anniedeighnaugh

What are we reading in May 2020?

Annie Deighnaugh
25 days ago

With more at home time now, I decided it was a good time to hit the very long Anna Karenina. Never read it, never saw the movie, never knew anything about it other than it was supposed to be good, a classic and very long. I'm about 1/3 of the way into it. My goodness, it's a soap opera where all the characters have very long and multiple names. Thank goodness I'm reading it with paper and pen to jot down each name and a brief note about them so I can keep them all straight and their relationships family wise and otherwise.

Our book group will be reading Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. Not sure how good it will be...I have my doubts, but one of the gals in the group really wanted it so there it is. Next after that will be Becoming which I look forward to.


So what are you reading?

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As always, it's helpful if you bold titles if you can, rate the books 1-5 and say whether you think it'd be good for book group.

Comments (145)

  • Bunny
    yesterday
    last modified: yesterday

    Last night I finished Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano. I couldn't put it down, and I can't say that about many books I've read lately.

    It was beautifully written and, as my friend who recommended it to me had remarked, the kids spoke like real kids. Interestingly she and I came away with different aspects we valued. She liked how passengers' backstories got worked into the narrative. I was really moved by the actions that lead us to healing in the midst of grief and loss.

    It's a wonderful book. 4.5 stars.

    ETA: Not many people are flying now, but it's probably not a good book to read on a plane.

  • Fun2BHere
    yesterday

    Three new e-books from the library today. All will be light, fast reads. Hideaway by Nora Roberts. Bombshell by Stuart Woods. Wrath of Poseidon by Clive Cussler.

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  • stacey_mb
    2 days ago

    I finally finished War and Peace except for part of the Epilogue about political theory that I just skimmed over. It was a commitment just to read the book and I can't imagine Tolstoy's dedication in actually writing it, not to mention other books he wrote, such as Anna Karenina. I had heard Anna Karenina being described as the best novel ever written, but I think that War and Peace is a richer read with its wider range of topics.

  • Bookwoman
    2 days ago

    Peter Capaldi was a recent Doctor on Doctor Who. He's a very good actor with a heavenly voice. :-)

  • martinca_gw sunset zone 24
    2 days ago

    Stacy, thank you so much. I listened to a sample and his voice IS wonderful.

  • stacey_mb
    2 days ago
    last modified: 2 days ago

    Martinca - the narrator's name is Peter Capaldi. Here is the link to the book on Audible.com where I purchased it. I got so absorbed in the book and loved the characters so much that I felt a loss when it was finished. I liked the literary quotes at the beginning of each chapter that foreshadowed coming events and will borrow Watership Down to better identify the literary works and try to read at least some when our library opens again.

    Edited to change link.

  • Bunny
    2 days ago

    Oly, it's interesting when you put it that way. Usually I'm the same, not just in the context of books. Life in general, yes. It's been a couple of years since I read Little Fires and I can't pinpoint exactly where the ending changed my opinion of the book. Maybe like a boyfriend with so much promise and then you find out he has feet of clay. In hindsight it definitely colors the rosier past.

  • Olychick
    2 days ago

    Bunny, I read the spoilers about it and vaguely recall it. I guess I'm more of a journey reader and not a destination reader, so I loved the journey and didn't care as much about the destination.

  • Bunny
    2 days ago

    Oly, as I recall, it wasn't an earth-shattering, oh-no type of ending. It just flopped for me, like, that's it?!! I felt cheated.

  • Olychick
    2 days ago

    Have you read Angela's Ashes? I loved that book!

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    2 days ago

    I meant to mention that On Writing by Stephen King includes a list of 95 books he recommends. I've added the list to my list of books. What I found interesting was that out of his recommendations, I've read only 7, though a number of them were movies I've seen such as Sheltering Sky and Angela's Ashes and a River Runs Through It and The English Patient.

  • martinca_gw sunset zone 24
    3 days ago

    Stacy, could you please share the Watership Down narrators name ? I’m ready to enjoy that old favorite again. TIA :)

  • Olychick
    3 days ago

    People keep mentioning that, but I can't remember how it ended! Guess I'll have to look up a spoiler post on goodreads.

  • Bunny
    3 days ago

    I read Little Fires a couple of years ago. I thought most of it was good, but I didn’t like the ending, so that negated the good aspect for me.

  • Olychick
    3 days ago
    last modified: 2 days ago

    I just finished Tuesday Mooney Sees Ghosts. I bought it on a whim, without knowing a thing about it but the publisher's blurb, which sounded good. I ordered a few books from my local bookstore, just to give them some business during the lockdown, as they could mail order to me. I almost exclusively use the library, but was getting bored with my own bookshelf selection after the library closed. My bookstore had it in stock.

    I don't know what to say about it. The story was kind of fun, the writing was pretty ok, but it just never grabbed me. It seemed like the author was flailing about trying to make it more interesting, so some of it seemed too far-flung from the main story line. It had some strong friendship themes, which I liked.

    It might be a good summer, beach read.

    eta: I finally figured out a better descriptor for this book: it seemed like a YA novel (I'm not dissing those, I've read some I really liked). The level of writing seemed more geared toward someone without as high expectations as many adults have for writing skill.

  • Olychick
    3 days ago
    last modified: 3 days ago

    Yes, I loved it (little fires)! But part of loving it was the story and how it unfolded with things revealed that you will already know from having watched the show. I'm never wild about reading a book after seeing a film about it. I find the images I've seen on the screen replace what my own imagination conjures up, so it's never as rich an experience as reading the book first, then seeing the film.

  • Ladydi Zone 7A NW BC Canada
    3 days ago

    I just finished watching the 1st season of 'Little Fires Everywhere' on Prime and loved it. The review mentioned that the book is even better. Has anyone read it?

  • Bookwoman
    3 days ago

    Although the book is supposedly for children,

    When it was first published in the early '70s, Watership Down was marketed as a book for adults, although a lot of teenagers devoured it, including me!

  • stacey_mb
    3 days ago

    I just finished listening to audiobook Watership Down, a classic that I had never read before. It was an amazing read, a wonderful story with lots of adventure about a group of rabbits looking for a home. The narrator was outstanding, one of the best I've listened to. Although the book is supposedly for children, I found some of the violence a bit intense and don't think it would be suitable for younger or more sensitive children. It has many themes of interest to an adult reader such as friendship, storytelling, leadership, spirituality and morality. Definitely 5 out of 5 stars.

    As for War and Peace, the end is near for Napoleon and the French army. It is October and they are stranded in a burned-out Moscow with no provisions, so are on the march back to France. I'm really enjoying the book and it is not a tedious read at all. The author doesn't take shortcuts in describing events and characters, thus the length, but paints a vivid picture of this period in Russian history.

  • dedtired
    3 days ago

    Just catching up here, but I am so happy to read that others did not like Crawdads and were mystified by it’s popularity. I read it for book club so I finished it but thought it was ridiculous. The author came to speak nearby and it sold out in a heartbeat. I just don’t get it.

    Im currently reading Summer of ‘69 by Elin Hildebrand. It’s kind of a beach read and for someone who lived through that era, like me, it brings back some memories. Definitely not great literature.

  • Bunny
    3 days ago

    A couple of days ago I finished Triptych by Karin Slaughter, murder mystery, unconventional cops in Atlanta. I couldn't put it down, lots of twists and turns. 4 stars.

    Currently reading Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano, the title character being a 12-year-old boy who is the sole survivor of a commercial plane crash that killed his parents and brother.

  • Bookwoman
    3 days ago

    martinca, that's Some Tame Gazelle. Thanks for the smile!

    salonva, it's not so much a genre as it is a style, unique to Pym. In the 1950s, she wrote about English 'gentlewomen', vicars (there are always vicars) and the like in a softly amusing way that laid bare the interior lives of her characters. The books are both funny and poignant. I would start with Excellent Women.

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    3 days ago

    From a NYT article on Pym from Aug 2017:

    Barbara Pym, the midcentury English novelist, is forever being forgotten, and forever revived. Her novels sketch a circumscribed scene whose anchors were the church and the vicarage, and the busy, decent Englishmen and -women (more women) who shuffled between the two. To read her, one must have an appetite for endless jumble sales and whist drives, and the interfering wisdom of dowagers and distressed gentlewomen.


    Sounds a lot to me like the David Grayson novels which, if you are looking for gentle, mental vacation books, I highly recommend them...Adventures in Friendship, Adventures in Contentment....

  • salonva
    3 days ago

    hmmm so impressed with Anna Karenina. I have never read it and keep thinking one of these days I might give it a try. I normally have a problem with character names even when they are Jane and Mary, so this will be trying. (also the size of the book is what really deters me ). One of these days I really will.

    Now I think I will be looking into Barbara Pym. Thanks for the example. I don't know what the genre is, but I do enjoy it.

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    3 days ago
    last modified: 3 days ago

    nutsaboutplants...glad you liked Shibumi....I still remember being on the edge of my seat with the spelunking scene.

    We discussed On Writing by Stephen King and we all seemed to find the same parts interesting...it was ok but didn't lead to that much discussion as other books have.

    This month is Becoming by Obama. With limited copies, I'm listening to it on tape and so far am enjoying it.

    I'm also now about 2/3 of the way through Anna Karenina. I'm intrigued enough to find out how it all turns out ... I know nothing of the plot ... and am glad I've kept my list of all the characters in the book going as I struggle to keep all these russian names straight, esp when everyone has at least 3 names in their name, the women have different last names than the men (Karenin vs. Karenina) and then everyone has nicknames too. But fundamentally, it's a soap opera.

  • martinca_gw sunset zone 24
    4 days ago

    For Bookwoman I’m not sure which Pym book this is from ( I have them all )


    Ever fails to make me smile.


  • nutsaboutplants
    4 days ago

    Running, You summed up my thoughts on crawdads perfectly.


    Finished The Enchanted April. uplifting and funny.


    also finished Shibumi , a spy story elevated by good writing and interesting cultural expositions.

  • salonva
    4 days ago

    I finished Enchanted April and enjoyed it. I can imagine that it must be a great movie! I never heard of it until this forum, and luckily the library had the kindle version available.

    It was just so sweet and lovely how everything works out in the end. It reminded me of those old movies that were comical with timing being crucial as well.

    I have like 8 books on reserve, and just got notice that The Fever Tree is now available for me so that is what I will try next. I know nothing about it, but someone somewhere recommended it.

  • martinca_gw sunset zone 24
    4 days ago

    Ditto all of runnings criticisms On Crawdads. Recently, I‘ve enjoyed The Dutch House, Patchet, The Unseen world , by Liz Moore , Station Eleven , Emily St. John Mantel, Olivia Again, Elizabeth Stout. The Julia books look like fun. I’m looking forward to the final book in the Wolf Hall trilogy.

  • runninginplace
    5 days ago

    Georgysmom, I tried twice to read Where the Crawdads Sing and couldn't finish either time. It's truly a mystery to me how that thing has reached such mega bestseller status and has so many rapturous fans.


    I found the writing style overwrought, the plot unrealistic in the extreme and the characters unengaging.


    Other than that, it was fine I suppose LOL.

  • nutsaboutplants
    5 days ago

    Re-read The Known World by Edward P. jones. 5 stars every time I read it.


    the family upstairs 3 stars


    reading The Enchanted April. loving it! So buoyant without being flippant.

  • Fun2BHere
    5 days ago

    I just finished Broken Ground by Val McDermid. It featured her Karen Pirie character. Her books are well-written. This one kept me interested, but the mystery wasn't hard to figure out. I'd rate it 4 out of 5 stars.

    Next up for me is Have You Seen Me? by Kate White

  • georgysmom2
    5 days ago

    Just finished reading Where the Crawdads Sing. At one point I put it down and wasn't going to finish it because I thought it depressing. However, true to my nature, I started it and decided I have to finish it. I'm glad I did. I did get to the point where I didn't want to put it down. I guess overall I liked it. Not a resounding endorsement but it's still kind of a sad book. I guess with the virus thing going on more uplifting would be better.

  • runninginplace
    6 days ago
    last modified: 5 days ago

    Since I can't quite make myself leave the world of the Wolf Hall trilogy, I'm reading Antonia Fraser's The Wives of Henry VIII. It's excellent, she did extensive and deep research so it provides an exhaustive look not only at the individuals but the overall political and social framework of the era. I'm finding it's slow going because of all the historical detail but very interesting. It's also interesting to note how absolutely aghast the rest of the civilized world felt at the time as Henry careened along his marital path, leaving all those wives dead or abandoned over the years.

    Another interesting historical fact: Anne Boleyn died 484 years ago this week!

    I also just had the reader's delight of discovering that a series I thought had only a few books in fact has kept going for years, meaning that there are lots more installments to read that I never knew about!

    The Monkeewrench books were written by a mother/daughter authorial pair (the mother died, daughter has continued solo) and feature a team of quirky computer geniuses who run a software company, the eponymous Monkeewrench gang. They work with a pair of police detectives solving cases in Minneapolis. The characters are well written and although some of the violence is disturbing, there is also a humorous and playful writing style that lightens up the dark plotting. As a Floridian I also find the references to Minnesota winter weather absorbing--I've never dealt with anything like that for sure!

    I only read the first 3 books years ago, and just inhaled book #4. It's so much fun to have a good series to dig into!

    And speaking of series I just finished the latest Miss Julia book. Miss Julia is a 'mature' quite well off Southern lady living in small town North Carolina with a cast of quirky friends and relatives.

    The books are cozy mysteries though often the stories, including, this one, have much more cozy than mystery. They often are laugh out loud funny, especially some of the earlier stories. The past few books took on a rather disheartening political tone but this latest was very enjoyable.

  • Kswl 2
    7 days ago
    last modified: 7 days ago

    I am starting on Proust's In Search of Lost Time as soon as DS1 receives his set of these from Amazons. He and I will occasionally read the same book (I also do this with the other DS) at the same time and discuss it by text or on the phone. He really wanted to read this SEVEN VOLUME novel of more than 4,000 pages. It will likely take a year, depending on how much we like it and what catastrophes lie in wait for the rest of 2020. Mine is the Kindle version so I can read it while waiting when I am out and about ----except there is no ndle version so I can read it on my phone while I am out and about waiting for things, except there is no waiting out and about right now. So I am thinking this is the literary version of binging all 16 seasons of Grey's Anatomy, but hopefully it will improve my mind instead of the opposite :)

  • sableincal
    8 days ago

    Have just finished Moloka'i, by Alan Brennert, at the recommendation of this forum, about this island's leper colony (now closed, TG, thanks to the creation of sulfa drugs); continuing with Brennert am now reading Honolulu, about a young Korean woman who marries a very disagreeable man and goes with him to Hawaii. Had never read about Hawaii before, but Brennert's descriptions and characters are so good that I've found myself looking at websites for airlines, checking on schedules, etc., for when the pandemic isolation is over!

    Also reading, more slowly, Chanel's Riviera: Glamour, Decadence, and Survival in Peace and War, 1930-1944, by Anne de Courcy. I'd thought that this book might just be about fripperies and fashion, but no, it concerns how a very glamourous crowd (including the Jews among them) managed to get through (or not) the German occupation of this famed adult playground. Just in case we were thinking that dealing with the coronavirus pandemic was difficult, well...

  • 3katz4me
    8 days ago

    Deadliest Enemy by Michael Osterholm - fascinating, easy to read nonfiction about infectious disease epidemics and pandemics written in 2017. The latest Kindle version has a new Covid-19 foreword.

  • ci_lantro
    8 days ago

    Started Paris by Edward Rutherford. Huge downshift from the Churchill book. I feel like I'm reading a children's book by comparison but thought it would complement the Churchill biographies since I haven't read much about French history aside from Zola's Germinal.

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    8 days ago

    Wahoo! I'm so delighted! Our state is phasing in reopening which means our library will open again for curbside only. Oh to have access to books again! Can't wait!

  • sjerin
    8 days ago

    Ty, kadefol, this is the kind of easy reading I like. I hope the library will open for hold check-outs soon.

  • kadefol
    8 days ago

    The entire Peridale Cafe mystery series by Agatha Frost. There are 20 books and I am up to #17. It is set in an English village and nice light reading.

  • chisue
    8 days ago

    I just finished Radio Girls, Sarah-Jane Stratford. The 'breathless' start was off-putting, but it's a good plot and a close look at society and the early days of the BBC.

    Maisie, the penniless, 'inconvenient' daughter of an actress comes to London by way of NYC. She hopes to find the British father she never knew as well as scrape a living. She's hired by the tyranical director of the BBC as a typist/girl-of-all-work and thrives under the wing of the socially-connected female producer of the BBC's Talks programs, Hilda Matheson (historic person).

    Fascism is growing, and Masie and Hilda have to fight to keep their programs free of propaganda. It's an entertaining view of history between the wars, where women were still expected to 'know their place', espeically in need of male 'guidance' then, as they achieve the right to vote. <snark>

    3+ Stars.

  • caflowerluver
    9 days ago

    Today was the first day that our library was open for drive up pick up of books that were on hold. I have had this on hold before the stay at home order. I thought I would never get it.

    Finding Jack by Gareth Crocker. It is a kind of a dog book and what one soldier did to bring his military dog home instead of abandoning him. Reviews say have a box of tissues handy. I read somewhere that they might make a movie from the book.

  • ci_lantro
    9 days ago

    Just finished The Last Lion: Alone, the second volume of Wm Manchester's trilogy biography of Winston Churchill. Rating of 5.


    The last volume, Defender of the Realm, is a monster of a book at over 1100 pages. It was written by Paul Reid, Manchester's designate to finish the series after Manchester's death. Since I don't have it in my possession yet, I think I will leave it for winter.


    I have 4 new books on deck and another one on its way. Need to decide which is next.

  • Bestyears
    9 days ago

    artemis - I remember The Stars are Fire book well. I picked it up without knowing much about it, and then as the story unfolded, I realized that these were the fires that my mother had talked about taking place during her childhood. She grew up in a small, NH town right on the Maine border, and would have been 8 and 9 the during the time these fires burned. Her family walked everywhere in those days, as they didn't own a car at the time, and she has vivid memories of walking through the smokey ashy air for months and months.

  • artemis_ma
    9 days ago
    last modified: 9 days ago

    In the Kingdom of Ice, by Hampton Sides - just finished reading this. An aborted attempt to reach the North Pole circa 1890s. I just wanted to read about challenges that had or have nothing to do with diseases, but were still life-threatening.

    Very well written, I'd give it a 4.5 out of 5. I was wondering about why he was structuring the latter half or such of the book the way he did - which I won't explain - but when I came to the end, I understood. You'll understand then, too. (Unless you already know the history, which I didn't.)

    Years ago, I read his Ghost Soldiers, about the WWII Philippines Death March. Same rating but read for different reasons.

    My book club, meeting Wednesday evening over dinner and a tall glass of wine, will discuss Anita Shreve's The Stars Are Fire. I read this last month, but will skim parts before we talk (I always forget character names). Set in 1947 -48, Grace Holland is home alone while her distant and not exactly empathic husband is out fighting a serious set of fires in the Maine woods. The fire rushes in, and Grace rushes her two children to the sea shore, where the ocean protects her and them, to the loss of her house and the probable loss of her husband - he is one of several who do not return from fire fighting duty. She rebuilds her life and discovers independence. For this to come shattering down... Okay beyond that you got to read. I liked the book, but some parts seemed a bit staged more than I'd have appreciated. Rating 3 - 3.25 stars out of 5.

    Oh, our book club will indeed meet over dinner - on Zoom. Hey, as much wine as one wants, and no DWI !!!!


  • Bunny
    9 days ago

    Finished The Stationery Shop last night. It was a quick read.

    There were parts of it I enjoyed: the cooking, history, cultural aspects, Persian New Year! I enjoyed when the girls went to Mills College and their experiences in America.

    What resonated with me was the deep and abiding love two people never got over. It reminded me of falling in love with my future husband when we were 16.

    That all being said, I really didn't care for Bahman all that much. He burned a little too brightly. His mother was mentally ill and endured many losses, but still, she was insufferable.

    3.5 stars. I don't do book clubs so can't speak to that.

  • salonva
    10 days ago

    I am reading the kindle version thanks to the library. (I have a very clear preference to read ebooks and with this shutdown, the e books are going strong)

  • WalnutCreek Zone 7b/8a
    10 days ago

    Looked to see if The Enchanted April was available for download from my library and it was. Plus, it was available for borrowing. It is now on my bookshelf to start reading as soon as I finish reading The Rooster Bar. Yay!

  • WalnutCreek Zone 7b/8a
    10 days ago
    last modified: 10 days ago

    It is wonderful, Bookwoman. And I always hear the name as Mallesh. Will have to listen more closely the next time I watch it. And you are right, it is certainly a name I have never heard in all my many, many years of life.