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The Sparrow (The Sparrow, #1)
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Readalongs > The Sparrow (Colleen, Joan, Pam, Nichole, and Greg)

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Greg | 7496 comments Mod
We will be reading The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell starting in the beginning of January 2018 (hard to believe but that's now only a few days away!). Anyone is welcome to join us.


message 2: by Laurel (new) - added it

Laurel Bradshaw (llawryf) | 622 comments Ohhh, I should. This has been on my TBR forever.


Greg | 7496 comments Mod
Laurel wrote: "Ohhh, I should. This has been on my TBR forever."

You'd be very welcome Laurel! :)


Joan Happy New Year! I’ll be starting tonight. I often race through books but this seems like one that should be read attentively.
So I’m limiting myself to one or two chapters a day - not sure how long my New Year’s resolution will last though.


message 5: by Cathie (new) - added it

Cathie (cathiebp2) | 635 comments I read this over a year ago and have yet to rate it. Will follow along as it will be interesting to read of updates to the end.


Greg | 7496 comments Mod
Joan wrote: "Happy New Year! I’ll be starting tonight. I often race through books but this seems like one that should be read attentively.
So I’m limiting myself to one or two chapters a day - not sure how long..."


I'm going to start tomorrow Joan :)


Colleen  | 345 comments I'll be starting after I finish my current book (Winter Garden). Looking forward to this with you all.


message 8: by Pam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pam (bluegrasspam) | 670 comments I just started it and am 3% into it. I already love the writing! I want to keep reading but my dog says otherwise. Time for a walk!


Greg | 7496 comments Mod
Pam wrote: "I just started it and am 3% into it. I already love the writing! I want to keep reading but my dog says otherwise. Time for a walk!"

Haha, good to hear Pam, and enjoy your walk!


message 10: by Joan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joan HaHa, Pam, I call my dog my personal trainer because she just won’t let me skip our walk.


message 11: by Pam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pam (bluegrasspam) | 670 comments Joan wrote: "HaHa, Pam, I call my dog my personal trainer because she just won’t let me skip our walk."

That is exactly true! I wish he could understand when I tell him that it is too cold and we have to wait until it warms up!


message 12: by Joan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joan “Reporters thought the world had a right to know.”

Hmm, that statement grabbed my attention.

Like Pam, I’m enjoying the writing, great character sketches I think.


message 13: by Joan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joan Just finished Chapter 4
My how our world has changed since 1996 when this was written.
(view spoiler)


message 14: by Pam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pam (bluegrasspam) | 670 comments I’m just starting ch. 10. I like the alternating timeframe/locations. Do any of you know if there is a literary term for this style of writing? One thing I found odd was a comment in 2019 about one of the characters wondering if the other one was old enough to remember TV. ?? Maybe the author was assuming we would have a different technology other than TV. It’s always interesting when SF novels are written in the not so distant future, which has already past or is very near!


message 15: by Laurel (new) - added it

Laurel Bradshaw (llawryf) | 622 comments Got this at the library, but I have to finish another book first and it is nearly 500 pages. So it may be awhile before I join you.


message 16: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7496 comments Mod
Laurel wrote: "Got this at the library, but I have to finish another book first and it is nearly 500 pages. So it may be awhile before I join you."

That's ok Laurel - we'll be here when you get to it :)


message 17: by Joan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joan Tonight I had to stop at the end of Chapter 5 - there is a lot to think about.


message 18: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7496 comments Mod
I've just barely begun,at the beginning of chapter 3, but I already like the writing style .. vivid but not obtrusive. Completely agree Joan and Pam - the character sketches are great!

Love this quote at the end of chapter 1: "The mission, he thought, probably failed because of a series of logical, reasonable, carefully considered decisions, each of which seemed like a good idea at the time. Like most colossal disasters."

Sadly, isn't that often the truth?

I also like the idea of the (view spoiler) in chapter 2. This could well be a serious problem in the real world soon - as an engineer, I do worry about it.

Pam, I like the alternating timeframes/locations as well! It gives it the feel of an epic scope I think.


message 19: by Joan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joan Finished Chapter 6
For me it is (view spoiler)

I don’t think this tale will inspire pleasant dreams.


message 20: by Greg (last edited Jan 03, 2018 06:58PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7496 comments Mod
Eager to catch up to you Joan so I can open your spoilers! Thanks for including the chapters so I know when I can open them! :)


message 21: by Greg (last edited Jan 03, 2018 08:39PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7496 comments Mod
Joan wrote: "Just finished Chapter 4
My how our world has changed since 1996 when this was written.
[spoilers removed]"


Definitely Joan! I didn't hear about Canada though - how fascinating!

My undergraduate project in Electrical & Computer Engineering in the 1990s was in mapping neural AI networks. I'd have insisted then that truly functioning AI was ages away. But lately the advancements are piling up, a little unsettling really. The positive and negative possibilities are enormous. I sometimes wonder if Elon Musk is right.

I'm mid-chapter 5.


message 22: by Joan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joan I’d love to hear everyone’s reactions to chapter 7
(view spoiler)
I loved that “he paid extra for a viewer” when he phoned friends so he could see their faces.
Ah the days before cell phones,FaceTime and snapchat


message 23: by Joan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joan I had to use Google review Elon Musk’s comments about A.I. - do computers do irony?

In my search, I found this: https://www.theguardian.com/technolog...

Anthony Levandowski has started an organization, “To develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on artificial intelligence and through understanding and worship of the Godhead contribute to the betterment of society.”


message 24: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7496 comments Mod
Joan wrote: "I had to use Google review Elon Musk’s comments about A.I. - do computers do irony?

In my search, I found this: https://www.theguardian.com/technolog......"


A fascinating article Joan!

What worries me most about AI is that it could make a lot of intellectual labor unnecessary in the way that machines made a lot of manual factory labor unnecessary before. That has the potential to really wreak havoc with labor / wages in all sorts of industries. It strikes me as fairly terrifying. I wish I were in a financial position to retire early if I had to! When AI is good enough, it is not at all unfeasible that it will be capable of doing computer programming itself. Elon Musk though talks about AI in much more stark terms - he sounds almost like "I Robot" or the movie The Terminator sometimes, and he is not an unstable or unknowledgeable person. He makes me nervous.

Sorry about the diversion. :)


message 25: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7496 comments Mod
Pam wrote: "I’m just starting ch. 10. I like the alternating timeframe/locations. Do any of you know if there is a literary term for this style of writing? One thing I found odd was a comment in 2019 about one..."

Hopefully I'll catch up soon Pam. I'm not sure if there's a literary term for that style, but as you, I like it! :)


message 26: by Greg (last edited Jan 04, 2018 07:19AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7496 comments Mod
Joan wrote: "Finished Chapter 6
For me it is deeply disturbing...."


I know what you mean Joan - I was a little shocked by how worldly many of the priests and fathers are depicted as being. It could be realistic; I was a little thrown though.

Most of the characters don't seem particularly evil to me, with the possible exception of (view spoiler), but I would hope for a little more from priests and fathers. The inner thoughts of mamy of them are crasser than I'd have expected.

I'm at the beginning of chapter 7.


message 27: by Pam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pam (bluegrasspam) | 670 comments I’m on Ch 17. Finally getting some of the details we’ve been waiting for! I’m dying to know who or what The Sparrow is. Still nothing... and, WTH happened to Emilio on the mission?? I won’t post any spoilers.


message 28: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7496 comments Mod
Pam wrote: "I’m on Ch 17. Finally getting some of the details we’ve been waiting for! I’m dying to know who or what The Sparrow is. Still nothing... and, WTH happened to Emilio on the mission?? I won’t post an..."

You're flying ahead Pam! I'm eager for the solutions of mysteries as well! :)


message 29: by Joan (last edited Jan 04, 2018 11:59AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joan Greg wrote: "Joan wrote: "Finished Chapter 6
For me it is deeply disturbing...."

I know what you mean Joan - I was a little shocked by how worldly many of the priests and fathers are depicted as being. It coul..."


I was (view spoiler) I wasn’t struck by the worldliness of the priests so much as the accurate depiction of humanity.


message 30: by Joan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joan Pam wrote: "I’m on Ch 17. Finally getting some of the details we’ve been waiting for! I’m dying to know who or what The Sparrow is. Still nothing... and, WTH happened to Emilio on the mission?? I won’t post an..."

Wow Pam, you are flying - do you find that it is a book you just cannot put down?
At the end of chap 6 there seem to be a lot of threads that need to come together.

I get a bit irritated by heavy handed foreshadowing, and I feel a bit of that here. I almost start to feel “who cares what happened to Emilio”.
I think foreshadowing to build suspense is a difficult thing for authors to do well.


message 31: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7496 comments Mod
Joan wrote: "Greg wrote: "Joan wrote: "Finished Chapter 6
For me it is deeply disturbing...."

I know what you mean Joan - I was a little shocked by how worldly many of the priests and fathers are depicted as b..."


That makes sense Joan!

I guess what I meant by "worldly" though was concerned like the things of the world and having the pettiness of human things in their hearts. Naively, I would hope pastors and priests would be a little more compassionate, patient, thoughtful, concerned with things like the Sermon of the Mount and love rather than power, ambition, etc.

The behavior of the telescope managers is discouaging and not good, but my expectations are fairly low from managers of commerce who often try to squeeze out profits at any cost. But with people who have supposedly dedicated their life to goodness, I would certainly hope for much better!! I suppose just like anything there are good ones and bad ones. I have known some pastors/priests who embody the Sermon of the Mount beautifully, and I have known others that are quite the opposite. There is nothing more depressing than a power-hungry or a petty priest/pastor!

Completely agree with you about Voelker’s behavior - it's awful!


message 32: by Pam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pam (bluegrasspam) | 670 comments Yes, Joan, I am flying through it because I am enjoying it! I’m also not trying to read another book at the same time. I agree about the fore-shadowing. It’s a little overdone. Around ch. 18 & 19 (~50% point) the details start to emerge!

In ch.19, after a tragic event, Anne asks a question that I think many people would ask! I would’ve. I feel like I know the answer, though.

When you all were talking about “worldly” issues, I thought you were referring to the sexuality of priests discussion, which I wasn’t expecting to read about. Sexuality seems to be a major theme in the book.


message 33: by Greg (last edited Jan 04, 2018 12:34PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7496 comments Mod
Pam wrote: "Yes, Joan, I am flying through it because I am enjoying it! I’m also not trying to read another book at the same time. I agree about the fore-shadowing. It’s a little overdone. Around ch. 18 & 19 (..."

I guess that's a part of it too Pam, but those feelings are human urges I guess. It's not something I usually think about in terms of priests, but of course there must be sexual feelings not acted upon. It felt a little uncomfortable but also probably truthful. That and the internal swearing. :)

So far, I'm very much enjoying the book too!


message 34: by Joan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joan Warning you may feel I am sharing too much personal info:
Re: Anne
(view spoiler)
That said, I see some big advantages to drones, robots and A.I. as of us old folks don’t have young’uns to care for us.


message 35: by Pam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pam (bluegrasspam) | 670 comments Joan wrote: "Warning you may feel I am sharing too much personal info:
Re: Anne
[spoilers removed]
That said, I see some big advantages to drones, robots and A.I. as of us old folks don’t have young’uns to car..."


I didn’t even pick up on this aspect of Anne! She seems to be the practical one in the group. I find her to be a little annoying but obviously very caring, which cancels out the annoying part. She’s an interesting character. I think the author has done a great job in defining the characters and exploring their inner worlds. You don’t always see this character development in SF.


message 36: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7496 comments Mod
Joan wrote: "Warning you may feel I am sharing too much personal info:
Re: Anne
[spoilers removed]
That said, I see some big advantages to drones, robots and A.I. as of us old folks don’t have young’uns to car..."


No harm at all in sharing Joan! I feel some of this myself, not having been in the position of having children of my own.

And there are definitely positives to those big technological developments like AI. It just can be very scary because of the uncertainty such big changes cause.


message 37: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7496 comments Mod
Pam wrote: "I think the author has done a great job in defining the characters and exploring their inner worlds. You don’t always see this character development in SF. ..."

Definitely agree Pam - this is one of the book's strengths!


message 38: by Joan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joan Pam wrote: "I’m just starting ch. 10. I like the alternating timeframe/locations. Do any of you know if there is a literary term for this style of writing? One thing I found odd was a comment in 2019 about one..."

Chap 9: I just got to the quote you mentioned about t.v.
I think that surveys show that, in the U.S., millenials are less likely than previous generations to own/watch t.v. Apparently, they are more like to watch shows on mobile devices or computer screens. Could that trend have begun by 1996?
I barely remember life before the iPhone!

I like the way Russell shows characters’ personality without just telling the reader as (view spoiler)

Had to laugh, my husband looked at the book today and the first thing he noticed was the bird on the cover doesn’t look like a sparrow.


message 39: by Joan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joan Finished Chapter 10
I’d jumped to a conclusion earlier and I was wrong.
This Chapter has an interesting parallel to “The Loney”, our group fiction read in December.


message 40: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7496 comments Mod
Joan wrote: "Finished Chapter 10
I’d jumped to a conclusion earlier and I was wrong.
This Chapter has an interesting parallel to “The Loney”, our group fiction read in December."


I haven't gotten there yet, but I can see how would happen. How funny we read two books so close together with priests and religious themes!

If only I could leave work and read! Hopefully soon! :)


message 41: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7496 comments Mod
Joan wrote: "I’d love to hear everyone’s reactions to chapter 7
[spoilers removed]
I loved that “he paid extra for a viewer” when he phoned friends so he could see their faces.
Ah the days before cell phones,Fa..."


I liked this chapter too.

Now, I'm mid-chapter 8.


message 42: by Pam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pam (bluegrasspam) | 670 comments The more I read and think about this book, I feel like the mission itself is ludicrous! I'm trying to not let that notion cloud my feelings for the rest of the story. I'm on Ch. 27. These are my questioning thoughts... (view spoiler)

I may take a break for the weekend and start reading An American Tragedy. I hope you guys continue enjoying the book!


message 43: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7496 comments Mod
Pam wrote: "The more I read and think about this book, I feel like the mission itself is ludicrous! I'm trying to not let that notion cloud my feelings for the rest of the story. I'm on Ch. 27. These are my qu..."

Wow, you're almost done Pam! I've been working a lot of hours, but I'll catch up eventually. :)


message 44: by Joan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joan Chapter 10
One of the characters comments that taking notes in longhand helps that individual master the topic.

It reminded me of this research on student note taking
https://www.npr.org/2016/04/17/474525...

“"When people type their notes, they have this tendency to try to take verbatim notes and write down as much of the lecture as they can," Mueller tells NPR's Rachel Martin. "The students who were taking longhand notes in our studies were forced to be more selective — because you can't write as fast as you can type. And that extra processing of the material that they were doing benefited them."”


message 45: by Joan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joan I’ve long enjoyed reading the memoirs of explorers - I’d love to be so adventurous. I cannot imagine being brave enough to go into the unknown knowing that even a minor injury could be deadly.

But, if Bezos, Musk or even Branson offer me a seat, I’m ready http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetec...

Gertrude Bell, Sir Richard Burton (he was a misogynistic bigot but still interesting), Roald Ammundsen and The Blue and The White Nile are some of my favorites.


message 46: by Joan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joan Chapter 13
I really like the way she handled the foreshadowing that closes this chapter
(view spoiler)


Colleen  | 345 comments Starting this tomorrow - can't wait to see what all is happening here! Looks like lots of good discussion to check in on....


message 48: by Joan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joan chapter 13 reminded some real world news in November—

https://www.nasa.gov/planetarydefense...
(view spoiler)


message 49: by Pam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pam (bluegrasspam) | 670 comments Joan wrote: "chapter 13 reminded some real world news in November—

https://www.nasa.gov/planetarydefense...
[spoilers removed]"


Interesting Joan! You are really doing your research.


message 50: by Pam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pam (bluegrasspam) | 670 comments I changed my mind about giving the book a break for the weekend when I realized how close I am to finishing it! I’m now on Ch 30. I’m reading an e-book so it’s not always easy to estimate what’s left! I finally looked at the table of contents tab and saw that there are group discussion questions and a conversation w the author. Do all of you have this supplemental info in your edition? The conversation w the author explained a few things for me, one of them being what type of research she did on the Jesuits. I was also curious why she decided to write this book (e.g., did it have anything to do w her faith and religious upbringing?) I found these 2 sections to be really helpful.


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