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Penguin

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  1. With regard to reading material, I could probably be quarantined until I reach my 100th birthday. Foodwise, I would need Doordash or Instacart by about Day 3. I finished two books this week, and rated both with five stars. Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote. Southern Gothic at its finest. Capote was 23 when this book was published in 1948, and it was a bestseller. Michelle Obama's Becoming. I rarely listen to audiobooks, much less audiobooks that are 19 hours long. I enjoyed both her writing and her audio narration. For me, it was like two different books. There was so much in her life that I could relate to, right up until they Barack Obama's 2004 speech at the DNC. After that, their life changed completely and I then enjoyed reading about a lifestyle that is almost beyond my comprehension. One of my favorite relatable moments: She talked about driving around in Barack Obama's car, and his car had a very special feature on the passenger side. When we first met, my husband's car had the exact same feature. When you looked down, you could see the road through the rust hole in the floorboard 🙂
  2. Not Little Italy, but we recently had a great meal at Eataly near the Flatiron building. It is an Italian marketplace with a wide range of restaurants, including some that do not require reservations.
  3. I finished Abigail by Hungarian author Magda Szabo. I didn't realize it going in, but this was written as a YA novel. Even though it just became available in English, it was originally published in 1970. It wouldn't stand a chance in today's YA market, but as an old-fashioned YA novel, I think it was fantastic. I think the GR description is off. Abagail does not make me think of Jane Austen nor of Hogwarts. While I enjoyed the suspense, it kind of fails as a mystery. I am not a mystery reader at all, and I figured out the mystery early on in the book. I recommend Abigail, but with the caveat that it does not rise to the level of The Door or Iza's Ballad. I am at the midway point of Bavian by Naja Marie Aidt. Sigh. I wanted to love these short stories. They have won so many awards! I appreciate them, and I appreciate the excellent writing. As a compliment, I would say that they seem like Flannery O'Connor transported to 21st century Denmark. Modern Scandinavian Gothic? Is that a thing?! But they nevertheless strike me as formulaic. There will be a twist. A gritty aspect of modern society will be highlighted. @Violet Crown and @Maus I have loved everything that I have read by Thomas Merton, but it has been a long time since I have read him. Thanks for the reminder. Ever since I found out that his monastery in Kentucky (Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani) hosts retreats, I have daydreamed of going on a retreat there. @Negin Thanks for bringing The Blue Castle into the conversation. I didn't read Anne of Green Gables until just a few years ago, and while I only read the first book I really loved it. @aggieamy I always feel like I am late to the party when it comes to reading! @JennW in SoCal I hope the narrator on the Neil Peart book is good. I picked up several while they were free, and most of them have the same narrator. @Lady Florida. Glad to read that your move is coming along!
  4. I have three finished books to comment on: Astrid Lindgren: The Woman Behind Pippi Longstocking. by Jens Andersen. Highly recommended. I knew that Astrid Lindgren (AL) was beloved in Sweden, but I did not realize how powerful she became. She ran the Children's Fiction department of a leading publisher for 24 years, and was very influential in the publishing industry. And what an energizer bunny! She wrote all morning (using shorthand) then worked at her publishing job. In her later years (after about age 60), she became very outspoken about political causes, and people listened to what she had to say. In addition to being passionate about women's rights and the rights of children, she spoke out about the tax laws, nuclear power, and animal rights. I had known that she had had a child out of wedlock when she was very young, but I did not know the details. She was only 19 and the father was both much older and in the midst of a bitter divorce. She gave birth in Denmark because the laws regarding single mothers were preferable to those in Sweden in 1929. She ended up leaving her baby in foster care in Copenhagen until he was three. It sounds like foster care was really sketchy in Denmark at that time, and it was thus a stroke of fantastic luck that her son had a good foster mother. When her son was three, he went to live with her parents for a year. I think he was four before he lived in the same household as AL. She only saw him periodically those first four years because she was living in Stockholm. Living through that difficult time heavily influenced both her philosophy and her fiction. Affairs at Thrush Green (Thrush Green #7) by Miss Read. Not my favorite in the series, but still enjoyable. However, there was again a love triangle with a melancholy outcome for one of the involved parties. This love triangle was much better written than the one in #3 because it touched me rather than made me furious with Miss Read. Oscar Wilde's Fairy Tales. This was a disappointment. It was an audiobook with great narration - big names like Judi Dench, Derek Jacoby, and Jeremy Irons. But I found the stories themselves to be completely forgettable. @Lori D. Something Wicked This Way Comes is one of my favorite books. Have you seen the movie? It is unfortunately not one that is easy to source. As far as I know, it is only on DVD. Disney really went through a really interesting horror-movies-for-kids movie phase in the mid 1980s with both this movie and Return to Oz.
  5. I have some thread catching up to do, but for the moment I just want to congratulate you, Amy, @aggieamy for getting your book to the finish line. I hope the flu does not derail your family, and that your little guy bounces back quickly. Lucky you, @mumto2 for being Amy’s reader!
  6. I just did chat with amazon and I am supposed to reorder. Sounds like my pre-order indeed vanished. Sigh.
  7. Can anyone tell me how amazon pre-orders work? I place a book on pre-order for the first time ever, and I am confused. The release date was today. I see no record of my pre-order nor it does not show up as an order. And the book shows an out of stock message 😞 It was Hungarian author Magda Szabo's Abigail, in case you are wondering. It was published in Hungary in 1970 but is just now being released in English.
  8. I seem to read The Hobbit and LOTR once every decade or so. I am going to skip this readalong, as I did re-read the series fairly recently. However, I have lots of other Tolkiens on my shelf that I would like to read so perhaps I will actually get to them this year! These are the books that I have completed thus far in 2020. I don't think I previously posted about any of them. Two of them were started at the end of 2019 Love of Country: A Journey through the Hebrides by Madeleine Bunting. I thank @JennW in SoCal for leading me to this one. I really knew nothing about the Hebrides before I read this. The bibliography alone is a treasure. It took me quite some time to get through, because I paused to Google so very many things. I think the book was excellent when it stuck to the history and geography of the islands. I did not enjoy the travel writing parts much, but they were a relatively small percentage of the narrative. I think I added at least ten to my TBR thanks to this book. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. I thought is was as charming as everyone said it was. First Ladies: NPR American Chronicles hosted by Cokie Roberts. I loved listening to this, although I hesitate to call it a book. It is really a series of NPR interviews stitched together by Cokie Roberts. Well, audible considers it a book and so does Goodreads so by golly, I'm counting it as a book. It was excellent, and I will listen to more of the series.With this, I am launched my First Ladies reading project. I have a long-term project to read one biography or autobiography about each First Lady. If you have any to recommend, I'd love to hear your recommendations. The Age of Anxiety by Pete Townshend. This is Pete Townshend's (from The Who) first novel. Parts of it were extremely creative and parts of it were icky. I loved the way the many hallucinations were woven into the story, but I despised the ending. Soldier: A Poet's Childhood by poet/activist June Jordan. This was also an audiobook. I loved every minute of it. June Jordan, the only child of Jamaican immigrants, grew up in Harlem and Brooklyn in the late 1930s / early 1940s. This memoir only covers up to age 12, which is rather unusual.
  9. @Dicentra It was 2019 that we came up with the 10x10 challenge. Both @Violet Crown and I have commented that we did not finish our 10x10s, but that we were carrying them over into 2020. So, see, even if you join a challenge you get to modify it to suit your own needs and desires 🙂 I'm thinking about expanding my 10x10. Since I started playing with you guys in 2017, I have kept detailed book lists on Goodreads and in my paper notebook. I'm thinking about looking through those three years of lists and making a new, ongoing notebook of categories. One of my goals for this decade is to fill up the nice notebooks that I have accumulated. As for audiobooks, I often have to hit that "back up 30 seconds" button. I do not listen to a lot of audiobooks in comparison to other posters. I normally only listen to them when I have a long drive. But this month I have been listening a lot more than usual. I am trying to hurry up and finish three audible books so that audible will gift me with $20 - a mere token for the untold thousands that I have spent since amazon launched. But, by golly, I'm gonna get my 20 bucks!
  10. Well, for one thing your German is an entire league above my Danish! Sure, with these old poems it is also vocab and usage. While searching around the internet, I found pleas for help from desperate Danish high school students who have to read this old stuff 🙂 The biggest recent language change that comes to mind is that all of the formal pronoun forms have disappeared - unless you are talking to the Queen.
  11. @Violet Crown I do wonder if my Danish is good enough yet for Kierkegaard. The biggest problem with even making the attempt is that the orthography of the language underwent a massive change in 1949. Anything printed before then is very hard for me. Sometimes I can find a reprint with updated spelling and punctuation, and that makes a huge difference. But those reprints are not really all that easy to find, since perhaps it is the equivalent of rewriting Shakespeare into a No Fear version? But you made me curious to look. So far I have found one for The Sickness Unto Death and Fear and Trembling. Uh-oh! Now I have no more excuses for avoiding Kierkegaard! I am currently working my way through 100 Danish poems. The Danish is on the left and the English is on the right. I have just hit the 1800s and it the language is just starting to look familiar.
  12. I have seen it in person a few times, and am wondering what the surprise is, too!
  13. @Violet Crown The current Danish media-darling-philosopher is Svend Brinkmann. I suffered through one of his books for the sake of my book club, and unfortunately he is on the list again this year.
  14. Neil Peart, drummer from Rush, died last week and his books are currently free on audible until January 28th. Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road is his best known book. He went on a long motorcycle drive to begin healing. His 19 year old daughter and wife died within six months of each other. The daughter died in a car accident and the wife died from cancer. I am not up for this book - as a cancer survivor with a 19 year old it is simply a NO for me at this time. I would like to listen to Traveling Music: The Soundtrack to my Life and Times while on a road trip. I am glad to see audible doing this - the books are out of print (for now, at least), and of course prices spiked just after his death. Rush is my favorite band of all time, and while celebrity deaths rarely make me emotional, I have found myself deeply impacted by NP's death. I have seen them in concert who-knows-how-many-times, mostly while in high school. But the last time was in 2011 with my youngest son, who is also a fan. While I have never read any of NP's books, his love of literature was always obvious in both his lyrics and through his interviews. I just found The Neil Peart Reading List on the NY Public Library's website.
  15. Most of Neil Peart's books are currently free on audible until January 28th.
  16. @wintermom I was in Denmark right before advent. I left on November 16th. Candles are indeed an integral part of the winter months. This photo was taken that same day. My friend and I had done a little hike along the shoreline and then went into this cozy cafe. Of course there was a candle!
  17. I retain my love of children's books, and they are my go-to for comfort reading. Since we are talking about children's books, this seems like a good time to post my pictures from Dragør, a village near Copenhagen. I was there in November. Many of you are surely familiar with Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, a fictional WWII story of how the Danes secretly transported their Jewish citizens to safety in Sweden. Dragør is one of the real town that participated in that heroic act. My translation of the plaque is: In memory of the many Danish Jews, who in October 1943 came to safety in Sweden from Dragør Harbour. " He who saves a single person's life saves all of humanity." If you look at the picture of the sea, you can see the modern bridge to Sweden in the background. And Dragør looks a bit Shire-like, don't you think?!
  18. "Ladies and Gentlemen, the Professor on the drum kit." That is how Geddy Lee introduced Neil Peart just before the Working Man solo. I am a lifelong Rush fan, and saw them in concert many times. The last time was 2011. I don't usually find myself emotional over celebrity deaths, but this one has hit me hard. I have probably listened to their All the World's a Stage live album more than I have listened to any other album ever. The 2010 documentary Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage is a good one. I learned a lot about Neil Peart in that documentary. He also wrote several books, but I haven't read any of them.
  19. Some big literary news this week: T.S. Eliot letters, among best-known sealed literary archives, open at Princeton after 60 years The above is the link to the Princeton announcement. There are plenty of articles (here is one from BBC ) starting to report on this, and I expect that it will be some time before we have all the information. I have sent Goodreads friend requests to a few of you. Here is my link if we am not already GR friends: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/4554525-jayne
  20. I also started making my own a few years ago. I love my planner 🙂 I made it in Word and I have one of those clickman things. It only took a long time the first year.
  21. I am oriented toward the present and the short-term future. My brain can only think out to about five years but I am typically only thinking about plans for the next 12 months or so. I think my breast cancer diagnosis (2006) changed my thinking about time and making plans. Plus, whenever I look back and think about all the things (good and bad) that have happened over the years that were outside of my predictions, it seems like a waste of mental energy to look too far out. The past is the past. I can reminisce and be nostalgic, but I am very careful not to dwell in woulda coulda shoulda.
  22. Where did your armchair travels take you? Which books stood out, made an impression and/or stayed with you the longest? What did you learn from them? Similar to Matryoskha, I am also doing a perpetual round-the world challenge. I think my rules for counting a country/province/territory are also similar. I require (1) a strong sense of place and (2) the book cannot be written by an "outsider." Who is an outsider? I think about it on a case-by-case basis. I know it when I see it 🙂 I only managed to add four to my list: Ukraine, Quebec, Hungary, and Ireland. I revisited Denmark, England, Norway, Finland, Italy, and the Netherlands. I am doing the same thing with the 50 states + territories. I added six this year: Washington DC, Oklahoma, Georgia, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Illinois. Which book had the most original, most unique story? Not sure about original or unique, but some of my favorites were Milkman, The Goblin Emperor, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, the Faulkners, Lincoln in the Bardo, and The Alberta Trilogy (Cora Sandel). I did not realize it until I wrapped up my data, but I read a lot of Miss Read and Tove Jansson! Which book made you laugh? Which one made you cry? Hmm. No laughing or crying. Plenty of smiling and cringing. Which book did you like the least and why? The Moviegoer by Walker Percy. So boring. Ståsteder by Svend Brinkman. Overrated. American Gods by Neil Gaiman. He is hit or miss for me, and this one was a miss. Farewell Summer by Ray Bradbury. This is #3 in the Greentown trilogy. I loved #1 (Dandelion Wine) and #2 (Something Wicked This Way Comes), but #3 was a big disappointment. Which new to you authors did you discover and would you read another book by this author? Cora Sandel (1880-1974) deserves to be better known outside of Norway. There were many new-to-me authors, and I fortunately enjoyed most of them.
  23. @mumto2 Congrats on finishing Bingo. Two of your books were among my favorites this year: Milkman and The Goblin Emperor. With the mention of How the Heather Looks (which I simply must read!), here are photos from last week's trip to NYC. I asked each family member for their top three three requests for the itinerary. One of mine was to see the real stuffed animals that inspired the Winnie the Pooh stories. They now reside in the New York Public Library (link to article). Poor little Roo was lost in an apple orchard in the 1930s.
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