anniedeighnaugh

What are we reading? April 2021 Edition

Annie Deighnaugh
17 days ago
last modified: 17 days ago

What are you reading?

As always, it helps to bold the titles, rate the books 1-5 stars, and let us know if you think it would be good for a book group.

----------

I'm reading two books right now, both for book groups.

One is Nine Perfect Strangers about nine people who attend a 10 day spa retreat...I'm over halfway and really enjoying it.

The other is How to Raise an Adult which is about how not to be a helicopter parent.

Comments (50)

  • Phyllis Leritz
    17 days ago

    I'm re-reading A Man Called Ove for our book club. And I'm enjoying it again.

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  • Bunny
    17 days ago

    Annie, I agree. I had the same feeling with Brooklyn, only I saw the movie, read the book, saw the movie. I give the movie the edge.

  • Kathsgrdn
    17 days ago

    Started Stephen King's "Later" a couple days ago. It's good and tried to stay up all night reading it last night but couldn't keep my eyes open. Have his book written as Richard Bachman, "Roadwork" here at work but haven't started it yet. I may start it as it seems like things are really slowing down tonight.

  • 4kids4us
    17 days ago

    After the recommendation toward the end of the March thread for Trustee from the Toolroom by Nevil Shute, I downloaded the audiobook and was able to get through almost half of it yesterday while roadtripping to get our first dose of Covid vaccine. I’m really enjoying it. With no more car drives ahead me in the near future, I will be motivated to take extra long dog walks over the next few days so I can finish. I don’t know if the kindle version mentions, but this was Shute‘s last novel and published after he died.


    Thanks for whoever recommended it - it is escaping me who it was. Bunny, maybe?

  • nutsaboutplants
    17 days ago

    Reading Under the Banner of Heaven. By Jon Krakauer, about the fundamentalist wing of Mormonism. This was a kind of a natural progression after watching Murder Among the Mormons, which also deals with Mormon history and crimes, though these two are not about the same type of crimes.

    Under the ... is well-written and informative. Enjoying the book thus far and learning more about Mormonism.

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    Original Author
    16 days ago

    Just finished Nine Perfect Strangers and it will be a good book group discussion I think...4+ stars.

  • norar_il
    16 days ago

    I'm reading The Residence by Kate Andersen Brower, non fiction about the White House and the people who run it. Most of the permanent employees are loyal to the temporary residents, no matter what political party they belong to, but there are bits about how the presidents and their wives live and treated the people who work there. I'm really liking it and will give it a four star rating. It covers the periods from the Kennedys to the Obamas. I only wish it was updated through the Trumps.

    Next in line is How to Raise an Elephant by Alexander McCall Smith.

  • Bestyears
    16 days ago

    I recently finished Becoming Mrs. Lewis, and it was the best book I've read in recent history. It reminds me in tone, of another favorite: Loving Frank. Both are fictionalized historical narratives about loving famous men.

  • Bunny
    16 days ago

    I just finished Pied Piper by Nevil Shute. I liked it very much, not quite as much as Trustee from the Toolroom. 4+ stars. It's told in the same straightforward way as Trustee and I couldn't put it down. It was written in 1942 (!!) about a time in 1940 when an elderly Englishman in Switzerland is attempting to take 6-7 children (not his own or in any way related to him) back to England to escape the seemingly unstoppable and monstrous Germans. Hence, Pied Piper.

    I mentioned in my review of Trustee (written in 1960) that there were a few instances of un-PC language. In Pied Piper this one made me choke on my coffee. They meet a young boy, a Polish Jew, whose parents have been murdered by the Germans:

    "Nicole [young French woman] came forward. "Tell us," she said gently. "Would you like to grow up with horses? Or would you rather buy things and sell them for a profit?" After all, she thought, it would be difficult for him to go against the characteristics of his race. "Would you rather do that?"

    Oh my. I chalked it up to the time, the culture of the author, and blithe anti-Semitism.

    ETA: Is there a problem mentioning the German's political party during WWII? I changed it to "Germans."

  • olychick
    16 days ago

    Bestyears, I looked up Becoming Mrs. Lewis and it's classified in my library as part of the Thorndike Press Christian fiction series. What is your assessment of that aspect - as far as readability for non-Christians? If you don't mind me asking you to say.

  • Bestyears
    16 days ago
    last modified: 16 days ago

    Oly, that's a great question. Joy Davidman, who became Mrs. Lewis, and C.S. Lewis himself both came to believe in Christianity later in life -in fact, that was the bond over which they met, when she wrote to him while she was still struggling over her sudden belief (both were atheists previously). However, this book does not proselytize at all. Prior to this, I had never read a book categorized as "Christian fiction" which I would have recommended. I'm honestly mostly annoyed and impatient with such books (does anybody read to be proselytized to?). This book is much more interested in the intellectual life they shared, which was quite something, and included other famous writers, such as J.R.R. Tolkien. Although I had never heard of Joy Davidman, I've looked into her life a bit since finishing this novel. She was quite a woman, a bit of a child prodigy who graduated early from Columbia, and who wrote throughout her career. Her two sons are mentioned frequently in the novel as was her miserable first husband. Sadly, I discovered that one of the sons grew up to be schizophrenic.

  • Bookwoman
    16 days ago

    Just FYI, it's Joy Davidman, not Davidson.

  • Bunny
    16 days ago

    I just downloaded Becoming Mrs. Lewis. Before the prologue is this:

    “Becoming Mrs. Lewis is a work of fiction. All incidents, dialogue, letters, and all characters with the exception of some well-known historical figures, are products of the author’s imagination and not to be construed as real. Where real-life historical persons appear, the situations, incidents, and dialogues concerning those personas are entirely fictional and are not intended to depict actual events or to change the entirely fictional nature of the work. In all other respects, any resemblance to persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.”

    Who is real-life?

  • salonva
    16 days ago

    I mentioned in our March thread that I was reading Open Book by Jessica Simpson. I was not riveted to it, but it did hold my interest and I completed it. I was torn between 2 and 3 stars but gave it 3 because hey - I did finish it. There were some pretty interesting parts, but mostly kind of what I expected. Honestly, a big turn off to me was how truly (imo) pampered that life is with house managers and non stop hired help who are also one's closest friends. Very different from my peeps.

    Now on a very different note, I am reading Miss Benson's Beetle by Rachel Joyce. Rachel Joyce wrote 2 of my favorites- The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and the Lovesong of Miss Queenie Hennessy. I just started it, but so far I am liking it.


  • Bestyears
    16 days ago

    Bunny, C.S. Lewis (of Narnia, etc. fame), is real, Joy Davidman is real, J.R.R. Tolkien is real, Joy's first husband, William Gresham, was a real writer, her sons are real, and there are a few others. I read that prologue as a broad disclosure, similar to many other novels of historical fiction. The people and events are true. The conversations, daily details, etc. are typically made-up, although I think there is frequently a strong effort by the author to make it credible, to get it right. Cane River was such a novel. The author wrote the manuscript after coming up with many holes and deadends despite years of research into her own family history. I remember listening to an interview with her, where she described staying true to the facts whenever she knew them, and to weave a credible narrative based on those facts, where she had holes.

  • Bunny
    16 days ago

    Bestyears, thanks. I know C.S. Lewis and Tolkien are real, but had never heard of Davidman before. It's like Wolf Hall and the rest of Mantel's books about T. Cromwell. Essentially true but with made-up dialog and events that don't rock history too much.

  • Alisande
    15 days ago
    last modified: 15 days ago

    I find the older I get, the quicker I am to abandon a book for whatever reason. This time it was The Widows, by Jess Montgomery. It wasn't badly written, and I rather liked the characters. But too many of them were dying, or suffering, or in peril, and 2/3 of the way through it I'd had enough.

    So I made a complete switch to Connections in Death, from JD Robb's "In Death" series that I almost always enjoy. I also started Robin, by Dave Itzkoff. It's a biography of Robin Williams, and the author is a NY Times reporter. I'm not usually drawn to celebrity bios, but Robin Williams was such an interesting and unique person. The book is long--over 500 pages--so if it doesn't hold my interest I'll be back here defending yet another abandonment. :-)

    PS: Bunny, I can't imagine why anyone would object to the use of the word Nazi in a post. Please, let's not forget them and what they did.

  • Bunny
    15 days ago

    Sorry to go OT, but there's some weird posting anomalies on this thread. In the list I can see someone posted after me (based on avatar), but their post isn't here. I couldn't post a comment up a ways until I changed N*z* to Germans.

  • chisue
    15 days ago

    I liked Pied Piper for the same reasons I liked A Gentleman in Moscow. These are honorable men. I'd probably find them stiff, and all too honorable in real life, but it's comforting to read about people who do not waver from their own 'true North', whatever the moral challenges thrown up by life, for however long it takes (a lifetime). These are not 'momentary heroes', but heroes of the sort Rudyard Kipling commends to 'the man in the mirror'.

  • Bookwoman
    15 days ago

    If you like stories about honorable men (and women), I highly recommend the novels of Kent Haruf. They're all wonderful, but Plainsong is my favorite.

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    Original Author
    15 days ago

    If you're looking for honorable people, I recommend AJ Cronin's Keys of the Kingdom. I so enjoyed it ... I read it when I was a teen....probably should read it again.

  • Bunny
    15 days ago

    Chisue, good comparison. They were men (and could have been women) who did the right thing when the chips were down. Gentleman is one of my favorite books ever. We're shown more depth and insight with him, but they were written in different times.

    The Plainsong series is wonderful. Be sure to read Benediction and Eventide too.

  • jewelisfabulous
    15 days ago

    I just finished 2034. It's a speculative novel about WWIII between the U.S. and China over Taiwan's independence. It's not overly technical or political. The premise is completely rational and understandable to the average reader. The characters are well crafted and include US military and government employees, an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Brigadier, an Indian Admiral, and an up and coming Chinese military strategist. It flows quickly and was a great read (albeit scary). The authors are a White House Fellow and Marine plus a retired Navy Admiral and Ph.D.

  • runninginplace
    15 days ago

    Bestyears, Becoming Mrs Lewis is our April book club selection. I started it, skipped much and skimmed the last few chapters. It didn't appeal to me much. I will say I'd not categorize it as Christian fiction in any way, other than that religious doctrine, faith and Christianity was a primary connector in the book between Joy Davidman and CS Lewis.

    I found the story pedantic, detested the character of Joy as written; I found her so obnoxiously convinced of her own intelligence and surprisingly ready to dump her kids on a husband/father she experienced as an abusive drunk so she could tra-la across the ocean to pursue her crush.

    So as usually happens to me, when I don't admire the writing or the characters I can't quite get out of my own way to appreciate what might be worthwhile in a book.

  • Bookwoman
    15 days ago

    A much better picture of their relationship is found in the movie Shadowlands, with Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger. There's an earlier BBC version with Joss Ackland and Claire Bloom that's also very good.

  • Bestyears
    15 days ago

    Running -I’m sorry to hear that, but writing is of course art, and what appeals to one is abysmal to the next. I tried one of the authors other books but didn’t particularly like it.

  • juneroses Z9a Cntrl Fl
    15 days ago

    I was better than halfway thru listening to The Last Letter From Your Lover (Jojo Moyes) on Hoopla yesterday. When I resumed listening last night all I got was "This title is no longer available." I still had 8 days left before it would be returned so it wasn't because my time ran out. Rebooting my device didn't help. I tried another hoopla book and all was well. I signed into the library on my PC and did a search for the book; this time the message was "Sorry, we couldn't find any results..."

    The young man at the library commented that they (? hoopla or the library) periodically update the books available, removing some and adding others. Apparently the purge is a clean sweep - too bad if you're in the middle when they press the button.

    I'm grateful for all the Hoopla books I have been able to access but it seems like the removal process could be a bit more accommodating to those with borrowing time left. Bad timing on my part.

  • Elmer J Fudd
    15 days ago

    juneroses, I took a look for your title and found it is available in audiobook form by Overdrive from many, many libraries in my area. So perhaps it is in your area too. Check to see.

  • joann_fl
    13 days ago

    reading "Between the waves" on kindle app, good so far


  • Bunny
    13 days ago

    I decided not to continue with Becoming Mrs. Lewis and am now into A Town Like Alice.

  • salonva
    10 days ago

    I enjoyed Miss Benson's Beetle . It was a really nice escape. It's one of those where the story line kind of makes sense but only if you don't scrutinize it too much. The characters though are so well done. The author, Rachel Joyce, seems to take the kind of people you would probably overlook or avoid, and writes an endearing story about them. (Harold Fry and Queenie Hennessy in her other books, and now this book with Margery Benson and Enid Pretty. on and the guy). It's hard for me to rate this, as I am torn between a 3 and a 4 .


    Next up will be Universe of Two for one of my book clubs. I hope to start it today.



  • Kathsgrdn
    10 days ago

    Currently, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, by Olga Tokarczuk.

  • sheilajoyce_gw
    10 days ago

    I just finished THE TOOL ROOM by Nevil Shute and really enjoyed it. Set in England, it is the story of the adventures a hobby miniaturist has as he tries to recoup his nieces inheritance after his sisters drowning from a shipwreck on a tropical coral reef

  • lonestar123
    10 days ago

    Just read Deadly Options by Terry Odell and enjoyed it. I hadn't read any in the series and this was book 10. Looked but my library doesn't have any other books by the author.

  • crazybrunette64
    10 days ago

    I finally picked up Louise Penny's 1st Gamache book Still Life and am enjoying it. I've heard her recommended many times on the What Should I Read Next podcast.

  • skibby (zone 4 Vermont)
    10 days ago

    Salon - I'll be looking forward to reading what you have to say about Universe of Two. It's on my list.

  • Bunny
    10 days ago

    sheilajoyce, I read Trustee from the Toolroom a few weeks ago and it's wonderful.

  • ci_lantro
    10 days ago

    West With the Night by Beryl Markham.

  • sweet_betsy No AL Z7
    9 days ago
    last modified: 9 days ago

    Just finished The Darkest Evening by Ann Cleeves, a well written mystery with a satisfactory conclusion which I think deserves 4.5 stars. I enjoyed two previous books Mr. Nobody and The Murder of Harriet Monckton but felt that they fizzled out at the end.

  • just_terrilynn
    7 days ago

    Years ago I read Ken Follett’s The Pillars of Earth (one of the greatest books of all time) so decided to carry on with his Kingsbridge series. I just finished book two, World Without End. Excellent! Next up is Column of Fire.

    Love love good historical fiction.

  • Bunny
    6 days ago
    last modified: 6 days ago

    I finished A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute. I enjoyed it, but not nearly as much as Trustee From the Toolroom, which I loved, or even Pied Piper.

    The first part of Alice, when Jean was a prisoner and forced to march endlessly with other women and children through Malaya, was a much more interesting read for me. The rest of the book, when she's in Australia, seemed long and tedious at times, lots of little details, esp. about getting from one point to another in the outback.

    This book was originally published in 1950 and the casual and overt racism towards Aboriginal people was hard to read. There was no awareness, just a snapshot of life at the time.

  • salonva
    3 days ago
    last modified: 3 days ago

    This morning I finished reading Universe of Two by Stephen P. Kiernan. It's historical fiction, very well written and flows really well going between the 2 main characters. It was very well researched (apparently) and it was a great read, but I had to gloss over much of the science. I notice in lots of stories how the author really explains the intricacies but for me it's overdose of information. I still would give this book 4 stars and it's definitely worth reading. Maybe if you are a science lover (which I am NOT) you might appreciate all the explanations. I am more in the camp of less is more and i 'll take your word for it.

    It was a beautiful love story with music and science (the science was the New Mexico part of the Manhattan Project).

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    Original Author
    3 days ago

    I finished How to Raise an Adult and I found it ho-hum as I agree with the premise, having been raised a free-range child myself, and there was little I found new in the book....though I suspect someone younger might. The message is an important one though. I guess the only surprise was the extent to which some parents will helicopter...including that some will go so far as to book hotels in parallel with their child's class overnight trip...not to help chaperone the class...but to be nearby just in case Johnny should need me!! But for anyone who is in the child-rearing phase and at risk of helicoptering, this book lays out the ways that is actually harmful to both the child and the parent and gives specifics in how to do it better.

  • Zalco/bring back Sophie!
    3 days ago
    last modified: 3 days ago

    If anyone is interested and with graduation season upon us, Julie Lythcott-Haims's latest is for young adults instead of their parents: Your Turn How to be an Adult. I have not read it yet, but Julie is a pretty awesome advocate for young people.

  • Fun2BHere
    2 days ago
    last modified: 2 days ago

    Ocean Prey by John Sandford. A continuation/crossover of the Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers series. A little darker than some of those novels and the plot was thin. Still 3.5 of 5.0 as the book was well-written.

    Home Sweet Anywhere by Lynne Martin. A non-fiction account of traveling without a fixed address starting as a 70-year-old, almost newlywed. Pretty frothy and light, but still of interest just because of the unusual choice to travel for months on end at an age when some are starting to slow down and stay home. I plan to explore her blog for more information.

  • Phyllis Leritz
    2 days ago

    Just finishing Anne Tyler's Back When We Were Grown-ups, and enjoying it as usual with her books.

  • joann_fl
    2 days ago

    The extraordinary life of Sam Hell. Good so far


  • salonva
    2 days ago

    I read The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell 2 years ago- very very good and not mentioned much.


    I just started Call Your Daughter Home by Deb Spera. So far, very very good.