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'Ey there, I'm Monkey, been around CR since 2013. For those new/needing a refresher, I'm an American [permanently] in Belgium, married, three feline furbabies who are my world, stationery/fountain pen nut, into art & crafting... As for my reading, there's some of almost everything. Classics & "literature" along with horror-thriller & mystery/crime-thriller make up the bulk, but there's also some scifi/fantasy, nonfic, historical fic, etc. Just, keep the chicklit/romance away from me, kthx. ;)
My 2017 reading was pretty abysmal. I am currently on book #50, and there's been a few periods of a month+ where I read nothing at all. Political crap has put a big damper on my mood and I just haven't been in the mindset to be able to read much that isn't "light," which, frankly, irritates me. Aside of the low number it also means in my desire to finally just read I completely tossed out my attempts at reading more women/diversity/translations, just wanting to get out of slumps and read whatever actually sounded appealing at the moment (which was sadly limited). I'm hoping I can try to push through it more for 2018. I will retain my goal of 65 books, including the 20+ off the 1001 list. I will not, for the time being, keep my women/diversity/translation targets, as I'm sure it will continue to be a mental battle and I just need to let myself read anything at all; naturally I hope to read less of the overabundant straight white male works, but, yeah, not gonna worry about it this year and just focus on reading. Since I failed so miserably in 2017, I will put my nonfic goal at only 6 this year. Naturally, I hope to be in a better place and exceed all goals, but I'm trying to keep things realistic.
I make no promises about maintaining my thread or posting in anyone else's, my track record speaks for itself (oops), but I will try to come around more often, and if nothing else, just post titles with a line or two about how well I liked it or whatnot. Maybe that will ease off the pressure I put on myself about writing proper reviews, which definitely makes me take longer to post and then it starts taking too long and... :P
• 65 books
• 20+ 1001 list
• 10+ translated
• 6+ nonfic
• try to keep SWMs from excessive majority
2018 read list
2018 monthly stats/acquired list
1. The woman warrior: memoirs of a girlhood among ghosts - Maxine Hong Kingston ★★★½☆
2. I may not get there with you: the true Martin Luther King, Jr. - Michael Eric Dyson ★★★★½
3. The assault - Harry Mulisch ★★★★☆
4. Malcolm X: a graphic biography - Andrew Helfer (author), Randy DuBurke (artist) ★★★☆☆
5. The wind's twelve quarters - Ursula K Le Guin ★★★★★
6. The mysterious island - Jules Verne ★★★★☆
7-10. Wrinkle in time quartet - Madeleine L'Engle ★★★★½
11. Anna Karenina - Tolstoy ★★★★☆
12. Joey the hitman - Joey & David Fisher ★★★★☆
13. Island of Doctor Moreau - HG Wells ★★★★☆
Pages read: 3755
1. Seawitch - Alistair MacLean ★★★★½
2. The idiot - Fyodor Dostoevsky ★★★★☆
3. Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, an American slave, and other writings - Frederick Douglass ★★★★½
4. My father’s name - Lawrence P. Jackson ★★★★½
5. A wizard of Earthsea - Ursula K Le Guin ★★★★★
6. The city and the pillar - Gore Vidal ★★★★☆
7. Uncle Silas - Sheridan Le Fanu ★★★★½
8. Evelina - Frances Burney ★★★★½
9. A child called it - Dave Pelzer ★★★½☆
10. A handful of dust - Evelyn Waugh ★★★☆☆
11. The man within - Graham Greene ★★★★☆
12. The casebook of Carnacki the ghost finder - William Hope Hodgson ★★★★☆
Pages read: 3394
1. The invisible Man - HG Wells ★★★½☆
Pages read: 160
(numbers link to the review post)
Chapel Road - Louis Paul Boon
All quiet on the Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque
Jane Austen (I read the rest of her 6 titles, I adore her, I won't list them all singly :P)
Walking With the Wind - John Lewis
Shantaram - Gregory David Roberts
Who fears death - Nnedi Okorafor
Angel of Darkness - Caleb Carr
The Moonstone - Wilkie Collins
Annual 1001 titles tracking because I'm curious lol
(can you guess when I found out the list? ;P (others were read pre-'09, but many of the dates are guesstimated))
I admire your commitment to the 1001 Books and agree with you about All Quiet on the Western Front. Have you read Joseph Boyden's Three Day Road?
And John Lewis! One of my heroes.
Your comments about this year's politics echoed many others on LT, and it's been a problem for me, as well. But it made me wonder: do you still get to vote in the U.S. elections?
Politics has had a huge negative impact on my reading, too (Brexit, in my case). Reading has always been a refuge, escapism, but much less so recently.
I really like the 1001 list for getting me to pay attention to some classics I may otherwise have ignored, or been unaware of. It has many faults (including being actually 1305 titles, taking all the inclusions from the 4 [English] editions) and I don't intend to fully complete it (because I'd never be able to read anything else if I had a hope of doing that, even up at 40/yr with 1168 left means it'd take me 29 years, lol, plus I don't agree with all the inclusions), but I still like it for the idea of what it is, so I hope to keep making my little dent at it every year. :P
I have not, I don't believe I'm familiar with the title, but apparently this is something I ought to remedy!
I believe I could vote in at least the presidential elections with an absentee ballot, not sure about the smaller ones, though. And since "my" state is decidedly blue, I've never fussed about it.
>6 rachbxl: Haha, right?! It looks like such an awesome spot. Though it could do with some weather protection! :P
Yeah, indeed. After the election results I basically threw myself into genrefic for 2 mos as a means of just drowning it out, and when the new year rolled around I felt like I had somewhat got under control again, but then he was sworn in and just immediately all the awful garbage just started piling up and yeah, I've just had trouble getting into almost anything, with where my head is at. Been playing lots of games, and chatting in some Discord servers, and buying things I shouldn't buy, hahaha. But, I read 5 books last month, and just finished #7 of this month (though a few have been quite short ones so in terms of pages it's more like 5, lol); I've decided to try and stop fretting about what I read and just read anything at all so long as I'm reading something, which I think is helping get over the slump a bit. :)
I don't watch live TV anymore - certainly not the news. Online papers are about as much as I can stand. I do watch lots of dark suspense-type programs, though, quite often on "Walter Presents", a streaming service that curates a selection of subtitled non-English series and films that I usually find very rewarding. As a matter of fact, the series I'm watching now, The 13 Commandments, is Belgian. (https://www.walterpresents.com/page/13-commandments). And they also have a hilarious Belgian comedy, New Texas (not the Belgian spelling) that I thought was one of the funniest shows I've ever seen - a joke that works for the entire season. (http://theeurotvplace.com/2017/05/euro-tv-to-watch-belgian-dark-comedy-series-ne...) Have you seen either of them?
>9 markon: Nnedi Okorafor is awesome. I stumbled across her randomly during one of the brief periods of time I spent on twitter (happens a couple times a year, maybe, lol), and read the first bit of some story that was available online and was like damn this is good stuff! so I went and bought one of her novels, and finally got around to reading it a few mos back, so good!! I will definitely be looking for more of her stuff in the future.
Goal #1 is already in the works - finish I may not get there with you ASAP, since I didn't manage to get it done before today rolled around! :P I did manage like 70% though so, I'll take it. Binging on Gilmore Girls and playing Prison Architect nonstop for 5 days is cathartic so I won't hold it against myself for slacking off for a little bit at the end there. ;P
207p; 1-3 Jan 2018; nonfic - memoir, Chinese culture.
The woman warrior: memoirs of a girlhood among ghosts - Maxine Hong Kingston
This was not at all what I was expecting from something calling itself a memoir. Initially I was a little put off, confused by what I was reading, though I didn't dislike the writing; but after settling back and adapting myself to the more original manner in which it was written, I enjoyed it for what it was. I think it provided an interesting glimpse into a life as an American-born Chinese. That weird zone of having parents from one culture, while growing up in a place completely different, the two not understanding each other at all, and the children therefore not really fitting into either one. There were some sad bits, some amusing bits, some ...different (to a westerner who knows next to nothing about Chinese culture) bits - there's hairy ghosts, ape-men, jealous gods... Overall a provocative intriguing read.
I would recommend it, just with the warning to know going into it you're not getting some kind of straight-forward biography type thing. ;)
I liked that phrase, “At the mirror my aunt combed individuality into her bob.” But like the narrator, I also side with the American perspective.
(Paraphrased from my notes from — OMG 7 years ago already?) I didn't yet get around to reading more than the first two chapters or so, but I liked those quite a bit. The first chapter was one of the final texts for my literature in English university course before exams, so it's not quite like at the beginning of the year where you're like "oh, I don't have to read all of Beowulf? But I want to and I will!" (Keeping only the fragments in Anglo-Saxon, of course.)
I did read Tripmaster Monkey, which was amusing at times but nothing special.
22 Dec 2017-4 Jan 2018; ©2000; 347p; nonfic - biography, history, Civil Rights Movement, MLK Jr
I may not get there with you: the true Martin Luther King, Jr. - Michael Eric Dyson
About 18 years ago, I read The autobiography of Malcolm X. And loved it. And him. It is one of the very very few books I have actually reread, and I continue to love it every bit as much as the first time. Just last year, I read John Lewis' Walking with the wind. And loved it. And him. Between what these two courageous heroic men, who put their lives on the line time and again in their struggle to make their country a better place, mentioned about MLK in their memoirs (which wasn't a great deal), I admit, I had a bit of a distaste for him. Rather than seeing that as a negative, I was actually kind of hoping, on some level, that this book might clear that up; you know, two other big figures in the movement, maybe they had some clouded perception of "the" leader that was somewhat unjust in the bigger picture. I had never read up on MLK himself, he's such a huge figure that "everyone knows about" that I always just avoided it. I knew he was a hugely important and influential figure in civil rights, he had done a ton of good for the country, even giving his life for the cause, what else did I need to know, right? Except, of course, when someone is that huge, it is good to learn the specifics. And, as someone interested in the topic, for various reasons, as well as biographies of important/interesting people in general, it only made sense to read up on him at some point. So I picked up this book along the way.
As it happens, my hope did not prevail. After reading this very comprehensive look at his life, the immense good combined with the immense flaws, I must say, I rather detest the man. Don't get me wrong, of course I have massive respect for what he accomplished and that he sacrificed his life to do so. Despite this, as a man, he was simply awful.
King claimed that the American dream is "a dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed" and "of a land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few."There is no doubt at all that Martin Luther King, Jr. was an incredibly intelligent, insightful, charismatic, perceptive man who could see to the heart of things and use his oratorical skill to energize and motivate people into courageous acts, that he was intensely loyal to the movement and in speaking out, whatever the cost, about what he believed was just and moral. There is no doubt at all that he was a most key figure in the Civil Rights Movement due to these things.
According to one friend, King "said that he was willing to fight and die for black people, but he was damned if he could see anything pretty in a black [dark-skinned] woman."The movement he became the face/hero of, could never have happened or progressed the way it did, if not for countless unnamed other heroes, who got down in the dirt and actually mobilized the people, going door to door, working beside them in fields, standing beside them in lines to register to vote, etc etc. People who MLK never acknowledged, work that MLK never did. As there is no doubt about his being a key figure and face of the movement, there is also no doubt about his being a vain, chauvinist, sexist, close-minded man. He refused to let his wife have the career she had been working in college towards when they met. He refused to let his wife be part of the Movement (though she had been active in it prior to being with him and always desired to continue being part of it). Why? Because her place was at home. He had countless consistent affairs. He refused to pay much attention at all to the many female unsung heroes of the Movement, those without whom the Movement would never have had a fraction of the impact it did. People like Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, Septima Clark, Victoria Gray Adams, Diane Nash, Dorothy Cotton, Mary Church Terrell, and so on. He refused to let any of them in the board of the SCLC as he had no use for women's brains. He refused to give more than the slightest nod to anything they accomplished, even if he went so far as to write entire books about the ordeals (like the Montgomery Bus Boycott) — which he came into completely after the fact! Not only was this sort of behavior utterly petty and disgusting, just imagine how much more could possibly have been done had he actually joined forces with these women! It is a huge loss to the Movement that he refused their knowledge and skills. So yes. MLK the activist was a great force for American civil rights, but MLK the man left a lot to be desired.
Anyway. Opinions on the man aside. The book was a thoroughly enlightening and interesting read. Dyson views King as a hero, "the greatest American in our history", even, but also acknowledges him as a human with flaws. Unlike the very common theme of washing out all the flaws of anyone considered a hero, Dyson feels they are just as important to explore as all the positive feats and aspects, that in order to properly value someone you must see the whole picture. I agree; it only causes harm to act as though human heroes are inhuman and perfect. So Dyson fully explores the entirety of King, the good the bad the ugly, not hiding the warts. I feel like I've learned a ton about him, and I'm really glad I read this, and am now aware of the many specifics of what he did, and didn't, do, and the nuances of his role in history.
In fact, what King said about the John Birchers is true of much of the rabid right: that they "thrive on sneer and smear, on the dissemination of half-truths and outright lies." King concluded that they "are a very dangerous group—and they could become more dangerous if the public doesn't reject the un-American travesty of patriotism that they espouse." King's warning in still apt today.I have also been motivated (thanks for your chauvinism, MLK, you've inspired me! ;)) and went and ordered Mary Church Terrell's autobiography, a book on the women of SNCC, a book on the "Unsung Heroines of the Civil Rights Movement from 1830 to 1970," a biography of Ella Baker, and the book compilation of Iba B Wells' three "meticulously researched" pamphlets of the horrors of lynchings in the south that resulted in her fleeing north. Because, thanks to John Lewis, I was familiar with many women's names and knew some of what they did, as he worked beside many of them, and now thanks to MLK I want to delve deeper into these important women's contributions to history. So, the book was a big win on multiple counts! :)
Oh, you might be interested in At the Dark End of the Street, which focuses on women in the civil rights movement. It's a hard read, but might give some balance.
Oooh you're reading March? How is it?? I love graphic novels so I've been really curious about it.
4-6 Jan 2018; ©1982; 198p; fic - historical fic, WWII
The assault - Harry Mulisch
I don't have much to say here. I enjoyed this. If one were to read it without any sense of emotion or history, it is a detective story, of a murdered collaborator and the family whose doorstep he winds up at. But it is so much more than that. As one of the blurbs on the back of the book nicely puts it, it is "a dark fable about design and accident, strength and weakness, and the ways in which guilt and innocence can overlap and intermingle." Easily recommended. And, since I really don't have anything more to elaborate on, I will just drop some lines I enjoyed.
"Everything was made of dirty, rattling steel, which somehow told him more about the war than he had ever understood before."
"Boundaries have to be continuously sealed off, but it's a hopeless job, for everything touches everything else in this world. A beginning never disappears, not even with the ending."
"Besides, whoever keeps the future in front of him and the past at his back is doing something else that is hard to imagine. For the image implies that events somehow already exist in the future, reach the present at a determined moment, and finally come to rest in the past. But nothing exists in the future; it is empty; one might die at any minute. Therefore such a person has his face turned towards the void, whereas it is the past behind him that is visible, stored in the memory."
I agree with you that The Assault is a very good book. I've tried (and succeeded) to avoid this one in high-school, only to find out a couple of years ago that I really loved that book. One of the advantages of growing older and wiser, I guess.
>29 .Monkey.: This sounds interesting, I think it's going onto my list.
Haha, glad you eventually gave in! :P
>31 valkyrdeath: Have you read his memoir? It's really great, if you liked the graphic novel I'd definitely suggest getting the fuller picture! I will likely have to acquire March at some point. He's wonderful. :)
Good call! Haha. I am definitely curious about reading more Mulisch now.
Malcolm X: a graphic biography - Andrew Helfer (author), Randy DuBurke (artist)
9 Jan 2018; ©2006; 100p; nonfic - biography, history
The drawings are stark black and white, no shadowing, not always finely detailed, but perfectly done to portray everything that needs portraying. The text was nothing special for me, I've read his autobio and this essentially serves as a very condensed version of it, but the art adds the detail that bolsters the text.
I'm probably being a little harsh in only giving 3 stars, as I don't see anything bad about the book, but my reviews are naturally subjective, and knowing his autobiography fairly well, this just felt a little flat to me. But for anyone who enjoys graphic novels, especially if not having read much about him, this ought to be a good pick.
The mysterious island - Jules Verne ★★★★☆
10-12 Jan; ©1874; 550p; fic - adventure, classic, French
It had its flaws, as Verne always does, but this was by far the best of his Seven novels (Five weeks in a balloon, Journey to the center of the earth, From the earth to the moon, Round the moon, 20,000 leagues under the sea, Around the world in eighty days, and The mysterious island). I would strongly advise anyone away from the two moon ones (eesh), and 20k is a decent enough story but is waaay too bogged down with lists of things seen, with all their Latin names and such, it's not even interesting descriptions (I had initially been looking things up when I read it, to have some idea of what in the world he was going on & on about, but gave up rather quickly). 5 weeks, 80 days, and Journey are better able to be enjoyed - adventuring stories that are less mind-numbingly filled by scientific lists, although still have too much jargon/descriptions thrown around randomly, but, they're much less obnoxious about it and have more solid story to them. However, Journey I found awful to read because it was way too ridiculous for the realm of sanity, and too scientific to be safely set in fantasy, so there was not remotely the amount of suspension of disbelief needed to counter all the absurdity. It just drove me crazy how outlandish it was, while trying to be realistic.
Anyway, Island was like those, nice adventure story without overwhelming science stuff to keep dragging you out (though it did here & there), but it's also so much longer than the rest that it's a whole separate ballpark, haha. I was able to enjoy it a lot more than any of the others (though 80 days is next best), maybe at least partially because of spending so long with the characters — not just that it's literally that much longer but the time within the pages is actually like 4 years, so you really get quite cozy with them! ;) But yeah, it's a long, intriguing story, and the "mystery" part of it helps keep the interest high; once I got around halfway through I had trouble putting it down.
I think I can safely say I will not pick up any more Verne, but I am happy to have read these and know what he's all about.
Does the edition you read correspond to the picture? It's a very good looking book.
What's the pitch of the Mysterious Island again? Dinosaurs having somehow survived?
I think the only Verne I've actually read (rather than listen to condensed audio versions) is one of the moon ones, and I did not enjoy it at all.
Island is a group of 5 guys in a falling balloon who manage to wind up on an island in the middle of nowhere, and have to make a go of it. Meanwhile in the background there is a curious mystery lurking. ;) I think due to the length (again, both literal and timespan in the novel) there was more characterization than he usually did, which even included a sort of running gag with one of the characters that made me chuckle every time it came up. That helped with getting more invested than usually happens with his stories, in my experience.
Yeah the moon ones made me nuts, lmao. Like in theory the plot was interesting, but first there's the endless computations and all that (which he apparently actually did a very good job with, which is maybe why those are still printed and considered worthy??), and then there's the super awful outdated science part, which is just no no nooo! and makes them unable to be enjoyed at all, lol. Journey (which is the one with the dinosaurs) at least has a more fun adventure in the midst of the super awful science that makes it more enjoyable (but I'm sorry, nothing will ever make me able to handle rafting down lava!! Hahaha).
OK, now I think I have no clue to what The Mysterious Island is about. This feels strange as I heard so much about Verne while growing up. :)
>40 chlorine: Haha, I was totally unfamiliar with it also, as well as the moon ones. But they were the 7 chosen for the collection so I figure they must be the "biggest" or some could have something special that they're known for, that made them selected? If anyone was going to read a single Verne, though, or give him a single shot after being less than thrilled by reading something else of his, hahaha, I would definitely suggest it be that one. :P
You say you won't read more Verne, BUT, I wonder if (the previous mentions of MLK and Malcolm X etc. brought this to mind) you wouldn't be interested in Le capitaine de quinze ans (OK, so it's "Dick Sand, a captain at fifteen" in English), with its theme of slavery. Maybe you've read it before? Mind you, I haven't read it since early teens and it's quite possible, likely even, there are things to make one's (more advanced) head explode.
I'm quite curious, because Island did have one of the group who's a freed slave, buuuut he is completely devoted to the guy who freed him and still basically a servant except treated nicely, but he'd give his life for him, and he gets assigned to do any of the jobs more like chores, and there was even one n-word (I think it was when he was excited and dancing, that he was "dancing like a n...", iirc), and he got besties with the orangutan who also became their servant, and they joked with him not to be jealous of the orang. >_> And of course, in 5 weeks, they travel all around Africa and have to worry about all the "savages" and such. Sooo, yeah, I'm interested to see just what this slavery one is like! #17 in the series, that would mean it came after all the ones I read, so maybe he got a bit more enlightened? Island (#12) was better than 5 weeks about it, and 5 weeks was #1, so, progressively shaving off the ignorance? Intrigued! :P Haha
The presence of the n-word is interesting--do you know the date of your translation? I think Verne would have used "nègre", which corresponds more readily to "negro". I'm not saying the translation's wrong, usage may be more important than meaning, and of course a lot depends on who's talking etc.
but there's more on the way. Husband saw when I opened them and was like ...oh, dark indeed! Heh.
One of the ones on the way is a different edition of Solzhenitsyn's The first circle, because at 80p in I discovered the version I've got is the "lighter" one he did, trying to get it past the censors (god knows what he was thinking, it's about a special prison ffs! of course it didn't pass!), and the full one was translated in English in 2009, meaning naturally I had to get a copy of the real one instead! So, since that is on hold for now, I've switched to Anna Karenina. Of course, now I'm also doubting this translation, lol, but whatever, I will read it and maybe in a few years I will go back again and read one of the others (according to one person who's compared most of them, the revised Garnett one is rather good). I'm sure this one will serve well enough, anyway.
Latest arrival! I'm really excited about this one, she was such an amazing woman, such a key figure in the movement. It was rather pricey (like, I could count on one hand the times I've paid this much for a single book! and a paperback, even!), but I know it will be worth it. It's thorough and well-researched and won lots of awards. I will totally be adding it to my plans for this year. :D
7-10. Wrinkle in time quintet (#1-4) - Madeleine L'Engle ★★★★½
12-16 Jan; ©1962, 1973, 1978, 1986; 941p; fic - sci-fi-fantasy, YA
Wrinkle was my most favorite book when I was young, so back in 2012 when they released a special anniversary edition of it, and a fancy cloth-covered slipcase "collector's edition" of the quintet, I had to have them. I bought the single edition, and for my birthday or some such my mom bought me the pricey slipcased omnibus. I read Wrinkle for the first time since a child in 2013, and...was sadly disappointed. I had read about it in the years since and knew that L'Engle put in religious stuff that, as a non-observant Jewish child, had completely flown over my head. It certainly did not fly past me as an adult, and while I by no means hated the book, I had trouble looking on it positively. So then I didn't wind up getting to the rest of the series, partially because I didn't want the rest to also wind up not holding up to beloved childhood impressions, but also in large part because, as all of you know so well, the tbr pile is neverending!! and so I simply was reading other things in it, lol. Well in December I decided it was time to rectify that delay, and I put #2 of the series onto my TBR Challenge for the year. Of course, it had been a few years again so I had to start fresh. And this time, having already read it and been prepared for the religious angle, I actually found myself able to not focus much on that part and just, enjoy the sweet story for what it was. So, I'm really glad I had read it separate and dealt with that, before coming back to it anew and being able to look at it in yet another slightly different view, and enjoy it once more. I can't say it's the same as how I felt about it as a child, naturally, but I can once again look at it fondly. Yay! Hahaha.
Anyway, for those who may not know, it is a YA sci-fi-fantasy series that deals with the Murry family, who are all a little ...unique. The parents are brilliant scientists (an astrophysicist and a microbiologist), Meg, the oldest child, is a mathematical wizard, then there are the twin boys who are almost abnormally normal, and the baby of the family, Charles Wallace, who started talking in full sentences and is a child prodigy genius, and who always knows what his mother and sister are feeling. Strange things happen around this family, which lead the children off on fantastical adventures. Always present in the background is L'Engle's christian outlook, but, it's basically just about letting love in rather than hate, acceptance, etc, so it's not really bothersome. The 4th story is a bible-setting, but again, the story is about love and forgiveness and such, and in her hands it honestly makes for a really interesting backdrop, and it's not like she's being preachy. All the stories have some sort of magical creatures, which are really quite her own, even when she takes mythological animals for their basis; they're always intriguing characters and it's quite fun waiting to see who you will get to meet.
I still have the 5th story left to read, but a) I was ready for a change at 950 pages, hahaha, and b) I realized that while it is part of the quintet, it is also the last story of her other series about the same family but the next generation, which I also bought several years ago, so I will wait to read it after I've read those others.
Also, the image of the cover totally doesn't do it justice. It's black cloth with deep metallic blue for the images/lettering, and has the metallic blue gilt edging as well (which actually flashes obnoxiously walking down the hallway with the light above it, lmao), which looks really pretty.
I'm glad you were able to enjoy numbers 2-4 of wrinkle in time.
Indeed, she has left us an amazing treasure! I've actually just been off ordering a bunch of her stuff that I don't have off Abe, gotta complete the excellent collection! ;)
11. Anna Karenina - Tolstoy ★★★★☆
18-24 Jan; ©1877; 963p; fic - classic literature, Russian
Another that I don't have that much to say about, others have already said pretty much anything there is to say about this one.
Anna is an enjoyable read. It went a bit quicker than I anticipated given its length and age, but Tolstoy has written wonderful "real" characters, and while the nuances & laws may have changed somewhat over time, the experiences are still essentially the same. There's not really much plot, it's all about the people - the romances and heartbreaks, living life, contemplating life. I was slightly underwhelmed with the very end, I guess I was expecting something a bit more ...final, but after sleeping on it I'm a bit more content; it does make sense, given the nature of the entire book. It's good, easily recommended for those who like character-driven novels and/or Russian classics.
I checked a synopsis on the web and I see I remembered the end wrong (though it's a miracle I remember anything about the end, as I usually forget it very quickly). It seems there was a confusion in my head with the end of Belle du Seigneur, because of some similarity of plots between the two books.
>61 .Monkey.: I found the end of Anna Karenina a bit baffling when I read it last year. It seemed to come to the natural end point of the story where the title character is no longer in it and then I felt it just dragged on and on for several more chapters.
Anna talk hidden for those who may not have read it:
13. Island of Doctor Moreau - HG Wells ★★★★☆
29-31 Jan; ©1896; 150p; fic - classic sci-fi(-fantasy)
I liked it a good bit more than Time machine, though the bad science did pull me out at times. The general idea of it would've been a bit more horrifying (as I believe it was intended to be) if the science weren't so rotten as to make it laughable, lol. But overall enjoyable entertaining story, and I think the notion of ethics/cruelty were played out reasonably well (at least, if one weren't too busy sitting there shaking their head at the notion of a little surgery accomplishing magic). I'm sure everyone knows the general plot, but details! -
Then I don't remember much about the book so I can't say if I bought the science part or not - but then, knowing myself, probably not: I've always had a very critical mind for this. I remember at about the same time watching the original Star Trek series just for laughs because the science was so bad.
>72 rachbxl: That seems a likely culprit; I'm not sure if it's actually YA or just written in a way that is more all-encompassing, but it seems to be widely read as YA, at least. I'll probably start on Earthsea next month, and aim to read one a month. I still need to get the last two (Tales from Earthsea and The other wind), though. Maybe I'll order them after I start reading it. :)
My god, now that I think about it I see that I read again the first four books in 2012, and I hardly remember what they are about. Sometimes I wish I could keep a better memory of what I read!
I know what you mean, all the thriller/horror/mystery stuff I read tends to turn into a big blob after a short while, hahaha.
>75 markon: Nice! And interesting, lol.
>76 NanaCC: Yeah she was never into the hard sci-fi stuff, there's some aspects that fall under sci-fi but she's basically sci-fi-fantasy, fantasy, and literature, depending on the book. I'm guessing that Earthsea is more fantasy than the Hainish Cycle, so you might like them, but I can't say for certain just yet, tis only a guess. :P The short story collection I mentioned in >65 .Monkey.: is also a bit heavy on the fantasy in the sci-fi-fantasy label, if you like short stories you could consider it as well. :)
(Ftr, I'm not a huge sci-fi fan myself, I don't dislike it but it's def not my fav genre, and I tend to like sci-fi-fantasy a bit more.)
>66 .Monkey.: I've read a few Wells books but I never did read Dr Moreau, though I've seen a film version of it before. I don't know how closely it followed the book, but it definitely wasn't the one with Marlon Brando wearing an ice bucket. I might have to give the book a read despite the typically bad science.
>78 valkyrdeath: That's a good one, it was my first Le Guin and she instantly shot to the top of my list, lol. At some point, after my LOA Hainish Cycle box set has arrived, I'm going to read them all in order, so rereading the ones I've read already, because even though they're just loosely connected and order really means nothing. It gives me a reason to go back and enjoy them, especially Left hand, again. :P
I think I've only seen the 90s one with Val Kilmer & Brando. From what I recall it did essentially follow the book, though there were some changes besides the improved science. But the main storyline, at least. I know it got awful reviews, but I kinda liked it. I mean, it's definitely not an award winner (well, except the Razzies maybe >_> it was nominated for several, don't recall if it won, lol), but I thought it was interesting and the make-up was excellent. I should rewatch it now, lol.
>79 NanaCC: HP is certainly fantasy, and yup Gaiman writes a lot of it also. I'm not particularly fond of him, but I did enjoy Neverwhere, and Sandman was brilliant (though every other graphic novel of his (and I've read many) has been junk, imho). You should definitely give Le Guin a try! :))
Books read: 13
Pages read: 3755
OPDs: 1874, 1877, 1896, 1962, 1973 (x2), 1975, 1976, 1978, 1982, 1986, 2000, 2006
Books by females: 6
Books by males: 7
Books by POC: 3
Books off 1001 list: 2
Books off TBR Chal.: 7
Books translated: 3 (Dutch, French, Russian)
Authors new to me: 5
Authors repeated: 1 (L'Engle x4)
Authors country of origin:
US - 6Books acquired: 6
NL - 1
FR - 1
RU - 1
UK - 1
which arrived yesterday and I'm in loooove. XD Everything Hainish, all the novels, all the stories, some extra essays, the original version of one of the stories before she edited it... It's awesome! And the paper in the books is so nice and smooth, as a super texture-oriented person this thrills me!! XD So happy. Hahaha. I'm already set for reading Earthsea this year, so I'm thinking maybe next year will be for the Hainish Cycle. :D
Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, an American slave, and other writings,
Mirror to America: the autobiography of John Hope Franklin,
My father's name.
The first two have been patiently waiting on my shelves a while, the last was a more recent acquisition from a University of Chicago Press sale. These being a fixed plan will definitely be incentive to make sure I keep speeding along through Dostoevsky, so I can get to them before the month is up! (Ella Baker is still planned for later this year sometime, potentially along with some of the other recent orders I mentioned a month ago that were routed through mom that I don't yet have here.)
>86 .Monkey.: That looks like a wonderful set of books to own!
14. Seawitch - Alistair MacLean ★★★★½
6 Feb; ©1977; 215p; fic - action/thriler
Seawitch is pretty typical MacLean. Outlandish action, crazy heroics, witty banter, women to save, asses to kick, you know, the standard fare.
"I don't care who's responsible." The stenographer's voice was plaintive. "Does anyone know where I can get a nuclear shelter, cheap?"It'd never win awards, and I doubt if he ever had that sort of thing in mind. They're just, good plain fun. Completely unbelievable, the hero always pulls of any manner of crazy stunts that are utterly unfeasible, but it's just the same as any action flick. It's not real, it's absurdly overdone, but it lets you escape reality and go off where the hero is always going to kick some badguy ass. MacLean was also a product of his time, and as such his turns of phrase are not always ...very PC... but I overlook it because the stories are such a great ride.
"I know what you mean and I don't believe you. I saw him shaking."My rating is utterly subjective. If I weighed this against, say, Dostoevsky, it'd get around half marks. But this is not objective, this is good clean fun, and as far as MacLean goes this was a very good ride. ;)
"You poor, silly, stupid, foolish ninny. You don't deserve him."
She stared at him in disbelief. "What did you say?"
"You heard me." Roomer sounded tired and the doctor was looking at him in disapproval. He went on in a sombre voice: "Kowenski and Rindler are dead men. They have minutes to live. [...]" He smiled faintly. "I'm afraid he takes care of things in a rather final way."
The main reason the rating sticks in mind at present is the last chunk of books I've read have all been 4-5 stars and so wildly different, in content, style, etc, so it just gave me pause, like, the Verne, Tolstoy, Wells, and Joey, all being 4 stars and feeling so differently about each of them, it just seems odd, but taken individually, well... :P
15. The idiot - Fyodor Dostoevsky (translator: Ignat Avsey) ★★★★☆
1-8 Feb; ©1868; 679p; fic - classic literature, Russian
I'd mentioned earlier I was super loving this book, but in the end it didn't top Demons (it'd seemed to be heading there for the first half or so). But naturally, still a very worthwhile read - it is Dostoevsky after all! I do wish it hadn't gone so gloomy in the later part, I was so enjoying the lightheartedness of the first half or so, constantly smiling and even laughing aloud a bunch. It still had its moments later, of course, but it got much weightier with much less of the lightness as time went on.
Every morning the same bright sun rises; every morning there is a rainbow over the waterfall; every evening the snowy peak of the highest mountain there in the distance on heaven's very edge is bathed in purple iridescence; every tiny mosquito, which buzzes around him in the warm ray of the sun, is part of the glorious ensemble, knows its place, is sure of it and is unspeakably happy; every blade of grass grows and is happy. And all things have their appointed path, and all things can find their way along that path, they go with a song and they come with a song; he alone knows nought, understands nought, neither people, nor sounds; a stranger to all, an alien, a reject.The book is really something, though. It kind of defies simple explanation. Dostoevsky said "the main aim of the novel is to depict a wholly virtuous man. There's nothing more difficult in the world," and noted that the only ones who come close are Don Quixote and Mr Pickwick, and that it is the combination of their ridiculousness and goodness that makes them so sympathetic to readers. This is the path he set out to follow, entirely in his own way. Avsey notes in his extra material at the end, "Dostoevsky revels in peopling his novels with every kind of oddball imaginable. He may be accused of having taken the reader into a lunatic asylum, but never into a museum of waxworks. And in the treatment of them he is loving and compassionate throughout, or he would not have devoted so much attention to those that are spiritually and mentally unbalanced." This novel, in particular, really is peopled with every sort of personality, lively and evocative and extreme, and you really can't help but love them, or hate them, or pity them ...or all the above.
Definitely worth a gander, especially if you've read & enjoyed Dostoevsky already.
Interestingly, what I didn't like was not that it was gloomy. I just felt all the part when they are in Lebedev's summer house is so long, with nothing really happening.
I'm glad you liked it as thus remains one of my favorite books. I liked the Demons when I read it at the time I discovered Dostoievski, but it did not make the same impact on me as The Idiot. I must have been around 20 at the time. Now that I'm 40, it might be time for a re-read of the Demons...
I definitely think you should reread Demons, I just read it a couple years ago and it blew me away. :D
>105 AlisonY: You should!! His stuff really is wonderful. Demons, Crime and punishment, and this one, truly great. :))
16. Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, an American slave, and other writings - Frederick Douglass ★★★★½
8-11 Feb; ©1845 (& onwards); 208p; nonfic - autobio, slavery, racism, speeches
"Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, an American slave" only takes up half this book. The Narrative is basically the prominent moments and memories of his life; it's not incredibly in-depth, but is very straight-forward and to the point. No embellishments, just clear vivid depictions with strong imagery. As he put it, his experience was on the mild end of slavery - none of his actual masters were of the incredibly vile sort who simply whipped everyone constantly for nothing; only the year he was sent to Covey to be "broken" was like that, and it was only 6 months, because at that point he was beaten awfully and had had it, and the next time Covey tried something, he fought back, and they essentially came out in a stalemate, which really means Douglass won, and Covey in his shame of losing to a slave essentially quit messing with him after that. None of the others were cruel for the sake of cruelty itself. But he does describe here and there some others he knew who endured that situation, and those passages had me literally cringing back into my chair. I simply cannot understand how a human can act in such a way. He mentions often how slaves were just chattel, one more piece of livestock on a farm, and the comparisons are spot on, but then, people would never even treat livestock that awful, they would never starve their workhorse or whip its flesh to shreds repeatedly. I just, ugh. There are no words. Anyhow. Eventually he made his escape (which he glosses over in the Narrative because he didn't want to risk ruining the path for others, or get anyone who helped in trouble), got to the north, found abolitionists who helped get him started, and was a free man at last.
The second half of the book is "selected essays and speeches" from over the years. Eventually, many years later, he did talk about the escape, so those details make up the first selection. There are 11 in all (though two of them are a piece of the same speech, presumably split just to make things shorter, keep the attention span up? because it's not even from another section, it directly follows the previous bit), and they show just how intelligent a man he was, and how excellent a speaker. His imagery is incredibly evocative, and his insight of everything he discusses is flawless, far more so than most people who speak on any subject! There were many pieces that stand out among them, but the most prominent is from his long speech (which can be read in its entirety here) “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” which I have screenshotted the extract that was in the book, because I think everyone should take a look at it.
Click the images to enlarge.
For his depictions of the barbaric cruelty, and for his speeches of wisdom, everyone ought to read this.
This seems like a very important book.
I tried to read the excerpt you provided. He seems to be an excellent speaker but maybe too much for me: I have trouble understanding, unfortunately.
Have a look at this smaller bit, it's a piece from the last one there, with particularly powerful imagery:
/edited to add: Where did you find the edition? I can't seem to find it, even online...
ETA- https://www.amazon.com/Narrative-Frederick-Douglass-American-2008-05-04/dp/B01FI... I think that (the hardcover Fall River one) ought to be a different printing of my exact book, if you're interested.
It remains difficult to read because of its content but that's why it's important to read it and be aware of the content.
17. My father's name - Lawrence P. Jackson ★★★★½
12-14 Feb; ©2012; 218p; nonfic - bio/memoir, slavery, history, racism
As a teenager driving with my father, I would always become desperate for him to propel the car down the highway so as to keep up with the pace of traffic, and once I asked him, in my typical beleaguered way, "Why do you go slower than fifty-five?"I picked this up on a whim from the University of Chicago Press winter sale 2 yrs ago, it sounded intriguing - "Armed with only early boyhood memories, Lawrence P. Jackson begins his quest by setting out from his home in Baltimore for Pittsylvania County, Virginia, to try to find his late grandfather’s old home by the railroad tracks in Blairs. My Father’s Name tells the tale of the ensuing journey, at once a detective story and a moving historical memoir, uncovering the mixture of anguish and fulfillment that accompanies a venture into the ancestral past, specifically one tied to the history of slavery." Man am I glad I did!
This time he answered me. "I like to look at the trees."
And years later, when I reflect that he might have chosen a birthday card that he could not read, and signed a name on that card in an alphabet that was murky to him, or called me from a place that was not his home, I understand that I am only beginning to know the heavy trust of his distant love.Jackson weaves an interesting combination of a localized history (of Pittsylvania County VA), mostly with regard to slavery, interwoven with the personal narrative of a family history that he pieces together. Jackson is about to have a son, and this occasion has spurred him to looking into his own past. He happens to wind up somewhat close to the area his family comes from, and decides to take a drive and go see if he can't find his grandfather's old home, where he hasn't been for 30 years. Once in the general area he ends up having to ask several people he encounters how to get to the more specific area he's trying to find, and not quite getting there, before finally calling his mother to ask for help. She gives him some pointers, and also reminds him his (great) aunt's house was across from the school. He comes upon his grandfather's house by chance - a man that he's encouraged to talk to is actually renting that very house, and after talking to him a bit, and learning the spelling of the last name of the sister & brother-in-law his grandfather had lived with, he then goes back to check on Aunt Sally's house, and suddenly finds himself in the midst of his grandfather's family.
In the middle of the stacks closest to the street were the massive volumes indexing the county's marriage certificates and deed books between 1767 and 1889. I began looking up the marriage records, maneuvering the weighty leather-bound volumes off the rods with alacrity and rushing them three feet over to the examination table before I could feel their heft. Laywers must have been as strong as farmers at one time, or maybe they were all the same people.It's not until a few more years later that he comes back to the area again to start really digging into things, and spends two days searching in the town records for any clues he can find. And surprisingly, he manages to find a good deal. Mainly because for some reason, his grandfather also put his parents' (Jackson's great-grandparents) names down on his father's birth certificate. This is what really enables him to piece things together.
Some black people I have known counter that look of remote defensiveness by making every interaction with whites a confrontation with the enemy. The author Richard Wright once wrote of another style, insistent and obsequious; but in my day, apart from courtrooms, welfare offices, hospitals, banks, and police stations, I have not seen black people kneel in fear and submission. I have, however, witnessed numerous occasions where I watched blacks zealously guarding white feelings. As for my approach, I style myself a spy in the enemy's country.Nearly every African American [of non-recent immigrantion] knows that just a few generations back, their family were slaves. They were property. Everyone is aware of it, everyone is at least mildly familiar with that period of American history, you simply can't not be. But it is one thing to "know," and another thing to go through preciously preserved pieces of history in special collections libraries in the south, and suddenly find yourself holding the little ledger book of the asshole who sold your great-grandfather's father to the county's professional "Negro Trader" for $1690.00, and your great-grandfather's mother and two children to someone else for $2,050. Because he was in need of money and selling everything off. While your great-grandfather was about four years old and went with neither of them, but was likely there, watching. I just. I can't even begin to imagine. Not to know, not to have some vague ideas of "yes it happened," but to literally hold in your hands... No. I have no words. It just hurts.
White Americans' willingness to tell a story they are intrigued by but distant from, and black Americans' reluctance to bore into the same topic at depth, suggests that whites understand our history as a puzzle, and we blacks pick at it like a sore.I would definitely recommend this to everyone. This was an excellently written slice of both personal history and American history; and I think it worked nicely back-to-back with Douglass — written almost 200 years after his birth, Douglass' writing ends about the point where Jackson is just able to delve back to, sort of a continuation picking up where the one left off. And, for anyone curious, UCP actually has an excerpt up on their site here, where you can get a feel for his writing.
I still have my 3rd Black History Month pick to read, but I may put that off a little yet, I've been feeling a bit crummy the past couple days and am still not really in the mood for something so serious, so I think I will go with some other fiction first, probably from off my TBR list, since I've been making some nice progress on that and more is good! :P I've already got like the whole group clamoring at me about how I've been plowing through it, lmao. But it's good, since you knooow odds are high I'll wind up poofing off for a couple months at some point! Lol.
20. Uncle Silas - Sheridan Le Fanu ★★★★½
17-20 Feb; ©1864; 421p; fic - Victorian Gothic, suspense, horror
I've read Le Fanu before: I read the Carmilla novella a bunch of years ago, which wasn't bad but didn't bowl me over, and then last year read In a glass darkly, which also contains Carmilla, along with several other short stories. I was not overly impressed by this collection. In fact, I was rather underwhelmed by it. This guy was one of the three who inspired Dracula, one of the initial writers of the vampire story, he has a few that are still Big Deals ~160 years later, he is meant to be impressive, no?? But I was not. MR James, however, said that Uncle Silas was his masterpiece, and MR James is a man who knew what he was talking about. Uncle Silas did not disappoint. Uncle Silas was everything I could have wanted it to be. I was on the edge of my seat practically the whole time, wondering if this sweet, utterly naïve young girl would manage to ever stop being so dang gullible, and manage to come out on top. Because it is quite common for Gothic tales to end rather tragically, and, though I was much reminded of Jane Austen, what with the sweet young innocent utterly-naïve girl with the standard group of kind gentleman, playboy, and thug surrounding her, there was certainly no Jane Austen guarantee of going off happily into the sunset for poor young Maud! Who knew what the result would be?!
I had trouble putting the book down by the time I hit halfway, and I was kept in eager anticipation until just about the very last page. This is certainly the Le Fanu that everyone should read!
There was a thread on sffchronicles.com about Gothic romances, and they posted a lot of covers that were very similar, it the heroine fleeing in the dark from a castle with a single lit window:
Your cover is somewhat reminiscent of these, but with a twist. :)
PS Alexis is literally the kindest sweetest most amazing girl in the world, and, is actually where my Maine Coon baby's name came from, and their sweet loving natures just match up so perfectly. :)
22. A child called it - Dave Pelzer ★★★½☆
22 Feb; ©1995; 205p; nonfic - memoir, child abuse
This book was well-written, and horrifying. I really wonder what in god's name was wrong with his mother, that some switch flipped in her and suddenly she turned into a monstrously abusive beast, towards just one of her sons. Don't read if you're easily disturbed. A couple incidents nearly had me heaving, and the entire thing is just, boggling. It's...not pretty. But it does paint a terrifying picture of what a child of abuse may live through.
Minus one star for the fact that he split the story up into three novels (and I doubt if the other two are much longer). This was only 169 pages (plus excerpts from the other two), and with wide margins and spacing, and it stops the moment the school gets the cop there who takes him away. It doesn't even continue with the temp. foster care while he awaits the trial (or even the hospital visit they stop to make first, which is in the excerpt from book 2), or anything. The second book really ought to have been part of this one.
23. A handful of dust - Evelyn Waugh ★★★☆☆
23-25 Feb; ©1934; 215p; fic - satire
He was prematurely, unnaturally stout, and he carried his burden of flesh as though he were not yet used to it; as though it had been buckled on to him that morning for the first time and he were still experimenting for its better adjustment; there was an instability in his gait and in his eyes a furtive look as though he were at any moment liable to ambush and realized that he was unfairly handicapped for flight.I'm a big fan of Waugh, and satire, but this just did not do it for me. The writing is well done, of course, but I was far more depressed than amused. I know satire doesn't have to make one laugh, but... there are some really truly downer moments here that, well, they're a bit much for what seems intended as a bit of lighter satire about upper-class life.
Were I not already familiar with him, this book would not leave me wanting more. If one wants a good taste of Waugh, do go for Decline and fall instead.
24. The man within - Graham Greene ★★★★☆
25-26 Feb; ©1929; 183p; fic - literature
I don't generally like reading depressing books. There's enough to be depressed about in the real world, books are an escape, therefore it's always nice when they're uplifting. But sometimes someone writes so incredibly well, that I'm willing to overlook that I know things will not end up pleasant in the end, and continue reading all their work regardless. Someone like Greene.
The blackberry twigs plucked at him and tried to hold him with small endearments, twisted small thorns into his clothes with a restraint like a caress, as though they were the fingers of a harlot in a crowded bar. He took no notice and plunged on. The fingers grew angry, slashed at his face with sharp, pointed nails.The story opens on a man fearfully running from something, we know not what; as the story goes on we learn about him, what he is trying to escape - outside and in, and watch him battle with himself. Greene's language, the similes and phrasing... it's all so incredibly vivid, even while many of them are not things I'd ever have naturally thought of myself, they just work.
Over a toppling pile of green vegetables two old women were twittering. They pecked at their words like sparrows for crumbs.Easily recommended, especially for those already familiar with Greene.
Books read: 12
Pages read: 3394
OPDs: 1778, 1845, 1864, 1868, 1913, 1929, 1934, 1948, 1968, 1977, 1995, 2012
Books by females: 2
Books by males: 10
Books by POC: 2
Books by LGBTQ: 1
Books off 1001 list: 4
Books off TBR Chal.: 5 (officially complete! halfway done for the full 24!)
Books translated: 1 (Rus)
Authors new to me: 5
Authors repeated: --
Authors country of origin:
IE - 1
RU - 1
US - 5
UK - 5
The idea of chatting about books is appealing but if I'm honest with myself I don't think I would be able to invest time in it.
I hope the idea catches up!
For anyone who uses Discord/might be interested, I did wind up just recently making a book server, this is the invite, all are welcome! https://discord.gg/ef3T6xM
✔ 65 books
✔ 10+ translated
✔ 6+ nonfic
✖ 20+ 1001 list
✖ try to keep SWMs from excessive majority
I'm on book 77, I've read 13 (if I counted correctly) books in translation (though 6 were a series, but still! lol) (from Russian, Polish, Spanish, Dutch, and French, a nice spread at least! ;P), and I've read 13 books+1 graphic novel of nonfic.
I haven't been paying much attention to the list, I think I've read a couple more off it but honestly I really have no clue right now. And the SWMs, well about 1/3 I've read has been by women, and a few more titles by black, Latino, or gay men, so, SWMs are a pretty decent majority, but, eh well. We'll see what happens over the next month. Maybe I'll shift the balance a little more, who knows! Lol.
Reading in general, well I've had some slacking periods, getting caught up in games or just not in the mood, but I've done pretty decent despite that. And I've been pretty happy with my selections, as well. Most have been pretty well enjoyed, with a good number of truly adored, and even those that have been not so amazing have at least had their positives. So I think it's pretty safe to call this year a win for reading, woo! ;P Maybe I'll get around to actually posting the titles at some point. Or at least updating my catalog to reflect everything properly >_>
I hope everyone else is having a good reading year!