I don't have anything new - still reading A Woman in the the Polar Night - but I can't stop humming the old Simon & Garfunkle song "April Come She Will" so I started the April thread. What are you reading?
I've just finished up a read of the older Texas classic called "The Wind" by Dorothy Scarborough. Annoying as the protagonist was in terms of being so passive about her life, the descriptions were dead-on for wind storms here in West Texas...
Whizzed through a rather fun Agatha Christie ("Death on the Nile") and then, for non-fiction, I have "Wesley the Owl" by Stacey O'Brien, a biologist who adopts a baby owl.
I'm wandering around looking for a classic to read as well... Has anyone read Dreiser before? I was thinking about "Sister Carrie"...
I finished The Maze Runner by James Dashner a YA dystopian book and it was very good. Also, I am reading Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
I'm reading Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson. It is her first novel and is British WWI. The main character is the youngest daughter of an earl, dominated by her mother, who gets a tied servant and his elderly parents fired by teaching her to drive. She is so incensed that she leaves home and is now an ambulance driver in France where her brother's best friend is a doctor from a poor family and considered "not good enough" for her by her mother. The book's title is from letters home from the front. I'm almost halfway through and liking it quite a lot.
I very much enjoyed Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant. Luckily my copy included several 'family trees' and a map of Italy as it took a little time to work out who was who, where they lived, who they fought against, conquered and murdered.
Not a good time to be a female of marriageable age, especially if your father and brother seem rather too 'over-fond' of you. Lucrezia Borgia is depicted as more sinned against than sinning and little more than a pawn in the family's would-be dominance of Italy.
A murky world of political intrigue, casual murder, Church corruption and beautiful art.
One thing is certain. Never accept an invitation to tea with the Borgias.
Here is a link that might be useful: The Borgias. Were they as black as painted?
ON PERSEPHONE'S ISLAND; A Sicilian journal by Mary Taylor Simeti
I've been reading a number of books mentioned and recommended by RPers in the past few months. Most of them have been nonfiction, as I am going through one of my spells when fiction will not hold my interest. I figure that will change eventually, though, because I've been intrigued by several novels you all have described. Vee, I'll add Dunant's Blood and Beauty as one that sounds interesting enough that I might stick with it.
The most recent book I've finished is one Siobhan mentioned receiving from her brother as a Christmas present: Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China by Paul French. I've been mostly ignorant of what was happening in China 'between the Wars' (WWI and WWII) so this has been an eye opener for me, and I would like to delve more deeply into that particular era of Chinese history.
A few other books I've read that I'm not sure who mentioned them and attracted my attention first. You will know who you are, so thank you so much! One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson (I think it was yoyobon who caught my eye with this one) - It's exactly what the title says: those things that happened in America during that year, told with Bryson's usual enthusiasm for cultural history.
Lone Survivors: How We Came to Be the Only Humans on Earth by Chris Stringer
Neanderthal Man: In Search of Lost Genomes by Svante Paabo
(I can get lost in paleoanthropology and archaeology for months.)
The 'climate change' controversy led me to try to make some sense out of what the sayers and naysayers are spouting, so I've read:
Climate Change in Prehistory: The End of the Reign of Chaos by William James Burroughs
The Great Warming: Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilization by Brian Fagan
The Little Ice Age: How Climate Made History 1300-1850 by Brian Fagan
The above were on the heels of Jared Diamond's Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed which I think I discussed a bit with Sheri, maybe, along with Catastrophe: An Investigation into the Origins of the Modern World by David Keys.
Someone (Vee?) mentioned 'The Turning Points in Ancient History' series. The first one I got hold of is 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed by Eric H. Cline. It's ostensibly about those mysterious 'Sea Peoples' that were such thorns in the side of the Egyptian dynasty administrators. I have been vaguely aware of these people but never really understood who exactly they were and where they came from. I found out that I had good reason to be rather fuzzy in my perceptions of these people.
I just acquired Sisters of the Wilderness: The Lives of Susanna Moodie and Catharine Parr Traill by Charlotte Gray. Timallan and Vee have mentioned this book several times. I look forward to reading this one as soon as possible!
As you can see from my list above, RPers give great leads to books!
lemonhead: I've read An American Tragedy and Sister Carrie and loved both. I think Dreiser is a great storyteller.
I try to pick up a classic that I haven't read, so yesterday I brought home two Edith Wharton's. Hope I'm game to get through both.
Frieda, it wasn't me that mentioned II77 BC . . . I find really 'ancient history' very difficult to deal with and have never managed to 'enthuse' about the Egyptians. Archaeology I can cope with in small doses especially when 'illustrated' by some of these modern methods of facial reconstruction for eg and to a certain extent DNA results.
It is not wise to bring up the subject of 'Climate Change' in this house. It is like a red rag to a bull for John who, as a scientist, gets very annoyed with TV 'pundits', journalist et al with little understanding, bandying the expression about and talking gobbledegook about green energy and the need to do away with carbon dioxide and plans to build giant inefficient wind turbines all over our green and pleasant.
Maybe 'your' John feels the same?
Vee, I had forgotten that ancient history is not one of your things. What is your earliest cut-off date for history? Is it the speculation that is sometimes necessary when there's not enough actual documentation that throws you? If it wasn't you who told me about 'The Turning Points...' series, I don't know which RPer mentioned it...maybe Woodnymph.
Facial reconstruction fascinates me, too. It's both art and science. One of the photos in Svante Paabo's book shows side-by-side skeletons of a Neanderthal male and a male gracilis Homo sapiens. As interesting as the bones are, I would like to see side-by-side fleshed-out representations. As far as the DNA goes, understanding it mostly boggles my mind, but that doesn't keep me from being awed by what can be determined by DNA. The whole thing about the Denisovans is so tantalizing to me: from a finger bone, the geneticists were able to determine that the individual was a female and she died when she was about five years old. AND she was neither Neanderthal nor modern! Of course I have to take Paabo and other scientists' word for it, and if there's anything I DO know, myself, is scientists of any stripe are a contentious lot. :-)
Vee, my John thinks anthropogenic climate change is mostly a crock, but being an Earth scientist -- a geophysicist -- he is of the opinion that the egocentricity of humans is our most annoying trait. Natural cyclical fluctuations of climate have obviously occurred many, many times without the interference of people. Humans are just a recent blip on the timeline.
I find many aspects of the subject interesting -- such as hippopotamuses once living in bogs in what is now Sussex, William of Malmesbury's mention (circa 1120 A.D.) of the vineyards and winemaking in the Vale of Gloucester, Doggerland before it was flooded, the Norse colonizing Greenland during the Medieval Warm Period and having to abandon it when the Little Ice Age set in; and that's just the western extremity of Europe and the north Atlantic!
I don't doubt that humans have affected every environment they've ever lived in; there's plenty of evidence of that, but the speculation that we are so damned important that we can destroy the planet before Mother Nature (if you want to personify nature) destroys us first is hubristic. We are more likely to annihilate ourselves, which I think is what most people mean when they discuss the potentially of destroying the planet, which to them is making it inhospitable for people or even peopleless. My opinion, of course. My John and I can debate this quite civilly and unemotionally, but we have some friends and relatives who cannot.
Difficult to give a 'cut off' point for interesting history for me versus the other kind ie too far away and long ago. I remember being told that if we took an everyday school 'ruler' divided into 12 inches, only the last tenth/twelfth of the final inch would represent human life on Earth.
Maybe for me, the time from which I can appreciate history is when what we now call the North Sea/English Channel rose/flooded separating the British Isles from the Continent. Interestingly divers have found artifacts from beneath that area of sea showing signs of human activity and I have seen ancient field walls while rowing between islands in the Scillies off the SW Cornish coast.
I can't speak for the US/Canada/Aus but over here there are many dodgy deals going ahead on the 'Green' brigade's coat tails with carbon trading, huge Govt handouts/subsidies for 'green' electricity, solar farms covering good quality agricultural land and wind-farms blighting the lives of rural communities . .. all for very little true return. Little more than keeping a few light bulbs burning.
On the swings and roundabouts of 'climate change' and using a 'book-ish' eg. Some years ago I read a work by Aus writer Colleen McCullough, who before she took up writing worked in the 'science' world. I can't remember the title but the story, written in the 80's (?) mirroring the then up-to-the-minute thoughts on climate-change, concerned a family near San Fransisco living in a house they had adapted for the cold. Growing plants within a sort of bio-dome which surrounded the building and making the most of the very short summers.
I imagine there are already works of fiction dealing with the heating-up of the Globe . . . and as you say Frieda, I'm sure the 'Earth' will still be here after we have blown ourselves into Kingdom Come.
I am really enjoying " A Clear Conieince" by Francis Fyfield, she is classed as a crime writer, not my usual type of reading, however this one I love especially her main characters Crown Prosecutor Helen West and senior policeman policeman Georfrey Bailey.
I shall be following up with her novels and become a reader of crime novels!! which will be a pleasant change.
I am really enjoying " A Clear Conieince" by Francis Fyfield, she is classed as a crime writer, not my usual type of reading, however this one I love especially her main characters Crown Prosecutor Helen West and senior policeman Geoffrey Bailey.
I just finished reading Without Warning by David Rosenfelt, this one without his beloved Goldens,, nevertheless still a good mystery
Apparently he, his wife and 25 Golden Retrievers that they had rescued moved from California to Maine. He said he wrote a book about the experience which I plan to look for, sounds like quite an experience!
Vee, similar boondoggles and hornswoggles, some of them U.S. government sponsored and ballyhooed by celebrity 'greenies', peaked around 2006, I'd estimate, with the release of that documentary 'An Inconvenient Truth' featuring our own former VP, Al Gore. Since then, there's been a backlash of skepticism, with many Americans thinking the 'science' is hinky and a dollar agenda and mass manipulation of the populace likely. Funny how the doom and gloom squad has switched from ice as McCullough was writing about in the 1970/80s to 'OMG, the ice is melting!' of the 1990-2000s.
Well, your appreciation of history goes back to the Mesolithic at least! :-)
I love to pore over the maps Byrony Cole created of Doggerland. I was in Aberdeen in the early 1980s when the North Sea oilfields were opening up, and it was there that I first heard about the 'sunken' land under the North Sea, shades of Atlantis as it was told. Of course we now know that the land did not sink in a sudden cataclysm. It probably flooded gradually with evidence of perhaps one larger tsunami. Seismic work has proven that speculation to be mostly correct, with some details still to be refined. In a fun, I think, pastime of 'what ifs': What would the history of Britain have been like if it had remained a peninsula? For that matter, would we have what we now know as Australia, Canada, USA , etc.? There's a hinge for you, a few degrees centigrade. I love this topic!
I finally am getting into Sisters of the Wilderness. Catharine seems to have been more optimistic and cheerful than Susanna, so far. I really should read more of the sisters' actual writing than what Gray quotes, but this book is a good introduction. What is it about the sisters' experiences did you find most interesting and appealing?
Just jumping in here; I'm usually on another forum-if you like facial reconstruction, you should read 'The Girl With the Crooked Nose'. by Ted Botha. It is about Frank Bender who was a forensic artist extraordinaire. Fascinating read.
I am finishing up a rather dry work-related course, so there has not been much time for reading. For fun, I read Peril at End House by Agatha Christie. I thought it was actually quite good.
I am now reading Love for Lydia by H.E. Bates. So far it is a rather sunny book about young people in love, but I suspect it is going to turn dark.
I was interested to follow the discussion of Lemonhead's interest in Sister Carrie. I read it a few years ago, and it left me utterly devastated. It is a great book, but not a happy story. I have An American Tragedy on my TBR shelf, but just can't seem to manage it.
Veer, the windfarm issue is actually something quite local to me. I don't know how it is in the U.S. and Britain, but so far the tendency in Ontario has been to put the windfarms in rural areas. Unfortunately, their construction often seems completely indifferent to the people who actually live in these areas. There has been a grassroots movement against these farms, though so far it has not been very successful. The towers are very expensive to construct, and really don't produce that much power. There is no immediate need for the extra power (in my area), so the excess is being sold to the U.S. So really it is just a moneymaking scheme for the provincial government.
Linda, thank you for the recommendation of The Girl With the Crooked Nose. I looked it up at Amazon and it sounds very interesting. Your dropping in to RP from another forum was most advantageous for me. :-) I hope you will post again here soon.
I have finished King's Mountain, a novel of a neglected battle of the American Revolution, which Carolyn recommended. It was every bit as good as she said it would be.
Now I am immersed in Louise Penny's murder mystery The Beautiful Mystery, set in an isolated and cloistered abby in Quebec. My husband suggested it so strongly that I agreed to read it to make him happy. He had read other books in this series but this was the first one to engage him so much, so I suspect the author is growing in skill with each book. Anyway I'm so glad I did; it has caught my interest every bit as fast as it caught his. I would recommend it highly on the haunting atmosphere alone, but there is more going on than that.
Tim, re windfarms. A couple,recently arrived in the area, have already erected one of these monstrosities a few miles from us. They raised money by offering debentures to gullible 'locals', The 'planners' offered no objections and as the turbine-owners sell the electricity at way over the odds back to us through the power companies, a very few folk make enormous profits. The Govt offers 'green levies' to these entrepreneurs which are paid for out of our electricity bills! As you say Tim, a turbine cost ÃÂ£ÃÂ£ÃÂ£ÃÂ£'s to build (usually in China), they are unsightly, dangerous to wild life and vastly inefficient.
These same people plan to erect a string of them up the beautiful Severn Estuary. The first one will be one and a half times the height of Nelson's Column and would overlook our village. The Council has rejected it and there is strong local opposition but the developers have 'appealed' against the decision and an Inspector will have the final say . . . so much for Local Democracy!
Frieda, re Sisters in the Wilderness. I first heard it discussed on the BBC and found the lives of both sisters (can't remember which was which) fascinating. I felt they both showed remarkable courage to move out, from their middle class English lives, to the Ontario 'wilderness' living in totally primitive conditions, little to eat, giving birth too frequently etc . . and putting up with useless husbands. One of them became famous as an artist of the flora of the region.
I'm reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. It's and interesting book and I am getting nearer the halfway point and the story finally seems to be taking off. It's one of those books that one needs time and a clear head to read, if only to keep track of all the characters, because while they may seem peripheral, they might turn out to be important. At one point I actually considered making a map of the house with the names of all the inhabitants marked in.
I'm a few dozen pages into Wharton's Age of Innocence and I'm finding her writing about the social mores of the upper class at that time fascinating.
One thing stuck with me: Newland thinks to himself while at dinner that someone should have told the cook not to use a steel knife to cut cucumbers. ??? I cook, but I've never heard this one.
I'm reading "History's Timeline" which neatly links together Eastern and Western cultures with dates, personnages, wars, and the passage from primitive societies towards "civilization." I'm also reading Michael Camille's "Glorious Visions" ( a window into understanding the medieval mind and the achievements of Gothic art and architecture.)
Frieda, I, too, am fascinated by those bizarre warmings that occurred in Europe long ago (especially with the irony that Greenland was thusly named centuries ago). It is thought that the "Little Ice Age" in Europe led to devastating crop failures in certain parts of Europe and was a contributor to the European witchcraft frenzy that arose at the same time.
As for the global warming issue: none of us can possibly know or predict exactly how this will all play out, as so much carbon pumped into the atmosphere is unprecedented in the history of mankind. There is no template for this and there is no playbook to follow. None of can know what will happen to planet earth and we won't be around to see what happens finally.
I, for one, am not about to argue with NASA scientists or with the 97 per cent of international scientists who blame man-made causes. And I am not going to argue about our sea levels which have been rising and continue to rise, creating disasters world-wide. Nor with the Inuit who are suddenly losing their thousand-year old lifestyle due to ice melt.
Frieda, my DH Tom is a retired electrical engineer. He is of the same opinion as your husband. The media presents the idea that only the ignorant would disagree with human causation, but that simply is not true. My own opinion is that something is clearly happening, and that human activity is likely to be at least a contributing factor. More than that I do not think it is possible to know.
We have had solar panels on our roof for about 8 or 9 years. The power company credits the energy we send them against the energy we use. I heard just today that the power company is attempting to get out of this arrangement for future solar installations. I am simply appalled. This is one of the few clean energy efforts being done that actually works. Without those energy credits I doubt very many people would install solar panels.
I am reading The Outcast Dead, latest in Elly Griffiths' series about Ruth Galloway who is an independent female forensic archaeologist who seems to dig up either murderers or murderees. I really like these books.
Rosefolly, I'm so glad you enjoyed King's Mountain.
Vee, Catharine (Parr Traill) was the artist who drew the flora. She evidently found more to delight her in Upper Canada than did Susanna, at least initially. In fact, my impression is Susanna found a lot to be downright dismayed about: typically the weather, but also the dishonesty of the propagandists who described Canada -- truth in advertisement not being a requirement -- and the all too gullible souls back in GB who wanted to emigrate took the hook with unrealistic expectations. Susanna admitted she did. When Susanna wrote her book, Roughing It in the Bush, she penned it, she said, to give would-be emigrants a better idea of what life in Canada might be like, realistically. Her truthfulness is probably what makes her account so fascinating. I want to read the whole thing now.
However, I think I will skip Susanna and Catharine's children's books which sound like the rather syrupy moralistic tales that were given to children of that era to edify, not entertain. Evidently, Catharine and Susanna's two older sisters, Agnes and Elisabeth Strickland were also authors back in England -- Agnes getting the recognition and Elisabeth doing the research but not wanting any limelight. They were quite well educated by their father, an enlightened man for his time, who thought females were capable of being educated.
Yes, the husbands were not much help since they were away doing militia duty for what seems like an inordinate amount of time. It's a familiar scene: the womenfolk keeping the home fires burning and doing everything else that needs to be done, but when hubby gets home, he's hurt that things aren't like the way he left them or not done the way he would've done them. Pioneer women were caught, but as a saying went amongst pioneer women in the Dakota Territory and often repeated by my pioneer Norwegian great-grandmother: "There's nothing to do but stay." And stay they did.
Thanks to you, Vee, and Timallan for your mentions of the sisters and Gray's bio. I had read they were great influences for several Canadian writers, e.g. Margaret Atwood and Carol Shields, but I probably wouldn't have sought more information about them if it wasn't for you.
Glad to be of help Frieda. I must try and order (via the library) another book by Gray Gold Diggers: Striking it Rich in the Klondike although I'm not sure if it is available over here as there are no comments on the Amazon.co.uk site.
Netla, I loved The Elegance of the Hedgehog, right up until the ending, but I hated the ending.
I'm currently reading Hilary Mantel's Bring Up the Bodies, the sequel to Wolf Hall. She really brings a fresh point of view to the well worn tale of Henry VIII.
Next up, we're reading Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals for book club.
ONE SUMMER: America 1927 by Bill Bryson
This is a book you can pick up and put down at any time and still enjoy it. He has so many amazing and interesting historical stories that I find I like to read it in dribs and drabs, savoring each one completely.
When Bryson chooses a historical topic he does a great job of bringing us not only fact but quirky side stories as well. Who can ever forget the image of the royals visiting a manor and leaving "gifts" in the corners of the rooms ! ( from his book HOME)
Of course , I am an unabashed fan of this writer so I might be slightly biased :0)
Merryworld, My Family and Other Animals is one of my favourite non-fiction books. I'd be interested to see what you think of it.
I found The Elegance of the Hedgehog strangely endearing despite the sometimes rather trite philosophising, but the more I think about it the more faults I find with it while still kind of liking it. I may have to write a review just to figure out how I feel about it.
I found that I enjoyed The Hedgehog more when I skipped the Paloma chapters and followed Renee!!
I never made it all the way through Hedgehog though I tried twice.
I have just started "Julia Paradise" by Australian author Rod Jones.
While having my car serviced, I walked around the neighborhood, and went into a coffee shop-mailing facility-gift shop. There I found a very short book that I read without even sitting down: The Wandering Goose: A Modern Fable of How Love Goes by Heather Earnhardt, illustrated by Frida Clements. It has been the serendipitous discovery of the week. The illustrations are beautiful, the words are poetic, and it takes place in a garden. What else can you wish for?
I have been reading the Cat in the Stacks mysteries by Miranda James. I didn't realise until the latest book that Charlie, the main character after Diesel the cat was only in his fifties. I thought, from his portrayal that he was in his late sixties.
The author seems to have a strange view of a middle aged man. Retired, creaky joints and naps! Oh dear! He needs to get to a gym!
I felt much the same as netla regarding Hedgehog.
Haven't visited here in a while, too busy reading mountaineering books! Yes, I am still on that kick and enjoying it immensely. I am working in Patrick O'Brian's novels as well, starting with Master and Commander of course. I read these books many years ago and plan to reread the series, most enjoyable.
I have started another of Frances Fyfield's "Deep Sleep", I am now a follower of her novels!!
At the last public library sale, I found Happy All the Time by Laurie Colwin. I had never heard of her before, but got the book anyway, because the title sounded upbeat, and it was described as a "comedy of manners and morals about romantic friendship, romantic marriage.... about four people who are good hearted and sane... and find one another". It was published in 1978, it's funny and a bit quirky. The characters are endearing.
Yoyobon, I think you would like this book.
I've been reading "Sister Carrie" by Theodore Dreiser (1900). What a great read, but I have the feeling that calamity is coming soon... Yikes.
And I finished a slightly strange read of "Wesley the Owl" by Stacey O'Brien. Review to come, but suffice to say, the story is weird and crosses into "Crazy Owl Lady" territory.
And weather here is, again, rather strange. Over the weekend we had high 80's/low 90's. It was snowing this AM and below freezing as a cold front moved in. The Weather Gods have gone crazy for the moment.
I finished M. C. Beaton's latest Hamish McBeth, Death of a Policeman, and I think I will quit on this series. This one was a mishmash of all that have come before and not worth the time it took to read it, which wasn't long.
Carolyn, most long series get a bit tired after a while but then they can get better! Do you think that the adversarial character Blair is rather boring? The series needs a new "villain"!
I'm re-reading a little gem of a book: Gail Godwin's "Evenings at Five." I think Godwin is vastly under-rated as a novelist, in our country. I also skimmed Dan Brown's latest: "Inferno." (A few cuts above his others, but way too long!). Apart from these, much serious reading for my class on Gothic Art & Architecture, which is coming to an end.
Ann, I think most of the characters in the Hamish books need to be changed. I probably will keep reading them--just complaining.
Today I'm reading the latest Jeanne M. Dams, Shadows of Death, set on Orkney Island at a new archeological dig. She got a bit boring, too, and then took a break from the series. Now I think she is better again. I like cozies, but not too cozy.
I've been reading about food and travel lately.
First came At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig by John Gimlette, about that impossible and slightly mysterious country, Paraguay. It was a fascinating read, a nicely balanced blend of travelogue and history, although I suspect Gimlette chose only the more succulent parts of the latter to write about (I'm sure the country must have had some presidents that were neither tyrants nor madmen). I followed it up with the pertinent chapters from The Drunken Forest by Gerald Durell, whose animal collecting expedition to Paraguay in the 1950s came to an abrupt end when the country erupted in civil war.
Then it was a Scottish cookery book, A Feast of Scotland by Janet Warren, which has such classic Scottish recipes as haggis, brose, neeps & tatties and cock-a-leekie, plus some newer inventions and background information about history, influences and ingredients, and what I thought were surprisingly numerous recipes containing Drambuie - that is until I discovered that the book was published with the support of the distillery.
I moved on to the Book of Sushi by Omae and Tachibana, a little gem of a cookery book which covers sushi from nearly every conceivable angle, although the recipes were mostly for maki and nigri. Its small size makes it ideal to slip into a pocket to use as a guide when going out for sushi.
I am now reading a book about Japanese food, Japanese Cooking by Kazuko and Fukuoka, which has plenty of photos and seems to be pretty encyclopaedic in its approach to the subject.
I am also reading The Control of Nature by John McPhee, which combines travel writing with three stories of man's fight against Nature, covering attempts to tame the Mississippi river, to control flooding in the mountains around Los Angeles, and the fight to save the harbour in the Westman Islands (Iceland) from being blocked by lava.
Finished up Dreiser's Sister Carrie which I *loved* -- further thoughts to come on this, but just a note to say that this was a great read. How come Dreiser is not that mentioned any more? (Or at least in my reading world.) He's good. Are his other works as strong?
I was reading a travel book (Hi Netla!) about a journalist who goes to Alaska for a while and chats about that. However, I had to stop reading it and leave it at the gym (where I was at the time) - it was *dreadful*. Called "Going to Extremes", it was written by Joe McGinniss whose attitude towards Alaska and the people who live there was insufferable. He's a snob, he knows everything much better than anyone else, and he's so much more superior than every other human on the planet. He had nothing good to say about anything, and after 60 pages, I'd had enough. (Life is too short for such a complaining book.)
As mentioned, I left it at the gym for someone else but did actually feel very tempted to put it in the trash. I just couldn't do that to a book though...
re netla's post: isn't Joe MacGuiness the neighbor who lived next door to Sarah Palin?
As for haggis, I would not touch it with a ten foot pole, despite my Scottish ancestry. Well, maybe if I had some Drambuie with me....
Wood - You're right. McGinniss did rent the house next door to Palin. He sounds like an ass of a neighbor. Regardless of politics, it's not right to be rude or mean to someone on a human level, and he comes across as just that.
In reviewing his other works, McGinniss seems to have a general reputation of making up facts and then having to recount them when pushed in a court of law, for example.
He also lied to his sources to make the story "better" and was an overall idiot, it seems.
I don't have much respect for someone who called himself a journalist and fibbed (if that was the case). Needless to say, he's off my TBR pile now.
McGinniss died recently and I've only read one of his books, The Miracle at Castel di Sangro about soccer in Italy. It was entertaining, but none of his other books really appealed to me. I think his earlier books might be better, before he became insufferable.
Off to discuss My Family and Other Animals at book club. I'm ready to move to Corfu, though as we almost all have HS Seniors, I think the discussion might veer to college talk.
I just finished Open and Shut, the first book David Rosenfelt wrote. I got it from the library after Iris gave him such a good review here on RP, and I agree with her completely. The main character is a flippant New Jersey attorney, and while the book has funny spots, it isn't one of those airy fairy books that forgets to tell a good story. So, bottom line, I've requested the second of his books.
Have just finished Started Early Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson. Another of her novels featuring tough-nut ex soldier PI Jackson Brodie. As with many of K A's earlier books this one does tend to flip between times; here it is the mid-70's to 'now' and rather a lot of people to keep in play, but she paints wonderful characters, from an over-weight police woman, to an aging 'thespian' slowly losing her marbles, to low-life crooks/pimps/street girls.
have now started Charlotte Sometime by Penelope Farmer, as mentioned on the 'time travel' thread . . just because I found it among my DD's books. Really aimed at YA readers and written (1969) before they were glued to their phones, ipads etc!
I'm upset that woodnymph doesn't like haggis. I have NO Scottish roots but find it quite nutritious. It should be served with mashed 'neeps' and washed down with a double malt (no ice added).
Maybe you are more of a deep-fried Mars bar person. :-)
Veer, I agree with you on both Started Early Took My Dog and haggis.This was the first book of KA's I read and found the characters wonderfully written. I then read Life After Life for book club, which also had interesting characters, and a unique story and seemed completely different than her Jackson Brodie series.
On our trip to Scotland last year, my family and I ate haggis a few times and were very pleasantly surprised at how delicious it was. I do not think it deserves its awful reputation, and if you're squeamish about what goes into it, there are vegetarian versions. I even found a recipe for a slow cooker version that doesn't involve any unusual sheep bits and plan to try it soon.
You had mentioned that perhaps McGinniss' earlier works might have been stronger. This awful effort was published in 1980, which is in the middle of his published works, so I'm not sure quite when he turned dreadful. His "true-crime" (except not so true) trilogy published in 1983-1991 was when he got crushed in court for lying to a source to get a better story so perhaps something happened around late 1970's or so.
He must have struck a nerve with a publishing house (Simon and Schuster published some of his later stuff), but after reading how he manipulated his sources to disclose information (via lying) and other nefarious actions, I don't think I can trust him as a NF writer again.
As you can tell, I was pretty annoyed by his writing. If I want NF, I expect balance in the facts - otherwise it's not really NF/journalist work. Yes, you can have a political swing to it, but that needs to be obvious from the get-go if you're honest.
If it's not fiction, I expect honesty and facts. No honesty, no read without grumbling. (And if multiple reliable sources on-line report that you're an unreliable reporter, that's obviously not a good thing if your whole thing is being an unbiased reporter.)
But I just finished Dreiser who was excellent (a bit of a downer but excellent) so that takes that nasty taste out of my mouth. :-)
I started "Thunder Dog" by Michael Hingson and Susy Flory last night.
I'm finishing up Bernard Lewis' "What Went Wrong?" It's an analysis of the relations between the Middle East and the Western civilizations of Europe, focusing upon the divisions throughout history between the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim points of view, all "People of the Book." I'm finding it most enlightening and well-balanced.
I am reading a short Jean Rhys novel, her famous Good Morning, Midnight. It is beautifully and quite powerful, in an understated way. But also a bit depressing.
I'm reading a NF called "The Boy who Harnessed the Wind" by William Kambwanka and Bryan Mealer about a young man from Malawi who is a natural engineer and works out how to build his own wind turbine to bring electricity to his family and their village. It's inspiring and it's really rather funny in places (dry sense of humor). It's a good read.
Classic wise, I'm looking around for something to read -- perhaps "War of the Worlds" by H. G. Wells?...
Unlike you, Lemonhead, I did finish Going to Extremes, and I agree about his attitude: supercilious and know-it-all. I found the book quite informative, albeit coloured by the author's prejudices. I prefer authors who keep an open mind about their subject.
Since my last report, I've read three more books. The first is of those books that one reads despite the title, which is not only insufferably cutesy but also has little to do with the contents: Don't Tell Mum I Work on the Rigs: She thinks I'm a piano player in a whorehouse by Paul Carter. It's one of those boys' own adventure books, non-fiction about his time working on oil rigs all over the world. It's testosterone soaked and some of the stories seem tall, but probably aren't. It's wickedly funny and occasionally gruesome (and sometimes both).
The second was a mystery by Arnaldur Indridason which in English bears the title Strange Shores. It's not one of his best, but clears up some of the mystery about detective Erlendur.
The third was Wicked Women of the Raj by Coralie Younger, which was interesting but ultimately disappointing. It's a report with short chapters about a number of European women of the Raj era who married Indian princes and were ostracised for it by the British community in India. I felt that if Younger had focused on fewer women and written about them in in more detail, it would have been a better read.
I am now reading Miss Wonderful, a historical romance by Loretta Chase, and thoroughly enjoying it.
Did I mention I'm on a two week holiday? I am and having a ball reading and have been reading almost a book a day for the past week.
Hi Netla -
Weird that we're reading the same exact book at the same exact time. Accidental synchronization at its best! :-)
And a 2-week holiday for you as well... Nice!!
Re: the climate change debate. Here's an interesting perspective:
"Myth: we have to save the earth. Frankly, the earth doesn't need to be saved. Nature doesn't give a hoot if human beings are here or not. The planet has survived cataclysmic and catastrophic changes for millions upon millions of years.
Over that time, it is widely believed, 99 percent of all species have come and gone while the planet has remained. Saving the environment is really about saving our environment -- making it safe for ourselves, our children, and the world as we know it.
If more people saw the issue as one of saving themselves, we would probably see increased motivation and commitment to actually do so."
- Robert M. Lilienfeld, management consultant and author (b. 1953) and William L. Rathje, archaeologist and author (b. 1945).
Food for thought wherever you stand on the debate, yes?
I've been on a re-read kick lately; my trips to the library having resulted in failure to find anything to catch my attention. My latest re-reads have been the books in the 500 kingdom series by Mercedes Lackey.
Carolyn and Annpan, I agree with you about the Hamish MacBeth series. I got tired of it a few books back and haven't felt interested enough in it to continue.
On the NF side, I picked up A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson at the library book sale a while ago, set it aside and forgot about it. While looking for something else to read I came across it and have put it on top of my TBR pile so I won't forget about it again.
I recently finished the newest Nora Roberts, The Collector which I enjoyed and was fine as a stand-alone romantic thriller.
Last night I started Christoper Moore's Sacre Bleu an off-kilter tale of Paris, Vincent van Gogh, sundry famous artists, and a scary little person called the Colorman. I'm not sure whether or not I like it yet, but it's certainly clever and he writes well.
I've been in a bit of a reading slump again, there are certainly plenty of books in the TBR pile, just nothing that leaps out at me, demanding to be read.
I am STILL on my mountaineering reading kick. Just finished these:
High Adventure - Sir Edmund Hilary - his account of the first ascent of Everest with Tenzing Norgay
After Everest - T. Howard Somervell - classic book by a teammate of George Mallory on that ill-fated expedition, also several other expeditions. The book, however, covers his work as a physician in India. After seeing the need on that great continent, he devoted his life to providing and improving medical care for the poor.
Nanda Devi - Eric Shipton - another classic book by one of the most famous men in early high-altitude mountaineering history.
And I am taking a bit of a break with Armistead Maupin's The Days of Anna Madrigal, which I am enjoying greatly. I just realized that I have read all of Maupin's books over the years.
I'm one quarter into A Place in the Country, Sarah Gainham's second book in her WWII Vienna trilogy, and am really liking it. It isn't as talky/introspective as Night Falls on the City was. The setting is just after the end of the war and begins in a British interrogation camp just inside Austria from the Hungarian border. The city of Vienna, and Austria as a whole, is divided into four sections (Russian, French, British, and American), all trying to be top dog, evidently.
Just finished John Sandford's new Lucas Davenport thriller, Field of Prey. It was like riding a roller coaster during a tornado. I could barely catch my breath.
Now starting Simone St. James' newest ghost story/mystery, Silence for the Dead. From the back cover, italics are mine:
"In 1919, Kitty Weekes, pretty, resourceful and on the run, falsifies her background to obtain a nursing position at Portis House, a remote hospital for soldiers left shell-shocked by the horrors of the Great War. Hiding the same of their mental instability in what was once a magnificent private estate, the patients suffer from nervous attacks and tormenting dreams. But something more is going on at Portis House - its plaster is crumbling, its plumbing makes eerie noises, and strange breaths of cold waft through the empty rooms. It's know that the former occupants left abruptly, but where did they go? And why do the patient all seem to share the same nightmare, one so horrific that they dare not speak of it?"
I've just finished The Girl Who Married a Lion, a book of folk-tales from Zimbabwe and Botswana, collected and retold by Alexander McCall Smith. I enjoyed the stories, but as always when I read any of his books, I got the feeling I was being talked down to. To me, his writing style comes across as having that annoying "talking down to children/explaining things to idiots" tone. Does anyone else get that feeling reading his books?
PAM - I love your description of Field of Prey. I'm going to have to give that one a try!
Now I'm about halfway through A Place in the Country, and I am LOVING this book. There's a bad guy in the British interrogation department, probably a Communist. This is 1947 Austria, and the Russians are just being found out not to be true allies.
Frieda, maybe this is the book you were thinking of in comparing other authors to Helen MacInnes.
Netla, no, I don't get that feeling from the Alexander McCall Smith books. Are you reading them in a translation?
I have started reading "William Shakespeare's Star Wars" by Ian Doescher. Not my usual cosy murder mystery book! I saw it mentioned on a Book Depository list and was intrigued.
It is very clever and I am enjoying it very much.
Iambic pentameter is very catching and I started thinking in it for a while after I put the book down!
I am also reading a murder mystery series set in Wales, by Elizabeth J. Duncan. I have ordered it from various libraries holding the books, so cannot read it in order, just how the books arrive from ILL!
Netla, re McCall Smith. I don't find he is talking down to me, but I think he just writes too many books. If he could slow down and not turn out several thousand words a day I think his work would be tighter and more enjoyable. He is becoming a 'grown-up' version of Enid Blyton.
Carolyn, your books sounds like shades of The Third Man . . . lots of 'film noir' but possibly without sewers.
Here is a link that might be useful: Can't beat an old flick
Netla, I've only ever read the "Isabel" books set in Scotland by McCall Smith. No, I never felt the author was "talking down" to readers.
Vee, I recently watched the old film "The Third Man" for the first time. I found it wonderful, as the b & w photography was so haunting. Loved that zither theme music, too!
I like that movie, too. Actually, the book isn't "dark."
I did quite a bit of reading over the weekend, as DH was out of town at a long-distance rifle shooting competition in Albuqerque (sp?). So lots of quiet time for me.
Finished up my nonfiction read The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by WIlliam Kwambwamba, a young man who lived (lives?) in Malawi and taught himself to build a small wind turbine to bring electricity and clean water to his village. Fantastic tale and more review to come.
Then read one of most charming books (fiction) for this year: The President's Hat by Antoine Laurent. Loved it and more review to come. (Short of time right now.)
And then I finished up a small gift book read of I Could Pee on This... by Francisco Marciuliano which is a collection poems from the perspective of our domestic feline friends... Recommend it if you have a cat in your life as you'll recognize a lot of what's said...
I've started Children of the Revolution, the latest Inspector Banks book by Peter Robinson. He's not as good as Ian Rankin, but he's good.