Sunday, January 31, 2016

January (second half) 2016 Reads

Reading from my tbr stacks, plus a couple from the public library. In addition to these, I'm about halfway through The Good Soldier Švejk by Jaroslav Hašek which I am reading because of an essay in The Art of Flight by Sergio Pitol.  I am about a third of the way through the Pitol--he keeps leading me to other things to read. More about this next month when I hope to have finished both books.

Meanwhile, I read some good ones this month...

The 6:41 to Paris; Blondel, Jean-Philippe; Alison Anderson (Translation)
Former lovers meet (sort of) twenty-seven years after their break-up. For most of the nearly two and a half hour journey from Troyes to Paris they pretend not to recognize each other. What is he thinking? What is she thinking? It's a delight finding the answers.
My copy

Cover design by Liana Finck (see an Interview with Liana Finck on Words Without Borders).

Bret Easton Ellis and the Other Dogs; Wolff, Lina; Frank Perry (Translation, from the Swedish)
Somewhat disjointed and meandering with stories within the story; amazingly, it all comes together in the end. Set in Barcelona.
My personal copy.

Cover design by Hannah Naughton


Where All Light Tends to Go; Joy, David
Gritty, violent and dark--and very well written. North Carolina backwoods coming of age.
Advance Review copy

 Book design by Nicole LaRoche


My Name is Lucy Barton; Strout, Elizabeth

Excellent. Read it in one sitting.
Library book.


Still Life and Other Stories; Shono, Junzo; Wayne P. Lammers (Translation)
Short vignettes of family life.
 Finished copy from publisher through a 2014 blog win (January in Japan).



The Tsar of Love and Techno; Marra, Anthony
Closely linked stories.  Set in USSR/Post USSR; Leningrad, Chechnya, Siberia.
Advance Review Copy

Jacket  design: Christopher Brand
Jacket Photography: Bobby Doherty


Lonesome You; Wansuh, Park; Elizabeth Haejin Yoon (Translation) From the Dalkey Library of Korean Literature (#9)
Another fine collection of short stories. I especially liked the ones about family life and in-law relations. My copy.

Selected Stories; Askildsen, Kjell;  Sean Kinsella (Translation) 
Still more great short stories, this time from Norway. I wish a certain recently lionized Norwegian writer had taken some brevity lessons from Askildsen! My copy.

Cover portrait by Finn Ståle Felberg


Anna and the Swallow Man; Savit, Gavriel
This is labeled as juvenile fiction (middle grades? YA?) but it is an engrossing read for any age. Survival in Poland during World War 2.
Advance review copy.

Jacket art and interior illustrations by Laura Carlin

Also: I enjoyed the author interview on Shelf Awareness

These two are a step below the above, but interesting reads...
The Fine Color of Rust; O'Reilly, Paddy
A single mom copes with kids, friends, and community problems in a small Australian town. She's a bit bitter, very sarcastic, and has anger management problems. All with a caustic sense of humor. She'll survive.  Library book.

Cover design: Laywan Kwan
Cover Photo: Ty Milford


Casada: A History of an Italian Village and Its People; Comis, Anna;  Isabel Comis Degenaars (Introduction and translation)
This was a bit of a surprise. The author and the translator are cousins, one lives in Casada, the other in New Jersey. The book is self published and is very well done. There are plenty of photographs & maps. I enjoyed it more than I had anticipated considering that it is about a village I've never visited (though I did drive through the region about 30 years ago). The book gave me a good feel for the place. My copy, free finished copy from author/publisher through Goodreads giveaway.

 The following were OK reads, but not quite as good as those above...

The Dogs of Littlefield; Berne, Suzanne
The town is listed as "one of the best places to live" but it is full of unhappiness. And someone is poisoning the dogs. Library book.

American Housewife: Stories; Ellis, Helen
Book was fun, but seemed dated. I kept thinking of Erma Bombeck. If these stories are about contemporary women, I wonder if they have all turned into their grandmothers. Also, I skimmed in a couple of the longer pieces.... Library book.

The Land of Steady Habits; Thompson, Ted
So-so marriage, family, divorce among the Bridgeport, CT commuter crowd.  My copy.

The Roots of the Olive Tree; Santo, Courtney Miller
Family saga, five generations of women with extra-ordinary long life spans. Set in the Northern end of the Sacramento Valley.  My copy.

Friday, January 15, 2016

January (first half) 2016 Reads

Some excellent fiction, an interesting memoir, a really fine non-fiction, and a picture book are the highlights this month.


Our Souls at Night; Haruf, Kent
Very low key and very much on the mark about the choices we have to make as we grow old. Library book. 
Jacket photo: Gareth Munden  / Glasshouse
Jacket design: Carol Devine Carson


The Door; Szabó, Magda; Len Rix (Translator)
Loved this book! Emerence has become one of my favorite literary characters.
My personal copy. (actually I started to read a library not realizing I owned a copy. Found it when I started organizing after the cart arrived)

Cover: Eva Hess, Accession, 1968 (I've been Googling Hess and I'm fascinated)
Cover design: Katy Homans


The Occupation Trilogy: La Place de l'Étoile – The Night Watch – Ring Road; Modiano, Patrick; translated from the French by Caroline Hillier, Patricia Wolf, and Frank Wynne. 
Early Modiano works from the late 1960s. Library book.

Pedigree: A Memoir; Modiano, Patrick
Wish I'd read this before I read the The Occupation Trilogy, it explains so much. Library book.


God Loves Haiti: A Novel; Leger, Dimitry Elias
A love triangle is interrupted by the massive earthquake of January, 2010. This excellent novel follows the actions and thoughts of the three involved.
Library book.


The Story of Lucy Gault; Trevor, William
Finally! An Irish story that I really like! Must read more William Trevor.
My copy.

What the Eye Hears: A History of Tap Dancing; Seibert, Brian
I really enjoyed this book that covers not just the history of tap, but also discusses the future of the art. Excellent!  Library book.
Jacket photo: Zigy Kaluzny / Getty Images
Jacket design: Jennifer Carrow



Belzhar, Wolitzer, Meg
One of the best YA novel's I've read. 
Advance review copy

Dueling covers:
The US cover (left) is perfect. Not crazy about UK one.
US Cover photo: Michael Miranda
US Cover design: Kristin Smith


Plotted: A Literary Atlas; DeGraff, Andrew
This was a lot of fun. The maps are clever, but at times a little hard to "read."  I wish the format were slightly larger (it is about 10 x 8 inches). For a little more about this book see my Bout of Books post of Jan 10. Library book.

Good, but not as good as those above
Queen Victoria's Mysterious Daughter: A Biography of Princess Louise; Hawksley, Lucinda
I slogged through this, but it was really more than I wanted  to know...
Library book.

All the Light There Was; Kricorian, Nancy
This suffers because of its similarity in title and subject with Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See. This is also set in Paris during the Nazi Occupation and it also is about a  young girl. End of similarities. This story is about an Armenian family, the parents are refugees from the Armenian Genocide. The book is much less complicated than the Doerr book. Its straightforward telling is like a grandparent might talk to young family members. "How I met your grandfather during the war." Its really a YA novel and as such it is a good introduction to how life goes on in difficult times.  I received a finished copy from author through a Goodreads giveaway.

Letters from Skye; Brockmole, Jessica
A pleasant romantic epistolary story that starts with a fan letter from an American student to a poetess on the Isle of Skye.  Set during WW1. Later, in 1940, the poetess' daughter tries to find out what happened all those years ago and the story continues with her correspondence. A fast read, ok for a diversion but sort of Enoch Ardenish but with a different ending. A bit more about this book on my Bout of Books post of Jan 10.  Library book.

Beatrice and Benedick; Fiorato, Marina
This backstory of the couple from Much Ado About Nothing was a good idea but lacks something in its execution. The witty dialogue between the pair is too forced, the villainy not forceful enough. I was put off by the introduction of a character named Michelangelo Crollalanza, supposedly a poet/playwright Sicilian born.  Hint: he writes sonnets. Really! I struggled to finish this and admit to a lot of skimming. Library book.

 Did not Finish
The Guest Room; Bohjalian, Chris
For some reason I found this thriller about sex trafficking boring. I read 25 0/0 but I just couldn't hang around to see what happened. It was like a not very good episode of CSI. I changed the channel and did not finish. Library book.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Bout of Books 15: final update

Bout of Books
Bout of Books 15

Sunday's reading:
Read 261 pages (the whole book) of God Loves Haiti: A Novel by Dimitry Elias Leger.

Read 85 pages of The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian and decided not to finish it. 

Read 20 pages of The Night Watch second novella in  The Occupation Trilogy by Patrick Modiano.

Final Update
Participated in 4 of the 5 challenges
Total pages read: 1,771
Hours: I didn't keep track!

Books Read:
Our Souls at Night (started before the Bout began)
The Door
God Loves Haiti
Letters from Skye
Plotted: A Literary Atlas
What the Eye Hears: A History of Tap Dancing
(started before the Bout began)
The Occupation Trilogy: La Place de l'Étoile; The Night Watch; Ring Roads read the first of the three, started the second
The Guest Room (started, will not finish)

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Bout of Books 15: day 7 plans & day 6 progress

Read 260 pages of 

The Occupation Trilogy by Patrick Modiano, which finished La Place de l'Étoile the first novella of the trilogy. I'll take a deep breath before I continue to the next one. These are very early works, written when he was in his early twenties. Lots of promise and he did get a whole lot better.

Read off and on all week I have been perusing   Plotted: A Literary Atlas by Andrew DeGraff. This is book of clever maps based on classic reading (Hamlet, Robinson Crusoe, Moby Dick, and many others). It is mostly pictorial. There is an introduction, one page commentaries on the maps, and a brief list of suggested readings. There are about 26 pages of text in this 126 page book, but the maps are a delight to study and I spent a lot of time with this book. Not sure how to count the pages for the read-a-thon, but considering time spent I'm counting all 126 pages
Bout of Books
Bout of Books 15

Total for Sat, day 6: 325
Off and on all week(the map book) 126
Total so far: 1,405

For Sunday I will start another library book: either God Loves Haiti by Dimitry Elias Leger or The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian. (note chose the Haiti book because it's due sooner.)

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Bout of Books 15: day 6 plans & day 5 progress

Bout of BooksOn Friday, day 5 of  Bout of Books 15 I read 103 pages of The Door by
epistolary novels and I this one also uses another form I like--it jumps back and forth in time between 1912-17 and 1940.
I  decided to give  The Occupation Trilogy by Patrick Modiano another try, read another 31 pages--am liking it better, will continue alternating it with other reading.

Total pages for Friday 164 pages
Five day total  954

Friday, January 08, 2016

Bout of Books 15: day 5 plans & day 4 progress

Friday, January 08, 2016

Bout of Books 15: day 5 plans & day 4 progress

Bout of BooksOn Thursday I read 189 pages of What the Eye Hears: A History of Tap Dancing by Brian Seibert. So I finished the book.
I had planned to start The occupation trilogy by Patrick Modian. I read 20 pages and set it aide,it's just something I don't feel like reading now.
Then I started The Door by

Bout of Books 15 Read-a-thon progress so far:
Mon    80
Tue    240
Wed   158
Thu    312
 Four day Total: 790

Today's Challenge is from The Book Monsters
" You can take your own pictures or use images you find online. Up to you. You can post them separately or in one picture, up to you! You can complete as many of the hunts as you like. The more you do the more chances you have to win!"
Book Scavenger Hunt:
1. Book Shelves
How could I resist this? For the story behind this and many other recently released images see this post on Atlas Obscura

2. A book you’re planning to read/currently reading for Bout of Books
This book has had quite a journey, which I don't have time to go into today. Perhaps when I actually read the book--I'm planning to start it this evening.
3. A Book and a Beverage
Embedded image permalink
I posted this on Twitter for Dewey's Readathon 2014
4. Blue Books

I like these two because they have the word blue in the title and also use the color blue on the covers.

 Also--they are both very good books!

 5. Cozy Reading Spot

 Moosie is reading Plotted: A Literary Atlas by Andrew DeGraff to her little brother Waldo and a tribble called Butterscotch.
 Raggedys are reading Ajax Penumbra 1969 by Robin Sloan
Nazaré is looking on.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Bout of Books 15: day 4 plans & day 3 progress

It's day 4 of the Bout of Books 15 Read-a-thon. I won't be doing today's challenge which is a Villain Mash Up at Bingeing on Books -- it's just not my thing.

Bout of BooksI'm making good progress on What the Eye Hears: A History of Tap Dancing by Brian Seibert. I read 158 pages yesterday, which puts me at page 351 of 540, so I will be able to finish it this week. That's good because it's a library book and is due Tuesday.

Later today I will start The occupation trilogy by Patrick Modiano (352 pages) even if I don't finish the tap dancing history. I need a break from that one and the Modiano is also due on Tuesday.

In other news: The book cart (see  post about it) arrived more or less as scheduled. That is, the cart arrived, but the casters didn't. They are sending me the casters asap. I hope. I want to organize those books (3 more came in today's mail).

I need wheels! 

Meanwhile it's back to tapa-tapa-tapa...

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Bout of Books 15: day 3

Bout of BooksWhat I read on Day 2 Tuesday  (160 pages) for the Bout of Books Read-a-thon. 

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf: 80 pages (finished the book)

What the Eye Hears: A History of Tap Dancing by Brian Seibert: 80 pages (on page 193 of 624,  but book has 70 pages of bibliography & index index so I might actually finish it this week)

Today's Challenge: Rainbow Challenge
From Rebecca at Ranty Runt of a Reader

"For the cover challenge, collect books from your bookshelf (physical or virtual) and make yourself a rainbow using the covers. A rainbow is ROYGBIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet). Then take a photo or arrange images of those books into a rainbow,"
These are all from my "owned but unread" shelf:

 Riding the Black Cockatoo by John Danalis
 Klausen by Andreas Maier, Kenneth Northcott (Translator)
 The Prophet of Zongo Street: Stories by Mohammed Naseehu Ali
 Perdita by Hilary Scharper
 The Pets by Bragi Ólafsson, Janice Balfour (Translator)
 The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1) by Samantha Shannon
 Rochester Knockings: A Novel of the Fox Sisters by Hubert Haddad, Jennifer Grotz (Translation)

For the author challenge, use authors surnames to complete an acrostic poem style rainbow of ROYGBIV – you can only use surnames and no prefixes (eg. Vincent van Gogh could be used for a G, not a V). Any ‘writer’ is acceptable, for example, playwrights, poets and comic book/graphic novel authors)
Try to fill your list with authors you have read, and that way I can learn about you and your tastes! If not, branch out and select an author you would like to read. If you still can’t find an author (I’m looking at you, Y) then select someone people have likely heard of!"

R - Rushdie, Salman
O - Oates, Joyce Carol
Y - Yanique, Tiphanie
G - Gilbert, Elizabeth
B - Butler, Nickolas
I - Irving, John
V - Vidal, Gore

Now for some lunch and then back to reading.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Would you rather?

Bout of Books

 The day two Bout of Books challenge comes from Lori at Writing My Own FairyTale

It's one of those either/or exercises that I always leave me wanting a third choice.  I do love those multiple choices with the "none of the above" option.

So, before I get back to my reading (see UPDATE at bottom of this page), I'll give this a shot.

  Would you rather:
Lend books to someone who dog-ears pages or to someone who reads with cheesy Cheetos fingers?
I'll go with the dog-ears pages as they are less apt to attract book damaging vermin.
Would you rather:
Be able to meet one character of your choice or meet one author of your choice?
Oh, gosh, I always feel so awkward (and sometimes disappointed) when I meet an author but I'd still rather meet a real live author than meet a fictional character.
Would you rather:
Never be allowed in a book store again or never be allowed in a library again?
 I'm a retired librarian, need I say more? 
Would you rather:
Have to choose one of your favorite characters to die in their book or have to pick one of your favorite couples to break up in their book?
I'll go with the breakup-- death is so final.
Would you rather:
Be required to read Twilight once a year for the rest of your life or The Scarlet Letter once a year for the rest of your life?
I'll pick The Scarlet Letter, I don't even want to read Twilight once.

UPDATE: Yesterday (Monday) I read 80 pages of  What the Eye Hears: A History of Tap Dancing

Friday, January 01, 2016

No Lists, No Stats

 Happy 2016

I have no list of  favorite reads for 2015, no stats, nor do I have any predictions about where my 2016 reading will take me.
 I will simply continue 

I have made one non-book purchase that I hope will help me organize my to-be-read stacks and shelves. 
It will arrive on Monday.


Single-Sided Sloped-Shelf Book Truck (27" W) - Almond 

Now why didn't I think of this sooner?