Markon sails into 2021

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Markon sails into 2021

1markon
Modificato: Dic 27, 2020, 7:30pm



Welcome to Ardene's Club Read thread (my third year I think.) Here's hoping by April many of us will be vaccinated for Covid-19 and can start seeing friends & family again.

The middle of 2020 saw me reading a lot of light genre fiction. I needed escape badly and had trouble concentrating. I have slowly started weaving in other things again, and feel like I'm back to a better mix.

Here are a few of the books I greatly enjoyed last year. All fiction this time. Except for the poetry, which is true.

Lost children archive Valeria Luiselli

An American marriage Tayari Jones

American sunrise Joy Harjo

Rachel Caine's YA Great Library series, which begins with Ink and bone

Night watchman Louise Erdrich

Blood, salt water Denise Mina

Black sun Rebecca Roanhorse

Dreamsnake Vonda McIntyre

The great believers Rebecca Makkai

(Roughly in the order in which I read them)

Link to last year's CR thread

2markon
Modificato: Dic 29, 2020, 7:36pm



In addition to Club Read, I also post on the category challenge thread, and sporadically participate in some Goodreads groups. To see what my Bingo challenge on the category challenge looks like, check out this link.


This year I am buddy reading the Complete stories of Clarice Lispector with settings. We're taking it slowly & planning to read about one story/week. If you're interested, come on over to join in.

3markon
Modificato: Mar 16, 2:50pm

New words
I am borrowing an idea from raton-liseur and posting new vocabulary in one place.


  1. mole: A mole is a massive structure, usually of stone, used as a pier, breakwater, or a causeway separated by water. The word comes from Middle French mole, ultimately from Latin mōlēs, meaning a large mass, especially of rock; it has the same root as molecule and mole, the chemical unit of measurement. A mole may have a wooden structure built on top of it that resembles a wooden pier. The defining feature of a mole, however, is that water cannot freely flow underneath it, unlike a true pier. (source Wikipedia), found in Murder on Brittany shores

  2. anacoluthon (anəkəˈlo͞oTHän/), noun.
    Sentence or construction in which the expected grammatical sequence is absent, for example while in the garden, the door banged shut. (found in the intro to The complete stories by Clarice Lispector)

  3. pertinacious: 1) Holding tenaciously to an opinion or purpose. 2) Stubbornly resolute or tenacious. (from biography of Louise Fitzhugh, Sometimes you have to lie.)

  4. deracinate: transitive verb. 1: uproot. 2: to remove or separate from a native environment or culture especially : to remove the racial or ethnic characteristics or influences from. (from biography of Louise Fitzhugh, Sometimes you have to lie.)

  5. sclerotic: becoming rigid and unresponsive; losing the ability to adapt.
    from bedlamfarm.com, 2/11/21

  6. hypnogogic: adjective
    of or relating to the state immediately before falling asleep.
    These patients also reported and described hypnagogic images upon falling asleep.


  7. See posts 77 & 78
  8. hypnopompic: Referring to the state of consciousness before becoming completely awake.

  9. crepuscular: relating to or like the time of day just before the sun down, when the light is not bright

  10. Pareidolia is the tendency for incorrect perception of a stimulus as an object, pattern or meaning known to the observer. Common examples are perceived images of animals, faces, or objects in cloud formations, or lunar pareidolia like the Man in the Moon or the Moon Rabbit. (Definition from Wikipedia via Universal Dictionary/DictBox. Word from "Blue Lotus" by Madeline Ashby.)

  11. Apopheniais the tendency to see meaningful connections between things where there might none." (Definition from the story in #9.)

  12. aegis: noun ae·gis || 'iːdʒɪs
    shelter, protection; sponsorship, auspices; (Greek Mythology) shield of Zeus or Athena (also egis) from Goldilocks by Laura Lam.

  13. new word

  14. new word

  15. new word

  16. new word

  17. new word

4markon
Modificato: Maggio 13, 8:46pm

Let the reading and chatting begin!

First Quarter

January

  1. Leo Africanus by Amin Maalouf, translated from French by Peter Sluglett*

  2. And every day the way home gets longer and longer by Frederick Bachman*

  3. Drawing conclusions by Donna Leon

  4. Octvia Butler: Kindred, Fledgling, and collected stories and essays

  5. Murder on the Brittany shores by Jean-Luc Bannalec*

  6. Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman

  7. The girl who chased the moon by Sarah Addison Allen

  8. The doors of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky

  9. Kintu by Jennifer Nansubugua Makumbi

  10. Black in Selma by J. L. Chestnut & Julia Cass

  11. February
  12. The flatshare by Beth O'Leary

  13. Ghost hawk by Susan Cooper

  14. Silent Voices by Ann Cleeves

  15. The switch by Beth O'Leary
  16. We are water protectors by Carol Lindstrom

  17. Castle waiting, volume 1 by Linda Medley

  18. Sometimes you have to lie by Leslie Brody

  19. short stories: The fever dream, Jimmy and I and Interrupted story by Clarice Lispector;
  20. Sea maple by Marie Lu, Sturdy lanterns and ladders by Malka Older
  21. The long secret by Louise Fitzhugh (audio)

  22. Blood grove by Walter Moseley (audio)

  23. The royal kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Songhay by Patricia McKissack and Frederick McKissack

  24. Riviera gold by Laurie King

  25. Across the green grass fields by Seanan McGuire

  26. The mountains sing by Phan Qué̂ Mai Nguyẽ̂n


  27. March
  28. The ruin by Dervla McTiernan

  29. The scholar by Dervla McTiernan

  30. The lost boys by Faye Kellerman

  31. Out of hounds by Rita Mae Brown

  32. Indelicacy by Amina Cain

  33. Winged histories by Sofia Samatar

  34. The house in the Cerulean sea by T. J. Kline (audio)


* translated

Link to Bingo challenge

Link to second quarter reading list

5dchaikin
Dic 31, 2020, 1:45pm

I like your list of 2020 highlights. I’ve only read one of those. Happy New Year, Ardene!

6markon
Modificato: Gen 1, 6:36am

Thanks Dan!



Happy New Year!

I am happy to report my sisters successfully moved my dad so that he is now a 10 minute drive from them instead of 2 hours. A snowstorm changed the date, but he is in safe and sound. Once I get vaccinated, I will go visit and help sort all the stuff that doesn't fit in his new place.

7kidzdoc
Gen 1, 9:45am

Happy New Year, Ardene! The news about your father must be a huge relief to you.

8BLBera
Gen 1, 11:31am

Happy New Year, Ardene. What a great list of favorites; I have loved many of the books on your list. I look forward to following your reading this year.

9AlisonY
Gen 1, 1:05pm

Happy new year and new thread, Ardene. Looking forward to following along again this year.

10arubabookwoman
Gen 1, 4:05pm

Hi Ardene and Happy New Year!
I wanted to answer the question you posed at the end of my 2020 thread, in case you didn’t check back. It was actually the author of the book I was reviewing What Were We Thinking who opined that Know My Name was one of the 10 or 12 books to read to understand the Trump era, not me. I haven’t read Know My Name, but know what it’s about, and I was puzzled as to how it fits in to help understand Trump. You raise a good point about the rise of the Me Too movement.

11markon
Modificato: Gen 2, 9:05pm

>7 kidzdoc: Yes, quite glad to know the physical move is done. I spoke with him Friday evening.

>8 BLBera: & >9 AlisonY: Yes, I hope this will be a rich reading year for us all.

12markon
Modificato: Gen 2, 9:07pm

>10 arubabookwoman: Thanks for responding Deborah. And for correcting my misreading. Now I'm curious about why/what he thinks Know my name contributes to understanding the "Trump era."

From timelines, it looks more to me like these events overlap in time.

13raton-liseur
Modificato: Gen 3, 1:30pm

Happy new year markon!
>3 markon: You've borrowed this idea from my thread, but I borrowed it from another thread before (can't remember from whom); so I will not claim any ownership!
I hope you'll enjoy your literary year!

14markon
Modificato: Gen 6, 11:57am

>13 raton-liseur: Whoever came up with it, I'm happy to be borrowing it.

15shadrach_anki
Gen 3, 11:32pm

Happy new year, and may you have lovely reading!

I love the idea of keeping a vocabulary list. I already collect words (I repurposed a Moleskine address book for that), and I have been reading more classics, which means learning new senses for words I already know. And bemoaning the dictionary feature on my Kindle; it isn't nearly robust enough.

16markon
Gen 4, 3:17pm

>15 shadrach_anki: Thanks. Same to you. I am glad I have this. It will be fun to see what new vocabulary (or new meanings for existing vocabulary, like mole) I acquire.

17markon
Modificato: Gen 4, 6:42pm

I've read two short stories, so that I could finish something, and enjoyed both of them.

"Mother Ocean," by Vandana Singh. Po is the main character in this story, published online as part of the Ocean Stories anthology created for the XPRIZE Foundation. A meditation on a conflicted daughter-mother relationship, and a glimpse of a potential not-so-distant future. I found it melancholic, hopeful, and realistic.

I also read the introduction to Clarice Lispector's The complete stories, and the first story, "The triumph," published in 1940, when Lispector was 19. This was a quick & easy read, and I applauded the protagonist's discovery that she was strong enough to survive without her live-in boyfriend. I'm doing a buddy read of the collection here.

18markon
Modificato: Gen 4, 6:43pm

I've spent quite a bit of time lately with Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi. It's a historical saga of a family in what we know know as Uganda covering the 1750s to the present day. I've finished the first"book"of six, which describes Kintu & his family and sets up the difficulties the family will have going forward.

I'm enjoying the novel & look forward to what happens next.

I've also started several other books (I can never read just one), but will not list the others here. But I definitely have enough reading to keep me busy :-)

19sallypursell
Gen 5, 11:27pm

Happy New Year, Ardene, and looking forward to your reading. I'm here dropping off a star.

21markon
Modificato: Gen 9, 7:03am

First thoughts on Leo Africanus by Amin Maalouf. I enjoyed this novel more than I expected to. (I'd tried it once before and DNFd it as too dry.)

This time I enjoyed the meditative pace, and the unemotional prose telling about what Hasan/Leo did and where he traveled and things that happened totally out of his control. It also paints a glimpse of a picture of North Africa in the 13th/14th century when the Ottoman Empire was rising.

I have the ususal questions about how much a novel featuring an actual person actually follows a person's life and can describe a person's thoughts. Was Harun a real person? He seemed to me the person who Hasan/Leo was most emotionally connected to over time. It was interesting to me that Hasan didn't seem to miss his family when he was away from them, and that he felt strong attachments to his wives (except his cousin) while he was with them, but didn't dwell on them when he was somewhere else. Or perhaps Maloof was more interested in exploring the outward aspects of his life rather than his thoughts and emotions.

22markon
Gen 9, 7:09am

>19 sallypursell: Good to see you Sally.

23raton-liseur
Gen 9, 7:11am

>21 markon: I've read this one a long time ago and remember it as a nice read, although I can't remember anything about the caracter himself.

24arubabookwoman
Gen 9, 5:23pm

I read Leo Africanus a long time ago, but after I was on LT, so I may have reviewed it, and I remember enjoying it.

25markon
Gen 9, 6:37pm

>23 raton-liseur: & >24 arubabookwoman: I enjoyed the read, but think it would be too low-key for readers who want a fast moving story or an emotional connection with the protagonist. Left me with more questions. I'm reading a bit about Empires of Africa this quarter, so it was a good dip in the pond of North Africa.

26kidzdoc
Gen 10, 10:44am

Nice comments about Leo Africanus, Ardene. LT tells me that I've owned my copy since January 2009, but I haven't read it yet. IIRC Rebecca (rebeccanyc) recommended it to me, but I don't see a review of it here, so it may have been someone else.

27dchaikin
Gen 11, 2:01pm

Enjoyed your comments on Leo Africanus and I’m interested in your Empires of Africa theme and where it takes you.

28markon
Gen 11, 6:11pm

>27 dchaikin: I'll be starting out with buddy read of a history of West Africa written for upper elementary kids: The royal kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Songhay by Patricia McKissick to get oriented. And there is a group read of A Fistful of shells: West Africa from the rise of the slave trade to the age of revolution, a 600 page tome on the economic history of West Africa. (Economics and I didn't get along particularly well in college, so I hope someone else will be able to coach me through the hard bits.)

29markon
Modificato: Gen 13, 6:43pm

Listened to a short and enjoyable novella last night, And every morning the way home gets longer and longer by Frederick Bachman, Skates the edge between touching and sentimental, and I fell over that edge towards the end.

I also finished the 20th in Donna Leon's Inspector Brunelli series, Drawing conclusions.

30LolaWalser
Gen 11, 10:49pm

Hello, interesting set of books you're tackling. I've had a similar impression about some of Amin Maalouf's "biographical" novels, I get the feeling that for him it's maybe more important to introduce those figures to the Westerners than to round them out by too imaginative characterisations and plots. The couple I read felt somehow... static. I liked better his non-fiction about the crusades through Arab eyes, and a strange little fable/dystopia about a world without women.

31markon
Gen 12, 6:38am

>30 LolaWalser: Interesting to hear that he has a more detached writing style in fiction. Wonder if that's related to his being a journalist in Lebanon.

32markon
Gen 12, 7:10pm

Science fiction online

I posted this in the online publications thread, but want to post it here so I can access it via my thread as well.

Online science fiction magazines

This is by no means a complete list, just some of the ones I look in on. I try to subscribe or donate to one a year.

Beneath ceaseless skies
Clarkesworld British
EITA brand new entry - Brazilian science fiction in English
FIYAH by and about black people of the African diaspora
Lightspeed
Mithlia international, focus on Asia
Strange Horizons

and
Speculative fiction in translation blog about science fiction translated into English

and the XPRIZE (xprize.org) oceans anthology

33markon
Modificato: Gen 16, 8:55am

Octavia Butler: Kindred, Fledgling, and Collected stories and essays

I am happy to report that Library of America (LOA) is publishing a first volume of Octavia Butler's work this month. Volume #338 in LOAs collection contains Butler's most widely read novel, Kindred, as well as her last novel, Fledgling, and her collected stories and essays.

Kindred is a genre-bending historical fiction/time travel novel. It is significant in that it requires its protagonist, Dana (and thus its readers as well), to experience and grapple with the realities of slavery. Set in 1976, the main character, Dana, finds herself periodically drawn back in time and place to plantation life. There she is seen and treated as a slave and interacts with other slaves as well as one of her ancestors, a white slave owner.The novel explores the lives of slaves, their interactions, and the power dynamics between slaves and their white masters, and the costs to everyone involved. Butler wrote this novel, published in 1979, partly to help young African Americans understand the threat to life slavery posed, and the compromises blacks made to survive. She also hoped to depict African Americans, especially women, as active, not passive.

These aren't reasons to read it however. Read it because it's a fascinating story, one with complex, well-drawn characters, most of whom suffer real consequences for their choices, and a few of them emerge with more nuanced understandings of their personal history as well as the history of the United States of America.

I spent the most time with the stories and two essays, as I hadn't read these before. The standout stories for me were “Speech sounds,” (because I am a word person and can't imagine not being able to communicate with words) and “Bloodchild,” a story in which a young person must make a difficult choice. This one, as well as the novel Fledgling, depict the difficulties in relationships where one person has more power in a relationship than the other. Bloochild comes at it from the weaker perspective, Fledgling from the stronger.

If you're a Butler fan and don't already own the contents of this volume, buying this is a no brainer. If you're not a science fiction fan, I'd definitely give Kindred a try, and it is most likely available at a local library.

34SandDune
Gen 13, 5:22pm

I read Kindred years and years ago, and I keep meaning to get around to some of her other fiction.

35markon
Gen 13, 6:41pm

>34 SandDune: I highly recommend her. I'm partial to the Xenogenesis series, but the parable series is good too.

36BLBera
Gen 13, 7:28pm

Leo Africanus sounds good. I'll add it to my list.

I am also a Donna Leon fan. I have to check to see which one is next for me. I'm somewhere in the twenties.

37kidzdoc
Gen 14, 7:47am

Nice review of Kindred, Ardene, and thanks for the heads up about the upcoming LoA book.

38LolaWalser
Gen 14, 12:44pm

>33 markon:

I've read Butler for the first time last year (Patternmaster) and am delighted her work is available in the LOA edition. I intend to keep my paperbacks too, though!

39markon
Modificato: Gen 14, 2:02pm

>36 BLBera: Beth, I'm randomly reading Brunelli in no particular order. Hope you enjoy Maalouf's novel when you get to it.

>37 kidzdoc: Always glad to share when an author I enjoy makes it onto the cannon.

>38 LolaWalser: Oh yes, a set that's readable now, and one for later.

40markon
Modificato: Gen 28, 2:47pm

Black like we never left is hosting a readathon highlighting Toni Morrison's work January 18-23.

Profits from T-shirt sales will benefit the Center for Fiction's Emerging writer fellowship.

41markon
Gen 16, 3:58pm



My friend Sally & I watched the Netflix miniseries over the holidays and enjoyed it. While the trajectory of the story was similar in the book, the details are different, and I'm happy to have had both experiences.

42LolaWalser
Gen 16, 6:45pm

Eek, I'm feeling aged and feeble and in need of new glasses! Is the struck out word "unorthodox"?

43markon
Gen 17, 5:47pm

>42 LolaWalser: Yes, Lola, it is - sorry I didn't provide a link to the book, Unorthodox: the scandalous rejection of my Hasidc roots

44dchaikin
Modificato: Gen 17, 6:00pm

>33 markon: I’m not a scifi fan, but I enjoyed Kindred and your review is terrific.

45nohrt4me2
Gen 18, 4:02pm

>33 markon: Late to the party, but I also liked Fledgling as one of the more unusual vampire stories, especially if read as an allegory (of sorts) about race and exploitation.

46markon
Modificato: Gen 18, 8:24pm

>44 dchaikin: Glad you enjoyed Kindred Dan.

>45 nohrt4me2: Yes, I enjoyed Fledgling too, and was curious to see where she would take it next. Alas, it was her last completed novel.

47markon
Modificato: Gen 18, 8:37pm



Black in Selma tells the story of the ongoing struggle for civil rights in Selma, AL from the perspective of J. L. Chestnut, a native of Selma, and the first black lawyer there. Covers the 1950s - 1980s.

I enjoyed this perspective on the political structure of Selma, the players , both black & white, and the continuing battle for equity.

48markon
Modificato: Feb 1, 9:14pm



The doors of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky ©2020

This was fun and fast paced. Not as thought provoking as Children of Time or Children or Ruin. Takes us back and forth, though mostly forth, through the last 650 million years of time.

Foregrounded by several human characters in our 21st century with a supporting cast of intelligent beings from other periods.

Lee and Mal go on vacation together, but only one of them comes back, and Lee isn't sure if what she remembers bears any relation to reality. Four years later Mal make contact and things go completely off the rails.

Julian has been charged by the government with keeping Dr. Kay Amal Khan safe, and working for the British. Then some creatures turn up dead in her apartment, his friend and coworker Alison finds an unusual information source and Khan goes missing.

And I’ve gotta say, I’m glad I took the time to look at the structure of this one beforehand, so I had a map of the book when I got to the confusing part. I probably could have read and understood it, but am glad when I got to it I could say, You haven’t lost your place, the author is repeating pieces; that’s what those repeated Is meant!” And I do not understand why the publisher did not put a table of contents in this one. The author had clearly organized the book in a specific way, had specific section and chapter headings, and it would have been 2-4 additional pages of a 497 page book, so I can’t think it would have added much to the cost.

An entertaining read.

50rhian_of_oz
Gen 29, 11:11am

>48 markon: This sounds interesting so onto the wishlist it goes!

51markon
Gen 29, 5:32pm

>50 rhian_of_oz: Glad it sounds good to you.

52markon
Modificato: Feb 2, 9:24am


Finished Kintu by Jennifer Nansubugua Makumbi this morning. An enjoyable read, but one I might have to read a second or third time to keep all the characters straight.

At 443 pages this was a long book, but not a difficult read. I took breaks between reading the first few sections so it took me about six weeks to read through. It was easy to get caught up in a a section, and then when the end of the section came I felt like I needed time to absorb what I read. And each section, except the last, had completely different characters and a different feel. Towards the end the sections became shorter, and my anticipation to find out what happens in the final section cranked up, or I might have taken longer to finish.

Kintu is the story of the extended clan descended from Kintu Kidda. Per Wikipedia, Kintu is a mythologial figure of the Buganda people and is the father of humans. I can give an overarching description of the arc of the story, but it is more than the sum of its parts.

The first section of the book, set in the mid 18th century, tells the story of Kintu, his family, and the actions that result in a curse being laid on his family and descendants. The next four sections tell the story of one descendant each (and their branch of the family) at the turn of the 20th and 21st century, and the sixth and final section tells the story of the extended family coming together in 2004 to try and remove the curse. Not everything is tied up neatly by the end, but much healing does take place.

This is a rich story that I think will reward re-reading. In addition to the literal story, the family stands in for the people of Uganda and gives us a glimpse of a variety of viewpoints and traditions that dwell together. This is also, in my mind, primarily the story of the male descendants. I am curious about what it would look like if told from a female perspective. It's also a story about the interplay of tradition and modernity. And I'm sure other readers will find other threads they want to follow.

53labfs39
Feb 2, 11:21am

Happy new year, Ardene!

>29 markon: I enjoyed And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer back when I was reading all of Backman's books that were in translation. Have you read any of his others? My least favorite were the Beartown ones, but the Ove ones were funny and sweet. Easy reads for when one needs a reminder of how people could treat others, with respect and openness.

>33 markon: I read Octavia Butler's Kindred a long time ago, and I have Parable of the Sower, which I should try and get to this year.

54rocketjk
Feb 2, 12:53pm

>47 markon: OK, finally hooked into your thread! I have Black in Selma on my shelf and I was just looking at it the other day, thinking, I ought to get to this soon. Good to have encouragement. Cheers!

55markon
Feb 2, 3:33pm

>53 labfs39: Great to see you Lisa! This was my third Backman. I have also read and enjoyed both A man named Ove and My grandmother asked me to tell you she's sorry.

I hope you enjoy Butler's parable series when you get to it.

>54 rocketjk: Jerry, glad to see you drop by! I found Black in Selma to be an engaging read, and really liked the longer-term focus of the story, with the civil rights movement making a difference, but being just part of the story of the community.

56markon
Modificato: Feb 2, 5:05pm

January Round Up
Of the 10 books I finished reading in January, the following were the most rewarding (two memoirs, two novels.)

Black in Selma by J. L. Chestnut & Julia Cass
Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
The doors of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman

57dchaikin
Feb 2, 7:52pm

>52 markon: Great review. Kintu sounds fascinating.

Also it sounds like you had a nice January.

58raton-liseur
Feb 3, 10:48am

>52 markon: Really interesting. Noting. Thanks for making me discover this novel!

59BLBera
Feb 5, 8:57am

Great comments on Kintu; I've seen it on my library's shelves and wondered... Now I will seek it out.

60markon
Feb 5, 11:41am

>57 dchaikin: >58 raton-liseur: >59 BLBera: Yes, Dan, I did have a good reading month. I'll be interested to hear what all of you think if/when you get to this one. I think a discussion of this would be interesting because different people see different things in books.

61markon
Modificato: Feb 5, 7:20pm

Finished my first two books in February.



The flatshare by Beth O'Leary. If more romances were written like this, I'd probably read more of them. This is a fun look at two people who are financially strapped for different reasons, and end up sharing a flat, and eventually, their lives. But romance is not their goal. Pure fun.

I will be trying O'Leary's The switch next, in which twenty-something Leena is forced to take a two-month sabbatical after her sister's death, and decides to switch places with her 80-something grandmother Eileen, newly single and looking for a new partner. An unlikely premise? Yes, but I'm willing to suspend disbelief for the course of a book.



I'm a fan of Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series, so thought I'd try Ghost Hawk, a juvenile novel set in the historical period between the Pilgrims' arrival in North America and what some of us know as King Phillip's war (1620s-1670s). It was a good read overall, but I had a couple of quibbles about the end. I wished it had simply stopped with the death of John Wakely. The release of the spirit of Little Hawk tagged on the end was too far into the future. I also didn't like the implication of the ending that there are no present day Native American cultures.

62sallypursell
Feb 5, 11:29pm

>41 markon: I read The Flatshare recently, and I loved it, too.

63markon
Feb 11, 8:04pm

Had a lovely sunny day yesterday and spent some time outside in the yard. Today is rainy, misty and gloomy, and it looks like that is the forecast for the rest of the week here :(

Guess I'll just have to cook and read inside:)

I also purchased tickets for the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, which is being held virtually this year. Looking forward to the follwing

The chosen
Minyan
On Broadway
Shiva Baby

64labfs39
Feb 11, 9:00pm

Perhaps you can give mini-reviews of the films you watch?

65kidzdoc
Feb 11, 9:26pm

>63 markon: Right, Ardene. This weekend looks to be a washout in Atlanta, and I'll also spend it mostly indoors, reading and cooking.

I'm also curious about the lineup of this year's Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. Is it in any way related to the Book Festival of the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta? I still haven't been to any of its events, even though the Center, in Dunwoody, is a short drive from where I work, in Sandy Springs.

66markon
Modificato: Feb 12, 11:48am

>64 labfs39: Happy to oblige Lisa.

>65 kidzdoc: I don't think there's a formal relationship Darryl, though they are both cultural events sponsored by the Jewish community in Atlanta. I've never attended the book festival, though I had successful physical therapy at the Marcus Community Center several years ago.

I started attending the film festival several years ago, and always have trouble deciding which of the many movies to see.

67markon
Feb 12, 11:44am



What would you read next?

68LolaWalser
Modificato: Feb 12, 12:27pm

My eye goes straight to glitzy Black Futures--is it science fiction? Where my eye goes, there follow my hands... Note that except Morrison, nothing is familiar. "Indelicacy" appeals very much as a title and for its sheer slimness.

ETA: ok, so the useless comments go first :)

69kidzdoc
Feb 12, 12:39pm

"Black Futures is a collection of work--art, photos, essays, memes, dialogues, recipes, tweets, poetry, and more--that tells the story of the radical, imaginative, bold, and beautiful world that black artists, high and low, are producing today."

Photos, essays, and recipes, all in one book? That one gets my vote.

70markon
Modificato: Feb 12, 4:34pm

Well, that's two votes out of two. I plan to read a short story by Clarice Lispector tonight, but will probably also start leafing through this. Sounds like a good one to start with, since I can dip in and out. And I missed the recipes Darryl!

Still interested in other folks responses to my dilemma.

71markon
Modificato: Feb 12, 4:32pm



Sometimes you have to lie
by Leslie Brody.

I was underwhelmed by this biography of Louise Fitzhugh.

The good: Brody had access to papers, letters, and accounts of Fitzhugh's friends, and does give us chronoligical story of her life and relationships. Fitzhugh has escaped the careful curation of her heir Lois Morehead, and can now be acknowledged as a lesbian.

What I felt was missing was a deeper than surface analysis of what she said, did, wrote, painted. And a statement of why she is worth writing a biography about.

My take: I get the feeling that Louise was deeply unhappy through muuch of her life from this biography, yet she obviously had many friends and lovers, and was, eventually, fiinancially and critically successful. So I'd be curious about another author's take on her.

I think Louise Fitzhugh's imporatance lies in her living as an out lesbian in the 1960s and beyond, as well as anticipating the curve in realistic children's literature with Harriet the spy's brutal honesty about people and her work ethic, as well as writing the first scene where an adolescent writes about getting her period. (Yes, before Judy Blume.)

I am reading some of Fitzhugh's other works, currently listening to an audio of The long secret. Haven't got to the menstruation scene yet. 2.5 stars

72labfs39
Feb 12, 6:38pm

>71 markon: The title of the biography sounds like the lesson Harriet the Spy had to learn. I read the novel many times as a child (I didn't care for The Long Secret). Harriet was so spunky, even cocky, and cool in my mind. Harriet's slouchy jeans and oversized hoodies were ahead of their time. I tried writing about the people around me, like she did, but living in the country, there weren't many people to spy on.

73markon
Modificato: Feb 12, 7:36pm

>72 labfs39: Yes, that's where it comes from. But as a title it puzzled me, because it doesn't seem like something Fitzhugh did a lot.

Did you see the movie that came out in the early 90s, I think?

74markon
Feb 12, 10:33pm

Response to Clarice Lispector's O delirio (The fever dream)

Oh, I like this one! I so identify with that space between waking & sleeping, or while sick with a fever, when everything is clear as day, and then disappears when you wake up, or get well. But sometimes, if you're careful, a glimpse remains . . .

I'm also thinking of climate change and Jemesin's broken earth. And creativity and that it must be expressed or die.

What's this revenge?

75labfs39
Feb 13, 6:58am

>73 markon: Perhaps the title was chosen just to sound cool. No, I didn't see the movie, did you? Any good?

76lisapeet
Feb 13, 9:00am

>71 markon: My reading twin friend had similar criticisms of the Fitzhugh bio, saying it read like it wasn't sure whether it wanted to be an academic or a popular study. But it's in my virtual pile and I'll probably still read it since I was such a Harriet fan... and I guess it's good to know in advance that it won't answer my burning question of how she managed to write such an absolutely perfect book. Not for us to know, I suppose, and maybe that's how it should be.

I ordered a new copy of Harriet a few years ago that came, in an unpleasant surprise, with the movie tie-in cover. I printed out the old cover on my crappy color printer and glued it on my copy, because I just couldn't bear it otherwise.

77markon
Modificato: Feb 13, 10:24am

>75 labfs39: Lisa, I liked the movie when it came out, but I agree with >76 lisapeet: that the book cover should be the well known one.

And yeah, the title drew me in and tied into Harriet.

I'm glad I read this & I know a lot more about Louise Fitzhugh than I did. But I had to work to finish it.

78sallypursell
Feb 13, 8:22pm

>74 markon: Do you know the neat words hypnogogic and hypnopompic? They refer to the time between waking and sleeping, and the time between sleeping and waking.

79markon
Feb 14, 10:00am

>78 sallypursell: Now I do! Adding them to my vocabulary list. Thanks!

80labfs39
Feb 14, 11:15am

>78 sallypursell: Great words. Remind me of the word crepuscular, "relating to or like the time of day just before the sun goes down, when the light is not bright."

81BLBera
Feb 14, 11:25am

>67 markon: Paradise is great. I would choose that one.

82rocketjk
Feb 14, 12:25pm

>80 labfs39: There's a great Thelonious Monk song that he called "Crepuscular with Nellie."

83markon
Modificato: Feb 17, 1:29pm

>80 labfs39: Thanks Lisa, adding to my list - I know I've read this, but just inferred from context, so it's fun to look them up. Crepuscle: twilight

>81 BLBera: Noted Beth. Too many books!

>82 rocketjk: Listening to the first version on YouTube now.

84markon
Modificato: Feb 15, 9:57pm



For me, the most challenging part of reading The royal kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Songhay: Life in medieval Africa was thinking about how a country's origin story is part of its history, and how oral tradition can be used as a source of history.

The book does what its title says, gives a brief and broad overview of the history of these three kingdoms in western Africa between 300-1600 AD.

I hope to learn more about how oral tradition can be used as a source while reading A fistful of shells: West Africa from the rise of the slave trade to the age of revolution by Toby Green which arrived in the mail this weekend. This covers a slightly different time period in the same region in much more detail (476 pages as opposed to 123 in the McKissack.)

85sallypursell
Feb 17, 2:21am

>80 labfs39: I really like that one too. I like to use it to refer to animals that are active at dawn and dusk, which is one of the meanings.

86markon
Modificato: Feb 26, 3:06pm

Read two more stories in Clarice Lispector's complete stories. "Jimmy and I" (eu e Jimmy) and "Interrupted story" (História interrompida) are stories about the narrator's relationships with young loves.

The moods and questions asked by each story are different. "Jimmy and I" is comic, and the narrator learns about the fickleness of love and the double standard for men and women with little cost to herself. "Interrupted story" has a more serious tone, but the narrator is still a carefree and impulsive girl, one whose vision of her relationship is shattered towards the end of the story.

87markon
Modificato: Feb 26, 4:02pm

This month has been one where it's been difficult to settle and focus on one book. I have managed to finish and enjoy Laurie King's Riviera gold, the latest in her Russell/Holmes series.

I am slowly savoring Indelicacy by Amina Cain. Exquisite (to me) writing and observation.

Also slowly plodding my way through A fistful of shells: West Africa from the rise of the slave trade to age of revolution by Toby Green. The content is interesting, but the prose is not.

I have several other things checked out from the library, but starting and continuing to read . . . not so much.

Got my 2nd Covid vaccine Wednesday and was in bed all day Thursday with an achy and feverish body, but I feel fine today.

88markon
Modificato: Feb 26, 3:58pm

I decided to count up how many books I'd purchased since the beginning of the year (6), and it is interesting to me that I've bought half in paper and half in ebook format.

Two of the paperbacks are nonfiction, which I tend to want in paper so I can easily thumb back and forth (haven't figured out a good way to do this on ebooks.) I've finished one (The royal kingdoms of Ghana, Mali and Songhay, started the second (A fistful of shells), and not started the third, a novel. Tail of the blue bird is not available as an ebook, at least where I live.

The ebooks are all fiction, one novel (Flight against time by Emily Nasrullah) and two short story collections: Clarice Lispector's The complete stories and The book of Jakarta edited by Masly Ang and Teddy W. Kusluma. The latter is for Peirene's Borderless Book Club in March.

89labfs39
Feb 27, 1:08pm

I'm glad to hear you were able to get your second shot and that you are feeling better. My parents and sister have gotten theirs, my sister was quite sick after, but my parents were only mildly effected. I hope that doesn't mean they will be less protected.

You may have said previously and I missed it: are you trying to avoid purchasing paper books these days?

90markon
Feb 27, 4:43pm

>89 labfs39: I have heard anecdotally that older people seem to be less affected with negative symptoms after the vaccine. The efficacy was good in older adults in the trials, and I guess by next year we'll have more data on efficacy over time. Guess we'll both hope it's good.

I am trying to buy fewer books in paper simply because they're harder to lug around. I'm finding that translated fiction isn't always available in ebook format - I just bought another translated novel in paper 'cause I couldn't find it in ebook.

I have a slight preference for paper, but the convenience of transporting ebooks wins out frequently.

91markon
Modificato: Feb 27, 5:27pm

Although it seems like everyone and their dog are reading this, I want to throw my hat in the ring and say that once I got started, I couldn't put down The mountains sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai. It's the story of three generations of a Vietnamese family (1940s-1970s) told through the eyes of a grandmother & granddaughter.

It is the first novel this author has written in English. She has translated some Vietnamese poetry and written some as well.

The secret of Hoa Sen, a collection of her poetry co-translated by the author and Bruce Weigl, was published in a bilingual edition in the US in 2014 by BOA Editions Ltd. and is going on Mt. TBR.

The author has won numerous awards including the Poetry of the Year 2010 Award from the Hanoi Writers Association; first prize in a poetry about Hanoi competition organized by Vietnam's Literature Newspaper and the Hanoi Radio and Television; and the Capital's Literature and Arts Award given by the Hanoi Union of Literature and Arts Associations.

92labfs39
Feb 27, 11:54pm

>91 markon: I've added The Mountains Sing to my wishlist

93markon
Modificato: Mar 1, 11:31am

>92 labfs39: Hope you enjoy it when you get to it!

94markon
Mar 1, 11:38am

Reposting a link to the Feast Afrique Reading Challenge. There are also videos, free access to some books and audio reflections on food traditions from West Africa. Thanks janemarieprice.

95markon
Mar 2, 12:39pm

Probably the best and most fun read for February was The mountains sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai set in Vietnam from the 1940s-1970s. I also enjoyed Across the green grass fields by Sean McGuire.

Still browsing through Last night I dreamed of peace and working to absorb A fistful of shells by Toby Green.

96avaland
Mar 6, 10:58am

I'm only just finding this thread now! My apologies.

I have loved everything Octavia Butler has written. She was a great loss to literature when she passed away. Imagine what else she could have written!

The Mountains Sing intrigues me, might have to put that on a list somewhere. Sounds like a nice summer read....

97markon
Mar 7, 3:06pm

Thanks for stopping by Deborah. Yes, would have loved to see what other books Butler might have written.

I hope to check out Nguyen's poetry as well.

98dchaikin
Mar 10, 1:58pm

Catching up. Noting The Mountains Sing. Your west Africa reading sounds fascinating (if difficult).

99markon
Mar 10, 2:48pm

>98 dchaikin: Hi Dan. I wish now I had taken the time to write myself a summary of each chapter of A fistful of shells. Perhaps I can do the same going forward.

100markon
Modificato: Mar 11, 11:05am

I have been reading a lot of lighter material the last week or so due to feeling a need for more escapist fiction.



These have included a couple of mysteries, The ruin by Dervla McTiernan set in Ireland, where the first death Cormac discovered as a garda comes back to haunt him later in his career. And a reread of Locked rooms by Laurie King.

In fantasy, some Charlaine Harris (1st in the Sookie Stackhouse series and two of the Midnight, Texas series) and Seanan McGuire's latest in the wayward children series, Across the green grass fields.

101markon
Mar 10, 3:28pm

Feeling stressed because we're getting ready for a (limited) opening to the public, and my Dad has been moved to a full nursing care floor (he can no longer walk on his own.)

102labfs39
Mar 10, 8:47pm

>101 markon: I'm sorry to hear things are stressful for you currently. Things always seem to happen at the same time, don't they? I'm glad you've been able to do some lighter reading. You are the second person lately that I've heard speak well of the Wayward Children series. I should check it out.

103Jiraiya
Mar 11, 3:41am

Hi markon! From what I've gleaned from your thread, you have a more literary bent to your reading habits. I'm sorry to hear about your dad.

If you want to get recommendations to escapist books, just send me a word. Happy Reading to you!

104markon
Mar 11, 10:10am

>102 labfs39: I have enjoyed the three Wayward children fantasies I've read so far. They're entertaining, and hard things happen, and yet somehow they retain a light feel.

>103 Jiraiya: I guess I tend to write more about the "literary" fiction than the genre fiction. Although in volume I think I read more of what I think of as lighter? fiction. I'm not sure how to describe it, and I don't want to under value it, because I don't think I'd read as much of the meatier? stuff without it. It's like seasoning - I need the right mix of flavors. If one predominates, the dish is spoiled. Am I making any sense here?

105markon
Modificato: Mar 11, 10:45am

Pareidolia is the tendency for incorrect perception of a stimulus as an object, pattern or meaning known to the observer. Common examples are perceived images of animals, faces, or objects in cloud formations, or lunar pareidolia like the Man in the Moon or the Moon Rabbit. (Definition from Wikipedia via Universal Dictionary/DictBox. Word from "Blue Lotus" by Madeline Ashby.)

Apopheniais the tendency to see meaningful connections between things where there might not be any.” (Definition in the story above.)

prorogue verb pro·rogue || prə'rəʊg
close or end a legislative session; postpone, defer (from the same story)

107Jiraiya
Mar 11, 3:05pm

>104 markon: I don't know what you wrote. Let's agree to forget this bookish malarkey. No need to explain something so personal to you.

108labfs39
Mar 11, 4:38pm

>104 markon: I too tend to have more to say about the literature I read, as opposed to the genre fiction. If there is a lot to write about thematically, etc., then I stop thinking of it as genre fiction and it moves (in my mind) into crossover literature. Joseph Kanon's espionage novel, The Good German, comes to mind. Sometimes I need to cleanse my palate with what I call a bathtub book or a light "summer" read (even if it's the dead of winter, lol). I tend to undervalue genre books, but as you say, they serve a purpose.

109LolaWalser
Mar 11, 7:31pm

hi, Ardene--since you had quite a convo going about Octavia Butler, I thought this might be of interest, but I'm late in linking it...

Remembering Octavia Butler: Black Sci-Fi Writer Shares Cautionary Tales In Unearthed 2005 Interview (Democracy Now video)

110markon
Mar 16, 5:04pm

>109 LolaWalser: Thanks for the link Lola. I've got it bookmarked for a watch sometime.

111markon
Modificato: Mar 16, 6:02pm

I've decided I have to stop reading A fistful of shells for a bit. I haven't been able to make myself go back to reading this one; in fact I've been reading lots of genre fiction in order to avoid it. I hope after a rest I'll be interested in reading some more. I tried to summarize what I've read, but can't come up with a quick pithy summary.



An online acquaintance has recently read A kick in the belly by Stella Dadzie which attempts to follow the ways enslaved West African women resisted their captivity. Recommended by Bernardine Evaristo, I'm considering this as a follow-up.

ETA Link to YouTube video of conversation with Stella Dadzie.

112markon
Modificato: Mar 16, 5:13pm



I've discovered a new-to-me mystery author that I like: Dervla McTiernan. She's an Irish writer & lawyer living in Australia, and I've enjoyed the first two books she's published. They're police procedurals set in Galway. The first, The Ruin, follows Cormac Riley as he returns to the place he started his career, his relationships (or lack thereof) with his colleagues, and the rediscovery of someone involved in the very first death he attended as a gardi.

The second, The scholar also features Riley, his girlfriend Emma Sweeney (a researcher at a local lab), and includes further character development of three of Riley's colleagues, Carrie O'Halleran, newly promoted sergeant, ambitious Peter Fisher, and troublesome Maura Hanley. Superintendent Brian Murphy remains a bit of a cipher – why did he keep Riley working cold cases for a year? Is he really a hands-off manager unless the political implications of a case threaten him, or is something else going on?

Unfortunately the next two books in the series appear to be available in the US initially only as audible originals, so I'll have to wait a bit to read them. I hope that will change sometime this year. The good turn features Riley and Fisher, and The sisters, a prequel to the series, features Carrie O'Halleran and her sister, a lawyer.

ETA I listened to these as audiobooks, so my name spelling may be totally off base.

113markon
Modificato: Mar 16, 5:22pm



I've also read and enjoyed Faye Kellerman's latest, The lost boys in spite of what seem to me like some plotting eccentricities. The first of three different plotlines threaded throughout the book (a missing persons case) seems to be there only to raise the 2nd issue of a 10-year-old missing persons case. Although Kellerman does shove in a possible cliff hanger for this first case at the end of the book. The 10-year-old missing persons case has (for me) a hard-to-believe solution. The third plotline is that Gabe's parents are back, and his mom's in trouble again. That is left at rather a cliff-hanger. I look forward to the next one of Kellerman's novels.

114markon
Mar 16, 5:25pm



I've been listening to Genevieve Gornichec's The witch's heart, told from the viewpoint of Loki's giantess/witch wife, Angrboda. I'm not sure I'm going to finish, at least in audio. It is narrated by Jayne Entwistle, who also narrates the Flavia DeLuce books, and it is hard for me to switch gears to this retelling of Norse mythology from Angrboda's viewpoint in what sounds a lot like Flavia's voice. But I may read a paper copy to find out how the story gets where it's going.

115AnnieMod
Mar 16, 5:36pm

>113 markon: When did she get to 26? :) I like the series but it keeps getting off my radar. Probably should make it one of my rotating series for a bit (I am down at 10) :)

116markon
Modificato: Mar 30, 7:38am

>115 AnnieMod: Wow! I didn't realize she was at 26 - I hadn't been counting. You have some fun reading to go if you want. I have enjoyed the last few set during Peter's "retirement" to a less stressful job in another part of the country.

117labfs39
Mar 16, 6:44pm

>114 markon: I sympathize with you about the narrator's voice being linked in your mind to a specific character. That's a tough thing to ignore.

118BLBera
Mar 21, 8:31am

>112 markon: I really enjoyed the first McTiernan, and I've been meaning to get to the second one.

I started reading Faye Kellerman years ago, but I haven't picked up any for a long time, Is she still writing the same series?

119markon
Mar 24, 8:34pm

>117 labfs39: It is, and Flavia is a character with a distinctive voice.

>118 BLBera: She is still primarily writing the Decker/Lazarus books, with an occasional stand alone. I enjoy them.

120markon
Mar 24, 8:44pm

I read my first book where COVID 19 makes an appearance this week. Out of hounds by Rita Mae Brown is an ongoing mystery series involving hounds, horses, and fox hunters. The virus makes an appearance late in the book, as the action is taking place in Feburary and March 2020 and hasn't hit rural Virginia hard before the end of the book. I've been curious about when it would start showing up in literature, since anyone who worked on a novel set in "real time" last year would have to account for it.

121NanaCC
Mar 24, 9:47pm

>114 markon: Entwistle really is Flavia, isn’t she. I think I’d have a hard time with her reading something else, as well. The same thing happened to me with Jim Dale. He read all of the Harry Potter series, and then I started listening to him reading A Christmas Carol. It just didn’t work for me. He also read Around the World in 80 Days. I had the same problem.

122sallypursell
Mar 29, 8:38am

>121 NanaCC: Around the World in 80 Days is one of my very favorite novels. It certainly would be weird to hear it in Harry Potter's narrative voice.

123markon
Mar 30, 6:44pm

>121 NanaCC: Yes, she is. I've heard good things about Jim Dale, though I'm not sure I've ever listened to anything he narrated. I can identify with the difficulty.

>122 sallypursell: Hi Sally!

124markon
Modificato: Mar 31, 7:51pm

I've recently finished two books that were beautifully written, in my opinion. I don't want to analyse either, but am noting them here.


Indelicacy by Amina Cain is an exquisite work I would call delicate, as in fine and subtle and pleasing. Written in first person, it follows the life of a maid in an art museum who wants to write. She has carved out a life for herself in the city and does just that. While not all people will find her simpatico, I found her refreshing.

125markon
Mar 30, 7:15pm


Winged Histories by Sofia Samatar reads almost like historical fiction, with bits of otherworldliness towards the end. Four young women tell their stories during and after a war in a quartet that also gives us a view of the Empire of Olondria.

126sallypursell
Mar 30, 8:46pm

>124 markon: Markon, your link to Indelicacy took me to the top of your thread. I'm not sure how that happened.
And Hi to you. I'm making my slow way around the Club after being incommunicado for a week.

127markon
Mar 31, 7:52pm

>126 sallypursell: Thanks Sally. I had swapped a couple of letters in the html code, but I think it's fixed now.

128LolaWalser
Apr 1, 4:52pm

>124 markon:

Sounds good.

129markon
Modificato: Apr 11, 9:07pm

I seem to not be reading new things lately. Instead, I've been listening to things I've read previously.

I'm also having a lovely week in which I've been able to get back to the YMCA and have been doing yoga, a bit of pilates fusion, and a water aerobics class. Also spending some time in the yard, pruning the beauty berries, planting a small garden, and trying to untangle and (eventually) uproot the honeysucke from the white azalea and the mophead hydrangea.

It feels good to be moving in my body again.

I'm also trying to decide which books to take with me in a week when I fly to Iowa to see family. Right now it's much easier to get print copies from the library than digital ones - ebooks have longer hold lists.

I'm planning on some contemplative gentle reads. I have The theory of flight by Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu and Optic Nerve by Maria Gainza, and am ordering Even as we breathe by Annette Sunooke Clapsaddle.

Of course, I may get there and want plot oriented books, but I can purchase ecopies if I need them.

Time to pack up the stew I cooked for lunches this week and take Milo out one last time.

130labfs39
Apr 11, 10:28pm

Have a good evening, Ardene, and have a nice visit with your family. Gentle re-reads are restorative. I hope you come back refreshed.

131markon
Modificato: Maggio 2, 4:46pm

>130 labfs39: Thanks Lisa. I had a lovely visit.

Ah, where does the time go and what have I been doing.

Binge reading Patricia Briggs, trying recipies from Skinnytaste meal prep, visiting family, going to the Y every chance I get, working in the yard . . .

I had a lovely visit with family a couple of weeks ago, and got to see my dad and where he is living now.

We're slowly opening back up at work. This week people can make an appointment to come in and browse the shelves for an hour. I'm looking forward to seeing the half of our staff I haven't been working with in June.

Here are a few books I've read and enjoyed recently.


Finding home by David Kherdian. This was shelved in juvenile biography. Published in 1981, this is the story of the author's mother, Veron, who arrives at Ellis Island as a picture bride from Armenia to marry his father, Melkon, who is living in Racine, Wisconsin.

Gone to the woods: surviving a lost childhood by Gary Paulsen. Also a juvenile biography.

The Thursday murder club by Richard Osman. A fun mystery set in a retirement community built on land that was formerly a convent.

132labfs39
Maggio 2, 6:31pm

>131 markon: Finding Home sounds very interesting. Did you like it? If so, I will put it and the first volume, The Road from Home on my wish list.

133markon
Modificato: Maggio 13, 5:59pm

>132 labfs39: I did enjoy Finding Home. (I'd rate it 3-3.5 stars for whatever that's worth.) It's told mostly from Veron's POV, and I liked seeing her reacting to different people and taking hold of her life. I'm hoping I can get the first one at my library as it was a Newbury award winner.

135markon
Modificato: Maggio 13, 9:07pm


Finding home by David Kherdian
This was shelved in the juvenile biography section. I discovered it while weeding (looking through items over a certain age to see whether we should keep or discard them.)

I call it a fictionalized biography of the author's mother Veron who came to the US in the 1920s as a teen picture bride from Armenia. I enjoyed reading about her entry through Ellis Island, travel to Wisconsin, and how she begins to take hold of her new life with Melkon. I'd say this is targeted to upper grade school or middle school readers.

Lisa (labfs49) informs me there is a part one of this biography, The road from home, that tells of Veron's childhood and the genocide she witnesses post World War I. This was a Newbury Honor book, and I hope to read it as well.

136markon
Modificato: Maggio 13, 8:16pm


Skinnytaste meal prep by Gina Homolka

I love getting cookbooks from the library and trying a few recipes. I have two keepers for meal rotation from this book, a chicken larb bowl and a beef and rice bowl.


Gochujang photo from Wikipedia

The Korean beef & rice bowl introduced me to gochujang paste, a Korean chili paste that I like a lot. However, the brand I found has corn syrup as the second ingredient in it, and I think the sweetness is mostly supposed to come from the sweet rice.

It is now time for Milo's flea/tick medication, and he has decided he doesn't want it. Hope I can coax him to me by getting the leash out, as we'll go for a walk after I put the meds on him.

137markon
Modificato: Maggio 13, 9:05pm

Successful medication and walk accomplished. Had to school Milo a bit remind him not to pull on the leash. I think it's time for some ice cream and reading before bedtime.


Image by Aline Ponce from Pixabay

Maybe tomorrow I'll comment on the two books below.

138markon
Modificato: Maggio 14, 7:51pm

One science fiction and one fantasy novel that I love.


A desolation called peace by Arkady Martine

I enjoyed the first book in this series, A memory called empire, but scratched my head a little when it won a Hugo and a Nebula award. A desolation called peace is more enjoyable in my opinion. This one grapples with how to communicate with a foe?/new actor? that doesn't seem to speak. It also continues the tale of Mahit Dzmare as she returns "home" for a visit, and contemplates who sabotaged her imago and whether she is at home anymore, or safe at home. Three Seagrass stretches out of her comfort zone and the two of them seek to carry out a diplomatic mission on a warship. It also introduces heir to the Texicalaanli Empire Eight Antidote as he struggles to understand his place and his role in the ongoing war.

Their are politcal machinations, themes of exile, and the ever present question of how a dominant empire relates to a (supposedly) weaker sector. But it is the characters and relationships that stand out for me: Mahit & Three Seagrass, Nine Hibiscus and Twenty Cicada, and Eight Antidote and Nineteen Adze and Eleven Laurel. I think a second reading of the series may be in order down the road.



All the murmuring bones by A. G. Slatter (also known as Angela Slatter)

A new-to-me dark fantasy/fairy tale author that I want more of. She lives in Australia, and doesn't appear to be particularly well known in the US, but I definitely want to read more, especially the stories set in the universe that All the murmuring bones is set in.

139karspeak
Modificato: Maggio 14, 6:33am

>134 markon: What are some of your other favorite binge reads, besides the Mercy Thompson books, which I also find very binge-able?

140markon
Maggio 14, 6:59pm

>139 karspeak: I also like C.J. Cherryh's Foreigner series, Deborah Crombie's mystery series, Jane Duncan's My Friend series (available only as ebooks or used), Ilona Andrews' Innkeeper series, Robin Hobb's Realm of the Elderlings . . .

What do you like?

141labfs39
Maggio 14, 7:17pm

>140 markon: I think you are the person who first recommended the Jane Duncan books to me. I really liked the first one in the series, My Friends the Miss Boyds. I read the next two as well. Have you read all 19? I ordered them online, and I think they were shipped from the UK.

142markon
Modificato: Maggio 14, 7:44pm

>141 labfs39: Lisa, I think I have finally read all of them (and own electronic copies of most of them.) They are a go to when I need a pick-me-up. My favorite is the last in the series, My friends George and Tom, but My friends the Miss Boyds runs a close second.

143labfs39
Maggio 15, 9:19am

>142 markon: Does My Friends George and Tom go back in time to her childhood? That was my favorite time period. In the ones I read, they skip to a rather brief period during the war and then to when she meets Twice.

144karspeak
Modificato: Maggio 15, 10:13am

>140 markon: The Innkeeper series is another one for me, but I hadn’t heard of the others and will look into them, thanks. My only other binge series, although they are less frequent, are the Sten series by Alan Cole and Chris Bunch and some of the Vorkosigan series, both of which are military space operas.

145markon
Modificato: Maggio 15, 6:45pm

>143 labfs39: Lisa, I think the ones that have more of her childhood in them are My friend Flora & My friend Annie. and, I think, My friend my father. I think the Flora book is the only other one that starts out from her point of view as a child. All of her books refer back to events from her childhood.

And I see that one in the series (My friend Martha's aunt) doesn't seem to be available in electronic format. Amazon has paperbacks from $550 up and hardbacks start in the $700s. Wonder why they didn't publish that one electronically when they did the rest?

146markon
Maggio 15, 6:52pm

>144 karspeak: I hadn't hear of the Sten series by Allen Cole and Chris Bunch. I'll have to keep my eyes open to see if I run across them. I have read a few of the Vorkosigan saga.

147labfs39
Maggio 16, 1:00pm

>145 markon: I did a quick search and found a copy of My Friend Martha's Aunt on eBay for $14.43. Not in the greatest shape, but readable

link to book

148sallypursell
Maggio 18, 2:42pm

>140 markon: I like some of Ilona Andrews' other series better, and some of the other Robin Hobb's series, too.

149markon
Modificato: Giu 3, 8:11pm

>147 labfs39: Thanks Lisa! I'm considering purchasing it, along with pricing a new roof.

150markon
Modificato: Giu 3, 7:56pm

Still here, still not posting much. Found a new author in the urban fantasy genre that I'll probably read more of. Kit Rocha's Dealing with the devil. The two groups invovlved are headquartered in Atlanta, so the locality interests me.

Puzzle - the link for Kit Rocha goes to one for Moira Rogers, but Kit Rocha is the pseudonym for two authors - Donna Herren & Bree Bridges. Guess Moira must be another pseudonym.

151markon
Modificato: Giu 3, 8:02pm



Started a group read of The color of law by Richard Rothstein. We're spending eight weeks on this book that talks about ways housing discrimination was encoded in the US between the civil war and the civil rights movement of the 1960s. It's not a history though. Guess I'll have to wait until we're finished to decide what it is.

152markon
Modificato: Giu 3, 8:12pm



Also browsing Brother Robert by Annye C Anderson about her half-brother Robert Johnson. Cowritten with Preston Lauterbach.

Link to second quater list.

153labfs39
Giu 3, 8:14pm

>150 markon: You may not have been posting, but it sounds like you've had some interesting reading. That's what counts, right?

154markon
Giu 7, 6:32pm

>153 labfs39: Yes, at least that's what I tell myself. Real life is taking a lot of energy right now, so I'm trying to be kind to myself.

155markon
Modificato: Giu 10, 4:05pm


Some quotes and notes on The color of law by Richard Rothstein

I'm reading this with a group of 8-12 people over the course of two months. I picked it up in part because I wanted to understand more about how housing segregation developed in the US, and in that regard it is eye opening for me. (YMMV)

Links to info on Richard Rothstein
Economic Policy Institute
Wikipedia

Preface

The Color of Law demonstrates that racially explicit government policies to segregate our metropolitan areas are not vestiges, were neither subtle nor intangible, and were sufficiently controlling to construct the de jure segregation that is now with us in neighborhoods and hence in schools. (Kindle location 152)


The core argument of this book is that African Americans were unconstitutionally denied the means and the right to integration in middle-class neighborhoods, and because this denial was state-sponsored, the nation is obliged to remedy it. (Kindle location 154)


I've read the preface and the first three chapters so far, and I don't find his argument of either the above tight or well organized, but I am getting an idea of how pieces and parts developed.

156markon
Modificato: Giu 10, 4:07pm


Online information supporting preface to The color of law

The links below are so I can access them later if I wish. You may want to skip this part.

Discussion of constitutional amendments including the Bill of Rights (amendments 1-10) with focus on the following.

5th amendment (ratified 1791): Rothstein says this prohibits federal government from treating citizens unfairly. Legal Information Institute text & discussion found here. Rothstein's statement seems not quite accurate to me, because this amendement mostly discusses the rights people accused of criminal acts have (due process, grand jury set up, fair trial, etc.) It does include rights of property holders not to have land taken by government without fair compensation. Applied to federal courts only, partially applied to states in 14th amendment.

13th amendment 1865 (passed & ratified) - prohibits slavery & empowers Congress to enforce via legislation

14th amendment ratified 1868, addresses citizenship and rights of citizens, for Rothstein's discussion sections 1 & 5 important.

Civil Rights Act of 1866 Rothstein says Congress enforces abolition slavery by prohibiting actions that make African-Americans second class citizens.
Wikipedia link
Federal Judicial Center link

Rothstein doesn't discuss the Civil Rights Act of 1875 which covered equal treatment in transportation, inns, theaters; however, the 1883 Supreme court decision he does discuss applies to cases stemming from this act.
Wikipedia
Federal Judicial Center

Per Wikipedia, parts of the Civil Rights Act of 1875 were later re-adopted in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Civil Rights Act of 1968, both of which cited the Commerce Clause as the source of Congress's power to regulate private actors.

1883 Supreme Court decision that says 13th & 14th amendment doesn't allow Congress to legislate against private acts of racial discrimination (individuals or private corporations); opens the door for Jim Crow laws
Wikipedia
Legal Information Institute
Oyez.org

What is housing situation like in North before Civil War? This book addresses Reconstruction - 20th century.

And finally, Rothstein mentions two actions in the 1960s.

1. Civil Rights Act of 1968
Signed into law by LBJ during riots after MLK, Jr. assassination (April 11, 1968)
-Title II-VII known as Indian Civil Rights Act
-Title VII-IX known as Fair Housing Act

Wikipedia
US House of Representatives

2. Supreme Court overturns it's 1883 decision

Rothstein makes a big deal about the fact that the Civil Rights Act of 1968 was signed just two months before the Supreme Court overturned it's 1883 decision that stated Congress had no right to regulate business' discriminatory actions, but I'm having trouble finding much documentation of this decision.

I think this may be Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co., 392 U.S. 409 as described here (Legal Information Institute) and here (Wikipedia), decided June 17, 1968.

157labfs39
Giu 10, 8:32pm

>156 markon: Your research is interesting, even though I haven't read the book.

158markon
Modificato: Giu 13, 9:25pm


I'm reading and enjoying The lowering days by Gregory Brown, a first novel set in 1980s Maine that explores the intersection of a small town's need of employment, environmental issues, and Native American fishing rights versus that of independent fishermen.

ETA: That makes it sound like an issues book, and it isn't. It's a well written exploration of a small town in a particular time period, with appealing characters on many sides of issues that come up.

159markon
Modificato: Giu 11, 4:34pm

I'm looking forward to visiting family in Iowa again next week, though I'm a bit stressed at leaving my dog Milo who has been diagnosed with "old dog vestibular disease" (vertigo). I'm feeding him small meals and trying a new anti-nausea medication in hopes that he will be able to stay at the kennel without having to be cleaned up after.

He's back in his Elizabethan bonnet since he hasn't been taking his vitamins regularly so he is chewing on his backside again. The travails of living with an old dog I guess. Hope to get him stabilized this weekend.

I'm also hoping there will be rhubarb pie.

160markon
Modificato: Giu 13, 3:42pm



Chapter 2: Public Housing Black Ghetos describes development of public housing (to address the problem of no affordable housing for working class {whites}) and how it contributed to limiting where blacks could live and concentrating blacks in urban areas.

Chapter 3: Racial Zoning - use of zoning as a tool
to keep blacks and whites separate in housing/neighborhoods.

My summary of Chapter 4: "Own your own home"

From the end of reconstruction in 1877 government demonstrates its commitment to segregating Americans living situation by race.

Examples include the

  • development of public housing & zoning as tools to segregate racially (chapter 2 & 3)

  • “Own-Your-Own-Home” campaign (Wilson administration) making home ownership more desirable

  • 1920s Dept. Commerce Better Homes Association & its Better Homes manual denigrating apartment dwelling & promoting deed restrictions as part of requirements for financing of home development.

  • HOLC (homeowners' loan corporation) 1933 creates amortized loans, hires real estate agents whose national code of ethics requires them to maintain segregation to do appraisals. Also creates maps of color-coded housing in urban settings with African-Americans always in the red/danger zone. (redlining)

  • FHA (federal home administration) 1934 insures banks for up to 80% of loans. Its standards include financing only for whites-only housing. It's policies & Underwriting Manual for how to determine if a buyer and a property are worth “risking” financing is also adopted and used by the Veteran's Administration created after World War II. Rothstein states that by 1950 over half of all home loans were insured by FHA. Other loans would have had higher interest rates to cover the risk the loaners' took. In addition, FHA financed entire subdivisions, and often entire suburbs. These were normally white.



Next up: Chapter 5: Private agreements, government enforcement

161markon
Giu 13, 9:23pm


Love after the end: an anthology of two-spirit indigiqueer speculative fiction edited by Joshua Whitehead

I'm taking this one on vacation next week and have read three stories so far. Two, "History of the new world" by Adam Garnet Jones and "The arc of the turtle's back" by jaye simpson, are different takes on the-earth-is-becoming-uninhabitable-because-of-human-development/pollution variety. Looking forward to "How to survive the apocalypse for native girls" by Kai Minosh Pyle.

162lisapeet
Giu 14, 1:45pm

Just wanted to chime in and say I'm enjoying your posts about The Color of Law, which I'll definitely be reading at some point.

163BLBera
Giu 14, 7:25pm

What Lisa said. It is firmly on my WL.

164markon
Giu 22, 9:48am

>159 markon: There was rhubarb pie & visits with cousins I haven't seen since before Covid. I had a good visit with my family, and am now back home. More notes to come on The color of law.

165markon
Giu 22, 2:16pm



I finished The great gatsby on the flight home yesterday. No comments on it yet except that I didn't like any of the characters particularly well. I read it so I would have it as background for a book coming out this month that is a pastiche of Gatsby and fantasy told from the point of view of Jordan. I've enjoyed a couple of Nghi Vo's novels, so I want to try this one, The chosen and the beautiful.

166labfs39
Giu 22, 7:24pm

>164 markon: I love rhubarb pie.

>165 markon: I didn't care for Gatsby, but I will look forward to your review of The Chosen and the Beautiful. Sounds like an interesting twist.

167markon
Modificato: Lug 15, 1:53pm

I guess it is time to post some of my favorite reads for the 2nd quarter, and start a new list for the third.

Favorites include one non fiction book and two novels

168labfs39
Lug 9, 6:14pm

>167 markon: Hi Ardene, did you post a review of How to Survive a Plague? I may have missed it. I see it's also a movie?

I can't believe the year is half over...

169markon
Modificato: Lug 15, 2:59pm

>168 labfs39: Lisa, I was sure I had posted something about How to survive a plague, but I can't find it, and the book seems to have disappeared off my list of 2nd quarter reads as well!

But I did read the book and enjoyed the history of AIDS research as experienced from within the gay community and reported by the author (who reported first in gay media, then also for mainstream media.) Dr. Faucci does not come off well, in my opinion, in this book. Not a bad guy, but one who didn't listen well to feedback from patients with AIDs. Hindsight is always 20/20, but I remember reading about research in Southern Voice, the GLBT newspaper in Atlanta in the 1990s, and finding it difficult going. This was much easier for me to understand, though please don't ask me to explain the scientific details.

171markon
Modificato: Lug 15, 2:19pm

Headed up to see Dad again next week. This time my sisters and my brother's family are all out of state, so it will just be me and I hope I have the time and energy to read something other than light, fun fluffy rereads. I like light fun fluffy stuff, but I want to sink my teeth into something with more substance.


Like Square Haunting: five lives in London between the wars by Francesca Wade (The sections on H.D. & Dorothy Sayers were quite interesting, not I'm on to learn about Jane Harrison, Elileen Powers and Virginia Wolf.)


I want to finish The color of law by Richard Rothstein, which I've fallen woefully behind in!


And The dictionary of lost words by Pip Williams and The theory of flight by Siphiwa Gloria Ndlovu.

172labfs39
Lug 15, 4:56pm

>171 markon: Ooh, you've packed some good books for the week/end

173markon
Lug 21, 1:41pm

Well, I've done a little reading on this trip to visit my Dad. Thought I'd be getting in long reads in the morning, but I seem to have easily puttered away drinking coffee and reading the newspaper.

I'm reading and enjoying The theory of flight by Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu, though I can tell I'll need a second read after the first to look at structure. There is enough skipping around in place and time that I'm having to piece things together as I go. There are also multiple characters, and keeping them sorted out takes some energy as well. Perhaps my plane ride will help me finish up.

Dad is enjoying playing 500 more than cribbage, a game he taught me when I was in grade school. I took a board with me yesterday afternoon, and discovered he had forgotten the strategy for it.

Two-handed 500 is not my favorite, especially whenn he beats the pants off me, but still a good hang out and do something together activity.

I also watched the first three episodes of The Crown last night. It's a good series.

174labfs39
Lug 21, 4:41pm

>173 markon: I'm glad you are having a relaxing visit, even if you aren't getting in as much reading as you expected.

175markon
Modificato: Lug 23, 11:54am

Finalists for the 2021 Theodore Sturgeon award as linked on tor.com. Reading these short stories online.

Of the three I've read so far, "An important failure" by Rebecca Campbell is my favorite.

Also adding a link for short fiction spotlight.

176markon
Modificato: Lug 23, 11:47am

Letters to Hermengardo (“Cartas a Hermengardo”) by Clarice Lispector

This story hit a sweet spot for me yesterday. Partly because of the discussion of how happiness & unhappiness are not necessarily related to external reality, partly because of the language, partly the discussion of how sad things can be beautiful.

At first, everything was going well. But suddenly the neighbor’s radio announced ”The Pines of Rome,” by Respighi. I lstened, rapt. The music was like the pines, pointing toward the heavens, slim and solitary and lovely, ah, so lovely . . . But Hermengardo, the pines were suffering . . . Why, Hermengado? Why? Weren’t they pointing towards the heavens? Weren’t they like pure life? Why then were the singing a lament and why were they hurting my heart? And it was so magnificent so terrible . . .


177markon
Modificato: Lug 30, 11:47am

Yearning for the sea by Esther Seligson, translated from Spanish.

This was a delightful quick and complicated read. Introduced by Telemachus, fragments about Penelope’s wait for Odysseus and her response when he arrives home. Odysseus and Eurycleia also get a chance to speak, but Penelope has the last word. It packs a lot into 35 pages, it’s more like a fragment itself instead of a novella . . .

178markon
Ago 6, 9:37am

Want to comment on the following . . .

She come by it natural: Dolly Parton, the great unifier by Sarah Smarsh
A leaf on the wind of all hallows by Diana Gabaldon
A psalm for the wild-built by Becky Chambers
Revolver Road by Christi Daugherty
Not dark yet by Peter Robinson
Castle shade by Laurie King

And I haven't finished Square Haunting yet, but someone else wants it at the library.

179labfs39
Ago 7, 11:46am

>178 markon: A Gabaldon novella, hmm...

180markon
Modificato: Ago 25, 1:12pm

Gah, just not into posting right now. But here's a topic I am interested in - the shortlist for the Arthur C. Clarke science fiction award and Nina Allan's shortlist (she was on the shadow Clarke jury a few years ago.)

Clarke's list shortlist
The infinite by Patience Agbabi
The vanished birds by Simon Jimenez
Vagabonds by Hao Jingfang
Edge of heaven by R.B. Kelly
The animals in that country by Laura Jean McKay
Chilling effect by Valerie Valdes

Nina Allan's shortlist
Hinton by Mark Blacklock
Ghost Species by James Bradley
The Silence by Don DeLillo
Gathering Evidence by Martin MacInnes
The Animals in that Country by Laura Jean McKay (only item from Clarke list)
Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin

The vanished birds and Vagabonds are on my rader and in my library, but I hadn't heard of many of the others. The most enticing based on it's description, is The animals in that country. Do I need another book? No. Do I want one? Definitely!


Blurb: 2096: Colonized Mars breaks away from Earth, beginning another cold war, one based on the iron curtain of space. 2196: A delegation of young Marsians, including the consul of Mars's granddaughter, Luoying, is sent to live on Earth for five years in an attempt at reconciliation. 2201: Luoying and the other delegates return and find themselves no longer belonging to either Mars or Earth. As the prospect of war with Earth grows, Luoying struggles to understand her grandfather's long-range designs for a wet Mars and her role in the future unfurling before her. Vagabonds is a work of literary fiction that transcends genre. In the vein of Cixin Liu's The Three-Body Problem, Hao has created a novel of political intrigue and philosophical dissonance that speaks to a generation of readers who find themselves continually displaced within our current culture."


Blurb: "Nia Imani is a woman out of place and outside of time. Decades of travel through the stars are condensed into mere months for her, though the years continue to march steadily onward for everyone she has ever known. Her friends and lovers have aged past her, and all she has left is work. Alone and adrift, she lives for only the next paycheck, until the day she meets a mysterious boy, fallen from the sky. A boy, broken by his past. The scarred child does not speak, his only form of communication the beautiful and haunting music he plays from an old wooden flute. Captured by his songs, and their strange, immediate connection, Nia decides to take the boy in. And over years of starlit travel, these two outsiders discover in one another the things they lacked. For him, a home, a place of love and safety. For her, an anchor to the world outside herself. For the both of them, a family. But Nia is not the only one who wants the boy. The past hungers for him, and when it catches up, it threatens to tear this makeshift family apart"


Blurb: Out on the road, no one speaks, everything talks.

Hard-drinking, foul-mouthed, and allergic to bullshit, Jean is not your usual grandma. She’s never been good at getting on with other humans, apart from her beloved granddaughter, Kimberly. Instead, she surrounds herself with animals, working as a guide in an outback wildlife park. And although Jean talks to all her charges, she has a particular soft spot for a young dingo called Sue.

As disturbing news arrives of a pandemic sweeping the country, Jean realises this is no ordinary flu: its chief symptom is that its victims begin to understand the language of animals — first mammals, then birds and insects, too. As the flu progresses, the unstoppable voices become overwhelming, and many people begin to lose their minds, including Jean’s infected son, Lee. When he takes off with Kimberly, heading south, Jean feels the pull to follow her kin.

Setting off on their trail, with Sue the dingo riding shotgun, they find themselves in a stark, strange world in which the animal apocalypse has only further isolated people from other species. Bold, exhilarating, and wholly original, The Animals in That Country asks what would happen, for better or worse, if we finally understood what animals were saying.

181markon
Modificato: Ago 25, 3:19pm

Link to 3rd quarter reads.

Currently reading:

The dead are arising: the life of Malcolm X by Les Payne


Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and beyond edited by Bill Campbell

Recently checked out from the library
Remote control by Nnedi Okorafor (science fiction)
Odetta: a life in music and protest by Ian Zack (biography, musician)
By force alone by Lavie Tidhar (Arthurian fantasy, satire)

182labfs39
Ago 25, 8:46pm

>181 markon: I don't know much about Odetta except that I love her voice.

Thanks for all the sci-fi updates. If I ever get through The Mirror and the Light, I might read a sci-fi to cleanse my palate.

183markon
Modificato: Set 1, 12:53pm


Black Water Sister is an urban fantasy centering on Jess Teah, who has recently graduated from Harvard and moved "back" to Maylasia with her parents from the US. Jobless and closeted from her family, Jess' grandmother's ghost draws her into the world of Chinese gods/goddesses and family secrets. Why are Ah Ma and Ah Ku so focused on saving the small shrine from development? Who or what is sabotaging work on building in the vicinity? Will she ever have the courage to come out ot her parents and join her girlfriend in Singapore?

184labfs39
Set 19, 7:55pm

>182 labfs39: Although I still haven't finished M&L, I did read a SF short story that dukedom recommended. It's called The Future is Blue by Valente. Have you read it? Evidently the author has extended the story into a novella called The Past is Red. It was quite interesting and available online for free if you are interested.