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What did you read last month? > What I read in January 2015

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message 1: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18833 comments Share with us what you read in January 2015 !

Please provide:

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


message 2: by Alias Reader (last edited Jan 30, 2015 09:20PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18833 comments Here are my reads for January.


Native Son by Richard Wright Native Son by Richard Wright
fiction
Rate- 5/5
This was our group read. It was a re-read for me and I found it to be just as good the second time around.
Comments for the book in the Group Read thread.

Larger Than Life by Jodi Picoult Larger Than Life by Jodi Picoult
Fiction
Rate 3/5
This is a novella. The story introduces us to the character of Alice who is in her new book Leaving Time
It's about a scientist who is studying elephants in Africa. It's also about relationships. Poignant.

Body By Simone The 8-Week Total Body Makeover Plan by Simone De La Rue Body By Simone: The 8-Week Total Body Makeover Plan by Simone De La Rue
Non fiction
Rate: 3/5
Exercise diet book. The author was a dancer who now owns an exercise studio. I liked her dance inspired exercises. Here is a short 5 min. YouTube video showing her exercise routine. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snd_5...


message 3: by Meredith (new)

Meredith | 105 comments My January reads

This is Where I Leave Youby Jonathan Tropper
Rating 4/5

This book had some very poignant moments and some laugh out loud moments. I really enjoyed this book

The Hangman by Louise Penny
Rating 4/5

This was a short novella with Inspector Gamache and took place in Three Pines

The All-Girl Filling Station's Last ReunionbyFannie Flagg
Rating 4/5


message 4: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18833 comments Very nice reading month, Meredith. All 3 are four ratings.


message 5: by Lesley (last edited Jan 31, 2015 11:05PM) (new)

Lesley | 239 comments I don't know how I managed to read this many books as I spent most nights watching the Australia Open tennis. Admittedly, some of these are audio.

The Age of Innocence Newland Archer struggles to conform to NYC society, when he meets the unconventional Ellen Olenska. Set in 1870s. Loved the writing, descriptions etc. 5 stars.

Scission Audio. Short stories set across the eras in typical Australian scenes. Winton captures Australian culture so well, in his sparse manner. 3 stars.

Cranford The ladies of Cranford live their lives very much according to British society rules of the time. Funny and sad too. 4 stars.

Country Driving: A Journey Through China from Farm to Factory NF. Hessler's experiences in a rural area north of Beijing, as he gets to know locals etc. The first of my China reads. 2 stars.

Deadwood Fictional account of the 'wild west' days of late 19th century Deadwood, Sth Dakota. Entertaining read, if a little raw. 3 stars.

Five Bells Four random people arrive at Circular Quay near the Opera House, Sydney at the same time, and are all witness to an incident. This shortish story looks at their lives and why they are all at the same place at the same time. Reading this is a bit like 'people-watching' and wondering about their lives. Beautiful writing, though repetitive at times. 4 stars.

The Badlands Saloon: An Illustrated Novel A NYC art student goes back to country Nth Dakota for the summer holidays and while working at a friend's bike shop becomes enmeshed in the everyday life of the town and its locals. Fab illustrations and quite philosophical too. 4 stars.

Atonement Young Briony struggles to understand her adult household and witnesses a crime which affects the rest of their lives, when the wrong man is found guilty. Set in 1935 Surrey, the battlefields of Northern France in WW2 and concludes in Briony's old-age in 1990's London. Beautiful writing but beginning a little too slow. 4 stars.

A Handful of Honey: Away to the Palm Groves of Morocco and Algeria NF. Audio. Annie explores Northern Africa with her friends. Too heavy on the adjectives for me. 2 stars.

The Glass Castle NF. The struggles of Jeanette and her siblings as they grow up in a nomadic/gypsy lifestyle with an alcoholic father and a mother possibly suffering from depression. A moving, sad and, at times, uplifting account. 4 stars.

Alice in Wonderland Audio. Alice goes looking for adventure down the rabbit hole and meets some interesting characters. Much play on words. I think I would have loved this as a small child. 3 stars.


message 6: by Alias Reader (last edited Feb 01, 2015 07:18AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18833 comments Very good reading month, Lesley !

Lesley, I own a hardcover copy of The Age of Innocence but haven't read it yet. I don't know what I am waiting for as the only book I've read by Edith Wharton I loved (5 stars) Ethan Frome.

I've read The Glass Castle twice. Once for a book club. I really enjoyed it. That is some beginning to the book where she is in a limo going to a fancy party and sees her mom rummaging through a garbage can.


message 7: by Jon (new)

Jon | 395 comments January is a busy time for me at work and I barely got in any reading time. In fact, I probably read more this weekend than I did the rest of the month:


Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart 4/5. Funny and raunchy, a dystopian satire that a smarter Judd Apatow might have written. In the book America is bankrupt, the Chinese are threatening to foreclose, and the nebbish main charater has fallen in love with a woman half his age. Shteyngart uses this to take satirical pot shots at a variety of things: the overreliance on technology, the dumbing down of our culture, the oversexualized marketing of products, and a consumer culture that has gotten out of control. There are some truly brilliant satirical scenes throughout the book and Shteyngart is able to skewer society without losing sight of the love story that is at the center of the novel.


message 8: by Amy (new)

Amy (amybf) | 514 comments I also enjoyed "The Glass Castle" when I read it. And Meredith--"This Is How I Leave You" was also a favorite of mine. It was very well written and laugh-out-loud funny.


message 9: by Amy (last edited Feb 01, 2015 10:13AM) (new)

Amy (amybf) | 514 comments My reads for January:

We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas: Sprawling novel about the life of Eileen Tumulty, born to Irish immigrants in Queens, New York. Her childhood is less than ideal as she is forced to grow up the caretaker of her alcoholic mother. When she meets Ed Leary, a mild-mannered scientist, she decides to marry him in the hopes that he will provide her with the stability and economic prestige she craves. But then her "American dream" crumbles as the years go by. This book is more character-driven than plot-driven, but the sadness and yearning and disappointment and hopes permeate it throughout. Very good. 4/5 stars

Carl Sagan: A Life by Keay Davidson: Biography of the late astronomer who popularized science with the "Cosmos" PBS series in the 1980s. A bit too dense in the science sections for this non-scientist, but overall a decent read if you want to know more about Sagan. 3/5 stars

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe: A memoir of the author and his mother, who started a “book club” at first to wile away the time during her chemotherapy treatments for pancreatic cancer. Over the two years until her death, the "club" brings them closer together as they carry on conversations both wide-ranging and deeply personal, prompted by an eclectic array of books and their shared passion for reading. 4/5 stars

The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty: I think I have now read everything that this author has written thus far. This (one of her earlier novels) was entertaining, but not as good as her more recent works. 3/5 stars

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Excellent debut by this author. If this had been my introduction to Chimamanda Adichie's novels, I would have probably rated it higher. However, just a few months ago I read her most recent book Americanah, which is absolutely stunning. Putting these two books side-by-side, it's obvious that Adichie has made tremendous growth as a writer since this debut. Definitely recommend both books, however. 3.5/5 stars for this one.

The News from Spain: Seven Variations on a Love Story by Joan Wickersham: I am not normally a fan of short stories, but this was a selection for a postal book club that I participate in. Each story had a link between them of the phrase “the news from Spain.” The different contexts in which it emerged in each tale created a connection and a sense of anticipation that captivated me — even though I was waiting for it in each story, it still surprised me at how deftly it was inserted into each one. As for the stories themselves, the book as a whole is quite definitely more than the sum of its parts. It is a meditation on all of the different things that love is or ever can be. Love between wives and husbands, parents and children, caregivers and those in their care, friends, lovers – the seemingly countless ways it conforms, fails, confuses, surprises and enriches us. To my surprise, I enjoyed it. 3/5 stars

A Class Apart: Prodigies, Pressure, and Passion Inside One of America's Best High Schools: by Alec Klein: Narrative nonfiction about one year in the life of Stuyvesant High in New York City, considered to be one of the best in the U.S. Stuyvesant is a public school, but children must pass a rigorous entrance exam to get in. Only about 3 percent do so, which makes admission to the high school tougher than to Harvard. It follows the lives of several students and teachers over the year, providing insight the pressures faced by students at an "elite" institution. 4/5 stars

Descent by Tim Johnston: A family from Wisconsin is on vacation in Colorado, their final trip as a family before Caitlin, their 18-year-old daughter, leaves to attend college. One morning Caitlin, an aspiring collegiate track star, goes for a jog through the mountains with her 14-year-old brother Sean. Only Sean returns. The story then follows Sean and their father, Grant, over the next several years after Caitlin's disappearance, asking the questions: At what point does a family stop searching? At what point do you give up? Absorbing story, but I thought there were some problems with the pacing that made it obvious this is the author's first novel. 3/5 stars

After the Fire: A True Story of Friendship and Survival by Robin Gaby Fisher: The story of two young men who were students at Seton Hall University when a fire raged through the school's freshman dormitory in January 2000, killing three students and injuring 58 others. The two men profiled here were the most severely injured, and the book follows their recovery from the first days in the burn unit until several years after. Very simplistic writing style; reads like a YA book. I started skimming it by the end. 2/5 stars

A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny: Second book in the mystery series about Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec and the village of Three Pines. I liked this one better than the first. 3/5 stars

In addition, I am approximately 45% through War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, which I started on January 1 as my "chunkster" read for 2015. It is moving faster than I expected -- an absorbing story, to be sure! Although I am enjoyed the "peace" sections more than the "war" ones. ;)


message 10: by Petra (new)

Petra | 1046 comments I also don't know how I read this many books in January. Some are audio (and short), which helped but it's still not a pace I think will continue. It was fun, though.

To the Nines and Ten Big Ones - these are just fun books to listen to while commuting. I never rate them high (2-stars).

The Beautiful Mystery and How the Light Gets In (books 8 & 9 of the Chief Inspector Gamache series). Terrific series! 5-stars for each of them.

Valley of Strength - an interesting story of the beginning of Jewish settlements in Israel, complete with some history and beautiful descriptions of the land. An interesting read. (3 star)

The Travels of Sir John Mandeville - an early attempt at the novel. It veers away from that time's non-fiction History books and the Bible. It's interesting as the author (anonymous) still clings to history and the Bible, yet adds fantastical elements and a storyline to things. (3 star)

Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture: A Novel of Mathematical Obsession - I enjoyed this one about obsession. (3 star)

The Lost Painting (NF) - I love stories about finding lost pieces of art. This one shows how this painting, The Taking of Christ, was verified as a true Caravaggio. (4 star)

Fugitive Pieces - (audio) This one was very touching. Told in fragments/memories (pieces), it's very effective in showing grief and turmoil. (4 star)

The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr - a surprising find. It's delightful; a really fun romp. Half the book is Murr's story; a tomcat who educates himself beyond his station in life. The other half is all fairy-tale like, with kings, princesses, intrigues, sword fights, magic....all set in an idyllic landscape. It's also rather humorous. (4 star)

Red Scarf Girl (NF) - a look at what it was like to grow up during the Cultural Revolution in China. (3 star)

The Silver Star - (audio) I enjoyed this story. Bean was a little bit like Scout in To Kill A Mockingbird. (3 star)


message 11: by Julie (last edited Feb 01, 2015 11:09AM) (new)

Julie (readerjules) | 1219 comments Lesley,
Is there a particular reason you only gave Country Driving 2 stars? I have it on my to-read list.


message 12: by Julie (new)

Julie (readerjules) | 1219 comments Alias Reader wrote: "Lesley, I own a hardcover copy of The Age of Innocence but haven't read it yet. I don't know what I am waiting for as the only book I've read by [au..."

I am going to be reading it in april.


message 13: by Julie (new)

Julie (readerjules) | 1219 comments Petra wrote: "I also don't know how I read this many books in January. Some are audio (and short), which helped but it's still not a pace I think will continue. It was fun, though.

To the Nines an..."


Petra!! When did you join this group?


message 14: by Julie (new)

Julie (readerjules) | 1219 comments Native Son-5 stars-group read

The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World-5 stars-I bought this on kindle because it was 99 cents. It had a lot of stuff about animal factory farming, which I already know about and GMO's, which I didn't. Now I have to look up more about GMO's because the book was published in 2001!

I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America after Twenty Years Away-2 stars-I listened to this one on CD. This is what I said in my review: Sometimes I laughed. Other times I thought "This is kind of stupid". Other times I just plain forgot to pay attention. I always liked extreme exaggeration for humor's sake, but apparently it can get old after awhile.


message 15: by Petra (new)

Petra | 1046 comments Julie wrote: "Petra!! When did you join this group?
..."


Julie!!! I joined sometime this month after spontaneously checking out groups for no particular reason at all. This group sounded interesting. I've been lurking a lot. I never saw your posts....I've obviously been missing some threads in my lurkiness.


message 16: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18833 comments Jon wrote: "January is a busy time for me at work and I barely got in any reading time. In fact, I probably read more this weekend than I did the rest of the month:


Super Sad True Love Story..."


Jon, it doesn't matter if you read one book or 30 a month, we want to hear all about it ! :)

Thanks for the review of Super Sad, it's on my TBR list.


message 17: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18833 comments Amy wrote: "My reads for January:

We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas: Sprawling novel about the life of Eileen Tumulty, born to Irish immigrants in Queens, New York. Her..."

-----------
I'm glad to see you rated it well. I have a hold on it at the library.


message 18: by Alias Reader (last edited Feb 01, 2015 01:28PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18833 comments Amy wrote: The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe: A memoir of the author and his mother, who started a “book club” at first to wile away the time during her chemotherapy treatments for pancreatic cancer. Over the two years until her death, the "club" brings them closer together as they carry on conversations both wide-ranging and deeply personal, prompted by an eclectic array of books and their shared passion for reading. 4/5 stars..."

I liked the audio and the paper book of this one. It was recommended to me by a friend. Glad to see you enjoyed it, too.

Awesome reading month, Amy !


message 19: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18833 comments Petra wrote: "I also don't know how I read this many books in January. Some are audio (and short), which helped but it's still not a pace I think will continue. It was fun, though.

To the Nines an..."


-------
I don't know how you did it either ! :) Really awesome month. Congrats.


message 20: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18833 comments Julie wrote: "Alias Reader wrote: "Lesley, I own a hardcover copy of The Age of Innocence but haven't read it yet. I don't know what I am waiting for as the only book I've read by [au..."

I am going to read it in april. .."


I'll see if I can fit it in then. April seems like a lifetime away. :)


message 21: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18833 comments Julie wrote: "Native Son-5 stars-group read

The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World-5 stars-I bought this on kindle because it was 99 cents. It had a l..."


I'm glad you enjoyed our Group Read, Julie.

Food Rev. was the book that started me eating more vegetarian. I actually was 100% for a few years but now I am more of a Flexatarian.

I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America after Twenty Years Away wasn't my favorite of Bryson. However, his description of the marble floor & walls in Trump Plaza will stay with me forever. He said it looked like somebody threw up a pizza. So True ! I am not sure if they have changed it out since I was last there. I used to work in the building.


message 22: by Jon (new)

Jon | 395 comments Petra wrote: "I also don't know how I read this many books in January. Some are audio (and short), which helped but it's still not a pace I think will continue. It was fun, though.

To the Nines an..."


Petra, I have both the Beautiful Mystery and How The Light Gets In on my bookshelves and I've been meaning to read them. I read A Fatal Grace and really liked it and I've wanted to read more in the series


message 23: by Petra (new)

Petra | 1046 comments Jon, its a really good series. They should be read in order, though, as the characters develop and there's a background story that runs through all the books.


message 24: by Julie (last edited Feb 01, 2015 02:08PM) (new)

Julie (readerjules) | 1219 comments Alias Reader wrote: "I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America after Twenty Years Away wasn't my favorite of Bryson. However, his description of the marble floor & walls in Trump Plaza will stay with me forever. He said it looked like somebody threw up a pizza. So True !..."

Yep, I liked A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail much better. I don't even remember the trump plaza description, but I have never been there, so it would have been pretty meaningless to me.


message 25: by Alias Reader (last edited Feb 01, 2015 02:20PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18833 comments Julie, the company I worked for had offices in the building. So I used to walk out through Trump to go outside.

I enjoyed his British book, Notes from a Small Island even though I've never been there. Though I would love to visit there one day.

I own but have not yet read his A Short History of Nearly Everything


message 26: by Meredith (new)

Meredith | 105 comments Amy wrote: "My reads for January:

We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas: Sprawling novel about the life of Eileen Tumulty, born to Irish immigrants in Queens, New York. Her..."


Amy,

The End of Life Book Club was one of my favorite reads in 2014.


message 27: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments WOW! There are a lot of great reads here . . .


message 28: by Lesley (new)

Lesley | 239 comments I was just going to comment on exactly that Carol! I love the wide range of books everyone here reads. So many books mentioned are on my TBR already and more to add.


message 29: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments My January books are as follows:

Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak. I learned much about early 20th century publishing. Nicely written & presented.

The Free People of Color of New Orleans: An Introduction by Mary Gehman. Plenty of NO history, which I liked. I served as a good primer for learning about people of color who were not slaves. I hope to read more on this topic.

The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton. Interesting story. I wonder if i am alone in realizing immediately who Sunday was, though. Good literary references, which were pleasing.

The Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne. Yes, Pooh's "daddy's" wrote this mystery. Nothing out of the ordinary today but back then, who knows? It was written before the Pooh, btw.

These two mysteries were found, by me, on a list of mysteries on this board. I think they were "Mysteries You Should Read" or "Mysteries You Don't Know" or such.Thanks to the person who posted it.

The Phantom of Fifth Avenue: The Mysterious Life and Scandalous Death of Heiress Huguette Clark by Meryl Gordon. Story of a curious heiress who spent the last 20+ years of her life in a hospital room despite her fine health--she just liked it very much. The story also covers her life, death, those who used her & the outcome of the battle over her will.


message 30: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18833 comments Madrano wrote: "My January books are as follows:

Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak. I learned much about early 20th century publishing. Nicely writ..."


Nice, eclectic mix, Deb.

My neighbor and friend read a book recently on Huguette Clark and loved it. Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune

I see G.K. Chesterton old shows on TV but never watched or read them. I should check them out.


message 31: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments So many books added to my list of books i hope to read. Thank you each for sharing.

Petra, i've had the Sir John Mandeville book on my list for some time. Glad to read that is worth reading, even though not great.

Jon, thanks for the Gary Shteyngart title. Sounds good.


message 32: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments Alias Reader wrote: "Lesley, I own a hardcover copy of The Age of Innocence but haven't read it yet. I don't know what I am waiting for..."

I read this book a few years ago. Did you know that Lewis' Main Street (1920) was initially awarded the 1921 Pulitzer Prize for literature, but was rejected by the Board of Trustees, who overturned the jury's decision. The prize went, instead, to Edith Wharton for The Age of Innocence. The Columbia trustees, who praised Wharton’s twelfth novel for its “wholesome atmosphere of American life and the highest standard of American manners and manhood.” Wharton must have wondered whether they had really read her book, and understood her title?!

Lewis's Babbitt (1922) was chosen for the Pulitzer in 1923, but the committee was again overruled by the Trustees and the Prize went instead to Willa Cather for One of Ours. In 1926, Lewis refused the Pulitzer when he was awarded it for Arrowsmith (1925).

Lewis stated in a letter, "I see that just as Edith Wharton's Age of Innocence beat Main Street for the Pulitzer prize, so did Cather's One of Ours (1922) beat Babbitt. I'm quite sure I never shall get the Pulitzer." Sinclair Lewis did accept the Nobel Prize in 1930.


message 33: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18833 comments Carol wrote: "Alias Reader wrote: "Lesley, I own a hardcover copy of The Age of Innocence but haven't read it yet. I don't know what I am waiting for..."

I read this book a few years ago. Did you ..."


-----------------

Fascinating !

Have you read all the books you mentioned ? If so, which do you think should have gotten the Pulitzer ?

Since the Nobel is for a body of work and the Pulitzer is for a single work, do you think Lewis was redeemed in the end? I'm not sure if redeemed is the word I want.

Would you say the Nobel is more prestigious that the Pulitzer?

I think I also own a copy of One of Ours.


message 34: by Carol (last edited Feb 01, 2015 08:12PM) (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments Alias Reader wrote: "Have you read all the books you mentioned?"

No, I have not read any of Lewis' work, but I was thinking of adding them to my reading list. I read some overviews of his books. Then I thought that I should read a biography on Jonathan Swift -- since I've not read much regarding satire.

Main Street by Sinclair Lewis Main Street (1920) is a satirical novel written by Sinclair Lewis, and published in 1920. "Main Street" tells the tale of a big-city girl who marries a physician and settles in a small town in the Midwest, only to fall victim to the narrow-mindedness and unimaginative natures of the town's residents.

Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis Babbitt (1922) When Babbitt was first published in 1922, fans gleefully hailed its scathing portrait of a crass, materialistic nation; critics denounced it as an unfair skewering of the American businessman. Sparking heated literary debate, Babbitt became a controversial classic, securing Sinclair Lewis’s place as one of America’s preeminent social commentators.

Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis Arrowsmith (1925) The book follows the life of Martin Arrowsmith, a rather ordinary fellow who gets his first taste of medicine at 14 as an assistant to the drunken physician in his home town. It is Leora Tozer who makes Martin's life extraordinary. With vitality and love, she urges him beyond the confines of the mundane to risk answering his true calling as a scientist and researcher. Not even her tragic death can extinguish her spirit or her impact on Martin's life.

Elmer Gantry by Sinclair Lewis Elmer Gantry (1927) Lewis' satirical indictment of fundamentalist religion that caused an uproar upon its publication in 1927. The title character of Elmer Gantry starts out as a greedy, shallow, philandering Baptist minister, turns to evangelism, and eventually becomes the leader of a large Methodist congregation. Throughout the novel Gantry encounters fellow religious hypocrites, including Mrs. Evans Riddle, Judson Roberts, and Sharon Falconer, with whom he becomes romantically involved. Although he is often exposed as a fraud, Gantry is never fully discredited.

Dodsworth by Sinclair Lewis Dodsworth (1929) Dodsworth is a satirical novel based on a study of a marriage in crisis. It tells the story of a young American couple who moves to Europe. When the woman becomes involved with another man, her husband must choose between forgiving his wife or abandoning the relationship, and Europe, forever.


message 35: by Alias Reader (last edited Feb 01, 2015 08:47PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18833 comments Thanks, Carol !

I think I own a copy of Main Street.

I know I own a copy of It Can't Happen Here

I think I will add Babbitt to my TBR list.

Thanks !


message 36: by Carol (last edited Feb 02, 2015 06:42AM) (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments FYI - This site has all of Lewis' books. https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/l/lewi...

Most of his books are 480-496 pages, except Babbitt - 380 pp. and Dodsworth – 370 pp.


message 37: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18833 comments Thanks, Carol. I like that Babbitt isn't a huge book. When trying out an author I rather start with a moderately sized book.


message 38: by Emma (new)

Emma (elpryan) | 168 comments Wow! What a great start to the reading year, everyone!

As a result of my overzealous hold-placing streak in November/December, I've had an influx of books become available in the past couple of weeks, so neither are from my DL. I've only managed to finish 2 this month:

Not My Father's Son (4/5)
A lot of the reviews on this one mention wanting to give Alan a hug after reading, and I agree. This memoir was an incredible mix of painful upbringing (abusive father), mystery (finding out the true story of his grandfather), and career anecdotes. I read the paper version, but imagine it would be a wonderful listen as an audiobook as well (he narrates). I think I also need to start watching The Good Wife.

The Goldfinch (3.5/5)
I enjoyed this overall, but I'm having difficulty articulating what I liked and disliked about it. The story follows Theo from a 13-year-old who survives an accident that kills his mother, through adulthood, which in part accounts for its length (771 pages). It was suspenseful but at times tiring. The ending was satisfying and wrapped up most loose ends, even if a little extraordinary/unbelievable.

For February from the library: I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, Where She Went, and Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, then hopefully finally take a bite out of the DL.


message 39: by Alias Reader (last edited Feb 02, 2015 12:09PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18833 comments Emma wrote:Not My Father's Son (4/5)
A lot of the reviews on this one mention wanting to give Alan a hug after reading, and I agree. This memoir was an incredible mix of painful upbringing (abusive father), mystery (finding out the true story of his grandfather), and career anecdotes. I read the paper version, but imagine it would be a wonderful listen as an audiobook as well (he narrates). I think I also need to start watching The Good Wife...."


I heard an interview of him on NPR and immediately put it on my To Read list. Glad to hear you enjoyed it.

I've seen him on Broadway a few times and I simply adore him.


message 40: by Jon (new)

Jon | 395 comments Carol wrote: "Alias Reader wrote: "Have you read all the books you mentioned?"

No, I have not read any of Lewis' work, but I was thinking of adding them to my reading list. I read some overviews of his books. T..."


I've read both Babbitt and Elmer Gantry. Both are excellent social satires/commentaries. I don't know if you've ever seen the film version of Elmer gantry, but it contains one of Burt Lancaster's finest performances. it completely nails the role.


message 41: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments Hi Alias! I just began reading Babbitt online (on chapter 4). I will have to check out the films at the library to see if they have Elmer Gantry with Burt Lancaster (not familiar with him).


message 42: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18833 comments I've seen the EG movie years and years ago. It's a good one.


message 43: by [deleted user] (new)

I had a decent January and February is going quite well too. One might say I am in a bit of a reading groove!

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill - My first 'chunkster' of the year, this was disappointing, clunky and most unforgivably, not at all scary. Could have been 300 pages shorter and much improved, but I still wouldn't have been impressed. TWO STARS.

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel - Wonderful book about the second stage in Thomas Cromwell's career / life. I was immersed in the Tudor world and fascinated by the man himself. Mantel is sneaking her way in to become one of my favourite writers, she is marvellous. 4.5 STARS

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler - This was pretty good. I didn't really connect with any of the characters and some of them were downright annoying and some of the story was pretty heavy-handed in message. But there was a lot about psychological theory and the workings of a dysfunctional family, all of which was very interesting. It got me through, and it is well written, but ultimately underwhelming. 3.5 STARS

The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman - I picked this graphic novel up on Friday because it was Holocaust Memorial Day last week. I read it within 24 hours. Powerful, complex and a deeply personal story, I was blown away by this. Digs right to the root of humanity (and inhumanity) and the complicated idea of good and evil. I laughed, cried and was continually astonished by the story. After finishing I couldn't think of much to say for the rest of the day, it was such a thought-provoking experience. Should be required reading. FIVE STARS


message 44: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments Emma, all that reading until you can get to your DL. Impressive you are doing so--i'm sure I would have surrendered. Glad to know the Alan Cumming book was good. I've liked his work for years.

Soph, great review for Art Spiegelman book(s). Thanks for the title.

I've read several novels by Sinclair Lewis but don't know that i knew his history with the awards. His early books were wonderful satires.

Alias, you mentioned Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune in your post about my january books. I had it on my library wish list but didn't realize it, too, was about Huguette Clark until the book i read listed it as a reference.


message 45: by Michele (new)

Michele Weiner | 161 comments Great ideas this month. Lots of books I haven't read or heard of. My list was largely book club oriented, or easy reading!!

Sweetness #9 This is the story of a flavorist (I'll call him Bob because I can't remember his name) whose entry level job was testing rats who were being exposed to a new low calorie sweetener. The rats (and the monkeys in the adjacent lab) sickened and died. But instead of changing the formula, the company replaced the sick animals overnight with healthy ones. Bob had a crisis of conscience, a complete breakdown, was institutionalized, then amazingly rescued from the asylum by a world-renowned flavorist who promoted him beyond his years and experience. Years later, Bob's daughter becomes obsessed with food additives and does some research. She discovers her father's involvement with Sweetness #9, which is still in use, and this is where you think the book might actually have something to say. But noooooooo! It makes an abrupt turn to the nonsensical. Bob's benefactor and boss goes quietly crazy and begins to send Bob packets of the old, really bad, rat-killing formula of Sweetness #9. So it becomes about a man who went crazy rather than about the effects of chemicals on our bodies and minds. I thought it was a wasted opportunity.
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics It took me a few chapters to get involved, but it's a truly inspirational book. Descriptions of the lives of the poor Depression-era boys, what they lived through and overcame at home and at college where they learned to row were stunning. The descriptions of the "swing" of rowing and the mental discipline and selflessness required were uplifting. 4 + stars
A Cold and Broken Hallelujah A middling mystery story. Troubled detective (is there any other kind?) becomes obsessed with the victim. It was average.
The Giver Quartet Classic for middle school kids. A future world and it's inhabitants live very differently. There are four connected stories taking the reader through a couple of generations and a few different societies. Very good, but the ending gets too mystical for me, like so many of these things do. This is for my book-to-movie club 4 stars

My Losing Season: A Memoir One of my book clubs is reading The Death of Santini by Pat Conroy. I read that first and felt as I always do about Conroy; that he hides as much as he reveals and his books don't always make sense because of his squeamishness about revealing the truth of his upbringing. So I read My Losing Season because he supposedly revealed secrets in this book that were not in other books. But what he revealed I think is his severely damaged personality. After immersing myself in Pat Conroy for a couple of weeks, I have more compassion for his superhuman efforts to overcome family dysfunction (and I believe a poor genetic inheritance). I also listened to several interviews and watched The Great Santini. I had already read Beach Music, Prince of Tides and watched the movie Conrack based on his second book about his teaching days, so I consider myself fairly literate in Conroy at this point. I think the books help some people and therefore I give them 4+ stars.
Big Little Lies My kind of mystery. Very little blood and gore, lots of psychology. You didn't know who the victim or perpetrator were till the end. Set in Australia on the coast in a public elementary school. More Miss Marple than Jo Nesbo. 4 stars
The Girl on the Train Good mystery set in England. A young woman, Rachel, rides the train to work every morning and when it pauses at a stoplight daily, she watches the man and woman who live in one of the houses in view from the train. The house is on the street where she lived with her husband, from whom she is now divorced. She imagines a life for the couple and thinks she can read their personalities from her seat in the train. Rachel is in a downward spiral that started when she had trouble conceiving a child during her marriage. She is drinking a lot and living with a girlfriend. She loses her job.Then the woman she watches from the train goes missing. Rachel has been seen in the vicinity of her home on the night in question, dead drunk and bleeding. She cannot remember what happened and blunders around until she accidentally solves the mystery. Pretty good. 4 stars.


message 46: by Amy (new)

Amy (amybf) | 514 comments Michele wrote: "Great ideas this month. Lots of books I haven't read or heard of. My list was largely book club oriented, or easy reading!!

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics It took me a few chapters to get involved, but it's a truly inspirational book. .."


Michele, I read "The Boys in the Boat" right before Christmas. I loved it. That kind of narrative nonfiction is right up my alley.


message 47: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18833 comments Soph wrote: "I had a decent January and February is going quite well too. One might say I am in a bit of a reading groove!..."

I'll say you are in a nice reading groove ! Well done, Soph !


message 48: by Alias Reader (last edited Feb 03, 2015 01:28PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18833 comments Michele wrote: "Great ideas this month. Lots of books I haven't read or heard of. My list was largely book club oriented, or easy reading!!


Very nice month, Michele ! There are a few that you read that I am interested in.

~~The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics 4 + stars

I've toyed with reading this one. I think after reading your review, I'll put it on my TBR list. Thanks! Maybe it will inspire my rowing at the gym. :)


~~Big Little Lies- 4 stars
I have it on my list. Glad you enjoyed it.

~~The Girl on the Train 4 stars.
The publisher for this book had a cute stunt to sell the book. They had a group of people reading the book on the subway. It was a fun photograph. There is a lot of buzz on this book. Glad to see it lived up to your expectations. I think I'll put it on my list. Thanks !


message 49: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18833 comments Amy wrote: Michele, I read "The Boys in the Boat" right before Christmas. I loved it. That kind of narrative nonfiction is right up my alley.
..."


I'm a fan of narrative nonfiction, too !


message 50: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments Michele, it looks as though you've read several books some of us are adding to out TBR. I've added the last two, so thanks.

Your comments on Lois Lowry's quartet were thought provoking. Ther seem to be a number of mystical- ending books out there. Is it a reflection of our era? lack of commitment by writers? or a trend? Or, of course, something else altogether, including a bit of all 3? I'll be giving this more thought as i read further.

deb


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