Thoughts by Lauren Groff, Penguin Audio 2021, 8 hours 52 minutes, Narrated by Adjoa Andoh
Genre/Theme: Historical Fiction
Type/Source: Audiobook / Audible
What It’s About: Oh, Marie. Marie is a force! Lauren Groff is a FORCE for fiercely imagining a life for Marie that is BOLD. Marie is a bastard ugly child of nobility in a family fraught with fighting for control of countries in the 12th century. Poor Marie is never going to be given her due and is banished to a nunnery but she is cunning, she is extremely bright and proud, and she will want. She will never get quite what she thinks she must have but OMG does she ACCOMPLISH. She is always one step ahead and almost there.
She arrives to her post a mere child with nuns dying of starvation and disease. Over her lifetime, she builds the Abbey to be many females strong and to have much wealth garnered by strategy and stealth.
The narration was excellent.
The entire book features female characters. (By which I mean there are NO male ones.)
Thoughts: Marie is actually hard to like, as any megalomaniac can tend to be. But the more I read reviews and think about what this book does, I think it is delicious! I have read criticisms that there’s too much sex. Well, HUH. Deal. And another asked, “what was the POINT of this?” ok, well I think THAT is too much thinking. LG has an imagination of WHAT IF and she went for it. I’ve read that some people don’t like Groff’s writing — now, ok, personal preference can certainly apply, I’m all for that. But I am a fan. I like her. I liked Fates and Furies, and I’m stating now that I hope to read her backlist and everything she writes next. She is FIERCE.
Rating: Four slices of pie. I noticed at least three mentions of pie: maybe even Figgy Pudding Pie?! Definitely Buttery Leek Pie. My Audible account is not showing my notes (?!) so I can’ give the exact quote so I’ve decided to pair in a link to a recipe!
Today, January 23, is National Pie Day, so let’s share what I found for Leek Pie. This one from Smitten Kitchen looks fabulous! click the image to go to Leek & Swiss Chard Tart:
Ten years ago, about this time, I discovered a PROJECT that aligned nicely with that year’s goal of writing a letter every day. I succeeded on that project and I’m excited to share that I will be participating in this February’s Month of Letters aka/hashtag #LetterMo again. TEN YEARS! So this year is actually my 11th year. WOW.
Volunteers keep the website going; it’s changed some over the decade. Author Mary Robinette Kowal (Twitter link) started it all and since abdicated it to the universe. I’ve read 2 of her books:
I reviewed Shades of Milk & Honey in a roundup post 2014 and never got around to writing many reviews at all of books read in 2018, such as Calculating Stars.
Rules to #LetterMo are simple – I actually do the deluxe version and write every single day, but I think the stated guidelines suggest sending something in the mail every day the mail runs. Thus, if in the US, this means only Monday thru Saturday. The website community awards badges for certain challenges and has virtual stickers, buttons and more.
OH yea! Another rule is to reply to any letter received in February… which takew me into March.
So… if I have your address, I will probably drop you a snailmail note next month. If you would like me to send a postcard or letter, please tell me your address in an email to BkClubCare [at] Gmail.
Thoughts by Louise Erdrich, Harper 2021, 387 pages
Genre/Theme: Adult Literature
Type/Source:eBook / Library
What It’s About: This is the story of Tookie, a Chippewa woman in Minnesota who works in a bookstore. The book starts with how she came to commit a crime, be sentenced and serve time in prison. A former teacher sends her a dictionary and so begins a love of reading. This same teacher helps her get the job at the bookstore once she is released from prison. This is also the story of how one of the bookstore’s most loyal customers dies and begins to haunt Tookie when she is at work. The story is timely; we see the dates approach March 2020 — the start of the pandemic. And June, when George Floyd is murdered at the hands of the cops. And the subsequent protests.
Thoughts: As I attempt the above paragraph, I find my appreciation growing for how Erdrich accomplished all of the personal and broad storylines, as well as weaving in the love of reading. There is a grappling of balancing political issues and getting involved and this was successfully done (to me) — effectively paced with empathy, love, and respect; everything I love in my literature. I would even say she manages a balanced lightness with heavy topics and was able to bring some humor to the humanity.
I found that I could not read just any book. It had gotten so I could see through books—the little ruses, the hooks, the setup in the beginning, the looming weight of a tragic ending, the way at the last page the author could whisk out the carpet of sorrow and restore a favorite character. I needed the writing to have a certain mineral density. It had to feel naturally meant, but not cynically contrived.
Rating: She even included pie! Rounding up to 5 slices of pie. A book lover’s book: the author provides a list of all the books mentioned in the text.
I grew up in Rondo and that was a warm neighborhood, full of kindness, pie, elderly folks, kids, craziness, and sorrow. It was a place to belong. All my life I’ve missed it, but never understood until now.
Thoughts by Lily King, Blackstone 2021, 6 hours 10 minutes
Narrated by: Bronson Pinchot, Mark Bramhall, Stacey Glemboski, Cassandra Campbell, Christa Lewis
Challenge: What’s in a Name: Season category
Genre/Theme: Short Story, Adult Lit
Type/Source:Audiobook / Audible
What It’s About: If you have Audible, this is an included special gift. I don’t even recall who alerted me, but I ran to my account and sure enough, I was able to download without losing a credit. SCORE!
Ten short stories, some longer than others, all marvelous. I enjoyed the entire collection. Looking at the list now, some come back to me with a force of characterization and suspense, some I don’t even remember what they were about or am hazy about how they ended already but that’s just me. Many are about wistful misunderstandings or memories of relationships now unfixable. Perhaps some get fixed. All are delightful! Heartily recommended.
Thoughts: I think my favorites are the title story, “Five Tuesdays in Winter” – a shy widower bookseller with a teenage daughter has a crush on one of his staff, “When in the Dordogne” – two college kids get to house sit for a wealthy couple traveling abroad and they also get to watch their 14 yo boy, and “The Man at the Door” – a young mother desperate for time alone so she can write her novel struggles with her realities, her past and her present. All of the stories shine, all are provoking, just real good. Audio is well done.
“She was the type who could not take a compliment. If he told her she looked nice, she’d give the reason instead of saying thank you. But he was the type who could not give a compliment, so he just said hello and let her in.”
“Five tuesdays in Winter”
Rating: Five slices of blueberry pie.
Grant had heated up a Sara Lee pie, blueberry.
When he pulled it out, he started to cut into it and Ed said, “I know how you’re going to do this: miserly wedges, one at a time. When you know for a fact we’re going to eat the whole thing. Give me that.”
Ed took the knife from him and cut the pie into thirds, and put a mound of ice cream on each of the enormous pieces. We ate on the porch. It was a warm humid night, the hot pie and the cold ice cream were perfect together.
Total Books Read = 122 Average Books Read Per Month = 10 Best Reading Month = July 15 or April 14 Worst Reading Month = Jan or Nov
Total Pages Read = 29,419 Average Pages Per Book = 241 Average Pages Read Per Day = 81
Total Chunksters (400+ pages) Read = 14
Genres Total Adult Fiction Books Read = 36 Lighter Contemporary Fic = 5 Total YA Fiction Books Read = 6 Children’s = 4 Total Memoir Books Read = 12 Total Nonfiction Books Read = 24 Short Story Collection = 1 Poetry = 8 Mystery/Thriller = 2 Translated = 5 Fantasy = 5 SciFi = 9 Historical Fiction = 8 Cookbooks = 2 Adventure = 1 Business = 2 Graphical = 1
Formats Total Audio Books “Read” = 29 Total Ebooks Read = 28 Total Hardcover Books = 26 Tradeback/Paperback = 39
Ratings ★★★★★ = 37 ★★★★ = 57 ★★★ = 21 ★★ = 6 ★ =
Authors Total Books By Women = 77 Total Books By Men = 45 Total Books by New-to-Me Authors = 72 Repeat Authors = 26 Total Books by Authors of Color = 33
Miscellaneous Total Graphic Novels Read = 0 Total Books Reread = 0 Total “Classics” Read = 15 Total Books Read for Book Club = 6
Oldest book: The Epic Gilgamesh Longest book: 856 JS&MN Shortest book: 18 Pumpkin Pie
Longest book title: A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing: The Incarceration of African American Women from Harriet Tubman to Sandra Bland
Shortest book title: Jack
Debuts: 17 On List of Books to Read Before You Die: 4 Book to Movie: 3, Book to Play: 1, Book to TV Miniseries: 1
Books with Pie: 58
Care’s 2021 Pie in Lit Award goes to…. The Resisters!
I read more books than I ever have in one calendar year. Yet, I didn’t have any standout amazing reading experiences. BUT WAIT! I do NOT mean to say I didn’t have a great reading year because I did! I had many tremendous 4 & 5 star reads and if I were to really look at the list, some of those fives would drop to 4 and some of those 4s would elevate to a 5 and so I’m NOT going to look.
I’m going with what I set when I recorded in my spreadsheet and blog. I did pretty good on blogging reviews this year, though that last few months were a disappointment. That’s OK, it’ll be OK. Get back up if you fall down; no need to dither/dather over spilt milk and attempt to go back in time to fix. Nope.
♦ Classics — One True Thing by Anna Quindlen 1994 Historical Fiction — The Cold Millions by Jess Walter and Everyone Knows Your Mother is a Witch by Rivka Galchen Mystery — Swann -or- Long Bright River Literary Fiction — Top 3: The Promise by Damon Galgut, Luster by Raven Leilani, Oh William by Elizabeth Strout Nonfiction —These Precious Days by Ann Patchett Fantasy —The Spindle Splintered by Alix Harrow Poetry – It Shouldn’t Have Been Beautiful – Lia Purpura and Jeanne Griggs Postcard Poems! Science Fiction — Martha Wells Murderbot Series YA — Alone with the Stars by David Graham
♦ Books You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t? The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki, Skippy Dies/Paul Murray and Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart
♦ Most surprising (in a good way) book you read? Stephen Florida. It is a DEBUT.
♦ Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read? n/a
♦ Best series you started in 2021? Murderbot
♦ Favorite new author you discovered in 2021? Anna Quindlen and Raven Leilani
♦ Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone? (I can’t think of anything to fit this…)
♦ Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year? I can’t think of anything to fit this either. The most memorable “unputdownable” book that comes to mind is the opposite of action-packed! Whereabouts by Lahiri
♦ Book You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year? Goodness, um NONE? Maybe These Precious Days. I rarely reread and certainly not so quick in time. (OK, that isn’t quite true… I read Milkman twice in the same year and I read Duchess Goldblatt, twice in the same year, too! #shrug)
♦ Favorite cover of a book you read in 2021? Everyone Knows Your Mother is a Witch or Euphoria by Lily King or The Resistors by Gish Jen
♦ Most memorable character of 2021? Narrator of My Year of Rest and Relaxation or Narrator in The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison or Konstance in Cloud Cuckoo Land .
♦ Most beautifully written book read in 2021? The Soul of Kindness by Elizabeth Taylor
♦ Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2021? Did That Just Happen?!
♦ Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2021 to finally read? Oranges are Not the Only Fruit (and Anne Frank and Housekeeping and Fun Home and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell) (And Alice in Wonderland.)
♦ Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2021?
♦ Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2021? You’re My Little Pumpkin Pie (18 pages) by Natalie Marshal and Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (865 pages) by Susanna Clarke
♦ Book That Shocked You The Most? Effin Birds by Aaron Reynolds (LOL)
♦ Favorite Couple? Caroline & Tom Donohoe in The Radium Girls. True love.
♦ Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship of The Year? Murderbot and ART?
♦ Favorite Book You Read in 2021 From an Author You’ve Read Previously? The Green Mile by SK, These Precious Days by AP
♦ Best Book You Read In 2021 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else? Yoga Pant Nation maybe. Or… wait for it. Murderbot!
♦ Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2021? no idea. I can’t keep answering with Murderbot, can I?
♦ Best 2021 debut you read? Luster by Raven Leilani
♦ Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year? The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
♦ Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read? Murderbot
♦ Book That Made You Cry in 2021? These Precious Days
♦ Hidden Gem Of The Year? The Tenth Muse by Catherine Chung (probably the book that had the least chatter in my world…)
♦ Book That Crushed Your Soul? The Trees by Percival Everett
♦ Most Unique Book You Read In 2021? Several People Are Typing! by Calvin Kasulke
♦ Book That Made You the Maddest? Detransition, Baby (that so many people argued about Torrey Peters being eligible for the Womens Lit Prize)
♦ Best Audiobook? Cloud Cuckoo Land / Anthony Doerr and Black Gold by Theresa Edwards
♦ Best Book to Film Adaptation? One True Thing & Housekeeping
Tis the time of year to think fondly upon the end of the current year and all the amazing books that moved us in some way. Tis also the time to set goals for the upcoming year.
But all that stuff takes time and thought and sifting through data to make pie charts….
FIRST! We must pick that one book we will read or start on the first day, January 1.
Having begun the consideration list for the 2022 What’s in a Name Challenge, I’m going to pause my mad dash at the TOB Short List and read what I hope will be a fast feel-good tale by an admired author.
(I have a dear friend who did not give it high marks on goodreads but that now only makes me more curious.)
Thoughts by Ann Patchett, HarperCollins 2021, 320 pages
Challenge: I have love and adoration for AP
Type/Source: Hardcover / Purchased as a ticket for a virtual event (which I missed…)
WHAT’s it ABOUT: Ann Patchett is a successful prize-winning novelist (Her latest, The Dutch House, was nominated for the Pulitzer) who also owns a bookstore in Nashville TN. This writer-plus-bookshop-proprietor was a magazine article writer in order to support her fiction writing habit; she published a collection of these called This is the Story of a Happy Marriage in 2013 between two best-sellers State of Wonder (2011) and Commonwealth(2016). She pub’d this one, this year and it’s a heartbreaker, consisting of goodness.
WHAT’s GOOD: I love her.
Here’s what I said in my review of This … Happy Marriage: “From word one, I fell hard into this and couldn’t stop enjoying, thinking, relating, pondering. I had no idea what to expect; I really didn’t know anything more about Ann Patchett other than the first fact: 1) she wrote Bel Canto and the second, that 2) she owns a bookstore. I am now a fan . . . “
So this new collection is also just a few random essays but the title one refers to her friendship with an artist, a friendship that began slowly and by a series of cogs, levers, acts of this and then that and THEN the pandemic. I cried with this essay, but I also cried on the very first essay and it was about .. oh, well, OK. It was about death. That essays don’t die. I cried at a few other lovely essays, too.
Maybe I should get my thyroid checked again. I cried lovingly.
What’s NOT so good: I have no criticisms.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I find AP inspiring. I want to reread this book already. I’ve put Updike on my tbr. I have added Eudora Welty to my tbr. I have placed a book called Barking to the Choir by Gregory Boyle on my tbr.
RATING: Five slices of pie.
“That was when I started cutting frozen butter into pea sized chunks with a frozen knife in my frozen hands to make a pie crust..”
Number of pages: 2427, number of hours: 30.74 ♦ Total pages for year-to-date: 27,266 ◘ total hours: ~270
What Kind, Where From:
Tradeback owned + Audio from library Radium Girls by Kate Moore
The Promise eBook by Damon Galgut (Booker Prize)
A Spindle Spintered by Alix Harrow eBook/Libby
Leading with Questions Hardcover/Work-provided by Mark Marquardt
Infinite Country by Patricia Engle eBook/Libby
Cloud Cuckoo Land Audiobook/Audible by Anthony Doerr
Rather than saying my favorite read of the month, I will wow you with the statement that I gave ALL the fiction 5 slices of pie and one of the Nonfiction. The other only other nonfic I read, I gave 2 slices. (Ugh; it was a slog.)
These books took me on visits to New Jersey near NYC and to a small town in Illinois, NYC and the country of Columbia. The Booker Prize put me in South Africa, the fairy tale was grounded in Pennsylvania (IIRC) and then in the land of princesses and dragons and scary forests to pass through. Cloud Cuckoo Land was in the past in Constantinople — the recent past in Idaho — some Vietnam or was it Korea? — and in the future to an outerspace somewhere sealed away for decades.
Nonfiction November fell a part for me once the TOB Long List hit the newsstand. I became obsessed and abandoned almost the entirety of my Litsy #BookSpinBingo card. I gave up blogging. I could only focus on a few things and that was TOB and family stuff, I guess.
I didn’t even update my book tracker but thankfully I had goodreads. Whew!
Speaking of THANKFUL and since it’s November’s recap… let’s talk Pie! All of the books I enjoyed mention pie. One was “a slice of pie” (a slice of RADIUM pie!), one mentions a pie pan, and one used the word “piebald” — hey, it counts. One features empanadas, one said something about “hand-raised pie” or somethingsomething British-Baking-Show (and now my count is off), but finally! one discusses milk tart – has to be a custard and I need to search more, and also CHICKEN PIE.
I myself made Pecan. Oh. and…. Lyle Lovett liked my tweet of the pic of my Pecan pie for #SecularPieThursday. SQUEEEEEEEEEE!
Nonfiction November is here! This is an annual event focusing on sharing the love for terrific nonfiction reads. I thank my friend at Gulfside Musings for keeping me updated on the festivities (and not denying me from copying a bit of her post and links.)
Looking back at the year so far in my nonfic reading by answering the prompts for Week 1:
What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?
Weird but maybe not unsurprising, my favorite is a pie recipe book! A Farm Journal cookbook on pies and pastries that was a gift. It was originally a gift from my grandmother to my aunt, her daughter, my dad’s sister. It was published in 1965 and is in great condition. I will cherish this for sentimental reasons but also because it is quite an entertaining read, as well.
I’ve read 22 books that I label nonfiction so far this 2021. Quite a few of these are short audiobook memoirs that came free to me as an Audible subscriber. Most are by musicians so that is somewhat a theme.
The book I’ve recommended the most is Did That Just Happen? by Pinder-Amaker & Wadsworth. It was practical, instructional AND uncompromising with examples and how best to navigate and recognize situations to DO BETTER; to truly invite and support all people into the workplace. I read this book because I am in the corporate learning industry and we are striving to create a diverse and inclusive culture.
Though late to get my posts posted for this month, I’ve been active in my mind (and at Litsy); making lists and plotting to read more nonfiction. I hope to make more bookish connections while fully expecting to add too many books to my tbr. Always adding to the tbr!
I’ve started The Radium Girls, finally! I bought this after 2020’s #NonfictionNovember. Thanks JoAnn! I’ve got the book AND the audio from the library. I’m already incensed and outraged.
Count from the library = SIX, one book was for my monthly Audible credit and finished with Libby; five purchased, and another library for both eBook and Hardcover
My favorite read of the month is The Soul of Kindness by Elizabeth Taylor. [Link to Review]
These books took me on visits to Colorado, NYC and outer space. I saw the US and some views into Canada. I was in UK-fantasy land. USA again and a half century away in rural England. OPKS was where I lived in the first book (and I’ve lived there in my history, so YAY KANSAS) and ended up in Sweden for the last book of the month.
Five nonfiction – if I count the poetry?) One of the books I read this month is “loosely-based memoir” fiction: Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeannette Winterson. SO GLAD to have enjoyed this which had been on my tbr for a long time.
Two featured LGBTQ+, three by POC, one in translation, four classics. Seven female-identifying authors (I might be guessing/assuming) to six by male-presenting.
and…… The Tournament of Favorites was fabulous! The winner is Tsar of Love and Techno over Version Control in the finals. Great fun, much fun, warms the heart and stimulates the brain. I love the tournaments as much as I love pie. Bring on the Long List! Any day now… I haven’t read too many on on the possibly contenders list. Books pub’d this year include: Fugitive Telemetry SF, Meet Cute Diary TransRomance?, Yoga Pants Nation MomLit, (oh yea, I read all the Summer Camp books, too!)
Pie! NINE books out of 13 mention pie.
I made Cranberry Pear Pie, Pumpkin, and some Dutch Apple crumb pies.