Sunday, September 24, 2023

Doctor Zhivago

Doctor Zhivago 
translated from the Russian by Max Hayward and Manya Harari
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First published in 1957 this novel is the story of four Russians set against the backdrop of the Russian revolution. It is a classic, tragic, love story. It is also a beautifully constructed novel where individuals are "tossed about like corks in the tumult...thrown up against each other in all sorts of unexpected ways and places" (as John Bayley puts it in his introduction to the novel). In addition to characters being thrown up against each other Pasternak does the same thing with details--contrasting the beautiful with the squalid and the monumental with the quotidian. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and plan to read it again. This book is on my classics club list as well as my TBR pile challenge list. I am also counting it toward the What's in a Name challenge for the category of "Q, X, Z."

Thursday, September 21, 2023


Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform IndustriesLoonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries 
by Safi Bahcall
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There are a lot of interesting stories in this book. There is also a lot of math which is not my favorite thing. There are a few basic principles that the author contends are necessary to support "loonshots" in an organization and he works through multiple examples of each one. Overall I felt like the book was a bit repetitive and never really came together as a coherent argument. It was worth reading for the stories of individual lookshots.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday - My Fall 2023 TBR

The Top Ten Tuesday topic this week is "My Fall 2023 TBR" As anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, I am terrible at reading from a set list of books. However, I would like to finish these 10 books over the next few months.

  1. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
  2. The Violent Bear it Away by Flannery O'Connor
  3. Delta Wedding by Eudora Welty
  4. The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith
  5. The Secret Life of the American Musical by Jack Viertel
  6. Time Pieces: A Dublin Memoir by John Banville
  7. The Librarianist by Patrick deWitt
  8. One Book in the Grave by Kate Carlisle
  9. Peril in Paperback by Kate Carlisle
  10. A Death at the Party by Amy Stuart

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Flash and Bones

Flash and Bones (Temperance Brennan, #14)Flash and Bones 
by Kathy Reichs
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have read quite a few of the titles in this series and they are usually an entertaining, somewhat educational, excursion into the icky-ness of forensic pathology. This novel was no exception. Mainly set in North Carolina and focusing on the world of NASCAR racing all the elements I would expect in a Kathy Reichs novel were here. I learned a lot I didn't know about auto-racing, including that Canadians follow NASCAR and there are famous drivers from Quebec. 
I am counting this towards the Canadian Reading Challenge (the author and some of the characters are Canadians).

Friday, September 1, 2023

August Book Report

Hampton Beach, NH 8/2023
I finished 10 books last month.

A quote from this month's reading:

"What you see and how you see it can change your life. A sleight of hand. A shift of perspective, and one can suddenly become an instrument of the Divine."
--Katherine J. Chen, Joan, p. 190

Here is my progress toward various goals and challenges:

 Here are the books I finished in August 2023: 
  1. Switch by Chip Heath (4-stars)
  2. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (3-stars)
  3. Stolen by Ann-Helen Laestadius (4-stars)
  4. Pint-sized Ireland by Evan McHugh (4-stars)
  5. Joan by Katherine J. Chen (5-stars)
  6. Maame by Jessica George (3-stars)
  7. The Love Prescription by John M. Gottman (5-stars)
  8. The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne (3-stars)
  9. The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers (3-stars)
  10. Africa is Not a Country by Dipo Faloyin (4-stars)
 I have completed one of my challenges for 2023, and by the skin of my teeth read my 20 books of summer within the allotted timeframe. The next goal is to complete by Classics Club list by October 1 (5 years from when I made the list). I have 3 books left to go and am in progress on one of them. There are 2 short-ish ones that I hope to finish during September so it will be a stretch but I might make this (self-imposed) deadline. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Top 10 Tuesday - Water Books


The Top Ten Tuesday topic this week is "Water Books" These are all books that I have read that have water-related titles. A lot of these are mysteries, which isn't surprising given my reading habits. Titles link to my post about the book if I wrote one.

  1. Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
  2. Water Like a Stone by Deborah Crombie
  3. Death by Water by Kerry Greenwood
  4. The Sabbathday River by Jean Hanff Korelitz
  5. Crow Lake by Mary Lawson
  6. Acqua Alta by Donna Leon
  7. An Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim
  8. Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
  9. Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
  10. A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters

Sunday, August 27, 2023

The Member of the Wedding

The Member of the WeddingThe Member of the Wedding 
This book reminded me a lot of To Kill a Mockingbird, except that it was very focused on a single storyline--the experiences of 12-year-old Frankie. Set in a small American town during WW2 our young heroine struggles with a desire to be of the world in a way that she can't be as a young girl. 
I read the novel in a single afternoon and I enjoyed it. This title is on my classics club list, my TBR pile challenge list,  and it is one of my #20booksofsummer23.

Sunday, August 20, 2023


by Katherine J. Chen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"This must be what happens when you leave your home, travel, and see the world. Little by little, you begin to change, even if you are not aware of it. What was once alien becomes familiar: foreign tongues, the music of strange instruments, the vagaries of the sea. Slowly you alter until the very stars that spin in the heavens are as familiar to you as the lines of your own hand. But first you must step out your front door. You must be willing to love every inch of yourself, for the next time you look into a stream or a mirror, which may be weeks, years, or half a lifetime from now, you will not recognize your reflection." (p. 79)
This was a fabulous book. It tells the tale of the Hundred Years' War from the point of view of Joan D'Arc, beginning when she is just a little girl. How does a girl from a poor village in France become a heroic sainted warrior? In the hands of Katherine Chen it is a meandering path in which each separate step makes sense and where these steps cumulate into an incredible adventure. 

I am counting this book toward the Historical Fiction Challenge.

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Blade Runner #1)Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? 
by Philip K. Dick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novel was not what I expected. It was more about the psychology of the character and less of a chase thriller than I thought it would be. I liked this much more than I expected to. Most of the story (which is set in 2021) is told from the point of view of Rick Deckard and the focus is on how he is dealing with (or not) the emotional implications of his world and his actions. The interior lives of other characters are also part of the story. The pace of the writing is fast, but not driving the way thrillers typically are. 

This book is on my Classics Club list and my #20booksofsummer2023 list. It also counts towards the What's in a Name Challenge (punctuation in the title).
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