Kidzdoc's Literary Journey Through the African Diaspora in 2023

KeskusteluClub Read 2023

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Kidzdoc's Literary Journey Through the African Diaspora in 2023

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 4, 10:03 am

Happy New Year, everyone! For those who don't know me I'm Darryl, and I worked as a pediatric hospitalist caring for inpatients in a major children's hospital in Atlanta, Georgia until November 2021, when I had to abruptly resign and move back into my parents' house in suburban Philadelphia after the illness that claimed my father's life, in order to assume primary caregiving responsibilities for my 87 year old mother, who has moderate Alzheimer's disease. This will be my 15th year as a member of Club Read, and my favorite genres are literary and historical fiction, especially literature from the African diaspora, European literature and literature in translation, including major literary awards in the United States and abroad; books about science, medicine and public health; biographies and memoirs; and the history of countries and cultures.

These are some of my favorite novelists, past and present:
James Baldwin
Javier Cercas
Edwidge Danticat
Karl Ove Knausgaard
Hilary Mantel
Carson McCullers
Toni Morrison
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o
Amos Oz
Mario Vargas Llosa
Jesmyn Ward

I'm particularly fond of physician writers, most notably Paul Farmer, Atul Gawande, Kathryn Mannix, Siddharta Mukherjee, Danielle Ofri, Lewis Thomas, and Abraham Verghese.

Although I normally read a sizable amount of literature from the African diaspora, I will do so even more in 2023, as I'll participate in PaulCranswick's African Literature Challenge in the 75 Books group, along with monthly reads in the Literature by People of Color and the Great African Reads groups in Goodreads. Hopefully these group reads will encourage me to write more timely book reviews!

I'm also the administrator of the Booker Prize group in LibraryThing.

These are the monthly themes for the African Literature Challenge:

March - CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE or Buchi Emecheta
July - CHINUA ACHEBE or Ben Okri
December - WEST AFRICA

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 4, 2:40 am

The African Diaspora: Fiction and Poetry

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
The Butterfly Hotel by Roger Robinson
Children of the New World: A Novel of the Algerian War by Assia Djebar
Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead
In the Ditch by Buchi Emecheta

Muokkaaja: joulukuu 29, 2022, 12:30 pm

2023 International Booker Prize Longlist: TBA

2023 Booker Prize Longlist: TBA

Muokkaaja: joulukuu 29, 2022, 12:30 pm

Dignidad Literaria: Literature and Nonfiction by Authentic Latinx Writers

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 7, 7:08 pm

Medicine, Illness, Public Health and Science

Your Hearts, Your Scars by Adina Talve-Goodman

Muokkaaja: joulukuu 29, 2022, 12:32 pm

Faulkner, Faulkner! Part 1: I own all five editions of the Library of America collections of William Faulkner's novels, and I intend to read one of them each year, starting with William Faulkner: Novels: 1926-1929. (I completely flailed on this goal last year!)

Soldiers’ Pay
Flags in the Dust
The Sound and the Fury

joulukuu 29, 2022, 1:47 pm

I'm glad to see you out and about on the threads, Darryl, and I hope your New Year starts off with an uplifting of spirits. Like you, I am excited about Paul's African Reading Challenge, and I have purchased a dozen or so books in anticipation. Several are ones that you have recommended over the years. I too have a book by Djebar that I hope to read in January.

P.S. Don't forget Dr. Farmer, in your list in >1 kidzdoc:

joulukuu 29, 2022, 2:30 pm

>10 labfs39: Thanks, Lisa. I'm looking forward to putting this year behind me, possibly more than any other, and achieving more goals in 2023 in many areas of my life, including reading.

I own plenty of books that fit the African Literature Challenge, including the two for January by Assia Djebar and Laila Lalami.

*smacks forehead* How could I have forgotten Paul Farmer?! Thank you for noticing that grievous oversight, which I will correct in message >1 kidzdoc:.

joulukuu 30, 2022, 9:05 am

Happy new thread. Wish you an easier 2023. I’m still visiting Philly routinely, on quick trips, so maybe we can get together during one of my visits.

(Some interesting recent posts in the Booker group, a little off topic, maybe)

joulukuu 30, 2022, 9:22 am

>12 dchaikin: Thanks, Dan. I think that 2023 will be a better year, if not necessarily an easier one. Do let me know when you're in town; as long as someone can watch my mother I can definitely meet up, and now that I have my SUV here it will be even easier to do so.

Which recent posts in the Booker group are you referring to? The only one I saw was Joyce's review of Small Things Like These.

joulukuu 30, 2022, 9:50 am

Very excited about the African Lit focus. I'm not going to commit to it since I was all in for the Asian Lit reading last year and crashed and burned immediately, with too much going on in my life. But I'm watching and keeping an eye on my shelves for what would fit.

joulukuu 30, 2022, 10:07 am

>14 RidgewayGirl: well, i saw this one (I’m always interested is how to date my books) 😉

joulukuu 30, 2022, 11:00 am

>14 RidgewayGirl: Same here, Kay. This challenge, unlike the Asian Literary Challenge, will allow me to get to at least a dozen books that I've been meaning to read for a while, such as Children of the New World by Assia Djebar. Either this weekend or early next week I'll compose a list of eligible books from my shelves that will qualify for that challenge. I don't see a link for it yet in the new 75 Books group, but I'm sure that Paul will post one in short order.

>15 dchaikin: Ah. I had forgotten about that, um, disturbing thread, which I quickly deleted. She had posted similar messages on other threads, and apparently she mistook LibraryThing for a dating site. (Hmm, on that note, I wonder if any couples whose members were both LTers hooked up as a result of "meeting" in this group?)

Muokkaaja: joulukuu 30, 2022, 11:50 am

Here's the opening thread to the African Lit project.

Although that is still in the 2022 forum.

joulukuu 30, 2022, 12:50 pm

>17 RidgewayGirl: Thanks, Kay. I have been looking at that thread for the time being, until Paul sets up the January African Literature Challenge thread in the new group.

joulukuu 31, 2022, 11:54 am

This looks great, Darryl. I'll definitely be following along and gathering suggestions.

joulukuu 31, 2022, 12:19 pm

>19 lisapeet: Thanks, Lisa!

joulukuu 31, 2022, 2:28 pm

Hi Darryl, I'm glad you'll be here with us in 2023 as well. So far I have always loved following your thread, but I will do so with even more attention in 2023 as I also plan to read more African books and I am sure I will find good suggestions here.
I hope that in 2023 you find the necessary time for yourself in addition to quality time with your mother. Since I am in more or less the same situation as my mother's co-caregiver, I know only too well how difficult it can be to carve out the necessary time for yourself.
I wish you a happy and healthy 2023 with lots of beautiful books!

joulukuu 31, 2022, 3:11 pm

Happy new year, Darryl! I admire the sacrifice you made for your mom so much, as I am looking to make some similar decisions. I do hope your plans for Portugal will become real some day.

joulukuu 31, 2022, 5:31 pm

Happy new year, Darryl! I'm looking forward to following your reading (and cooking) again this year.
I too am blown away by your patience and compassion. I hope this year is easier than 2022 and you can find a way to get some time for yourself.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 1, 1:31 am

Happy New Year, Darryl.

tammikuu 1, 7:54 am

Happy new year Darryl. I will be following you again. I am looking forward to your Africa challenge. I did one last year and it brought me so many good books and insights!

tammikuu 1, 12:26 pm

Wishing you a Happy New Year, and some good reading in 2023 Darryl.

tammikuu 1, 12:30 pm

Happy New Year, Darryl. I hope 2023 is a good year for you. I look forward to following your reading again.

tammikuu 1, 1:32 pm

Wishing you a better year in 2023, Darryl. I look forward to trying to keep up with your reading again.

tammikuu 1, 2:11 pm

Look forward to following along again this year, Darryl. Happy New Year.

tammikuu 2, 10:32 am

Happy New Year, ook forward to see what books I can add from African diaspora reading this year.

tammikuu 2, 10:42 am

Happy new year, Darryl! I'm not participating directly in the African reading challenge this year, but will follow your and others' reading with interest, as I'm definitely trying to branch out my reading more globally (I just didn't give myself a set goal to that effect).

I'll look forward to your thoughts on The Problem of Pain as well - I've read a fair amount of C.S. Lewis, but haven't read that one yet.

tammikuu 2, 11:16 am

Happy New Year (+1), everyone! I finished my first book of 2023 early this morning, Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi, a novel about a Ghanaian-American doctoral student in neuroscience at Stanford who studies the brain's limbic system to determine its role in addiction and reward seeking behaviors, largely due to a personal tragedy, which is also a coming of age novel about her experiences as an immigrant from Ghana to Alabama, and her struggles to assimilate and develop her own identity despite little community and family support. I didn't enjoy Transcendent Kingdom as much as Gyasi's brilliant debut novel, Homegoing, but it was still a solid 4 star read. I'll write a review of it in the next day or two.

Next up will be Children of the New World: A Novel of the Algerian War by Assia Djebar, which I'm reading for PaulCranswick's African Novel Challenge in the 75 Books group. The January theme is North Africa (Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco), so I'll also plan to read Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits by the Moroccan author Laila Lalami. As it turns out yesterday's Book Review section of The New York Times includes an article by Lalami, who writes about books that best capture the Moroccan port city of Tangier:

Read Your Way Through Tangier

From her list I've read For Bread Alone by Mohamed Choukri, The Last Friend by Tahar Ben Jelloun, and her novel The Moor's Account, and I have a copy of Rebel Music: Race, Empire, and the New Muslim Youth Culture by Hisham Aidi that I've not read yet.

I'm halfway through the poetry collection The Butterfly Hotel by the Black British poet Roger Robinson, which is set in both Trinidad and the South London neighborhood of Brixton, and last night I started reading South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation by Imani Perry, which won the National Book Award for Nonfiction last year.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 2, 7:42 pm

>21 Trifolia: Hi, Monica! I'll certainly follow you this year, and I intend to follow most if not all Club Read threads much more closely in 2023.

This year will probably be a more challenging one, as I intend to return to work in some capacity, probably a non-clinical physician position. I'll need to apply for medical licenses in Pennsylvania and probably New Jersey, since we live less than 10 miles away from that state's capitol, reapply for both my Georgia medical license and to remain on the medical staff at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, as I intend to work some hospital shifts when I'm in town beginning in the summer. Although I hope not, I may have to take the Pediatric Hospital Medicine Board Examination in 2024 to keep my hospital privileges at Children's, or if I want to apply for a position as a pediatric hospitalist in Philadelphia or New Jersey, and that will be a major time commitment. Fortunately, even though my mother's dementia is worsening, she is doing much better now than she was at the beginning of last year, and caring for her is nowhere near as challenging. Having said that I fully recognize that her condition will undoubtedly deteriorate, although I hope it continues to go slowly.

>22 LolaWalser: Thanks, Lola! One book I found incredibly helpful and one that I intend to re-read soon is My Mother, Your Mother: Embracing "Slow Medicine," the Compassionate Approach to Caring for Your Aging Loved Ones by Dennis McCullough, a geriatrician in New England, which has a wealth of practical advice, much of which was very applicable to my parents. Later this month I intend to read The 36 Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer Disease, Related Dementias, and Memory Loss by Nancy L. Mace and Peter V. Rabins, published by Johns Hopkins University Press, which is also supposed to have a wealth of information. Feel free to send me PMs if I can be of any help.

>23 cushlareads: Happy New Year, Cushla! I hope to do considerably more reading and cooking in 2023. I did make a batch of Hoppin' John on New Year's Eve, which is part of the traditional Southern New Year's Day meal for good luck, but I slept poorly that night and didn't make collard greens and cornbread, the other elements of the meal. I'll do so today or tomorrow.

I've certainly become far more patient and forgiving over the past year, as little things that used to upset me no longer do. As a result our relationship, which was already a very good one, has become more relaxed and warm. My mother's surviving sister, who lives in Texas and hasn't seen us in over a year, gave me the best Christmas present last month, as she told me "I don't know exactly what you're doing, but I want to thank you for giving me my sister back." Even though my father's loss is a profound one, and we both grieve and remember him multiple times a day, his rapid cognitive decline during the latter half of 2022 made caring for her a huge challenge, and I'm able to do a better job than he did last year, although he was superior to me before he started going downhill.

I found this poem on the Alzheimer's Association web site last year, which moved me to tears at the time and still does:

Do Not Ask Me to Remember

Do not ask me to remember,
Don’t try to make me understand,
Let me rest and know you’re with me,
Kiss my cheek and hold my hand.
I’m confused beyond your concept,
I am sad and sick and lost.
All I know is that I need you
To be with me at all cost.
Do not lose your patience with me,
Do not scold or curse or cry.
I can’t help the way I’m acting,
Can’t be different though I try.
Just remember that I need you,
That the best of me is gone,
Please don’t fail to stand beside me,
Love me ’til my life is done.

– Owen Darnell

tammikuu 2, 12:06 pm

>24 SqueakyChu: Happy New Year to you and José, Madeline!

>25 Simone2: Happy New Year, Barbara! I'm looking forward to Paul's African Novel Challenge, especially since it will allow me to get to a dozen or more unread books that have sat on my shelves for years, including Children of the New World.

>26 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks, Caroline!

>27 BLBera: Happy New Year and thanks, Beth!

>28 rachbxl: It's good to see you, Rachel! I typically get numerous book ideas from you, so I also look forward to your 2023 reading.

>29 AlisonY: Happy New Year, Alison! I'll follow your reading even more closely than I did last year, and I hope that we can share recipes in La Cucina as well.

>30 stretch: Happy New Year, Kevin! I intend to do a much better job in promptly reviewing the books I read, particularly those for the African Novel Challenge. (I can hear rebeccanyc laughing at me, as she did at the beginning of every year online and once in person when I made promises to do better.)

>31 bell7: Happy New Year, Mary! I'll try to read at least two books every month for the African Novel Challenge, and mention books I've read that I would recommend, such as The Cairo Trilogy by the Egyptian Nobel Prize winning author Naguib Mahfouz.

The Problem of Pain, which I bought when Katherine, Zoë and I met in Philadelphia last summer, looks to be a relatively short book, so I should have time to get to it this month.

Congratulations to your Giants on qualifying for the playoffs yesterday! I'll be interested to see if they rest their starting players for next Sunday's game against my Eagles, who need to win to earn the top seed and the first round bye in the NFC.

tammikuu 2, 12:30 pm

Hi Darryl, Happy New Year and all the best for you and your mom, and for what lies ahead of you when you prepare to start working again! I have still not read Homegoing, which I bought a few years ago, but hope to do so this year.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 2, 12:33 pm

I have an interesting book to recommend to you—not that you need any more book bullets, but it’s a book I’m reading now which has me totally fascinated. It’s KosherSoul by Michael W. Twitty. Look it up. I’m sure you’ll be intrigued by it! :D

tammikuu 2, 1:19 pm

>32 kidzdoc: I didn't enjoy Transcendent Kingdom as much as Gyasi's brilliant debut novel, Homegoing
My experience also. I loved Homegoing, the intertwined generational strands, and remember more about it though I read it longer ago.
>33 kidzdoc: "I don't know exactly what you're doing, but I want to thank you for giving me my sister back."
That is a motivational compliment!

Happy New Year!

tammikuu 2, 2:11 pm

Hi kidzdoc! I haven't been on L.T. or Club Read for a few years. So sorry to hear about your dad's passing and your mother's condition. She's blessed to have you there for her. Looking forward to following your thread this year.

tammikuu 2, 2:22 pm

Happy New Year Darryl. I hope you're able to create a balance between taking care of you & taking care of your mom this year. A tricky dance I know. Look forward to seeing what you read and cook as well.

tammikuu 2, 5:24 pm

>33 kidzdoc:

Thanks Darryl, I ordered the McCullough for me and my brother. The poem you quote made me tear up--yes, loving acceptance is key.

tammikuu 2, 5:43 pm

Hello Darryl, I wish you a happier, more restful, and healthier year than the last. I hope you are able to find a better balance in caring for your mom, getting support from family/neighbors/community, and finding time for yourself.

I look forward to following your reading and cooking adventures -- especially any International Booker reads.

tammikuu 2, 6:09 pm

>33 kidzdoc: The poem by Owen Darnell really says a lot about Alzheimers. Bon courage for your caring responsibilities.

Our reading programmes don't cross that much, but I hope you enjoy Children of the New World: A novel of the Algerian War which I thought was excellent.

tammikuu 2, 6:17 pm

>32 kidzdoc: >37 qebo: That was my experience as well: I loved Homegoing and was very disappointed in Transcendent Kingdom.

tammikuu 2, 8:36 pm

>35 MissBrangwen: Happy New Year, and thank you for your kind thoughts, Mirjam! I look forward to your thoughts about Homegoing.

>36 SqueakyChu: Koshersoul does sound very interesting, Madeline; thanks for mentioning it! I own a copy of an earlier award winning book by Michael W. Twitty, The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South, and I should read that first before I tackle Koshersoul; thanks also for reminding me of that book.

>37 qebo: I'm beginning to think my initial 4 star rating of Transcendent Kingdom is too high. I had a hard time relating to Gifty, but that may have been intentional on the part of the author, as she was seemingly just beginning to understand herself and her motivations at the end of the novel. I'll give it some thought, and possibly read one or more reviews of it (not to copy the thoughts of others, but to help me coalesce my own thoughts) before I write my review of it. Unless I either absolutely love or loathe a book it's still sometimes difficult for me to assign a rating that accurately reflects my opinion of it.

My aunt's comment, combined with similar ones expressed by our closest neighbors and friends, have been very helpful and affirming, especially since I was beating myself up by how little I accomplished in 2022, and for not doing enough for Mom. I also saw this on New Year's Eve, which is also very applicable:

On the stroke of midnight tonight, you can resolve to be better, if you like…
to be fitter,
to eat cleaner,
to work harder.

On the stroke of midnight tonight,
you can resolve to become a whole new you,
if you so choose.

Or, you can take a moment to acknowledge, all you already are.
Because it’s a lot.
You’re a lot.

And you deserve to be commended.

On the stroke of midnight tonight, perhaps you could congratulate yourself, for coping.
For breaking, again,
and for rebuilding, again.

For catching the stones life has thrown at you,
and using them to build your castle that little bit stronger.

You have endured, my friend.

And I don’t see the need to resolve to become a whole new you, when you are already so very much indeed.

Happy new year.

You made it.

Now let us face another 365 day-turn, arms wide,
accepting, embracing and ‘seeing’ each other, for all we are.

- Donna Ashworth

tammikuu 2, 9:30 pm

>38 avidmom: Welcome back, avidmom; it's great to see you back here! Thank you for your lovely comment. I'll certainly follow your thread as well.

>39 markon: Happy New Year, Ardene! Yes, achieving a balance between meeting my mother's needs, serving as the de facto owner of a nearly 70 year old house, and taking care of myself, both personally and professionally, is a major challenge. Fortunately my mother is far less demanding than she was earlier this year, thanks in large part to one medication her local neurologist started her on last summer, mirtazapine. She does tend to sleep a lot during the day, which gives me more free time, and she is sleeping better at night, which allows me to rest better and be more refreshed during the daytime.

My cooking went off the rails in the second half of last year, as my mother's taste in and tolerance of foods has changed significantly. If it was up to her she would have oatmeal for breakfast, ham & cheese sandwiches for lunch and dinner, and French Vanilla ice cream every day! It's been a challenge to learn what she does and doesn't like, and I've learned to bite my tongue if she starts to spit out something I've made, especially something she previously loved, and to be flexible in what's available in the house for her. One of my vows for 2023 is to get back to eating healthy foods, and follow the MIND diet as I was doing for the first few months of last year. The full name of the MIND diet is the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay diet.

>40 LolaWalser: That's great, Lola; I hope that you and your brother get as much out of My Mother, Your Mother as I did. I first read it in 2020, when my father had his first prolonged seizure and required a six week ICU and rehabilitation hospital stay, as at that time it didn't seem that he would make a meaningful recovery. Fortunately he did, and we had another good year and a half together before the second episode of status epilepticus and resultant severe brain damage was too much for him to overcome.

That poem is very powerful, and I try to keep it in the back of my mind on the most difficult days.

>41 ELiz_M: Happy New Year, and thank you, Liz! Fortunately we have several supportive and caring neighbors who live on our street, who are very willing to help, and my best friend from high school, whose family lived directly across the street from ours when we moved here in 1976, comes over twice a week to bathe my mother and help around the house.

>42 baswood: Thanks, Barry. I couldn't have asked for a more loving and supportive set of parents, which makes it much easier for me to love and care for her unconditionally.

I'm glad that you rated Children of the New World so highly.

>43 arubabookwoman: I was not that fond of Transcendent Kingdom for much of the novel, but the last 1/3 or so saved it for me.

tammikuu 2, 9:30 pm

BTW, this is a photo of Mom from 2019, taken by my father in our local library, as she won a Reader of the Month Award:

My father was an even more voracious reader, as he could finish a 400 page thriller or detective novel in one day, so I couldn't help but become a bookworm, unlike my brother, who hardly reads and was undoubtedly switched at birth. (Just kidding, bro.)

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 3, 1:14 am

>44 kidzdoc: I also would like to read The Cooking Gene after I finish this book.

Great poem!

>46 kidzdoc: I love that picture of your mom.

tammikuu 3, 6:23 am

>47 SqueakyChu: Thanks, Madeline.

tammikuu 3, 8:20 am

I liked both poems very much, and the photo of your mom. Glad you are doing well, Darryl. If you and Dan do plan a meetup, perhaps I could pop down and join you and scoop up qebo on the way. I long for an LT meetup, but live far away from other LTers (with the exception of Lois).

tammikuu 3, 10:33 am

>46 kidzdoc: Nice to see your mom Darryl. I hope you have a good year together this year.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 3, 1:47 pm

>49 labfs39: Thanks, Lisa. You would be more than welcome to join us in an LT meet up in Philadelphia! Katherine (qebo) is one of the American LTers I've seen in person the most, along with Zoë (_Zoe_), both of whom I saw in Philadelphia this summer, along with Zoë's husband Mark (radicarian). Zoë and I co-hosted a three day LT meet up in Philadelphia in 2013, in which nearly 20 members from as far away as Kansas and Washington State attended, which I still remember fondly, and I would be interested in another mega meet up there, as long as someone could stay with my mother. It's easy for me to get to Center City Philadelphia, by car or commuter train, and I can get there in roughly half an hour if I drive.

ETA: It's nearly as easy for me to get to NYC from here, as it takes 15 minutes to drive to the Trenton, NJ train station, where I can take an Amtrak or NJ Transit train to New York Penn Station. I commuted from here to Manhattan when I worked in a research lab at NYU Medical Center for three years before I went to medical school, so I'm very familiar with the city.

>50 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks, Caroline.

tammikuu 3, 1:37 pm

I received a bit of literary lagniappe today. My copy of Your Hearts, Your Scars by Adina Talve-Goodman from Bellevue Literary Press arrived this afternoon, which was the December book I won from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program, but the mailer also included another book, Uncommon Measure: A Journey Through Music, Performance, and the Science of Time by Natalie Hodges, which also looks very interesting. In the letter I received from Molly Mikolowski of Bellevue Literary Press she thanked me for supporting the publisher, and she said that she sent the second book to me because she thought that I might enjoy it. I'll start reading Your Hearts, Your Scars now, and plan to read Uncommon Measure in the next month or two.

My last Christmas gift book from my brother also arrived today, Rising to the Surface, the new memoir by the beloved British comedian and actor Lenny Henry, who is arguably best known for his BBC series The Lenny Henry Show and Chef!, although I first saw him when he brilliantly played the lead in Bertolt Brecht's play The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui at the Donmar Warehouse in London's West End in 2017.

tammikuu 3, 3:17 pm

>51 kidzdoc: If you do a Philly meetup, I'd love to try to come up with Jose and Barbara.

tammikuu 3, 10:16 pm

>53 SqueakyChu: That would be great, Madeline!

tammikuu 3, 10:16 pm

>49 labfs39: >50 Caroline_McElwee: >53 SqueakyChu: - Philly meet up 2023? We should make this happen. When does Philly weather begin to cooperate with travelers?

tammikuu 3, 10:30 pm

>55 dchaikin: The 2013 LT Philadelphia meet up took place in mid May, and as I recall we had great weather all three days. I would probably suggest sometime from mid April to mid May, when the weather is temperate.

Having said that I'll re-emphasize that my ability to leave home is entirely dependent on someone staying with my mother, which means that my cousin from Michigan has to pay us a visit. Bringing my mother with me is not a realistic option. If someone wants to organize a meet up go right ahead, and hopefully I can join in.

tammikuu 3, 10:33 pm

>44 kidzdoc: Darryl, I liked Transcendent Kingdom more than Homegoing. It felt very personal and I thought the descriptions of the religious aspect of her upbringing were so accurate, as well as how deeply she was affected by her brother.

>52 kidzdoc: The Bellevue Literary Press is one of my favorite publishers. I've also gotten an extra book slipped in with my ER book and have been told to request any titles that look interesting. It's fun to have that level of access and to feel valued by a press.

I'm glad you're planning a meet-up. May it be a great success wherever it ends up happening. Depending on a number of factors, I might be able to join. My MIL lives in Princeton Junction, so I could combine a meet-up with a chance to spend time with her.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 3, 10:43 pm

>56 kidzdoc: Just me tossing out ideas and getting overly enthusiastic. I did forget, for a moment, that you need someone to care for your mother to attend.

tammikuu 4, 8:56 am

>49 labfs39:, >53 SqueakyChu:, >55 dchaikin:, >56 kidzdoc: Somehow it keeps happening in August (,, and I'd strenuously vote for NOT that. :-) Philadelphia is easily walkable but 90 degrees is draining. I agree with Darryl that April-May is a good target. Or fall.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 4, 9:56 am

>57 RidgewayGirl: I'm starting to move more towards your position on Transcendent Kingdom, Kay. Instead of reading professional reviews I decided to start watching a YouTube video of an interview of Yaa Gyasi by Brit Bennett about the novel, and it seems clear to me that Gyasi intentionally created Gifty, the main character, to view her life and relationships largely from the lens of a scientist, in an analytical fashion, and behave as a young woman who was taught and learned to keep her emotions, feelings and opinions to herself, given her position as an outsider in Alabama (immigrant) and Ghana (where she knew little about her homeland's language and culture), and as a student at Harvard and Stanford, where she chose to reject the tired narrative of the immigrant success story. It's certainly a complex and multilayered novel that touches on several topics, and I plan to watch that interview in full, at least, before I write my review of the novel. For now I'll keep my rating at 4 stars, although I might nudge it upward by half a star.

I agree, Bellevue Literary Press is on my shortlist of favorite publishers, which would also include Akashic Books, Archipelago Books, City Lights Publishing, and Tin House Books.

I was able to participate in two meet ups with friends in Philadelphia last year, one of which was an afternoon and early evening gathering on a Saturday in August with two of the American LTers I've known the longest and met with the most, Katherine (qebo) and Zoë (_Zoe_), which happened mainly because Zoë and her husband Mark were in town for a conference, Katherine was free and can travel by Amtrak into the city, my cousin from Michigan happened to be visiting us at the time, and I did not travel to Atlanta. In other words, the stars perfectly aligned to allow that meet up to happen. I often don't know when Tina, my cousin, can visit until a month or less in advance, as she lives in Michigan and works as a defense attorney during weekdays and as an IT help specialist for the University of Michigan several nights a week. One benefit of the COVID-19 pandemic is that many of her court appearances for her clients can be conducted online via Zoom, so it isn't often that she has to appear in court personally to defend one of her clients, and her IT work is by phone and computer, so she can do much of her work here. So, having said all that, it's far easier for me to participate in impromptu meet ups in which my absence due to something that comes up at the last minute is not a bother to anyone. Princeton Junction is a short drive (25-30 minutes) from where we live, and as long as Tina or someone else can stay with my mother for a few hours a meet up there or in Princeton is very doable. I now go to Princeton BMW for my service needs for my SUV, as it's the closest BMW dealership to me despite being in a different state (there are no BMW dealerships in the city of Philadelphia!), and I frequently drove through the center of Princeton to New Brunswick when I was a commuting undergraduate student at Rutgers, so I'm pretty familiar with that part of New Jersey.

>58 dchaikin: Right, Dan. It was very easy to meet up with you in ?2020, as my father was alive then. It's a different story now.

>59 qebo: I agree completely, Katherine! Although it was great to see you, Zoë and Mark last year, August is NOT the best month to walk around Philadelphia!

tammikuu 4, 10:20 am

Hello and Happy New Year. Looking forward to following your journey :-)

tammikuu 4, 10:27 am

On a completely different topic, some of you may be aware of the horrific injury that occurred during the NFL game two days ago, in which Damar Hamlin, a player for the Buffalo Bills (and a fellow University of Pittsburgh alumnus) collapsed seconds after making a routine tackle, went into cardiac arrest, and required prolonged cardiopulmonary resuscitation and several shocks with a defibrillator to get his heart working again (he went into cardiac arrest a second time, when he arrived in the hospital). There has been wild and irresponsible speculation that this tragedy was caused by vaccines or something equally as outlandish. I didn't see the tackle live, but I turned on Monday Night Football roughly half an hour after it happened, watched a video of the tackle and Hamlin's subsequent collapse, and I thought that the most likely cause was a rare condition known as commotio cordis, in which a blow to the chest at a critical portion of the cardiac cycle, in which the ventricles (the two pumping chambers of the heart) relax after contracting and prepare for the next electrical signal to contract during the next cycle. A jolt at exactly the wrong time can make the heart stop beating normally and go into an abnormal rhythm, especially one known as ventricular fibrillation, in which the ventricles quiver and fail to pump blood to the rest of the body. This can cause cardiac arrest, and sudden cardiac death if a normal sinus rhythm isn't restored within a few minutes. Hamlin was resuscitated on the field, although it took many minutes, and as a result he is in critical condition, and his survival, nonetheless a return to a normal life, is uncertain.

Several of my physician friends commented on a Facebook post I submitted shortly after I learned the news, and all but one agreed that commotio cordis was the most likely cause of this accident. Given the great interest amongst sports fans and the general public about the tragedy, the lack of specific clinical information from the medical team caring for Hamlin, and the wild speculation that has taken place since Monday night, I thought I would post this image, which came from a fellow pediatrician's Facebook timeline:

tammikuu 4, 10:27 am

>61 Dilara86: Happy New Year, Dilara! I'll have to start visiting others' threads in the next day or two.

tammikuu 4, 10:57 am

That's a lovely photo of your mother, above, Darryl. All last year I meant to say how much I admire your decision to change your life and care for your mother, but never found the right words. Nor have I now, really, but it's always better to say something not quite right rather than nothing at all.

tammikuu 4, 11:04 am

>46 kidzdoc: Such a beautiful picture. Your mom looks very happy and now we know you got the reading genes from both your parents.

tammikuu 4, 11:10 am

>60 kidzdoc: Darryl, while Pattie and I were in Portland for the Book Festival, we went to an event at Tin House and it was a perfect ending to the weekend. We were one of only a few people who made the trip out on a rainy night; most of the people there were involved with the press in some way. We were invited in, and invited to go upstairs and grab a drink from the fridge before the readings started, so it all felt more like a convivial gathering than an event. And Morgan Talty, Carolina De Robertis and Lydia Kiesling were all fantastic. Tin House is one of my favorites, too and it was fun to go and see the actual tin house of the name.

I'm going to watch (or, more accurately, listen) to that interview. I'd like to hear about how she structured Transcendent Kingdom.

tammikuu 4, 11:26 am

Thanks for the post about Damar Hamlin, Darryl. I had read elsewhere that commotio cordis was a possible cause. Reading about that really scared me, as I have a 13 year old son who is a very active baseball player and I gather that though overall this is rare, it is most commonly seen in teenage baseball players. Scary.

Most importantly, of course, I'm hoping that Damar Hamlin makes a full recovery. It was a very scary thing to witness on TV.

tammikuu 4, 12:03 pm

>62 kidzdoc: The video of Damar's hit was hard to watch, watching live it was hard to tell exactly what happened.

Anti-vaxxers did the same thing after Christan Eriksens's Cardiac Collapse during at the 2020 Euros. They are a scary bunch to confront, just how quickly they jump and spread that narrative is lightening fast. Kuddos for going the extra step to stem the disinformation.

tammikuu 4, 1:51 pm

>64 CDVicarage: Thanks, Kerry. That picture is over three years old, and unfortunately dementia has robbed my mother of a significant portion of what she was then. She still loves to read, but she remembers very little of what she's read.

It's hard to know what to say to a grieving person, even for me as a physician who has had to give bad news to parents and families dozens of times. You want to give comfort to the person, without saying anything that would be hurtful or insensitive, and you want to express sympathy, without getting too emotional in your response to a tragedy or situation that doesn't affect you directly.

>65 Trifolia: Thanks, Monica. That photo expresses my mother's personality well, as a woman with a ready smile, a warm disposition, and one who practically everybody loves, as she loves practically everyone in return. Fortunately dementia and her husband's death haven't, for the large part, ruined her genial nature.

>66 RidgewayGirl: That's great that you and Pattie were able to visit Tin House and attend those readings, Kay!

Here's a link to the YouTube video I started watching last night:

>67 japaul22: You're welcome, Jennifer. There are certainly other conditions that would be on the differential diagnosis, including long QT syndrome, previously undiagnosed hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or complex congenital heart disease, traumatic injury such as an aortic rupture, or some other dysrhythmia (heart rhythm abnormality). However, the sequence of events fits well with commodio cortis, which is fortunately a very rare condition, one that I've thankfully not seen but one which frequently shows up in textbook or on exam questions.

Several physician friends and I are discussing Hamlin's case on my Facebook timeline, as it is both a horrible tragedy and one of great clinical interest. I'm one of the more pessimistic ones, as I fear that he has had significant anoxic injury to his brain due to lack of oxygen, and that he could end up being neurologically devastated or even brain dead if/once he is taken off the ventilator and allowed to breathe on his own. (It doesn't help that my father was unable to get off of mechanical ventilation due to severe anoxic brain damage from his episode of status epilepticus that claimed his life.) However, one of my closest classmates, a pulmonologist at the University of Pittsburgh, has extensive experience in situations such as this one, whether cardiac or respiratory, and she is much more optimistic that he will do well, given his young age, excellent health, and rapid response from the medical team on the field. Scattered reports suggest that he is improving nicely from a respiratory standpoint, but no mention has been made of his other end organ function (brain, heart, liver, kidneys), and there have not yet been any press conferences by the treating physicians to give us specific medical information, probably and understandably because the family wishes to maintain privacy, so we can only speculate as to what is actually happening to Damar Hamlin.

>68 stretch: That video was very hard to watch; when I first saw it my heart sank, as it reminded me of the collapse of Hank Gathers, the All American basketball player for Loyola Marymount college (and Dobbins Tech High School in North Philadelphia), during a West Coast Conference Tournament game in 1990 due to a heart rhythm abnormality; he died shortly after that collapse.

You're right about the anti-vaxxers spreading pathetic and despicable conspiracy theories after the Danish footballer Christian Eriksen's collapse on the pitch during a Euro 2020 match.

tammikuu 4, 7:50 pm

That's a wonderful picture of your mum up thread, Darryl. I especially liked what your aunt said about your care for your mum in >33 kidzdoc:. Acknowledgement like that must have made your day!

tammikuu 4, 8:01 pm

>46 kidzdoc: What a wonderful picture.

Well, your family experience around siblings and reading mirrors mine - one siblings reads (yours truly here), the other probably reads 4 books per year in a good year. I've heard that there are families where all siblings read but... :)

tammikuu 5, 4:23 pm

>44 kidzdoc: I love that poem. It fits exactly!

Happy 2023, Daryl. I hope it brings you everything you need to be healthy and happy!

tammikuu 6, 6:47 am

Happy new year, Darryl. What lovely words from your aunt - and so good to know that what you did had such an effect.

tammikuu 6, 3:19 pm

Happy New Year Darryl, I'm a bit of a lurker, but I'm always interested to see what sort of stuff you're reading. So I'll be around.

>8 kidzdoc: Faulkner... I got the 1942-1954 collection for Christmas, plus I have Sound and Fury on the shelf. I might have to devote some time this year to his oeuvre

tammikuu 6, 3:29 pm

Hi Darryl, My first check in with your new thread and here I am already at post #75 (if I type fast enough :) ). As you may remember, my sister and I had to help my mother through several years of rather debilitating dementia (although not alzheimers: she always knew who we were) for the final portion of her life, so I have at least a tangential idea of what things have been like for you.

I will probably get to see you later in the year, as my own big news at this point is that my wife and I have decided to follow up our November 2020 month in New Jersey with a full year's exploration, either in the Jersey City area or in Manhattan itself. So I will definitely be close enough for a Philly drop in. All the best, and Happy New Year.

tammikuu 6, 5:09 pm

>75 rocketjk: Ooh, exciting

tammikuu 7, 10:32 am

>46 kidzdoc: Such a lovely picture!

tammikuu 7, 11:55 am

Happy New Year, Darryl!

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 7, 6:15 pm

Hi guys - for those interested in a Philly meetup, I've been thinking about May, and trying to come up with date so those who want to come have time to make plans. I personally have a couple graduations to work around (my dauther's high school graduation and my niece's bachelor's graduation, both in May).

So, I'm looking at the weekend of May 13 (which is a Saturday). Any thoughts?

tammikuu 7, 7:53 pm

>79 dchaikin: Since the 14th is Mother's Day, I might be tied up that weekend with family events.

tammikuu 7, 7:55 pm

>79 dchaikin: I'm looking like being in the NY/NJ area, so close enough to Philly, for a while, beginning in June, for whatever that's worth.

tammikuu 8, 9:51 am

>80 labfs39: oye, good catch. That’s not a good weekend.

>81 rocketjk: if you can send me your dates in a pm, maybe I we can set a meetup around what might work for you.

tammikuu 9, 8:30 pm

I found your thread and have you starred. Looking forward to your reads in 2023!

tammikuu 10, 4:00 am

Happy reading in 2023, Darryl!

tammikuu 12, 4:56 pm

Catching up...

>70 Familyhistorian: Thanks, Shelley. That photo was taken in October 2019, and, unfortunately, it's a sad reminder of the woman my mother was back then.

>71 AnnieMod: Thanks, Annie. My brother and I get along well, but we are very different people!

>72 tangledthread: Thanks, tangledthread. I'm glad that you also liked that poem.

>73 wandering_star: Thanks, Margaret. Her words were affirming, and it helps that most others who see us often have made similar comments.

>74 mahsdad: Happy New Year, Jeff! I'll follow your thread as well, although I'm also a lurker and hardly ever post comments. I've finished three books so far, and I'll post my first review after I catch up.

Well done on getting one of the Library of America's editions of William Faulkner's novels. IIRC all but one of them has four novels, so I'll plan to read one novel a quarter for the next five years, God willing. I may also look for a biography or other book to help me learn more about him.

>75 rocketjk: Hi, Jerry! Actually I don't remember you mentioning that your mother also suffered from dementia, to be honest.

That's great that you'll be in the area for a full year. That will greatly increase the chance of us being able to get together at some point.

tammikuu 12, 5:05 pm

>76 labfs39: Exciting indeed, Lisa.

>77 dukedom_enough: Thanks, Michael!

>78 ronincats: Happy New Year to you too, Roni!

>79 dchaikin: I'll let you and/or others take the lead on planning a meet up in Philadelphia, Dan. I have no idea if I'll be available in May, and I won't know before April.

>80 labfs39: Yeah, I would want to reserve Mother's Day to spend with Mom...

>81 rocketjk: Sound good!

>82 dchaikin: Agreed.

>83 figsfromthistle: Happy New Year, Anita! I'll follow your thread as well.

>84 FAMeulstee: Happy New Year to you and Frank, Anita! I hope that your vision is better, and that you're able to read comfortably once again.

tammikuu 12, 5:13 pm

Finally, a book review!

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

My rating:

Gifty, the narrator of Yaa Gyasi’s second published novel, is a 27 year old PhD candidate in neurosciences at Stanford, who conducts experiments on mice to elucidate the neural pathways involved in addiction and reward seeking behavior. On the surface she checks all the boxes for a modern immigrant success story: she is the daughter of two Ghanaians who emigrated to the United States to seek better opportunities for themselves and their two children, Gifty and her older brother Nana; she overcame a troubled and impoverished childhood in Alabama to achieve academic success, including a bachelor’s degree from Harvard; and she is devoted to her family, particularly her mother, a devout Christian who worked in menial jobs to provide for her children.

However, there is a darker underside to Gifty’s story. She is motivated to study addiction because Nana, a promising but troubled athlete, became hooked on opioids after a physician gave him a prescription for OxyContin after a sports injury and ultimately died of a heroin overdose when she was young, and the loss of her closest companion and most devoted supporter devastated both her and her mother, who has suffered from severe depression and suicidal behaviors since the death of her son. Gifty, because of her sheltered upbringing, family tragedy, and struggles as an immigrant, an outsider in her home town in Alabama and as a Black woman scientist, keeps her personal life and experiences to herself, and, in many ways, views her mother, late brother and herself from the standpoint of a scientist, as an apparent coping mechanism and because she has yet to learn who she truly is, and this lack of self-awareness greatly impacts and impedes her relationships with friends and lovers.

My impression of Transcendent Kingdom was a mixed one immediately after I finished reading it, as I was frustrated with Gifty and her mother, both of whom I found to be inscrutable and, in many ways, unlikable. However, after giving it some thought and watching an interview with the author about the book, I realized that this characterization was entirely intentional on Yaa Gyasi’s part, which made me appreciate what she was doing considerably more. I’ve upped my initial 3½ star rating to 4½ stars, and although Transcendent Kingdom is a very different novel than her début, Homegoing, I would recommend it just as highly.

tammikuu 12, 10:30 pm

>87 kidzdoc: Excellent review! I was impressed by this novel. Yaa Gyasi has become one of my automatic read authors after this novel.

tammikuu 12, 10:34 pm

>87 kidzdoc: your evolving reaction is very interesting. I liked Homegoing but did not love it. Great concept though.

tammikuu 12, 10:46 pm

>87 kidzdoc: Wonderful review. I am a bit ambivalent about the author needing an interview to convey what she intended the character to be like that and not managing to show that inside of the novel - the novel either stands on its own or it does not. But then I was never a fan of being told how to read something. I don’t mind flawed protagonists though. :)

tammikuu 13, 3:02 am

>88 RidgewayGirl: Thanks, Kay! It took about a week, but I eventually moved toward your very positive opinion about Transcendent Kingdom. Now that I've given both of her novels 4½ star ratings Yaa Gyasi has achieved Automatic Read status and Favorite Author status for me as well.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 13, 9:44 am

>89 dchaikin: Thanks, Dan. This was a great example of a book that I needed to think about for awhile before I could write an appropriate review of it, and I'm glad that I waited a week, and watched the Politics and Prose interview of Yaa Gyasi by Brit Bennett (, prior to doing so.

>90 AnnieMod: Thanks, Annie. Watching that interview didn't change my opinion about Gifty and her mother; I did that several days after I finished Transcendent Kingdom. It did, however, confirm my impression that Gifty was crafted to be an unreliable narrator, and a woman who still had not discovered her own motivations and was not honest toward herself or others. Human, all too human.

tammikuu 15, 9:18 am

>90 AnnieMod: the novel either stands on its own or it does not
If I miss something in a novel, I tend to fault myself rather than the author; I consider myself to be a weak reader of literature. Interviews generally increase my interest and appreciation.

tammikuu 15, 10:47 pm

>93 qebo: I'm with you, Katherine. I still think of myself as a relatively uneducated and limited reader, as I never took any college literature courses (my English requirement was met by taking Technical Writing and Public Speaking courses as an undergraduate chemical engineering student at Drexel), and I hardly read anything for pleasure during my undergraduate, medical school and residency years. I learn a lot about the craft of writing from attending or watching author interviews, and that was certainly the case when I watched the conversation between Brit Bennett and Yaa Gyasi about Transcendent Kingdom.

tammikuu 16, 4:33 am

Wanted to finally get the chance to drop by and wish you a wonderful reading new year, Darryl. The best always to you and your mum.

You and I agree about most things my friend but not your post >94 kidzdoc: . I don't consider there to be anything "relatively uneducated or limited" in your reading. We are all learning and appreciating at different subjective levels and I don't think that there is anything unsophisticated or less valuable about your impression of a book than anyone elses - and I mean anyone. I would take your book recommendation over Brit Bennett or Ian McEwan or Cormac McCarthy anyday because you are my pal and I have an inkling that if you like something I just might do so too.

tammikuu 16, 9:42 am

As another person who never took a lit class and has only learned to talk about my reading critically through practice and immersion, I'll take a look at that video—sounds like it's got a lot to offer, thanks!

tammikuu 16, 10:42 am

Hi Darryl. Just finding your thread now! Starred.

I wish you a happy and more relaxing year this year as you settle into familiar routines in your new role. The poem up in >33 kidzdoc: also brought me to tears. As you may recall, my mum also has dementia as well as a whole host of other physical stuff going on. I live 6 hours away and my brother 3 hours away so it's somewhat harder to *be there*. But I talk to her daily and seeing that pic of your mum reminded me also, how much my own mum has changed. In her new place (we moved her to a full care facility last March) I put up a lot of photos of her and the family, to help with memories. I call her a cat with 9 lives because she keeps getting hit with stuff (3 rounds of c-diff, covid twice, cancer) and yet, she keeps bouncing back. It's rather incredible, actually. She recently turned 89.

tammikuu 16, 4:25 pm

I'm feeling particularly accomplished this afternoon, as I was able to successfully diagnose and repair our 10 year old refrigerator/freezer, after I was all but certain that I would have to spend hundreds of dollars to get a repairman to come to the house, or over one thousand dollars to replace it. I'm pooped, but damned happy!

>95 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul. I've been way behind threads on Club Read this year, including mine at several points this month, but I'll check out your latest thread and those of my other 75 Books friends soon.

I appreciate your very kind and thoughtful comments! I may have judged myself a bit harshly; I can say that I'm continuing to learn and expand my horizons as a reader, but perhaps that's true of all of us.

>96 lisapeet: You're welcome, Lisa. I miss not attending book festivals in person, particularly the Decatur Book Festival just outside of Atlanta (with Kay and her friend Pattie), and the Edinburgh International Book Festival (with formerly active LT member Fliss and our own wandering_star), and author readings at Emory University and the Carter Presidential Center in Atlanta. My favorite author appearances would include Ali Smith, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Salman Rushdie, Caryl Phillips and Linton Kwesi Johnson (in Foyles Bookshop on Charing Cross Road in London), Petina Gappah, and Dr Kathryn Mannix, especially since she and I had lunch and attended two readings, including one by Knausgaard, after her own appearance.

>97 jessibud2: Happy new year to you as well, Shelley! Yes, even though I don't often comment I was following your thread, and your accounts of your mother, last year. Your mother is two years older than mine, BTW. Other than a bad case of bronchitis that nearly landed her in the hospital my mother had a very healthy year (as did I), and hopefully this year will also be a good one in that regard.

tammikuu 16, 4:43 pm

>98 kidzdoc: Nice work on the fridge/freezer!

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 16, 7:14 pm

>99 wandering_star: Thanks, Margaret! It took 8-10+ hours over the past three days, but I did it! 💪🏽

ETA: Unfortunately my weekend reading plans fell by the wayside, but I hope to get back to the books tonight.

tammikuu 17, 11:30 am

A latish Happy New Year, Darryl! It sounds like your plans for this year will be both interesting and challenging.

I loved both poems and the photo of your mom.

I've book marked the Brit Bennett inverview with Yaa Gyasi and will try to listen to it later today.

It's interesting how my review of Transcendent Kingdom has a different emphasis than yours - we all bring our own life experiences to each novel we read, and for me, I was very struck by the failure of the Alabama evangelical church.

And hooray for stepping into a new arena of refrigerator repair. Dealing with mechanical problems is very challenging for me and I admire that you were able to do that.

tammikuu 18, 2:02 pm

>93 qebo: >94 kidzdoc:

I like interviews with the authors. And I like background information. But there is a difference between an interview/review/analysis which adds to the understanding and one that tells me what the author meant. There are ways to show that a choice is deliberate inside of the book itself. If the interview helps pointing me to the place I missed where it happened, sure, I am all for it and I will be the first to admit that I miss some subtleties of modern literature quite often. But if the novel does not make it clear and it requires the author to explain what they meant, well...

It may be my bad memories from literary classes in high school and the most hated question of them all: "what did the author mean?". Don't get me wrong, I loved the classes but... sometimes over-analyzing makes one hate a book. Plus I spent my formative years reading in translation. Notes and interviews rarely get translated with the works (and even if an introduction was there, I tended to skip it in those years). So very often when I read I am thinking about the work in terms of "how translatable is this? How readable is it for someone with no internet access?". Sometimes the answer to both questions is very different (and that's ok); sometimes the answer to both is "not at all" and that usually gives me a pause. So there is that.

tammikuu 22, 9:13 am

>94 kidzdoc: You're a far more sophisticated reader than I am.

>102 AnnieMod: There are ways to show that a choice is deliberate inside of the book itself.
Agreed, but recognizing those choices is somewhat reader-dependent. Good literature has layers of cultural references, and I often don't get cultural references. There is, and should be, an emphasis on show don't tell in literature, and authors I'd suppose have to balance of how much of each is necessary for the audience. I'm on the low end of the normal curve, so not in a position to judge. I too HATED "what did the author mean?" because the answer was whatever the teacher expected, rather than objective criteria that I could apply independently. I far preferred math. I got by in high school English classes because I could write grammatically correct paragraphs and answer pop quiz questions about trivia to prove I did the homework. I think unlike you I did not have the experience of feeling that a good story had been ruined by analysis. I do sometimes have that feeling with non-fiction. I occasionally attend an informal science seminar at a local college. Most of the participants are retired professors, and I get exasperated sometimes because academics can ruin anything. I'll be reading about dinosaurs for example and thinking that's really cool, and someone in the group will nitpick a sentence that is not 100% accurate and go on and on about an obscure 2% that is his area of expertise.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 22, 2:13 pm

>103 qebo: " But if the novel does not make it clear and it requires the author to explain what they meant, well... "

I believe it was Robert Frost (that's the story I remember, anyway) who responded to an interviewer's question about the meaning of a line within one of his poems by saying, "If I could have said it more clearly, I would have."

>102 AnnieMod: There are ways to show that a choice is deliberate inside of the book itself.

I do like questions about author's choices better than author's intent, especially when it comes to group conversations. I taught Creative Writing for freshman at San Francisco State for a couple of semesters. I developed a lesson plan around authors' choices. Questions like, why did the author give the couple a five year old daughter instead of a 13 year old son? Why does the story take place in Indiana and not in Maryland? Just getting to the point that every detail in a book or story represents a choice made by the author. Now, this was a writing class and not a literature class, and the idea was to help beginning writers to become mindful of the fact that each detail they use is an opportunity to add to the richness of the story they were telling, that nothing should be a throwaway. But also as a reader, I find that being mindful of an author's choices in terms of such details can help me suss out what it is the author is trying to get to quite as much as depending upon plot points to do that.

However, I find that the guys in my reading group aren't often interested in that sort of conversation. They're more interested in just looking at what's actually on the page as opposed to considering why the author used a particular image or detail and what the effect would have been of using some other. When I used to try to bring up such points, well . . . let the eye-rolling commence! C'est la vie. :)

tammikuu 22, 1:59 pm

>104 rocketjk: I do like questions about author's choices
One of the more lively RL book club discussions occurred when we read a book by a local YA author who met with us. I had next to no interest in the book itself, but was intrigued by how she'd decided to structure it.

guys in my reading group aren't often interested in that sort of conversation
In my RL fiction book group, the conversation gets into why the character did this or that, as if the author doesn't exist.

tammikuu 22, 2:31 pm

>98 kidzdoc: Yay for successful repair Darryl. Refrigerators seem pretty expensive where you are, or is it that the brand you prefer is more than others?

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 2, 12:28 pm

Book #2: Your Hearts, Your Scars by Adina Talve-Goodman

My rating:

Adina Talve-Goodman (1986-2018) was born with several congenital malformations, the most significant being a critical congenital heart defect, as her heart had only one ventricle (pumping chamber) instead of two, and blood could not flow from her heart to her lungs, a condition known as pulmonary atresia. As this is a lethal malformation she underwent surgical corrections at one and six days of age, which saved her life but could not permanently correct her deformed heart. She went into heart failure at the age of 12, went on the transplant list at 17, and underwent a heart transplant at 19, which allowed her to live a nearly normal life. She did have to take several immunosuppressant medications to keep her body’s immune system from rejecting her new heart, but tragically she developed a type of lymphoma, a cancer of the white blood cells, a known complication of long-term use of immunosuppressive agents that ultimately claimed her life shortly after her 31st birthday.

Adina Talve-Goodman was also the daughter of rabbis, who was born in St. Louis, attended Washington University in her home town, and was a noted local actress, a talented writer and a supporter of up and coming ones, and a beautiful and ebullient young woman who lived a rich and meaningful life, laughed often, loved fiercely, and enriched and touched the lives of practically everyone she encountered, whether family members, friends, classmates or strangers. Her favorite author was James Baldwin, and a quote from his novel Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone served as one that she treasured and embodied:

For the very first time, the very first time, I realized the fabulous extent of my luck: I could, I could, if I kept the faith, transform my sorrow into life and joy. I might live in pain and sorrow forever, but, if I kept the faith, I could do for others what I felt had not been done for me, and if I could do that, if I could give, I could live.

Your Hearts, Your Scars is a collection of seven personal essays that Adina wrote towards the end of her life. She describes her life as a chronically ill young woman, her practically overnight transformation to a nearly normal person after her transplant, and the complex emotions she experienced knowing that her life depended on the premature death of the young person whose heart she carried within her. She describes the arduous process of getting a precious transplanted organ and how close to death one has to come to obtain one, how her illness and physical scars affect how she views her body and how others, particularly her lovers, treat her, and how the gift of life she received impacted her feelings of responsibility to the donor, as well as to others in need of help. Through her words this reader learned more about the daily life of a chronically ill child and young person, and how much many people like her embrace and value life even more than those who are not afflicted with chronic illness.

Your Hearts, Your Scars is, like the author, full of laughter and love, and her joie de vivre jumps off the page and made me appreciate all that I have been given. It gave me a sense of who she was, and how much her tragic death must have impacted those around her. It was a very touching and unforgettable book, and one that I could not recommend any more highly.

Thank you to Bellevue Literary Press and the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program for providing me with an uncorrected proof of this book in exchange for an honest review of it.

helmikuu 2, 2:07 pm

Wow, Darryl, this sounds like a great and important book. Thanks for the great review.

How are you and your mum doing these days?

helmikuu 2, 2:08 pm

>101 streamsong: Belated thanks, Janet, and Happy New(ish) Year to you, too! Yes, 2023 will be a very challenging and interesting year, but hopefully it will be a better one as well.

I agree with your comments about Transcendent Kingdom; even though i didn't mention it in my review, the failure of the evangelical church Gifty and her family attended in Alabama was a major theme in the novel.

My father was normally the one who did all the repair and electrical work in the house until the past 2-3 years of his life, when a neighbor and great friend of ours helped him out. I've now had to assume that responsibility, and although our neighbor is willing to help out I want to do as much as I can on my own, including my successful attempt to diagnose and repair the refrigerator with the aid of a Google search and two DIY YouTube videos.

>102 AnnieMod:, >103 qebo:, >104 rocketjk:, >105 qebo: Interesting discussion. I have nothing to add to it at this late date.

>106 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks, Caroline. My father purchased our Samsung refrigerator 10 years ago, but I have no idea why he chose that make or model, as I was not visiting them at the time he bought and received it. I have yet to purchase one, so I have no idea which models are top of the line or are more expensive than others. From what I've learned there was a design flaw with this model, and other Samsung refrigerators apparently have similar problems, along with Samsung washing machines. I don't know which model I'll choose when it's time to purchase a new refrigerator, but it won't be a Samsung.

helmikuu 2, 2:13 pm

>108 jessibud2: Thanks, Shelley. I've been very pleased with the Early Reviewer books I've received from Bellevue Literary Press, and Your Hearts, Your Scars was no exception. It was published in the US on January 24th of this year, and hopefully it will gain wide recognition.

Overall things are going relatively well, although this week has been a bit rougher, as my mother is more anxious and demanding than usual. I'll take a postprandial nap shortly, as she woke me out of a deep sleep just before 6 am to request breakfast, and I've been awake since then. I'll start reading The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias by Nancy L. Mace and Peter V. Rabins this week, as it's supposed to be a superb guide for caregivers of people with dementia.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 2, 3:54 pm

You sound tired, Darryl. I hope you get some rest and the next few days are easier ones.

>107 kidzdoc: Wonderful review of Your Hearts, Your Scars. I've added it to Mount TBR.

helmikuu 3, 11:48 am

>111 labfs39: Thanks, Lisa. You were right; I was very tired yesterday, but I did have a nice long nap yesterday, along with a good — and uninterrupted — night of sleep, so I feel great today.

Your Hearts, Your Scars is a great read, but unfortunately a short one, as the author had just started writing when she was diagnosed with cancer, and she died not long afterward.

helmikuu 5, 9:33 am

>107 kidzdoc: Great review, Daryl! I'll be looking out for this title.

helmikuu 5, 10:11 am

>113 tangledthread: Thanks, tangledthread! I hope that you like Your Hearts, Your Scars as much as I did.

helmikuu 6, 9:23 am

>114 kidzdoc: I did finish and review The Song of the Cell. If you haven't started it yet, the first bit is slow going as he covers basic history of the discovery of microscopes and cells. After that it picks up and becomes more interesting.

helmikuu 6, 10:16 am

>115 tangledthread: Thanks, tangledthread. I was considering reading it this month, so it's good to know that it gets better after the introductory chapters.

helmikuu 11, 1:39 pm

An interesting question came up on the African Novel thread for February. A reader is talking about whether Mia Couto's writing should be considered cultural appropriation if he is writing from the Black perspective, since he is a descendant of Portuguese colonizers. I would love to get your take, as I know that you are a fan of his writing (as am I after reading Tuner of Silences).

helmikuu 11, 3:01 pm

Hi Darryl. It has been a long time getting over here but I had a lovely travel down through your posts and there is some wonderful reading in there. I also love Bellevue Literary Press! I had to put down the last Couto I attempted to read recently (the title escapes me at the moment). Just the wrong time, me thinks, as I've enjoyed his other books.

helmikuu 13, 8:46 am

>117 labfs39: That's a good question; however, I would not accuse Mia Couto of cultural appropriation. He spent his childhood amongst Black Mozambicans, his parents and later he supported the Mozambican independence movement (and were labeled as "race traitors" by White neighbors), he speaks African languages other than Portuguese, he lives, works with, and supports Black Mozambican writers and artists, and he supports environmental causes as an environmental biologist. He recognizes his White privilege, but is very much an African who fully embraces Mozambicans of all backgrounds, IMO. He writes about the people and cultures that he knows well, as opposed to a certain faux Latina who gained popularity, wealth and notoriety by writing one of the most lauded and criticized novels of recent memory.

The Guardian has a very nice interview of Couto on its web site:

Mia Couto: ‘I am white and African. I like to unite contradictory worlds’

I also want to read this article from The Paris Review:

We Are Made of Memories: A Conversation with Mia Couto

>118 avaland: Good to see you, Lois. I've been fortunate to score several advance review copies of books from Bellevue Literary Press through the LT Early Reviewers program, including Your Hearts, Your Scars, Canción by Eduardo Halfon, Autopsy of a Father by Pascale Kramer, and Keep Out of Reach of Children: Reye’s Syndrome, Aspirin, and the Politics of Public Health by Mark A. Largent.

To my surprise I've only finished one novel by Mia Couto, The Tuner of Silences, which I loved. I had a hard time getting into Sleepwalking Land and didn't finish it, but I want to give it another go later this year, and I own but haven't yet read Confession of the Lioness.

I've read almost nothing the past two weeks, as I've been extra busy with Real Life chores and responsibilities. I'm still working on Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead, and South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation by Dr Imani Perry, and hope to at least finish both books by the end of the month.

helmikuu 13, 11:10 am

>119 kidzdoc: Lol, I posted the same article on the African Novel thread and shared some of the same points. I thought Paul's post on the subject was well-said. The book-which-shall-not-be-named came to my mind as well.

helmikuu 13, 2:26 pm

>120 labfs39: The specter of that one book certainly hangs over the literary world!

helmikuu 19, 10:44 am

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead

My rating:

Ray Carney is the owner of a modestly successful furniture store on 125th Street in Harlem in the late 1950s, which sells new and gently used items to the local community. He appears to be a self made man and a model member of Black Harlem, who has risen above his father's criminal past to lead an honest life. However, the apple often doesn't fall too far from the tree, and the most rotten one in the Carney family is Ray's beloved cousin Freddie, a small time crook who frequently enlists Ray in his often failed attempts and gets him in deep trouble with local gangsters, crooked policemen, and other ne'er-do-wells. The furniture business in itself often doesn't pay the bills, especially since Ray has a growing family and his uppity in laws look down on him and the manner in which he provides for their daughter and grandchildren. The money from Freddie's exploits help keep the furniture store afloat, but can Ray keep his business, provide for his family, and avoid getting bumped off by the hoods or arrested by the cops?

Harlem Shuffle is a crime novel of three parts that range from the late 1950s to the mid 1960s, which features a variety of shady characters and provides an rich portrayal of mid 20th century Harlem whose fabric is beginning to fray due to poverty, police brutality, and riots that destroy many of the neighborhood's small businesses. However, the first two thirds of the novel barely kept my interest, and although the last part was the strongest part of the book, it isn't a book that will stay with me for long, especially in compared to Whitehead's previous two novels, The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys.

helmikuu 19, 2:10 pm

>122 kidzdoc: Oh, that's disappointing. Would it be worth reading just for the descriptions of Harlem at the time?

helmikuu 19, 3:54 pm

>123 RidgewayGirl: Not in my opinion, Kay. Harlem Shuffle isn't a bad book by any means, but it doesn't compare favorably to the two books I mentioned. Fans of crime novels will probably like it better than I did.

helmikuu 19, 6:45 pm

>122 kidzdoc: bummer. But i want to read him. So maybe i’ll start with The Nickel Boys.

helmikuu 19, 8:04 pm

>125 dchaikin: Good choice.

helmikuu 19, 8:58 pm

>125 dchaikin: Nickel Boys is excellent, but Underground Railroad is brilliant. I've read it twice and I don't generally reread books.

helmikuu 19, 9:29 pm

>127 RidgewayGirl: What Kay said.

helmikuu 19, 9:43 pm

I'll have to give it another chance. I tried Underground Railroad on audio once a long time ago and it didn't take. I quit (it was a library borrow and I was quick to quit those). I'll have to try print.

helmikuu 20, 6:01 am

>119 kidzdoc: Couto does the magical realism which I wasn't quite so open to this attempt. I try it again at some point.

helmikuu 20, 7:30 am

>129 dchaikin: I don't read audiobooks*, so I can't comment about that version of The Underground Railroad, Dan. The print edition is outstanding, though.

*Having said that I do own the audiobook version of There But For The by Ali Smith, and I'll plan to listen to it when I drive from Philadelphia to Atlanta and back next month. If anyone has that version and has read it I'm all ears.

>130 avaland: I assume that you're referring to Sleepwalking Land, Lois? I'm glad I'm not the only one who struggled with it, as it makes me more willing to give it another go.

helmikuu 20, 8:42 am

Kay, I just realized that I contradicted myself in my reply to your question in >123 RidgewayGirl:. Despite my comment in >124 kidzdoc: I think that Whitehead does portray Harlem well in Harlem Shuffle.

helmikuu 20, 8:52 am

>127 RidgewayGirl: >129 dchaikin: >131 kidzdoc: Underground Railroad
There's also a miniseries which has gotten rave reviews. Can't comment personally; I've had in my queue for awhile but haven't yet watched it (read the book several years ago).

helmikuu 20, 8:59 am

>133 qebo: Thanks, Katherine! I didn't know (or had forgotten) about that miniseries, so I'll plan to watch it soon.

helmikuu 20, 12:34 pm

>122 kidzdoc: So Frustrating. It may go out the door unread then Darryl. Thanks for taking one for the team.

helmikuu 20, 1:48 pm

>135 Caroline_McElwee: You may want to give Harlem Shuffle a try before you discard it, Caroline; several other LTers whose opinions I respect rated it 1/2 to 1 star higher than I did.

helmikuu 20, 3:55 pm

Hi again, looking forward to your review of Djebar's Children of the New World: A Novel of the Algerian War (I may be getting a tad obsessed with Algeria) and just noting that it sounds like a great preliminary to Algerian white which takes for granted a certain familiarity with Algerian history.

helmikuu 25, 9:15 am

>137 LolaWalser: Thanks, Lola. I'll review Children of the New World sometime next week.

I'm preparing to take the online version of the Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) exam on Tuesday that need to pass in order to keep my hospital privileges (even though I haven't worked there since November 2021 I'm still an active member of the staff at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta), so I'll spend from now until then reading the 2020 edition of the Pediatric Advanced Life Support Provider Manual from the American Heart Association. This may be considered cheating, but since the book has an ISBN and it's 330 pages in length I will count it as a book for my LT and Goodreads tallies, especially since I've only finished one other book this month.

helmikuu 25, 9:56 am

>138 kidzdoc: This may be considered cheating
It's the opposite of cheating! I bet we'd all pay more attention to our books if we had to take a test at the end. Best wishes for the PALS exam.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 25, 10:24 am

>139 qebo: Thanks, Katherine! I thought reading that manual might be considered cheating since it's one I'm reading for work, and not pleasure. I have to take and pass the PALS exam every two years and have done so since 1997, but because I haven't practiced medicine in the past 15 months I wanted to read the manual from cover to cover this time, especially since I'm taking the exam online instead of the full day renewal course + exam that I usually do with my partners and colleagues at work.

helmikuu 25, 10:38 am

>140 kidzdoc: one I'm reading for work
My first book of the year was for work, sort of an overlap of a task I had to do and something I wanted to know a bit more about. I'd guess many of us don't have an absolute divider.

helmikuu 25, 11:11 am

>141 qebo: That makes sense. A book (or a manual) is a book, and one as intense as the PALS Provider Manual requires far more time and effort than most other books, especially graphic and YA novels.

helmikuu 25, 4:39 pm

Good luck with the exam!--feels superfluous tbh... :)

helmikuu 25, 5:44 pm

Good luck, Darryl. You will ace it, I'm sure.

I used to feel that *cheating* feeling about reading children's books. But in truth, if it's a book, and you read it, it counts, no matter what. Audiobooks, too. Just because someone else is doing the reading, it still counts. Why not?

helmikuu 25, 10:42 pm

>131 kidzdoc: The Couto was Confession of the Lioness, it had two points of view, some magical realism....etc

helmikuu 28, 8:10 pm

>143 LolaWalser:, >144 jessibud2: Woo! I passed the PALS course again! *sung with great vigor to "Let's Do the Time Warp Again"*

I can now get back to reading for pleasure. Although I successfully completed the online PALS recertification exam I haven't finished the Pediatric Advanced Life Support Provider Manual yet, so I won't count it as a completed book until I do. LT tells me that I read the 2011 manual in 2013, so this will be a reread, although I have the latest (2020) edition of the manual.

>145 avaland: Thanks, Lois; that's good to know, as I have the ebook version of Confession of the Lioness.

helmikuu 28, 8:36 pm

Congrats on passing the recertification exam, Darryl!

By the way, I finally read A Man's Place and very much enjoyed it. I have A Woman's Story requested from the library, but it'll be awhile, as there are only a handful of copies in the system and a couple dozen requesters ahead of me.

helmikuu 28, 9:01 pm

>147 bell7: Thanks, Mary! I'm glad that you enjoyed A Man's Place; is that the first book you've read by Annie Ernaux? I bought a copy of her most recently translated book, Getting Lost, when I went to my new favorite local indie bookshop three weeks ago, and I'll read it relatively soon.

helmikuu 28, 9:04 pm

>148 kidzdoc: Yes A Man's Place was the first I read. I believe my library has a copy of Getting Lost so if/when I decide to read it, I probably won't have to wait quite as long in the holds queue. I'll look forward to your thoughts on it when you get to it!

helmikuu 28, 9:06 pm

>146 kidzdoc: Congrats on passing the recert exam. I know that put a lot of pressure on you, Now you can relax again!

Are you going to be following any soccer team this season?

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 28, 9:58 pm

>149 bell7: Sounds good, Mary. Getting Lost consists of excerpts of Ernaux's diary entries when she had a secret affair with a married Russian diplomat who was stationed in Paris in the late 1980s, so it should be both interesting and a relatively quick read. I'll be sure to write a prompt review of it (famous last words).

>150 SqueakyChu: Thanks, Madeline. My current PALS certificate expires today, so I put myself under additional pressure by waiting until the last minute to take this exam. Fortunately this online program allows you to take the exam as many times as needed in order to pass, but I did so on the first attempt. Much of the information is old hat, but I also have to retrieve it out of my dusty old brain, both because the members of my group rarely have to participate in codes (which are nearly always handled 24/7 by a dedicated Code Team from the ED and PICU, unless multiple codes are taking place simultaneously), and especially because I haven't practiced medicine in 14 months. Even though I haven't worked in over a year I'm still a member of the Active medical staff at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, and my group still considers me a member, although I'm no longer a core member or, needless to say, the section chief for the Department of Pediatrics, which I was for roughly a decade before I had to abruptly resign.

Completing PALS recertification was the second of several hoops I'll have to jump through this year. I submitted by reapplication appointment for hospital privileges last week, and my next task is to renew my Georgia medical license.

I'll follow both Atlanta United and the Philadelphia Union, and to a lesser extent Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League. I went to my first Union match last summer with an old friend of mine and his two sons, all of whom played varsity soccer in the high school we attended. There's a high likelihood that we'll go to at least one home match this season, although it's a 42 mile drive from here to Subaru Park located in Chester, PA, which is closer to the Pennsylvania-Delaware border than to the city of Philadelphia. However, my primary focus now is college basketball, as my two alma maters, Rutgers and Pitt (the University of Pittsburgh, where I attended medical school), are both likely to make the NCAA men's basketball tournament (a.k.a. March Madness) next month barring epic collapses. Pitt (21-8 overall, 14-4 ACC) is in first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and is nationally ranked this week for the first time in seven years, which is a massive surprise as they were picked to finish next to last in the conference in the preseason. Hail to Pitt!

helmikuu 28, 9:48 pm

>146 kidzdoc: Congratulations!

helmikuu 28, 9:50 pm

>152 qebo: Thanks, Katherine!

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 28, 9:57 pm

>151 kidzdoc: Glad we'll be able to talk soccer again this year!

Basketball is my least favorite sport, but I did go to see two games over the past two weeks. My nine-year-old grandson was in a county league, and I went to see him play his last two games. His team (the Blue Tigers, Rah! Rah! Rah!) lost both games, but my grandson scored the first basket in the first of those two games so I was fine with being there. I did notice some smaller kids who were very agressive and very good players. The games were fun to watch, but I think I'll stick to soccer.

To watch the games this year, I had to buy an Apple TV Season Pass and was complaining to Erik about that. However, I think I like it. I just watch the games on my desktop, and that's fine. DC United had an exciting first game of the season in which they beat Toronto with two extra time goals. Now that's the kind of soccer I like to see DC United play. With the Season Pass, I'll also be able to watch the games of other teams occsionally, although they really don't interest me that much. I find it more fun to root for my home team. Of course, I'll also root for the Loons, the Five Stripes, and Union. ")

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 28, 10:21 pm

>154 SqueakyChu: Right! With any luck I'll be able to attend one or more Atlanta United home matches at Mercedes-Benz Stadium with friends later this year.

College basketball, whether seen in person or on television, is the most exciting sport, IMO. There were several great games this weekend, particularly the ones played by Iowa's men's and women's teams. Caitlin Clark, Iowa's all American guard, is a cold blooded assassin on the court, and her last second 3 point shot to defeat Indiana was epic.

I just saw a few hours ago that one of this week's T-Mobile Tuesdays perks is a free MLS Season Pass on Apple TV for its subscribers who have Apple IDs, so I'll redeem that offer later this week.

helmikuu 28, 11:41 pm

Congratulations from me, too.

That's cool about the Pitt basketball team. When it comes to college hoops, my two favorite teams are the Seton Hall Pirates, who need a huge upset in the Big East Tournament to make the NCAAs, as their current 16-14 record is not going to do it, and the University of New Orleans Privateers. They are 10-18, so no joy there, either. Seton Hall is in South Orange, NJ, right next to the town I grew up in, and I worked on the UNO campus for several years.

While I enjoy international soccer, I have yet to get into MLS play in any way. What do you think of the overall quality of the league?


maaliskuu 1, 7:27 am

Congratulations Darryl! I am glad that you can start reading for pleasure again.

maaliskuu 1, 8:50 am

>146 kidzdoc: congrats! I never doubted you 🙂, but I imagine it’s a tough examine and nice to get out of the way.

>151 kidzdoc: well, KU is ok this year. I also follow Miami and #1 UH (Tulane isn’t bad, but won’t make the tournament. They’ve been second on the conference all year, behind UH). I think it will be a fun tournament, with no true favorite to win.

maaliskuu 1, 9:25 am

Congratulations !

maaliskuu 1, 11:13 am

Yay! And let the pleasure reading begin...

maaliskuu 1, 12:08 pm

Well done, Darryl. Congrats 🤩

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 1, 4:14 pm

>156 rocketjk: Thanks, Jerry!

My brother graduated from Seton Hall in 1987, so I do follow the Pirates, especially since I'm a fan of Big East basketball, particularly the Villanova Wildcats, as the university is located just outside of Philadelphia. Seton Hall almost certainly needs to win the Big East Tournament to make it to the NCAA tournament, and the same holds true for 'Nova, who just beat Seton Hall at the Prudential Center in Newark last night. UNO had some good teams when I was a student at Tulane, and at that time (late 1970s to early 1980s) Tulane played home and away series with LSU and UNO (formerly LSUNO (Louisiana State University in New Orleans), as you probably know).

I would probably compare the MLS to a second-tier league in countries such as England, France, Germany and Spain. I didn't follow the league until Atlanta was awarded a club in 2017. To nearly everyone's surprise Atlanta United was an immediate success, both on the pitch and in the stands, as the club played to capacity crowds at Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium, then the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium when it opened later that year. Several of my British friends, including former Club Read member Paul Harris (Polaris-), were astonished that a club in a Deep South city in the United States was regularly drawing crowds of over 70,000 for matches, which rivaled or bested audiences that saw the top European clubs play.

ETA: Pitt has arguably done enough to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament, although losses in their next three games, especially to Notre Dame tonight, could put that in jeopardy. If they beat the Irish tonight they should be a lock.

>157 wandering_star: Thanks, Margaret! I'll resume reading South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation by Imani Perry this afternoon. I won an electric copy of Everything you always wanted to know about the Spanish* (*but were afraid to ask) by Gaspard Chevallier from the LT Early Reviewers program, so I'll start reading that this week, along with In the Ditch by Buchi Emecheta, as she is one of the authors for this month's African Literature Challenge in the 75 Books group.

>158 dchaikin: Thanks, Dan! It is a tough exam, and the passing score is 84%. However, as a friend of mine said yesterday, it needs to be a tough course and exam, as the correct knowledge of Pediatric Advanced Life Support is vitally important. I'm sure you're familiar with the successful and nearly miraculous resuscitation of Buffalo Bills (and former Pitt Panthers) player Damar Hamlin, who collapsed and suffered a cardiac arrest during a Monday Night Football game last season. What the medical team did on the field is the adult equivalent of PALS.

I would say that Kansas is more than okay this year! The Jayhawks are clearly one of the favorites to win the national championship, and if I had to choose one team to win it all I would go with them, especially since they were the winners of the toughest conference in the country.

>159 torontoc: Thanks, Cyrel!

>160 labfs39: Thanks, Lisa! I took my mother to our local library, and I picked out two books that I already own but are still in Atlanta, The Bad Girl by Mario Vargas Llosa, and The Morning Star by Karl Ove Knausgaard, so I'll add them to my March reading list.

>161 Ameise1: Thanks, Barbara!

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 1, 10:30 pm

After struggling with it for nearly two months I'm finally pulling the plug on South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation by Imani Perry, which somehow won the National Book Award for Nonfiction last year. The phrase that best describes it is a "hot mess", as it consists mainly of superficial descriptions of the major regions of the South and well known figures, with little in the way of analysis, and Perry, who was born in Birmingham, Alabama but spent most of her life in the North, comes across as an outsider with precious little insight into her subject. The chapter on Atlanta was insultingly bad, especially since the city was my home for 24 years, and after suffering through 150 pages of this rubbish the thought of reading another 200+ pages was nauseating. This was a lazy and unfocused work unbecoming of a professor at Princeton, and I've given it a possibly overly generous 2 star rating. (ETA: I've dropped my rating to 1½ stars.)

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 1, 11:20 pm

>163 kidzdoc: well, bummer. But thanks for the review. Sometimes it feels good to be free of a book that isn’t working.

KU has a real repeat chance. Five solid starters, but no bench. So winning six consecutive tough games is more unlikely than it might seem, and getting them into foul trouble will be every other teams goal.

maaliskuu 2, 12:31 am

>163 kidzdoc: Wow! Good to know to avoid this book. It is one I might otherwise have been drawn to.

And by the way, I haven't followed any Pitt sports, but I've had a soft spot in my heart for the school's teams since the days that Dan Marino ruled the gridiron there. Seton Hall goes to Providence to play the #20 Friars on Saturday night. Providence hadn't lost a home game this season until they lost at home to #19 Xavier tonight. They'll probably be looking for revenge against the Hall. Lot's of luck, there, Pirates!

maaliskuu 2, 8:08 am

>164 dchaikin: Right, Dan. One of my father's favorite sayings was "The best thing about beating your head against a wall is stopping," and that aptly describes my experience reading South to America. I could only manage 5-10 pages at a time, at best, enjoyed very little of it (and, offhand, I can't think of a section I did enjoy), and practically threw it against a wall after that horrible chapter about Atlanta. My head no longer hurts now.

I haven't seen any Kansas basketball games yet, especially because Philadelphia isn't exactly Big XII country, but what you say makes sense. A team with balanced scoring and a capable bench is much more likely to make a deep run into the tournament.

>165 rocketjk: Right, Jerry. The topic is of great interest to me, as a Northerner who spent nearly half his life in the Deep South (24 years in Atlanta, and the better part of three years in New Orleans), and since it won the National Book Award for Nonfiction last year I started reading it soon after I bought a copy in early January. It will easily be one of my least favorite books of 2023, and one of the most disappointing books I've read recently.

Unfortunately Pitt celebrated its first national ranking in seven years by playing their worst and most damaging game of the season in losing to an inspired Notre Dame last night. The Panthers had the inside track to the ACC regular season championship before last night; now they are in serious jeopardy of not making the tournament, especially if they lose to Miami on the road and in the first round of the ACC tournament.

maaliskuu 2, 8:37 am

>163 kidzdoc:, >166 kidzdoc: pulling the plug on South to America... The chapter on Atlanta was insultingly bad
Useful to know, as the book had been mildly on my radar. I'd be curious to know what she got wrong about Atlanta, if you can say a bit without hurting your head again.

maaliskuu 2, 8:46 am

>163 kidzdoc: Damn, I have a copy of that one...

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 2, 12:40 pm

>167 qebo: I'd be curious to know what she got wrong about Atlanta, if you can say a bit without hurting your head again.

Sure (ouch). Perry chose to focus on the negative and seamy elements of Atlanta, which do exist but do not define the city. She wrote about prominent gangsta rappers, many of whom engaged in criminal activity before or during their careers, a notorious strip club (Magic City) just south of Five Points, the centerpoint of the city, the poverty of a substantial portion of many of its residents, particularly in contrast to its wealthier citizens (on this point she is right, but she didn't delve deeply enough into the reasons why this disparity exists), and the city's fascination with glitter and material goods. She completely ignored Stephanie Stacey Abrams, whose grass roots efforts to increase voter turnout was the main reason that Georgia has two Democratic senators and the United States Senate has a Democratic majority; Senator Raphael Warnock, the head pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church (where "Daddy" King, Martin Luther King, Jr's father, was pastor for many years), the first African American United States Senator from Georgia and the first African American Democratic Senator from the South; the burgeoning Black film and entertainment industry (beyond gangsta rap); and the growing high tech industry. There was little mention of the prominent Black professional class and its influence on the city, its superb universities (particularly Emory, Georgia Tech, Morehouse and Spelman) and the role their students, graduates and professors are having in the city, state and country, the resurgence of formerly downtrodden neighborhoods that have been rejuvenated by both developers and residents (more than just gentrification), and the increasing multiculturalism of the city, due to the influx of thousands of people from across the globe. In the book she maintains the stale and outdated view of race relations in the South to be only between Whites and Blacks, as if Asians, Latinx and immigrants from other countries don't exist, along with Jews and Muslims (Atlanta has a sizable, influential and longstanding Jewish community). I didn't want her description of Atlanta to be one that the Chamber of Commerce would gleefully endorse, but I did expect a nuanced, mature and thoughtful treatment of the city and its residents, and that was sorely lacking in that chapter. I'm still astonished that neither Stephanie Stacey Abrams, Raphael Warnock nor Jon Ossoff, the first Jewish US Senator from the Deep South since 1878, were even mentioned, but the rappers Soulja Boy, Ludacris and Outkast earned her attention.

>168 Yells: Sorry, Danielle. There were a lot of readers who thought highly of the book, but there were also plenty of others who disliked it as much as I did, as it received 1 star from two LTers and 2 stars from two others.

maaliskuu 2, 12:17 pm

>163 kidzdoc: Oh, wow. This was on my wishlist, but I'll happily cross it off. The views by outsiders can be useful -- V.S. Naipaul's A Turn in the South was good -- but not always, apparently.

>169 kidzdoc: Stacey Abrams.

maaliskuu 2, 12:46 pm

>166 kidzdoc: "It will easily be one of my least favorite books of 2023, and one of the most disappointing books I've read recently."

On the other hand, I'm slowly making my way through Andrew Young's excellent if a bit over-detailed memoir, An Easy Burden: The Civil Rights Movement and the Transformation of America, which is going to definitely make my Top 10 list for this year. Young provides, among other things, a deep dive into the South of the 1960s, at least as seen from the inside of the SCLC.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 2, 2:22 pm

>170 RidgewayGirl: I completely agree with you about the benefit of the view of an outsider. I can't remember if I've read A Turn in the South yet, but I loved America Day By Day by Simone de Beauvoir, which is a chronicle of her four month trip across the country in 1947.

Imani Perry took a shameful swipe at Albert Murray's 1971 memoir South to a Very Old Place, in which he makes a similar return after years living in NYC. Murray, like Perry, was born in Alabama, but unlike her he spent his childhood and early adulthood there, as he graduated from Tuskegee University and later taught there, with his most prominent student being Ralph Ellison. I have the Library of America edition of Albert Murray: Collected Essays & Memoirs, so I'll plan to read South to a Very Old Place as a contrast.

Speaking of books by outsiders, last night I started one of my Early Reviewer books from February, Everything You Wanted to Know About the Spanish* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) by Gaspard Chevallier, which is a perfect palate cleanser after the bitter taste left by South to America, as it's informative, educational and very entertaining. Chevallier is a Frenchman who moved to Spain for work and married a Spanish woman, and his insights into the Spanish people and culture are superb. I'm already nearly halfway through it, and at the moment it looks like a 5 star read.

Stacey Abrams

Oof. Clearly I've been spending too much time watching The Weather Channel in the mornings...

maaliskuu 2, 12:59 pm

>169 kidzdoc: That’s really interesting and you deserve an ice pack. Based on your post, I sense she was very interested in the biggest problems and maybe not at all interested in things that were good or ok. Does that sound accurate? Perhaps she gave preference to drama, a common (unintended?) problem with the press in general, as that’s what draws audiences. Also a tool for anyone with an agenda. Personally I would have no context, if i read it, to judge this stuff.

maaliskuu 2, 1:14 pm

>173 dchaikin: Imani Perry wrote the following in her introduction to South to America:

Paying attention to the South—its past, its dance, its present, its threatening future, and most of all how it moves the rest of the country about—allows us to understand much more about our nation, and about how our people, land, and commerce work in relation to one another, often cruelly, and about how our tastes and ways flow from our habits.

She doesn't provide a stated goal for her book, so this sentence is about as clear as it gets. I would suggest that we would learn much more about the South, and how it affects the United States, from Stacey Abrams, Raphael Warnock, Jon Ossoff, and even current Governor Brian Kemp, who may end up running for President of the United States in the not too distant future, than a bunch of gangsta rappers or other ne'er-do-wells. I have no idea what she was trying to accomplish in this book, or why it appealed to so many people.

maaliskuu 2, 2:25 pm

>171 rocketjk: Sorry, Jerry; I somehow overlooked your post. An Easy Burden: The Civil Rights Movement and the Transformation of America sounds right up my alley, so I look forward to your review of it.

BTW, did you hear about Wayne Shorter's death today?

maaliskuu 2, 3:16 pm

Yes, I heard about Shorter's death. See my comment on Barry's thread. A sad day.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 2, 7:44 pm

>176 rocketjk: Sad, indeed. As I expected, WKCR, Columbia University's radio station, is broadcasting a tribute to Wayne Shorter that will feature all or most of his recorded music, which will likely go on until at least tomorrow. I'm listening to the online live stream now:

ETA: The Wayne Shorter Memorial Broadcast on WKCR will go on through midnight on Saturday, roughly 32 hours from now.

maaliskuu 3, 7:46 am

>169 kidzdoc: - You know, Darryl, this is an excellent review of this book and why it felt to you to be such an unfair and narrow view of the city. You should see if you can post it on the author's website or somewhere else she might see it. It would be interesting to hear a response from her about why the book was so one-sided in its perspective. All your points are valid and specific. I wonder if she could be as focused, in a response.

maaliskuu 3, 8:55 am

>169 kidzdoc: Thanks. That's a lot to leave out.

maaliskuu 3, 10:24 am

>178 jessibud2: Sorry Shelley, but I won't be doing that. I have no interest in communicating with the author about her book, and I have far too much on my plate already.

>179 qebo: You're welcome, Katherine.

I finished Everything You Always Wanted to Know about the Spanish* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) by Gaspard Chevallier, one of the two LT Early Reviewers I won from the February list, and I absolutely loved it. I've given it 5 stars, and I'll write a review of it this weekend.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 4, 10:37 am

Everything You Always Wanted to Know about the Spanish* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) by Gaspard Chevallier

My rating:

Gaspard Chevallier is a Frenchman who emigrated to Madrid in 2000 for work, fell in love with the country, its people, and the woman who is now his wife, and decided to stay. In this highly entertaining, informative and insightful book he describes the Spanish people, their customs, quirks, regional differences and all other aspects of their culture, from the view of an expatriate from a nearby but very different country, in what is, in essence, a love letter to the Spanish people. Among the topics he covers are holiday traditions, common phrases and their meanings that were completely unfamiliar to me despite my knowledge of the Spanish language, the significance of sport, including bullfighting, the unique relationship between religion and government, and the importance of family in the daily lives of all Spaniards.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Spanish*, as Chevallier writes in a very engaging and amusing style, and it taught me a tremendous amount about the Spaniards in a short space; I found myself exclaiming “Ah!” several times. In reading it I was transported back to the lovely country I’ve visited at least six times in the past decade, and it reminded me of what I loved about Spain, while giving me a view into the people who I only superficially interacted with. I devoured this book in two sittings, and it made me want to pack my suitcase and jump on the next flight to Barcelona or Sevilla. This book is highly recommended for anyone who plans to visit Spain, has already enjoyed that amazing country, or wants to learn more about the Spanish people.

Thank you to Mr Chevallier and the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review of it.

maaliskuu 4, 4:31 pm

>146 kidzdoc: Good for you, aging brains for the win (says the 70+ year old)!

maaliskuu 4, 6:13 pm

>182 dukedom_enough: Thanks, Michael! I'll turn 62 yo in less than 3 weeks, and it's definitely harder to retain past information than it was a decade ago. Fortunately I won't have to pass too many more PALS courses before I hang up my stethoscope for good.

maaliskuu 5, 2:26 am

>181 kidzdoc: Great review. It sounds interesting.
I wish you a lovely Sunday.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 5, 7:57 am

>184 Ameise1: Thanks, Barbara. I thought I would enjoy Everything You Wanted to Know about the Spanish*, given how much time I've spent in that lovely country, but the book far exceeded my expectations of it.

It's a beautiful morning here, and we'll have above average temperatures today, so it will be a lovely Sunday. I hope that yours is just as nice.

maaliskuu 5, 8:24 am

>185 kidzdoc: We have sunshine but it's still cold.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 5, 8:44 am

>186 Ameise1: It's been unusually warm here in Philadelphia this winter (we live close to the city, about 3-4 km away north of the city line), with far more days in the 10-20°C range than 0-10° , and we have yet to have any measurable snow. We did have a brief brisk snowstorm one night last week, but the precipitation changed over to rain overnight, and by sunrise the snow was completely washed away (I don't know if that counted as measurable accumulation or not). It will be sunny with a high of 13° (56° F) today, which is slightly above normal but in keeping with our temperatures for most of the past two months.

maaliskuu 5, 9:19 am

>187 kidzdoc: We had an extremely dry February and it was also very warm at the beginning. It's still dry, but we've had typical winter temperatures for a week. The weather is really going crazy. I'm afraid we're going to get a load of heavy wet snow at Easter.

maaliskuu 5, 9:26 am

>163 kidzdoc: That's too bad... I have the ebook and may give it a skim, but forewarned is definitely forearmed.

And congratulations on passing the recertification exam. Even when things are a relative slam dunk, it's good to get them out of the way.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 5, 11:24 am

>188 Ameise1: We're far from being out of the woods in terms of wintry precipitation, and it wouldn't surprise me in the least if we have a big winter storm this month, especially a nor'easter that could dump one or two feet of snow here. We are arguably overdue for one, as we haven't had one this winter or last (not that I'm asking for it!).

>189 lisapeet: South to America definitely has its fans, but I'm not one of them, especially since I've lived in the Deep South for over a quarter of a century and know it far better than Imani Perry does, especially Atlanta. YMMV with this book.

Thank you! The PALS course and exam is far from a slam dunk, as you have to answer at least 84% of the questions right in order to pass, the course material is anything but easy (especially since I only rarely participated in Code Blues when I was working, and probably not in the past 10 years), and, as Michael alluded to, exams like these are far tougher with a late middle aged brain. I'll keep my hospital privileges at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta for the time being, but I'll have to decide if I should do so in 2025, when I'll turn 64 yo, and if I don't I won't take the PALS course, as I seriously doubt that I'll practice medicine at the bedside anyplace else. Given my age it's also possible that I may have already hung up my stethoscope for good, and that the rest of my career will be spent in a non-clinical position that requires an MD degree, which seems increasingly likely at this point.

maaliskuu 5, 11:25 am

>190 kidzdoc: 🤞that it won't happen.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 5, 12:05 pm

>191 Ameise1: Agreed! There is a very good chance that I'll drive from Philadelphia to Atlanta and back next week, and I'm hopeful that there won't be any wintry precipitation in either direction. The route I take avoids major cities (Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Richmond, Charlotte) and the traffic to and from Florida, but it involves several hundred miles of driving through the Appalachian mountains, where it is much more likely to snow than in the cities between Philadelphia and Atlanta.

maaliskuu 5, 12:28 pm

As a Swiss I have to say it's a very long distance. How many kilometers?

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 5, 4:04 pm

>193 Ameise1: The route I most often take is 827 miles, or roughly 1330 km, in length. Including stops it takes 13-14 hours.

maaliskuu 5, 6:04 pm

>163 kidzdoc: I dnf’d this book as well, after my obligatory 50 pages, precisely because things like the sentence you quoted at 174 continually engaged the English teacher part of my brain. Lack of structure and clarity made it so hard to follow (find?) her train of thought. After first reading your review and then following the conversation after, I thought about reading her chapter on Birmingham, where I’m happily living out my retirement years, but I don’t think I will.

maaliskuu 5, 7:58 pm

>195 dianelouise100: I wish I had stopped reading South to America after 50 pages, as you did. I was looking forward to reading it, as I made a second trip to my new favorite bookstore in Philadelphia to retrieve a copy of it, after it was unavailable there the week before. I tried to engage with it, and the author, literally dozens of times over a two month period, thinking that it would eventually capture my interest. That never happened, and the horrible chapter about Atlanta was the final straw for me. I haven't read the chapter about Birmingham, but given the way she mischaracterized Atlanta I think you're wise not to bother.

maaliskuu 5, 8:36 pm

>196 kidzdoc: I had really looked forward to this book too, it had been promoted with unbelievable enthusiasm in Birmingham, which Perry claims as home. I bought it as soon as it hit the local bookstore and had planned to join the discussion the store was hosting. Didn’t happen…

maaliskuu 5, 8:41 pm

>197 dianelouise100: I first heard about South to America when it was chosen as a finalist for last year's National Book Award for Nonfiction, which it did win. I wanted to read it so badly that I bought it soon after Thanksgiving instead of adding it to my Amazon Christmas wish list, as I didn't want to wait until then.

maaliskuu 6, 9:08 am

>194 kidzdoc: That is a long drive, Darryl!
Will your cousin come over to take care of your mother?

And belated congratulations on you recertification exam.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 6, 9:34 am

>199 FAMeulstee: It is a long drive, Anita. Out of curiosity I mapped out the distances between several European cities, and it's only slightly longer than driving from Dam Square in Amsterdam to my favorite pintxos bar, La Cuchara de San Telmo, in San Sebastián, Spain, or, alternatively, driving from central London to Old Town in Edinburgh and back. Fortunately I bought a BMW SUV in 2016, and due to its comfortable seats it isn't nearly as grueling a drive as it would be in a sedan or, God forbid, the BMW Z3 convertible I previously owned.

My mother requires 24/7 care and she is unable to perform certain activities of daily living (ADLs) unassisted, such as preparing her meals and taking her medications, so I can only go to Atlanta when my cousin Tina comes to visit from Michigan. As long as her car checks out and the weather is favorable she will drive here on Wednesday, a journey of nearly 600 miles (a little over 950 km) that will take 9-10 hours with stops. Fortunately the vast majority of our drives are on US interstate highways, which saves a significant amount of time over taking the older US highway system roads, although there are some spectacular drives to be had in the mountains, such as Skyline Drive through the Shenandoah Mountains in Virginia, which I'm tempted to take if I hit the road early enough on Thursday and weather conditions are favorable.

Thanks! I'm glad that I don't have to take the PALS exam again until 2025.

maaliskuu 6, 11:25 am

>200 kidzdoc: Love this picture! We’re overdue for a vacation in the mountains and drives along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Incredible country, I hope you get some time on one of the more scenic routes.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 6, 7:23 pm

>201 dianelouise100: Thanks, Diane! I checked, and apparently Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway are connected, with the former road passing north from Alton Mountain through the Shenandoah National Park and the latter road passing south of the mountain. Skyline Drive runs parallel to Interstate 81, the highway I take through Virginia, so it wouldn't be much of a detour to take it, although it would add 1-2 hours to my journey. If I don't take it on Thursday I'll definitely do so at some point this year.

maaliskuu 6, 9:07 pm

I believe the picture you posted is of the Linn Cove Viaduct on the BRP. The owners would not permit blasting on Grandfather Mountain, so the Viaduct swings way out around the mountain. Quite a trip to cross it! And an amazing feat of engineering. Well worth a trip at some point.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 7, 5:47 am

>203 dianelouise100: Thanks, Diane. That image popped up when I did a Google search on Skyline Drive, but it is on the Blue Ridge Parkway, as you said.

This is (I think) a photo of Skyline Drive:

maaliskuu 7, 8:23 am

Just beautiful! I think the Blue Ridge Mountains are some of the most scenic we have.

maaliskuu 7, 8:54 am

maaliskuu 12, 9:50 am

We drove along the Blue Ridge Parkway when we were in Virginia, about 1998 I think. Lovely scenery. I have to say though that we both found it quite amusing how many signs there were warning drivers that they needed to be careful because it wasn't like the roads they were used to. Both Mr SandDune and me thought it was a perfectly normal sort of road! (Apart from the scenery that is.)

maaliskuu 17, 1:58 pm

I'm back from my trip to Atlanta, and the drive in either direction was even more scenic than usual. My SUV doesn't have a built in GPS system, so I use the Google Maps app on my cellphone to provide directions. The app recalculates the route whenever I stop for gas, food or restroom breaks, and last Friday it redirected me onto Interstate 26 in east Tennessee from Interstate 81, and then onto Interstate 40 and the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway, past the highest mountains in the eastern United States, particularly Mount Mitchell near Asheville, North Carolina, which is 6684 feet above sea level. The ride was so spectacular and enjoyable that I intentionally took that way back to Philadelphia, even though it may have added 30-45 minutes to my trip time. One benefit of going that way is that I bypassed rush hour in Knoxville and Chattanooga, Tennessee, and that is probably why I was redirected through more mountainous roads on Friday.

This is a picture of Interstate 40, although none of the photos I've seen online do justice to the actual scenery.

>207 SandDune: Nice, Rhian! I didn't take the Blue Ridge Parkway, but I think the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway crossed that parkway somewhere in North Carolina. I can't speak for that road, but I definitely had to pay close attention and lower my speed on certain sections of the very curved and steep highways I took, especially on Friday when I was descending from the Smoky Mountains into the foothills of north Georgia.

I haven't read anything in the past week, so I'll do a reset and start reading All Else Failed: The Unlikely Volunteers at the Heart of the Migrant Aid Crisis by Dana Sachs, one of the two books I won from the February LT Early Reviewers batch, and The Gospel According to the New World by Maryse Condé, which was chosen for this year's International Booker Prize longlist on Tuesday.

maaliskuu 17, 3:52 pm

The longlist for this year's International Booker Prize was announced on Tuesday:

Boulder by Eva Baltasar, translated by Julia Sanches
Whale by Cheon Myeong-kwan, translated by Chi-Young Kim)
The Gospel According to the New World by Maryse Condé, translated by Richard Philcox
Standing Heavy by GauZ’, translated by Frank Wynne
Time Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov, translated by Angela Rodel
Is Mother Dead by Vigdis Hjorth, translated by Charlotte Barslund
Jimi Hendrix Live in Lviv by Andrey Kurkov, translated by Reuben Woolley
The Birthday Party by Laurent Mauvignier, translated by Daniel Levin Becker
While We Were Dreaming by Clemens Meyer, translated by Katy Derbyshire
Pyre by Perumal Murugan, translated by Aniruddhan Vasudevan
Still Born by Guadalupe Nettel, translated by Rosalind Harvey
A System So Magnificent It Is Blinding by Amanda Svensson, translated by Nichola Smalley
Ninth Building by Zou Jingzhi, translated by Jeremy Tiang

The longlist is heavy skewed toward European authors, with titles from writers located in Bulgaria, France (2), Germany, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Ukraine; the other five come from writers based in China, Côte d'Ivoire, India, México, and South Korea.

I checked out the Hoopla e-book version of The Gospel According to the New World from my local library this morning, and I'll start reading it today.

The shortlist will be announced at the London Book Fair on 18 April, with the winner revealed at a ceremony in London on 23 May.

More information:

The Booker Prizes: The International Booker Prize 2023 longlist: 13 things you need to know

The Guardian: International Booker prize announces longlist to celebrate ‘ambition and panache’

maaliskuu 17, 7:42 pm

>208 kidzdoc: What fabulous scenery from that road!

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 17, 8:38 pm

>210 wandering_star: Fabulous indeed, Margaret. Diane was right in saying that the Blue Ridge Mountains are amongst the most scenic in the United States. This route that I took, which will be my preferred way to travel to and from Atlanta from now on, goes through practically the entirety of that mountain range, making for a scenic journey while avoiding nearly all medium and large sized cities (and rush hour traffic) in the eastern US between Philadelphia and Atlanta. Far fewer people live in these areas as compared to the more direct route that would take me through Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Richmond and Charlotte, so there is much less private vehicular traffic as well.

maaliskuu 17, 9:01 pm

>208 kidzdoc: I'm glad the long drives were so pleasant and hopefully restorative. How many books did you bring back with you?

>209 kidzdoc: Nice! I haven't run into a single one of these, but now that they are on that longlist, I hope to take a closer look at them soon and figure out which ones I want to read.

maaliskuu 17, 10:39 pm

>212 RidgewayGirl: Thanks, Kay; however, I would call these 14 hour drives exhausting rather than restorative, although they are mostly pleasant. I need at least one day to recuperate from each drive, as they are mentally and physically tiring.

I didn't think to visit either of my favorite indie bookshops in Atlanta, Virginia Highland Books or Posman Books in Ponce City Market, mainly because I was busy doing other things. For that matter I haven't gone book shopping in Atlanta since my father's death, although I have bought plenty of books in my two favorite indie bookshops in Philadelphia, Head House Books and Harriett's Bookshop, in the past 12 months.

Did I ever take you and Pattie to Ponce City Market? I know that Lisa, her friend and I met there for lunch several years ago.

I ordered copies of Is Mother Dead and While We Were Dreaming, and another of the longlisted books is available on Hoopla. Hopefully at least some of the other ones will be available in one of the library systems I belong to. I'm still a member of the Fulton County Public Library in Atlanta, so I can borrow and read e-books from there. I also need to find out if I can borrow e-books from the libraries of my alma maters, Rutgers, Pitt and Emory.

maaliskuu 18, 11:25 am

The picture in >208 kidzdoc: is impressive. If the scenery is even better in real life, it really must be something!

maaliskuu 18, 2:16 pm

>214 Dilara86: Right. It is an impressive photo, but it's only a snapshot, and it doesn't demonstrate the sharp curves on the highway and the views of other mountains you get when you come around bends in the road.

maaliskuu 18, 3:21 pm

>208 kidzdoc:, >213 kidzdoc: 14 hour drives
The scenery is beautiful, but...

maaliskuu 18, 5:03 pm

>213 kidzdoc: Pattie and I were lucky enough to stumble upon the Ponce City Market as we had time for one last bookstore before we left Atlanta. It's a great place. But does that answer mean you've managed to get all the books you already own from Atlanta to Philadelphia already? I figured you'd be bringing up a few boxes at a time.

maaliskuu 18, 5:56 pm

I'm glad you had a safe journey, Darryl. It's a long drive by yourself. I did a double-take when I saw your photo—it shocked me to see everything so green.

maaliskuu 19, 10:40 am

My younger brother visited us on Thursday, and he gave me a copy of Retrospective, the latest novel by the Colombian author Juan Gabriel Vásquez, who is one of my two favorite South American writers. While my mother was finishing breakfast yesterday the book was sitting on our dining room table, so I started reading it, with the intention of reading just a couple of pages. I was immediately hooked, so I'll put my other books aside for the time being and immerse myself in this book, which was awarded the Mario Vargas Llosa Biennial Prize for Novels in 2021 (MVL is my other favorite South American author).

>216 qebo: The scenery is beautiful, but...

Exactly. It would be far more enjoyable if the drive was four hours instead of 14.

>217 RidgewayGirl: That's right; I do remember you telling me that, Kay. I was certain that the two of you had visited Ponce City Market, but I couldn't remember if the three of us had gone there, or if you & Pattie had gone on your own.

You're exactly right; I have been bringing boxes of books with me each time I visit Atlanta.

>218 labfs39: Thanks, Lisa. Yes, that drive would definitely be less arduous if I had a second driver, but it's very unlikely that anyone would want to take a one way or round trip journey with me.

That photo came from the Internet; the Blue Ridge Mountains were nowhere near that color. It was especially cold on Tuesday, due to the air temperature (24° F), the elevation (the highway at that point is probably at least 2000 feet above sea level), and the winds from the nor'easter.

maaliskuu 20, 6:18 pm

That looks like a gorgeous drive, Darryl, but yeah—14 hours is really a lot. I've done 10 straight by myself, from Maine to New Jersey, and that was bad enough. Glad you're back in one piece.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 4:26 am

>220 lisapeet: Thanks, Lisa. I'm glad to have that drive behind me, and it's in many ways good to be back in Pennsylvania, as I find it depressing to return to Atlanta. Going there is a painful reminder of my enriching and meaningful past life before my father's fatal illness and my decision to resign to become my mother's primary caregiver, and practically as soon as I arrive there I want to leave ASAP.

maaliskuu 22, 11:11 am

>221 kidzdoc: Oh, I hear you on that one. Reminders of other times are not always what you want or need. Glad you were able to get in and out.

maaliskuu 24, 5:28 pm

Happy Birthday, Darryl. I'm so glad your mom is enjoying the music!

maaliskuu 24, 6:10 pm

Ooo adding to the birthday greetings Darryl. I hope you had a nice day.

maaliskuu 24, 7:07 pm

Happy birthday, Darryl. You share the day with 2 friends of mine!

maaliskuu 25, 8:52 am

Hope you had a nice birthday, Darryl!

maaliskuu 25, 1:38 pm

Yesterday was a Happy Birthday to you and Thingaversary to me!

maaliskuu 25, 3:18 pm

Happy belated birthday, Darryl!

maaliskuu 25, 8:22 pm

Happy birthday, Darryl! You're allowed to stretch it out all month.

maaliskuu 26, 9:48 am

>222 lisapeet: Thanks, Lisa. I know that I'm missed very much by my partners, fellow physicians and especially the nurses I worked with at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta from 2000 to 2021; the 100+ Happy Birthday posts on my Facebook timeline, many of which said how much they missed me, is proof of that. I've been avoiding going to the hospital where I worked, as I know that it will be a very emotionally taxing experience, although I did try to go in December but couldn't find a place to park in the Physicians' Parking Garage or the Visitors' Garage, as the hospital and Emergency Department were overflowing with sick kids due to the 'tripledemic' (COVID-19, influenza and RSV). Hopefully I'll be able to return in May or June.

>223 ronincats: Thanks, Roni! I bought two fado CDs earlier this year, Moura by Ana Moura, and Concerto em Lisboa by Mariza, and my mother wants to hear them constantly when we go out driving. I purchased three more fado CDs for my birthday in lieu of books, Desfado and Casa Guilhermina by Ana Moura, and Fado by Carminho, and my mother has loved listening to them at home this weekend.

>224 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks, Caroline! It was a rainy and cool day in Philadelphia, so I made another batch of Cajun butter beans with Andouille sausage & shrimp, one of my favorite Louisiana comfort foods:

Cheryl, my best friend from high school and former next door neighbor, came over and made the chocolate peanut butter pie that I had asked for, which was absolutely delightful:

I picked out the recipe for the pie online and asked Cheryl to make it for me, since it didn't take long to make. She confirmed that it was easy, and I'll definitely make it often from now on.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

maaliskuu 26, 9:52 am

>225 jessibud2: Thanks, Shelley! Rhian (SandDune) and I were born on the exact same day, a few hours apart, and three other friends were also born on that day.

>226 bell7: Thanks, Mary! It was a nice day, overall.

>227 labfs39: Happy Thingaversary, Lisa! I'll celebrate my 17th Thingaversary in early June; I won't buy 18 books, though!

>228 MissBrangwen: Thanks, Mirjam!

>229 lisapeet: Thanks, Lisa; I like that idea!

maaliskuu 26, 4:09 pm

Belated happy birthday Darryl, my fellow Aries. Pie looks delish.

I won't buy 18 books, though!


maaliskuu 26, 4:14 pm

Tämä käyttäjä on poistettu roskaamisen vuoksi.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 27, 9:18 am

>232 LolaWalser: Thanks, Lola! I'm surprised that the chocolate peanut butter pie tastes as great as it does, given how easy it is to make. (I can hear my late father's voice saying "Easy for you, difficult for me!" He was a fantastic cook, as was my mother, but his cognitive impairment in the last two years of his life greatly impacted his ability to follow old or new recipes.)


Ha! My LT friends who I've met in person and have accompanied me to bookshops would completely agree with you. I'll amend my comment to say that I (probably) won't buy 18 books on my Thingaversary...although I'll undoubtedly buy at least 18 more books this year.

maaliskuu 27, 3:57 am

Belated happy birthday! I've bookmarked the pie recipe :-)

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 27, 9:15 am

>235 Dilara86: Thanks, Dilara! You've reminded me that I have to save that recipe to my Favorite Desserts board in my Pinterest account.

maaliskuu 31, 1:10 pm

>230 kidzdoc: ooo yum to the peanut butter pie, bookmarked that one. Glad you had cake Darryl.

maaliskuu 31, 4:03 pm

>209 kidzdoc: Thanks for the list. I have to admit I was not aware of that one by Maryse Condé. I have read a few by her and quite liked Hérémakhonon. I shall put The gospel according to the new world on my list.

Have a wonderful weekend!

maaliskuu 31, 7:05 pm

Belated birthday wishes. I’m an aires too.

maaliskuu 31, 7:09 pm

>237 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks, Caroline. That chocolate peanut butter pie recipe is definitely a keeper!

>238 figsfromthistle: You're welcome, Anita. I haven't read anything by by Maryse Condé yet, so I'm looking forward to The Gospel According to the New World.

I'll start a new thread tomorrow, to correspond to the second quarter of the year.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 31, 7:10 pm

>239 dianeham: Thanks, Diane! When is/was your birthday?

maaliskuu 31, 7:12 pm

>241 kidzdoc: the last day of aires 4/19. And i just made an eye doctor appointment that day.

maaliskuu 31, 8:12 pm

>242 dianeham: I hope that your birthday and your appointment go well, Diane.