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Christmas books - who's reading what?

shywoodlandcreature's picture

I got Alice Munro's Runaway from LoML and Margaret McMillan's Paris 1919 this Christmas, and I highly recommend both. Alice Munro has been getting a lot of well-deserved acclaim from US reviewers for this and her other books - personally, I've never understood why she was so neglected while Margaret Atwood's grocery list would end up on the Booker short-list year after year. Munro is to Atwood approximately what Jane Austen is to Barbara Cartland (in my opinion, at least!)


Haven't yet had the chance to delve deeply into Paris 1919, which is about the peace talks that followed WWI - but the little I have read is enough to convince me that this book deserves all the awards it's taken. (And there might be a doctoral dissertation or two in the observation that all the really great social historians in recent years seem to be women - Antonia Fraser, Barbara Tuchman, Marina Warner, Margaret Visser, and now McMillan... Theories, anyone?)


Christmas books aside, I've also just read The Darling by Russell Banks - compelling and wonderful! and two-thirds of The Jane Austen Book Club - yawn!


So - what are you reading?


<edited for punctuation>









"All of life's big problems include the words "indictment" or "inoperable." Everything else is small stuff." Alton Brown


http://costofwar.com/


Edited 1/7/2005 2:32 pm ET by Shy woodland creature

jillsi's picture

(post #43112, reply #1 of 70)

An okay-ish novel called Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell. It's another J.K. Rowling aftershock, but aimed at a more adult audience. Mildly amusing; not great; WILL (force myself to) finish because it was a present from some dear, dear friends.


 



 


Humbug!


Edited 1/7/2005 2:25 pm ET by jillsifer

 

 

AnnL's picture

(post #43112, reply #2 of 70)

I just got Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell because Samchang (I think it was Samchang??) and some others recommended it so highly a month or two ago.  I do recall someone saying that you need to be patient and stay with it as it takes awhile to really grab you. I haven't started it, yet, but hope to find time soon.  It's a big one, not a quick read by any means!


Edit to add link to previous thread about this book...


http://forums.taunton.com/tp-cookstalk/messages?msg=20685.1



AnnL
Transitions Farm
Gardening, cooking, and riding Central Mass.


Edited 1/7/2005 2:45 pm ET by AnnL

Ann
"The elders were wise.  They knew that man's heart, away from nature, becomes hard; they knew that lack of respect for growing, living things, soon led to lack of respect for humans, too."  Chief Luther Standing Bear, Lakota Sioux

jillsi's picture

(post #43112, reply #3 of 70)

Thanks for the encouragement--as I said, I promised myself I WOULD finish it out of respect to the dear, dear pals who gave it to me, but I AM finding it a bit draggy. However, if you guys think it's worth the long, slow s l o g g g g, I shall happily persevere!

 


Humbug!

 

 

shywoodlandcreature's picture

(post #43112, reply #4 of 70)

Funny, slow slog is the last phrase I'd use to describe Strange/Norrel - but I guess it's different strokes time again. And I personally love all those long, convoluted Victorian novels - Dickens, Thackery, Elliott, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, etc.








"All of life's big problems include the words "indictment" or "inoperable." Everything else is small stuff." Alton Brown


http://costofwar.com/


Edited 1/7/2005 2:56 pm ET by Shy woodland creature

jillsi's picture

(post #43112, reply #6 of 70)

Well, it's funny--I like Victorian novels too, but somehow this one just isn't electifying me. Maybe not enough interest in the subject matter? I dunno. It could just be the ol' post-holiday ennui, too, although I'm finding myself really alive and awake when I cheat and browse through Holocaust narrative or prison stuff or serial killer stuff (in small bites, though, like when I'm drying my hair).


 


Humbug!

 

 

Marcia's picture

(post #43112, reply #10 of 70)

I'm doing the same slog with "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell". There are parts I've found to be compelling but it is not for me. I am going to finish it though and am about 3/4 of the way through. I, too, love long Victorian novels, so that isn't the problem. Just not my genre, whatever genre it is - I've seen disputes about that.


I finished the Joseph Ellis biography of George Washington which I'd given to my husband. (Well, I got to it first.) It was quite interesting, in that I learned much more than I'd known about Washington, the man, and the forces which helped to form his character. Some very intriguing stuff involving the evolution of his views on slavery and worth a read for that alone.


Edited 1/7/2005 3:40 pm ET by Marcia


Edited 1/7/2005 5:12 pm ET by Marcia

jillsi's picture

(post #43112, reply #13 of 70)

THAT'S what I need--a good biography. Hmmmm . . .

 


Humbug!

 

 

Marcia's picture

(post #43112, reply #61 of 70)

Did you finish "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell"? I did and enjoyed the last section very much, though it didn't begin until almost page 500. Still, I wouldn't have slogged thought the whole thing, had I not found something compelling about it. I still don't know what it may have been, which is odd. Odd book, anyway.

jillsi's picture

(post #43112, reply #65 of 70)

No, I'm still slogging--terribly busy with Mom-ing these days. "We" are casting for a pirate-themed musical; "we" just finished the Pinewood Derby; "we" are enjoying an undefeated-but-mother-killing basketball season; "we" are working on our mission report and model (do you KNOW how hard it is to stifle my teaching instincts and just GUIDE him toward the right structure and approach without just bulldozing in and saying "phrase it THIS way"); and "we" are preparing for Webelos Transition Camp. If I get in three pages a night before I fall asleep, it's a Significant Event.

 


Humbug!

 

 

Marcia's picture

(post #43112, reply #68 of 70)

I am overwhelmed with your mothering schedule and would suggest a nice short easy-reading book, if you have any time at all to read for pleasure. Set Strange and Norrell aside till Gillen goes to college. You COULD have time, then.


And yes, I understand very well how difficult it is not to take projects into you own very competent hands. You are doing the proper thing, though it is hard, but you know both of those things.

jillsi's picture

(post #43112, reply #69 of 70)

Oh, you're sweet--I actually get a lot of satisfaction from the Mommy stuff and I KNOW it will be over in the blink of an eye, so it doesn't bother me. And I just absolutely positively INSIST on some reading time--just a few minutes before bed every night--so I DO get what I need, just not in long stretches.


Oh, and you'd be proud of me--I declared myself "off the air" the other night and met a girlfriend for dinner and some shopping--had a great time and was thrilled to get home to the little bandit but it WAS refreshing.


But thanks for the support!





Humbug!


Edited 1/14/2005 12:35 pm ET by jillsifer


Edited 1/14/2005 12:37 pm ET by jillsifer

 

 

AnnL's picture

(post #43112, reply #5 of 70)

Well, let me know when/if it starts to pick up for you.  That way when I start it I'll know how much slogging I have to endure to get to the good stuff!  ;-)


 


AnnL
Transitions Farm
Gardening, cooking, and riding Central Mass.

Ann
"The elders were wise.  They knew that man's heart, away from nature, becomes hard; they knew that lack of respect for growing, living things, soon led to lack of respect for humans, too."  Chief Luther Standing Bear, Lakota Sioux

jillsi's picture

(post #43112, reply #7 of 70)

Hee, hee . . . I will . . . but see Shy Woodland Creature's totally different opinion, above! You may have an entirely opposed experience with this one!

 


Humbug!

 

 

Wolvie's picture

(post #43112, reply #34 of 70)

LOL - it picks up after the 4th chapter, in my view. Gets REALLY good when Strange enters the picture, so to speak.


Quite  a good read. I bought it after shy recommended it - she is rarely wrong.


Men in authority will always think that criticism of their policies is dangerous. They will always equate their policies with patriotism, and find criticism subversive.   Henry Steele Commager



 

 

Aberwacky's picture

(post #43112, reply #8 of 70)

DH got that as an audio book, and unabridged it was something like 32 hours long.  He said it was pretty slow listening, but blamed that partly on the narrator.


Leigh

"Happiness does not depend on outward things, but on the way we see them." 
-Leo Tolstoy
jillsi's picture

(post #43112, reply #9 of 70)

Wwwwwwwwwwwelllllllllll, the narrative stance in the book is a little fusty (to MY mind) too. But again, SWC disagrees, so I guess anything is possible . . .


 


 


Humbug!

 

 

samchang's picture

(post #43112, reply #52 of 70)

Stick with "Strange and Norell:" I myself got hooked within the first 10 pages. I love her prose: it has an Austen-like presicion and humor that is uniquely British. Of course, it doesn't flow like a good Bertie and Jeeves or Blandings Castle story, but what does?

I myself am working on a couple of books. The first is Richard Ellis's "Sea Dragons: Predators of the Prehistoric Oceans," which is about the mososaurs, pleisiosaurs, and crocodilians of the Cretaceous era. I love mososaurs. This book neatly slips into the paleontology section of my library, alongside Stephen Gould's "A Wonderful Life" (about Canada's luscious Burgess Shale fossils) and Peter Ward's "Gorgon" (about the gorgonopsians [huge-teethed predators] of the Paleozoic and their extinction. The Paleozoic extinction is thought to have wiped out 90% of the world's life forms, which makes the more well-known Cretaceous extinction 65 mya look like a cake walk)
I'm also reading Susan Ronald's "The Sancy Blood Diamond: Power, Greed, and the Cursed History of One of the Wolrd's Most Coveted Gems." This one nicely retraces historical elements from the perspective of a gemstone, and it is a welcome addition to a burgeoning sub-genre of literature, that of gemological research, of which Levy and Scott-Clark's "The Stone of Heaven" (about jade in China and Burma) and Matthew Hart's "Diamond" are other great examples.

I have some gift certificates to redeem and am eyeing Mark Kurlansky's latest work, this an anthology of great food writing.

madnoodle's picture

(post #43112, reply #11 of 70)

I read Runaway just before Xmas and loved it.  My current serious book is Wayson Choy's new one; current just-for-fun book is Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination.  I've also got two more Alexander McCall Smith (?) (of No. 1 Ladies Detective Club fame) books and The daVinci Code waiting for me.  And I just have to put in a plug for Mark Morton's (word guy on CBC Wpg) Cupboard Love, which is an eytomology (also ?) of food-related words.  Fun to dip into.

Saskatchewan:  hard to spell; easy to draw.

What if there were no hypothetical questions?

 

TracyK's picture

(post #43112, reply #12 of 70)

I picked up a fun collection of food essays called Women Who Eat... am enjoying it so far, even the slightly odd one about the woman who saved the placenta from the birth of her firstborn child and made it into stir-fry and pate. And she's a vegetarian!


Also picked up The Time Traveler's Wife and The Crimson Petal and the White... haven't started either yet but both came highly recommended.


 



You say I'm a b---- like that's a bad thing.

AnnL's picture

(post #43112, reply #14 of 70)

...slightly odd one about the woman who saved the placenta from the birth of her firstborn child and made it into stir-fry and pate.


Slightly odd?  There's an understatement!  ;-)  I've heard of taking the placenta and burying it under a tree or bush, but never eating it. 


 


AnnL
Transitions Farm
Gardening, cooking, and riding Central Mass.

Ann
"The elders were wise.  They knew that man's heart, away from nature, becomes hard; they knew that lack of respect for growing, living things, soon led to lack of respect for humans, too."  Chief Luther Standing Bear, Lakota Sioux

TracyK's picture

(post #43112, reply #15 of 70)

Does this make her a cannibal? Weird...


You say I'm a b---- like that's a bad thing.

Glenys's picture

(post #43112, reply #18 of 70)

Perhaps it was cannabis induced cannibalism. It's worth pondering though if one eats a part of their own creation, is that some twisted form of narcissism?


Edited 1/7/2005 5:28 pm ET by Glenys

TracyK's picture

(post #43112, reply #19 of 70)

Apparently it was quite the fad in the 70s in certain circles... perhaps it's undergoing a revival? *yick, IMO*


 



You say I'm a b---- like that's a bad thing.

Jean's picture

(post #43112, reply #21 of 70)

Stephen Hunter's  Pale Horse Coming is next on my list. DH devoured it in a couple of days. Pretty much a guy book (crime and punishment in the old South) but SonIL thought I might enjoy it too. Read A Minus Tide by Robin Beeman and am starting Mogul Buffet by Cheryl Benard on the recommendation of someone here.


Our book club book for this month is When I Lay My Isaac Down: Unshakable Faith in Unthinkable Circumstances
by Carol Kent. A true story of this mother whose only son is arrested for the murder of his wife's first abusive husband. Carol Kent has relatives in my town and is a well known Christian inspirational speaker and author. This one should be really thought provoking.


Veni, vidi, velcro        I came,  I  saw,  I stuck around.


http://www.thebreastcancersite.com

A  clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/
help to provide free mammograms for women in need
MadMom's picture

(post #43112, reply #23 of 70)

Interesting, but does she have anything to say about the (IMO way too numerous) women who have murdered their own children because God commanded them to, or because they were trying to send them to heaven before they were sinful and condemned to hell?  I'm afraid we have a rash of that going on down here in the Bible Belt.

Things are going to get a lot worse before they get worse.
Lily Tomlin

Geoffchef's picture

(post #43112, reply #31 of 70)

I have read everything Steven Hunter has written - my favourites are "Point of Impact" and "Pale Horse Coming". Get ready for a thrill ride!
I am halfway through "Desolation Island", book 5 of Patrick O'Brien's Aubrey/Maturin series, and I got numbers 6,7 and 8 for Christmas. Yippee!
I also got the "French Laundry Cookbook", the reading of which is a great delight, but humbling. (Check the quote in my member profile.)
Plus, Jon Stewart's "America (The Book)", from my niece. Lots of fun, and you get to see all the Supreme Court justices naked!
Before Christmas, I started rereading the Time Life Classical French Cooking volume. Still enjoying that one too.

 


 


The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.


-Robert W. Service

 

ADAM'S APPLE, n.
A protuberance in the throat of man, thoughtfully provided by Nature to keep the rope in place.
Ambrose Bierce - The Devil's Dictionary

 

tcurda's picture

(post #43112, reply #62 of 70)

Hehehe GMTA!!!


I'm about 2/3 through "Desolation Island" also, and my DMIL ad DD got me 6-8 for Christmas.


Along with that, there's the latest Kathy Reichs forensic/crime novel, the latest John Sandford Prey novel, and the long awaited, eagerly anticipated final two books in Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" series.


There's the new book by Stephen R. Donaldson, it's the first of a four volume set that will complete "The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever", making a total of 10 books in all for the series.


Hmmm... add to that most of the James Patterson's Alex Cross series ("Along Came a Spider", etc), and I think I'll be busy for the next few weeks.


Tom Smile - People will wonder what you're up to.

Tom aka tomcatt

Live today like there's no tomorrow.

Smile - People will wonder what you're up to.
Geoffchef's picture

(post #43112, reply #66 of 70)

Love Sandford's stuff - have most of them. Have you read Joseph Tannenbaum? If you like Sandford....
I can't read Kathy Reichs while I'm eating. Gave up on King back around The Stand, much too verbose. Read the first few Covenant books in my youth, but they got soooo depressing!
Thanks to used book stores, recommendations from family, friends and CTers and a DW with the same desparate addiction, I have enough unread books in the house right now to last me until April of 2113. Does this stop me buying more?

 


 


The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.


-Robert W. Service

 

ADAM'S APPLE, n.
A protuberance in the throat of man, thoughtfully provided by Nature to keep the rope in place.
Ambrose Bierce - The Devil's Dictionary

 

Jean's picture

(post #43112, reply #67 of 70)

 have enough unread books in the house right now to last me until April of 2113. Does this stop me buying more?


heh heh. Join the club.


Veni, vidi, velcro        I came,  I  saw,  I stuck around.


http://www.thebreastcancersite.com

A  clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/
help to provide free mammograms for women in need
Geoffchef's picture

(post #43112, reply #70 of 70)

To mangle a common aphorism: Life is what happens as soon as I finish this chapter. ;-)

 


 


The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.


-Robert W. Service

 

ADAM'S APPLE, n.
A protuberance in the throat of man, thoughtfully provided by Nature to keep the rope in place.
Ambrose Bierce - The Devil's Dictionary