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It's all about you > 2017 Mid-Year Checkin

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message 1: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 636 comments Mod
So, how's everybody's reading year going so far?

Biggest surprises? Giant letdowns? Letting the kids screen overload so you can finish one more chapter... ?


message 2: by Ed (new)

Ed (swampyankee) | 19 comments Badly :-(

I did, finally, read Bindi by Nnedi Okorafor. Worth the wait.


message 3: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 1320 comments Mod
Ed wrote: "Badly :-(

I did, finally, read Bindi by Nnedi Okorafor. Worth the wait."


Yes, yes it was! You know HBO is making a series based on Who Fears Death?


message 4: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 636 comments Mod
Still trying to get to that one myself.

Is the reading year going badly, Ed, because of the books or because you haven't been able to read as much as you'd like?


message 5: by Cora (new)

Cora (Missteacher333) | 42 comments I'm struggling this year. Still working on Voyager.😥


message 6: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 636 comments Mod
Sorry to hear that, Cora. Second half of the year hold any potential for improvement? I hope so!


message 7: by CD (new)

CD  | 121 comments Reading lots of nonfiction this year. US history and journalism has seemed to predominate.

One fiction work that I finished recently, The Plot Against America by Philip Roth, was very topical to the current political chaos.


message 8: by Marc (last edited Aug 28, 2017 11:21AM) (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 636 comments Mod
CD wrote: "One fiction work that I finished recently, The Plot Against America by Philip Roth

I just finished that a couple weeks ago--the similarities in terms of political rhetoric, hate, nationalism/populism were pretty amazing. I decided to follow it up with It Can't Happen Hereby Sinclair Lewis.

Any nonfiction you'd recommend from your recent reads?


message 9: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer | 363 comments I have read some interesting things this year. Like Night Work and Rebecca. I did a re-read of Lord Foul's Bane and have decided that I am not going to re-read the other 5 books. The 40ish year old me cannot handle Thomas Covenant. He needs a kick in the ass, which is funny, because I am reading The Summer Tree for the first time and I am finding it...too easy. Meaning, the characters went along with things just...too easy. So, I need to find a happy medium when it comes to cross over universe stuff.


message 10: by CD (new)

CD  | 121 comments Marc wrote: "CD wrote: "One fiction work that I finished recently, The Plot Against America by Philip Roth

I just finished that a couple weeks ago--the similarities in terms of political...

Any nonfiction you'd recommend from your recent reads? "


Two stand out in the non-fiction category this year:

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
and
Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.

Two different but fine pieces of writing. Both about marginalized and maltreated groups in the US. Historical and current and the same time.


message 11: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 636 comments Mod
Jennifer wrote: "I have read some interesting things this year. Like Night Work and Rebecca. I did a re-read of Lord Foul's Bane and have decided that I am not going to ..."

I really liked the tension and atmosphere in Night Work--I felt like I was looking over my shoulder while I was reading it. Rebecca is one of those books that's been hovering around my TBR list forever--it's not even on a TBR list... it's just one of those books that I'm always like, "oh, hey, I should read that."

Just started reading the Sandman series and now I finally get while Neil Gaiman has such a following! It's not that I've disliked anything of his I've read, it's just that I didn't quite get the hype.


message 12: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 1320 comments Mod
Marc wrote: "...Just started reading the Sandman series and now I finally get while Neil Gaiman has such a following! It's not that I've disliked anything of his I've read, it's just that I didn't quite get the hype..."

Yay! Glad you're liking it. If not for Sandman, I think I would just consider Gaiman a good but overrated writer. Ditto on Rebecca being on that always somewhere on the radar but never in the stack on the bedside table (a largely metaphorical stack for me know since I prefer to read on an e-reader these days.) I vaguely recall really liking the movie, but also recall it had some glaring implausibility.


message 13: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 1320 comments Mod
CD wrote: "Two stand out in the non-fiction category this year:

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
and
Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. ..."


Those are definitely on my TBR, along with The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Unfortunately, I need to do enough extra-curicular reading for my job that I find I resist picking up non-fiction in my down-time. I did read White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America, which is also very good.


message 14: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 636 comments Mod
Whitney wrote: " If not for Sandman, I think I would just consider Gaiman a good but overrated writer."
Feeling sympatico on that one!


message 15: by Marc (last edited Sep 06, 2017 07:46AM) (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 636 comments Mod
So, I've heard a bit about Hillbilly Elegy and some similar books, as well as read various journalistic explorations of the disenfranchised and/or poor white voter, but what always seems to be missing from the conversation is any blame on the system itself. Do authors or subjects in any of these books ever question capitalism? I'm not trying to go full-Marxist on ya here, but many impoverished communities were dependent on large capital (mining, steel, etc.) and those industries either found cheaper labor elsewhere, dried up because imports were cheaper, or found ways to automize via technology. Is the thinking simply that if we had less immigrants, there'd be more jobs for "Americans"? In some cases, I'm sure it may be that simple, but I think the broader picture is much more complicated. Anyhow, just curious how much of these discussions touch on broader economic forces and the way capitalism functions in the U.S. vs just changing demographics, cultural disenfranchisement, etc. I'm not even pretending to have any answers to any of this.


message 16: by CD (new)

CD  | 121 comments Marc wrote: "So, I've heard a bit about Hillbilly Elegy and some similar books, as well as read various journalistic explorations of the disenfranchised and/or poor white voter, but what always seems to be miss..."

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis is a memoir. This is about culture as the title tells the reader and not a study of the modern reasons for its wider social continuation. Many questions related to economic reality are alluded to, but are not the prime focus.

The Bernie Bro's are not the answer to this or similar topics in the USA today. At most they were a knee jerk moment that seemed righteous, but of course are highly impractical.

The Scots-Irish as a whole are generally and have been staunch Democratic Party supporters for decades. This is not a right wing group and to cast them in this aspect in at best the same kind of, but not specifically, the flaw that led to a group of people being called "The Deplorables" not too long ago.

Capitalism is not the issue nor is socialism a valid alternative in these situations. Two works that I have read this year that more specifically address the very issues in this book are Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America and American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America.

Works such as these two above by Congressman James Webb and Colin Woodard are recent works that delve deeply into the roots behind Hillbilly Elegy. Both of the books owe and give great credit to the historical/sociology work of David Hackett Fischer in Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America, Vol. 1.

Any one of these three works is a starting point beyond the story of Hillbilly Elegy.

One question that all of this brings up is, "Who are we really talking about when we resort to the stereotype phrase 'Americans'?"


message 17: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 1320 comments Mod
Marc wrote: "So, I've heard a bit about Hillbilly Elegy and some similar books, as well as read various journalistic explorations of the disenfranchised and/or poor white voter, but what always seems to be miss..."

"White Trash" isn't another tiresome expose about how white people are disenfranchised (I have zero tolerance for that horse shit). Basically, it's a historical look at the class system in the US, and how it's always operated against those of less nobel origins. It's largely a challenge to the belief about how the US is somehow a classless society, even when you take race out of the equation.


message 18: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 636 comments Mod
Thanks for the recs, CD! Glad to hear these books sound rather insightful and nuanced.

Whitney, we don't talk about "class" in America. We work hard and become rich (or we win the lottery). Sheesh!


message 19: by Isabel (new)

Isabel Storey (Isabeldora) | 3 comments Trying to find my way around/within Goodreads again. Now I have 'finished' Mixed Fortunes am left wondering how I filled my time before writing it. So much reading listed here to do, so much reading being done from local library.


message 20: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 636 comments Mod
Something tells me a swell of things will come rushing in to fill that time for you, Isabel!

Just finished and was blown away by The Sea, the Sea.


message 21: by Isabel (last edited Sep 28, 2017 02:52PM) (new)

Isabel Storey (Isabeldora) | 3 comments Marc wrote: "Something tells me a swell of things will come rushing in to fill that time for you, Isabel!

Just finished and was blown away by The Sea, the Sea."


One for my library list. Looks to be right up my street which is a relief in that I am worried as to whom my book will appeal. Have been selecting from library as many as possible which have the length of, etc as mine but so far the content nowhere near aligned with mine - which has lead to some great discoveries. Thank you for the link. Am currently reading Finding Camlann by Sean Pidgeon. The Sea, the Sea now on hold at my local library.


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