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Pick-a-Shelf: Monthly -Archive > 2018-07 - Literature Reviews

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Lyn (Readinghearts) (lsmeadows) | 2834 comments Mod
I was out of town yesterday, but that just gives y'all a head start on your July books. Our shelf this month, thanks to Paige, is Literature. So get reading those books and let us all know what you think of them!

Remember, in order to be chosen as September's shelf picker, you must post at least one review in this thread!

In addition, hop on over to the Discussion Question thread and give us your answers to the questions.

Happy Reading!


message 2: by Joyce (last edited Jul 04, 2018 04:11PM) (new)

Joyce (eternity21) | 611 comments The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

Rating: 5 stars

I am listening to the whole catalog of the Sherlock Holmes on audiobook narrated by Stephen Fry. He is doing a great job. I am breaking it up a bit into separate books though. This was so far my favorite. Although I wasn't to happy about the last book which intimated there would be no more but as I am only halfway through the titles I know there will be more.

Sherlock's brother is introduced into this set of stories as being smarter than Sherlock but doesn't use the knowledge he has. Also Moriarty is also introduced in this set of stories.

I am continuing on with the next book soon The Hound of the Baskervilles


message 3: by Marina (last edited Jul 05, 2018 12:48AM) (new)

Marina (sonnenbarke) | 1430 comments Joyce, I read the whole of Sherlock Holmes over a period of... what?... three years maybe? I loved all of the books/stories. The audio read by Stephen Fry must be good, although I don't usually do audio.
The Hound of the Baskervilles is one of the best imho, enjoy!


message 4: by Marina (new)

Marina (sonnenbarke) | 1430 comments I've read A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf. I gave it 3.5 stars rounded up to 4.

It is a very interesting essay on women and literature, although its actual scope goes, imho, beyond literature and encompasses women and the arts in general and also the emancipation of women. I thought it was quite ahead of its time (published 1929).

Towards the end my interest began to give way to a sort of boredom, but I failed to unterstand whether that was due to a shortened attention span on my part, or to a kind of repetitiveness in the book.

I had previously read only another book by Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway, which I didn't like, but this one was very different in style and scope, and I enjoyed reading it.


message 5: by Karin (new)

Karin | 810 comments The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin 4 stars

If you enjoy funny mysteries, this book is for you, and even more so if you like them set in twentieth century England. This is my first time reading a book by Edmund Crispin (pen name of RR Montgomery) and I doubt it will be my last.


Poet Richard Cadogen has found the apparently strangled body of a woman in a toyshop late one night when he saw a shop door left open. He is bopped on the head and wakes up in a closet with an open window, but when he brings the police there the toy shop is gone and a grocery store in its place, plus no sign of a body anywhere. When he finishes his journey to his alma mater, Oxford, and pours out his take, his friend Professor Gervase Fen (apparently this series stars him, but I had no idea when I started it) helps him take up the search. Not only is it funny, but there are plenty of books mentioned for metafiction fans. No, not five stars for me (it is a mystery, for one thing), but I have no doubt it is for others.


message 6: by Paige (new)

Paige (iampaigeb) | 80 comments Fahrenheit 451

I know that there is a history of Fahrenheit 451 included in my copy but I will be honest, I did not read that part. I will. Someday and make a separate review for it. For now, I am only reviewing the actual story.

I quite enjoyed Fahrenheit 451, even though I was infuriated by it multiple times. I do love that Ray Bradbury wrote this in 1951 and that to this day is still a scorching hot read off the shelves. One thing I did notice is Bradbury noticed the road we were going down back then and to this day, are still on. Many people prefer tv adaptions or kobos rather than real books. They prefer technology over society. I love that this book brings that to light. It has a great meaning that we should cherish what we have, who we got, and what we have to offer to the world. If we don't do that, then what do we have? Nothing. That we won't be happy and everything would be meaningless.

I really love the story of Fahrenheit 451 because it keeps the reader interested and on how it will play out. Yes it may be a short read but definitely an important one. I recommend this to all who loves books and to all who wants to read a Dystopian type of book. Bradbury is the author then for you.


message 7: by Paige (new)

Paige (iampaigeb) | 80 comments A Study In Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I used an Audiobook for the most part. Read a bit to so no worries. I just had things to do around the house but could not put the book down.

As I read and listened to A Study In Scarlet I can vividly imagine the scene. I could see Holmes sitting in his chair, picking his violin, arguing with Watson, telling Lestrade how he is wrong. Again, wrong. I could see him in all his brilliance and that is where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is amazing. Definitely talented writer. I also love how he ties in how the wedding ring got to the crime scene in part 2. On how the psychopath got into his life of killing. I really found this book enjoyable and a must read.


message 8: by Marina (new)

Marina (sonnenbarke) | 1430 comments I see that Pines, which I finished yesterday, has been shelved 4 times as "literature". It was a great book, 4.5 stars rounded down to 4 because I'm stingy. It's a wonderful thriller and page-turner which kept me on the edge of my seat, I couldn't wait to know how it went on and it was very suspenseful. The plot twist came totally unexpected to me and I was thunderstruck. It was awesome. I loved it and can't wait to read the second book in the trilogy.


message 9: by Rosemary (new)

Rosemary | 871 comments The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon

In this alternate history / crime noir, Jewish people have settled in Alaska instead of Israel, but they only have permission to be there for 60 years from 1948. It's now coming up to "reversion" in 2008, and Detective Meyer Landsman finds himself with a body on his hands and his ex-wife for a boss.

I really enjoyed this although I was a little lost at times. But then, so is Landsman. Often. Most of the unfamiliar words (some of which weren't even Yiddish, but made up) became clear from the context after a while.

I didn't like that my edition tells something in the blurb on the back cover that doesn't become apparent in the story until page 230. This makes the first half seem very slow while you wait for this to happen. But that's the publisher's fault, not the story's.


message 10: by Jamie (new)

Jamie Zaccaria | 99 comments I read In Cold Blood by Truman Capote and give it 3.5 stars. The original true crime tale and definitely worth the read for fans of the genre!


message 11: by Rosemary (new)

Rosemary | 871 comments I finished another one:
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, 21 July 18

I enjoyed this--I found it fun to read, though rather disjointed and of course dated. I read Huckleberry Finn first, which makes this one seem a little like a dress rehearsal. I can imagine Mark Twain deciding at some point that Huck was the more interesting character and deserved a book to himself. But Tom is engaging too, in an innocent way.


message 12: by CluckingBell (last edited Jul 21, 2018 03:23PM) (new)

CluckingBell | 327 comments I listened to the audiobook of The Cat's Table for my IRL book club. I might have enjoyed not been completely mystified by the book if I'd read a print edition, but the author's own reading made it seem like the most soporific, pointless, confusing mess of a book ever. It's the kind of modern literary fiction that publishing houses churn out and awards committees love that I just can't imagine anyone still reading (er, listening to) in 100 years.


message 13: by Paige (new)

Paige (iampaigeb) | 80 comments Hamlet

It has been oh so long since I have read Hamlet and still I thoroughly enjoyed it. Still my all time favorite Shakespeare Play to read just cause it brings a lot of shit up. It is so messed up that I love it. Good ol Classic Will. A story of tragedy and this one being the trump of them all. If you want a good literature read and enjoy shakespeare then this is the read for you. Note mine has both modern and original english. I read the original Shakespearean version as it should be read.


message 14: by Joyce (last edited Jul 24, 2018 04:03PM) (new)

Joyce (eternity21) | 611 comments I just finished my second book The Hound of the Baskervilles on audiobook. 4 stars 7/24/18

This was enjoyable but actually Holmes was not in it for about half the story. Watson was the main character in this story. I sort of figured out who could be the bad guy before it was revealed but I didn't know why. This was narrated by Stephen Frye and that really ups the game in this book. He makes it easy to determine who is who by using different voices.


message 15: by Karin (new)

Karin | 810 comments Maru by Bessie Head 3 stars

And if the white man thought Africans were a low, filthy nation, Africans in Southern Africa could still smile--at least, they were not Bushmen.

Published in 1971, this book is about racism and slavery; the enslavement of the Masarwa, or Bushmen. When a teacher tries an experiment and raises a bright "Bushy" baby girl who gets straight A's through teacher's college, her foster daughter, named Margaret after herself, grows up taunted and bullied by her Batswana classmates. Margaret could pass for Coloured, the illegal children of white and African parents, which are not as low on the totem pole as the Masarwa, but she freely tells people who she is.

When Margaret accepts her first teaching job she is befriended by Dikeledi who is not afraid to have her as a friend, and, in fact, stands up for her at one point. Two men fall in love with Margaret, but because most of the story is told as a flashback after an opening about she and her husband, we know who she ends up marrying. This entire story is about the dehumanization of a people who are used and ill-treated as slaves, but also about the hope that comes from Margaret as a teacher and then when Margaret marries a Batswana.


message 16: by Susan (new)

Susan | 3476 comments Mod
I finished A Razor's Edge a couple weeks ago, but have gotten far behind on writing reviews again. It's a classic by Somerset Maugham which I'd never read before. I enjoyed it, especially once I made myself stop wondering where it was "going" and just listened to him tell the story.


message 17: by Sassafrass (new)

Sassafrass (sass-a-frass) | 603 comments I read: Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson. It was difficult for me to read at times, but it's a book that stayed with me because of the reflection I did after I was finished reading. Below is my review:

I thought the realities that these girls faced at a young age were hard to listen to but I thought that the author gave a very accurate view of how things were. It was sad but at the same time if was heart warming to see how even though their circumstances weren't all that great they had this childhood which they would have considered to be great. The problems didn't come until adolescence hit. And watching the changes in the girls and their friendships was hard.

Once again this author really made me think and reflect.


message 18: by Christina (new)

Christina Byrne (cmbyrne87) | 161 comments This month I read Jane Eyre. I can't believe it took me this long to get to this one. I enjoyed the book and am learning that I like feisty women characters from the past. :p


message 19: by Elvenn (new)

Elvenn | 721 comments For the literature shelf I read two books by Jorge Luis Borges.

Ficciones: Recommended to me as the best of his short story collections, the book includes stories published in two different volumes in 1941 and 1944 that show Borges' prose at his best (or his worst, some would say). I found the stories very original, unusual and well written, but also in full Borgean style. Written in clear and precise words that depicted situations very far from clear and precise, full of labyrinths, smoke and mirrors, of obscure quotes and literary allusions to concepts, philosophies, men and books that may or may not have existed. The two prologues acted as short guides where Borges humbly provided small clues to his stories composed of only a couple of words, like "crime", "purpose", "symbolism", "unreal", "simulate", "allegory", "metaphor" or "non arbitrary". He even informs us he considers the second volume of "a less clumsy execution".

After such a foreword we go into the book like innocent sheep thinking we're entering safe territory, with the illusion we've been shown the cards. But what follows it's not an easy read and one has to pay full attention to each detail in order to understand what is happening, or where, or when. From time to time the author gives us a wink to see if we're paying attention, as when he places the book Axaxaxas mlö inside the library of Babel.

Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges

Rating: 4 stars because even though I loved his prose and admired the experiment, the games and the risks taken, I didn't always enjoy the resulting stories. I still prefer The Aleph and Other Stories!

Brodie's Report (1970): It couldn't have been more different than the previous one. We still have the beautiful precise prose but the narration is more relaxed and again the author speaks to us through his prologue (these must be some of the most useful prologues i've ever read) and says he's attempted to write stories that were direct, which doesn't mean they are simple; stories of realism and without any Baroque surprise. He also explains a few aspects of the stories, his thoughts about dictionaries that tend to artificially unify or divide the Spanish language and about the exaltation of slang by exaggerating the frequency of its use (he even quotes Roberto Arlt on the matter, an Argentine writer born within the working class that is usually placed in the opposing intellectual group).

I found these stories far less oneiric or labyrinthine than those in Ficciones and far less experimental. More down to earth and almost devoid of fantasy, describing the reactions of characters with normal lives that are placed in situations that force their hand, the consequences of a duel, of taking revenge or defending one's honor.

El informe de Brodie by Jorge Luis Borges

Rating: 5 stars


message 20: by Bea (new)

Bea | 4802 comments Mod
Still running behind. I actually read 2 books for this shelf, but I did not finish either until August.

The House of the Spirits: I have been wanting to read more Isabel Allende books for a long time. This one was on my TBR since 2012! So, I was really disappointed that I did not really follow the story. About halfway through, I realized it was a book about the lives of a family...although it was following individuals - one at a time. I also found it really confusing and disconcerting for the narration to move from the 3rd person to the 1st person, often in the middle of a chapter, when one particular individual came on stage. As a result, it got only 2* from me.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Interesting science-fiction story of reluctant space travel. Perhaps a bit dated. The story felt a bit naive...and it took me a bit to figure out who was who...especially among the aliens. Overall, an interesting story but not a series that I will continue. 3*.


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