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Book a Week 2016 - Rabindranath Tagore


Robin M

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Good morning, dear hearts! This is the beginning of week 4 in our quest to read 52 books.  Welcome back to all our readers, to those just joining in and all who are following our progress.  Mr. Linky is all set up on the 52 Books blog to link to your reviews. The link is also below in my signature.
 
52 Books Blog - Rabindranath Tagore:  I finished A Suitable Boy and the story lead me on many rabbit trails looking up definitions of words, people and places in India.  Rabindranath Tagore has been mentioned quite a few times.  He won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1913, mainly for his poetry.
 


"because of his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse, by which, with consummate skill, he has made his poetic thought, expressed in his own English words, a part of the literature of the West"


However, he also wrote short stories, dramas, essays as well as songs.  He was knighted by the British Government in 1915, but resigned the honor a few later in protest of British policies in India.

I have enjoyed reading his poetry and will leave you with this  



 


Where the Mind is Without Fear

 

 

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high 

Where knowledge is free 

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments 

By narrow domestic walls 

Where words come out from the depth of truth 

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection 

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way 

Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit 

Where the mind is led forward by thee 

Into ever-widening thought and action 

Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

 

 

***********************************************************

 

 

 

 

What are you reading this week? 

 

 

 

 

 

Link to week 3

 

Edited by Robin M
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Hugs and good thoughts and virtual hot chocolate to all who are snowed in or feeling poorly. 

 

I'm currently reading Karen Marie Moning's Feverborn, the latest in her Fever series and yes it ends with a cliff hanger and yes, will have to wait quite a while to find out what happens in the next book.  grumble - grumble.  Next up One Hundred Years of Solitude reread for literature class.

 

I bit off more than I can chew because taking and leading  multiple classes at wvu.  Also watching Great Courses - The Art of Reading.  Plus reading Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers' Guide from the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University - edited by Mark Kramar.  

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As someone who loves to shop in thrift stores and used book stores, I enjoyed this piece ~

 

On Finding Bookish Treasure in Thrift Stores.

 

***

 

Yesterday I read Greg Cox's Child of Two Worlds (Star Trek: The Original Series); it was a pleasant read but not something I'm likely to re-read.  I have a number of original Star Trek novels on my book shelves that I enjoy revisiting from time to time.  If anyone would like to know my favorites, let me know.  If you also re-read books of that type, I'd love to learn your favorites.

 

"The year is 2255, not long after the events of the Original Series episode “The Cage.†A young Spock is science officer on the U.S.S. Enterprise, under the command of Captain Christopher Pike, when an outbreak of deadly Rigelian fever threatens the crew. Reviewing the Starfleet medical database, Dr. Phillip Boyce comes up with a highly experimental and untested new treatment that might save the crew. Just one problem: it requires a rare mineral substance, ryetalyn, which is not easily obtained…except on a remote alien colony near the Klingon border. But borders are somewhat blurry in this part of galaxy. Pike will need to tread carefully in order to avoid provoking an armed conflict with the Klingons—or starting an all-out war."

 

Regards,

Kareni

 

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BINGO!!  I got my first Bingo - far right column. Here are the items:

 

Picked by a friend - Paper Towns, John Green (picked by my dd)

Play - Prometheus Bound, Aeschylus

Nonfiction - The Control of Nature, John McPhee

Nobel Prize Author - Death in the Andes, Mario Vargas Llosa

Set in Another Country - Queen of the Conqueror, Tracy Borman

 

This Bingo is fun!  In several cases, there was more than one candidate for a square, so I'm reading both of them - I'm enjoying a re-read of Jose Saramago's Blindness at the moment, for example. 

 

Death in the Andes was not at all what I was expecting - it was not at all sympathetic to either the Shining Path guerilla fighters or the Indians of Peru. The former were portrayed as mindlessly spouting Marxist slogans while practicing brutality, and the latter as stuck in the pre-modern world of magic and monsters while practicing brutality.  I was a little taken aback, because I had thought Llosa was more of a Marxist/leftist writer - partly based on his earlier books, and partly based on my own stereotype of Latin American magical realistic writers, I guess. But after doing a little research on him, I learned that he had been in his youth, but that he swung right as he got older - so much so that after his defeat by Fujimora for the presidency of Peru (he was the candidate of a center-right coalition) he moved to Spain, where he has since been knighted by the Spanish king and is now the Marquis of Vargas-Llosa.  So much for the idealism of youth!  :rolleyes:  The book was pretty good, although disturbing, and reading it alongside The New Jim Crow, I found myself thinking a lot about what happens in a country when the oppression of an undercaste becomes so severe that its members resort to armed terrorism. That is something I hope to not ever live through in this country. But I wonder what I should be doing to more actively prevent the possibility? Harkening back to Eliana's sharing of her own dilemma. Reading about these matters, educating ourselves and educating our children, is a critical first step. But what is the next step?

 

Books read in 2016:

17. Metamorphoses - Ovid

16. Death in the Andes - Mario Vargas Llosa

15. Countdown City - Ben Winters

14. The Control of Nature - John McPhee

13. The Tempest - William Shakespeare

12. A Brave Vessel: The True Tale of the Castaways Who Rescued Jamestown and Inspired Shakespeare's The Tempest - Hobson Woodward

11. Paper Towns - John Green

10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky

9. The Last Policeman - Ben Winters

8. Queen of the Conqueror: The Life of Matilda, Wife of William I - Tracy Borman

7. The Annotated Ancient Mariner - Samuel Taylor Coleridge

6. William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope - Ian Doescher

5. Ancillary Sword - Ann Leckie

4. Prometheus Bound - Aeschylus

3. The Procedure - Harry Mulisch

2. The Conqueror - Georgette Heyer

1. The Buried Book: The Loss and Rediscovery of the Great Epic of Gilgamesh- David Damrosch

Edited by Chrysalis Academy
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Do you sometimes feel that an author may be having just too much fun when writing a particular piece?  That seemed to be the case with Alessandro Baricco's Mr. Gwyn, called a novella on the back cover but at 177 pages, is it?  Mr. Gwyn is followed by a related piece Three Times at Dawn which strikes me more as three intertwined short stories. Nonetheless the back cover says the book contains two "intertwined novellas".  Labels don't really matter though, do they?

 

Mr. Gwyn is about a writer who sends a proclamation off to the Guardian claiming he shall not write books again.  He eventually becomes a "copyist", essentially a portrait artist who does not paint but writes portraits for people who spend 38 days in the studio with him. One paragraph sums up the novel for me:

 

    

"Jasper Gwyn said that we are all a few pages of a book, but of a book that no one has ever written and that we search for in vain the bookshelves of our mind.  He told me that what he tried to do was write that book for the people who came to him. The right pages.  He was sure he could do it."

 

 

Favorite line from the book:

 

t's impossible to change your cards, all you can do is change your card table.

 

 

My dusty stack includes too many Archipelago editions!  Sticking with my theme of censorship, I plan on reading Private Life by Josep Maria de Sagarra, an author who did not meet the approval of Franco.  Archipelago recently published the first English edition of this 1932 Catalan classic.

 

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I read 11/22/63 - 3 Stars - When it comes to Stephen King, I have found that I prefer his movies over his books (I feel the same about Agatha Christie also). I want to love his books since I know that he’s a fabulous storyteller and great writer. Yet looking back at the few that I’ve read, I realize that I haven’t found any that I’ve really and truly loved. I seem to give most of them 3 stars. I think part of the problem is that his books drag on and on unnecessarily.

 

Although I’m no fan of time travel-type stories, I chose to read “11/22/63†since a friend told me about the upcoming TV series and the trailer looks too good to pass up on. Overall, I enjoyed reading this and thought that the parts about Lee Harvey Oswald and his marital and family problems were very well presented. The first half was far more exciting and enjoyable than the second half, which I thought was excessively long and felt as if it took forever to finish, in true Stephen King style. I really do want to find a book of his that I will love and I haven’t given up on him quite yet.

 

One of my favorite quotes from this book:

“...stupidity is one of the two things we see most clearly in retrospect. The other is missed chances.â€

 

https://youtu.be/NXUx__qQGew

 

9781451669510.jpg

 

MY RATING SYSTEM

5 Stars

Fantastic, couldn't put it down

4 Stars

Really Good

3 Stars

Enjoyable

2 Stars

Just Okay – nothing to write home about

1 Star

Rubbish – waste of my money and time. Few books make it to this level, since I usually give up on them if they’re that bad.

 

 

 

 

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I still haven't made it all the way through last weeks posts.

 

Robin, I loved One Hundred Years of Solitude. As soon as I saw you were reading it I felt like I wanted to read it again. 

 

Kereni, I loved the article since books and thrift stores are two of my favorite things. When I am in the U.S. I only buy used books. I know all the good spots. 

 

Chrysalis, I did think of a King Arthur book for you since I know you are serious about bingo. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. I have never read it, but my mom's husband was giving an oral telling of the story to my kids every morning at breakfast when we last visited.  

 

I read Quicksand by Nella Larson. I felt like there was the makings of a good tragedy in the book, but the writing was so melodramatic and there wasn't enough detail in the story for me to feel much compassion for the main character. There were a few very good moments of crystal clear observations, but overall I didn't love it. 

 

I am listening to Ruth Ozeki's All Over Creation. So far I am really enjoying it. I found it on the NY Public Library's FREE Audio Book Cloud. Such a great discovery. 

 

I am reading The Silver Chair to the kids and have just started The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman. My mama gave it to me about a year ago, and I want to get it read before she visits. 

 

I still haven't finished reading last weeks posts. 

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I finished a book this week and made progress in a few more. 
 
In Suspect Terrain is the 2nd of the "Annals of the Former World" by John McPhee.  This one was focused on specific area - I-80 from New Jersey to Illinois - and a specific person - geologist Anita Harris. She was a fascinating character!  I found this article about her.  Would love to read a biography. 
 
And I'm not sure how this came about, but my reading led me to Excursions in Geology and History: Field Trips in the Mid-Atlantic States which is a collection of papers presented at a Geological Society of America meeting in Philadelphia some years ago. Some of the places mentioned are very local to me, and my family would love a reason to go back to Gettysburg  (the chapter "Geology of the Gettysburg battlefield: How Mesozoic events and processes impacted American history" includes a field guide/tour).   So I'll be buying this e-book.
 

I don't have a light read going right now.  I need one, but I am picky about even fun, light reads.  I don't know how  many cozy mystery series people have recommended to me that I end up tossing aside (figuratively speaking) within a few pages.  I have Jamaica Inn on audio from the library but with my family going in and out from snow work, and me being in charge of floors and hot cocoa, it's not a good time to be plugged into an audio device.  Not that that's a cozy mystery!  

 

 

 

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I forgot to post my favorite quote from Undeniable. "To leave the world better than you found it, sometimes you have to pick up other people's trash."

 

I'm finding Cold Comfort Farm wickedly funny. So wicked that it feels guilty to laugh. You've got this Wuthering Heights type of setting, raw, earthy, and full of discomfort. But everyone and everything has a name that makes you snicker. Plus, things happen, like a cow's (Graceless) leg falling off without notice. Then there is the main character who just does her own thing, sublimely ignoring all the gloom and misery while on a mission to straighten up the world and make it more tidy, so she can have a life of leisure. So much quotable material too.

 

"She liked Victorian novels. They were the only kind of novel you could read while eating an apple."

 

"They were the sort that went trampling all over your pet stamp collection, or whatever it was, and then spent the rest of their lives atoning for it. But you would rather have had your stamp collection."

Edited by Onceuponatime
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I finished Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein this week (she is the author of Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire). It was excellent. I learned a lot about Ethiopian history that I was completely unaware of. It's classified as a young adult novel but is one of those where I can't really figure out why it would be YA vs. adult fiction, other than the fact that the protagonists are teenagers. It doesn't really matter but it always makes me wonder how (and why) those decisions are made. 

 

I started Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling). It's the third mystery in the Cormoron Strike series. I like them although I think they border on the too graphic for my taste. The second one in the series was definitely too graphic for me, we'll have to see how this one is. 

 

We're snowed in so I feel like I should have done more reading but I did catch up on a stack of New Yorkers. And watched a movie and played a fierce game of Ticket to Ride. :) 

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Finished 3 this week--and we're not even snowed in!

 

Finished Hamlet as a read-aloud w/ youngest dd. We started in December but didn't make much progress in the busy Christmas season. And it just seemed long. We read Julius Caesar last year and that went a lot faster. I can't remember reading Hamlet before (but I probably have)--but I do remember seeing it. Watching it, I always feel so sympathetic toward Hamlet. Reading it, we felt frustrated with his inaction. Laertes was quick to avenge his father; Hamlet--not so much.

 

Finished Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng dealing with the topic of teen suicide in a mixed-race family, exploring each family member's issues. I picked this for our book club for March--though I can quibble with a few parts, I think it will lead to some good discussion. There are far too many youth suicides and our community has not escaped this trend.

 

Finished The Other Daughter which was a good, light read. My next light read is Dying in the Wool, a Kate Shackleton mystery (my first). And also going to start our book club pick for February, Flight of the Sparrow by Amy Belding Brown. I got so excited finishing Hamlet to read the line about the "fall of the sparrow", thinking that was the name of the book club pick. Then when the book arrived from Amazon I found that it is the flight of the sparrow, not the fall. Maybe it's the same sparrow? Also still reading Mansfield Park which I've decided needed an editor. I can understand why people don't like this one. I happen to like Austen enough to like them all, but this isn't the best. And Fanny and Edmund can be annoying, even if I still root for them.

Edited by Ali in OR
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This week,s had-to-ignore-it-while-homeschooling-but-now-that-I,m-done-I-can,tsorting project is books. Last week I did my clothes. I got rid of a third of my clothes pretty painlessly (other than finding a pacifier in a pocket sniff sniff) but I am constantly in need of more bookshelf space and keep a pretty tight rein on the books, although you,d never guess by looking at my house, so I doubt this pass will result in much visual improvement. I can at least gather up all the piles, though, which will tell us how much more shelving we need. Finding wallspace is a problem. Does anyone have any brilliant ideas for new places we can put a shelf?

 

Nan

 

PS I am reading The Martian (managed not to finish it today -yeah!) and still listening to Sense and Sensability to go to sleep.

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I didn't do too well last week, I didn't sleep very well so come Wednesday my brain pretty much shut down. This weekend has been better and I caught up a bit, although I didn't finish one of the books I hoped to finish. 

 

Last week I finished Younger Next Year for Women and The Sword in the Stone, which is part of The Once and Future King but I'm counting it individually for now :) I made progress on The Lost Art of Walking but still have a hundred pages to go. White is growing on me but I'm desperate for a book that I just want to devour.

 

Reading plans this week: Finish The Lost Art of Walking and a Sherlock story(I've been slowly working my through The Complete Sherlock Holmes). I have a couple of fitness/health books I might pick up too but we'll see how the week goes, hopefully better than the last.

1. The Crystal Cave- Stewart

2. The Hollow Hills- Stewart

3. The Last Enchantment- Stewart

4. The Wicked Day- Stewart

5. Younger Next Year for Women

6. Very Good Lives- Rowling- very, very, extremely short

7. Sword in the Stone (White)
Edited by soror
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I read 11/22/63 - 3 Stars - When it comes to Stephen King, I have found that I prefer his movies over his books (I feel the same about Agatha Christie also). I want to love his books since I know that he’s a fabulous storyteller and great writer. Yet looking back at the few that I’ve read, I realize that I haven’t found any that I’ve really and truly loved. I seem to give most of them 3 stars. I think part of the problem is that his books drag on and on unnecessarily.

 

Although I’m no fan of time travel-type stories, I chose to read “11/22/63†since a friend told me about the upcoming TV series and the trailer looks too good to pass up on. Overall, I enjoyed reading this and thought that the parts about Lee Harvey Oswald and his marital and family problems were very well presented. The first half was far more exciting and enjoyable than the second half, which I thought was excessively long and felt as if it took forever to finish, in true Stephen King style. I really do want to find a book of his that I will love and I haven’t given up on him quite yet.

 

One of my favorite quotes from this book:

“...stupidity is one of the two things we see most clearly in retrospect. The other is missed chances.â€

 

https://youtu.be/NXUx__qQGew

 

9781451669510.jpg

 

MY RATING SYSTEM

5 Stars

Fantastic, couldn't put it down

4 Stars

Really Good

3 Stars

Enjoyable

2 Stars

Just Okay – nothing to write home about

1 Star

Rubbish – waste of my money and time. Few books make it to this level, since I usually give up on them if they’re that bad.

My feelings about 11/22/63 echo yours for the most part although I do like time travel books. I had no idea they were making it into a miniseries although it doesn't surprise me. The clip looks good, I just hope that it eventually ends up available to me.

 

It's been busy. I finally picked out what I am reading next The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price Purveyor of Superior Funerals. I have read enough to find the book interesting but I am not fond of Wilfred at the moment! ;)

 

Eta...I was just looking at the Bingo card, for 18th Century, are we doing set in or written in?

Edited by mumto2
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I finished Ovid's Metamorphoses, the Rolfe Humphries translation. This was my first time to read the whole shebang - I had read Ted Hughes Tales from Ovid in the past. I really enjoyed it, and was surprised at what all is included. I loved the last few books, especially the oration from Pythagorus.  From the epilogue:

 

Now I have done my work. It will endure,

I trust, beyond Jove's anger, fire and sword,

Beyond Time's hunger. The day will come, I know,

So let it come, that day which has no power

Save over my body, to end my span of life

Whatever it may be. Still, part of me,

The better part, immortal, will be borne

Above the stars; my name will be remembered

Wherever Roman power rules conquered lands,

I shall be read, and through all centuries,

If prophecies of bards are ever truthful,

I shall be living, always.

 

Ovid, buddy, I think you've made it.  I'm grateful your words have lasted, through all the centuries.

Edited by Chrysalis Academy
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This week I read more of War and Peace, and Newman's Parochial and Plain Sermons. Also I delved back into Texas history and read Cabeza de Vaca's Narrative of the Narvaez Expedition.

 

All of us homeschoolers covered Cabeza de Vaca at some point, and many of our kids read the well-done fictional account of the disastrous expedition, Walk the World's Rim, so we recall that he was part of Governor Narvaez' expedition to the coast of Florida that went horribly wrong. Ships badly damaged by a hurricane, they missed their harbor on the Florida coast, decided to explore the interior on foot (according to Cabeza de Vaca, against his advice), lost their ships, continued north along the Gulf Coast in cobbled-together craft, wrecked on a barrier island south of Galveston, and proceeded on foot through the interior of Texas in the northern part of the Rio Grande Valley before striking out west to the Mexican coast and then south until they encountered Spaniards. Drowning, cold, disease, starvation, and hostile Indians reduced the survivors to a handful.

 

The account is a report to King Carlos I, and a tricky business for Cabeza de Vaca it is. He has to explain why a complete disaster actually has some value for the Crown, and why none of it was his fault. The best he has to offer is that he was able to obtain detailed and useful intelligence about the land and its inhabitants; though there isn't much for him to say except that Texas is a barren and sparsely populated land where the perishing locals can barely scrape together enough meager corn, ants' eggs, and prickly pears to stay more or less alive.

 

In the middle of his businesslike account of the local conditions, there is this very, very strange part: a story, attested to by many of the local Indians, of "Mala Cosa," the Evil Thing. I believe this is Texas' first ghost story.

 

------------------------------

 

... These Indians and the ones we left behind told us a very strange tale. From their account it may have occurred fifteen or sixteen years ago. They said there wandered then about the country a man, whom they called Evil Thing, of small stature and with a beard, although they never could see his features clearly, and whenever he would approach their dwellings their hair would stand on end and they began to tremble. In the doorway of the lodge there would then appear a firebrand. That man thereupon came in and took hold of anyone he chose, and with a sharp knife of flint, as broad as a hand and two palms in length, he cut their side, and, thrusting his hand through the gash, took out the entrails, cutting off a piece one palm long, which he threw into the fire. Afterwards he made three cuts in one of the arms, the second one at the place where people are usually bled, and twisted the arm, but reset it soon afterwards. Then he placed his hands on the wounds, and they told us that they closed at once. Many times he appeared among them while they were dancing, sometimes in the dress of a woman and again as a man, and whenever he took a notion to do it he would seize the hut or lodge, take it up into the air and come down with it again with a great crash. They also told us how, many a time, they set food before him, but he never would partake of it, and when they asked him where he came from and where he had his home, he pointed to a rent in the earth and said his house was down below. 

 

We laughed very much at those stories, making fun of them, and then, seeing our incredulity they brought to us many of those whom, they said, he had taken, and we saw the scars of his slashes in the places and as they told....

 

 

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BINGO!!  I got my first Bingo - far right column. Here are the items:

 

Picked by a friend - Paper Towns, John Green (picked by my dd)

Play - Prometheus Bound, Aeschylus

Nonfiction - The Control of Nature, John McPhee

Nobel Prize Author - Death in the Andes, Mario Vargas Llosa

Set in Another Country - Queen of the Conqueror, Tracy Borman

 

This Bingo is fun!  In several cases, there was more than one candidate for a square, so I'm reading both of them - I'm enjoying a re-read of Jose Saramago's Blindness at the moment, for example. 

 

Death in the Andes was not at all what I was expecting - it was not at all sympathetic to either the Shining Path guerilla fighters or the Indians of Peru. The former were portrayed as mindlessly spouting Marxist slogans while practicing brutality, and the latter as stuck in the pre-modern world of magic and monsters while practicing brutality.  I was a little taken aback, because I had thought Llosa was more of a Marxist/leftist writer - partly based on his earlier books, and partly based on my own stereotype of Latin American magical realistic writers, I guess. But after doing a little research on him, I learned that he had been in his youth, but that he swung right as he got older - so much so that after his defeat by Fujimora for the presidency of Peru (he was the candidate of a center-right coalition) he moved to Spain, where he has since been knighted by the Spanish king and is now the Marquis of Vargas-Llosa.  So much for the idealism of youth!  :rolleyes:  The book was pretty good, although disturbing, and reading it alongside The New Jim Crow, I found myself thinking a lot about what happens in a country when the oppression of an undercaste becomes so severe that its members resort to armed terrorism. That is something I hope to not ever live through in this country. But I wonder what I should be doing to more actively prevent the possibility? Harkening back to Eliana's sharing of her own dilemma. Reading about these matters, educating ourselves and educating our children, is a critical first step. But what is the next step?

 

...

Congratulations re: Bingo!  I'm not surprised you got there first; I could tell you were a DRIVEN woman...  :lol:

 

I tried Death in the Andes a few years ago, but ended up putting it aside because, aside from the politics, the story wasn't coming together for me.  Did that part ultimately gel for you?

 

Re the bolded -- don't hold back when you work that bit out, dear... I'm also feeling it.

 

 

 

I finished Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein this week (she is the author of Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire). It was excellent. I learned a lot about Ethiopian history that I was completely unaware of. It's classified as a young adult novel but is one of those where I can't really figure out why it would be YA vs. adult fiction, other than the fact that the protagonists are teenagers. It doesn't really matter but it always makes me wonder how (and why) those decisions are made. 

 

...

Oh, thanks for this.  We loved CNV and RUF around here.  My now-7th grader even got CNV onto the fifth grade history/literature curriculum for her school, she made such an impassioned plea to her teacher.

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I think I could just copy my post from last week. I am still working my way through A Suitable Boy. I really hope I can finish it this week. I'm getting frustrated because I am ready to move on. I know I am suppose to just enjoy it, but it's just so loooooonnnngggg. It better have the most amazing ending ever! :glare:

 

I'm making progress through HotAW and am reading The Hobbit to ds. He's enjoying it so far. I watched the last of the trilogy on HBO this weekend. I haven't seen the first two, but I didn't find the last one all that encouraging.

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Congratulations re: Bingo!  I'm not surprised you got there first; I could tell you were a DRIVEN woman...  :lol:

 

I tried Death in the Andes a few years ago, but ended up putting it aside because, aside from the politics, the story wasn't coming together for me.  Did that part ultimately gel for you?

 

 

Yeah, I have the whole laid-back CA persona going, but I'm secretly driven, ambitious, and slightly OCD.  It's just that now I channel it only toward important things - like BaW bingo!! I'm much happier this way.  :D

 

re: Death in the Andes - the story was interesting. There was an interesting narrative technique, as in a lot of Latin American lit of this era - the POV was constantly changing and it was a little challenging at times to keep track of who was saying what, in what time frame - there were braided narrative threads between some characters.  There were multiple stories that intertwined, some of them more interesting than others, and through the whole thing there was kind of a sense of dread - you feared that the ultimate "something bad" was going to happen to the main protagonists, who were trying to solve a mystery, and you also had a sense of dread about what they were going to find out.  I was enjoying the story, but worrying about the end.  It didn't end the way I feared it would, but OTOH, I didn't really love how it ended either.  I guess I would have been happier if the ambiguity that had been carefully created throughout the story had been maintained, rather than being resolved in the way that it was.  But, it could have been a lot worse . . .

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I'm going to put my MLK related reading in this post, and the rest in a later one...

 

Gospel of Freedom: This gives background and context for MLK's Letter from Birmingham Jail.  (And it is $1.99 for a Kindle copy right now!). 

 

"To stage a successful spectacle required national outrage and media focus, which required florid sacraments of suffering , which required the collusion of the racist order.  Birmingham would supply the savagery and the sacraments"

 

This made me think about the situations which trigger national (or international) outrage...or which do not.  And what goes into that equation... 

 

 

 

Looking at this section of the letter: "We have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure.  Lamentably, it is a historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily."  Rieder observes: "...this constitutes a tacit rebuke of the national conviction of the ordained nature of American freedom spread by gradual progress" quoting King again " We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed."  King later describes as "a tragic misconception" the idea that we should just wait for change as if "the very flow of time... will inevitably cure all ills."  "We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people."

 

The best part of the book is (unsurprisingly) the letter itself (and the letter is, unquestionably, better written the this book about it), but I appreciated the bringing together of contextual information.

 

I was amused by the quotes about Henry Golden ("a newspaperman and humorist"): "He had come up with an ingenious solution for school integration, the Vertical Negro Plan.  Given that Southerners were not loath to stand in grocery store lines with Negroes, Golden surmised the real problem was sitting with them, so he advised simply removing all the chairs from Southern schools"

 

..and when asked 'What's a Jew going down here trying to change the Southern way of life?' "Golden retorted, 'I am trying to organize a Jewish society for the preservation of Christian ethics'"

 

I had know that Rabbi Heschel was very involved in the civil rights movement and marched with King on a number of occasions, but I hadn't seen quotes from some of his speeches on the topic & I found those very moving.

 

When talking about all that would have been missed if King had died when he was stabbed in 1958:  "all [these] things...were not just proof that the moral arc odf the universe bends toward justice.  They were a testimony to what men and women can do to help in the bending."

 

 

Dear White America by Tim Wise: I was perhaps overly hopeful that this book might offer me some clues about the question many of us have been asking: 'where do I start with putting some of these insights into real-world action?'... but it doesn't have any of that at all.  It does do a very nice job of accessibly, cogently presenting an overview of race issues, and of countering common misconceptions/ rebuttals.  I think is very useful and important (though not as moving as Between the World and Me or as well argued and sourced as The New Jim Crow (which, to be fair, does have a much narrower range).  I am very glad I read it, and gladder still I used Amazon credit to buy it instead of continuing to wait for it from the library, because I want my kids to read it, I have some folks I'd like to share it with, and I think it will be a useful reference. 

 

The History of White People by Nell Irvin Painter: This traces the history of the development of the idea os what me now call "white".  Very interesting and a fairly easy read... but I felt a niggling discontent at the lack of broader context and analysis. 

 

 

Quicksand by Nella Larsen: This has an almost allegorical feel - as if our not completely sympathetic protagonist Helga is not only flitting from one setting, one way of life, one set of values to another, but is showing us the damage that has been done to Black folks of mixed heritage in general... and playing out each of the 'solutions' one might try only to show how each fails.  As the daughter of a white mother and black father, Helga has never had a setting, or a support group, where she can be fully herself... and we can also see how growing up despised by her (white) stepfather and (white) half-siblings for her color has damaged her capacity for love and trust and intimacy.  Helga isn't lovable enough even to the reader for her story to feel like a real tragedy... which is, perhaps, the saddest thing in a book with much sadness.

...and yet... Helga has had a life of extraordinary privilege in so many ways and, until her final situation, she never has to face some of the grimmer situations or choices... I kept feeling that she had so many opportunities, so many gifts, so many people who offered her a hand up, a way out... and each spoke to her at first, each seemed just right... but she couldn't settle in any of them.  There was always a part of her that was dissatisfied.  Not quite an Emma Bovary, but I kept hoping Helga would find some meaningful activity that would spark her soul and bring her peace. 

 

 

...and two books of poetry:

 

I've Been a Woman by Sonia Sanchez and Black Unicorn by Audre Lorde

 

 

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I didn't finish any books last week, but I'm in the middle of 3 -- picked up Ancillary Justice again, made it halfway through Grain of Truth: The Real Case For and Against Gluten by Stephen Yafa, and have been reading The World Between a Two Covers: Reading the Globe by Ann Morgan. Grain of Truth is a little disappointing because the title is misleading; it's not actually a balanced scientific treatment of the evidence for and against gluten, which is what I was hoping for, but instead a sort of manifesto for artisan wheat. I've been gluten-free for 3 years now on the advice of my OB, but have never been tested for celiac because I was pregnant at the time I went gluten-free. Grain of Truth tries to make the case for sourdough as opposed to commercial bread, but I really wish there was more science involved.

 

The World Between Two Covers is going slowly because I'm so tired by the time I sit down to read in the afternoons or evenings that I can barely stay awake for a chapter. I thought that the book would be a more standard memoir of the books she read during her year of reading the world, but instead it's a more academic-ish treatment of the state of world literature and literature in translation. It's interesting and certainly giving me a lot to think about, but in my current state (37 weeks pregnant) my attention span is not cooperating.

 

-Angela

 

 

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BINGO!!  I got my first Bingo - far right column. Here are the items:

 

********************

 

  The book was pretty good, although disturbing, and reading it alongside The New Jim Crow, I found myself thinking a lot about what happens in a country when the oppression of an undercaste becomes so severe that its members resort to armed terrorism. That is something I hope to not ever live through in this country. But I wonder what I should be doing to more actively prevent the possibility? Harkening back to Eliana's sharing of her own dilemma. Reading about these matters, educating ourselves and educating our children, is a critical first step. But what is the next step?

 

 

:hurray:    I should look at the bingo square and see what I can check off...

 

***************

 

I can't get Harlem by Langston Hughes out of my mind:

 

What happens to a dream deferred?

 

      Does it dry up
      like a raisin in the sun?
      Or fester like a sore—
      And then run?
      Does it stink like rotten meat?
      Or crust and sugar over—
      like a syrupy sweet?

 

      Maybe it just sags
      like a heavy load.

 

      Or does it explode?
 
 
After reading No Cause for Indictment about the Newark riots in the 1960's and The Fire This Time about the LA riots (also in the '60s)... preceded by There are No Children Here... I am beginning to understand how explosion could happen. 
 
I hope and pray that all the frustration can be constructively channeled and we can find a path to a juster country, to bend that arc of history just a bit more, to be able to look back in our twilight years and know that we didn't stand idly by, that we found ways to come alongside our fellow citizens and forge together a better world... still imperfect, but striving towards the light, and moving closer...
 

 

Speaking of injustice and Latin American, and given that you read The Tempest lately... 

 

You might be interested in Ariel

First published in 1900 Uruguay, Ariel is Latin America's most famous essay on esthetic and philosophical sensibility, as well as its most discussed treatise on hemispheric relations. Though Rodó protested the interpretation, his allegorical conflict between Ariel, the lover of beauty and truth, and Caliban, the evil spirit of materialism and positivism, has come to be regarded as a metaphor for the conflicts and cultural differences between Latin America and the United States. Generations of statesmen, intellectuals, and literary figures have been formed by this book, either in championing its teachings or in reacting against them.

 

 

Caliban and other Essays

 

Roberto Fernandez Retamar -- poet, essayist, and professor of philology at the University of Havana -- has long served as the Cuban Revolution's primary cultural and literary voice. An erudite and widely respected hispanist, Retamar is known for his meticulous efforts to dismantle Eurocentric colonial and neocolonial thoughts. Since its publication in Cuba in 1971, 'Caliban' -- the first and longest of the 5 essays in this book -- has become a kind of manifesto for Latin American and Caribbean writers; its central figure, the rude savage of Shakespeare's 'Tempest,' becomes in Retamar's hands a powerful metaphor of their cultural situation -- both its marginality and its revolutionary potential. Retamar finds the literary and historic origins of Caliban in Columbus's Navigation Log Books, where the 'Carib' Indian becomes a 'cannibal,' a bestial human being situated on the margins of civilization. The concept traveled from Montaigne to Shakespeare, on down to Ernest Renan and, in the 20th century, to Aime Cesaire and other writers who consciously worked with or against the vivid symbolic figures of Prospero, Caliban and Ariel. Retamar draws especially upon the life and work of Jose Marti, who died in 1895 in Cuba's revolutionary struggle against Spain; Marti's Calibanesque vision of 'our America' and its distinctive 'mestizo' culture -- Indian, African, and European -- is an animating force in this essay and throughout the book.

 

 

 

...and A Tempest by Aime Cesaire:

 

 

 

 

 

Do you sometimes feel that an author may be having just too much fun when writing a particular piece?  That seemed to be the case with Alessandro Baricco's Mr. Gwyn, called a novella on the back cover but at 177 pages, is it?  Mr. Gwyn is followed by a related piece Three Times at Dawn which strikes me more as three intertwined short stories. Nonetheless the back cover says the book contains two "intertwined novellas".  Labels don't really matter though, do they?

 

 

Yes!  ...and it can be such fun to read books an author has taken such joy in writing!

 

I've added Mr Gwyn to my 'read someday' list...

 

 

 

 

I forgot to post my favorite quote from Undeniable. "To leave the world better than you found it, sometimes you have to pick up other people's trash."

 

I'm finding Cold Comfort Farm wickedly funny. So wicked that it feels guilty to laugh. You've got this Wuthering Heights type of setting, raw, earthy, and full of discomfort. But everyone and everything has a name that makes you snicker. Plus, things happen, like a cow's (Graceless) leg falling off without notice. Then there is the main character who just does her own thing, sublimely ignoring all the gloom and misery while on a mission to straighten up the world and make it more tidy, so she can have a life of leisure. So much quotable material too.

 

 

 

 

That is a lovely quote, thank you.

 

Cold Comfort Farm is a delightfully hilarious read!  The only other Gibbons I've read was Nightingale Wood, which lacked the edge of CCF - it is a Cinderella tale really with some humor and occasionally acerbic insights.  ...but it was still an enjoyable read and I've been meaning to try another... thank you for reminding me.  My current bedside pile is rather lacking in satisfying light reading.

 

 

 

 

 

I finished Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein this week (she is the author of Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire). It was excellent. I learned a lot about Ethiopian history that I was completely unaware of. It's classified as a young adult novel but is one of those where I can't really figure out why it would be YA vs. adult fiction, other than the fact that the protagonists are teenagers. It doesn't really matter but it always makes me wonder how (and why) those decisions are made. 

 

I've heard that question about Code Name Verity too, and the only answer I've come up with is that they *feel* like YA books to me.  ...or, perhaps more accurately, if I read them as YA I find them satisfying and brilliant... if I read them as adult fiction I would expect more realism than they offer. 

 

...perhaps, too, there is the type of striving each of these three books has that feels to me like a young adult idealism... not just the characters (and in CNV, frex, the characters aren't teens at all), but the flavor of the story itself. 

 ymmv :)

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The World Between Two Covers is going slowly because I'm so tired by the time I sit down to read in the afternoons or evenings that I can barely stay awake for a chapter. I thought that the book would be a more standard memoir of the books she read during her year of reading the world, but instead it's a more academic-ish treatment of the state of world literature and literature in translation. It's interesting and certainly giving me a lot to think about, but in my current state (37 weeks pregnant) my attention span is not cooperating.

 

 

 

 

:grouphug:   Wishing you a safe, easy birth at the right time.

 

I tried to start the Morgan book, but I was too stuck on the book I wanted it to be to appreciate the book it actually is.  I am much more interested in the literatures of all the different countries than in the publishing issues or even the translation ones... which is churlish of me, and I do want to try again another time with better calibrated expectations.  (I, selfishly, hope you make it through so I can hear your thoughts before thinking about trying again!)

 

 

I finished Ovid's Metamorphoses, the Rolfe Humphries translation. This was my first time to read the whole shebang - I had read Ted Hughes Tales from Ovid in the past. I really enjoyed it, and was surprised at what all is included. I loved the last few books, especially the oration from Pythagorus.  From the epilogue:

 

Now I have done my work. It will endure,

I trust, beyond Jove's anger, fire and sword,

Beyond Time's hunger. The day will come, I know,

So let it come, that day which has no power

Save over my body, to end my span of life

Whatever it may be. Still, part of me,

The better part, immortal, will be borne

Above the stars; my name will be remembered

Wherever Roman power rules conquered lands,

I shall be read, and through all centuries,

If prophecies of bards are ever truthful,

I shall be living, always.

 

Ovid, buddy, I think you've made it.  I'm grateful your words have lasted, through all the centuries.

 

I have that on my list for this year... though I am planning to try a different translation this time.

 

You might like to try his Tristia - its available in a shiny new translation (of which I have heard good things, but haven't been able to persuade my library to buy for me...) along with Black Sea Letters.

My mother also loved Malouf's Imaginary Life about Ovid's exile.  (Malouf is the author of the amazing Ransom - Priam's ransom of Hector's body- and I keep meaning to read more of his books.)

 

 

 

Eta...I was just looking at the Bingo card, for 18th Century, are we doing set in or written in?

 

 

Previously it has been whichever we wish to choose...

 

 

This week,s had-to-ignore-it-while-homeschooling-but-now-that-I,m-done-I-can,tsorting project is books. Last week I did my clothes. I got rid of a third of my clothes pretty painlessly (other than finding a pacifier in a pocket sniff sniff) but I am constantly in need of more bookshelf space and keep a pretty tight rein on the books, although you,d never guess by looking at my house, so I doubt this pass will result in much visual improvement. I can at least gather up all the piles, though, which will tell us how much more shelving we need. Finding wallspace is a problem. Does anyone have any brilliant ideas for new places we can put a shelf?

 

 

We have bookshelves in our bedroom closet...and the entryway coat closet got its doors removed and bookshelves put in...  the upstairs hallway is lined with bookshelves...

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From last week:

 

 

Thank you Robin and Eliana for the MLK links and thoughts. I just came back from Youtube where I sobbed through several of MLK's speeches. 


 

I just finished the Arab Marshes by Wilfred Thesiger. The book is about the seven years that Thesiger spent living with the Marsh Arabs (Madan and other tribes) in southern Iraq during the 1950's. The marshes have since been drained and the tribes have dispersed, so a way of life that had existed for thousands of years has since vanished.  The book may be one of the only places we can go to for information about these people. I highly recommend popping over to the Pitt Rivers Museum website to look at some of the photos that Thesiger took during his travels.  I am having troubles linking it, so you'll have to find your way there on your own.

That sounds fascinating!  Adding it to my lists (though wondering if I might have a copy around here somewhere...)

 

One of the gifts of buying books mostly from clearance or other bargain basement priced options is serendipity... I don't have the collection I would have made if I'd been buying on an unlimited budget, or with a master plan (though wouldn't it be *fun* to plan an ideal personal library?), but instead this delightful patchwork of a collection... and among the things we've been given, or found at library booksales are often the very books I then hear about here, or read about in an article or see referenced in citations...

 

Wow, Eliana!  You are wonderful!  Thank you, thank you.

 

There are times when I feel as though I am a remedial BaWer, following behind everyone else.  I remind myself that the point here is to read and that no one seems to mind when the conversation is entered months or even years later.

 


 

 

I think that is one of the most beautiful things about our little group... and it offers riches, I think, beyond a traditional book club where we're all reading the same things at the same time.  It gives a richness to the conversations...and it allows more reflection, more interweaving of other books and ideas.

 

...and, as a reader, it might take me 6 months or a year to pick up a muchly read here book, but when I do, that reading has been enriched by all the ideas and conversations I've been hearing leading up to it.

 

...and when someone else reads a book I read a while ago, it revives not only brings up all the threads I left behind, I get to revisit the book, without even rereading it!, from a fresh perspective.

 

For this conversation in specific, it has been a great gift to me to have it spread out like this, to have these thoughts percolating even as I am reading other things.

 

So, your reading patterns are a *feature* not a tolerated bug!

 

 

 

I'm always happy when people like Georgette Heyer! I feel like I was raised on her, she taught me to be the reader that I am.  I giggled when I clicked on the "most read authors" on goodreads and found that my #1 author was GH - with 49 entries!!!  Next most read was Robert Jordan with 15, and David Eddings with 12, but those were both series.  My next non-series author has only 10 entries, but it's Shakespeare, so I feel ok about that! But yes, you could say that I'm a Heyer fan!

 

I read Heyer as a younger teen and was so delighted to rediscover them as an adult!  (I don't love all of them - the Devil's Cub and its predecessor are loathsome to me, and don't get me started on Cousin Kate!).

 

Most Read Authors?  Oh.  [For others who hadn't discovered this: On your "My Books" page, scroll down past your "bookshelves" on the left to "tools" and there is "most read authors"... my top author is Shakespeare at 54 (!?) I assume I must have multiple editions... or he's listed as an author on retellings?  Second (and probably more accurate) is Diana Wynne Jones... but Heyer is tied with Joan Aiken for 5th. How fun!]

 

 


Some very interesting links up thread.  I'm Canadian and don't know more than vague ideas regarding MLK, although lately I've become more and more interested in white privilege.  Other aspects of my life have brought all kinds of privilege to the forefront, and I find it fascinating how much I don't know I don't even know!  There's so much to learn!

 

I read a brief essay by Peggy McIntosh recently: White Privilege:Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack which has an interesting list of privileges... one which made me very aware of where my skin color and ethnicity do and do not align with the dominant culture...

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More from last week:

 

 

I read Catch 22 in high school and loved it. In fact I loved it so much when my neighbor at the time asked me what to name the dog she had just adopted, I named it Yossarian (Yoss). I should probably reread it now, since it is all very faint, but at that time in my life it definitely spoke to me. 

 

It was an epiphany for me when Melissa was talking about her son's high school reading (many years ago) and I realized that most of the books which had been transformational for him had been traumatic or off-putting (or both) for me at the same age.  That is when I gave up on the idea of a perfect high school reading list... and moved on to the soapbox of offering range and choice...

 

Eliana, thank you. I clipped that to Evernote (where I also have your list of Medea recommendations). 

 

 

 

Have I urged my latest Medea read on you yet?  My mother saw it in London and brought me back a copy of the script.  The hardcopy isn't available in the States yet, but there is a Kindle edition...

 

 

 

 

I had a couple of long plane rides this week (family vacation to Yellowstone!) so I finished:

 

2. The Norton Psychology Reader (ed. Gary Marcus).

 

A good read for early in the year, because it's composed of excerpts from many longer works, so I now have lots of new books on my to-read list. I enjoyed the mix of subjects, and particularly the balance between interesting anecdotes and careful scientific studies.

 

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the longer works - it is an area of study I would love to cover in more depth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I'm still in the diapers and medium sized kid stage of life but I know I will be a mess when Little Librarian goes away to college.  I'll probably just have to go along with Chews on Books because I don't think I'll be able to turn him loose.  

 

 

Harder, it now seems, than turning them loose (which wasn't as heart wrenching as I'd feared, because there was the counter-balance of watching them blossoming and thriving...) is the way the pieces of my self I set aside for a season of my life have started clamoring for their turn... and I am not sure what to do with them...

 

...I should have taken better heed of Joan Didion's warning:

 

“I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind's door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends.â€

 

 

Lovely post, Eliana!

 

I feel at at a remove from the issues and problems specific to the US, but that post moved me anyway,

 

Thank you, sweetheart.

 

As I understand it, you guys have racial issues with their own weight, history, and unresolved pain. 

 

...might you, love, consider a guest post introducing us to those issues?

 


 

But then, I like Elizabeth and Elinor more than Marianne!  So maybe you should take that into account, too - which Jane Austen heroine do you prefer?

 

 

 

In many ways, Anne, though she isn't one I see myself in as much.  I was a Fanny, in many ways, when I was young, though I wanted to be Elizabeth (of course!), I will probably always be more like Jane, I lack the wit, the edge, the lightness of touch... but it is probably Elinor who is closest to me and my heart. 

 

 

Ditto The Grand Sophy suggestion.  Then I'd recommend Cotillion for another great book but it has a different feel. 

 

Sprig Muslin can be another fun starting place - and it has such an absurdly hilarious climax...

 

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This week I finished McPhee's Basin and Range and Tolkien's The Hobbit. The latter was a re-read aloud to my kids, but I'm going to count it because I would have re-read it anyway, some time this year. I enjoyed Basin and Range very much, although I felt it was a bit uneven. Sometimes it was an easy-to-follow narrative and other times it got down into very detailed explanations of geological phenomenon. It also took me a long time because I was Google mapping as I went, as I mentioned last week. I think I might read one more from him, Assembling California. I don't know if it's one of his best books out of the many, but I'm interested because I live in the state.

 

I am continuing to read House of Leaves (sigh), The Buried Book, Grain Brain, and On the Nature of Things, this with the goodreads Classics and the Western Canon group.

 

My dusty stack includes too many Archipelago editions!  Sticking with my theme of censorship, I plan on reading Private Life by Josep Maria de Sagarra, an author who did not meet the approval of Franco.  Archipelago recently published the first English edition of this 1932 Catalan classic.

 

My Archipelago editions are also piling up! As I mentioned a few threads ago, I am grateful the covers are a bit dust-colored. I meant to start My Struggle in January but have not and I have some library books I need to finish first so maybe February. And honestly, I'm feeling the need for something light so I might stick A Confederacy of Dunces (picked up for a quarter at a book sale last week) in between reading the books due soon at the library and an Archipelago selection.

 

I'm making progress through HotAW and am reading The Hobbit to ds. He's enjoying it so far. I watched the last of the trilogy on HBO this weekend. I haven't seen the first two, but I didn't find the last one all that encouraging.

 

The movies are not very good. I'm not even going to mention them to the kids, what with the orcs and all.

 

...I should have taken better heed of Joan Didion's warning:

 

“I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind's door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends.â€

 

Me too.

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Timely as tomorrow is Republic Day in India and that poem will be read out by children all over the country at events big and small!

 

 

Good morning, dear hearts! This is the beginning of week 4 in our quest to read 52 books.  Welcome back to all our readers, to those just joining in and all who are following our progress.  Mr. Linky is all set up on the 52 Books blog to link to your reviews. The link is also below in my signature.
 
52 Books Blog - Rabindranath Tagore:  I finished A Suitable Boy and the story lead me on many rabbit trails looking up definitions of words, people and places in India.  Rabindranath Tagore has been mentioned quite a few times.  He won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1913, mainly for his poetry.
 



However, he also wrote short stories, dramas, essays as well as songs.  He was knighted by the British Government in 1915, but resigned the honor a few later in protest of British policies in India.

I have enjoyed reading his poetry and will leave you with this  



 


Where the Mind is Without Fear

 

 

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high 

Where knowledge is free 

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments 

By narrow domestic walls 

Where words come out from the depth of truth 

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection 

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way 

Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit 

Where the mind is led forward by thee 

Into ever-widening thought and action 

Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

 

 

***********************************************************

 

 

 

 

What are you reading this week? 

 

 

 

 

 

Link to week 3

 

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I was so eager to finally reply to some of the posts from last week that I forgot to finish sharing what I read!

 

I finally finished Chukchi Bible by Yuri Rytkheu, the author of Dream in a Polar Fog (also published by the amazing Archipelago Press): This was an interesting extension of Dream.  It gives the stories of Rytkheu's family, from the mythic past through his grandfather, and I felt it expanded my introduction to Chukshi history and culture.  However, I did not find it as compelling, or moving, a narrative, and some aspects which raised an eyebrow in Dream felt more problematic in this, ymmv.

 

The Gate of Angels by Penelope Fitzgerald: This begins as a light-seeming college story, and it retains at least a strand of its humor through the end.  It is another exemplar of Fitzgerald's deft, ironic, distant, but compassionate insight into character and her penchant for the bittersweet.

 

Professor and the Siren by Lamedusa [recommended by Jane - thank you!]: The title story has much of the flavor of Lampedusa's novel The Leopard, but takes a left turn into a very different plot element... though without losing either the flavor or the insightfulness.  I found the other two, much shorter, stories less compelling, but still and expansion of my appreciation for this author.

 

Coal Mountain Elementary by Mark Nowak:  I am unsure how to classify this genre-defying work.  The author of the text is a poet, the text itself "remixes verbatim testimony from the surviving Sago, West Virginia miners and rescue teams, the American Coal Foundation’s curriculum for schoolchildren, newspaper accounts of mining disasters in China, and full-color photographs of Chinese miners by renowned photojournalist Ian Teh."  Powerful and disturbing.  (And what does it say about me that every time a coal mining related story comes up I am, again, surprised that mining is still ongoing... )

 

Happier Endings by Erica Brown: After reading Being Mortal, I was drawn to Brown's reflections on death and dying.  I've appreciated some of her writings connected to Jewish holidays and was wanting to bring a religious element to my own reflections on these topics.  This wasn't quite what I'd thought it would be, however.  (I am noticing a definite uptick in the number of times books have been not what I expected... )  For one, it isn't a specifically Jewish book, nor is its focus religious.  At first it suffered (greatly) in comparison to Being Mortal, but as I continued it grew on me.  I did end up finding it led me to valuable places & I am very glad I read it.

 

 

...and then I read two books which disappointed me:

 

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend: I thought this would be a warm, fuzzy story about books changing people's lives... but it is a romance novel with a vague hand-waving of books being special in the background.  ...and romance novels just aren't my genre. (Yes, I love Heyer, but, for some reason, that is different.  No, I don't make any sense...)  it is, however, still a warm, fuzzy, sweet story.  Predictable and little cardboard-y, but that's what escape reading is for, and it did make a comfortable choice for a chapter here and there when I wasn't up to more substantial fare.

 

Orphan Train: This was very readable, the pages turned quickly, but I found the two-dimensionality of its characters very disturbing, not because they were, but the ways in which they were.  (Many easy to read books are easy to read because they don't have complex, nuanced characters, and they do have a very emotionally predictable arc... that isn't a defect if what you're aiming for is comfort reading...)

 

 

 

 

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Timely as tomorrow is Republic Day in India and that poem will be read out by children all over the country at events big and small!

 

Cammie, do you have any Indian books, or books about India, you would particularly recommend?  (fiction, nonfiction, drama, poetry... )

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Good morning all!

 

While exploring the website of independent publisher Tin House, I discovered an essay that I found interesting.  Turns out On Pandering sparked a conversation that I had missed (no surprise).  BaWers might find both the essay and the chat that NPR's Steve Inskeep with its author Claire Vaye Watkins as well as Man Booker Prize winner Marion James to fit into the discussion that Eliana, Pam, and others have brought to our table.

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lol idnib re "dusty-hued colors" of Archipelago books!  All sorts of fine qualities to admire.

 

Mine are piling up too, but the clump of them is currently buried by another pile of YA books.  Me, I like the way they're all the same, aesthetically square-shaped size.

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This week I read more of War and Peace, and Newman's Parochial and Plain Sermons. Also I delved back into Texas history and read Cabeza de Vaca's Narrative of the Narvaez Expedition.

 

All of us homeschoolers covered Cabeza de Vaca at some point, and many of our kids read the well-done fictional account of the disastrous expedition, Walk the World's Rim, so we recall that he was part of Governor Narvaez' expedition to the coast of Florida that went horribly wrong. Ships badly damaged by a hurricane, they missed their harbor on the Florida coast, decided to explore the interior on foot (according to Cabeza de Vaca, against his advice), lost their ships, continued north along the Gulf Coast in cobbled-together craft, wrecked on a barrier island south of Galveston, and proceeded on foot through the interior of Texas in the northern part of the Rio Grande Valley before striking out west to the Mexican coast and then south until they encountered Spaniards. Drowning, cold, disease, starvation, and hostile Indians reduced the survivors to a handful.

 

The account is a report to King Carlos I, and a tricky business for Cabeza de Vaca it is. He has to explain why a complete disaster actually has some value for the Crown, and why none of it was his fault. The best he has to offer is that he was able to obtain detailed and useful intelligence about the land and its inhabitants; though there isn't much for him to say except that Texas is a barren and sparsely populated land where the perishing locals can barely scrape together enough meager corn, ants' eggs, and prickly pears to stay more or less alive.

 

In the middle of his businesslike account of the local conditions, there is this very, very strange part: a story, attested to by many of the local Indians, of "Mala Cosa," the Evil Thing. I believe this is Texas' first ghost story.

 

------------------------------

 

... These Indians and the ones we left behind told us a very strange tale. From their account it may have occurred fifteen or sixteen years ago. They said there wandered then about the country a man, whom they called Evil Thing, of small stature and with a beard, although they never could see his features clearly, and whenever he would approach their dwellings their hair would stand on end and they began to tremble. In the doorway of the lodge there would then appear a firebrand. That man thereupon came in and took hold of anyone he chose, and with a sharp knife of flint, as broad as a hand and two palms in length, he cut their side, and, thrusting his hand through the gash, took out the entrails, cutting off a piece one palm long, which he threw into the fire. Afterwards he made three cuts in one of the arms, the second one at the place where people are usually bled, and twisted the arm, but reset it soon afterwards. Then he placed his hands on the wounds, and they told us that they closed at once. Many times he appeared among them while they were dancing, sometimes in the dress of a woman and again as a man, and whenever he took a notion to do it he would seize the hut or lodge, take it up into the air and come down with it again with a great crash. They also told us how, many a time, they set food before him, but he never would partake of it, and when they asked him where he came from and where he had his home, he pointed to a rent in the earth and said his house was down below.

 

We laughed very much at those stories, making fun of them, and then, seeing our incredulity they brought to us many of those whom, they said, he had taken, and we saw the scars of his slashes in the places and as they told....

A time traveller organ harvesting?

 

Interesting, at any rate...

 

Nan

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...

We have bookshelves in our bedroom closet...and the entryway coat closet got its doors removed and bookshelves put in... the upstairs hallway is lined with bookshelves...

Where do your clothes and coats live, then? Our bedroom closet has 3 people!s dress clothes and shoes, a guitar, all the baby photos, and the laundry basket of stuff waiting to go to the dry cleaners in it plus my husbands work clothes, and the coat closet has the fourth person,s dress clothes, foul weather gear, the canvas bags (I spend great swaths of my life living out of canvas bags), the box of candle stubs and spare candle sticks, hats, the ironing board and iron, the broom and carpet sweeper, and my drafting board. It is 4 1/2 feet wide. The house has only two closets (as you,ve probably guessed by now lol). Any other ideas?

 

Nan

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I had a rather busy weekend with my husband away, so I didn't get much serious reading done.  I've somewhat set aside The End of Growth.  I'll finish it before it is due back, but I find myself wishing it was a long essay rather than a book.

 

I'm still really enjoying Small Is Beautiful, but it isn't one I can read when I am really tired.  So I've started one I picked up on the fly at the library called Homeward Bound - Why Women are Embracing the  New Domesticity.  It's looking at the resurgence of interest in crafts, real cooking, different choices (by men and women) about life-work balance and child-rearing, and things like the radical homemakers and such.

 

I'm not far into it, so far my main criticism is that the introduction and first chapter cover mostly the same ground.  I think the topic is interesting and a real phenomena, but I've wondered myself if it is more of a fad or will be longer lasting.  I think it's similar in kind to the back to the land movement. 

 

The author has tied it to a few themes based on her interviews: more intensive parenting standards; hand work and craft as a kind of opposite of technology; discontent with work and corporate culture; slow economy and belt-tightening; environmental concerns; distrust of government and lack of solutions at higher social levels that leave families and individuals to be thrown on their own resources.

 

I'm interested to see some of her thoughts as she goes on, some of it looks like it will be a little throw-away, but some interesting - there is a chapter called something like  "If work sucks, what is the point of equality in the workplace" which to my mind, is pointing out something important that has been obscured by talking about workplace equality as fundamentally a women's or feminist issue.  I don't have much confidence she'll go into that to a great degree, and I also don't see much about, for example, the romantic movement or the earlier reactions to the industrial revolution, it just isn't that well-informed a book.  But I think the book will allow me to clarify some of my thoughts on the current trend.

 

Violet Crown - I have found a copy of the Newman sermons, so I am going to try and read the first one today!

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Pam, remember my how could you not know that question (which nobody else should take as aimed at them, by the way, and which was more a comment on the quality of Pam,s awesome booklist compared to my cowardly one than anything else)? Well, reading a comment of Eliana,s made me realize something - I grew up in a Unitarian church and have spent my adulthood in a Universalist-now-UU church. I never really paid much attention to the sermons, but years of sitting through the stories and ramblings of ministers who marched with King might perhaps have affected my outlook on life somewhat. The not paying much attention part might explain why I thought some of this stuff was obvious. Sigh.

 

Nan

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I finished The Water Is Wide by Pat Conroy this week. It was on sale for kindle and I hadn't read it in years. I love the way he writes, he sucks me into his world and I feel like I'm right there. 

 

"The island is nearly deserted, haunting, beautiful. Across a slip of ocean lies South Carolina. But for the handful of families on Yamacraw island, America is a world away. For years the people here lived proudly from the sea, but now its waters are not safe. Waste from industry threatens their very existence–unless, somehow, they can learn a new life. But they will learn nothing without someone to teach them, and their school has no teacher.

Here is PAT CONROY’S extraordinary drama based on his own experience–the true story of a man who gave a year of his life to an island and the new life its people gave him."

 

 

I'm also reading through The Well Educated Mind still and picked up Don Quixote from the library. 

Edited by AmandaVT
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Work in progress:

I started war & peace and I read 10 chapters. I don't like it they didn't translate the french... :(

 

That would be frustrating especially because there's so much French in that book. I like having read the Kindle version. At the end of each section of French (and some are very long) is an asterisk. I just had to long press the asterisk and the translation popped up. 

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http://www.amazon.com/Water-Wide-Memoir-Pat-Conroy/dp/0553381571/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1453729572&sr=8-1&keywords=the+water+is+wide

 

(I don't know how to do the cool link renaming trick that I've seen upthread!)

 

 

 

 

Highlight specific words (like the title of the book), look on the tool bar (where the Bold, Italic,etc buttons are), choose the one that looks like a chain link (the 9th icon to the right), and cut and paste your url.

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That would be frustrating especially because there's so much French in that book. I like having read the Kindle version. At the end of each section of French (and some are very long) is an asterisk. I just had to long press the asterisk and the translation popped up.

That would be an option if I read the book in English.

As Russian Literature is a stretch to me, I read War & Peace in my mothertongue, Dutch.

I can read YA books comfortable in English, and can follow the W&P BBC serie without dutch subtitles, but I don't dare to try War and Peace in English...

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That would be an option if I read the book in English.

As Russian Literature is a stretch to me, I read War & Peace in my mothertongue, Dutch.

I can read YA books comfortable in English, and can follow the W&P BBC serie without dutch subtitles, but I don't dare to try War and Peace in English...

I realized that. What I didn't realize is that you don't have the option to get an ebook version in Dutch with translation for the French. That's too bad. :(

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Eliana, thank you for all the wonderful suggestions for riffs on The Tempest and Ovid! My library hold list and my Amazon wish list are overflowing . . . . 

 

While I'm waiting for holds to trickle in and purchases to arrive, I'm working on:

The Indigo King - James Owen (yes, my color in the title book!) - this is a kind of uneven YA series - the Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica - that my dd has been reading. On the plus side, I'm glad she has read it in advance of our year reading the "serious" Ancient classics - between this and Percy Jackson, she has a lot of familiarity with authors & stories she might not have otherwise. It's definitely made her more willing to read things she might not have picked up on her own - it's inspired her to read Tolkien and Wells this year. I'm mostly reading it for the sake of conversation with her.

Blindness - a re-read of Saramago's book, I wanted to remind myself before I read the sequel, Seeing.  I really like Saramago.  His punctuation-free stream of consciousness writing style can be a little hard to get into at first, but I actually find that after a while I can get into the flow, and he kind of writes the way I think.

Aristotle's Children - really enjoying this read-along with HotRW

The New Jim Crow - powerful stuff.

Edited by Chrysalis Academy
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Finished:

1 Elizabeth George (the detective one)

2 *Grisham

Work in progress:

I started war & peace and I read 10 chapters. I don't like it they didn't translate the french... :(

 

 

How annoying. All the French though seems very Google Translate-able; though it's certainly a pain to have to keep a tab open next to you while reading.

 

 

I had a rather busy weekend with my husband away, so I didn't get much serious reading done.  I've somewhat set aside The End of Growth.  I'll finish it before it is due back, but I find myself wishing it was a long essay rather than a book.

 

I'm still really enjoying Small Is Beautiful, but it isn't one I can read when I am really tired.  So I've started one I picked up on the fly at the library called Homeward Bound - Why Women are Embracing the  New Domesticity.  It's looking at the resurgence of interest in crafts, real cooking, different choices (by men and women) about life-work balance and child-rearing, and things like the radical homemakers and such.

 

I'm not far into it, so far my main criticism is that the introduction and first chapter cover mostly the same ground.  I think the topic is interesting and a real phenomena, but I've wondered myself if it is more of a fad or will be longer lasting.  I think it's similar in kind to the back to the land movement. 

 

The author has tied it to a few themes based on her interviews: more intensive parenting standards; hand work and craft as a kind of opposite of technology; discontent with work and corporate culture; slow economy and belt-tightening; environmental concerns; distrust of government and lack of solutions at higher social levels that leave families and individuals to be thrown on their own resources.

 

I'm interested to see some of her thoughts as she goes on, some of it looks like it will be a little throw-away, but some interesting - there is a chapter called something like  "If work sucks, what is the point of equality in the workplace" which to my mind, is pointing out something important that has been obscured by talking about workplace equality as fundamentally a women's or feminist issue.  I don't have much confidence she'll go into that to a great degree, and I also don't see much about, for example, the romantic movement or the earlier reactions to the industrial revolution, it just isn't that well-informed a book.  But I think the book will allow me to clarify some of my thoughts on the current trend.

 

Violet Crown - I have found a copy of the Newman sermons, so I am going to try and read the first one today!

I've been going slow on Newman myself, for the same reason of temporary single-parenting, but will now accelerate a bit. Interested in your thoughts on Newman's critique of Christianity in an era when obvious devotion and churchgoing was expected as a default for the middle and upper classes.

 

Re: The New Domesticity: last year (or was it the year before?) I read Theory of the Leisure Class; and I think Veblen would have had a very different take on it.

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Book #8: Gregor and the Code of Claw by Suzanne Collins, the fifth and last Gregor the Overlander book.  5/5 stars.  The violence was a bit graphic because of the war.  The end was messy and really pointed out that war creates so many scars, both invisible and visible.  My 9 year old said it was the worst ending ever because he really wanted Gregor to return to the Underland and for the story to go on much longer.

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lol idnib re "dusty-hued colors" of Archipelago books!  All sorts of fine qualities to admire.

 

Mine are piling up too, but the clump of them is currently buried by another pile of YA books.  Me, I like the way they're all the same, aesthetically square-shaped size.

 

I like the way they look together too so I keep them on my nightstand, where they have very little protection from dust. At least the books on the bookcases have a modest defense!

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7.  Travels with Casey by Benoit Denizet-Lewis 

 

Interesting strange.  I read this for my library book club.  This is a book about the authors travels  across the country with his dog who he thinks doesn't like him.  there is psycho analysis of his dog, a consultation with a psychic about dogs who have stress issues.  He meets some interesting people like a lady who was sued for not picking up her dogs poo, a guy who feeds homeless peoples dogs, and a some who started a dog shelter for dogs on an indian reservation.  Coupled with his issues of loneliness and abandonment from his mother and a breakup with his boyfriend.

I love dogs. I have 3.  My kids participate in dog 4h.  AND I still found this excessive.  Maybe if I was unaware of varieties of dog people and different things people do for their dog, i would be impressed.  Or maybe I could handle the dogs issues or the authors issues, but not both together in the same book.

sigh I have been a bit cranky with books of late.

 

 

 

6.  The Rescuer Suzanne Woods Fisher

5.  A Town Like Alice  by Nevil Shute

4.  Jackson Bog by Michael Witt.  
3.  Toward the Sunrise by Elizabeth Camden     

2.  Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin

1.  Crucial Conversations by Patterson and Grenny

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