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Determination Lists & Challenges > Deb’s 2020 Determination List

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message 1: by madrano (last edited Jun 28, 2020 06:32PM) (new)

madrano | 9742 comments Most of these books are from library ebook waiting lists, which i figure I can read while over here. The first 2 are not.

A bio of James Garfield, The Garfield Orbit by Margaret Leech, only because i own the copy. April finish

Bio of Chester Arthur, probably The Unexpected President: The Life and Times of Chester A. Arthur by Scott S. Greenberger June Finish

Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown by Anne Glenconner. I may be back in the state’s by the time I get this one, as I’m 19 on the list for a book that won’t be released until March. March Finish

Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion by Anne Somerset, which i hope to read before we arrive in England in April. March Finish

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen, a book my aunt suggested 4 or so years ago! June Finish

The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano January Finish

From here on i thank reviewers on this board for the titles and comments, as well as Alias’s shared lists—

Carnegie Hill by Jonathan Vatner. March Finish

High School by Tegan Quin & Sara Quin Feb. finish

Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran January finish

Pale Horses by Jassy Mackenzie April finish

The Winter Army: The World War II Odyssey of the 10th Mountain Division, America's Elite Alpine Warriors by Maurice Isserman April Finish

The Territory by Tricia Fields April Finish

Bruno, Chief of Police by Martin Walker Feb. finish

Miss Buncle's Book by D.E. StevensonFeb. finish

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal March Finish

Longbourn by Jo Baker . March Finish

Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz . June Finish

The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny January finish

Last update June 9


message 2: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17155 comments Nice DL list, deb. That was a good idea to make a list of eBooks.

From you list I've read and gave a 4 out of 5 stars to
The Solitude of Prime Numbers


message 3: by madrano (new)

madrano | 9742 comments Alias, that may well be where i got the title. I recall vaguely someone on the board here liking it and the topic attracted me too.


message 4: by madrano (new)

madrano | 9742 comments Today i updated my DL list, as shown above. I'm pleased that i've read more than 50% of the books listed. Now that we are back in the states, though, other diversions call louder. (Can we say TV?!?)


message 5: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17155 comments :) Good job on the reading, deb.

One bit of advice, limit your intake of TV news. I find much of what is being reported is nothing I can do anything about repetitive and only raises my anxiety and depression.

I check the latest news in the morning, maybe a brief check mid day then again very briefly in the evening. When I check in, if there seems to be nothing new, I quickly turn it off. I don't need to know the latest hourly death stats, toilet pager and other shortages etc. PBS NewsHour seems to be nice calm factual reporting.


message 6: by madrano (last edited Mar 24, 2020 03:02PM) (new)

madrano | 9742 comments Good advice, for sure. It hasn't taken long for me to get the sense that i don't need all these details. I was talking with a Minnesota friend today & during the conversation she inserted bits of news as they came up on her tv screen. LOL! No thanks.

Making a limit is sound advice. Usually we don't turn the tv on in the morning, probably because while here we get the weekday USA Today, which is sufficient news, even if a few hours old. We usually also watch the nightly news but, frankly, even that has been too much. However, looking things up online is something i am not controlling well. At least it's not hysterical.

I must admit, though, that while in Europe, we turned the tv on despite the fact we didn't know the languages used. We could read the numbers, which is how we realized the virus was across the world. Well, that & hotel register staff, who informed us & asked about what we'd seen.


message 7: by madrano (new)

madrano | 9742 comments Wow, i just realized i have only 3 more books to read before i've completed my 2020 DL. I must say i'm surprised, even though i made it rather easy on myself by using books on my e-library waiting list.


message 8: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17155 comments Wow ! That is amazing, deb. Well done.

I've come close but I don't think there has been a year I've finished them all.


message 9: by Julie (new)

Julie (julielill) | 2214 comments madrano wrote: "Wow, i just realized i have only 3 more books to read before i've completed my 2020 DL. I must say i'm surprised, even though i made it rather easy on myself by using books on my e-library waiting ..."

Good job! Time to pick new books to read!


message 10: by madrano (new)

madrano | 9742 comments I've hardly ever even come this close to reading all books on my list. Therefore, i intend to get to every one--just a point of pride for myself.

Julie, you are right! I've been rooting through my storage unit book boxes to find more. As i progressed, i realized i have stored quite a number of classic lit (US & British) which called to me.


message 11: by madrano (new)

madrano | 9742 comments Woo-Hoo! I just updated my DL to reflect the fact i have only one more from the list to read. And i've begun it already.

I've begun selecting books for the next half of the year, as well. Most will be from books already in my possession--more to donate to the library's FOL sale. Or not. :-)


message 12: by Alias Reader (last edited Jun 11, 2020 01:59PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17155 comments :) Good job, Deb.

I really should work on culling my book shelves. My library doesn't take donations. And who knows when the Salvation Army store is opening again. I also used to leave books at the gym donation book shelf. However, the gym is closed and who knows what will be allowed when it opens. Then there is the fact that I may have donated a book that I now want to read The Professor's House
Which always gives me an excuse not to give away books ! So all in all my motivation has disappeared.


message 13: by madrano (new)

madrano | 9742 comments LOL!

Here in "open 'em up! Texas", the Salvation Army never stopped taking donations, can you believe it? Their stores are all open now, as are our gyms. I'm sure it's just a coincidence that we are one of the CoronaV hotspots this week, right?


message 14: by Alias Reader (last edited Jun 13, 2020 06:21AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17155 comments madrano wrote: "LOL!

Here in "open 'em up! Texas", the Salvation Army never stopped taking donations, can you believe it? Their stores are all open now, as are our gyms. I'm sure it's just a coincidence that we ..."


Deb, many states that have opened up quickly after really not totally closing down like NYC did seem to be having big problems now. :(

NYC is Very Slowly opening up. We are still in stage 1 of 4. Perhaps because we were hit so hard we take this very seriously and no one here thinks it's a hoax or just like the flu. Two local funeral homes that I pass in my area now have to keep refrigerated trucks in their parking lot. Believe me, when you see that, it will knock sense into anyone who passes by and doubts the severity of Covid.


message 15: by madrano (new)

madrano | 9742 comments I cannot imagine passing refrigerator trucks in a funeral home parking lot. *shivering*


message 16: by madrano (new)

madrano | 9742 comments Woo-Hoo! I completed my 2020 DL! I've never finished any. While they were mostly those which i had in on my "Wish List" from my e-library, i am glad to have them read now.

Next up, i create another list, this one for the next few months.

deb,
the happy


message 17: by Julie (new)

Julie (julielill) | 2214 comments Congrats on finishing your reading list!


message 18: by madrano (new)

madrano | 9742 comments Thank you, Julie. Maybe i should use some of your categories from last year, which i relished, for my new list. Hmmm. Will be considering this.


message 19: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17155 comments

Well done, deb !


message 20: by madrano (new)

madrano | 9742 comments Thanks, Alias. I'm as tickled as Snoopy appears!


message 21: by madrano (last edited Dec 31, 2020 01:17PM) (new)

madrano | 9742 comments I have now created a list and even partly filled out the books which will meet the criteria. I hope that's "fair". I'm also adding a stipulation for myself--the books must also be ones i own or that are already on my elibrary "waiting list" because i still want to whittle those down. (As you can see, i've already located some books i want on the list. Also, it is ambitious, i realize, but i've been having such a good reading year, so why not?)

1 Author you’ve never heard of
Ready or not--Mary Stolz Bought in book store as we traveled because i liked the old-fashioned cover (not one linked by GR) and it was $1. :-)
Completed October 2020

2. Book with a strong female lead
Into the Planet: My Life as a Cave Diver--Jill Heinerth
Completed Dec. 2020.

3. A play
The Misanthrope and The School for Wives / The Critique of the School for Wives / Don Juan / The Miser / The Imaginary Invalid. I added the Critique because Moliere wrote it in reply to all the critics of the School.
Completed Sept 2020.

4. A book set in Southern USA
Hound Dog Man- Fred Gipson (He wrote Old Yeller.)
Completed Sept 2020.

5. A memoir/autobiography of someone you admire
The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks--Jeanne Theoharis
Completed Sept 2020.

6. Character with career you wish you had
A Rumor Of Bones, et al--Beverly Connor
Rather interesting series of mysteries with an archaeologist as the main character. I've been fascinated by archeology since i was a teenager but never read a mystery featuring one. This series was neat because it included a couple of other attractions for me. First, one book is about digging up Native American sites, which we have liked visiting on our travels. Another is about "digging" up a lost ship with the use of a cofferdams, used to create a void in ocean water, allowing for uncovering skeletal ships! There are only 5 books in the series and i've yet to read the final one, holding off as a sort of treat.
Completed August 2020

7. A plant on the cover
Dandelion Wine--Ray Bradbury
Because i've been meaning to read this for a very long time!

Completed November '20

8. A graphic novel
March: Book One, and Books 2 & 3--John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell
Great primer about the Voting & Civil Rights movement in the mid 1950s. I finished after Lewis's death but read the first earlier this year.
Completed 7/20

9. Featuring music
The Piano Shop on the Left Bank: Discovering a Forgotten Passion in a Paris Atelier--Thad Carhart
Completed November 2020

10. An ugly cover
Savage Season--Joe R. Lansdale
Oddly, the cover this is linked to isn't the cover which i saw when i selected the book. I will see if i can find it.

Completed Sept 2020

11. A teen as the main character
The Black Skimmer-Philip Hart (Not only do i not know the author, i have no notion of what the book is about, i bought it because it was old.)
Completed Sept 2020.

12. Set during a holiday
Mardi Gras Murder-Ellen Byron
Completed Sept 2020

13. A book about time-travel-
The House on the Strand--Daphne du Maurier
A different sort of time travel book, as it covers only a brief time period of people in 1200s in England. The time travel seems to be via some liquid concoction a friend of the traveler created. The book illustrated the distracting and addictive qualities of some time travel. Not a riveting time travel book but i found it somewhat unusual.
Completed August, 2020

14. A title starting with the letter “J”
Jungle Child-Norah Burke (Another i purchased on a whim & due to price.)
Completed Dec. 2020

15. True crime
The Feather Thief--Kirk Wallace Johnson
This is a true crime story about a young US man (Royal Academy of Music in London, flute student), who stole valuable bird skins and feathers from the British Museum of Natural History in Tring, England, earlier this century. The author, whose worked to help Iraqis who worked with the US migrate here after the war, used this theft as a sort of relief from his frustrations in his immigrant work. The story of a gifted student with such promise, who ended up a thieve is remarkable. This is part history, sharing how the feathers were collected by Darwin "rival" Arthur Russel Wallace, how fashion played a role in near-extinction of many birds, Aspergers and e-sales are all covered in this interesting book.
Completed August, 2020

16. The name of a color in the title
Threads of Grey and Gold-Myrtle Reed
I liked the old-fashioned cover on this one, so purchased it at a Salvation Army. Clueless as to topic, i was surprised to see that it contained essays and poems written by Reed.
Completed October 2020

17. A one word title
Penrod-Booth Tarkington
The Huck Finn of the turn of the 20th century.
Completed October 2020.

18. An author who uses initials
Love in a Dish . . . and Other Culinary Delights by M.F.K. Fisher-M.F.K. Fisher Completed July 2020

19. A western
The Homesman--Glendon Swarthout
I liked that Swarthout created an occupation for those who returned women whose homesteading led them to insanity. Completed July 2020.

20. A book about a cult
CHEATING!!!! “All the Real Indians Died Off”: And 20 Other Myths About Native Americans--Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Completed December 2020

21. Set in South America
Incas: The Puma's Shadow-Antoine B. Daniel
Randomly purchased a couple of years ago.

Oroonoko--Aphra Behn
Completed 12/20

22. Military Related: fiction or non-fiction
Buffalo Soldiers: A Narrative of the Negro Cavalry in the West-William H. Leckie (I have already begun this nonfiction book. Written late in the last century, it has been updated & includes a Shirley Leckie as coauthor, although thus far, even in an updated preface, there is no indication who she is/was.)
When this book covers only the list of what the soldiers accomplished, it is only average. However, when they expand to give the history of conflicts and more details, it works much better.
Completed July 2020.

23. A Non-fiction Science book-
A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing--Lawrence M. Krauss
Completed October 2020

24. A children’s book-
Toys Go Out: Being the Adventures of a Knowledgeable Stingray, a Toughy Little Buffalo, and Someone Called Plastic--Emily Jenkins
I liked the idea of a stingray stuffed animal, as my son loved his octopus animal when he was a li'l guy.
Completed October 2020

25. An author who uses a pseudonym-
Naked in Death--J.D. Robb
Always meant to read one of these about a sci-fi police officer.
Completed October 2020.

26. Set in a country you’ve visited
Tales of the Alhambra--Washington Irving
Mix of essays and legends. I really liked the essays but became bored by the latter. Having visited Spain in 2010, it was neat to relive and better understand the particular structure of Alhambra. And oh! the stories about treasures lost in caves!
Completed 9/2020

27. Set in a post-apocalyptic world
Parable of the Sower--Octavia E. Butler
Completed Sept 2020.

28. Set in China -
Pavillion of Women--Pearl S. Buck
Completed November 2020

29. A book that is a sequel
To the Far Blue Mountains-Louis L'Amour (Second in Sackett series, which i began last year, i think.)
Completed Dec 2020

30. Book set in Germany
Nazi Wives: The Women at the Top of Hitler's Germany--James Wyllie
Completed December 2020

31 Book with a month in the title
To the End of June: The Intimate Life of American Foster Care--Cris Beam
Completed October 2020.

32 Poetry
Native Guard--Natasha Trethewey
Good volume of poems divided into her personal story, followed by writing about the Civil War from black soldier's POV and a sort of combining of the two in the third section.
Completed August 2020

33.Picture Book
Sing a Season Song--Jane Yolen with illustrations by Lisel Jane Ashlock
Lovely art work.
Completed October 2020



message 22: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17155 comments What a fun list !

3. A play
Something by Moliere

If you haven't already read it, I recommend Tartuffe. It's so funny.
It's like Dr. Seuss for adults.

The Misanthrope/ Tartuffe


message 23: by madrano (new)

madrano | 9742 comments Thank you. I have a book of selected plays by Moliere and that is included. As i consider myself a sort of misanthrope, the play sounds perfect. Maybe i'll learn something? Ha! I'll keep you posted.


message 24: by madrano (new)

madrano | 9742 comments I've updated the second DL, listing books i read for the challenge. July was a good month for this. Onward...


message 25: by John (last edited Aug 01, 2020 03:59PM) (new)

John | 976 comments madrano wrote: "Thank you. I have a book of selected plays by Moliere and that is included. As i consider myself a sort of misanthrope, the play sounds perfect. Maybe i'll learn something? Ha! I'll keep you posted."

We read The Doctor in Spite of Himself for high school French class. I recall it as funny also.

For time travel, To Say Nothing of the Dog is great! (I wasn't a huge fan of Doomsday Book).


message 26: by madrano (new)

madrano | 9742 comments I had such fun with the Connie Willis Dog time travel book. Haven't read the other, i suppose i just ran across the first, not realizing it wasn't a stand alone book.

John, i see that Molière play in my book as well. Maybe i'll read both. Looking forward to them both.


message 27: by John (new)

John | 976 comments For true crime, my mother has a couple of friends directly involved with this one: Safe Harbor: A Murder in Nantucket.


message 28: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17155 comments John wrote: "For true crime, my mother has a couple of friends directly involved with this one: Safe Harbor: A Murder in Nantucket."

I have a friend who loves to read the true crime genre. I am going to pass this title on to her. Thanks !


message 29: by madrano (new)

madrano | 9742 comments Thanks for the tip, John. I was rather clueless on this category.


message 30: by madrano (new)

madrano | 9742 comments I read three more books on my second DL of the year. Of those, one, The House on the Strand, has been on my TBR list for decades. Hurrah! The above list (message 21) has been updated.

John, the true crime you mentioned sounds good but the Feather one drew me in first. Still, thanks for the TBR addition!


message 31: by Julie (new)

Julie (julielill) | 2214 comments The House on the Strand sounds so interesting.


message 32: by madrano (new)

madrano | 9742 comments Julie, i thought it gave a good idea of the frustrations of such experiments, as well as learning about history over 600 years old.


message 33: by John (last edited Aug 24, 2020 10:25AM) (new)

John | 976 comments Here are some more suggestions, take what resonates with you (as they say)

I have not read this one yet, but you might find it interesting: November Road.

For China, I realize you are likely looking for fiction (a novel), but if nonfiction is okay: Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey Through China.

For a cult book, I gave four stars to Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape, also really appreciated Leah Remini: Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology.

I loved the historical fiction The Observations, told from the point-of-view of 15 year old Bessie.


message 34: by madrano (new)

madrano | 9742 comments Thanks for the suggestions, John. I am at a loss for cult books but i'm not sure i could stomach books about scientology. I'm such a wimp. I'm hoping to find Representative Jackie Speier's book, Undaunted: Surviving Jonestown, Summoning Courage, and Fighting Back, but have had some setbacks on that front.

I'd forgotten i needed a book on China. This one sounds interesting, i'm going to see if i can find the Jen Lin-Liu book.


message 35: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17155 comments madrano wrote: "Thanks for the suggestions, John. I am at a loss for cult books but i'm not sure i could stomach books about scientology. ..."

I enjoyed Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini

Another good book that I guess could be considered a cult
Under the Banner of Heaven--Jon Krakauer


message 36: by madrano (new)

madrano | 9742 comments Alias, i remember that you read & learned much from those two books. More good suggestions. Thanks to everyone helping out.


message 37: by madrano (new)

madrano | 9742 comments About #32 above. This weekend i finished reading Natasha Trethewey's Native Guard. As it happens i read her memoir, Memorial Drive: A Daughter's Memoir, about her mother's death earlier this month. Then, seeking a book of poetry for this leg of my challenge, i found this one. Fortuitous.

I like her poems. The first set are personal ones about her bi-racial upbringing and living in Mississippi. The second section is mostly the title poem, about a black soldier in the Civil War & what he experienced. The final combines the two, somewhat, as well as looking at history, too.

I must admit that i wondered if i would have liked the first section as much if i hadn't read her memoir. Ultimately i think i would, as i felt the poems evoked most childhood images much better than her prose. At least for me, that is.


message 38: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17155 comments That was a nice to read her memoir first. I think that would add to the experience for me, too.


message 39: by madrano (new)

madrano | 9742 comments :-)


message 40: by madrano (last edited Sep 12, 2020 12:09PM) (new)

madrano | 9742 comments I completed my reading of Tales of the Alhambra, a compilation of essays and legends Washington Irving wrote about his time in Granada's grand structure. The category for this reading is "Set in a Country You've Visited." The first part of the book was great, with informative bits about the building itself, how effects were created, what others living in Alhambra were like, etc.

However, when he created legends, retelling of ones he'd heard by others, i was bored. The base of most of the legends were interesting but the elaborations were much less so. Maybe my days of appreciating fairy tales and legends have passed. That written, however, i still like myths. Hmmm.

Anyway, i'm pleased i finished it. In Spain Irving is considered more an historian than a writer of fiction. I can see why.


message 41: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17155 comments Sorry the book was a mixed experience for you, deb. Still, it seems that you enjoyed the first part and will find the information useful.


message 42: by John (new)

John | 976 comments madrano wrote: "I completed my reading of Tales of the Alhambra, a compilation of essays and legends Washington Irving wrote about his time in Granada's grand structure. The category f..."

Thanks for the further comments (letting me know it's not for me).


message 43: by madrano (new)

madrano | 9742 comments Glad to be able to spread the news. It's tough to be negative when discussing a classic but that happens. I wanted to note that it was seeing the marble sign in Alhambra which marks the rooms in which Irving stayed while there which inspired me to buy a copy of the book. They clearly embrace the author & his book.


message 44: by madrano (last edited Sep 19, 2020 01:16PM) (new)

madrano | 9742 comments Upthread (message 21), i mentioned that one of my categories was "an ugly cover". I selected one, Savage Season but the cover GR offered isn't the one which i saw when choosing it. I've found one now...



I didn't like it because i felt the underside of the highway was poorly photographed. This bugged me because i like taking such photos & delete those that look like this. LOL.


message 45: by Julie (new)

Julie (julielill) | 2214 comments madrano wrote: "Upthread (message 21), i mentioned that one of my categories was "an ugly cover". I selected one, Savage Season but the cover GR offered isn't the one which i saw when choosing it. I'..."

That is a pretty ugly cover!


message 46: by madrano (new)

madrano | 9742 comments Glad i'm not alone in seeing it that way. The book appears to have many different versions, possibly because it was later developed into a tv series, which usually means a redesign.


message 47: by madrano (new)

madrano | 9742 comments From my Upthread list (message 21), i completed another title, this one is #31, a book with a month in the title. I selected Cris Beam's nonfiction, To the End of June: The Intimate Life of American Foster Care, a 2010 book looking at the US foster care system.

Beam admittedly writes primarily about the care of foster children in NYC because that is what she knows best. However, she also alits on California and Texas for a couple of further examples. More importantly, she has fairly recent statistics about foster care, the providers and funds across the US.

Her introduction informs readers that "more than a million adults are directly or indirectly employed to ensure their well-being, and $15 to $20 billion a year are poured into overseeing their health and management. And yet nobody—not the kids, not the foster or biological parents, not the social workers, the administrators, the politicians, the policy experts—thinks the system is working.”

She relates stories about homes that seem to work, those which fail due to children acting out, as well as those which fail due to uncompromising expectations of the foster parents. It's informative to read what has happened over the years to the focus of most child welfare work. The changes in US policy alter with the changes in political leadership, so around every 15-20 years new mandates are addressed.

Unfortunately Beam does herself no favors when she shares differing stats in different chapters. For instance, fairly early on she states that it's believed around 30% of the homeless were in foster care. Later she states that "about 50 percent of the current homeless population were once in foster care". Either way it's a high number, indicating that feeling rootless is not unfamiliar to those who've lived in the system's numbers.

When i lived in Oregon (90s-'02) i was part of a citizen review board to whom judges turned for assistance in keeping track of kids in the system. I recognized many circumstances, particularly those which saddened me about the teenagers in care. Beam spent a good amount of her book addressing them, what happens afterward and their own thoughts on what happened to them. That was a great touch, imo.


message 48: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17155 comments madrano wrote:When i lived in Oregon (90s-'02) i was part of a citizen review board to whom judges turned for assistance in keeping track of kids in the system. I recognized many circumstances, particularly those which saddened me about the teenagers in care. Beam spent a good amount of her book addressing them, what happens afterward and their own thoughts on what happened to them. That was a great touch, imo.."

Very interesting, Deb. Thanks for sharing.


message 49: by madrano (new)

madrano | 9742 comments My pleasure. I take notes but writing the above helped me TRY to prioritize what i found important in the book.

Just wait until i post about Lawrence M. Krauss's A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing, which i began last night. Two chapters in & i've understood much but am unsure i could write concisely enough about it to make sense. ;-)


message 50: by Alias Reader (last edited Oct 06, 2020 07:19PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17155 comments Deb, they always say if you really want to learn something try to teach it to someone else. Sometimes I play that game with myself. I make notes as if I were a student.

When I moved, I threw out all my notes. :( Even though I seldom would re-read them, just the process of making the notes helped me tremendously.

There are quite of few lines from my current read 21 Lessons for the 21st Century that I really should be writing down. I need to start a new notebook of book notes.


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