Author Topic: What have you read lately?  (Read 39502 times)

jimbogumbo

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #645 on: October 11, 2021, 11:06:42 AM »
The Testaments. Liked it so much I re-read The Handmaid's Tale right after.

mamselle

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #646 on: October 11, 2021, 11:10:14 AM »
I'm surprised (and sorry) 'Run' disappointed you.

I've re-read it a couple times, and found the ending redemptive, and the setting and characters very realistic. She clearly researched her sites carefully, and maternal death in the populations she describes is realistically represented..which is, itself, of course, upsetting, but she's not exaggerating, or didn't seem to me to be doing so.

I've also found Patchett's work generally to be of value in various ways; I might have read everything she's written without trying.

But, de gustibus...Did you like 'Bel Canto'?

M.

She's going to be giving the Eudora Welty lecture at the Folger/WDC, I just noticed...apparently, too,, I've missed one of hers, haven't read "The Dutch House" yet.

Also, it might be worth noting, she doesn't generally disparage religious faith, except when it gives unwonted shelter to hypocrisy. As I recall reading somewhere, her own religious nature is important to her, however she sees it constructed, and she's undergone faith crises of her own, so she seems (to me) to take it seriously and engage with its issues, rather than not valuing it at all. -- M.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2021, 11:23:08 AM by mamselle »
Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.

Reprove not a scorner, lest they hate thee: rebuke the wise, and they will love thee.

Give instruction to the wise, and they will be yet wiser: teach the just, and they will increase in learning.

apl68

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #647 on: October 12, 2021, 07:10:59 AM »
I haven't read Bel Canto.  It looks interesting.  But after my disappointment with Run, I'm reluctant to invest in it.  There are many more authors and books out there waiting.
Don't lay up treasures for yourselves on Earth, where they can decay or be stolen.  Lay up treasures for yourselves in Heaven, where there is no decay or theft.  Where your treasure is, you heart will be also.


You can't take it with you.  You can only send it on ahead.

ciao_yall

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #648 on: October 12, 2021, 08:52:54 AM »
I haven't read Bel Canto.  It looks interesting.  But after my disappointment with Run, I'm reluctant to invest in it.  There are many more authors and books out there waiting.

Bel Canto was a wonderful book. My favorite of all of hers, actually. Worth the read, and I recommend it highly.

Stockmann

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #649 on: October 12, 2021, 11:13:07 AM »
Last book I finished was The Gift of Fear. I found it interesting and informative, although, perhaps to be expected, too heavy on anecdote for my taste.
I've received, but not yet started, The Great Mortality, which is about the Black Death. Reading it at this time is I hope not as crazy as it may sound at first - for example, watching movies about really, really toxic relationships really helped me once after a bad breakup, and reading horror has sometimes had a cathartic effect during bad times. So I'm kind of hoping for a similar effect, among other reasons for wanting to read it.
My taste for reading fiction seems to have run out of steam, for some reason.

hmaria1609

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #650 on: October 14, 2021, 11:40:08 AM »
Bing re-reading the "Verity Kent Mystery" series by Anna Lee Huber from the library

apl68

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #651 on: October 15, 2021, 07:46:17 AM »
Our Biggest Experiment:  An Epic History of the Climate Crisis, by Alice Bell.  This is a new book that tries to interweave the story of how modern society became dependent upon fossil fuels with that of how the emerging science of climatology began to realize what all of that fossil fuel burning was doing to the climate.  The realization began to dawn earlier than we often realize.  Ironically it was often supposed early on that global warming would actually be a net improvement.

It's like many better popular-history books--impressively broad and pretty readable, but very anecdotal and not especially deep.  I still found it informative in places  Frequent asides on colonialism, etc. in earlier chapters to demonstrate the author's wokeness had me worried about where this was going.  Overall, though, it's a pretty fair-minded book.  There is very occasionally some acknowledgement that our judgements of the architects of modern fossil-fuel technology are very much judgements of hindsight--they often thought of themselves as benefactors, inasmuch as they helped to make it possible for a majority of people to live something other than a hardsdcrabble subsistence existence.  There's even a bit of hindsight self-criticism regarding the environmental movement's origins and past priorities.

I appreciated how Bell's summing-up consciously avoided playing a shouty blame-game.  The climate crisis wasn't something foisted upon us by a cabal of evil businessmen and politicians.  It developed because nearly all of humanity has allowed ourselves to be seduced into the comfortable, convenient, but catastrophically unsustainable lifestyle of modern consumerism.  It stems ultimately from the way we humans in general tend to be self- and pleasure-seeking, short-sighted, and rather greedy by nature.  None of which excuses us from trying to do the best we can to do something about the problem now, even if it's now decades too late to avoid many problems we might have avoided with earlier action.
Don't lay up treasures for yourselves on Earth, where they can decay or be stolen.  Lay up treasures for yourselves in Heaven, where there is no decay or theft.  Where your treasure is, you heart will be also.


You can't take it with you.  You can only send it on ahead.

apl68

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #652 on: October 19, 2021, 07:27:26 AM »
The Egoist, by George Meredith.  I first learned of Meredith in a late 1990s Times Literary Supplement article entitled "A Revered Corpse:  The Peculiar Unreadability of George Meredith."  It described Meredith as a major Victorian novelist, in a league with Dickens and Trollope, who has come to be almost entirely unread.  Apparently late-20th Century attempts to put Meredith's work back into print "foundered on the brute commercial fact that Meredith doesn't sell."  The article described Meredith as having taking the stereotypically prolix, allusive, and obscure writing associated with Victorian novelists to uncommon extremes.

Ever since then I've been wondering what Meredith's work was like.  Now I know.  Well, it's not like I wasn't given fair warning.  Meredith's style makes the likes of Bulwer-Lytton and Thomas Carlyle read like Hemingway.  His wildly elaborate and stylized dialog is meant to be comic.  And it is, in a very dated way, if you can keep up with it and puzzle out the allusions and vocabulary.  I can read ordinarily complex Victorian fiction without much trouble.  Meredith was a slog.  As is common with Victorian three-volume novels, there's a sense that it's two-thirds too long.

Which is too bad.  The Egoist has the kernel of a pretty worthwhile story buried in there somewhere.  The title character is a wealthy, eligible aristocrat who also happens to be the sort of narcissist so obsessed with self that anybody who gets close to him (or her) is likely to regret it.  So it is that a young lady who becomes engaged to him belatedly realizes what a narcissist he is and desperately wants to break it off.  But how to do that, at a time and level of society where doing so, in the absence of the fiance committing something truly egregious, will create a scandal and ruin the lady's own future prospects?  Fortunately narcissists have a way of hanging themselves if you give them enough rope....

My curiosity about George Meredith is now satisfied.
Don't lay up treasures for yourselves on Earth, where they can decay or be stolen.  Lay up treasures for yourselves in Heaven, where there is no decay or theft.  Where your treasure is, you heart will be also.


You can't take it with you.  You can only send it on ahead.

Stockmann

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #653 on: October 21, 2021, 06:45:59 AM »
I'm slightly over halfway through The Great Mortality. It's impossible for me not to make comparisons with the current pandemic, even though of course the Black Death was, if measured by the percentage of the population killed, about two orders of magnitude worse than Covid.
The modern world, specifically most of Europe and the Americas, compares surprisingly badly in its response. The pop culture portrayal of medieval rulers is basically of unaccountable narcissists and psychopaths. However, most European rulers acted responsibly, attempting what very little could be done, from quarantines and other attempts to stop or delay the plague to stuff like opening new cemeteries or decreeing that all citizens had to make a will. There was even a Sicilian local ruler who offered to personally carry a saint's relics to try to help a neighboring city, in the end personally carried holy water the relics had been dipped in, and died of plague, a selflessness inconceivable in a politician today and in stark contrast with modern rulers who are too delicate to be inconvenienced by wearing a facemask. There seem to have been zero instances of rulers, even the minority in denial, attempting to stop others from taking measures to protect against the plague - that seems to be a Floridian and Brazilian thing.
But it's not just the present's politicians that compare badly. When reading accounts of how people desperately tried to innocculate themselves against plague by breathing in fumes from latrines, it's hard not to think of the present's anti-vaxxers. Some people threw caution to the wind, yes, but ordinary medieval folk don't seem to have actively hindered attempts by others to ameliorate the pandemic - in contrast to modern Dutch people setting testing centers on fire, French people attacking vaccination sites, Mexicans setting clinics on fire and throwing bleach at nurses, etc. Aside from "confessions" obtained under torture and anti-Semitic rumors, there appears to be no evidence of any deliberate spread of plague - in contrast with isolated but well-documented modern instances of people deliberately coughing on groceries and so on. There  was plenty of pillaging, rape, murder, etc during the Black Death, of course, but, again, it was two orders of magnitude worse, and happened to very ignorant people in a world already dominated by famine, war and natural disasters.

ab_grp

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #654 on: October 21, 2021, 10:51:27 AM »
Now we are reading The 100-Year-Old Man who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared, thanks to the recommendation from ergative! We just started but are enjoying the writing style (kind of reminds me of Tove Jansson?) and are looking forward to reading about the man's adventures.

Just finished this one last night and didn't want it to end! Ergative, thank you so much for the recommendation.  It was such a delightful book.  I just recommended it to a couple friends yesterday.  There was another writer it sort of reminded me of, but I can't remember who now.  Anyway, we loved it.  And I ordered the movie!

So we started on The Silent Patient (Alex Michaelides), which is definitely a different one for us.  Part of the Amazon blurb describes it as
Quote
The Silent Patient is a shocking psychological thriller of a woman’s act of violence against her husband―and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive.
It was recommended by a friend.  We're only a couple brief chapters in, so we'll see how it goes.  It seems to have been given some kudos by authors of that genre.  I used to read a lot of these types of books, but it's been a while.