Sunday, January 31, 2021

January 2021

Another month of quarantine but maybe there's a little light coming--I got my first (of two) jab of the Pfizer  Covid vaccine. So here is the total of my outside contacts. Not impressive. 
Errands  etc.
1/2 Library to pick up holds.
1/8 Library returns; Lyman Orchards for produce & bread. 
1/12 ditto of 1/8
1/21 cvs
1/21-??? phone problem
1/25 covid vaccine dose 1
1/26 land phone repair (a stranger had to enter our house!)

Most of the  reading this month was good. A mixed bunch. Five from my shelves (first group), two Advance review copies (second group), and eleven from public libraries (third group plus the nonfiction). Of the fiction, Polar Vortex was the only one I didn't like at all. The Smiley, Moore, and Osman books were fun light reading. I needed that!
 
In nonfiction, The Dan Rather book was the weakest. I just didn't learn anything from it at all, certainly not what the title suggests.
 
Finally, I spent a lot more of my online time reading stuff other than the news. Still, it was such a pleasure to see competence that I became addicted to White House Press Briefings on CSPN.
 
Fiction
The Regal Lemon Tree by Saer, Juan José
That We May Live by Si'an, Chen and others, various translators (Short Chinese speculative fiction.)
Joseph Walser's Machine by Tavares, Gonçalo M.
Harmada by Noll, João Gilberto
Life Went On Anyway: Stories by Sentsov, Oleg
 
Here Lies a Father by Cassidy, Mckenzie (ARC via LibraryThing. Coming of age--surprised I liked it.)
Polar Vortex by Mootoo, Shani (ARC via LibraryThing. I didn't like it at all.)

Perestroika in Paris by Smiley, Jane
Facing the Bridge by Tawada, Yōko
Igifu by Mukasonga, Scholastique
Missing Person by Modiano, Patrick
The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng
Hamnet by O'Farrell, Maggie
Shakespeare for Squirrels by Moore, Christopher
The Thursday Murder Club by Osman, Richard

Nonfiction

Fifth Sun: A New History of the Aztecs by Townsend, Camilla
City Squares: Eighteen Writers on the Spirit and Significance of Squares Around the World edited by Marron, Catie
What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism by Rather, Dan
      
Online
Shaw's blog -- Hunter-Angler-Gardner-Cook -- is always a good read even if one isn't into game meat, foraging, etc. 
 
Includes descriptions of several edible fish and an essay on the breeding of fish and construction of fishponds. There are notes on what the fish eat, where to find them and how to catch them, but nothing about preparation and cooking. The plates, drawn and engraved by Eleazar Albin are what made me want to keep going back to this. Here is his Haddock:

The Smoky Valley  by Birger Sandzén
 I found this on Gutenberg and it was a nice introduction to an artist I'd never heard of. However the works are all in black and white so it was nice to find a resource that has them in color.



Friday, January 01, 2021

2020 What did I know? When did I know it?

I just checked my posts for December 2019 and January 2020. It seems I didn't do a 2019 wrap, nor did I say anything about plans for 2020. Did I somehow have a hint that 2020 would be crap?

I did set a Goodreads goal of 200. Surprisingly I didn't meet it even though at times it seemed that all I did was read. But a lot of that reading was online stuff that wasn't worth recording here. 

What I miss most during quarantine? My weekly Mahjong games, my several times a week water exercise class, the day trips to explore Connecticut with stops for lunch & ice cream, and browsing the library shelves. (I did a lot of online browsing and curbside pick up, but I miss going inside.)

Are there any positives from the quarantine process? Perhaps. We did discover some new places to shop for food. A farm market in Durham (CT), a couple of wholesale/restaurant supply places in Hartford that sell vegetable and fruit boxes to the public (one also partners with restaurants for weekly dinner boxes), and some new (to us) small markets.

We also discovered a few new (again, to us) outdoor spaces.

As far as reading goes the quarantine hasn't changed my habits much. I think I may have read more biography and nonfiction then in the recent past. And, contrary to what I expected when this all began, I read fewer short stories.  Because my daughter actually braved going inside a couple of libraries she picked some things she thought might interest me. Many of them did and I think she and I spent a little more time than usual discussing books.

So what about 2021? 

Goodreads Challenge: I read 156 (out of a goal of 200) in 2020. I think I won't make 200 this year because if the quarantine thing begins to ease I'll be spending more time "doing other things" so I'll aim for 150 and, as usual, I won't fret if I fall behind. 

As far as what I read, I'll just let that develop. Some of that will depend on which library holds get filled. I probably won't join any reading challenges but might listen & watch to more bookish (and other) media stuff (podcasts & video).

First up: Finish library books that are due next week*, then there are the holds waiting to be picked up**, the books I received as birthday & Christmas gifts***, four or five Goodreads, LibraryThing, & other review copies****, etc, etc, etc. That pretty much takes care of January & February. For the rest of the year? Whatever.

*What unites us : reflections on patriotism; Rather, Dan   
(Plus the ones checked out on my daughter's card)

 **A thousand moons on a thousand rivers; Xiao, Lihong
City squares : eighteen writers on the spirit and significance of squares around the world
Perestroika In Paris: a novel; Smiley, Jane,
Igifu; Mukasonga, Scholastique,
The end of a family story : a novel; Nádas, Péter

*** Leapfrog and Other Stories; Rosales
Illogic of Kassel; Vila-Matos
The Tragedy of the Street of Flowers; Eca de Queiroz
Facing the Bridge; Tawada
Joseph Walser's Machine; Tavares
Reading is Walking; Taveres (currently reading)  

**** Too many to list! Where did I even put them?

Thursday, December 31, 2020

December 2020

Activities - only one out of the house trip: 12/1 lab for blood work & on the way home stopped by Mazzicota's for pastry treat.

No real duds on the reading but Piranesi really stands out as the best of the fiction. Of the nonfiction, I was surprised at how much I liked the one on E. E. Cummings.

Fiction:
Piranesi by Clarke, Susanna
Pew by Lacey, Catherine
Miss Benson's Beetle by Joyce, Rachel
Down the Rabbit Hole by Villalobos, Juan Pablo
Butter Honey Pig Bread by Ekwuyasi, Francesca
Tyll by Kehlmann, Daniel
All the Truth That's in Me by Berry, Julie
The Secret of Lost Things by Hay, Sheridan
The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng
The Hour of the Star by Lispector, Clarice
The Wonder Garden by Acampora, Lauren

Poetry:
Every Day We Get More Illegal by Herrera, Juan Felipe
    
Nonfiction: 
The Beauty of Living: E. E. Cummings in the Great War by Rosenblitt, J. Alison
The Hidden White House: Harry Truman and the Reconstruction of America’s Most Famous Residence by Klara, Robert 
The Path to Power by Caro, Robert A.
Metropolis: A History of the City, Humankind's Greatest Invention by Wilson, Ben
Women in the Kitchen: Twelve Essential Cookbook Writers Who Defined the Way We Eat, from 1661 to Today by Willan, Anne 
Paper Bullets: Two Artists Who Risked Their Lives to Defy the Nazis by Jackson, Jeffrey H.
The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design by Mars, Roman
 
Online:
Two with great illustrations from Gutenberg:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Christmas tales of Flanders Author: André de Ridder; Illustrator: M. C. O. Morris; Illustrator: Jean de Bosschere
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A Paris pair; Their day's doings by Beatrice Bradshaw Brown 



 
 
 
 
 
Some local history:
  This was before I lived in the affected area.

Some bookish things:
  A brief interview focusing on the novel Invisable Ink (Yale; 2020) 

This is a new project of Chad W. Post whose states this purpose: "As a friend, former employee, and current editorial curator, I’m going to use this newsletter to explore Dalkey Archive Press: its history as a nonprofit press, its role in upending ideas about literature and the marketplace, and its ongoing impact on literary culture. Interviews, excerpts, investigations, anecdotes, analysis—this newsletter will go in a number of different directions, with each “episode” organized around a specific idea or set of books."

Monday, November 30, 2020

November 2020

Activities:
 
Not much outside the house.
11/5 doctor 
11/16 lab; gassed car
11/24 pickup at libraries (2); jc farms for pie!

Books:
 Some good novels and lots of non-fiction this month.

Fiction:
Lovely War by Berry, Julie
Jean-Luc persécuté by Ramuz, Charles-Ferdinand; translated from the French by Baes, Olivia
How to Stop Time by Haig, Matt
Autopsy of a Father by Kramer, Pascale; translated from the French by Bononno, Robert
The Midnight Library by Haig, Matt
Forty Rooms by Grushin, Olga 

Poetry:
The Golden Goblet: Selected Poems of Goethe by Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von; translated from the German by Ozsváth, Zsuzsanna and Turner, Frederick  

Nonfiction: 
The Last Million: Europe's Displaced Persons from World War to Cold War by Nasaw, David
For the Love of Music: The Art of Listening by Mauceri, John
The Simpsons: A Cultural History by Fink, Moritz
A Promised Land by Obama, Barack 
Owls of the Eastern Ice: A Quest to Find and Save the World's Largest Owl by Slaght, Jonathan C.
Music to Eat Cake By: Essays on Birds, Words and Everything in Between by Parikian, Lev
The Truths We Hold: An American Journey by Harris, Kamala

Online:

 While reading For the Love of Music and Music to Eat Cake By I wondered why I was reading about music but not listening to music?  So I put the books aside and went searching for music, specifically Mozart's Clarinet Concerto. As a result I've spent a least an hour a day on YouTube listening to Sabine Meyer play. Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven, Brahms,....
Sublime Swimming: 14 examples of custom pools by María Francisca González
  I sure do miss my swims ... sigh...
Wagenhallen official site
 a part of Stuttgart I've never seen (because it was something else when I lived in Germany)

Sunday, November 01, 2020

October 2020

 Another exciting (ha) month of quarantine....but some really good reading

Activities:
10/1 Library curbside drop off/pick up; JC farms for produce.
10/3 Furnace guy
10/5 Doctor 
10/6 Furnace guy
10/9 Library curbside drop off/pick up; JC farms for produce; Durham Market for cold cuts; mailed ballot
10/15/ local foliage drive; short walk at Miller's Pond 
10/23 Library curbside drop off/pickup; JC farms
10/27 Drive to Old Saybrook
10/29 JC Farms Closed!; Lyman Orchads

Reading:
Fiction:
 A Million Aunties by McKenzie, Alecia
   A novel told from several points of view making it read like very closely linked short stories
 How to Pronounce Knife by Thammavongsa, Souvankham 
   short stories
 That Time of Year by NDiaye, Marie; translated from the French by Stump, Jordan
 The End of the Day by Clegg, Bill
 Here We Are by Swift, Graham
 Verena in the Midst by Lucas, E.V. (on Project Gutenberg) 
 The Gathering by Enright, Anne
 The Perfect Nine: The Epic of Gĩkũyũ and Mũmbi by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o; translated from the Gĩkũyũ by the author 
 The Silence by DeLillo, Don

Poetry:
 Home: New Arabic Poems by Hawwash, Samer Abu and others; various translators

Nonfiction:
 This Tilting World by Fellous, Colette; translated from the French by Lewis, Sophie
 James Monroe: A Life by McGrath, Tim
 Wandering in Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots by Jerkins, Morgan
 Having and Being Had by Biss, Eula

Online: