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Happy Saturday, readers! It's the next to last day of the NYT Reading Challenge!

I have to say, I think that the earlier days of the challenge were more useful than the later ones. However, today is fun because it's what we're doing.

Read more socially--share the experience with others!

The Times points out that there are many different ways to join a book club:

** "a local book club or discussion group...If you don’t know of one, call your local library — they will know about the book groups in your area."

** " a community-wide “Big Reads” program."

** "Start your own book group. You control the book choice, the conversation and the invitees."

** "Go digital. The New York Times runs a reading group with the PBS News Hour called “Now Read This.” The BBC has a good one. So do some celebrities, like Emma Watson (“Our Shared Shelf”) and Reese Witherspoon (“Hello Sunshine Book Club”).

** "Join an online book club...Facebook and other social media sites."

Hey, that's what we're doing here, so it's time for you to chime in with some initial thoughts about your book. They don't have to be complicated--we can just start with, "Are you enjoying, or slogging? Do you know why?"

I'm slogging, people, and I'm not quite sure why as this is a perfectly lovely novel. Might simply be the coincidence of the novel and a very hot and busy week. I confess--I'm not even close to the halfway mark but on the other hand I read Ruth Reichl's GARLIC AND SAPPHIRES in nearly a single sitting yesterday, which I thoroughly enjoyed while feeling guilty for not reading my novel instead...
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5 days ago


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I just got Garlic and Sapphires from the library yesterday! I am very much slogging through The Burning Chambers...which is why I'm cheating on it with Elizabeth Gilbert's City of Girls, which is surprisingly good (I didn't care for Eat, Pray, Love or Commitment, and The Signature of All Things just felt aimless...but I'm fascinated by Gilbert's neuroticism IRL...her TED talk was strangely compelling). I also started The Great Stink by Clare Clark, inspired by my fascination with the cholera episode from the Victoria TV series. But truthfully, after feeling very conflicted after watching the new Little Women trailer, I really just want to dive into a reread of Little Women, Little Men and Jo's Boys. Those characters are like family to me!

I finally got a chance to actually START my book. The writing is beautiful, the author’s description of life for black children in Martinique is vivid... too vivid for me to really enjoy it. I am finding, to my shame, that I prefer trite and lighthearted reading material because I carry in my heart the pain of the world he describes.

I’m reading a non-fiction, on herding dogs. I think i’ve figured out that I’m a kinesthetic learner, and reading about this is not enough. So I’m slogging, too, because I won’t be in a sheep pen until Tuesday. Its frustrating, but it is what it is. As far as the social aspect of this reading, I’ll run what I’m reading past my trainer. She ‘ll help me put it into practice.

I finished reading both Scary Stories, and Where'd you go Bernadette, the first was short, easy and entertaining, and my son, he's 12, also read it and we kept commenting the stories, which made it more fun, I didn't know it was a selection of common stories. The Bernardette book had a quick pace, or so I felt it had, I was on the chase for her, but the fun part was where and why she got there. I would recommend it for its entertainment value and for how it presents Bernardette from the perspectives of people around, some people didn't like her and weren't quite wrong, but it was the actions towards her that were, and she herself was also wrong towards her neighbours, and that mismatch of understanding, unleash the chaos, that part about perception was good, that got me thinking. Above I wrote "mismatch of understanding" instead of misunderstanding, because the characters understand each other (or don't) in ways that don't match the reality, misunderstanding would have implied that it was a mistake in communication. I am returning to Testament of Youth, I can't help feeling a bit in love with Britrain, with her thinking, I am laying the blame in part to the film I saw based on the book, Brittain is played by Alicia Vikander and it's her voice narrating in my head.

I am enjoying because I got what I asked for. It is a little heavy so I put it down and reflect often, so in a way I am slogging but in a good way. I looked up book clubs last night and found there are two at my local library that actually look good. Their selections look very interesting. I tried "Now Read This" and have grown to distrust their recommendations. I am excited about trying out the local groups! My daughter and I read and discuss books, too, and that is fun. Another reason for a phone call!

I am reading My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem. I am reading slowly on purpose. I am learning a great deal and enjoying the book, I refuse to only half focus on it while children are interrupting so I only read when there is real quiet in the house. It has been extra enjoyable because I know when to put it down and walk away. That makes it extra special when I get back to it. I am reading other books now, too, and I don't mind reading them with less focus. I would love for this slower reading of one book to become a new habit.

I just finished God Land: a Story of Faith, Loss, and Renewal In Middle America by Lyz Lenz and loved it! As soon as I get off Facebook I'm starting Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality by Sarah McBride. I'm a cis, white female who feels it is important to understand the experience of others.

The end of Homer's "The Odyssey" is in sight! At times I have felt like I was slogging, but I have enjoyed reading through one of my favorite classics. I first read Alfred J. Church's "The Odyssey for Boys and Girls" as a third grader. I read it to/with my daughter twice using Rosemary Sutcliff's "The Wanderings of Odysseus: The Story of the Odyssey." The fourth time around I'm reading from the Dover Classics Thrift edition which is a reprint of the 1921 George Herbert Palmer translation.

I am enjoying the novel I chose and actually look forward to getting back to it every evening but I think that is only because I chose wisely. I am reading Ishiguro's "The Buried Giant". The writing is clear, easy to follow, and so far the characters are endearing. Guilt is useless, let it go, (unless you are feeling guilty about not taking your dog for a longer walk and they are staring at you)!

I had to drop out of the daily participation here this past week. But, last weekend I read The Great Gatsby. I didn't really know what it was about (except the time period), but the beginning writing captured me, so in I went. I did enjoy it. I think it was the characterization of each person: Gatsby, the narrator, his girlfriend, Tom, Daisy, the car repair guy and his wife. I found myself captured by asking "Why? Why are you doing that? You're all tangling yourselves up amongst each other!! Stop!" Then I realized, wow, Fitzgerald knew how to observe humanity and write about it.

I am absolutely obsessed with Edmond Dantès. I love The Count of Monte Christo, but then again, I fully expected to. As far as feeling guilty for reading something that is a slog--I find that sometimes the beginning of a book is a slog, and the all of a sudden, like getting caught in rapids on a slow-moving river, it sweeps you along and you find yourself ripping through, unable to get out of the current. This happened to me with one of my favorite books, The Elegance of the Hedgehog. Weird, but amazing book. Also a French author--hmmmm. 🤔

I’m really enjoying The Odyssey as translated by Emily Wilson. Recently noticed a familiar name on the reviews on the back cover. 🙂

Slow going but good. Want to savor the nuances of the story.

I totally changed the plan and listened to Stewart's The Crystal Cave, her first book in the Arthurian legend trilogy. Generally, Stewart’s work lacks depth though she tried very hard to bring some greater philosophical ideas to light in this novel. Her gift lies more in her ability to bring to life interesting characters along with bringing to light some keen observations about relationships and human nature. This book is no exception. The Crystal Cave is about Merlin’s early life and is set in the days immediately following Rome’s exit from England. Stewart writes in full color, so to speak, giving the reader or listener a beautifully detailed picture of the world she creates and immersing the senses in the feel of it as well. Her overall theme touched on the unity of religious ideals and meaning of suffering, but I think she does not do this as well as the other things I mentioned. I may be somewhat inclined against the story because I have always had a difficulty with the rape, adultery, and seductions which plague so many aspects of Arthurian legend. White’s Once and Future King nearly killed my enthusiasm for King Arthur forever. When he had Arthur acknowledge the affair directly to his wife and Lancelot in an approving manner, I could take no more. I returned the book (thank you Audible). While Stewart does not quite go this far, she sticks to the story closely enough to make me decide not to purchase the rest of her trilogy. In spite of all this, I will not be returning Stewart's The Crystal Cave. She made a few interesting points which made me think about what brings unity to a people and what makes people believe certain things. I will be pondering this for a while. Stewart’s descriptions transported me to Medieval England which was just the distraction I needed because I had about eight hours of laundry and four hours of cooking to do! The narrator performed the text with great skill making it an enjoyable listen. The time passed very quickly.

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I love it that I have the kind of job where I'm reading an article about "Treating Broken Bones and Non-unions in the Late Italian Renaissance" and finding it REALLY FASCINATING.

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