Jump to content

Menu

Book a Week 2017 - BW41: Bookish Notes and Birthdays


Recommended Posts

I loved Stacia's question about reading suggestions for less commonly 'visited' countries or regions... but I couldn't keep myself to one...the around the world challenges I set myself for three years running led to some of my favorite reading years:

A apartheid-era South African play: Master Harold and the Boys

 

A poetry collection from Franco's Spain: Landscape with Yellow Birds

 

A memoir from China's Taiping Rebellion: The World of a Tiny Insect

 

A prose poem from Ghana: Our Sister Killjoy

 

A semi-autobiographical novel set in 1970's Rwanda: Our Lady of the Nile

 

A non-linear, seemingly rambling, reminiscent  novel set in post-war Poland: A Treatise on Shelling Beans

A "cross-cultural journey, an ethnographic chronicle of the people of Chukotka, and a politically and emotionally charged adventure story: Dream in a Polar Fog

Short, often darkly humorous, essays from behind the Iron Curtain in Czechoslovakia: A Cup of Coffee with my Interrogator 

A Uruguaian political/philosophical treatise: Ariel

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 222
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

Happy Sunday and welcome to week 41 in our 2017 adventurous prime reading year. Greetings to all our readers and those following our progress. Mister Linky is available weekly on 52 Books in 52 Weeks 

We had a quiet and uneventful night, even slept pretty well. Now back in front of the computer looking for updates. The fire still rages, but mostly in the open space around the densely inhabited area

Hello everyone!   I haven't read any War and Peace this week but will get going with it again after I finish my current read, The Four Swans (Poldark #6) by Winston Graham.    I finished The Black

We're still at home. With fires to the south, east and north and heavily forested steep land to the west, we're actually in the safest place we could be at the moment. We do have bags packed if we have to evacuate, but at this point there is nowhere to go (that we could get to) that would be safer than where we are.

 

Some friends just east of here-where we used to live-texted pictures of a fire right down the road from their house, but the firefighters arrived and they seem to be ok now.

 

Ashes are falling. And the wind is picking back up, which is not good news.

 

So far the unkindest cut: the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts, where my girls do musical theater, is gutted. We literally helped build that little theater, and it is our 2nd home. I know it's just a place, but it's a special place to us and it's heartbreaking to lose it.

So sorry, Rose. I am hoping to hear something soon from my dear friend in Santa Rosa.
  • Like 10
Link to post
Share on other sites

Just copying this over from the other thread

 

We just had a bad scare - fire to the west, which was the only open direction. But they put it out quickly. We're getting scattered FB reports that Cloverdale, the town to the north, has some portions being evacuated which would be truly scary, because I don't know where we would go. Honestly, that's still the situation: I have bags packed, food packed, important papers backed, sleeping bags & stuff all in the car. But I honestly don't know where we would go. There are fires in all directions. I'm really not looking forward to nightfall, somehow it's less scary in daylight.

 

Feeling slightly freaked out. 

 

Happy we still have phones, power, internet, etc. Worrying about Shannon's breathing, the smoke is so awful. We are shut up inside with a HEPA air filter and she's still coughing her head off. Yet another reason I hope we don't have to evacuate.

 

 

  • Like 14
Link to post
Share on other sites

Just copying this over from the other thread

 

We just had a bad scare - fire to the west, which was the only open direction. But they put it out quickly. We're getting scattered FB reports that Cloverdale, the town to the north, has some portions being evacuated which would be truly scary, because I don't know where we would go. Honestly, that's still the situation: I have bags packed, food packed, important papers backed, sleeping bags & stuff all in the car. But I honestly don't know where we would go. There are fires in all directions. I'm really not looking forward to nightfall, somehow it's less scary in daylight.

 

Feeling slightly freaked out. 

 

Happy we still have phones, power, internet, etc. Worrying about Shannon's breathing, the smoke is so awful. We are shut up inside with a HEPA air filter and she's still coughing her head off. Yet another reason I hope we don't have to evacuate.

 

  :grouphug:   Slightly freaked out sounds like a completely sensible reaction. :grouphug:  You and your dh just need to take turns sleeping tonight, though I do hope for your sanity that the winds die down. Keep checking in!! I'm glad to find posts from you each time I have a chance to sit at my computer.

 

There is another large fire near my ds, by Disneyland, and he said he's having to wear a mask to breathe. Not sure how he's going to survive working outside tonight as he is somewhat asthmatic.  

  • Like 11
Link to post
Share on other sites

DH is still at work - he works for Public Works for Windsor, the town just south of us. But they have no power, no cell, no communications, he says he's actually getting better intel from me than he is at the EOC there. He gets to come home soon, but may have to go back at 5 am. Yeah, I don't imagine we will sleep much tonight, will probably try to sleep in shifts.

 

I'm worried about Shannon with the poor air quality. It's affecting all of us - headaches, scratchy throat, coughing - but of course it's worse for her. I'm so glad we just got a HEPA air filter, that is helping keep it breathable inside the house.

 

The sky is such an eerie orange color.

 

We heard from our friends in the evac area of Santa Rosa, they evacuated at 1:30 am and are in a hotel in Marin. They could very well have lost their house, they live in Fountaingrove which is hit hard. They won't be able to return and check for awhile.

 

Our other friends (who live out in the country where we used to) had a fire destroy a house at the end of their road, but I finally heard from them too and they are ok for now. The forest out there is burning so they will be up with hoses all night too.

 

Lots of folks who live outside of town sent their children in to town and are staying out there to keep an eye on things. These areas aren't under evac orders, but are just a wind shift away from being in danger.

 

I really want dh to get home. It's hard to be the only grownup. Thank goodness for FB, it's doing a really good job keeping people informed & connected. 

  • Like 14
Link to post
Share on other sites

 

I'm worried about Shannon with the poor air quality. It's affecting all of us - headaches, scratchy throat, coughing - but of course it's worse for her. I'm so glad we just got a HEPA air filter, that is helping keep it breathable inside the house.

 

The sky is such an eerie orange color.

 

 

This is why that scene in War and Peace bothered me so much, the scene when Pierre goes wandering around Moscow while it burns.

 

Goodness, I'm having such a visceral reaction to the news -- as are all my neighbors who've been through this before. I really hate October!

  • Like 11
Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

 

I also read and enjoyed The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin.

 

"When a blizzard strands them in Salt Lake City, two strangers agree to charter a plane together, hoping to return home; Ben Payne is a gifted surgeon returning from a conference, and Ashley Knox, a magazine writer, is en route to her wedding. But when unthinkable tragedy strikes, the pair find themselves stranded in Utah’s most remote wilderness in the dead of winter, badly injured and miles from civilization. Without food or shelter, and only Ben’s mountain climbing gear to protect themselves, Ashley and Ben’s chances for survival look bleak, but their reliance on each other sparks an immediate connection, which soon evolves into something more.

 

Days in the mountains become weeks, as their hope for rescue dwindles. How will they make it out of the wilderness and if they do, how will this experience change them forever? Heart-wrenching and unputdownable, The Mountain Between Us will reaffirm your belief in the power of love to sustain us."

 

 

I heard mention that a movie was going to be made of this story and thought I might like to see it; however, it appears that the movie is being panned.  (Which led my husband and I to wonder about the etymology of this meaning of the word panned.  Some online searching has not proved productive.  Any ideas?)  Here's a link to a collection of said poor reviews including "The Mountain Between Us is epic all right – an epic waste of talent and your time." — Rolling Stone.

 

The 14 Meanest Things Critics Are Saying About Kate Winslet’s New Survival Movie

 

Regards,

Kareni

 

Dh and I both read and enjoyed The Mountain Between Us, so we went to see the movie this week. Blech. If I hadn't read the book, I probably might have enjoyed the movie more. For us, the movie people gutted the point and heart of the book. 

 

​For example, in the book the pilot extolled the joys of marriage. He had been married many years and said it only got better and better. In the movie, the pilot fell in love with a married woman 50 years previous and had never married. Very cynical. 

 

​The movie writers made those kinds of choices all the way through. We were disappointed. 

 

  • Like 11
Link to post
Share on other sites

DH is still at work - he works for Public Works for Windsor, the town just south of us. But they have no power, no cell, no communications, he says he's actually getting better intel from me than he is at the EOC there. He gets to come home soon, but may have to go back at 5 am. Yeah, I don't imagine we will sleep much tonight, will probably try to sleep in shifts.

 

I'm worried about Shannon with the poor air quality. It's affecting all of us - headaches, scratchy throat, coughing - but of course it's worse for her. I'm so glad we just got a HEPA air filter, that is helping keep it breathable inside the house.

 

The sky is such an eerie orange color.

 

We heard from our friends in the evac area of Santa Rosa, they evacuated at 1:30 am and are in a hotel in Marin. They could very well have lost their house, they live in Fountaingrove which is hit hard. They won't be able to return and check for awhile.

 

Our other friends (who live out in the country where we used to) had a fire destroy a house at the end of their road, but I finally heard from them too and they are ok for now. The forest out there is burning so they will be up with hoses all night too.

 

Lots of folks who live outside of town sent their children in to town and are staying out there to keep an eye on things. These areas aren't under evac orders, but are just a wind shift away from being in danger.

 

I really want dh to get home. It's hard to be the only grownup. Thank goodness for FB, it's doing a really good job keeping people informed & connected. 

Marin sounds like a good idea at this point.   At least you'd be in a spot where you guys could head up towards Vacaville or farther to get out of the major smoke zone if necessary.   

  • Like 12
Link to post
Share on other sites

My kids finally infected me with the cold they've been passing around so I spent a lot of time this weekend reading.  I've read so much I'm actually bored of reading.

 

Salt to the Sea by Ruth Sepetys.  Loved it.  It's historical fiction set at the end of WWII told from four different points of view.

 

Please Stop Laughing at Me by Jodee Blanco.  She does anti-bullying presentations.  This book was the story of what she endured at the hands of bullies who grew up thinking they were just being normal kids and weren't hurting anyone.

 

Appaloosa Summer by Tudor Robins.  This one was okay.  It's young adult and got kind of technical on the horse stuff.  I'd probably have liked it better if I was into horses.

 

My School is a Spy Factory by Steven Stickler.  I read this one to the boys.  It's about a middle schooler in NYC who goes to a school that secretly trains kids to be spies.  Adrian especially enjoyed it.

 

Prejudice Meets Price by Rachael Anderson.  This one was absolutely perfect for my sick self.  Excellent mind vacation.

 

I finally finished spelling out SAPPHIRE for September's birthstone.

 

Salt to the Sea

Any Way You Dream It

Pants on Fire

Please Stop Laughing at Me

Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure

Intrusion

Rent a Husband

Embryo

  • Like 11
Link to post
Share on other sites

Dh and I both read and enjoyed The Mountain Between Us, so we went to see the movie this week. Blech. If I hadn't read the book, I probably might have enjoyed the movie more. For us, the movie people gutted the point and heart of the book. 

 

​For example, in the book the pilot extolled the joys of marriage. He had been married many years and said it only got better and better. In the movie, the pilot fell in love with a married woman 50 years previous and had never married. Very cynical. 

 

​The movie writers made those kinds of choices all the way through. We were disappointed.

 

Thanks, Happy, for sharing your review of the movie.  I'm not generally a movie watcher, so it would be doubly disappointing to watch a movie that falls short.

 

I liked the book pilot and his wife ... and the dog.  I hear that they changed the dog, too, to a lab.  Is nothing sacred?!

 

Regards,

Kareni

  • Like 9
Link to post
Share on other sites

Some bookish posts from Tor.com ~

 

Five Alternate Histories that Embrace Diversity  by Ginn Hale

 

and

 

What It Means to Be Human: Five Works of Fiction That Explore Blade Runner’s Core Themes  by Matthew Kressel

 

PLUS

 

 

Some currently free books for Kindle readers ~

 

Best Served Frozen (The Irish Lottery series)  by Gerald Hansen ... if you scroll down, you'll see this was rated by customers interested in Sports Books, Literary Fiction, and (!) Cat Supplies.

 

Soldier of Fortune: A Gideon Quinn Adventure (The Fortune Chronicles Book 1) by Kathleen McClure

 

Unleashed (A Sydney Rye Book 1)  AND  The Girl With The Gun (Sydney Rye Book 8)  by Emily Kimelman

 

True Alpha (Shifters in Seattle 1)  by Alisa Woods

 

Rubbing Stones  by Nancy Burkey

 

 

 

Regards,

Kareni

  • Like 9
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, Happy, for sharing your review of the movie.  I'm not generally a movie watcher, so it would be doubly disappointing to watch a movie that falls short.

 

I liked the book pilot and his wife ... and the dog.  I hear that they changed the dog, too, to a lab.  Is nothing sacred?!

 

Regards,

Kareni

Yes, to a lab. But he was my favorite part of the movie. 

 

No, nothing was sacred. They changed a lot. 

  • Like 9
Link to post
Share on other sites

I want to respond to various quotes but this thread is moving too fast for me. Thanks for the international suggestions, Eliana. Also love the takeouts from Catch-22, a book I gifted my oldest son a handful of years ago. I should suggest when he finishes Ranger school that he give it a reread to better appreciate the sardonic wit.

 

So many other great mentions here! I have nothing revelatory to contribute. Am quickly reading through Be Safe, Love Mom: A Military Mom's Stories of Courage, Comfort, and Surviving Life on the Home Front. Rather specific to the moment and not the sort of thing I'd typically read, but I need the comfort & company.  Along those lines, Rose, I am thinking about you. Yes, it's hard to be the only grownup ~ sorry to say, I know the feeling all too well. Hugs!

 

 

  • Like 11
Link to post
Share on other sites

Another :grouphug: for Rose, realising it is probably night for you I hope you are safe and can get some energy giving sleep.

A :grouphug: for your daughter with astma in special.

 

*****

Thanks Stacia, but the fever and the cold are still not away.

Nights are going better and better, so in the morning I feel pretty well now, but during the afternoon the fever comes back.

We are supposed to have a family weekend this coming weekend, with a fragile elder parent and a newborn in the family I am not convinced it will be safe for them if I attend...

  • Like 11
Link to post
Share on other sites

Rose, update when you can. I hope all is well.

 

 

 

Finished Catch-22 tonight.

 

Quite a brilliant, biting, sarcastic, silly, sad, rebellious, & revolutionary book. Highly quotable as it examines the absurdities of life & war (even if it was a bit too long, imo).

 

Very glad to have finally read this classic & I look forward to discussing it with you, Angel.

I also felt it could have served its purpose being much shorter. It felt like it dragged on too long. 

 

 

I'm ready to call it quits with bingo. I'm just not feeling it at the moment. I'll look through my tbr list and see if anything matches. If not I'm letting it go. 

Edited by Mom-ninja.
  • Like 12
Link to post
Share on other sites

Rose, I hope you all remain safe and safely within your home!  Scary.  Loesje and Butter, rest well and have lots of tea.

 

I finished two books this week, despite? my spinning retreat this weekend.  One was an audiobook though which in the main got rolled out on the trip to/from, the other a book I had been pecking at for what felt like an overly long time.

 

The Long Goodbye, by Meghan O'Rourke, was a memoir of the illness, death and the first two years of mourning by a young-ish poet for her mother.  Ostensibly, its premise was how our culture--secular culture, that is--has lost its symbols and signs and ways of mourning.  I therefore expected it to be more of a treatise on loss and perhaps even how our deaths have moved from our houses and parlors to hospitals and funeral homes.  It was not that.  It was about her own experience, with a few quotes from C.S. Lewis and Montaigne and a smattering of Kubler-Ross.  I suppose I cannot criticize her pain and experience, but she seemed such a naif.  Her discussion on "anticipatory grief" as one who cares for a loved one with a terminal illness was worthwhile, but I can't help but see it bent through the lens of someone who should probably stick to poetry and away from prose.  She also narrated the audiobook and her voice was flat and lacked affect.  If one wishes to explore this topic further, though, I recommend a book I read in Aug.:  The Bright Hour, by Nina Riggs, of her own mother's--and her own--process of death and grief.

 

Hild, by Nicola Giffith, was a fictionalized account of the early life of Hilda of Whitby, when she was seer for Edwin of Northumbria.  I appreciated the quotidian, the every-dayness of the book of food preparation, small and strong beer, mead, wars, birth, death and the life at court of a small-k king when Britain was not yet Britain.  It was a time of conversion (to Christianity from either Norse-based or Celtic-based faiths) and conglomeration of states.  I liked it, but did not love it; I would say 2.5 stars.  It's set up as one of three books.  It's no Wolf Hall or Sunne in Splendour is all I can say. 

  • Like 13
Link to post
Share on other sites

We had a quiet and uneventful night, even slept pretty well. Now back in front of the computer looking for updates. The fire still rages, but mostly in the open space around the densely inhabited areas at this point, it seems. No more apocalyptic firestorms raging through neighborhoods overnight, I don't think. We're still secure and safer here than out on the roads. Still trying to get a good handle on where the fire actually is burning.  Still have power, internet, phone service. The air quality is awful, we may want to get out of town just for that reason at some point but for now it seems better to shelter in place.  Thanks for all the support and sorry I haven't had much to say about books! I actually finished one last night while I was trying to get myself wound down enough to sleep, will post about it later.  :)

 

ETA: Ok, there are some good GIS maps was able to find. Looks like a solid swath of fire & destruction to the southeast, that's the one that took out north Santa Rosa and is still active. There is a smaller fire to the northeast up in a rural area, but it's one to watch if the wind picks up or shifts - it's at the top of the ridge and if it swept down into our valley that would be bad, to say the least. That's the one that sparked the fire at our old place that I was talking about yesterday - Our ex neighbors posted pics of a house 4 down from theirs burning, but that one seems to be out.  Lots more burning to the south and east - Sonoma Valley, the southern Napa valley.  

Edited by Chrysalis Academy
  • Like 22
Link to post
Share on other sites

We had a quiet and uneventful night, even slept pretty well. Now back in front of the computer looking for updates. The fire still rages, but mostly in the open space around the densely inhabited areas at this point, it seems. No more apocalyptic firestorms raging through neighborhoods overnight, I don't think. We're still secure and safer here than out on the roads. Still trying to get a good handle on where the fire actually is burning.  Still have power, internet, phone service. The air quality is awful, we may want to get out of town just for that reason at some point but for now it seems better to shelter in place.  Thanks for all the support and sorry I haven't had much to say about books! I actually finished one last night while I was trying to get myself wound down enough to sleep, will post about it later.  :)

 

ETA: Ok, there are some good GIS maps was able to find. Looks like a solid swath of fire & destruction to the southeast, that's the one that took out north Santa Rosa and is still active. There is a smaller fire to the northeast up in a rural area, but it's one to watch if the wind picks up or shifts - it's at the top of the ridge and if it swept down into our valley that would be bad, to say the least. That's the one that sparked the fire at our old place that I was talking about yesterday - Our ex neighbors posted pics of a house 4 down from theirs burning, but that one seems to be out.  Lots more burning to the south and east - Sonoma Valley, the southern Napa valley.  

 

Rose, so glad to hear you guys are still safe and that the fires seem more under control.  Hoping that they're fully put out fast.

  • Like 14
Link to post
Share on other sites

Good to hear you got some sleep last night, Rose, and it sounds like the winds have died down around the state. Good thing, too, as firefighters are stretched pretty thin with so many active fires. I could see escaping for some breathable air. Sometimes these fires stubbornly linger for days in rugged foothills, and even once they are out the smell of smoke is going to linger for quite some time. A few days after the huge fire that took out part of our area, I took the kids to trick or treat in a neighborhood on the other side of town. In Southern California, people hang out all year around fire pits, and around Halloween they do so in their driveway waiting for trick or treaters. But that year I wanted to scold them all because that smell of burning wood freaked me out!! Hello, trigger warning! 

 

But back to bookish news. Here's a link to a fun BBC article Great Authors Forgotten by History

  • Like 13
Link to post
Share on other sites

Rose, thank you for checking in. My friend's Santa Rosa house was spared and so was her daughter's house but many are not so fortunate :(

 

--

On a bookish note, I don't think I have told you guys that I am an ESL tutor for adults. One of the pleasures of the gig is reading books along with my student. We recently read Pippi Longstocking and Charlotte's Web, and we are now finishing Paddington the Bear. My student loves quality children's lit and so do I. It is lovely to be discussing these books with someone encountering them for the first time.

  • Like 17
Link to post
Share on other sites

I have been pondering the whole around the world challenge (that's so up my alley in so many ways!), but not posting much of anything partly because I have So Much to Say and have a hard time saying anything without going on and on... so I think I may finally have my thoughts together enough to post something coherent and hopefully not too overly long... ;)

 

I have gone and made a nice table for myself (I am the queen of tables for organizing info! :D) so I can get my head around this (the list online, esp. as it printed with for some reason links pointed out rather than embedded, made my head hurt).  I've decided I will go a few years back to 'start' this - the past few years before this I didn't read that widely.  What this mostly gains me is that huge Hungarian book I read a while ago.  It was written in Hungarian about a Hungarian composer (okay, he didn't speak Hungarian, but that was his nationality).  Which leads me to ponder a bit - country or culture/language or being about that country or just by someone from it, and if they've moved around in their life, where are they 'from'... ?  I'm looking at the list of books I've read this past year and some on my to-read list, and wonder about how to classify them...

 

Kafka - he was German-speaking, but he was born and raised and lived in what is now the Czech Republic.  Would that be good for the Czech Republic square?

 

Speaking of shifting borders, Svetlana Alexievich was born in the Soviet Union in what is now Ukraine, but has lived much of her life in Belarus, and writes in Russian.  Where do I count her for???

 

There's also so many authors from countries where there's been war or repression and they almost have to leave to be able to write honestly about what happened there or to get enough education  to become a writer.  How long do they have to have lived there before they are counted as not really being from there anymore?

 

Amy Tan, Lisa See - easy, NOT Chinese writers, Chinese-Americans writing about China.  But how about Jung Chang who wrote Wild Swans, who lived through the Cultural Revolution, was once slavishly devoted to Mao, was sent for reeducation among the peasants for years but once she was at university managed to leave (one of the first allowed out) and now lives in Britain married to a Brit? 

 

Marjane Satrapi who wrote Perseopolis about her own experiences growing up in revolutionary Iran.  She left while in high school, returned briefly, left again and lives in France.

 

Trevor Noah now lives here, but is his autobiography about his own experiences growing up under Apartheid in South Africa now an American book by an outsider?

 

Do I count Jean Rhys as a writer from Dominica, where she grew up and where she writes about?  Or is she British?

 

There's a book on my list written about Peru by a guy born there, but he's since lived in Mexico and Spain.  Still Peruvian?

 

On the flip side, Khaled Hosseini gets counted on the blogger's list as an Afghani author, but he left Afghanistan at age 11.

 

Where is the cut-off?  I might make it 'grew to adulthood in that country', where your formative experiences are from.  There are a ton of authors who left during university or for grad school who never went back - especially from countries where it was dangerous to go back and be a writer or make a living as a writer.  

 

Is Neil Gaiman no longer a British writer because he's married to an American and lives in the US?

 

I do think I would like a book to be about the country that I'm checking off the box for.  I see The Book Thief listed on the blogger's 'Australian' list, but I don't think I'd use it to check off the 'Australian' box any more than the 'German' box...  I also won't count a book I read translated from the Polish by a Polish journalist about the start of the Iranian revolution as either Poland (or Iran).  I might not bother including Roadside Picnic in my Russian box even though it's definitely by a Russian - but set who knows where in some alternate future...

 

And then there are authors who are of the European colonizers or missionaries that were born and grew up in countries but were never wholly of the native culture - Alexander McCall Smith, Pearl S. Buck, Isak Dinesen.  I don't think I will count those, even if they're very good writers.  Jean Rhys might also fit into this category?

 

I also think I'd like to include some ethnic areas/groups from some larger countries (esp ones who have a lot of books to choose from - why not?)

 

So, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Northern Ireland, Catalonia and the Basque Country for sure. I'd love to read the selection the blogger has listed for Kurdistan, but I don't see where I can get it.  For India and some African countries I wouldn't mind, if I can find them, adding books from different ethnic groups.  This year I've read a couple books set in Nigeria, one from the perspective of the Yoruba, another from the Igbos.   India is also breathtakingly diverse. 

 

I think I definitely won't put a time limit on this, and I may never fill it in completely for some of the tiny/obscure places she had to get custom translations for, but just start organizing and noticing where I'm reading from and where I've got holes that I might like to fill... :)

 
  • Like 14
Link to post
Share on other sites

I have been pondering the whole around the world challenge (that's so up my alley in so many ways!), but not posting much of anything partly because I have So Much to Say and have a hard time saying anything without going on and on... so I think I may finally have my thoughts together enough to post something coherent and hopefully not too overly long... ;)

 

I have gone and made a nice table for myself (I am the queen of tables for organizing info! :D) so I can get my head around this (the list online, esp. as it printed with for some reason links pointed out rather than embedded, made my head hurt). I've decided I will go a few years back to 'start' this - the past few years before this I didn't read that widely. What this mostly gains me is that huge Hungarian book I read a while ago. It was written in Hungarian about a Hungarian composer (okay, he didn't speak Hungarian, but that was his nationality). Which leads me to ponder a bit - country or culture/language or being about that country or just by someone from it, and if they've moved around in their life, where are they 'from'... ? I'm looking at the list of books I've read this past year and some on my to-read list, and wonder about how to classify them...

 

Kafka - he was German-speaking, but he was born and raised and lived in what is now the Czech Republic. Would that be good for the Czech Republic square?

 

Speaking of shifting borders, Svetlana Alexievich was born in the Soviet Union in what is now Ukraine, but has lived much of her life in Belarus, and writes in Russian. Where do I count her for???

 

There's also so many authors from countries where there's been war or repression and they almost have to leave to be able to write honestly about what happened there or to get enough education to become a writer. How long do they have to have lived there before they are counted as not really being from there anymore?

 

Amy Tan, Lisa See - easy, NOT Chinese writers, Chinese-Americans writing about China. But how about Jung Chang who wrote Wild Swans, who lived through the Cultural Revolution, was once slavishly devoted to Mao, was sent for reeducation among the peasants for years but once she was at university managed to leave (one of the first allowed out) and now lives in Britain married to a Brit?

 

Marjane Satrapi who wrote Perseopolis about her own experiences growing up in revolutionary Iran. She left while in high school, returned briefly, left again and lives in France.

 

Trevor Noah now lives here, but is his autobiography about his own experiences growing up under Apartheid in South Africa now an American book by an outsider?

 

Do I count Jean Rhys as a writer from Dominica, where she grew up and where she writes about? Or is she British?

 

There's a book on my list written about Peru by a guy born there, but he's since lived in Mexico and Spain. Still Peruvian?

 

On the flip side, Khaled Hosseini gets counted on the blogger's list as an Afghani author, but he left Afghanistan at age 11.

 

Where is the cut-off? I might make it 'grew to adulthood in that country', where your formative experiences are from. There are a ton of authors who left during university or for grad school who never went back - especially from countries where it was dangerous to go back and be a writer or make a living as a writer.

 

Is Neil Gaiman no longer a British writer because he's married to an American and lives in the US?

 

I do think I would like a book to be about the country that I'm checking off the box for. I see The Book Thief listed on the blogger's 'Australian' list, but I don't think I'd use it to check off the 'Australian' box any more than the 'German' box... I also won't count a book I read translated from the Polish by a Polish journalist about the start of the Iranian revolution as either Poland (or Iran). I might not bother including Roadside Picnic in my Russian box even though it's definitely by a Russian - but set who knows where in some alternate future...

 

And then there are authors who are of the European colonizers or missionaries that were born and grew up in countries but were never wholly of the native culture - Alexander McCall Smith, Pearl S. Buck, Isak Dinesen. I don't think I will count those, even if they're very good writers. Jean Rhys might also fit into this category?

 

I also think I'd like to include some ethnic areas/groups from some larger countries (esp ones who have a lot of books to choose from - why not?)

 

So, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Northern Ireland, Catalonia and the Basque Country for sure. I'd love to read the selection the blogger has listed for Kurdistan, but I don't see where I can get it. For India and some African countries I wouldn't mind, if I can find them, adding books from different ethnic groups. This year I've read a couple books set in Nigeria, one from the perspective of the Yoruba, another from the Igbos. India is also breathtakingly diverse.

 

I think I definitely won't put a time limit on this, and I may never fill it in completely for some of the tiny/obscure places she had to get custom translations for, but just start organizing and noticing where I'm reading from and where I've got holes that I might like to fill... :)

Well, there are other works by Isak Dinensen you could read for Denmark :)

 

Thanks for collecting your thoughts into a post. Now I have some more ideas for set-up, too! I agree 100% that the book has to have a strong sense of place for me to count it.

  • Like 14
Link to post
Share on other sites

Musing on Isak Dinensen: Since Babette’s Feast is set in Norway, I’m not even sure she has a book I would count for Denmark. I have not read the short story collections in ages; my recall of them is fuzzy. No matter, there is P-L-E-N-T-Y to choose from for all of Scandinavia.

Edited by Penguin
  • Like 11
Link to post
Share on other sites

A one day only currently free classic for Kindle readers; this is a book I've posted previously ~

 

The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau 

 

"The landmark political treatise that refuted the so-called divine right of kings and established the principles of representative government
 
“Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.â€
 
With these stirring words, Jean-Jacques Rousseau begins The Social Contract—the first shot in a battle of ideas that would set the stage for the American War of Independence and the French Revolution. In the feverish days of the Enlightenment, Rousseau took aim squarely at the all-powerful French monarchy, proclaiming that no despot, no matter how powerful, had the right to terrorize his people. He laid out a plan for a new kind of government—an idea that was radical then, and remains so now.
 
The Social Contract is a landmark document from a fascinating period in world history and an invaluable guide to the foundations of modern democracy."

 

Regards,

Kareni

  • Like 7
Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah Rabbit Trails...This from the Epilogue of W&P.  (Those of you who are not there yet, no worries!  No important plot points to be revealed!)

 

Anna Makarovna's stocking technique--weren't you just as curious as I?  Ravelry reveals all!  Yes, a pattern is available that let's the dedicated knitter create two socks at once.  Now we are not talking Magic Loop. Rather, this is a technique for knitting one sock inside the other!

 

I love the drama of the reveal.  If you wish to save this important passage until later, do not read this blog post.  But if the drama of the double sock is not on your list of important W&P talking points, you might want to take a peak at the post. There you will learn that Anna's secret process was later patented in the US.

  • Like 11
Link to post
Share on other sites

Rose, thanks for checking in and I'm grateful to hear you had a peaceful night. My offer still stands, although we are also suffering from not-great air quality. I'm sure it's an improvement over Sonoma County, but they did cancel PE at the local schools and our kids' swim practice was also cancelled.

 

 

Shirley Jackson's Haunting of Hill House is really good and The Shining is pretty terrifying, too. I think I read The Shining when I was 12? It's funny because now I rarely read horror stories. 

 

 

The local movie theater is showing The Shining on the big screen tomorrow. I might head over there but I have to balance it with DH being out of town. (Not only the logistics, but the creep factor as well!)

 

I'm currently reading The Burning Girl, which I received last month from my Powell's subscription. So far it's good, but not great. It's interesting in that it's a coming of age story, but a bit updated. It still has the thing where the girls are on their own and exploring independently (days out and about in a rural area, packing picnics, home for supper, etc) but with the modern twist of searching for things on Google Maps, for example. I'm not enthralled by it, but it's an easy read during a busy week. My dad borrowed my copy of Just Mercy before I could finish it so that's on hold for now.

 

Edited by idnib
  • Like 10
Link to post
Share on other sites

 

On a bookish note, I don't think I have told you guys that I am an ESL tutor for adults. One of the pleasures of the gig is reading books along with my student. We recently read Pippi Longstocking and Charlotte's Web, and we are now finishing Paddington the Bear. My student loves quality children's lit and so do I. It is lovely to be discussing these books with someone encountering them for the first time.

 

That does sound lovely! I did some ESL training back in the day, when I intended to put it to use in Slovakia. Ended up in Switzerland instead, lol. I'd enjoy getting back to ESL tutoring, but I need actual paid employment and I've yet to come across options there. Still, it's such a pleasure to share books & language with others. 

 

 

I have been pondering the whole around the world challenge...I have gone and made a nice table for myself (I am the queen of tables for organizing info! :D)

 

Interesting! I'm systematic, an organizer ~ must have "an approach". When I was a girl, I'd check out a stack of library books and then create a chart, ranking each book on various categories before deciding which one to read first. Haha! 

 

There's also so many authors from countries where there's been war or repression and they almost have to leave to be able to write honestly about what happened there or to get enough education  to become a writer.  How long do they have to have lived there before they are counted as not really being from there anymore?...Where is the cut-off?  I might make it 'grew to adulthood in that country', where your formative experiences are from....I do think I would like a book to be about the country that I'm checking off the box for. 

 

Absolutely, for me, the book has to be about that country. And generally, I'd say an author should have grown to adulthood in that country. But then we have the case of the book I mentioned in a previous post, In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddy Ratner, a survivor of the Khmer Rouge regime. She came to United States around age 11 or so, but this book is very much a book about Cambodian experiences, by a woman whose life was inexorably shaped by those realities. So file it under Cambodia, yes. 

 

 

 

Musing on Isak Dinensen: Since Babette’s Feast is set in Norway, I’m not even sure she has a book I would count for Denmark. I have not read the short story collections in ages; my recall of them is fuzzy. 

 

 I do believe she has a number of "Danish" stories, but like you, it's been a long while since I read those collections.

  • Like 10
Link to post
Share on other sites

Ooooh, several of these sound so good! I still haven't made a decision on what spooky October book to read but I think I'll try to find The Grip of It or The Little Stranger or The Elementals at my library.

 

I actually read The Amityville Horror when I was 9 or 10. Not sure what my parents were thinking  :eek: but maybe they didn't notice what I was reading? lol

I spent the next year trying desperately trying to not look in the direction of my window at night, expecting to see red eyes glaring through the glass at me!

 

Shirley Jackson's Haunting of Hill House is really good and The Shining is pretty terrifying, too. I think I read The Shining when I was 12? It's funny because now I rarely read horror stories. 

 

I have this clear memory of a girl in one of my freshman classes loaning me Amityville to read and staying up late to finish it. Terrifying. Was watching what children read not a thing when we were younger? My parents didn't stop me from reading anything and there's a few things that they probably should have put away until I was older.

 

Although I never mentioned it (at least I don't think I did) and didn't add it to Goodreads, I was trying to read The Invention of Murder but I found it too dry and boring so I abandoned it. Over the weekend I found a three part documentary on Britbox called A Very British Murder. It covers much of what the book synopsis says it covers but has the advantage of being hosted by Lucy Worsley, who is never dry and boring. I watched all three episodes and now feel like I don't need to read the book. 

 

And now DH and I have plans for this weekend. We love Lucy Worsley.

 

Let me present Counties of Englandhttps://www.fernwehfiction.co.uk/place-reviews. The business concept appears to be fun because they send a box monthly with a book or two and something like a special tea as you travel around the country by county. Clever.

 

 

 

Yep. Just printed a map of all the counties and attached it to my 2018 planner. It's not really going to broaden my horizons to read a book from each county in the UK but it will be fun.

 

Guys, this is super scary. We are ok for now, but there are fires & evacuations to the south, east and north. If we do have to evacuate it's not clear where to go. It's been crazy windy. Right now it's not blowing towards us but if it shifts . . . 

 

((Rose))

 

I have power read through this thread -reading all your updates and biting my nails. I'm glad that the immediate danger appears to be waning. My heart goes out to Shannon and hope the air clears for you guys quickly.

 

 

Mom-ninja, I think Catch-22 could have lost about 100 pages & been about right.

 

Onward to my spooky reading. I started Fat White Vampire Blues (found on one of Kareni's lists). I've read only the first chapter & can definitively say... this is NOT Amy material! ;) :lol:

 

Hahaha. That should be a rating system required on all books.

  • Like 13
Link to post
Share on other sites

Has Angel reported in on her review of Catch-22? I browsed back through but didn't see it yet.

 

I read it last year and am loving listening in on the conversations you gals are having. Stacia - It does seem to be your type of book. The humor would be just your style.

 

I thought it was very difficult for me to follow and maybe I must be a bit stupid. I read for plot though and Catch-22, if I remember correctly, wasn't heavy on plot. I do love the quotes posted though. I had forgotten how much I did enjoy some of the irreverent humor in it.

  • Like 11
Link to post
Share on other sites

Mumto2 and Kareni - Based on your recommendations John and I read My Father's Dragon. Loved it! Absolutely perfect for both of us. 

 

Words can not express my love for My Father's Dragon. I first read it with my oldest son (now 22) when he was a very small person. Reread with each of the next four sons ~ with many readings in-between. Did I mention I adore this book? Makes for a great gift along with Elmer & the Dragon and The Dragons of Blueland, too. I think I need to read it again. Seriously!

  • Like 10
Link to post
Share on other sites

My Father's Dragon -- I still have a vague memory of my 1st grade teacher reading that aloud to me! It is one of the first books I read to my my kids.  :001_wub: 

I said it last week and will say it again -- Catch-22 is a favorite. Read/listened to it earlier this year and yes, Stacia, it is so quotable! 

I have not read much lately. Just started a short story collection because my attentions span has been rather short: A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman by Margaret Drabble.

I haven't read anything spooky yet, but am reading (or re-reading?) Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of a Craft. I read his fiction for the first time this year & plan to read more but not this month.

I keep checking in to see updates from Rose & everyone in the midst of the fires.  :grouphug:

  • Like 10
Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah Rabbit Trails...This from the Epilogue of W&P.  (Those of you who are not there yet, no worries!  No important plot points to be revealed!)

 

Anna Makarovna's stocking technique--weren't you just as curious as I?  Ravelry reveals all!  Yes, a pattern is available that let's the dedicated knitter create two socks at once.  Now we are not talking Magic Loop. Rather, this is a technique for knitting one sock inside the other!

 

I love the drama of the reveal.  If you wish to save this important passage until later, do not read this blog post.  But if the drama of the double sock is not on your list of important W&P talking points, you might want to take a peak at the post. There you will learn that Anna's secret process was later patented in the US.

Thank you Jane for the great knitting articles. I wondered about the how of those socks could be done while listening but didn't have time in my quilting frenzy (panic) to try and figure it out. Plus we both know I am not a sock knitter so suspected I was missing something fundamental that might explain it. The link to the Knitter magazine within the second article explains it beautifully in colour. I now understand but doubt I will ever attempt it because of the double point needles.

 

Amy, I think there is a cozy website that has books broken down by county. This was a project I considered at one point. Maybe I will join you!

  • Like 9
Link to post
Share on other sites
  Which leads me to ponder a bit - country or culture/language or being about that country or just by someone from it, and if they've moved around in their life, where are they 'from'... ?  I'm looking at the list of books I've read this past year and some on my to-read list, and wonder about how to classify them...

 

Kafka - he was German-speaking, but he was born and raised and lived in what is now the Czech Republic.  Would that be good for the Czech Republic square?

 

Speaking of shifting borders, Svetlana Alexievich was born in the Soviet Union in what is now Ukraine, but has lived much of her life in Belarus, and writes in Russian.  Where do I count her for???

 

There's also so many authors from countries where there's been war or repression and they almost have to leave to be able to write honestly about what happened there or to get enough education  to become a writer.  How long do they have to have lived there before they are counted as not really being from there anymore?

 

Amy Tan, Lisa See - easy, NOT Chinese writers, Chinese-Americans writing about China.  But how about Jung Chang who wrote Wild Swans, who lived through the Cultural Revolution, was once slavishly devoted to Mao, was sent for reeducation among the peasants for years but once she was at university managed to leave (one of the first allowed out) and now lives in Britain married to a Brit? 

 

Marjane Satrapi who wrote Perseopolis about her own experiences growing up in revolutionary Iran.  She left while in high school, returned briefly, left again and lives in France.

 

Trevor Noah now lives here, but is his autobiography about his own experiences growing up under Apartheid in South Africa now an American book by an outsider?

 

Do I count Jean Rhys as a writer from Dominica, where she grew up and where she writes about?  Or is she British?

 

There's a book on my list written about Peru by a guy born there, but he's since lived in Mexico and Spain.  Still Peruvian?

 

On the flip side, Khaled Hosseini gets counted on the blogger's list as an Afghani author, but he left Afghanistan at age 11.

 

Where is the cut-off?  I might make it 'grew to adulthood in that country', where your formative experiences are from.  There are a ton of authors who left during university or for grad school who never went back - especially from countries where it was dangerous to go back and be a writer or make a living as a writer.  

 

Is Neil Gaiman no longer a British writer because he's married to an American and lives in the US?

 

I do think I would like a book to be about the country that I'm checking off the box for.  I see The Book Thief listed on the blogger's 'Australian' list, but I don't think I'd use it to check off the 'Australian' box any more than the 'German' box...  I also won't count a book I read translated from the Polish by a Polish journalist about the start of the Iranian revolution as either Poland (or Iran).  I might not bother including Roadside Picnic in my Russian box even though it's definitely by a Russian - but set who knows where in some alternate future...

 

And then there are authors who are of the European colonizers or missionaries that were born and grew up in countries but were never wholly of the native culture - Alexander McCall Smith, Pearl S. Buck, Isak Dinesen.  I don't think I will count those, even if they're very good writers.  Jean Rhys might also fit into this category?

 

 

When I've done this, I've kept the goals and the  boundaries very flexible for myself.  

 

I didn't make a list of which countries I want to 'visit', I set a goal for how many countries/regions and then keep a record of which countries/regions I 'visited'.

 

Although I appreciated works that were 'about' the region, I felt strongly that I should not make that requirement.  I wanted to experience diverse voices, whether they were explicitly connected to their author's nationality or not.  Being flexible about this meant I read a wider range of genres, which was also one of my goals.

 

I tended to count authors based on their self-identification, although, once you start looking at it, it is striking how most of the diverse works we can read in English are written by ex-pats... and, regardless of the age they left their country of origin, ex-pats have a very different angle of view than those who still live in their home country. Adichie (author of Half of a Yellow Sun, and others) came to the US when she was 19 and, while she visits Nigeria to give workshops, the US has been her home for her entire adult life.  She is described as an "African" author, but I can't see her work the same way I do that of Ama Ata Aidoo, who has lived in Ghana most of her adult life (she had a fellowship at Stanford and has done some visiting professorships in various countries)...

 

Julia Alvarez was born in NYC to Dominican parents, who return to the DR when she was a few months old. They fled the Dominican Republic when she was 10 or 11 and she has lived in the US since then... I've shelved her in the Dominican Republic because it is such a large part of her identity as a person and an author.  

I shelved Kafka as Czech, Alexievich as Belarusian, Jung Chang as Chinese... and I did count Kapuscinski's nonfiction/journalism as Polish because I think where we are from color's how we see things and I want to encourage myself to be hearing more voices from a wider range of perspectives. 

 

...but I don't count foreign visitors or even long-time residents.  (I do like to read some of their accounts - Guests of the Sheik is a fascinating account of a woman's two year stay in a village in Iraq in the 1950's).. and I, generally, haven't counted children of missionaries or diplomats or colonizers, but that gets into some very complicated evaluations sometimes.

 

I have found much value (and interest) in poking at the boundaries on these categorizations - it helps keep me aware of a country's complex history and the varied backgrounds of each region's literature.  (And reminds me that building my understanding of a country or region is like making a mosaic - it takes lots of little pieces to form a coherent image.)

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Musing on Isak Dinensen: Since Babette’s Feast is set in Norway, I’m not even sure she has a book I would count for Denmark. I have not read the short story collections in ages; my recall of them is fuzzy. No matter, there is P-L-E-N-T-Y to choose from for all of Scandinavia.

 

This is one of the reasons I don't use setting as a criterion for around the world reading challenges.  (Not Dinensen in particular)

 

Forster's Passage to India is a classic of English literature, and is set in India.

Fitzgerald's Beginning of Spring is set in Russia

Woolf's Voyage Out is set on a boat heading to South America

Ford's The Good Soldier is set in continental Europe

 

Lowry's Under the Volcano is set in Mexico

Heller's Catch 22 is set in the waters off Italy

Vonnegut's Mother Night doesn't (as I recall) every enter the US

Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises is set in Spain

 

...but if you read the first four you are unquestionably absorbing an English perspective and for the second four an American one.

 

It feels almost condescending to require a work of Nigerian or Mexican or Korean literature to only 'count' if it is set in the author's country.  I think it is the different perspective which enriches my reading more than the different setting or the historical or cultural information overtly shared... which is why I don't "count" books written by an outsider (and why I feel uncomfortable 'counting' someone such as Alvarez or Adichie, though I do)

 

ymmv :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

We had a quiet and uneventful night, even slept pretty well. Now back in front of the computer looking for updates.

 

:grouphug:   I am glad you are still safe and we able to get some sleep.   I was so sad to see your theater suffered such extensive damage.  I hope the kids are able to do their production elsewhere and that they are able to rebuild.  (And I hope the HEPA filter keeps doing its job and keeping your daughter able to breath.  I was shocked at how much we felt the smoke here in Seattle this summer despite the distance between us and fires, I can only imagine how eerie the skies must be and how uncomfortable to breath given your proximity. 

 

 

  

Hild, by Nicola Giffith, was a fictionalized account of the early life of Hilda of Whitby, when she was seer for Edwin of Northumbria.  I appreciated the quotidian, the every-dayness of the book of food preparation, small and strong beer, mead, wars, birth, death and the life at court of a small-k king when Britain was not yet Britain.  It was a time of conversion (to Christianity from either Norse-based or Celtic-based faiths) and conglomeration of states.  I liked it, but did not love it; I would say 2.5 stars.  It's set up as one of three books.  It's no Wolf Hall or Sunne in Splendour is all I can say. 

 

I started out loving the mosaic-like quality of the writing with, as you say, the quotidian details... but, despite the quantities of plot (some of it outrageously absurd), those details were really are there was to the book, which made it deeply unsatisfying. 

 

 

Thanks Stacia, but the fever and the cold are still not away.

Nights are going better and better, so in the morning I feel pretty well now, but during the afternoon the fever comes back.

We are supposed to have a family weekend this coming weekend, with a fragile elder parent and a newborn in the family I am not convinced it will be safe for them if I attend...

 

 

:grouphug:   Oh, dear, love.  Wishing you a speedy and complete recovery.  I hope you get well enough quickly enough to be able to visit your family.

 

I forgot about Dubliners, which I haven't read. I've read Portrait of the Artist, and I've attempted Finnegan's Wake a few times, but couldn't get very far. There was a period in my early twenties where I had planned to read the top 100 books written in the English language. I can't remember the website but the Modern Library list looks familiar. I think Finnegan's Wake was where I gave up on the list. I don't know why I thought Wake would be more approachable than Ulysses.

 

:lol: :lol: :lol:

I'm not sure I will ever make it further than the first page of Finnegan's Wake... though it has sat, aspirationally, on my shelves for a long time.  (Those 100 best book lists are always so odd, aren't they?  I love looking at them, but have yet to see one that intersect significantly with any list I might make... )

 

 

  • Ulysses by James Joyce. Classic Literature. A day in the life of an aspiring artist and an ad man. I finished! Wipes the sweat off my brow and dances in celebration. What a tough read! While I could appreciate Joyce's talent and brilliance, I just couldn't care about the characters. It's like studying a well-executed painting and finding the subject matter repulsive. Nearly every possible bodily function is described, often in such beautifully descriptive detail that it takes a few lines to realize what is happening. I'm still working on the Ulysses Teaching Courses lecture and debating whether I should re-read sections, but it doesn't sound very tempting right now. I wish Joyce had written books I could like. 

 

I think this is one of the reasons I read through more quickly and without extensive study.  ...it kept me enjoying the language and the craftsmanship and the endless, tantalizing allusions, but prevented me from concentrating too much on the subject matter itself.  (I read Lolita the same way, and think it is the only way I could have come away with the amazingly positive reading experience I did.  ... Ford's Good Soldier is another that had nothing in it to like, but much about it to appreciate and admire.)

 

 

 

 

107. The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (ebook) - I'm not sure exactly what I enjoyed so much about this tale, but I really, really enjoyed it.  The 18yo half-elf, half-goblin son of the emperor, who is 4th in line for the throne and pretty much exiled to the boonies since his mother's death and father's marriage to wife #5, is suddenly put on the throne overnight when the emperor and all his other sons are killed in a dirigible accident - which may not have been an accident.  Lots of political intrigue, some great world (and language) building, and a central character I found very sympathetic.  I often shy away from reading the first books in series because I don't want to feel like I need to read on to get the full story - this, as far as I know, is a standalone book.  But I liked the characters and world so much I almost wish there were more... For my Steampunk square, since I moved The Invisible Library book to another category... 5 stars.

 

 

I am so fond of this book.  I love stories of decent people trying to maintain their integrity in challenging circumstances... and working to find their place/role/voice in their world.

I should pull this out soon and reread it.

 

And I also finished Dream Hoarders this week! I think it's useful in pointing out the issue of the wide and growing separation between the upper quintile income-wise and the lower 80%. His point is that we are too eager to point to the top 1% as the hoarders of wealth and opportunity when the problems start at a much lower income than that. The author is British (now an American citizen) and he thinks we're developing an entrenched class system perhaps worse than Britain. Our systems like college admissions, exclusionary zoning, and internships are skewed to keep those on top in place. I'm not sure I agree with everything he said (eg I don't see legacy admissions at colleges as he does) but I thought it was worth reading.

 

 

 

 

I agree that it was worth reading.  I got, perhaps unreasonably, frustrated that he dismissed free college, for example, as absurd, and scorned the idea of looking at the choices other Western countries have made and considering how we can learn from their successes (and failures). 

 

Do you see legacy admissions as positive?  And if so, in what way?  I have been concerned about the inequities I see stemming from it, but believe that as schools try to form a learning community there are, and should be, many factors that go into that process.

Link to post
Share on other sites

When I've done this, I've kept the goals and the  boundaries very flexible for myself.  

 

I didn't make a list of which countries I want to 'visit', I set a goal for how many countries/regions and then keep a record of which countries/regions I 'visited'.

 

Although I appreciated works that were 'about' the region, I felt strongly that I should not make that requirement.  I wanted to experience diverse voices, whether they were explicitly connected to their author's nationality or not.  Being flexible about this meant I read a wider range of genres, which was also one of my goals.

 

I tended to count authors based on their self-identification, although, once you start looking at it, it is striking how most of the diverse works we can read in English are written by ex-pats... and, regardless of the age they left their country of origin, ex-pats have a very different angle of view than those who still live in their home country. Adichie (author of Half of a Yellow Sun, and others) came to the US when she was 19 and, while she visits Nigeria to give workshops, the US has been her home for her entire adult life.  She is described as an "African" author, but I can't see her work the same way I do that of Ama Ata Aidoo, who has lived in Ghana most of her adult life (she had a fellowship at Stanford and has done some visiting professorships in various countries)...

 

Julia Alvarez was born in NYC to Dominican parents, who return to the DR when she was a few months old. They fled the Dominican Republic when she was 10 or 11 and she has lived in the US since then... I've shelved her in the Dominican Republic because it is such a large part of her identity as a person and an author.  

I shelved Kafka as Czech, Alexievich as Belarusian, Jung Chang as Chinese... and I did count Kapuscinski's nonfiction/journalism as Polish because I think where we are from color's how we see things and I want to encourage myself to be hearing more voices from a wider range of perspectives. 

...but I don't count foreign visitors or even long-time residents.  (I do like to read some of their accounts - Guests of the Sheik is a fascinating account of a woman's two year stay in a village in Iraq in the 1950's).. and I, generally, haven't counted children of missionaries or diplomats or colonizers, but that gets into some very complicated evaluations sometimes.

 

I have found much value (and interest) in poking at the boundaries on these categorizations - it helps keep me aware of a country's complex history and the varied backgrounds of each region's literature.  (And reminds me that building my understanding of a country or region is like making a mosaic - it takes lots of little pieces to form a coherent image.)

 

A lot of what you say here is why I think I don't want to make this a challenge like Bingo, where I have a time frame and am trying to check off each box.  I think I'd like to just start tracking and noticing so I'm aware and thoughtful.

 

I do like to read lots of different genres and  from many different perspectives.  That's why Russian scifi like Roadside Picnic ended up on my list (and Lem in the past)  I also just bought Kalpa Imperial, a utopian/speculative fiction work by an Argentinian author (hard to track down in the original Spanish for some unknown reason...) that someone recommended here recently (Ursula Le Guin translated it to English, so I figure it had to be good ;) ). And I loved Kapuscinski's book and that it came from the perspective it did (I think I'll read more of his works). But for me, for this particular challenge, I think I would like for a book to have some sense of place and be written (as much as possible) from someone inside the culture it's writing about.  Which as I ponder this more, probably rule out Kafka and Borges a bit for my personal criteria - mad fever dreams are interesting (and often maddening) and most probably culturally influenced, but I'm not sure they're the authors I'll pick for those places for this challenge... and for those countries, it's not like I have a dearth of authors to choose from.  From other countries with less of a literary tradition, I will probably be much less picky...

 

And thanks for all the international suggestions above, I've added most of them to my TR list. :D (are you on Goodreads?)  Dream of Polar Fog was already on it.  Speaking of things we've spoken of lately already on my TR list, Catch-22 has been on there forever (can anyone think of a BigBingo square I could match that one to - 'cause now I'm wanting to read it sooner... ), as were The Book of Embraces and The Housekeeper and the Professor mentioned last week - I add a lot to my TR list as I see people here add them to their lists on Goodreads as well as here. 

  • Like 10
Link to post
Share on other sites

This is one of the reasons I don't use setting as a criterion for around the world reading challenges.  (Not Dinensen in particular)

 

Forster's Passage to India is a classic of English literature, and is set in India.

Fitzgerald's Beginning of Spring is set in Russia

Woolf's Voyage Out is set on a boat heading to South America

Ford's The Good Soldier is set in continental Europe

 

Lowry's Under the Volcano is set in Mexico

Heller's Catch 22 is set in the waters off Italy

Vonnegut's Mother Night doesn't (as I recall) every enter the US

Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises is set in Spain

 

...but if you read the first four you are unquestionably absorbing an English perspective and for the second four an American one.

 

It feels almost condescending to require a work of Nigerian or Mexican or Korean literature to only 'count' if it is set in the author's country.  I think it is the different perspective which enriches my reading more than the different setting or the historical or cultural information overtly shared... which is why I don't "count" books written by an outsider (and why I feel uncomfortable 'counting' someone such as Alvarez or Adichie, though I do)

 

ymmv :)

 

I think reading the perspective of the traveler or outsider in another culture is very interesting and quite relevant for what it is.  It's just what we as native English speakers get by default in most of what we read in English, so for the particular framework of this challenge, I'd like to step away from that perspective.  

 

I also read a lot of 'immigrant' literature, by authors born in one country who have moved to another.  One of my favorite books this year was Together Tea, set in the US and Iran. I looked up the author - she was born in Turkey to Iranian parents. She spent her childhood in Kenya, Germany, Turkey, Iran, and the U.S. and has spent her adult life in Switzerland, Australia and America.  She must live local to me now, as the book won a Massachusetts book award.  Some books aren't easy to pigeonhole (for Bingo, I used it for the 'would recommend to a friend' box :) But I was thinking about using it for the 'Middle East' square, as for Bingo I have an entirely different set of criteria) 

  • Like 8
Link to post
Share on other sites

Rose, I forgot to say in my earlier post how relieved I was to see your post earlier today. So glad you were able to stay safe at home and rest.

 

Loesje and Heather I hope you both feel better soon. Loesje, I hope you feel well by the weekend! :grouphug:

 

Now for books......

 

Fred the Vampire Accountant is a bit addictive. I just finished Undeath and Taxes the second in the series and found definitely listen to more! My overdrive supply is over bug I might request the library add the rest to it's audio collection. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24313624-undeath-and-taxes

 

I just checked out one of Eliana's favourite's Sunshine on audio. Looking forward to it. https://www.goodreads.com/work/editions/2321294-sunshine

 

I have been trying to get through The Silent Corner by Dean Koontz. It is way long and I am getting very tired of it. Creepy for sure but the latest plot twist is just irritating. Not clever but a rather sad sigh cause it was so obviously coming. If I wasn't 80% done I would abandon it. So much of it is great stuff but it is past time to be done! I am curious if the cliff hanger will be good enough to make me think I wasn't to read the next one. :lol:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32148091-the-silent-corner

 

I am still working on my Tanya Huff's Smoke an Shadows. Another one that I am feeling a bit ambivalent about. After reading Stacia's post I checked Fat Whited Vampire Blues out in hopes of liking it!

  • Like 10
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...