Classic Spin March 2018

Mar 9: number 3 selected; thus, I get to read Cold Comfort Farm.

It’s another SPIN!  My favorite… This button has the information post:

Drawing and number announcement will be March 9; book at that number from this list must be read by the end of April. Let’s do this!

Here are my 20:

  1. The Three Muskateers
  2. Jude the Obscure
  3. Cold Comfort Farm
  4. Wide Sargasso Sea
  5. The King Must Die
  6. The Dud Avocado
  7. Charlotte Sometimes
  8. One Fine Day
  9. The Ox-Bow Incident
  10. The House of the Seven Gables
  11. Candide
  12. A Handful of Dust
  13. Rabbit Run
  14. Love in a Cold Climate –> Love in a Fallen City
  15. Naked Lunch
  16. The Counterfeiters
  17. Love in a Fallen City moved to spot 14; switching with Love in a Cold Climate, Nancy Mitford
  18. The Woodlanders
  19. Confederacy of Dunces
  20. The Way We Live Now

I was planning on getting to The House of the Seven Gables sooner than later so let’s all hope the spin number is TEN!

My original list and progress page is linked here for my own convenience.





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Thoughts  by John Williams, New York Review Book 2003 (orig 1965), 305 pages

Sometimes, immersed in his books, there would come to him the awareness of all that he did not know, of all that he had not read; and the serenity for which he labored was shattered as he realized the little time he had in life to read so much, to learn what he had to know.


Challenge: Classics Club 50!
Type/Source: eBook/Kindle

MOTIVATION for READING: I had heard very good things about this book; I had expectations that it would be just the kind of book I love. And it was!

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Stoner is a Professor of Literature at the University of Missouri. This book explores his entire life, start to finish.

WHAT’s GOOD: The writing.

What’s NOT so good: I love contemplative character studies. If you don’t, just skip it. It’s OK.              I LOVED this.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I’m so glad to finally conquer this one! Yay me.

RATING: Five slices of pie. No pie mentioned. Although, ‘magpie’ is.

“Outside, in the old elm that crowded the back-yard fence, a large black-and-white bird—a magpie—had started to chatter. He listened to the sound of its calling and watched with remote fascination the open beak as it strained out its lonely cry.”



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Time to Get Serious

Seriously, I must focus on my CLASSICS CLUB LIST!

Basically, if you do not know about the Classics Club 50, it is a challenge to read 50 books over 5 years. You can even decide your own definition of ‘classic’ (if I remember correctly; you can verify it at the official website here.) I decided any book over 25 years old was a classic.

You are also allowed to swap books off/on your original list – as long as you read 50 books in 5 years within your category of classic, you win! And by winning, I mean that you get the pride of accomplishment. A friend or two might give you an applause tweet — that would be lovely. It’s fun!

Reading is fun!! (My brother reading to me…)

I wanted to join because they have a fun activity a few times each year called THE SPIN. The Club Committee will post to announce THE SPIN, tell you to get a short sublist of only 20 books you still have to read, and later announce a number between 1-20. You have to read that numbered book from your list! I think you get 6 weeks or so to read it, so the challenge is really to be on the ball not to miss the announcement AND the spin number AND the deadline. Please let me know if you see the next one – I do NOT want to miss it this year…

My original list is —> here <—.  I have 29 books from my original list to read yet.

Don’t fret! Good news!! I have read 37 books over 25 years old in the last 3 years so that means I only have 13 books remaining. I hope to choose these from my original list, but who knows what will happen. And since this is my 4th year, I have 24 months to do so. Woo hoo

Here are the books I read last year that counted towards my 50 overall:

The Summer of My German Soldier (1973) by Bette Greene – Apr17
The Sweet Hereafter (1991) by Russell Banks – Jul17
The Grand Sophy (1950) by Geogette Heyer – Aug17
Waiting for Godot (1952) by Samuel Beckett – Sep17
Angle of Repose  (1971) by Wallace Stegner – Oct17

The books I read that were on my list were:

Orlando (1928) by Virginia Woolf – May
The Hunter (1960) by Richard Stark – April

And so far in 2018, I’m enjoying Stoner (1965) by John Williams and have a few from the list I’m committing to for the What’s in a Name Challenge: The Oxbow Incident, The Dud Avocado, and The House of the Seven Gables.

Ok, that’s my update. Til next time, keep reading and look for pie on every menu and in every book. Don’t forget to let me know if you find a great pie scene in your literature adventure.

Have you read any of these books I listed? What classic book are YOU reading now?







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What’s in a Name 2018 Kick Off Post

My favorite challenge! This button     will take you to the host blog, The Worm Hole.

Here are the categories (with hyperlinks back to host blog) and my possible choices:

The word ‘the’ used twice – From my Classics Club 50: The House of the Seven Gables by Nat Hawthorne.

A fruit or vegetable – I’m committing to Elaine Dundy‘s The Dud Avocado, also on my Classics Club 50.

A shape – SO EXCITED to announce another Classics Club 50 will fit this one:  The Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilberg Clark. An ox-bow is defined as 

  1. a U-shaped bend in the course of a river.
  2. a U-shaped collar of an ox yoke.

A title that begins with Z – Darn that I read Z last year (book about Zelda Fitzgerald) so I’m going to try The Zero by Jess Walter – I absolutely loved his Beautiful Ruins.

A nationality – Not sure here. Had American War for this spot when it was on the TOB long list but since it didn’t make the short. I have a lot of great nonfiction options about women that history forgot and I might go that route. Or perhaps American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang which would be a graphic novel and I want more of these. Any other suggestions?

A seasonCruel Winter by Sheila Connelly. I purchased this book for a friend’s birthday because it sounded like something she would enjoy and she promised to let me read it after (and then I’ll give it back so she can loan to her mom.)

I have created a goodreads list of done-reads and possibles for my 2018 tracking here…

Happy Reading Challenges!  What is the challenge you are MOST looking forward to this year?



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What’s in a Name is my Favorite (Challenge)

I completed a reading challenge. I’m quite happy about this. 

I was quite happy… until I realized I didn’t read any – none, nada, not a ONE, of the classics on my Classics 50 Challenge in the entire 12 months of 2017.

What?  HUH?!

Oh well. I don’t know why this really saddens me. But it does. It makes me sad. Not one?  REALLY?

Well. I already know I’m failing miserably at the Tournament of Books Long List. We know my book review posting has been pathetic since May. Yep, Ok. WE KNOW.

I know – or think I just MUST have – read one or two books this year that were published over 50 years (ok, maybe 25  years ago – let’s try that?) But I’m afraid to look.

SO, let’s be happy with KINDNESS. Let’s be happy with making a tremendous effort to not get bogged down by ‘the news’ – fake or otherwise (see? I’m already losing it) and let’s think positive fighting RIGHT humanity-minded equality-grounded love-centered thoughts and be kind to every person, every puppy. Cats, too. Why not.

And PIE. Let’s promote PIE because the World can use a PEACE. pieratingsml

Here are the books I read for the 2017 What’s in a Name Challenge:

Title with number (not spelled out): 


Title with an X: 

Compass Direction: 



I love this time of year in blog world. Stats! Pie charts! Picking THE book to be the First of the Year! Going through my books to find ones that fit the next What’s in a Name Challenge!  Cheers


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October, the Tenth Month, Five More Books

I read books in October. Let me tell ya!

Oct 2017

The Magician’s Assistant / Ann Patchett A (1997,11′) *** 74

Textbook / Amy Krause Rosenthal HB (2016,368) **** 73

Lila / Marilynne Robinson A (2014,9′) **** 72

One Good Turn / Kate Atkinson Tb (2016,448) **** 71

Angle of Repose / Wallace Stegner Tb (1971,569) **** 70

Two audiobooks –  so nice to get back to this medium. My new job often has me traveling so I have some car time. Plus the commute home is 30-40 minutes (which I expect will be on the longer side since I have to traverse the shopping district avenues which get congested this time of year.) With no traffic, I can get TO work in just over 15 minutes!

Let’s start:  I read Angle of Repose because* I so very much enjoyed the first Stegner I treated myself to: (and click on this:  –>  to read my review) Crossing to Safety. AofR won the Pulitzer, doncha know, and as impressive an epic it is, I enjoyed Crossing to Safety more. That said, Angle is impressive. Oh, I said that. It’s full of big ideas and some great fabulous looks into our American History, the western expansion. Recommended if you like amazing writing, complicated characters and sweeping views of history. It was set in the late sixties, yet Stegner writes with a freshness that is … impressive. It felt fresh and not as someone now writing about then. Does that make sense? Hey, it’s my opinion. Golly gee, I miss blogging and putting myself OUT THERE! wee hoo. yee haw. [Rabbit pie and cowpie.]

Stegner is not talked about enough.

*     I also read Angle of Repose because I have an engineering degree and the term suggests ‘engineering‘. Not at all to suggest  to not-engineering geeks (so do not assume!) that this is science-heavy aka boring!! it is not. Please please don’t think that. ugh.


One Good Turn. I read this because…. LOTS of reasons! I love this author. I really enjoyed her first Brodie book and this is the second with this main character. whoops, maybe only 2 reasons. I found this book at my apartment complex! It was on the community shelf. Had to grab. I returned it (though not to the same spot.)

If you liked Case Histories, I can tell you to go ahead read this, too, if you haven’t  yet. To click on this sentence, you will be transported to my goodreads notes for  Case Histories because I didn’t review it here (on blog.) What a sad blogging summer I had… [I’m counting egg custard as ‘pie’.]


Lila. Oh Lila! What a fascinating amazing story. This month was chock full of the best author visits; now that I think about it, all return visits to these authors. What a comfortable heart-full reading month I have had this October. If you are like me and appreciate the soul-singing work of Marilynne Robinson (and can I only say to any of you  that don’t have the same kind of spiritual ‘relationship’ that this author might espouse – all cool. I get it. I really don’t either at this moment in my life but wow oh wow do I appreciate what she does in her writing.) I want to put all of MR’s Gilead books on my “to-read-again all-at-once in-order someday list”. I’m mentally creating this list of books to read and probably need to create it in goodreads, right? Right. Will do…

NOT to suggest that listening to Lila‘s side of things was ‘comfortable’. Soul-singing provocative spiritual stuff is never comfortable. [Apple Pie]


Textbook by Amy Krause.

Dear Reader, do you know of this? Feel free to click on the link just provided and read about it from the goodreads perspective.

I just want to start crying. Whoa.

Thank you Bybee for sending me this. I still have it. I want to send it to SOMEONE but don’t know who. Also, I don’t know if I want it to leave me. It could very well be all gimmick-schmimmick until life(/death) thrusts into the ‘plan’ and shows no guarantees.


(sniff, gulp. sob…)

[yes, pie… It was THIS that broke my freakin’ heart.]

Live, people. Don’t watch the crap on the news, hug your loved ones, recognize the humanity in every person, strive to be better and LIVE, goddammit. (talking to myself?)


The Magician’s Assistant. Ann Patchett you nutty adorable author book-store-owner lovely lady YOU. Love ya. Not your best book but that’s OK, I’m sure you learned much from the experience (of course you did, goofy-me. ha) and so glad you kept after the craft. I am still not sure the narrator captured Nebraska small town, but hey, “Whatever.” This is the author that inspires me, delights me, makes me think and entertains. One of my favorites.

I’ll forgive the no pie thing. This time.


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Latest and Greatest

Recent Thoughts and Other Things…

I’ve read 4 books since my last review post and finished up May strong with 8 books (one of which was a skim from half point…)

Total for the year so far:  39 books, 9672 pages, ~147 hours

I decided a quick audiobook (< 3 hours) was just the thing to catapult my month’s stats to something I can be proud of and chose Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me It was both unexpected and affirming; she is an eloquent voice for feminism and human rights. I very much enjoyed this. I was also pleased that she lent insight to Virginia Woolf’s Orlando

I DNF’d Orlando Sob, shame, embarrassment. It is NOT a summer beach read; it is dense and though very lively, it takes concentration. I admit I was lost and believe this would be a great book for serious study just not right now in the moment of my crazy life. I had originally attempted the audiobook – nope. Reading the ebook was easier, but… I can’t quite describe the feeling of drowning it gave me. Submerged in what I can only assume is amazing prose but HUH? I need guidance for next time. And I do want to try again. It’s not dry and dusty; it is very lively, but hold on! Goodness.

My neighbor gave me a book written by a friend of hers from a writing group she was involved with. I must say that it was well-written and informative, fascinating even.  I know many will and should enjoy it. It just wasn’t my cup of tea in style and format; I guess genre. I like the heavier serious immersive stuff. (How I can say that I liked The Sport of Kings when I didn’t like it but I can “like” this but not? Does that make any sense whatsoever? Nah, I didn’t think so.) I can find much to admire and can recommend Holly Warah’s debut Where Jasmine Blooms I give it 3 slices of pie. (It did have lots of pie so I could bump up to a 4 slice?)  I now must get my hands on a recipe for SAMBUSIK PIE.

Finally, my MIL gave me  A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierly and I read it in one day. What an amazing story! If you have seen or  know about the movie Lion, you know what this is:  young boy finds himself on a train to Calcutta, many MANY miles away from home. He is adopted by a family in Australia and when he is 30, he decides to find out about his birth-family. WOW!!

I’m listening to Everything I Never Told You and honestly, I’m not feeling it. Shrug. I’m about 35% in. Maybe I’m just in a horrible mood this summer!? No, that can’t be all of it — I have Kitchens of the Great Midwest on ebook and I am finding it delightful.

Finally. School is out and we are headed to the boat and the lovely waters of Rhode Island. You may not see me around here much… Wishing everyone a super summer and lots of great reading!


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The Hunter

Thoughts  by Richard Stark, Blackstone Audio 2010, 5 hours

Narrated by John Chancer.

Challenge: Classics Club 50  SPIN (I never made an official list for this one due May 1st; I found out to late to post so I used the prior list.)
Genre: Noir Crime Fiction
Type/Source: Audiobook / Audible
 Why I read this now: It was in the slot of the latest spin number.

MOTIVATION for READING: Anyone see the movie Payback with Mel Gibson and Maria Bello? It’s based on Stark/Westlake’s book, The Hunter. I wanted to read it because the movie is a favorite.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: The Hunter is a character called Parker and he is a small time independent kind of crook. He is not afraid to eliminate anything he disagrees with! This is a violent book.

Parker survives a job-gone-wrong (for him). The others thought they got away with it — unfortunately for them, Parker didn’t die. He comes back for his portion of the take.

WHAT’s GOOD: The language and characters were true to the movie. (How often do we turn that around like that?) Many scenes seemed lifted verbatim.

I was able to disconnect Parker from Mel Gibson in my head as I listened, but I was glad to keep my images of Carter, Bronson and Fairfax. Such a great cast.

What’s NOT so good: I said it was violent, right? The Maria Bello part was altered, as was the ending. You could say that the book inspired the film and the film goes much further (also violent). The tone is similar. The movie might offer a bit more humor. And Lucy Liu.

At five hours, this is a short story (compared to my usual audiobooks).

FINAL THOUGHTS: I enjoyed this adventure to read the book that a fave movie was based on. I’m glad to knock off a classic from the 50 AND that it was a SPIN finished by the deadline. Yay me. And there was pie!

RATING: Three slices.

$90,000 is a nice pie to split.




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Summer of My German Soldier

Thoughts  by Bette Greene, Puffin Modern Classics 1973, 230 pages

Challenge: Neighborhood Book Club
Genre: Middle School Lit
Type/Source: Hardcover / Library

MOTIVATION for READING: Our club usually allows hosts to choose the book we read. Rarely are we offered a vote: this was the sole book suggested and thus the book we read. (Which I’m fine with, not saying I don’t like how we pick books. I’ve actually never been in a club that selects an entire year’s slate… Always “as we go.”)

WHAT’s it ABOUT: A 12 year old Jewish girl harbors a German POW during WWII.

WHAT’s GOOD/NOT so GOOD:  Apparently, it was a big hit years ago as a middle school read. I don’t know if it is still taught in schools but I thought the main character’s innocence wouldn’t hold up for current 12 yo’s interpretation. But I could be wrong. I found her naïve and annoying. But maybe that’s just me.

She’s smart but she can’t figure out how to shut up. But maybe that’s a good thing for a girl to not learn. We do often learn to shut up and take it and this book is a good reminder of why so many girls do: survival. She had some excellent cheerleaders in her corner so let’s hope she grew up to be a strong take-no-shit woman who lived life on her own terms. Her childhood sucked.

Just being in the same room with you, Mother, is like being feast for a thousand starving insects.

At first, I read too many reviews and was creeped out by the romance idea of a young girl with a 22 year old man. This is a friendship and not more. If I hadn’t been warned about ‘the kiss’, I might have missed it. I “thought too much” rather than read for enjoyment. As the story progressed (I admit I skipped around for the first third), I began to enjoy myself more.

It seems to me that a man who is incapable of humor is capable of cruelty.  

Cruelty is after all, cruelty, and the difference between the two men may have more to do with their degrees of power than their degrees of cruelty.

Trying to calculate different degrees of cruelty is a lot like trying to calculate the different degrees of death.

This is not a happy tale and for a coming of age, I’m not sure how much Patty wised up but I will assume she makes it out. I really do not want to read the sequel. I probably would have loved this book as a kid.

I can’t figure out how her grandparents were so lovely but her parents were despicable people…

Someone else wondered in a goodreads review, how Patty was treated for the first 5 years of her life before her adored perfect angel sister came along. Good question.

When people’s emotions are involved they don’t want to listen.

Tonight is book club, we’ll see what the discussion brings. Shall I take notes and report back? I think I shall!

RATING: Three slices of lemon meringue pie.

After we had eaten out hamburgers and French fried and drunk down our coffee, Mr. Grimes waved to the waitress, “What kind of pie you got?”

She gave her hair, which was the color of brown wrapping paper, a good scratching. “We’re all out of apple.” Nodding in the direction of the counter, she said, “Gave that feller the last piece. “

“What kind have you got left?” asked Mr. Grimes, not bothering to keep the irritation out of his voice.

“‘Bout the only thing I know we got is some sugar doughnuts left over from the morning and some lemon meringue pie.”




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What’s Care Been Readin’ Lately?


I have had a slow down. Not a slump! but a definite lack of time spent reading, it seems. I did attempt a re-listen to Lincoln in the Bardo but I didn’t finish it. I was looking listening for a pie mention that I thought happened.  PLEASE ANYONE!! If you read or will read the eBook version — do a search pretty-please?

This week, I have rediscovered my ability to read read read. I am half through the 14 hour audiobook of Warren Zanes’ bio of  Tom Petty. Wow, do I love biographies of interesting artists. I do.  Mr. Zanes is an interesting character himself and he has an appealing literary quality to his writing. He has quoted Karen Blixon and Russell Banks and a few other authors I know of (but haven’t read.)

I’m still trudging through  The Disappearing Spoon and not that it’s not interesting, it’s just that I have been not picking it up. You know what I mean? What interesting characters these scientists can be…

And finally, on the heels of the Pulitzer announcement of Colson Whitehead winning for The Underground Railroad, I decided to check if my library had a copy of The Intuitionist They did and now I’m reading it. It’s got a scientific quirky vibe. Enjoying it very much so far.


I finally watched Far From the Madding Crowd with Carey Mulligan and Martin Sheen  and it was wonderful! I loved it. If you loved this romantic triangle story with one fabulous independent woman lead, you should read my review of the book/audiobook…  You should read the book first. Film was a fun adaption, in my opinion. And visually stunning. Oh! the costumes!! And I miss reading classics. I need to get back to my Classics Club 50. “It is my intention to astonish you all.”


I made pie for Easter.

The not so pretty but still rather interesting Carrot Pie and the Italian traditional ricotta cheese pie called Fiadone:



I miss not having a book review to post on this now-dusty blog… Soon, though. Hope everyone is reading something good. TELL ME! What are you reading?





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