Florence, still not reading books in 2018

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Florence, still not reading books in 2018

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Jan. 27, 2018, 3:58am

It's about time I opened my 2018 thread I guess, though I don't have much to report :-/

My name is Florence and I live near Paris. I'm 54 and work as a freelance business and software consultant (AKA SAP consultant). I'm also a visual artist and I have been working with musicians lately on a project called Hapax. This has kept me pretty busy but it's not really a valid excuse for the fact that I am no longer reading books.

In fact I still read a lot, but mostly articles. I keep telling myself I should keep track of them (at least the best ones) and post about them, but there are so many and I am so lazy...

As far as book are concerned, I am still at least theoretically reading a few, but who knows when and if I will ever finish them?

Le ventre de Paris
The Goldfinch
Histoire mondiale de la France
New American Stories, a short story collection edited by Ben Marcus

And here are some of the best articles I've read lately:

The Book That Incited a Worldwide Fear of Overpopulation

How a Mormon lawyer transformed archaeology in Mexico—and ended up losing his faith

Overlooked: what happens to children when mothers go to jail?

The dark history of Donald Trump's rightwing revolt: this one has been on my backlog for a while and it's from 2016, and implicitely assumes that Trump will lose the election. But it's still a very interesting look at the history of conservatism in the U.S. since the end of WWII, and how it lead to this.

Silicon Valley talks a good game on ‘basic income’, but its words are empty: another one from my backlog, it reminded me that I need to do more research on the subject of basic income.

Jan. 27, 2018, 6:09am

Welcome, Florence. I always say I'm going to track the articles I read but it never happens. The books you are trying to read certainly sound interesting.

Jan. 27, 2018, 9:58am

Hi Florence, it's nice to see you here and thanks for sharing some of the articles you read!

Funny coincidence: I finished Le ventre de Paris one week ago, so we are kind of in synch! I loved The Goldfinch when I read it a few years ago.

I hope you're enjoying both of them, at whatever pace you're reading them!

Jan. 27, 2018, 11:26am

Oh, The Goldfinch was a favorite the year that I read it. I hope you enjoy it. It is long, but I think it is well worth the time.

Jan. 27, 2018, 12:02pm

Good to see you back. I'll be reading your thread even if you're not reading much in quantity, so keep posting the music and art. I'm another one who would like to somehow track articles, but as avaland says, somehow it never happens.

Jan. 31, 2018, 3:19pm

Hi and thanks to everyone!

Another one from the backlog, it's two years old but still fascinating. A short history and look into the uncertain future of the human understanding of the cosmos.
Relativity versus quantum mechanics: the battle for the universe

Jan. 31, 2018, 4:27pm

>6 FlorenceArt:: Ooh, this looks fascinating. And way too hard for my brain in the afternoon. But I hope to come back to it. Thanks for posting.

Jan. 31, 2018, 5:04pm

>7 markon: Actually it felt suprisingly easy to read. It doesn’t really go into the nitty gritty of what relativity and quantum mechanics are, I’d have been lost! It just describes briefly how they relate to each other, and also string theory.

Feb. 2, 2018, 3:20pm

The integrated school that could teach a divided town to live together

This one is also rather old (2015). But it's still good to see a (tiny) light of hope in the dreary landscape that is news nowadays.

Feb. 2, 2018, 5:58pm

LOL Something Matters
Don’t give up on truth just yet.

Bearbeitet: Feb. 2, 2018, 7:04pm

>10 FlorenceArt: Don't believe anything you read.

Feb. 2, 2018, 10:20pm

>11 baswood: I believe what I read, after I’ve checked it to the best of my abilities and with several trusted sources, and until proven otherwise by several trusted sources.

Feb. 3, 2018, 12:37am

>10 FlorenceArt: Curious how Engber chose to use the classic magazine-essay formula where the first half of your piece sets out a position that the second half of the piece is going to disagree with. Almost as though he deliberately wants to provoke people who only skim the piece into coming away with a false notion that he believes in the boomerang effect. All very meta.

Feb. 3, 2018, 11:14am

>13 thorold: I don’t know... It didn’t feel that way to me, although I was frustrated that he took so long to get to the point that the boomerang effect was overestimated (and then went back to proving it does exist nonetheless, now that I think of it).

Mrz. 8, 2018, 4:09am

Hey, I finally finished a book! Well, it's not the first one of the year but it's the first serious one. The first was Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey, which was all right. The book that I just finished is Zola's Le ventre de Paris. I had to force myself a little. I liked this one much less than Au bonheur des dames. The luscious descriptions of food felt a bit nauseating at times, and there was no character in the book that I felt any attachment to. The main subject of the book could be said to be "les femmes des halles", women with a fearsome reputation, and in the book they certainly live up to it. By contrast the males are rather pitiful and weak creatures, slightly ridiculous but not really worth spending long lines on. The main character, Florent, is the only good one but he is so naive and foolish and such an obvious victim of the fearsome females that I had trouble identifying to him despite the name we share.

I still have one novel to finish, The Goldfinch, and it's likely to be a struggle too. The short format seems to suit my limited attention span better at the moment, and I have several short story collections under way: New American Stories (next up is one by De Lillo), Saki's complete short stories, and Deborah Eisenberg's complete short stories.

And of course I read many great articles. Here are some of them.

Something Mysterious Is Killing Captive Gorillas
(Spoiler: actually it's no longer that mysterious, but then the unadorned truth rarely makes good headlines)

Against The Four: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google

Les écueils du débat sur les différences cognitives et cérébrales entre les sexes

Whatever you think, you don’t necessarily know your own mind

The dark psychology of dehumanization, explained

Also I finished the last installment of Tim Parks and Ricardo Manciotti's discussions On Consciousness. They raised very interesting questions but I was never satisfied by the answers.

Mrz. 8, 2018, 6:33am

Congrats on the Zola's! You've been doing some reading, regardless if "books" or not. I hope you like the Goldfinch, because although a great premise, I found it to fall woefully short.

Mrz. 9, 2018, 3:18pm

Thanks! Donna Tartt has a gift for making me squirm. I loved her first book nonetheless but could not read the second. I intent to finish this one but it may take a while.

Mrz. 10, 2018, 4:38pm

>15 FlorenceArt:, The article about dehumanization is rather disturbing. As a counterargument, you might find this article interesting: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/11/27/the-root-of-all-cruelty

Mrz. 12, 2018, 8:30am

>18 fannyprice: Thanks for the link, a very interesting article, it made me look at the issue in a completely different light.

Bearbeitet: Mrz. 12, 2018, 10:42am

>18 fannyprice:, >19 FlorenceArt:

Apologies for butting in, but the theme is irresistible and the argument presented in the article terrible. It smacks so much of the jejune "gotcha" arguments so common in high school courses on logic and philosophy I'm surprised someone squeezed a book out of it... no, wait, maybe I'm not surprised.

The gist of my critique: the problem with rapists and other "monsters" isn't that they think or believe their victims are non-human, but that they treat them as non-human (i.e. as those who do not belong to the same category as themselves, do not deserve the same respect, care etc. as themselves.)

It's the abuse that's dehumanising, regardless of what the perpetrator "thinks".

Hitler didn't think Jews were rats no more than Art Spiegelman thinks Jews are mice and Poles pigs; Hitler wanted Jews to be treated like rats. And Spiegelman, in showing Polish Nazi collaborators as pigs, means to shame and chastise them. (The difference is important.)

As for urging us to recognise the "banality of misogyny", I can't help wondering where Manne lives and what does she read, if she thinks she's making an original argument. I don't mean the obvious debt to Arendt's "banality of evil", I mean that recognising that misogyny is a structural problem that ordinary, "non-monstrous" people contribute to and sustain is one of the earliest discoveries and basic tenets of modern feminism. (And, I might add, of many women's personal experience regardless if they even know the word "feminism".)

Mrz. 12, 2018, 11:48am

>21 LolaWalser: Do barge in by all means!

“Hitler didn't think Jews were rats no more than Art Spiegelman thinks Jews are mice and Poles pigs; Hitler wanted Jews to be treated like rats.”

I think that’s the whole point of the article Fanny posted. Taking what people say at face value when they say someone is a beast is missing the point. They know perfectly that they are talking about a human being, and that treating him/her like an animal is going to hurt him/her. And I guess you’re right that it shouldn’t be a surprise, except that the dehumanizing argument is sometimes being used as if it explains racist, hateful or genocidal thought processes instead of just expressing them.

Mrz. 13, 2018, 4:58am

A différent take on (among other things) the subject of hatred, which unfortunately seems to come us quite often these days.

The good guy/bad guy myth


Mrz. 14, 2018, 4:37pm

>23 FlorenceArt:, Thanks for sharing Florence, some interesting ideas in that one.

ETA: I just realized both the article I posted and the article you just linked to reference the same book: One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps. I can't say it seems like an enjoyable read, but I am now considering adding it to my list.

>22 FlorenceArt: and >21 LolaWalser:, I don't have any particular viewpoint on this issue, I just like to read ideas and critiques of those same ideas. I do think that the idea of the "banality of evil" is worth revisiting continually, even if it's no longer particularly original. I think it's too easy otherwise for us to see ourselves as fundamentally different from people in other contexts who didn't resist oppressive governments or helped sustain systematic racism/misogyny/etc. And that puts us at risk of the same behavior. As a career civil servant in the US gov't, this is something I think about every day now.

Jun. 11, 2018, 6:54am

Hey, it's not even the middle of the year and I finished a book already! Kraken by China Miéville. Enjoyed it too, even though it took me ages to finish.

I gave up on The Goldfinch, it was OK but not great enough to force myself to finish it.

And despite the fact that I've got a gazillion books to read already, I bought another one: Enquête au pays by Driss Chraibi. I loved the fist book of his I read several years ago, La civilisation, ma mère, so I hope that this one will be as good and that I'll actually be able to read it.

And since I'm here, here are some notable articles I've read in the last few days.

How an author trademarking the word “cocky” turned the romance novel industry inside out

Does anyone have the right to sex?

About Barbara Ehrenreich

Jun. 21, 2018, 7:27am

I've been working on my backlog on Pocket, so some of these articles are a couple of years old, but still worth reading.

Physicists and Philosophers Debate the Boundaries of Science | Quanta Magazine

The cult of memory: when history does more harm than good

Why Professors Distrust Beauty

The male glance: how we fail to take women’s stories seriously

And I'm still working on this one, which is an excellent explanation of how evidence based practice works, and how it could be applied in the educational field.
Building evidence into education

Jul. 4, 2018, 7:50am

I finished Une enquête au pays and liked it, maybe even liked it a lot. It helped that it was short, but I like Chraïbi's writing and his characters, very flawed and often slightly ridiculous (especially the two policemen from the city) but also very human and doing their best to survive in a post-colonial bureaucracy. The book is much darker than La civilisation, ma mère. Contrary to what the publisher would have me believe ("une enquête de l'inspecteur Ali", apparently there is at least one more), this is not a crime novel and the inquiry is only a pretext to confront the backward villagers and the civilized (the word civilization comes up very often) urban policemen.

While browsing books on my e-reader, I found selected letters of Madame de Sévigné. I had tried reading them before but this free edition has no introduction or footnote, so it was frustrating. As of today I am the owner of an "augmented edition" that should provide more background and help me understand what she is writing about. She does have an enjoyable style. I've been wanting to read her since I read Proust. The narrator's grandmother, easily my favorite character, had a great admiration for these letters.

Jul. 4, 2018, 10:51am

>27 FlorenceArt: Hmmm - Chraïbi sounds interesting - someone else I didn't know about...!

Bearbeitet: Jul. 4, 2018, 11:16am

>28 thorold: I read La civilisation, ma mère some time ago and really loved it. It’s about (spoiler) the narrator’s mother, and there is a lot of love in it so I can’t help feeling it must be also about the author’s mother, but who knows. Then I more or less forgot about this author, until I read (skimmed, really) an article about him recently. I think I’ll try to find another book by him in the near future.

Bearbeitet: Aug. 1, 2018, 12:43pm

My fights with Plato, book umpteenth: Early Socratic Dialogues, Penguin Classics, Edited with a General Introduction by TREVOR J. SAUNDERS.

This came about thanks to an excellent blog I have been following, Footnotes to Plato. This blog with its weekly reading suggestions list is one of my main providers of links to interesting articles, many of the links I posted recently come from it. The author also has a "book club" where he gives detailed comments on a book. The current series is about the Early Dialogues.

This book will probably know the same fate as all the previous ones, namely that I will grow frustrated and give up on it. But at least it's a relief that Saunders acknowledges the errors in Socrates' and Plato's reasoning instead of just ignoring them and leaving me with an impossible alternative: either all the philosophers and critics since Plato have been blind to these obvious errors, or I am the blind one for not seeing that they are right even when their errors make me want to scream at them.

I think my problem is mostly that although I see the errors, I have difficulties seeing the things that he did so right that they are now ingrained in Western thinking.
When Socrates insists on defining a concept before discussing it, it feels completely natural to me and I tend to focus on how his definitions seem weak or unsatisfactory. It annoys me when any non-fiction book I read doesn't start with this initial step of defining the subject, and conversely when it does it just feels normal. But if I react that way, it's probably in large part because of Socrates and Plato and the way they shaped our way of thinking.

I'm not sure knowing that will help me read him. I'll try to keep in mind this comment from Saunders' introduction:

"If any or all of these dialogues provoke the reader into exclaiming, ‘But that can’t be right!’, or ‘I can think of an answer to that one’, then Socrates’ formula for philosophy will be doing its magic. The magic worked in the ancient world, and it still works today."

(Edited to fix a wrong pronoun :-)

Jul. 16, 2018, 2:54am

I just finished True Grit which was recommended here on Club Read, though I don't remember who I heard it from first. It was an enjoyable short read. The narrator is a great character and her voice is endearing but, well, she doesn't write very well. I think that's part of the impression of realism, but still, I like a book with a bit more style. I liked the book, but from the descriptions and reviews I expected more than this.

Jul. 17, 2018, 11:19am

Aug. 1, 2018, 12:43pm

Big news: I finally managed to finish reading one of Plato's dialogues! OK, it's a tiny one, but it's a first. Not sure I am much the wiser for it though. The dialog is Ion, and I benefited from the help of Trevor Saunders who wrote the introduction and commentary in the Penguin edition of Early Socratic Dialogues, and of Massimo Pigliucci's comments. There are three more dialogues in that book. Maybe this short and (relatively) easy one will encourage me to actually finish the whole book?

In the meantime I also read A Shilling For Candles by Josephine Tey, which was OK. And I bought and started reading Plainsong by Kent Haruf, which so far feels very much closer to what I want to be reading right now.

Aug. 5, 2018, 4:42pm

I finished a second of Plato's early dialogues: Laches. And for the first time it's actually a dialogue! Though technically it isn't because it's between three people, but they are actually discussing something and listening to each other. The difference with an ordinary discussion is that they are not trying to convince each other, but to get at the truth together. All because of Socrates, who diverted the discussion from its original goal of how to get a couple of Athenian boys a good education, to finding out what virtue is (or at least a virtue, courage), to discovering that they don't know and they all need to get an education before they can decide anything. It's a good thing not all discussions proceed like that because we wouldn't get much done! But for the first time I actually liked this Socrates who appears as a young man trying to find out the truth, not a snarky and manipulative old man out to confuse and ridicule his interlocutors. And the comments in the book and on Massimo Pigliucci's site helped me put this in context and connect it with our contemporary viewpoint. I'm enjoying this.

Aug. 15, 2018, 11:08am

I just finished Plainsong and loved it. I don't know, it might be corny but it's so well written corny. Also I needed that simple optimism that life (to quote Maupassant) "ça n'est jamais si bon ni si mauvais qu'on crois" (it's never as good nor as bad as you think).

I think I'll go back to Zola now. At least I started Nana, which I've been wanting to read since that exhibition on prostitution at the musée d'Orsay.

Bearbeitet: Aug. 15, 2018, 1:32pm

Hi Flo. I enjoyed Haruf’s last book*, but it’s the only thing I’ve read by him. Interesting about your Plato reading and about the blog - Footnotes to Plato.

*ETA Our Souls at Night

Aug. 15, 2018, 1:58pm

Hi Dan! I do highly recommend the blog. He has now moved to Patreon, the new address is https://www.patreon.com/PlatoFootnotes and I am now a subscriber. I also bought his book, How to Be a Stoic, but haven’t started reading it.

I think I’ll probably read another Haruf, but not right now. The Zola seems good so far.

Sept. 10, 2018, 3:55pm

I finally managed to finish New American Stories, dragging through many of them and skipping those that were decidedly too boring or annoying. Actually, maybe that is an exaggeration. Looking back at the table of contents, there were some good ones, although I have mostly forgotten about them. "Another, Better Otto" by Deborah Eisenberg got me to buy a collection of her stories, because it was the second time I read something by her and I liked them both times. I also looked up Lydia Davis and might buy a collection of her stories too. This one ("Men") had the great advantage of being extremely short. "The Lucky Body" by Kyle Coma-Thompson was a shock and very intriguing, I need to find more by him (her?). The rest had some good and some bad, but the last ones were really a drag, and I'm afraid that is how I will remember the book.

I've been reading a lot of romance too, that's my usual response to stress. Mostly Heyer re-reads, and lately a fun "Victorian", A Curious Beginning. Great for comfort reading, if you enjoy that kind of thing.

Sept. 11, 2018, 12:37pm

>38 FlorenceArt: Editor Ben Marcus? I read a collection by him in 2005 and it was a terrible selection. How does one go so wrong with this idea? Seems like there are so many options out there.

Sept. 12, 2018, 3:41pm

>39 dchaikin: Yes, that’s the one. I bought this book because I read an article about it when it came out, and the same article mentioned The Age of Wire and String by Ben Marcus (dang, touchstone not working). I bought both books and Wire and String was a marvel, it was so beautiful that I haven’t dared try anything else by him, I’m so afraid of being disappointed. It’s strange that his selection in the other book was so weak.

Sept. 20, 2018, 4:13pm

I finished How To Be a Stoic last week. It's a short and very readable book about, well, Stoicism, what it is, and how to practice it in this early 21st century, some two millennia after if was invented. Massimo Pigliucci, whom I discovered through his blog, Footnotes to Plato, writes about his own experience discovering Stoicism, and quotes a lot from Epictetus' Enchiridion (Handbook) which he then explains and adapts for contemporary readers, in a way that immediately talked to me. I think that I have enough in common with him that our views are more or less in alignment on many important things. I do think that trying to live virtuously is a worthy goal, and that the (modernized) Stoic brand of virtue is one I can agree with.

I don't think this book will change my life, but I will certainly try to put in practice its recommendations. Most of them are things that I have been trying to do for several years, at least in small things, but there is some appeal in trying to organize them into a kind of system. And one important lesson I will try to remember is to keep my priorities straight: many things in life are nice to have, but they are not worth losing my moral integrity for. Of course, that's all well and noble in theory, but I'm not at all sure I would stand up to my principles if my live, or even simply my livelihood, were on the line. But as Epictetus said, start with small things.

Another important lesson is that you should worry about things that are under your control (your actions mainly), not about what isn't (everything else). Again, easier said than done, but it can help.

I've been trying to put all this in practice on Facebook. As I'm sure you already know, it can be painful to witness the torrent of hate and lies, often unwittingly but enthusiastically spread by friends and family. But on the other hand, I don't think I should just stand by or flee (although I do avoid spending too much time there). So I just try to add a tiny drop of reason in the ocean of insanity, and not to worry too much about the usefulness of exposing myself to public scorn by trying to point out what I believe is the truth. It's all I can do and it isn't much, but who knows, maybe one person will read what I wrote and start thinking. And that part is out my control.

Sept. 23, 2018, 6:14am

For a much more informative review of How to Be A Stoic, see here:

Detailed Review: How to be a Stoic by Massimo Pigliucci

I am trying to find and read more Stoic works. I already read Epictetus' Enchiridion (handbook), which is as the name implies, full of very useful practical advice. I think I'll also try to read his Discourses.

I have a big paperback of (I think) all of Seneca's philosophical work. He also wrote dramas, but I'm not much interested in those. I remember buying this book (unfortunately not available as an e-book) the last time I had a philosophy streak, a few years ago. When I picked it up again, I found that I had stalled at letter #81 in the Letters to Lucilius, which is about a very important question: if someone did you a favor in the past, but then wronged you, are you quits? Right. I think I can live without Seneca's answer to that. Let's try something else.

So I went back to the beginning of the book, the Consolation to Marcia. One thing about Seneca is that he can write. I can't say I agree with him on everything, and his love of death is rather disturbing, but it's an agreeable read. And he had some pretty good insights on how humans work too. The commentary by Paul Veyne is funny and sometimes a little too sarcastic, but it helps to understand Seneca's ideas and works in the context of the time and place he lived in. Apparently, "consolations" were a popular literary genre at the time, a public letter written to someone who lost a loved one to, in effect, tell them to shut up and be a man/woman about it. As is to be expected, the bereaved didn't necessarily appreciate being harangued this way, but on the other hand it gave them and the deceased some amount of literary fame.

I also bought Marcus Aurelius' Meditations and started by reading the introduction, which shattered all my illusions about it. I had always been skeptical that this book could have been written by the emperor strictly for his personal use, but in fact it turns out it's unclear how much, if any, of it was actually written by Marcus Aurelius. It's also unclear whether the emperor was really a bona fide Stoic. Much of the book expresses beliefs that were common to the Roman ruling classes at the time, and many of them were shared by Stoics. Also the book contains some approving comments about Christians, even though Marcus Aurelius is known for having persecuted them. So these comments may have been added later.

Sept. 25, 2018, 6:40pm

>41 FlorenceArt: Wow - How to be a stoic really got you to think about yourself. What a wonderful thing literature is, in that it can throw up such fundamental questions.

Sept. 27, 2018, 1:15pm

Bas, I’ve been thinking about these things for a while, but it is truly wonderful that I can look for help from a long line of sages who lived millennia or centuries before me, and on all the continents. Even Africa, forgotten though it may often be as a source of wisdom.

Okt. 7, 2018, 2:37pm

I won't finish Nana. Actually I think I'm done with 19th century realism for a while. I've had enough of humanity's meanness and stupidity, and anyway I get enough of that on Facebook.

That said, my reading slump seems to be getting better, even though (or maybe because) I'm mostly reading not-too-demanding stuff. So to catch up on recently finished books:

L'Entreprise des Indes is a fictional memoir of Bartolomé, Christophe Colomb's (sorry, too lazy to look up the English name) brother. I am normally rather skeptical of that kind of book, but I enjoyed this one, which was hanging around the house because my mother lent it to me ages ago.

Temps glaciaires might be the last book by Fred Vargas I read. Not that I didn't like it, it was a nice enough read, but she's getting a bit too fond of supernatural stuff for my taste. On the other hand, Adamsberg's team is just as human and (mostly) likable as ever.

The Code Of the Woosters was just as expected, silly and fun.

Okt. 7, 2018, 6:22pm

Enjoyed your posts on Stoicism. All the Greek and Roman stuff is really interesting. Maybe I should check out Seneca. Didn’t realize Marcus Aurelius may not have written his book.

And it’s good to enjoy your reading. Wondering what happened to Nana.

Okt. 8, 2018, 6:38pm

>45 FlorenceArt: Sorry to hear about Nana, but it was never going to end well.

Okt. 9, 2018, 1:27am

Yes, you’re right. I was fooled by Au Bonheur des dames but I suspect now that it is highly untypical of Zola, in that it has one likable character.

Okt. 28, 2018, 3:47pm

I should probably stop re-reading Terry Pratchett as it mostly leads to disappointment. I don't know if that's because I have changed or because of the books themselves. Anyway, I remember loving Soul Music the first time, but it felt just OK this once.

Nov. 2, 2018, 3:55am

>45 FlorenceArt: Yes, more or less what I thought about L’Entreprise des Indes and The code of the Woosters (but since I grew up with Wodehouse I’d have difficulty summing it up in so few words...).

And I agree about the supernatural tendencies in Vargas, although she seems to have toned that down a bit in the most recent one (spiders instead...).

>48 FlorenceArt: ...one likeable character - obviously an aberration! I’m feeling a bit Zola’d out at the moment too: I started L’assommoir the other day, too soon after the last one, and really felt that I knew where this was headed and didn’t want to go there... Moving on to something else for the time being.

Nov. 2, 2018, 7:53am

>49 FlorenceArt: hmmm I'm about to try to revisit Pratchett. I had trouble last time too, couldn't feel that, you know, whatever that kind of fun feeling is.

Nov. 2, 2018, 2:12pm

>50 thorold: oh yes, the spider. I might try that one some day.

>51 dchaikin: have you tried the Tiffany Aching books (The Wee Free Men)?

Nov. 3, 2018, 7:06am

Last week, in preparation for a trip, I went through my wish list and bought Excellent Women. I finished it yesterday and it turns out that I probably read it already, though I have no idea when. In any case I enjoyed it. It didn’t make me laugh as Jane Austen did, but it frequently made me smile, and somehow that felt all right. It’s a subtle book. And I liked Mildred.