Wednesday, July 24, 2024


by Yevgeny Zamyatin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I didn't like this book particularly, but I was impressed by it and I see how it might have influenced both Orwell and Atwood who have essays about it included in the edition I read. This latest translation was done by Bela Shayevich.

"In a glass-enclosed city of perfectly straight lines, ruled over by an all-powerful “Benefactor,” the citizens of the totalitarian society of OneState are regulated by spies and secret police; wear identical clothing; and are distinguished only by a number assigned to them at birth. That is, until D-503, a mathematician who dreams in numbers, makes a discovery: he has an individual soul. He can feel things. He can fall in love. And, in doing so, he begins to dangerously veer from the norms of his society, becoming embroiled in a plot to destroy OneState and liberate the city." --GoodReads

 I'm not sure exactly what I didn't like about it, I think it was the disjointedness of the plot and that only the main character had any depth. 
The story is structured as a diary, with log entries intended to be read by the beings on another planet to whom it will be delivered by the amazing machine D-503 is building for the OneState. This structure was very effective for the story as it showed clearly the unravelling and regrouping of our narrator as different things happened. 

"A man is like a novel: until the very last page you don't know how it will end. Otherwise it wouldn't even be worth reading.” 
This is definitely a novel worth reading and is on my Classics Club list.

Monday, July 1, 2024

June Book Report

Manchester, NH June 2024
I finished 5 books last month.

A quote from this month's reading:

“There could be no picture making,” the film director Orson Welles flatly declared, “without pastrami.”
― Ted Merwin, Pastrami on Rye

Here is my progress toward various goals and challenges:

 Here are the books I finished in June 2024: 
  1. Jasmine Moon Murder by Laura Childs (3-stars)
  2. Pastrami on Rye: An Overstuffed History of the Jewish Deli by Ted Merwin (3-stars)
  3. All it Takes is a Goal by Jon Acuff (5-stars)
  4. You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz (4-stars)
  5. 1000 Words by Jami Attenberg (3-stars)
I didn't get much finished this month, but I do have 7 books currently in progress so next month should have a higher finish number. I will be seeing Korelitz speak in October at the NH Book Festival so I have begun a deep dive into her backlist. 

Friday, May 31, 2024

May Book Report

May 2024, Manchester, NH
I finished 6 books last month.

A quote from this month's reading:

“Below me and above me and in the woods stretching thick and endless, their leaves made sugar out of nothing but light.”
― Rebecca Makkai, I Have Some Questions For You

I made almost no progress this month on any goals or challenges. I did read 1 book from my owned-but-not-read shelf  which is at 135 titles. 

 Here are the books I finished in May 2024: 
  1. A Cast of Vultures by Judith Flanders (4-stars)
  2. Murder Past Due by Miranda James (3-stars)
  3. I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai (4-stars)
  4. The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James (4-stars)
  5. Comeback by Dick Francis (4-stars)
  6. Make Time by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky (3-stars)
I didn't realize during the month how little I was reading! I made a list of #20booksofSummer2024, including a few I finished since I made the list. As we come into summer hopefully I will find more time for reading my books!

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

20 Books of Summer 2024

For the 10th year Cathy at 746 Books is hosting #20BooksOfSummer24 I love this challenge because the rules are so forgiving! Make a list of 20 books, read them between 6/1 and 9/1. Change them if you want to as you go along; read fewer than 20 if you need to; have fun. 

Here is my list, beginning with books already in progress:

Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James [finished in May, not counting]
Comeback by Dick Francis [finished in May, not counting]
  1. Heaven and Earth Grocery Store by James McBride

    On my library book shelf but not yet started:

  2. 100 Things We've Lost to the Internet by Pamela Paul [DNF- June]
    You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz [DONE - June]

  3. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    1000 Words by Jami Attenberg [DONE - June]

    Scheduled to come up in my library hold queue this summer:

  4. Misunderstood Vegetables by Becky Selengut
    The Frozen River by Ariel Lawhon [Done - July]
  5. Indiana by George Sand
  6. Dolled Up for Murder by Jane Cleland
  7. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
  8. The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai
  9. Rosemary Remembered by Susan Wittig Albert  [Done - July]
  10. We by E. I. Zamiatin [Done - July]
  11. All it Takes is a Goal by Jon Acuff  [Done - June]
  12. Pastrami on Rye by Ted Merwin [Done - June]
  13. The Jasmine Moon Murder by Laura Childs [Done- June]

    Books I own but haven't yet read:

  14. Dance, Dance, Dance by Haruki Murakami [Done-July]
  15. The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather
  16. Biography: A Very Short Introduction by Hermione Lee
  17. Park Avenue Summer by Renee Rosen
  18. The End of Summer by Rosamund Pilcher

    Swap-ins for the May finishes:
  19. The Glamour of Grammar by Roy Peter Clark [Done-July]
  20. Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

April Book Report

Manchester, NH; April 3, 2024
I finished 7 books last month.

A quote from this month's reading:

“We’re so old now,” I said, “that we can actually see the patterns. It’s a little terrifying.” 
― Michelle Huneven, Search

Here is my progress toward various goals and challenges:

 Here are the books I finished in April 2024: 
  1. Eleanor Roosevelt: The War Years by Blanche Weisen Cook (5-stars)
  2. The Little Book of Dog Care by Ace Tilton Ratcliff  (4-stars)
  3. The Divorce Colony by April White (4-stars)
  4. The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain (5-stars)
  5. The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd (3-stars)
  6. Search by Michelle Huneven (5-stars)
  7. Seven Sisters by Earlene Fowler (4-stars)
Three 5-star books in one month! 

Monday, April 15, 2024

The Postman Always Rings Twice

The Postman Always Rings TwiceThe Postman Always Rings Twice 
by James M. Cain
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this 1934 noir classic in a single sitting. It was un-put-down-able and it was also incredibly well written. Cain structured the story very cleverly and each of the main characters was clearly drawn and we came to understand their motivations. I gasped aloud several times at the twists in the plot. I also enjoyed the very dry tone of the writing.
"Stealing a man’s wife, that’s nothing, but stealing his car, that’s larceny.”
― James M. Cain, The Postman Always Rings Twice
This novel was the inspiration for Camus' The Stranger--which I own and now plan to re-read. 

This title is on my Classics Club list

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Readathon Wrap-up

Yesterday I participated in the April 2024 Dewey's 24-hour Readathon. I didn't stay awake for the entire 24-hours, but I did spend an entire day focused on reading my out-of-control pile of library books. Now on to the wrap-up survey!

  1. I read from 5 different books yesterday. One was my current chapter-a-day book (War and Peace) and the others were from my current batch of books checked out from the library. One of them I started and decided to send back to the library unread because it was too much like another novel I have going right now. It may come back in the future. 
  2. I finished 3 books during the readathon. I enjoyed them all, but The Postman Always Rings Twice (which I will post about later) was my favorite. The Divorce Colony and The Little Book of Dog Care were my other finishes. My partner also finished 3 books (and a bunch of magazines). He focused on books he had already started. 
  3. My goals for readathon were to enjoy a leisurely day of reading with my partner and his dog and to make a dent in my library pile which had gotten out of hand. I accomplished those things.
  4. My snacks and meals worked out very well. I planned ahead (which always helps!) and had everything prepped to go into the crock-pot for dinner (taco soup -- which was delicious). A trip to the market Friday after work set us up with plenty of snacks (including carrots cut into chips which were great to eat while reading). In the evening we opened a very nice vintage Zinfandel which was a lovely treat. I think I finally have my food/beverage plan for readathon dialed-in. Planning ahead is key.
  5. I enjoyed this readathon a lot. It was relaxing, companionable, and I got a lot of reading done. I didn't push myself to do the 24-hours. I started at the appointed hour (8:30am in my timezone) and went to bed around 11pm when I was sleepy. I did a couple of the hourly photo challenges on instagram, but didn't stress about trying to do them all.  
  6. I won't be continuing any of the books I started during readathon because I finished them all! My out-of-control library pile is now back down to a normal size. 

Monday, April 1, 2024

March Book Report

Edmond, OK, March 2023
I finished 12 books last month.

A quote from this month's reading:

[Doing one thing at a time] "...attempts to reduce the cognitive toll of feeling like everyone needs you at all times. All things being equal, workflows that minimize this never-ending stream of urgent communication are superior to those that instead amplify it. When you're at home at night, or relaxing over the weekend, or on vacation, you shouldn't feel like each moment away from work is a moment in which you're accumulating deeper communication debt. in the age of the hyperactive hive mind, we've become used to this despondent state as a necessary consequence of our high-tech world, but this is nonsense."--Cal Newport, A World Without Email, p. 113

Here is my progress toward various goals and challenges:

 Here are the books I finished in March 2024: 
  1. What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast by Laura Vanderkam (audiobook, 3-stars)
  2. A World Without Email by Cal Newport (5-stars)
  3. Boom Town by Sam Anderson (4-stars)
  4. Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear (5-stars)
  5. Southern Lady Code: Essays by Helen Ellis (4-stars)
  6. The Power of 2: How to Make the Most of Your Partnerships at Work and in Life by Rodd Wagner (3-stars)
  7. The Lantern's Dance by Laurie R. King (4-stars)
  8. A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home by Elsie Larsen (3-stars)
  9. The Quiet American by Graham Greene (4-stars)
  10. The Week: A History of the Unnatural Rhythms that Made Us Who We Are by David M. Henkin (audiobook, 3-stars)
  11. Slow Productivity by Cal Newport (4-stars)
  12. The Tuesday Club Murders by Agatha Christie (5-stars)
I think I need a sabbatical from work because I am way behind on reading my library books. The pile just keeps growing! Reading sabbaticals should totally be a thing.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

The Quiet American

The Quiet American (Penguin Twentieth Century Classics)The Quiet American 
by Graham Greene
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

GoodReads describes Greene as a writer whose "works explore the ambivalent moral and political issues of the modern world." That is exactly what this novel, written in the mid-1950s does. The story is set in French Colonial Vietnam, apparently a bit before the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, and is the story of a British reporter and the small circle of people around him, "the Quiet American" is one of those people. There is a dry, distant tone taken by the narrators of the Greene novels I have read so far which works really well in describing the terrible things they are dealing with and the moral ambiguities with which they struggle at a personal level. 

If you are a person who can't deal with stories where bad things happen to dogs, this is not a book for you. I had planned to watch the 2002 movie based on this book, but my partner is one of those people re dogs, so that may not happen.

This title is on my Classics Club list

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