Thoughts by Bryan Washington, 2020, 8 hours 20 minutes
Narrated by the author and Akie Kotabe
Challenge: TOB Short List
Genre: Contemporary Lit, Queer Lit
Type/Source: Audiobook, Audible
Why I read this now: I wanted a shorter one from the possibles. This sounded like it might be suitable in audio form?
MOTIVATION for READING: TOB Shortlist.
WHAT’s it ABOUT: The love affair? living arrangement? of Ben and Mike. They meet, they have sex, they curse, they move in together, Mike flies off to Japan to “be there” for his dad’s last days as he dies of cancer just as his mom flies from Japan to stay with him. Thus, Ben and Mike’s mom are now cohabitating and cooking together. Ben and Mike wonder about their relationship with few attempts to talk it out. Oh yea, Ben’s father is an alcoholic and Ben is wrestling with that relationship, too.
THOUGHTS: Aside from the delicate topic of dying parents and the care required to work through the grief, especially when the relationship is strained, I thought this was rather boring. Maybe all the sex and cursing. Which I’m not sure I would have been hyper-aware of the cursing if Ruthiella hadn’t called it out! LOL. See? I shouldn’t be laughing at these guys worrying about their fathers.
Challenge: TOB Short List
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: Audiobook, Audible
Why I read this now: It was next up in the queue.
MOTIVATION for READING: I enjoyed Gyasi’s debut and this one is getting great reviews. Plus, you know, the T. O. B.
WHAT’s it ABOUT: Gifty is a scientist, a daughter of immigrants from Ghana, reflecting on her childhood as the little sister to a brother who died of a heroine overdose, her religious upbringing and how her mother suffers from mental illness, while conducting research on addiction so she can understand her own pain.
THOUGHTS: This was a time/place of being in Gifty’s head as she explains and sorts through her thoughts and reactions and movement through many years, many relationships. Lots of religion and philosophy, but mostly religion and God and understanding and reconciling faith with science, science versus faith. It was really quite beautiful. NOT pushy at all. I think this could be a valuable reference for any religious study.
I liked Gifty. She was so well presented and fleshed out – her wants, needs, goals, dreams. Was there even a plot?
RATING: Four slices of pie. Apple pie mention and a bit about a friend who offers baked goods, including pie. YAY!
This year, I read my 6th Shirley Jackson. I read a 5th book by Elizabeth Strout. Four authors, I read for the 3rd time: James McBride, Wallace Stegner, Drew Rozell, and Toni Morrison. The rereads included an author that was both a first for the year and then read it with my ears for its second intake: Becoming Duchess Goldblatt. I reread The Sellout for the TOB Super Rooster and I read two poetry collections by Billy Collins. I read 4 authors for the second time: read another by Ta-Nehisi Coates but the second was fiction. I read the next in a series to catch my second by Hilary Mantel. Michael Pollan’s Caffeine was my second of his.
Classics: didn’t have the patience to figure this out; oldest book The Picture of Dorian Gray 1890. Only 2 books published before 1900. Books published in 2019 = 20, in 2020 = 23.
Shortest book: Not figuring this out because I read so many poetry collections that were < 100 pages and plenty of novellas, and I couldn’t decide how to handle exceptions to not. Plus I read a lot of kids books.
Longest book: Ducks, Newburyport at 1020 pages. Took me months.
Longest Audiobook: Ok, here’s where I admit that I didn’t keep track this year. And more truth is that last year, I created my track sheet in December! So, it is just not going to happen where I present all the stats and show pretty pie graphs. Maybe 2021. Maybe.
The longest audiobook was likely We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry, at 14 hours and 44 minutes. And it was too long. Fun! but too long. Not typical that I didn’t have any chunkster audiobooks! You might suggest it would be lack of a commute and thus no listening while driving time? But I rarely listened to my audiobooks on commute to work. Not sure…
LIke last year, I took advantage of Audible’s monthly freebies quite often.
This is last year’s pie chart just because this post needs some color. LOL
Comparing… THIS YEAR, I upped my 5 star givings to 34%! Four stars were given to 33 %, three stars to 38%, and 4% got 2 stars. No ratings of 1 star.
Which is interesting… Because I don’t feel like I had a really tremendous feel-good reading year. Maybe this actually supports that I can’t quickly think of my top reads? Too many?
Favorite poetry: Mad With Yellow by Lisa J. Starr
I didn’t do any readalongs. I didn’t do any reading projects. (Tho, @Bybee might think different?)
WAIT! not true. My poetry was a personal reading project and it was wonderful. I succeeded beyond my wildest dreams to read a poem every day. Did it change my life? Maybe. Maybe…
I did do the Super Rooster and am quite pleased with myself.
My blogging could be described as “fits of bursts”; I’m okay with what I managed to post.
I read 4 (2 to completion) books in 2020that were on the 1001 Books To Read Before You Die: Tender is the Night, Club Dumas, Cry the Beloved Country, Treasure Island.
My first time to read 100+ books but I feel like I cheated, to be honest. Yea, yea, I know that the book police ain’t out to get me or anything but the challenge to make it doesn’t sit right with me. I honestly have taken that last 3 weeks off. I can feel it in my brain that I’m not reading — yet I can’t seem to sit and READ. It’s such the weirdest thing.
Hoping the flip of the calendar page, will truly bring a renewed motivation and thrill with reading. But yowza, I hate to DNF.
and, drumroll please for the 2020 Pie in Literature Award, the WINNER of my best book with pie for this year is Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellman!
The fact that it’s important not to despair though when you’ve got pies in the oven, …, the fact that you have to have mercy on your pies, be there for your pies, and in return they will be good dutiful pies and serve you, …
Honorable Mentions: Oh, goodness. I read so many more pie-themed books this year! I read a pie cookbook (wait, I do that every year, don’t I?). I sought out pie-themed books, truth.
I hail Ladybird, Collected (and NO – not just because it mimics Ducks with that comma) but because I want everyone to read it and have it get picked up for national distribution. Please visit HERE or HERE to get your copy.
I bring to your attention to We Ride Upon Sticks – some good pie mentions; make me smile just to think on. And well, sure, of COURSE: Summer of a Thousand Pies, Enemy Pie, and Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe.
Finally, the pies I made yesterday and today!
Harvey Wallbanger Pie for Dad’s birthday and the Spinach Ham Gouda Quiche made today for Happy New Year!!
Be kind, be readin’, give me a book rec. Let’s chat this year, yes?
It’s no small thing, feeling that we matter, that we couldn’t just be any diner and it couldn’t just be any pie. – Ladybird, Collected
Translated from Spanish by Sonia Soto, Narrated by David Warner
Genre: Literary Thriller
Type/Source: Audiobook, Audible
Why I read this now: A friend recommended at just the right time.
MOTIVATION for READING: As I explained right above this, I have a friend – one of those amazing friends who has that crazy skill to make everything you say or do to be acknowledged as just the right thing. Too good for my ego?! She’s one of those people who is uplifting to be around and talk with. So when she asked if I had read this one, I paid attention and almost immediately raced its place up my tbr to number one spot. Yea, I think I did do just that when I realized, “hey, I am not listening to an audiobook right now and I need to be listening to an audiobook and the ones I got, aren’t inspiring me.” Into my ears, it went.
WHAT’s it ABOUT: A mercenary book dealer is hired to find authenticity on a few rare manuscripts and discovers that the two tasks are related. Along the way, he meets interesting characters that resemble characters in famous stories – and are even named as famous characters in celebrated tales and behave likewise! One intertwined story line is about a chapter in Dumas’ The Three Musketeers. The other book is a possible survivor of a trio of banned books that commune with the devil. Maybe Dumas communed with the Devil?
Our protagonist is named Lucas Corso. Our narrator also tends to break the third veil [upon researching if I had this right, I did not. It’s the THIRD WALL] or whatever it is called when the narrator talks to the reader. [I could totally be misremembering.*] Corso meets one character who remains an enigma still.**
THOUGHTS: It was good. It was fun! It’s a literary literary thriller!! There are terrific quotes to start each chapter. There are music interludes for the audio version. I just found out while prepping this post that the book is on the 1001+ Books to Read Before I Die. LOVE when this happens without me orchestrating it.
RATING: Four slices of pie. No pie mentioned. I rarely catch or note if I do, when pie is mentioned in an audiobook. There might have been a tart…
I would be very pleased if Audible and Goodreads would collab and capture notes...
* Footnote #1 – It was an audiobook. I am usually yelling at Esther to stop eating acorns or goose poop or I am getting interrupted by my free walking app that tells me when I’m at half-mile + time per mile + calories burned. SHUT UP ALREADY. (I’ve since turned her off since she talks over my audiobooks. No more. Bitch.)
** Footnote #2 – I had first thought that ‘the girl’ aka Irene Adler (ahem) was Corso’s daughter. I think we (readers) are supposed to imagine she is The Devil.
TOB Super Rooster ended last week; here is the championship round that crowned A Mercy by Toni Morrison over last March’s champ.
A fun and interesting and occasionally dramatic TOB, of course. As they always are.
I’m reading Deacon King Kong by James McBride and have Sharks in the Time of Saviors on deck. Sharks is from the library.
I moved last month. Sold the boat in August. Still working current job, just remote.
I read (attempted) 5 books in October. A reread of The Sellout for TOB, audiobook freebie Convenience Store Woman (translated from Japanese), How to Say Anything to Anyone (biz book; feedback), Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe (lots of pie!), and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (DNF, classic, audiobook).
Favorite is probably Convenience Store Woman. Gots to get my reading mojo back.
Anyone reading for Nonfiction November? I have a few I could read… maybe I’ll get to Radium Girls finally. Or Empty Mansions but I bet that will only piss me off. I need a fun uplifting NF, methinks?
We have Thanksgiving Pie to look forward to! We have the Tournament of Books long list announcement coming up! Be well, friends, be well. Stay positive, fight the good fights, keep walking.
“It was a house without kindness, never meant to be lived in, not a fit place for people or for love or for hope.”
Challenge: Readers in Peril XV
Genre: Doesn’t Shirley Jackson have her own genre?
Why I read this now: Only a coincidence that my reading this happened to be during RIP, to be honest. I needed an audiobook, this one was available. I’ve always wanted to read it. Because Shirley.F.Jackson.
MOTIVATION for READING: See sentence above.
“Don’t do it, Eleanor told the little girl; insist on your cup of stars; once they have trapped you into being like everyone else you will never see your cup of stars again; don’t do it; and the little girl glanced at her, and smiled a little subtle, dimpling, wholly comprehending smile, and shook her head stubbornly at the glass. Brave girl, Eleanor thought; wise, brave girl.”
WHAT’s it ABOUT: A professor attempting to find a big breakthrough for his research and to make his place in Academia, invites many possible apprentices to join him in a stay at a house of ill (horror) repute. Only a few take him up on it.
But they are ALL IN, Baby!
THOUGHTS: So, I’ve maybe seen the movie? maybe PIECEs of the movie? I seem to know enough about that movie with (Liam Neeson, Lili Taylor, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Owen Wilson) but not quite the same. Same enough! Minor creative differences, is all.
The house is actually COOL, in its off kilter slightly not-square way. And the buildup is great. The guy who built the place was obviously way off his rocker and nothing is explained.
“I like apple pie with sour cream.”
I enjoyed the telling, I enjoyed the descriptions and the sense of place – extremely well done. I did see Lili as Eleanor and I could see CZJ as Theo, too. Liam Neeson will never be the professor. Yes, Jackson is a master – so good. Not really that scary in print, methinks. I may never watch the movie again nor the miniseries recently. I’m just NOT a scary movie person.
Challenge: Classics Club, Back to Classics Genre or Movie Adaption?
Genre: Science Fiction
Why I read this now: Hard to say…
MOTIVATION for READING: I love time travel stuff.
WHAT’s it ABOUT: A gentleman invents a time machine and jettisons himself off into the far, very far, future.
Humanity splits into good and bad? leisure class and workers – lots to dissect here if I was feeling academic, which today I am not. But, even as I reflected its place as commentary on society and its juxtaposition with what is going on now in relation to capitalism, etc, I just don’t have the energy to do more than recognize it likely has something to say that I might want to pay attention to?
THOUGHTS: It was OK. Some of these old-timey books, I just love and get right into the rhythm. This one had me a bit impatient. I now know what Morlocks are. I certainly can appreciate the classic and the WOW! factor this has enjoyed over the years.
I was more excited to read somewhere that the 1960 film version was considered quite cool; the special effects still impress. So we watched it and it was a fun.
With so many classics, the fun is saying “Yep, read it.” and I am glad to be able to say so now. Check it off the list.
I read 7 books in August. I created 1 pie: Peach Pie (I enjoyed other pies that someone else got to make…)
The big news is that I finished Ducks, Newburyport – a chunkster with LOTS of pie. Lots of pie and other things. I started the book in April.
“The fact that it’s important not to despair though when you’ve got pies in the oven, …, the fact that you have to have mercy on your pies, be there for your pies, and in return they will be good dutiful pies and serve you, …
OK, I do intend to write a full post of my random thoughts on Ducks. Perhaps Bybee and I can make a joint interview review of some sort? I will say now that I really did enjoy it even if I was able to put it down for weeks at a time – I toted the damn thing back and forth to the boat and home many MANY times! And when I did pick it up even for just a few pages, I was right there, right back in her head.
Sometimes I think I grant the coveted 5 slicer rating when I struggle through and actually complete these big long books but something happened in the end that really didn’t sit right for me and I had to shave off some of the whipped cream for a 4. But I am proud of myself for completing this, I am!
Was it a struggle? Yes, sometimes, yes. The darn weight of the thing was a struggle to hold!
On to the Patricia Lockwood. She’s just got a wild imagination. I reviewed this in last week’s Poetry Edition.
The Time Machine was an audio and I struggled some with this, too. Only 4 hours of the old language; some certainly outdated notions
that are jarring, but I’m glad to have read this and can now click off when I see it on any “Have you Read __?” lists. I want to write a separate post of this, too, because we watched the movie this past weekend! The one from 1960.
I read the 50 Romantic Weekends for Two when I found the book on the boat… It was a lovely photo book of B&Bs and I wondered how they are faring this 2020. I thought I would find one description mentioning pie, but alas, I did not.
The first three books of the month were heavy. So let’s start with that first memoir, my first August read, Heavy, which happened to be a LISTEN. Narrated by the author, Kiese Laymon, I was riveted and moved. Moved to what? Still working on that, how do I fight the tendency to be a thinker not a doer, how do I propel my values to a place of work; work to for making the world a better place? I can’t even work on my own life; maybe this is what I need to do to finally get out there and really do the action – letters and calls, donations and votes are good, but not enough. This was a real eye opener and re-affirming of humanity. and humanity’s pain.
(and I must say that the last book of July which was a terrific companion read to Heavy, was Thick and I didn’t really plan for the obvious (now) themes of title but definitely topic. Anyway, Thick was also all these things: sharp, weighty, intense.
Then I listened to The Other America, a speech by MLK, Jr. and then the very heavy and scary and enlightening and anger-at-the-evils provoking When They Call You a Terrorist. I wish everyone would consider reading this book by one of the founders of BLM, Patrisse Khan-Cullors.
So, a bit of SJW reading, thoughts of what to do and how to do, while #SavetheUSPS was going on and too many more killings, and oh god, the conventions! I am one big ball of anxiety and yet I am safe in my little reading nook and I can barely breathe to move. Am trying to stay off Twitter and Facebook and not watch the news. I barely watched Hurricane Laura and now the weather is delightful, the days are shortening. I’m about to be late for work… Gotta go.
Sept 28 is Strawberry Cream Pie Day. That’s it, or at least the only one I know about.
I read 11 books in July. I adored my reading month of books and audios. Blissful, book-filled July…
With some pie, too. Though not in my books – only Duchess Goldblatt delivered pie. NO, that’s not quite true! Kate Atkinson’s When Will There Be Good News had pie. Which is good news to me.
And of course, Pie As Art cookbook – LOTS of pie, yes. The winner of my giveaway is…. by randomly assigned sequential numbers to those who commented on posts and then running an online random number generator . . . TA DA! Jeanne of Nonnecromancer wins! Will be sent off next week. Glad I have her address already.
“and those little pork pies they have in Marks and Spencer.” She was very specific about which shops you bought things in. Reggie thought that a person at death’s door shouldn’t really be too fussy about where her pork pies came from.
Get ready for August Pie! Actually we have already missed Aug 1 being Raspberry Cream Pie Day. (and my “days” source told me that August First is also Homemade Pie Day. I hadn’t had that one on my radar.)
Aug 15 is Lemon Meringue Pie Day. I’m hoping to construct something tasty to celebrate.