What are we reading - November 2019

Annie Deighnaugh
November 1, 2019

I can't believe it's November already!

I'm so enjoying Gentleman in Moscow right now.

Our book group will be reading the Alice Network this month.

What's on your reading agenda?

(It's helpful for others if you can bold the book titles, rate them 1-5 with 5 being best and whether or not you think it's good for a book group.)

Comments (89)

  • lonestar123

    I read all the Miss Read books years ago and really liked them. I think the author's real name is Dora Saint or something like that.

  • sableincal

    Bunny, you are reading Leviticus (and Numbers)??? What sort of class, if I may ask. Are you going to be grilled on the commandments, all 613 of them? LOL!

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  • norar_il

    Bunny -- about having trouble understanding Press -- Me too! Closed caption usually helps me with accents, but most of the actors on this show are mumbling or foggy sounding or something. I thought it was my tv sound, but I can understand a couple of the actors. I'm glad to know it isn't just me or my tv.

  • Bunny

    Norar, I don't think it was the accents, just fast talking and mumbling. It would have been the same if they had American accents. I'm very resistant to closed captions, so I bailed.

  • Bunny

    Sableincal, I'm taking a college-level class through my Episcopal church. This year it's the Hebrew Bible, not just Leviticus and Numbers. I love it. I've taken it before but I think it bears reading multiple times. I won't be grilled on any of the 613 commandments. We sort of pick and choose the goods ones. There's a lot of social justice spelled out.

  • fouramblues

    I’ve been trying to get through The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck for almost a month now. It’s interesting to get a glimpse of how WWII affected the German psyche in various ways, and the character development is good. I think my problem is that I don’t like the main characters. I’ll finish it, though.

  • Janie

    I just started a book recommended to me by my 11 y/o grandson (who has given me quite a few wonderful book recommendations). This one is The Insignificant Events In The Life Of A Cactus. Its a story about a young girl and her 2 friends, all with different disabilities and the challenges and struggles they face and the shining lights that they become.

  • sableincal

    Bunny, I hope I didn't come across as sarcastic with my feeble attempt at humor. I agree with you that reading the Old Testament just once is probably for most of us not enough to absorb the enormous history and poetry that it contains. Such a complex book! Teaching it well is quite a challenge. Could I ask which translation you are using? There are so many today. I was raised with the King James version and we used it for my college course in the OT, even though other versions were available by then. Such beautiful language for a translation from the impossibly difficult classical Hebrew!

  • Bunny

    Sable, you didn't come across as sarcastic at all. I think a healthy dose of humor and wonder is mandatory for this book (actually collection of books). I'm using the New Revised Standard Version (Oxford Annotated), which we use in our lectionary. I agree that King James has some glorious language, but it can be more challenging to understand. I do not care for translations like The Message that seem overly contemporary to me. As I understand it, most translations are not directly from the Hebrew, but from the Greek translation from the original Hebrew (Septuagint).

  • Bestyears

    My latest audiobook keeping me company on my dog walks is The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali. Really enjoyable story -although I think I'm always easily swept up by stories set in Iran. The food, the customs, I find it all so mesmerizing.

  • salonva

    I finished Euphoria and would probably give it 3.5 stars. It's fiction, but loosely based on Margaret Meade and anthropologists in New Zealand/ Australia. It held my interest, but it was confusing as it changed from chapter to chapter as to who was speaking.

    I just started Eternal Life which I am enjoying quite a bit. It's quite different. I read The World To Come by the same author several years ago and that was wild. This is agreeing with me a bit more. Very spiritual and a tad humorous at the same time.

  • 4kids4us

    Bestyears, thanks for the audiobook recommendation of The Stationery Shop. I’m always looking for audiobooks since I’m in my car a lot. I hadn’t heard of this one, but it looks enjoyable. I like reading about people from other cultures. I was pleasantly surprised to see this audiobook is available in my library’s collection. I will start it when I finish my current audiobook, Tidelands by Philippa Gregory. I just started this one so no opinion yet.

    I’ve been in a bit of a reading rut lately and bingeing too many British/Australian tv series instead. I have, however, read the following, all of which were enjoyable enough but nothing to rave about.

    A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier (audiobook)

    Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys (advanced publisher’s copy I won in a giveaway)

    Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes (audiobook)

    These three were historical fiction and while I appreciated some of the historical aspects about subjects unfamiliar to me, none were spectacular. Actually, I did like The Giver of Stars, but my enjoyment was clouded by the controversy surrounding the book (suggestions of plagiarism).

    I just listened to Things You Save in a Fire while on a road trip this past weekend. It’s chick lit/romance which is a genre I don’t read often, but it was light and funny and only a wee bit of romance, mostly toward the end. It definitely helped me pass the time in the car, but probably not a book I would’ve picked up and read at home.

  • hhireno

    I just started The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman (was it recommended here?) and came across this line:

    She just wanted - had always wanted - a good book to read.

    I love that line. It could be my epitaph. I hope the rest of the book doesn‘t disappoint.

  • Uptown Gal

    I loved " Born a Crime"...and love Trevor Noah his show everytime I

    can. Hard to believe he grew up the way he did and is now so funny and

    seems to be so at ease in life and his "standup career". Great book. Have tried to watch "Press" several

    times, and I just get so disgusted with all the characters. People you love

    to hate, for sure. And, as you say, the constant mumbling makes me crazy. :)

  • terezosa / terriks

    Chisue, last night I stumbled onto Press. I lived in Sheffield, England, for 6 years and had no trouble with accents, but the actors on Press were really hard for me to understand. Maybe it was fast talking or mumbling, but it was a challenge for me.

    I turn on closed captioning for almost every British TV show/movie that I watch.

  • Bunny

    terezosa/terriks, for my first 6 months in Sheffield I couldn't understand half of what people said. I finally got the hang of it and I grew to love the broad Yorkshire accent.

  • sheilajoyce_gw

    I am plowing through Stephen Ambrose's book about the building of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads to connect the east coast to the west coast. The title is Nothing Like It in the World.

  • Bestyears

    4kids - speaking of bingewatching- Have you watched Call the Midwife? My English SIL got me started on it, and I've binge-watched the first 7 1/2 seasons on Netflix. One of the best things I've seen on television in a long time. Great writing, great historical references, wonderful characters -and the acting!

  • chisue

    Re: British accents. One day I was in a waiting room with two women, mother and daughter, who were chatting away. I could not grasp what they were saying -- what language they were speaking. I finally asked. They were from Manchester, as they explained, changing into English I could understand!

    DH and use captioning on most 'foreign' films and series. I believe Holly, the crusading journalist in Press is from northern Britain, but I can understand her much better than those two ladies from Manchester.

  • 4kids4us

    Bestyears, I've watched Call the Midwife on PBS since it initially aired. LOVE it. I even read the book on which it was based.

    hhireno, what a quote! I love it - that completely describes me. Somewhat of an introvert, I relish downtime with a book. I've been known to tell my kids to make themselves dinner if I was so absorbed in a good book, I didn't want to stop to feed them!

  • Olychick

    Bestyears, have you read The Last Days of Cafe Leila? If not, you might really enjoy it. I definitely did. Someone here recommended it; sorry, I don't recall who it was, but thank you! (Maybe it was you, lol).

    Last Days of Cafe Leila

  • jojoco

    I just finished three books that I heard of here. Loved A Place for US, the prose, the bits and pieces of Muslim teachings (paraphrasing, but one was ...before you judge someone's actions, give them 70 possible reasons for what they are doing....) This book resounded with me greatly. It really described a universal truth through the vehicle of a muslim family from India.

    Where the Crawdad Sings was also beautifully written. It is a watercolor with words. The story took some far-fetched turns, imo, but I forgive it that as I was so drawn in with the scenery and the main character. But mostly the scenery.

    Daisy Jones and the Six. Remember that movie about the cub reporter for "Rolling Stone" magazine? If you loved that one, (and I did,) then this book is for you. It is a glimpse into the lifestyle of a 70's band at its height. The book is a breezy read and is done in interview style. Love the conflicting accounts. It is sort of like reading a mockumentary. It isn't supposed to be deep--way too many drugs for that. But it is a fun read and the characters, while hitting all the rock band tropes, (no bra, drugs, feminism, angry young man...) are engaging.

    On a related side note: I often reserve books at the library in large print as the wait time is always significantly shorter, especially on hugely popular books. And I think to myself, "I'm just impatient, that's all. I don't need large print." Guess what? It's not that large. (Pass the crow.)

  • norar_il

    I'm reading, and enjoying, Nevada Barr's What Rose Forgot. I won't rate it since I'm not finished, but I'm liking the story and the style of writing. I've not read any of her other books, but understand this one is different.

  • Fun2BHere

    @norar_il, is What Rose Forgot sad? I borrowed from my library, but I wasn't sure I wanted to read it because of the subject matter.

  • Rusty

    Yesterday I finished Anna Quindlin's "Every Last One".

    From the book jacket: "An unforgettable portrait of a mother, a father, a family, and the explosive, violent consequences of what seem like inconsequential actions."

    All I can say is. . . .WOW! The people in this book are going to be with me for quite a long time. And I'm saying 'people' because they are much too real to be referred to as 'characters'.

    Started "The Bookshop of Yesterdays" by Amy Meyerson. I'm only about 80 or so pages in, but so far, so good. Will report on it when I finish it.


  • Bestyears

    oly, I LOVED that book!!!! Same feeling as The Stationery Shop reading it....

  • Kathsgrdn

    Still listening to "Where the Crawdads Sing" and just finished "The Institute" by Stephen King. It was pretty good. Some of the books I requested at my local library went poof for some reason. I kept waiting and waiting and then last night checked my account and they have nothing listed for me. I don't know what happened. In the meantime I did order one of those books from Amazon the other day because I knew I'd be finishing the Stephen King book soon, "The Diary of a Bookseller", mentioned here. It's supposed to be here Friday. I guess I'll have to catch up on my stack of National Geographic in the meantime.

  • runninginplace

    Rusty, Every Last One is a book that's stayed with me--it is a haunting read isn't it?!

    I may have recommended Daisy Jones and the Six and I love jojo's analysis, loved the book and gushed although many found it pretty formulaic...which it was. But if you like the formula you'll love this one LOL.

    I just picked up a book from the library that I have absolutely no recollection of requesting! The Ten Thousand Doors of Januaryhas stellar reviews but this is the first time I've blacked out about a book yen ;). We shall see.

    I also picked up Into the Planet: My Life as a Cave Diverwhich I hope will give me a vicarious thrill about an adventure I am never, ever EVER going to undertake!

    And I got Olive Kitteridge to re-read before I tackle Olive Again. It's been a few years since I read about Olive so I want to reaquaint myself with that prickly but fascinating lady.

  • salonva

    I just saw that Oprah's next book is Olive Again..........

    I finished Eternal Life this morning. I really liked it, and although I wouldn't want to be tested on it ( pretty sure I didn't "get" some parts) I was really taken with it. I enjoyed it quite a bit probably a 4.5 star book. The author definitely gave a lot to think about and really took me on a ride.

    It is an excellent book club suggestion. I was looking forward to the discussion in a few weeks but now I think I won't be able to make the meeting.

  • salonva

    Updating to say- just started one that I have never heard of- for book club-

    Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk. Reading on kindle and at about 5 % so yes, just started but it seems pretty good.

  • norar_il

    Re What Rose Forgot: I'm not sure I liked it. Rose is in her late 60's and is constantly hiding from someone trying to kill her. I didn't figure out what she forgot! So I'll give it a 2.

  • MrsM

    Just started reading Olive, again by Elizabeth Strout. I read Olive Kittridge years ago. Hope this one is good.

  • Rusty

    Finished Amy Meyerson's "The Bookshop of Yesterdays" this morning.

    From the book jacket: "A woman inherits a beloved bookstore and sets forth on a journey of self-discovery in this poignant debut about family, forgiveness and love of reading".

    Also from the book jacket: "Bighearted and trenchantly observant, "The Bookshop of Yesterdays" is a love letter to reading and bookstores, and a testament to the healing power of community and how our histories shape who we become."

    I really enjoyed this book. I'm looking forward to her next book, which won't be out until sometime in 2020.

    Not sure what's up next for me, I'll be choosing something from the library's Overdrive selection later today.


  • nickel_kg

    Kinda sweet and old fashioned without being too sappy -- D. E. Stevenson's Miss Buncle series.

  • teeda

    I'm another one reading Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk. I've had it in my Kindle library for a while but avoided it for some reason. Spent 12 hours flying for work yesterday so started on it. OMG, I love it. It's the story of a pioneer advertising career woman at Macy's, from the 1920's to her retired years in the 1980s. It is based on Margaret Fishback, an accomplished advertiser for Macy's as well as a poet in the 1930's.

    I also just finished The Chilbury Ladies' Choir. Really enjoyed that as well. Set at the start of WWII in an English village. A story of women's strength and resilience. Would highly recommend both.

  • sheilajoyce_gw

    P is for Peril. Love this series, light reading.

  • Annie Deighnaugh

    It's been busy, so it took me awhile but I sure enjoyed Gentleman in Moscow. What a delightful tale. I'd give it 5 stars and it would be great for book group except it's a tad long, depending on your book group.

    Next up is The Alice Network for our book group.

  • Delilah66

    When Breath Becomes Air was probably my favorite book this year. The author was an amazing man. His brain worked on so many levels. My favorite quote from the book: “The pain of failure had led me to understand that technical excellence was a moral requirement. Good intentions were not enough....”

    I just started THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD by Colson Whitehead after seeing him on The Daily Show. From Wikipedia: The alternate history novel tells the story of Cora and Caesar, two slaves in the southeastern United States during the 19th century, who make a bid for freedom from their Georgia plantations by following the Underground Railroad, which the novel depicts as primarily a rail transport system in addition to a series of safe houses and secret routes.

  • runninginplace

    I read Olive Kitteridge again before diving into Olive, Again. I was surprised at how little I recalled of the first book! It was a few years ago and yet most of the interlinked stories unfolded as brand new. Clearly my reading retention wasn't keen on that first pass.

    My second impression was what an incredible writer Elizabeth Strout is. I suppose because I'm a lot closer to Olive's age/stage of life now the themes of aging, loss, memories etc are so much more meaningful to me. Strout captures with such delicacy and clarity the small moments of life that reflect the most enormous parts of the life condition of everyone. An exchange, a glance, a fleeting thought are all tiny bits of what weave together one's interior world and she writes it all onto the page. Here's a great example. Olive, an elderly widow, is at the very beginning of a possible new relationship:

    "What young people didn't now, she thought, lying down beside this man, his hand on her shoulder, her arm: oh, what young people did not know. They did not know that lumpy, aged and wrinkled bodies were as needy as their own young, firm ones, that love was not to be tossed away carelessly, as if it were a tart on a platter with others that got passed around again. And if her platter had been full with the goodness of Henry and she had found it burdensome, had flicked it off crumbs at a time, it was because she had not known what one should know: that day after day was unconsciously squandered."

  • OutsidePlaying

    I finished The Guardians, by John Grisham. I would give it a solid 4.5 stars. This legal thriller is more like his earlier books than anything else he has written lately. I loved the main and even the secondary characters are likeable (except for the bad guys of course), and the subject matter is timely.....drugs, drug cartel shenanigans, corruption, wrongly convicted prisoners. Fully entertaining. I did not care for either of his last two books so am glad he returned to his old writing roots.

  • chisue

    Michael Connelly again. The Night Fire. Bosch and Ballard have three or four investigations going. It's the same old 'Joe Friday/Procedural' format until the twist. Always a good read. It's dedicated to Titus Welliver (plays Bosch in the TV series).

  • hhireno

    I haven’t been having much luck with books this week. I gave up on The Invisible Library because it was fantasy and not a style that hooked me. I gave up on Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage because it was just ridiculous. I gave up on something else and I can’t even remember the title without going back into my book bag to look. Maybe it’s me, and not the books, but life is too short to spend time struggling through books that don’t interest me. I’m heading back to the library to restock.

    I recommended City of Thieves to a guy at the gym. Today he said “I liked it but the language was interesting, I was surprised you recommended it.” I read it a year ago, and really liked it, and I don’t remember any offensive language. He’s an ex-marine that likes historical books, does he not know war is Hell? Is he easily offended? Am I crass and numb to offensive language? IDK but I won’t be recommending any more books to him, I really don’t want to offend him.

    Offensive language reminds me, in 1982 my sister and I took my Dad to see the movie Tootsie. He told us the last time he went to a movie, they were only a nickel, so the cost surprised him. When we got home, he told my Mum he was shocked by the language. My sister and I looked at each other and asked “what language?” He said they used a rude 4-letter word for feces. I guess that word seemed shocking to someone whose last movie experience cost a nickel. He would be horrified by the words they allow on TV now.

  • salonva

    I finished Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, which will be for a book club in December. I think it's a good book for discussion. I found parts of it quite sad, but also, being a native New Yorker, enjoyed a lot of the commentary about the city and buildings and so on. Not sure how that would play if you are not familiar; I suppose just gloss over. I think I would give it 3.5 stars.

    Up next, I am going to try Dispatches from Pluto. lost and found in the Mississippi Delta. It should be entertaining.

  • matthias_lang

    Bullfinch's Mythology. After reading references to this all my life, I finally bought a thrift store copy and started it Friday. It is much more accessible than I'd guessed. Footnotes, for instance, are actually fewer than I'd like.

  • Rusty

    Well, the library was closed when I finished "The Bookshop of Yesterdays" last week. I was almost in a panic (that happens when I have nothing to read in the house). So I dug out a tablet I had purchased on a whim several months ago, and began to learn about Overdrive and ebooks. My only past experience with ebooks had been with the Kindle app on my phone, and I hated it! So I expected to hate the tablet, too. (It had already proven worthless for the use I had intended it for.) I borrowed Nicholas Sparks' "Every Breath" and learned how to read a book on a tablet. Yes, for me, there was a learning curve, mainly in how to use the tablet and the Kindle app. The first chapter was "no way this is going to work". Second chapter was "well, maybe". Third chapter was "This isn't too bad." From there on in, it was "Hmm, not like a 'real' book, but I don't have to go to the library and physically carry books around". So-o-o-o, looks like I'm going to like e-reading! In spite of myself!

    As for Sparks' "Every Breath", it as a heartbreakingly beautiful love story, and I loved it! But then, he is one of my favorite authors.

    Copied from his website: “In the romantic tradition of The Notebook and Nights in Rodanthe, #1 New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Sparks returns with a story about a chance encounter that becomes a touchstone for two vastly different individuals—transcending decades, continents and the bittersweet workings of fate.

    Illuminating life's heartbreaking regrets and enduring hope, Every Breath explores the many facets of love that lay claim to our deepest loyalties—and asks the question, How long can a dream survive?”

    I definitely recommend this book!

    So now I am about 70 pages into "A Gentleman in Moscow" by Amor Towles, which I chose from recommendations here. Neither the cover nor the title is anything that would cause me to give this book a second glance. And so far, I'm not sure how much farther I will read in it. It is definitely not what I expected (Although, to be honest, I'm not sure what I expected). I've enjoyed some pages, I've skipped through some pages, so we'll see.


  • Olychick

    Rusty, stick with it! I think most of us who ended up loving Gentleman felt exactly the same as you (I know I did) at the beginning of the book. But it picks up and is such a great read.

  • Bunny

    Rusty, I loved A Gentleman both times I read it. Don’t skip over too much because it all adds up and matters.

  • Janie

    Hhireno, I recently saw Tootsie (the musical) on Broadway and there is one song that is mostly the "F" word. In spite of that word being over-used in that song, its absolutely hilarious - the entire show was terrific but your Dad would be shocked LOL. Even I was shocked!

  • Kathsgrdn

    Listening to a Robin Cook in the car. I can't remember the name of it but I have another one to listen to after that one: "Nano", haven't read any of his books since the 80s I think. A friend of mine moved to Germany with a box of them. She gave them to me and I read them all and really liked them. I didn't realize he was still writing, found them while looking at the library. I also am reading Lonely Planet's guide to Scotland and "The Diary of a Bookseller" by Shaun Bythell, that someone posted on one of these posts in the recent past.

  • Annie Deighnaugh

    Just finished The Alice Network for book group and look forward to the discussion. 5 stars.

    Next up for me The Crazyladies of Pearl Street by Trevanian...though I somehow think I may hare read it already...I'll know once I get into it.

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