Tämä viestiketju jatkaa tätä viestiketjua: QUESTIONS FOR THE AVID READER, Part 5.

Tämä viestiketju jatkuu täällä: QUESTIONS FOR THE AVID READER, Part 7.

KeskusteluClub Read 2020

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Muokkaaja: lokakuu 3, 2020, 7:42am

QUESTION 35: ADVERSARIES & MORE (discussion begins msg#2)
QUESTION 36: YOU & LT (discussion begins msg#14)
QUESTION 37: AUTHOR HOUSES (discussion begins msg#59)
QUESTION 38: NONFICTION: RELIGION & MORE (discussion begins msg#99)
QUESTION 39: PARTING WAYS WITH AUTHORS (discussion begins msg#135)
QUESTION 40: READING WHO YOU ARE (discussion begins msg #165)

NOTE: responses to questions previous to #35 should be on their appropriate threads. Be aware there are two threads that say they are "Part 2" continuations (one is actually part 3).

Muokkaaja: elokuu 23, 2020, 8:38am

Question 35: Adversaries & More

Adversaries, the enemy, or the rival; often, but not always, the villains of our the stories, whether they are characters we can name (i.e. Humbert Humbert in Lolita, the shark in Jaws or Aunt Lydia in Handmaid’s Tale or something else....

Throughout our long histories as readers we have likely accumulated an unwritten list of our favorite bad guys or gals. The easiest will be the the characters we can name. But, oftentimes the adversary is not a person at all but an entity, a force of some kind — illness, nature, technology or a way of thinking (i.e. a flood, a shark, the plague or infertility, a computer or other technology, Fascism, an imminent volcano explosion...)

Tell us about some of your ‘favorite’ adversaries in the literature you’ve read. But also think of memorable books where other kinds of elements serve as adversary.

(note: This is a rather a choppy question due to personal distractions of the last few days. My brain is a bit mushy. I’m not so much trying to create a nuanced discussion of the difference between antagonist and adversary here, or who/what is the true villain, so much as just trying to get us thinking a bit broader. For example, Is it Aunt Lydia you despise or is it Gilead’s way of thinking, or both? I’m sure you will all rise to the challenge! )

elokuu 23, 2020, 9:22am

I'm reading my second Mae West novel of the year, which isn't nearly as good as the first, but the anti-heroine would be perfectly described by one of West's film lines:

"She's the kind of girl who climbed the ladder of success wrong by wrong."

Muokkaaja: elokuu 23, 2020, 9:57am

Mrs. Danvers from Rebecca! So many unspoken layers of rage, repression, and sadism in that character. I see there is a remake with Kristin Scott-Thomas coming out.

I also like Mrs. Bennett in Pride and Prejudice. She's a grasping hindrance to the "heroines," but I don't think life with Mr. B was a picnic.

Both these characters are interesting because of what you have to infer about them.

>2 avaland: Thinking of you and hoping the fog lifts soon!

elokuu 23, 2020, 3:52pm

Question 35

I read this question and Casaubon immediately jumped up, waving his arms in the air to get my attention (obviously joking, he would never behave in such an unmannered and undignified manner.) He's just the best because he is so terrible and because I would have fallen for him and been as disappointed as Dorothea when I was in my early twenties and fell for men who postured and performed their intellectual superiority.

Second, of course, is Huntingdon, the adversary of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, who manages to be both attractive and monstrous.

All my favorite villains come from Victorian literature.

elokuu 23, 2020, 5:50pm

Q 35

So many choices for answers. First that comes to mind is Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights. Clearly a psychopath, and someone who calls his only son a "disgusting little cobweb," but there's something fascinating about him. Where did he come from? Where did he go, and how did he make all that money?

Zenia from The Robber Bride (I think I went to high school with her, but her name then was Mary)
Willoughby Sense & Sensibility
Lots in Dickens: Fagin and Bill Sikes from Oliver Twist and Madame Defarge from Tale of Two Cities come to mind
The Other Mother from Coraline
Ben from Doris Lessing's Fifth Child'
Countless abusive parents and husbands (Not Without My Daughter, Poisonwood Bible, The Shining, Like Water for Chocolate)
Many main characters and unreliable narrators (The Dinner & Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Kock, David Lurie from Disgrace, the main character from Perfume)
Those are my first thoughts on baddies who are actually people (and not forces -- that's a whole 'nuther topic)

elokuu 23, 2020, 9:29pm

Mention of "The Dinner" above reminded me of Vernon and George in Ian McEwan's Amsterdam. Not an across-the-board fan of McEwan, but I read that particular book as a dark comedy and enjoyed the interplay between a couple of awful head-trippers.

Listening to Washington Square in the evenings, and Dr. Sloper and Morris Townsend are pretty awful antagonists. James seems to be holding up Catherine Sloper's father and suitor and asking which is worse: A fortune-hunter or a father who consistently undermines his daughter?

elokuu 23, 2020, 9:46pm

>4 nohrt4me2:, >5 RidgewayGirl:, and >6 Nickelini: I agree about Mrs Danvers, Zenia, and Heathcliff (although I'm waffling over the dried up thing that was Casaubon--I'm not sure I abhor him enough to put him on my list. Dorothea would have likely have found 'cause" in serving another man. She clearly is a Myers Briggs INFJ).

I'd add Aunt Lydia from Handmaid's Tale but I'd be happy to widen that to the Republic of Gilead. And certainly there must be some Nazis ....

Here I'm going to go out on a limb and add Kevin from We Need to Talk About Kevin. I know he's a minor but don't evil, manipulating psychopaths count at any age?

I thought about the countless baddies in Joyce Carol Oates oeuvre. Most of them blend together in my mind. And it's tough to hate the serial killers in The Triumph of the Spider Monkey, Zombie, (seems there was at least one more, but can't think of it), because she portrays them in all their inhumanity and humanity (it's that last bit that throws you...).

I have a love/hate relationship with Becky Sharp Vanity Fair. Is she a woman ahead of her time? She, like Zenia, broke the the sisterhood thing.

Mrs. Coulter in His Dark Materials (although having read this as an adult, she didn't keep me up at night. probably because I've run into a few "Mrs Coulters" in my lifetime).

Frank in Banks' The Wasp Factory (that book was over the top!), The Mule in Asimov's Foundation Trilogy, likely Hal 9000 (the computer) in 2001: A Space Odyssey, the Fireman in Fahrenheit 451 (keep your flames away from my books!!!!)

I tried to come up with some baddies in my crime fiction, but the only one who comes to mind is Ian Rankin's reoccurring character: Morris Gerald "Big Ger" Cafferty. He and Rebus are "frien-amies."

elokuu 23, 2020, 10:39pm

>8 avaland:

Here I'm going to go out on a limb and add Kevin from We Need to Talk About Kevin. I know he's a minor but don't evil, manipulating psychopaths count at any age?

Indeed! I had Ben from The Fifth Child and they're very similar

elokuu 24, 2020, 10:14am

>8 avaland: Hey, wait! I'm an INFJ and a Virgo. In defense of my kind, we're not all drawn to the sexless members of the academy.

elokuu 24, 2020, 12:23pm

>8 avaland: Ok, so I'm an INFJ. I wonder if that accounts for how much I identified with Dorothea.

elokuu 24, 2020, 5:00pm

Question 35: so many villains, so little time...

I think for me the worst villains are the ones who actually appear normal or acceptable to society, but are evil underneath. Dickens has a lot of these, like:

Bleak House: Mr Tulkinghorn--the lawyer we love to hate; and Harold Skimpole, the most irresponsible human in all literature.

Our Mutual Friend: Bradley Headstone--the creepy schoolmaster stalker

Great Expectations: Mrs. Joe Gargery--the sadistic sister

Muokkaaja: elokuu 25, 2020, 6:24pm

>10 nohrt4me2:, >11 RidgewayGirl: Er, well, I am also an INFJ, which is where the interpretation of Dorothea comes from, and why I think I make such a connection with her (which makes you wonder about George Eliot, doesn't it?). You are welcome to come by my thread if we wish to have a conversation about this....

elokuu 28, 2020, 7:55am


We have been hanging around each other for quite a while now (some more than others), and with this question we ask you to think back to your arrival on LT, your early days on the site, before moving the conversation forward to how we use the site and what we "get" from the site.

When did you join, and why? (what brought you to LT?) Were you looking for something or did you have expectations when you joined? Were your expectations realized? Or, did you find what you were initially looking for? Did you catalog your books? Do you keep your library current and make changes? What are the best things about LT for you personally? What is your activity history on the site? Do you keep up with all the changes/updates? Are you also on other social media sites? Other reading-based sites? Have you met in person other LTers? Has being on LT with other readers changed the way in which you read, or what your read? How much of your current reading is done because of your interactions on LT? (again, these are all questions to get you thinking...don't feel obligated to cover them all)

elokuu 28, 2020, 9:33am

Joined in whatever it says on my profile page. 2006? 2008? Mostly use LT to record and reflect on books read so I can refer back to them. I check the site once a day.

Cataloguing became a time drain for me, so I don't do it anymore. I like the little treasure hunts for badges. I have several Maine lobsters.

I had hoped LT groups would function as a book club of sorts as I live in a rural area and don't have one "live." Hasn't worked out that way because there are too many people to keep track of. Have gotten some good future reading rec's, though, from other people's threads. And many people in this group are interesting and nice.

A couple of groups I like went moribund. I think you have to be over here a lot to keep up with new groups people might be migrating to.

A couple of groups (not this one) have gotten quite contentious. I have learned to self-censor my more conservative (NOT Trumpian) or religious views and reading. (And I'm not orthodox enough for the conservative/religious groups.) But social media generally tends to encourage people to push their points rather than open their minds. True for me, too.

I am not very good following people's individual threads. I have enjoyed these discussion questions and reading what others think.

Muokkaaja: elokuu 28, 2020, 9:40am

Q 35 Adversaries:

Odd, these questions usually get me typing away, but I had trouble thinking of any particular adversary I’d pick out. Adversaries in general matter, of course, but I don’t think I could ever decide whether Professor Moriarty or the White Witch is more sinister and frightening than Milton’s Satan. Or Lady Constance Keeble....

Q 36 Me! (& LT):

I heard about LT soon after the launch, when people started blogging about it, but didn’t join until April 2007 — like most people, I wasn’t quite sure what it was for the first time I clicked on a link to it, but I was looking for a new catalogueing tool because the offline database I was using wasn’t being maintained any more, and it was fairly urgent because I was planning to move house. I catalogued all my 2500 or so books within a few weeks of joining, which probably saved me a euro or two on removal expenses as I culled half a box of duplicates. (At least I meant to — I discovered a pile of duplicates that weren’t even catalogued just the other day...)

I keep my catalogue up to date, and since Collections came in I’ve been keeping track of my reading of borrowed books and ebooks as well. I also have another simple offline database to track current reading, just because it makes it a bit easier to do stats than LT does. But I’ve been doing my best to tame that Excel addiction since I retired! I make a point of posting reviews of (just about) everything I read, something like 1700 reviews to date.

The social aspect of LT only vaguely interested me when I joined, but I think it’s become almost more important than catalogueing in the meantime. I’ve done my share of Common Knowledge, combining and Legacy Libraries over the years, and I’ve been fairly active on Talk, in various different places over the years, most recently centring on CR and RG. Through that, LT has become one of the most important resources I use for getting recommendations and finding out about books to read. Difficult to say how much influence it has had: I’m sure I would still be reading books if LT didn’t exist, but maybe more would be recent publications (or random secondhand books) seen on bookshop shelves. One thing I have noticed is that since I joined LT my rate of re-reading has plummeted. There’s always so much interesting stuff on the TBR!

Darryl (who else?) organised a meet-up in Leiden a few years ago, that is the only time I’ve knowingly met other LT members in the flesh. It was fun, even though it turned out that most were Green Dragoners I didn’t actually know on LT. We ought to do it again when travel becomes possible!

I’m in a book-club with some former work colleagues. It’s mostly just an excuse to meet for a meal once every six weeks or so (Zoom or picnics this year...). But it does give a bit of structure for thinking about books in a slightly different way. And gets me to read things I otherwise might not.

elokuu 28, 2020, 11:43am

Both your incarnations seem to say 2010, but can that be right?

elokuu 28, 2020, 1:27pm

I was on here before, dropped out for a few years, and had to re-enter under a different moniker.

elokuu 28, 2020, 1:59pm

I joined in 2010, when I was in Library School. It was an assignment from my prof for Children's Library Programming (I was the oldest person in the course). We had to read over 100 books for that course and then catalog them in LT or GoodReads. I enjoyed being here and stayed, although I was not as active in the groups then as I am now.

All my books are not cataloged here, I enter them as I read them. The best part of LT is the Category Challenges and Club Read, because I am forced to read in different genres than I usually would do. I live in a rural/small town area and there are not a lot of book groups here that I know of, although the public library probably has them in more normal times. I get a lot of good reading recommendations from LT groups.

LT has been a lifeline for me during these last months because I feel as if I have friends here, although I have not met anyone from LT in person. I am on LT daily and enjoy reading other people's threads. LT also gives me a place to write book reviews. As others have said, the people here seem nice, unlike some other social media or groups where people can be contentious and hurtful, especially if one does not agree with the current trends of thinking (I tend to be somewhat conservative).

Muokkaaja: elokuu 31, 2020, 9:45am

sorry, double post

Muokkaaja: elokuu 29, 2020, 12:18am

I came to LT (2016) through a chain of other online book sites. I Joined the Atlantic Table Talk Book Salon in 2000 on a friends recommendation and wow! The participants and discussions opened my eyes to new authors, books and ideas, making me a much better reader and a more eclectic one. It also boosted my confidence in being part of book discussions. Later I joined Readerville and Book Balloon with many of the same members. A few years ago iwas picked up by LT. So here I am - not just a member of Book Balloon but member of 20+ groups (most active in 10), with such an array of topics and intelligent well read people that I could never find in my wildest dreams.

I found the idea of cataloging my books online daunting and just had no interest in doing so. I keep track on my own of what books are on my shelves, what I have read, and what I still want to read. These titles often come up in discussions, so listing them online doesn't make sense to me.

The best things about LT for me: 1) I keep finding avenues to books authors and themes that I didn't realize existed . 2) Im not a social butterfly, but here I am meeting people that share my interests, who allow me to join in their discussions, and who enjoy sharing titles as much as I do! 3) I probably now use LT as my source for books, rather than other media, and I usually have a huge list of books with me when I go to the bookstore or library. 4) I really appreciate how this site is moderated, and its a very safe place for me. Cant say that for too many other places on the internet. I have no fear here of being judged by what I read or how much, and I have no fear that I will be flamed by someone who doesn't agree with me. Im not afraid of sharing my opinion and feel like I am accepted here. Nowadays, its become a balm and an escape from the news that I so badly need

The worst thing is that my TBR shelves are groaning, and my wallet is getting thinner.....But its all good.

I check in a few times a day to keep up with my groups. I am also in two real life reading groups. I have met many LTers when they were in Readerville, its fun to still 'see' them here.

LT hasn't really changed how I read: Ive always gobbled up books, often have 2 or three I am juggling at the same time. But it has has definitely changed what I read. I love the international prescence and so I am learning more about people, ideas and books from around the world. I was never that interested in reading translations,but now I am eager to find as much as I can of translated works. Im learning about places, histories and time periods that never captured my interests before, but do now, just because of the people I interact with here!

Muokkaaja: elokuu 29, 2020, 2:06pm

I wrote down how I found LT...somewhere. It's not on my profile...If I find it again I'll put it there. What I remember (and can derive from LT data) - I saw some mention of LT in December 2006 and joined up. And then ignored it for quite a while, most of 2007 (according to my Stats/Memes, I entered all of three books, in three different months, in 2007). Saw another mention of it late in 2007 or early in 2008, remembered oh yeah I have an account there, and started actually entering my books in January 2008 - bought a CueCat and went lifetime within a month.

I had been trying, for years, to make a decent catalog of my books so I could keep track of what I had and where. Various collection software, Excel, all the way back to paper lists. And every one I tried, I'd get partway through and would buy books or get rid of some so my catalog was incorrect (I once spent three months cataloging one bookshelf, I'd finish it and realize I'd changed things and have to go back and do it again...). For whatever reason, LT worked for me. I got the vast majority of my books cataloged in 2008, and I've kept it pretty well up to date since. Having one place to go to find books makes shopping (and not shopping - "oh, I already have that one") so much easier. I started out deleting books I got rid of, but just about simultaneous with the beginning of Collections I bought a book for the _third_ time - really good blurb, really bad writing. So now I have a Discarded collection (and Read but Unowned, for library books and other borrows).

There used to be a chart in Stats/Memes for dates of reviews - that showed a huge bump in...201208? I don't remember. I found the 75 Book Challenge then, and did reviews on the thread; about the middle of the year I realized these were useful and copied them into the books I'd reviewed. I've been tracking my reading dates and doing reviews ever since. Huh - managed to track down some early reviews. Apparently I got into the threads and reviewing just about the time I actually got active on LT, February 2008. I hadn't realized, I thought there was a long time of just entering books and ignoring Talk (such as it was at the time).

One thing I find tremendously valuable about LT, as demonstrated in this post - it keeps records of what I did when. Not just reading - when I started with LT, when I started reviewing, all kinds of stuff. I remember that I did things (mostly) but when is extremely fuzzy - having an external, and (reasonably) easily-accessed source for these records is so helpful.

I have met other LTers; it's fun, but not the point of the site to me. I love the online conversations. I've gotten some serious book-bullets - some of my favorite authors I had no idea about until someone mentioned them in a Talk thread (M.C.A. Hogarth!). I don't think LT has changed what I read in any broad sense, other than introducing me to books and authors I wouldn't have found other ways - it hasn't changed my genre preferences or gotten me to do book challenges. I dislike reading what I "have" to, which means book clubs have never worked for me. There have been a couple read-along challenges, of authors and series I love...that I have completely failed to read any of. I also tried the TIOLI challenges (which was interesting because I could make the books I wanted to read fit) but it was too much work for me. I've looked at some of the list and Bingo challenges, but the same thing - I'm going to read what I'm going to read and trying to make my choices fit external patterns just doesn't work for me. And lists give me an active aversion to those books, even if I would be interested on my own (yeah, I'm weird).

I follow a lot of people in 75 Books Challenge and now in Club Read, which I switched to when I realized I easily and regularly read more than 75 books (usually well over 150, even) and while I enjoy the threads and the reviews it didn't feel like a challenge; I felt like I didn't really fit there. So now I post in Club Read and read threads in both groups.

LT is my primary social media. I have a pretend presence on Twitter - I used to be quite active there, but quit during the 2016 election and have never really gone back (a few visits, but not a regular reading). I cross-post all my reviews there, though, so my sister (who is on Twitter) thinks I'm there regularly.... I avoid Facebook entirely and have never gotten active on any of the other social media sites - I have accounts on a few, but I don't pay attention to them. LT fulfills my need for interesting conversations with interesting people, about books and things that interest booky people.

Oh, that's not quite true. I do spend some time on Discord - though until a few months ago, it was mostly used for tracking challenges on my gamified ToDo site Habitica. Then the filkies came over there and made Filkhaven (transplanted from IRC, which was transplanted from Usenet - Filkhaven's been a place for a long time, but I never ran across it). My favorite genre of music, filk is folk music by and for science fiction fans. So mostly songs where words matter - as opposed to most rock and so on, where it's all about the noise with maybe some words in it...or classical, where it's all about the sounds and patterns. Neither work for me. Folk, filk, country - story songs. And the subjects include computers, the space program, cats, books, magic, stories (original and songs-about-stories), tea/coffee, knitting...a little bit of everything. That's another site for interesting discussions with interesting people about interesting subjects.

I have accounts on Litsy and GoodReads; I've posted on both, rarely, but I really don't read or follow anything there. Huh, LT should set it up so I can cross-post my reviews to Litsy, now that they belong to LT... (goes to RSI).

ETA - so I went back to Stats/Memes, looked more carefully, and discovered I'd been misreading things. The three books in 2007 and the big bump in February 2008 - that's reviews, not books entered.

I actually started entering books in March 2007 (that accords more closely with my memories, too). So joined December '06, did nothing for four months, rediscovered LT and entered a huge number of books (718) in March '07 (and bought a CueCat and went lifetime). Cataloged heavily until August '07, at which point the bulk of my library was in - I've entered books every month since then, but not in bulk (except for a few months - imported a list of my ebooks in May '13 and I'm still dealing with cleaning up that 1000+ entries...and 360 books in November '15 and I have no idea what those are. May be more ebooks). Got onto 75 Books Challenge in '08 (still earlier than I thought) and started putting reviews on my books...some in January, most in February. I had reviewed a few books before that, but after that I tried to review every one (for my own benefit - "what did I think of this, right after I finished it?" often gets quite a different answer from "how do I remember this book" asked weeks or months later).

The problem was that the Review Dates charts and the Entry Dates charts are identical, except for a header at the beginning of the set of charts. So if I scrolled down to the bottom, I was looking at Review Dates and thinking they were Entry Dates...

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 2, 2020, 10:42pm

36 - Me & LT

I started LT in 2007 - I think one of my friends from an online book club for editors told me about it. I immediately loved cataloguing my books. I had been trying to create a book data base without much success, but I took to tracking all my books in LT right away. That year I just kept a list of the books I read. I started writing comments about my reading in 2008, and after a while I started having people comment. Followers! Fun! Then, and now, I write my comments for myself. Due to life changes, my involvement here is a lot less frequent and intense than it used to be, but I still enjoy LT.

I think LT's strengths are that it's flexible enough that any one person can use it the way that works best for them. The other strength is that for the most part, conversations are amiable -- LT is a little safe haven in an internet full of ugly behaviour.

Meet ups! A bonus aspect of LT. When we went to England in 2009, Juliette07 (Julie) invited us over and she and her husband Keith took us on a tour of Oxford. We had so much fun and it was definitely a highlight of our trip. In 2012 we were passing through Toronto for a few days, and I met up with Torontoc (Cyrel) and we had lunch at the restaurant from a famous scene in The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood, browsed some art stores, and went to the Picasso exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

And I've met up with LTers here at home in Vancouver too. Alphaorder (Nancy) and her husband were here after a conference, and along with my husband and two daughters, we went to Capilano Bridge & Cliffwalk & Treetop Adventure, then for lunch at Horseshoe Bay, and then we sat in Stanley Park and chatted while my kids swam in the ocean. Another time Wandering_Star (Margaret) was in Vancouver, so we went to the Museum of Anthropology at UBC.

I wouldn't trade these meetups for anything, and hope to both visit and host LTers when this stinking pandemic is over.

elokuu 29, 2020, 6:33pm

>22 jjmcgaffey: I'm going to read what I'm going to read and trying to make my choices fit external patterns just doesn't work for me. And lists give me an active aversion to those books, even if I would be interested on my own (yeah, I'm weird).

no youre not; Im not into competition and don't think reading should be a sport. I do love threads like Club Read, as well as Reading through Time and Global Reading; their focus on a theme for the month or quarter is more interesting to me because I can pick and chose if I want to join in, and pick which book on the touchstone list I want to read, esp since these came from other readers. And I like reading the genre threads: sci fi, fantasy, history, non fiction, historical fiction.....for the same reason; no one is telling my I have to!

elokuu 30, 2020, 4:34am

>24 cindydavid4: Cindy, you have a trouble post up above in msg #21. Could you please delete it? Thx.

elokuu 30, 2020, 6:28am

Um what is the problem? please explain (message me if nec)

Muokkaaja: elokuu 30, 2020, 8:50am

Me and LT
I've been a member since 2012, though I didn't get very active for another year or so after that—I think that's when I migrated all my books from Goodreads. I originally joined to have a place to post reviews and was also vaguely interested in the social aspect, but I didn't pursue that for a while. My first experience with a social literary site was with the late literary forum/bulletin board Readerville, which was a huge game changer for me. I was very socially involved there until it folded in 2009, started many correspondences and did a lot of physical meet-ups, and even more so that's where I realized that I wanted to do something in the world of books professionally (I was an office manager in an architectural firm when I first joined there in 2003). I got my start blogging and reviewing there, and came away from my time on that site with many acquaintances, a lot of still very close friends, one husband, and a career. Not bad spoils!

I don't catalog my books... not my thing. But I like to have a record of my reviews because my memory for what I read and thought at the time is lousy, and I'm usually much more articulate right after I've read something than down the line. I also post reviews on Goodreads, which doesn't have a conversational social aspect for me but lets me see which of my friends has read a particular book—useful for me because, cf the above, I've known a lot of my social media book folks a LONG time and have a good sense of where our tastes intersect.

I've done the social thing here since 2013 or so, and joined Club Read sometime in 2018. I'm not sure I had any real expectations, other than the fact that I like to chat about books and this seemed like a good place with good and interesting people. I knew from the start that my experience with Readerville would be a hard act to follow and wasn't really looking for that, but was hoping that when the post-Readerville group, Bookballoon, migrated over here it would be more active. That hasn't happened, but so it goes. That and this are the two groups I follow and participate in—I'm not into reading challenges, and actually find anything to do with reading numbers a bit off-putting, which has kept me off of groups like 75 Books, though when I've looked at conversations there they seem fun... but I only have so much time and energy, so I'm happy to stick with what I already like.

I do pay attention to what other folks here are reading, and have found some really interesting books though the group. I'm in two actual book groups, one loosely feminist NYC group that used to meet in person and now Zooms, and one that's been reading Iris Murdoch novels that began during the pandemic so has always been virtual. Basically I like to talk about books, like to write—whether about literary subjects or my boring old self—and this is a nice outlet. I do think it took me a while to form underlying relationships with folks beyond just reading their posts and seeing who likes what—it takes a while. I'm hoping someday when we all can travel again that I can do a little face-to-face meeting up.

elokuu 30, 2020, 9:41am

Id love that too; Lisa and I did a F2F back in readerville days, I think during one of the big book conventions. There are a few others hereabouts too. Like Nikileni, I've met up with some international book buddies with folk in Vancouver, Ottawa, London, York, and once I start traveling again, I'd love to visit others here from around the world. Maybe we should do a LT international convention? ....

elokuu 30, 2020, 11:27am

>28 cindydavid4: That would be fun! We ought to have a look on the map and plot the geographical mid-point of Club Read for our meeting. It will probably turn out to be Ascension Island or somewhere inconvenient like that, though.

elokuu 30, 2020, 1:40pm

>28 cindydavid4: >29 thorold: I would love to meet other LTers.

elokuu 30, 2020, 7:19pm

I joined LT (and CR) at the start of 2015. I was feeling a little lost in life at the time - I'd been made redundant a couple of years before, and after finally feeling like I was getting somewhere with my own consultancy business the company I'd worked with for a year closed down. I was back to trying to find new clients, something that the natural introvert in me wasn't enjoying at all, and at the end of 2014 had hit a very dry spell of work. I ended the year feeling pretty directionless and low in confidence. I was so used to working I didn't know what to do with the unexpected spare time I had on my hands, and I badly needed an enjoyable goal to focus my energies on.

In the space of a couple of years both my husband and I had lost our jobs at one point, so there was a lot of work trauma going on whilst we were trying to raise our young family. My reading had all but gone out the window, which I was really annoyed at myself for, so as my New Year's Resolution for 2015 I set about looking for somewhere that I could record my reading and get back into a bookish world with like-minded people. My first thread was called 'From 5 Annually to 50?', and I started it off with a list of 50 books I'd decided I was going to read that year. I was actually really surprised and delighted when people started to pop over and say 'hi' on my thread to welcome me, and for that reason I've never looked to move away from the lovely people in CR. I ended up reading 74 books that year, and although the number of books I read each year goes up and down depending on how busy life is, I've remained a constant reader ever since and always have a book on the go.

Why do I love it? A number of reasons. First and foremost, I love the people in Club Read. You've widened my reading and challenged my opinions, and I really enjoy getting to know what every day life is like in different parts of the world. It feels like a real community, and without that support, encouragement, debate and camaraderie I probably would have drifted with my reading again.

I've also discovered through LT that writing a review of a book after I've read it really helps me to get more out of the reading experience, and I love the debate when others have also read the book, or when people take away something that encourages them to add it to their book list too. The other big thing for me is that reading other people's threads has hugely widened what I read. I'm reading far more non-fiction than I'd ever done before, and have read many types of books that I wouldn't have reached for if I hadn't become involved with LT. Even if many of the books reviewed are not ones I'm likely to pick up myself, I thoroughly enjoy reading the reviews - it's an ongoing literary education.

I do use the catalogue to track my reading, and from that I probably enjoy most being able to go back to a review years later and reminding myself what I liked or disliked about a book. I'm not big on tagging or using the stats - I just like having the review captured, the rating I gave, and when I started and finished a book.

And finally, as we say here in the Emerald Isle, LT's good craic! What more could you ask for?

elokuu 31, 2020, 5:39am

>26 cindydavid4: Message 20 and 21 are identical - I think that's what avaland was talking about.

elokuu 31, 2020, 9:53am

yeah, figured it out. I was worried when she said 'troubled' but she meant doubled. Makes sense. I deleted one, so np. Thanks!

elokuu 31, 2020, 1:09pm

>25 avaland: OMG, I just made note of my typo; sorry, Cindy, for worrying you.

Muokkaaja: elokuu 31, 2020, 2:57pm

Q36--Me and LT: I joined LT in 2009 to catalog my books. I dreaded putting all of it into Excel. I estimate at that time we had about 1,000 books and I wanted to get a handle on them, purge the duplicates, etc. I also had a notebook in which I kept everything I had read since 1985 (including library books) with title, author and a line or two of comments. At first it was rather a slog to catalog, and took me about 2-3 years to finish, doing in bits and pieces.

On the way I slowly discovered the Talk piece and I've joined here and there. I was amazed at how many people were serious about reading--I rarely met people in my daily life who I would call serious readers (except my mother). Like others, I discovered all kinds of lesser known (sometimes outright obscure) new-to-me authors and books that weren't screaming at me from the library shelves or the windows of bookshops, which is where I usually picked up new books.

I think what really opened my eyes on LT was how so many readers here have reading plans and goals. I had pretty much read haphazardly, without any direction to my reading. In the last ten years I've become a lot more structured in my reading; sometimes too much, but most of the time I think it's been enjoyable and made me think more about what I'm reading, and what I should or want to read next. Of course, in the last 11 years on LT, I've added probably another 1,000+ books, mostly due to learning about them right here.

As Saul Bellow said. “We are always looking for the book it is necessary to read next.” Thanks, LT!

elokuu 31, 2020, 2:09pm

back at q 35 - Dolores Umbridge jumped to mind (Harry Potter, book 5). The evil smiling bureaucrat got under my skin in ways few have (I don't find her as bad in the movies, although she entertaining in them).

Villains need to be good or the rest of a story doesn't work. Seems they are often the narrator (see Frankenstein, etc) and typically unreliable (also Frankenstein??). Shakespeare has terrific villains. The latest I encountered was Aaron, the Moor in Titus Andronicus, and I though he was brilliant despite the heavily racist overtones.

As for elements - I'll just put forward that lack of fundamental meaning and purpose to life is a very common adversary that a whole lot of books fight against, maybe all of them if you go between the lines. Also, nature - I think of Edward Abbey's phrase about its "implacable indifference."

sorry, small detour. Going to Q36 now.

Muokkaaja: elokuu 31, 2020, 2:54pm

Q36 - I joined in 2006 for the catalogue. Before LT i was putting my books into excel and loved doing it and also got very frustrated with all the problems and indecisions I came across. So I started thinking about finding some kind of catalogue system. One day i was exploring blogs (they were new to me in 2006) and I stumbled across someone's book list - it was link to their catalogue in LT - an online catalogue linked to the major databases and with some library-like structure. My first thought was something like "wow, this exists?!" I joined shortly after.

There was no "Talk' then. When "Talk" started, I wasn't sure what to do with it, but I found myself deep in contentious groups. Then I started seeing 75ers and Club Read and started thinking I might like to try a reading diary. In 2009 I started a thread in CR and I quickly learned how nice everyone was. Also, I like the no expectations, roughly free slate we have.

At this point CR is the only thing I really do on LT, other than carelessly updating my catalogue. I'm on GR (mixed), FB (bad since 2016) and Litsy (love), but CR is special because of its kindness, its curious diversity that broadens the scope of my reading, and because of the relationships we have here. I find that last is unique to this platform.

I'm not a social person, but I've met three LTers over these last 11 years - KatieKrug, Arubabookwoman, and kidzdoc.

elokuu 31, 2020, 2:57pm

>25 avaland: hee, de nada. Im just glad other people make those mistakes too!!! :)

Muokkaaja: elokuu 31, 2020, 4:23pm

Apologies in advance for my lengthy and perhaps sentimental historical trip down the LT trail....

As I was thinking about leaving my position at the bookstore (I loved it, but the commute was 28 miles one way, I was on my feet for 8 hrs and had just had a knee replacement…etc*), our then current Random House sales rep*, who knew the extent of what I did in the store, took me aside one day and told me that I was going to need something to help me adjust to “normal” life, LOL. She told me about LibraryThing which had fairly recently added a conversation forum to the site. I joined Oct 3, 2006. There wasn’t that many groups initially, I remember “Book Talk” and “What are you reading now?” and a few others. That was where I would meet other wonderful readers, some of whom I have know for 14 years. As predicted, I began to do what I had been doing in the bookstore for years; gathering people together to talk. I started “Reading Globally” in December 2006, a private group* in June of 2007*, a couple of author fan groups (which worked okay until Facebook became a more appealing way of doing this), the first Club Read in 2009 (I wanted a group that didn’t focus on a number goal; and I admit to “seeding” the group by inviting members privately before I made it public. I wanted a global group of thoughtful readers who didn’t necessarily read the same things). And I also enjoyed trying to re-animate dead or dying groups, which usually works for some amount of time. The trick, I’ve learned, through Reading Globally and Club Read, is to pass the group off to another person for fresh perspectives and a renewal of energy (it does require a certain amount of maintenance). CR is great study in that respect as it has developed so that many parts of it done by different members, and the members create common discussion threads, as needed or desired.

Cataloging. I did love and still enjoy cataloging my physical books; and later cataloging the hubby’s books for him (yes, we have separate virtual libraries but share between 400-500 books). Our library now, nearly 14 years later, represents the physical books we have and those we have read but let go of (together we culled 1000 physical books from our library when we moved in 2014 —and we had to mark them all in both libraries!)

LT gives me the opportunity be around a wonderful variety of avid readers. Early on, it was so fab to have readers from around the world who could recommend new authors to me, and this timed well with literature becoming much more global in availability, and an already increasing number and range of translations. Alas, Facebook got hot around 2009 and there was sadly quite an exodus to it; some found it more to their liking and although I maintain contact with some of those former active members, it’s not the same.

I have met quite a few LTers. We met Tim & family & other early LTers in Boston in Fall of ’07. Sybil (rebeccanyc) and I met once long ago when I was in NYC for BookExpo. We went to Australia and met AmandaMeale (who still shows up on LT here from time to time); met several others in London when there in ‘10. Our private group, which has shrunk due to FB, had some weekend B&B gatherings a few times.

Like kac522 I was surprised to eventually see so many readers with reading plans and goals on the site. I’m what I’d call an organic reader. I don’t have numerical, or really any short or long term goals; I read what I want whenever I am able to read it. Which isn’t to say I haven’t focused on specific topics for a while. I have read in great jags from time to time, but I assign myself nothing. I love to see what others are reading, and I read many, many of your reviews, but there is really a very small number of LTers who can directly affect my own little meandering stream of reading (and you probably know who you are). And strangely, the more popular a book becomes, the less I want to read it! (go figure, eh?) I suppose I think of all those great books being left in the dust of a popular/bestselling book.
I don’t get around LT as much as I used to. There are many more distractions these last few years so I restrict myself to cataloging and commit a few groups. And thanks to some of you who have let me sent books to you; I find it therapeutic :-)

*That Random House sales rep went on to open, with a partner, the Greenlight book shop in Brooklyn.
** During that ’07 meet up, Tim told me that the lifespan of any internet social group was about two years and he was skeptical about the venture. I just smiled and said, we shall see… 13 years later….

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 1, 2020, 9:43am

>39 avaland: The trick, I’ve learned ... is to pass the group off to another person for fresh perspectives and a renewal of energy

Although I'm one of the many "victims" of that policy, I agree completely. All my experience with organisations or activities run by volunteers confirms that succession planning is the single most important element in keeping things going. So many groups volunteer projects collapse when they lose that one person who has done all the work for as long as anyone can remember (and is the only person who knows how the filing system works...). It looks as though the Owners' Association of my apartment building is just about to go that way. :-(

syyskuu 1, 2020, 6:46am

>40 thorold: I think it depends on the group; some groups just don't work here. It seems when I wanted to turn over Reading Globally, I had to confer with Tim & Co. how we could do that, and they came up with something (I forget the details now). Hopefully, that has become easier. The reading groups like Club Read and the various numerical challenge groups are of course created new each year, so much easier to hand off.

syyskuu 1, 2020, 9:20am

>39 avaland: I learned some new things here. Thanks for this post

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 1, 2020, 9:46am

>41 avaland: I was talking about groups in general, rather than LT groups, but that wasn't obvious in my post. I believe we're still using the fix you found for RG (a dummy account assigned to the admin role).

It's silly, really, that we need to do that, because the only important thing the admin uses the admin role for in normal circumstances is to edit the Group home page.

syyskuu 2, 2020, 7:34pm

From my profile I have learned that I discovered LT in 2010. I was looking for a way of keeping an online Library of my books and stumbled across LT. I immediately found it was a site that might give my reading some focus, but the thought of entering all the books I have read in the library here was too daunting so I decided that I would only enter the books I had just read and so I use it as an online diary of reading.

Previous to LT I had periods where I kept notes of the books I had read and so when I found the opportunity to post reviews it opened up for me a whole new world. I then found club read and got very excited about it all. I have continued to log in the books I have read and have continued to write reviews, which I really enjoy doing and which gives me that focus to my reading that I was searching for.

I do not indulge in any other form of online social networking and so when people ask me if I am on facebook I say no I'm on library thing. I have never met anybody who knows what library thing is yet! I do think of it as my other little world and my worse nightmare would be to discover that everybody else on here was a robot.

I think like many people on LT it is not always easy to find other readers in the social circle that you move in and so LT really does open up a new world for me and I do treasure being a part of it. I think of club read when I think of LT but I have and still do belong to other groups. Le Salon Littéraire du Peuple pour le people was perhaps the most interesting with it all ending in acrimony after which various private groups were set up, I think I got a little caught up in it all, but out of that experience I did get to contribute to a book of reviews that got published, which I was very proud to be a part of and of course made more online friends. I have even set up my own group which is used by some of the waifs and strays that have survived the carnage of previous now defunct groups.

I read everybody's reviews on club read. The more diverse the better. I rarely read any contemporary fiction these days and so it is good to read the reviews of books that are "hot" at the moment and so if anybody did talk to me about the latest books I would at least know what they were talking about. As other people have said this is a friendly group and in previous years I have valued the online community spirit that I find here. It has become part of my life and I would hate to lose it. Therefore let me take this opportunity to thank everybody who takes part and who works to keep all this going, whether it is club read or LT in general.

syyskuu 2, 2020, 8:17pm

>44 baswood: Hear, Hear! As I said before, LT and Club Read have become a refuge and a lifeline of sorts for me. I would hate to see it all disappear some day (at least before I do!)

syyskuu 3, 2020, 10:48am

>2 avaland: QUESTION 35

One of my favourite villains/adversaries is Lydia Gwilt, from Armadale by Wilkie Collins. The Penguin cover describes her as a "bigamist, husband-poisoner and laudanum addict" and goes on to say that the contemporary review when the book was published described her as "One of the most hardened female villains whose devices and desires have ever blackened fiction". Unconventional indeed!

Wilkie Collins has many villainous women would fit the bill. Another nasty one is Margaret Sherwin from Basil. Basil himself is a total dolt though.

Victorians seem to have liked the adversarial setup. Another difficult adversary was Lady Audley from Lady Audley's Secret.

A character with a smaller role also comes to mind, albeit one with a true lust for retribution: Madame Defarge from A Tale of Two Cities, a novel high on my reread list.

>6 Nickelini: Heathcliff, from yet another Victorian novel. I think literary true villains have to be fascinating or else we would never feel compelled to follow their dastardly deeds.

syyskuu 3, 2020, 2:02pm

>46 SassyLassy: There you are! Haven't seen you around for a bit.

syyskuu 3, 2020, 4:39pm

Q36 - I started on LT in 2006, just using the site for cataloging. Once all the books a merger college student could own were cataloged I didn't really use the site all that much. Just adding a few books here and there. I guess I started the geology group back in 2006 too, I really don't remember that at all. I've never kept records of what read in the past, so prior to 2009 all my reading was based on memory and books I had in the past. There's still books I add to the old catalog that I come across that remember reading. I can't believe I missed A Wrinkle in Time for so long.

In 2009 I started I guess recording what I read 50 Challenge Group, even if I never was going to reach that goal, being the terribly slow reader I am. I found the structure of that group a bit itchy and watching from a far Club Read seemed like more my speed. So in 2010 I made the switch over. Being in such a well read and articulate group was/is intimidating, but everyone is nice and the reading so diverse it's hard not to stick around. This is probably the most social I get on the internet, still trying to figure out Litsy, but all my reading discussions happen here. What's funny is I never really tracked my reading and now I have a fairly substantial google sheets that update constantly with all kinds of information that I never fathomed was important. Seeing the kinds data collected by others has really changed how i approach reading. This year I even set goals! I stil try to leave wiggly room for my haphazard reading habits, but there are goals and objectives.

The last couple of years I fell off the map here for some personal things. I came back this year because I missed the camaraderie of fellow readers and the people the that make up CR. There really isn't anywhere else quite like the mix that's here.

syyskuu 3, 2020, 4:48pm

>48 stretch: Speaking of those goals. I cut & pasted them into my worksheet for the question related to this group. I keep thinking I can pull a question or set of questions out of your seeming elaborate goal system, but it hasn't worked out...yet. You may be the only one who includes penalties!

syyskuu 3, 2020, 5:00pm

>49 avaland: I prefer to think of them as incentives, I think being the youngest of 4 rather unruly boys neagative reinforcement seems to be in mine and my parents operating manual. Probably not the best motivating factor for most people. I do confess I kinda like it, so maybe it's a small masochist streak in me.

syyskuu 3, 2020, 5:32pm

>48 stretch: Being in such a well read and articulate group was/is intimidating, but everyone is nice and the reading so diverse it's hard not to stick around.

Same thing happened to me when I was on Table Talk. All these folk sounded like lit professors or philosophers, but I asked lots of questions and they all made me feel welcome and I was able to get enough confidence to venture into actual book discussions. It was my first real opportunity to talk books with like minded people once I left college, and just the feeling that I was home made the learning curve a bit easier and enjoyable (The place had other threads besides books, and there were lots of flaming going on - mild in comparison to now on social media. but I leanred to stay in 'safe' places. And It is nice here

syyskuu 4, 2020, 10:08am

>50 stretch: ah, yes, incentives.... (as the 3rd of five, and the most rebellious—and weirdly, the most introverted—of all five, I understand. However, I think I have taken the opposite tack).

Here seems a good a place as any to thank everyone here on Club Read for the thoughtful reviews everyone writes. Every time I post a review, I despair at the content or lack thereof of many reviews left on a book's page (whether they agree with my assessment or not), especially those there for books who have only a few reviews. I'm so glad I don't look for my reading choices via that route. One word is NOT a review; nor is one sentence. Nor is one's childish stamping of feet. Sigh. It's good to be social and cull at least a few LTers out of the pack, who really can recommend to you personally because you value similar things in books. End of rant. Thanks for listening.

syyskuu 4, 2020, 1:32pm

>52 avaland: thanks for this. My thanks to you and everyone here who makes this group what it is. Thanks all for reading and sharing.

syyskuu 4, 2020, 9:45pm

I joined in 2007. The details are very fuzzy in my mind now, honestly, but I think I probably heard about it through a book-themed blog or website or something. I really liked the idea of having an easy-to-use, organized online way to catalog my books. I'd been using Microsoft Office for the purpose for ages, and, honestly, it was ugly and a little bit annoying to use. LT is much easier, richer in features, and much more fun!

I'm still here primarily for the cataloging, and don't use Talk much outside of Club Read and the ROOT group, but I've found posting on those to be a handy and enjoyable way to track my reading, and the way that having a thread here has spurred me to write at least a few words about everything I read has been a positive experience, getting me to think a bit more about my reading and also being able to go back and revisit my thoughts later if I want to. The opportunity to talk to people about it and to see what they're reading is also good, too, of course!

syyskuu 5, 2020, 8:53am

Me & LT

I probably first heard about LT and goodreads in 2007 or 2008 from a librarian friend. At the time, I was having trouble with duplicate books (I had recently bought my fourth copy of Gulliver's Travels, because the "I should read this" impulse was stronger and more memorable than "I own this"). goodreads was free and LT only allowed 50 books on a free account. So I became very active on goodreads until 2013 when goodreads made a huge policy change that pissed off many of its active users and created much talk about an exodus. LT offered free memberships for disgruntled GR users, so I officially joined.

At first, LT was mostly a place to catalog books; I maintained both for a while but after the first of a series of moves requiring the downsizing of my library, I used the unpacking of books as a way to definitively categorize my owned books (and remember much angst about why the default collections are not all the necessary pairs of opposites for read/unread states and owned/unowned states!).

As I was/am obsessed with the 1001 Books list, the 1001 Books group was the first one I joined on LT. I also am fond of reading challenges and when I became disenchanted with my goodreads challenge group I joined the Category Challenge group on LT. From there, I followed the readers that posted interesting books to Club Read.

If I am honest, LT is not a perfect fit for me. I love talking about books, but really don't enjoy writing reviews (as can be witnessed by my inability to complete a year's worth of reviews here). I want the casualness of the 75s group, but with the more literary? serious? academic? non-genre? focus I find in CR. So, while I love reading all the fantastic reviews I find here, I am terrible at participation and love Litsy (Liz_M) for the casual book talk and silly games. I love how LT and CR encourages me to continue reading from the 1001 list and post reviews, but have noticed the pull of the new as I am constantly exposed to current novels on Litsy.

(And, btw, I no longer own ANY copies of Gulliver's Travels and I STILL have not read it).

syyskuu 5, 2020, 2:55pm

Aww, but it's a fun book! Long and wordy, but I still enjoy it - especially the two trips that don't get into the movies, Laputa and the Hoynhyms (mis-spelled). Everybody knows Lilliput and the giants...

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 5, 2020, 6:36pm

>55 ELiz_M: I wrote lots of reviews for Amazon when they had their book groups (not sure if they still do....) but came here and really liked reading the reviews. So I sorta of stopped, which is fine. Lots of people manage to say just what I was thinking or trying to put together, much better than I ever could. Loved your GT story. Think we read it in HS and never reread it since!

syyskuu 5, 2020, 8:09pm

love all these stories. Interesting, Liz ( >55 ELiz_M: ) . There is something different about Litsy. It's the only place I find group reads really successful, for example. FWIW, I find when my head is most structured, this is where i want to spend time. It's just calmer and steadier here, substance without distractions. (least structure leads to fb runs)

syyskuu 11, 2020, 7:37pm

Guest question from SassyLassy....slightly broadened.

QUESTION 37: Author Houses

Are you interested in authors' houses?

Do you visit them if they are close geographically, or do you seek them out—perhaps plan a trip around around visiting such houses? If you have been to an author's home, please tell us your thoughts about it Where you intrigued? Disappointed? Does viewing a particular author's surroundings make a difference to how you view that author? Whose library/ studio / workspace would you most like to see if you could magically observe them working through time and space?

Does your interest go further to perhaps other places of interest or significant things connected to a notable author? Jack Kerouac's car? Chekov's grave, Austen's gloves?*

*I have no idea if these things exist; used as examples only

syyskuu 11, 2020, 8:44pm

I have never been interested in visiting an author's house, but I have always been interested in their handwritten manuscripts. They reflect toil, personality, little preferences and economies in writing materials. Manuscripts over time can reveal age--tremors, poor eyesight, weakening, etc. I am a frustrated paleographer.

But as far as authorial pilgrimages or relics--if it came up on eBay, I confess I would pay a good deal for one of Oscar Wilde's silk cravats.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 12, 2020, 7:08am

No, never interested in visting homes, tho I did see Louisa May Alcotts home in Concord, MA and was fascinated by seeing the very rooms my fav book was written in. Then happened upon a first editiion in the bookstore that I couldn't pass up. But I don't make a point of visiting otherwise

What I would like is to visit the bookstores owned by authors: Ann Patchett and Larry McMurty both have one and think they would be fun to visit

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 12, 2020, 6:05am

Q37: Author houses

My father was an English teacher, so I got taken on a lot of pilgrimages to the homes of authors I was far too young to know about. I can remember going to Nottinghamshire in quest of D H Lawrence, to the Welsh coast for Dylan Thomas, Dorset for Thomas Hardy and T E Lawrence, Haworth for the Brontës, the Potteries for Arnold Bennett, and so on. My father wouldn't voluntarily have visited Dove Cottage, so I probably went there and the Beatrix Potter place on a school trip.

With that, I've grown up with the idea that it's a kind of touristic obligation to visit author museums when you are in a place that has one, but I don't think I've ever gone somewhere specially.

There are obviously some authors where the physical place, the house or its surroundings, is key to who they were and what they wrote about. Hardy, Wordsworth, Beatrix Potter and the Brontës all come into that category. I don't know what it's like now that it's become an important stop on the selfie trail, but seeing Haworth Parsonage and where it is really gave me a sense of what the Brontës were about. Maybe historical distance makes physical sites more interesting too? With a recent writer it's much easier to imagine the kind of conditions they work in, for someone two or three centuries ago you need a bit of help.

A problem with houses is that authors often only establish a fixed location once they are rich and famous, and did all their most interesting work in unimportant bedsits, hotel rooms, or public libraries. The author museum is either the house where they were born (which usually tells you nothing) or the house they bought with the Nobel money, which has lots of exciting mementoes surrounding a grand desk only ever used for writing polite refusals to invitations to give lectures.

I mentioned on SassyLassy 's thread that I'd visited Virginia Woolf's cottage, Monk's House, when I was on holiday in Sussex eight years ago. That's a case where the specific place is almost irrelevant — you feel a kind of religious awe being there, perhaps, but it doesn't tell you much about who she was. It's a nice house, but not really any different from the sort of houses where my more privileged college friends grew up. On the same trip we visited Kipling's house, Bateman's — that's a sort of in-between case, because although it has nothing to do with his background and he only moved there quite late in life, one or two of his later books (like Puck of Pook's Hill) do draw quite closely on the topography of his garden there. And they still have his enormous car, which gives us a curious sense of Kipling as Mr Toad. On the negative side, the National Trust had gone somewhat over the top in reconstructing his workspace, even carefully filling the bin with scrunched up sheets of typing paper...

The museum in the suburb where I used to live is in the home of the celebrated 19th century poet Hendrik Tollens — I've visited it and gazed at his desk and inkstand with appropriate awe, but I've yet to meet anyone (Dutch or otherwise) who admits to having read his work. I notice that the museum has quietly dropped his name from its publicity and just markets itself as local museum.

Houses I'd particularly like to visit: Walter Scott's house, Abbotsford; Goethe's house in Weimar; maybe Emily Dickinson in Amherst.

I don't think looking over an author's shoulder when they are working would be very interesting (possible exceptions: Moses, the Beowulf author, Homer, Milton, ...), but there are a lot with whom I'd love to have been able to spend time, talking about books and exploring their libraries with them. And to go for a bike ride with Zola or H G Wells, possibly even a walk with William and Dorothy Wordsworth, not that I'd have been able to keep up with them.

Artefacts linked to authors are fun, but not really all that interesting, except manuscripts, as >60 nohrt4me2: says. I enjoyed the little typed notice with "rules for guests" Kipling had hanging up at Bateman's ("No guest to walk more than five miles an hour, etc." — he obviously wouldn't have got on with Wordsworth!). I expect the National Trust have used it in the design of a tea-towel, though.

Years ago, when I first came across Anne Lister's diaries, I was thrilled to realise that I'd often visited her house, Shibden Hall, before I ever knew she existed. It's now a museum and country park. Ice cream, ducks to feed, displays of blacksmithing and wheelwrighting, and a celebrated Regency lesbian. What more could you want?

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 12, 2020, 6:54am

>60 nohrt4me2: Oh I am the same way about manuscripts. I got chills down my spine seeing Maurice Sendak scribblings on his drafts for Where the Wild Things Are. (at the NYC Library, IIRC) And visits to the London always includes the British Library reading room with their collection of manuscripts, I can spend hours there looking if my DH wasn't moving me along to other sites.

I do have letters from authors in response to my fan mail or questions. One of the most fun was from Karen Maitland, author of Company of Liars. I had written her expressing my admiration for her book but questioned whether Yiddish was used as far back as the 14th centure; she indicated the language in an early form was used during Roman times!

But the letter I savor most is from one of my all time favorite HF writers, Sharon Kay Penman Her Welsh Trilogy sparked my interest to include Wales on our visit to Europe, and I wrote her a letter asking her for suggestions for itinerary that the book mentioned. Wasn't expecting a response figuring she was too busy. But a week or so later I received a four page letter from her, including not only places and sites to visit but a few recommendations for lodging! It took a couple of visits to complete that list.

I also have some signed books from my collection of illustrators such as Arthur Dulac, Maxwell Parris and Edmund Dulac. have much more recent ones from readings I have attended. These signatures arent impt monetarily, but are sort of stamps of approval for reading their books! Both Neil Gaiman andTerry Pratchette at different events, signed my first edition copy of Good Omens. also signatures from Madeleine Albright, Luis Alberto Urrea, Rachel Skoot . Missed getting Obamas signature on Dreams of my Father when he was at our indie bookstore early in his career. Authors I'd love to see at a live reading (if those ever happen again) and get their signature include Hilary Mantel N. K. Jemisin and Christoper Moore esp his sig on my copy of Lamb.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 12, 2020, 6:58am

>62 thorold: but there are a lot with whom I'd love to have been able to spend time, talking about books and exploring their libraries with them.

Oh yes, my goodness that would be quite the list; MM Kaye, Hilary Mantel, Barbara Tuchman, David McCullough just to start.....

syyskuu 12, 2020, 7:03am

>61 cindydavid4: Cindy, do you mean the Alcott's house in Concord, MA where Louisa wrote Little Women? I'm not aware of any site related to her in Cambridge, MA. Here's an interesting "tour of 18 hidden literary landmarks in Cambridge"

syyskuu 12, 2020, 7:07am

no you are right of course. I'll fix it :)

syyskuu 12, 2020, 8:11am

QUESTION 37: Author Houses

I'm not really interested in authors' houses per se, but I do like seeing authors' and artists' work areas if they're not too overly curated—I like materials, the sense of work being done, a little mess. I'm not sure I'd make a special trip to somewhere if I were to actually take a vacation, as there would probably be too many other sites/art I'd want to see more, but if it were convenient and on the way to somewhere I might take a look.

She says, despairing of ever taking a vacation, but that's another story.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 12, 2020, 8:56am

>62 thorold: "On the negative side, the National Trust had gone somewhat over the top in reconstructing his workspace, even carefully filling the bin with scrunched up sheets of typing paper..."

My friend's childhood home is now a National Trust property and they've 'reconstructed' his father's office, complete with a tea tray on his desk. My friend thinks this is hilarious as his father was never known to accept tea in anything other than a mug.

> Q37: I've never visited a place due to a celebrity occupant but I have visited celebrity houses that are of architectural interest.

avaland might be pleased to know that not only are gloves belonging to the Ladies of Llangollen on display in their house but they're gloves made by the ladies themselves (and very skilfully too!). Also various manuscript documents and facsimiles, such as letters and account books, which I found interesting from a social history perspective.

syyskuu 12, 2020, 2:40pm

Q37 Author Houses

I visited Hemingway's home in Key West twice and loved it both times. I appreciated seeing the room where he wrote and his typewriter and other objects still there. I enjoyed it more as a historical visit (and to see the cats), as I am not a huge fan of his work, although he was quite a character.

I also toured the Anne of Green Gables home on Prince Edward Island. The site includes a very fine museum devoted to L.M. Montgomery with samples of her writing and letters and other artifacts.

Gene Stratton Porter is a famous Indiana author, and I visited both of her homes (Limberlost Swamp and House in Wildflower Woods). I got a real feel for who she was as a person, writer, and nature photographer. I bought some seeds from hollyhocks in her flower garden and for years they grew outside my kitchen window. I also own vintage copies of her books, although some are in poor condition.

I live right down the road from the T.C. Steele State Historic Site, so I have been through his home, garden, and studio several times. Although Steele was an artist (Impressionist), rather than an author, he started the pioneer art colony here and a lot has been written about his art and his fascinating life and his wife Selma. But I digress. . .

syyskuu 12, 2020, 3:55pm


I feel terrible to say that I really appreciate knowing these houses are around, and would certainly appreciate visiting them, but have limited personal initiative to go see them myself. (Actually, I'm not sure what's available in my area. Never thought to look. Googling that will probably be my next click.)

>63 cindydavid4: We stopped by the British Library during our London visit in December and I got a little lost looking all the manuscripts on display.

syyskuu 12, 2020, 3:55pm

>69 LadyoftheLodge: I would go to Hemingway's house for the cats.

syyskuu 12, 2020, 4:08pm

Just a follow up - apparently not much. Although in Austin there is a J. Frank Dobie house. O Henry has a house in San Antonio and a museum in Austin. That might be about it for Texas. ??

syyskuu 12, 2020, 7:55pm

>70 dchaikin: Went to the British Museum decades ago as a student and made a beeline for the Beowulf MS. There were so many other wonderful things in the museum, but I have a whole fictional story in my head about that particular artifact.

Given the errors, the rather bad handwriting (though one is better than the other), and the fact that it is quite small and unimpressive, I think it's plausible that a couple of teenage boys were given the story to copy out as a practice piece. Some scriptorium director perhaps understood that a story about monsters and dragons would keep a couple of live-wires interested and at their task. Sort of like a proto-Marvel comic book. The only thing that prevented them from drawing pictures of Grendel in the margins was some long-suffering monk or nun with watching them like a hawk and smacking their hands.

I wonder if those kids ever made a go of their scribal careers, learning how to get their lines ruled straight and how to fix their errors.

Pretty sure the MS has been exhaustively researched and studied, but I have refrained from learning too much about it for fear that I will have to give up the story of those little boys.

syyskuu 12, 2020, 9:08pm

>73 nohrt4me2: I'd read that.

The tragedy of my (so far nonexistent) fiction writing career is that the only idea I ever had for a novel was a historical fiction set in 17th-century Italy, a time and place I know fairly little about. And all that research would just be WAY too much work, at least while I still have to make a living.

syyskuu 12, 2020, 10:15pm

>73 nohrt4me2: I'm way too old to write that book, but that doesn't mean they're not in my head, entertaining as hell when I happen to think of them. They crop up often enough that I gave them names, Ash and Alf, short for Aeschwulf and Aelfhere.

They might be twins. Orphans certainly. Stray kids often ended up in monasteries, and if they showed aptitude, they were chucked in the scriptoria. They needed people to prep and score parchment/vellum, mix inks and paints, make quills, do the copying, do the art (separate from copying), and match, cut, and bind pages.

It took large numbers of people working in two shifts to keep cranking out books, which were in high demand.

I think it was Ash and Alf (or similar) who stuck all those pictures of cats licking their butts in medieval manuscripts:

syyskuu 13, 2020, 3:22am

>75 nohrt4me2: Or maybe there could be three of them, Eth, Ash and Thorn? :-)

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 13, 2020, 4:57am

I can't resist going to an authors house/museum whenever I am in a town that has one and as Mark has said >62 thorold: going to an area where authors lived and worked can help in appreciating their books.

However I have never been tempted to go to a living authors house to introduce myself in the hope that I might be invited in for a cup of tea or something stronger.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 13, 2020, 12:30pm

Curwood Castle is about 10 miles from my house, and we have been through it because it is architecturally interesting, and my husband likes that stuff. Curwood Castle was the vanity project of James Oliver Curwood, who wrote wilderness adventures a la Jack London at the turn of the 20th century, but Curwood was an even worse hack than London.

All's I remember is that the castle has no bathroom, and I became obsessed with what an oversight that was and couldn't concentrate on the rest of the tour.

syyskuu 13, 2020, 10:20am

>76 thorold: Haha, clever you! But, alas, they have had their names for years. They came to me when my kid's advanced placement English class did a Beowulf with sock puppets video for Young Scholars Night. Ash and Alf would have loved it!

syyskuu 13, 2020, 1:03pm

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 13, 2020, 1:59pm

>68 spiralsheep: So noted!

When we travel outside of New England we do not make plans to seek out author or artist houses; as someone has already said, there is too much to see. That said, I have lived in New England now for all but one year of my now many years, and in many parts of a three-state area. I love old houses and buildings (architecture and function is so interesting), museums, nature, American Lit, art, folk craft...

Note: I've added hyperlinks in case you wish to virtually visit any of these places.

When I was in 4th grade we were taken on a field trip into Portland (Maine) and toured Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's birthplace. I was completely smitten with the whole experience and fell madly in love with Longfellow and began writing poetry at the age of 10. Longfellow's longer poems were still being read in junior high and high schools back then (even I had to read "Evangeline" in high school). His family home was my first "old house".

When I left home at 18 I went to work for the South Berwick (Maine) police department and low! just down the street was the home of Sarah Orne Jewett. I checked that one out back then; and recently went back there last fall with an LT friend. Some of the original wallpaper was on the walls, which I thought were interesting choices. And it's always fun to scan their libraries.

Two years later I moved out to Lenox, Massachusetts and lived walking distance from Edith Wharton's house, "The Mount". At that time in the mid-70s it had just begun to be restored, there wasn't much to see—mostly one hallway and a bit of the grounds. Shakespeare & Co was doing outdoor performances in the summer there. I have been back several times now and can tell you that it is a wonderful place to visit, it is fully restored as are the grounds. While still in the area I took a seasonal job cleaning Daniel Chester French's home and studio (also a museum; French was the sculptor for the Lincoln memorial). I spent more time than required in his studio because I liked being there. While there, the powers that be, farmed me out to other properties so I also cleaned Hawthorne's Little Red house (a modest cottage) and Herman Melville's home "Arrowhead" (pretty ordinary as I believe he didn't have money during his lifetime). At that time I had a couple of rooms on the 3rd floor in what had been the servants' quarters of a building now restored as "Ventfort Hall". I did get over to Emily Dickinson's home in Amherst during this time also.

I moved to NH in '82 and when my girls needed to go over the line to Vermont to Girl Scout camp, I would drop them off and then spend the rest of the day over at the National Trust property; home and studio of sculptor Augustus St. Gaudens, best known probably for the Shaw Memorial on Boston Common. His neighbor during his time was Maxfield Parrish. Coming from the north to St Gauden's place, visitors, if they know where to look, would pass by J D Salinger's mailbox (you don't think his house could be seen from the road, do you?)

Fast forward to the very late 90s and Michael and I are living in Massachusetts near Concord. Thus, I have seen Alcott's Orchard house several times. We finally got married in 2005 while 5 inches of rain fell at Fruitlands, a campus of museums which includes the farmhouse where Bronson Alcott, family, and friends were living the utopian dream (LOL, ask his wife how utopian it was for her and the four girls!). We've been back numerous times. The property has a Shaker building, a small native American museum, and a small art museum. We also, several days later, tried to see Dickinson's house as we were in the area, but it was closed. We have also spent time at the House of the Seven Gables made famous by Hawthorne. They have Hawthorne's birthplace now on the same acreage. Salem has some great old houses to visit.

My favorite stop of all, especially in the fall,and because I also love old cemeteries, is Sleepy Hollow cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts, were, if you can climb uphill a bit, you can see the graves of the Alcotts; Thoreau, Hawthorne, Emerson and the aforementioned sculptor, Daniel Chester French (hey, if you've polished someone's silver sconces you get a bit attached).

For me, these houses and properties are interesting on so many levels. Do they reflect the author or artist who lived there; I'd say, more often than not. Do they give you an historic backdrop, if you will, for their writing. Often. Are the houses, elegant or humble, intriguing in their own right; yes. For me, also, it's personal, it's part of where I live and where my ancestors have lived for 400 years. Roots, you know? (plus, it's easier here, the writers houses are more concentrated in a smaller area)

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 13, 2020, 3:30pm

How could I have forgotten Will! I did tour Anne Hathaway's house and also Shakespeare's birthplace when I was in the UK oh so many years ago!

And then there is the Hoosier Poet James Whitcomb Riley, whose house is in Indianapolis, right on the main street, although sadly, he is no longer in residence there. (UBI--I was assistant principal at Riley High School and our yearbook was named The Hoosier Poet.) The James Whitcomb Riley Shrine/birthplace is located in Greenfield, Indiana. I own a volume of poems that bears a bookplate indicating it was purchased there. If you do not know James Whitcomb Riley, check out "Little Orphant Annie" or "The Raggedy Man," which are some of his better-known poems.

The Best-Loved Poems of James Whitcomb Riley

syyskuu 14, 2020, 3:54am

I am not as interested in author's homes as I tend to separate a work from its author, other than keeping in mind an author's name if I liked their work so I can read more of their work.

The only house I have been to is Voltaire's, near Geneva. I went because the house was recently remodeled and my parents wanted to go as it is so close to where we live. The outside of the house was beautiful but the inside wasn't worth the visit. The attached giftshop with all his books was nice though.

I have been much more interested in visiting the French castles featured in Dumas' books such as the Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte. That has been much more fun!

syyskuu 14, 2020, 10:52am


>62 thorold: The idea for this question came from your comment about Monk's House!

Last fall I stayed on the property where Willa Cather spent her summers, not out of any devotion to Willa, but rather because it looked like the most interesting place to stay on the island. However, I was struck by how simple and remote her place was, and how it would give the peace and contemplation to write her books.

However, there are definitely authors' homes I would love to see, because I think that however sterile they may be in preservation, they do give some idea of the person behind them. Among the places I would like to see:

- Klovharu Island, Tove Jansson and Tuulikki Pietila's summer home for more than thirty years:

- Abbotsford, of Walter Scott mentioned above in >62 thorold: above, not for the grandeur, but more from a sense of melancholy for what it did to the author:

- As a child I visited Beatrix Potter's home at Hill Top, and found it intriguing, but I know if I were to return now, I would be horrified by the National Trust's transformation. Paradoxically, it was Potter who had a lot to do with the setting up of the National Trust. For now I will content myself with the well illustrated Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life, which presents an excellent overview of the home and its surroundings:

- Another place I will avoid now thanks to the crowds is Haworth. For years I tried to get there without a vehicle, from places like York, Manchester, Edinburgh and so on, but it was definitely a "You can't get there from here" kind of place. Now the crowds would defeat me - I would never be able to see it in solitary splendour, so better to walk the hills

- One place I would really like to see is Mikhail Bulgakov's home in Kyiv, to stand in the window and imagine the revolution as he would have seen it. The home and revolution were the inspiration for The White Guard.

Where would I like to be a fly on the wall - Vailima, Samoa, last home of Robert Louis Stevenson. Watching RLS move through his day would be something.

In terms of actually meeting someone, sailing with Arthur Ransome in the Baltic would be high on my list.

Then there are personal libraries, which say more about us than just about anything else. My top three to wander in in no order:

Susan Sontag

Norman Mailer

Jorge Luis Borges in Buenos Aires - this may be mostly inspired by stories of it by Alberto Manguel

syyskuu 14, 2020, 11:27am

>84 SassyLassy: Willa Cather's gravesite is about 25 miles west of me in Jaffrey, NH. She visited the area of Mt Monadnock in 1917, grew fond of it, staying each time at the Shattuck Inn in the same corner room with a view of the mountain. Here is where she wrote My Antonia and other works. It has been said that the area, then a rural farming town, reminded her of her childhood years in Virginia. Apparently, she liked it well enough to be buried there.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 14, 2020, 4:02pm

>84 SassyLassy: What a shame about Haworth! You could have got there quite easily from Manchester or York. There’s a lovely preserved steam train that runs up the valley from Keighley at weekends (as seen in the film The Railway Children), and there would have been buses from Bradford or Hebden Bridge, but in pre-internet days your chance of finding such things out in a tourist office or railway station outside West Yorkshire would have been close to zero. I’ve cycled over the hill from Hebden Bridge a few times, but I’m not sure I’d recommend that.

Yes, the Tove Jansson island would be an interesting place to see. Although maybe it’s somewhere better just kept in the imagination.

I’d be afraid of being found out as a duffer if I ever sailed with Ransome!

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 14, 2020, 11:55pm

>84 SassyLassy:, >86 thorold: We did the steam train thing to Haworth from Sheffield via Leeds in 2017. And yes, there were crowds (school holiday week in late May). So a long wait. Rather irritating to see the large parlor for Rev Bronte and the tiny back parlor the girls had to share to do their writing and work. It was right after the BBC TV drama about the Brontes ("To Walk Invisible") and there were costumes and artifacts on display from the show, as well as an interesting room upstairs with 19th century every day items (quills, combs, irons, etc.).

But as >62 thorold: mentions there is something about walking around the area and getting the atmosphere of place. Plus it was perfect Bronte weather: windy, rainy and just chilly enough to get the full Yorkshire effect.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 22, 2020, 11:19pm

I'm not hugely interested in author homes as author homes, but I love old houses so I'm always up for a visit.

Though I did always want to get to the Carl Sandburg in North Carolina (my dad always promised to take me, as we went near there to visit my oldest brothers, but he never did). Sandburg is one of those special authors for me. The same goes for Elizabeth Gaskell's house if I were in the UK.

An 'author house' that amuses me to no end is the Pearl S. Buck house here in West Virginia, which she spent maybe her first couple of months of life in and that's it. Lovely looking house though.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 15, 2020, 6:49am

This seemed interesting and on topic.

I'm reading The Silent Traveller in Lakeland, 1937, by Chinese artist Chiang Yee and he's visiting Wordsworth's house, but only because it's raining:

(...) I was advised to go to Dove Cottage, where Wordsworth had lived for some years. It was an obvious subject of pilgrimage and visitors came from every part to this place in the little valley. Wordsworth had associations with many lakes in the district, but this was the one that attracted most people, probably because his grave and cottage were there. I entered the cottage and felt that nearly every object preserved some of the poet's personality. There are many of my countrymen who have the same keen interest as most Europeans in finding out which chair the poet sat on and which bed he had slept in. I am afraid I am not that sort of person. I prefer to leave those things for the study of historians and archaeologists. What interested me most were the surroundings which stimulated the poet to compose his poems and convey his ingenious thoughts. I imagined the original environment at the time when he was composing must not be in the least like what we now had before us - so many people coming and going, so many hotels and cars. His feeling would have been very different had he lived in this sort of atmosphere. Anyway he has proved an unintentional philanthropist in finding so many jobs for people, and it was very clever of him to have left so many things for the interest of visitors if they had little taste for scenery!

I passed through the Wordsworth library and museum rather quickly, though I stayed for some time examining the original writing of the poet. (... goes on to describe Wordsworth's grave, and a previous visit to Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey, and the Chinese custom of holding a yearly memorial ceremony for poets at the Poets' Temple.)

(...) All these visitors had seen Dove Cottage and bought something as a souvenir; I should like to know how deep was their impression of Wordsworth.

(spiralsheep's note: I'm guessing about as deep as it was before they visited the house. Poetry is not landscape, and cultural commentaries are not domestic arrangements. But some people might have differing experiences, and visiting the home of someone who wrote about their home or domesticity, e.g. Lucy M Boston, would have a different effect.)

syyskuu 15, 2020, 5:47am

>89 spiralsheep: Interesting!

syyskuu 15, 2020, 7:02am

I should possibly also add that Dove Cottage was opened as a museum in 1891, so when Chiang Yee visited in 1937 it had already been tourist attraction for 46 years!

syyskuu 15, 2020, 11:12am

I read Chiang Yees travels to San Fransisco ages ago and always meant to go back to his others. Thanks for the reminder.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 15, 2020, 12:11pm

>92 cindydavid4: You're welcome, especially as I only heard of the book via Reading Globally! The Silent Traveller in Lakeland was Chiang Yee's first travelogue and the reviews seem better for later books such as Edinburgh but the Chinese-style watercolours of the Lakes are excellent.

syyskuu 17, 2020, 11:23am

It occurs to me that one of the books I'm reading at the moment, Possession, is largely about the lure of getting (too) involved with the traces writers leave in the physical world.

>91 spiralsheep: Tourists were already a regular menace whilst Wordsworth was still living there — Dorothy seems to have done a lot of tactful fending off of intrusive strangers who felt that their connection with his poetry gave them a right to wander into his house.

syyskuu 17, 2020, 12:25pm

>94 thorold: Interesting! Possession is such a haunting (and repellent) story.

syyskuu 18, 2020, 4:29am

>94 thorold: Those pesky persons from Porlock!

syyskuu 18, 2020, 5:52am

>96 spiralsheep: As you know, that was Nether Stowey, not Dove Cottage. :-)

Alan Isler's The bacon fancier is a fun fictional treatment of that, from the POV of the Person — I think I've come across a few others as well.

Many years ago I was on a poetry weekend where we stayed in a place close to Alfoxton Park, but on that occasion I skipped the visit to Nether Stowey and sneaked off with some other rebels to get a bit of fresh air on the beach.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 18, 2020, 6:16am

>97 thorold: I shall have to look into that book! IIRC one of the Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency novels features our hero desperately trying to prevent Coleridge from writing a particular poem by knocking on his door....

> Re: Possession and authorial remnants, I'm now coincidentally reading about Gwen Watkins, widow of the poet Vernon Watkins, who bravely not only invited Ruth Pryor, an academic/editor studying Watkins, into her household but also rented Ruth Pryor a room while she worked on and published the papers! Above and beyond the call of wifely duty in my opinion (but I'm glad it happened).

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 19, 2020, 7:20am


Do you read, or have you read, books related to religion, spirituality or perhaps the lack thereof (i.e. secularism)? If the answer is an unequivocal no, why not? If yes, is this personal or just curiosity? Is it a general interest or a very specific one? Do you read outside your comfort zone? Are you reading in any kind of order or with a plan? Please share according to your comfort level and tell us about some of the books you found most interesting.

After answering the above, one further asks if your interest in this area extend to fiction and poetry? What about fictional religions? (i.e. Vonnegut’s “Bokononism” or the religion in Dune?)

syyskuu 19, 2020, 7:52am

>99 avaland: Not a perfectly-worded question, but I think you will get the idea....

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 19, 2020, 10:09am

I find myself reading "around" religion a lot. I read The Seven Storey Mountain and Cloister Walks. They were OK.

Mark Salzman's Lying Awake is one of the best novels I have ever read about the ambiguity of religious experience.

For me, religion is best approached through fiction and imagination. Once religious experience is codified, it becomes legalized, and from there it devolves into a bunch of black and white "thou shalt nots." I prefer the lives of the saints to theological treatises. Religion isn't what you think, it's how you live your life.

Every so often, I read Elmer Gantry. Sinclair Lewis clearly yearned toward belief, but the messengers often make it pretty hard for doubters.

I have never been interested in sci fi/fantasy religions. I find Phillip Pullman's novels totally incomprehensible. I think professional atheists (Christopher Hitchens, et al) are closed-minded and often mean, though Ricky Gervaise is a nice exception.

I am a practicing Catholic with a lot of questions.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 19, 2020, 11:34am

Atheist Jew here, who still loves the traditional prayers, Talmud commentary and holiday celebrations. Actually do not always agree with what Israel does (this alone has made me more of an outlier among my friends than being atheist, go figure) but obsessively curious about the archaeological findings there that give us more clues about the beginning of christiantiy and the time of Jewish Diaspora and how people lived. (always wanted to go to Iraq and Iran to see the sites, and maybe do some digging, but thats been off the table for a while)

Love Karen Armstrong, and Elaine Pagel. Big fan of Zealot despite some quibbles (ah, no, Jesus and his community were not illiterate). His telling of how Judaism was split after the destruction of the temple in 70 CE gave me so much more background of that time, and of the very early church is enough that I forgive him his error. I had no idea that the basis for antisemitism first stemmed from the Roman frustration with Judeah during that occupation (the residents were not taking being put down lightly) and this shows up in the early gospels. sigh

syyskuu 19, 2020, 12:35pm

>99 avaland: Q38 Non-fiction religion (except from my point of view religious texts are rarely non-fiction). I was legally obliged to practice Anglican Christianity every schoolday for ten years, plus excursions into studying the texts and beliefs of other major world religions. None of it did anything for me either intellectually or emotionally. If there's a creator deity then s/he made a surprising number of apatheists and atheists!

As a young adult I read the extended canon of poetry in English which includes many different approaches to religion, especially Anglican and Catholic Christianities. Occasionally I felt the emotional appeal or practical use of a section of religious poetry but most of it seemed hollow to anyone who doesn't share an inclination to believe in some very specific fictions.

I've also read other religious texts out of historical or professional interest, or because a personal friend of mine wrote it and expected me to read it, lol.

I admire people who can write about religion in fiction and make it convincing. I read a book earlier this year about a Hindu ashram led by a woman who made a rather unlikely prophecy, and the way the result was dealt with allowed a variety of possible readings from devout Hindu to a scientific worldview such as mine.

Oddly, I do have a favourite religious book and poem: the book is Marge Piercy's The Art of Blessing the Day and includes the poem Nishmat. I've read it to various poetry groups and it always results in facial leakage en masse. On one Remembrance Day I read it to a group including an elderly man, S, who claimed his favourite poet was Rudyard Kipling, and S was moved to tears. Experience has demonstrated to me that some art reaches people across a wide spectrum of tastes and opinions.

syyskuu 19, 2020, 1:33pm

Alright how did I get through years of Hebrew School, Sunday School, Shabbath services, Confirmation without knowing that prayer? Actually reading the English translation I recognize sections of it just never heard the whole thing.

My interest in religion started in HS, with an organiation called Bnai Brith Youth. Lots of our events were parties and fun, but we had many interesting workshops not just about my own religion but others as well, (still vividly remember a group of priests and ministers came to give short lectures on their religion, there is one that stands out as being the only one who spent his time trying to convert us young jews. IIRC he got lots of blowback by the ones who were able to dispute line by line. Anyway it was interesting) Learned a great deal about Israel, and after HS spent 6 months volunteering on a Kibbutz (where I met so many other volunteers from all over the world and some who knew more than one language! I realized how very limited my education was) Also introduced me to the age of the world, of thousand years of history at my feet.

I do remember vividly losing all my faith in Israel after massacres in the 70s and started questioning what I had learned. I continue to question and continue to learn, not looking for the one true religion, just curious how people live, how they believe, what gives them faith. Which is why i like Armstrong and Pagels so much, they show that to me (darn it i can't find those books, Im afraid they might have gotten purged some time)

syyskuu 19, 2020, 1:52pm

oh and a few books that might be of interest

The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew-- Three Women Search for Understanding Found it interesting then I found out lots of mistakes made by the author. Still interetin

Common Prayers is interesting if you know very little about Judaism, but worth reading

The Peddlers Grandson by Edward Cohen True story of growing up Jewish in Mississippi in the 50s and 60s

Sunflower Can we forgive the wrongs committed against us,against our faith and people? A group of philosophers, critics, and writers weigh the moral issues involved in a young Jews' response to a dying Nazi's confession of mass murder.

Narnia aside, A Grief Observed is perhaps my favorite book of CJ Lewis. I read it after my father passed away and was moved by it enough to pass it on to others. The book helped inspire a 1985 television movie, Shadowlands, as well as a 1993 film of the same name the movie based on his wife

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 19, 2020, 2:25pm

On Q37 - I would love to visit author houses, but sadly there is nothing much of interest near me. There is a walk around the Bronte homeland not too far from me where the Bronte sisters' father grew up, but I'm not sure there's much to see beyond the school where he taught and church where he preached. Still - I must visit it as a nice walk some day. My good friend's aunt lives in CS Lewis' childhood house in Belfast, which I've always thought was pretty cool.

Q38 - yes, I do read religious Christian books from time to time. Why? Well, I guess that I hope some of it will rub off on me and I'll feel a deeper connection with my religion. I feel it in my head, but I struggle to always feel it in my heart.

syyskuu 19, 2020, 4:42pm

Q38 - Religion

For me, it’s a bit like that poster people used to have pinned up on their office walls: “Work fascinates me — I could sit and look at it for hours”. I read quite a lot of non-fiction that touches on the religious beliefs held by people in general or by specific individuals (writers, rulers, thinkers) in the past, and the ways they acted those beliefs out, but I don’t read much in the way of specifically religious writing.

Fiction and poetry that deal with religion — of course! It’s a huge area of human experience and culture, you can’t get away from it. Where would we be without Paradise lost and Middlemarch? Or The satanic verses? Or even Brideshead revisited and The power and the glory?

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 19, 2020, 6:33pm

Q 37 Author Homes

My travels don't often take me past authors' homes, but I did take my family to Virginia Woolf's Sussex property, Monk's House. I thought that they would be bored, but it turned out to be one of the highlights of our two weeks in England. We had a lovely picnic on her lawn, poked the snails in her pond, and had a rousing game of bocce.

If I ever get to Yorkshire, I plan to go to all the Bronte sites, crowds or not.

More than looking for author's homes, I seek out places that I know from novels -- settings that made an impression on me. For example, on the same trip to England, I followed Mrs Dalloway's walking route through London.

Q 38 Religion

Over the years, I've read a lot of books on religions. Some of my favourites are the ones about extremism: Kingdom Coming by Michelle Goldberg and Have a Nice Doomsday (Guyatt) on US Christian Nationalism; Under the Banner of Heaven (Krakauer) and Stolen Innocence (Wall) on Mormonism; Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Murder in Amsterdam ( Buruma) on Islam; Shame, (Sanghera) on Sikhism; and Quiverfull (Joyce) on whatever type of Christianity you call that.

For a fictional religion, I'd say The Year of the Flood by Atwood is my favourite and The Followers by Rebecca Wait is also good.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 20, 2020, 11:25am

Question 38: Nonfiction: Religion

Religion & spirituality has always interested me, and over the decades I have both studied and read recreationally within the topic. I include myth/mythology as part of this category also. The fiction is just what comes to mind at the moment. I'm sure there were more.

Recommended books:

1970s I was a prolific reader up until the late 70s. It has been said that "in the 1970s one either did drugs or religion". I did the latter. I include no recommendations from the late 70s because where I was at the time reading was spare, terribly narrow, and outside reading was frowned upon.

Multiple authors, The Bible. 66 books (I read this through again in the late 1970s )
C S Lewis, Mere Christianity, and Fiction: The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce
Fiction: Herman Hess, Siddhartha

1980s (i had three small children & worked nights in the 80s so not a lot of deep reading was possible)
Frank Spencer Mead, Handbook of Denominations in the United States (Handbook of Denominations in the United States)
Joseph Campbell, Hero with a Thousand Faces, The Power of Myth
Harold Kushner, When Bad Things Happen to Good People
Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich (OK, it wasn't about religion but there was something in this book that scarily reminded me of the 70s & religion, so I include it here)
Fiction: Harry Kemelman, The Rabbi Small mystery series.
A. J. Cronin, The Keys of the Kingdom (I read Cronin's entire oeuvre in the 80s)
Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale
In the early 90s I took two classes at one of the sort-of-local universities. It was a bit of a drive, but worth it. If you are looking for covering all the bases these work well:
Ronald Johnstone, Religion in Society: A Sociology of Religion (this class was really interesting....)
Robert Ellwood, Many peoples, Many Faiths: An introduction to the Religious Life of Humankind
Robert Ellwood, Words of World Religions (companion to the above)

Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run with the Wolves
Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul
Karen Armstrong, A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Sharon Salzberg, A Heart As Wide As the World (there were other books about Buddhist practice)
Jon kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go There You Are (not technically about religion....)

Fiction: Molly Gloss, The Dazzle of Day (Quakers in Space)
Mary Doria Russell, The Sparrow (Jesuits in Space)
Ian MacLeod, The Great Wheel (Roman Catholics in a dystopian future)

Andrew Copson, Secularism: Politics, Religion, and Freedom (I need to finish this)
Phil Zuckerman, Living the Secular Life : New Answers to Old Questions

I continue to read up on Puritanism and other religions/movements in early America/New England as context for my ancestry work.

Edmund S. Morgan, The Puritan Family is very accessible
Alan Heinmart, The Puritans in America : a Narrative Anthology

syyskuu 20, 2020, 1:19pm

I was a big fan of Joseph Campbell, these days not so much.

First year of college was a huge growth spurt for me in terms of understanding philosopy and just expanding my reading. We read I and Thou in my Hillel (Jewish center) book group, and was really taken by it. Read several more but don't think they topped this one

We also read the bio of Maimonides along with his guide for the perplexed Loved eight levels of charity, each greater than the next.

1 The greatest level, above which there is no greater, is to support a fellow Jew by endowing him with a gift or loan, or entering into a partnership with him, or finding employment for him, in order to strengthen his hand so that he will not need to be dependent upon others . . .

syyskuu 20, 2020, 2:53pm

Q28 Religion
I grew up Roman Catholic, attended RC schools K-12, and I am still a practicing Catholic, although I do not agree with everything associated with the Roman Catholic Church. I have been reading books in the area of religion since I was a child.

I always select some special religious or spirituality books to read during Lent. During the rest of the year, I read sporadically in the area of religion, both fiction and non-fiction, no special reading plan. Some of my faves: Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, James Martin, Pope Benedict XVI, and the Lives of the Saints. I have read the Bible in its entirety several times.

I am currently reading Living with the Monks by Jesse Itzler which is not my usual "religious" read, but it has been a thoughtful and interesting choice so far. I am particularly intrigued by the monastic life, and I read/have read quite a lot about that.

syyskuu 20, 2020, 7:15pm

>111 cindydavid4: Buddhists have levels of charity, also, re highest being to create a society in which charity is not necessary.

Great minds ...!

syyskuu 20, 2020, 7:21pm

>113 nohrt4me2: hee, really!!!

syyskuu 20, 2020, 7:39pm

>111 cindydavid4: Is there something about both the giver and receiver are unknown to each other? (i.e. anonymous on both sides). Or is that at a lower level?

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 20, 2020, 8:08pm

thats actually the second level. here is the whole list

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 20, 2020, 11:57pm

>110 avaland: My Sociology of Religion class in college was taught by Dr. Johnstone! It was an interesting class. He spent a couple of weeks showing and discussing a documentary about the snake handling Pentecostal communities in West Virginia. He took a dispassionate but very respectful approach.

I often wondered what he might have written about the Amish. My father-in-law was raised in an Amish community but left at 16. So much of what is written about them is highly romanticized, or written by self-appointed defenders of their way of life. In reality, there is considerable variation among Amish populations, their doctrine, and their connections with the larger world. In infrequent family gatherings, I have sensed their way of life has interesting parallels with early monasticism. Except for the celibacy.

syyskuu 21, 2020, 6:28am

>117 nohrt4me2: Lucky you! One class was the sociology of religion and the other was the comparative history of religions. Twas the former that intrigued me most.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 21, 2020, 10:54am


I'm like cindydavid4 in >103 cindydavid4: So, religious and spiritual reading is not a straightforward thing. I'm not anti-religion or anti-spirituality. But much exploration of "spirituality" comes across to me as incoherent and it gives me that sense of a person or author being too free with their lack of self-exploration and not putting in the effort to explore how hard it is to make sense there. I recently read Dune - which is essentially a religious text, even if a fictional religion. I felt some sense of appreciation for what the author put into that, but also could not really take him seriously. But of course, like other life moments, books do that thing, or variation of things, that make us apply that loosely defined word "spiritual" in a way that has a great deal of meaning...and authors often strive for that.


Entertaining context: I'm reading Dante (very religious) and Nabokov (who has nothing remotely spiritual that I've found). They are types of opposites regarding this question.


I spent several years on an off, while here in CR, reading through the old and new testament. I oriented my mindset for that reading as a literary reading, but that turned out to be only partially true. It has definitely paid off that way and I recommend all readers spend time with those text just to appreciate what authors do with this stuff. One of my best experiences was reading Toni Morrison's Beloved while deep in the Old Testament. Morrison is brilliant with the bible and it was something to be in both texts and see some of what she was doing and get a sense for how sophisticated and playful she could be at the same time.

But regarding the part of that that wasn't true - the part of my bible reading that was not just literary but really religious in some way, or at least a way of my confronting religion, I addressed this to myself in 2015 in my final thoughts after finishing the Old Testament. I'll quote here from my thread and I will note that I think the second sentence is the most important:

"Over in the What Are You Reading Now thread someone wondered how this book affected me religiously and I said it had no affect. I would like to correct that comment a little. Reading the OT does have me thinking a lot about religious ritual. Now, when I attend a religious service, I'm always thinking about the texts used and interested in the way they are used. I'm generally uncomfortable with religion. I'm Jewish but preferred all Jewish stuff to be in Hebrew so that I wouldn't understand it and wouldn't worry about what it meant, because I probably would find issue with it. Now I look for the English translation, and it's place within the OT, or how it links to the OT. In Christian ritual, which is usually in English, I have always been very uncomfortable - even for weddings and funerals. That has changed because of this read. Now, instead, I find myself very interested in what is going on and what text are used. I can actually enjoy these events now."

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 21, 2020, 10:47am

Forgot I did read R. Crumb's The Book of Genesis and Colm Toibin's The Testament of Mary, both of which I liked.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 21, 2020, 12:52pm

>119 dchaikin: Wow, Dune as a religious tract? Could you explain more? I first read that book at 14 and the religious part was there (tho the Besserit Witches certainly are a cult of sort) but I saw Paul as a young man dealing with the powers he has while trying to rule this desert planet. I think someone can be spiritual and not part of a religion per se. I got the former in the book, not so much the latter.
Need to reread that again (oh gosh darn...) I think the second book (which is actually better than the first) perhaps more religious based.

" Jewish stuff to be in Hebrew so that I wouldn't understand it and wouldn't worry about what it meant, because I probably would find issue with it."

Ha I love this! You know maybe thats why I love the tradition hebrew prayers because if I have to think of the English praising and over praising god, Id totally shut down. (I also need to have the original - ie how I learned it - melody to be happy. This new fangled stuff, well......)

"Now, instead, I find myself very interested in what is going on and what text are used. I can actually enjoy these events now"

I think having studying the talmud and mishnah with our rabbi in college did the same thing for me. I understand the context, and the commentary of the text always makes more sense to me, and so I can accept them, even if the person saying them means it in the literal way. (tho if I see one more wedding where the bride is walking around the groom 7 times I will explode)

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 21, 2020, 1:04pm

>121 cindydavid4:

on Dune - I read it at about 18 and did not think anything about religion. But when I read it again recently I realized his religion is everywhere, in everything. He mixes different traditional religious concepts to create his own Messiah story and religious philosophy. I thought it felt as if he really did put all of himself into that aspect. I haven't re-read book 2 yet.

on Jewish melodies - I'm with you, I'm attached to what I grew up with. I do find that if the same variation is used over and over again, I can get attached to it. But I find them very awkward the first time.

on talmud and mishnah - I admire you put some much time into that. Just a mystery for me.

syyskuu 21, 2020, 1:40pm

>119 dchaikin: Thanks for that. It was interesting and I appreciate your willingness to share those thoughts.

syyskuu 21, 2020, 4:05pm

>122 dchaikin: But when I read it again recently I realized his religion is everywhere, in everything. He mixes different traditional religious concepts to create his own Messiah story and religious philosophy. I thought it felt as if he really did put all of himself into that aspect

ah I see; religious tract to me has a negative connotation; get what you mean and agree

As for the talmud study, several of us Hillel kids were close to the rabbis familiy (I babysat their kids all 4 years of college) we used to go to their house on Saturdays for class and then a real homemade meal (!) and oneg shabbat. Still in touch with them. Reb is now a zayde! Anyway it helped doing this in a group, and it was very informal. I don't call myself a scholar at all; just very interested in what it all meant and had a really good teacher. Still learning, thats for sure!!

syyskuu 21, 2020, 6:09pm

I read Narnia as a kid, and loved it. Later - early teen, I think - I read about it being heavily Christian, and went Huh? Then reread and yeah, Christian imagery all over. Though I still can't think of Aslan as Christ - the carpenter's boy is way too mild compared to the lion. Raised Roman Catholic, still attend church mostly for my parents. I've been questioning for a very long time - but haven't found (in my rare explorations of other sects and religions) anything that's better. Shakers, maybe, but as there aren't any around any more...

syyskuu 21, 2020, 8:11pm

>125 jjmcgaffey:
About the Shakers . . .
Earlier this year I happened to read a National Geographic article on Maine published in 1977. It mentioned that the only remaining Shaker community anywhere, with nine members, was in that state. I wondered if the community, called Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village, still existed. It seems it does.
According to Wikipedia, in 2017 there were two members, a Brother Arnold Hadd (age 58 at the time) and a woman called Sister June Carpenter (77 at the time ). Also, a Shaker newsletter, The Clarion (Spring–Summer 2019), is said to refer to a third member, a Brother Andrew.
It sounds like they still take inquiries.

syyskuu 22, 2020, 1:15am

>126 dypaloh: I was very interested in the Shakers after reading John Fowler’s novel A maggot, back in the 1980s — but never got around to reading anything else about them...

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 22, 2020, 6:34am

>125 jjmcgaffey:, >126 dypaloh: Wikipedia has a list of Shaker communities in the US.

Some locales like the Canterbury Shaker Village here in New Hampshire and the Sabbathday Day Lake site in New Maine are now museum sites. One of the buildings from the Harvard Shaker Community (an apothecary) in Masschusetts was given and moved to Fruitlands museum campus (where Bronson Alcott's utopia community was). And the big round barn from the community of Pittsfield, Massachusetts is still standing and a place one can visit.

Here's a nice list of recommended books on the Shakers

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 24, 2020, 3:16pm


I'm Jewish, and I do read a variety of books about Judaism. I've been staying away from Shoah history, memoir, and diary, because it's not good for my state of mind right now, but I've read all of that in the past.

Reading Jewish books and books about Judaism is personal for me, rather than a curiosity thing. It's a way of engaging with my Judaism, and learning more about my people.

I read Ilana Kurshan's memoir If all the Seas Were Ink, which I absolutely loved, near the end of last year, and that inspired me to take on the most intimidating religious reading I've ever attempted: the seven and a half years long, page a day of Talmud regimen that is the Daf Yomi Cycle. I would definitely call this outside my comfort level, especially back when I started in January. I am enjoying it, though, and plan to keep going through the whole cycle.

Another Jewish memoir I enjoyed is Dani Shapiro's memoir Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love.

In July I read an anthology of contemporary (in the late 1990s, anyway) midrash from Jewish women on Lilith called Which Lilith: Feminist Writers Re-Create the World's First Woman which was incredibly interesting and thought provoking. Lilith, as a character in Jewish midrash and folklore, is a developing interest of mine. That book did have poetry in it, a lot of which I really liked, despite not really being a poetry person, so to speak.

My interest does extend to fiction in that I'm always looking for fiction that features Jewish characters, or strong Jewish themes. There's been a lot of conversation lately about the importance of representation and seeing yourself reflected in fiction. That definitely rings true for me. I have less of an interest in fictional religions, except as part of an interest in good worldbuilding in general.

syyskuu 24, 2020, 4:40pm

>129 Julie_in_the_Library: wow those are quite good challenges. Good lunck on those

I had never heard of Ilana Kurshan I was expecting someone much much older. Shes so young! Reading a little bit about her, think I need to try If all the seas were ink, thanks for the heads up!

syyskuu 24, 2020, 10:27pm


I really like books about people who are wresting with their faith—whether the nature of it or how it manifests, or people doubting, or trying to communicate with/get closer to their God/god/gods. Any denomination. I think that it probably resonates with me as a person of no native religion and more curiosity than gut feelings—and always the question of what I might be missing, and what it might feel like to have that kind of faith. And I also enjoy it as a literary frame, because it brings out interesting thinking and good writing in a lot of authors and poets.

Just looking over my recent books, few that I really enjoyed—and it looks like all my reading that concerns religion falls somewhere along those lines—were Susan Stinson's Spider in a Tree (puritanism), Blair Hurley's The Devoted (Buddhism), and Rachel Kadish's The Weight of Ink (Judaism).

All of them up against the gold standard of faith novels, as nohrt4me2 said, Mark Salzman's Lying Awake. What a marvelous book... I gave my copy away, but I think I should probably get another just to have when I need to read it.

The only religion I read straight up philosophy from is Buddhism, because I'm drawn to it, if not the best practitioner. And so far I've read more of what people who were truly immersed in it would probably think of as Buddhism lite—Thich Nhat Hanh, Pema Chodron, etc. I'd like to go deeper at some point.

syyskuu 24, 2020, 10:40pm

So I just checked my list and it turns out I actually read If All the Seas Were Ink in January of 2020, not at the end of 2019. This pandemic has completely warped my sense of time.

syyskuu 25, 2020, 2:32am

I enjoy reading about religion, any religion, out of general curiosity. I didn't go to church growing up at all until my parents got divorced and my dad starting attending the local Episcopal church (for reasons I'm unclear on, it's not like he was in a new town and wanted the social circle, plus our family friends all stuck with him, and nothing was stopping him from attending before the divorce, my mom wasn't a rabid atheist or anything). As a little kid I initially made the assumption that people treated Christianity the way we treated Greek mythology. Growing up in a town that once had a record for most churches per capita, you'd think I'd have been more informed.

I attended a very small Quaker boarding school (an amazing experience), which probably fostered my interest in religions in general. It's a huge part of life on earth for a large proportion of the population, so of course I want to know more about religion.

syyskuu 25, 2020, 4:35pm

>133 mabith: Interesting post! At one point we were contemplating a move out of state, and the one good thing I could see in it was that I could send my son to a Friends day school. It sounded like a wonderful place. I'm glad we stayed put, but I do regret not having access to that kind of education.

Just a guess about your dad, but I think after a Major Life Change, many of us feel the need for new routines to help blow the cobwebs away. And sometimes we're looking for new friends with whom we don't have all that past baggage.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 27, 2020, 7:46am


We all have favorite authors and love to talk about them, but what about those authors you have decidedly written off your reading list? You know, those authors you have read, but for whatever reason you have decided to no longer read?

Clearly, we can not read all of the books by all the authors we like (though we might try). Some authors fall by the wayside as new authors come to one’s attention. And, well, some authors inevitably and unfortunately die, which oftentimes ends their output (but not always!) For this question we are talking about authors you have consciously decided to stop reading. Was it a dramatic, break-up? or did you just slowly tire of their work? Or, perhaps you learned something personal about that author that repulsedor upset you? Perhaps the author killed off your favorite character and you refuse to forgive them? Or perhaps the problem was not the author but you who changed? Whatever the reason, you have parted ways with them....

Please tell us about a few of your decisive partings with specific authors and why you did so

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 27, 2020, 10:19am

>135 avaland: Q39. Parting ways with authors. Good question!

I've been an avid reader since I was a child so obviously I've said goodbye to much loved childhood and teen favourites due to having grown out of even nostalgic re-reads (Alice Through the Looking Glass is an unusual exception). I acquired most of my reading back then from the local library which I now realise was outstandingly well-curated so most of my youthful reading has stood the test of time and not been cursed by the hindsight fairy.

And, of course, some authors are no longer with us because of retirement or death. We nearly lost national treasure Michael Rosen to COVID-19 recently and the public reaction demonstrated that his work is still loved by several generations of Brits.

As an adult my main reason for parting company with a favoured author is because they're experimenting in a new direction, or the fact that some authors only have a limited number of readable books to write before they become repetitive. (Insert mourning period familiar to keen readers here.) I learned this early on, as a child, when I discovered I might love one series or type of book by an author but not their other work. I can't think of any recent examples, but maybe that's because my favourite novelists and poets tend not to produce more than one book every two or three years maximum, or perhaps it's my comparatively healthy tendency towards accepting and moving on (there's a wide world out there waiting to be discovered...).

I think I'm unusual in actively avoiding biographical details about most authors whose work I enjoy, although I have unavoidably met a few socially or professionally. I'd never "follow" a creator's personal account on social media, unless they were already a friend, so that sort of personal disappointment rarely impinges on my reading life.

Not an especially edifying answer but it might prompt another reader's memory.

(I want to hear a version of this story: "Perhaps the author killed off your favorite character and you refuse to forgive them?")

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 27, 2020, 11:48am

>136 spiralsheep: Perhaps the author killed off your favorite character and you refuse to forgive them?"

Oh you mean like George RR Martin? Actually after the first one I figured out this was his playing around with story telling tropes and didn't mind so much. Except in book 3, the Red Wedding he killed off a whole family! I threw the book against the wall, said never again, but ended up reading it a week later coz his story was so interesting I wanted to see what happened.

I read Birds without Wings and fell in love with it, and then read Captian Corellis Mandolin and was furious at the ending. Not that he killed off a character, but he had the title character return to his love years later, saying something totally out of character about why he waited so long. Still loved the story, but I stayed away from the author for a while. Tried to read a few of his subsequent reads and DNF. Now tho he apparently has a new one The Autumn of the Ace and ya know, maybe its time to try again

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 27, 2020, 12:27pm

>137 cindydavid4: Good examples! George RR Martin's ability to infuriate even his most obsessive fans is legendary. I can actually understand how a reader could become attached enough to a character, in a multi-volume epic, to resent the author for killing off that character, even if (1) it was necessary to the overarching plot, and (2) the author had already warned of civil war scale deaths in advance. (Edited to add: Especially readers brought up on the type of fantasy worlds where DEATH has a revolving door - as mocked in Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels.)

I also remember a significant number of people expressing fury at Captain Corelli's Mandolin although I never investigated why that was.

I wonder if anyone's still furious at Arthur Conan Doyle or Agatha Christie?

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 27, 2020, 4:36pm

I have a sh*t list of authors whose books I were so obnoxious that I didn't want to waste time on more of them, and it's a looong list. But I assume you're talking about formerly beloved authors we have broken up with?

Interesting, but I can't really think of any except maybe Jack London, whose work degenerated faster than his liver. He was never a beloved author, but I enjoyed Martin Eden.

I also grew tired of Trollope and decided not to read any more of him, though I did get through the Barchester cycle and some of the Palliser novels. I would re-read The Eustace Diamonds again.

I also broke up with Thomas Hardy, despite his powers of narrative and plot, because of his relentlessly awful view of life. I'm not exactly Little Mary Sunshine, but geez Louise! Maybe I'll try to reconcile after the pandemic.

As a general rule, I don't banish authors from my reading list because of their personal political or religious views, unless their works are thinly disguised political/religious tracts in which case, see sh*t list.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 27, 2020, 4:51pm

>135 avaland: Or, perhaps you learned something personal about that author that repulsed or upset you?

There are several authors that have done or said things that got my dander up, but I am usually able to separate them from their writing. I was shocked to read about Marian Zimmer Bradleys daughter claiming abuse from her. I loved her Mists of Avalon series and several of her other works. Im not suggesting her daughter is wrong, or that I couldn't possible think bad about a person who wrote such wonderful reads. I cant see that being a reason not to still love the book

Feel this way about most artists who go wrong, if I love their work. One who I cannot separate is Roman Polanski. But then he probably doesn't count because I really didn't care all that much for his movies.

syyskuu 27, 2020, 10:13pm

Q 39 - Parting Ways With Authors

I haven't broken up with any authors for years and years -- both of my personal examples are over 20 years old. Perhaps I have actually broken up with other authors since then, because there are certainly much-loved authors who I'm not currently reading, but I plan to get back to them one day and pick up our relationship again. Maybe I'm fooling myself. Anyway, here are the two that come to mind . . .

Stephen King - I was very into Stephen King from 1980 to about 1983, and then I slowed down and I stopped reading him a few years later. I did read the excellent On Writing when it was published in 2000, so it's been 20 years now. I still am a fan, and I'll fight anyone who says he's a crappy writer. There are two reasons I quit him. The first happened late one night when I was out driving on a country road, and I saw flashing lights of a car ahead in the distance. My mind went to some very dark places imagining what was going on. I realized that this sort of mind game was happening a little too often and as a person who cherishes reason and rationality, I didn't like the irrational and menacing thoughts that I was having. As I drove by the car with absolutely nothing going on, I thought "I need to stop reading Stephen King." The second thing was that I found he getting lazy, in that at the end of too many books the reason for the strange things going on for 7/8ths of the book was "a monster hiding just outside of town" (eg. It). He never explained where the monster came from, and that wasn't satisfying. The earlier King writing that I liked was more like Twilight Zone episodes, or were self-contained and rational (eg: Firestarter). In this case, it's a little me (realizing that I didn't want my mind to live in his world), and a little him (lazy monster). The Stand was definitely his masterpiece -- but only the original edited version, and not the later unedited mess.

(So I just checked his oeuvre to see when I stopped reading him. I remember reading 22 of his 1 zillion books. The last novel was Rose Madder from 1995. It was about a 10 year break-up).

Maeve Binchy - I discovered Maeve Binchy sometime in the 90s (not my best reading decade). I don't think I'd read many Irish authors before, and I liked that her books were set there instead of the US or even England. I knew they weren't high literature or important, but I just loved being in her world and feeling the pain and the joy of her characters. I always found them compelling and satisfying, and I read 5 or 6 of her many novels. Then I moved on to other things, and one summer about 10 years later I tried to read another of her books and I just couldn't. I was so bored and couldn't make myself interested. Tastes change. Again, I have lovely memories of her books, and I completely don't think it's her -- it's me.

syyskuu 27, 2020, 11:22pm

>141 Nickelini: Interesting about King. I usually try to find one of his epics around Christmas time for distraction. The season used to be full of frenzied cooking and church-going and travel, and nobody pulls me into full escapist mode like King. Christmas has become very low key in recent years, but I still enjoy my King ritual.

I read Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch while taking care of my elderly mother before and after heart surgery. It was a wonderful companion at a very difficult time, but I have been unable to reach full immersion in any of Tartt's other books.

Time of life and life circumstances have a lot to do with how we respond to a book or author.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 27, 2020, 11:47pm

>142 nohrt4me2:
Well let me know if I've missed anything really good since 1995. I was interested in the JFK book, but it's just too long. I like a good 200 page novel, and anything over 400 pages better be amazing for me to spend my time there. I do follow him on Twitter, so I guess I always read the latest Stephan King.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 28, 2020, 12:01am

>143 Nickelini: I haven't read many of King's shorter works except a collection of novellas he wrote under the name Richard Bachman. Joyland was fun at 288 pages.

The mini-series of 11/22/63 was good. Less time to watch than to read and pretty faithful to the book.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 28, 2020, 3:55am


I've parted ways with a a few authors but haven't given up on them per se. I still have some of their books on my TBR pile.

Isabel Allende: Her books are wonderful and I still need to read some of her older books but her newer ones seem to now all follow the same formula so there is nothing exciting for me there.

Amelie Nothomb: This literary darling has I think, lost a large quantity of her devoted followers by now. In love with her quirky and rambunctious ideas we devoured her yearly releases but those yearly releases became a crutch for her. Although full of ideas, she never really delves deeper into any of them and rarely writes a novel to completion now. Her books all feel like drafts to better stories that could exist.

Milan Kundera: I loved his books when I read them but it's been so long since I've read him that I've just naturally said a friendly goodbye. I could perhaps someday text him and have a catch up over lunch but I don't find myself thinking about him all that frequently. (I wish I could have had such a friendly goodbye with my in real life exes. If only!)

syyskuu 28, 2020, 6:23am

>139 nohrt4me2: Actually, any author that you used to read but have decided to no longer read.

syyskuu 28, 2020, 6:24am

>139 nohrt4me2: "I also broke up with Thomas Hardy because of his relentlessly awful view of life. I'm not exactly Little Mary Sunshine, but geez Louise!"

Understandable! The only time I've ever had depression was a short bout during and immediately after reading all of Thomas Hardy's collected poems, hundreds of them, within a couple of weeks. I didn't have the same reaction to similarly grim works by other authors. e.g. A Shropshire Lad. I still read Hardy's poems but never too many together.

syyskuu 28, 2020, 7:34am

Q39 Parting Ways

I tend to be a completest, wanting to read everything by an author that hits that 'sweet spot" within me but that tendency has moderated over the years. Maybe Joyce Carol Oates cured me of that. Not so long ago, I made a list of living authors whose work I had read all or most of. It the list numbered 55. But then I'm attracted to new and new-to-me authors, too.

I think the biggest reason I stop reading a specific author is just that I have moved on to other interests, another author catches my eye or I move to a new theme (say, from African authors to Gothic short stories).

I came up with four authors that I deliberately said "no more" to, all male.

Hemingway: I have probably read most of his books, but have come to think of him as over-celebrated. The last thing of his I read was a short story historical context with some books. End of Hemingway to me.

Nabokov: loved/hated Lolita and being a bit disturbed over it, decided no more Nabokov fiction. Of course, since that time I've come to learn he had a prejudice against women writers (not uncommon, of course) but he was very vocal about it. I have read some of his literary criticism.

Philip Roth: Sybil (rebeccanyc) got me to read Roth's first collection of short stories, Goodbye, Columbus written in the 50s, and while I recognized some good writing, the misogyny and abuse within them was repulsive to me (I did not have the Jewish connection with his writing that she did). I so hated to disappoint her, but I couldn't read more, although from time to time I do think about reading The Plot Against America.

And lastly, Orson Scott Card. I read Ender's Game as an adult; it was certainly a good story but it also repulsed me. I hosted Card at the bookstore back in 2001, I think; let's just say the man smiling in front of his fans was not the one that came in the front door earlier. Maybe he had had a bad morning, but there was just something about him.... Anyway, I decided there were plenty of other SF authors I could read and moved on.

As you might note, these reads are all written by much-celebrated male authors and contain abuse to women and or children. They did not and will not suffer from my lack of devotion. It's not like I don't read books that contain this violence (I read Joyce Carol Oates!) but there is something that really bothers me about these four.

syyskuu 28, 2020, 9:43am

Q39 Parting in the middle

Tricky. For similar reasons to >148 avaland:, I don't like saying "I'm not going to read X again" — it's more likely that X just isn't relevant to any of the interests I'm pursuing right now.

Also, I have a feeling that this question goes deeper than authors where you've read one book and not liked it enough to want to go further. I have a long list of people like that, with Arnon Grunberg at the top of it since about an hour ago, but no doubt he will only keep that place until the next unlucky victim comes along. It's harder to think of writers where I've got a reasonable way through their list of works and then decided to stop — especially since I rarely follow writers in real time and tend to read books out of sequence as I find them.

I suppose one example would be Angela Thirkell — I really enjoyed her early books, but after 1945 she became so embittered about the state of British politics that her books turned into 250-page Torygraph editorials instead of light romantic comedies. Not much fun, and I rather lost the will to carry on!

There are a lot of the alpha-males of the mid-to-late 20th century that I read (out of the feeling that I ought to) in my younger days and have never felt the need to come back to, Hemingway, Bellow, Roth, Updike, the Amis family, Kundera, Martin Walser, etc., (cf. >148 avaland: again!); also writers I failed to follow when they moved into a genre I wasn't so interested in (Margaret Atwood and Doris Lessing when they went all science-fiction). But I wouldn't like to call any of those things a permanent break.

Sometimes long-running cycles do eventually get dull, even when they are of very high quality : I haven't read any new Alexander McCall Smith books for quite a while, although I probably would if I were stuck somewhere and there was one lying about. Similarly Ian Rankin. You feel you know the story before you even open the book...

I'd agree with >145 lilisin: about Nothomb as well.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 28, 2020, 10:05am

>148 avaland: re Orson Scott Card and authors--

I met a lot of authors while working for a library association, and I don't think I want to meet any more. Generally a sad or maddening experience.

I will say that YA author Nancy Garden (RIP) and Canadian humorist Bill Richardson were absolutely delightful.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 28, 2020, 11:04am

>145 lilisin: I agree about Isabel Allende following a formula. Too bad because House of Spirits Eva Luna and Paula were among my fav books of all time. Have the same trouble with John Irving and Anne Tyler; first four or so books were brilliant then something happened. Havent' read either in a long while. Also really liked Amy Tans first few books then lost interest.Im assuming its because the formula is easier to write and gets more sales. I just like more interesting narratives than that

syyskuu 28, 2020, 11:27am

>151 cindydavid4: Amy Tan seems to cover the same round over and over. Ditto John Irving. I like them, but felt I got it once I had read three or four novels.

Jane Austen also covers the same ground, but I don't find her tiresome. Same with Barbara Pym. Must be some personal preference at work there that I can't quite pick out.

syyskuu 28, 2020, 11:30am

>139 nohrt4me2:, >147 spiralsheep: I read all of Hardy. Gobbled him up.

>149 thorold: Also, I have a feeling that this question goes deeper than authors where you've read one book and not liked it enough to want to go further. That may be true. Perhaps we just "outgrow" some authors.

"Alpha males" Interesting note. Why those four, I ponder (but it's a momentary ponder as there are endless books to choose from.

I first read Updike & Cheever short stories as assignments in high school (early 70s); I continued in the 80s with an occasional Updike right up until 2008's The Widows of Eastwick.(sequel to The Witches of Eastwick). Not a "big" fan, but they were decent reads, and he was local New England.

I agree about long-running cycles. I'll still read Rankin though...well, maybe.I thought he's do more with Malcolm Fox & Sioban... I have to give some credit to Anne Holt for consciously deciding to end her two long-running series and do something new.

>150 nohrt4me2: I don't really have a drive to meet authors, not sure meeting them adds much to one's experience, but they are very often readers like ourselves and the chit chat can be interesting (ha ha, now you can see why I was told I needed LT when I left the bookstore!)

syyskuu 28, 2020, 11:41am

>52 avaland: Yeah, I know what you mean about Amy Tan. But then I stopped reading Anne Tyler after Ladder of Years but ... that was about the time that publishing was really opening up to other underrepresented voices here in the states, but also a much wider variety of worldwide offerings, both in English and in translation (ah, the internet...).

syyskuu 28, 2020, 12:43pm

>154 avaland: I liked Tess of the D'urbervilles and have re-read it several times--I found echoes of "Moby Dick" in there, which I suppose I should explore now that I have time--but I think I'm done now. There was something about Jude the Obscure that struck me as almost purposely awful, and I quit reading Hardy. Another book in that vein was Stoner by John Williams.

Never had a yen for Anne Tyler, Elizabeth Gilbert, any of the Ephrons. As a "tweener," someone born in the working class who moved into academia and therefore a misfit in both castes, the trials and tribulations of privileged liberal white women as told by privileged liberal white women don't speak to me much.

syyskuu 28, 2020, 12:49pm


I used to love Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch novels. I read all of them (not as they came out or anything, I used to get them from the library). I tried to read what was at the time his newest book, The Late Show, a while back, and couldn't get past the first few chapters. The writing struck me as clunky and distracting. I couldn't immerse myself in the story. I haven't gone back to see if his older work strikes me that way now, or if his style has changed, but I have decided not to bother trying his new stuff going forward. I may change my mind some day, but for now, he's off my reading list.

syyskuu 28, 2020, 1:01pm

>149 thorold: "Angela Thirkell — I really enjoyed her early books, but after 1945 she became so embittered about the state of British politics that her books turned into 250-page Torygraph editorials instead of light romantic comedies."

This is true but it's also true that the quality of her writing deteriorated over time, to the point where she got her own characters and their histories muddled up. In August I was considering re-reading a few of Thirkell's Barsetshire novels but I'd definitely skip the first three and begin with August Folly '36. Summer Half '37 and Pomfret Towers '38 are two of her better efforts imo, and iirc The Brandons '39 has a somewhat different tone and style to her usual so might as well read the earlier '39 Before Lunch too, but apart from interest in the war years I can't honestly think of any special reason to re-read any further. In fact Summer Half and Pomfret Towers, between the two of them, probably cover her work at its best.

syyskuu 28, 2020, 1:04pm

>152 nohrt4me2: be interesting which authors we have read their entire work. Ones I come up with are Norah Lofts, Sharon K Penman, Terry Pratchett, off the top of my head Might be an interesting question for later

syyskuu 28, 2020, 1:17pm

>153 avaland: "I read all of Hardy. Gobbled him up."

I suspect you might have an advantage of distance in this case. I grew up rural working class in southern England so Hardy's poems often speak directly to my experience despite the intervening decades.

syyskuu 28, 2020, 1:57pm

Love Hardy, and also have stayed pretty true to Updike. One (wo)man's meat is another (wo)man's poison...

I think I'm falling out of love with Ian McEwan, and that's hard for me to say as he's been on my favourite author list for quite some time. Perhaps it's more accurate to say that I just feel I've read the best of him, and am now left with his lesser books.

Other than that I've just fallen out of love with some genres from my younger days, which has thrown a cast of chic lit authors to the wayside and also poor old Sidney Sheldon.

syyskuu 28, 2020, 2:05pm

>160 AlisonY: which has thrown a cast of chic lit authors to the wayside and also poor old Sidney Sheldon.

Oh my, that's a blast from the past!

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 28, 2020, 2:31pm

>155 nohrt4me2: Jude was the most difficult, and I never reread that one.

>159 spiralsheep: Quite possibly, but I suspect the rural working class in southern England is not so unlike the rural working class in northern NEW England :-) Gobbled was probably a poor choice of words.

>160 AlisonY: So true re meat/poison! I fell out with Ian McEwan with On Chesil Beach. I found that one a disappointment and just haven't picked up any newer ones (too many other choices!)

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 28, 2020, 3:09pm

>157 spiralsheep: Yes, you’re probably right, Summer half and Pomfret Towers might be the only ones you really need to read!

>159 spiralsheep: >160 AlisonY: I suppose Hardy is the opposite way round from most of the writers we talk about here: if you say you’ve given up on him, you probably mean you’ve only read the last three or four novels he wrote. No-one’s ever likely to say “nothing he wrote after The hand of Ethelberta was ever quite as good”...

>155 nohrt4me2: Anne Tyler is another writer who notoriously keeps on writing essentially the same book over and over again, but oddly enough I keep on reading and enjoying them. Just have to be careful not to get too many at once out of the library.

syyskuu 28, 2020, 3:10pm

>162 avaland: "Gobbled was probably a poor choice of words."

Well, farmyard fowl give a fairly Hardy background, although not necessarily turkeys.... ;-)

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 3, 2020, 7:43am


Do you read or have you read, books that explore your ancestry, ethnicity, race, or cultural/geographic/religious heritage? Perhaps you read various kinds of histories, biographies, religious texts around this? If you are honest, do you read mostly to affirm your ideas, or are you willing to explore and accept that which doesn’t?

Can fiction or other literature play any role in this exploration?

Share with us some of your more interesting reads in these areas.

(*we will have a later question regarding reading about who we are NOT, so save your thoughts on that)

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 3, 2020, 9:58am

I am very ambivalent about my mother's Irish family heritage. Two books helped me come to terms with it: My Dream of You and Are You Somebody? by the late Nuala O'Faolain, and Charming Billy by Alice McDermott. I also found the lives of SS. Aiden, Brigid, and Brendan helpful.

Recently finished Michael Pye's Edge of the World: A Cultural History of the North Sea. All my ancestors were born on a line from Belfast to Wales to Yorkshire to Amsterdam to Copenhagen. So it spoke to me.

I also read a lot about the beguines, a fascinating Lowlands women's community/movement that started in the 12th century, survived the Reformation, and is still alive today.

I read to learn more, good and bad, about my people.

lokakuu 3, 2020, 11:46am


Yes, that’s been something that was important to me too, probably more when I was growing up than now, although it’s certainly fed through into some of my current interests. On one side of the family my ancestors were German-speaking Protestants living in what’s now Poland. Since those communities no longer exist, fiction is probably the best way to get a feel for what their lives might have been like. Siegfried Lenz’s novel Heimatmuseum and Günter Grass’s Danzig trilogy were some of the first “grown-up” German books I read on my own initiative, for that reason, and they both made a big impression. I occasionally read non-fiction relevant to those parts of the world as well.

The other side of my family comes from more-or-less the region where I grew up myself, and I’ve never really felt the need to go out and look for fictional treatments of that, it just comes up naturally in the books we always had around us.

One aspect of identity you don’t mention in the question, Lois, is sexuality — obviously that’s not part of “heritage” in a literal way, but understanding and articulating your own sexual identity tends to involve constructing a kind of imaginary heritage from people in earlier generations who shared that kind of identity, and that relies very heavily on books: fiction, biographies, history, sociology... At least, if you have my kind of book-hoarding instinct, it does!

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 3, 2020, 12:45pm

NVM double post

lokakuu 3, 2020, 12:43pm

Been reading these books since I was a kid Tree Grows In Brooklyn is the first I remember along with All of a Kind Family. Later got hooked on Chaim Potok and read The Choosen The Promise My Name is Asher Lev of course Diary of a young girl: Anne Frank Also explored lots of short stories by Sholem Aleichem and Isaac Bashevis Singer. Holocaust literature by Simon Wiesenthal and many others. As an adult interested in family history, How We Lived The World of Our Fathers Once there was a World Joys of Yiddish

Fiction certain plays a big part of this exploration, from the light we cannot see to Dara Horn In the Image and the World to Come.

I don't read these to affirm my ideas; Ive always been opened to others. I read these to learn who I am, and where I came from.

All this time I was also exploring other cultures, other immigrants, other worlds. But I think we are getting to that next week.

lokakuu 3, 2020, 1:00pm

>167 thorold: One aspect of identity you don’t mention in the question, Lois, is sexuality — obviously that’s not part of “heritage” in a literal way, but understanding and articulating your own sexual identity tends to involve constructing a kind of imaginary heritage from people in earlier generations ...

Good observation! I think sexual identity was important to me as a young person (I am 66). I figured out about age 25 that my overriding orientation, outside of sexual preference or gender identity, was monogamous. The Good Anna by Gertrude Stein was important to my "formation," though it's been so long since I thought about these things that I'm not sure I could articulate why now.

>169 cindydavid4: I don't know why more people don't read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Such a good story!

lokakuu 4, 2020, 8:34am

>167 thorold: 'tis true, I did not mention sexuality, and it seems I didn't mention gender either. It was not a deliberate omission:-)

lokakuu 4, 2020, 12:15pm

Being from Northern Ireland, books on Irish history mainly focus on one of two things: the Troubles or grinding Irish poverty.

In my late teens I devoured books on the Troubles, but as this was smack in the middle of that very era I was biased towards only reading books that were from the experience of Protestants or British soldiers. I felt I knew all there was to know about the opposing viewpoint from the Troubles, and to give it reading time would be to give it some kind of credence. Nowadays there seem to be many more balanced books about the Troubles out there, but having grown up with it I mostly feel like I want to move on from that horrible part of our history. Having said that, I probably will do some further reading around the topic, as enough time has passed not for me to feel I can listen to the position of 'the other side' with a little less emotive reaction.

As for grinding Irish poverty, there again I had my fill of Frank McCourt and the like in my late teens, but then I reached saturation point with it.

I studied Irish History for A-Level, but didn't overly enjoy it as so much was focused on political history, whereas I enjoy social history much more. However, I would say I'm long overdue a walk through Irish history again to fill in the many gaps in my knowledge, and will be particularly attracted to books which avoid a focus on the Troubles and the political developments of the 20th century, and instead provide an insight on Ireland in the centuries before this.

lokakuu 4, 2020, 4:04pm

>172 AlisonY: I was fortunate enough to hsve an Irish correspondent to provide contxt for O'Faolain's books. Irish Anericans like me tend to be skeptical and impatient with the sad songs and sentimentality of our elders. I refuse to read McCourt. He made a lot of it up. Maybe it's best understood as autofiction?

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 4, 2020, 4:20pm

We were very much a part of the Hungarian community when I was growing up, and my sisters and I participated in the Hungarian folk dances in our community.I got interested in reading about my Hungarian ancestry when I was in junior high school and I read I am Fifteen-- and I Don't Want to Die by Christine Arnothy. I also read Upon the Head of the Goat. I became interested in reading about other countries near Hungary too. We think our ancestors may have been Jewish and converted to Roman Catholicism to escape persecution, but I am not sure of that.

I have several Hungarian cookbooks, one of which my mom shared with me when I was a child. I own George Lang's Cuisine of Hungary and Culinaria Hungary Other books I own are The Hungarians in America, The Hungarians: A Thousand Years of Victory in Defeat and One Must Also be Hungarian.

When I was in library school, I did a research presentation on Matyas Hunyadi aka Corvinus The Raven King who was a king of Hungary and Croatia, and also owned a prestigious rare book library with his own unique binding (Corvinus binding).

lokakuu 4, 2020, 5:04pm

>170 nohrt4me2: Oh I think every girl in my hebrew school group read it; very popular at that time. Lots of people my age still consider it one of their fav reads. Not sure its all that popular now, but yeah it was a great book. ( i think I am confusing another book, but was this the one where she had two deaf neighbors?)

lokakuu 4, 2020, 5:10pm

>172 AlisonY: I feel about the Holocaust like you feel about the troubles. There was a while I just couldn't read another one. Cant remember which one started me up again in college, but I can read them now, tho I really am picky about them; I want them to be like all the light we cannot see where events are just looming in the background and the characters develop around them. City of Women is another in this vein

lokakuu 4, 2020, 5:19pm

>174 LadyoftheLodge: I started folk dancing in college and learned lots of hungarian dances, along with Balkan and other places. Great way to learn about other cultures. I remember one of our teachers put out a map of Europe, with cards showing dancers from each country and put them out for us on the map showing the influences and connections between them, got me interested in the whole region.

My community doesn't have a group so Ive stopped dancing, but I have fond memories of some great parties!

lokakuu 5, 2020, 7:51am

>173 nohrt4me2: I don't know how much was or wasn't factual with McCourt. I enjoyed it well enough when I read it at that young age, but then every book with an Irish setting I read after that was in that same poverty vein, so I grew weary of it. To be fair, a lot of Irish people were very poor, and my own ancestors were no different, but still - there's only so much I want to read about that. Perhaps because I live in the country that my ancestors were from I have less passion for reading lots around it - I'm more interested in reading and learning about cultures I know nothing about.

>176 cindydavid4: I'm probably at that stage with Holocaust books at the moment (although nothing to do with my own heritage). I'm sure I'll come back to some in the future, but I need a break from them for a while.

lokakuu 5, 2020, 1:45pm

Q39 - parting with authors.

I can hold a grudge against an author for a long time. Alice Hoffman comes to mind. But, of course, not my genre. Also Candice Millard (historian), and Anthony Doerr (sorry Cindy). I've tried Stephen King a few times and never enjoyed a page of it. And I had intended to read all of Thomas Pynchon one year - and just got tired of his inability to say anything straightforward. I'm not sure there is a complete grammatical sentence Mason & Dixon. Anyway, I don't see reading him again. Philip Roth turned me off once too, but I might try him again.

Any me-too damaged authors? I am still bummed having learned about Sherman Alexie, who I found really charming.

lokakuu 5, 2020, 1:50pm

Q40 - heritage.

I definitely pursue Jewish authors, and always will. That means something to me. And I find Florida author's of interest (where I grew up). Also I like to read about where I am (or going). So Texas authors hold an interest for me, and some have made me feel a little more welcome here (John Graves, J. Frank Dobie and David McComb's history of Houston)

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 5, 2020, 2:23pm

>180 dchaikin: I keep aiming for the same ones (and avoiding the same, like Roth). Do you have any favs that I hadn't mentioned?

and about Doerr, don't worry won't hold it against you :)

BTW I cant remember his name, but he is/was a journalist from Florida and had a regular column in your paper. He put some together in a book and oh my that was good. I loved how he obviously loved his state but was more than willing to give it a wink or nod. Anyway I enjoyed that.

And I agree about Pynchon. I was just starting out with online discussions about the time he came around. Wanting to keep up with the others, I really did give him a try, but none of it was good. Kept hearing he was part of the post modern movement (which I still don't know what it means) but all I could wonder is no punctuation an run on sentences.

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 5, 2020, 3:11pm

>178 AlisonY: A friend in New York City knew the real Angela from Angela's Ashes. Angela lived in a downstairs apartment and looked after my friend's baby. She was stunned by McCourt's book.

McCourt was called on the carpet many times for his lack of veracity, and people often called him an outright liar. As here:

Not to say that McCourt is a bad writer or his books are immoral in some way (though people in Limerick might disagree). But the whole genre of Irish squalor, as you say, has been done to death.

And I wonder if, when a people are so closely associated with some negative event or characteristic--the Jews and the Holocaust, the Irish and their poverty and alcoholism--that begins to be something of a cultural millstone around their necks in some way. Certainly the "ugly American" stereotype has been with us quite long enough, though recent events, sadly, are not going to dispel that any time soon.

>179 dchaikin: I hope you will give Roth another try. I liked him a lot once I got past Portnoy's Complaint and Our Gang. I think he said in an interview somewhere that he was sorry it was among his first books and the one that his reputation seemed to hinge on. He felt that his later books were better. The Human Stain is one of my favorite novels.

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 5, 2020, 3:36pm

I hope it is ok to catch up a bit. Thought I'd be quieter for a while, no bad thing. Some great questions and answers.


went a bit blank immediately - Blofeld (I have a poem where he gains enlightenment first before Bond in the C33rd), Jorge of Burgos and his unsmiling ways -- I'd like to think of some mountain, desert or sea but then I think how I've been reading wild by Jay Griffiths which again and again makes the point that it is a colonial way of thinking to be so detached from nature, or of so called educated ways of knowing that see the wild or wilderness as an adversary or as empty so erroneously. (and took a great series of webinars on this over the summer via Swedenborg house, which referred me to her book (and many others))


I hesitated at first and then joined in 2007. I wanted to catalogue books. I wanted to avoid social media for a long time,a nd overall wish I had more and longer (not due to here, a general sense and given how exposing it may be). In a way (and it may be apparent in my posts) I just try to keep an online journal of my writing. I have liked very much that others would chip in and I have gained some great recommendations from that (I think especially of Urania and David Whyte). I am always grateful for some that have commented on my thread and miss some of those people as I post. Though keeping my focus on my thoughts is godo for me to some extent. It may also show though in that I am not a huge chipper in to others - and am pretty awkward at that, I'm working on it. Of course changes I'm making have had me a bit all over the place, dialling back and doing what comes naturally is a good thing.


Love this -- though have really got to indulge it only in recent years. I'm not a big T. E Lawrence reader but enjoyed his cottage, Cloud Hill I think it's called. Close by are Hardy's childhood home and Max Gate. Very good to visit.

But highlights for me have been visiting Wordsworth's school, Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount - pretty local for me but not done until middle age. Also Keats House. And been to Haworth and inside.

I hope to get to more. In a way reading such famous authors can be like joining an initiated part of the human race -- and to me visiting their places can also be very powerful like that, kind of grounding, letting me know I am in the same world, or maybe that their concerns really are also in my world (which usually nods to them before trampling all over so much).

It may not just be authors either - been to Rodin's house, could start listing lots of places to see now . . . pilgrimages?


Yes. I do tend to think about reading things in order - for that reason I put off reading Peter Kingsley until I had read lots more Plato and I find it sad I had therefore not come to him until the last year or so. So I'm questioning the order thing.

Order goes for the Bible too - yet I get further when I follow my nose and read what I am drawn to.

I've read around Buddhism quite a lot and a bit on Taoism. Whilst I've got a lot from meditation that may be Tibetan infleunced, and from Zen, I am finding a free collection of the Pali Canon called A Handful of Leaves to be a really lovely read (though for me all this reading usually is something I do in small doses and they carry me a long way and last for ages - which is why i don't complete more - but I do feel a need to do that).


Hemingway in some ways may have put me off many other authors, or the idea of trying them as a young person. That may be my madness too. I'm not sure it's down tot he autrhors but I don't much want to read science fiction authors I read in the past. In fact that goes for a lot of science fiction, Ted Chiang is an exception.

I read Crime and Punishment in my early twenties (needed two goes -- not sure I am happy i tried a second time), and a litle later the Brothers Karamazov -- that last was a difficult experience for me somehow and may have damped down my reading for a while. I think i wasn't prepared enough, especially as a person (and that could go for C&P too. I'nm cautious of reading him, whilst i respect him. When I posted about Mantel and Banville finding writing hard work, i can immediately assicate that with much of these books, and it puts me off -- if I think of the gospels or Buddhist scripture it cannot get more serious, yet there remains a light. Maybe that is in Dostoyevsky, but it is challenging, or was for me.


I read to learn and I read to contact my humanity and that of others -- in a way to validate and find my own. I love Tolstoy's theory of art and his idea was that it is about communication from one to another and at it's height that is a religious experience a spiritual sharing, so that touches what I'm interested in.

I was once a history student and the learning that went into graduating left me with much to learn more about.

but I've been bad at reading in many ways and reading lots that does interest me. Yet as I posted last week reading is also a pleasure - I posted some thoughts as to what got in the way of that for me and may still lin some ways. As a trans person the amount of lit from that point of view is scarce, though we are not new. I might think then why not just read fenmale authors, and have also noticed how good that is for me -- yet also when my habits were formed it was a big rule to very specifcially not do that (not read me!) and so possibly expose myself with some.

I think I used to be more willing to explore -- but I think more and more, if I am really in touch with myself, it is not so much about reading who I am as following my heart, my nose, following a growthful interest and enthused, which might relate to Q38. It puts me off more and more to think about lists of shoulds that have not started to ignite that interest for some reason but are apparent musts. Do i need to find my heart in order to read? Maybe, yes. Do I find my heart by reading, oh yes. Are there many more permutations, undoubtedly.

lokakuu 5, 2020, 3:58pm

>182 nohrt4me2: And I wonder if, when a people are so closely associated with some negative event or characteristic--the Jews and the Holocaust, the Irish and their poverty and alcoholism--that begins to be something of a cultural millstone around their necks in some way.

Certainly children of survivors might feel this way, but we now have a generation who doesn't understand how the Holocaust happened. For that reason I hope these books keep coming out. I just need to take a break

lokakuu 6, 2020, 12:12pm

>181 cindydavid4: Jewish authors I’m pursuing include Amos Oz, Primo Levi and Paul Auster (although not sure whether Auster writes about being Jewish). These are, of course, mainly secular Jewish perspectives. Here I am by Jonathan Safran Foer was also interesting in that light.

I like some of Pynchon quite a bit. I got really into his first novel, V., and I enjoyed Gravity’s Rainbow...which I read with a guidebook. The Crying of Lot 49 and Vineland are ok to read but require a lot of strain to make sense out of - as what they are trying to say is never directly addressed.

>182 nohrt4me2: regarding Roth - it was American Pastoral that turned me off - that’s one of his more highly regarded books. And I can’t say it was bad, just didn’t enjoy that mindset.

>183 tonikat: Nabokov might share some of your feelings for Dostoyevsky (who he didn’t like) and Tolstoy (by far his favorite Russian author).

lokakuu 6, 2020, 1:15pm

>185 dchaikin: yes I think thats one of the things i can agree with him on

lokakuu 6, 2020, 3:01pm

>185 dchaikin: I have read a lot by Amos Oz when he first came out, tho not recently. I have heard about Primo Levi; suggestion where to start? I tried to read Austers 4321 without luck. Looked down the list, really interested in Book of Illusions looks really interesting.

lokakuu 6, 2020, 4:12pm

>187 cindydavid4: i just finished and posted on The Book of Illusions. It’s fun. Primo Levi was an Italian Auschwitz survivor and writes about that. His first book is pretty intense. Has two titles - UK title If this is a man, and Americanized title is Survival In Auschwitz.

lokakuu 6, 2020, 6:48pm

Oh ok thanks. I do have Here I Am on my TBR mountain. I'll move it up the stack

lokakuu 7, 2020, 10:28am


I talked about this a little for question 38, since Judaism is both my religion and my ethnicity (except grammatically, where 'Jewish' fits the ethnicity better, but I digress), but this question covers different territory so:

Yes, I read books that explore Judaism and Jewish heritage. I won't say it's a "special interest," because as an Autistic that phrase has a specific meaning, and so far, my interest in Jewish books hasn't risen quite to that level, but I will say it's a particular interest of mine, and that the potential for "special interest" status is there.

Along with the rest of the Jewish and Judaism-focused reading I do, I've also, since January, been reading Talmud for the first time, as part of the Daf Yomi cycle. The idea of Daf Yomi is to read a single page of Talmud every day, for the seven and a half years that it takes to read the entire thing that way. It's definitely a deep-dive into Judaism the likes of which I've never attempted before.

In terms of level-of-observance and involvement in Jewish life, I've definitely explored beyond the ideas and views I grew up with. That's been a huge part of forming views and ideas of my own. I haven't done nearly as much reading about and by non-Ashkenazi Jews, though, and that's something I want to correct.

Fiction definitely plays a big role in this exploration. I seek out fiction written by Jewish authors and featuring Jewish protagonists. A lot of that is probably down to me seeking out a representation of myself and my values in fiction. We all want to see ourselves in stories, after all.

That, and a frustration with the idea of Christian-as-the-default and characters only being Jewish if it's somehow plot or theme related. Why can't characters be Jewish just because some people are Jews? We don't only exist in issue-episode contexts, though you wouldn't know it from most of American mainstream pop culture.

And I'm always delighted when I'm reading a novel and discover that the protagonist is Jewish even if that's not why I picked up the book in the first place, as was the case when I read the brilliant The Bookshop of Yesterdays. For both of the above reasons, probably. I haven't examined my reactions that closely.

As for other types of literature, I loved A Treasury of Jewish Folklore: Stories, Traditions, Legends, Humor, Wisdom, and Folk Songs of the Jewish People so much when I read it from the library that I tracked down (it's out of print) and ordered my own copy to keep. I will admit I wasn't thrilled with the portrayal of, and relative lack of, women, but otherwise, its a fabulous book.

I also recently read a book of modern (at the time it was written, 1998) midrash, consisting of both prose and poetry, about the midrashic character Lilith, which I absolutely loved: Which Lilith?: Feminist Writers Re-Create the World's First Woman. I was especially surprised by how taken I was with some of the poetry, since poetry, largely, doesn't do much for me. At least, it never really has before, with some notable exceptions. I may eventually buy that, too. (Why don't I have unlimited money for books? It's unfair, I tell you. :D )

I talked about the Jewish memoirs I've read recently in my response to question 38, so I'm not going to rehash that here, but suffice it to say that I enjoyed them a lot, and for more detail and titles, scroll up. : )

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 9, 2020, 9:46am

CONTINUED IN "QUESTIONS FOR THE AVID READ, PART 7 in a new thread! Link below.

Answers to any of the questions listed at the top of this page however, should continue to be posted here.


lokakuu 11, 2020, 10:45am

Meant to answer #40 "Reading Who You Are" but couldn't really get my thoughts together.

My heritage is all British Isles & Protestant. But the most recent 400 years of my heritage is that which transplanted to New England (most arrived in the first 30 years after 1620, and I'm still here! That's a long run). What's there to say, it's been the default here, hasn't it?

While I spent much of my reading life reading away from this heritage—reading about anything but (except for reading all my father's Kenneth Roberts books, and then that juvenile crush on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow), in the last, say, 20 years I've added to my reading early New England histories, social histories, personal accounts, diaries...etc. And because I am also a woman, a lot of this reading has that focus. I have been determined not to romanticize it, but approach it clear-eyed and accept the good, the great, the bad, and the ugly (everyone has them). In the last four years this has served as companion to my work on so there has been many more online short pieces read for context or to answer the myriad of questions that arise. This includes some information on the British Isles in the late 16th, early 17th centuries.

I did have the sense to reproduce outside this limited gene pool.

lokakuu 11, 2020, 12:05pm

>192 avaland: I did have the sense to reproduce outside this limited gene pool.

Back in the day of online book groups, members often had taglines that spoke to something or other. This to me would have been NATLBSB Not a tagline but should be. Just sayin, maybe me smile
Tämä viestiketju jatkuu täällä: QUESTIONS FOR THE AVID READER, Part 7.