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Source: (consider it) Thread: Shelf Life: What We're Reading in 2018
Trudy Scrumptious

BBE Shieldmaiden
# 5647

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Here's the brand-new, shiny, everything-about-books thread for a new year. Distinct from our Book Club threads in which we choose and discuss a specific book together each month, this thread is a free-for-all where people can share what they've been reading and have wide-ranging, book-related discussions. Have at it!

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Books and things.

I lied. There are no things. Just books.

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Twilight

Puddleglum's sister
# 2832

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Great!

I just finished reading Alice McDermott's The Ninth Hour. Loved it. It centers around a widow in Brooklyn and the group of nuns who help her and her daughter over the course of about fifty years. The writer has made each nun unique with all the faults and flaws of ordinary people while still being wonderfully inspiring. The ending left the reader with a few ethical questions, which makes it a good choice for discussion groups.

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Rossweisse

High Church Valkyrie
# 2349

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I have just reread Watership Down for the first time in decades. It remains absorbing, amusing, and, occasionally, terrifying.

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I'm not dead yet.

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Meconopsis
Apprentice
# 18146

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I would love to discuss the book, "The Eighth Day", by Thornton Wilder, but I've never met anyone else who's read it!
It is a very interesting & well-written book about a family man falsely accused of a murder.
The book follows the effect on him and his family, over many years.

Has anyone here read this book? If so, I would love to discuss it (there are definite, but subtle, religious themes).

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Brenda Clough
Shipmate
# 18061

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quote:
Originally posted by Rossweisse:
I have just reread Watership Down for the first time in decades. It remains absorbing, amusing, and, occasionally, terrifying.

Isn't it a fabulous novel? It could be argued that it's an even greater leap of worldbuilding than Lord of the Rings.

For pleasure I'm reading The Rarest Blue, by Baruch Sterman, about the rediscovery of the blue dye recommended for the Levites in the OT. For research I have a charming stack of books acquired over the holidays from a distant but beloved used book store. These include The Naturalist in Britain, Outcast LondonThe Victorian Visitors, and Lytton Strachey's Queen Victoria.

[ 03. January 2018, 01:40: Message edited by: Brenda Clough ]

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Rossweisse

High Church Valkyrie
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I'm not sure I'd go quite that far, Brenda, but it is a wonderful piece of world-building in every way.

I'm now reading "Tales of Watership Down," a collection of short stories that were written 20 years later and are uneven in quality - but it's still a joy to slip back into that world.

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I'm not dead yet.

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Aravis
Shipmate
# 13824

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It's a different sort of world-building; one where humans are not, on the whole, individual characters but a vaguely malign force that disrupts the rabbits' safe existence.
I love Watership Down. It's a completely absorbing story, and the rabbits are convincing both as characters and as rabbits; the general dialogue is a little too human, but the invented rabbit language is simple and evocative and works beautifully. They put together new concepts in the rabbit words rather as chimps such as Washoe did in human sign language. The mythology is another outstanding feature.

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SvitlanaV2
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# 16967

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I'm reading 'The Miniaturist' by Jesse Burton. The world-building, characterisation and suspense are very good, but somehow I'm not too keen on it.

Firstly, none of the characters are particularly easy for me to like; I can't identify with any of them, really. Then there's a modernist, secularist vibe which, to me, feels ladled in rather than something intrinsic to the time and place depicted. (Not that I'm particularly knowledgeable about 16th c. Amsterdam....)

My own biases come into play, of course but it's a bestseller, and I can see why it satisfies the tastes and attitudes of modern Western readers.

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Trudy Scrumptious

BBE Shieldmaiden
# 5647

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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
I'm reading 'The Miniaturist' by Jesse Burton. The world-building, characterisation and suspense are very good, but somehow I'm not too keen on it.

Firstly, none of the characters are particularly easy for me to like; I can't identify with any of them, really. Then there's a modernist, secularist vibe which, to me, feels ladled in rather than something intrinsic to the time and place depicted. (Not that I'm particularly knowledgeable about 16th c. Amsterdam....)

My own biases come into play, of course but it's a bestseller, and I can see why it satisfies the tastes and attitudes of modern Western readers.

I had the same problem with that book. It sounded like exactly the type of book I would love, but I couldn't lose myself in it like I hoped I would.

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Books and things.

I lied. There are no things. Just books.

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SvitlanaV2
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# 16967

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Glad it's not just me!

And of course, I meant 17th c. Amsterdam.

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Rossweisse

High Church Valkyrie
# 2349

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quote:
Originally posted by Aravis:
It's a different sort of world-building; one where humans are not, on the whole, individual characters but a vaguely malign force that disrupts the rabbits' safe existence. ...

I had forgotten the "Dea ex machina" of Lucy, the girl whose rabbits Hazel & Co. liberate, and who intervenes in the nick when the cat later has Hazel trapped. The doctor Lucy recruits to treat Hazel is a good sort, too. Otherwise, definitely yes.

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I'm not dead yet.

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Brenda Clough
Shipmate
# 18061

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And I hope you noticed that that doctor was named Dr. Adams. A teeny little cameo appearance by the author.
Yes, to make non-humans sympathetic to a (necessarily) human audience is a tremendous achievement. And, a minor but charming point, the quotations at the head of each chapter. The one at the very last chapter is utterly delightful.

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Science fiction and fantasy writer with a Patreon page

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Rossweisse

High Church Valkyrie
# 2349

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Yes, I did, and yes, they are. It's a true masterpiece.

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I'm not dead yet.

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Ian Climacus

Liturgical Slattern
# 944

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I'm just starting The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen.

From 2013, I came across it late last year in a list of books of the last decade one should read and it stood out. So I got it.

I want 2018 to be the year I return to the novel. I'm overdosed on non-fiction [current read, SPQR by Mary Beard]. I find it hard to know where to begin, and I'm not well-read. Hopefully the Ship's Book Club helps here.

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Graven Image
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# 8755

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I am reading, A Different Kind of Daughter The Girl who hid from the Taliban in plain sight, By Maria Toorpakai. I am about 1/4 of the way in and enjoying it very much. Brave young women and wonderful supportive parents in very dangerous situation.
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Sipech
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# 16870

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I read The Miniaturist a couple of years ago and found it a great disappointment. I think it was mainly because the premise held so much promise, but the actual plot about the miniaturist was lost and forgotten about. Though I did like Burton's atmospheric feel to the book, which is why I've got her follow-up, The Muse, on one of my to-read piles.

I'm starting the year with Dante's Divine Comedy and a collection of maritime folklore entitled The Fabled Coast, both of which have gotten off to a very good start.

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I try to be self-deprecating; I'm just not very good at it.
Twitter: http://twitter.com/TheAlethiophile

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Brenda Clough
Shipmate
# 18061

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(sigh) I have a whole stack of Dante books here, unread. I shall write an SF novel about him some day. But today is not that day. Instead I am reading about British naturalists.

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Science fiction and fantasy writer with a Patreon page

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Sarasa
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# 12271

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I've been reading Mary Stewart, Patricia Wentworth and Georgette Heyer over the holidays. When I've finished the Heyer ( Faro's Duaghter) ) and re-read How to Stop Time for the book group thread I may give Jessie Burton's The Muse a whirl. People I know who liked The Mininaturist haven't liked it as much, so I'm hoping the reverse is true. The Miniturist would have been a lot better IMO if the whole Mininturist strand had been ditched.

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'I guess things didn't go so well tonight, but I'm trying. Lord, I'm trying.' Charlie (Harvey Keitel) in Mean Streets.

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ArachnidinElmet
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# 17346

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Of those who've read The Miniaturist, did anyone see the BBC adaptation over Christmas? How did it compare? I enjoyed the TV version, but it had a very abrupt ending.

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'If a pleasant, straight-forward life is not possible then one must try to wriggle through by subtle manoeuvres' - Kafka

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georgiaboy
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# 11294

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Prompted by discussion in another thread, I'm re-reading all of Mary Renault's classical-era novels (one at a time, that is).

The hot, sunny atmosphere of Greece and Crete seem just the thing to counter a cold and frequently dreary mid-West USA January!

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You can't retire from a calling.

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Tree Bee

Ship's tiller girl
# 4033

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quote:
Originally posted by ArachnidinElmet:
Of those who've read The Miniaturist, did anyone see the BBC adaptation over Christmas? How did it compare? I enjoyed the TV version, but it had a very abrupt ending.

It was a treat for the eyes, but as it was true to the book was ultimately unsatisfying.

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"Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple."
— Woody Guthrie
http://saysaysay54.wordpress.com

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Curiosity killed ...

Ship's Mug
# 11770

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We read The Miniaturist as a Ship book club book - in April 2015. I don't remember anyone being totally in love with it.

The Rabbit Back Literature Society was the Ship Book Group's choice in February 2017. As it's still in my Kindle to be read collection, I am steering clear of that thread.

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Mugs - Keep the Ship afloat

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la vie en rouge
Parisienne
# 10688

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Having (oh woe!) forgotten my reading material on an aeroplane, I was bookless. Luckily for me I went into town in foie gras land and found fortuitous tables in the street with people selling lots of second hand books.

I always quite like the challenge of “find something in this mixture of random things that you are interested in reading”. I picked up Andrei Kurkov’s novel The Penguin (in French - English translations exist). It tells the tale of a Ukrainian journalist shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, living in Kiev with a penguin he’s adopted after the closure of the zoo. He’s hired to write the obituaries of people who, suspiciously, aren’t dead yet. They soon will be.

I liked it. Rather surreal and very readable.

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Rent my holiday home in the South of France

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Trudy Scrumptious

BBE Shieldmaiden
# 5647

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I've been reflecting back on the books I read in 2017 and, as I do every year, compiling a short list of favourites. For people who like that sort of thing, here's my list. Has anyone here read any of them? What did you think?

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Books and things.

I lied. There are no things. Just books.

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ArachnidinElmet
Shipmate
# 17346

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I haven't read any of them yet (quite fancy the Roxanne Gay), but may I say that I'm quite jealous of your peacock-coloured fringe.

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'If a pleasant, straight-forward life is not possible then one must try to wriggle through by subtle manoeuvres' - Kafka

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Trudy Scrumptious

BBE Shieldmaiden
# 5647

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I've decided to celebrate going grey with jewel-toned highlights ... but I make sure to always take profile pics and stuff the day after I get my colour done. It fades so quickly. Now I have only the ghost of a memory of colour there. Sorry, this has nothing to do with books.

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Books and things.

I lied. There are no things. Just books.

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Dormouse

Glis glis – Ship's rodent
# 5954

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I have recently joined NetGalley

Basically, free Kindle /e-reader books in exchange for a review.
What's not to like?

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What are you doing for Lent?
40 days, 40 reflections, 40 acts of generosity. Join the #40acts challenge for #Lent and let's start a movement. www.40acts.org.uk

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Brenda Clough
Shipmate
# 18061

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I'm reading Twopence to Cross the Mersey and marveling at the fecklessness of the parents. How does one have seven children and yet acquire no common sense?

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Science fiction and fantasy writer with a Patreon page

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Ian Climacus

Liturgical Slattern
# 944

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quote:
Originally posted by la vie en rouge:
I liked it. Rather surreal and very readable.

I think I'll take this away on holidays with me. Thanks.
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Nicolemr
Shipmate
# 28

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I'm reading Frogkisser by Garth Nix. It's the first time I've read any other his non Old Kingdom series books, and it's a bit of a change in style, but it's fun.

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On pilgrimage in the endless realms of Cyberia, currently traveling by ship. Now with live journal!

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Jack the Lass

Ship's airhead
# 3415

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I recently finished The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, the first of the Thursday Next series. I'd read so many rave reviews of this series on the various previous iterations of this thread, I can't believe it took me so long to get round to it, but I really enjoyed it. Literary hommages, silly word play, what's not to like? I'm not going to tackle the whole seven books in a row, as I don't want it to wear thin, but I'll be happy to pick up more in the series at some point.

I'm now reading Walking the Woods and the Water by Nick Hunt - in 2011 he retraces the legendary walking journey that Patrick Leigh Fermor took in 1933/34 through Europe to Constantinople. I'm enjoying it so far (I read PLF's trilogy detailing that journey at the end of last year).

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"My body is a temple - it's big and doesn't move." (Jo Brand)
wiblog blipfoto blog

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Brenda Clough
Shipmate
# 18061

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quote:
Originally posted by Jack the Lass:
I recently finished The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, the first of the Thursday Next series. I'd read so many rave reviews of this series on the various previous iterations of this thread, I can't believe it took me so long to get round to it, but I really enjoyed it. Literary hommages, silly word play, what's not to like? I'm not going to tackle the whole seven books in a row, as I don't want it to wear thin, but I'll be happy to pick up more in the series at some point.

I'm now reading Walking the Woods and the Water by Nick Hunt - in 2011 he retraces the legendary walking journey that Patrick Leigh Fermor took in 1933/34 through Europe to Constantinople. I'm enjoying it so far (I read PLF's trilogy detailing that journey at the end of last year).

I am still reading the original Patrick Fermor travel book!

Yes, EYRE AFFAIR as a complete delight, a tour-de-force. The idea of Mr. Rochester being a much more sensible person is irresistible, and any world in which there can be street riots about Dickens novels is the place to be! The next two or three are amusing but then it gradually loses steam.

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Science fiction and fantasy writer with a Patreon page

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Eigon
Shipmate
# 4917

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I've just finished Mustang: a forgotten Tibetan Kingdom, by Michel Peissel, who was a French explorer, and one of the first Europeans to visit the country, in 1964.
It's a delightful account of a society which was almost unchanged by modernity, although the Chinese army were just over the border in Tibet, so they were becoming aware of politics outside their own region. He visited the King, various monasteries searching for books on the history of the kingdom, and lived in the capital, Lo Mantang, a walled town of only about a thousand inhabitants.

I looked up Mustang online, and found that the prince who Michel Peissel meets, Jigme, was king until 2008, when the title was abolished by the republican Nepalese government, and he only died in 2016. Tourism is strictly limited, to protect the culture there, though they now have solar panels, mobile phones etc.

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Laugh hard. Run fast. Be kind.

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Nenya
Shipmate
# 16427

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I've just finished "Prairie Fires" by Caroline Fraser, a biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder. It gives a lot of the untold truth about her family and the hardships of pioneer life as well as weaving it around the history of the times, about which I'm embarrassingly ignorant. It also explores in detail her troubled relationship with her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, and for me there was rather too much about Rose and not enough about Laura. It's a tad disillusioning for someone like me who loves the books and for whom they're drenched in the golden light of happy childhood, but love of family, of home and of the prairie abide: these three.

It's a weighty tome and not one you want to read in bed and risk having fall on your face when you nod off.

I'm now most of the way through "You'll Get Over It" by Veronica Ironside which I picked up in our local Oxfam shop, it's about the various emotions related to bereavement and is interesting, honest and raw.

Next in line is "Bad Feminism", essays by Roxane Gay, which I'm really looking forward to.

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They told me I was delusional. I nearly fell off my unicorn.

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Twilight

Puddleglum's sister
# 2832

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quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
I'm reading Twopence to Cross the Mersey and marveling at the fecklessness of the parents. How does one have seven children and yet acquire no common sense?

They had mad skilz, Brenda! They knew how to drink, smoke and have sex. As much as I despair of the parents, I admire the daughter more every time I read it. One of my favorite books.
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cattyish

Wuss in Boots
# 7829

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I'm reading Nasty Women which my friend Laura Lam contributed to. It's a collection of short stories and essays about women assembled as a reaction to recent political and cultural events. It contains shocking and relevant and heartbreaking and inspiring bits.

Laura and her mother collaborated on a chapter about their family history. There's alcohol and gun violence and money and poverty and hope.

Each of the chapters gives a different person's perspective on life in the twentieth century for women.

I'm finding it a good read, but a challenging one.

Cattyish, off for a much needed shower after that chilly run there.

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leo
Shipmate
# 1458

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GOD SAVE THE QUEEN: The Spiritual Dimension of Monarchy – IAN BRADLEY - off as I'm anti-monarchy but food for thought.

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My Jewish-positive lectionary blog is at http://recognisingjewishrootsinthelectionary.wordpress.com/
My reviews at http://layreadersbookreviews.wordpress.com

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Trudy Scrumptious

BBE Shieldmaiden
# 5647

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I've read several really good novels since the new year came in, some of which I liked a bit and some a lot. In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward, and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. The one that I got most wrapped up in, emotionally, was the book I just finished today, Everyone Brave is Forgiven, by Chris Cleave. I don't think it was necessarily the best of them, objectively speaking, but it was the one where I thought at one point a major character was going to die (not really a spoiler; it's set during WW2 so everyone has some brushes with death) and I was actually afraid for the character. Very engrossing.

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Books and things.

I lied. There are no things. Just books.

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Scots lass
Shipmate
# 2699

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quote:
Originally posted by cattyish:
I'm reading Nasty Women which my friend Laura Lam contributed to.

As in the Laura Lam who wrote False Hearts and Shattered Minds? Your friends are much more exciting than mine! I really enjoyed both those books - for those who haven't read them, they're set in a futuristic Pacifica (west coast California) where a shadowy company produce a drug called Zeal. It's addictive, and the Zeal-scape is a kind of virtual reality. There are criminal cartels and conspiracies - the two books have some crossover, but stand independently.
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LutheranChik
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# 9826

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I am muchly enjoying “ Other Minds: The Octopus, The Sea and the Deep Origins of Consciousness” by Peter Godfrey Smith. This book was, amazingly, in the nw- books section of our small- town library, and I chose it in part because I liked the graphic on the book jacket.

The author is a philosopher who explores the topic of consciousness: Why do we have it — a sense of me versus not me; feelings; purposeful action; curiosity; engagement with other beings? To explore this question, he studies cephalopods like the octopus and cuttlefish, animals whose history diverges from ours fairly early on, and whose nervous systems are quite different from ours, but who exhibit some of the same intelligence and “ personality,” for lack of a better term, as higher vertebrates. How, and why, did that happen?

It s not a dull, scholarly tome. It’s very engaging, and filled with a lot of the author’s own experiences as a scuba diver. He shares the story, for instance, of another diver who related being befriend d by a little octopus who took the man’s hand in one of its tentacles and led it back to its lair, last me a child bringing a friend home to play. He also relates interacting with cuttlefish, really interesting animals who put on what amounts to a personal light show of colors and patterns, sometimes apparently just because they feel like it — whatever that means to a cuttlefish.

If you enjoy science and/or philosophy, you will enjoy this book.

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Simul iustus et peccator
http://www.lutheranchiklworddiary.blogspot.com

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leo
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# 1458

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Freddy Temple: A PORTRAIT by Christopher Dobb - biography of a former suffragan bishop here, a warm character - they don't make/consecrate them like that any more.

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My Jewish-positive lectionary blog is at http://recognisingjewishrootsinthelectionary.wordpress.com/
My reviews at http://layreadersbookreviews.wordpress.com

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venbede
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# 16669

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quote:
Originally posted by leo:
GOD SAVE THE QUEEN: The Spiritual Dimension of Monarchy – IAN BRADLEY - off as I'm anti-monarchy but food for thought.

Is that the Ian Bradley who is a Gilbert and Sullivan expert and minister of the Kirk? The

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Man was made for joy and woe;
And when this we rightly know,
Thro' the world we safely go.

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Jengie jon

Semper Reformanda
# 273

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quote:
Originally posted by venbede:
quote:
Originally posted by leo:
GOD SAVE THE QUEEN: The Spiritual Dimension of Monarchy – IAN BRADLEY - off as I'm anti-monarchy but food for thought.

Is that the Ian Bradley who is a Gilbert and Sullivan expert and minister of the Kirk? The
Yes (Leads to a page on St Andrew's University Website, but needs tiny URL to connect)

Jengie

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"To violate a persons ability to distinguish fact from fantasy is the epistemological equivalent of rape." Noretta Koertge

Back to my blog

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MaryLouise
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# 18697

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Robert Harris's Conclave. Perfect for Vatican conspiracy theorists!

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“As regards plots I find real life no help at all. Real life seems to have no plots.”

-- Ivy Compton-Burnett

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ArachnidinElmet
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# 17346

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I didn't want to resurrect the Hogfather thread, but a podcast I listen to ('The Incomparable') has an archive episode about Terry Pratchett books and if you are a newbie where you should start. I thought it might be of interest .

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'If a pleasant, straight-forward life is not possible then one must try to wriggle through by subtle manoeuvres' - Kafka

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Senex
Apprentice
# 18906

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I enjoyed ‘Conclave’ a good page turner.

I am going to read She by Rider Haggard.

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jedijudy

Organist of the Jedi Temple
# 333

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Welcome to the Ship, Senex! It's great to see you here in Heaven! [Smile]

jedijudy
One of the welcoming Heaven Hosts!


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Jasmine, little cat with a big heart.

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LutheranChik
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# 9826

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On order from our regional library consortium: “ How the Right Lost Its Mind.”

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Simul iustus et peccator
http://www.lutheranchiklworddiary.blogspot.com

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jacobsen

seeker
# 14998

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I've just finished re-reading James Brabazon's life of Dorothy L.Sayers. Over thirty years old, but still fascinating.

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But God, holding a candle, looks for all who wander, all who search. - Shifra Alon
Beauty fades, dumb is forever-Judge Judy
The man who made time, made plenty.

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Brenda Clough
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# 18061

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Agree. She had a complicated personality! Many of the relevant papers were to be held until a certain date, fifty or a hundred years after the death of the principals. I hope some scholar somewhere is keeping an eye on that clock.

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Science fiction and fantasy writer with a Patreon page

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