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Robin M

Book a Week 2016 - W2: Sahitya Akademi, India's National Academy of Letters

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So, The Water Book is getting pretty darn interesting ( reading about icebergs is also helping keep me cool on a 40 C day!)

 

I kind of knew some of the stuff in the Life section, from studying neuropsych, but I thought Jha did a good job of summarizing many complex ideas, including this:

 

As the long, floppy protein emerges into the cellular water from the ribosome that makes it, the molecule is nudged to fold into its correct three-dimensional shape because some of its parts want to be near water and some parts want to minimize contact.

 

I've got an animation of the process running in my head just from that sentence, and it's kind of an awesome animation!

 

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What a romantic you are!  :001_wub:

 

 

I can't imagine Edward developing the strength to allow Fanny this. 

 

I missed this earlier and nearly lost my evening wine.  :D  I envision Fanny and Edmund coming to dinner, being very polite and somewhat dull and then going home and eviscerating the other guests. During dinner, Edmund would have corrected some "silly female notion" that Fanny offered up and while she would have been perfectly behaved at dinner, I think he would have gotten the silent treatment on the drive home. No. That's too rebellious. His tea would have been served cold.

 

ETA:  I hope that no one thinks I am belittling their identification with Fanny, but I think those of you that have expressed that identification with her strike me as women with spirits far more lovely and kind than Austen every portrayed Fanny's as.

Edited by swimmermom3
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I finished a couple of books ~

 

The Golden Songbird by Sheila Walsh is an older regency romance; it was a pleasant story but not something I'm likely to re-read.

 

"Spirited young Lucia Mannering willingly let herself be offered as a prize in a shocking wager between her odious stepfather, Jasper Franklyn, and Hugo, Marquis of Mandersely. For this was her only hope of escape from a household where humiliation was her daily lot and degradation seemed her certain future. - It was only when the bet was settled and she found herself looking into Hugo's ironic, devilishly handsome face, that Lucia fully realized what she had done. She knew that this nobleman's reputation for cynical wit and scandalous living was the talk of all Regency London. And now she was his, to do with what he liked. Lucia's daring gamble had begun--and she trembled to think how it might end."

 

**

 

I also re-read the contemporary romance Artistic License by Elle Pierson which I enjoyed once more.  (I've been hearing good reviews recently of a book by Lucy Parker and learned that she and Elle Pierson are one and the same.  That brought this story back to mind.)

 

""Picasso would have loved his face."

When of the world’s prestigious art collections comes to the resort town of Queenstown, New Zealand, shy art student Sophy James is immediately drawn to the pieces on display – and to the massive, silent, sexy presence keeping watch over them. She’s completely fascinated and attracted by the striking planes and angles of his unusual face, and can’t resist sneaking out her pencil when he’s not looking.

Security consultant Mick Hollister is used to women looking at his ugly mug – but not with the genuine pleasure he sees in the face of the girl with the charcoal-smudged fingers and terrible skills at covert surveillance. A security breach brings the two into fast and furious collision, and an unlikely friendship begins to blossom. And an even more unlikely – and very reluctant – love.

Introvert Sophy is content with her independence and solitude. She’s never looked for a long-term relationship, and isn’t sure she wants one now. Mick, apparently born with a face that not even a mother could love, has given up all hope of having one.

They have nothing in common. They shouldn’t even like each other. And they can’t stay away from one another."

 

Regards,

Kareni

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Argus Filch's cat?

 

 

Harry Potter. Cat's name is Mrs. Norris. She tends to come across Harry et al when they're up to no good.

 

JK Rowling is a huge Austen fan and has said the cat was named after that Mrs. Norris, because she's a busybody like her human counterpart.

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I might have to go back and read Mansfield Park just to see if Mrs. Norris is perhaps the inspiration for Argus Filch's cat...

 

I thought I had your post in my multi-quote but apparently it didn't take. Anyway, see my post above. The cat was in fact named after her.

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A currently free Kindle book ~

Six of Hearts by L. H. Cosway

 

This is a contemporary romance (I believe) with adult content.  While I haven't read this particular book, I did read and enjoy another of the author's books.

 

Regards,

Kareni

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This week:

 

Being Mortal ..... Thanks a lot BaW'ers.  Thanks to you I've gone and read.... my book of the year on the very first week of the year!!

 

This.book.was.SO.good!  I feel like I want to buy copies and hand them out to family and friends -- and I never feel like that.  

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Ibnib said:


While Coates gave more than a passing nod to the diversity of places like NYC and Paris, he ignored the increasing numbers of Asians, Hispanics, etc. as a percentage of the population, across the entire country and not only in metro areas, and what impact they may or may not have on the race discussion. (Although to be fair, he says he doesn't really talk about race, that it is white people who brought race into it.) Regardless...that same wonder he felt about those "melting pot" cities years ago doesn't seem to have moved forward and been applied to our increasingly diverse country. He talks about the need for whites to change while not giving any ideas, which is fine, as I suspect he has some ideas but wanted to be true to the "letter to his son" format and laying out "to do" items doesn't really fit into that. But I do wish he had addressed the increasingly multi-cultural country in which his son finds himself. What are the obligations and roles of newly arrived immigrants? Refugees? I don't believe it's as clear-cut as he wants it to be. I wish it were.

 

I think he implies something which I struggled against at first, but am coming to, reluctantly acknowledge: in this country race relations are really through a black/white lens.  I've been looking at a few books which trace the origins of the idea of "whiteness" and others which look at the evolution of which groups have been considered non-white before and are "white" now.  Irish, Italian, Polish, and Jewish ethnic groups come to mind...

 

And I think of the weird ways in which Asian citizens are "white" and the other ways in which they are not... Hispanic young men are very close to "black" in how they are treated by the criminal "justice" system...

 

 

As I said, I fought this framing very hard when I realized it underlay Coates' perceptions, but I am coming to see it represents some sobering truths.

 

 

Jane said:

 

 


 

The importance that Howard University played in Coates' life was interesting to me because of my own involvement here in NC with a traditionally black university, NC A&T.  Side note:  In 1862, Congress created land grant universities which focused on agriculture, engineering--the practical vs. the liberal arts.  Reacting to segregation in the South, a second group of land grant schools were born in 1890, the traditional black colleges of the South.

 

Universities such as Howard and NC A&T fulfilled a specific need in the days of segregation.  Recently while attending a planning session of an event orchestrated by NC A&T--and being one of the few white people in the room--I recognized that the history of this school creates an element of pride and ownership that I do not sense when I am attending other state level events.  In modern political code, we no longer say that NC A&T is a "black college" rather an "1890".  I'm not sure how I feel about that.  I really should ask the A&T folks what they think.  (By the way, Howard pre-dates the 1890s.)

 


 

How fortunate for us that Coates is bringing this conversation to the forefront.  We may squirm but this is necessary.

 

As I was reading snippets of bell hooks' book on education I was struck by her negative experience with school integration contrasting her early education at an all black school: "Almost all our teachers... were black women.  They were committed to nurturing intellect so we could become scholars, thinkers, and cultural workers... we learned early that our devotion to learning, to a life of the mind was a counter-hegemonic act, a fundamental way to resist every strategy of white racial colorization.  Though they did not define or articulate these practices in theoretical terms, my teachers were enacting a revolutionary pedagogy of resistance..."  she talks about how her teachers knew her, her family, her siblings, her parents, her *context* & the joy she experienced at school..

 

with post-integration: "gone was the messianic zeal to transform our minds and beings... knowledge was suddenly about information only... we soon learned that obedience, and not a zealous will to learn, was what was expected of us.  Too much eagerness to learn could easily be seen as a threat to white authority.

 

She adds "The shift from beloved, all-black schools to white schools where black students were always seen as interlopers...taught me the difference between education as the practice of freedom and education that merely strives to reinforce domination"

 

And, yes, oh yes, this is an essential process, despite the discomfort.


 

 

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I just finished Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer. It has an interesting premise, but it ended up being too odd for me to relate to. I am curious to see if my feelings change as time passes, especially after I hear it discussed at the convention I'm going to this weekend.

 

It's the first book in a trilogy, but I don't think I'll read the others.

 

Interestingly, this book, which won the Nebula for Best Novel in 2015, has 195 pages. The book that won Best Novella has, according to my Kindle, 190 pages.

 

I read this trilogy last year. If you consider Book 1 too strange to continue you should avoid Book 2, which takes place in a completely different location, namely HQ. It's such an oddly written book with confusing occurrences and obfuscated bureaucracy. It's even more confusing than Book 1, I think. Book 3 clears up much of the confusion, but Book 2 is a real hump to get over.

 

Ibnib said:

 

I think he implies something which I struggled against at first, but am coming to, reluctantly acknowledge: in this country race relations are really through a black/white lens.  I've been looking at a few books which trace the origins of the idea of "whiteness" and others which look at the evolution of which groups have been considered non-white before and are "white" now.  Irish, Italian, Polish, and Jewish ethnic groups come to mind...

 

And I think of the weird ways in which Asian citizens are "white" and the other ways in which they are not... Hispanic young men are very close to "black" in how they are treated by the criminal "justice" system...

 

 

As I said, I fought this framing very hard when I realized it underlay Coates' perceptions, but I am coming to see it represents some sobering truths.

 

I see what you're saying but I need some time to think on it. My initial thoughts are that you may be correct in what you're saying about the current state of affairs, but I don't know if Coates is implying this in his book or not.

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But do you really think we are worse now than we were? I don,t. I don,t necessarily rhink we are that much better, since people are people, but worse?

 

Nan

 

Are we worse than during slavery, or the Jim Crow years? 

 

As human beings, we are human.  Neither better nor worse... but we stand on the shoulders of those who have come before us, we have more insight, a broader angle of (possible) view... so we have more responsibility... the responsibility to act on those insights.

 

What left me shaking with grief and rage is the extent of systemic racism we have - and the ways in which we are unwilling to look at that truth... and without looking at it, we can't address it.

 

...and the heinous role our Supreme Court has had in not just the denial, but the increasing systemization horrifies me.

 

And it brings me up against a personal truth, one I have been struggling with lately: it isn't enough to tend my own garden (a Candide reread, anyone?).  It is important, central even that I do so, but if I don't find a way to come alongside those for whom this mess is killing their sons, or robbing their children of a chance at a real future, then I am "standing idly by my brother's blood."

 

...and embodying all that my heart cries out against. 

 

There's a medrash on Iyov (Job), of the many sufferings, which looks for Iyov's past... and identifies him as one of Paro's (Pharaoh's) 3 principal advisors.  Paro came to his advisors to share his genocidal plan - Yisro (later Moshe's father-in-law) opposed it, Bilaam (of the talking donkey) supported it... and Iyov was silent.

 

The medrash is in the context of showing that standing by while evil is done is *worse* (in many ways) than actively perpetrating evil.  Why?  Because if I see wrong that I might be able to prevent, I am knowingly allowing it to happen.  Often the perpetrator is convinced s/he is doing something right and necessary (Hitler comes to mind).

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Hmmm... I guess I am ignorant enough about how exactly the systems are supposed to work that I can,t judge that. I guess I assumed that systems in general, being systems designed to work for the many, tend not to work for any "minorities" (quotes because I don,t know if numerically the "minorities" are really minorities). I think the thing that makes systems work or not work are the people administering and interpreting them, the people in power. I don,t think those people are worse now than they were awhile back. Neither do I think they are incredibly much better. Lots of room for improvement. I guess I think that the improvement is from before being doomed to now there being some chance that you might survive any system you get caught in. Public school gave me a pretty dim view of systems and nothing I have seen since has improved that. I love my country and I am super glad I live here, but I don,t have much faith in any system actually working for all its residents unless people in general improve. Or something like that. I really don,t know what I am talking about. I,m just going by a few then-and-now stories people have told me. Not exactly a large sample size.

 

Nan

 

Our country's system is explicitly designed (in theory) to protect from the tyranny of the majority. 

 

For example: The theory is that one's "race" shouldn't impact whether one is picked up for a possible crime, whether/how one is charged for a crime, or the length of sentence.

 

Yes, the people who administer them shape their flavor, but we the people can (and should) hold our officials accountable, shine light on the injustices, call out the systemic discrimination, speak up...

 

I don't think we can wait for everyone's hearts to change (have you seen the chart about when that would have decriminalized "miscegenation"?). 

 

I don't believe any of the major improvements we've seen in systems, in public opinions, have come about through random natural drift, or any improvement in human nature, they've been worked for, campaigned for, fought for... and on many different levels. 

 

 

What is hard now, with these problems, is that we aren't dealing with the overt bigotry, the nasty names, the conscious *intentional* discrimination, we are dealing with the more complex layers, the ones that have been built up in our society over many, many years...

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About Seattle Shakespeare, you were the one that first encouraged me a couple of years ago to check out their student matinees. The six hours of round trip driving to see a performance has become an integral part of our homeschool experience. It's even better now that Sailor Dude shares the driving.  This year we've seen The Comedy of Errors and Mother Courage, both of which were excellent, but Sailor Dude especially liked Mother Courage.  We still have Titus Andronicus, Mrs. Warren's Profession, and The Tempest to see. Then, no more student matinees as the youngest is a senior. I will let you about TA.

 

I am slowly trying to break dh into being my theater partner; however, the first non Shakespeare play he attended with me was a local production of Waiting for Godot. :svengo: Sailor Dude couldn't go, so dh went.  Fortunately, while the dear man was lost, he could appreciate the acting, which was very good.  Ds and I also saw Turn of the Screw and Orlando as  I have discovered the joys of half-priced theater tickets through Goldstar.

 

For those of you that want to bump up the number of books you read or if like me, you have a short attention span, read plays. There are so many very good ones and if you can find a local performance, so much the better.

 

 

 

I cannot tell you how happy that makes me to have shared something I love so much with a friend... and to have you love it too!

 

...may I suggest Groundlings passes?  For a small fee, you get a membership that enables you to buy day-of-show tickets for $10 (2 per membership).  ...and, of course, there are the Pay What You Will performances...

 

...or ushering gives you free admission.

 

And 18 & 19 are still "teens" for the TeenTix passes ($5 day of show tickets for many venues, and on Sundays at most places, you can get 2 $5 tickets... Cash only and at the window, but that is how my teens have done the ballet and opera performances, and some of the classical music ones too. )

 

I love reading plays - though some are more rewarding to read than others.  I encounter some where I know a strong performance might make me love it, but the reading isn't clicking... but, yes, it is satisfying to cover a whole story arc in a single sitting, and plays take a different type of reading energy, so they can work when I'm not up to prose.

 

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Rosie:  No, we  don't have a crone-ing tradition... and aren't I rather young to be a crone?  (I'm 43 & although I don't feel young any more, I don't feel I'm moving into that stage of life yet... but I should think about whether I could be wrong, thank you!  Many of my dreams really are those of a younger person... )

 

Yes, you are too young to be a crone. (I object to it being such an ugly word, but I haven't a better one.) 

 

However, at the risk of sounding like a pompous git,  it's either a journey you've begun and you are in need of a word to name it, or it is a journey you're being called to begin and being a woman of words, you need some words to name it.

 

 

Puberty isn't a thing that happens the year you turn 14. Croning isn't a thing that happens the year you turn 47 or 53 or whatever. They are both lengthy journeys. It's a bit of a hassle, really, but we gotta roll with it. It seems to me, that crone age is a good time for dreams of a younger person. You're finally old enough to know how to carry them out.

 

 

Now, since we're being deep and meaningful, wanna tell me why I seem like the sort of person who ought to receive a book on the ethics of responsibility? :p

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Yes, you are too young to be a crone. (I object to it being such an ugly word, but I haven't a better one.) 

 

However, at the risk of sounding like a pompous git,  it's either a journey you've begun and you are in need of a word to name it, or it is a journey you're being called to begin and being a woman of words, you need some words to name it.

 

 

Puberty isn't a thing that happens the year you turn 14. Croning isn't a thing that happens the year you turn 47 or 53 or whatever. They are both lengthy journeys. It's a bit of a hassle, really, but we gotta roll with it. It seems to me, that crone age is a good time for dreams of a younger person. You're finally old enough to know how to carry them out.

 

 

Now, since we're being deep and meaningful, wanna tell me why I seem like the sort of person who ought to receive a book on the ethics of responsibility? :p

 

:grouphug:

 

That makes sense.  Thank you.

 

...and what a beautiful way to think about dreams and when to use them.  That is very encouraging.

 

It was a selfish gift - one aimed at sharing how I see the world, rather than one to shape, or address your Rosie-ness.  I am a very bad gift-giver, because, on some level, the only thing I know how to give is myself. 

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I think if Fanny were to turn out like Mrs Norris, it would be motivated by piety, which is a respectable form of self flagellation.

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I think if Fanny were to turn out like Mrs Norris, it would be motivated by piety, which is a respectable form of self flagellation.

 

That touches on the overlap I see between them  - and it makes me think about the challenges of certainty, of conviction, of integrity even... that we need to walk the tightrope of living our convictions without imposing our moral certainties on others.

 

Piety as self-flagellation?  I can see how it *could* be, but do you think it always is?  (I don't, personally, experience it as such, but I'm inside it, so I imagine it could look different from the outside.)

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I missed this earlier and nearly lost my evening wine.  :D  I envision Fanny and Edmund coming to dinner, being very polite and somewhat dull and then going home and eviscerating the other guests. During dinner, Edmund would have corrected some "silly female notion" that Fanny offered up and while she would have been perfectly behaved at dinner, I think he would have gotten the silent treatment on the drive home. No. That's too rebellious. His tea would have been served cold.

 

ETA:  I hope that no one thinks I am belittling their identification with Fanny, but I think those of you that have expressed that identification with her strike me as women with spirits far more lovely and kind than Austen every portrayed Fanny's as.

 

How interesting.  I see Fanny as very sweet-hearted, but with some rigid thinking from her earnestness and her desire to do rightly.  I don't see any spite in her.

 

Now I really need to reread.

 

(At least no one is saying she would be better off with Henry... the realism of the horror of Fanny's situation there is one of the grimmest things I've seen in Austen, and manages with much more understatement to make some similar points to those made in Tenant of Wildfell Hall about the "romantic" rakes of the period...

 

...but I have a friend who is convinced that would have been better, and that Fanny would have saved him...)

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Piety as self-flagellation?  I can see how it *could* be, but do you think it always is?  (I don't, personally, experience it as such, but I'm inside it, so I imagine it could look different from the outside.)

 

No! I don't think piety is always self flagellation! For some people it is liberation. I think the Polish pope said something along the lines that freedom is the right to live the way you think you ought.

 

But Fanny is going to outgrow Edmund because people with low self esteem and who aren't mean tend to strive; and she's been brought up to self-flagellate. She'll end up punishing herself for outgrowing him, and piety seems the most likely weapon because it works as self flagellation and service.

Edited by Rosie_0801
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...but I have a friend who is convinced that would have been better, and that Fanny would have saved him...)

 

:eek:

 

This friend must be either very, very young or have a wonderful husband?

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The Saudi poet Ashraf Fayadh has been sentenced to death for apostasy. 

 

14/1/16 is a worldwide reading of his poetry and other texts in his support.

 

Asylum

from Ashraf Fayadh’s Instructions Within

First section translated by Sultan Sooud al-Qassemi

 

Asylum: To stand at the end of a queue..

To be given a morsel of bread.

To stand!: Something your grandfather used to do..

Without knowing the reason why.

The Morsel?: You.

The homeland: A card to put in your wallet.

Money: Papers that carry images of Leaders.

The Photo: Your substitution pending your return.

And the Return: A mythological creature … from your grandmother’s tales. 

End of the first lesson.

 

See also Worldwide reading

Edited by StellaM
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I read this trilogy last year. If you consider Book 1 too strange to continue you should avoid Book 2, which takes place in a completely different location, namely HQ. It's such an oddly written book with confusing occurrences and obfuscated bureaucracy. It's even more confusing than Book 1, I think. Book 3 clears up much of the confusion, but Book 2 is a real hump to get over.

Thanks for the info about the rest of the trilogy. Book 1 wasn't too odd to be an enjoyable reading experience, but it was odd enough that it kept me from caring whether I learned more about the world or not.

 

I also tend to be attracted to characters more than ideas in books, and the biologist did not engage my emotions.

 

That said, my decision not to continue with the trilogy is more about how continuing in this world compares to entering the worlds in my TBR pile. I have Ancillary Justice waiting, for example, and lots of Jo Walton books I haven't read yet. Southern Reach just doesn't exert enough of a pull to put those off.

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Eliana, both you and Nan have provided greater insights into the character of Fanny, but I still can't find a way to like her.  Last year, when ds read Mansfield Park for his English class, we had some discussion here on the board about the book.  Nan talked about how she related to Fanny.  I could understand where she was coming from but while I would invite Nan to dinner in a heartbeat, I would never invite someone like Fanny and Edmund. Blech!  For me, Fanny has teeth for all of her "virtuous" appearance. She's the woman in the room I wouldn't trust and I wondered with fifteen years' time on her, if she wouldn't begin to resemble a more nuanced Mrs. Norris. 

 

Of course, you all have to understand that I was so baffled by Mansfield Park that I had to ask the English teacher if Mansfield Park wasn't a parody on that particular type of novel and characters.

 

 

Mansfield Park was the only one of JA's novels I wasn't crazy about, and if I wasn't reading it for a group I might not have managed to finsih.  I didn't really like Fanny and Edmund either.  Edmund just seemed like a wet blanket, and Fanny just seemed far too sure in her moralism, without being able to articulate it.

 

Although - perhaps that is because they are very young?  I can perhaps imagine Austen as a somewhat older writer looking back at the moralism and assurance of youth and producing something like this.  I did find the other people in the book to be really well described and imagined in terms of their psychological make-up.

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No! I don't think piety is always self flagellation! For some people it is liberation. I think the Polish pope said something along the lines that freedom is the right to live the way you think you ought.

 

But Fanny is going to outgrow Edmund because people with low self esteem and who aren't mean tend to strive; and she's been brought up to self-flagellate. She'll end up punishing herself for outgrowing him, and piety seems the most likely weapon because it works as self flagellation and service.

 

Do you not think Edmund will develop as a human being as well though?  I think he's  actually more flexible in his thinking than Fanny seems to be, possibly because he's seen a little more of the world.

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I see what you're saying but I need some time to think on it. My initial thoughts are that you may be correct in what you're saying about the current state of affairs, but I don't know if Coates is implying this in his book or not.

 

I think he is. I was struck by the number of times he said something along the lines of "the people who believe themselves to be white."  I think he was talking about white as the privileged category, rather than the racial category.  Possibly also alluding to the fact that so many Americans are of mixed racial heritage -that's how I took the phrase at first - but I came to believe that he was intentionally using the black/white contrast as representing the privileged/minority dichotomy, rather than being just, or only, about the color of the skin.  I think in some ways he may have categorized the residents of the affluent black suburb where his friend was killed as "people who believe themselves to be white."

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And it brings me up against a personal truth, one I have been struggling with lately: it isn't enough to tend my own garden (a Candide reread, anyone?).  It is important, central even that I do so, but if I don't find a way to come alongside those for whom this mess is killing their sons, or robbing their children of a chance at a real future, then I am "standing idly by my brother's blood."

 

...and embodying all that my heart cries out against. 

 

 

 

 

I think about this a lot in the context of homeschooling (the public school in my small town is truly abysmal, so I'm addressing that as much as I am addressing a national "education crisis").  Sure, I am tending my own garden as well as I can, but if all I am doing is creating a lifeboat for my kids, is this enough?  It's what most of the white people in our town have done - created personal lifeboats, mostly by sending their kids to expensive private schools, or creating charter schools inside the public school system to create a bubble for their own kids.  Meanwhile the school is 80% economically disadvantaged, 80% english language learner, and is largely abandoned by people who could help.  Like me? I don't get a pass just because I'm homeschooling, I don't think.

 

The way this connects to the race conversation is that in my community, the minority is the Latino immigrant community, farm and vineyard workers.  While the history of this community isn't the same as the history of the black community, obviously,this community is fulfilling a similar role today in northern CA.

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A re-read of Mansfield Park is clearly in order. It's the only major Austen book I didn't re-read last year, as I don't remember it being a favorite at first reading, either. But you guys have motivated me to pull it back out.  If I ever finish Angle of Repose . . . 

Edited by Chrysalis Academy
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Yay, I finally finished Gulag.  I chose to read it because last December I read the Big Green Tent and realized how little I understood about the Soviet Union and how much influence the Gulag had on so many of Russia’s great writers.  I’m so glad I read it to the end.  The last few chapters were really thought provoking and worth those times when I had to set the book down and walk away because it was just too much.

 

I’m in the midst of reading Age of Innocence and The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax (both BAW mentions).  But as soon as those are done I, too, am going to have to pick up Mansfield Park for a re-read thanks to this thread.  

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I finished the historical mystery, Bethlehem Road this morning. This is the second time in days I stayed in bed to finish a book I almost finished the night before, then got up only to hear the sad news of an artist's death. I'm going to have to stop doing that.  :crying:

 

I feel the need to watch Sense and Sensibility, then have a Harry Potter marathon. 

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Wow, these beginning weeks threads are hard to keep up with! 

 

For the first week, I finished The Leaving of Things by Jay Antani. I was trying to read something about India in keeping with the week 1 challenge, and also a Kindle Unlimited book to work towards my own challenge of 80% Kindle Unlimited books. The story begins in America, as the main character Vikram is faced with returning to India after living most of his life in the States. I could relate to the late 1980s setting, but it seemed like the author was struggling to find his voice. A few chapters in, and after his return to India, I could really start enjoying the book. While initially ashamed and embarrassed by what he experiences in India, over the course of the book Vikram learns to appreciate and love his Indian heritage. Overall, I enjoyed the book once I got past the first few chapters.

 

I also managed another Kindle Unlimited book, Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke. I read this as a teen, when I worked across the street from a bookstore and spent most of my paycheck there every Friday. :001_smile: Sci-fi and fantasy were my genre of choice in those days and I've been compiling a list to reread. One thing that struck me about this book was that it didn't seem dated at all, like some sci-fi from that time period. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, but I hear the next in the series isn't as good. I will probably give it a try. I don't remember reading it as a teen.

 

One final book I finished this week was A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. I bought the book thinking it would be good for ds to read. I didn't intend to read it right away. I figured we could read it at the same time and discuss it, but once I read the first few pages I was hooked and finished it a few hours later. I'm trying to get ds to think about people who live differently from him and to have a broader view of the world. He can be a little stuck in his head, an Aspie trait. Empathy comes hard to him. I think he will enjoy the book and it will lead to some interesting conversation. It is a little under his reading level, but the content is perfect for him.

 

I have the never ending list of books that I'm in the middle of that I won't list right now, as I'm headed to Walmart to pick up an air mattress for an upcoming trip. I may come back later and edit my post.

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Wow, these beginning weeks threads are hard to keep up with! 

 

For the first week, I finished The Leaving of Things by Jay Antani. I was trying to read something about India in keeping with the week 1 challenge, and also a Kindle Unlimited book to work towards my own challenge of 80% Kindle Unlimited books. The story begins in America, as the main character Vikram is faced with returning to India after living most of his life in the States. I could relate to the late 1980s setting, but it seemed like the author was struggling to find his voice. A few chapters in, and after his return to India, I could really start enjoying the book. While initially ashamed and embarrassed by what he experiences in India, over the course of the book Vikram learns to appreciate and love his Indian heritage. Overall, I enjoyed the book once I got past the first few chapters.

 

I also managed another Kindle Unlimited book, Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke. I read this as a teen, when I worked across the street from a bookstore and spent most of my paycheck there every Friday. :001_smile: Sci-fi and fantasy were my genre of choice in those days and I've been compiling a list to reread. One thing that struck me about this book was that it didn't seem dated at all, like some sci-fi from that time period. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, but I hear the next in the series isn't as good. I will probably give it a try. I don't remember reading it as a teen.

 

One final book I finished this week was A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. I bought the book thinking it would be good for ds to read. I didn't intend to read it right away. I figured we could read it at the same time and discuss it, but once I read the first few pages I was hooked and finished it a few hours later. I'm trying to get ds to think about people who live differently from him and to have a broader view of the world. He can be a little stuck in his head, an Aspie trait. Empathy comes hard to him. I think he will enjoy the book and it will lead to some interesting conversation. It is a little under his reading level, but the content is perfect for him.

 

I have the never ending list of books that I'm in the middle of that I won't list right now, as I'm headed to Walmart to pick up an air mattress for an upcoming trip. I may come back later and edit my post.

I read the Rama books years ago - I can't remember whether I liked the subsequent ones less, but I did enjoy them.  I find Clarke's books stand up well, even those like 2001 where the dates make it seem peculiar.  I think it's because the themes he is interested in are fairly universal.

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Last night I read with pleasure The Thames River Murders by Ashley Gardner; it's the tenth in a series of mysteries set in the regency period.  The series is best read in order.

 

"Captain Lacey is asked by Peter Thompson of the Thames River Police to help him investigate a cold case–the murder of a woman found near the docks Thompson patrols. The investigation was sidelined, considered unsolvable, but Thompson has long wished to find her killer.

Captain Lacey joins him in the hunt, entering a part of society that is closed to outsiders. Meanwhile, he must deal with his daughter’s debut and more developments in his new domestic life, including a anonymous blackmailer who’s out to ruin Lacey any way he can."

 

 

The first book in the series is available free to Kindle readers:The Hanover Square Affair (Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries Book 1)

 

Regards,

Kareni

 

 

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Last night I read with pleasure The Thames River Murders by Ashley Gardner; it's the tenth in a series of mysteries set in the regency period.  The series is best read in order.

 

 

 

I love the Captain Lacey books and can hardly wait for the next one! When I started the series there were about 6 or 7 already published. I went through them quickly, and since then I've had to wait each time for the newest book.

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I don't think we can wait for everyone's hearts to change (have you seen the chart about when that would have decriminalized "miscegenation"?). 

 

I don't believe any of the major improvements we've seen in systems, in public opinions, have come about through random natural drift, or any improvement in human nature, they've been worked for, campaigned for, fought for... and on many different levels. 

 

I agree.

 

I think he is. I was struck by the number of times he said something along the lines of "the people who believe themselves to be white."  I think he was talking about white as the privileged category, rather than the racial category.  Possibly also alluding to the fact that so many Americans are of mixed racial heritage -that's how I took the phrase at first - but I came to believe that he was intentionally using the black/white contrast as representing the privileged/minority dichotomy, rather than being just, or only, about the color of the skin.  I think in some ways he may have categorized the residents of the affluent black suburb where his friend was killed as "people who believe themselves to be white."

 

I think that's a possibility. But when he did write in the earlier part of the book about "people who believe themselves to be white" he only mentioned those with actually lighter skin. At that time he could have expounded upon the ideas being discussed here but he chose not to. Was it for us to decide our own categories, or was it really about the history of skin color? Would it have made the book more confusing, or less acceptable? Did he expect readers such as me, of Asian descent, to slot myself into a category? I would find this difficult, as I lead a nice upper middle class lifestyle but am Muslim. And are poor whites, such as those who live in some parts of Appalachia, more like blacks who live in poor ghettos, or like whites?

Edited by idnib
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Re: whether Coates' analysis is rooted in idea that American concept of race is seen through a black/white lens, into which other minorities sort of force-fit:

I think he is. I was struck by the number of times he said something along the lines of "the people who believe themselves to be white."  I think he was talking about white as the privileged category, rather than the racial category.  Possibly also alluding to the fact that so many Americans are of mixed racial heritage -that's how I took the phrase at first - but I came to believe that he was intentionally using the black/white contrast as representing the privileged/minority dichotomy, rather than being just, or only, about the color of the skin.  I think in some ways he may have categorized the residents of the affluent black suburb where his friend was killed as "people who believe themselves to be white."

I agree... while the book is not speaking, at all, to the lived experiences of other minority groups (either the so-called Model Minorities like the Jews, then, or East Asians, now, who grab fierce hold of The Dream and save/invest/educate/work 20-hour-days so as to succeed within it in the next generation, or other groups with a much more mixed experience and response), I think the gist of his argument is that race here is a construct that has been derived first from POWER.  The exertion of power came first, and the construct of race evolved as a justification of that power:

 

 

Americans believe in the reality of ‘race’ as a defined, indubitable feature of the natural world.  Racism — the need to ascribe bone-deep features to people and then humiliate, reduce and destroy them — inevitably follows from this inalterable condition.  In this way, racism is rendered as the innocent daughter of Mother Nature, and one is left to deplore the Middle Passage or the Trail of Tears the way one deplores an earthquake…
 
But race is the child of racism, not the father. And the process of naming ‘the people’ has never been a matter of genealogy and physiognomy as one of hierarchy.  Difference in hue and hair is old.  But the belief in the pre-eminence of hue and hair, the notion that these factors… signify deeper attributes, which are indelible — this is the new idea at the heart of these new people who have been brought up hopelessly, tragically, to believe that they are white.  (p. 7)

 

His racial lens is binary, based on dominance, not hue or hair.  And -- although this is not at all the focus of his book -- I think he would likely sort other minorities by how they have fallen out, on that power dynamic.  Those Dream-chasers who have managed (perhaps over a generation or two) to come out on the power-wielding side, even if their initial experiences here were extremely difficult -- the Polish and Irish and Italian Catholics, the Jews, (I think) the Chinese, would I think be for the purpose of his analysis count as "white"; whereas in his lens the experiences of South Asian Muslims and Latinos would I think be more aligned to the "black" experience.

 

I agree.

 

 

I think that's a possibility. But when he did write in the earlier part of the book about "people who believe themselves to be white" he only mentioned those with actually lighter skin. At that time he could have expounded upon the ideas being discussed here but he chose not to. Was it for us to decide our own categories, or was it really about the history of skin color? Would it have made the book more confusing, or less acceptable? Did he expect readers such as me, of Asian descent, to slot myself into a category? I would find this difficult, as I lead a nice upper middle class lifestyle but am Muslim. And are poor whites, such as those who live in some parts of Appalachia, more like blacks who live in poor ghettos, or like whites?

I believe he was writing to a black audience.  Or, actually -- to people who find themselves on his side of the exertion of dominance.

 

If you feel the need to have something equivalent to The Talk with your son, about how his the plunder and pillage of his brown body is sanctioned, even "heritage" in this country, before sending him out to the world... then I think he is talking to you.  If you believe that your son will be treated by law enforcement differently than another upper middle class kid "who believes himself to be white," then he is talking to you.  

 

He tells the story of growing up in one type of Baltimore neighborhood, and contrasts that experience with the nice upper middle class life his son is growing up in.  Sure, there are differences.  Yet he still fears for the safety of his son.  (And not irrationally so, either.)

 

(idnib, now I'll ask that you forgive me if I sound aggressive... I truly wish we could all sit around together drinking mint tea or something...)

 

 

 

 

 

re: tending one's own garden:

I think about this a lot in the context of homeschooling (the public school in my small town is truly abysmal, so I'm addressing that as much as I am addressing a national "education crisis").  Sure, I am tending my own garden as well as I can, but if all I am doing is creating a lifeboat for my kids, is this enough?  It's what most of the white people in our town have done - created personal lifeboats, mostly by sending their kids to expensive private schools, or creating charter schools inside the public school system to create a bubble for their own kids.  Meanwhile the school is 80% economically disadvantaged, 80% english language learner, and is largely abandoned by people who could help.  Like me? I don't get a pass just because I'm homeschooling, I don't think.

 

The way this connects to the race conversation is that in my community, the minority is the Latino immigrant community, farm and vineyard workers.  While the history of this community isn't the same as the history of the black community, obviously,this community is fulfilling a similar role today in northern CA.

I worry about this all the time.

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I also read a beautiful and very short book The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith which has lovely illustrations.  I first saw mention of it, as I recall, in this article ~

 

Waterstones book of the year is Coralie Bickford-Smith's debut The Fox and the Star

"Inspired by the poetry of Blake, Bickford-Smith’s picture-book fable about grief is awarded top prize for its ‘great physical beauty and timeless quality’"

 

I have to admit that I enjoyed the book but didn't quite get the message. 

 

From the article linked above:  "Inspired by William Blake’s poem Eternity – “He who binds to himself a joy / Does the winged life destroy; / But he who kisses the joy as it flies / Lives in eternity’s sun rise†– it tells of the forest-dwelling Fox, who loses, and mourns for, his friend Star."

 

Regards,

Kareni

 

 

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I've been reading a bunch of books at once and finished 3 of them last night and one this morning.

 

Book #3: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  It's my favorite Narnia book so far.  It was fun.

 

Book #4: The Midwife's Here.  Loved it.  It's by a midwife who is the longest serving in one single hospital in Britain.  The book covered her training and first year as a qualified midwife.  I enjoyed it so much I bought her other book about the rest of her career to read, too.

 

Book #5: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet.  This is the companion book to the youtube series Lizzie Bennet Diaries.  It was excellent and gave even more information than is in the videos.

 

Book #6: The Song of Hiawatha.  I usually don't like poetry at all, but I enjoyed this really long one.  The rhythm was so cool sounding like a drum beat.

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Do you not think Edmund will develop as a human being as well though?  I think he's  actually more flexible in his thinking than Fanny seems to be, possibly because he's seen a little more of the world.

 

Nup. I don't. He may have if his older brother hadn't recovered, and his career was not to be long term. Flexibility doesn't mean progress, and Edmund is used to being Fanny's intellectual superior.

 

 

Good thing these people are fictional.  :laugh:

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Jane, you asked in the Alan Rickman thread if there are audio books read by him.  Here is the list available at audible. I've often considered downloading Return of the Native just for his voice alone.

 

I always envied Marianne in the scene near the end of the movie version of Sense and Sensibility when Colonel Brandon is reading aloud to her. Of course she finally falls in love with him -- what passionate, romantic woman wouldn't?!

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I finished another book 

4.  Jackson Bog by Michael Witt.

 

I loved this book.  It was a quick read about a local bog that is really a fen.   Someone on this board was reading about lichen...this reminded me of you because it has beautiful pics about lichen and jelly fungi.  An interesting thing about this read is it is a book about the bog, but it is also a book on how to take nature photos.  It sounds like a weird combo, but it worked.

 

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What a wackadoodle week I am having!  Lots of activity and insufficient time for reading.

 

But...today I came home with a log inoculated with shiitake mushroom spawn.  She who is Terrified of Power Tools handled the drill at what was a fascinating workshop.

 

What does this have to do with books?  Why absolutely nothing but I felt an explanation was due in case you were wondering about those wood chips in my hair.

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Dipping a toe in, trying to decide if I can keep up with things on here

 

So far I've read the Mary Clark's Arthurian Saga; 

1. The Hollow Hills

2. The Crystal Cave

3. The Last Enchantment

4. The Wicked Day

 

Working on now- Younger Next Year for Women, rather meh about it so far, it is an easy read but not all that fabulous- I think the reviews I read were right to distill it down to just exercise really hard every day. I'm about a third of the way through now- I'll probably just speed read the rest unless it improves.

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If you feel the need to have something equivalent to The Talk with your son, about how his the plunder and pillage of his brown body is sanctioned, even "heritage" in this country, before sending him out to the world... then I think he is talking to you.  If you believe that your son will be treated by law enforcement differently than another upper middle class kid "who believes himself to be white," then he is talking to you.  

 

I don't feel it is that clear-cut, at least in my case. I think my thoughts and personal experiences are too complex to explain in this forum. I too wish we could have tea in person!  :)

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We recently rewatched the first movie and are planning to rent the second, and it occurred to me that I'd never read the books.  So now I have!  I was not in the mood for the way "Allegiant" ended, probably because we're currently in a "life sucks, and then you die" kind of phase, and I was more in the mood to escape it than ponder it.  They were well done, though.

 

4. "Four" by Virginia Roth.

3. "Allegiant" by Virgina Roth.

2. " Insurgent" by Virginia Roth.

1. "Divergent" by Virginia Roth.

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re: binary race lens -

I don't feel it is that clear-cut, at least in my case. I think my thoughts and personal experiences are too complex to explain in this forum. I too wish we could have tea in person!  :)

 

Quite so.

 

Someday, I'd love to have tea!

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Dd18 is on Team Fanny. She finds the character modest and dutiful (not co-incidentally, these are two attributes dd shares with Fanny) and admires the way Fanny doesn't make a fuss. 

 

I am 100% Team Emma and no-one, not even dd, can talk me around to the virtues of Fanny. 

Edited by StellaM
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