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What did you read last month? > What I read -- November 2013

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message 1: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16268 comments I thought I would put this thread up a bit early before people scatter for the holidays.

Share with us what you read in November.

Please provide:
~ A GoodRead link
~ A few sentences telling us how you felt about the book.
~ How would you rate the book


message 2: by Alias Reader (last edited Nov 25, 2013 08:27PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16268 comments Here is what I read in November. I don't think I will finish another book this month but if I do I'll post about it.

Strangers and Neighbors What I Have Learned about Christianity by Living Among Orthodox Jews by Maria Poggi Johnson Strangers and Neighbors: What I Have Learned about Christianity by Living Among Orthodox Jews~Maria Poggi Johnson
Nonfiction
Rate: 3 minus/5
The book is exactly what the title says. I was looking for a bit more. However, it was a short interesting read.

Hush by Eishes Chayil Hush~Eishes Chayil
Fiction
Rate: 4/5
I was totally immersed in this story. I couldn't put it down. It's about an orthodox Jewish young girl and her friend. Something happens and the community wants to hush it up. It's based on a true story. The book is said to be a must read classic.

Raising Cubby A Father and Son's Adventures with Asperger's, Trains, Tractors, and High Explosives by John Elder Robison Raising Cubby: A Father and Son's Adventures with Asperger's, Trains, Tractors, and High Explosives--John Elder Robison
Non fiction
Audio book - read by the author
rate: 2
I was disappointed in this read. I thought I would learn a lot more about aspergers than I did. The author and his son both have aspergers. The first half of the book was tedious with vignettes that only family and close friends might find interesting or amusing. The last part of the book where the son is on trial for using explosives is more interesting. Still, I wouldn't recommend the book.

The Saturday Wife by Naomi Ragen The Saturday Wife--Naomi Ragen
Fiction
Rate: 4+/5
I really enjoyed this book and ended staying up to 2 AM to finish it ! I will definitely read more by this author. In fact, I already requested one from my library. I loved the way she wrote and found the plot interesting. The story is about a new rabbi and his wife. She is unhappy with their poor parish and wishes to move to Connecticut to a super upscale community. I've read that the story is similar to Madame Bovary. I'll have to read that classic.

Eat to Live Cookbook by Joel Fuhrman Eat to Live Cookbook--Joel Fuhrman
nonfiction
Rate: 2/5
The low rating is because I don't see myself making any of the recipes. I think for many you need a vitamix or food processor which I don't have. That said, I loved his book Eat to Live: The Revolutionary Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss. I recommend it and try to follow the principle as best I can.

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult The Storyteller--Jodi Picoult
fiction
rate 2/5
I found the story contrived. I read it for my library group. I was the lone person with issues with the book which I've already posted about.

Well, that's all for now ! I really hope you all take a few minutes to share with us what you read in November.


message 3: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments Alias, do you consider this a good or poor month, as to quality, not numbers? You seem to have had more lower works than usual. Glad you shared.


message 4: by Alias Reader (last edited Nov 26, 2013 09:30AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16268 comments According to GR. (I counted quickly, I may be slightly off a book or two )

This year I have:
5 five star
23 four star
20 three star
9 two star
zero one star


message 5: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments Ideally those numbers sound about right--enough poorly rated to help one appreciate the better written ones. Thanks.


message 6: by Amy (last edited Nov 27, 2013 08:19AM) (new)

Amy (amybf) | 514 comments I'm trying to finish one more before the end of the weekend, but I don't know if I will because it's proving to be a bit of a slog. So I'll just list the ones I've finished up until now.

My reads for November:

Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey: This is science fiction, which is way out of my regular reading habits. I picked it up in an independent bookstore in Vermont because I was intrigued by its origins. The first section of it apparently began as a self-published short story, which the author posted on Amazon in 2011. After reading it, people started writing to the author to ask him to continue the story--they wanted to know what happened to the characters. So he did, and the "Omnibus" contains the entire thing. It's about a community of people who exist in a giant silo underground, hundreds of stories deep, where their ancestors moved after the Earth's atmosphere became too toxic to support human life. When someone breaks the regulations, he/she is sent outside to "clean" the filters--and dies there. I found the book interesting at first, but thought it began to lose steam. And I felt the ending was too abrupt. 3/5 stars

Acceptance: A Legendary Guidance Counselor Helps Seven Kids Find the Right Colleges---And Find Themselves by David L. Marcus: In my house at this moment, we are knee-deep in the college applications process for my youngest son. Thus, I am obsessed with books about college. This one is a narrative of a year in the life of a guidance counselor on Long Island, as detailed by the author, a Pulitzer Prize-winning former education writer for U.S. News & World Report, who followed him around for all the months of the academic year. I enjoyed it ad gave it 4/5 stars. If you aren't embroiled in the college admissions process, you might not be as interested.

Acceptance by Susan Coll: A fictional chronicle of a year in the life in the college admissions cycle. (See above for my rationale for reading it.) It kept me reading, but it wasn't as good as the nonfiction account. 3/5 stars

Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe: Completed as part of my 2013 Determination List. What an important, emotional piece of literature, and how large the ideas that are contained in it. I can't believe I waited this long to read it. From a purely critical view of the writing itself: It's very sentimental and melodramatic, which makes sense since it was originally published in serialized form. But the narrative drives the reader forward at a steady pace. My interest never flagged. And I found myself on the edge of my seat at parts.
The one thing that made me uncomfortable was the constant sermonizing about the redeeming qualities and possibilities offered by Christianity. I felt that I was being preached at and lectured throughout the book, and that an underlying theme was "Christian = good. Not Christian = bad/ignorant/worthy of pity." 4/5 stars.

Double Down: Game Change 2012 by Mark Halperin: I really enjoyed Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime, which the author co-wrote. So I was looking forward to this book. Maybe it was the post-election fatigue--or maybe because the first book had Sarah Palin in it, which made for some fascinating reading--but this one didn't hold the same thrill for me. Plus, there seemed to be a lot of "inside" jokes or stories to which the rest of us weren't privy. For instance, who ever heard Rick Santorum referred to as "Santo"? Not me, and I'm a political junkie. Plus the author had the annoying habit of referring to Romney's campaign as "Boston" and Obama's as "Chicago," as though the cities themselves were at war. 3/5 stars

Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand: Chick lit picked up on the discount pile at Books-A-Million. I should have left it there. 2/5 stars

End of Days: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy by James L. Swanson: An account of JFK's assassination and the days following. It was OK. I feel like there are much better books out there on this topic. 3/5 stars

The Year We Disappeared: A Father - Daughter Memoir by Cylin Busby: In 1979, John Busby, who was a cop in Falmouth, MA, survived an attempt on his life when he was shot in the face by a local criminal who had too many "connections" to be arrested. Overnight, the Busby family was forced to live with 24-hour armed guards, police escorts to school, and no contact with friends. With the shooter still on the loose, the family decided to leave their lives behind and disappear to an unnamed location. The memoir is told in alternating chapters between John and his daughter, Cylin, who was 9 the year that her father was shot. I found the book to be uneven and somewhat hard to believe in spots. 2/5 stars

Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink: After Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans and the floodwaters rose, the power failed and the heat climbed inside the doors of Memorial Hospital. Waiting days for rescue that seemed uncertain, exhausted caregivers chose to designate certain patients last for evacuation. Months later, several Memorial health professionals faced criminal allegations that they deliberately injected numerous patients with drugs to hasten their deaths. This book details the storm, the days afterward, and the investigation into the allegations of euthanasia. Well written, but I gave it 3/5 stars because I found it almost too detailed in parts and my interest started to flag.


message 7: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16268 comments Amy wrote:
Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey: This is science fiction, which is way out of my regular reading habits. I picked it up in an independent bookstore in Vermont because I was intrigued by its origins. The first section of it apparently began as a self-published short story, which the author posted on Amazon in 2011. After reading it, people started writing to the author to ask him to continue the story--they wanted to know what happened to the characters. So he did, and the "Omnibus" contains the entire thing. It's about a community of people who exist in a giant silo underground, hundreds of stories deep, where their ancestors moved after the Earth's atmosphere became too toxic to support human life. When someone breaks the regulations, he/she is sent outside to "clean" the filters--and dies there. I found the book interesting at first, but thought it began to lose steam. And I felt the ending was too abrupt. 3/5 stars
."
------------

I purchased Wool when it was a kindle deal but haven't read it yet. A friend and neighbor of mine is enjoying it. She said it started slow but she is totally into it now.


message 8: by Carol (last edited Nov 27, 2013 07:48PM) (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments Hi! It's such a busy month with the holidays, that I don't think I'll be able to finish my 400+ pages by Saturday. I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!! (I'm doing this in between making coconut macaroon cookies and seven layer bars.)

November 2013 Reads

The Brontë Sisters The Brief Lives of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne by Catherine Reef The Brontë Sisters: The Brief Lives of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne--Catherine Reef
Non Fiction
5/5
Excellent, complete biography on the entire family, great photos and information I have never read before.

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman The Light Between Oceans--M.L. Stedman
Fiction
3/5
I read the whole book, at times I felt that it dragged on, with nothing unexpected. I actually felt for her when she had her second miscarriage. Her husband truly loved her by letting her be first, even though he knew it could destroy their marriage.

Fanny Burney The Mother of English Fiction by Nigel Nicolson Fanny Burney: The Mother of English Fiction--Nigel Nicolson
Non Fiction
4/5
What an amazing, strong woman. Raised by her dad, Dr. Charles Burney, he named her Frances but went by "Fanny." She published 5 novels but her plays- unsuccessful. Virginia Woolf is the one who called Fanny the "Mother of English Fiction." In 1811, she noticed "a swelling lump" in her breast and told that an operation must take place with her completely awake, it is amazing what she went through, read it here --www.goodreads.com/review/show/758594304

The Torrents of Spring by Ernest Hemingway The Torrents of Spring --Ernest Hemingway
Fiction
3/5
It is a satirical parody of the literary style of Hemingway's fellow expatriates/writers at that time. The story of Yogi Johnson and Scripps O'Neil as they go about their lives in a small town in Michigan.

The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin The Aviator's Wife-- Melanie Benjamin
Fiction
5/5
Anne Morrow Lindbergh was a shy girl, Smith College graduate who met Charles Lindbergh in Mexico with her family. Lindbergh was "the courageous aviator" whose solo flight across the Atlantic made him a hero and the most famous man in the world overnight. They married in a private ceremony, and her life was changed forever. He taught her to fly; in 1930 she flew solo for the first time, and became the "first American Women to earn a first-class glider pilot’s license". Together they also explored routes between continents, and were the first to fly from Africa to South America, and explored polar air routes from North America to Asia & Europe. Unfortunately tragedy hit home -- the kidnapping of their first child, and weeks later finding him dead. Anne gave birth to 5 more children. Lindberg believed that the world worshipped him (reminds me of Hemingway) unfortunately, Anne didn't realize that until later. After 45 years married, she learned of his 3 other mistresses & 6 kids. Anne wrote an essay Gifts from the Sea and 2 books:North to the Orient (1935) and Listen! The Wind (1935).

The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier The Last Runaway-- Tracy Chevalier
Fiction
4.5/5
Departing from 1850 England, Honor and her sister, Grace, (both Quakers) take a voyage to America where Grace will marry in Ohio. They land and unfortunately, Grace comes down with yellow fever and dies leaving Honor to travel to Ohio to meet Grace's fiancé. America is very different from home. Honor is grateful for a ride to Ohio but on the way meets up with a young man, Donovan, who scares her by jumping aboard the wagon. He insists that a fugitive slave could be hidden in the trunk on the wagon. Honor gives him her key to unlock her trunk, and finds he is wrong. Honor works for a milliner, who is Donovan's sister. Honor has a talent for sewing as she has made many quilts. She marries. Donovan scouts out fugitive slaves, but in all he does, his heart is with Honor. Sweet, but tragic ending.

Zealot The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth--Reza Aslan
Non Fiction
1/5
This controversial new book is written with the authority of a ground breaking revelation from the writers viewpoint. But I felt that it read more like historical fiction.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt Tell the Wolves I'm Home--Carol Rifka Brunt
Fiction
5/5
I love this book!! June, a shy, isolated, young teen, has a endearing, close-relationship with her godfather/uncle/the artist, who unfortunately dies prematurely. With this loss, June's world is off-kilter and asks questions that her mother (his sister) refuses to answer. June's life is trapped in chaos as she tries to understand what happened. A painting by her uncle, of her and her sister, arrives at June's house which stirs terrible loss her mother dealt with years ago with her brother. In NYC, June meets her uncle's "partner" who not only helps her to heal, but him as well. Tragically, he succumbs to the same fate, and June is the only one strong enough to do the right thing by bringing him to her home to die.

Z A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald--Therese Anne Fowler
Fiction
5/5
Zelda was always very independent (youngest of 5). The Sayres, a prominent Southern family in Montgomery, as a child Zelda was enjoyed ballet, and loved attention --like wearing a flesh colored bathing suit to fuel rumors that she swam nude. Zelda met Fitzgerald (he was a second lieutenant) in Montgomery. He fell head-over-heels in love with her, and was determined to marry her. After the success of his first published novel, he cabled Zelda & they married in NYC. For Zelda, marriage represented a new lease on life, and the ONLY WAY OUT of her small-town existence. Little did she know what she got herself into. Zelda was a loving mom, very intelligent and an excellent ballet dancer and author, but anything creative that she wanted to do was eliminated by Fitzgerald. He reminds me of Hemingway -- self-centered, macho man. I believe her mental status was due to Fitzgerald's tight grip over her. She was placed in an institution, every night taking a sleeping pill before bed. One night a fire broke out, and Zelda, along with other women, died in the fire.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson Life After Life--Kate Atkinson
Fiction
4.5/5
This is the first book I have read by Kate Atkinson. Life after Life focuses on Ursula Todd, her reoccurring deaths, and perpetual lives. The first third of the book is filled with Ursula's childhood and many deaths; where as the remaining 2/3 is more spread out, and we get to know the characters. Ursula has many relationships-- an adulterous affair, an abusive marriage, close to her sister, Pamela who is her ally against nasty brother Maurice. With each death ("darkness falls"), Ursula returns with an intuitive knowledge of what came before, and she seems to choose a different course. Overall, I really enjoyed the book!

The Wit and Wisdom of Jane Austen Quotes From Her Novels, Letters, and Diaries by Jane Austen The Wit and Wisdom of Jane Austen: Quotes From Her Novels, Letters, and Diaries--Jane Austen
Non Fiction
5/5
What an excellent book! There are quotes and parts of letters that Jane wrote to family and friends, especially her sister Cassandra. Jane was quite interesting in her speech and letter writing. Jane loved dry irony and in this book we can see it in her letters to all family members. Here are two -- "If Mrs. Freeman is anywhere above the ground give my best compliments to her." and "You deserve a longer letter than this; but it is my unhappy fate seldom to treat people so well as they deserve."

Black List (Scot Harvath, #11) by Brad Thor Black List--Brad Thor
Fiction
3/5
Senior book group, I'm not into murdering-thriller-espionage books but I have to say that it made me nervous just thinking about everything we do on the Internet, online banking, etc. and who could be watching you, or worse things that we can't even fathom.

The Landlady's Master by George MacDonald The Landlady's Master --George MacDonald
Fiction
5/5
Three childhood friends (Alexa Fordyce, daughter of the Laird; Andrew Ingram, tenant; and Dawtie, daughter of a cottage couple) come of age and are driven apart by class. MacDonald chronicles the journeys of the 3 by confronting them with the miserly avarice of the Laird and the matrimonial advances of George Crawford. MacDonald is great at showing how infinitely more important character is than class or money.

It's All Good Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great by Gwyneth Paltrow It's All Good: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great--Gwyneth Paltrow
3/5
Ok, just ths smoothies looked worth making.

Dawn of the Belle Epoque The Paris of Monet, Zola, Bernhardt, Eiffel, Debussy, Clemenceau, and Their Friends by Mary McAuliffe Dawn of the Belle Epoque: The Paris of Monet, Zola, Bernhardt, Eiffel, Debussy, Clemenceau, and Their Friends--Mary McAuliffe
Non Fiction
4/5
McAuliffe takes us back to the years following the collapse of the Second Empire, and France's venture into the Third Republic. The Belle Epoque was in full flower, but the decades between were difficult. Yet these same years witnessed a blossoming in art, literature, poetry, and music, with Monet, Zola, Rodin, and Debussy; even Gustave Eiffel, as well Sarah Bernhardt, Georges Clemenceau, Marie Curie, and César Ritz. A second book related to this is coming out in January 2014.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman The Ocean at the End of the Lane--Neil Gaiman
Fiction
5/5
Excellent story!! I read it in one sitting, I just couldn't put it down. I will have to check out his other books, I have only read Coraline.


message 9: by Lesley (last edited Nov 27, 2013 08:15PM) (new)

Lesley | 239 comments Carol, what I great reading month you had, with variety and several 5 star reads! I have added Fanny Burney and Z to my TBR. I also enjoyed The Last Runaway.


message 10: by Madrano (last edited Nov 28, 2013 07:16AM) (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments Amy, thanks for the history of Wool, it's neat. I also appreciate you comment on Halperin's book. I wondered if it would be as good as the earlier, which held more interest for me from the beginning.

Carol, like Lesley, i've added the Burney bio to my TBR. I've only read long online bios of her, unaware there was a book form. Thanks.

Have you read any of Anne Morrow Lindbergh's autobiographies? I read the first two, really liking the first, which was more about her & less about her husband. I'm not sure i'd have the patience for a novel about her, though.


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

Ah you are all putting me to shame with your lots of books read! The days in November have just completely galloped away from me, but I have some time off in December so hopefully I will make up for it.

I doubt I will finish Kavalier & Clay by Saturday so here goes my short list:

On Writing by Stephen King
Rating 4/5
This book was made up of C.V (autobiographical), Toolbox (writing basics) and On Writing (self-explanatory!). The third part I would give 4.5 stars to as it was my favourite section and covered much of how King got the ideas for and wrote his books, plus a lot of insight into what he thinks is good writing, how to improve and his theories on what is important in a book. I was also rather moved by the last chapter that dealt with his near-fatal accident. The CV section was good, it's just I have read many interviews with King and already knew a lot of it. On the whole I thought this was pretty great and a wonderful glimpse into the writer's brain of one of my favourites. My only complaint would be that I wish that it was longer and more in depth. I could have read many more pages on what gives King his ideas and how his mind works. I hope one day he writes a full autobiography.

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
Rating 3.5/5
This would have been more of a 2.5-3 star rating if The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street hadn't also been in my copy. I found the letters OK and sometimes amusing but not very enlightening and a little pointless. I didn't see much relationship progression in the letters over twenty years and the insight into the times gleaned from them was minimal. But it took me hardly any time to read and was inoffensive enough. The second part was the diary Hanff kept of her trip to London and was much more enjoyable. I enjoyed seeing London through her eyes and appreciated the history of the capital all the more for it. Her literary journeys made me swell up with admiration for Shakespeare et al. Also I loved her explanation of how picking up one book led her to another and another and I had fond thought of how reading a lot is the most wonderful rabbit hole to fall into!

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Rating 4/5
I picked this up as a bit of light reading this weekend and rattled through it in 24 hours. It was a dark, cynical and fairly well-written story and I enjoyed its view on selfish modern life. The twist in the tale was nowhere near as shocking as it thinks it was because I saw it within the first few chapters. But I liked the fast reading structure and the horrible characters and derived a strange fascination with all the nasty goings-on. Not the kind of book I usually read but a decent diversion for a Sunday afternoon!


message 12: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16268 comments Carol wrote: "Hi! It's such a busy month with the holidays, that I don't think I'll be able to finish my 400+ pages by Saturday. I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!! (I'm doing this in between making cocon..."

OMG, What a great reading month you had, Carol !


message 13: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16268 comments Soph wrote: "Ah you are all putting me to shame with your lots of books read! The days in November have just completely galloped away from me, but I have some time off in December so hopefully I will make up fo..."

I enjoyed the Stephen King book, also. And the book list at the end was fun to read. I love lists !

I also read 84 Charing. It was a long time ago. I think I gave it a 3 also.

Thanks for sharing, Soph !


message 14: by Amy (new)

Amy (amybf) | 514 comments Soph, I also raced through "Gone Girl." It wasn't the best-written book I've ever read in terms of the structure, but it sure was a hell of a read! I read it over a 48-hour period.


message 15: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments Fanny Burney: The Mother of English Fiction is published by Short Books, only 112 pages.

I read On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft a few years back, thought it was great. (I did not know about his accident / recovery).

I've been wanting to read Gone Girl. Must add to my list.

I called my boys this morning and my youngest answered and told me he was cooking a turkey-- A TOTAL SURPRISE!!! (He never cooked anything ever.) He went grocery shopping yesterday. Not bad for a 23 yr. old!!


message 16: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments Soph wrote: "Ah you are all putting me to shame with your lots of books read! The days in November have just completely galloped away from me, but I have some time off in December so hopefully I will make up fo..."

Soph, i was enchanted enough by the Hanff books to read what Helene Hanff's ]Q's Legacy as well. It was a pleasure to read literary references in the first two books, as well as to better understand post War UK. You post was like a visit with an old buddy.


message 17: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16268 comments Carol wrote: I called my boys this morning and my youngest answered and told me he was cooking a turkey-- A TOTAL SURPRISE!!! (He never cooked anything ever.) He went grocery shopping yesterday. Not bad for a 23 yr. old!! ..."

The first time I made a turkey I cleaned the inside of the turkey with rubber gloves on. When we finished dinner and I was cleaning the rest of the meat and stuffing off the bird I found a paper towel inside. With the gloves on I didn't feel the paper. Good thing it was a moist turkey or it would have caught fire !


message 18: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments Funny story, Alias. As a sort of side dish, I share this. My mother-in-law lost her hearing aid (well, one of the set) one Thanksgiving. She found it a few months later in the turkey gravy she froze after the T-Day meal. At least she remembered having it on during the meal! It probably fell in while she cleaned up. Still...


message 19: by Madrano (last edited Dec 01, 2013 06:39AM) (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments Carol wrote: "Fanny Burney: The Mother of English Fiction is published by Short Books, only 112 pages...."

Thanks for sharing that additional fact, Carol. That'll be the one i read!

What I Read. Only two, both short. Curiously, both had settings in Louisiana, a fact I didn't know when i read the first.

Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie, a long poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It was mentioned during our visit at a Museum about the Acadians evicted from Canada, some of whom found a home in the bayous. The descriptions were perfect for some of the flora there. Interestingly, the poem isn't only set there, so readers have Longfellow's descriptions of other parts of the country, as well.

Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup is about a free African American who was sold as a slave. The horrors he witnessed as a slave and cruelties upon others was awful and sad. In addition, I must say the work was informative because he shared the way crops were raised and used, as well as stories about what little private time slaves had.


message 20: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16268 comments Madrano wrote: She found it a few months later in the turkey gravy she froze after the T-Day meal. At least she remembered having it on during the meal! It probably fell in while she cleaned up. Still...

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

:) And hearing aids are expensive !


message 21: by Meredith (new)

Meredith | 103 comments My November reads

Cast On, Kill OffMaggie Sefton
Rating 3/5
This is a book in a cozy series I read. I needed a light and non taxing read. This fit the bill
The End of Your Life Book Club byWill Schwalbe
Rating 5/5
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I do not remember when I enjoyed a book so much. I found this memoir a wrk filled with joy and love


message 22: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16268 comments I am so happy to see you enjoyed The End of you Life Book Club as much as I did, Meredith. I listened to the audio which was read by her son, so that also added to the enjoyment. I really thought it was going to be a depressing read but it wasn't. I thought the mom lived an amazing life. I also enjoyed the reading list. Here is the GoodReads list of the books mentioned.

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/3...


message 23: by Susan from MD (last edited Dec 01, 2013 03:58PM) (new)

Susan from MD | 402 comments So, I read a few short stories and short novels, and a couple of longer books.

Utopia - 3.5/5
Interesting book that was not exactly what I thought it would be! The book described the "rules" of a society that had essentially eliminated poverty and need, creating an environment in which everyone "belonged". On the down side, it seemed to have a lot of rules for my taste and dictated a way of life. If a man was into farming and associated activities, it might be a very nice life, but women, children and scholars/innovators had fairly limited options. Given that this was written in 1516, I'll cut Thomas More some slack! This may well have looked like a perfect world and some aspects surpass what we have achieved, but at a fairly high cost.

The Necklace and Other Short Stories - 4/5
Read this with the group as part of our short story month, so comments are in that thread. It was an interesting story and a cautionary tale of the perils of trying to live above one's means.

Why I Live at the P.O. - 3.5/5
Also read with the group, so comments are in that thread. It was an interesting story of a family squabble, jealousy and pride taken to extreme levels.

Catch-22 - 3/5
This book had a lot of great points and I enjoyed parts of it, but too often, it went a bit over-the-top for me. I get that it was supposed to be absurdist (mission accomplished on that) but I think I'm not much of an absurdist type of gal! However, it really hit home about how war can bring out the worst in some people - pettiness, ambition at all costs, power, etc. I really enjoyed the discussion in the Group Reads thread - thanks in particular to Alias and Soph for contributing so much to the discussion; I also have notes in my Determination List thread. I haven't seen the movie yet - it's on my Netflix list, but I've been watching "The World at War" (the 1974 documentary on WWII) and it's 11 DVDs, which I get one at a time! It's taking a while. Interestingly, one of the interviewees is Joseph Heller; another is author Lawrence Durrell, brother of My Family and Other Animals author Gerald Durrell.

Midnight's Children - 4/5
Very interesting book that tells a story of the children born in the first hour of India's independence. The main character is one of the most "powerful" children who leads a somewhat adventure-filled life (or at least the first 30 years of it!), though not always for the best. One of the key themes is that he feels that he was destined to do something great, but is not sure what that is or how to accomplish it - this theme was also found in the next two short novels I read. More notes are in my Determination List thread.

Breakfast at Tiffany's - 4/5
This novella is a lovely story about a young author and his down-stairs neighbor, Holly Golightly. The author and Holly are both seeking "something" and are trying to figure out where they belong. In 1958, when it was written, the story must have struck a cord with some, but been quite an alien concept to others. Now, it is probably closer to reality for many young adults starting out in life - though hopefully not modeling Holly's career choices!

Notes from Underground - 4/5
In the introduction to Crime and Punishment, it is mentioned that Notes from the Underground serves as sort of a preface to the later novel. So, I decided to read this before starting C&P, since it is sitting on my shelf! This short novel is an interesting book - the first part is sort of a discussion of scenarios that deal with human nature - free will, ambition, jealousy, etc. It is fairly random. The second part of the book is essentially a story of a man who is incredibly self-absorbed and self-loathing. He manages to alienate everyone around him, while patting himself on the back for "not giving in" to others and standing his ground. He justifies ranting and being obnoxious by the fact that he is more intelligent than everyone else. His poverty, though, is a source of shame. There is a lot more in this book and I will come back to it at another time. I'll probably find another translation, though, as this seemed "over-translated" to me in that it seemed to be the translator's voice rather that the author's (note, the linked version is not the one I read, so don't blame this version for my comments!).


message 24: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16268 comments Very nice reading month, Susan. I enjoyed discussing the group reads with you.


message 25: by Susan from MD (new)

Susan from MD | 402 comments It was great to check off Midnight's Children and Catch-22 from my Determination List for this year and from my larger spreadsheet that compiles the "1001 books to read before you die" and various other "great books" lists.

But also nice was to knock off Breakfast at Tiffany's, Utopia and Notes from the Underground, which are all on on my spreadsheet and were on my draft 2014 Determination List! So, while I spent some time on these that I could have put toward the rest of my 2013 DL, I got an early start on next year!


Carolyn (in SC) C234D | 82 comments Meredith wrote: "My November reads


Totally agree with your comments on THE END OF YOUR LIFE BOOK CLUB, Meredith. Just finished it for our next book group meeting. Very moving and enjoyable. What an amazing woman!



message 27: by Alias Reader (last edited Dec 02, 2013 07:50AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16268 comments Susan wrote: "It was great to check off Midnight's Children and Catch-22 from my Determination List for this year and from my larger spreadsheet that compiles the "1001 books to read before you die" and various ..."
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You are doing amazingly well with your Determination Lists, Susan. Congratulations !


message 28: by Amy (new)

Amy (amybf) | 514 comments Alias Reader wrote: "You are doing amazingly well with your Determination Lists, Susan. Congratulations ! ..."

Yes, you are much more disciplined than I am! I'm finding that the minute I put a book on a list of "things I MUST read," I immediately am resistant to the idea of reading it. It's like I don't want anybody telling me what I have to read--even when it's ME telling me what to read!

I apparently have issues. ;)


message 29: by Susan from MD (new)

Susan from MD | 402 comments Well, "issues" aside, it's all about playing mind games with yourself, Amy!

I used to have the same feeling about reading lists, but now I look at it as a guide or "a bunch of books I want to read". If I don't finish, I can just move them to next year's list. In the past couple of years, I've read or re-read 67 classic novels that were on my shelves (and I may add one or two more by the end of the year) - without my lists, I may have read some, but probably not all.

The other bonus is that I love to check things off a list. So, the more I stick to the list, the more I can cross off! That said, I will not finish my DL this year - all four remaining books are quite long, especially War & Peace. I'm hoping to get through Crime & Punishment and Ulysses by the end of December, which will leave W&P for next year. My fourth unread book will probably be delayed for a year or two while I concentrate more on fiction.


message 30: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments Susan wrote: "I'll probably find another translation, though, as this seemed "over-translated" to me in that it seemed to be the translator's voice rather that the author's..."

The first time i " read" Notes From Underground" i was driving from Texas to Oregon. While interesting, i knew I was missing much. The second time, I found it to be a different book & suspect the translation was the difference. I wouldn't swear to that, as it may be i was more wrapped up in the dramatic interpretation.


message 31: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16268 comments Susan wrote: I'm hoping to get through Crime & Punishment and Ulysses by the end of December, which will leave W&P for next year. My fourth unread book will probably be delayed for a year or two while I concentrate more on fiction.
."


I found the online Cliffs type notes very helpful for Crime and Punishment. If I recall correctly, when I read it, they explained the connections the book was making to various philosophies. That would have gone completely over my head. There were more things, but I read it many years ago.


message 32: by [deleted user] (new)

Crime and Punishment AND Ulysses by the end of the year?! Susan you are a reading MACHINE! :)

You have done a brilliant job on your list this year and excellent books too. I have Classics envy!


message 33: by Susan from MD (last edited Dec 10, 2013 05:32PM) (new)

Susan from MD | 402 comments Alias Reader wrote: "Susan wrote: I'm hoping to get through Crime & Punishment and Ulysses by the end of December, which will leave W&P for next year. My fourth unread book will probably be delayed for a year or two wh..."

I looked at sparknotes online for C&P - it was very helpful - and I read Notes from the Underground, which was very helpful. I think this is one of those books that you have to do a lot of prep reading to really understand the broader philosophical issues. I got the "personal" level (personalities and interpersonal relationships) and the "societal" level issues of urban poverty and religion, for example.

I think the next time I read this book (!), I will really try to read more philosophy and other background readings before undertaking it. It's complex and I'm not sure I was up to a tri-level reading experience, as rich as that might be!


message 34: by Michele (new)

Michele Weiner | 160 comments Carol wrote: "Hi! It's such a busy month with the holidays, that I don't think I'll be able to finish my 400+ pages by Saturday. I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!! (I'm doing this in between making cocon..."

I have read so many of the same books!! Eerie. Thanks for the reviews.


message 35: by Michele (new)

Michele Weiner | 160 comments Totally late with everything this month. Here's my list, and I enjoyed reading yours. Thanks.

Il posto di ognuno: L'estate del commissario RicciardiThis translates to Everyone In Their Place: The Summer of Commissario Ricciardi. I didn't read it in Italian, but can't seem to change the edition. It's a wonderful detective who has some supernatural talent- he can see dead people and hears their last words or thoughts. His city is Naples, the time is 1931. Not only is there a satisfying mystery with Nazis, there is a love story. 4 stars

La prima indagine di Montalbano More edition trouble!! This is Montalbano's First Case. The detective is in Sicily, and he is an old-fashioned Maigret type of policeman plodding along to find out who tried to kill the judge. An unusual plot. 3.75 stars

How the Light Gets In I can't explain why I keep reading Louise Penny. I thought this one was better than some. It's about corruption and murder in a small town that her detective knows well, having visited before. It's like Cabot Cove in that respect. More murders there than seem possible statistically in such a remote village.. I gave it 3 stars

Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital Amazing and sometimes boring. What happened at Memorial, contrasted with what happened in NYC, for example, was incredibly sad and unnecessary. It might have been murder. I especially appreciated the discussion of the doctors' and nurses' behavior in the aftermath. Some dead-on observations about the personalities of the perps, the passivity of people who knew better, crisis management or lack thereof, the media's role in creating fear and loathing, and the effect of paranoia on good judgment. 4 stars

The Goldfinch An unusual story that begins in Manhattan with the break-up of a family, the beginning of a life of bad choices for a young boy, and a terroristic act that puts this stunned boy in possession of a singularly important work of art. The best part for me was Boris. I laughed every time he appeared. The characters were great, but unfortunately there were massive boring parts too, and I believe Ms. Tartt was in dire need of a good editor on this one. I could have made it better myself!! 3.25 for self-indulgence

The Family: Three Journeys into the Heart of the Twentieth Century In the Jewish Pale of Settlement - in far western Russia, lived a family descended from the priestly tribe of Israel, the Cohens in English, or in Russian, the HaKoens. In the early years of the twentieth century, the descendants of this scholarly Russian family split up. One branch came to America, where they founded several successful businesses including Maidenform lingerie. Another went to Israel and sacrificed for decades to make a keep a country. The third branch remained in Russia, and perished in the Holocaust. None of these families escaped unscathed. An interesting study of some difficult people and the costs of emigration, as well as the cost of staying put despite all evidence that you should go. 4 stars


message 36: by Susan from MD (new)

Susan from MD | 402 comments Thanks for your comments, Michele! I love your description of the first book - it sounds really interesting.

I'm glad that Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital is good - I just don't think I can go there at the moment, but will put it on the list.

I'm interested in your take on The Goldfinch - I picked this up as a Kindle deal. I had mixed feelings about The Secret History, so I was hesitant about getting this one. I think I'll let it sit on the Kindle for a while!


message 37: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments Hi Michele! I was very surprised how many books we have in common.

My review of The Goldfinch was 5 stars compared to your 3.25. This was my first read by Donna Tartt. I think visiting The Frick and seeing, in person, The Goldfinch painting the day before I read this book made the story real. Boris was unique!

I will definitely check out Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital.


message 38: by Lesley (last edited Dec 11, 2013 12:41AM) (new)

Lesley | 239 comments This is the second attempt at listing my November reads. We are sooo far behind with internet connection here in rural Aust. (sorry, had to whinge!)

Here are my reads from last month.

The God of Small Things This is the story of a Kerala, India family daily life really, but it was metaphor after bad metaphor for me. My second attempt at this, and listened to it this time. 1 star.

Escape NF, authors memoirs of her early life in a polygamist community on the Utah - Arizona border, and here escape from the group. Eye-opening and interesting. 4 stars.

The Sense of an EndingThe wonderings and wanderings of a middle-aged English man. Too rambling for me really, but still insightful I guess. 2 stars.

The Sun Also Rises Audio. A handful of ex-pats drink and ruminate in Nth Spain and Paris. Funny at times, but sad. Love the style and so well narrated by William Hurt. 4 stars.

For Whom the Bell Tolls Yes, two Hemingways in a fortnight. And I liked this too, though I wish I knew more Spanish history. Both these Hemingways had me wanting to book a trip to Madrid. 3 stars.

The Nose Weird and funny short story about a St Petersburg official whose nose takes on a life of its own. Not sure how this makes the '1001 books to read' list. 2 stars.

Heart of Darkness Set in the Belgian colony of the Congo in the 1890s, a boat captain sets out along the Congo to retrieve an ivory trader who has gone mad in the depth of the jungle. This started out well but ended a bit weak. 3 stars.


message 39: by Amy (new)

Amy (amybf) | 514 comments Michele wrote: "Totally late with everything this month. Here's my list, and I enjoyed reading yours. Thanks..."

I read "Five Days at Memorial" last month, too--I had the same thoughts that you had, Michele. There were some really good parts and some boring parts. I gave it 3/5 stars because I found it almost too detailed in parts and my interest started to flag. But it was well written.

I'm also interested to see your review of "The Goldfinch." I've heard such conflicting things about that book--it seems people either love, love, LOVE it or they really, really don't. And the comments from the people who don't always include remarks about how it could/should have been edited better. I'm with Susan--I might have to let this one sit while I consider whether or not to tackle it.


message 40: by Amy (new)

Amy (amybf) | 514 comments Lesley wrote: "This is the second attempt at listing my November reads. We are sooo far behind with internet connection here in rural Aust. (sorry, had to whinge!)

Here are my reads from last month.

[book:The G..."


I read "The God of Small Things" last year, Lesley--sorry to hear you didn't enjoy it. It is certainly bleak, and evokes a sense of impending disaster through much of the story. However, I found the writing to be vivid and wonderful in parts. While it didn't quite meet my high expectations, in the end, I gave it 3/5 stars.


message 41: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16268 comments Susan wrote:
I looked at sparknotes online for C&P - it was very helpful ."


I think I used Cliffs notes. It was the various schools of philosophy that I recall it helped me with most.

When reading classics I also recommend choosing the Norton Critical editions. They are a tad more money but the footnotes and the various essays and other things they include are so worth it.

http://books.wwnorton.com/books/subje...


message 42: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16268 comments Michele wrote: "Totally late with everything this month. Here's my list, and I enjoyed reading yours. Thanks.

Il posto di ognuno: L'estate del commissario RicciardiThis translates to Everyone In Th..."


I really enjoyed reading your reviews, Michele. I know this time of year can be hectic so I appreciate you taking the time.

Five days at Memorial is appearing on many best books of the year lists. So I liked reading your take on it.


message 43: by Alias Reader (last edited Dec 11, 2013 07:16AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16268 comments Lesley wrote: "This is the second attempt at listing my November reads. We are sooo far behind with internet connection here in rural Aust. (sorry, had to whinge!).."

Sorry for your internet issues, Lesley. I appreciate you trying again to post your list.

I really enjoyed reading your reviews.

I very much liked reading the two Hemingway books you listed. Since I am into audio books now, I also liked your comment on that aspect.

I own God of small things but keep reading bad reviews from people about it. :( I've seen the author on Book TV and found her to be very interesting.

Since you enjoyed Escape, you should read the excellent
Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith--Jon Krakauer

I also own Heart of Darkness. It's such a short story I should just read it.


message 44: by Michele (new)

Michele Weiner | 160 comments Susan wrote: "Alias Reader wrote: "Susan wrote: I'm hoping to get through Crime & Punishment and Ulysses by the end of December, which will leave W&P for next year. My fourth unread book will probably be delayed..."

Wow. I'm impressed by your method. You assign yourself pre-reading, too. What discipline.


message 45: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments Thanks for taking the time to share thoughts on books read last month. Not only is it better late than never but some of us make notes at the end of the next book, to get titles all together, if that makes sense.

To post despite connection issues is particularly welcome, Lesley. Thank you for continuing to "only connect" with us. It is appreciated!

deb


message 46: by Susan from MD (new)

Susan from MD | 402 comments Mike wrote: "Heart of Darkness had a good overall theme, but I struggled to read through it. It wasn't exactly a page turner."

That was my experience, too, Mike. I'm glad I read it, but it won't be on my re-read list!


message 47: by Susan from MD (last edited Dec 11, 2013 02:43PM) (new)

Susan from MD | 402 comments Michele wrote: "Susan wrote: "Alias Reader wrote: "Susan wrote: I'm hoping to get through Crime & Punishment and Ulysses by the end of December, which will leave W&P for next year. My fourth unread book will proba..."

Alias is much better at doing the background reading than I am!

For classics, it's helpful to get the general context of the story - when we read these books as part of courses in school, there is usually some background that comes with it. I have a general knowledge of history so can muddle through with most novels set in the 19th - 21st centuries, but sometimes specifics about the setting or prevailing views are critical to having a richer experience.

Alias mentioned the Norton Critical editions, which are terrific; I like the Everyman Library editions - both of these series include some background materials, which are really helpful.

Because I have so many books to get through, I do limit my prep reading to the essentials! Also, I've decided that, at least for now, I'm more interested in what I get from the book than what the author was trying to say. That's not to say I'm not interested in the author's point - I am - but I'm reading to enjoy the characters and stories, if that makes sense. Classics can be read on so many levels - that's why they're classics, I guess - so I'm focusing more on the personal and societal levels, with just a sprinkling of the philosophical!


message 48: by Michele (new)

Michele Weiner | 160 comments And I'm reading Divergent. You people are making me look very shallow.

I hope everyone has a perfect Christmas.


message 49: by Michele (new)

Michele Weiner | 160 comments Madrano wrote: "Thanks for taking the time to share thoughts on books read last month. Not only is it better late than never but some of us make notes at the end of the next book, to get titles all together, if th..."

Well said.


message 50: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16268 comments Michele wrote: "And I'm reading Divergent. You people are making me look very shallow.

I hope everyone has a perfect Christmas."

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Michele, we read everything here. That's what is great about this group. We all have very diverse reading tastes. :)


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