Monday, January 2, 2017

2016 Book Roundup... Looking Backward and Forward

Hellooooo. Happy New Year. Long time no see. I've been on a bit of an unscheduled blog break. I intended to take a week off, but it morphed into two. 

In the meantime we've been doing a lot of this. Rising before dawn to get on the road early. The drive to New Brunswick usually takes us around 11 hours.... even with this lovely new highway through the province. That's not all driving time, of course. There's stopping for egg mcmuffin time, and stopping for gas and tea time, and then the "nature breaks" as they call them in the Tour de France. 

The highway home from Fredericton. Somewhere around Perth-Andover, New Brunswick
Outside of Perth-Andover, New Brunswick. Going to be beautiful when the sun comes up.
And down home, when we weren't "visiting" with family, friends, and neighbours, we were preparing food, or eating it, or lolling in Mum's living room deciding what to have for an evening snack even when we knew perfectly well that we shouldn't. Which necessitated doing a lot of this when we came home to Ottawa late last week. Hubby and I hit the ski trails hard our first day back. That's because we have lots of beautiful snow, and it's been sunny and -5°C... perfect cross-country skiing weather. 

 Skiing in Stoney Swamp on New Years Day, near Kanata, Ontario
Skiing at Stoney Swamp, New Year's Day. 
And while all this driving and eating and chatting and skiing has been going on, like everyone else, I've been taking stock of the past year. Of what I've been wearing. And writing about. And reading... in particular. So I thought I'd share with you some of my conclusions. About books and 2016.

Best Reads of the Year for Me... Fiction

These three books are hands down the best books I read this year. I simply could NOT get Kate Atkinson's novel A God in Ruins out of my head. I thought about it, talked about it, and wrote about it on the blog. Same with Ian McEwan's The Children Act. You can read that post here. And if you haven't read these novels, you should. But be warned. They will consume your time, make you very bad company while you're reading them, and very annoying after you've finished when you can't stop talking about them. 

                    

I haven't written yet about Jo Baker's novel A Country Road, A Tree. The novel deals primarily with writer Samuel Beckett's life in France during World War II. His flight from Paris with his lover, the privations of life in Nazi occupied France, and his eventual joining of the French Resistance. You can read here how Baker became fascinated by Beckett while studying for her MA, and how a train trip in France cemented the idea of writing about his war, and the effects on him as a writer. As one reviewer describes it, the novel presents Beckett's wartime experiences as the "artistic crucible" for his famous play, Waiting for Godot, "the unexpected success" of which was a "genuine turning point in Beckett's life." I generally do not like to read reviews of a book before I read the book itself, but if you do, have a look here and here.

Shot of Samuel Beckett from a review in the Guardian.com
Samuel Beckett... in all his lovely, craggy, handsome glory. source
Baker's novel is beautifully written. And seems at times to emulate Beckett's style, his observation of and obsession with small details, his use of silence: "This place, the little cafe in this little town, the scar along the counter top- this is everything for the moment. While outside in the cold cab, breath pluming in the air, the snow gathering on the windscreen, the press of a hairpin into her scalp, is also everything." I love that quiet evocative scene. The title of the novel is taken from the opening stage directions for Beckett's famous play. I didn't know that when I was reading; I must confess I've never read Waiting for Godot. But I surmised as much. The words also mimic a scene in the novel where Beckett and his lover wait, and wait, by the roadside for their Resistance contact. Baker has certainly mastered the art of writing about waiting. She describes moments suspended in time, quiet, detailed moments. Often depicting painful, personal privations, hunger and bad feet, rumbling stomachs, blisters and bunions. Baker's homage to Samuel Beckett is at times a difficult read, especially if you don't like detail. But it's definitely worth the effort. I loved it for its insight into Beckett's life, and for its beautiful style. 

Scene from Waiting for Godot, at he Cort Theatre, New York, 2013. From a review in the Irish Times
Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting For Godot” at the Cort Theater, New York, 2013

Best Read of the Year... Non-fiction

I loved Kate Bolick's memoir Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own. Bolick explores her own unmarried life, and the lives of several women she admires, her "awakeners" as she calls them. But you can read my earlier post about the book here. In writing that post I realized that I seem to have a bit of a thing for women who make lives of their own. 


Kate Bolick and her book "Spinster" from a review in the LA Times.
source

Favourite Re-discovery of the Year

I read and loved Christopher Brookmyre's crime novels years ago, and then went off him. I seem to remember growing a bit tired of his humour. Suddenly the black comedy seemed too intrusive, too much the raison d'être for the book, instead of plot and character development. But I picked up these two novels a couple of months ago. And I was hooked all over again. I think he's changed, folks. The humour is still there, but more held in check. Now his wry wit only serves to enhance his story, burbling to the surface in a wonderfully ironic moment or with a funny line. And the characters are engaging, the plots tight, and the writing superb. 

          



Author photo of Christopher Brookmyre from a review in the Daily Recor
Christopher Brookmyre. source

Favourite New Discovery of the Year

Thanks to Frances, whom many of you know from her blog Materfamilias Writes, for putting me onto Steve Borrows and his "birder murder mysteries." The novels are set in Norfolk in the UK, but feature an ex-pat Canadian detective with a passion for birds. Burrows' main character Domenic Jejeune is a talented, if rather unlikely, not to mention reluctant, detective. He'd much rather be watching birds than catching bad guys. Hubby and I both enjoyed the first two books in this series and are anxiously waiting for my name to top the "holds" list at the library for the third. 


Steve Borrows author photo from his website.
When talking about birds, Burrows knows whereof  he speaks. source

Favourite Book Post of the Year: 

I have an enormous fondness for Harper Lee and for her novel To Kill a Mockingbird. I read and loved it as a young girl, and taught it for many years as a high school English teacher. And despite all that repetition, I still love it. So with all that history, when Lee's purported "second novel" came out in 2015, I had to buy it and read it. And then with Lee dying so close on the heels of the publication of, and the ensuing uproar over, the "new book," I had to weigh in on the book, both books in fact, and the whole media circus that surrounded the publication of Go Set a Watchman. I wrote my post "Harper Lee's Long Good-bye" as a labour of love. Love for the author and her work. And also because I thought it was very sad that a woman who had abjured the public eye for so many, many years should be so surrounded by media hype in her last days. Yep, it's my favourite post from last year. And it's definitely the one on which I worked the hardest.

Harper Lee and Mary Badham on the set of the 1962 movie To Kill a Mockingbird
On the set of the 1962 movie, To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee and Mary Badham,who plays Scout

A Couple of New Book Blog Discoveries

I'm always on the look-out for other blogs about books. I can't read about fashion all the time, people. So here are a couple that I stumbled upon. You might like them too. Our Book Reviews looks interesting to me. Partly because the reviewers on this site agree with my views on Jo Baker's A Country Road, A Tree, and Elly Griffiths' Ruth Galloway series. And partly because I'm not familiar with most of the other authors they review. So I'm looking forward to discovering a few new writers. I'm also excited about finding Rohan Maitzen's blog Novel Readings. Maitzen is an English prof at Dalhousie University in Halifax, and I love the mix of biographical and critical writings on her blog. No plots summaries here, thank goodness... I hate it when book reviews do that... just erudite, but totally readable, analysis and a true love of books, new and old. You should check out her blog.

So that pretty much sums up 2016 and books on the blog. I tried to write a book post a month last year... and did for the most part. Some months, though, travel interfered, and, well, other considerations. Important stuff. You know... like whether I should go grey or not. The answer is still NOT by the way. 

And looking forward, despite all those articles that recommend bloggers regularly change up what they do, I'm hoping to continue writing a book post a month in 2017. I love our conversations about books. Many of my new author discoveries have come from you. Which reminds me, I just finished The Sea Detective by Mark Douglas-Home, and enjoyed it. Thanks to Cosette for recommending that one. 

Still we never know what will happen next year. We can't always see around the next turn in the trail. Sorry for that cheesy metaphor. Or is it an analogy? Gad, thirty years teaching English and I always get those two mixed up. Besides I could see around the turn when I took this picture. I could see Hubby standing impatiently, shifting from one ski to the other. "Just take the darn shot and come on, Suz." After thirty-two years, he's still chiding me to hurry up. And I'm still lollygagging. So you see, sometimes things staying the same is eminently comforting. 

The ski trail at Stoney Swamp, near Kanata, Ontario.
Stoney Swamp Trail, January 1, 2017

How about you dear readers? Any good reads of 2016 you'd like to recommend? Let's create a great long list for other people to peruse, eh? 

Or... since I just returned from New Brunswick... maybe I should say a jeezly big long list. 


Linking up with Thursday Favourite Things at Katherine's Corner and Saturday Share Link-up at Not Dressed as Lamb

56 comments:

  1. Great Post! Incredible history and I know you have a wonderful future in your life.

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  2. I recently finished, "Major Pettigrew's Last Stand," by Helen Simonson and really enjoy the book. I plan to do a blog post on it soon. I enjoyed reading about your recent book loves and always enjoy your blog!

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    1. Thanks, Debbie. I enjoyed Major Pettigrew's Last Stand as well. Have you read her second book The Summer Before the War? Its good too.

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  3. Louise Penny's Gamache mystery series is wonderful.

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  4. I always like to read about your book reviews. I also agree with the above comment about Louise Penny. She might just be my favourite author (if I had to choose, but thankfully I do not). I'm curious about this new road that you speak of. Do you mean a new road in New Brunswick? I took what I thought to be a "short cut" across New Brunswick when I was just 23 years old in a tiny car on my way to a university in Nova Scotia. It was not short and all I saw was trees and one gas station the whole way! -Jenn

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    1. Yes...the Trans-Canada highway in New Brunswick is finally 4 lanes all the way through. The part between Edmundston and Fredericton used to be the bane of our existence. I think I know the road you mean, however. It's called the Plaster Rock- Renous highway, and it cuts a chunk of distance off if you're driving to Nova Scotia. But...and it's a big but... it's pretty isolated, and you won't seen anything but trees most of the way. We drove it ...in the dark... one year on our way to P.E.I. when we couldn't leave until noon because I had a morning exam. Now that was a fun drive! Up and down steep hills, our lights picking out nothing but trees for miles and miles. We passed one other car the whole way. Glad we didn't get a flat tire because those were pre-cell-phone days.

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  5. Happy New Year to you too, Susan and I'm glad you've enjoyed recharging the ol' batteries :)

    As for my reading material, it's mostly internet browsing :)

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    1. Thanks, Cee. Make sure you keep browsing here:)

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  6. I'm with you on God in Ruins. Just finished it and I agree so much to think about. No doubt you read the wonderful Life after Life as well. Equally good. Just reading Belgravia by Julian Fellowes ( Downton Abbey) Bit predictable but a pleasant historical romp through Victorian London. Love the sound of the Norfolk mysteries. I'm off to look them out in the library. Happy new year. B x

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    1. I read Belgravia as well. And I agree with your assessment... fun for those who are experiencing Downton withdrawal. Kind of upper class chick lit.

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  7. Hi Sue,
    My standouts of the 2016 reading year are Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift, Trio by Sue Gee, and The Golden Land by Joan London (there is a book with the same title by Jane Smiley, also good according to my husband). My first entry point into any book is the writing and all three are very successful there and of course have much more to offer. One very respected book blogger deemed Trio chicklit-ish but it didn't strike me that way at all.
    Re your choices, read in 2015: I admired God in Ruins (I love Kate Atkinson) but felt tricked by the author at the end, and the book became too "message-y" for me at that point. Liked Children Act until the stalker theme overrode the other aspects. The Beckett finally easily available at the library.
    And: please, Sue, watch Gods and Monsters which relates to a book post from a while ago. The eureka moment will be gone but I would love to connect those dots for you!
    Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2017.

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    1. Thanks for those suggestions, Phoebe. I just ordered the Graham Swift at the library. We don't have Netflicks but I will see if I can find God and Monsters on-line. Happy New Year to you too!

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  8. Happy New Year! I enjoy all your posts no matter what the topic. When it comes to books, I also enjoy reading the comments section for good leads. Your locale has me intrigued since hubby and I cruised from Boston to Montreal last September stopping at Halifax, Sidney, PEI, and Quebec. So beautiful with the mix of woodsy and maritime. Here in New England we have some of the same, but you pretty much share it with lots of other people. Years ago though, you had Route 89 north from White River Junction all the way to the Canadian line traffic free.
    Getting back to books...I've become a big fan of Louise Erdrich. If you haven't read any of her stuff, get ahold of The Round House or The Plague of Doves. She a Native American and her stories are filled with such interesting characters. You could add anything by Alice Hoffman to my list. Here on Earth is probably a good place to start. Ok, now it's time to get moving. You are certainly an inspiration for that!

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    1. Thanks, Jill.I have heard of Louise Erdrich, but not read her. I'll put her on my list. Funny you should mention that about Canada vs New England. My Burpee ancestors moved from New England (Weymouth Mass.) way back when... 1760's actually. And I've made contact with some verrrry distant relatives from there in the past few years.

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    2. Love seeing all the recommendations! Thank you Sue for this. I agree with the Louise Erdrich recommendation. She is a great writer. Reading Round House right now. Of course, being from South Dakota and Minnesota makes it more relevant. Happy New Year and love your blog.

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    3. Thanks, Christa. I haven't read her books... but I will look for them at our library...when we get home from SA that is:)

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  9. I'm going to post my own 2016 Book summary as soon as I stop coughing and blowing my nose and moaning (yes, I got taken down by some bug or other, second day of the year!). But it will mostly be a list-with-links format, not nearly as engaging as your writing here. Thanks for the Brookmyre recommendation -- always looking for good new mystery writers. And glad you enjoyed the Birder Murder volumes you've read so far -- I'm impressed that you and your guy can both finish reading one within the allotted time period -- at least, for the popular books, we only get 21 days, not renewable, and although I will often finish a book I was eagerly awaiting within a few days, he's not generally motivated to stop everything in order to return a title before the fines kick in ;-)
    Adding my recommendation to other commenters re Graham Swift's Mothering Sunday, which will perhaps fill Downtown Abbey cravings, but not simplistically (don't you hate how the word "simplistic" has been so bent out of shape by so much current usage! Whoops, ranting. . . )
    Glad to hear you're not planning any big changes to your blog and that you'll be retaining the book posts -- I love High Heels in the Wilderness just as it is! Happy New Year!

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    1. I've ordered the Swift book from the library. Thanks. Like you I can whip through a book I've been waiting for quite quickly. Stu not so much. So I order for myself and then re-order for him. We laugh that I have to manage his reading. When he's finished a book he always says..."What should I read now, Suz?" Such a responsibility:)
      Hope you feeling better soon, Frances.
      P.S. Thanks for the kind words about the blog.

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  10. Thanks for that post which ,along with the comments , has lots to investigate . I really like Kate Atkinson & very much enjoyed Life After Life . Not God in Ruins though - especially after I peeked at the ending , so gave up half way through . The last two books I've read are a memoir by Susan Allen Toth called Blooming , A Small Town Girlhood & Crooked Heart by Lisa Evans . I'd recommend both of those . I've managed to get a second hand copy of Age of Longing by Richard B Wright . It's an old Canadian library book so , you never know , it may have passed through your hands ! Hard to find his books here & I'm looking forward to reading it .
    Wendy in York

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    1. I remember that you and I felt the opposite about those two books. I loved GiR and hated LaL. Funny, that.
      I will look for those books you've recommended. Thanks, Wendy.
      Hope you enjoy the Wright book. Wonder how a Canadian library book managed to find its way to Yorkshire.

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  11. Thanks Sue! I am going to use my Indigo gift card to try Chris Brookmyre for my hubby and Kate Bolick for me!
    I am currently reading The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben and enjoying it. Light and lovely - a fun diversion, with good cocktail-party snippets in it for conversation starters! Happy New Year!

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    1. I think Don will like Brookmyre. He likes mystery and thrillers doesn't he? And I am sure you will love the Kate Bolick. I loved her discussion of poets and writers who inspired her. Happy New Year to you too. Hope semester two is kind to you. xo

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  12. Happy New Year! Thanks Sue for your continued excellent blogs and all your book recommendations as well as the recommendations from commenters on your blog. I have found some good reads as a consequence and as I cannot be without a book that's a good thing. I will add 2 books to the list that I enjoyed this year and they are At The Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier and The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende.

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    1. I'm the same...I get very nervous if I don't have a book on the go and one waiting. Thanks for the recommendations. It's always fun to see what everyone else is reading. I tried Isabel Allende years ago and didn't enjoy her work...maybe I should try again. Especially as we're heading to South American in February.

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    2. I love Isabel Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marquez...but you have to get into the concept of "magical realism" which is pervasive in Latin American art and literature. Maybe Love in the Time of Cholera by Marquez would be a good one to read before you go?

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    3. I'm familiar with magic realism... and not necessarily a fan... but that may have changed since I tried, in my twenties, to read 100 Years of Solitude and an Allende book whose title escapes me. Maybe age has changed me? Worth a second look, anyway.

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  13. Interesting and not a little eerie that you exactly described my own feelings about Brookmyre after reading a few of his many years ago. I'll give him a second chance based on your experience.
    Agree with you about God in Ruins and The Children Act. Also this past year I made my way through Elena Ferrante's Neopolitan novels but must confess they did not leave me as rapturous as they seem to leave most people. A bit perplexed, actually, over the fuss.
    For mysteries, I do like Belinda Bauer, who I feel is a quality wordsmith in addition to being a good storyteller.
    Right now I'm treating myself to a reread of Trollope's Barchester Chronicles, each volume of which is so delightful and makes me laugh out loud, which is a nice thing in darkest January. --Catbird Farm

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    1. I have the first Elena Ferrante book waiting for me at the library. I will be interested to see if I am "rapturous"... or not. Definitely will look for the Bauer...I've never heard of her. And I love to hear of new writers.
      P.S. So enjoying your cat pics on IG. I'm a cat lover who hasn't had a cat in a few years. We travel so much and have no one to look after animals. That will be one consolation when our big trip days are over...I can get a cat again.

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    2. Thanks, Sue, for the cat love. It just tickles me pink when I see you've visited my page. :) Happy to share my kitties vicariously until you can have one (or two!) of your own again.

      As for Belinda Bauer, oh my, I think you might be in for a treat. She's an accomplished writer who came onto the crime/mystery scene a few years back by winning the Debut Dagger with her novel *Blacklands.* From the first pages of her books the reader can tell she/he is in good hands. I do appreciate a writer who can actually write. :) I can also personally recommend *Rubbernecker* and *The Shut Eye* (still working my way through the rest of her catalog). Here's her website: http://www.belindabauer.co.uk
      --Catbird Farm

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  14. Sue, I was getting a little concerned when there was no post for such a long time. Whew! I love all your posts from books to fashion and everything in between that tickles your fancy. Always an interesting read!
    I have my notepad here to take notes on the recommendations. I did pick up a few good reads from the last one and some I didn't enjoy. I must confess, I didn't read one book in 2016 that I would rave about to others. Perhaps, my expectations are too high. But, read on, I will.
    Happy New Year and Welcome Back, Sue.

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    1. Not that I wanted to worry you...but it IS nice to hear:) Do tell...which books did you not enjoy? Perhaps I am too fulsome in my praise. I tend to be a very black or white person... love something or hate it. I will say that I too have read quite a few "meh" books this year. Hate that. Such a waste of time.
      Happy New Year to you too, Joanne.

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  15. So nice,you are back and first post about books! Splendid!
    I agree about The Childrens Act (read after your recommendations),Steve Burrows books (Materfamilias r.)
    Good in Ruins is waiting(with dozens of books that are waiting,too
    -but I feel that for this book I have to be focused and ready)
    I've re-read TKAM ,this time in english,not translation (and liked it so very much,more than the first time,if this is possible. One has to read again some books in different age,no?),before GSAW- well ,I've read your maaterpiece post yesterday-nothing to add. I'll compare my feelings (certainly not the quality of writing!)with James Clavell's Escape after the Whirwind-I loved his books,it was very difficult to get them,only a couple of them were translated here,there was no online purchase-you've got the picture-and than realized that it is only a part of Whirlwind!
    Although,I saw GSTW as the draft (and not only as a draft,but still) and after your post, I felt only sad for her,not disappointed.
    I have to made a pause here,will be back later
    Dottoressa

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    1. Part two:
      I've read this year Americanah by C. Ngozi Adichie ("....I didn't think about myself as black and I only became black when I came to America....")-interesting in a lot of ways . Her The Fishermen are waiting on my shelf. One of special books for me in 2016 was Geraldine Brook's The People of the Book-I wrote about it at Materfamilias reads.
      G. Brooks covered the War for independence in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina for The Wall Street Journal,and the topic itself has a lot of charm especially for me,but it is a beautiful book indeed.
      It is based on the true story of Haggadah from Sarajevo,Jewish illuminated manuscript,originally taken from Barcelona,Spain,by Spanish Jews in 1492
      The Sarajevo Haggadah has survived centuries,hidden with the help of Bosnian Muslims during the WW2,at risk for their life,as well as during the Siege of Sarajevo by Bosnian Serb forces in nineties-it was kept in an underground bank vault
      I loved the story,the characters,the style....
      I've read a lot of our authors- the trilogy of strong,talented women and impact/cruelty of their genial partners by S. Drakulic: First one is translated in english ( Frida's Bed about Frida Kahlo),the second (Dora and Minotaur-Dora Maar and Picasso-),and third (Mileva Einstein, a Theory of Sorrow ,about Albert Einstein and his first wife)would be soon,I hope.
      There was also Bosnian-Croatian-Norwegian author Bekim Sejranovic and his autobiographical prose "Your Son Huckleberry Finn",not translated in english ,yet
      Dottoressa

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    2. So glad you liked the Harper Lee post, Dottoressa. Unlike many I do not feel that having read GSAW in any way takes away from To Kill a Mockingbird. Perhaps it just goes to show how difficult it is to produce a masterpiece like TKAM.

      I read Geraldine Brooks' novel The People of the Book a few years ago when we visited Australia. I have this thing about buying books in countries where we travel, by authors who are well thought of there but that we don't always hear about in Canada. I loved the book as well....and would recommend it. It is SUCH an interesting read...and one of those "value added" books for sure.

      That trilogy of famous men and their partners sounds fascinating. Wonder if there's a hope I could find any of them here?

      Thanks for weighing in. And Happy New Year.

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  16. It might be interesting sometime for us to discuss books we haven't enjoyed . Reading is so personal & I'm sure we all have our little prejudices . I respect Fantasy/sci-fi as a genre & fully understand why it is so popular but personally just can't cope with it . There seems to be a fine line for me between reality & fantasy which I don't cross very often . Perhaps it is no bad thing though . My book pile is high enough already without adding fantasy . Are there any books you won't try , or as an English teacher have you learnt to be more open ?
    Wendy in York

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    1. I am not much of a fantasy reader, either. I like my fantasy to be rooted in the "real" world. ala Mitford-ania. That's a good idea about discussing books we didn't enjoy. Maybe I should do another book rant. I wrote something like that last year.... about books that had disappointed me. I'll start a list.
      I confess to having many book prejudices. Books I refuse to even think about reading. 50 Shades of Grey for instance. And I truly wish that I hadn't wasted my time on The Nest last fall. I won't read her stuff again.

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  17. Sharon Howland HamiltonJanuary 4, 2017 at 7:23 AM

    Thanks for the new book recommendations. Wish we saw you in N.B. Next time ! Elizabeth and I thought of you while out snow shoeing Jan 2.

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    1. Happy New Year, Sharon. Next time we'll get together for sure. What with Christmas Eve and Day and two visits to my brother, and then hosting nieces and cousins....the six days were gone. You and Elizabeth must have had a wonderful day in the park. The pictures were great!

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  18. "Cutting for Stone" by Abraham Verghase (published in 2010) but read this year, was the most memorable book of the year for me. A real epic novel that has stayed with me...and I read a lot this year.

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    1. Thanks for this. Not one I've encountered yet. My "holds" list at the library is growing steadily:)

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  19. The Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch. Set in present day London, a world of crime, mystery and magic. Fast, clever, funny and gripping. I have just finished the latest one and now realise I have months and months to wait before I can read the next. I know what you mean about suddenly falling out of love with a writer, I was just the same with Patricia Cornwell. After a good few books, I just wanted the heroine to succumb to all the serial killers who were after her. I began to see their point of view. Happy 2017!

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    1. I concur about Patricia Cornwell. Loved her first two or three, then not so much, then couldn't finish the last one I read...or didn't read would be more accurate. I've not heard of the Ben Aaronovitch. Will look for it at our library. Thanks.

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  20. I always enjoy your book recommendation posts and immediately check my local library for availability. A few years ago you reccommended a Peter May trilogy set on the Isle of Lewis. I loved those books and was so captivated by the setting that when I tour around Scotland this June I will be spending a couple of days in Lewis.Literature and tourism, a perfect combination. Many thanks

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    1. I'm so pleased you enjoyed them, Veronica. Have a great time in Scotland!

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  21. Thank you for an inspiring post - so many books, so little time (turns out, having a job is highly inconvenient!). My favourite books of last year - All the Light We Cannot See and The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

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    1. Ha. Hubby used to say that work interfered with his quality of life... but I think he meant quality of fishing time. Thanks for the recommendations.

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    2. Who is the author of All The Light We Cznnot See?

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    3. I believe it's Anthony Doerr, Joanne.

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  22. I always love book posts and the ensuing comments. I have made copious notes of authors and titles I want to try, and have made many great discoveries from doing this in the past.

    I heartily second the commenter above me regarding All the Light We Cannot See. Definitely a standout for me from last year's reading.

    I am currently reading Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad and would highly recommend it. It is a difficult read in that he does not mince words in describing the horrendous mistreatment and abuse of African American slaves. I had to steel myself to get through some sections of it. But there is strength and indomitable spirit throughout, and I know this is a book I will remember long after I have finished it. (Denise L.)

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    1. I have heard about Whitehead's book...must have been on CBC radio. I must give it a try. But maybe NOT in the depths of winter. Don't you love a book that stays in your head? How lucky we are to have access to so many talented writers. And in my case all free at the library. I hardly buy books anymore... or just the ones that I want to keep forever.

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  23. Yes, we are indeed lucky! And my copy of The Underground Railroad is in my hands courtesy of my local library. Having on-line access to the library catalogue has been a game-changer for my reading life. I live in a small town, but if there's a book in a branch anywhere in the county, I can have it transferred to my local library for pick-up. And then of course there's the possibility of downloading books onto my Kobo -- unbeatable for its convenience, but I will always prefer a "real" book whenever possible.

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All comments, ideas, commiserations, questions, complaints... are most welcome.