Glens Falls (NY) Online Book Discussion Group discussion

ABOUT BOOKS AND READING > What are U reading these days? (Part One) (begun 11/22/08)

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message 1: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments I'm reading _Gilead_ by Marilynne Robinson. To me it's mostly the ruminations of an old man. But I suppose it's much more than that. I am just having trouble tuning in to it.

However, I have found some interesting thoughts well expressed. The old man is a minister and at one point he expounds about Commandment 10, "Thou shalt not covet." He says:
"I believe the sin of covetise is that pang of resentment you may feel when even the people you love best have what you want but don't have... I avoided the experience of disobeying by keeping to myself a good deal... [He quotes the Bible:]:'Rejoice with those who rejoice'. I have found that difficult too often. I was much better at weeping with those who weep."

It's passages like the above which keep me reading the book.

Don't judge the book by my comments above. Below is a link to a good description of the book: ===>

What are you reading these days?

message 2: by Cindy (new)

Cindy (cyndil62) Right now I am reading a different book from what I normally read! It is called "Good Grief" by Lolly Winston. It is about a 30+ woman who lost her husband to cancer and is trying to cope with the loss, though as of yet (pg 232), not doing a very good job of it. She has befriended a teenage girl with some problems, and I am hoping they will be able to help each other through their difficult times.
I have been spending too much time on the computer this weekend! I'm anxious to finish this book so I can move on to the next one!
and....What are you reading? :)

message 3: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Hi Cindy. Thanks for telling us about the book _Good Grief_. I've put it on our group's bookshelf.

I know what you mean about being anxious to finish a book so you can move onto the next one. I can't wait to finish _Gilead_. I have so many other book which I will probably find more compelling. I hope so! :)

message 4: by Debra (new)

Debra (debrapurdykong) Right now I'm reading a novel called Jobless Recovery by L.C. Evans, a new author. The story is about two men (one a computer programmer, the other an FBI agent) who've both lost their jobs and are trying to find ways to survive. Given today's economic climate, I find the story really scary. I'll post my review in a few days.

message 5: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Yes, it does sound scary, Debra. We'll look forward to your review. I've put the book on our bookshelf. See it at: ===>

message 6: by Andy (new)

Andy | 25 comments I'm reading Double Jeopardy by Jean Echenoz. Right now in the story, several of the characters are lost at sea, and I'm feeling the same way, wondering if I will ever find my way back to solid ground.

message 7: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Nov 27, 2008 11:18PM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments That review at your link sure makes the book sound tempting, Andy, especially the "witty turns of phrase, inspired metaphors.". I'm a word junkie and love that sort of thing. I think I'll put the book on my to-read list. At least I'll give it a try. I'll also put it on our groups bookshelf.

message 8: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments PS - Andy, what category would you choose for "Double Jeopardy" by Echenoz? Would it be a mystery, a thriller, or an adventure book, or all three?

message 9: by Andy (new)

Andy | 25 comments Oh gosh, I suppose it would be a thriller, or a crime story? There is some adventure.

There certainly are some clever phrases and metaphors throughout the book, but I doubt the book will make it into my top ten.

And to compare it to a David Lynch movie (like the description at the link) is completely preposterous, the two artists have very little in common in my opinion.

message 10: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Thanks, Andy. I've given Double Jeopardy both tags: "thriller" and "crime story". In fact, I had to create the new tag, "crime story". I like it.

And just now I've added "adventure".

The more I can categorize books, but more I feel I have a handle on all that's going on in the book world.

I guess I should be using the word "genres". :)

I like your critique of Goodread's book description. Makes us all think about these things and sharpens our ability to make comparisons. Brainwork! It's a skill which reading teachers try to develop in their students. Lifts the thinking up a few notches. Brain exercise.

P.S. I love the word "preposterous". Maybe that would make a good tag sometime. :)

message 11: by Andy (new)

Andy | 25 comments Well I went out and bought Gilead yesterday. I'm looking forward to it since it seems to be about spirituality and fathers and sons. These are both topics that are near and dear to my heart. It seems that it may be slow going, but I have a little time on my hands these days.

I haven't bought a new book from a bookstore in a while. I'm a little disappointed with the flimsiness of the copy I have. Library books tend to be much sturdier. This book reminds me of the flimsy mysteries I read as a child. Light paper. Light cover. Oh well. Doesn't seem appropriate for the weightiness of the topic. But I'll get over it.

message 12: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Andy, I have a copy of _Gilead_ from our library. It's a large print paperback. The paper is grainy but it's fairly sturdy, even though the corners of the front cover are curling.

Hope you enjoy it. It has its highs and lows, IMO. There are some good reflections on life. Not much of a plot, but it's getting better toward the end. I have a few more pages to go before I finish. We'll talk more about it at the CR discussion. It should be interesting.

message 13: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6329 comments I'm reading 2 books, but Shaihen Heritage: Book 1: Cloak of Magic is written by a GoodReads author, S.A. Rule. Sue is a wonderful writer & this fantasy book has a freshness that I haven't seen in some time. I've been reading fantasy since I first read The Hobbit when I was 8 - a fair few books over 40 years.

The other book I'm reading is factual, Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different. (I generally try to read one of each at the same time.) Gordon S. Wood has done a great job of looking at some of the Founding Fathers & making them people, not just icons.

message 14: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Dec 04, 2008 08:53AM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Jim, I didn't read the Hobbit until a few years ago, late in life. I liked it. Then I tried Tolkien's _Lord of the Rings_ and found that after a while it got tiresome. It was just one episode after another. And all those characters with strange names! Too many for my taste. Good writing of course, but just not my thing. People are either turned on by that series... or turned off, from what I've read about it. You have to get into the fantasy mood.

Last night I saw a fantasy movie, _Twilight_. I was curious about it because I've noticed that so many kids (and adults)are reading it. My, but that lead male character was handsome!

I haven't read much fantasy. I've read some magical realism. I think _Love in the Time of Cholera_, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, may have been in that category, or near it. What are some others in that category? I may or may not have read them. I enjoyed the Cholera book. Here's a cover-link to it: ====>
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

Yes, it's nice to alternate between genres concurrently. I was a history major and should be reading more historical non-fiction. I did enjoy McCullough's _John Adams_.

I've just put the Gordon S. Wood book you mentioned on my to-read list (_Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different_). Sounds interesting.

message 15: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6329 comments I read Twilight & it was OK. Not a bad story & an interesting take on vampires, but the POV of the book was from a teenage girl & I had trouble with that, never having been one myself. I wanted to kick the girl half the time.

I'll be interested in what you think of Wood's book. I'm not well schooled in history, just what I picked up over the years. I don't think he has an ax to grind, but I'm not sure I fully agree on all his characterizations & motivations for the Founding Fathers. Still, it does bring them down to life size & gives a pretty good view of how confused their lives were.

message 16: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Dec 06, 2008 09:10AM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Yes, the girl in "Twilight" was infatuated with Edward. You can't blame her. He was a hunk (in the movie, that is).

One of the external reviews at pointed out that the author of Twilight changed the traditional characteristics of vampires. She gave them some Superman-like abilities which they never had before, like flying and super-strength. That took some nerve to do that, I think. It's akin to changing a definition with no authority. But I suppose there are no Vampire Police to admonish her. :)
[Note: Please see Message #22 from Jackie, below in this topic. It corrects what I've said above about the powers of vampires.]

I'll let you know when I've read Wood's book. It might be a while because I have a pile waiting to be read here. It would take some research to find out if his ideas about the Founding Fathers are valid.

When I read David McCullough's _John Adams_, I realized how much of his life, Adams sacrificed for the causes he espoused. He was separated from his wife for long periods. Also, she had some influence on him because she had strong ideas about the country just as he did. She's an early example of how women could get involved with world-affairs through their husbands. Their letters to each other were very revealing as to their thoughts on politics and the forming of the new country.

Have you read _John Adams_?

message 17: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckymurr) Jim-I read the Twilight series & I still have the last one here to read. I was a teenage girl at one time in my life & I wanted to kick the girl a time or two when I was reading the books!! LOL
I love vampires & have read quite a few vampire stories over the years. I liked Twilight & they were a fun read-what I like about them the most-that young girls are reading!!!

I think of them as Anne Rice-lite!!

message 18: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6329 comments Becky, I want to kick teenage boys too, but having been one, I can empathize more. Not so with girls. Your thought processes are too alien.  ;-)  (I tell my wife that, but she says it's me that's the alien...)

Joy, I haven't read McCollough's "John Adams" but I think I have the audio book some place. As I recall it was very long & got stuck in a box for 'later'. It is on my to-do list, just down a few notches.

message 19: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Dec 05, 2008 07:00AM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments I have a lot of boxes like that, Jim. They're piling up. (g)

Becky, what do you think of Anne Rice's writing?

message 20: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckymurr) Joy-over the years I have read many of Anne Rice's books-some of them have been my favorite books & others are so-so. I had a hard time following many of the characters when she started branching off with other series of books. I read Interview With a Vampire when it first came out & then re-read it & the rest of the Lestat books several years ago. I enjoyed them very much & she certainly has a way of keeping me interested. My favorite book of hers had nothing to do with vampires at all & it is Cry To Heaven. It was an historical novel about male soprano singers in 18th century Italy...Another single novel of hers that I enjoyed was The Feast of All Saints-takes place in the 1800's in New Orleans with the lives of free blacks.
I have to honest, I have not picked up her newer books, which are religious. She is no longer an atheist...LOL......

message 21: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Dec 05, 2008 08:53AM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Wow - I asked the right person! You certainly have filled me in on Anne Rice's work. Since I wasn't attracted to vampire stories, I was never interested in looking further into Anne Rice's writing. I had no idea she wrote stories other than vampire stories. The ones you mentioned sound like good possibilities for sampling her style. I like the New Orleans setting. Another book for my to-read list.
Thanks, Becky.

message 22: by Jackie (last edited Dec 06, 2008 08:04AM) (new)

Jackie (thelastwolf) | 4050 comments Joy,
As a Vampire reader, I have to say that Twilight didn't give new powers to vampires. Lestat by Anne Rice could fly. Even the traditional Dracula by Bram Stoker had super strength.
As you know, I haven't read Twilight yet, but the thing I found unique and interesting (in the movie) was Stephenie Meyer's take on sunlight and the vampire. I've never read that in a book or saw that in a movie before.
I was a fan of Anne Rice and read most of her books. I liked the earlier Vampire Chronicles, up to Queen of the Damned. After that, they were less interesting to me. I liked the Witching Hour although it was overly long, the next one in the series Lasher was awful. I still have Taltos but haven't gotten around to it. I have Feast of All Saints on my bookshelf, don't know when I'll get around to it since my feelings for her writing has waned considerably. But you're opinion of it will probably have me read it sooner rather than later.
I'm done with her new books. I bought Christ the Lord, only because the synopsis sounded interesting but when I started reading the novel, I realized that synopsis was completely misleading, meant to draw in her usual fans. That was the only time in my life I didn't finish a book. Even if I'm not enjoying a book, I will finish it; sometimes I'll put a book down for a while but always finish it. I can't say I hated a book unless I've read it all the way through, but with that novel I just couldn't stomach all the Christian stuff. I actually annoyed me, and where's the fun in reading that? You made a smart call in not bothering with her latest books!

message 23: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Dec 06, 2008 08:53AM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Thank you, Jackie, for clarifying the discussion about the powers of vampires.

I've taken the liberty of quoting you at the topic at the following link.
See Message #2 there:====>

I appreciate the clarification.
You explained it very well. Thanks!

message 24: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thelastwolf) | 4050 comments I've read a lot of vampire books when I was young, LOL.

message 25: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Jackie, what impresses me is your extraordinary memory about the content of the books you've read, especially after having read as many books as you have.

Sometimes I don't remember much about the plot or details in the books I've read, unless they made a big impression on me in some way.

message 26: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thelastwolf) | 4050 comments Believe it or not, I've forgotten more than I've remembered.
And my daily memory is atrocious. My family and my boss get very frustrated with me.

message 27: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Dec 06, 2008 10:50AM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Jackie, you've remembered more than I ever will. (g)
We probably all have selective memories.

message 28: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckymurr) That's how I started feeling Jackie-I guess I just didn't care enough about all those characters....I think that is what I enjoyed most about the 2 stand alone novels-they ended & I didn't have to file away those characters in my brain!!
Jackie, you have not read the Twilight series yet? But you saw the movie? I wanted to make sure i was following along. I have the last one of the Twilght books to read but I have put it aside, knowing it will be the last one. I liked how Stephanie Meyers added the light into the story, first vampire story I have ever read where they can into the sunlight but they still can't be seen....LOL

BTW-I love your malamute-we had a malamute/lab, Boomer & he was the love of our husband called him a malamutt....what a great dog....

message 29: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Believe it or not, even though I saw the movie, I can't remember what effect the sunlight had on the vampires. Are traditional vampires affected by sunlight? How were Stephanie Meyer's vampires affected by sunlight?

message 30: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckymurr) They sparkle!!!

What I remember from other vampire stories is that they can't stand the sun or the bright light & I don't think it would be good to see what they look like in the daylight !!

message 31: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Thanks, Becky. I can't believe I forgot that part of the movie! ("Twilight") My mind must have been wandering. I remember it vaguely, but can't picture the scene.

message 32: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckymurr) Joy I am not sure about the movie because I haven't watched it yet but in the book Edward takes Bella to a large clearing in the woods, a meadow I guess & he lets her see what he looks like in the sun....

message 33: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Becky, I remember when Edward and Bella were in the woods and the meadow, but I can't recall the sparkles. :)

message 34: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckymurr) I just found this somewhere LOL

In the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer, Edward Cullen sparkles if he stands in the sunlight.

message 35: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckymurr) Back to the original question on what we are reading these days.....I am reading The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb-I have read his other books & liked them. This one is very good & I am almost finished with it & I still have no idea where it is going, there have been a ton of events covered in this book....I am actually reading it with a group of friends from a message board we all post on, not a book or reading related message board but a group of us do read together. I think this is probably or 12-15th book we have read together....

message 36: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Mar 06, 2011 05:36PM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Becky, thanks for confirming that fact about Edward Cullen sparkling in the sunlight.

I think I've read something by Wally Lamb, but I can't find a title that's familiar. What kind of book is _The Hour I First Believed_? Guess I'll go to the following link and find out. Below is the cover-link:
The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb The Hour I First Believed: A Novel by Wally Lamb

message 37: by Katie (new)

Katie Stephenie Meyer started writing a companion novel to Twilight called Midnight Sun. Its basically Twilight from Edwards perspective. It goes through his inner turmoil about Bella. She's deliciously enticing, but he loves her too much to kill her.

The book isn't finished, and we don't know if it ever will be. Apparently someone leaked it to the internet. She knows who did it though, and she's not upset. She did release the rough draft of Midnight Sun on her website

I've yet to read it though. I'm afraid that if I do read it and she releases her final book, it will be different and my views will be swayed. But also, I don't want to read it, for fear that she never finishes it and then I'd be mad that my story isn't going to be done!

message 38: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thelastwolf) | 4050 comments Becky,
Yes, I saw the movie but didn't read the books. I'm waiting to borrow them from someone. Originally, I hadn't planned on seeing the movie until after I read the series. I usually rent movies. But Joy wanted to see it, and I heard so many good things about it and I had the opportunity to meet Joy in person, so I went.
What's funny is, I insist my husband and son read a book first if a movie is coming out, because that's what I do. This is the first time I saw a movie without reading the book for as long as I can remember, and boy! am I getted razzed about it! LOL

And Malamutes, where do I start? They are incredibly smart...and notoriously stubborn. I love my Juneau; he's my constant companion.
Dogs are the best, no one loves you like a dog!

I hope she writes it, it sounds very interesting being from Edward's point of view. I wonder if we can send her a message asking her to please continue?

message 39: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Dec 07, 2008 10:29AM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments I'm enjoying this conversation.

When I went to check out the book, _The Hour I First Believed_, I read some of the Goodread's members' reviews. Most of the reviews I read were favorable. However, one of them wasn't. It said:
"When an author asks you to go on a 700+ page journey, the trip should be enjoyable and/or the destination should be fulfilling. Unfortunately, I don't feel that "The Hour I First Believed" really offers either a good trip or a satisfying final destination. Rather, it is joyless, self-indulgent, and exposition-heavy. Lamb too often tells rather than shows in this book, and the telling is a little over-done. Also, the dialogue given to the teen characters and an early chapter written from the POV of the narrator at 8 years old are not only unbelievable, but almost cringe-worthy.

As evidenced in his first two novels, Lamb is a fantastic writer and a superb storyteller. His latest, however, just didn't do it for me."

Review by Jeff ( )

Becky, what to you think of Jeff's review? Did you think the book was "joyless"?

P.S. Below is a cover-link to the book:
[image error]

message 40: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckymurr) I think that review is a tad harsh...not all books & stories are joyous events. It was a very dark tale but I do thin there was "light" at the is not a fun upbeat tale but there were some very interesting ways that Wally worked current and older history into the book. As far as the dialogue from when the narrator was 8-I would have to go back & reread it. I tend not to overly critique things like that-either I like something or I don't ...I have to say, until the lull I mentioned in my review, which took place in the middle,(& worked itself out) I had a hard time putting the book down....

message 41: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Sometimes we're not in the mood for heavy stories. As for myself, most of the time, I like reading something that will eventually lift me up. However, a good plot will always grab me, especially if it's well-written.

I don't usually enjoy complex sagas. It could be because my memory can no longer hold all the needed details in my head. Memory is an important factor, especially if we don't read a book all at once, but read it intermittently, a bit at a time.

Would you say that the book, _The Hour I First Believed_, was complex in any way?

message 42: by Jeff (new)

Jeff | 6 comments Perhaps I was a little harsh in my critique of Lamb's new book, but it was my from-the-heart opinion after finishing the (rather heavy) tome.

For clarification, what I meant about the book being joyless is not that there wasn't any light or levity in the book, but rather that it takes itself too seriously -- unmitigatingly so! I think it is VERY possible to tell a heavy, thought-provoking story without getting bogged down in the weight of the telling. "We Need To Talk About Kevin" by Lionel Shriver, for example, tells the story of a Columbine-esque school rampage, but manages to do so in a profoundly dynamic, exciting, and interesting way. "The Hour I First Believed" was, for me, just too heavy-handed and too clinical.

In response to your question about complexity. I think that "Hour" is a complex novel from both a narrative and a psychological point of view. I generally love big, sprawling books with messy (and often unlikeable) characters, but "Hour" just didn't feel honest to me for some reason.

message 43: by Jeff (new)

Jeff | 6 comments Speaking of messy characters ... I'm reading Zoë Heller's new book "The Believers." It comes out in February 2009 and I'm really enjoying it. Zoë (author of "What Was She Thinking? or, Notes on a Scandal") can really weave a meaty story with complex, messy, grotesquely fun characters!

message 44: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Dec 07, 2008 12:26PM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Hi Jeff. Thanks for posting!

I'm not sure I can handle "sprawling" books. Even years ago, I gave up on Dr. Zhivago. Too many characters, for one thing. I guess I just haven't got the patience to pay attention and remember who is who.

When you say "grotesquely fun" characters, you remind me of the book, _The World According to Garp_, by John Irving. :) Another thing about John Irving, IMO, he goes off on too many tangents. However, I've enjoyed several of his books, especially _Cider House Rules_.

BTW, how did you acquire _The Believers_ before it comes out in Feb. 2009?

[Below is a link to _The Believers_:
(I was unable to post the cover-link. That feature doesn't always work for me.)

message 45: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Dec 07, 2008 12:47PM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments P.S. I've put all 3 of Zoe Heller's books on my to-read list. I'm going to challenge my memory to keep up with all the complexities.

The books are:
_Notes on a Scandal_
_What Was She Thinking?_
_The Believers_

(The "add book/author" feature still isn't working. I wrote to Goodreads about this bug.)

message 46: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckymurr) Jeff-I hope I didn't offend you at all....I certainly know I have strong opinions at times & I can appreciate other opinions too LOL!!!
I liked the book but I felt his other 2 books were much better stories.....

message 47: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckymurr) Joy-yes Hours was a very complex story, many characters, time periods & events.....

message 48: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Dec 07, 2008 02:59PM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Becky, perhaps I should remove _The Hour I First Believed_ from my to-read list. :)
We'll see.

message 49: by Jeff (new)

Jeff | 6 comments I wasn't offended at all, Becky. I actually LOVE hearing differing points of view about what I'm reading. Reading, by its very nature, is such a solitary experience and I am so grateful to finally be in a community of people who like to engage in conversation about what they are reading. (I really love strong opinions, too, and can't wait to see what books you are passionate about! LOL!)

Joy, I am a huge John Irving fan! My favorite book of John's is "Prayer for Owen Meany." "Prayer" is one of the most consummately written books I've ever read and the ending is utterly unforgettable!

BTW, Zoë Heller only has two books. "Notes on a Scandal" is the subtitle of "What Was She Thinking." "Notes" was also the name of the brilliant movie based on Heller's book, which stars Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench.

As for "The Believers," Joy, I work in the book industry and tend to get a lot of advanced readers copies from my publishing colleagues.

message 50: by Jeff (new)

Jeff | 6 comments Oh yeah ... if you haven't read either or Wally Lamb's first two books, I'd definitely take "Hour" off of your list and replace it with either "She's Come Undone" or "I Know This Much is True." I know this may be a naive or sexist statement, but it's hard to believe that "She's Come Undone" was written by a man. He tells the "coming-of-age" story of a fragile young woman in the most incisive way!

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