torontoc reads and sees films in 2020

KeskusteluClub Read 2020

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torontoc reads and sees films in 2020

1torontoc
joulukuu 31, 2019, 9:58am

Well. for the first time I missed reading 100 books in 2019-there were many reasons- I had a book read freeze in Dec after I started ( and eventually put down) two books by authors that I did like but their current work was depressing and I didn't want to go on reading. My solution? I reread Pride and Prejudice and am now reading happily.
I also have seen some great films recently- I recommend the new " Little Women", "A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood", and "Bombshell"

2torontoc
tammikuu 1, 2020, 10:46am

Here is my first book finished this year. I did start it last week.

1. Black Earth: The Holocaust As History and Warning by Timothy Snyder Admittedly a heavy read for my first book this year, but this author writes so well about disturbing topics. His book Bloodlands Europe Between Hitler and Stalin was so clear about the killings in the Ukraine and Eastern Europe before the beginning of the Second World War. This history concentrates on the fate of Jews and Poles from 1938 on. Snyder describes the conditions present that led to the massive killing of Jews and the destruction of Poland and its society. He also talks about the area of the Ukraine that was a land conquered twice-first by the Russians and then by the Germans-the " double occupation".The Russians killed many of the inhabitants of this area that had been part of Poland before they were defeated by the Germans. The author talks about the conditions led to the killing by not only the conquering Germans but also by the people in these areas who were trying to gain favour with the present rulers of their land. Snyder argues that the myth of people not knowing about the killing of Jews is untrue on the eastern front. His figures on those killed are devastating. He compares Estonia and Denmark in terms of Jewish people saved or killed. One of the conditions for the saving of lives was a democratic set of institutions and rules regarding citizenship. He talks about the idea that concentration camps were the sole place of genocide but shows that the destruction of people on the Eastern front happened first. Then Snyder ends his book with a discussion how present day conditions ( including climate change) in the world could lead to similar fates for parts of the world. He considers the safeguards that prevent genocide. This book is an eye opener and valuable addition to the knowledge of 20th century history ( and perhaps a warning for the 21st century.

3NanaCC
tammikuu 1, 2020, 12:10pm

Great first review. I’ll be following you again this year. You’ve given me a few great suggestions in the past (Lillian Boxfish wound up being a favorite last year), and your movie reviews are always a bonus.

4torontoc
tammikuu 1, 2020, 7:19pm

Thank you! I got the recommendation for Lilian Boxfish from alphaorder here on LT

5RidgewayGirl
tammikuu 1, 2020, 7:40pm

>2 torontoc: It took me months to read Bloodlands, but it was excellent and I added Black Earth to my wishlist as soon as it was published. This is one I'm going to have to buy as I'll want to make notes in the margins and take my time reading. Snyder has been writing some interesting articles about Ukraine and tyranny lately.

6arubabookwoman
tammikuu 2, 2020, 1:30pm

>5 RidgewayGirl: If you have a Kindle Kay, Black Earth is on sale for $4.99. I bought it yesterday after reading about it here.

7torontoc
tammikuu 3, 2020, 8:59pm

2. Women Who Read Are Dangerous by Stefan Bollman. I was given this book by my sister-in-law. It is a summary of reading done by women with wonderful photos of paintings ( almost all European except for some American) through the ages on this theme. Each painting is described by the author. From Early Renaissance to mid twentieth century, the paintings represent women and their positions in society. I really liked the selections and variety of art styles represented. This book was a nice interlude for me after reading Timothy Snyder.

8kidzdoc
tammikuu 4, 2020, 1:09pm

Happy New Year, Cyrel! Great review of Black Earth.

9markon
tammikuu 4, 2020, 5:41pm

>7 torontoc: Women who read are dangerous sounds fascinating! Happy New Year!

10dchaikin
tammikuu 4, 2020, 9:26pm

>1 torontoc: Timothy Snyder seems to come up a lot recently. I know it’s a dark subject, but your review inspires me in the sense of wanting to look more into his books.

Also, nice new thread. Following.

11ELiz_M
tammikuu 5, 2020, 8:53am

>7 torontoc: I just requested this from the library. One of the most entertaining days I had at the Met Museum was tracking down all the "women reading" paintings on display. :)

12torontoc
tammikuu 7, 2020, 11:37pm

Thank you everyone!

I saw two films recently- both were terrific( not doing full reviews until the film festivals in April and Sept.)
"1917" is about two British soldiers in 1917 who are given the task of travelling through enemy lines to deliver a message to another army division- the message will prevent an ambush-
"Song of Names" is a little flawed but still very good- a man searches for someone who had lived with his family during World War Two and who was a violin virtuoso and the only survivor of his family who perished in Poland. The young man had vanished before he was supposed to play in a concert.
Both are worth seeing!
My nephew said that he saw "Cats" (with the help of alcohol) at a very small venue- he said that the use of digital cat hair made him nauseous.

13torontoc
tammikuu 12, 2020, 10:17am

3. Less by Andrew Sean Greer.This novel relates the travels and life of Arthur Less, a moderately successful writer who is reaching his 50th birthday. He embarks on a round the world travel plan to avoid the marriage of his former lover, Freddy to another. The reader learns about Andrew's life- he was previously a companion and lover to a renounced poet for many years. Andrew's career is not going well as his latest manuscript was rejected by his publisher. His round the world trip consists of paying gigs for talks and teaching as well as some stops for rewriting his novel. Each stop involves something going wrong- some parts are funny and some are sad. It was an easy read but... this book won the Pulitzer prize. Of that I am mystified as I certainly read better novels published the same year as this one. I look at the blurbs on the front pages- wonderful accolades. I liked the story but don't agree with the adulation.

14dchaikin
tammikuu 12, 2020, 5:17pm

huh. Premise sounded nice. Too bad. Perhaps a little irony considering the title.

15SqueakyChu
tammikuu 12, 2020, 6:58pm

>13 torontoc: I read Less, liked it, but like you was not overly enthused by it. I liked much more this author's book entitled The Confessions of Max Tivoli. That book was well worth the read.

16torontoc
tammikuu 13, 2020, 1:13pm

>15 SqueakyChu: yes I did read that book and liked it.

4. My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite This satiric novel was so much fun to read- it is comedic, tragic and sad at the same time. Korede is a nurse in Lagos. Her younger sister, Ayoola, has a habit of killing her unwanted suitors. Korede has helped her dispose of three bodies so far. Korede and her sister live with their mother who hasn't a clue about Ayoola's activities. Ayoola is very attractive and has many boyfriends. Korede is in love with a doctor who she works with at the hospital,Tade. Tade becomes attracted to Ayoola and Korede fears for his safety. The novel also deals with Korede telling all to a comatose patient in the hospital. The reader also learns about Korede and Ayoola's terrible father and the fate that befalls him. This was a great read!

17dchaikin
tammikuu 13, 2020, 3:00pm

>16 torontoc: I’ll get to this on audio as I pursue the Booker list. It sounds fun.

18kidzdoc
tammikuu 13, 2020, 3:51pm

>18 kidzdoc: I'm glad that you enjoyed My Sister, the Serial Killer, Cyrel. I'll probably read it in the summer.

19ELiz_M
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 13, 2020, 10:22pm

>18 kidzdoc: It's a great beach read and an excellent way to get some space to yourself as people see the title and edge away. :D

20AnnieMod
tammikuu 13, 2020, 10:29pm

>16 torontoc:

I am not much for funny novels but that one sounds like something I really should read. :) thanks for posting the review.

21torontoc
tammikuu 13, 2020, 11:04pm

>20 AnnieMod: It is actually funny and sad at the same time.

22kidzdoc
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 13, 2020, 11:28pm

23torontoc
tammikuu 17, 2020, 10:32pm

5. Orange World by Karen Russell I really like short stories and remember reading Karen Russell's first collection St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves This collection is amazing. From fantasy to dystopian, each story is quirky. The author's use of descriptive language leads the reader into new worlds where one can raise tornados on a farm, dance with the dead on a mountain to women gondoliers on the waters that cover the remains of Old Florida. I enjoyed the flights of fantasy and some horror.

24lisapeet
tammikuu 18, 2020, 10:29am

I really loved Orange World—not only for the story subjects and the lively writing, but especially for Russell’s tangibly obvious delight in her ideas. Every one of those stories had this wide-eyed “what if?” floating just beneath the surface, and I found that as delightful as any other component of the collection.

25torontoc
tammikuu 22, 2020, 10:35pm

6. Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout I really liked the book Olive Kitteridge with the linked short stories and I liked this one as well. It is such a pleasure to read a good book with great descriptions and and some great characters. The author continues the story of Olive Kitteridge and the people who live in Crosby, Maine. Olive gets married for a second time to Jack Kennison. She is still rude and prone to saying the wrong thing but through the stories, she learns more about herself and her relationships. The reader meets more people who live in the small town of Maine. Their lives and dilemmas make up the series of stories that follow Olive and her contemporaries as she (and they) grow older. Beautifully written, this book of short stories is a worthwhile read

26torontoc
tammikuu 28, 2020, 9:07am

I saw a very good film but it is too long! "The Irishman" is terrific but at 3 hours and twenty minutes!!!!! Thank goodness I was in a very comfortable and small theatre ( TIFF Lightbox in Toronto)

7. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead This is a reread because my bookclub will be talking about it tomorrow. Again the story is a mixture of real and fantasy but certainly emphasizes the terrible injustice of slavery. This novel is a must read for anyone interested in history!

27sallypursell
tammikuu 28, 2020, 1:22pm

>7 torontoc: An addition to your gallery: Me in the mid-1970's



Does anyone else have a picture reading to post? I'll start a new thread rather than high-jack this one.

28sallypursell
tammikuu 28, 2020, 1:31pm

>13 torontoc: Cyrel, I read Less last year, and I really liked it. I thought it an ironic look at relationships in gay life, and the natural history of them. Sad, but worth it. Look how many novels are written about the natural history of heterosexual couples? I wonder if this fell flat for you because you don't find gay men surprising topics for novels? In my age group, good novels about gay men have always been in little company.

>14 dchaikin: Dan, this is a play on words relating to the character's last name, as well as a comment on how this relationship is less than what he and his lover probably hoped for. I wondered if it was also referring to how much less there is of literature about this topic.

29torontoc
tammikuu 28, 2020, 5:04pm

>28 sallypursell: Actually I read Rebecca Makkai's The Great Believers and thought that it was one of the best books that I read last year.

30sallypursell
tammikuu 29, 2020, 4:26pm

>29 torontoc: That's already on my wish list.

31baswood
tammikuu 29, 2020, 5:14pm

>27 sallypursell: Some people might say it's difficult to take a picture of me when I am NOT reading

32sallypursell
tammikuu 29, 2020, 7:33pm

>31 baswood: That sounds like a cop-out. You must then have quite a few of them.

33torontoc
helmikuu 6, 2020, 10:17am

8. The Archive Thief The Man Who salvaged French Jewish History in the Wake of the Holocaust by Lisa Moses Leff I went to a lecture by the author on this topic last week and had to buy her book. The story is intriguing. Zosa Szajkowski was a Jewish Historian who published many articles in scholarly journals on French Jewish History. However he was caught stealing materials from Archives in France and later the United States. He took these documents and sold many of them to Jewish Archives in the United States. Left tells his story and shows how the theft was possible and why it was covered up in France. Szajkowski had a fascinating history. He was born in Poland and found his way to France before the second world war. He was never formally educated except for early schooling in a Polish Jewish primary school. He always had a love of books. In Paris he met Ilya and Riva Tcherikower who were associated with YIVO(The Jewish Scientific Institute -a very important organization founded in 1925 that was dedicated to the study of Jewish life- the centre was in Vilna but during the time before and after the second world moved its headquarters to various cities and eventually to New York)The focus of YIVO was Yiddish culture and Jewish life in the diaspora ( outside of Israel) Szajikowski was working as a journalist but eventually became involved in collecting and writing about Jewish life for YIVO. His life during the war was the stuff of novels-he joined the French Foreign Legion, fought against the Germans, was wounded, managed to be put on the list of intellectuals who were given US visas, landed in New York, and joined the American army as a paratrooper and translator. In the aftermath of the Allied Forces victory, he was in Germany collecting and sending many packages of documents to YIVO-it was sort of illegal but he literally went through abandoned German buildings collecting what he could. At the end of the war , Szajkowski did manage to get a job at YIVO in New York but it was only enough to live modestly. He turns up In France in the 1950's, writing and researching in many French Jewish archives. In fact there are over 200 articles on various aspects of French Jewish history that he wrote. The author explains how many archives were not organized in the way that they are today. She also answers the question of why the many American Jewish Archives bought this material. They thought that any documents could have been rescued from postwar Europe where hundreds of thousands of Jewish books, documents and artifacts were lost and displaced. Szajkowski came to a very sad end, He was caught stealing from the New York City Public Library, was charged by the police( in France- he had been banned from entering the country) and he committed suicide. The author shows both the bad and the good that Szajkpwski was responsible for in scholarship on French Jewish history.Many scholars and librarians attended his funeral. Arther Hertzberg -a very important Jewish historian- spoke. This was a very satisfying book to read. Leff is also a very good speaker.

34torontoc
helmikuu 6, 2020, 11:38am

9. Dot Unplugged -original character of Dot created by Randi Zuckerberg. This is a very nice book for young children- the illustrations are bright with colours. The story is about a family that finds how to entertain themselves when the power is out and they cannot use their electronic devices. The tie-in is to "National day of Unplugging". What is interesting is that the characters and story are copyrighted by the Jim Henson Company and there is an animated series on a number TV channels. This book is a link to the animated series. It is a very attractive book with a simple storyline that teaches a lesson. Although we are very attached to our electronic devices we cannot forget how to connect with others and learn/do creative activities. I find it interesting that the premise is that electronic devices are primary in our lives and we should remember how to create, interact with others through games and think of activities that involve nature. I think that in our changing world we should try to reverse this process- communicate and create first and then use technology. This is an ER book for me.

35dchaikin
helmikuu 6, 2020, 1:30pm

>33 torontoc: fascinating

36torontoc
helmikuu 11, 2020, 7:10pm

10. Dreaming in French The Paris Years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag and Angela Davis by Alice Kaplan. The author looks at these three women and their one year that they spent in Paris as part of a college junior year programme or in the case of Susan Sontag-a year to recharge. Each woman was in Paris in a different decade. Kaplan looks at education and the influence of talking or being in a specific French milieu. She then discusses how that year influenced future actions. Jacqueline Kennedy lived with a family in 1949-50. Paris and France were still recovering from the second world war. She was able to immerse herself in the culture and literature of the time. Susan Sontag was older. She left her husband and child and went to Paris where she was involved with expatriate Americans. Her Paris was one of film and relationships. Although the crisis of Algeria was the most important political event in 1957-8, Sontag was not involved. Angela Davis was perhaps the most proficient in French and took advanced courses at the Sorbonne during her year 1963-4. Davis studied radical philosophy and was able to translate her work into action with politics when she returned to the United States. Later here was much French support when she was charged and put on trial in California. Her studies in France and later work with leading scholars helped shape the person that she became. The studies by Kaplan show the differences in time and how the immersion in French studies and culture were key components of each woman's later life choices. A wonderful read.

37markon
helmikuu 14, 2020, 4:59pm

>36 torontoc: This sounds fascinating! Between glimpses of each woman's time in Paris and the historical information about Paris in different decades, I'll bet it is a wonderful read. Placing it on Mt. TBR.

38torontoc
Muokkaaja: helmikuu 18, 2020, 11:15pm

It was a great read!

11. House of Names by Colm Toibin This novel retells the story of how Agamemnon sacrifices his daughter Iphigenia in order to have favourable winds for his ships as he goes to fight in the Trojan War. And then the story continues with Clytemnestra and how she has revenge for the murder of her daughter. In turn Electra and Orestes do the same to avenge Agamemnon's murder. The three-Clytemnestra, Electra and Orestes - each narrate and the reader learns about the story from different points of view. The narration is powerful and bring to life the terrible lives of this family. A great read.

39sallypursell
helmikuu 19, 2020, 1:11am

>38 torontoc: You really grabbed me with this review. On my Mt. TBR.

40torontoc
Muokkaaja: helmikuu 20, 2020, 3:13pm

12. Pogrom: Kishinev and the Tilt of History by Steven J. Zipperstein This was a very interesting history because of the structure of the account. Steven Zipperstein not only talks about the massacre and riot that occurred in 1903. He traces the attitudes of the Russian government, the police, and shows how the rioters went from throwing stones to murder, rape and destroy homes and businesses of the Jews living in the town. There were many reasons for the savage attack on the Jewish population. The aftermath is also telling. The Jewish poet Bialik wrote a poem that became for both good and bad reasons a cornerstone of Jewish studies in the state of Israel. An Irish writer, Michael Davitt wrote a definitive study of Jewish persecution in Russia. Both writers interviewed survivors of the pogrom. The writer of one of the most infamous books about Jews( The Protocols of the Elders of Zion) that inflamed anti semites during the 20th century was probably influenced the the Kishinev events. In the United States, many people were affected by the Kishinev pogrom. In fact two of the organizers of the forerunner of the NAACP( In 1908) in the US had been involved in writing about Russian political events. The pogrom showed many Jews that their future was not in Russia or the Pale of Settlement but in the US or in Palestine. Zipperstein uses many contemporary sources and new discoveries to track this event and later influences. A difficult but good read.

41torontoc
helmikuu 20, 2020, 3:12pm

13. A Bookshop in Berlin by Francoise Frenkel translated by Stephanie Smee This memoir was originally published in 1945. The author was a Polish woman who studied in France and opened a French language bookshop in Berlin in 1921. Francoise Frenkel had to close her shop in 1939. She travelled to Paris and eventually had to go to Avignon and then Nice. Frenkel writes about the changing atmosphere in France and how she was helped by friends to hide and move around to avoid capture. The book is really about her life as she tries to find a safe place to live and avoid being deported. She eventually escapes with help to Switzerland on her third attempt to cross the border. This is memoir about hiding, finding friends and avoiding those who helped the Nazis in France from 1940-2

42torontoc
helmikuu 22, 2020, 6:57pm


14. Waiting for the Weekend by Witold Rybczynski This book has been on my TBR pile for way too long. I used to love to read Rybczynski's works. I found his opinions and ideas on architecture and on the history of interiors refreshing and informative. This book is about the origins and structure of the weekend. As well, the author looks at the development of leisure and recreation. This is an interesting study on habits that we take for granted.

43torontoc
helmikuu 24, 2020, 10:23am

15. Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Penelope BagieuOne of the reasons that I am on LT is so that I can pick up book recommendations. and I am sure that I got this one from LT. The author/artist has created a graphic collections of stories about gutsy women. They have good lives, bad lives, great accomplishments and in some cases are not recognized for their work. The range of women is contemporary and also historic. I knew about some of the women but not the majority. The illustrations are wonderful and the narrative is engaging. I felt energized after reading this work.

44markon
helmikuu 24, 2020, 10:23am

Oh my, two of these books would fit in nicely with a book I'm reading about the Ringleblum Archive of the Jewish community in Poland, especially Warsaw, during WWII. (Who will write our story?) I thought history was boring in school, but I'm finding it anything but in middle age.

And I'm definitely interested in learning about the weekend as well, since I'm in a job where I don't get a "normal" weekend.

45torontoc
Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 1, 2020, 10:18am

>44 markon: I heard the author of Who will Write Our History-Samuel D. Kassow a few years ago- he was a very good speaker. and I read the book.

16. Family Papers A Sephardic Journey Through the Twentieth Century by Sarah Abrevaya Stein. This was a very interesting history as the author traces the lives of the Levy family of Salonica during the 20th century. At times the thread of continuity was a little confusing as each chapter described a different member of the family while still keeping a linear narrative. So although the reader knew about the early life of one of the sons of Sa'adi a. Levi, David, his later life is described in a later chapter. The story is about the time when the Jewish population made up the majority in the city of Salonica when it was part of the Ottoman empire. The abrupt changes in nationality after the first world war led some of the Levy children to emigrate to England,India, France and Brazil. Tragically the Levy family that remained in Salonica were murdered in Auschwitz. The author was able to interview members of the family and to access the correspondence held by them. She was able to track down many stories both good and bad. ( One of the family was executed in Greece after the war because of his collaboration with the Nazis that resulted in many deaths.)

46torontoc
maaliskuu 3, 2020, 2:47pm

17. Women Talking A Novel by Miriam Toews This novel is based on a event that took place in Bolivia. A Mennonite colony was facing a situation where the women were drugged at night and sexually bused by men in the group. The men were charged and sent to prison. In this story, women in a similar colony were discussing what to do. They had the choice of forgiving the men or leaving their home. These women did not know how to read or write and knew only their world of farming. An outcast man- August - is asked to take minutes for the group as they try to figure out what to do. In the course of the talking , the reader learns about some of the terrible abuses and the contradiction of blind faith and doing the right thing. The women's narrow proscribed lives are in conflict with doing good so that their children will not face the same fate. This is a hard story to read although the authors' wonderful prose and character development makes the story flow.

47torontoc
maaliskuu 10, 2020, 11:29pm

18. What's Up Maloo? by Genevieve Godbout This ER story is written and beautifully illustrated for very young children and the person who reads this story to them. A Kangaroo gets tired of hopping and his( or her) friends try to help. They encourage Maloo and do bring joy back into his/her life. The illustrations are the focal point with very little dialogue. In a way, the drawings of Maloo and friends are magnified on the pages with a very dynamic use of white space. I think that very young children will enjoy this book.

48torontoc
Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 17, 2020, 10:02am

19. A Legacy by Sybille Bedford This novel has so much of the author's real life history in the characters and plot. The families of the von Feldens and the Merz's are joined when Baron Julius marries Melanie Merz. Before this event the reader learns about the Von Felden sons and the Merz family who live in Germany and parts of France and Spain in the 1890's. The sons are quite tragic- born and bred to be fairly useless. They are eccentric, they lose money, travel, and for some reason usually marry well. In fact most of the wives are the stronger people- arranging lives and supporting their brothers and husbands. There is the tension between the Jewish Merz family and the Catholic Von Feldens. The writing is strong and gives the reader a sense of the lives and ideas of a specific group whose lives will be upended in the 20th century.

49torontoc
maaliskuu 17, 2020, 10:02am

20. The Europeans Three Lives and The Making of A Cosmopolitan Culture by Orlando Figes This history looks at the lives of three people -opera singer Pauline Viardot, her husband Louis ( to a lesser extent) and her friend and lover Russian writer Ivan Turgenev. Although the author does examine their lives, he uses the opportunity to explore and write about the issues that these three faced. So the reader is introduced to the problems of how writers were paid for their work and the options open to them, the development of music performances in the mid 19th century and the role that railway development played in the building of a European culture. The scope of this book is almost encyclopedic. There are so many topics covered- especially in the growth of music and the development of translation in Europe's countries. Turgenev's role in introducing Russian writer to the west is an important topic. Pauline Viardot not only sang in the opera houses of St. Petersburg, Berlin, London and Paris. She promoted music of many (now ) important composers. I found this history engrossing with information that shows what was important to the beginning of a " European" sense of culture.

50rocketjk
maaliskuu 17, 2020, 1:22pm

>40 torontoc: I saw Pogrom in the window of City Lights Books in San Francisco last year and bought it on impulse. I haven't read it yet but it is on my short-list TBR and I'm hoping to attend to it soon. Good to see your positive review.

51torontoc
maaliskuu 18, 2020, 1:55pm

21. Old in Art School by Nell Painter. This memoir describes the author's time in art school after she retired after a very illustrious career as a professor of history at Princeton University. She is also an acclaimed author. Painter describes her development in making art as she works through Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers in New Jersey for her BFA and Rhode School of Design for her MFA. The transition from noted historian to art student is humbling. Painter is Black, "old"( 64) and has what she calls 20th century ideas about art making. Her development as an artist, her experiences as a student seemingly out of touch with contemporary art practice, her dealing with the problems of her parents and their health make this account so riveting. Painter learns to defend herself from the criticism of her teachers while acknowledging those who helped her. There are issues about the role or lack of a role for Black artists and Painter's own view of history and influences on her art. I was really informed about her work as the book has wonderful images of the drawings and paintings that Painter made and continues to make. This is a must read for those who want to develop as artists and teachers of art as well as hmm... everyone else!

52lisapeet
maaliskuu 18, 2020, 2:51pm

>51 torontoc: I loved this one, and her kind of odd, oblique way of talking about the experience. I interviewed her about the book and she was so delightful, I wanted to run off and be her houseguest for a week.

53torontoc
maaliskuu 18, 2020, 3:12pm

>52 lisapeet: The book was so interesting and I loved her take on some of the students and staff ! ( being a retired high school art teacher)

54torontoc
maaliskuu 21, 2020, 11:02am

22. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong This was a hard novel to read. The author is a poet and this (first novel for him) book is very sad and full of terrible stories of survival and loss. Framed as a long letter to his mother, Little Dog as he calls himself, relates the story of his life with his mother and very damaged grandmother and his love for a young man, Trevor. Lan, the grandmother lived through the war in Vietnam and eventually ended up with her daughter in Hartford, Connecticut. Her American soldier husband had abandoned her but in later years he did keep up a relationship his grandson. Little Dog was beaten by his mother who did leave her abusive husband. Little Dog endured discrimination by school mates and in many cases was saved by his grandmother. A good portion of the story is about Little Dog and his continuing relationship with Trevor- who he meets when he works on a tobacco farm in the summer. There is much suffering described in this story that does turn to poetry at times. The bond between Little Dog and his mother is one of love-hate. There is a sense that although Little Dog does go on to college, he will always be scared by the events that shaped his mother and grandmother in Vietnam.

55torontoc
maaliskuu 22, 2020, 8:11pm

23. The Night Manager by John Le Carre This is definitely a reread- at this time I think that some good spy stories are great escapism. Jonathan Pine is the night manager of a Swiss hotel-he was a soldier in the British army. He also was friends with a woman who was invoked with a very dangerous man -she was beaten to death. Jonathan accepts an offer to spy for the British - he is to gain the support and confidence of a man suspected to be a major arms dealer. Unfortunately, the British spy service has problems of its own with competing branches and selling out of allies. The story is very tense as the reader is not sure of who will betray whom. A great read for these times.

56torontoc
maaliskuu 24, 2020, 10:34pm

24. Double Threat Canadian Jews, The Military, and World War II by Ellin Bessner I found this history interesting as it lists and describes the contribution of Canadian Jews who fought in World War II. Many of the chapters really talk about many individuals who were part of the various sections of the armed forces from Naval, Merchant Marine, Army to Airforce. The chapters are in chronological order recounting enlistment, women in the armed forces, the role of religion, and the various parts of the world where Jewish soldiers fought. I liked the book although it was not really a complete history of the war- the author interviewed as many survivors as she could. Still this history gives the many individuals who took part a solid place in the story of the war.

57torontoc
maaliskuu 27, 2020, 12:51pm

25. My History A Memoir of Growing Up by Antonia Fraser I like reading memoirs. This one really gives the reader an idea of the life and attitudes of a young English girl growing up during and after the second world war. Antonia Fraser has lived a life of privilege. Her parents were not particularly wealthy but their place in English society and politics gave their children introductions to leaders of the government and notable writers. The author is actually quite modest. Her anecdotes are funny and demonstrate the influences that led to her writing books on history. ( Her mother was also a noted writer who wrote many histories). A good read when one is self-isolating!

58torontoc
maaliskuu 29, 2020, 3:17pm

26. Must You Go? My Life With Harold Pinter by Antonia Fraser Once I read the author's memoirs of her early life, I had to go back to do a reread of her memoir of her life with her second husband, Harold Pinter. It really was a love story. Pinter wrote love poems to Fraser- many are in this account. The book is composed of diary headings and some commentaries. There are a lot of famous names in literature, theatre and film mentioned as friends and colleagues. A second good read for self-isolation.

59lisapeet
maaliskuu 29, 2020, 7:58pm

>58 torontoc: Oh neat, definite click for me. Thanks!

60torontoc
maaliskuu 31, 2020, 10:51pm

27. Savage Feast Three Generations, Two Continents and a Dinner Table A Memoir with Recipes by Boris Fishman. This is a memoir and a history of the author's family in Minsk and subsequent immigration to the United States. It is also an accounting of the favoured food of three generations of the author's family. There are many recipes as well. I must admit that I was not interested in making any of them- there is a lot fo work involved. This is a story of the author's feelings toward his family, their habits and his growing understanding of how his upbringing colours his own life. The reader follows the author through his unsuccessful relationships and how he comes to know himself.It is also a tribute to his grandfather when he understands what he has gone through in his life. I did like the book.

61torontoc
huhtikuu 4, 2020, 4:27pm

28. English Music by Peter Ackroyd One thing about isolation- I unearthed this novel that has been on my book tower for a long time. And I really enjoyed the read. The main character, Timothy, has been working with his father as a sort of mind reader/healer. The reader first meets Timothy when he is twelve years old in England of the 1920's. He has not been to school and has been taught by his father. The main characteristic of Timothy's education is the history of England. In fact this boy seems susceptible to dreams so that every other chapter in the story has Timothy dreaming or in a trance.The subjects of the dreams are the uniqueness of English music, visual art and literature. Timothy seems to interact with a number of famous authors and artists. His own story is one of wandering from the security of his grandparents's house in the country to the vagabond life of his father in London. The story is very poetic. However the reader really needs to have some knowledge of English music, visual art and literature to really appreciate the dreams, I think. A good read

62kidzdoc
huhtikuu 6, 2020, 4:15am

>60 torontoc: Dang. Based on the subtitle I was hoping for good recipes. That's disappointing.

63torontoc
huhtikuu 8, 2020, 10:39am

> Darryl- you may want to get this book out of the library( when it opens again- I assume that all public institutions are closed that way that they are in Toronto) and see for your self- I saw a lot of ingredients that I don't use and a lot of work!.

64torontoc
huhtikuu 9, 2020, 9:15am

29. The Bug Girl by Sophia Spencer and Margaret McNamara It is not often ( or ever) that a memoir is written (with some help) by a young girl in the fourth grade. Sophia Spencer has always been interested in bugs. She studied them and in kindergarten shared her enthusiasm with her fellow students. However when Sophia was in the first grade, children mocked her interest and were cruel to her. Seeing that her daughter was so unhappy, Sophia's mother wrote an email to a group of entomologists. (scientists who study insects) She asked for someone to be her daughter's " bug pal" and show Sophia that it was not weird to enjoy the study of bugs. The response was overwhelming. One scientist asked that Sophia's letter be posted online. There were so many replies. Sophia and her mother were interviewed on television. Sophia helped to write an article about how to get young people interested in the study of insects. The book is beautifully illustrated by the team of Kerascoet At the end of the story there is a section on insect study. Children who feel that their interests are different and who feel that no one is like them will enjoy this book.

65torontoc
huhtikuu 9, 2020, 7:43pm

30. Canadian Haggadah Canadienne by Rabbi Adam Scheier and Richard Marceau. At this time of year families usually gather for the seder and Passover meal together. This is not happening this year as people are urged to stay home and only have a seder with the family that they live with. Many synagogues and individual have been very inventive and resourceful in creating "Zoom" seders and gathering and religious services. I took part in a Zoom seder- it was a good but not perfect substitution for the usual gathering. I took out all my Passover Haggadahs. (or service for the meal.) This one was published in 2015 and had some good resource material and archival photographs. Many Canadian Rabbis wrote commentary for the various sections of the service. This book is unique as it is written in English and French in addition to the Hebrew. I must admit that I did take out all my different copies of Haggadahs to look at over the next seven days. This is a practice that my late brother in New Jersey followed.

66rocketjk
Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 9, 2020, 9:38pm

>65 torontoc: Zoom seder for us, too, this evening. It was surprisingly reassuring. We are in California and "Zoomed" with my wife's brother and cousin and their families in New York. Hag sameach to you. All the best.

67torontoc
huhtikuu 9, 2020, 10:48pm

>66 rocketjk: Thank you! A lot of friends took part in "Zoom" or equivalent seders.

68torontoc
huhtikuu 10, 2020, 11:39am

>66 rocketjk: Hag sameach to you as well! in these trying times.

31. Little Book of Jewish Appetizers by Leah Koenig I am reading a very long book about the birth of Modernism. However in these times my repertoire of food to make is getting boring. So I picked up this very attractive and brief guide to tasty appetizers. To my dismay I don't have all the ingredients for many of the recipes- the one that I will be making next week ( a really interesting meatball recipe that has Moroccan and Jewish Spanish roots before the Inquisition) has a lot of stuff that I have . I will just have to add mint and Italian parsley to my online order if possible. The other recipes-dips and baked goods- I will have to try when I am able to go out and buy what I need.( Chopped Egg and Caramelized Onion Spread, Smoky Sweet Potato Hummus, Barley Stuffed mushrooms, Persian Zucchini and Herb Frittata) Alas, the recipes are all for big groups and use lots of eggs. I am being careful with eggs as they are sometimes hard to find now.The author Leah Koenig is a really good food writer- I have some of her other books and and made wonderful things from them.

69rocketjk
huhtikuu 10, 2020, 12:19pm

>68 torontoc: Whoa! Would love to see that meatball recipe.

70torontoc
huhtikuu 10, 2020, 1:06pm

Albondigas- from La Vara in Brooklyn (serves 8-10)
2lb or 910 grams ground beef
one and a quarter teaspoons Kosher Salt
one tablespoon ground cumin
one and a half teaspoon ground coriander
half teaspoon ground cinnamon
one quarter teaspoon smoked paprika
one quarter teaspoon cayenne pepper
two teaspoons harissa paste
one half cup chopped flat-leaf parsley ( called Italian parsley in Toronto)
one half cup finely chopped mint
one small onion grated
3 garlic cloves minced or pushed through a press
2 eggs lightly beaten
one half cup unseasoned panko breadcrumbs or matzo meal
one quarter cup pine nuts finely chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil.
Combine beef, salt, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, paprika, cayenne, harissa, parsley, mint onion, garlic, eggs, breadcrumbs and pine nuts in a large bowl -mix everything together
scoop out a heaping teaspoon of the mixture and roll into a ball-continue with the rest and set the balls on a baking sheet.
Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches of 7 or 8 add the meatballs and cook, turn over with tongs until cooked through and browned all over - 7-10 minutes
Add more oil if necessary to pan.
serve hot
Store leftovers covered in fridge for up to 3 days or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap in freezer for up to 3 months.
Reheat in oven or toaster oven at 350 F until warmed through- 10-15 minutes.

71rocketjk
huhtikuu 10, 2020, 1:28pm

>70 torontoc: Got it. Thanks!

72sallypursell
Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 10, 2020, 3:36pm

>65 torontoc: I am not Jewish, although I have always found things about Judaism surprisingly comforting. Just as a coincidence, I just read a book called People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks that was about the conservatorship of a 15th century Haggadah that had come to light in a Muslim Library in Sarajevo. I understand that it was based on an historical event. This book gave the plural as Haggadot. Since I am fascinated in linguistics, and yet have studied no semitic languages I found this particularly intriguing. I know it is tri-consonantal, but not more.

73rocketjk
Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 10, 2020, 4:07pm

>72 sallypursell: "Haggadot"

Haggadah is a Hebrew word. Like Spanish, Hebrew verbs are feminine and masculine. The "dot" suffix is the plural for feminine nouns. It's pronounced "dote" with a long O. For masculine nouns, the suffix is "eem" (generally spelled "im" in transliteration.")

74sallypursell
huhtikuu 10, 2020, 6:14pm

>73 rocketjk: Oh, thank you. Now I know more than I did. I have been thinking of studying some Arabic--since it is one of the most-spoken languages in the world--but it is quite a bit larger undertaking for me in these times than when I studied Russian and when I studied Chinese. Could I just ask where the vocal stress lies? And then I won't bother you with my further questions.

75torontoc
huhtikuu 10, 2020, 7:06pm

>74 sallypursell: hmm- I have heard a stress on the"ga" and also on both "ga" and then "dot"-( long o)

76rocketjk
huhtikuu 11, 2020, 1:05am

>74 sallypursell: & >75 torontoc: In my Hebrew school, and since, I've always heard the word, both singular and plural, pronounced with the accent on the final syllable.

77sallypursell
huhtikuu 11, 2020, 7:36pm

Oh, thank you both! Now I have something of an idea.

78torontoc
huhtikuu 12, 2020, 2:19pm

I hope that people will watch this on youtube!

https://www.saturdaynightseder.com

79torontoc
huhtikuu 12, 2020, 6:42pm

32. The First Moderns by William R. Everdell I have had this book on my book tower for a few years. My late brother gave to me because of the chapters on Picasso, Kandinsky and Georges Seurat. I read the whole book and marvelled at the scope of knowledge of the author. I know that he is a historian who has taught at a private high school in New York. I also found that each chapter had exact details about the inventors, musicians, scientists and artists who were selected to represent the growth of new discoveries of modernism at the beginning of the 20th century. The first chapters shows that Vienna represented the end of the 19th century in thought and culture. The ascent of Paris as the centre of 20th century culture is detailed in later chapters. The discoveries in mathematics, and physics are explained as eloquently as those in the visual arts and music and literature. Some of the work on visual arts I knew. But the way the authors synthesizes the many changes in science and art is really amazing.

80torontoc
huhtikuu 15, 2020, 1:55pm

33. Smoke by Dan Vyleta i think that I have read all of Dan Vyleta's novels. When I heard that he had written a sequel to Smoke I decided that I had to reread the book in order to go to the new. I am glad that I did. This book has momentum. The plot lines owe a lot to Charles Dickens but the author's dystopian view shows the reader a new and altered world. The opening chapters take place in a boys' school in England sometime in the late 1880's. The class lines of English society are based on wealth and the ability to control one's Smoke. Smoke will pour out of the bodies of those who are wicked or evil in their thoughts and deeds. London is an evil and dying city populated with those who always have Smoke. The wealthy boys learn how to control any Smoke that they have. Two of them , Thomas and Charlie, are invited for the Christmas holidays to the estate of a Baron who is the uncle of Thomas. What the two boys discover is the mysterious Lady of the house, her mad husband, the daughter Livia and the arrival of the evil step brother Julius. Charlie, Thomas and Livia embark on an adventure to thwart a dangerous plot. There is much killing and maiming but the story is an engrossing one and I enjoyed the read. I am ready to take on the next book-Soot.

81RidgewayGirl
huhtikuu 15, 2020, 2:46pm

>80 torontoc: I really enjoyed another of Vyleta's novels (The Crooked Maid) and have picked up a copy of Smoke. Thanks for reminding me of that.

82lisapeet
huhtikuu 15, 2020, 4:43pm

>80 torontoc: I really enjoyed that one, though I thought it fell apart at the end and got all talky. Still, a fun read. I'd be interested to hear what you think about the sequel.

83torontoc
huhtikuu 19, 2020, 7:26pm

>82 lisapeet: Still working on Soot

34. Beaufort by Ron Leshem This is a novel that I had started to read over a year ago and just got back to it now. The story is told by an Israeli soldier Erez, a squadron leader who is stationed with his men in the post of Beaufort in the south of Lebanon. The narration is about war- the horror and brutality of the life and death. At times the narration by Erez shows how screwed up he is by the situation and how his friends and fellow soldiers deal with the uncertainty of their time in Beaufort. The narration is like a stream of consciousness. The futility of this particular war between Israel and Lebanon is a major theme in this story. Although this is a fictional account the author talks in a section at the end of the book about the real people who he interviewed and how he incorporated some of their stories into the book. The author worked with film maker Joseph Cedar and co-directed a film version of this book. I saw it and it was very powerful.

84rocketjk
huhtikuu 20, 2020, 12:03pm

>83 torontoc: Wow, that looks like a good book. Does the movie version have the same title?

85torontoc
huhtikuu 21, 2020, 8:36pm

>84 rocketjk: Yes- and the film is very good

86torontoc
huhtikuu 26, 2020, 2:03pm

35. Soot by Dan Vyleta ( no touchstones today) This dystopian novel is a sequel to the author's work of a few years ago ,Smoke. I reread the first in order to remind myself about the characters and plot. In the new story, the reader follows a number of new characters as well as some of the old. The unleashing of " new" smoke on England by Lydia, Thomas and Charlie has had serious repercussions. Ten or twelve years after this event, England has split into two sections. The South is ruled by former school master Renfrew who searches for his niece Eleanor. Mowgli or Nil-the boy brought from South America to be the fuse that unleashed the Smoke- is living in New York City as a pickpocket. Balthazar Black runs a circus that travels to England and America. Lydia and Charlie are living in a new utopia called Minetowns in the North of England. Thomas is on a mission to find out about a mysterious substance that was found in Nepal. Eventually most of the people end up in England either trying to prevent a cataclysmic event or to inaugurate one. There is drama, tragedy, and eventually hope after terrible events. I found the story perhaps a timely read but now.. I have to reread Pride and Prejudice!

87torontoc
toukokuu 1, 2020, 1:51pm

36. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Well, this is my comfort read. ( and all round get out of the book blahs read) I felt the need to reread about the problems of introductions, class, manners, and not saying what you feel because of polite rules of society. Again, this book does the trick- I feel better and am ready to tackle more books! Thank you Lizzy, Jane and Jane A!

88torontoc
toukokuu 3, 2020, 8:21pm

37. Second Person Singular by Sayed Kashua. This is a story about identity. The author is an Israeli Arab writer and his novel follows two men. One not named, is a successful Israeli Arab lawyer living with his wife in Jerusalem. This man stops in a book store and picks up a used book with the name 'Yonatan" inscribed it along with a scrap of paper with a section of a supposed love letter in the handwriting of the lawyer's wife. Immediately the lawyer suspects his wife of infidelity and his story follows his attempts to catch his wife in a series of lies. The second story is more interesting. Amir is also an Israeli Arab who has trained to be a social worker. His background is more murky with a supposedly disgraced father and mother who lives in a village protected by another family. Amir takes on a night job helping to take care of young man named Yonatan who is severely disabled and barely alive. Amir learns about Yonatan's life and eventually takes on the life that Yonatan should have had. He becomes a photography student using Yonatan's old camera. The connections between the two stories becomes clearer as the reader progresses through the novel. The idea of identity- both modern and traditional- is an important theme as Kashua looks at how the two men live between two different cultural worlds.

89kidzdoc
toukokuu 4, 2020, 12:18am

Nice review of Second Person Singular, Cyrel. I own two of Kashua's books, Dancing Arabs and Let It Be Morning, but my LT library says that I haven't read either one, which I don't think is right.

90RidgewayGirl
toukokuu 4, 2020, 10:51am

>88 torontoc: I really enjoyed this novel, both for the picture it drew of life in Israel and for the wonderful writing.

91torontoc
toukokuu 7, 2020, 1:34pm

38. Village of Secrets Defying the Nazis in Vichy France by Caroline Moorehead I really like this author's attention to detail and research. Moorehead examines the work of the inhabitants of the village of Le Chambon-sur- Lignon and other surrounding villages during the Second World War. There was a very large group that managed to save the lives of Jewish children and adults. Moorehead interviewed many of the survivors and their saviours. The book is a detailed history of who helped and what they accomplished during the rule of Vichy France. This book is important as there were documentaries and books that gave credit to a select few-Moorehead describes the work of the many who had crucial roles in that terrible time.

92torontoc
toukokuu 18, 2020, 12:12pm

39. Natasha's Dance A Cultural History of Russia by Orlando Figes. I enjoy reading this author's take on Russian history. This account descries the many themes that make up the cultural history of Russia. The differences between the culture developed in St. Petersburg and Moscow, the myths and realities of Asian or " Barbarian" influence on peasant living, the influence of European music and literature, the beginning of dance as a serious art form and the political ramifications of nineteenth revolts and the Soviet control of life-all are described clearly. I found the design of the history in this book to be very clear and helpful in the descriptions of the pull of Russian landscape and life-real and imagined -on the lives and work of Russian artists and writers.

93sallypursell
toukokuu 19, 2020, 2:34am

>92 torontoc: When I studied Russian in college, that necessarily included some Russian culture exposure, and some cultural history. I conceived a serious fear of gathering mushrooms, but this book sounds really interesting. Thanks for telling us about this.

94torontoc
toukokuu 25, 2020, 8:29pm

>93 sallypursell: you are welcome- I have read other books by this author and do like his approach.

40. To End All Wars A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918 by Adam Hochschild I find that I am most satisfied reading non-fiction these days although I have started two really good novels. This history fills in the gaps for me in the story of World War 1. I have read Margaret Macmillan's Paris 1919 and the novels of Pat Barker among other works) and saw the film "Oh, What a Lovely War" but this book was eye-opening. Hochschild concentrates on the work and views conscientious objectors and opponents of the war, the attitudes of the generals directing the army of Great Britain, and one interesting brother and sister-who both have extremely different views. He describes the work and changes in views of the suffragette Pankhurst family( sister Sylvia was opposed by her mother Emmeline and sister Christobel). General Haig was responsible for the orders in battle that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of soldiers. The old fashioned views that radio signals were unreliable and that calvary should have a decisive role in battle were some of the views that led to tragedy for thousands. The attitudes that led to unsuitable young men being placed into battle are described with the story of Rudyard Kipling's son John,(a 17 year old with very bad eyesight made a lieutenant) Conscientious objectors and their treatment along with sham trials are described. And there is the story of John French, an army leader and his sister Charlotte Despard- an important objector to the war. There are so many connections to the role of class structure in Great Britain and how the treatment of the many Commonwealth soldiers probably led to the dissolution of the British empire. This was a very good read!

95torontoc
kesäkuu 6, 2020, 1:34pm

41. The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates I have to say that this was a five star read. I thought that the language was wonderful and the story was engrossing( and so important in these times that we are living in) Hiram Walker is a young slave at a plantation in Virginia when the story begins. His mother was sold years ago and his father was the plantation owner. Hiram seems to be possessed of a power that he doesn't understand-it has to do with memory and the harnassing of power near water. The reader learns how Hiriam is noticed by his father, sent to work in the main house, educated and then ordered to be the servant for the heir, a reckless young man named Maynard. Tragic events with the owners and the problems with the farm( too much tobacco growth has weakened the soil in all the neighbouring plantations) lead Hiram to try to escape. Eventually he becomes part of the Underground that saves Blacks and transport them to the northern states. Hiram does make mistakes in judgement but learns who and what to trust. He works with the legendary Harriet Tubman. ( who is described in poetry as well as given her own magical powers)Hiram's own power of " conduction" shows that he is descended from legendary water dancers. The author describes the pain of separation of black families by the plantation owners and the determination of the Underground guerrilla movement to save and reunite families. This is a really excellent novel.

42. Antisemitism Here and Now by Deborah E. Lipstadt The author teaches at Emory University. She is probably best know as the person who was sued for libel in Britain by the Holocaust denier David Irving ( she won and was the subject of a film)This book is a measured look at the definition of antisemitism. The book is set up as a series of letters to the author by a student and professor.The letter writers are fictional but they represent real people and the dilemmas that they faced . The author covered current events up to 2018-9 when the book was published. She looks at the fatwa given to Salman Rushdie and the commonalities of discrimination. An excellent source book.

43. Immigrant City Stories by David Bezmozgis This is a reread for my book club. It is very interesting to compare the stories in this volume with the ones from the author's first book Natasha and Other Stories. The stories are now about immigrants who have made Canada their home for a long time as opposed to those who have arrived recently from " Natasha".

96rocketjk
kesäkuu 6, 2020, 6:24pm

>95 torontoc: All very cool. I very much enjoyed Coates' Between the World and Me and Bezmogis' Natasha. Will look forward to these others by those authors. Or is it those others by these authors?

97torontoc
kesäkuu 14, 2020, 7:46pm

>96 rocketjk: I don't know- during the pandemic I have had a lot of chocolate so.. I don't know-either will do!

44. The Second World War by Antony Beevor I certainly am focusing on very long books- ( over 800 pages but well worth the read. ) The author very carefully relates the actions of both the Allies- Britain, the United States and Russia- and the German and Japanese forces as they conquer and battle from 1939-1945. Beevor does make judgements about bad decisions by leaders and generals on all sides. He traces all the battles and the very high number of deaths by battle, bombing and capture. It seems shocking to read about the very high number of soldier deaths. My late father was an officer in the Canadian army during World War Two, serving in France, Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany. He never wanted to talk about what happened. After reading this history I can understand why.

98torontoc
kesäkuu 23, 2020, 11:57am

45. The Race to Save the RomanovsThe Truth Behind the Secret Plans to Rescue the Russian Imperial Family by Helen Rappaport I find that I am attracted to non- fiction lately. This book traces the many plans and plots ( all unsuccessful and not very well planned) to take the Imperial family out of Russia right after the revolution. If a reader has not read about the 1917 Russian Revolution or the history of the deaths of the Royal Family-this is not the book to start with. The author looks at the actions or non-action of most of the European royalty. They jungled the impulse to help the deposed Tsar -as he and his family were related to almost all of the various kings and queens- with the political problems of the time. King George V is England initially wanted to provide sanctuary but was persuaded by his advisors that this was a bad idea. England and Germany were in the midst of the world war and there were considerations to be made about angering the Russian governments of the time. In fact the only time that it might be possible to have the family leave Russian was right after Nicholas abdicated. In fact the family did not know the trouble that they were in and wanted to remain in Russia initially. The savagery of the killings of the royal family members who were imprisoned in Russia was not something that anyone considered would happen. This was an interesting study as the author discovered new information from various archives.

99RidgewayGirl
kesäkuu 23, 2020, 1:06pm

>95 torontoc: I liked The Water Dancer, too. I was especially fascinated by Coates' portrayal of the Southern plantation owner who worked for the Underground Railroad. She was so complex and contradictory.

100torontoc
kesäkuu 26, 2020, 11:46am

>99 RidgewayGirl: yes she was interesting!

46. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens This has been a very popular book on the most purchased book lists but I think that I have to disagree. The last half of the book did move quickly and was interesting. The plot was, in a lot of ways, stereotypic. The abandoned girl living and surviving on her own in the swamp lands, the love of two boys and the quiet revenge when wronged seemed to me to be somewhat cliched. I thought of a much older book that I read -A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter published in 1909! ( my copy was published in 1990 and I found it at a church sale in cottage country). I liked that one better. However one of my book club members recommended it and I think that the majority of members will love it. Sigh..... on to the next book

101ELiz_M
kesäkuu 26, 2020, 2:01pm

>100 torontoc: I agree. I thought it was a Disney-fied version of Good Will Hunting

102AnnieMod
kesäkuu 26, 2020, 7:44pm

>100 torontoc: This is why I stay away from "popular" books unless someone around here mentions it with a good review. I am not sure if it is just that a lot of people read only popular and new books (so they have nothing to compare to) or that they read so little that they just do not recognize the plot but the more popular the book is, the less I want to read it usually.

103RidgewayGirl
kesäkuu 27, 2020, 8:27am

>100 torontoc: Just the title alone sets my teeth on edge! I'm steadfast in my determination to never read that book! That said, I gave it to a friend of mine who doesn't read a lot and she loved it so much. And it's fun to run into someone else who loved A Girl of the Limberlost. I read that several times as a child.

104lisapeet
kesäkuu 27, 2020, 4:38pm

>100 torontoc: Yeah, I'm pretty sure I'll never read that one. It has a certain audience, I think... but that audience is not me.

105torontoc
kesäkuu 27, 2020, 5:40pm

>101 ELiz_M:, >102 AnnieMod:, >103 RidgewayGirl:, >104 lisapeet:
Yes, I think that I need a new book club -the members are nice but we don't share the same taste in books.

106torontoc
kesäkuu 28, 2020, 10:57am

47. Galileo's Daughter A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love by Dava Sobel I really enjoyed this account of the lives of Galileio, his daughter, Suor Maria Celeste and Galileo's family and contemporaries. The author explains the theories of his work and the books that Galileo wrote as well as documenting his struggles with the very powerful Roman Catholic Church. The book includes some of the letters that Suor Maria Celeste wrote from her home in the convent. Her relationship with her father was so important - she was his champion. She sent her father remedies for his many ailments and sometimes food. Her needs at the convent were met as well by Galileo's support. The author details Galileo's examination by the inquisition and the support of his many friends and patrons. I enjoyed reading this account!

107torontoc
kesäkuu 29, 2020, 9:53am

48. Turbulent Souls A Catholic Son's Return to His Jewish Roots by Stephen J. Dubner This is a very interesting memoir. The author grew up on an isolated farm with his very observant Catholic parents and was one of eight brothers and sisters. His father died when he was ten. There was no mention of any extended family. Later, the author learns that both parents were born Jewish but individually converted to Catholicism. Dubner learns about the history of his parent's families later in his life. He also decides to explore his Jewish roots and eventually makes the decision to practice the Jewish religion. This memoir explores how he found out about his Jewish past and his challenging relationship with his mother. Dubner looks for the story of why his father embraced the Catholic religion and learns to accept that he will really never know the true story. I found this memoir to be really interesting.

108rocketjk
kesäkuu 29, 2020, 10:57am

>107 torontoc: That story reminds me more than a little of the excellent The Color of Water by James McBride, which is among the most fascinating memoirs I've ever read.

109torontoc
kesäkuu 29, 2020, 11:27am

>108 rocketjk: yes, I agree!

110torontoc
heinäkuu 2, 2020, 2:11pm

49. My Dear Ones One Family and the Holocaust A Story of Enduring Hope and Love by Jonathan Wittenberg I have always liked memoirs. This one I received from one of the LT members- she was deaquisitioning some of her book collection ( jessibud2). The author writes about the lives of his very large family. Wittenberg is a Rabbi in London, England. He really didn't know much about the lives of his father's family -most died in the Holocaust. Two brothers escaped to the United States and Palestine before the war started.He discovered a collection of letters from his father's relatives when he visited a cousin in New York. With the help of family, Wittenberg constructed the family tree of his father beginning with his great great grand father-Rabbi Israel Meir Freimann. The family lived in Germany and were considered leaders of the Jewish community. By reading the letters of his great grandmother, Regina and his aunt Sophie, the author reconstruct their lives and the futile efforts that were made to leave Europe. Sophie and her husband lived in a town that was part of Czechoslovakia and later Bohemia/Moravia. Regina joined her daughter and Wittenberg was able to trace their eventual journey to Auschwitz. I must admit that I needed the family tree that the author included to track the various threads of the narrative. The letters themselves were very touching and dignified, and they focused on love and affection for the family.

111torontoc
heinäkuu 5, 2020, 11:29am

50. The Splendid and the Vile A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson This is a very well written history about the first year of Winston Churchill's time as Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1940-41. This book is more than a political retelling of the actions of the government. It is also a social history of the Churchill family and the lives of his aides, his daughter Mary and some of the American emissaries. The story recounts the history of the bombing of the cities in England by the Nazis. The reader learns about Churchill's habits and his view of running the government during this time of crisis. I really enjoyed this books and the information about the lives of those who surrounded Churchill as friends, colleagues and family.

112torontoc
heinäkuu 6, 2020, 9:14pm

51. The Witness House Nazis and Holocaust Survivors Sharing a Villa During the Nuremberg Trials- by Christiane Kohl and translated by Anthea Bell Actually the title is not exactly true- the main occupants of the guest house were German Nazis who were waiting to be interrogated as witnesses. The author tries to make a dramatic story about this guest house. It was established in Nuremberg just after the war by the Americans to house various Germans who were to testify at the trials. The author interviewed the woman-Countess Ingeborg Kalnoky- who ran the establishment as well as some of the American lawyers and interpreters. The children of the some of those who stayed at the guest house were also interviewed. I thought that the stories of the guests and their relationship to the German Nazi government was interesting. Most of the guests were trying to minimize their previous work during the war. I felt that the story seemed incomplete-what was written was good but there was something missing...perhaps a sense of responsibility for the carnage and destruction of so many people and countries.

113AnnieMod
heinäkuu 6, 2020, 10:02pm

>111 torontoc: I had been eyeing Erik Larson for awhile - he always sounded to me like a lighter version of David McCullough. :)

>112 torontoc: Responsibility from whom though? From the sound of it, none of the people that were interviewed were the ones who actually need to have that sense... I don't like this kind of books much - they feel almost like capitalization on a tragedy - yes, the stories need to be told but there should have been a story first. And unless I am misreading what you are saying, this may have worked a lot better as a long article (or a series of them) than as a book...

114torontoc
heinäkuu 7, 2020, 10:17am

>113 AnnieMod: You are right- I hadn't thought of a long article but that would work!

115torontoc
Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 12, 2020, 11:11pm

52. The House of Twenty Thousand Books by Sasha AbramskyThis biography/memoir is a letter of love by the author for his grandfather. Chimen Abramsky had a remarkable career- collector of memorabilia and books relating to Marx, Lenin and Communism and later literature, bookseller in London, expert in Jewish books for major auction houses, professor of Jewish Studies and more. Chimen and his wife Miri presided over a salon of visitors who were important thinkers and writers on Communism and later on Jewish studies and history. Chimen's background is also notable -his father was one of the chief Rabbis of England after being imprisoned by the Soviets in the Gulag. The author uses the various rooms of his grandfather's house to describe his life and collections. There are numerous explanations of the philosophy of the writers who came to the house (Hillway) to debate and eat. This was a lovely tribute to Chimen Abramsky.

53. A Moorland Hanging by Michael Jecks This medieval murder mystery of the fourteenth century was an interesting read- with betrayals, feuds, lies and of course the two main characters solve the murders. Former Knight Templar Sir Baldwin Furnshill and Bailiff Simon Puttock puzzle over the clues and deduce who has done the killing.

116lisapeet
heinäkuu 12, 2020, 8:22pm

>115 torontoc: I really loved the Abramsky. I read it just after I had to pack up my mom's house and library, and it got me thinking a lot about that kind of legacy, what people do and don't tell you that their books reveal down the line.

117torontoc
heinäkuu 12, 2020, 11:12pm

>116 lisapeet: oh.. I know that I have some books that belonged to my mother and father-I can't give them away.

118torontoc
heinäkuu 23, 2020, 6:47pm

54. Appetite for Life The Biography of Julia Child by Noel Riley Fitch This is a case of too much information. I know that the author had permission to use all of Julia Child's papers( diaries, letters.) However this 500 page volume seems to let details take over the story of Julia Child's life. The best part is the section where the reader learns about Child's work with the OSS during World War Two in India and China and her meeting with Paul Child. The story of their romance is lovely. The section on Julia Child's education as an extraordinary cook and her meeting with Simone Beck is also really interesting. The amount of research Child put into her books and TV shows is minutely documented. Julia and Paul Child had a wonderful relationship-that is made quite clear in this work. Personally I think that the story could have been told clearly with less detail on the people who helped Julia Child with her work.

119torontoc
heinäkuu 26, 2020, 8:33pm

55. A Cool and Lonely Courage The Untold Story of Sister Spies in Occupied France by susan Ottaway I must admit that the stories of these two sisters is amazing. Both Jacqueline and Eileen (Didi) Nearne were recruited by the British Special Operations during the Second World War. Although they were both English, their family and lived in France for many years. At the start of the war both sisters travelled to England and were recruited to be trained as spies and they were sent separately to France to act as a courier and wireless operator respectively. Didi was captured and sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp but she escaped at the end of the war. The author found out about the actions of Eileen Nearne and reconstructed her story as it was not known by the British public. I thought that the writing style was perhaps not to my taste but I did appreciate the author's research and publication about the activities of these two brave women.

120torontoc
heinäkuu 27, 2020, 2:40pm

56. Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson I really enjoyed reading this novel. Jared is a 16 year high school student living with his mother and her boyfriend in British Columbia. Jared's life is complicated. He earns money by making weed cookies and does go on drug benders with his friends. He also helps his estranged father with rent money and helps his elderly neighbours. His mother is neglectful although she did nail gun the feet of her former abusive boyfriend to the floor when he attacked Jared. Jared contends with his mother and her dislikes and frequent absences from his life. There is a love/hate relationship as Jared deals with the discovery that he is the son of a trickster and a witch. He fights off man-eating otters, talking crows and animal ghosts. All through the story the reader learns about Jared's Indigenous heritage and the gifts and curses the he has to deal with.This is really good story and apparently there is a sequel that I am going to find and read!

121torontoc
heinäkuu 31, 2020, 12:05pm

57. Heading South, Looking NorthA Bilingual Journey by Ariel Dorfman This is a very intense memoir by the author. He explores his feelings of changing identity, and displacement. Born in Argentina, Dorfman's father moved the family to New York City where he had a job with the United Nations. At that point the very young Vladimiro ( his parents were ardent communists) decides not to speak any more Spanish and grew up speaking and identifying with American culture. However, during the McCarthy era, the Dorfman family was told to leave the US and they went to live and work in Chile. The pre-teen author had to learn how to integrate into a Spanish culture and society. The pull of writing in English or Spanish, the rejection of North American culture and politics and eventually identifying with the work of Salvador Allende, led Ariel Dorfman ( now using his middle name) to participate in the politics of Chile. The memoir ends with Dorfman leaving Chile after the fall of Allende. He always acknowledges his status as a middle class writer who has connections due to family and influential friends. The memoir show the reader the tensions as the author wrestles with his work, culture and language.

122torontoc
elokuu 4, 2020, 11:06pm

58. The Ward The Life and Loss of Toronto's First Immigrant Neighbourhood by John Lorinc Ellen Scheinberg Tatum Taylor Michael McClelland This is reread of a really good history- there are many histories by a lot of authors. I reread this for my bookclub and a research project.

59. The Woman Before Wallis by Bryn Turnbull This is a great summer read. The author looks at the story of the Duke of Windsor's mistress before Wallis Simpson in this very easy to read historical fiction novel. Thelma Furness was married to a Duke before she became the mistress of the Duke of Windsor. In addition this is the story of her twin sister, Gloria who was involved in an infamous court case for the custody of her daughter " Little Gloria Vanderbilt". I enjoyed the story.

123torontoc
elokuu 6, 2020, 8:31pm

60. The Order by Daniel Silva More summer reading- The author publishes a new chapter about spymaster Gabriel Allon every summer. This new book is all about electing a new pope, the murder of the previous pope, the discovery of a hidden Gospel and a plot to take over democratic governments. Always an engrossing read!

124torontoc
elokuu 10, 2020, 6:45pm

61. The Jewish Woman and Her Home by Hyman E. Goldin This is a book that I found doing some COVID cleaning. It was published in 1941 and it is really, really patronizing. The material is about creating a household with some information on the holidays. However the author assumes that the intended audience has no Jewish education. The prayers listed are very long and in English- and really I don't know what prayer book ( Reform, Reconstructionist Judaism) that they would fit. The tone is very serious and in some cases grim. The main leader of the Jewish family is assumed to be male. And .. there is no joy in the descriptions. As well some of the history is too fragmented.
Hmm- this is a real artifact- so much has changed not only in religious practice but in responsibility.

125sallypursell
elokuu 16, 2020, 5:09am

Hi, making a stop catching up with people. That last one was an interesting choice to read.

126torontoc
elokuu 18, 2020, 8:17am

>125 sallypursell: Thanks for dropping by-Yes- I have a number of books that belonged to my parents including the next one!

62. Plays The Circle, The Letter, The Constant Wife by W. Somerset Maugham Again I am reading a book that belonged to my mother- it was published sometime in the 1920's or 30's. These three plays written by Maugham are really dated. The view of women is so stereotypical- the vamp, the muse, the object of adoration, the betrayer- should I go on? As well, the characterizations of Blacks and Chinese in the play The Letter are terrible and I can see why these plays are not produced or read today. The play The Constant Wife was produced in 1926 with the actress Ethel Barrymore in the lead role and the play is dedicated to her. The role is a " star" one but again the attitudes are really dated. Interesting read.( I did like the author's book of short stories about spying.)

127torontoc
elokuu 20, 2020, 2:25pm

I just saw two great documentaries on
www.tvo.org
( the ontario educational tv channel)
one on rescue dogs and the other on singer Linda Ronstadt- I had missed that film when it was at the Hot Docs theatre.,

128sallypursell
elokuu 20, 2020, 5:45pm

>127 torontoc: Linda Ronstadt is a favorite of mine. Amazing how many famous people she knew or had liaisons with.

129torontoc
elokuu 20, 2020, 7:08pm

>128 sallypursell: it is a very good documentary!

130markon
elokuu 23, 2020, 3:22pm

I'm also a Ronstadt fan, and enjoyed the documentary.

131sallypursell
elokuu 24, 2020, 5:37pm

>129 torontoc: >130 markon: I'll look for it.

132torontoc
elokuu 26, 2020, 10:13am

63. The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom This is a memoir of the author's family and her attachment to the life in New Orleans East. Sarah Broom is part of a very large extended family. The Yellow house refers to the house that her mother bought. However the area was always the "poor relative " of New Orleans. During the terrible times of the storm Katrina, the Yellow House was badly damaged. The stories of the poor city planning and neglect of New Orleans East run through this narrative. The reader learns of the author's life and travels and the study of her family as well as th injustice inflicted on the poor, and Black residents of New Orleans.

133rocketjk
elokuu 26, 2020, 4:52pm

>132 torontoc: Looks like New Orleans is about to get hammered again, and New Orleans East is going to do be any safer this time around, I'm afraid.

134torontoc
elokuu 28, 2020, 7:54pm

>133 rocketjk: yes, and who says that there is no climate change!

Yes, there is a film festival happening-The Toronto International Film Festival is from Sept 10-19. however the films-only 50 instead of the usual 200 plus- will be shown at a drive-in, in one movie theatre -the Bell Light Box and digitally in the comfort of one's own home. I will see I hope 12 films at home. However the registering for films online has been very bad in past years-so I hope things have improved. I will review what I see.

135torontoc
syyskuu 2, 2020, 8:13am

64. Hamnet & Judith by Maggie O'Farrell ( Just a note -the title of this book is also " Hamnet" but the version I read was published in Canada) The author imagines the story of Shakespeare's family, beginning with the story of his wife "Agnes" -a young woman who follows in the footsteps of her late mother. Agnes is a healer, gatherer of herbs and beekeeper. Escaping a harsh step-mother, she marries a young man who is not satisfied with his life in Stratford. The story follows their marriage , birth of their children and later the effects of the plague on the family. Agnes encourages her husband to go to London where he finds his calling in the theatre. Their children, Susanna and twins Hamnet and Judith live with Agnes close to Shakespeare's parents. ( although his name is not used) Both twins come down with the plague and one dies. The effects of this death haunt Agnes and the reader eventually sees how the father handles this tragedy. This is a well-written novel with a very touching and effective ending.

136torontoc
syyskuu 5, 2020, 7:09pm

65. The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel. I have mixed feelings about this kind of literature. Recently there have been a number of novels published that use various themes from the Holocaust and World War Two. I usually don't read them although I have read some outstanding books about this same topic. I understand the contradiction. In fact this story focuses on forgery and the role that certain French villages played in saving Jews and particularly children. I have read the non-fiction books that are about these themes and two of the books that the author used as her inspiration. Both were excellent reads- the biography of Adolfo Kaminsky and the history by Caroline Moorehead. The author writes that readers have told her that they were not aware of the true stories behind her novels and now have an appreciation of the history. So.. the question- do we the readers have any right to dispparage the work of authors who turn this kind of history into romances? This story also has one of my pet peeves- heroes and heroines who make incredibly stupid choices that advance the plot. One of my friends who is a child of Holocaust survivors gets very angry when she hears about writers who use this history for new novels. And in Canada there has been a backlash about writers who use Indigenous histories ( that are not part of their heritage) for their fiction. There is the argument that good writing should win out in any discussion about who has the right to use a heritage that is not their own. But the opposing view is the writers of a specific heritage should be heard and perhaps they have not been heard. This book is not a good example of defending anyone's right to take any experience for their work. In fact I want to mention the Azrieli Foundation that publishes the memoirs of survivors. One of the memoirs published won "Canada Reads" last year.

137lisapeet
syyskuu 6, 2020, 7:38am

>136 torontoc: Good assessment. I haven't read the book and am not likely to, but my criticism would start with its packaging, which makes it look like a rom-com or at least a tale of wartime star-crossed lovers. There are so many other cover treatments they could have gone with but this one was probably safe in terms of pulling in the middle-aged white suburban book club crowd (no disrespect to anyone middle-aged suburban white people in book clubs here), so I'm disappointed just looking at it.

138torontoc
syyskuu 6, 2020, 10:33am

>137 lisapeet: sigh! Yes I agree with you about the cover- why did I buy and read it? I don't know- it topped the " Most bought book" here for a while and it was on sale at Indigo( the bookstore)Maybe a moment of "Covid" weakness?

139torontoc
syyskuu 10, 2020, 1:22pm

66. Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier The author writes about a part of the history of the Cherokee Nation. I didn't know about this history and I am glad to learn about it. The hero is also modelled after a specific man- I have to note down the histories that the author used as his inspiration. I did find the reading not easy although I did appreciate the language. Will is a young boy who is "bound" ( or indentured to another) by his aunt and uncle to a man who runs a trading post in the area of North Carolina where the Cherokee Nation lived. He meet two Indigenous men , Bear and Featherstone, who have a lasting impression on his life. He also meets and loves, Claire- a very enigmatic young girl whom he loves all his life. The novel follows Will from boyhood to old age. The reader learns a lot about the treatment of Indigenous people and how they were forced to go west. I am glad that I read the book but it was a tough read at times.

67. Sylvie by Sylvie Kantorovitz This ER graphic novel tells the story of a young girl and her family in France. The story relates the struggles of growing up with loving parents who argue and have issues in their own relationship. The reader sees Sylvie grow up and learn what she wants in life.
The illustrations are charming and an adolescent reader ( as well as adult) will appreciate both the story and the art. Besides the theme of growing up, the issue of being the only Jewish family in the town is touched upon but not explored in depth. We leave Sylvie as she leaves her family to go to teachers college in Paris. I hope that there will be a sequel.

140rocketjk
syyskuu 10, 2020, 2:09pm

>139 torontoc: I really enjoyed Thirteen Moons. In fact, I liked it better than Frazier's more famous novel, Cold Mountain. I've always wondered why Thirteen Moons got so little notice when it came out.

141torontoc
syyskuu 13, 2020, 9:03am

68. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand This is a remarkable book not only for the story of Louis Zamperini but the history of the planes and what airmen faced in the Pacific during World War Two. The author has written a biography of Zamperini -a man with a fascinating life story. Zamperini was a young man who was going towards a delinquent life until his brother encouraged him to take up running. Louis became so good that he was part of the US team that went to the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Afterwards he went to college and began training for the 1940 Olympics that were suppose to be held in Tokyo. The war interrupted his plans and Louis joined the Air Force and trained to handle the bomb sites on the bombers. Stationed in the Pacific, Louis took part in a number of dangerous missions. After one mission, his plane was damaged and sank in the Pacific. He survived along with two other members of the crew. They spent over 46 days on a raft. They were picked up by the Japanese and Louis was sent to a series of prison camps. The suffering and torture of the prisoners and especially Louis was pretty horrible. Hillenbrand not only tells the story of one man but also writes about the effects faced by American soldiers after they were rescued. Louis Zamperini was lucky- after a rocky start to life after the war and his bouts with alcoholism, he did find help. I enjoyed this account and learned about history that I was not familiar with.

142Nickelini
syyskuu 13, 2020, 7:36pm

>136 torontoc:
That's all very interesting!

143torontoc
syyskuu 17, 2020, 2:45pm

>142 Nickelini: Yes -there are many issues today about writing about someone else's culture!

69. The Overstory by Richard Powers I put this book down for a couple of months and took it up last week. The writing about trees and nature is so interesting. The overlapping stories of the characters are fascinating. The style of writing is dense ( in a good way) yet... I found that the narrative took a long time to reach the goal of the novel ( I think) and sometimes the writing was overwhelming. I can say that the book is very good but it was not my favourite. Maybe in this time of the pandemic, I need more simplicity and clarity in style and narration.

144torontoc
syyskuu 25, 2020, 6:43pm

70. Arch of Triumph by Erich Maria Remarque. I have been reading books that belonged to my late parents recently. This novel was published in 1945 and is set in Paris in 1939. It reads like a 1930's or 40's film with Humphrey Bogart or Clark Gable. The story is about a refugee doctor named Ravic. He was originally from Germany, and lives illegally in Paris. He does complex operations for doctors who are too old to work. Working and living under an alias, he tries to avoid notice by the authorities.Ravic has good friends who are in the same position that he is. He rescues another woman refugee named Joan. He fall in love with her but their relationship is tempestuous. So is the dialogue which is very dramatic. As France falls, Ravic is ready to be captured and sent to a concentration camp. The writing is dated but interesting!

Film Festival
I did see films from the Toronto International Film Festival but on my computer- I'll start to review them. The festival had about 60 films. In past years there were around 200 or more. I will start with films that were taken from books.

A Suitable Boy- BBC production in six episodes. I saw all six hours in one afternoon. This was a terrific series based on the book by Vikram Seth. I hadn't read the book ( over 1400 pages) but I will now. It was like an Indian " Pride and Prejudice" and wonderful. Great characters, beautiful sets and I loved it! See it if you can.

The Inconvenient Indian Canada directed by Michele Latimer and based on the book by Thomas King. The book related the history of Indigenous peoples in the US and Canada and was really good. I learned so much. The film was more
" impressionistic" in content. In fact the author was in the film seated in a taxi driven by a coyote in some scenes. There was also an unapologetic scene of a Innuit man hunting seal and giving the meat to a family. The film emphasized identity and reclaiming identity by indigenous peoples. I am glad that I read the book first- I liked the detailed historical background.

Trickster
Canada
Directed by Michele Latimer
I hadn't realized that I was going to see the first two episodes from the CBC series that will be shown on television in Oct.
It was well done.I had read the book that this series is based on- Son of A Trickster by Eden Robinson I really liked the book and this series is faithful to the characters and plot of the novel. The main character is a young man who lives with his out of control mother in a very small town in British Columbia. He tries to help his father and his issues and during the course of the series learns about his real origins and perhaps the magic that his family is part of. A really good series.

More later

145torontoc
lokakuu 1, 2020, 11:59am

71. The Art of Leaving by Ayelet Tsabari. This is a well written memoir that covers a lot of issues. The reader learns about the author's Yemenite background and family, her shock over the early death of her father, her continuous travel, and her feelings about discrimination against " Mizrachi" culture in the Israel of her childhood. * Mizrachi refers to those Jews who came from Middle Eastern and North Afrian countries. The Jews from European backgrounds who immigrated to Israel considered themselves to be the political and cultural leaders. Of course today the Mizrachi culture is so important in the food industry as well as controlling the political future of Israel. ( IMO). Tsabari moved around the world and really didn't work on her writing until she was in her thirties. Her family history is very interesting and certainly I gained an appreciation for her work. Tsabari seemed to understand her family dynamic as she grew older, gained success as a writer and established a stable relationship and life.

146Julie_in_the_Library
Muokkaaja: lokakuu 1, 2020, 12:36pm

>145 torontoc: That sounds really interesting. I might have to try it.

I definitely agree with you re Mizrachi influence on Israeli (and Jewish) food culture. I'm Ashkenazi and American, but I lived in Tel Aviv for six months, and even back here in the US, I don't know what I'd do without my hummus! (weigh less. The answer is that I'd weigh less.)

I don't know enough about Israeli politics to comment on the influence on Israel's political future, though.

Do you know if there's some crossover between Mizrachi culture and Sephardi culture? I ask because a lot of Sephardim and Sephardic culture are from North Africa as well, having ended up there after the expulsion from Spain in 1492.

Okay, now I'm hungry. But thanks for sharing!

147torontoc
lokakuu 1, 2020, 5:47pm

>146 Julie_in_the_Library: I think that I am not knowledgeable enough to discuss the difference between Sephardic culture and Mizrachi culture- I'll ask a friend and get back to this thread. I have read memoirs and cookbooks- there are a lot of differences depending on the country from Egypt, Syria, and Morocco to Yemen.

148rocketjk
Muokkaaja: lokakuu 2, 2020, 1:56am

>147 torontoc: I believe that Sephardic Jews are those who come from the communities of Jews who were expelled from Spain in 1492 and settled everywhere from North Africa to Hungary to Persia. They developed a language known as Ladino that was a combination of Spanish, Hebrew and the language of the country they'd settled in (roughly equivalent to Yiddish, the language of the Eastern European Jews). I believe that Ladino now mostly survives in the beautiful music the culture produced. You can buy a lot of extremely lovely CDs of Ladino songs. The Mizrachi are the communities of Jews who had remained in the Middle East since Biblical times. I'm pretty sure that Yeminite Jews would belong to this group.

A quick trip to Wikipedia confirmed that, but I still wouldn't bet a month's pay on those definitions being entirely correct.

149torontoc
lokakuu 2, 2020, 8:29pm

>148 rocketjk:- thank you- sounds right!

150torontoc
lokakuu 5, 2020, 11:54am

72. The Fair Fight by Anna Freeman This is a really engrossing novel. The chapters are narrated by several of the characters in the fictional account set in eighteenth century England. The reader is introduced to characters from the very poor to the very rich. Ruth Webber is a daughter of a brothel owner and she becomes a fighter. Lady Charlotte Sinclair has been scarred badly by smallpox. She forced by her brother to marry a man-Granville Dryer- who is very cruel to her. George Bowden originally wanted to marry Charlotte but we find out has some ulterior motives. The characters do meet as Ruth's husband is taken on by Granville to train and challenge a prominent boxer. Ruth and Charlotte meet in unlikely circumstances and eventually teach other how to stand up for their rights. This is an excellent account of life for women both rich and poor in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Thank you to Cariola for reading this first!

151torontoc
lokakuu 8, 2020, 11:56am

73. The Flight Portfolio by Julie Orringer. I have mixed feelings about this novel. Orringer writes about Varian Fry and how he saved over 2000 artists by arranging visas for them to travel to the US in the early days of World War Two. Bankrolled by a group of wealthy Americans, the Emergency Rescue Committee worked out of Marseille and relied on the help of a sympathetic official-Harry Bingham- at the American consulate. There were visas to obtain, artists to convince to leave and the increasing threat of the Vichy government. The story is true and some of the characters were larger than life in reality and in this fictional tale. The description of life in 1940 France is very detailed and give the reader a good sense of the gruelling work done by Fry and his staff to save lives. So what is my issue? Orringer adds a fictional lover to Varian Fry's life. In fact the story of the two lovers is a strong theme in this story. Was Varian Fry gay? His family denies it but other sources say that Fry was indeed attracted to men. The story of the love affair seems to take over the book. There is also a plot twist that involves the lover and his friends. I liked the story of the times but find myself eager to read a non-fiction account of Fry's work. My next book is a re-read of Villa Air-Bel:World War 11, Escape and a House in Marseille by Rosemary Sullivan. There is also a good review of Orringer's book by Cynthia Ozick.

152markon
Muokkaaja: lokakuu 9, 2020, 2:52pm

>151 torontoc: I enjoyed Orrigner's The invisible bridge, which was also largely set in France during World War II, told from the perspective of a Hungarian-Jewish student. I don't like it when romance takes over a perfectly good story. Hope you can find an engaging nonfiction book on Fry.

153torontoc
lokakuu 10, 2020, 12:19pm

> 152- I actually have - it is a reread but very satisfying! -Villa Air-Bel

154torontoc
lokakuu 11, 2020, 11:31am

74. Villa Air-Bel by Rosemary Sullivan. I am so glad that I reread this account of Varian Fry's work in saving the lives of over 2000 people and helping them escape from France in the early years of World War Two. This history does begin with detailed accounts of the situation in France before Germany conquers the country. The reader learns about the lives of Andre Breton and Victor Serge and their dilemmas. The heiress Mary Jayne Gold, adventuress Miriam Davenport, and Dunkerque survivor Danny Benedite and his wife Theo are introduced before the reader meets Varian Fry and the American emergency Rescue Committee. The lives of artists waiting for a complex series of visas and documents both legal and illegal are described as they live in the Villa Air-Bel. The events that seems to be the stuff of fiction. I must admit that after reading the fictional novel about these people I prefer this history- it is really good.

155torontoc
lokakuu 15, 2020, 7:37am

75. Island of Hope, Island of Tears by David M. Brownstone Irene M. Franck and Douglass Brownstone This book is a collection of interviews by Americans who immigrated to the United States at the turn of the twentieth century. The authors do relate the general history of how the travel took place and what these people experienced on the ships and on Ellis Island when they arrived. The interviews are edited by theme so that the reader will only learn about the life of a specific person after reading all the chapters. It is an interesting book and a little dated. ( having been written in 1970.) When comes through is the perseverance and tenacity of those people who made the journey.

156torontoc
lokakuu 25, 2020, 10:05am

76. How To Read the Bible A Guide to Scripture Then and Now by James L. Kugel I have been reading this 700 page book on and off for about three months. I found if very interesting as the author looks at the varying interpretations of the Old Testament. He writes about the studies in language to determine authorship and placement, and archeological finds in the Near East. Kugel writes about the possible reasons why certain stories were included in the various books. There were certainly many authors of the Hebrew Bible and Kugel explores many of the theories that explain the discrepancies in various sections. This was a very thoughtful and sometimes provocative volume.

157torontoc
lokakuu 26, 2020, 4:57pm

77. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett This is a reread for my book club. It is still a great read. The prose, plot and characters led me to read the book in a day and a half- I couldn't put it down.

158torontoc
marraskuu 4, 2020, 7:45am

78. Dancing at the Pity Party a dead mom graphic memoir by Tyler Feder This graphic novel was loaned to me by a friend. The author gives an account of growing up, her mother's diagnosis of cancer, her death and the funeral that follows. The story is a tribute to her family and especially to her mother. I felt a certain identification with the author's feelings about how people talked to her at the funeral and shiva and her account of what to do and not do when comforting a mourner. Despite the subject matter, this book is a very worthwhile read and well written and illustrated by the author. Tyler Feder's mother died when Tyler was in college and a number of years later she completed this work. This was a very worthwhile read for me.

159torontoc
marraskuu 7, 2020, 5:50pm

79. The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna This is the second novel that I have read by
Aminatta Forna. The plot follows the lives of three main characters who are living and working in Sierra Leone just after a civil war. Each person has secrets that have shaped their lives. The reader moves seamlessly back and forth in time as we try to uncover the puzzle of damaged lives. Elias Cole has lived through the terrible times- and recalls his love for Saffia and his friendship with her husband Julius. Years later, Adrian is a therapist who tries to help the broken souls in the mental hospital. Searching for more meaning in his life, Adrian has relocated from England to Sierra Leone. Kai is a surgeon who is trying to move to the United States. Each one has secrets that show betrayal. The many layers of the plot and personalities are complex and yet-the prose reads so well.I highly recommend any book by Forna.

160torontoc
marraskuu 12, 2020, 3:25pm

80. Here The Dark by David Bergen This book of short stories was on the shortlist for the Giller Prize. I thought that the stories were expertly written. Most of the subjects were men working through difficult situations.Many of the men were caught in a life not of their own choosing. The last story or novella describes the life of a young woman who rebels against the Mennonite community that she lives in. Some of the stories show heartbreaking situations. This could have been the winner of the prize- it is that good.

161Yells
marraskuu 12, 2020, 5:34pm

>160 torontoc: I'm halfway through and it is fantastic. I haven't read any of the other nominees, so I can't compare, but it definitely deserved a place on the list.

162Nickelini
marraskuu 12, 2020, 6:27pm

>160 torontoc:
Oh, I'll keep an eye out for that one. I think the nominated books all sounded pretty good this year.

163torontoc
marraskuu 13, 2020, 10:28am

>161 Yells: >162 Nickelini: Yes , I bought all five shortlisted books- Ben McNally bookstore had a deal!

164lisapeet
marraskuu 13, 2020, 1:29pm

>160 torontoc: My library has it, so I'll definitely be checking it out. Thanks for the rec!

165torontoc
marraskuu 14, 2020, 3:23pm

You are welcome!

81. The Nature of Things Essays of a Tapestry Weaver by Tommye McClure Scanlin This memoir was sent to me via the LT Early Reviewer programme. The author takes the reader through her development as an artist and educator. There are wonderful photos of her art work ( watercolours, drawings and tapestries) and her inspiration in nature. The area of the Appalachian Mountains provides a steady flow of flowers, trees and landscapes that figure in her tapestries. During the present pandemic, this book seems to reduce stress as I look through the beautiful photos of nature and the artist's work. McClure Scanlin also provides a guide to tapestry technique, definitions and resources.

166torontoc
marraskuu 16, 2020, 8:03pm

82. How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa This book of short stories won the 2020 Giller Prize. The stories are brief and are for the most part very unsentimental. The situations of the immigrants to Canada are really unglamorous. Parents look to make a living with menial jobs. Children navigate through schools and learn lessons of survival. The writing is precise and worthy of the award. ( although I did like Here The Dark as a possible winner )

167torontoc
marraskuu 19, 2020, 7:36pm

83. Polar Vortex by Shani Mootoo This is one of the Giller Prize shortlist books. Priya is an artist living with her wife Alex in a small Ontario town. She receives a message from an old friend, Prakash, and impulsively invites him to visit. The reader learns of their history together and the separate paths that their lives took. Alex is not happy about this visit as she believes that Priya and Prakash had a sexual relationship. Actually we learn about the changes that Priya made in her life to accommodate Alex. Priya also seems to have lapses in memory about her past. I thought that the first part of the story was somewhat repetitive but found the last part really interesting with the revelations about Priya and Prakash's past lives. I think that the two books of short stories that I read earlier were better suited to win the Giller.

168torontoc
marraskuu 27, 2020, 12:18pm

84. Old In Art School A Memoir of Starting Over by Nell Painter. This is a reread for my book club meeting next week. I must admit that it was better on the second read. ( and I did love it the first time as well) Painter covered so many issues- the absence of women artists, Black women artists and Black men artists, ageism in the Art World and art schools and more. Her description of having a " twentieth century mind" as opposed to a " 21st Century outlook in art school was an eye opener. I loved her descriptions and photos of her own work as she tackled art school criticisms.

169lisapeet
marraskuu 27, 2020, 1:38pm

>168 torontoc: there were a lot of layers to that book, even as it was also straightforward. I really enjoyed spending some time in her head.

170torontoc
Muokkaaja: marraskuu 28, 2020, 6:51pm

>169 lisapeet: Yes- I agree!

85. The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel This novel was on the shortlist for the Giller Prize and I thought that it was terrific!. There are several narrators carrying the story in this novel. It is a story about an elaborate Ponzi scheme and it's founder Jonathan Alkaitis. However the reader first follows Vincent, a bar-tender at the Hotel Caiette on an island in British Columbia. Vincent has a troubled history- her mother disappeared when she went for a canoe ride. Vincent was placed with her aunt but left and lived with friends. She eventually got a job as a bartender at the Hotel where she meets Jonathan after a distressing incident . The story moves back and forth in time. Vincent is soon living in luxury with Jonathan in New York as he works at his investment firm. Mandel calls this life "the World of Money". As Jonathan's firm is investigated by the FBI and collapses, the reader meets the people who knew what was happening, those who got caught up and lost everything, Vincent's long lost brother Paul and others whose lives change drastically. The story moves back and forth in time. This is a well written novel that I think was a very strong contender for Giller Award.

171Nickelini
marraskuu 28, 2020, 3:17pm

>170 torontoc:
The more I hear about that one, the more interested I get. I never got through Station Eleven but this sounds good.

172kidzdoc
marraskuu 29, 2020, 6:34am

Nice review of The Glass Hotel, Cyrel; it does sound interesting.

173torontoc
joulukuu 5, 2020, 11:40am

>172 kidzdoc: It is a good read!

86. Field Notes From An Unintentional Birder by Julia Zarankin This book is a lovely memoir about the author's life and how it relates to her interest and development as a birder. I know that author as a great lecturer( having taken some courses with her in past years). The book takes the reader through Zarankin's background and how she learns about her own life as she begins and pursues her new hobby. However, learning about how to see birds becomes a bit of an obsession. I now appreciate how the listing and counting of species by dedicated volunteers helps scientific research. This is a good read for our times! Highly recommended!

174torontoc
joulukuu 9, 2020, 12:32pm

87. Indians On Vacation by Thomas King Thomas King is a noted Indigenous author of both fiction and non-fiction. This novel seems light-hearted in the depiction of a couple who are vacationing in Prague. Bird and Mimi are getting older and have had good careers in Canada. They have travelled to Europe before. Besides being tourists , they are also looking for any evidence of Bird's Uncle Leroy who disappeared about a hundred years ago after he joined a travelling Indian show that toured in Europe. Leroy sent post cards back to Canada. He also took the family medicine bundle with him. The reader learns about Bird's Greek mother and Indigenous father. Bird has a number of health issues and as readers, we eavesdrop on the issues that Bird and Mimi have as a couple, and with their family's past. This has been a very good read for me.

175Nickelini
Muokkaaja: joulukuu 10, 2020, 1:45am

>174 torontoc:

Well, that sounds unusual and fun. I'm hit or miss with King, but this one sounds like he hits on the things I like about him. Have your read much by him?

176torontoc
joulukuu 10, 2020, 9:19am

>175 Nickelini: Yes, I read The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America and saw the documentary on the same topic at the film festival in the fall ( at home on my computer). I also used to listen to " The Dead Dog Cafe" on CBC.

177torontoc
joulukuu 14, 2020, 8:43am

88. The Grammarians by Cathleen Schine Laurel and Daphne are two identical twins.From a very early age, they have had a fascination with words, meanings and usage. The reader follows their lives as they grow up and take different paths in career and relationships. The characters in this novel are all affecting( I am not sure ironically which word to use) in a good way. I was very touched by this story and the manner of the telling by the author.

178dchaikin
joulukuu 15, 2020, 1:52pm

Are you reading the whole Giller short list?

I just had a deep and rewarding catch up. Unfortunately I’m just getting here after missing you most of the year. So much WWII (Varian Fry sounds fascinating). And I saw you read Kugel! Not an easy read. Anyway, just waving hello. I’m happy i was able to read over your year of posts.

179torontoc
Muokkaaja: joulukuu 16, 2020, 11:33am

>178 dchaikin: Thank you! I am reading the whole Giller short list-. One of my favourite bookstores-Ben McNally- offered a deal -buy all five books and get 20% off and they shipped them( i day delivery and they all were autographed!
Now reading the last of the Giller Shortlist-Ridgerunner

180dchaikin
Muokkaaja: joulukuu 16, 2020, 1:31pm

>179 torontoc: what a nice thing!

(Thinking out loud, I don’t think that can’t work in the US as there is no single prominent “American” book award. Pulitzer, National Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Award etc all kind of compete and, arguably, they all seem to lack some necessary prestige.)

181torontoc
joulukuu 23, 2020, 9:52am

89. The Women's Torah Commentary New Insights from Women Rabbis on the 54 Weekly Torah Portions edited by Rabbi Elyse Goldstein I have had this book for a number of years but used it as a reference book. I decide to read through the whole book this year. The book was published in 2000. A lot has changed since then. Women Rabbis are accepted more readily. The interpretations of text were very interesting and each portion was written by a different author. Looking for feminist takes on some of the writings was a challenge. But I appreciate the work to make religion inclusive.
touchstones are not working this morning

182torontoc
joulukuu 25, 2020, 2:14pm

90. Becoming Duchess Goldblatt by Anonymous This is such an inspiring and funny ( and a little bittersweet) memoir. The author who is anonymous has had terrible experiences in her life. Her husband asked for a divorce, her friends seem to ally with her husband, she will have to move out of her home and she is losing her job.And she shares custody of a beloved 4 year old son with her ex. On a whim she sets out to create a new personality on twitter with the help of a friend. She takes the name " Duchess Goldblatt"-the duchess part comes from a friend's dog. Duchess Goldblatt is a 81 year writer living in Crooked Path, New York. Her daughter , Hacienda is in prison in Mexico. The Duchess has written two books-"Grind: Feasting on the Carcasses of My Enemies, a Love Story" and "Not if I Kill You First". On Twitter she makes many friends, gives out really good advice and creates a new persona. Throughout the book the reader sees how the real person learns to appreciate her strengths. I found this a good book to read in these times!

183torontoc
joulukuu 27, 2020, 9:17am

91. The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish. This 560 page ( gasp) historical fiction novel certainly had a lot of themes to consider. There are two linked stories. In the 1660's in London, a young woman-Ester Velasquez is a scribe for a blind rabbi. She has come from Amsterdam with her brother and the Rabbi after the death of her parents. In 2000, an ailing scholar, Helen Watt has come across manuscripts that need identification and translating. The stories describe the effect of the plague on London, the needs of Ester for knowledge and debate with Spinoza and other learned intellectuals of the time, many deceptions, failed relationships, scholarly fights, the debate regarding Sabbatai Zevi followers, and finally a possible link to Shakespeare's Dark Lady.( although not really part of the main stories)

184torontoc
joulukuu 28, 2020, 11:09am

92. Northern Lights A Canadian Jewish History This book was published by one of the main sources of Canadian Jewish news that in turn shut down in April. The Canadian Jewish News did publish columns by a variety of writers but it was seen as the " establishment" paper. The print edition did become obsolete and paper was not sustainable. This book theoretically tells the story of Canadian Jewish history through the lens of the "CJN". There are many gaps in the telling. There are some interesting parts and good photos. But this is not a complete history of Jews in Canada or Ontario. Interestingly enough the CJN will come back in the coming months but online.

185torontoc
joulukuu 30, 2020, 3:12pm

I just attended a webinar where the actress Janet Suzman spoke/lectured about Shakepeare's women- focusing on Cleopatra. Wow- what a great talk!
The webinar is part of a series presented by a foundation in England-" Lockdown University"