Friday, May 06, 2022

April 2022

This is the month for posting some sort of alphabetical blog each day. Do I want to try this?  Nah...I was not in an alphabetical mood and I didn't feel like trying to blog every day.

But I did read every day and most of it was good. There was one total nonfiction dud.

Fiction:
Sea of Tranquility by Mandel, Emily St. John
 Moon colonies, pandemic, time travel...
Death in Venice by Mann, Thomas; translated from the German by Burke, Kenneth
 Because I'd never it before...and because I was reading'...
The Magician, a novel about Thomas Mann by Tóibín, Colm
The Impossible Us by Lotz, Sarah
  a fun alternate worlds read.
Last Orders by Swift, Graham
 Four mates journey to Margate to scatter a friend's ashes. 
Sleep of Memory by Modiano, Patrick
Hot Stew by Fiona Mozley
  Cast of oddball characters in Soho
Beyond Babylon by Scego, Igiaba; translated from the Italian by Robertson, Aaron; Introduction by Lahiri, Jhumpa
Hotel of the Saints by Hegi, Ursula
 Eleven short stories:  Hotel of the saints, The end of all sadness, A woman's perfume, Stolen chocolates; Doves, Freitod,  Moonwalkers, A town like ours, The juggler, For their own survival, Lower crossing.
Homicide and Halo-Halo by Manansala, Mia P.
 Her second in the series. This is better than the first.
Chevy in the Hole by Ronan, Kelsey
  Detroit
 
Nonfiction:
Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures
by Sheldrake, Merlin   
 Fascinating.
A Short History of Humanity: A New History of Old Europe by Krause, Johannes and Trappe, Thomas; translated from the German by Waight, Caroline
 A good intro to the science of Archaeogenetics focusing on European pre-historical migration.
Sun Hunting; Adventures and Observations Among the Native and Migratory Tribes of Florida, Including the Stoical Time-Killers of Palm Beach, the Gentle and Gregarious Tincanners of the Remote Interior, and the Vivacious and Semi-Violent Peoples of Miami.... by Roberts, Kenneth L.
 Humorous essays on the "snow-birds" of 1920-22.
Fox & I by Raven, Catherine
  Too much "I" too little "Fox."  I don't know what this was supposed to be but it turned out to be nothing. As nature writing it misses the mark. As a memoir it's just not that interesting.

Thursday, March 31, 2022

March 2022

 
See below under nonfiction
 
Wow! I read a bunch in March! Almost all from the library (except the Dutch stories and First Cosmic Velocity). And, I liked most of them. Even the three (last 3 on the fiction list) I liked least weren't total duds. I also had some fun on Gutenberg with shadow puppets and trying to read some German. (Loved the pictures!)
 
Fiction: 
The Anomaly by Le Tellier, Hervé; translated from the French by Hunter, Adriana
  Yes!
The Recent East by Grattan, Thomas 
  Exile from East Germany returns home after Reunification. Very good story.
The Singing Forest by McCormack, Judith 
  Investigation of atrocities in Belarus. One of my best reads of the month
The Pages by Hamilton, Hugo
  Another great read - with a book as the narrator.
The Vietri Project by DeRobertis-Theye, Nicola 
  Sort of a coming of age as an Italian/American woman goes to Rome to find her roots.
Light from Uncommon Stars by Aoki, Ryka
  This was fun! Aliens set up a donut shop as cover and  all sorts of things happen! A violinst finds her perfect student, a Trans person seek identity and validation....
Black Cake by Wilkerson, Charmaine 
  Siblings discover family secrets.
The Penguin Book of Dutch Short Stories edited by Zwagerman, Joost  
The Jealousy Man and Other Stories by Nesbø, Jo 
 Divided into two sections "Jealousy" (7 stories) and "Power" (5 stories). I liked the first section better than the second.
Very Cold People by Manguso, Sarah
 Yes, they are. A bit overdrawn but a good read.
Together We Will Go by Straczynski, J. Michael 
  A suicide bus? 
French Braid by Tyler, Anne
  A family story. Is this another example of very cold people or are they just a little distant?
The Sisters Sweet by Weiss, Elizabeth 
  A sister act breaks up.
First Cosmic Velocity by Powers Zach
 Another of those old (2019) ARC's on my "owned-but-unread" shelf. I was feeling regretful that I didn't read it back then but it hasn't lost it's relevance. In fact, it sheds some light on the history of Russian/Ukrainian relations. 
Shit Cassandra Saw: Stories by Kirby, Gwen E.
  I didn't finish a couple of these but found others much to my liking.
The Nine Lives of Rose Napolitano by Freitas, Donna
  Rose doesn't want to be a mother- or not?
The Fell by Moss, Sarah
  A "pandemic story" but rather shallow.
One Italian Summer by Serle, Rebecca
  A bit of time travel. Not too deep . A nice diversion from some of the more serious stuff on this list.
The Magnolia Palace by Davis, Fiona
  Set in the Frick Museum, this features two timelines. and a rather simple mystery. I kept thinking of Nancy Drew (almost) grown up.

Nonfiction:
African Europeans: An Untold History by Otélé, Olivette
 Worth reading.
A World on the Wing: The Global Odyssey of Migratory Birds by Weidensaul, Scott 
  Ditto
Hand Shadows to Be Thrown Upon the Wall: A Series of Novel and Amusing Figures Formed by the Hand by Bursill, Henry. Originally published in 1859.
  Maybe I'll try some of these--might be good exercise for my arthritic fingers!
 
Picture Books
Weißt Du wieviel Sternlein stehen?   verse by Klett, Getrud J.; illustrations by Lewinski, Anneliese von
  This is a picture book published in 1911. It has also been published in an English translation: When star children play; New York, Toronto, Longmans, Green and Co., 1930.
  
Here's the Wikipedia article on the German children's hymn with the same title: Weißt du, wie viel Sternlein stehen  (has lyrics in German and English).
Here is  a YouTube recording of it:
 
Windchen by Offers, Sibylle (in German)
Prinzeßchen im Walde by Offers, Sibylle (in German)
The Little Princess in the Wood  text by Fish, Helen Dean; illustrations by Offers, Sibylle. (in English) Not a direct translation (for one thing it's not in verse), but it catches the spirit.

Monday, February 28, 2022

February 2022

Everything except Zone and the online stuff was from the public library. Only one dent in the "owned but unread" shelf. But no additions to it either!
 Most of these were really good, but the last three in the fiction list were disappointing.
 
Fiction:
Camouflage: Stories by Bail, Murray
 want to read more by Bail
Young Once by Modiano, Patrick; translated from the French by Searls, Damion
 classic Modiano
Zone by Énard, Mathias; translated from the French by Mandell, Charlotte
 Balkan fighter reviews his career in one long stream of consciousness sentence. Tedious at times, but i slogged through
Mother Daughter Widow Wife by Wasserman, Robin
 Amnesia victum and the team helping her
Refuge
by Nayeri, Dina 
 Iranian father/daughter relationship
A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea by Nayeri, Dina
 Iranian twin. Caspian area
When God Was a Rabbit by Winman, Sarah
  Another good one from Winman
Red Crosses by Filipenko, Sasha; translated from the Russian by Baer, Bryan James and Vayner, Ellen
 Kindle edition
Beasts of a Little Land by Kim, Juhea 
 Korean independence movement
The Darkness Knows (Konráð #1) by Indriðason, Arnaldur; translated from the Icelandic by Cribb, Victoria
 A Nordic mystery is nice every now and then. 
The Seed Keeper by Wilson, Diane
 Native Americans.  Multiple pov & time periods.
The Family Chao by Chang, Lan Samantha
  A dysfunctional family  and someone gets slammed in the cooler.
The Love Letters: A Novel by L'Engle, Madeleine
  This was terrible.  An awful way to look at marriage, god, love, etc.  yuck! 1950's thinking (this was written in 1966) Stick to your marriage no matter what. No!
The Maid by Prose, Nita 
  Didn't care for this
An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed by Tursten, Helene 
  A disappointment - not nearly as good as the first in the series
 
Wonder Tales from Tibet by Eleanor Myers Jewett; illustrated by Maurice Day
 Love the illustrations in this 1922 book.
 
 Maurice "Jake" Day later worked for Disney where he created Bambi.
 
Poetry:
 
Puella mea by E.E. Cummings. Illustrated with drawings by Klee, Modigliani, Picasso, and  Kurt Roesch. 

Nonfiction: 
The Secret of Life: Rosalind Franklin, James Watson, Francis Crick, and the Discovery of DNA's   
 Double Helix by Markel, Howard
Hidden Figures by Shetterly, Margot Lee

Wednesday, February 09, 2022

January 2022

Lots of books in January! So nice to have my eyes back in full working order. Made a small dent in "owned but unread" (those with *). A nice batch of reads. Only one simi-dud--the ladies in Reno.
Posting this late because I was busy reading. A bunch of holds all showed up at the library at the same time and several were short loans. And now I've been notified that there are seven more waiting for me. Looks like February will be a library only reads month!
 
Here's January:
Fiction: 
The Man Who Died Twice (Thursday Murder Club #2) by Richard Osman 
 Good, but I liked the first one better. 
The Wife Between Us by Hendricks, Greer and Pekkanen, Sarah
  I really liked this one; recommended by housemate
*Enchanted Night: Selected Tales by Bánffy, Miklós; translated from the Hungarian by Rix, Len
  Christmas gift, Thank You!
Better Luck Next Time by Johnson, Julia Claiborne 
 Divorcees at a Reno guest ranch in the 30's. Tries too hard to be madcap or something. So, so.
*The Mighty Angel by Pilch, Jerzy translated from the Polish by Johnston, Bill
 Alcoholic haze. Supposed to tell you what it's like to be an alcholic but it goes on and on--but maybe that's the point.
The Sentence by Erdrich, Louise
 I haven't read much by Erdrich but this makes me think I should
*The Last Days of My Mother by Sigurðsson, Sölvi Björn; translated from the Icelandic by  Einarsdóttir, Helga Soffía
 Really liked this tale of a man who takes his mother to special clinic in the Netherlands for a cure or for her last days. Nicely told.
Kaya Days by Souza, Carl de; translated from the French by Zukerman, Jeffery
 Unrest in Mauritius
Things They Lost by Oduor, Okwiri
 Semi-orphan in Kenya
The Island of Missing Trees by Shafak, Elif 
  This one set in Cyprus and London
L.A. Weather by Escandón, María Amparo
  Affluent Latino family falls on hard times. Blurb calls them Mexican but the father is actually Californio (descended from early Spanish settelers); the mother is descended from European Jews who settled in Mexico City. i loved this.
Riccardino (Inspector Montalbano #28) by Camilleri, Andrea; translated from the Italian by Sarterelli, Stephen
 The last in the series, not bad. Kind of meta when the Inspector and the Author argue about plot development.
Snow (St. John Strafford, #1) by Banville, John 
April in Spain by Banville, John 
 I read this because I enjoyed Snow. This was different and I also liked it
*Target in the Night by Piglia, Ricardo; translated from the Spanish by Waisman, Sergio
 Argentine thriller
*Lord by Noll, João Gilberto; translated from the Portuguese by Garbelotto, Edgar
 Brazillian in London
 
Nonfiction: 
Pessoa: A Biography by Richard Zenith
 Excellent!
*Foucault in Warsaw by Ryziński, Remigiusz; translated fro thePolish by Bye, Sean Gaspar
 
Project Gutenberg:

  Humm, 261 poems, so if I read one a day.... 
 
Online:
 
Croissants – a great French icon?  From one of my favorite blogs.

Friday, January 07, 2022

End of Old Year & Start of New

The best I can say about 2021 is that it came closer to actually happening than 2020 did! At least I managed to squeeze  eye surgery in between Covid spikes. Thus I could say:

Goodbye to

Prescription glasses (bi-focal)

Hello to better vision...
  ....and onto more reading!

I won't name any "best books" of 2021. Because of vision problems (cataracts) I was very selective in what I read so most were "best." There were a few duds and a few DNFs, but on the whole it was an excellent reading year.

The big adventure was the eye surgery in late October (left eye) and early December (right eye). The biggest reading challenge was the interim between the two surgeries when the eyes didn't work together. I had to read with magnifying glasses with one eye closed or covered because I couldn't focus close up. But read I did! In fact, I read quit a lot--seventeen books including one coincidentally titled The Interim (Wolfgang Hilbig). Of the 17 there were three that I more or less skimmed (above mentioned duds).

I've been making steady progress on my "owned-but-unread" shelves. Hard to count as I did no stats on it for 2019  & 2020. At the start of 2019 there were 341 titles. Now there are 113. Some of the reduction came from weeding out a few titles that I realized I would never read.

I also dropped my subscriptions to Open Letter, Two Lines, and Deep Vellum. I still like what they publish and will continue to buy their books, but on a self-selective basis.

I had no problem with my Goodreads goal of 150 books, I read over 200. Set it to 175 for 2022.

Actually did one challenge: "Twenty Books of Summer 2021"  which I really enjoyed. Selected all my titles from a search for "summer" on Project Gutenberg.

Some of the new (to me) authors that I liked enough to read more (in no particular order): 
 Romy Hausmann (Dear Child  and Sleepless
 Sarah Winman (Still Life  and Tin Man)
 Edmund de Waal (Letters to Comondo and The White Road)
 Peter Geye (Northernmost and The Lighthouse Road)
 Miklós Bánffy (They Were Counted, They Were Found Wanting, and They Were Divided) Also put    
  The Enchanted Night: Selected Tales on my wish list and, thanks to one of my daughters, it's now on  my owned-but-unread list.
 André Hellé (L'Arche de Noé and Histoire de Quillembois Soldat) two picture books which I found on Project Gutenberg. Was curious enough to read them in French (with a lot of aid from Google translate).
 
There are several more new to me authors that I am likely to read again...too many to list.
 
And some old favorite authors whose books I read in 2021 didn't disappoint (alphabetical order and not a complete list):
 Rabih Alameddine
Anuk Arudpragasam
Kira Buxton
Edwidge Danticat
Anthony Doerr
Claire Fuller
Yaa Gyasi
Wolfgang Hilbig
Ha Jin
David Mitchell
Minae Mizumura
Patrick Modiano
João Gilberto Noll
Francine Prose
Scholastique Mukasonga
Guillermo Saccomanno
Elizabeth Strout
Gonçalo M. Tavares
Dubravka Ugrešić
Enrique Vila-Matas
Helene Wecker
Edith Wharton

 Just for fun: Three memes on My Year in Reading:
 
– When I was younger I was Queen Summer
– People might be surprised to discover that I’m Miss Mole
– I will never be Stranger in the Shogun's City:
– At the end of a long day I need  Joseph Walser's Machine   
-- Right now I’m feeling The Gift of Rain
– Someday I want to Leave Only Footprints
– At a party you’d find me Fencing with the King
– I’ve never gone After Icebergs with a Painter
– I really don’t enjoy The Killing Tide
– In my next life I want A Song Everlasting
~~~~~~~
– If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Cloud Cuckoo Land
– Your favorite form of transportation: A Thousand Ships
– Your best friend is Olga
– You and your friends are All You Could Ask For
– What’s the weather like: Winter in Sukcho
– Favorite time of day: The Evening and the Morning
– If your life was: The Soul of Genius
– What is life to you: The Interim
– Your fear: Lost Girls
– What is the best advice you have to give: Lean Fall Stand
– Thought for the Day: Life Went on Anyway
– How I would like to die: Before the Coffee Gets Cold
– My soul’s present condition: Still Life
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I began the day with Eleven Sooty Dreams
On my way to work, I saw The Temple House Vanishing
and walked by The Mission House
to avoid The Appalachian Trail,
but I made sure to stop at The Dark Library
In the office, my boss said, They Were Counted,
and sent me to research A Passage North.
At lunch with The Caretaker,
I noticed Vivian Maier
Facing the Bridge,
then went back to my desk At the Edge of the Haight.
Later, on the journey home, I bought Abide with Me
because I have Turbulance.
Then settling down for the evening, I picked up The Reading List
and studied The Ancestry of Objects
before saying A Prayer for the Living.