various foods used in Vietnamese cooking. But it's also a novel about a life between worlds and the struggle to find personal fulfillment in such a tenuous space. As in Em and Ru, each chapter is only a page or two long and the book is short, but the language is rich and savory and the images linger.

181chlorine
Fev 11, 12:17 pm

>180 labfs39: Very interesting and evocative review! I had never heard of Kim Thúy.

182labfs39
Fev 11, 12:23 pm

>181 chlorine: My favorite is Em, but all three of her books that I've read have been good.

183FlorenceArt
Fev 12, 11:36 am

>180 labfs39: This sounds great. I already have Ru on my wishlist following a CR review, possibly yours.

184labfs39
Fev 12, 12:07 pm

>183 FlorenceArt: I hope you enjoy her writing, Florence.

Today, my copy of Swallowdale arrived in the mail. I may use it as my between book before starting another Vietnamese novel. I am still plugging through River of the Gods too. Maybe I should finish it before starting something else. Hmm...

185edwinbcn
Fev 12, 1:10 pm

>180 labfs39:
Kim Thúy looks like an author whose work might interest me, your review of Mãn is also enticing.

186avaland
Fev 12, 4:29 pm

Caught up with your reading!

187labfs39
Fev 12, 6:04 pm

>185 edwinbcn: I hope you like her writing if you get to her, Edwin.

>186 avaland: Hi Lois! How much snow are you expecting?

188labfs39
Fev 12, 7:27 pm

A book I'm glad I read but am glad it's in the rear view mirror. Perhaps my focus on African novels last year tainted my view of this history, or perhaps I wasn't in the right mood, but I was disappointed in this one.



River of the Gods: Genius, Courage, and Betrayal in the Search for the Source of the Nile by Candice Millard
Published 2022, 349 p.

Years ago I thoroughly enjoyed Millard's River of Doubt, about Theodore Roosevelt's journey on the Amazon, so I thought this would be another interesting narrative history, this time focusing on the Nile. And in many ways the book delivers. Richard Burton is as fascinating a man of his times as Roosevelt, and the expeditions he and John Speke undertake in 1856-1863 are fraught with danger, illness, and disasters that kept me turning the pages. The highlight of the book, IMO, was their guide, Sidi Mubarak Bombay, who was stolen from his village as a child, sold for a bolt of cloth by Arab traders, and was enslaved in Western India for twenty years. Once freed, he returned to Africa and became one of the most travelled men on the continent and a highly regarded guide (including Stanley's trip to find the lost Dr. Livingstone).

My issues with the book stem from the author's almost giddy hero-worship of Burton, an interesting man (anyone who speaks 25 languages and 10 dialects interests me), but a deeply flawed one as well. Millard is so busy defending Burton from Speke's accusations that I didn't feel as though Burton was viewed objectively. Millard attempts to shed a bit of light on the way European explorers exploited the natives who did most of the work and whose own maps and geographies were discounted, but it's still a book about the Europeans. I don't know what I was expecting, but I closed the book knowing more about the area and the principals involved, yet disappointed. Perhaps it's impossible to read a book about nineteenth-century European explorers without being disappointed.

189BLBera
Fev 12, 7:46 pm

I know what you mean about changing your views of history, Lisa. Right now I am reading On Juneteenth and Gordon-Reed talks a lot about our origin stories vs. history, e.g. what really happened. Some of the stuff she talks about I knew, but I am learning about Texas history.

190dchaikin
Fev 12, 10:04 pm

>188 labfs39: the heroic colonial explorer meme hasn’t aged well (except Magellan). Interesting. Interesting guide!

>180 labfs39: you’ve made me crave Vietnamese food! I haven’t read any of her books. I should try one.

191kjuliff
Fev 12, 10:13 pm

>190 dchaikin: Last month explorer Captain Cook’s statue was chopped down in my hometown of Melbourne leaving only his shoes. See Captain Cook statue vandalised in Melbourne on eve of Australia Day

192kjuliff
Fev 12, 10:20 pm

>180 labfs39: Are there any Vietnamese recipes in this book? I used to eat a lot of Vietnamese food in Melbourne and noticed a dearth of Vietnamese restaurant when I came to the US in the mid-nineties. There are plenty now but I remember eating bowls of pho served with fresh bean shoots and mint, every week-day for lunch near the place where I worked.

193rv1988
Fev 12, 11:16 pm

Catching up on your threads, and I'm enjoying your Murderbot reviews so much. A lovely review of Mãn by Kim Thúy too, I had not heard of the book nor author, but will be looking them up now.

194labfs39
Fev 13, 7:02 am

>189 BLBera: I guess my focus on reading authors from Africa, instead of about Africa, had a bigger unconscious impact than I knew. Reading a book written from the outside looking in felt off.

>190 dchaikin: There were several things to admire about Burton: he learned the local languages and customs and was truly interested in the people he met and he was adamantly opposed to the slave trade. He also disliked the European habit of renaming geographical places (i.e. changing Nyanza to Lake Victoria). Although I think the author was biased, Speke does not come off well. The guide Bombay was an interesting and vital aspect of the expedition, but did not leave written diaries and books for historians to pore over the way the Europeans did. The reader sees him through the things that Burton and Speke wrote, not his own thoughts. Now that would have been interesting.

Mãn was not my favorite of Thúy's books, but mainly because I am less interested in the culinary angle. She's a great writer though.

>191 kjuliff: Interesting, thanks for sharing the link, Kate.

>192 kjuliff: There are not any recipes in Mãn, but the author has written Secrets from My Vietnamese Kitchen: Simple Recipes from My Many Mothers.

>193 rv1988: Thank you, Rasdhar! I'm so glad you've joined us on Club Read. Your presence has added to my wishlist enormously.

195labfs39
Fev 13, 7:11 am

A couple of quotes from River of the Gods:

Speke was again quick to rebuff any suggestion that he dress like an Arab on his journey. "The Arabs at Unyanyembe {near Kazeh} had advised my donning their habit for the trip, in order to attract less attention," he wrote, "a vain precaution, which I believe they suggested more to gratify their own vanity in seeing an Englishman lower himself to their position, than for any benefit that I might receive by doing so." Later, when Burton saw what Speke had written, he would declare it just another example of the young man's profound ignorance, scoffing at the idea that any Arab would envy an Englishman. -Chapter 13

...Galton also wrote a popular book called The Art of Travel, which offered explorers practical information... and advice to hire women for expeditions, explaining that they like to carry heavy objects and cost little to feed because they can just lick their fingers while cooking. -Chapter 15

196labfs39
Fev 13, 7:39 am



Mary Doria Russell is a fantastic author who writes both science fiction (The Sparrow and Children of God) and historical fiction (Dreamers of the Day, Doc, and Thread of Grace). Her sequel to Doc (about Doc Holliday), Epitaph, is in danger of going out of print. She is offering to include two of her watercolor paintings at no extra charge if you order a copy of Epitaph from the link below.

From her Facebook page:

"Personal favor to ask. If you liked Doc (or any of my novels), please give Epitaph a try. I'm afraid it's going to go out of print if the sales don't pick up. I got seriously ill during the book tour and had to cancel about half the events. I recovered, but the book never really got going. I'll ask Suzanne to put TWO paintings in each book. Link in comments."

Here's the link: https://www.macsbacks.com/book/9780062198778
.

Mary Doria Russell, the bestselling, award-winning author of The Sparrow, returns with Epitaph. An American Iliad, this richly detailed and meticulously researched historical novel continues the story she began in Doc, following Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday to Tombstone, Arizona, and to the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

A deeply divided nation. Vicious politics. A shamelessly partisan media. A president loathed by half the populace. Smuggling and gang warfare along the Mexican border. Armed citizens willing to stand their ground and take law into their own hands. . . .

That was America in 1881.

All those forces came to bear on the afternoon of October 26 when Doc Holliday and the Earp brothers faced off against the Clantons and the McLaurys in Tombstone, Arizona. It should have been a simple misdemeanor arrest. Thirty seconds and thirty bullets later, three officers were wounded and three citizens lay dead in the dirt.

Wyatt Earp was the last man standing, the only one unscathed. The lies began before the smoke cleared, but the gunfight at the O.K. Corral would soon become central to American beliefs about the Old West.

Epitaph tells Wyatt’s real story, unearthing the Homeric tragedy buried under 130 years of mythology, misrepresentation, and sheer indifference to fact. Epic and intimate, this novel gives voice to the real men and women whose lives were changed forever by those fatal thirty seconds in Tombstone. At its heart is the woman behind the myth: Josephine Sarah Marcus, who loved Wyatt Earp for forty-nine years and who carefully chipped away at the truth until she had crafted the heroic legend that would become the epitaph her husband deserved.




Thanks to streamsong for bringing this to the attention of Russell fans on LibraryThing.

197msf59
Fev 13, 2:58 pm

I am a big fan of Millard and was also somewhat disappointed in River of the Gods. It left me cold and she was on such a great roll too.

Hooray for MDR! I am glad you also shared Janet's pot over here. Have you read most of her work? We are doing a shared read of The Sparrow next month. It will be a reread for me.

How are those feeders doing? How about that bird bath?

198labfs39
Editado: Fev 13, 10:10 pm

>197 msf59: Glad I'm not alone in finding River of the Gods less than stellar, Mark. I'm still going to try Destiny of the Republic at some point though, as people seem to think that one as good as or better than River of Doubt.

I've read five of Mary Doria Russell's books, all but Epitaph and The Women of the Copper Country. I ordered a copy of Epitaph, but may reread Doc (which I unexpectedly loved) before I get to it.

The feeders have been quiet, and the birdbath froze again, so not much to report there.

Edited to fix touchstone.

199labfs39
Fev 13, 4:50 pm

I started reading my other interlibrary loan book today, as it is hard to get them renewed. I had been putting it off in part because the book is in tatters, with a broken spine, and is completely stained from water damage. The pages are falling out as I read. I was shocked that such a damaged book was allowed to remain in the University of Maine's collection. The local librarian took photos of it before checking it out to me so that neither of us would get fined. Once begun, however, I'm finding it hard to put down. Thanks to Dilara for the recommendation!

200msf59
Fev 13, 6:50 pm

Destiny of the Republic is my favorite Millard. BTW- We are doing a shared read of The Sparrow next month. Of course, it will be a reread for me. Doc is also on my reread list.

201rocketjk
Fev 13, 7:52 pm

>197 msf59: & >198 labfs39: Oh, my goodness. I read River of the Dancing Gods last year. What are the odds? My reaction was more or less the same as both of yours. Here's my review:

https://www.librarything.com/topic/347158#8095536

202labfs39
Fev 13, 10:09 pm

>200 msf59: Good to know that Destiny of the Republic is still worth reading. I'll pass on The Sparrow reread. I've read it several times already. Enjoy though!

>201 rocketjk: How funny! We are actually talking about the Millard book, River of the Gods: Genius, Courage, and Betrayal in the Search for the Source of the Nile, but the touchstone keeps defaulting to the Chandler book, River of the Dancing Gods. Slightly different, but both disappointing, I guess.

203rocketjk
Fev 13, 11:18 pm

>202 labfs39: Oh, that is funny. And I did read the original comments about the Millard book, but then when I saw your response I of course had already forgotten that and, yes, got fooled by the touchstone. Anyway, cheers!

204Dilara86
Fev 14, 2:01 am

>199 labfs39: You're welcome! This book really resonated with me. The characters stayed in my head long after I finished it.

205AlisonY
Fev 14, 11:23 am

Great reviews. I turn my back on your thread for a minute and I'm regularly 100+ chats behind! Noting many for my heaving wishlist.

206labfs39
Fev 15, 7:11 am

>203 rocketjk: LT touchstone can be astonishingly persistent. I've never gotten such synergy from one before though!

>204 Dilara86: I'm enjoying the plot more than Jamilia. I love the descriptions of live on the steppes. And you are right: camel!

>205 AlisonY: The beginning of the year is always busy, and we've had a couple of discussions on the threads that caused them to balloon. Thank you for taking the time to skim through. I deleted two books off my burgeoning wishlist, and thought I had accomplished a lot. It's a nice svelte 260.

207labfs39
Fev 15, 7:12 pm

I watched the documentary film, Won't You Be My Neighbor? about Fred Rogers (not to be confused with the movie starring Tom Hanks). I was unexpectedly moved. I grew up watching Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, more than any other children's show, although I also remember Captain Kangaroo. Any other Club Readers who grew up with Mister Rogers? I hadn't realized that there was a precursor in Canada called misterogers.

208mabith
Fev 15, 7:14 pm

I'm glad for the reminder about Epitaph, as it's been on my to-read list for a long time now.

On women history writers... Have you read anything by Caroline Alexander? Her book about the mutiny on the Bounty (The Bounty) and The War that Killed Achilles are particular favorites of mine. The actual story of the Bounty is a far cry from the common knowledge or movie versions.

209labfs39
Fev 15, 7:16 pm

>208 mabith: You should add those to our list. The only thing I've read by Alexander is The Endurance. I will have to look for more by her.

210dchaikin
Fev 15, 9:28 pm

>208 mabith: i read The War the Killes Achilles. Didn’t realize anyone else in the world had. It was part of my Homer prep. (I found it informative but challenging reading.)

211dianeham
Editado: Fev 16, 1:04 am

>207 labfs39: Mr. Rogers came on in the US the year I graduated from high school. The few times I saw him in passing on tv - I thought he was a joke. Sorry.

212labfs39
Fev 15, 10:10 pm

>211 dianeham: No apologies necessary. He was a part of my childhood that I hadn't thought about and was reminded of it. I was wondering if any others grew up with him. I can absolutely see how a teenager would find him a joke. He was a hit with the preschool set, however.

213rv1988
Fev 15, 11:52 pm

>196 labfs39: This sounds interesting! I looked it up and while I can't find it for sale where I am, our library has a copy. I'll be reading it!

214KeithChaffee
Fev 16, 12:55 am

I was part of the Mister Rogers generations of kids, but I always found him creepy. "Hello, boys and girls! Can you say 'basement dungeon'? I knew you could!"

215ursula
Fev 16, 3:36 am

I grew up with Mister Rogers and loved all the characters in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, King Friday XIII the most of all. The trolley, Lady Elaine ... yeah, good memories.

216Willoyd
Fev 16, 6:15 am

>196 labfs39:
Her sequel to Doc (about Doc Holliday), Epitaph, is in danger of going out of print. She is offering to include two of her watercolor paintings at no extra charge if you order a copy of Epitaph from the link below.
Unfortunately they only ship to USA and Canada. I've found an entry by Blackwell's in abebooks which, given delivery times, I think means that they get it in from the States. Hoping that works!

217labfs39
Fev 16, 7:40 am

>213 rv1988: I would read Doc first, if you can. I am not a westerns reader in general, but Doc Holliday, as portrayed by Russell, was fascinating. She does a lot of research and is a great writer.

>214 KeithChaffee: It's funny. My daughter was terrified of Sesame Street.

>215 ursula: I can't say I Loved the show, but it plays a bigger part in my very young memories than I thought it did. Watching the documentary brought it all back. Mister Rogers was gentle and kind in a world that was not always so. His first episode dealt with the Vietnam War. (And the first song I remember learning the words to was Ballad of the Green Berets.)

>216 Willoyd: You might send a note to the bookstore so that when they fill your order they add the watercolor. Have you read Doc yet? I had no idea before I read the book that he was related to Margaret Mitchell.

218Willoyd
Editado: Fev 16, 10:53 am

>217 labfs39:
I'm relaxed about the watercolour, but thanks. I've not been a great Western reader, but have been largely introduced to them through doing my US Tour, and have really enjoyed every one of them: McCarthy's Border trilogy (New Mexico), Lonesome Dove (Texas), The Virginian (Wyoming), The Ox-Bow Incident (Nevada). Have started reading a bit about both the development of the West and the American Civil War; fascinating stuff - so many familiar names about which I didn't fully appreciate how little I knew. And no, I didn't know that about Mitchell and Holliday either.

219RidgewayGirl
Fev 16, 2:04 pm

I have fond memories of Mr. Rogers. It's such a relief when something I loved as a child is still a good thing now.

220arubabookwoman
Fev 16, 7:58 pm

I was long past childhood when Mr. Rogers came on (and there was no TV in Aruba anyway), but my kids all loved Mr. Rogers. In fact My oldest sone when he was 4 or so wanted to be Mr. Rogers. He had a red cardigan, and his favorite game was to walk into a room singing the Mr. Rogers song, change into tennis shoes, put on his red cardigan, and put on a Mr. Rogers show. Of course, another favorite game of his was to pretend to be the guy on The PBS Nightly Business News, sitting at a desk and pretending to give the business news of the day.

221japaul22
Fev 17, 6:41 am

I grew up watching Mr. Rogers and especially loved the puppets. My kids then watched Daniel Tiger, which is a cartoon version of a lot of the lessons in Mr. Rogers.

222labfs39
Fev 17, 8:01 am

>218 Willoyd: I have read and enjoyed All the Pretty Horses, Lonesome Dove, and Doc and that's about the extent of my western reading, I think. All good ones. And I think you are further along on your US reading tour than I am, and I live here!

>219 RidgewayGirl: It's such a relief when something I loved as a child is still a good thing now.

I know. One thing I learned in the documentary that made me sad was that at his funeral, a bunch of haters turned up condemning Rogers for tolerating gays. Because, you know, tolerance. And there were kids in the crowd holding these signs looking very tired and confused.

>220 arubabookwoman: That's funny about your son, Deborah. It's so nice when gentle kindness plays out in kids lives.

>221 japaul22: My nieces watched Daniel Tiger at their house, and when covid appeared, I watched some episodes with them. Daniel Tiger did a nice series on things like disappointment at not having parties, handwashing, and adults keeping kids safe. While I understand the appeal of animation for today's kids and I thought it well done, I did like the idea of a real male role model.

223labfs39
Fev 17, 8:15 am

I'm still plugging away at The Day Lasts More than a Hundred Years. Just got through the section on mankurts. I am surprised that this passed Soviet censors. It's such a powerful analogy for the loss of national identity and kinship ties in Kazakhstan. I also finished season 1 of the Wooden Overcoats podcast. Very British humor and I am loving it. I think there are four seasons.

I also took this opportunity, now that we are six weeks into the new year, to update my Unread E-Books list and copy it to the top of this thread. Since the beginning of the year, I've added four books (one is my RL book club selection for March), but read one of them. I've also added some short works using the webpage to Kindle app, dotEPUB, but haven't tracked those.

224labfs39
Fev 18, 2:04 pm

I read Jamilia a couple of years ago and was impressed with the descriptions of the steppe. When Dilara reminded me of Aitmatov, and I asked her which book she would recommend. She asked me to pick an animal from a list:

Camels: The Day Lasts More than a Hundred Years
Horses and sheep: Farewell Gul'sary
Snow leopards: Le léopard des neiges (may not be available in English)
Maral deer: The White Steamship

I chose the camel and hence this book.



The Day Lasts More than a Hundred Years by Chingiz Aitmatov, translated from the Russian by John French
Published 1980, English translation 1983, 352 p., Indiana University Press

This is a novel of striking juxtapositions. The main plotline takes place over the course of a single day, and yet the past is ever present both in reflections and in legends. The focus is a tiny settlement at a railway intersection surrounded by the vastness of the Central Asian steppe, yet other nations and even aliens from outer space have a role. It is an example of socialist realism with its heroic railway worker, yet is subversive with its mankurts men who have been captured, tortured, and brainwashed into mindless slaves with no memory or identity. It is village prose and yet lauds the advances of technology. Finally, it is a novel written in Russian for a Russian or Russified audience, and yet seems to advocate for the retention of national identity and religion. And it is a novel by a Kyrgyz author set in Kazakhstan.

Yedigei was a soldier in WWII but suffered from shell shock and returned home early. Unable at first to perform the hard labor he is assigned, he finds a place in a remote settlement helping maintain the lines at a railroad junction. He and his wife are taken in by Kazangap, an older worker who is the lynchpin of the tiny community. The book opens with Yedigei learning that Kazangap has died, and the frame for the rest of the book is the journey Yedigei undertakes on his camel to take Kazangap to a cemetery for burial according to Muslim tradition. Along the way, Yedigei ruminates on his life, and especially on the fate of another family who joined their community for a time years ago.

A subplot involves the nearby (fictitious) cosmodrome, where rockets are launched after scientists from a join Soviet-US venture make contact with another intelligent species.

Despite its length (and the horribly damaged copy I was reading), I found this novel very compelling, as well as touching. I grew to care about Yedigei and his relationships with Kazangap and the members of the other family, as well as the troublesome, yet magnificent male camel, Karanar. It's a novel that would lend itself well to discussion, and I continue to think about aspects of the novel, especially after reading the introduction, which I did once I finished the book. I can see why the book is popular with readers of all stripes as it can be interpreted in a myriad of ways.

225dchaikin
Fev 18, 7:30 pm

>224 labfs39: you had me quietly interested with your previous posts. Terrific review. I’m fascinated. I have Jamilia on my tbr shelves

226cindydavid4
Fev 18, 8:02 pm

you asked where you should put it- when I read it, I thought it belonged in Kazakhstan because thats where everything happens. Could be wrong, just my view

Is this the one where the astronauts land on another planet and the aliens want to come back with them? might be thinking of another book but remember wondering why the author would include a sci fi section, thought it misplaced. I was so taken by that section that I wanted to become a whole story, but not sure it worked here

227labfs39
Fev 18, 8:40 pm

>225 dchaikin: The two books are very different. Jamilia has a so-so plot, but the descriptions of the steppe are gorgeously done. It was the author's breakthrough novel. This one was written 22 years later and is a much more put-together piece and a lot longer (even though the English translation is abridged evidently). I will definitely seek out more by this author.

>226 cindydavid4: For the global challenge, I'm trying to stick to authors from that country, so I tacked into onto Jamilia in Kyrgyzstan, despite the setting. It's a fun challenge, but challenging!

It does have the sci-fi subplot that you mention. The book could easily have been written without it, and it is one of the most glaring juxtapositions. But from what I've read, the hoop, i.e. missile defense system, not only mirrors the "hoop" used in creating mankurts, but also could be interpreted as the Iron Curtain or Berlin Wall. Evidently the author was interested in space exploration as a way to unify terrestrial governments. I think it also allowed him to expand on his ideas around climate change.

228rv1988
Fev 18, 9:25 pm

>224 labfs39: Terrific review. I don't think I've read anything from this region, so lovely to hear about this book.

Ps. I'm glad you're enjoying Wooden Overcoats!

229labfs39
Editado: Fev 19, 2:28 pm

>228 rv1988: I've only read two of Aitmatov's works, and they were very different, but I liked them both. I look forward to reading more of his work. If you are interested in Central Asia, I would highly recommend Galsan Tschinag, if you haven't read his autobiographical novels yet. I loved The Blue Sky, the first. I hope the third will be translated into English soon.**

Wooden Overcoats is fun and perfect for short bits of time. I'm currently listening to the Piffling Lives episodes that they released while they were raising money for season two. Random Mouse, in particular, was cute.

**Edited to add: I just checked, and The White Mountain is supposed to be released in November of this year.

230labfs39
Editado: Fev 20, 8:32 am

Next Up:


My Vietnam, Your Vietnam: A Dual Memoir by Christina Vo & Nghia M. Vo

This dual memoir by a father and daughter is an Early Reviewer book. I'm only a few chapters in, but so far it is very engaging. He is a physician who escaped with the fall of Saigon, she is a recent public health school grad who interns in Hanoi. Although I've read other memoirs by people who left Vietnam and settled in the US and memoirs of Vietnamese Americans, this is my first offering this dual perspective.

Edited to add touchstone

231chlorine
Fev 20, 2:01 pm

I didn't know that Maria Doria Russel wrote non-scifi books! The one you pointed out seems quite interesting.
I have read Jamilia by Aitmatov and thought it was OK, but no more. The Day lasts more than a hundred Years seems to be different so I might give it a try at some point.

232labfs39
Fev 24, 2:38 pm

>231 chlorine: Yes, MDR has actually written more historical fiction than scifi. She seems to write good books on widely diverse topics. I've heard that she has retired from writing though, which is too bad.

I thought the descriptions of the steppe were lovely, but otherwise Jamilia was just okay too. The Day Lasts More Than a Hundred Years is VERY different and a more interesting subject, I think.

233labfs39
Fev 24, 2:41 pm

I had some e-credits that were going to expire, so I picked up two new e-books yesterday:


The Great Escape: Nine Jews Who Fled Hitler and Changed the World by Kati Marton


Operation Columba—The Secret Pigeon Service: The Untold Story of World War II Resistance in Europe by Gordon Corera

234labfs39
Fev 24, 3:38 pm

I whipped through another Murderbot novella. Love these!



Exit Strategy by Martha Wells
Published 2018, 172 p.

The fourth installment in the Murderbot series finds our wise-cracking, introverted SecUnit back with her original crew from Preservation Aux. Dr. Mensah (does anyone else want to read this as mensch?) has been kidnapped by Gray Cris and her friends are determined to get her back.

I loved both the reunion with the crew and the action in this one, but in the first couple of chapters found a lot of references to characters in the previous novels. Just throw away lines, but it was distracting to try and remember who was who. It bogged things down unnecessarily, in my opinion. Still loving the series though.

235labfs39
Fev 24, 3:39 pm

So which Murderbot should I read next: Fugitive Telemetry or Network Effect? (i.e. chronological or order of publication?)

236KeithChaffee
Fev 24, 3:45 pm

I almost always believe in reading in order of publication. The author wrote (to pick a number at random) book #7 knowing everything that happened in books #1-#6, which makes it a good idea for the reader to know those things too. If you read #7 in its chronological sequence, let's say before #4-#6, there is some chance that it will spoil the events of those previously written books. Probably not in huge ways, but even so, I'd choose to avoid that.

237BLBera
Fev 24, 10:01 pm

I read Fugitive Telemetry before Network Effect and it seemed to work. I think Exit Strategy might be my favorite.

238LolaWalser
Fev 24, 10:50 pm

On Murderbot, if anyone is polling, I hear it without strain as completely genderless. Facilitated by reading in English, the strongly gendered languages let the readers down in this respect.

Sir Richard Francis Burton--he was a hero to teenage me. Yeah, not an easy sell nowadays, but I'd argue that his persona and biography qualify him for the passes we allow fictional characters. I do think he was an adventurer above all, and colonialist only by default. I can't tell whether you'd be interested in learning even more about him, Lisa, or run screaming the other way, but in former case I would recommend something a little out of the left field, The Book of Love: The Story of the Kamasutra. It's fairly short but gives one of the most illuminating and entertaining pictures of Burton I've read anywhere.

239Dilara86
Fev 25, 1:05 am

>224 labfs39: Glad you liked The Day Lasts More than a Hundred Years!
BTW, to me, the cosmodrome is a version of Baikonur in Kazakhstan. And I seem to remember that the issues described in the book (locals being barred from culturally important places, threats to the local wildlife...) are historically true. So, that's another unflattering thing that made it past censorship. I think a science fiction framework gave writers a bit more freedom.

240labfs39
Fev 25, 9:18 am

>236 KeithChaffee: Thanks, Keith, I usually read in order of publication too, but I had read somewhere that it didn't work as well here, but, of course, I can't remember who said it or why. I read Peter Duck in chronological rather than publication order, and I regret it. I guess maybe that's my answer.

>237 BLBera: So, chronological order... Hmm, one solution is to order both from the library, and read the one that comes first!

>238 LolaWalser: Certainly I think the author worked really hard to write Murderbot as genderless. I can't even write my reviews that way! I'm not sure why I thought of MB as female at first. I seem to be vacillating the more of them I read.

Richard Burton fascinated me too. His facility with language, his dislike of renaming foreign geographical locations, his love of ethnography, his respect for all religions (without believing in any)—there are many things to admire. Later in his life after he married and was sidelined by the English bureaucracy, he seemed to wither, both physically and psychically and that was when some of his proclivities became distasteful to me. I would definitely be up for reading more about him. Thanks for the suggestion. (BTW, I found it reprehensible that his wife burnt not only 40 years of his diaries and journals upon his death, but also his translation of The Scented Garden, which he considered his crowning translation. Beastly woman. Then she had the nerve to bury him as a Catholic.)

>239 Dilara86: I guess Aitmatov had to call the cosmodrome fictitious, but it was thinly veiled at best. I also read that Aitmatov was one of the founders of the Ata-Beyit (Grave of Our Fathers) cemetery in Kyrgyrstan. Here over a hundred nationalists murdered in The Great Purge were reburied, and Aitmatov is buried there alongside his father, who was murdered during Stalinist repressions. Although Aitmatov didn't seem to say a lot about his father in interviews, I can't help but think of it as coloring his portrayal of Abutalip and his sons' grief at losing their father.

241msf59
Fev 25, 9:26 am

Happy Sunday, Lisa. I also really enjoyed the doc Won't You Be My Neighbor?. I thought the Hanks film was pretty decent too, but kind of unnecessary on the heels of the doc.

Not much happening at my feeders but early migration is underway.

242labfs39
Fev 25, 9:34 am

>241 msf59: I had intended to watch the Hanks film at first, but after watching the documentary, I think I'm set

The Usual Suspects here at my feeders: cardinals, mourning doves, blue jays, goldfinch, sparrows of various sorts, hairy woodpeckers, white breasted nuthatches, the occasional chickadee. I haven't had the flocks of juncos that I had at first. I need to get more birdseed. Without millet this time.

243JoeB1934
Fev 25, 9:45 am

This might be a shot in the dark, but your interest in birds made me mention a book that was highly recommended by the Denver Post book reviewer. It is Birding Under the Influence: Cycling Across America in Search of Birds and Recovery by Dorian Anderson I haven't read it, and I don't know how birds fit into the story about an addict searching for recovery.

244msf59
Fev 25, 9:49 am

We are still getting juncos too. Maybe one more month, before they head north. It has been a goofy winter, so who knows.

245labfs39
Fev 25, 10:01 am

>243 JoeB1934: Thanks, Joe, for the recommendation. Interesting combination of subject matter.

>244 msf59: The dark-eyed junco is supposed to live here year round, but we had the warmest winter on record, so perhaps they headed north? They are conspicuously absent at the present. We should getting migrating ones in April.

246labfs39
Fev 25, 11:23 am

I was saddened to hear that Michael (dukedom_enough) suffered a stroke yesterday. I have been able to visit with Lois and Michael several times since moving to Maine, and Michael is the kindness, sweetest man. Lois asked me to post on their thread, so that Michael will get well-wishes from fellow LTers. If you haven't stopped by their thread, I hope you will and leave them a message.

247chlorine
Fev 25, 11:27 am

Regarding Murderbot reading order: when I re-read them all in anticipation of System Collapse, I read them in publication order and this works fine if you know that they are out of chronological order. This isn't to say that it doesn't work the other way around!
Fugitive Telemetry was my favorite of the series and Network Effect was good but was my least favorite so I would argue to reading Network Effect first to get it out of the way. ;)

248labfs39
Fev 27, 10:54 am

>247 chlorine: I ordered Network Effect through interlibrary loan. In part because it's a novel instead of novella, and I'm ready for a longer work.

249labfs39
Fev 27, 11:31 am

Dan, I would love some recommendations for books about crystals. We grew some the other day, but I didn't have much in the way of supporting materials.

Here is a list of the science books we have read so far this year:

Podcasts
Dinosaur George
Kyle's Wild World
Animal Stories for Kids

Playlists
Ada Twist's Science Songs
Here Comes Science by They Might Be Giants
Space Songs for Kids

Trees
Strange Trees and the Stories Behind Them by Bernadette Pourquie

Habitats
Welcome Home, Beaver! by Magnus Weightman
Over and Under the Pond by Kate Messner

Seasons
Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak
The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice by Wendy Pfeffer

Technology
Chicken Clicking by Jeanne Willis
#Goldilocks: A Hashtag Cautionary Tale by Jeanne Willis

African animals
African Critters by Robert Haas
Ivan : the remarkable true story of the shopping mall gorilla by Katherine Applegate
Looking for Miza: The True Story of the Mountain Gorilla Family Who Rescued One of Their Own by Juliana Hatkoff
Koko's Kitten by Francine Patterson
Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship by Isabella Hatkoff
Owen and Mzee: The Language of Friendship by Isabella Hatkoff
The Pangolin by Julie Winterbottom
A Zebra's Day by Aubre Andrus
Lions (National Geographic Kids) by Laura Marsh
She Leads: The Elephant Matriarch by June Smalls

Space
Spine
DK Findout! Solar System
Space for Kids Who Really Love Space by Sarah Powell
Professor Astro Cat's Solar System by Dominic Walliman
Professor Astro Cat's Frontiers of Space by Dominic Walliman
DK Smithsonian Space!
The Mysteries of the Universe by Will Gater

Solar System
The Stuff of Stars by Marion Dane Bauer
Phases of the Moon by Gillia M. Olson
Zoom! Zoom! Zoom! I'm off to the Moon by Dan Yaccarine
Planets (True or False?) by Melvin Berger
Hello, World! Planet Earth by Jill McDonald
The Planets in Our Solar System by Franklyn M. Branley
There's No Place Like Space: All About Our Solar System by Tish Rabe
Our Solar System by Seymour Simon
Hello, World! Solar System by Jill McDonald
Solar System by the Numbers by Steve Jenkins

Astronauts
Little Critter Astronaut by Mercer Meyer
Space Traveler Sally Brown by Ximena Hastings
I am Neil Armstrong by Brian Meltzer
Gutsy Girls Go for Science: Astronauts by Alicia Klepeis
Astronaut Training by Aneta Cruz
If I Were an Astronaut by Eric Mark Braun (videobook from space!)
Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed
The Astronaut with a Song for the Stars: The Story of Dr. Ellen Ochoa by Julia Finley Mosca
My Journey to the Stars by Scott Kelly
Leaders Like Us: Leland Melvin by J.P. Miller
Buzz Aldrin: Pioneer Moon Explorer by Jessie Alkire
Mousetronaut by Mark E. Kelly
Who Was Neil Armstrong? by Roberta Edwards
Living in Space by Katie Daynes
50 Animals that Have Been to Space by Jennifer Read

Life
You're Aboard Spaceship Earth by Patricia Lauber
Living and Nonliving Things by Kevin Kurtz
Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life by Molly Bang
What's Alive? by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfield
Our Planet! There's No Place Like Earth by Stacy McAnulty

Spacecraft
Sadie Sprocket Builds a Rocket by Sue Fliess
Professor Astro Cat's Space Rockets by Donimic Walliman
My Rainy Day Rocket Ship by Markette Sheppard
Space Vehicles by Anne Rockwell
Spaceships and Rockets by Deborah Lock

Gravity
Floating in Space by Franklyn M. Branley
Astronaut handbook by Meghan McCarthy
Ups and Downs of Gravity by David Adler

Constellations
The Big Dipper by Franklyn M. Branley
First Star by Will Hillenbrand
Constellations by Grace Hansen
What We See in the Stars by Kelsey Oseid

Sun
The Sun is My Favorite Star by Frank Asch
Sun Up, Sun Down by Gail Gibbons
Eclipse Chaser: Science in the Moon's Shadow by Ilima Loomis

250labfs39
Fev 27, 11:33 am

>249 labfs39: I should clarify that this is for the school year, not since January (obviously!). Also the girls are second grade and pre-k.

251mabith
Fev 27, 6:28 pm

Late reply as I left this sitting in a browser tab by accident! Mister Rogers was certainly a formative part of my childhood, and it was so upsetting when he died. Oddly, a student teacher I'd befriend in high school was his god-daughter, and even though I found that proximity incredibly exciting even as a cranky sixteen year old. I've had the documentary on my to-watch list for ages but keep feeling like it will be too emotional.

I maintain that my mom only let me watch it as soon as I got home from school because it calmed me down a bit (extremely extroverted child meant I came home with SO much energy).

252dchaikin
Fev 28, 7:26 pm

>249 labfs39: Crystals. Hmm. Not sure. i’ll come back. I think Franklyn Branley was terrific.

253dchaikin
Fev 28, 7:35 pm

More Branley:

Flash, Crash, Rumble and Roll
What Makes Day and Night
Air is Around You
See also Vocanoes and Earthquakes

Also
Clouds (Let's-Read-And-Find-Out Science by Anne F. Rockwell
What Makes a Shadow by Clyde Robert Bulia
From Caterpillar to Butterfly by Deborah Helligman

More to come when i have more time. But maybe not crystals. ??

254labfs39
Fev 28, 8:32 pm

>252 dchaikin: But you're a rock guy, Dan!

>253 dchaikin: Last year we raised butterflies and read the Helligman and a whole bunch of others related to life cycles. This year we are focusing on astronomy, with a few random things as they come up, like the crystal growing. We're also doing a lot with snap circuits and coding Botley this year.

We've read a ton of Branley and Rockwell. Some are a little dated, but most are still good.

255labfs39
Fev 28, 8:36 pm

>251 mabith: I thought about watching some Mr. Rogers with my nieces, but I don't think they would like it. Kids today are used to very fast-paced action. The world seems to be moving at light speed these days, even for kids.

256mabith
Fev 28, 9:04 pm

Yeah, my niece and nephew didn't hugely get into it (or Joy of Painting, my other love), but I don't think they started early enough. I did used to watch The Clangers with them when they were little, the old 1960s ones, which is a wonderful quiet and calm show (but stop motion animated, so perhaps hits the modern kid-spot better). Now they're 15 and almost-13 though, so bit of a different world!

257kjuliff
Fev 28, 10:41 pm

>255 labfs39: Ha! I’ve noticed that with children and especially teenagers. They even speak faster.

258kjuliff
Fev 28, 10:44 pm

>256 mabith: I remember my own kids who were born in the ‘70s talking about bookies such as Jemima Puddle-duck as “Grandma books”.

259Jim53
Fev 28, 10:59 pm

>240 labfs39: I remember reading about Burton because he was one of the primary characters in Philip Jose Farmer's Riverworld books, which begin with To Your Scattered Bodies Go.

260mabith
Editado: Fev 29, 12:06 am

>258 kjuliff: Stabbed through the heart on that one! I was born in the 80s and admittedly was the weird kid who grew up watching Shirley Temple movies, Rocky and Bullwinkle, listening to 1930s radio programs, and reading all the Oz books, nothing from the late 19th to early 20th century seemed particularly old, let alone later stuff. My dad directed plays for the local high schools, so after hanging out through endless rehearsals for Shakespeare, Beatrix Potter could certainly never seem old!

261kjuliff
Fev 29, 12:20 am

>260 mabith: sounds like a great childhood. I had very conservative children who just wanted to be like other kids. Drove me crazy.

262rv1988
Fev 29, 7:26 am

>229 labfs39: thanks for these recommendations, I will look up Galsan Tschinag! Still enjoying the Murderbot reviews.

263labfs39
Fev 29, 7:29 am

>258 kjuliff: Interestingly, I am reading both girls the Complete Beatrix Potter at the moment. They are actually horrified at the casual brutality. Squirrels getting their tails bitten off, rabbits being made into pies, kittens being locked in dark cupboards when naughty, etc. Certainly different ideas about what was "child-friendly"!

>259 Jim53: Interesting. Did the books seem based on the real Burton or was he a stand-in for generic explorer?

>260 mabith: My daughter was very empathetic when young and couldn't stand to read anything violent, so she grew up on a lot of the older juvenile literature like Anne of Green Gables and some things like Pride and Prejudice. She would act out scenes from the latter with her Playmobile figures, making her a rather odd child with the preschool set.

>261 kjuliff: It's funny how kids are their own people and often very different from how you expect them to be. My sister loves to color and do workbooks, and her kids hate them.

264labfs39
Fev 29, 7:41 am

>262 rv1988: I thought Tschinag was fascinating. I hope you like The Blue Sky if you get to it. I'm glad I was able to give you a recommendation after all the ones I'm getting from you. I'm so glad you joined Club Read!

265BLBera
Fev 29, 8:12 am

>263 labfs39: Lisa, Scout wouldn't ever let me read Peter Rabbit to her. As soon as Mr. MacGregor starting chasing Peter, we had to stop.

266KeithChaffee
Fev 29, 1:35 pm

>263 labfs39: Certainly different ideas about what was "child-friendly"!

There was a report in the news last week about the UK film ratings board changing the rating on Mary Poppins from U (suitable for all ages) to PG (some scenes may be unsuitable for young children) because the movie uses the word "Hottentot," which is now recognized as an ethnic/racial slur.

267kjuliff
Fev 29, 2:12 pm

>263 labfs39: I remember only Jemima Puddleduck and| thought it was only pictures. I do however my brother as an adult, objecting to that Beatrix Potter series for his grandchildren. I don’t know why as he wouldn’t say. A lot of cruel stuff shows up in Grimm “fairy” tales. Now everything is scrutinized, and in some cases over-scrutinized.

Yes I saw that UK report about Mary Poppins the movie and the change in rating due to the word “ Hottentot” being used. Probably a good idea. As is the banning of Nazi symbols in The Sound of Music. Minimum there should be a trigger warning.

268RidgewayGirl
Fev 29, 2:28 pm

It is interesting how kids are their own people and not miniatures of their parents. My daughter somehow ended up with a copy of Der Struwwelpeter as a pre-schooler and loved those gruesome tales. Now horror is her favorite genre. She had no interest in the books I loved, but she did love the Swallows and Amazons series as well as the Lemony Snicket books.

269kjuliff
Fev 29, 2:49 pm

>268 RidgewayGirl: I agree that “kids are their own people”. But it depends upon age and the cultural context as to whether they should be exposed to just any fiction. I would be concerned that young children could perceive “bad” things as normal if not informed of the context.

With The Sound of Music I was thinking of an unfortunate performance a grandmother of a friend attended. She was an immigrant to Australia - ex Netherlands where she was a teenager during WWII. She and her husband went to a performance of The Sound of Music and were shocked and distressed when flags with swastikas appeared on the stage. They had to leave immediately. This was as late as mid 1980s. I understand that swastikas no longer appear in the scripts of this supposedly feel-good musical.

270jjmcgaffey
Editado: Fev 29, 2:55 pm

>269 kjuliff: And conversely, that if they're never exposed to (violence/swastikas/whatever), that they'll have zero context for them and when they (as far too likely) encounter them as adults they may, again, accept them as normal. I (childless, admittedly) tend to think that showing kids stuff like that _and discussing it with them_ is the best method - depends on the child, the adult(s) around, available time, etc, but an ideal to aim for. That's more or less what I got as a child.

271kjuliff
Fev 29, 3:04 pm

>270 jjmcgaffey: I’m thinking of little kids. Toddlers and three year olds. Parents can give context etc to their children, but parents are not the only people older children come in contact with. And not all children have parents that explain things to them. I would for example draw the line at hard-porn regardless of age, but other parents may not.

I suppose we all arrive at our boundaries based on our own childhood experience.

272kjuliff
Fev 29, 3:14 pm

>270 jjmcgaffey: Specifically on swastikas - yes kids need to know what they represent. In the case of the Dutch grandmother - she had no idea what the play was about - she thought it was about music. The flags were large, one each side of the stage, black on red, floor to stage ceiling. She was genuinely scared. Memories came flooding back. She had been shot by the SS. There should have been a warning.

273cindydavid4
Fev 29, 3:24 pm

>267 kjuliff: what????banning those symbols will make people forget the horror the caused, there is a reason they included it, and I think it should stay

re grimm they went back though german villages and collected stories. If you consier theyhad no tv, perhaps no books, no internet, those stories were entertainment, and children were considered little adults any way, so back then they didnt phase anyone except the kids having nightmares later

274cindydavid4
Editado: Fev 29, 3:25 pm

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

275cindydavid4
Fev 29, 3:31 pm

we were taught about the Holocaust at a very early age, probably 6 or 7. Dont remember it upsetting me but then Im sure I had little conceot of what it meant. By the time I was older I got the picture and was able to understand what happened. (btw this would have been early 60s; I assume that most of our sunday school teachers either were survivers or lost family, hence the importance of teaching the kids you

>269 kjuliff: yeah a warning definitely would have been in order, sorry that happened to them

276KeithChaffee
Fev 29, 4:17 pm

>269 kjuliff: You never know who's going to be in your audience, or how they're going to react to what they see. I remember being part of a choral concert where we performed the American folk song "Shenandoah." A perfectly nice song, and a pleasant enough arrangement, but pretty minor stuff compared to the rest of the program. And in the lobby after the show, a man came up to me and thanked us for that song above everything else. It had been his wife's favorite song, and this was the first time he'd heard it since her death a year earlier. Yes, he said, it brought up sad memories, but he was delighted and relieved that it mostly brought up happy ones; he'd been afraid he'd never be able to listen to it again.

(Though, for heaven's sake, it certainly ought to have been foreseeable that someone in an audience might have a bad response to the sight of swastikas! It will be interesting over the next few decades to see how/if the response to that symbol changes as we lose the last actual survivors of the Holocaust, and there's no one left for whom the response is that direct and visceral.)

277SassyLassy
Fev 29, 6:10 pm

>263 labfs39: re Beatrix Potter: that's quite a dilemma, as squirrels do get their tails bitten off in the real world, (as well as biting off the tails of others), and rabbits do wind up in pies. It's hard to learn these things. I don't think anyone has come up with a positive way of presenting them.

My Potter experience was somewhat the opposite. I loved Mrs Tiggy Winkle, but now whenever a porcupine or hedgehog comes anywhere near my garden, I am out there chasing them in a flash!

Have your nieces made the connection yet between meat for food and live animals, even if they're maybe vegetarians?

278RidgewayGirl
Fev 29, 6:23 pm

>269 kjuliff: Yes, your friend's grandmother is a good example as to why trigger warnings are simply good manners.

279labfs39
Fev 29, 8:57 pm

>265 BLBera: Yes, the chase through the garden is quite anxiety producing. The little one hides her eyes, as though that will help.

>266 KeithChaffee: Goodness. It makes me think about the article that Ardene/markon posted on the Interesting Articles thread about censorship. It talks about those bright green splash screens in a way that I hadn't considered before.

>267 kjuliff: Both girls want me to continue reading the Beatrix Potter stories to them, many of which I had never heard before (I have the complete collection), despite their angst over some of the situations. So I think it's an appropriate level of discomfort. If they didn't want to continue, I would switch to something else. I'm letting them guide me in this case.

What's interesting to me is the vocabulary. We are encountering a lot of new words: some are British words, some are old-fashioned, and some are unusual. Both girls have picked up on the difference in language and seem to enjoy it.

>268 RidgewayGirl: Kids do surprise us, don't they? My daughter couldn't stomach any violence in books or media for a long time, but when she hit junior high school suddenly started watching CSI type shows. Go figure.

>269 kjuliff: Although we haven't talked about the Holocaust yet, we have talked about The Great Scramble in Africa (the continent we've been studying this year), colonialism, and slavery (in age appropriate terms). These are all big topics that we discuss in a little more detail each time it comes up. Fortunately our discussions of race, gender, etc are not hamstrung by public school policies.

>270 jjmcgaffey: I agree, Jennifer, that discussing these issues is the key, and discussing over and over again as the kids get older, have more questions, and can process more information. I sometimes struggle with how to discuss something really horrible at an age appropriate level (the girls are 7 and 4). I'm always honest in answering their questions, but I do meter out information in doses appropriate to the situation and time.

>271 kjuliff: I suppose we all arrive at our boundaries based on our own childhood experience.

True. I have run up against my own comfort-level boundaries a couple of times and have struggled to remain even keeled in the face of surprisingly frank questions.

>272 kjuliff: That must have been so horrible for the Holocaust survivors to be caught unawares like that.

>273 cindydavid4: We haven't read a lot of fairy tales, so haven't run into the grim Grimms yet. The majority of our reading is nonfiction, and the fiction tends to be either geographical (so we've read Anansi stories and lots of animal folktales from Africa this year, for instance) or related to our astronomy studies (The Wild Robot series, Pi in the Sky, etc). We'll probably read them at some point as fairy tales are to children what the classics are to adults, literary references points that it's good to be familiar with, but they tend to be just as Western white male oriented as the classics.

>275 cindydavid4: There are some very nicely done picture books on the Holocaust that we will probably begin to explore when we start studying Europe.

>276 KeithChaffee: It will be interesting over the next few decades to see how/if the response to that symbol changes as we lose the last actual survivors of the Holocaust, and there's no one left for whom the response is that direct and visceral.

That's an interesting point, Keith. I've thought about it in terms of Holocaust literature. I used to be stand-offish with fictional treatments of the Holocaust
by non-survivors as being voyeuristic or opportunistic. But as fewer and fewer books are published by survivors, due to dwindling numbers, that would mean that fewer books about the Holocaust would reach the general reader. That's not ideal either. So I've slowly started adjusting my opinion.

>277 SassyLassy: that's quite a dilemma, as squirrels do get their tails bitten off in the real world, (as well as biting off the tails of others), and rabbits do wind up in pies

True. I think the difference is that Beatrix Potter's animals are highly anthropomorphized. So it's not just a rabbit being made into a pie, but a child-rabbit. Like fairy tales where children are kept in cages and fattened up for a witch's pot (Hansel and Gretel), they prey a little more on children's fears than reading about real foxes hunting real rabbits. We read a lot about animals and predators/prey and everyone needing to eat to survive. Also growing up in rural Maine, the kids are also familiar with animals being raised and hunted for meat. The seven-year-old has definitely made the connection between meat and animals and is more and more concerned about eating meat. Surprisingly (to me) she refuses to eat chicken, but will still eat beef.

280kjuliff
Mar 1, 12:43 am

>279 labfs39: >276 KeithChaffee: In Rescuing the Holocaust From Distortion and Cliché -
Jennifer Szalai of The NY Times reviews The Holocaust: An Unfinished History by Dan Stone, director of the Holocaust Research Institute at the University of London.
Pop-cultural depictions in books and films have often elided discomfiting complexity in favor of what one sociologist has called “trauma drama.” The result is a paradox: “An increased awareness of the Holocaust has led to it being banalized and exploited,” Stone writes.

281labfs39
Mar 1, 8:16 am

>280 kjuliff: "trauma drama", yes, exactly. I think it's going to be difficult to tread the line between awareness/understanding and banality as time goes on.

282valkyrdeath
Ontem, 1:12 pm

>263 labfs39: I read To Your Scattered Bodies Go last year within a month of reading River of the Gods, and I was glad I timed it like that. I seem to remember the novel mentioning quite a bit from his real life.

I never read Beatrix Potter as a child, as far as I remember, but back then you'd probably have had to advertise things like that being in the book to get me interested in reading it!

283LolaWalser
Ontem, 2:34 pm

To Your Scattered Bodies Go was one of the books I read for the Science Fiction "Would you give this book to a child?" series in 2015. I ripped into it with gusto:

https://www.librarything.com/topic/195058#5269749

284Willoyd
Editado: Ontem, 3:15 pm

Came late to some of this discussion, so apologies - but a few brief comments

Trigger warnings - there's evidence to suggest these don't work, but can cause anticipatory anxiety. They actually draw people in. Akin to virtue signalling.

The PG for Mary Poppins will almost certainly, as PG usually does, have zero effect other than possibly reintroducing a word into contemporary usage that had almost totally been forgotten.

Beatrix Potter doesn't pull punches. But then she was a pretty down to earth sheep farmer too. What she wrote was pretty normal for the time.

285RidgewayGirl
Ontem, 5:50 pm

>284 Willoyd: Sure, we have rubberneckers everywhere, and if a trigger warning that a book contains descriptions of, say, rape, makes certain people want to read the book more, that's really extraneous to their purpose, which is letting people for whom reading about that would be difficult advance knowledge. That some people will be more eager doesn't matter and has nothing to do with their efficacy.

I've never heard a good definition of "virtue signaling." It seems to be a way of saying that caring for the mental health of others can't be sincere or worthwhile.

286labfs39
Ontem, 6:28 pm

>282 valkyrdeath: I think there are "sanitized" versions of the more common Beatrix Potter stories out there. The originals are definitely of their time, but interesting nonetheless. Many kids seem to go through a stage where they are fascinated with monsters, zombies, blood and guts. Perhaps violent fairy tales played into this?

>283 LolaWalser: I think I'll pass on the sci-fi novel, Richard Burton or no. My tastes run more toward nonfiction, and this does not sound like a book I would enjoy. Thanks for a fascinating review!

>284 Willoyd: I wonder how much effect movie ratings have on anyone anymore. With the prevalence of streaming, I find them quaint when I see them. In the article on censorship that was on the Interesting Articles thread, the author said they are more about advertising the pervasiveness of the censoring board than anything else.

As for trigger warnings, I didn't know much about their efficacy, but several recent studies suggest that they are not as helpful as one might think. One point that I found interesting is that often it is not the act itself that is the most triggering, but an ominous signal of the impending act. Thus, the trigger warning may or may not actually address the potential trigger.

>285 RidgewayGirl: Another topic on which I know next to nothing, but perhaps the term "virtue signaling" is a label for insincere or self-aggrandizing shows of concern, and is not meant to imply all shows are? I can see the backlash, however, and many people jumping on that bandwagon for political reasons.
Este tópico foi continuado por labfs39 wanders the world of words pt. 3.