This is a Good Book Thursday, September 12, 2019

This week, I’m reading Malcolm Gladwell, Emily Nagoski, John McPhee, and a lot of emails from the Washington Post’s Voraciously section. And I’m devouring Nora Ephron’s Heartburn AGAIN because it’s the most marvelous heartbreaking funny book ever and reminds me of my own divorce so it’s cathartic, too. Plus I’m really happy to be divorced from that guy, so the book has a happy ending. I love happy endings. And, of course, I’m reading Nita. I just ordered a year-at-a-glance calendar so I can mark “NITA’S FINISHED” on it in permanent marker.

What’s on your reading list?

43 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, September 12, 2019

  1. I wish I had a robust reading list, but I don’t at the moment. I’m always thrilled when I discover an author that I love — someone whose work I can read, and later reread with joy because they depict a world that feels like my ideal one, where people see others deeply, and find others who they can appreciate, love and support. Terry Pratchett and Georgette Heyer have always been my platinum standard in that regard, and her appreciation for those two is what led me to discover Jenny and her work.

    But I’m likewise happy when I discover authors whose ideas are novel to me and pertinent to things that matter at the moment. That’s something I’ve always valued about Malcolm Gladwell, and other nonfiction authors, like Rachel Carson, Hannah Arendt, Michael Pollan. They thought in new ways about important things — sometimes with a lot of research, sometimes based on an intuition that led them through an analysis of a smaller world right around them.

    This site has helped me discover several new authors in the first category, but I’m empty-listed at the moment on the second, and maybe on the first as well. I hope I can find books to fill them both up.

    9+
    1. I know this isn’t the right place, but you keep putting pineapple orange muffins in your books. Would you please let me know where I can find your recipe?

      Thanks!

      3+
      1. I used to buy them at my grocery in German Village when I lived in Columbus, OH. I think the grocery stopped having them before I left, so now they’re just a great memory. If I do the Alice and Nadine books, I will obviously have to find a recipe, but right now, Nita’s eating Chinese food, so that’ll have to wait.

        I miss those muffins.

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        1. Oh, that’s incredibly sad. Thank you for letting me know. I may try to make my own; I’ll let you know if I have any success.

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  2. I finished up Hugh Howey’s Wool. It’s set in a post-apocalyptic world, with some intense situations. The characters are great, and you feel it when you lose one. I’ve put it in the keep pile.

    4+
  3. I’m posting here because this post isn’t showing up on the home page for me; hoping this will do something.

    We have no idea why the blog has gone wonky, but Mollie is on it. REALLY sorry.

    9+
    1. These books are odd to post here, but maybe someone wants to find out more about Robert, Earl of Gloucester, who appears in the Caedfael series. A biography has finally appeared: The Earl, the Kings, and the Chronicler by Robert B. Patterson. It’s an extension of the PhD thesis of a now-Distinguished Emeritus professor. So, it’s not an easy read. But it gives all sorts of information about the illegitimate son of King Henry I whose defense of his legit sister’s cause brought about the Anarchy in England, and, eventually, Henry II.

      The best chapters are on the life of Robert. The last chapter examines how the chronicler William of Malmesbury ennobled Robert’s side of the civil war in his Historia Novella. Unfortunately, neither William of Malmesbury nor Robert of Gloucester lived to see Henry II inherit the crown.

      6+
  4. Reporting back on the audio of Donna Andrews’s TERNS OF ENDEARMENT. The narrator is good, really good, but it isn’t working for me, because she just doesn’t sound like I imagine the protagonist to sound, and it’s first person POV, so that’s particularly necessary. I think if I’d listened to this before reading however many (double digits) books are in the series, I’d have been perfectly happy, but as it is, I didn’t get past about half an hour.

    One thing I noticed that was interesting — the narrator didn’t read the chapter numbers. Which is a really good choice, because Donna’s chapters flow seamlessly into each other with only a very few clear breaks, generally at the end of a day.

    Also started listening to the audio of GOOD OMENS, and maybe I’m in a cranky mood, but I wasn’t wild about the narrator. It could be just me, but I couldn’t hear enough of a distinction between Crowley’s voice and Aziraphale’s to tell them apart easily.

    Hmm. Good books, just versions that didn’t work for me, but might work for others. BTW, both are on Hoopla, if anyone is considering getting that service from their library.

    6+
    1. Bernadette Dunne has been the Audible narrator for Donna Andrews books for 15 years or more now, and while I still enjoy listening to, for example, WE’LL ALWAYS HAVE PARROTS, I found that over the years her voice changed somehow, and I don’t like to listen to her anymore. Now she sounds much older than Meg does in my imagination.

      5+
      1. Yeah, that’s what turned me off. She sounds too old. (Not that old is bad, just not what Meg is.)

        Which is kinda’ ironic, because when I was auditioning for the narrator of my Helen Binney series, all the possibilities sounded too young and sweet for the older and cranky Helen. It was really hard to find someone older and cranky as a narrator (except for Lisa Valdini, who’s perfect, but I had to beg her to audition after hearing her do non-fiction). And now here’s Meg’s narrator, sounding older and cranky, when Meg isn’t older and cranky.

        3+
  5. I stayed up past my bedtime last night to finish the latest Regency romance by Mary Balogh, “Someone to Honor.” Balogh has several series that repeat words in the title; this one is about the Westcott family, which is ridiculously large and complex, but at least she gives a family tree at the beginning of the novel! I appreciate Balogh because I feel that I’m learning something, particularly about the wars and Napoleon, when I read one of her romances. Her series of the Survivors Club is particularly good about that.

    6+
  6. I’m reading ‘wonky’ stuff having to do with committees I’m on. Also Pratchett’s Vimes books. Maybe next week I’ll be on to somethong mew.

    4+
  7. I just finished “Lessons from Lucy” by Dave Barry. I’ve always enjoyed his columns and blogs, so I borrowed the book from the library and thoroughly enjoyed it, too. It’s not long and combines his unique, wacky humor with some astute observations on how we can learn some valuable life lessons from our dogs.

    7+
    1. Are you part of the Northern Heat Facebook Group? It’s Jackie Lau, Farah Heron and Jenny Holidays, all Canadian romance authors. Jackie posts donut shots almost every day. It’s dangerous.

      5+
  8. I have been compulsively re-reading my way through Janet Lambert’s books. She wrote
    54 young-adult fiction titles for girls from 1941 to 1969. They’re mostly focused on a few Army families whose lives intersect in many ways over time. You get to see members of the family as children and then as wives and mothers. It’s not all fluff — they take place over the course of several wars, and there are death and tragedies and tough decisions — but they have great heart, and the families are strong and loving. I’m finding them very comforting in these troubled times. Although there are certainly elements I didn’t notice as a kid, like the depictions of the servants (mostly people of color) that really jump out at me now as… problematic.

    9+
    1. Although Janet Lambert was a real Army wife at the time, so her depiction of the pre-integrated military life didn’t seem inauthentic to me, nor Walker and Trudy caricatures. I reread them after Image Cascade republished them (having discovered Image Cascade when they republished a bunch of Sally Watson titles, which my cousin had been hunting for years but were only available at outrageous prices).

      2+
      1. Oh, I believe it’s authentic, and they are very loving portrayals of what would probably have been fairly progressive and positive relationship for the time. It’s just that pretty much the only people of color in the books are servants, no matter how well treated they are, and there’s never any consideration about how they might feel about that. I wouldn’t expect there to be, at that time. And I still love reading the books. But I’d hesitate before recommending them to kids who would not be able to recognize and analyze the problems inherent in the relationships, or to readers who would be hurt by the casual racism of the time. It’s like there are a lot of romances that I enjoyed before the #metoo era, but now I can’t ignore the sexual assault in them. I’m sure books written now will have issues that we’ll learn to see in the future. I’m glad that we’re learning and growing, even if that leaves some of our old favorites problematic.

        6+
  9. I really enjoyed A. J. Demas’s ‘Sword Dance’, which is the first in a new trilogy, but was a complete story on its own. I love her imaginary classical Mediterranean world, so am now rereading ‘Something Human’, another m/m romance, so I can stay in it for a while.

    7+
      1. So did I. And now she’s a comfort read and re read and re read for me. I think I actually love her books more on re-read.

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  10. Huge thanks to whoever recommended Elizabeth Bonesteel’s ‘The Cold Between’. I just love a good space opera, and this was wonderful. Can’t wait to read the next one in the trilogy. My only regret is that she hasn’t got a huge back catalogue.

    Now I’m reading Susan Howatch’s ‘Glittering Images’, which is set in the 1930s and based around the power struggles and relationships of various bishops and deans in the Church of England. Someone recommended it to me and I bought it a while back – it’s interesting, but not quite gripping enough to read straight through, so I’m jumping back and forth which works well for this particular book, because the revelations near the end make the earlier stuff so much more significant.

    5+
  11. I just re-reread Mary Stewart’s Madam Will You Talk? because it occurred to me that since dh and I will be in the south of France for a few days on our vacation, maybe we should visit some (or all) the places the heroine visits in the book. So I had fun reading, googling, looking at maps, etc. 🙂

    10+
    1. I had a great holiday in Avignon a few years back. Stayed in Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, and woke the first morning to find myself in the middle of an enormous flea market. Both towns are good for art, architecture and wandering.

      5+
      1. We spent 5 lovely nights in Vallebregues, which is very near Avignon, two years ago. It’s a teeny village but we managed to get lost almost every time we left the apartment. So much fun! 🙂

        4+
    2. I love to do that, too, Barbara – read books where I plan to travel. And we were in the South of France a couple years ago, but I didn’t remember that was where that book was set! I’ll have to read it again now that I’ve been there.

      3+
  12. On my second Deborah Crombie detective story. V good. Apparently a Texan who lived in the UK awhile. A deft hand at characterisation. She feels British – like PD James but with a ruthless editor. Love her descriptions of the canals.

    3+
    1. Yes, I love those! Make sure you read them in order, she really builds up the story of the characters’ lives from book to book.

      3+
      1. It’s my big regret – I’ve read the 2 out of order! Just grabbed what the library had. Am going to go back to the first one and start there officially!

        2+
  13. It isn’t that I have nothing new to read – my TBR list is at least 30 books long – so much as old favorites caught my eye. Bujold’s Paladin of Souls is on the old Kindle. 1636: The Viennese Waltz is on the laptop. I have a new (to me) Wrede on Joe called Shadow Magic, but I haven’t made it beyond the introduction, which is loaded with edits and line-outs and boldface new text… it looks like parts of tDiND, especially when she ‘splains why some paragraphs got the blue pencil.

    1+
  14. I’m nearly done reading Kerry Greenwood’s THE SPOTTED DOG, which appeared officially in the US yesterday, so the Kindle version happily downloaded. I do enjoy the zany crew at Insula, and also Jason’s insight that they’re actually his family.

    2+
  15. I didn’t have a good week, bookwise. I read a Felix Francis and an old Ben Elton. Got half way through each and skipped to the end. The ends weren’t better. I wish Felix Francis was more like Dick Francis but no such luck.

    So I went back to Fast Women, and then discovered I’d got to the front of the library’s queue for Noami Novik’s Uprooted. So this weekend will be better!

    6+
  16. Just finished Seanan McGuire’s new October Date release Unkindest Tides. Pretty good but not as gripping as usual. Thought stakes did not feel as high as in past. Also, Daye survived life threatening injuries that would have killed anyone else. Again. Ho hum. Loses plot tension if constantly being near death and constantly surviving? Also, Daye saved kid but it almost seemed easy and like no big deal. Also, solution to main dilemma didn’t really seem like much of a solution; that is, while everyone seemed all relieved, the actual result didn’t seem to be that much different from the result previously feared. Also, the story is a complete story but there are obvious and significant loose ends left hanging and there is teasing of events to be revealed in, hopefully, the next installment. Events which seem more significant than the events in this book. Next book will come out September 2020 presumably. Long wait. Having said all that, I really enjoy McGuire’s writing and this series and the book was good. So I would still recommend.

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  17. Urk, Daye, not Date. Darn auto-correct. Wonder what Shakespeare would have called this infernal mechanism. 😉

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  18. “The Wildwater Walking Club” – first book I’ve read by Claire Cook. A fast, feel-good, please-ignore-the-plot-hole read, enjoyable enough that I’ll check the library for more. One reviewer called her books about middle-age women “hen lit.”

    So maybe the other book I read is “egg lit”? It’s “Finding Ruby Starling,” by Karen Rivers, aimed at pre-teens, but enjoyable for this post-plus-plus teen. No spoiler to say it’s about an adoptee discovering she has a twin, and it’s all in emails/texts/letters. I’m a sucker for epistolary novels. I didn’t even really mind the dated slang. Totes recommend.

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