Book Recommendations and Reading

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  • Wasn't quite sure where to put this, but I figured here would do!  I have a tradition that every time I get a new job, I buy something.  Once it was an handmade artisan ring, once it was a gym membership, etc etc.

    This time, I remembered how I saw Girls Gone By (publishers of books for/about women that have gone out of print) have put out a new Chalet School (series of about 60 books that I adore and am slowly collecting) that is only $19.99 instead of $28.00 as usual (thanks, Brexit??), so I logged on to ABE books and got not only that one, but FIVE other Chalet School stories (one is a 3-in-1 book, and the other five are all abridged Armada editions, sigh) and a Babysitters' Club (don't laugh) that I particularly liked.  The best part?  My total, including shipping came to under $35!
  • Oh, which Baby Sitters Club? I love those!
    The one where they get marooned on an island!  I got it out of the library once and read it about six times before I gave it back.  I scour secondhand bookshops and I'm trying to collect all the BSC books, but I've just never found that one.
  • Oh, that's a good one. I always felt so sorry for Claudia. I like the one with the snowstorm....but I think my favorite is the one where they're recounting their most vivid memory. 
    Most vivid memory?

    I like the snowstorm too!  I have that one back at my parents' house, plus their European vacation and their road trip in the two RVs.  I also really like The All-New Mallory Pike where she goes away to boarding school.  I must see if there are any more by her while at that school.
  • The Babysitter's Club was after my time, but I love revisiting childhood classics.  Every now and then I have to do an Anne of Green Gables reread. 

    On another note, I just finished The Girls by Emma Cline, and really enjoyed it.  It's a novel loosely based on the Manson cult, but focusing on his female followers rather than the cult leader. 

  • I read the Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon series periodically too.  There's also an American series called "What Katy Did" by Susan Coolidge that I read every time I get some free time.
  • I just started reading "After Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" which is a more in-depth look of the history behind the story "midnight in the garden of good and evil' by John Berendt. Its really interesting and its currently causing me to revisit my love affair with Savannah.
  • I'm reading The Beekeeper's Apprentice. I'm not usually a *huge* fan of updates to classics (although I loved Jo Baker's Longbourn) but this is a good take on the Sherlock Holmes myth.
    All of those books are good.  So if you like that book, just keep on down the series.  :)
  • I'm reading The Beekeeper's Apprentice. I'm not usually a *huge* fan of updates to classics (although I loved Jo Baker's Longbourn) but this is a good take on the Sherlock Holmes myth.
    All of those books are good.  So if you like that book, just keep on down the series.  :)
    I read 4 of them before I got distracted by a run of smutty Regency romances. But I will get back to them!
  • I'm reading The Beekeeper's Apprentice. I'm not usually a *huge* fan of updates to classics (although I loved Jo Baker's Longbourn) but this is a good take on the Sherlock Holmes myth.
    All of those books are good.  So if you like that book, just keep on down the series.  :)
    I read 4 of them before I got distracted by a run of smutty Regency romances. But I will get back to them!
    I love smutty Regency romances.  Especially Stephanie Laurens :)  

    Maybe you can alternate.  Smutty Regency Romance (SRR) and then Serious Updated Classic (SUC)
  • I'm reading The Beekeeper's Apprentice. I'm not usually a *huge* fan of updates to classics (although I loved Jo Baker's Longbourn) but this is a good take on the Sherlock Holmes myth.
    All of those books are good.  So if you like that book, just keep on down the series.  :)
    I read 4 of them before I got distracted by a run of smutty Regency romances. But I will get back to them!
    I love smutty Regency romances.  Especially Stephanie Laurens :)  

    Maybe you can alternate.  Smutty Regency Romance (SRR) and then Serious Updated Classic (SUC)
    Sounds like a good plan. I'll have a look at Stephanie Laurens!

    I've been reading Tessa Dare, Anne O'Brien, Maggie Fenton (annoying anachronisms), and mixing it up with smutty steampunk.

    Last couple of months my reading list has been very smutty, come to think of it!
  • I recently enjoyed an unusual book, a combination of personal memoir and baseball-fandom and superstitions:

    The Juju Rules: Or, How to Win Ballgames From Your Couch, by Hart Seely. (The link is to my review of the book on BookCrossing.) 

    While the author's a Yankees fan and I favor the Red Sox, I still found the book vastly entertaining, not least at the spots where the two teams clashed. And the author's descriptions of his personal rituals for helping nudge the "juju gods" to come to the aid of his team made me laugh - even while reminding me of some of my own little superstitions regarding the outcome of sporting events.
  • I went to Half-Price Books yesterday and got Emily's Runaway Imagination, two Baby-Sitters Club books, and a Dear America Diary and read all but the Dear America Diary!  It's just so nice living in someone else's world for awhile.  I'm peeved, because the Chalet Schools that were supposed to be here by the 31st have not arrived, and the bloody company doesn't have a tracking number (!!!) so I have to wait til Wednesday when I can get to the post office to find out if they've gotten it or not and just "couldn't deliver" and I don't see why they couldn't because they've delivered stuff here before.
  • Reading China Rich Girlfriend, which is the sequel to Crazy Rich Asians.
  • GeoDiva said:
    Reading China Rich Girlfriend, which is the sequel to Crazy Rich Asians.
    Tell me how you like it! I really, really wanted to like Crazy Rich Asians but I thought the satire wasn't witty enough. It seemed to be more about how many designers' names Kevin Kwan could name-drop than about really skewering the lifestyle -- but nobody else I know has had that reaction to the book.

    So I'm hoping China Rich Girlfriend is awesome, so that I can forgive Kevin Kwan for how disappointed I was in Crazy Rich Asians!
  • Recent LOVE: A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. If you're into the magical realism of Haruki Murakami, but occasionally want to bash your head against the wall because he doesn't always give you enough closure in a story, this is the book for you.

    I also really enjoyed The Hero's Body by William Giraldi. An introspective, thoughtful bodybuilder sounds like a contradiction in terms, but he proves that it's NOT an oxymoron. I loved the sensitivity with which he writes about machismo at the gym and coming to terms with his father's death in a motorcycle crash.
  • SarahBeth said:
    I just started reading "After Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" which is a more in-depth look of the history behind the story "midnight in the garden of good and evil' by John Berendt. Its really interesting and its currently causing me to revisit my love affair with Savannah.
    this sounds worth checking out.
  • SarahBeth said:
    I just started reading "After Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" which is a more in-depth look of the history behind the story "midnight in the garden of good and evil' by John Berendt. Its really interesting and its currently causing me to revisit my love affair with Savannah.
    this sounds worth checking out.
    It was really good! Highly recommended. It was a quick read too, mostly because I couldn't put it down. I think I read it on my kindle in like 2 days. 
  • Just read Trevor Noah's "Born a Crime." Really enjoyed it!! Background: he was born to a black mother & white father during apartheid.
  • Some of my best reads from November (links are to my BookCrossing-registered copies with my review comments):

    March  is a graphic-format look at Congressman John Lewis and the Civil Rights movement.

    Transmission by Hari Kunzru is a funny/dark fish-out-of-water story featuring global computer viruses, a desperate programmer - and a Bollywood star.

    With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child, Vol. 3 (is another volume in the excellent manga series about a family's attempts to raise their autistic son.

    Wool by Hugh Howey is a series of linked novellas about the trials of life in a 148-story-deep silo surrounded by a barren, post-apocalyptic wasteland, with some wonderfully shocking revelations.

    Dissolution by C. J. Sansom is a Tudor-era mystery novel featuring a much-put-upon lawyer working for Thomas Cromwell.

    Vagabond Vol. 35 by Takehiko Inoue
    is from a stunningly-drawn manga series about a historic Japanese swordsman.
  • I'm really enjoying Hillbilly Elegy, by JD Vance. It's the story of his family, and offers some real insights into the white working class in the Rust Belt.
  • Some recent reads that I really enjoyed (links are to my BookCrossing reviews):

    The Stone War, by Madeleine E. Robins, a mix of urban-apocalypse and something of a love-song to New York City.

    Romeo and/or Juliet, by Ryan North, a hilarious choose-your-own-path book based on Shakespeare's play, with some really clever twists on the original.

    Some Kind of Fairy Tale, by Graham Joyce, the story of a teenaged girl who went missing for twenty years only to turn up again looking the same age as when she left. Wonderful modern-day-changeling story.
  • I'm really enjoying Hillbilly Elegy, by JD Vance. It's the story of his family, and offers some real insights into the white working class in the Rust Belt.
    I loved Hillbilly Elegy too. Really helped me to start to understand a part of the country I otherwise know almost nothing about.
  • edited January 2017

    I've recently read some books (well listened to them on long road trips) that I found fabulous:
    (Caveat: I was born with the horsey gene, so all things ponies is/has always been a fascination)


    "The Horse" by Wendy Williams
    This book is a chronicle of her research into the evolution of horses. I learned things I did not previously know (like that humans & horses have a common ancestor from waaaaaaaay long ago). And that at one point in history, horses disappeared from the NA continent and scientists still don't really know why. There is a lot she writes about the human-horse relationship through time as well. Loved it, very well researched and well written.


    "The Perfect Horse" by Elizabeth Letts
    This is about the US rescue mission that took place toward the end of WW2 in order to keep the Lipizzaners  (and other stallions) out of harm's way. They had of course been taken by the Nazi's, and were in Poland for safe keeping (which of course ended up NOT being safe) I LOVED this book! At every turn you think 'why didn't they give up!?' they faced sooo many obstacles and dangers to do this. Anyone who is familiar with this story knows that for the most part, General Patton was given credit for pulling this off, when in actuality it was Colonel Hank Reed acting under Patton's 'blessing' (who basically gave him the go-ahead to do it, but warned that if caught, he was on his own). And, anyone who knows horses will also recognize the name of Alois Podhajsky, who was the director of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. What I learned from this book? That it wasn't just Lipizzaners, it was Arabians and Thoroughbreds as well. And many of them were shipped to America after the rescue. The author follows the fates of several of these horses throughout their lives. 


    "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck" by Mark Manson
    This is firmly in the 'self-help' category, and I'll admit I was attracted by the title (and after I read a few reviews on Amazon). While the title sounds not-so-serious, this book really is a combination of Buddhism and Logotherapy (Viktor Frankl's theory put forth in his book "Man's Search for Meaning") ~ I listened to this book at precisely the right moment in my life. It reaffirmed some of my long held beliefs and brought back to mind some I had forgotten. This guy has done his homework. Highly recommended. 


  • edited February 2017
    Here are some recent books that I've enjoyed very much. (The links are to my reviews on BookCrossing.) My taste is eclectic, though this selection is a bit heavy on mysteries.

    Miss Zukas and the Raven's Dance by Jo Dereske blends a librarian/sleuth with a soggy Pacific Northwest setting and an overall academic/cozy plot. [That link's to a photo I took when leaving the book in a tree for someone else to find. You can read my review here.]

    Karma and Other Stories by Rishi Reddi is a collection of tales about Indian-American folk living in a Boston community - lots of culture-clash and human-interest.

    Revelation by C. J. Sansom is from a Tudor-era historical-mystery series featuring hunchbacked lawyer Matthew Shardlake, as he tries to make a living and help his clients while evading the increasingly dangerous political maneuverings. I've enjoyed the whole series so far, some in text form and some via audiobook, and recommend the series highly.

    Master Keaton Vol. 9 by Naoki Urasawa is a really charming manga about a half-Japanese fellow who's an archaeologist, an insurance investigator, a hostage negotiator, and a former Special Forces operative - as well as a delightfully adorkable divorced father of a teenaged girl. The stories each stand alone, so one can dip into any volume without needing a lead-in. There's an excellent anime adaptation too; recommended.

    The Lark's Lament by Alan Gordon is from his medieval-setting "Fools Guild" series, in which a guild of fools is a very powerful organization behind many social and political maneuverings in a Europe that includes some of Shakespeare's stories as factual elements. [The series begins with Thirteenth Night, so you might guess how a jester-as-main-character fits in.]

    Merman In My Tub Vol. 1 by Itokichi is a very, very silly and charming joke-manga about (surprise!) a merman who takes up residence in a high school boy's bathtub. It's basically a goofy-roommate series, with the roommate and his growing circle of mer-acquaintances providing (pardon the expression) fish-out-of-water humor.

    Thirty-Three Teeth by Colin Cotterill is from  his Dr. Siri Paiboun series about a septuagenarian coroner in Laos - who also happens to host the spirit of an ancient shaman, allowing him to see ghosts. It's a quirky mystery with social/political themes but a surprisingly light-hearted tone despite some of the gruesome subplots.
  • Update: Not only did I love Alan Gordon's The Lark's Lament, but I've since devoured Thirteenth Night and am acquiring the rest of the series. It's really fun, sometimes harrowing, quite historically-intriguing, and - did I say fun? Yes! (You can see more about Gordon's work at his web site.)

    Another new read that has really impressed me: Grasshopper Jungle, by Andrew Smith. Its premise: small-town-Iowan teenagers accidentally trigger a mad-scientist-inspired plague of six-foot-tall supersoldier praying mantises. [I am *not* making that up.] It's mainly a coming-of-age story featuring friendships and romances and the complications that ensue when narrator Austin falls for both his best friend and his girlfriend, but they have to negotiate all that while trying to figure out what to do about those pesky human-devouring mantises...
  • I've enjoyed some varied books recently, including:

    My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher, about a young boy watching his family fall apart after his sister's tragic death. (It's not as grim as it sounds, fwiw!)

    Passage to Juneau: A Sea and Its Meanings by Jonathan Raban, about a man's sailboat trip from Seattle to Juneau - a  mix of history and personal memoir.

    Narrow Dog to Indian River by Terry Darlington, a hilarious travel book about a 70-something couple and their whippet as they take their canal-boat into the riskier waterways along the eastern coast of the US.

    Travels in West Africa by Mary Kingsley, a surprisingly funny and fascinating account of the author's 1893 trip to west Africa.
  • My most recent good reads include a darkly comic tale of a shop for suicide equipment, and a love-story-in-dictionary-form:

    The Suicide Shop by Jean Teule is a fable set in a world that's rapidly succumbing to a variety of disasters - yet despite the "ways to commit suicide" aspect of the shop, the story's a hopeful one.  

    The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan reveals the ups and downs of courtship and life as a couple, all in dictionary-word snippets - unusual, and I liked it. 

    [Links are to my BookCrossing reviews.] 
  • Yesterday I ordered The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis and the new book by David Sedaris; they arrive tomorrow.  Will let y'all know how I like them.
  • I'm halfway through David Sedaris' book so far.  It's a collection of his diary entries going back to the mid-70's; I'm really enjoying it.
  • I love David Sedaris.
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