dchaikin part 1 - where plans still have a chance

Tämä viestiketju jatkuu täällä: dchaikin part 2 - in the year of Wright (and Chaucer).

KeskusteluClub Read 2023

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dchaikin part 1 - where plans still have a chance

joulukuu 31, 2022, 6:05 pm

the picture is from above Breckenridge in July.

I do themes with plans and try to follow them. This year my themes will be Chaucer and Richard Wright. Also, I'll read with groups on Edith Wharton and nature-themed books. And I take my time reading the Booker longlists, which means I will finish the 2022 longlist this year, and begin the 2023 Booker longlist come July or August. Finally, I have optimistic plans to read from the TBR shelves, but I've yet to successfully manage that.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 11, 11:39 pm

Currently Reading

Currently Listening to

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 5, 8:54 pm

My themes

Geoffrey Chaucer theme
Chaucer: A European Life by Marion Turner
Penguin Love Visions
Troilus and Criseyde (1385) - a rather lovely Broadview edition
The Canterbury Tales (~1400) - another lovely Broadview edition

Richard Wright theme
Uncle Tom's Children (1938)
Native Son (1940)
Black Boy (1941)
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (1952) - Wright was a mentor of Ellison (as was Shirley Jackson's husband, critic Stanley Hyman)
The Outsider (1953) - I might skip this 700-page monster
Savage Holiday (1954)
The Long Dream (1958)
American Hunger (posthumous, 1977)
The Man Who Lived Underground (posthumous, 2021)

other posthumous works that I probably won't get to
Eight Men (1961) short stories
Lawd Today (1963)
Rite of Passage (1994) (short story)
A Father's Law (2008) (unfinished novel)

Edith Wharton group read - hard to predict what we will actually get to this year, but here is a possible list
The Marne, 1918 - planned for January
The Age of Innocence, 1920
The Glimpses of the Moon, 1922
A Son at the Front, 1923
Old New York, 1924
The Mother’s Recompense, 1925
A Backward Glance, 1934

Naturalitsy theme - January and February are planned
The Book of Eels by Patrik Svensson (there is another book with this title)
Poseidon's Steed by Helen Scales

Booker theme: the 2022 longlist leftovers
The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka, 368p, 14:15 audio
Case Study by Graeme Macrae Burnet, 288p, 9:18 audio
The Trees by Percival Everett, 309p, 7:43
After Sappho by Selby Wynn Schwartz, 288p, no audio
Treacle Walker by Alan Garner, 152p, no audio
Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan, 128p, 1:57

TBR theme, optimistically
A Far Cry from Kensington by Muriel Spark
By the sea - Abdulrazak Gurnah
The Photograph by Penelope Lively
A Closed Eye by Anita Brookner
Fatelessness by Imre Kertész
The Polish Boxer by Eduardo Halfon
Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk
Guards! Guards! By Terry Pratchett
The land of green plums by Herta Muller
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemmingway
Elizabeth Costello by J. M. Coetzee

links to all my old threads:

2009 Part 1, 2009 Part 2, 2010 Part 1, 2010 Part 2, 2011 Part 1, 2011 Part 2, 2012 Part 1, 2012 Part 2, 2013 Part 1, 2013 Part 2, 2013 Part 3, 2014 Part 1, 2014 Part 2, 2014 Part 3, 2015 Part 1, 2015 Part 2, 2015 Part 3, 2016 Part 1, 2016 Part 2, 2016 Part 3, 2017 Part 1, 2017 Part 2, 2018 part 1, 2018 part 2, 2019 part 1, 2019 part 2, 2019 part 3, 2020 part 1, 2020 part 2, 2020 part 3, 2021 part 1, 2021 part 2, 2021 part 3, 2022 part 1, 2022 part 2, 2022 part 3, 2022 part 4

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 10, 10:57 pm

books read

Audiobooks completed

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 10, 11:01 pm

Last four books from 2022 (links go the review on this page)
61. ***** The Colony by Audrey Magee (read Dec 15-19, theme: Booker 2022)
62. ****½ 12 Million Black Voices by Richard Wright, with Photo-Direction by Edwin Rosskam (read Dec 25, theme: Richard Wright)
63. **½ Left Bank : Art, Passion, and the Rebirth of Paris, 1940-1950 by Agnes Poirier, read by Christa Lewis (listened Dec 11-30, theme: random audio)
64. *** The Man Without Qualities, Part III: Into the Millennium by Robert Musil, translated from German by Sophie Wilkins, with assistance from Burton Pike (read Dec 20-31, theme: Musil)

Read in 2023, by date read (links go the review on this page)
1. **** Case Study by Graeme Macrae Burnet (read Dec 22, 2022 – Jan 11, 2023, theme: Booker 2022)
2. ***** Uncle Tom's Children by Richard Wright (read Jan 13-15, theme Richard Wright)
3. ** The Marne by Edith Wharton (read Jan 11-15, theme: Wharton)
4. **** A Far Cry from Kensington by Muriel Spark (read Jan 16-18, theme: TBR)
5. **** The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka, read by Shivantha Wijesinha (listened Jan 1-24, theme: Booker 2022)
6. n/a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Basic and Beyond, Third Edition by Judith S. Beck (Read Nov 17, 2022 – Jan 25, 2023)
7. **** The Book of Eels by Patrik Svensson (read Jan 3-26, theme: Naturalitsy)
8. **** The Life and Writings of Geoffrey Chaucer (The Great Courses) by Seth Lerer (listened Jan 25 – Feb 1, theme: Chaucer)
9. *** Chaucer: A European Life by Marion Turner (read Jan 16 – Feb 6, theme: Chaucer)
10 **** The Trees by Percival Everett (read Feb 6-8, theme: Booker 2022)
11. **** City Lights Pocket Poets Anthology edited by Lawrence Ferlinghetti (read Dec 4, 2022 – Feb 10, 2023)

Read in 2023, by year published (links are touchstones)
1918 The Marne by Edith Wharton
1938 Uncle Tom's Children by Richard Wright (expanded 1940)
1988 A Far Cry from Kensington by Muriel Spark
2001 City Lights Pocket Poets Anthology edited by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
2013? The Life and Writings of Geoffrey Chaucer (The Great Courses by Seth Lerer
The Book of Eels by Patrik Svensson
Chaucer: A European Life by Marion Turner
2020 Cognitive Behavior Therapy: Basics and Beyond, Third Edition by Judith S. Beck
Case Study by Graeme Macrae Burnet
The Trees by Percival Everett
2022 The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 10, 10:58 pm

Some stats:

Books read: 11
Pages: 2610 (87 hrs)
Audio time: 20 hrs
Formats: ebooks 5; Paperback 3; Audio 2; hardcover 1;
Subjects in brief: novels 5; Nonfiction 4; Science 2; Biography 2; On Literature and Books 2; short stories 1; Nature 1; History 1; Poetry 1; Anthology 1;
Nationalities: United States 5; Scotland 2; Sri Lanka 1; Sweden 1; England 1; mixed 1;
Books in translation: 2
Genders, m/f: 6/4 (mixed 1)
Owner: books I own 10; amazon-unlimited 1;
Re-reads: 0
Year Published: 2020’s 4; 2010’s 3; 2000’s 1; 1980’s 1; 1930’s 1; 1910’s 1;
TBR numbers: -2 (acquired 8, read from tbr 10)

All stats - since I started keeping track in December of 1990
Books read: 1257
Formats: Paperback 659; Hardcover 258; Audio 197; ebooks 103; Lit magazines 38
Subjects in brief: Non-fiction 493; Novels 398; Biographies/Memoirs 216; History 191; Classics 188; Religion/Mythology/Philosophy 136; Poetry 95; Journalism 94; Science 90; Ancient 76; On Literature and Books 69; Speculative Fiction 66; Nature 62; Short Story Collections 49; Drama 48; Graphic 46; Essay Collections 48; Anthologies 46; Juvenile/YA 34; Visual Arts 27; Interviews 15; Mystery/Thriller 14
Nationalities: US 703; Other English-language countries: 269; Other: 279
Books in translation: 214
Genders, m/f: 787/373
Owner: Books I owned 893; Library books 285; Books I borrowed 68; Online 10;
Re-reads: 27
Year Published: 2020’s 45; 2010's 274; 2000's 282; 1990's 177; 1980's 122; 1970's 61; 1960's 53; 1950's 29; 1900-1949 73; 19th century 20; 16th-18th centuries 38; 13th-15th centuries 9; 0-1199 21; BCE 55
TBR: 664

joulukuu 31, 2022, 6:41 pm

My favorite time in Club Read is January 1. But, alas, this year I've decided to be social, and I'll be with people all day, January 1 & 2, and then back to work. I'll have some catch up to do next weekend. But for now, my thread is open.

joulukuu 31, 2022, 6:51 pm

Welcome to 2023, Dan. Pretty topper, inspiring plans, and humor: I always love your threads. I'm sorry you'll be stuck in the real world tomorrow, lol. I'm taking a break tonight after finishing the wonderful, but slightly under-the-gun reading of Agent Sonya. I'll put my thread up tomorrow. In the meantime, Happy New Year!

joulukuu 31, 2022, 6:56 pm

Dropping off my star, Dan. Happy New Year.

joulukuu 31, 2022, 11:35 pm

Love the themes, but I'm very much a theme person, too. My nephew was raving at Christmas time about Drive Your Plow. I might have to squeeze that in somewhere this year.

tammikuu 1, 3:52 am

Happy New Year! I look forward to following your reading this year.

tammikuu 1, 5:31 am

Best wishes for your 2023 reading, Dan, and let there be plenty of shoures soote in it!

tammikuu 1, 7:52 am

Great plans Dan! Happy to follow you again, here and on Litsy!

tammikuu 1, 11:29 am

Happy New Year! I love the photo at the top. I am a fan of Richard Wright. I loved the first three on your list.

tammikuu 1, 2:06 pm

Happy new year, Dan--I like the wry subtitle :) Here's to your plans making it through!

tammikuu 1, 2:20 pm

Happy New Year, Dan. I’m impressed by your plans, as ever.

tammikuu 1, 3:39 pm

Great header - very relatable! I'll be following along.

tammikuu 2, 2:50 am

Love the picture at top! Just came by to say hi and plant my star here. Looking forward to following your reading!

tammikuu 2, 3:06 am

and stats, need some stats, of course. Maybe here.

Hi! Love your setup haha. Also I'm considering reading Case Study even though I wasn't that crazy about His Bloody Project.

tammikuu 2, 4:32 am

Happy New Year, Dan. Looking forward to following your thread again this year.

tammikuu 2, 6:08 am

Happy New Year, love the photo and looking forward to read about your reading :-)

tammikuu 2, 10:31 am

Cool photo, but what are those purple things?

Looking forward to your thoughts on your always ambitious reading!

tammikuu 2, 10:40 am

>8 labfs39: >9 AlisonY: >10 WelshBookworm: >11 rhian_of_oz: >12 thorold: >13 Simone2: >14 BLBera: >15 LolaWalser: >16 rachbxl: >17 SassyLassy: >18 avidmom: >19 ursula: >20 Trifolia: >21 FlorenceArt: warm welcome everyone. Thanks for stopping by. As I thought, I haven’t had much time to read or CR yet. I closed on 2022 by starting Case Study over from the beginning, and it helped. It’s a confusing structure if you’re not carefully paying attention. I got into it, which is great. Read a little earlier yesterday (the 1st), but haven’t be able to read since and won’t today… The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida is entertaining, but a little tough for a long stressful drive. So i had to alternate a lot with music and silence.

tammikuu 2, 10:46 am

>8 labfs39: yeah, real world fun stinks. 🙂 (i drove to Fort Worth to meet college friends and watch my alma matter, Tulane, play in the Cotton Bowl.) Breaks are good. Happy New Year.

>9 AlisonY: thanks Alyson. Happy New Year

>10 WelshBookworm: I’ve meant to read Drive Your Plow for a while now. And she has that latest gigantic and intriguing book out…

>11 rhian_of_oz: thanks Rhian. Ditto.

tammikuu 2, 10:52 am

>12 thorold: thanks. And I look forward to shoures soote. I didn’t mean to delay till so late in the year though.

>13 Simone2: ditto, here and Litsy

>14 BLBera: thanks. I’m attached to my little photo of columbines on some unknown billion-yr-old rock. And good to know about Richard Wright. It’s actually comforting to know someone else here has read those.

tammikuu 2, 11:05 am

Happy New Year Dan. Hope you had a good time with your college friends! Look forward to what the reading year brings.

tammikuu 2, 12:33 pm

Hi Dan, Happy New Year! I am looking forward to following your thread again, and good luck with your projects!

tammikuu 2, 5:56 pm

>23 dchaikin: I don't follow sports at all, and didn't even realize Tulane was in a bowl until about 1/2 hour ago when my sister sent a picture of her and her husband (both Tulane grads like me--another sister and my husband are also Tulane grads) standing in front of the cotton bowl stadium. Silly me, I texted back asking were they going to a football game?
Is this the first time Tulane has ever been in a bowl game (much less won one)?

tammikuu 2, 6:00 pm

I hope your themed reading is less of a struggle this year. I was so hoping the Musil would be fun, but now I'm glad I never got around to acquiring physical copies.

I'm also looking forward to your continuing Booker long list reviews.

tammikuu 2, 7:55 pm

>24 dchaikin: Hooray for old friends, pooh for stressful drives. I've got a bit of a stressful week, but then the rugrats are off to Hawaii, and I'll have vacation time. Woo hoo!

tammikuu 2, 11:18 pm

>28 arubabookwoman: Tulane’s 1st major bowl game since 1935. 🙂 (And they had a miracle win. Insanely fun game.)

tammikuu 3, 12:16 am

>15 LolaWalser: thanks and cheers to that.

>16 rachbxl: awe, thanks

>17 SassyLassy: thanks Sassy. I need to address your first 2023 avid reader question

>18 avidmom: nice to see you here. And thanks, i like the little photo too.

tammikuu 3, 12:25 am

>19 ursula: well, I’ll report back on Case Study. Definitely requires attention. In the first 20 pages the “author” is quoting a notebook at length, which quote, at length, some notes on the sister who the notebook papers, but under a false name. Which just means I find it tricky to figure what I’m supposed to be reading. 🙂

>20 Trifolia: happy new year, Monica!

>21 FlorenceArt: nice to see you post here. And thanks

>22 stretch: the flowers are columbines (well, I think they are). The rock is part of the metasedimentary/metavolcanic/meta-intrusive suite that makes up most of Breckenridge mountain.

tammikuu 3, 12:30 am

>26 markon: thanks. It was a little crazy to drive up there and back at a mad rush, but it was a good time.

>27 MissBrangwen: thanks Mirjam! Happy new year!

>29 ELiz_M: yeah, Musil was only ok for me. Disappointing. I hope Richard Wright has more i can relate to. And I’m looking forward to figuring out how to read Chaucer.

tammikuu 3, 12:33 am

>30 labfs39: glad you have a break coming. And, yeah, that drive - twice - blech. It sucked. I’m beat. (But glad I went and glad to be home)

tammikuu 3, 1:14 am

>33 dchaikin: Hmm, sounds a little like House of Leaves!

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 3, 1:32 am

>35 dchaikin: where did you drive to?

tammikuu 3, 7:46 am

Um, Colorado columbines look like this:

I think it's some sort of aster:

tammikuu 3, 8:17 am

>1 dchaikin: What a lovely photo! Though I believe >38 labfs39: is right; those look like asters to me, too. I'm looking forward to following your reading this year!

tammikuu 3, 8:25 am

>38 labfs39: This makes Dan's answer even more perfect, we are more relaiable with rocks than living things. I will forever know those flowers as Columbines. Just like all birds are red tail hawks, crows, or sparrows depending on size.

tammikuu 3, 9:01 am

>38 labfs39: oh goodness. Thanks Lisa! I feel better knowing that

>39 Julie_in_the_Library: thanks. Hi Julie!

>40 stretch: ❤️ this.

tammikuu 3, 9:12 am

my googling indicates like they are probably asters.


https://coloradowildflower.com/wildflower/showy-daisy/ (an aster variety found commonly in the Colorado mountains)

https://coloradowildflower.com/wildflower/alpine-daisy-plants/ (another aster variety found in Colorado - looks the same to me. ☺️)

tammikuu 3, 9:58 am

If they bloom in July, they´re most likely a kind of Erigeron which are very similar to aster that mostly bloom during autumn (but some flower earlier though) :-). I think they are called Fleabane in English. Erigerons like rocks and stones.

tammikuu 3, 10:17 am

>43 Trifolia: cool. i found some info here. The Erigeron are considered subalpine. My picture was at maybe 10,000 or 12,000 ft (3000-3500 m), so definitely higher than subalpine. But it looks similar.

tammikuu 3, 10:22 am

No, considering the heigth, it´s definitely not erigeron then. I´ll keep looking:-)

tammikuu 3, 12:29 pm

>40 stretch: LOL. And all rocks are either granite, mica, or, if you are in Hawaii, ‘a‘a (so named because you say ah, ah, when you walk on them).

tammikuu 3, 12:51 pm

>46 labfs39: I’m blaming Maine erratics for this post (yes, erratics is a geological term). But 'a'a is possibly the best possible name for a rock ever.

tammikuu 4, 4:24 am

Happy New Year, Dan! I'm looking forward to following you again this year. I see you have very ambitious goals again this year. If I were to complete all those goals, 2023 would have to have way more than the mere 365 days.

tammikuu 4, 2:51 pm

Hello and Happy New Year. I'm loving the flower and rock discussion!

tammikuu 4, 5:13 pm

I don't even know the names of these in Bulgarian, let alone in English. They are all pretty small blue (~ish) flowers. :)

Just stopping by to say Happy New Year - taking the first 2 days of the year off LT and then getting back to work means I am way behind on everyone's threads...

tammikuu 4, 6:29 pm

The Breckenridge wildflower guide says they are asters.

tammikuu 5, 1:28 am

Hi Dan! Great plans for this year and I'm looking forward to trying to keep up with you.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 5, 9:39 pm

>48 OscarWilde87: Hi. You know, if I could add a few days to the year, hmm

>49 Dilara86: Happy new year. Have to get our asters, fleabanes and columbines straight.

>50 AnnieMod: Annie, same issue. I missed Jan 1-2, now I'm waiting for a weekend to actually catch up here.

>51 WelshBookworm: that's a great little online guide

>52 cushlareads: nice to see you here. I'll plan to follow you too, well, and, if possible, optimistically, all of Club Read. :)

tammikuu 5, 9:38 pm

Pondering where to post on my last four unreviewed books from 2022, here or back on my 2022 thread (which probably is no longer read).

Also pondering stats. A few fun ones from 2022:

- Last year I tried not to add to my TBR pile. I mean I wanted to read at least as many books as I acquired. Well, I did it. I acquired 54, read 54 TBR books (that does not include library books or books within a book). I also abandoned 1 and discarded 30. I finished year with 666 books on TBR, which seems perfect. (But it lasted one day. I added 2 books on January 1)

- I read 64 books, last year. That included 14 audiobooks and 15 ebooks (my most ever). 37 were novels, 18 classics

- Authors: 34 women vs 30 men. Only the 2nd year I've read more women than men, if just barely. 26 were by American authors. Other authors were from England (14), Germany, Zimbabwe, Canada, France, Mexico, Scotland, Italy, South Africa, Brazil, Israel, Iran, Albania, Chile, Austria, Argentina, Tanzania, and Ireland.

- Dates: 19 were published since 2020, 27 since 2000. I read a book published in every decade of the 20th century except the 1920's. I also read books from the 12th, 14th, 16th, 17th, and 19th centuries.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 5, 9:45 pm

>54 dchaikin: for what it is worth: I plan to write some more reviews over on my 2022 thread - it is my reading diary for the year after all. :) I may mention it when I do over on my thread this year but we shall see. But your thread, your rules. I suspect that most people will find your reviews in either place I suspect ;)

That’s an interesting statistics.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 5, 10:19 pm

(book #61 from 2022):
The Colony by Audrey Magee
published: 2022
format: 384-page Kindle ebook
acquired: December 14, 2022 read: Dec 15-19, 2022 time reading: 7:19, 1.2 mpp
rating: 5
genre/style: Contemporary Fiction theme: Booker 2022
locations: A small island 10 miles off the coast of Ireland
about the author: Irish novelist, and one time journalist

My Litsy post:

Something about islands and stories. Earlier this year I loved An Island by Karen Jennings, and here I was again, smitten by isolation and the focus on quirky inexpressive characters against stark elements on a small, isolated island (here Irish). The inexpressive simplicity and implied complexity is compelling in itself somehow. And Magee kept me in a state throughout. This is my 7th from the longlist, and currently my favorite.


It's a one-off look at exploitation. An annoying English artist goes to an isolated tiny Irish island during the worst of the Northern Ireland Troubles, to be alone and paint cliffs or whatever else comes to mind. He's very frustrated when a French linguist (of partial Algerian decent) shows up. The linguist is staying awhile, studying the dying Irish language, still spoken by the few islanders. And he certainly doesn't like having an English speaker around corrupting this language. And there are native islanders, tense and partial about the Troubles, who have agreed to help out these thoroughly self-centered and mildly disturbed visitors.

It's really well done. I was fully taken in by the atmosphere and language. And I found myself liking every terrible character a lot... while reading, but not in hindsight. It had me thinking, and meditating, and worried, and left me rethinking it.

My personal 2022 booker longlist ranking of the moment

1. The Colony by Audrey Magee
2. Oh William! (made the shortlist)
3. Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies by Maddie Mortimer
4. Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley
5. Trust by Hernan Diaz
6. Glory by NoViolet Bulawayo (made the shortlist)
7. Booth by Karen Joy Fowler

tammikuu 5, 10:14 pm

>55 AnnieMod: Obviously I chose to post here. I think my head has kind of moved on from that thread, and I now see it as a spurned historical relic. :)

tammikuu 5, 10:38 pm

>56 dchaikin: Glad you liked it. My father got a medal in school when he was 10 for being the best Irish speaker. That was in Donegal 1921.

tammikuu 6, 4:25 am

>56 dchaikin: Well that sounds alright for a contemporary novel

tammikuu 6, 3:44 pm

>58 dianeham: that’s really cool!

>59 baswood: yeah, i agree.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 7, 1:01 am

(book #62 from 2022):
12 Million Black Voices by Richard Wright
Photo-Direction: Edwin Rosskam (selected and edited the FSA photographs for the text)
published: 1941
format: 148-page large size paperback with photos
acquired: December 24, 2022 read: Dec 25, 2022 time reading: 2:58, 1.2 mpp
rating: 4½
genre/style: historical manifesto with photos theme: Richard Wright
locations: United States (especially Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, Chicago and Washington, D.C.)
about the author: American author born on a Mississippi plantation in 1908

My Litsy post:

But the photographs...

Called poetic or elegant prose, this is really a kind of historical manifesto on the crimes of America against African Americans, contextualized as an economic power struggle between the wealthiest (whites), and on the manipulation of poor white tensions by directing them towards white/black divisions. The photographs, almost all depression-era images from the FSA, are magnificent. Terrific text/photo combo.


Richard Wright had just published two very successful books when this came out. Born in the south, when he moved to Chicago in 1927 he became involved in the Communist party, partially because the party was actively non-racist. It allowed him access to a community of intellectuals who would help him develop as a writer and thinker. In 1937 he moved to New York, where the party was more openly racist, and where he began to drift from the party (partially because he felt he needed more time to write). In 1949 he would openly write an essay on being an ex-communist.

I mention that because his Communist thinking may lie in the subtext here. This is not a Communist work, but it is what I would call a manifesto, and is a history presented within mainly an economic context. The history of American racism is placed with the history of American economic power struggles - both the struggles between northern and southern wealth, where blacks formed the economic backbone of the south, and in the control of masses by the wealthy by redirecting white angst away from the wealthy and towards blacks instead. (That is by creating American white privilege.)

It's also interesting because even the craziest stuff is entirely accurate (as far as I could tell).

Regarding the FSA photos: The Farm Security Administration is mostly known for sponsoring famous Depression-era photographers, like Walker Evans. Edwin Rosskam poured through these highend collections to select the photographs to match this text. Almost all the photographs are FSA.


This is a nice book. Anyone interested should pursue a physical copy to better appreciate the photographs and the text/photo mixture.

tammikuu 7, 1:18 am

>61 dchaikin: Very interesting. It is infuriating that things haven’t moved on much in 80 years.

tammikuu 7, 3:51 am

>61 dchaikin: Great review and much food for thought!

tammikuu 7, 1:36 pm

>24 dchaikin: I'm still posting on my 2022 thread. I keep my posts in the year read, because when I go back to look for them later, that's where I'll find them. I can understand moving on though, but would never think of any of your past threads as a 'spurned historical relic'!

>61 dchaikin: Great review of the Wright book.

tammikuu 7, 2:08 pm

I’m late to the party, Dan, but I’ve just dropped my star. I always enjoy following your thread. You have such ambitious plans, it gives me some inspiration to get off the black hole of Twitter and back to reading more.

tammikuu 7, 2:24 pm

>62 Dilara86: yes, really infuriating. It's been almost 82 years since he published that book.

>63 MissBrangwen: Cool, thanks!

>64 SassyLassy: It's just my personal reflection towards my own thread. I'm, well, I'm just ready for a refresh. But I'm glad my 2022 thread(s) aren't spurned by anyone else. :)

>65 NanaCC: Awe, thanks. That's an inspiring comment.

tammikuu 7, 4:27 pm

Would love to get my hands on a copy of the Wright book. Adding it to my wishlist

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 7, 4:33 pm

(book #63 from 2022):
Left Bank : Art, Passion, and the Rebirth of Paris, 1940-1950 by Agnès Poirier
reader: Christa Lewis
published: 2018
format: 13:49 audible audiobook (352 pages in hardcover)
acquired: December 11, 2022 listened: Dec 11-30, 2022
rating: 2½
genre/style: cultural history theme: Richard Wright
locations: Paris
about the author: French journalist working in London, born 1975

My Litsy post:

Poirier‘s fact-dump on post-war Paris - 1945-1949 - is more like a biography on Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, but without getting too close. It‘s so fact dense, that it practically lacks a narrative. Unfortunately it‘s compromised on audio by a terrible effort that make no distinction of tone or subject changes. It becomes monotonous facts. They‘re deadening at their worst, but hit strides of fascination. My last audiobook for 2022.


Fact-wise there is a lot of interesting stuff here. She begins with an effort to capture the WWII occupied France experience, especially for Sartre (who was imprisoned), Beauvoir, Picasso & Camus, Hungarian-born, Jewish Arthur Koestler, and the Irish Samuel Beckett. Then after the war ends in Europe, as Paris lives in a state of shortages, rationing & rebuilding, and remaking its Republic, and when the WWII resistance Communist heroes were politically prominent, tilting France ever so close towards that direction, then she brings in both the intellectual explosion and international visitors. I can't capture all the names, but they include Canadian-born Chicago author Saul Bellow, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Nelson Algren, actor Marlon Brando (who I didn't know was gay), Norman Mailer and many more.

The five-year post-war period she covers was unique in France in that the leading intellectuals, like Sartre and Koestler, had political impact, and influenced the direction of the Republic. Their support for Communism helped encourage its spread, and when they later pulled away, it helped defeat it. Sartre eventually created his own party, and its rather pathetic failure is presented here as eclipsing much of how he saw the purpose of his life. A non-violent resister during the war, unlike, say Camus, who was in the action, his philosophical ways had influence, but not as much as he imagined, unless that's just Poirier's spin. I don't really know. Beauvoir, his non-exclusive partner, did not eclipse. She published The Second Sex during this period, a book Poirier makes almost the high point of her book. She left me wanting to read it.

So, this has the information to make a good book. But is tries to cover so much, switches topics so fast, that I was really left feeling like I just took in a fact dump, without atmosphere and without any true sense of what all these artists were actually creating. So, ultimately, not recommended for anyone who is looking for atmosphere in their literature.

tammikuu 7, 4:29 pm

>67 markon: oh good. It's really a beautiful book.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 7, 5:19 pm

(book #64 from 2022):
The Man Without Qualities, Part III: Into the Millennium by Robert Musil
translation: from German by Sophie Wilkins, with assistance from Burton Pike (1995)
published: 1933
format: 402-page Vintage paperback
acquired: June 2022 read: Dec 20-31, 2022 time reading: 19:05, 2.8 mpp
rating: 3
genre/style: kind of a novel theme: Robert Musil
locations: Austria
about the author: 1880-1942, Austrian, but grew up mainly in Bohemia (then within the Austro-Hungarian empire, now within the Czech Republic). “In 1938, when Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany, Musil and his Jewish wife, Martha, left for exile in Switzerland” (Wikipedia)

My Litsy post:

6 lbs. cat for scale. I stopped at the end of book 2, at the bookmark. The rest, the posthumous papers, will stay unread. But at least I snuck in this into 2022.

Musil looks at thoughts and feelings and the dissolution of Austrian culture. What makes book 2 better than book 1 is Agathe, Ulrich‘s sister and coconspirator, in a way. She tones down the sexual tension, and enlivens the book because she‘s much more dynamic and alive than Ulrich.


Musil was one of my 2022 goals, and it didn't quite work for me. I chose to jump straight into The Man Without Qualities, the man being Ulrich, a type that's hard to describe, and unusual, but familiar to us all. He's an intellectual with serious interests, but he doesn't take anything seriously, including his own interests. Instead, he spreads light-hearted irreverence towards everything revered, while instinctively maintaining a very strict sort of lower-level moral code. He would be great fit into Snow Crash, coding irreverently alongside Hiro Portagonist, but still trying to save the world where necessary. I wouldn't have placed him in Musil's own 1920's Germany, or, as Musil places him, in 1913 Vienna. In a way, his wackiness may stand out there more than it would in any time period over, say, the last 40 years, but in a way it's nice to be reminded that wacky irreverent intellectuals had a place in the world in 1913, watching the world collapse, ridiculously, into a world war.

My problem with Ulrich is that while I liked him and found him like a contemporary, I found the writing about him dated and slow. Musil was interested in writing about ideas, and dwelling on them, and he uses Ulrich to lighten it up and make it fun. But the combo didn't work for me. And Ulrich has limits.

And, that's were Part III comes in. This was actually Musil's second part published.* Here we meet Agathe, Ulrich's younger sister who was unmentioned up to this point. They meet after their father passes, and identify each other as twins, even though they are five years apart. Unlike Ulrich, Agathe is not easy to pin down. She's a dynamic character in a crisis. In some ways she's an alter-ego for Ulrich, but in a lot of ways she offers the book a woman without sexual tensions, or at least with reduced ones. Ulrich has attraction issues to pretty much every female character in the book, but even though he lives with his sister for part of this book, even practically seeing her naked, she's still his sister and she's also a deep thinker, and their interaction is mostly another vessel for Musil's own musing on hard to pin-down ideas.

There were chapters I glazed over, but a lot of Musil's idea are about the how to align thoughts and emotions. These two clash within us, undermine each other, and lead to a lot personal (and national) disfunction, and can even drive us completely insane. That, unfortunately, it about a deep as I'm going to try to go. The book is one where plot is secondary, and ultimately doesn't go much farther than Ulrich meets sister, they bond, she comes to live with him in Vienna. There he reintegrates into the dysfunctional Vienna government as WWI approaches, and introduces Agathe into this world. Ulrich himself was something this world didn't know what to do with. But Agathe was something this world really had never seen before. But alas our book ends before much fun can be made of that.

As this is a book tossed around in conversation with Ulysses and In Search of Lost Time as a twentieth century classic, I don't want to discourage anyone from reading it. But unfortunately it didn't do that much for me overall.

*He never published a third part, and left a large amount of writing behind, 600 pages of which are in this book. I didn't read them.

tammikuu 7, 5:16 pm

and that wraps up 2022. phew...

tammikuu 7, 5:40 pm

I enjoyed your review of 12 Million Black Voices. The economic context approach is interesting. The inclusion of the FSA photos probably means its the sort of book that you can leave lying around on your coffee table.

Of course I am very interested in Left bank: and the rebirth of Paris 1940-1950. I can recommend The Second Sex and you might also be interested in Simone de Beauvoir's novel The Mandarins which is based loosely on events and characters of that period and is a good read.

tammikuu 7, 5:56 pm

>72 baswood: you may like Left Bank a lot more than me, especially if you have read these authors (and I know I've read some of your Camus reviews). It's informative and seems very careful about getting everything correct. I'm putting The Mandarins on a list.

12 million Black Voices is a lot less gaudy than all the beautiful coffee table books I'm used to, full of pictures and often, but not always, unreadable commentary. But it would make a nice perusable decoration.

tammikuu 7, 6:02 pm

I finally get to your thread and I get to add Post 74! Good luck with all your reading plans (and with going with the flow if need be). I'll have to be on the lookout for that fascinating Richard Wright book. All the best!

tammikuu 7, 7:32 pm

In retrospect, too bad you didn't start with Musil's stories, Dan. Not that it would have necessarily changed the impression of TMWQ, but you might have liked Musil better.

tammikuu 7, 7:39 pm

>74 rocketjk: yeah, these add up in January. Welcome and thanks.

>75 LolaWalser: completely agree I should have done that.

tammikuu 9, 11:15 pm

What an interesting combination of themes you are planning! I’m eager to follow the unfolding of your reading life this year. The Marion Turner book is on my list too for 2023, and I am drooling over the Broadview editions you have. I’d never heard of this publisher, so immediately googled. I am now thinking I will treat myself to a Broadview edition of Troilus and Criseyde; it sounds like it will be very different from the old Riverside Chaucer.

tammikuu 9, 11:39 pm

>77 dianelouise100: I have to credit Joyce (Nickelini) with directing me to the Broadview editions, which she had used in a class. I haven't read them yet, so can't personally vouch for how good or helpful they are, but they're beautiful. I'm happy to have them. I bought them direct from the publisher ( https://broadviewpress.com/ )

tammikuu 9, 11:42 pm

Canterbury Tales cover (the test is based on the Ellesmere Manuscript):

tammikuu 10, 9:03 am

>79 dchaikin: That's a beautiful cover

tammikuu 10, 3:29 pm

>77 dianelouise100: >78 dchaikin: Another definite recommendation for Broadview Press here. I have been using their editions for Victorian literature, one of their specialties, for some time. It's based in Canada, so that might be why it isn't well known elsewhere.

tammikuu 10, 3:50 pm

>81 SassyLassy: I have a bunch of Broadview Press editions too, including this Canterbury Tales. I got an English lit degree and they were used in many of my classes. I liked that they were more affordable than many other editions. And their anthologies have good selections of texts

tammikuu 12, 9:00 pm

Dang, Dan, your thread moves way too fast! Happy new(ish) year!

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 12, 10:24 pm

>83 lisapeet: January :)

ETA - I posted my stats up in >6 dchaikin:

tammikuu 13, 3:36 am

I have read and thoroughly enjoyed Native Son, Black Boy and Ellison's Invisible Man and so you remind me that I should go back and read another book from Richard Wright. There are a number of authors' books I enjoyed reading back in high school for class (including the first two of these; I read Invisible Man on my own a few years later) but never revisited. I recently read another William Golding, the author of Lord of the Flies, and loved what I read so this is another good reminder to revisit those authors.

tammikuu 13, 8:21 am

>84 dchaikin: Wow, you have been keeping track of your reading since 1990, that's impressive. I wish I had. Last year I discovered a reading journal from the 90s, but it was brief and incomplete. I only started keeping good records when I joined LT in 2008.

tammikuu 13, 11:19 am

Enjoyed looking over your reading and what you had to say about it. Some very interesting books there!

tammikuu 13, 6:03 pm

>85 lilisin: ooh, encouraging. I have never read Lord of the Flies. :(

>86 labfs39: ok, Lisa, keep in mind I was reading 10-15 books a year from the first 15 years. I had (still have, I think) a stack of loose-leaf notebook paper. Each time I finished a book I grabbed whatever pen or marker I had at hand, and in my rather terrible handwriting, documented the book title and author, and, I think, the month I finished the book. I started with Brave New World during my senior year of high school, in December of 1990. Around 2005 (pre-LT) I switched to an something electronic and filed my few pages away.

>87 avaland: hi Lois. Thanks!

tammikuu 13, 6:05 pm

>86 labfs39: You know, every time I see his stats, I am feeling so sorry that I did not keep track until I moved to the States (even if I had LT before that...) and even that had been spotty in some years.

Dan is who I want to be when I grow up :)

tammikuu 13, 6:27 pm

>89 AnnieMod: oh dear. Well, I still think I need to grow up at some point. Forever young at heart, I guess.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 13, 7:25 pm

I dont have interest in my stats except for date, title, author, genre and rating. Ive been doing this since 1994; if I tried to add anything else Id be overwhelmed! Just me tho, ymmv

tammikuu 13, 7:34 pm

A Listy review (so, short version):

My 8th book from the #Booker2022 longlist. I‘ve had to sit on this. Like the novel Trust, this is a collection of unreliable documents, here a look at where psychiatric therapy appears to have led to a suicide. It takes some focus and begins as a little work for the reader. But an intelligent tension develops as we try to understand our narrator and this _nonfictional_ quack therapist from 1965. I enjoyed it a lot more than i thought I would.


1. Case Study by Graeme Macrae Burnet
published: 2021
format: 288-page Kindle ebook, acquired: December 22
read: Dec 22, 2022 – Jan 11, 2023 (restarted Dec 31), time reading: 9:10, 1.9 mpp
rating: 4
genre/style: Contemporary Fiction theme: Booker 2022
locations: 1960’s London
about the author: Scottish, born 1967

So I tried to read this as a break while reading Robert Musil, but it's tricky and demands attention and I put it aside. I picked it back on late on December 31 and started over from the beginning, and then opened New Year's Day reading this for maybe 30 minutes before I drove off on some asinine (but fun) football quest. At that point I was into it.

The book:

Well, there's no way around it i know of, but this book makes for a dull setup with lots of parts, and then grows into something quite entertaining.

We never learn the name of our narrator, but in 1965, sometime after her sister, Veronica, has committed suicide, she decides to investigate her sister's unconventional therapist. She poses as a patient, with the false name of Rebecca Smyth, and makes an appointment with A. Collins Breathwaite, who was a real psychologist, and real author of a book titled Untherapy and who really told patients there was nothing wrong with them, and buck up. At least that's what Burnet's website tells us - https://graememacraeburnet.com/2019/04/06/

Burnet's Braithwaite is pretty awful, manipulating his patients, doing drugs with them and having a lot of sex with them, even if they are needy and married. He's a counter-personality. That is whatever position someone takes, or is popular, he very distinctly takes a counter position and inhabits it, putting his full self of the moment into it, and over time becoming very many selves (embracing R. D. Laing's The Divided Self). This is particularly interesting in a novel, because that's exactly what a novelist does, inhabit different characters to write them. It's also what an actor does. It doesn't make for good therapy. But this is what "Rebacca Smyth" walks into and records in her notebook, later shared here. She begins to break down and waver between her Smyth self, a confident clever sexually provocative women looking to push limits, and her reticent other self. And she records it, and it makes for some great reading.

Burnett confuses us readers up front, and confuses us again before we're through. So you have to read closely, and probably should read this more than once. But I didn't enjoy quite enough for that. Still, good stuff.


Small side-track on gender: It's maybe worth noting that male authors writing female lead characters in non-genre deeper-psyche novels is relatively uncommon in this me-too timeline. I thought Burnet played knowingly with that, handling his Rebecca in ways male authors might normally avoid today. Maybe not, but it certainly would be in theme.


My personal 2022 booker longlist ranking of the moment:

1. The Colony by Audrey Magee
2. Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout (made the shortlist)
3. Case Study by Graeme Macrae Burnet
4. Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies by Maddie Mortimer
5. Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley
6. Trust by Hernan Diaz
7. Glory by NoViolet Bulawayo (made the shortlist)
8. Booth by Karen Joy Fowler

tammikuu 13, 7:35 pm

>91 cindydavid4: that's a strength, Cindy. Stats are a weird weakness, I think.

tammikuu 13, 7:46 pm

>89 AnnieMod: Dan is who I want to be when I grow up

Omg that had me rolling on the floor.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 14, 3:23 pm

>86 labfs39:, >88 dchaikin:, >89 AnnieMod: I started keeping a list of all the books I read starting in 1977. I still have the list on paper from 1977-2008. On 1-1-2009 when I joined LT I switched over to keeping track on LT. I don't keep any statistics like Dan does though. A few years ago I posted a photo of some of the pages from my early list on Litsy, which I think you commented on Dan.
Speaking of which LT tells me I have 995 reviews posted on LT. So far I haven't posted any for 2023, but the fifth one I post from now will be my 1000th review. Somehow that seems momentous, and I keep vacillating between making it for a book that is special or just whatever the fifth book turns out to be.

>92 dchaikin: I liked the first Graeme Macrae Burnet book I read, and I have this one waiting on Kindle. I liked your review!

tammikuu 14, 4:41 pm

>95 arubabookwoman: Wow, 1000 reviews. That is momentous.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 14, 4:50 pm

>95 arubabookwoman: When you have the data, statistics can be done later. When you don’t have the raw data, you are screwed. Which is what I am sorry about - I was reading as much as I do now (probably more in some times) and I have no notes about what I had read before I started using LT to track it. I remember some books and I am reminded of others through the years but I wish I had kept a list as simple as title/author if nothing else. :)

tammikuu 14, 5:35 pm

All this talk of Chaucer made me dig up my copy with the Rockwell Kent illustrations. I only read the modernised version before.

What age is senior high school? I had started a "diary" when I was eleven (very much not actually a daily record), and noted occasionally what I read, then it became more regular around age 15-16, and by age 17 the habit was set in the current format: date/title/author name

tammikuu 14, 6:15 pm

I’m deep in Richard Wright’s dramatic deep violent south.

>94 labfs39: no comment 🙂

>95 arubabookwoman: 1000 reviews is really cool and impressive. I tried to make book 1000 special (not review 1000), but I don’t remember which it was anymore and I don’t think it worked as planned.

>97 AnnieMod: yeah, harder for you. I did enter every book I remember reading before my list and tagged them read_before_1990. But it’s only 23 (so far). Still i forget books. Last year Logan’s Run came up, and the book came back me. I remember reading it and significant amount of the story. But it wasn’t on my list. (I added it)

>98 LolaWalser: i was 17 in December 1990, a senior in high school with an April birthday, meaning I was on the younger half of my year. But, I wasn’t much a reader before that. I really only became what I considered a reader that particular month. The list and mindset started together.

tammikuu 14, 6:37 pm

>98 LolaWalser: jr high is 6th or 7th grade to 9th grade (depends on the district} HS is 14/15 tp 18

tammikuu 15, 9:22 am

How are you finding the Marne? I'd be very much into joining you on your further Wharton excursions.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 15, 10:59 am

>101 slimeboy: well, not so great. Wharton’s The Marne is readable but it was written as propaganda to inspire American troops in wwi and it is as terrible as any other propaganda. So by far the worst Wharton so far.

I’ve found Wharton’s passionate support of the French during wwi an oddity. She was awarded a medal. She had permanently relocated to France around 1911 and so she may have felt France was home. But it’s a war without a good side. And I would like an author to be aware of that. But for her France is special and good and should be supported and Americans should help. Germans are bad. Not just the Kaiser, but all Germans are part of the problem.

As a Wharton fan, i see this as a major flaw i need to adjust to. Fortunately its a short book. The first half took me an hour and a half.

(I guess I’m glad you asked)

tammikuu 15, 10:24 am

I have a list of books read from 1996 to 2007, just titles and authors. But even without any kinds of reviews, that list is so evocative—I can remember where I was, and where I was at, when I read almost every single one. I guess after 2007 I was logging books online, but I'm so glad I have that Word doc too.

tammikuu 15, 2:35 pm

>103 lisapeet: I love that. You know, keeping access to electronic lists was a little trickier in the 1990's than today.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 15, 4:09 pm

2. Uncle Tom's Children by Richard Wright 1938/1940

Listy post - for the short review

A flawed, but incredibly powerful collection of stories.

It serves as a commentary on the Jim Crowe South…and also oddly on (the awkwardness of?) Communist idealism. It also has some beautiful use of idiomatic language, terrific characters, and insane dramatic tension.

Etchings are by John Wilson for the story Down by the Riverside.


Yo mamma don wear no drawers...

This provocative collection on the Jim Crowe South was immediate success, with praise coming from, among other, first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, pushing up sales. Opening with autobiographic sketches on Wright's actual Jim Crowe experience, it then follows with five longer short stories (maybe novellas) all within this same world. It put Richard Wright on the literary map and it's easy to see why.

Pulling from a variety of influences, including idiomatic writing by Gertrude Stein, aggressive writing by H. L Melnkin & social science studies, partially coming out of the University of Chicago, Wright also had read the classics and the genres and understood plot and situation. And he uses that to effect.

What comes out is idiomatically beautiful, oddly simple and incredibly powerful. Wright uses the Jim Crowe world in a variety of complex ways, creating wild dramatic situations, with an assortment of wonderful characters. These are intense situations - one character hides in a tiny hole in the night waiting, with snakes, while a worked-up murderous white crowd with dogs searches for him to lynch. And Wright leaves us there, joyfully (my take) meditating on his running thoughts, tormenting the reader. Another tries to take care of his family isolated in a flood reminiscent of the 1927 Mississippi flood where men with darker skin were forced to work on levees, and in cases were still working on them as they broke. This man, named Mann, navigates a boat stolen from a white owner in town, against the current, without landmarks, back into town to reach a hospital. Part of what makes this story interesting, other than his name and the biblical implications, is how he's treated by apparently northern white soldiers verse white southern town folk. Neither is good, but it's different. There is a rape, and man kidnapped and strapped to a tree and told to pray as he is whipped waiting to die; he's shirtless, but his suit pants are still on. There is a clear implication that your skin color meant your life was cheap and expendable.

One thing I couldn't quite put my finger one was why this felt to me like I felt when reading classics high school, like 1984, or Farhenheit 451, or Call of the Wild. There is some simplistic aspect to the story telling, always cleanly 3rd person and maybe that is it. Novels today often confront us with voices, almost always unreliable and often uncomfortable. Here we are always safely in the narrator's hands, even if we focus on uncertain characters.

The work has some serious flaws. The Communist idealism in some stories is awkward at best. (but these stories won awards before they were collected here). The work is very sexist and manly, if you like. But the harshest criticism came from Wright, who was later wrote, "When the reviews of that book began to appear, I realized I had made an awfully naïve mistake. I found that I had written a book which even bankers' daughters could read and weep over and feel good about." In the introduction Richard Yarborough says "Wright was reacting less to particular flaws in Uncle Tom's Children and more to mainstream American culture's capacity to defuse the potency of harsh critique through the very act of commercial consumption and subsequent emotional release." That is to say, the cathartic nature of the work undermined its purpose, and also drove Wright to take a different approach with Native Son, his next and most famous novel.

I can safely recommend this classic to anyone.


2. Uncle Tom's Children by Richard Wright
editing: introduction by Richard Yarborough (1993), notes by Arnold Rampersad
published: 1938, expanded 1940
format: 333-page paperback - Harper Perennial Olive Edition
acquired: November read: Jan 13-15 time reading: 8:12, 1.5 mpp
rating: 5
genre/style: Classic Short Stories theme: Richard Wright
locations: 1920’s Jim Crowe South
about the author: American author born on a Mississippi plantation in 1908

originally published in 1938 with four stories
- Big Boy Leaves Home
- Down by the Riverside
- Long Black Song
- Fire and Cloud

Expanded edition in 1940 added two entries:
- The Ethics of Jim Crowe - autobiographical short takes - the opening entry
- Bright and Morning Star - the closing story

tammikuu 15, 4:31 pm

>92 dchaikin: Were you surprised by the last scene in the epilogue of Case Study ?, like I was.

tammikuu 15, 4:52 pm

>106 JoeB1934: definitely. It had me rethinking the whole book. Actually, present tense. I’m still rethinking it. 🙂

tammikuu 15, 5:02 pm

>106 JoeB1934: what did you think overall? Do you have a post i can find?

tammikuu 15, 6:04 pm

>70 dchaikin: Going back a bit on your thread. I had not heard of Robert Musil until I read your review and then in the book that I am currently reading The Secret Pilgrim by John Le Carré I came across this observation from one of Le Carré's characters (two spies of course one of whom is instructing the other):

"And how the hell a man of your experience, whose job is dealing with modern civilisation and its discontentments can manage without the wisdom of Robert Musil is a question I shall require you to answer"

tammikuu 15, 6:33 pm

>109 baswood: did they get an answer?

tammikuu 15, 7:13 pm

>110 dchaikin: No - I thought you might have an answer

tammikuu 15, 7:44 pm

>111 baswood: personally, I’m not sure I’m managing 🙂

tammikuu 16, 11:10 am

>109 baswood: thinking on this more. Neil Stephenson and other strongly independent minds might agree, and they would be more sensible if they don’t oversimplify. Musil struggled with modernity and addressed using a long stick named Ulrich. His wisdom is in mulling stuff over, and expressing them in a way that avoids succinct summary because their are so many different ways to look at things. And what’s awful may deserve some contemplation within its circumstance, because the thing itself might make sense within that and the circumstance itself might be actually awful. But no one can really see it all or understand why.

In some ways Musil’s lesson is one of not being in denial, but not one entirely successful. He mutes himself in broader, more open-minded consideration. In flipping things upside down and then back-over again. I think if any of us really embraced all Musil’s wisdom, there would be a lot less completed stuff in the world.

Anyway, I certainly can’t say I took in Musil’s wisdom in one resistant simple-minded push through his book. I like the line, though.

tammikuu 16, 7:05 pm

>108 dchaikin: After getting over my initial embarrassment at not foreseeing the ending, I concluded that the author had totally captured me with his story and the ending didn't really diminish that result.

As to a post of mine about the book you can read my attempt to use analytics to direct myself to books that I am reading for 2023.
The link is https://www.librarything.com/topic/345830#n8039847

tammikuu 18, 4:15 am

Hi Dan; I managed to catch up and read though your thread! So time to say a belated happy new year, including happy reading!
I love your themes and I'm sure I will enjoy following your thread and read thfough the impromptu conversations. I do not participate very often, but do really enjoy them!

tammikuu 18, 12:43 pm

>115 raton-liseur: Thanks racoon. I’m following you as well. I got a little behind last year. I’ll try to keep up better this year. My own thread got long quick. That was nice of you to catch up.

tammikuu 18, 3:18 pm

>116 dchaikin: The pleasure is all mine!

tammikuu 20, 2:09 am

Dan, how do I find you on litsy?

tammikuu 20, 6:56 am

>118 dianeham: @Graywacke

tammikuu 21, 4:51 am

Also catching up Dan and wishing you a wonderful new year of reading.

Although my threads are still over at the 75ers, I aim to be far more active this year over here across the threads of those I have kept starred.

tammikuu 21, 8:33 am

>120 PaulCranswick: I've peeked in on your threads, Paul, but they move so fast I got vertigo and crept back to the relative calm of Club Read.

tammikuu 21, 10:03 am

>120 PaulCranswick: I’m happy you stopped by and thank you. I’m kind of entrenched here in Club Read, but I enjoy your posts and your reading, and hopefully I’ll catch anything you post in this group.

tammikuu 22, 3:32 pm

3. The Marne by Edith Wharton
published: 1918
format: 49-page Kindle ebook
acquired: January 11 read: Jan 11-15 time reading: 2:18, 2.8 mpp
rating: 2
genre/style: Classic? theme: Wharton
locations: France
about the author: 1862-1937. Born Edith Newbold Jones on West 23rd Street, New York City. Relocated permanently to France after 1911.

Litsy post:

This is a tough one to review. It‘s depressing to read something poor from a writer you love.

It seems Wharton rushed this out during WWI, where she fully supported France. The result is a simplistic story of an American boy who grew partially in France, becoming a Francophile, and who volunteers. Germans are vilified en masse, while French are praised and Americans are gently disparaged for the limited US commitment. The book is essentially propaganda. Hopefully Age of Innocence will win me over again.

The photo of Wharton with US soldiers is from 1918. The two soldiers on the right are sons of Teddy Roosevelt.


That's probably enough on this. Not recommended.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 22, 4:38 pm

4. A Far Cry from Kensington by Muriel Spark
published: 1988
format: 185-page paperback, 2000 edition from New Direction Classic
acquired: 2021 read: Jan 16-18 time reading: 6:03, 2.0 mpp
rating: 4
genre/style: not-quite-contemporary fiction theme: TBR
locations: Kensington and West End, London, 1954
about the author: 1918-2006. Scottish novelist born in Edinburgh

Litsy post

I always find planning to read from my own TBR stacks somehow a little imperfect, but that‘s what I did here.

As a recreation of 1954/55 South Kensington and London‘s publishing world, this is something of a masterpiece. I‘m clueless about South Kensington, but it wasn‘t the ritzy place in the 1950‘s that it is today. The short book is little slow in its plot line. But it vividly recreates a textured populated world and has a dark charm.


I should add that's it's first person and has some humor and I even laughed out loud. This is my third novel by Spark. I found it less ambitious than The Prime of Jean Brodie or Memento Mori, but much more interior than those books, well, at least more relatable and saner than Jean. I loved how she captures these really interesting internal self-reflections of Nancy Hawkins, including the opening paragraph.

Actually, for dedicated readers, I'll share that opening paragraph (this is more skippable than other things here).

So great was the noise during the day that I used to lie awake at night listening to the silence. Eventually, I fell asleep contented, filled with soundlessness, but while I was awake I enjoyed the experience of darkness, thought, memory, sweet anticipations. I heard the silence. It was in those days of the early 'fifties of this century that I formed the habit of insomnia. Insomnia is not bad in itself. You can lie awake at night and think; the quality of insomnia depends entirely on what you decide to think of. Can you decide to think? -- Yes, you can. You can put your mind to anything most of the time. You can sit peacefully in front of a blank television set, just watching nothing; and sooner or later you can make your own programme much better than the mass product. It's fun, you should try it. You can put anyone you like on the screen, alone or in company, saying and doing what you want them to do, with yourself in the middle if you prefer it that way.

Anyway, recommended for Spark fans and anyone else looking to gently visit another time and place.

tammikuu 22, 4:08 pm

>124 dchaikin: I had just ordered this, on someones recommendation; looking forward to it

tammikuu 22, 4:35 pm

I remember a couple of years ago being entertained by A Far Cry from Kensington on a drive of about 6 hours.. Pamela Garelick narrated and she was a perfect Mrs. Hawkins. “Pisseur de copie” became the household insult for a time. Enjoyed your review!

tammikuu 22, 5:31 pm

I enjoyed that opening paragraph

tammikuu 22, 6:35 pm

my current read, in a picture that was little attention on Litsy. I'm deep in the world of Chaucer, and the English households of the 1340's & 1350's...if not really learning much about Chaucer himself. I was inspired to actually order a translation of Roman de la Rose, a work with influenced Dante, and also Chaucer. (I ordered an Oxford World Classics translation: The Romance of the Rose by Guillaume de Lorris & Jean de Meun, translation by Frances Horgan.)

tammikuu 22, 6:59 pm

la Roman de la Rose - C'est superbonne

tammikuu 22, 7:15 pm

>128 dchaikin: Have you read katherine? A great historic fiction novel about the woman who was Chaucers mistress for most of their lives If you haven't, you might want to include that in your reads

tammikuu 22, 11:52 pm

>56 dchaikin: The Colony was my favorite too. The characters stayed with me. I loved how the French linguist annoyed the cold English artist. I loved the descriptions of the Irish boy’s paintings. The dread of knowing how it would end.

tammikuu 23, 7:55 am

Oh, Le roman de la rose: one of those classics that keep being referenced in other books and that I haven't read. Would you be interested in a buddy read of it?

tammikuu 23, 7:57 am

>124 dchaikin: ...the quality of insomnia depends entirely on what you decide to think of.
I love that thought.

tammikuu 23, 7:58 am

>124 dchaikin: I'm a Spark fan and haven't read that one, so: noted, thanks!

>133 SassyLassy: I love that quote too.

tammikuu 23, 8:06 am

>128 dchaikin: Your cat (kitten?) Is beautiful.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 23, 9:08 am

>125 cindydavid4: hi. I think we discussed it (A Far Cry…)on the what are you reading thread.

>126 dianelouise100: oh, lovely. I bet it’s (A Far Cry) a terrific audiobook

>127 baswood: >133 SassyLassy: >134 lisapeet: i had a moment this morning realizing the irony of suggesting the best writing on my page was skippable. Glad you all enjoyed.

tammikuu 23, 9:05 am

>129 baswood: yay! I think i’ll try to read it next month.

>130 cindydavid4: oh, I’m timid with HF. Noting. Marion Turner, this author of the biography, wrote a novel on the Wife of Bathe

>131 kjuliff: warm welcome. I adored The Colony. I admit I had a dread of _not_ knowing how it would end. It was first a relief there was no violence, but then also, oye.

>135 markon: awe. She’s a pain in the a**, but very cute and, when she wants to be, cuddly

tammikuu 23, 9:08 am

>132 Dilara86: oh, buddy read! Yes, I would love that. I’ll be reading in English, of course. You will probably want French, and maybe not original old French (??). So different editions. I was thinking later February or March but i’m flexible. Does that interest and work?

tammikuu 23, 9:20 am

>138 dchaikin: Fantastic! I'd be using a bilingual version, with the original verses and the modern French translation side by side. Late February or March is fine :-) Or indeed any other time that's not right now...

tammikuu 23, 9:26 am

>140 dchaikin: I’m thinking when my copy arrives i can see if i work out a kind of plan or schedule, beginning March 1-ish. A slow one. ☺️ Let me know if that kind of structure interests you or if would prefer a more freeform, read at our pace, read.

tammikuu 23, 10:02 am

>136 dchaikin: yes, and I was just informed by ABE that the seller canceled the order coz he no longer had it. Grrrrrr, thats fine I found another copy, cheaper. But its going to take longer before I can read it!

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 23, 10:12 am

>137 dchaikin: read wife of bathe ages ago. And katherine while its about a love affair, its not the type of romance fiction like nowadays. A very good HF that is rather accurate to the time, if that helps any

tammikuu 23, 10:35 am

>142 cindydavid4: yes, that’s helpful and encouraging. Thanks!

tammikuu 23, 11:29 am

Given the type of work, structure is good, I think. I'd probably get more out of it if I'm slow and careful.

tammikuu 23, 11:44 am

I’ve read The Romance of the Rose in years long past and while I can’t commit to a group read just now, I’ll definitely be following the thread and maybe by March I can read along with you. If I remember correctly, Chaucer’s translation of the first part of the Rose (de Lorris’ part) into Middle English was one of his earliest works.

tammikuu 23, 12:44 pm

>144 Dilara86: ok! I’ll wait for my copy and some free time. 🙂

>145 dianelouise100: Turner notes there’s documentation of his early (for him) translations of Roman de la Rose mentioned by others. (But I don’t know if the translation is actually available and preserved.)

tammikuu 23, 3:02 pm

I think you would find it on Amazon if you search for The Romaunt of the Rose.

tammikuu 23, 7:34 pm

>121 labfs39: & >122 dchaikin:

Any comments or contributions welcome over there but I understand because I struggle to keep up myself!

I have been seriously toying with the idea of starting a thread over here but I am not convinced I can do both groups justice.

There are an ever increasing number of threads I like and follow here and, of course, the added appreciation of one of my passions - poetry - certainly helps!

tammikuu 24, 2:20 am

>146 dchaikin: >147 dianelouise100: I am looking at The Romaunt of the Rose right now. It's in my father in law's Complete Chaucer which he gave me when they emptied their family home before moving to a smaller house. It's very... Chaucerian :-))
Incidently, I watched a short video about the Roman de la rose aimed at highschoolers where the ridiculously posh presenter tells us that most people haven't read it, that it's long, repetitive and boring, but seminal. That's rather defeatist!

tammikuu 24, 6:44 am

>124 dchaikin: I've not read any Spark and have only seen the Maggie Smith film of Prime but you've inspired me to add her to my *teetering* TBR pile!

tammikuu 24, 6:50 am

>128 dchaikin: ha! This was my son last term at university - the medieval lit term you "just have to get through" according to the second years! He got to see some original 12th century manuscripts in the university library though and I know he was impressed because he WhatsApp'd me some pictures of them! I was quite jealous!

tammikuu 24, 12:09 pm

>149 Dilara86: that’s really cool about your FiL’s copy. I’m not worried about the opinions of ridiculously posh presenters, but i have no clue how readable Roman will be, or what kind of mental state it will require. Certainly it’s ok to bail of it’s not working for either or both of us.

tammikuu 24, 12:19 pm

>150 Karlou: Spark was a Club Read discovery for me. Mark (thorold) when through a stage of reviewing every novel and these caught my attention. Others in CR have posted on her too. I should say she’s a wonderful discovery. A little hard to find in physical book stores. You can always start a second tbr pile. 😁

>128 dchaikin: that’s funny. I’m sure it’s (Turner’s biography of Chaucer) better without a profession’s deadline. It’s terrific so far. The life and times stuff is riveting, but she goes through slowly in her own rhythm. i have a penchant for finding dry history books as kind of comfort reads, so keep that in mind when I say I’m really enjoying casually strolling through Turner’s biography.

Also, super cool about the medieval manuscripts!

tammikuu 24, 12:21 pm

>152 dchaikin: I read the prose translation in English by Frances Horgan. It was a five star read for me, absolutely magical:


Bonne chance

tammikuu 24, 1:17 pm

>154 baswood: good. That’s the translation I ordered.

tammikuu 25, 6:35 pm

>123 dchaikin: Agree with you on The Marne. Very disappointing. I didn't even post about it on Litsy. That's what we get for being a completist I guess.
>124 dchaikin: Coincidentally right after finishing The Marne I also completed a book by Muriel Spark--in my case The Gils of Slender Means, which I liked a lot. I read A Far Cry From Kensington years ago and member liking it. My favorite by Spark is Momento Mori. Haven"t read Pime of Miss Jean Brodie yet, but hope to soon.

tammikuu 26, 8:55 pm

>156 arubabookwoman: You know, there once was a time when I would quietly finish all my books and not have an LT to post on them, and then I would think about the ones I'd like to share with someone. But I forget that some experiences I really didn't wanted to share. I would have been happier quietly leaving The Marne read, but uncommented on. As for Spark, well she's been terrific with each of three books I've read, and each in a different, although there's always something fun going on with the text.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 26, 10:49 pm

5. The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka
reader: Shivantha Wijesinha
published: 2022
format: 14:15 audible audiobook (368 pages in hardcover)
acquired: January 1 listened: Jan 1-24
rating: 4
genre/style: contemporary fiction theme: Booker 2022
locations: Colombo, Sri Lanka 1990
about the author: Sri Lankan writer who grew up in Colombo, studied in New Zealand and has lived and worked in London, Amsterdam and Singapore. Born 1975

My Litsy post (short, but a mouthful):

Some Batik?

I‘ve now read 9 from the #booker2022 longlist.

I found this a little awkward on audio, opening with heavy satire. But I stuck with it, took it slow, through all those momentum-deadening dialogues, and I feel rewarded. It comes around. It has an overall structural arch that I can appreciate in hindsight and that made it all worth it. I got attached, and I got to really like Maali and his posthumous self in Colombo, Sri Lanka, 1990.


I feel I should add a moment of reflection. Tamil's make up only about 10% of the Sri Lankan population, but after being the target of murderous racial riots in 1983 (encouraged by, I believe, a democratically elected government), Tamil rebels fought a 25+ year civil war, before being defeated, and leaving a heavy toll of death and destruction.

Maali Almeida, who is waking up as a ghost in a post-life world he doesn't actually believe in, had a Tamil mother and Sinhalese father and became an impartial photographer, looking to get paid and, with boys, laid, while secretly capturing the brutality and the leadership using it. He worked for both sides of the war, and the independent press, and he has a secret collection of photographs under his bed that people will kill for. And he's a gambler with debts. But he doesn't know how he died or why he was murdered.

The book hovers on this, in a satire-come-serious evolution, that is paced out with a lot of group conversations. It would probably make a terrible book if it wrapped itself up in that description. But, as I mentioned in the Litsy post, there is a structural arc, and all this stuff has its place along it as the book accumulates, slowly, more interest.

A quarter way in i didn't like it. Halfway I was very mixed. But now that I've finished, I find myself kind of moved and attached Maali, the book and its overall structure and its somewhat unexpected impact.

Recommended for the curious and patient. (ETA - I do not recommend the audio)


My personal 2022 booker longlist ranking of the moment:

1. The Colony by Audrey Magee
2. Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout (made the shortlist)
3. The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka (winner)
4. Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies by Maddie Mortimer (I keep nudging this higher)
5. Case Study by Graeme Macrae Burnet
6. Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley
7. Trust by Hernan Diaz
8. Glory by NoViolet Bulawayo (made the shortlist)
9. Booth by Karen Joy Fowler

tammikuu 26, 10:52 pm

>158 dchaikin: I'm reading this now, so I just skimmed your review. I'll come back to it in a few days.

tammikuu 26, 11:00 pm

>159 RidgewayGirl: hang in there. :)

tammikuu 27, 10:02 pm

>158 dchaikin: Given your review I will give it another go. I started it - in audio by necessity - and couldn’t concentrate on it. But I am curious, though not patient, and have a liking for anything Tamil-related. I heartily recommend Arudpragasam, “Story of a Brief Marriage” which is one of the most beautiful novels I’ve ever read.

tammikuu 27, 10:43 pm

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 28, 1:02 am

Anuk Arudpragasam is such a great writer. I loved A Passage North but was blown away by A Story of a Brief Marriage. It was as if I was there. An unforgettable novel.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 28, 12:53 am

Oh - have you seen his website?. It’s like he’s put his novels in four photos.

tammikuu 28, 11:03 am

>161 kjuliff: that audiobook (for The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida) has issues. The voice is great, but he overdoes that satire and it’s hard to tone that down once it’s ramped up. And he has to do so many voices at once, it’s tricky and the production makes some odd decisions. But I was able to enjoy despite all that.

>161 kjuliff: >162 dianeham: >163 kjuliff: >164 kjuliff: thanks to the Booker selections, I listened to A Passage North recently enough. It didn’t have a huge impact on me, but I thought it was really nicely written. It’s certainly a nice pill of sincerity to correct all the inconsiderate satire in Seven Moons. I’m interested in A Story of a Brief Marriage, which I wasn’t aware of. Thanks for bringing it up.

tammikuu 28, 10:56 pm

>165 dchaikin: I am starting to lose interest in “ The Seven Moons of Maali” again because I have to read it in audio, and from what you’ve pointed out about the difficulty of rendering several voiced all at once, and the influence of the narrator rendering the novel as perhaps more satirical than Karunatilaka intended.

I am sure that techniques of narration will change as internal structures of novels change. It’s hard to represent the different ways of communication available in the 21st century. Voice mail texts, email PowerPoint presentations. As well there’s always been the dialog problem - a narrator needing to change voices - male to female and back, and different accents.

I recently heard a narrator interviewed on a podcast about the accent problem and how she deals with it. If I can find the podcast I’ll post it. Very interesting.

Raises the question - can all novels be audio-ed? Before the availability of digital audio books I used to be a volunteer in Australia for Books for the Blind. I never thought I’d suffer myself from vision loss, but the experience has focused me on the difficulties of rendering the written word into speech. Sorry for the digression, but it is pertinent for “The Seven Moons of Maali”.

tammikuu 28, 11:09 pm

>162 dianeham: So many sentences leap out of the page, especially those where the refugee experience is brought to the reader so simply, directly and truthfully.
“Things just happen and we have to accept them. Happiness and sadness are for people who can control what happens to them.”
― Anuk Arudpragasam, The Story of a Brief Marriage

tammikuu 29, 8:38 am

>166 kjuliff: I completely understand about this audiobook. I think most novels can be done well in audio, but several things need to be managed correctly. Usually the problem is a reader over dramatizing, which happened a little here. Also the reader’s voice may be bad or just not-for-me reader. But in some cases the reader is good, but other aspects of production are bad. That’s mainly what i felt happened here.

>167 kjuliff: love the quote

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 29, 2:36 pm

6. Cognitive Behavior Therapy: Basics and Beyond, Third Edition by Judith S. Beck
foreword: Aaron T. Beck
published: 2021 (I think the first edition was: Cognitive Therapy and the Emotional Disorders by Aaron T. Beck, 1975).
format: 390-page Kindle ebook
acquired: November read: Nov 17, 2022 – Jan 23, 2023 time reading: 12:17, 1.9 mpp
genre/style: psychology textbook theme: none
about the author: American psychologist, born 1954, daughter of Aaron T. Beck, the founder of the Beck Institute.

This is a manual of how to apply Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), written for new and prospective therapists.

I didn’t mention I was reading this and there are no Litsy posts on it because, first, it's little awkward to share a therapy; and second, it's also awkward to choose an edition written to therapists and not to patients. Reading this book was a mild version of protest. But anyway, I was looking into CBT to help break some trends of problematic obsessive thinking, and I couldn’t find a book that would just tell me what CBT was up front. So I found this, still felt it had the same problem, but I went with it.

CBT is heavily influenced by the Beck institute, and Aaron Beck was the psychologist who developed the underlying ideas and techniques. It’s more difficult than it should be to find a break down of what it actually means. All the Beck manuals and most websites talk about the process and dwell on that. And I kept thinking "why?", impatiently. This book was better but does that too. I told my therapist that about 30 pages in I felt that if I had a con concept that I was selling it, I couldn’t have written about it better.

But it’s a real therapy that makes perfect sense, and it’s actually pretty simple. The basic underlying concept is that how you think affects how you feel. This is counterintuitive and the reverse of how most people imagine it. Most people think how you feel drives what you think. There is an interaction and something of a feedback loop. But the therapy discussed is entirely based on our ability to have some impact on how we think, and therefore some self-control over how we feel. For example, if you get depressed to the point that you are in a state of depression, your depressed thoughts will actively make you feel worse, making the depression worse. If you address those thoughts, then you will also feel differently. And that will allow to do the things that will lead you out of the depression.

The book presents a super-sensitive and super-considerate way of effectively dealing with these issues. (I'll present as I understand, for my own benefit. But please don't assume I have this accurate or correct.) The idea is that we have automatic thoughts. These are thoughts that aren’t rationally worked out, but that we believe are true. This isn’t a bad thing in itself. They serve a purpose, as do all the good and bad feelings that are associated with them. A key point of the therapy is that all thoughts and feelings have purpose and are fine until they become a problem. There is no need to correct anxiety, or fear, or sadness. They are necessary and important feelings, but can also become part of a cognitive problem, like depression. A key part of the solution is to work on the automatic thoughts that are driving the problem. They aren’t actually based in reality. So typically a key part of therapy is to learn to identify your automatic thoughts (Example automatic problematic thoughts are: “I’m an idiot” or “I’m a failure” or “I’ll never figure this out” or “I’m so unlikeable, and no one likes me” etc). Then take these thoughts and compare them against realty. Are they really true, or not true at all, or partially true in some way? Once we begin thinking about this, we can catch the problematic thoughts, and we readdress them in a more realistic way. And this more realistic thinking effects how we feel, and makes the depressive person begin to feel better. I see it as version of positive thinking, but it's one that has thought a lot of stuff through. (No Ren & Stimpy happy happy joy joy machines). But doing this isn't a simple thing. We forget and neglect the therapy tools. So, of course, the book goes through ways how to effectively do all this so the patient/client actually gets better.

Anyway, I read it. It makes sense to me. I think the book was good for me. I have a lot of automatic thoughts and I've now spent a few months identifying and thinking about them. Depression wasn’t my issue, but this also helps to take obsessive thoughts and pin them down as automatic thoughts, and then to think them through against reality. Admittedly, I haven't applied the full technique rigidly to myself and I certainly did not learn how to become a therapist.

I want to add, it's very readable and I liked thinking about the concept and considerations, and I liked thinking about how we think. It's little striking to me how simple the process of thinking can seem in this context.

Recommended, assuming you can’t find a version that isn’t written for therapists that you like (which would probably be better)

tammikuu 29, 1:19 pm

>169 dchaikin:

Sorry you have this problem, Dan, but good job on dealing with it.

FWIW, when I notice I'm entering the unwanted thought spiral, I find that immediate physical reaction helps me most effectively. I'll get up and move, go out or take the stairs, or, if nothing else is possible, do some light calisthenics. If I can next talk to someone or start another task, all the better. The idea is simply to remove yourself as much from the state you were in.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 29, 1:42 pm

>170 LolaWalser: And time. If I can wait it out, my brain rights itself. The book discusses mindfulness and goes through some methodology which I haven't tried yet. Obsessive thoughts can be tricky.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 29, 2:06 pm

7. The Book of Eels: Our Enduring Fascination with the Most Mysterious Creature in the Natural World by Patrik Svensson
translation: from Swedish by Agnes Broomé (2020)
published: 2019
format: 241-page Kindle ebook
acquired: January 1 read: Jan 3-26 time reading: 7:11, 1.8 mpp
rating: 4
genre/style: natural history theme: Naturalitsy
locations: Sweden, the Sargasso Sea and a whole lot of other places
about the author: Swedish journalist and author born in 1972.

The danger of good quality nature books is that they might not stand out. Eels is nicely written book by a thoughtful writer. He brings in the oddly fun history of the study of Eels. Aristotle had a lot to say on them. Freud spend a summer looking for male genitals, I kid you not. He didn't find any, as it turns out he didn't have a chance. Not sure how that experience played into his later theories of penis envy. Svensson's life of Rachel Carson was my favorite part of the book, focusing on her study and writing on eels, and later, on her last book, Silent Spring, in a chapter that addresses an apparent coming eel extinction. Eels are poorly understood. They metamorphose three times, can live a hundred years, but typically live less than ten. They have never been bred in captivity or been observed breeding. And no one really understands why they are dying out or what to do about it.

But back to Svensson. I think he does a good job of creating apparent effortlessness. He mixes in autobiographical parts but keeps them simple and very effective and moving. And he manages to create a reflective space here and there with his writing. I admired this. This is a light book, but a pleasant one to spend time with.

tammikuu 29, 2:26 pm

>169 dchaikin: Thanks for sharing about this one, Dan. A family member saw a CBT therapist for a while. It takes work, and the patient has to want to correct their thoughts. It can be safe and comforting to believe ones go-to thoughts, even when they are detrimental, and uncomfortable to confront them.

>172 dchaikin: How fascinating!

tammikuu 29, 3:17 pm

>168 dchaikin: I think audiobooks will evolve as fiction because of the necessity of rendering communications that use media such as emails and texting. I am interested in listening to No Friend but the Mountains which was written of necessity entirely in text messages. I see that there are ten narrators. I recognize that several are Australian novelists but at the time of writing this do not know why there are so many. I look forward to researching the reasons for this.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 29, 9:47 pm

>169 dchaikin: A key part of the solution is to work on the automatic thoughts that are driving the problem

yup. Ive suffered from depression and anxiety since hs, and in college went ti a therapist there. She highly recommended a similar book (cant remember the name) and found it very useful to use in our sessiion she also taught be about tapping (also known as EFT) to train our brains to change those automatic thoughts. It took a while (and some meds) to help me with this. I still use tapping when I am troubled or anxious or hurt to keep those thoughts in line. I know I am much stronger using this therapy and while Im not free from depression, Im far better emotionally from using this. It isn't for everyone but it did help me

tammikuu 30, 8:11 am

>172 dchaikin: LOL about Freud! Yes, eels are very mysterious. When I visited the Marais Poitevin i read a little about them. They cross the Atlantic to breed but from what I remember we don't know where they go, somewhere in the Sargasso Sea maybe.

tammikuu 30, 8:53 am

>171 dchaikin: I did a bit of this back in the day, and I'm sure I read something by Aaron Beck though too long ago to have a record. I have a tendency to spiral into depression which was quite severe in my 20s; it'd start with a trigger, and cascade through a series of connections and assumptions, resulting in some negative over-generalization that would leave me practically catatonic. Decades later, the same things still get me, but I'm much much better at catching the cascade and switching into a distracting task or problem-solving mode.

>172 dchaikin: Oh, I have this one. I don't remember why. Maybe I should read it.

tammikuu 30, 2:00 pm

>173 labfs39: - hope cbt worked for them. The think it’s generally helpful to realize some of our thoughts that we believe as fully true are not reasoned out thoughts. But if they’re comforting, seems tricky, maybe. Not sure.

>174 kjuliff: audiobooks - no question to me that the quality has improved with the market. 1990’s audiobooks tend to be a lot simpler, whereas contemporary books of high sales may have a full cast to read them. See especially Lincoln in the Bardo. A book of text messaging seems like it would be very tricky.

>175 cindydavid4: >177 qebo: i’m glad you’re both doing better. These are difficult things to experience. Thanks for sharing.

>176 FlorenceArt: oh, Eeels. American and European eels are bred and born in the Sargasso Sea. They are slightly different sizes when young and and sent to different continents based on the strength of the ocean currents! They are different species. Later they return to the sea to breed. Cool stuff.

>177 qebo: - on eels. Not essential reading, but enjoyable.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 30, 4:44 pm

>178 dchaikin: audiobooks - the book written in text messages was done so of necessity. No Friend But the Mountains was written from a detention centre - Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. It was the only way Behrouz Boochani could write and get the book to Australian translator Moones Mansoubi for translation to English. He sent tens of thousands of pdf files one at a time using WhatsApp from a mobile phone over a period of five years.

I don’t believe the novel is presented showing how it was originally composed, but I see that there are about ten narrators and I feel that the fact that Boochani had to send it that complex way, sometimes using intermediaries, is important, if only to show the extreme conditions he was forced to endure.
Here is a photo of the detention camp.

tammikuu 30, 5:13 pm

>179 kjuliff: That book sounds amazing. I have added it to my wishlist. When you first mentioned a book written as texts, I thought it was a contemporary novel trying to be clever. This is much more interesting to me.

tammikuu 30, 5:30 pm

>180 labfs39: I read about it a couple of years ago. Being Australian I follow the Australian news. I have only recently decided to read the novel as the whole history of Manus is so disturbing . Boochani is out of the camp now and lives in New Zealand. Australian novelist Richard Flanagan calls him a “Great Australian writer, though until he did a writer’s tour for the book, he was never allowed to step foot on Australian soil.

tammikuu 31, 9:54 am

>179 kjuliff: what Lisa said. I was imagining creative use of text messaging not a novel snuck out of a prison via text messages. I’m not familiar with Manus Island.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 31, 4:16 pm

>182 dchaikin: Manus Island is off Papua New Guinea and part of that state. It’s not part of Australia, but a transaction took place and the government of New Guinea was paid by the government of Australia to house asylum seekers attempting to enter Australia by boat without visas, on Manus Island. Derogatively refereed to in Australia as “boat people”, the detainees were kept there for years. I understand this facility is now closed.
The policy , endorse by both Australians political parties, was that no person arriving illegally would never set foot on Australian soil.
Here is a review of the novel from The Guardian

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 31, 1:11 pm

>183 kjuliff: thanks for sharing. Six years of detention for a minority refugee from a notoriously repressive country. Crazy. But it sounds like his experience was much more severe than simply detention. I’m noting No Friend but the Mountains.

ETA : there is an audiobook, but reviews on the audio production are bad.

tammikuu 31, 2:21 pm

>179 kjuliff: Really interesting, a reality I did not know about, although I knew about this "no illegal immigrant setting foot in Australia" policy.
The book has been published in France in 2019, with an awful title: Témoignage d'une île-prison ; de l'exil aux prix littéraires, something like "testimony from a prison island: from exile to literary prize"... It a bit far from the poetic English title.
Anyway, the book must have been published in a very small quantity, as it is already out of stock. I might decide to read the ebook (fortunately, it"s DRM-free, I don't do DRM...).

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 31, 4:23 pm

>184 dchaikin: Yes I listened to a sample of the audiobook and the first narrator is dreadful. Some if not all of the narrators are Australian writers and not professional narrators. The into by Richard Flanagan sounded dreadful. His Australian accent is grating to me, and I’m an Aussie. I don’t think I’ll be able to listen to No Friend But the Mountains but it’s an important book and I do hope it helps draw attention to the plight of the “boat people”. Some are still in New Guinea as even after the detention center closed, they had nowhere to go. BTW the Australian governments have euphemistically called Manu and Nauru “Offshore Processing Centres”!

tammikuu 31, 4:06 pm

>185 raton-liseur: I agree - the French title is dreadful. The full English title is “No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison”. They could easily have gotten the point of the book being written from prison by direct translation of the full title.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 31, 4:21 pm

>184 dchaikin: >185 raton-liseur: >180 labfs39: I gave the wrong link to the Guardian review in a previous post. I will go back and correct, but in any case here is the correct link below. The review alsoincludes a sample of some of his work which was written on paper and delivered by voice messaging when his smart phone was taken from him.

helmikuu 2, 12:13 am

>184 dchaikin: >188 kjuliff: Thanks for this info on Behrouz Boochani, Kate. That's funny about the accents. I will choose text over audio.

>185 raton-liseur: drm-free? I haven't heard that phrase before. It sounds like it's a publicly available text. Is that correct?

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 2, 1:02 am

Sorry, some personals stuff. My mother, who has dementia, may be losing her battle. She's stopped eating, suddenly. And we're talking of putting her in hospice and I'm flying in to see her tomorrow. I've been an in-between state all day, not really here, but not there yet.

Not sure what to do with myself in this state, but it's Feb 1 and I've been thinking about my reading over January. I might as well write some of it up.

January was a good and bad month for reading. I got off to a slow start. Then I tried to make up the lost time, and I mostly did, but only at the cost of getting a little too obsessed with that, instead of just enjoying reading. So, in February I'm going to try ease off the self-imagine pressure and try to just enjoy reading. But, January... I did read a lot, for me. I read 7 books, and I finished another today. I'm really happy to have read Uncle Tom's Children and A Far Cry from Kensington. And I'm really happy to have listened to The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida and a great "Great Courses" lecture series on Geoffrey Chaucer by Seth Lerer (finished today, Feb 1). Also I've been reading some poetry - from the City Lights Pocket Poets Anthology. Seems I've kind of zipped past other books without huge impact. And I might be trying to forget Edith Wharton's The Marne.

I'm now slowly working through a very scholarly Chaucer biography, Chaucer: A European Life by Marion Turner. So far it's only ok for me. It's very thorough, but it seems Turner is most happy writing about the English history of Chaucer's time. I'm learning about Chaucer, but it's like a thin theme, woven through the text but a bit diluted by Richard II and the various political factions of his times (and the peasants' revolt of 1381). (One cool thing is Turner cites Leher by name, not his work, but just him.)

February is getting complicated and uncertain. I did not intend to be traveling tomorrow, without knowing how long I will be in Philadelphia. Still, I have some plans. I hope to finish the Chaucer biography, and I'm very excited to begin The Age of Innocence, Wharton's most famous novel. I think I'm going to also read Poseidon's Steed by Helen Scales for a Litsy group (think sea horses). I'm eyeing The Trees by Percival Everett, and By the Sea by Abdulrazak Gurnah. I might start Native Son by Richard Wright. And thinking about On a Farther Shore - a biography of Rachel Carson - which is a selection for that same nature group on Litsy (naturalitsy), but reviews are not that great, so maybe not. I would like to read Carson's own writing. And I think I need to find an audiobook, but I don't know when I'll have time to listen... And I have no idea what to listen to. (So far everything I've gotten excited about has had a terrible sample.)

helmikuu 2, 4:13 am

Sorry about your mother, I know it’s hard.

helmikuu 2, 4:32 am

>190 dchaikin: I didn’t realize that you hadn’t read Age of Innocence. I think I assumed you read that, loved it, and decided to read her other work. You’re in for a treat.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 2, 5:10 am

Sorry to hear about your mom

helmikuu 2, 5:50 am

First, let me say I feel sorry for what you are going through with you mum and for her. I hope thing will pan out as well as they can in such difficult circumstances.

>189 dchaikin: DRM means Digital Rights Management. It's a way to restrict the ownership of the ebook you bought.
While I understand that there are worries that a book file could be easily shared and made public, and that there is a need to protect copyright, I like to actually own what I bought, with no undue restriction. So I am fine buying an ebook with watermark (usually a serialised number encrypted in the file copy. If you share it widely, they can trace the source), but I do not buy DRM-locked ebooks.
And also, for DRM-locked books, you have to have Adobe Reader, and I don't like having to use such a software (I do for netgalleys, though, but it is the only exception). With my epub format ebooks, I can use Calibre, which is a free software, and there are probably others I could choose from.
That was an important debate when ebooks started to get (relatively) popular in France.

So DRM-free is different from publicly available (you can buy DRM-free books), and it is different from books that are in the public domain.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 2, 9:16 am

>191 FlorenceArt: >193 stretch: >194 raton-liseur: thanks!

>192 dianeham: yay. I started Wharton blind from her first novella, with a group on Litsy.

>194 raton-liseur: thanks for that explanation

helmikuu 2, 9:37 am

Sorry to hear your mom, Dan. I'll be thinking of you as you navigate the days ahead.

helmikuu 2, 11:56 am

I'm so sorry to hear about your Mom. My thoughts and prayers are with you and yours.

helmikuu 2, 11:59 am

Sorry to read about your Mom, Dan. My sister and I went through the exact same thing with our mother six years ago. It is hard.

helmikuu 2, 3:34 pm

>190 dchaikin: So sorry. I've been dealing with similar in recent years, but locally. From a distance would add to the difficulty.

helmikuu 2, 3:42 pm

>190 dchaikin: sorry to hear about your mom Been there done that. I hope you are surronded by family and friends to help you throgh it all.

Wishing you peace and comfort

helmikuu 2, 6:40 pm

So sorry, Dan. Here's wishing reading can help you get through these days.

helmikuu 2, 8:59 pm

>190 dchaikin: I'm so sorry to hear about your mom, this situation is so difficult, I wish the best.

helmikuu 3, 11:58 am

I'm very sorry to read about your mother's condition, Dan. She, you, and your family will be in my prayers.

helmikuu 3, 12:10 pm

>204 kidzdoc: thanks Darryl!

Oddly she has swung back into eating again. She went 7 days without eating and was released from the hospital in “hospice” - which doesn’t mean exactly what I thought. I thought that was a sort of end of life process. For her it’s simply a nurse assigned to monitor comfort. It’s common to go into and out of hospice. Anyway once back in assisted living, she ate dinner last night. I brought her ice cream and that was her breakfast this morning. And she’s been drinking milkshakes. So she’s weak, but much better and stronger than I imagined.

helmikuu 3, 12:28 pm

>205 dchaikin: I'm glad she's doing better, Dan.

helmikuu 3, 1:27 pm

>205 dchaikin: Great news, Dan! That has to be a massive relief to you and your family.

helmikuu 3, 1:54 pm

Thinking of you and wishing the best for your family and your mom.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 4, 6:08 pm

>205 dchaikin: Good news about your mom, Dan. She and I both had ice cream for a meal today. I had it for lunch! A woman after my own heart. I hope she stabilizes.

I have a friend a few years older that I am who suffers from dementia. She suddenly stopped eating and lost 25 pounds! They took her off of the "memory medication" that was causing her weakness and fatigue. Then she started eating again. I baked some chocolate chip cookies I'm going to send to her tomorrow. At least I feel I can help in that way. It's so tough.

helmikuu 4, 8:44 pm

Ah Dan, I'm sorry to hear that you and your mom and your family are dealing with that. My sister and I went through it, and actually that time has been on my mind strongly because I'm reading a book she (my sister) sent me, Do I Know You?, about two sisters whose experience was so much like ours. It's strange how something that's so widely different among individual cases can have so many commonalities. Anyway, I hope you can work out something equitable for everyone (I know that's a ridiculously steep ask from the universe, but that's what I would like for you).

CBT sounds like it has some overlap with meditation practices, especially in terms of separating yourself from the feedback loop of how think about your emotions and the patterns that falls into.

I'm still gonna read The Book of Eels one of these days.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 4, 10:58 pm

>206 labfs39: >207 kidzdoc: >208 markon: >209 SqueakyChu: >210 lisapeet: thanks all! No massive relief, unfortunately, because while she’s a lot better than when she wasn’t eating, she’s weak and sleepy and nothing like what she was before. Maybe she will recover more as she continues to eat. Not sure.

>209 SqueakyChu: we should all have ice cream for breakfast! Dementia is a complicated unpredictable thing. No clue why she stopped eating, or why she started again. Her medicines haven’t changed.

>210 lisapeet: that’s a really nice message. Beck brings in a lot of different stuff, but she really likes mindfulness and encourages therapists to do it themselves. It is essential a type of meditation. Not strictly cbt. Eels was fun. Easy book to pickup.

helmikuu 4, 10:52 pm

>210 lisapeet: its not so much separating yourself from the feedback loop; its learning to change the feedback loop for a more positive outlook

helmikuu 5, 12:44 pm

I’ve been catching up on your thread, Dan. I’m sorry about your mother’s illness. It is very difficult to watch our parents go through the illnesses that take so much out of them.

helmikuu 6, 11:03 am

All the best to you and your family, Dan.

helmikuu 6, 4:58 pm

>213 NanaCC: >214 slimeboy: thank you! You’re right, Colleen, it is very difficult.

helmikuu 7, 12:38 am

I am sorry to hear about your mother's condition and all that entails. My prayers are with you.

helmikuu 7, 1:17 am

>216 avidmom: thank you!

helmikuu 7, 10:11 am

I'm sorry to hear about your mother's health issues. Aging parents and their deteriorating health seem to be a concern for many of us. I'm actually sitting in the airport in Houston on my way to Austin to visit my mother who, though she is still as sharp as a tack, her physical health is going downhill fast. One thing that especially worries me is that she was only 19 when she had me, so when I see how frail she is I fear it may be just a few short years before that's where I am.

helmikuu 7, 2:35 pm

I'm sorry to hear about your mother. I'm glad you went up to see her, for your own sake. It has to be hard to have her living so far away from you.

helmikuu 7, 9:58 pm

>218 arubabookwoman: waving hello across town or state. I’m sorry about your mom. I think I understand that fear.

>219 RidgewayGirl: thanks Kay. There is a lot of guilt, being far away. (And yet i was so unprepared for work today. Oye. Could not be helped.) I’m returning in two weeks. At least that trip is planned and i can prep.

helmikuu 8, 6:36 am

First of all, I was so sorry to read about your mom, and I want to add my best wishes and will keep you in my thoughts.
I felt this guilt, too, and am still learning to live with the situation since my mom had her first fall almost two years ago. I hope you will deal with it and not let it weigh you down, but concentrate on the all the things you are doing for her despite living somewhere else!

>124 dchaikin: I really liked The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and A Far Cry From Kensington sounds like one I would enjoy, too. It is already on the WL and you bumped it up (not that I need to buy any new books, but just in case... ;-) ).

>169 dchaikin: Thank you for sharing this. Automatic thoughts are a problem for me, too (it comes and goes depending on what is going on in my life), but I have done a lot of progress in the last twelve months or so.

>170 LolaWalser: >171 dchaikin: Moving and, if nothing else helps, just waiting, works for me, too.

>179 kjuliff: I have heard of Manus Island (I loosely follow the Australian news), but not of this novel. I am adding it to my wish list.

helmikuu 9, 11:20 pm

>221 MissBrangwen: thank you, regarding my mother. And I wish you well with any problemic automatic or obessive thoughts.

On Muriel Spark, glad I bumped up A Far Cry. So far, I've read three terrific novels by her (all somewhat recently).

helmikuu 12, 3:11 am

I'm sorry to hear about your mom. I wish you a lot of strength and I'm sure you are doing the best you can, so do not beat yourself up.

helmikuu 12, 4:22 am

>123 dchaikin: Now that's a Wharton I have not read.

A big catch-up here. Good reads.

I'm sorry to hear about your mom's dementia and decline. My mother had dementia for some years before passing at 91 in 2009 . I'm glad your mom has a caring son. Hang in there.

helmikuu 13, 12:24 am

>223 OscarWilde87: thanks Oscar

>224 avaland: Lois, it's a Wharton you don't need to read. And, thanks, regarding my mother. Apparently she is improving physically. I will see her this weekend coming up.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 16, 10:54 pm

oops, wrong thread. Sorry.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 29, 4:36 pm

Viestin kirjoittaja on poistanut viestin.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 29, 4:38 pm

never mind, started way up on top and didn't reallize what date I was writing for Carry on
Tämä viestiketju jatkuu täällä: dchaikin part 2 - in the year of Wright (and Chaucer).