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What did you read last month? > What I read in ~~ March 2019

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message 1: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17616 comments

Please share with us what you read March 2019 !

Please provide:

~ A GoodReads link
~ A few sentences telling us how you felt about the book.
~ How would you rate the book


message 2: by John (new)

John | 1058 comments My one read last month worth noting was The Diary of a Bookseller, which being just that is a perfect fit for folks who read a lot! Interesting observations regarding the effect of Amazon on independent booksellers, as well as bookstore life in general.


message 3: by Alias Reader (last edited Mar 31, 2019 09:42PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17616 comments I finished two books in March.

Atomic Habits An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones--James Clear
Non Fiction
Rate: 4/5
As many here already know I am enjoying having a Bullet Journal and Habit Tracker. It's taking a few months to work out what elements work best for me. However, once I have it worked out, I think this can be a great tool. I prefer a basic approach and not the artsy style many online go for. You can check out the author on YouTube also.

The Wife by Meg Wolitzer The Wife--Meg Wolitzer
Fiction
Rate: 2/8
I read this for the New York Times book club. I found the main character annoying for most of the book. I figured out the ending before it was revealed. Something I seldom am able to do. This was made into a movie with Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce. Maybe the movie is better. I haven't seen it.

Onward. So far I am in the middle of two non fiction books and they both are winners.

Becoming--Michelle Obama
and
Spaceman: An Astronaut's Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe-Mike Massimino


message 4: by Samanta (last edited Apr 01, 2019 08:38AM) (new)

Samanta   (almacubana) | 189 comments These are my March reads:

The Toll-Gate by Georgette Heyer
Rating: A
Review: Even though Heyer is mostly known as the writer of Historical Romance, she also wrote Crime and Mystery. This books is actually more crime-solving than romance, even though the tone of the books is very much like any other Romance novel. The love story is not the main theme,and happens as a consequence of the Mystery - Crime story. I enjoyed it very much because the characters were very likable.

Hunters in the Snow by Tobias Wolff
Rating: A
Review: Three friends go together on a hunting trip, which turns out to be unsuccessful. Their friendship is strained by secrets they keep from each other and roles they have to play in society as men, which eventually ends in tragedy.

George Washington Carver by Gene Adair
Rating: C+
Review: One of those short biographies of prominent people made for Young Adults. Perfect to give you a general image of a person. I don't really know what to think of George Washington Carver. In the end he is remembered as an icon of the Black-American struggle for equality more than as an inventor. The summary on the cover says that he was a humble person, but the text inside shows that that wasn't always or really the case.

Tough Boy Sonatas by Curtis L. Crisler
Rating: C+
Review: A collection of poems about a life in a black ghetto in Gary, Chicago. It's a totally different culture, so I couldn't really connect or understand the difficulties. One question that was constantly nagging in my mind while reading this was: At which point did the life of the African-Americans in USA become so gang and crime related, that you had ghetto's, gang's, "thug life" and children having knifes with them to "get rid of fools"?

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Rating: A+
Review: There isn't much I can say about this book, that I haven't said before. A favourite for ever and ever.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Rating: A+
Review: A wonderful and to the point manifesto of feminism. Well-written and personal. I read it in 20 minutes and loved every page of it.

Los Cachorros, El Desafio, Dia Domingo by Mario Vargas Llosa
Review only for Día de domingo
Rating: B
Review: Two idiotic young men decide to challenge one another to a swim in the ocean in the dead of winter to decide who is going to pursue the girl they both like.
I liked the story because it had action and it kept me in suspense as to what was going to happen to the boys. Nevertheless, if I were that girl, I'd kick their asses and never looked at either of them again. Men are crazy, seriously!!!

A Warning to the Curious by M.R. James
Rating: A
Review: A very suspenseful short story in the rank of Edgar Allan Poe. I especially loved the beginning of the story, where the first narrator describes the scenery and then apologizes for bothering the reader with the details, but still continues. Very cute!
The rest of the story is very suspenseful and I found myself getting closer to my computer screen, waiting to see what would happen. Great story!

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
Rating: A+
Review: The second book in the series is equally as interesting as the first one, although, not as magical (but only because the reader is now familiar with the world so the trip to the Diagon Alley is not as exciting as in the beginning). Now that I've read the books a few times (at least the first ones), I am able to connect the dots that I missed upon earlier reading, and I love it.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Rating: A
Review: Things are heating up in the story. One of my favourite characters finally showed up and I can't wait to continue reading.

En el viaje de novios by Javier Marías
Rating: B
Review: A very interesting and kind of funny short story describing a curious event during a boring afternoon.

P.S. This link has both Spanish and English version:
https://www.condorspanish.com/stories...

The Jilting of Granny Weatherall by Katherine Anne Porter
Rating: A
Review: I really like this story. Granny Weatherall is an 80-year-old woman on her deathbed, who isn't quite ready to die yet and hates all the fuss happening around her. She had a good life, with loving husband and a few children that mostly hadn't disappointing her, but there is a part of her past she could never forget. Before meeting her husband she was jilted at the altar by another man and that was something she could never forgive.


message 5: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17616 comments You had quite the productive reading month, Samanta ! I'm glad to see so many A's.

Also I enjoyed your comments for each book. Thanks for sharing.


message 6: by Samanta (new)

Samanta   (almacubana) | 189 comments Thanks, Alias! :)


message 7: by madrano (new)

madrano | 10184 comments John, that sounds like a great book. Reading about the life of being a book seller or seeker is a pleasure for me. Today i learned that there is a newish independent book store here in Dallas. Up until then there were only chains & used. What i really like about this info is that it was our congressional representative, Colin Allred, who shared about it on his FaceBook page. (Photo of himself with his infant in the store, btw.) Hurrah! ANYway, thanks for the title, John.

Alias, mixed month for you but you really liked & learned from the winner, at least. I finally received notice that a copy of the Wolitzer novel is in but i'm going to cancel, given your opinion. I just don't have the patience for that at present. Good tip!

Samanta, what a great reading month you had! The short story recaps are fun for me to read, they remind me how much i like lit in that form. Additionally, your comments remind me of other stories i like by that author, particularly Porter, whose stories are gems, imo.

The story of George Washington Carver is an interesting one. Like most people we only knew about his experiments with peanuts until we visited the US National Park Service's Monument in Missouri. His beginnings as a slave include kidnapping and family separation but it was his lust for education which marked his life. We were impressed by the examples of his artwork, which won prizes at fairs and competitions, as well as his abilities with yarn for crocheting. The monument also had tributes to the people who helped him pursue his education by offering him a home while he moved about to study.

He was a strong advocate for ecological planting and there was even a recreation of a sort of cart he used to spread the word about ways to plant to prevent soil erosion and other problems. Ahead of his time on that. And what he did with the peanut & sweet potato went well beyond edible products to include making printing inks, medicines and even energy. We walked away big fans of the man but there is always the question that many freed slaves had regarding education. These differences are exemplified in the disagreement between Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois on the subject. And i think this is one reason Carver's reputation is not as strong as it could be today, he agreed with BTW.

https://www.nps.gov/gwca/index.htm

Didn't mean to get quite so didactic but your post inspired me. Congratulations on another good reading month.


message 8: by madrano (last edited Apr 01, 2019 01:25PM) (new)

madrano | 10184 comments I had a decent reading month despite a serious cold and being on the road.

My Own Two Feet by Beverly Cleary My Own Two Feet is children's author Beverly Cleary's autobio about her teen and young adult years. I didn't realize until i finished it that she had an earlier one, A Girl from Yamhill, about her younger days. She wrote a good bio and helped me get insight into how difficult it was for a girl from a working class family to go to college. Family and friends, plus constant working as she learned were the key.

Die for Love (Jacqueline Kirby, #3) by Elizabeth Peters Die for Love is the 3rd in the Jacqueline Kirby series by Elizabeth Peters and a big disappointment. As there is only one more, i will probably read it but this one, set at a convention about Historical Romance Fiction, was not even interesting. I enjoyed the first two (one in Rome and the other at a Richard III gathering) so much, i kept hoping.

Miss Blaine's Prefect and the Golden Samovar by Olga Wojtas Miss Blaine's Prefect and the Golden Samovar by Olga Wojtas promised more than it delivered. The title enchanted me, as did the fact it's a time travel book. Unfortunately, the story itself was not very interesting as the character, Shona is inept at figuring out her mission, the exact year she's landed in Russia, and even whodunit. Of course the intent is that this is part of the charm but i wasn't entertained. On the other hand, i learned curious bits about 18 & 19th century Russia as she tried to figure out the year. LOL!

Finally, i ran across
Prairie Fires The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser and decided to give it a try. The first half was very good, as she shared history about homesteading politically, as well as practically. However, the subtitle should have included Wilder's daughter's name, Rose Wilder Lane, because much of the second, less interesting, half included her an her rather irresponsible life.

The big question is how much of the Little House on the Prairie series Laura wrote and how much Rose did...or edited away or whatever one chooses to call it. Rose W. Lane's best fiction cannibalized her mother's life, particularly her upbringing. However, there is a large segment of the population who know her from her work, The Discovery of Freedom: Man's Struggle Against Authority, one of three works by women considered the founders of today's Libertarian Party. Frankly, Rose deserved her own unbiased biographer, imo, not that she was a likeable person.


message 9: by Samanta (new)

Samanta   (almacubana) | 189 comments madrano wrote: "John, that sounds like a great book. Reading about the life of being a book seller or seeker is a pleasure for me. Today i learned that there is a newish independent book store here in Dallas. Up u..."

Madrano, thank you for the additional info. The book I read is aimed at young adults so it's very short and not detailed. It's more like an overview of a persons life.


message 10: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17616 comments madrano wrote: I finally received notice that a copy of the Wolitzer novel is in but i'm going to cancel, given your opinion. I just don't have the patience for that at present. Good tip!..."

Deb, I am in the minority on the book. I think many liked it. You know me. I am more of a non fiction gal.

It's a quick read and I think only around 200 pages. So I would give it a shot.


message 11: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17616 comments madrano wrote: "I had a decent reading month despite a serious cold and being on the road."

Another eclectic month from you. Sorry to see there were some disappointments.

That is really interesting about Rose. I recall you mentioning early this month you had some reservations about Laura but I didn't know why.

Also I loved your post on George Washington Carver !


message 12: by Alias Reader (last edited Apr 01, 2019 02:03PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17616 comments Samanta, I enjoy reading those brief bios of famous people. My library carries a series titled Signature Lives .
https://www.goodreads.com/series/1452...

They are for young adults. Each book is around 100 pages and includes maps, timelines, photos as well as discussion.

I find them a perfect way to learn about a person or topic when I don't want to read a longer book.

I also usually find them more interesting than just reading a Wiki article. Since I usually take notes, I think I retain more than just doing a google search on a topic or person.


message 13: by Samanta (new)

Samanta   (almacubana) | 189 comments I enjoy reading those, too, Alias. they give me an idea and I can decide if I want to read more or not.


message 14: by madrano (new)

madrano | 10184 comments I agree with both Alias & Samanta about bios which offer a taste of a person, to see if you want more material or not. I've been disappointed in the Presidential series which attempts to do the same because they dwell too much on one or two sections of the life and not enough overall.

I have a long list of people about whom i would like to read a bio. Online info is too short & not always reliable. Unfortunately the vast majority of my list are people who haven't stood the test of time, so finding books about them or even featuring them much is too much a challenge.

Thanks for the comments about my comments. I've been trying to make up for lost posts when i was unable to get online. Elsewhere on the board i posted about my feelings on fiction, so i'll keep the book on my list but probably won't try it anytime soon.

Re. my feelings about Laura Ingalls Wilder. She appears to have had a complicated relationship with her daughter and, as i read the book, it almost seemed as though in order to keep Rose's favor Laura agreed with her daughter on what seem out of character for her. Usually they were political, which is understandable for the era, perhaps, but the personal words, negative ones about race surprised me. I suppose it all goes toward what one draws from one's own experience. Author Fraser made it abundantly clear that both mother & daughter refused to see how much the government helped both the Wilder and Ingalls families as they attempted homesteading. It didn't fit Rose's libertarian image of "self-made man".


message 15: by Petra (new)

Petra | 1004 comments John, that does sound like an interesting book.

Alias, you are setting up some solid habits. There's a lot of planning to find the right combination that works.

Samanta, Harry Potter is such good fun. I'm glad you're enjoying it as much the second (third?) time around.

Deb, I've only read some of the Amelia Peabody books by Elizabeth Peters and have enjoyed them. I'm sorry to hear that this other series is a disappointment.
I have Prairie Fires on my TBR list at the library. I'm on the fence about reading it. I'm pulled into people's comments about the mother/daughter relationship.


message 16: by Petra (new)

Petra | 1004 comments This first month of retirement has flown by. I'm having so much fun. I didn't get a lot of reading done, unfortunately. I've been trying a few things out and spreading my wings, so to speak.

Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut - (audio; 3 star)
This story reminded me a lot of The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana in that it's about elderly men telling their life stories and that both include mention of the war & Mussolini.
Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson - (2 star)
Yawn! Not enough action. This could have been an interesting story but it fell short.
Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Book Love by Debbie Tung - (1 star; graphic novel)
Too much repetition and makes readers appear to be one-dimensional.
Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 17: by PattyMacDotComma (new)

PattyMacDotComma | 920 comments Time for April!


message 18: by madrano (new)

madrano | 10184 comments Petra, for us retirement began slowly too. We had to figure out many things before we could really feel "retired". Savor!

Early in my reading life i read many, many Vonnegut novels but stopped reading them, so missed Bluebeard. It sounds good, so i thank you for the reminder.

How sad that Book Love was disappointing. Not only does it sound like a good idea but it also had drawings. Sad.

As for Prairie Fires, the material about the relationship between Wilder & Lane was plentiful but i felt it was disorganized and left this reader with no real conclusion on what to think about them. Still, it was fascinating to read about Lane's life, as i knew little about it. What a contrast to Laura's, even when they live in the same house.

There was another curious aspect in the book, as much about them as about publishing in the 20s-40s. Lane wrote for Hearst sometimes, often long articles about well known people. After writing the article, she sometimes worked up a book length biography about that person & sold it. From what the book offered, it appeared that a few people protested, as they felt they only gave an interview. Herbert Hoover was an example. (This was before he was President, btw.)

Another curious issue was the discussion of "truth", if that interests anyone. Both Lane & Wilder, while writing fiction and acknowledging it as such, maintained it was the truth. To quote from the book, "Wilder’s ‘truth’ was less a matter of fact than of her memories, feelings, and convictions. Her work was based on facts but not factual. It was historical fiction, not history." Within that definition, she penned experiences of childhood friends, saying Laura (the book Laura) experienced them.


message 19: by Petra (new)

Petra | 1004 comments madrano wrote: "Another curious issue was the discussion of "truth", if that interests anyone. Both Lane & Wilder, while writing fiction and acknowledging it as such, maintained it was the truth. To quote from the book, "Wilder’s ‘truth’ was less a matter of fact than of her memories, feelings, and convictions. Her work was based on facts but not factual. It was historical fiction, not history." Within that definition, she penned experiences of childhood friends, saying Laura (the book Laura) experienced them. .."

Interesting.
I'm confused about people's interpretation of the Little House series that this implies. The books are fiction. Do people consider them factual history? That's surprising, if so.
As for "truth", we each have our own truths. Two people can stand side by side and witness an event and tell two different stories. Both stories are true. It's interpretation, viewing, understanding, etc. that make a "truth"; not the actual witnessing. As Jesus says in the musical Jesus Christ Superstar: "we both have truths. Are mine the same as yours?".
From Wilder's definition of truth, her books are factual. They are based on her early life (facts) but are written as fiction (non-facts). It's a combination. The friends could be written as experienced by their characteristics (faithful, fun, mean, etc.) while the events in the book may not have actually happened (fist fight, school jealousy, etc.).
I'm very interested in "truth" and how we all experience things so differently that there is no one true truth but many truths in every situation.


message 20: by madrano (last edited Apr 03, 2019 10:39AM) (new)

madrano | 10184 comments Petra, the dichotomy between the fact the books are fiction, written for children, and the way she & her daughter presented it at publicity events was covered in Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder. As you note, they are fiction and meant to share the history of one family. In the quotes i share below, the final one pretty much states what you wrote--there are many truths.

At appearances and in media interviews, however, they averred that the prose was, in fact, truth. Below are some of the points made by author Caroline Fraser about their meaning when they used the word "true". Within the industry this apparently was unclear.

--Wilder and Lane would cling fast to this notion of ‘truth,’ which reflected not objective reality but something closer to felt experience.

--First copy of Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography, Laura’s note to daughter was, “‘Not to be used.… This story would be called 'nature faking' if anyone read it, but it is true." (Apparently, early in the 20th century, Teddy Roosevelt had lashed out at the exaggerated anthropomorphism of tales told by Jack London, Ernest Thompson Seton, and others, calling them ‘nature fakers’ and ‘yellow journalists of the woods’ for pretending to know how animals thought or felt; "Wilder did not want to be lumped with them. She recognized the distinction between her memory (what ‘is true’) and what is believable.” [parenthesis mine]

--“Wilder’s ‘truth’ was less a matter of fact than of her memories, feelings, and convictions. Her work was based on facts but not factual. It was historical fiction, not history. Its chronology, and certain incidents and characters, were invented, altered, and fictionalized.”

--Lane wrote to her mother, “It is beyond all human power to tell all the facts.… Facts are infinite in number. The truth is a meaning underlying them; you tell the truth by selecting the facts which illustrate it. All your travels to Burr Oak and back can be skipped because they do not mean anything except elapsed time.…”

END OF QUOTES


In the last 20 years there have been many discussions about "autobiographical fiction", mostly due to authors being called out by others they knew, suggesting the "facts" weren't. What Wilder wrote falls under that category more than even "historical fiction" because she hoped to immortalize her parents and their lives.

One of the biggest problems for me is the "Bender Family", who were cold-blooded killers who lived between the Ingalls home on the Prairie and Independence Missouri. There was never any mention of the historic Pa Ingalls interacting with the family but Laura alludes to it. This is why the term "autobiographical fiction" works better. To me it sounds a tad like Forrest Gump.

Because i knew the series didn't include several important events in the family's life, i didn't necessarily consider them factual but i did think the events actually happened to them. Part of this is because when stories were told from another person's point of view, Laura the character attributed them.

Ultimately it in no way effects my high opinion of the series. I learned so much about homesteading and home building from them, that i am satisfied. This just fleshes out the more human side of Laura and her family, imo.


message 21: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17616 comments Petra wrote: "This first month of retirement has flown by. I'm having so much fun. I didn't get a lot of reading done, unfortunately. I've been trying a few things out and spreading my wings, so to speak.

[book..."


Glad you enjoyed your first month of retirement. I hope next month brings you some higher rated books.


message 22: by Nan (new)

Nan (nrdl) | 1 comments I read one of my favorite authors! Has anyone else read Lucian Bane?

https://www.goodreads.com/book/photo/...


message 23: by madrano (new)

madrano | 10184 comments No, this is the first time i've heard his name. Regardless, we are all happy whenever reading an author we relish, so enjoy, Nan.


message 24: by Marie (new)

Marie | 184 comments I had a few in March as well - a couple of five star reads and about 3 or 4 four star reads.

Becoming by Glenn Rolfe Becoming by Glenn Rolfe - five stars.
My review:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

The Outsider by Stephen King The Outsider by Stephen King - five stars.
My review:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

This House Is Haunted  by Guy Lyon Playfair This House Is Haunted by Guy Lyon Playfair - four stars.
My review:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


The Bone Spirit by Chris Snider The Bone Spirit by Chris Snider - four stars.
My review:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

The 13th by John Everson The 13th by John Everson - four stars.
My review:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 25: by madrano (new)

madrano | 10184 comments Rushing to finish a good book is such a joy. You described it well.

I saw the film based on the Enfield poltergeist last year. Watching & reading about these events can get frightening.


message 27: by Julie (new)

Julie (julielill) | 2263 comments Dem wrote: "Finished The Choice: Embrace the PossibleThe ChoiceThe Choice by Edith EgerThe Choice by Edith Eger by Edith Eger

My Review: www.goo..."

Added this to my list. Nice review.


message 28: by madrano (new)

madrano | 10184 comments Dem, lovely review. This quote you shared wowed me.

I remind myself that each of us has an Adolf Hitler and a Corrie Ten Boom within us. We have the capacity to hate and the capacity to love.

Brilliant. Thanks for the title and review.


message 29: by Alias Reader (last edited Mar 11, 2020 09:07PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17616 comments madrano wrote: "Dem, lovely review. This quote you shared wowed me.

I remind myself that each of us has an Adolf Hitler and a Corrie Ten Boom within us. We have the capacity to hate and the capacity to love. "


Back in 2016 I read and gave a 4/5 rating to the audio book
The Hiding Place The Triumphant True Story of Corrie Ten Boom by Corrie ten Boom The Hiding Place: The Triumphant True Story of Corrie Ten Boom---Corrie ten Boom
At one time Corrie ten Boom would have laughed at the idea that there would ever be a story to tell. For the first fifty years of her life nothing at all out of the ordinary had ever happened to her. She was an old-maid watchmaker living contentedly with her spinster sister and their elderly father in the tiny Dutch house over their shop. Their uneventful days, as regulated as their own watches, revolved around their abiding love for one another. However, with the Nazi invasion and occupation of Holland, a story did ensue.

Corrie ten Boom and her family became leaders in the Dutch Underground, hiding Jewish people in their home in a specially built room and aiding their escape from the Nazis. For their help, all but Corrie found death in a concentration camp. The Hiding Place is their story.


message 30: by madrano (new)

madrano | 10184 comments I read and liked that book much more than i thought i would. To me it was new, not realizing that it was older than i knew. Her name is often mentioned when discussions of kindness during WWII arise.


message 32: by madrano (new)

madrano | 10184 comments Sounds good, Don. I always appreciate it when reviewers share that there are slow parts, as it prepares others. Sometimes it’s welcome, giving one time to think but other times you just want it to hurry!


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