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Constant Reader > What I'm Reading - August

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message 351: by Flora (new)

Flora Bateman (BookwormFlo) | 211 comments I'm almost half way thru The Garden of Eden and I'm still not so sure about it.


message 352: by Jane (new)

Jane | 452 comments I've just finished Beautiful and Pointless by David Orr. Great subject (poetry) and great book. I would have suggested he omit two of the later chapters because they are too much about poetry infighting and competition to publish, not necessarily of interest to those who don't LOVE poetry. He has a great riff on the difference between what people claim to like and love. The last chapter is just beautiful, and he earns it by being so witty and smart about poetry in the previous chapters. I love this man. I wish he were my son.


message 353: by TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (last edited Aug 26, 2011 09:43PM) (new)

TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (Madly77) | 3817 comments Cateline wrote: "I'm reading The Return of the Dancing Master by Henning Mankell. It's a stand alone, not a Wallander. Just started, but it's got me hooked in the first chapter."

I started The Return of the Dancing Master some time back, but couldn't get into it at that time. I thought it was me, not the book, so I've left it on top of a stack, knowing I'd return to it. I'm glad to read you're hooked, Cateline.


message 354: by Ruby (new)

Ruby  Tombstone [With A Vengeance] (rubytombstone) Cateline wrote: "I started Blindness, but couldn't continue. It wasn't the form, but I cannot put my finger on exactly what put me off. It's still in the stack, someday I'll try again, there are too many great re..."

Hoping to finish it this weekend - I'll post a review.


message 355: by Ruby (new)

Ruby  Tombstone [With A Vengeance] (rubytombstone) Okay, I'm only 115 pages in to Blindness, but I just had to share this. For the most part, Saramago's unique style of prose has a sense of momentum, a lyrical and intuitive quality that works really beautifully for the story. And then you hit this passage:

"From this point onward, apart from a few inevitable comments, the story of the old man with the black eyepatch will no longer be followed to the letter, being replaced by a reorganised version of his discourse, re-evaluated in the light of a correct and more appropriate vocabulary. The reason for this previously unforeseen change is the rather formal controlled language, used by the narrator, which almost disqualifies him as a complementary reporter, however important he may be, because without him we would have no way of knowing what happened in the outside world, as a complementary reporter, as we were saying, of these extraordinary events, when as we know the description of any facts can only gain with the rigour and suitability of the terms used."

Keep in mind, this is only two sentences. I weep for the translator of this book.


message 356: by Jane (new)

Jane | 452 comments Oh, Ruby, you remind me why I eventually gave up on Blindness.


message 357: by Ruth (last edited Aug 27, 2011 02:32PM) (new)

Ruth | 8888 comments Heehee, Ruby. Saramago does have a dense writing style, doesn't he? Nevertheless, it can stretch to great beauty. I loved this book.

The Dog of Tears...


message 358: by Ruby (new)

Ruby  Tombstone [With A Vengeance] (rubytombstone) It's a great book, but it is taking MUCH longer to get through than I anticipated. It's at the stage where I don't *really* feel like picking it up, but once I do I enjoy it. Then I realise I've just spent an hour reading 10 pages!


message 359: by Ruby (new)

Ruby  Tombstone [With A Vengeance] (rubytombstone) Ruth, I've just read one of your scenes of "great beauty". Wow. Just... wow. There is a scene between the doctor, his wife and the girl with the dark glasses that is just stunning. I don't believe in giving spoilers, and I won't. But the scene I have just read is reminiscent of the scene at the end of The Grapes of Wrath. An act of supreme compassion and sacrifice for the comfort and wellbeing of another. All with no explanation given, or needed on the part of the donor or the recipient of the kindness. This is the sort of scene that stays with you long after you've forgotten everything else about the book. Amazing.


message 360: by Carol (new)


message 361: by Yulia (new)

Yulia | 1613 comments Kitty wrote: "I started The Master and Margarita"

I never could get through the first page of that, though I felt I really ought to read it. Do tell me if it's worth the effort!


message 362: by Carol (new)

Carol | 6831 comments So far it is interesting.


message 363: by Sherry, Doyenne (new)

Sherry | 6929 comments I read the M&M, but I don't think I liked it very much. I don't remember a thing about it, but if you're interested, here's a link to our old discussion when it was the Classics selection:

http://web.archive.org/web/2007090204...


message 364: by Carol (new)

Carol | 6831 comments Thanks Sherry . I will check it out.


message 365: by Sue (new)

Sue | 3135 comments Kitty wrote: "I started The Master and Margarita"

It's on my list to read too Kitty so I'll be interested in what you think of it.


message 366: by Ruby (new)

Ruby  Tombstone [With A Vengeance] (rubytombstone) Kitty wrote: "I started The Master and Margarita"

I'll have to a bit more research on that one, and I'll be interested to see what you think. I get the impression that I would either really love or really hate this one!


message 367: by Ruby (new)

Ruby  Tombstone [With A Vengeance] (rubytombstone) Kitty - I couldn't help noticing the alternate covers for that book all had cats on them. Are you working your way through kitty-related book covers? :)


message 368: by Sherry, Doyenne (new)

Sherry | 6929 comments I just finished My Life in France by Julia Child. Fantastic book. I recommend it to anyone who knows how to read. It just makes you feel good.


message 369: by Ruby (new)

Ruby  Tombstone [With A Vengeance] (rubytombstone) Sherry wrote: "I just finished My Life in France by Julia Child. Fantastic book. I recommend it to anyone who knows how to read. It just makes you feel good."

LOL Sherry. Maybe you should recommend it to anyone who doesn't know how to read! :)


message 370: by Sherry, Doyenne (new)

Sherry | 6929 comments Might do 'em good!


message 371: by Ruby (new)

Ruby  Tombstone [With A Vengeance] (rubytombstone) I'm about to start Deadline as I just finished Blindness (see the other thread for that discussion!).

I'm also having Lovecraft Day on Wednesday, so I've picked out about a dozen stories to choose from, depending on time and opportunity.


message 372: by Mary Ellen (new)

Mary Ellen | 1197 comments I finished Death and Judgment by Donna Leon, the first of her books I've read, and I really enjoyed it. Thus, my plan - taking a bunch of mysteries out of the library with the hope of finding at least one series I liked - worked well! She is a pretty prolific writer; there are about 20 of these "Commissario Brunetti" books out, and I think she has some stand-alone books and, maybe, another series as well. Anyway, I plan to see more of Venice with Comm. Brunetti in the future.

I am returning Liberty Falling by Nevada Barr, after about 20 pages. I don't dislike it, exactly, but I am not being drawn in, despite the occasional more-interesting-than-average observations by her detective Anna Pigeon. (On the other hand, there was close to a full page describing various "Beanie Babies" a character's son brought in to the workplace - a ferry, actually - and that section was a snoozer.)


message 373: by Sue (last edited Aug 29, 2011 08:41AM) (new)

Sue | 3135 comments That was not one of Barr's best in my estimation. I think the one I read first was Ill Wind about Mesa Verde. I have grown to really like the series and watching Anna Pigeon develop.

You might want to try Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak mysteries set in Alaska or Sara Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski series set in Chicago. There's also Marcia Muller with a very long running series. So many out there and more coming.

the problem, as you have seen, is finding the series that appeal to you.

As an addendum, you might want to consider Carol Goodman's books. They're not exactly mysteries but mysterious in a sometimes gothic way. Many are set in New York state, some in Europe.


message 374: by Mary Ellen (new)

Mary Ellen | 1197 comments Thanks, Sue. Next up is Murphy's Law by Rhys Bowen. I think this is the start of Bowen's 3rd series (Molly Murphy), but I've never read anything of hers before. I skimmed the first 2 chapters, and even though the summary sounded really, really trite (feisty Irish beauty, running from the law, takes boat to America where she becomes a detective), the writing was fun. So I'll see how I like the rest of the book. An entertaining "voice" can compensate for a lot. Thus far, Molly is not as morose and rigid as Maisie Dobbs. (What is it with these diminutives-as-names-for-young-women-detectives?)


message 375: by John (new)

John | 1362 comments I had intended to read (listen to) Stewart O'Nan's Emily, Alone first, but decided to to tackle his Snow Angels first instead, being half the length. I wasn't sure at first as I couldn't relate directly to the lives of the characters, but an event halfway through has brought the threads to together. So now, I'll be interested to see the effect on them. O'Nan writes well, and the audio narrator goes a good job.


message 376: by Cateline (new)

Cateline | 1545 comments Mary Ellen wrote: "I finished Death and Judgment by Donna Leon, the first of her books I've read, and I really enjoyed it. Thus, my plan - taking a bunch of mysteries out of the library with the hope of..."

I like that series too. I'm collecting them as I find some at library sales.

You might like some of Laurie R. King's
books. She has two series, one about Kate Martinelli a San Francisco police detective, and her Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series. I've enjoyed both.


message 377: by Sheila (new)

Sheila | 802 comments I got distracted from Parrot and Olivier in America which I think I shall struggle to finish in a series of short bite sized chunks, I just got board with it.
The distractions took the shape of Restoration which I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the rise and fall of Robert Merivel ; , Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It and What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures great insights, I love Malcolm Gladwell's writing, various books on executive coaching and I started A Game of Thrones which is clearly hitting the spot after the coaching tomes! Linda, I am half way through and well hooked.


message 378: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl Mysteries! I've read about 5 Donna Leon and have pretty much given up. Now they all read the same to me....boring. I attempted the first Maisie Dobbs, didn't like it, and didn't finish. I'm making my way through Nevada Barr, although I started late in the series with Winter Study which was pretty good; after that I started at the beginning. I thought Ill Wind was awful.

I couldn't figure out if Anna Pigeon was supposed to be straight, gay, or bi. She seems very lesbian to me, but she was married to a man, has male lovers, then she falls into a domestic arrangement with a woman whom she seems to be in love with but it's platonic....it's odd, to say the least. I was sure that Nevada Barr must be a lesbian, to write a character like that (and also from the way she describes a lot of her female characters), but no, she has a husband.

I haven't completely exhausted my old standbys: Elizabeth George, P.D. James, Colin Dexter.


message 379: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl Oh, I also enjoyed The Return of the Dancing Master, although it is extremely gory.


message 380: by Ruby (new)

Ruby  Tombstone [With A Vengeance] (rubytombstone) Lobstergirl wrote: "Mysteries! I've read about 5 Donna Leon and have pretty much given up. Now they all read the same to me....boring. I attempted the first Maisie Dobbs, didn't like it, and didn't finish. I'm mak..."

LG - Perhaps it's easier to view sexuality as a continuum. People sit at various places on that continuum, and sometimes where they sit changes throughout their lives.

After Blindness, I was dying for something quick & simple, so I'm onto less arduous territory with Dead Until Dark. Yes - I am actually reading a Sookie Book. But don't tell anyone! Ah well, tomorrow is Lovecraft H-P day, so I think the break is well earned :)


message 381: by Geoff (new)

Geoff Wyss | 427 comments 4 stars for Jenny Erpenbeck's Visitation. On to Orhan Pamuk's The White Castle.


message 382: by Jane (new)

Jane | 452 comments I actually read The Ministry of Special Cases and we had an amazing book club discussion. Lots of disagreement about the author's use of "humor." Some argued that it was absurdity, which is different. All agreed it was about a heartbreaking topic but not about whether the blend of national tragedy and Jewish "humor" or "absurdity" worked. The discussion was great and I felt connected more deeply to the book by the end. Sherry, I'll have to read For the Relief of Unbearable Urges. My friend Chris says it is her favorite collection of short stories.

Now I'm reading The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch. Gorgeous writing about tidal life. I don't even care if a plot emerges, the descriptions are so dazzling. It's like being in a foreign country. I know so little about Puget Sound area tidal life.

Now I


message 383: by Ruby (new)

Ruby  Tombstone [With A Vengeance] (rubytombstone) Jane wrote: "I actually read The Ministry of Special Cases and we had an amazing book club discussion. Lots of disagreement about the author's use of "humor." Some argued that it was absurdity, which is differ..."

I'm really looking forward to the The Ministry of Special Cases, although I expect it to be challenging.


message 384: by Flora (new)

Flora Bateman (BookwormFlo) | 211 comments I'm finally getting started on The Help as well as My Life in France and also The Cat Who Said Cheese


message 385: by Linda (new)

Linda Sheila wrote: "I got distracted from Parrot and Olivier in America which I think I shall struggle to finish in a series of short bite sized chunks, I just got board with it.
The distractions took ..."
I am only slightly ahead of you. My fav character is Tyrion, but I'm also enjoying the others. My reading has always been character driven. I have to either really like or really hate the characters to continue with a book. Martin is very talented when it comes to developing good characters. loving it, but still reading more slowly than I usually do. I want to remember who's who. Not as easy at my age as it used to be.


message 386: by Sue (new)

Sue | 3135 comments Jane wrote: "I actually read The Ministry of Special Cases and we had an amazing book club discussion. Lots of disagreement about the author's use of "humor." Some argued that it was absurdity, which is differ..."

Jane,I'm glad you mentioned
The Highest Tide. I remember that appealed to me when it was released, but I'd forgotten about it.


message 387: by Mary Ellen (new)

Mary Ellen | 1197 comments Cateline: thanks for the suggestions about Laurie King. I've picked up her books once or twice, considered them, then never checked them out of the library. Maybe I'll take the plunge in a future Mystery Marathon. Need one be a big Sherlock Holmes fan to enjoy her Holmes/Russell series? I loved the TV version with Jeremy Brett, but am not a huge fan of the original AC Doyle stories.

Lobstergirl: I've never tried Morse in print (though enjoy the TV version). Thanks for the suggestion! I think I'll wait a little bit before reading another Donna Leon, so I don't get tired of Brunetti's company!


message 388: by Karen M (new)

Karen M I'm listening to My Ántonia. I'm also reading White Oleander and Practical Magic but I think the hurricane has affected me and I haven't felt like reading for the last few days except for My Antonia.


message 389: by Sherry, Doyenne (new)

Sherry | 6929 comments Mary Ellen, I never really got into the original Holmes stories, but I do enjoy the King books, although I'm nowhere near being done with the series. Holmes is such an iconic character, that you'll know enough about him to enjoy the books. I separate them far apart from my readings of Maisie Dobbs, because the time frames are similar (or at least it seems they are) and I would get them confused otherwise.


message 390: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 8888 comments Ruby wrote: "It's a great book, but it is taking MUCH longer to get through than I anticipated. It's at the stage where I don't *really* feel like picking it up, but once I do I enjoy it. Then I realise I've ju..."

I agree it's not always an easy read.


message 391: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 8888 comments Kitty wrote: "I started The Master and Margarita"

Even though it was a CR Reading List choice, I just couldn't wade my way through this one.


message 392: by Carol (last edited Aug 30, 2011 10:42AM) (new)

Carol | 6831 comments Ruth wrote: "Kitty wrote: "I started The Master and Margarita"

Even though it was a CR Reading List choice, I just couldn't wade my way through this one."


It is a bit unusual . So far so good.


message 393: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 8888 comments Reading My Detachment: A Memoir Picked it because I've enjoyed Tracy Kidder's writing before. So far the book is pretty pedestrian.


message 394: by Carol (new)

Carol | 6831 comments I picked up my book that I had on hold at library, so I will have to tuck into it soon. A Moveable Feast. It is an old edition. It was originally price at $4.95. We will never see those prices again for a print book.


TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (Madly77) | 3817 comments Mary Ellen wrote: "I finished Death and Judgment by Donna Leon, the first of her books I've read, and I really enjoyed it. Thus, my plan - taking a bunch of mysteries out of the library with the hope of..."

I like Michael Dibdin's Aurelio Zen mysteries - all set in Italy. I also like Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache set in Quebec Province (mostly in the idyllic village of Three Pines, where a lot of murders disturb the idylls), and Elizabeth George's Inspector Lynley mysteries. My new favorites are Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce, set in the 1950s English countryside, John Banville writing as Benjamin Black (love Ireland), and C.J. Sansom's Matthew Shardlake mysteries taking place in 16th century England (Wolf Hall turned me on to the 16th century).


message 396: by Cateline (new)

Cateline | 1545 comments Lobstergirl wrote: "Mysteries! I've read about 5 Donna Leon and have pretty much given up. Now they all read the same to me....boring. I attempted the first Maisie Dobbs, didn't like it, and didn't finish. I'm mak..."

I've read the first three Maisie Dobbs, and while they were not the most exciting mysteries, I enjoyed them mostly for thoughts of the time. My maternal grandmother was a Matron at the front lines in WWI, so I'm usually interested in a story of a woman that lived through that time.

Finished and loved The Return of the Dancing Master. I was all set to read Wuthering Heights, but the latest Louise Penny book arrived from Amazon...A Trick of the Light, so I expect I'll read that right away. This is the 7th of the series, and while the first one didn't wiggle me that much, I persevered and believe me the series is well worth it! Her character development over the series is deep and most interesting.


message 397: by Cateline (new)

Cateline | 1545 comments Gabrielle,

I haven't gotten into the Zen books...but agree fully with your other mentions. Banville/Black is amazing.


message 398: by Sue (new)

Sue | 3135 comments Gabrielle, I enjoyed the Zen mysteries on PBS and have put this on my list of authors I should try. I like all your ideas.


message 399: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache is on my to-read.

I enjoyed Zen on PBS too. At this point I see no need to read the books, but that may change. I watched all the Inspector Lynley episodes before tackling the books.


message 400: by Philip (new)

Philip | 1271 comments Thanks for this review, Jane, I think I'll try to track this book down.

Jane wrote: "I've just finished Beautiful and Pointless by David Orr. Great subject (poetry) and great book. I would have suggested he omit two of the later chapters because they are too much about poetry infig..."


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Books mentioned in this topic

For the Relief of Unbearable Urges (other topics)
The Seven Dials Mystery (other topics)
Death on the Nile (other topics)
The Accidental Masterpiece: On the Art of Life and Vice Versa (other topics)
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (other topics)
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Authors mentioned in this topic

Susan Choi (other topics)
Joyce Carol Oates (other topics)
John Banville (other topics)
Kristin Kimball (other topics)
Rose Tremain (other topics)
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