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GENERAL CONVERSATION > March-April 2011 Chat

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message 1: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (last edited Feb 28, 2011 06:51AM) (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
chat here for the next two months. There were only 32 posts to the chat folder in the last two months***, so I am not sure if I should even bother with this topic, or with the board, in general. Maybe we should just let it die off.....

*** that is an average of 1/2 post per day. Heavy traffic - not!

message 2: by Shannon (last edited Feb 28, 2011 02:16PM) (new)

Shannon | 43 comments I got to the end of the Jan/Feb posts and found the "You can't post here" notice. HA! Topic closed already, and still over 9 hours left in Feb! Never mind. I'll post here instead.

As a result of MLK weekend in Jan, I spent most of February reading The Clinton Tapes (Taylor Branch) and Living History (Hilary Clinton). My Kindle is in high gear. I found a book my 4th grade teacher read to us, Understood Betsy (Dorothy Canfield). Nice little trip to the past that one was! Currently reading Wading Home (Rosalyn Story) about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I've been curious to see the fiction that comes from that event.

Actually, I'm still curious to read 9/11 fiction. Except for a few isolated cases, it seems too toxic an event for people to handle in fiction yet.

Friends of mine were on their way to the airport to return from New Zealand when the earthquake hit there last week. They made it home Saturday, after experiencing some wonderful hospitality.

message 3: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) Shannon wrote: "Currently reading Wading Home (Rosalyn Story) about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I've been curious to see the fiction that comes from that event.


Shannon, if you are interested in this topic, I would recommend this nonfiction book:

Zeitoun by Dave EggersZeitoun~Dave Eggers Dave Eggers

message 4: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) JoAnn, the pictures of Charlie, that I can see at the bottom of the main page of RR are just too cute. I really love the one with the red pointed hat. Gosh he is getting so big.

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
Alias Reader wrote: "JoAnn, the pictures of Charlie, that I can see at the bottom of the main page of RR are just too cute. I really love the one with the red pointed hat. Gosh he is getting so big."

I really should update my photos. Charlie is just darling - and he is now 22 months old. Hard to believe.

message 6: by Shirley (new)

Shirley | 42 comments I can appreciate your frustration.
Through the years, your posts and those of others including the annual lists have been a great resource of book selections.
I have been reading even less lately. Last month I only read one book and it was to help me learn how to use my iPod Touch:
Bove, Tony—iPod Touch for Dummies, 2nd ed.—finished 2/12/11. Non-fiction; rating 9. My daughter gave me an iPod Touch for Christmas and this book was a big help in helping me learn how to use its features.

I seldom drive anywhere myself so even my audio book listens are down. I listened to one in February:
Lewis, Beverly—The Telling—Book 3 in trilogy of Seasons of Grace; read by Rachel Botchan—finished 2/18/11. Fiction; rating 8. Trilogy has happy ending with Lettie receiving forgiveness from her husband and church, discovering that her first daughter is a young woman who had become friends with Grace and was receiving cancer treatment in the area, and Grace becomes engaged to Yonnie.

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
Shirley, we gave our (grown) son the iPod Touch for Christmas and I am amazed at what he can do with it. We do something called FACETiME which is like iChat, and he has even figured out how to use it as a phone, although he does not need to do so. He has so many apps on it. He found one that translates (by voice) what someone is saying which is helpful when he has foreign-speaking customers. Amazing!

Carolyn (in SC) C234D | 123 comments I only finished two books in February:

A Reliable Wife, by Robert Goolrick
The Mephisto Club, by Tess Gerritsen

I've been reading Kathryn Stockett's The Help, but haven't finished it yet.

I guess I've been spending too much time on the computer--I have an addiction these days to Boggle Bash!

message 9: by Shirley (new)

Shirley | 42 comments I have not come anywhere close to using the available options on the iPod Touch. It is incredible what such a small relatively inexpensive device can do.

message 10: by Anita (new)

Anita I am new here, but I am happy to jump in and chat. I'm currently reading Jodi Picoult's newest, Sing You Home,it's very good, and really so timely, as she tends to be.
I got a Kindle in November, but I have several traditional books to read that I've been given as gifts or won etc.

message 11: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) Welcome, Anita !

message 12: by Schmerguls (new)

Schmerguls | 257 comments What I Read in March 30 Years ago (1981)

1620. Nathaniel Hawthorne in His Times, by James R. Mellow (read 11 Mar 1981) (National Book Award biography prize for 1983) (National Book Award biography prize for 1983) This excellent biography was published in 1980. It is as good a biography as could have been written of Hawthorne--his life was not overly exciting and I am not sure I look on his work as all that stupendous--and I really enjoyed the book. Hawthorne was born 4 July 1804, went to Bowdoin (as did Longfellow) where Franklin Pierce was a close friend, and served as consul in Liverpool during Pierce's Administration. Hawthorne died May 18, 1864. His funeral was attended by Longfellow, Holmes, Whittier, Lowell and Emerson. Melville had dropped into obscurity. Hawthorne had three children--one became a Catholic sister and died July 9, 1926 as Mother Alphonsa. This was a very, very good book.

1621. Revolution and Papacy 1769-1846, by E. E. Y. Hales (read 14 Mar 1981) I really did not appreciate this book too much, since some of it was just a shortened version of matters covered in Pastor's last three volumes--which I read as recently as last year. And then, it is not a happy time in Church history. Even Pius VII was not a sturdy character, and his mistreatment by Napoleon, while lamentable, did not invoke a heroic response from him. Leo XII appears to have been a poor Pope. Pius VIII was OK but reigned only twenty months. Gregory XVI politically was simply a disaster.

1622. The Reign of Philip the Fair, by Joseph A. Strayer (read 17 Mar 1981) The author in 1973 retired as a history professor at Princeton. Much of this book is very technical history and since what I was looking for, and needed, was a detailed account of the reign of Philip the Fair, it was very boring usually. It is not that I do not appreciate technical history--but I need to have enough acquaintance with the period to appreciate the very detailed research which this book revels in. Sometimes he would say "this has been often told" but I had not heard it, or if I had heard it was so long ago I wanted to hear it again. This book really did not straight-out tell the story of the reign of Philip the Fair, but rather discussed various aspects of it. Some of it was interesting, but it simply assumed a greater acquaintance with the reign than I had. For instance, I would have liked a detailed examination of all aspects of the Templars matter. It is not in this book--this book refers to it in various ways, but never as if the person reading the book does not know quite a bit about it. Nevertheless I don't mind that I read the book. The reign of Philip the Fair began on 5 October 1285 when his father, Philip III (the son of St Louis IX), died at Perpignan, after fighting in Aragon. The reign ended 29 Nov 1314 when Philip died at 46 (an old man in those days!). The highlights of his reign include his quarrel with Boniface VIII, his attack on the Templars, and his war with Flanders (including his loss of the battle of Courtrai in 1302). All these things and more are discussed carefully and with much footnoting--but it is just not the popular history I drink up delightedly.

1623. The Lives of the Kings & Queens of France, by Duc de Castries translated from the French by Anne Dobell (read 23 Mar 1981) This is a simplistic book which I was surprised to find that I enjoyed very much. It really is a simple survey of French history and I was surprised to realize that I really did not have a good concept of rhe sweep of French history. I believe this is because I have read a lot of French history but have not read a consecutive survey thereof. The genealogy tables in the book are very good. The gap between Henry III and Henry IV is almost unbelievable --it looks like one had to go back about ten generations to find a common ancestor! (The text says they were twenty times removed--which is nonsense.) I really enjoyed this book.

1624. The Fatal Friendship: Marie Antoinette, Count Fersen and the Flight to Varennes, by Stanley Loomis (read 28 Mar 1981) Back in March of 1975 I read with tremendous appreciation Stanley Loomis' book Paris in the Terror. Recalling how much I enjoyed that book I noticed this book by him. One cannot fail to be caught up in the intense, incredible drama of the French Revolution. But Loomis is a popularizer--no footnotes at all! How much better a book he might have if he draped a little scholarly apparatus around it. This book tells the story of the friendship between Marie Antoinette and Count Fersen, a Swedish nobleman who was killed by a mob in Stockholm on June 21, 1810, 19 years to the day after the King and Queen were captured at Varennes. The detailed account of that flight in this book is fascinating and exasperating because it came so near to success. If they had escaped, how would history have been changed? One cannot know, but undoubtedly things would have gone differently. Not a profound book. but lots of fun to read and enjoy, though Loomis surely paints the Revolution more darkly than some. And yet, how can one justify the arrest of Marie Antoinette's lawyers? It is impossible to justify much of the evil that was perpetrated by the makers of that Revolution.
1625. 1848: The Making of a Revolution, by Georges Duveau translated by Anne Carter (read 29 Mar 1981) ) I was not too impressed by this book. It is written by a French specialist, and I thought assumed too much about the readers's knowledge.

Lynne in PA/Lineepinee (lineepineeaolcom) | 17 comments I'll add for April that I haven't read but one book so far this year. I bought several at the local Borders when they were closing and thought I'd really dig in, but nope.......Hope everyone is well.

message 14: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
Lynne in PA/Lineepinee wrote: "I'll add for April that I haven't read but one book so far this year. I bought several at the local Borders when they were closing and thought I'd really dig in, but nope.......Hope everyone is well."

Wow, Lynne, that is a SLUMP! What do you think is wrong?

message 15: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
Books that were awarded Pulitzers (from the WSJ report):

FICTION: "A Visit From the Goon Squad,"
by Jennifer Egan (Alfred A. Knopf).

A native of Chicago with novels including "The Invisible Circus," "Look at Me" and "The Keep," the 48-year-old Egan has been highly praised for her searching and unconventional narratives about modern angst and identity.

Critics were especially taken with "A Visit From the Goon Squad," with its leaps across time and its experiments with format, notably a long section structured like a PowerPoint presentation. Earlier this year, she won the National Book Critics Circle prize and was a runner-up for the PEN/Faulkner award.

The book was partly inspired by Proust's "Remembrance of Things Past" and deals largely with time and the constant onslaught of change, specifically with characters from across the music industry as it moves from analog to digital.

"The book is so much about how change is unexpected and always kind of shocking," Egan said. "So there's no question that winning a prize like this feels unpredictable and unfathomable."

HISTORY: "The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery," by Eric Foner (W.W. Norton & Co.).

The 68-year-old Foner called the award a capstone for his career. He has won multiple honors for work focused on the Lincoln era and Reconstruction.

"The Pulitzer has a kind of broader importance and stature suggesting that your book is appreciated by a wider audience, a non-scholarly audience," Foner said.

He said it can be intimidating approaching a book on Lincoln, who has been written about so much before.

But he said that many Lincoln books either try to put the Civil War president on a pedestal or tear him down, and that he was trying to get a balanced view on a specific topic seen through the lens of that period in history.


BIOGRAPHY: "Washington: A Life," by Ron Chernow (The Penguin Press).

Chernow, 62, called the nation's first president "the most famously elusive figure in American history."

The Pulitzer committee called his book "a sweeping, authoritative portrait of an iconic leader learning to master his private feelings in order to fulfill his public duties."

He said he sought to bring that figure to life, so people today could understand what made Washington such a popular figure in his time.

A frequent lecturer who has made several television appearances on historical topics, Chernow has also written biographies of Alexander Hamilton and John D. Rockefeller. He won the National Book Award in 1990 for "The House of Morgan."


POETRY: "The Best of It: New and Selected Poems," by Kay Ryan (Grove Press).

Born in San Jose, Calif., in 1945, Ryan has remained in California's Marin County, where she lives with her longtime partner, Carol Adair.

Ryan taught remedial English part-time at the College of Marin, but over time she would establish herself as one of the country's most original poets.

"I suppose it sounds like a cliche, but poetry came and got me," Ryan said. "I came to it very reluctantly, but it insisted. It just was going to have me, that's all there is to it. Therefore, I was going to have to find out how to do it. I didn't seem to have any aptitude for doing it the popular ways at the time."

Instead, Ryan forged a witty, profound and compressed style that often using a "recombinant" rhyming style. She was the U.S. poet laureate from 2008 to 2010.

"The Best of It" collects poems from 45 years of her career.


GENERAL NONFICTION: "The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer," by Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee (Scribner).

Mukherjee's first book chronicles a 4,000-year history of cancer, charting its treatment and misunderstandings, while also telling the stories of many patients.

An oncologist and assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University, Mukherjee was moved to write it when a patient asked him to describe just what it was he was fighting. The Pulitzer board called it "an elegant inquiry, at once clinical and personal."

Mukherjee said he wanted to "demystify" cancer "so that people don't feel as if they're victimized by stigma and mystery."

The Indian-born Mukherjee is married to the MacArthur award-winning artist Sarah Sze, with whom he has two daughters.

message 16: by Schmerguls (new)

Schmerguls | 257 comments Of the books which have been awarded Pulitzers this year I ahve aleady read two, which is kind of a first for me. Often the winners are something I've never heard of, like last year's fiction winner: Tinkers. I am looking forward to reading the Chernow book, since everything I've read by him has been great reading:

2616. The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance, by Ron Chernow (read 14 Jun 1994) (National Book Award nonfiction prize for 1990)
3270. Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr., by Ron Chernow (read 22 Nov 1999)
3957. Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow (read 27 Nov 2004)

The book by Eric Foner I think I will also enjoy, since the two books by him I read were worth reading:

2156. Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution 1863-1877, by Eric Foner (read 6 Aug 1988) (Bancroft Prize in 1989)
2712. Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party Before the Civil War, by Eric Foner (read 26 Feb 1995)

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