Mabith's 2020 Reading

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Mabith's 2020 Reading

1mabith
tammikuu 1, 2020, 6:56pm



Hello again, book friends. Last year was a really tough one for me so I didn't get to keep up with threads as much as I'd like to. Hoping that changes this year.

My main goal is to read books by authors from 60 different countries (I've met my goal of 50 for that for a few years running).

Last year I read a little too much and started feeling burnt out. This year I'm hoping to give a lot of focus to my Mandarin studies (spoken only). I returned to my unhealthy reading as work-replacement lifestyle, and I need to chill out a bit now.

I do reviews for all my reads here.

2mabith
Muokkaaja: syyskuu 9, 2020, 7:09pm

2020 Reads

Cromwell, Our Chief of Men by Antonia Fraser
It's OK That You're Not OK by Megan Devine
The Future of Humanity by Michio Kaku
The Adventures of Alexander Von Humboldt – Andrea Wulf, Lillian Melcher
Summerland – Hannu Rajaniemi

Babylon – Paul Kriwaczek
Krik? Krak! - Edwidge Danticat
In the Dream House – Carmen Maria Machado
The Dark Mirror – Juliet Marillier *
Strange as This Weather Has Been – Ann Pancake

Not Your Villain – CB Lee
Tulipomania - Mike Dash
Stamped From the Beginning - Ibram X Kendi
Under the Glacier – Halldor Laxness
Mauve – Simon Garfield

Waiting for Tomorrow – Nathacha Appanah
Death in the Haymarket – James Green
The Prodigal: A Poem – Derek Walcott
High School – Tegan and Sara Quin
Evil and the Mask – Fuminori Nakamura

The Girl on the Boat – PG Wodehouse
The Great Pretender – Susannah Cahalan
Good Talk – Mira Jacob
Girls Burn Brighter – Shobha Rao
Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking – Anya von Bremzen

Hinges Vol 1 – Meredith McClaren
The Collected Works of Gretchen Oyster – Cary Fagan
The Heart of Buddha's Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh
There There – Tommy Orange
Innocence – Hedy Kovaly

Silver, Sword, and Stone – Marie Arana
Hinges Vol 2 – Meredith McClaren
Cheaper By the Dozen – Frank B. Gilbreth, Ernestine Gilbreth Carey
Disfigured – Amanda Leduc
A Bookshop in Berlin – Francoise Frenkel

Saudade – Suneeta Peres da Costa
The Letter for the King – Tonke Dragt
Company – Max Barry
Better – Atul Gawande
Flower Net – Lisa See

Hinges Book 3 – Meredith McClaren
In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts – Gabor Mate
Bosnia in Limbo – Borja Lasheras
Behemoth: A History of the Factory – Joshua B. Freeman
La Bastarda – Trifonia Melibea Obono

The Lady's Handbook for her Mysterious Illness – Sarah Ramey
Everything is Beautiful, and I'm not Afraid – Yao Xiao
Tharntype – Mame
Romola – George Eliot
The Girl from H.O.P.P.E.R.S. – Jaime Hernandez

Free Thinker – Kimberly A. Hamlin
Utopia for Realists – Rutger Bregman
Dear Fang, With Love – Rufi Thorpe
Deathless Divide – Justina Ireland
Last Witnesses – Svetlana Alexievich

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead – Olga Tokarczuk
You're in Love With an Idiot – Shui Qian Cheng
The Art of Resistance – Justus Rosenberg
Spilt Milk – Chico Buarque
The Art of Resistance – Justus Rosenberg

Spilt Milk – Chico Buarque
Archangel – Sharon Shinn
Gender Failure – Ivan Coyote and Rae Spoon
Freddy Goes to Florida – Walter R. Brooks
The Whisperers – Orlando Figes

How to Change – Mame
Springtime in Chernobyl – Emmanuel Lepage
Wolf Hall – Hillary Mantel
Squirrel Girl Vol 4 – Ryan North, Erica Henderson
Years of Intoxication – Shui Qian Cheng

The Mosquito – Timothy Winegard
America's First Female Serial Killer - Mary Kay McBrayer
Jovah's Angel – Sharon Shinn
Fever Dream – Samanta Schweblin

Gender Queer – Maia Kobabe
2 Moons – Chiffon Cake
The Big Six – Arthur Ransome
Pet – Akwaeke Emezi
The Edge of Anarchy – Jack Kelly

Uncle Scrooge Vol 22 – Carl Barks
Heartstopper Vol 1 – Alice Oseman
Heartstopper Vol 2 – Alice Oseman
Heartstopper Vol 3 – Alice Oseman
No Longer at Ease – Chinua Achebe

Good Behavior – Donald E. Westlake *
Venus in Copper – Lindsey Davis *
Women, Race, and Class – Angela Davis
In the Country – Mia Alvar
True Star Vol 1 – Wan Mie Zhi Shang

True Star Vol 2 – Wan Mie Zhi Shang
True Star Vol 3 – Wan Mie Zhi Shang
True Star Vol 4 – Wan Mie Zhi Shang
Our Women on the Ground – Zahra Hankir
How We Fight For Our Lives – Saeed Jones

One Smile is Very Alluring – Gu Man
The Harp of Kings – Juliet Marillier
My Accidental Love is You – Mame
Travel and Tourism in Ancient Egypt – Mohammed Z. Ahmed
Winner Takes All – Shui Qian Cheng

The Story of Chicago May – Nuala O'Faolain
Calling Dr. Laura – Nicole Georges
The Regional Office is Under Attack! - Manuel Gonzales
Counterattack – Chai Jidan
Stony the Road – Henry Louis Gates

Female General and Eldest Princess – Qing Jun Mo Xiao
The Good Luck Girls – Charlotte Nicole Davis
Lady Killers – Tori Telfer
Beloved Enemy – Shui Qian Cheng
Advance Bravely – Chai Jidan

Delayed Rays of a Star – Amanda Lee Koe
Revolution at Point Zero – Silvia Federici
Exile – Annika Hernroth-Rothstein
Professional Body Double – Shui Qian Cheng
The Rebirth of Chen An – Wan Mie Zhi Shang

Brazil: A Biography – Lilia M. Schwarcz
The Third Nero – Lindsey Davis
I Am a Chef in the Modern Era – Taozi Su

3mabith
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 2, 2020, 11:07am

These are some of my favorite reads from 2019.

Non-Fiction:
Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx – Sonia Manzano
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants – Robin Wall Kimmerer
No Good Men Among the Living: America, The Taliban, and the War Through Afghan Eyes – Anand Gopal
Heavy: An American Memoir – Kiese Laymon
Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation From Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson – Jennifer Michael Hecht
Born Criminal: Matilda Joslyn Gage, Radical Suffragist – Angelica Shirley Carpenter
There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra – Chinua Achebe
How Democracies Die – Steven Levitsky
Shooting Stars: Ten Historical Miniatures – Stefan Zweig
Almost There: A Memoir – Nuala O'Faolain
Grief Works: Stories of Life, Death, and Surviving – Julia Samuel
Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland – Patrick Radden Keefe
Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years: Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times – Elizabeth Wayland Barber
To the End of June: The Intimate Life of American Foster Care – Cris Beam
Ordinary Girls: A Memoir – Jaquira Diaz
Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister: Three Women at the Heart of Twentieth-Century China – Jung Chang
What You Have Heard is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance – Carolyn Forche

Fiction:
Guapa – Saleem Haddad
Woman on the Edge of Time – Marge Piercy
The Winthrop Woman – Anya Seton
The Salt Roads – Nalo Hopkinson
Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard – Kiran Desai
Daniel Deronda – George Eliot
My Sister, The Serial Killer – Oyinkan Braithwaite
The Wolf and the Watchman – Niklas Natt Och Dag
The Gilda Stories – Jewelle Gomez
Bastard Out of Carolina – Dorothy Allison
An Unnecessary Woman – Rabih Alameddine
Spring Flowers, Spring Frost – Ismail Kadare
The Cost of Sugar – Cynthia McLeoid
Out of Darkness, Shining Light – Petina Gappah
Down Among the Sticks and Bones – Seanan McGuire

Comics:
Portugal – Cyril Pedrosa (graphic novel)
Complete Wimmen's Comix - by Various (mixed fiction and non-fiction)
This Land Is My Land: A Graphic History of Big Dreams, Micronations, and Other Self-Made States - Andy Warner and Sofie Louise Dam (non-fiction)
Commute: An Illustrated Memoir of Female Shame – Erin Williams (non-fiction)

4valkyrdeath
tammikuu 2, 2020, 5:55pm

Hope you have another year of great books with a less stressful goal for it!

5AlisonY
tammikuu 3, 2020, 4:02am

Look forward to your reading this year. Love the picture!

6ELiz_M
tammikuu 3, 2020, 7:54am

Hmmm, both you and valkyrdeath mention Guapa in your lists, I'll have to move it higher up the TBR.

7dchaikin
tammikuu 5, 2020, 2:04am

Wishing you a better year and enjoyable non-stressful reading. And looking forward to following.

8mabith
tammikuu 11, 2020, 6:38pm

Thanks folks!

>6 ELiz_M: We both read it for our online book club. It was one of those reads which wasn't quite what I expected somehow, in a good way.

9mabith
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 13, 2020, 1:35am


Cromwell, Our Chief of Men by Antonia Fraser

I started this at the very end December, since I knew I wouldn't finish it (I had reached an evenly divisible by 52 book total and I am That Person who values such things). It's a long old read, about 1000 pages in some printings.

Fraser is partly on a redeeming mission here, feeling that Cromwell hadn't really gotten a fair shake, which isn't surprising given choosing sides in the aftermath and then potentially wanting royal favor. I'm an American so didn't have to go through learning about him in school (that I recall).

It was an interesting read and not too dry (admittedly I have a high bar for that). Unless you're devoted to reading about this period it's probably a little much for the casual reader.

The main effect of this read is that I really want to re-read Rebels and Traitors by Lindsey Davis, her brilliant epic novel of the English Civil War.

10mabith
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 25, 2020, 11:36pm


It's OK That You're Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn't Understand by Megan Devine

Devine had counseled many people dealing with loss, and then she lost her husband in a freak drowning accident and saw the issue from the inside out.

I lost my mom in 2017, pretty suddenly (about a month and a half between cancer diagnosis and her death), and this is an incredibly helpful book. It doesn't try to fix anything, it largely makes one feel deeply heard and understood which is what grieving people NEED. Grief isn't a problem that can be fixed, after all.

Highly recommend for anyone grieving or trying to support someone in their grief.

11mabith
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 13, 2020, 1:36am


The Future of Humanity: Terraforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality, and Our Destiny Beyond Earth by Michio Kaku

There's something interesting stuff in this book, though it feels like it was written/compiled over five years or so.

The thing that let me down was Kaku seeming a bit in love with billionaires and their sort-of efforts in regards to space travel, with no critiques of said efforts or motives at all. Just rubbed me the wrong way all through the book. Your mileage may vary.

12dchaikin
tammikuu 11, 2020, 7:12pm

Cromwell is still basically an unknown to me as well. I wish our American schools would cover at least the basic English history, since it did only affected everyone on the planet and Cromwell and all around his story certainly had an impact the British rebels over here.

Enjoy your commentary, especially what bothered you in >11 mabith:

13sallypursell
tammikuu 12, 2020, 11:02am

>9 mabith: I have to admit that I have never really understood the English Civil War, and that novel about it sounds good. On the list! I'm getting cavalier about this list--it is getting hugely long.

14mabith
tammikuu 13, 2020, 1:38am

>12 dchaikin: Yes, most of what I knew was that Ireland had a grudge with him and general "Puritans hate fun" stuff. An English friend of mine says the view seems to have gone from "he was great" to "he was terrible" and the truth, as usual, lies in between.

>13 sallypursell: I was a little more familiar with the earlier civil war involve King Stephen and Queen Maud/Matilda, thanks to the Cadfael mystery series! Rebels and Traitors really is an amazing book. And after having reading the Cromwell bio, I feel like it's not a bad introduction to the period.

15sallypursell
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 13, 2020, 3:25am

>14 mabith: I've read some of the Cadfael mysteries, but not for a while, and never with a view to the background politics. Time to re-read, I think.

I still get confused over the War of the Roses.

16AlisonY
tammikuu 13, 2020, 3:45am

>10 mabith: I've noted the book on grief. A friend of mine is still finding her grief difficult to navigate through a year after her father's death, so I'm going to pass on this title to her.

17mabith
tammikuu 13, 2020, 11:21am

>15 sallypursell: Too many wars to keep track of!

>16 AlisonY: For what it's worth, I, and everyone I know, have found the second and third years much harder than the first. That first year everything is still so surreal, and the depth of the loss hasn't really sunk in. Grief Works by Julia Samuel is also extremely good.

18kidzdoc
tammikuu 13, 2020, 3:03pm

Nice review of It's OK That You're Not OK, Meredith. I'll add it to my wish list, and probably buy it soon, not for me (yet), but to recommend to others, especially families who have lost a child.

19avaland
tammikuu 13, 2020, 9:10pm

Will be stopping by from time to time to see what you are reading!

20rachbxl
tammikuu 14, 2020, 2:52am

I love that photo! That’s how I’m going to picture you from now on when I read your reviews :-)

21mabith
tammikuu 15, 2020, 5:04pm

>18 kidzdoc: I think anyone would find it a helpful book. Grief Works by Julia Samuel is a softer book in some ways, and has sections focusing solely on loss of a child, loss of a parent, etc... (in case those details are of use).

>19 avaland: Thanks!

>20 rachbxl: Ha, good! That's a picture of Appalachia that I'm happy with. Reading outside your log cabin would be a great stereotype to replace some of the more annoying ones...

22mabith
tammikuu 15, 2020, 5:11pm


The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt by Andrea Wulf and Lillian Melcher

After adoring Wulf's book on Humboldt, The Invention of Nature, I was rather disappointed in this graphic work focusing on his travels in the Americas.

It's very large format, but I wasn't enamored of the art. I think the art is meant to mimic a sketching style of Humboldt's but I'm not sure. It just felt too rough and juvenile, though some bits in a different style were very good.

I also felt like this downplayed Humboldt's progressive views and sexuality (which was delved into in Wulf's main Humboldt book).

23mabith
tammikuu 15, 2020, 5:22pm


Summerland by Hannu Rajaniemi

How could I resist a book where the description starts like this: "In 1938, death is no longer feared but exploited. Since the discovery of the afterlife, the British Empire has extended its reach into Summerland, a metropolis for the recently deceased."

It's a spy novel, which isn't really favorite. I greatly enjoyed the concept, though felt the history of it could have been fleshed out a bit more (you're not really given details on how this place was discovered until almost halfway through the novel). Loved the concept though, and liked the narrator all right. I would probably read another set in this world but I don't think it's worth raving about.

24mabith
tammikuu 15, 2020, 5:26pm


Babylon: Mesopotamia and the Birth of Civilization by Paul Kriwaczek

A taster book about Mesopotamia. It maybe flits around too much for people who've read a lot on the subject, but that's not me. I enjoyed it.

25mabith
tammikuu 15, 2020, 5:52pm


Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat

A book of short stories, all with enjoyable language but hit or miss. I think this would be a much more enjoyable read picked up here and there, reading one story at a time. I ended up reading it all in one go.

My least favorite Danticat, but not at all bad (she's just set a high bar).

26mabith
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 25, 2020, 11:35pm


In the Dream House: A Memoir by Carmen Machado

This memoir focuses on Machado's relationship with an abusive girlfriend and how unprepared she was for abuse to show up in a same sex relationship.

The writing is so beautiful and descriptive, and the short chapters with titles like "The Dream House as Picaresque" and "The Dream House as Perpetual Motion Machine" did make me feel like I was in a surreal nightmare at times.

Well worth reading, and a reminder that some of the most common types of abuse often/never mark the skin.

27mabith
tammikuu 21, 2020, 5:04pm


The Dark Mirror by Juliet Marillier RE-READ

Comfort re-read. This is historical fantasy set in Pictish Scotland around an actual person (but one we don't really not much about in a concrete 'this is definitely true' sense).

Bridei is sent by his parents an age four or five to be raised by a druid with a program of extensive scholarship. The boy does well, but is lonely and unhappy. One winter night the moon wakes Bridei, and leaves a baby who is part fey on the doorstep. The book follows their paths to adulthood, separations, the struggle between the old faith and Christian practices trying to edge them out, and the election of a new king. I'm not describing it perfectly, but these are some basics.

What I always love about Marillier's books is how quickly I get attached to her characters. I think this is absolutely one of her best books.

28mabith
tammikuu 21, 2020, 5:17pm


Strange as This Weather has Been by Ann Pancake

I suggested this book for my book club, so of course only two of us liked it. The other one who liked it had knee surgery so she didn't quite finish. The other members had issues with the change of character focus. I thought it was completely easy to follow (it's largely just a mom and her three kids, with two other characters having a chapter later on).

This is one of those books that's incredibly tied to a sense of place and describing it. It's set in southern West Virginia, in the heart of mountaintop removal/strip mining country. Lace comes home from college for a visit during her first semester, deeply homesick, and falls for a boy still in high school. She gets pregnant and her chapters proceed in chronological order, while her children's start about 15 years later.

The community is struggling with jobs and the environmental impact of MTR, with fears of hidden catchment or slurry ponds that could burst at any time. Memories of the Buffalo Creek disaster of 1972 fueling some of the worry. This slagheap disaster is, I believe, still the second most deadly known (after the Aberfan disaster in Wales in 1966). Lace becomes active in the protesting of the mines and her daughter is particularly fixated on finding out what's behind the pile of fill dirt on the hill above their house.

I loved this. The writing is beautiful, and it says a lot of important things about issues still deeply relevant for southern WV (and very similar to what's facing the rest of the state from fracking now). Highly recommend it.

I particularly liked this quote:
"And what they tell me, these things I finally let myself trust, is what we’re doing to this land is not only murder. It is suicide."

29mabith
tammikuu 21, 2020, 5:23pm


Not Your Villain by C.B. Lee

Now for something completely different. This is the second book in a YA fantasy trilogy (or maybe series). I read the first in December and really enjoyed it.

In this world an environmental disaster has mutated people just enough that there are people with super powers. Some are heroes, some are villains, but how many of these interactions are what they seem and what's just a distraction from rationing and government decisions.

This one starts slowly because our focus character has changed. We learn a bit about some things he did without telling his friends in the first book but then it has to recap quite a lot that we already know and I don't think it was done all that skillfully. This character also just makes a lot of silly mistakes. I guess that's realistic for teenagers, but given the events of the first book, it's really frustrating. I'm not totally convinced Lee knew what would happen next when she finished the first book.

I'll still read the last book, this was still reasonably fun (and if you have an LGBT pre-teen/teen reader in your life these books bring the representation hard, part of why I loved the first book), but definitely not as good as the first.

30dchaikin
tammikuu 24, 2020, 9:42pm

Just waving hello, enjoying your reviews. Interesting about WVa mining, and about Machado, but really they're all interesting. Seems like a good reading, even if your book club might not entirely agree.

31sallypursell
tammikuu 25, 2020, 11:06pm

Mabith, your reading is inspiring, and your reviews are great! So enjoying reading your thread.

32mabith
tammikuu 26, 2020, 4:06pm

>30 dchaikin: It's always interesting with a book club where the clarity of a book format is baffling to one person and completely clear for another. Certainly if you feel lost reading you're not likely to enjoy it (neither of those two got very far in the book).

>31 sallypursell: Thanks, Sally!

33mabith
tammikuu 26, 2020, 4:10pm


Tulipomania: The Story of the World's Most Coveted Flower and the Extraordinary Passions it Aroused by Mike Dash

This has been on my to-read list for a while. I tended to like these very focused histories, though I'm wondering if I've lost the taste for them now. It was reasonably interesting, but not particularly fascinating and I wasn't able to feel any of the excitement coming through the text. I actually considered putting it aside, but it's not a very long book so stuck with it.

34dchaikin
tammikuu 26, 2020, 4:31pm

You comments have me thinking about how there was a time when I like these microhistories better myself, when I found them exciting. Now, they have trouble catching my attention. I find I have little patience with any setting-the-scene kind of stuff, or other predictable kind of aspects to them. I've definitely changed, but I don't know why, exactly.

35sallypursell
tammikuu 26, 2020, 4:47pm

>33 mabith: If this is the book I remember, then I read this not long after it came out. I don't remember how I learned of it. My daughter loves this story, not this book precisely, and frequently alludes to it, particularly when any conversation about "value" comes up.

36mabith
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 26, 2020, 4:50pm

Dan, some authors just aren't great at managing the bigger picture with the smaller focus either. Or potentially some subjects just aren't that interesting, I guess, or don't allow for the scope. Cod, Salt, Coal, Rain etc allow for trips all over the world. I do find that more and more I want my history books long, wide, and detailed.

Does always feels a bit odd with a genre suddenly misfires.

>35 sallypursell: Yes, the basic facts are definitely interesting. It does feel like one of the most unusual crazes.

37mabith
tammikuu 26, 2020, 4:50pm


Pimsleur's Mandarin Chinese Volume I

I'm not actually counting this as a book read, but want to record my progress here to encourage myself to keep doing these audio courses. The first audio course I did was from Mango Languages, and I really loved how they did it. They included a little more grammatical information as well, which I found helpful. Unfortunately they only offer a basic course. Of the other audio courses that I had easy access to, only Pimsleur seemed to have Chinese people speaking the Mandarin parts, so I went with that.

They really don't go into grammar at all in this first section, and a few lessons in a row (each is 30 minutes, Volume I is about 12 hours) they seemed to think I needed to pick up dates. This also uses some different vocab and phrasing than both Mango and the Mandarin app I use on my phone, so I'm not sure what's more widespread. Given the variety of dialects of Mandarin (and the huge number of other languages) in China, it probably doesn't matter, but it piques my curiosity.

Hopefully Volume II goes into the grammar more, because I find it very interesting. I'm still loving learning it, and understanding a little more in the Mandarin language TV shows and movies I'm watching. My cat has finally adjusted to hearing it so much (she was really dismayed at first).

38mabith
Muokkaaja: helmikuu 9, 2020, 5:28pm


Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

This is a very important book, regardless of where you are on the Stuck to Woke scale. It's a hard read that gets harder as it goes along and we see how little we've progressed in combating both personal and institutional racism. Subtitle really says it all.

The really vital message is about the importance of anti-racist action, ala the Angela Davis quote, "In a racist society it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist."

I am curious about Kendi's non-use of the phrase 'respectability politics' and use of 'uplift-suasion' (persuasion via cultural assimilation basically), which I take to basically mean the same thing.

39sallypursell
tammikuu 26, 2020, 5:03pm

>37 mabith: I took a course in Mandarin I when I was 13. It was one of those free "gifted" things some students get to do when other students have the summer off. I loved it, but I remember that I was told the grammar wasn't very complicated. I suppose that was right to tell 13 year-olds. Some years ago I delivered a baby to a woman and her husband when only the three of us were in the labor triage unit. She asked her husband in Chinese if the baby was all right, and when I answered that he was just fine, hers and her huband's heads swiveled around as if the furniture had spoken. Not many people spoke Chinese then, except the huge numbers of Chinese people, of course. That was 40 years after I studied it, but some things stuck fast. I still catch words when I watch a movie, and the course was 54 years ago. I wonder how much the evolution of Chinese is evident in the length of time it has been. We learned to call people "Comrade", but we also learned the Mr., Mrs., Miss forms.

40mabith
tammikuu 26, 2020, 7:13pm

Sally, it would be so much fun to do a course with other people. The grammar definitely isn't complicated, but when they're suddenly adding two seemingly extraneous words to a phrase without telling you "use this to emphasize when, where, etc..." I think that's odd. I already knew about that aspect from the app I use, but still.

The Mango languages course talked a fair bit about those evolutions, which words/phrases were only used by older people or likely only older rural people, etc... I find all of that really interesting. I do love learning it too. No conjugations, just memorizing a ridiculous number of measure words. The flexibility of it is nice.

41sallypursell
tammikuu 26, 2020, 7:20pm

>In class we were told what the particles meant, quite explicitly. "This means you are speaking in the past." I can see how that would be confusing in an oral course when it just pops up.

42mabith
tammikuu 27, 2020, 12:50am

They did explain that article's function (though didn't get into the fact that it's not strictly denoting past tense but also the completion of an action and it's also used as a third kind of article). I'm definitely glad I found an app that doesn't require I learn characters and has a lot of great notes. You'd think there would be more understanding that a lot of learners just want the spoken language. I'm far enough in the app that the articles, measure words, and such shouldn't be confusing in the audio lessons. I do feel like it would be strange for people only using the audio.

43edwinbcn
tammikuu 27, 2020, 1:30am

When you are learning Chinese (Mandarin) you really don't need to worry about all dialects and other Chinese minority languages. Basically, all Chinese people under the age of 45 can speak standard putonghua beside their local dialects or other tongues and can switch between them seamlessly. So there's no use for dialects unless you want to do some eavesdropping on fellow passengers.

I wouldn't focus too much on the measure words, you can always substitute them by "ge" if you forget the right one.

For a beginner, I would definitely recommend you pay more attention to the correct pronunciation of vowels and consonants. It's quite easy to say Beijing, but many foreigners cannot correctly pronounce Guangzhou, and I am not talking about the tones. Just try whether you get the difference between "Zhang" (family name), "zang" (dirty) and Jiang (family name).

Learning Chinese is more challenging than some other languages, but very rewarding. However, getting the tones right is a must, and I advise you to try to learn characters (not just pinyin) at least after you finish your basic course.

44lisapeet
tammikuu 27, 2020, 9:32am

>28 mabith: Thanks for the review of Strange as this Weather Has Been. Ann Pancake has been on my list of to-read since I tangentially found her through reading The Stories of Breece D'J Pancake—I think they may be slightly related, but I found her through the name association. (It's a very southern surname, I think—you certainly don't see many folks named Pancake in the northeast.) Have you read Breece D'J? Talk about stories evocative of a place. He died young and I believe only has one other fiction collection published, but this was the strong one. I read it years ago and a few of the stories are still bouncing around in my head.

45rocketjk
tammikuu 27, 2020, 10:54am

Hey there! Just found your thread. I'll be following along henceforth.

46mabith
tammikuu 27, 2020, 12:56pm

>43 edwinbcn: It's not dialects so much as just most common usage and my brain wanting everything cut and dry (which obviously doesn't really exist in living languages, though there's still the 'acceptable word in one region is rude in another' thing). It's all moot, since I will likely never use this to talk to people, more curiosity if the Pimsleur is more dated or what. Memorizing vocabulary and getting the pronunciation right is definitely my focus. My app has a flashcard function so I initially go through looking at the card in pinyin and remember the English, then looking at the cards in English so I can test if I know the right tones. This is all just a personal hobby/challenge to keep my brain moving though. I have no hope of ever traveling to China and learning characters would just be the extend the self-challenge aspect. Pretty sure I could spend the next 5 years learning the spoken language and still not feel proficient enough, so I'll keep focusing on that. It is very enjoyable, even if it's led to a mini-existential crisis over getting hooked on Chinese dramas.

>44 lisapeet: Yes, the Breece Pancake stories are excellent. It's such an incredible shame that he died so young. They are distantly related, but that's probably true for anyone named Pancake! It's definitely a very West Virginia name. I hope you'll enjoy Strange as This Weather has Been when you get to it. I'm certainly trying to get more people to read it. The sense of place and her language is so beautiful.

>45 rocketjk: Thanks!

47dchaikin
tammikuu 27, 2020, 3:26pm

>38 mabith: Nice to see Kendi show up here. I listened to this last year, with some skepticism, but he won over all that. I found myself agreeing and thinking something like “this is different then how most people put it” and that I agreed with him.

48mabith
helmikuu 2, 2020, 3:56pm

Dan, most of the book was in line with a lot of what I've been reading, but it was good to see it all laid out and hear his particular viewpoint. I think I spent the 1980s on with constant nausea though. So distressing and depressing.

49mabith
helmikuu 2, 2020, 3:58pm


Under the Glacier by Halldor Laxness

I got a third or so through this and went "Wait a minute, was this written in the late 1960s..." It was, and I find this a difficult period to read non-straight novels in. It was a bit much for me and just a book to be 'got through' in the end.

"Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness’s Under the Glacier is a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, a wryly provocative novel at once earthy and otherworldly. At its outset, the Bishop of Iceland dispatches a young emissary to investigate certain charges against the pastor at Snæfells Glacier, who, among other things, appears to have given up burying the dead. But once he arrives, the emissary finds that this dereliction counts only as a mild eccentricity in a community that regards itself as the center of the world and where Creation itself is a work in progress.

What is the emissary to make, for example, of the boarded-up church? What about the mysterious building that has sprung up alongside it? Or the fact that Pastor Primus spends most of his time shoeing horses? Or that his wife, Ua (pronounced “ooh-a,” which is what men invariably sputter upon seeing her), is rumored never to have bathed, eaten, or slept? Piling improbability on top of improbability, Under the Glacier overflows with comedy both wild and deadpan as it conjures a phantasmagoria as beguiling as it is profound."

50mabith
helmikuu 2, 2020, 4:07pm


Mauve: How One Man Invented a Color That Changed the World by Simon Garfield

I've been meaning to read this for some time, and finally got round to it. The parts actually about William Perkin don't fill all that much of the book, and the scattered drifting between people and dye history and other chemical discoveries doesn't end up being very engaging.

It was largely interesting, but not great. If you're looking for a real focus on dyes, dangerous fashions, and their human consequences, I highly recommend Fashion Victims. It's obviously a different focus, but includes a lot about the dyes.

51mabith
helmikuu 2, 2020, 4:12pm


Waiting for Tomorrow by Nathacha Appanah

Decent contemporary fiction. It may be that I was not in the mood for this, as I'm struggling to feel in the mood for much. It wasn't remotely bad, but didn't blow my mind either. One of the main characters, Anita, felt so much like two different characters that I occasionally felt lost with what was going on. Of course, she was meant to feel like that, but I think potentially it could have been handled better. Another 50 pages or so of novel might have helped.

"Anita is waiting for Adam to be released from prison. They met twenty years ago at a New Year’s Eve party in Paris, a city where they both felt out of place―he as a recent arrival from the provinces, and she as an immigrant from the island of Mauritius. They quickly fell in love, married, and moved to a village in southwestern France, to live on the shores of the Atlantic with their little girl, Laura.

In order to earn a living, Adam has left behind his love of painting to become an architect, and Anita has turned her desire to write into a job freelancing for a local newspaper. Over time, the monotony of daily life begins to erode the bonds of their marriage. The arrival of Adèle, an undocumented immigrant from Mauritius whom they hire to care for Laura, sparks artistic inspiration for both Adam and Anita, as well as a renewed energy in their relationship. But this harmony proves to be short-lived, brought down by their separate transgressions of Adèle’s privacy and a subsequently tragic turn of events."

52kidzdoc
helmikuu 9, 2020, 11:10am

I'm glad that you thought highly of Stamped from the Beginning, Meredith. I brought my copy with me to my parents' house, and I'll start reading it next week.

53mabith
helmikuu 10, 2020, 7:20pm

Hope you find it as good as I did, Darryl.

54mabith
helmikuu 10, 2020, 7:22pm


Death in the Haymarket: A Story of Chicago, the First Labor Movement, and the Bombing that Divided Gilded Age America by James R. Green

Subtitle says it all really. I'm skeptical that the first labor movement bit is accurate but the rest stands. It's a well done book. Easy to follow, laid out well, and enjoyable to read.

Recommended if you're interested in the subject.

55mabith
helmikuu 10, 2020, 7:28pm


The Prodigal: A Poem by Derek Walcott

Walcott's style of poetry (in this book anyway), wasn't really to my taste, but I finished it anyway. It is an entire book-length poem divided into chapters which are subdivided further. It doesn't really feel like you need all of the parts in a single chapter to understand it though. The way he sometimes used words was also just too busy/cluttered for me. I'd read a stanza I loved and then a page later something that didn't speak to me at all, so it was a little frustrating. Poetry is so individual, of course (all reading is, but poetry especially, I think).

Then I worried I was going slightly round the bend and there's no difference between what I loved and what I didn't? Here's a bit I liked:

"The dialect of the scrub in the dry season
withers the flow of English. Things burn for days
without translation, with the heat
of the scorched pastures and their skeletal cows.
Every noun is a stump with its roots showing,
and the creole language rushes like weeds
until the entire island is overrun,
then the rain begins to come in paragraphs
and hazes this page, hazes the grey of islets,
the grey of eyes, the rainstorm's wild-haired beauty."

And here's one I didn't:

"Prodigal, what were your wanderings about?
The smoke of homecoming, the smoke of departure.
The earth grew music and the tubers sprouted
to Sesenne's singing, rain-water, fresh patois
in a clay carafe, a clear spring in the ferns,
and pure things took root like the sweet-potato vine.
Over the sea at dusk, an arrowing curlew,
as the sun turns into a cipher from a green flash,
clouds crumble like cities, the embers of Carthage;
any man without a history stands in nettles
and no butterflies console him, like surrendering flags,
does he, still a child, long for battles and castles
from the books of his beginning, in a hieratic language
he will never inherit, but on in which he writes
“Over the sea at dusk, an arrowing curlew,”
his whole life a language awaiting translation?"

56mabith
helmikuu 10, 2020, 7:42pm


High School by Tegan Quin and Sara Quin

Memoir largely covering Tegan and Sara's last three years of school. If the names are unfamiliar, they are a band comprised of twin sisters. They started very folky but influenced strongly by punk and grunge and their style has evolved hugely over the years. I found them when they were very new and I was in high school myself.

Both sisters are openly gay, and their struggles with crushes and sort-of relationships with girls, internalized homophobia, and coming out take up a lot of the book. As does doing drugs. Sometimes I think I'm the only one who didn't do drugs in high school, but I was weird enough without outside influence.

It's amazing to me that they didn't pick up guitars until they were 16 or 17, and both just immediately started writing their songs. It's also amazing to me that they managed to be successful given how incredibly difficult their relationship with each other was (and maybe still is).

The chapters are interspersed with recordings of their songs from high school. They recently took a number of them and upgraded/rewrote to a certain extent and made that into an album.

57mabith
helmikuu 10, 2020, 7:45pm


The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol 3 by Ryan North and Erica Henderson

Another extremely excellent volume of Squirrel Girl comics. She is such a fun character, Henderson's art is great, and North is a brilliant comic writer. There are so many fun details about these. Highly recommended. I think they're generally all-ages appropriate.

58mabith
helmikuu 10, 2020, 7:51pm


Evil and the Mask by Fuminori Nakamura

This felt like a very incomplete book. I'm not sure why it was on my to-read list, I'm not sure why I insisted on finishing it. It was not my kind of thing, and for what it was most of the plot didn't really make sense.

"When Fumihiro Kuki is eleven years old, his elderly, enigmatic father calls him into his study for a meeting. "I created you to be a cancer on the world," his father tells him. It is a tradition in their wealthy family: a patriarch, when reaching the end of his life, will beget one last child to cause misery in a world that cannot be controlled or saved. From this point on, Fumihiro will be specially educated to learn to create as much destruction and unhappiness in the world around him as a single person can. Between his education in hedonism and his family's resources, Fumihiro's life is one without repercussions. Every door is open to him, for he need obey no laws and may live out any fantasy he might have, no matter how many people are hurt in the process. But as his education progresses, Fumihiro begins to question his father's mandate, and starts to resist."

The thing is... His Evil Education never actually starts. Plus what person bent on evil thinks "I'll just let you be grow up without my influence until you're 14, and THEN the evil begins!" Everyone knows you've got to hook kids young. Then there's a lot of other complicated stuff that never really goes anywhere.

I can't recommend it.

59mabith
helmikuu 23, 2020, 11:19pm


The Girl on the Boat by PG Wodehouse

A quick romp to cheer myself up after the previous read.

It's typical Wodehouse, still in the earlier part of his career, not quite as good at balancing the chaos as he would become. Still generally fun.

60mabith
helmikuu 23, 2020, 11:27pm


The Great Pretender: The Undercover Mission that Changed Our Understanding of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

This book is focused on David Rosenhan and his famous experiment in the 1970s. Volunteers would seek admission to mental institutions stating they heard a voice saying things like "thud" or "it is empty." They'd then take notes about the care, routines, patient treatment, and any diagnoses they received. They were supposed to remain inside until they'd proven their sanity/ability to be released.

I remember my dad telling me about this experiment when I was in middle school on some endless car trip. It turns out that the data is far from reliable, maybe totally unreliable. Meanwhile the paper Rosenhan wrote was published in Science and hugely impacted the defunding of mental institutions, and inspired the original creator of the DSM.

A good read, and well written.

61mabith
helmikuu 23, 2020, 11:32pm


Good Talk by Mira Jacob

An excellent graphic memoir about the author's struggles to talk to her biracial eight year old son about racism and related topics. This is exacerbated by her in-laws supporting Trump. It's a long work, which is needs to be. She sets her drawings over photographs, which was an interesting effect.

I wasn't sure about the repeated use of the same drawings of people over and over, but I quickly stopped noticing that. The content is very strong. Highly recommended.

62mabith
helmikuu 23, 2020, 11:37pm


Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao

Contemporary fiction about two Indian girls struggling with poverty, abuse, and arranged marriages. After being thrown together and finding comfort in each other an act of violence drives one to run away, the other eventually follows to look for her.

A dark but well-written book. Recommended.

63mabith
helmikuu 23, 2020, 11:50pm


Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing by Anya Von Bremzen

This was a great read. The shift between food (personal memories and some wider picture stuff), the author's own experiences, and her family stories worked well for me.

Very good read, highly recommended. Her family had some incredible people in it.

64mabith
helmikuu 23, 2020, 11:58pm


The Collected Works of Gretchen Oyster by Cary Fagan

I thoroughly enjoyed this middle grade read (plus look at that great cover!). It's narrated by an 8th grade boy, Hartley Staples, whose older brother has run away from and been missing for some time (a year at most). This has obviously made his family and home life a little topsy turvy. One day he finds a handmade postcard, stuck in an out of the way place, with the initials G.O. on the bottom. He finds another, and the postcards are numbers, so he makes it his mission to find more and to try to find the creator. The book includes the postcards in full color.

This is a calm book, narrated by a boy who is having a hard time, and it felt very real to me. When I was in fourth and fifth grade my brother ran away various times and was in juvenile detention at others. Hartley's general attitude really rang true to me. The book also succeeded in feeling like it was set Now without having a lot of dated references, so I think it will age very well. I was surprised to learn the author is 65.

I'll certainly be giving my copy to my nephew on his next birthday.

65mabith
helmikuu 24, 2020, 12:00am


The Heart of Buddha's Teachings: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation by Thich Nhat Hanh

The title really says it all with this one. It's typical Hanh, with a wider focus than some of his books. It was a good reminder for me, though I find myself very far from these ideals (frankly, seeking any sort of peace or quiet when you have chronic pain is a very different ballgame).

A good read.

66sallypursell
helmikuu 24, 2020, 12:27am

>65 mabith: You said:
"(frankly, seeking any sort of peace or quiet when you have chronic pain is a very different ballgame)."


Mabith, I would like to know more about your chronic pain, but only if you are willing to report on it to me. I have chronic pain as well, and I know I've seen something about this last year, but I don't remember.

67mabith
helmikuu 27, 2020, 8:32am

>66 sallypursell: Sure, I don't mind at all. I leave a comment on your profile page.

68mabith
maaliskuu 12, 2020, 11:56am


There There by Tommy Orange

I enjoyed this multi-perspective novel, with everyone heading towards the same event as the book progressed. The writing was good, and the format was done very well. It might not make my best reads of 2020 list, but it's worth reading.

"Tommy Orange’s wondrous and shattering novel follows twelve characters from Native communities: all traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow, all connected to one another in ways they may not yet realize. Among them is Jacquie Red Feather, newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind. Dene Oxendene, pulling his life together after his uncle’s death and working at the powwow to honor his memory. Fourteen-year-old Orvil, coming to perform traditional dance for the very first time. Together, this chorus of voices tells of the plight of the urban Native American—grappling with a complex and painful history, with an inheritance of beauty and spirituality, with communion and sacrifice and heroism. Hailed as an instant classic, There There is at once poignant and unflinching, utterly contemporary and truly unforgettable."

69mabith
maaliskuu 12, 2020, 12:28pm


Innocence, or Murder on Steep Street by Heda Kovaly

Thoroughly enjoyed this, though the mystery element was a bit rocky, so it's not a book I can hugely gush over. It definitely took me to a different time and place.

"1950s Prague is a city of numerous daily terrors, of political tyranny, corruption and surveillance. There is no way of knowing whether one’s neighbor is spying for the government, or what one’s supposed friend will say to a State Security agent under pressure. A loyal Party member might be imprisoned or executed as quickly as a traitor; innocence means nothing for a person caught in a government trap. When a little boy is murdered at the cinema, the ensuing investigation sheds a little too much light on the personal lives of the cinema’s female ushers, each of whom is hiding a dark secret of her own."

70mabith
maaliskuu 12, 2020, 12:31pm


Silver, Sword, and Stone: Three Crucibles in the Latin American Story by Marie Arana

Really great history work, and just the kind of book I want more of. History about a place/people by people who at least partly grew up there/are of that heritage. (Why are all the books I read about ancient Rome by American and UK authors and not Italians, for example.)

Arana goes into a particular part of the history and will then switch to the life of a present day person living in the same place, which while not necessary perhaps, was interesting. It definitely added something, especially when at times the quality of life hasn't changed or may even be worse than the life of their ancestors from 300 years ago.

Highly recommended.

71mabith
maaliskuu 12, 2020, 12:34pm


Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey

A children's classic which my parents were wholeheartedly devoted to. It has plenty of interest and amusement for the adult reader. I remember this being read to us, but didn't reread it myself in childhood or later until now.

It was very fun, and I can see why my parents enjoyed it so much. The father's parenting style is perhaps too reminiscent of my dad's.

72mabith
maaliskuu 12, 2020, 12:40pm


Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space by Amanda Leduc

I was lucky enough to get this as an ER book. I'm disabled myself (as is the author), so it appealed from that point of view (I was never particularly interested in fairy tales).

This is a taster book, in my opinion. It's more academic than a memoir (Leduc tells her own story and relationship to fairy tales as it goes along) but isn't an in-depth academic study. The balance worked for me. Though the shifts in focus could have potentially been more skillfully handled (Leduc is still pretty young and this is her first work of non-fiction), that didn't take away from my reading experience.

An interesting, thought-provoking read for this disabled reader.

73mabith
maaliskuu 19, 2020, 4:58pm


A Bookshop in Berlin by Francoise Frenkel

Memoir originally published in 1945. Frenkel was a Polish Jew running a French bookshop in Berlin. She witnessed kristallnacht, though her store was not attacked. She escaped to Paris in 1939, and was in hiding for a period, making various escape attempts, until she finally made it to Italy and then to Switzerland.

An interesting read, though largely stays on the surface of Frenkel's life.

74mabith
maaliskuu 19, 2020, 5:05pm


The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt

Dragt, of Dutch descent, was born and raised in Indonesia, interned by the Japanese during WWII, and only moved to the Netherlands with her family at age 19. This was her second book, first published in 1962.

This children's novel follows Tiuri, as he's unexpectedly drawn away from his vigil (after which he'll be a knight) into a quest to deliver a letter for the king of a neighboring region. In my opinion, it's not a great read. It's overly long and convoluted and fails to be particularly exciting at any point.

Apparently it is being or was turned into a Netflix show, but I'm somewhat baffled why it's been re-republished. There are so many excellent children's books that are out of print in the US, but this wasn't one of them.

75mabith
maaliskuu 19, 2020, 5:09pm


Company by Max Barry RE-READ

I enjoyed this book immensely when I first read it, a lifetime ago it feels like, and also enjoyed the re-read. There are a few things that bother me in how some of the women are written, but they're not major.

Some would say "if you've ever worked in an office, read this book" but I feel if you've ever had co-workers, read this book. It's a properly funny book. Don't listen to audio edition, it's kind of awful.

"Stephen Jones is a shiny new hire at Zephyr Holdings. From the outside, Zephyr is just another bland corporate monolith, but behind its glass doors business is far from usual: the beautiful receptionist is paid twice as much as anybody else to do nothing, the sales reps use self help books as manuals, no one has seen the CEO, no one knows exactly what they are selling, and missing donuts are the cause of office intrigue. While Jones originally wanted to climb the corporate ladder, he now finds himself descending deeper into the irrational rationality of company policy."

76mabith
maaliskuu 19, 2020, 5:11pm


Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance by Atul Gawande

An interesting little book. Nothing huge or exhilarating, but a good read.

"The struggle to perform well is universal: each of us faces fatigue, limited resources, and imperfect abilities in whatever we do. But nowhere is this drive to do better more important than in medicine, where lives may be on the line with any decision.

Atul Gawande, the New York Times bestselling author of Complications, examines, in riveting accounts of medical failure and triumph, how success is achieved in this complex and risk-filled profession."

77mabith
maaliskuu 19, 2020, 5:17pm


Flower Net by Lisa See

I wanted to like this mystery, See's first novel and the first in a trilogy, but it is absolutely a first novel. The mystery element isn't bad, but her writing isn't up to scratch yet. It wasn't horrible, but not something I'd recommend to anyone either.

Set in the late 90s, the focal character is Liu Hulan, an unorthodox police detective who was supposed to be a seat-filler. She's the daughter of a very influential government official, a member of the most privilege section of her generation.

The following novels might be better, but I'm not sure I'll bother to find out. I remain devoted to See's historical fiction, however.

78mabith
maaliskuu 19, 2020, 5:23pm


Hinges by Meredith McClaren

I absolutely love McClaren's artwork in all its forms (particularly her most recently work), so had been meaning to read this story for a while.

The world she created is really interesting. I think some aspects of the wider plot are rushed in the last volume especially, but it's a pretty good read all the time. And again, her art style is just really neat.

79avaland
huhtikuu 1, 2020, 4:53pm

My senior class in high school did Cheaper by the Dozen as a play. I created/painted the car! (the on-call art person for every need).

It seems you are getting at least bit of pleasure out of all that reading....

80mabith
huhtikuu 4, 2020, 7:53pm

Lois, that would have been fun, I imagine! We did You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown and I was forced to play Snoopy.

I'm certainly trying for pleasure. Everything feels a bit funky right now, as I'm sure is true for most of us.

81mabith
huhtikuu 15, 2020, 7:05pm


In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction by Gabor Mate

One of my brothers has struggled with addiction since he was a teenager. I remember my mom's book shelves filling up with books on addiction, this book would have been a welcome addition.

It's a very well done book, and Mate isn't afraid of admitting his shortcomings.

82mabith
huhtikuu 15, 2020, 7:10pm


Bosnia in Limbo: Testimonies from the Drina by Borja Lasheras

A short but interesting book of essays about present day Bosnia. The author worked there for some years.

Recommended if you want a quick non-fiction read and are generally curious about about the later aftermath of the war there.

83mabith
huhtikuu 15, 2020, 7:15pm


Behemoth: A History of the Factory and the Making of the Modern World by Joshua B. Freeman

Good general history. Very interesting, comes right up to the present moment. Comes with a good hit of labor history, as you'd expect.

Recommended, if this is your sort of thing.

84mabith
huhtikuu 15, 2020, 7:20pm


La Bastarda by Trifonia Melibea Obono

A short novel about a young girl in Equatorial Guinea who doesn't fit into her family. Her mother died when she was young and no one will tell her who her father was. The only one who is kind to her, is her even more outcasted uncle, who is gay.

It's an interesting read, but not brilliant in a literary sense in it's translation, and moves very swiftly. It also doesn't get too deep into the issues raised. Glad I read it though.

85mabith
huhtikuu 15, 2020, 7:31pm


The Lady's Handbook for Her Mysterious Illness: A Memoir by Sarah Ramey

Ramey went through the absolutely nightmare scenario of mysterious illness, with a lot of factors making it difficult to pinpoint and treat the issues (in addition to running into the usual proportion of awful doctors that you invariably hit in these situations).

I had a mysterious illness myself, which took two years to diagnose (and is almost impossible to treat once you've had it longer than a year). In fact, Ramey ends up diagnosed with mine (she has a few things going on), which I didn't realize when I put the book on hold. Weirdly, she spends about a page on it, and repeats a couple times that there are no treatments for it. That's just not accurate, granting it's unlikely the treatments would work for her. The book is also for other people going through similar things, and that inaccuracy could be really harmful for someone else with CRPS.

A mixed bag, but a very affirming read in a lot of ways, mainly about doctors and how they frequently treat women with chronic illnesses. Ramey's parents are doctors, so probably unfortunately she went into this with a lot more faith in the US medical system than I ever had. Her parents also didn't really understand or listen to her about the bad experiences, giving too much benefit of the doubt to some of the really horrible specialists she saw.

86mabith
huhtikuu 15, 2020, 7:36pm


Everything is Beautiful and I'm Not Afraid by Xiao Yao

A short collection of one and two page comics. It's very light, and the comics are probably better appreciated coming at one a couple times per week online vs reading a number of them in a row in a book.

I did like the art style and appreciated the messages.

87mabith
huhtikuu 15, 2020, 7:54pm


Tharntype by Mame

So I've been numbing my brain on Asian dramas since last July, and started watching a lot of Thai series in February. This book was made into a series which is deeply problematic in a few ways but the leads had what should be an illegal amount of chemistry so I finished it. The basic premise is homophobic guy has gay roommate and they gradually begin to understand each other and fall in love but then there are exes and schemes that threaten to tear them apart.

Out of curiosity, I tracked down a fan translation of the novel it's based on (if it's ever officially translated I will buy it, but I highly doubt it will be) and wow. I thought the show was problematic, this was just terrible. 10 times more problematic than the show and a lot of very explicit sex scenes. And yet I read it for seven hours straight until I realized all the chapters weren't posted yet. Then I read the last twenty chapters in one shot.

I really don't understand why I did this, since it matches the plot of the show extremely closely. Maybe it was the horror of imagining the actors reading this (they'd know already what could reasonably be broadcast and what couldn't) or just comparison, maybe it's my continuing existential crisis that led to watching these shows in the first place, maybe it's the general anxiety making it difficult to focus on the usual comforts.

On the plus side, I finally got a book by a Thai author in (which I was having an extremely difficult time finding). On the down side I'm now haunted by a few unfortunate euphemisms and I fear it's aged me.

88mabith
huhtikuu 16, 2020, 5:08pm


Romola by George Eliot

What to do when you've read a terrible book you wouldn't have admitted to touching four years ago? Bring on the sheer class of George Eliot. I love Eliot's writing SO much, and this was no exception.

It's not my favorite Eliot, and being set in late 15th century Florence I had to listen to Savonarola a bit, but it's Eliot and it's still brilliant. A lovely palate cleanser after my journey to the edge.

89AlisonY
huhtikuu 20, 2020, 7:29am

>88 mabith: I've still not read a single Eliot novel, but your reviews always remind me that I need to do something about that.

90mabith
huhtikuu 20, 2020, 11:22am

Alison, she's so worthwhile. Just a brilliant writer, and she often surprises me (which is rare for a Victorian novel).

91mabith
toukokuu 2, 2020, 8:11pm


The Girl from H.O.P.P.E.R.S. by Jaime Hernandez

Volume two of the Locas stories from Love and Rockets. Hernandez has now pretty much dropped the science fiction angle. Love and Rockets is such a unique series, because the characters age. We come with them from their teen years or even childhoods in some cases. They're always great reading.

92mabith
toukokuu 2, 2020, 8:13pm


Free Thinker: Sex, Suffrage, and the Extraordinary Life of Helen Hamilton Gardener by Kimberly A. Hamlin

Gardener is a figure from women's suffrage that I really wasn't familiar with. It was nice to get another piece of that history filled in. The biography is well done and was interesting throughout.

93mabith
toukokuu 2, 2020, 8:15pm


Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World by Rutger Bregman

An appropriate book for these trying times. General look at some utopia ideas, where they've been implemented, etc... Really fascinating that the US came close to having a universal basic income under Nixon.

A good read.

94mabith
toukokuu 2, 2020, 8:20pm


Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe

A very strange book about a father-daughter educational trip to Lithuania. He has only really been in her life for about four years, she, Vera, has recently had an episode of mental illness that led to her slicing her forearm open with a knife at a party and wanting to baptize people.

It's an okay book, nothing amazing. Some aspects really rubbed me the wrong way. The father narrates the book and he's pretty annoyingly sexist in a way that seemed more like it came from the author. If I'd been trying to guess the gender of the author I would have thought a man wrote it, but nope. Felt like two book ideas squashed together in a lot of ways.

95mabith
toukokuu 2, 2020, 8:27pm


Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland

This is the sequel to the VERY excellent Dread Nation, an alternative history fantasy book where the Civil War ended because the dead on the battlefields started rising as zombies. Now, I'm not into zombie things generally, they just don't interest me. However, there have been some recent things with them that are excellent (the TV show Santa Clarita Diet was great).

It's another book that felt like two books whittled down into one volume, as though the publisher was dead set on a trilogy and really this story needs four books. It's not the biggest issue, but we fly through some periods for the characters way too quickly. More annoyingly was Jane having a thought about something and then when a male character says it thinking "Well I guess I knew they were right." Babe, you already had that thought! Who was editing this! It was like imposter syndrome in print.

It was still a fun read, and I imagine there will be another book. It ends in a place where the emotional story is wrapped up to an extent even though the characters are still not settled and at rest.

96mabith
toukokuu 2, 2020, 8:29pm


Last Witnesses: An Oral History of the Children of World War II by Svetlana Alexievich

Another excellent oral history collection by Alexievich. Does what it says on the tin.

97mabith
toukokuu 2, 2020, 8:33pm


Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk

I kind of knew this wasn't going to be my kind of book before I started it, but wanted to read it anyway.

In a remote Polish village, Janina devotes the dark winter days to studying astrology, translating the poetry of William Blake, and taking care of the summer homes of wealthy Warsaw residents. Her reputation as a crank and a recluse is amplified by her not-so-secret preference for the company of animals over humans. Then a neighbor, Big Foot, turns up dead. Soon other bodies are discovered, in increasingly strange circumstances. As suspicions mount, Janina inserts herself into the investigation, certain that she knows whodunit. If only anyone would pay her mind . . .

Janina was a little too much for me, and I never actually cared who committed the murders because I was too distracted by astrology obsession and claim that the animals were taking revenge on meat-eaters and killed the people.

98mabith
toukokuu 2, 2020, 8:40pm


You're in Love with an Idiot by Shui Qian Cheng

So I ended up binge reading another not-good fan-translated novel, this time a Chinese one. The title and the this weird opening summary drew me in:

I am deeply in love with you, however you are in love with an idiot. The idiot, he does not love you, you are more of an idiot than the idiot. Then I who loves this idiot, I am more of an idiot than you.

This lockdown situation is doing strange things to me. I was barely meeting my need for social time before all this and now I feel like I am starting to lose it so here I am reading terrible Asian m/m 'romance' novels. This was not as bad as the Thai one, but still quite problematic.

99mabith
Muokkaaja: toukokuu 22, 2020, 6:49pm


The Art of Resistance by Justus Rosenberg

The author's memoir of working for the French resistance. An interesting read, though it feels too short for the number of years it covers. However, as with any part of life, wartime or not, I suppose much of the time is daily tedium that doesn't merit recording.

100mabith
Muokkaaja: toukokuu 22, 2020, 6:50pm


Spilt Milk by Chico Buarque RE-READ

A quick re-read of this excellent little book.

As Eulálio Assumpção lies dying in a Brazilian public hospital, his daughter and the attending nurses are treated—whether they like it or not—to his last, rambling monologue. Ribald, hectoring, and occasionally delusional, Eulálio reflects on his past, present, and future—on his privileged, plantation-owning family; his father’s philandering with beautiful French whores; his own half-hearted career as a weapons dealer; the eventual decline of the family fortune; and his passionate courtship of the wife who would later abandon him. As Eulálio wanders the sinuous twists and turns of his own fragmented memories, Buarque conjures up a brilliantly evocative portrait of a man’s life and love, set in the broad sweep of vivid Brazilian history.

There is a lot of casual and somewhat more than casual racism in it, as you'd expect from this particular character and his particular background, just as a warning.

The format of it evokes dementia so well, and it truly feels like you're witnessing a real person.

101mabith
Muokkaaja: toukokuu 22, 2020, 6:51pm


Archangel by Sharon Shinn RE-READ

Another re-read, as I'm having trouble feeling in the mood for almost any book. This series is sheer comfort reading for me, and I've read it once a year for the past four or five.

Samaria was settled by a large group of refugees fleeing a wartorn planet, brought to the new land in the hands of their god. They decide to leave advanced technology behind in hopes of having a peaceful existence.

The angels govern the country, helping to settle disputes, and able to call on their god Jovah for weather intercessions, medicines to fight plague, grain in times of famine, etc... The new Archangel, Gabriel, must deal with getting the country back to some firm moral ground after the previous Archangel has allowed slavery to take hold and given merchants unprecedented power. On top of this, he must deal with a wife, chosen by Jovah, who does not see the post as an honor.

It's a fun SFF series, and I always find Shinn's character writing especially enjoyable.

102mabith
toukokuu 18, 2020, 1:28pm


Gender Failure by Ivan Coyote and Rae Spoon

Ivan E. Coyote and Rae Spoon are accomplished, award-winning writers, musicians, and performers; they are also both admitted "gender failures." In their first collaborative book, Ivan and Rae explore and expose their failed attempts at fitting into the gender binary, and how ultimately our expectations and assumptions around traditional gender roles fail us all.

Based on their acclaimed 2012 live show that toured across the United States and in Europe, Gender Failure is a poignant collection of autobiographical essays, lyrics, and images documenting Ivan and Rae's personal journeys from gender failure to gender enlightenment. Equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking, it's a book that will touch LGBTQ readers and others, revealing, with candor and insight, that gender comes in more than two sizes.


A good book, and important to have messier gender identity journeys.

103mabith
toukokuu 18, 2020, 1:36pm


Freddy Goes to Florida by Walter R. Brooks RE-READ

And another re-read! I want to give a copy of this to my friend's daughter, and always find it best to re-read the older books before I give them, in case of problematic content. I still give some books with issues, because it's a good conversation opener with kids, but it just depends and I want to warn the parents either way. This Freddy book proved to be perfectly fine however, and was lovely to re-read.

In this book the animals can't talk to the humans yet, but someone the humans get to understand that the animals are just migrating for the winter. They have various adventures there and back, meet the President, and marvel at how silly humans are.

While this first book is solid, the series gets so much better and funnier. Freddy is not yet the star here, so we're not treated to his thoughts and feelings very much.

104mabith
toukokuu 18, 2020, 1:38pm


The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia by Orlando Figes

Finally settled to a longer book. It built heavily on oral testimonies but is a thorough history work.

Recommended.

105sallypursell
Muokkaaja: toukokuu 22, 2020, 5:28pm

>99 mabith: Mabith, When I clicked on this title in your comments, I get instead a link to this book:

Enslaved Women and the Art of Resistance in Antebellum America (Black…
by Renee K. Harrison

I've found erroneous links before. Is there anywhere I ought to report this? In this case the link is to a book that isn't common in LT's libraries. I wonder how something like that gets established?

106sallypursell
toukokuu 22, 2020, 5:38pm

>101 mabith: Each of your last three books has one of those broken links!

107sallypursell
toukokuu 22, 2020, 5:42pm

>103 mabith: For what age group is this meant, Mabith?

108mabith
toukokuu 22, 2020, 6:53pm

>105 sallypursell: Links are fixed! I must have just been having a rough brain day and forgot to fix them on this thread.

The Freddy the Pig books were read aloud to me starting at age four. Depending on the kid's interests if I were giving it to them to read on their own maybe age 10 would be the cut-off. Unless I knew they were more open to fun, silly books. I find all the books extremely delightful even now and frequently laugh out loud while reading them.

109janemarieprice
toukokuu 26, 2020, 5:55pm

>101 mabith: Shinn is one of my comfort reads as well. I just finished re-reading her 3 larger series as I couldn't bring myself to bear on anything harder for a while.

110mabith
kesäkuu 2, 2020, 3:36pm

>109 janemarieprice: I don't enjoy her Twelve Houses series nearly as much as Samaria, but she's great to have when we need a solid bit of escape. Shinn and Juliet Marillier are my go-tos when I want some comfort reading with a little romance.

111sallypursell
kesäkuu 9, 2020, 11:54pm

112mabith
elokuu 5, 2020, 1:44pm


How to Change by Mame

It's another Thai romance novel. This one a fair bit better than the previous one I read, thankfully (though that's a low bar).

113mabith
elokuu 5, 2020, 1:46pm


Springtime in Chernobyl by Emmanuel Lepage

A really beautiful graphic memoir of a trip of the Chernobyl exclusion zone. Worth a read in general, but the art is particularly beautiful.

114mabith
elokuu 5, 2020, 1:55pm


Wolf Hall by Hillary Mantel

Finally got to this read. I enjoyed it but it didn't suck me in the way it seemed to do to a lot of people. I will probably read the second eventually, but I don't feel compelled to pick it up soon.

115mabith
elokuu 5, 2020, 1:59pm


Squirrel Girl Vol 4 by Ryan North and Erica Henderson

Another excellent volume. This is such a fun comic and one of the few times the constant pop-ups of other Marvel heroes doesn't annoy me (I am not a mainstream comics person generally).

116mabith
elokuu 5, 2020, 2:08pm


Years of Intoxication by Shui Qian Cheng

What's going on with me and Asian webnovels? I really don't know. This one was much more interesting plot wise but the main love interest was so toxic and awful. Yet I still binge read it. I'm going to blame the pandemic.

117mabith
elokuu 5, 2020, 2:11pm


The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator by Timothy C. Winegard

Quite an interesting read! Well written as far as I recall (I read this in May).

118mabith
elokuu 5, 2020, 2:14pm


America's First Female Serial Killer: Jane Toppan and the Making of a Monster by Mary Kay McBrayer

This is not a good book and not really a proper non-fiction work but basically a novelization. Not recommended.

119mabith
elokuu 5, 2020, 2:15pm


Jovah's Angel by Sharon Shinn RE-READ

Comfort re-read of the second book in this trilogy. Highly recommend this series (a trilogy and then two books in the same world) if you like SFF.

120mabith
elokuu 5, 2020, 2:17pm


Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin

I knew this book probably wouldn't be my cup of tea but wanted to read it anyway (and my book club picked it). I was right and spent most of it confused, both about what was going on and the intent. Probably good to have those reads sometimes.

121mabith
elokuu 5, 2020, 2:28pm


Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe

A really excellent graphic memoir. I related to so much of this, especially growing up in a family where gender roles were purposefully minimized to an extreme (not just 'boy things' are gender neutral, but boys given dolls, expected to learn to cook, play dress up, pick flowers, etc...).

Highly recommend.

122mabith
elokuu 5, 2020, 2:33pm


2 Moons by Chiffon (Thailand loves nicknames)

This time another book that spawned a TV show that I watched first. I'm always curious how the overlap will be. This was a nice one, and fairly sweet.

123mabith
elokuu 5, 2020, 2:35pm


The Big Six by Arthur Ransome

Now here's a proper book! Another especially fun book in the Swallows and Amazons series. If I had a time machine I'd just take all of this back and give them to my child self.

124mabith
elokuu 5, 2020, 2:40pm


Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

I read Emezi's first novel, Freshwater, last year and found the concept good but it had a lot of first-novel problems. Pet was much better.

I've seen it referred to as a YA novel, but I'd peg it as middle grade myself (it's in publisher's short-term interests to put a lot things in YA that don't belong there). It's a simplistic book, but set in an interesting potential future world and deals with abuse and the recognition of 'monsters' when we're told our community has none.

125mabith
elokuu 5, 2020, 2:43pm


The Edge of Anarchy: The Railroad Barons, the Gilded Age, and the Greatest Labor Uprising in America by Jack Kelly

A good read about the Pullman strike of 1894. Recommended if you're interested in the subject.

It was very depressing at times as quotes from rich people and politicians about workers/protestors are the same kinds of things said today (and recently).

126mabith
elokuu 5, 2020, 2:50pm


Uncle Scrooge Vol 22: The Twenty-Four Carat Moon by Carl Barks

Another fun volume, though annoying to have more Gyro Gearloose comics at the end. Those should just be collected separately.

127ELiz_M
elokuu 5, 2020, 10:54pm

It's good to see that you have been reading and are posting again. I rarely comment, but I always enjoy reading your thread and the eclectic mix of books you review.

I hope you are doing okay in these unsettling times.

128sallypursell
elokuu 6, 2020, 6:53am

>119 mabith: Do you know anything about her non-angel books? Are they also good?

129sallypursell
elokuu 6, 2020, 6:57am

>123 mabith: What age is ideal for this series, do you think? I have some grandsons and granddaughters who might enjoy them.

130sallypursell
elokuu 6, 2020, 7:26am

You do read an intriguing mix, Mabith. I enjoy witnessing your thread, and I cadge ideas of things to read from you.

131mabith
elokuu 9, 2020, 5:45am

>127 ELiz_M: Thanks! The reading hasn't stopped, but I've had a hard time even reading other's threads here, which is so unusual for me. I'm better off than a lot of people in all this, but the lack of socializing is really hitting me.

>128 sallypursell: I've read Shinn's Twelve Houses books which are quite good, some of her YA fiction (mixed feelings), and Summers at Castle Auburn which I enjoyed but haven't re-read since I was 18.

The Swallows and Amazons books should be diverting as read-aloud picks starting at age 7 or 8, and great to read alone age 9-10. They're really wonderful books that have aged well, generally. Some of the information about sailing might have to be looked up! Are you familiar with Noel Streatfeild? Her Shoes books (not actually a series) are also really great reads.

And thanks, Sally! I do try to keep a good variety going in my reading.

132janemarieprice
elokuu 9, 2020, 9:24am

>128 sallypursell: She's one of my favorites. Her newer Elemental Blessings series is very good as well but the angle series I think is the most interesting concept. What keeps me coming back to her is her character work. They are always really interesting and different from each other which some fantasy writers struggle with.

133lisapeet
elokuu 9, 2020, 9:30am

>131 mabith: They're really wonderful books that have aged well, generally.
Definitely... except for the fact that one of the characters is named Titty, so if you're reading it with a nine-year-old boy be prepared for some very overt snickers for the first half of the book. That said, my son really loved this series.

134mabith
elokuu 9, 2020, 12:33pm

>132 janemarieprice: Totally agree, her books are very character driven even when there's a lot of plot going on. Juliet Marillier is the same. Their characters always draw me in and feel very real.

>133 lisapeet: Ha, yes, good point. I was thinking more of some casual racism (which I feel is largely contained in the two fictional interlude books, Peter Duck and Missee Lee, just by dint of the fact that they're only encountering white people in the regular books). Admittedly I haven't read all the books yet.

135lisapeet
elokuu 9, 2020, 1:09pm

>134 mabith: Aha, I don't think we read that far in. Not surprising though, given the time and place of publication.

136sallypursell
elokuu 16, 2020, 5:16am

>131 mabith: Thanks so much, mabith.

137mabith
elokuu 29, 2020, 3:21am

>135 lisapeet: Yes, Swallows and Amazons is generally far less problematic that one might expect for the times.

138mabith
elokuu 29, 2020, 3:24am


Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

I read a novel by this author a while back, and have been meaning to read this comic back when it was new. The story is still ongoing but I raced through the first three volumes as if it were a vital element for survival.

The story is about Charlie, a sweet if neurotic gay nerd who was outed against his will in high school, and Nick, a lovely teddybear of a rugby player. It was just what I needed, and the art is great.

139mabith
elokuu 29, 2020, 3:28am


No Longer at Ease by Chinua Achebe

How great is that book cover? I find it so pleasing.

This is the second book in Achebe's multi-generational trilogy, and I think I might have liked it better than Things Fall Apart? It's been so long since I've read that one though, who knows.

It follows Obi Okonkwo after he becomes a civil servant yet still struggles to make ends meet as he tries to appear successful to others.

140mabith
elokuu 29, 2020, 3:33am


Good Behavior by Donald E. Westlake RE-READ

This is the sixth Dortmunder book, and a quick re-read to check that it felt like an appropriate choice for my bookclub. We've continued to meet via video, and my fellow members have picked depressing reads so I had to pick something lighter (they choose the depressing books and then complain about reading a lot of depressing books).

Westlake was a genius, and if there's an afterlife he and Terry Pratchett are having a grand time collaborating. This novel is one of the absolute peaks in the Dortmunder series.

Dortmunder has fallen into a convent while escaping a robbery gone wrong. Instead of turning him in, the sisters hire him to rescue one of their own who is being held by her wealthy father to force her to become a pawn in his business schemes as her siblings are.

It's a pretty wonderful place to start with the Dortmunder books (I only recommend the first nine or ten in the series).

141mabith
elokuu 29, 2020, 4:21pm


Venus in Copper by Lindsey Davis RE-READ

I decided to start a systematic one per month reread of the Falco series at the end of June and then promptly forgot about it.

This is the third Falco book. The second two are a little uneven as they spend a lot of time establishing the relationship between Falco and Helena, but they're still very enjoyable.

142mabith
elokuu 29, 2020, 4:30pm


Women, Race, and Class by Angela Y. Davis

Getting in some essential essay reading, I'd been meaning to read more of Davis' writing.

143mabith
elokuu 29, 2020, 4:38pm


In the Country: Stories by Mia Alvar

I'm not a great lover of short stories, but this collection really worked well for me. Themed loosely around the Philippines, and Filipino immigrants, the stories were varied and all good reads for me.

144mabith
elokuu 30, 2020, 5:47am


True Star by Wan Mie Zhi Shang

Did I read a four volume novel about an actor who dies when he's close to 40 but then wakes up in the body of an early 20s actor who tried to commit suicide when his career and love life were foundering? Yes, I did. Was it my favorite of my Chinese web novel reads? Yes, it was.

Okay, it's slightly annoying when there's a character who literally everyone loves, but enjoyment of the multiple suitor trope is hardwired into my brain. Plus the main character was always so calm.

145mabith
elokuu 30, 2020, 5:48am


Our Women on the Ground: Essays by Arab Women Reporting from the Arab World by Zahra Hankir

After storming my way through those Chinese stories, I had to read something more 'me.'

This is an excellent work. The subtitle says it all, and everyone should pick this up.

146mabith
elokuu 30, 2020, 5:50am


How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones

A slim memoir focused on growing up gay and settling into your identity and acceptance (or lack thereof). Good, maybe not great.

147mabith
elokuu 30, 2020, 6:00am


One Smile is Very Alluring by Gu Man

I watched the TV series based on this book (Love O2O), which was also written by the author. I'm always curious to see how close the books are to the series and what changes. This one was fascinating. The book is all centered on the female lead and stays pretty simple. The show added a character and a few storylines in really clever ways.

Interestingly to me, Gu Man added a subtext gay romance to the show, which didn't exist in the main book (it was sort of featured in a few extra chapters). This is a fascinating choice, given the censorship. Subtext gay romance in Chinese shows is not the same breadcrumb hunting wish fullfillment that it is in western media. It's very clear the characters are falling for each other, they just don't say anything explicitly (about a romantic relationship, the two end up living together by the end). All the tropes used for straight romantic couples and never for just friends are used.

Despite the censorship and changing guidelines, Chinese studios keep choosing to adapt explictly gay novels into TV shows (The Untamed, Guardian, Winter Begonia) with barely subtext relationships, and explictly gay shows (usually very short series) are always being made, banned before airing (seemingly due to having happy endings), and finally aired via online platforms or in Taiwan.

148mabith
elokuu 30, 2020, 6:03am


The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier

Here's my lady, back with a two part series. This one came out last year. As ever, Marillier is my favorite fantasy author for her characters and how immediately my brain adopts them.

This was a good one. Not my favorite, but the bar is high.

149mabith
elokuu 30, 2020, 6:07am


My Accidental Love is You by Mame

I'm really trying to own this romance kick I'm on, but it's difficult not to be complete embarrassed about it. This is another book that got a TV show adaptation. It was actually my first Thai show, and had the sweetest, least angsty romance arc ever.

The book is drama city. I mean, there's a kidnapping and then one of the leads has to agree to stay away from his boyfriend for YEARS so the bf's family doesn't suffer (because the male lead is super rich and his dad is the worst). The series is getting a second series (not that common), so I'll be curious to see how much of the side characters arcs remain the same. There won't be anything with the main protags because the manager of some of the actors decided to push out the other lead for unknown reasons. TV production is confusing.

150mabith
elokuu 30, 2020, 6:09am


Travel and Tourism in Ancient Egypt by Mohammed Z. Ahmed

An interesting set of essays rather than a cohesive, in-depth book. Generally interesting.

151AlisonY
elokuu 30, 2020, 12:39pm

>149 mabith: Oh never be embarrassed of anything you read. We read first and foremost for pleasure, right? If you're enjoying them that's terrific.

152mabith
elokuu 30, 2020, 7:33pm

Alison, I try! Four years ago I wouldn't have posted them on LT at all, so there's progress.

153mabith
elokuu 31, 2020, 1:16pm


Winner Takes All by Shui Qian Cheng

I had to remind myself what the plot of this book was, but I think that's more because the title has nothing to do with the plot and I read it in the middle of July.

This one was so frustrating, and reminds me why I love playing The Sims - when I get to control everyone's actions they don't make mistakes. Some of these authors need lessons in healthy relationships.

154mabith
elokuu 31, 2020, 1:23pm


The Story of Chicago May by Nuala O'Faolain

I really enjoy O'Faolain's writing, and this was an interesting true crime story. The line between "things there's proof of" and "things I think the person felt" is much clearer in this writing than in some similar books, which I appreciate.

155mabith
elokuu 31, 2020, 1:29pm


Calling Dr. Laura by Nicole Georges

A graphic memoir partly focused on the author's relationship with her missing father (she had always been told he was dead), including a call to the infamous Dr. Laura. It could sort of be an unsatisfying read for some, I think, but I found it interesting and like the art.

156mabith
elokuu 31, 2020, 1:31pm


The Regional Office is Under Attack! by Manuel Gonzales

A fun little read, with a good premise. It's not a perfect book, by any means, but I enjoyed it.

"At its helm, the mysterious Oyemi and her oracles seek out new recruits and root out evil plots. Then a prophecy suggests that someone from inside might bring about its downfall. And now, the Regional Office is under attack.

Recruited by a defector from within, Rose is a young assassin leading the attack, eager to stretch into her powers and prove herself on her first mission. Defending the Regional Office is Sarah—who may or may not have a mechanical arm—fiercely devoted to the organization that took her in as a young woman in the wake of her mother’s sudden disappearance. On the day that the Regional Office is attacked, Rose’s and Sarah’s stories will overlap, their lives will collide, and the world as they know it just might end."

157mabith
elokuu 31, 2020, 1:37pm


Counterattack by Chai Jidan

I've really gotten to a point where I read this kind of premise and go "yeah, sure, why not." Dude A is dating a Lady, she breaks up with him because she wants to be with a rich guy, Dude B. Dude A decides to get revenge by making Dude B fall in love with him but then oh no it's mutual.

This was a really great book until some bullshit happened. Ignoring that, it also had this snake who was basically a character in his own right and I just adored that reptile. A+ animal writing.

158mabith
elokuu 31, 2020, 1:39pm


Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow by Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Very well done book, as you'd expect (and always a bonus for me that Gates is a West Virginian). I read this especially for the view of Reconstruction.

159mabith
elokuu 31, 2020, 1:56pm


Female General and Eldest Princess by Qing Jun Mo Xiao (someone will eventually laugh at some of these pseudonyms I assume, but I've forgotten what this one means)

This was a GREAT book! Yes, I know no one took the time to come up with a good English title (if you want a cheesy title it could be Fight for My Heart). It would make such a fabulous TV show, though I know it will never be made (not even really because of censorship, since China has been cranking out the subtext gay shows based on explicitly gay novels, even explicitly gay shows are made, banned, and then broadcast elsewhere, there's just an extra block about women-loving-women).

Lin Wanyue was gathering herbs in the mountains when her village was attacked and every person was killed by the Huns. She vowed revenge and joined the army using her brothers identity. She always kept to herself and spent every second training. The eldest princess in the kingdom, Li Xian, has just lost her mother the empress. She is 14 but most take action to protect her young brother so that he can become the next emperor. She is extremely bright and cunning while Wanyue is straight forward and more simple. On a visit to her uncle the army commander, Li Xian notices Wanyue's skill and bravery, and decides to use her in a serious of complex schemes.

Seriously, I'd actually recommend this book (available online only). It was really well done, and well translated. I lived for these two and I felt like all the characters actually felt real.

160rocketjk
elokuu 31, 2020, 3:41pm

>158 mabith: Interesting. I'm currently reading Leon Litwack's very long and so far very good Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery, also, mostly, about Reconstruction.

161mabith
syyskuu 10, 2020, 3:57pm

>161 mabith: Hopefully compellingly written as well as given you good information.
Tämä viestiketju jatkuu täällä: Mabith's 2020 Reading Part II.