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Babel
Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of The Oxford Translators' Revolution | R. F. Kuang
From award-winning author R. F. Kuang comes Babel, a thematic response to The Secret History? and a tonal retort to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell that grapples with student revolutions, colonial resistance, and the use of language and translation as the dominating tool of the British empire. Traduttore, traditore: An act of translation is always an act of betrayal. 1828. Robin Swift, orphaned by cholera in Canton, is brought to London by the mysterious Professor Lovell. There, he trains for years in Latin, Ancient Greek, and Chinese, all in preparation for the day hell enroll in Oxford Universitys prestigious Royal Institute of Translationalso known as Babel. Babel is the world's center for translation and, more importantly, magic. Silver workingthe art of manifesting the meaning lost in translation using enchanted silver barshas made the British unparalleled in power, as its knowledge serves the Empires quest for colonization. For Robin, Oxford is a utopia dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. But knowledge obeys power, and as a Chinese boy raised in Britain, Robin realizes serving Babel means betraying his motherland. As his studies progress, Robin finds himself caught between Babel and the shadowy Hermes Society, an organization dedicated to stopping imperial expansion. When Britain pursues an unjust war with China over silver and opium, Robin must decide Can powerful institutions be changed from within, or does revolution always require violence?
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rachelm
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5 ⭐️ Reads this month:
BABEL
NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO PANIC
BLACKWATER FALLS
THE VERIFIERS
THE OBSESSION
THE GUEST
OUR MISSING HEARTS

Year-end reading wrap to come soon. Subscribe to my newsletter (link in bio) if you want to make sure to get it.

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Zoes_Human
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One of the views from the reading chair in my new home ❤️❤️❤️

Leftcoastzen Pretty! 22h
20 likes1 comment
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Amie
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#botm not super excited about this months choices, but taking a chance on Babel. Fantasy isn't my first choice of genres but this one does look interesting. I've seen mixed reviews of The Cloisters, but the cover is so pretty that I couldn't resist it!

RebelReader I‘m torn about Babel because fantasy is not my favorite genre either! 4d
Kangaj1 I absolutely loved Babel and I'm picky with fantasy. Enjoy! 4d
BookBosomed1 I enjoyed The Cloisters. The atmospheric setting was particularly enjoyable. Is it groundbreaking? No, but the aesthetic setting makes it engaging. 3d
39 likes3 comments
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BookwormAHN
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I'm really glad to see Babel at #BOTM I throughly enjoyed A River Enchanted, so I had to get A Fire Endless. A Flicker in The Dark was the only finalist I was really interested in. What did y'all think? 😺

BrittanyReads Great choices!! I got Babel, and Fire! I've already read Flicker in the Dark and enjoyed it! Hope you do too! 4d
Laughterhp I picked all the same books! 3d
63 likes2 comments
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Laughterhp
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I‘m glad I saw someone post that the #botm picks were up!!

I picked the tagged as my main book! It was on my Christmas list 😬.

Flicker in the Dark was the free BOTY finalist pick. I had read all the others.

And I‘m so excited I checked the add ons and saw the sequel by Rebecca Ross was out!

50 likes1 comment
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Megabooks
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Wow…an early drop on the weekend? I wasn‘t even snooping yet!

So excited that Babel from the #toblonglist was a choice! Also I had fomo on the Shapiro even though you didn‘t love it @Cinfhen 🤷🏻‍♀️ And I guess I‘m trying Towles again, so hopefully I like this one more. Tbh, I‘m not sure I‘ll like any of these. 🥴

#botm emailed me a Black Friday come back for free, so I picked TLP and then I‘ll cancel. Who can say no to a free book???

Cinfhen And the Shapiro is #GoodNotGreat / I just had super high expectations 4d
Megabooks @Cinfhen I‘ve bailed on both of his other books…😬 4d
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Megabooks @Cinfhen thanks for the heads up…I‘ll go in with low expectations on the Shapiro 👍🏻👍🏻 4d
Cinfhen Ohhhh, I didn‘t care for 4d
Addison_Reads I can't wait to see what you think about Babel. I loved it. 4d
Megabooks @Addison_Reads I am excited, but it is out of what I‘d usually read. The tob list has been 🔥🔥 this year so far though. Just finished this and loved it! 4d
Addison_Reads @Megabooks I was lucky enough to get Dinosaurs as an ARC earlier this year and loved it too. 4d
80 likes9 comments
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Breanne1
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An exciting surprise, #BOTM December picks dropped early!!!

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JamieArc
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I was not expecting books to drop today! I have been eyeing Babel for a while, so I was excited to see that. Lincoln Highway is my BOTY nominee pick, and while I didn‘t love the choices, it will get me to finally read Towles. A Quiet Life seemed a perfect book to snuggle up with this winter.

mommyincolortv I'm actually reading The Lincoln Highway right now and its pretty good. If you like a sort of adventure type of story, this is a good one. 4d
Deblovestoread I will be interested in your review of A Quiet Life. I liked 4d
31 likes2 comments
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Nessavamusic
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Pickpick

This lived up to the hype for me. An extremely well crafted alternate history with fantastic elements taking place in Victorian Oxford. The story is of various international students chosen for their knowledge of specific languages. This story speaks out strongly against colonialism and racial inequality. 5⭐️
#NovelNovember - book 6
#bookspinbingo - bingo!

Andrew65 6 books is brilliant 🎉🎉🎉 4d
TheAromaofBooks Yay bingo!!! 3d
48 likes2 comments
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Mitch
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Good choice Blackwells. 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

Aims42 I loved this book so much!! 😁 1w
julesG Good choice. 1w
Mitch @Aims42 me too! 1w
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Monica5 I'm on hold for this thru Libby App. 22 weeks before I get it😒 1w
Mitch @Monica5 it‘s such a page turner - hopefully people will return it quickly and your time will come. It‘s worth the wait! 1w
thewallflower0707 Good choice, it‘s a great book that stays in your thoughts. 1w
75 likes4 stack adds6 comments
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rachelm
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I got to record some book recommendations for Iowa Public radio! You can check out the full list of what I and some other readers recommended here: https://www.iowapublicradio.org/arts-life/2022-11-21/talk-of-iowa-2022-holiday-b...

wanderinglynn Fantastic! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 1w
Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks Awesome 👏🏻 📚❤️ 1w
BarbaraBB Cool! 1w
Aims42 This is so neat!! 1w
65 likes1 stack add4 comments
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thewallflower0707
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Pickpick

I just finished this magnificent book and I‘m left with awe. I will give The Poppy War another try after this. As a linguist student, I really enjoyed all the discussions on translation, and as a reader I fell in love with Robin, Ramy and Victoire, and I followed their story until the emotional end. It‘s really, really good.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

#Babel #RFKuang #DarkAcademia

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Super_Jane
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Pickpick

5/5 🌕🌕🌕🌕🌕 i loved this book #babel

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DMC_run8
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Pickpick

This came in from the library and I DEVOURED it! I love the world building, word etymology, the character development, the history lessons, and the commentary how destructive colonialism was and continues to be. This is a book that is going to stay with me for a long time. If I could give it 10 stars I would. Actually, I'm an adult 10/5 ⭐️

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Bookboss
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Pickpick

Kuang has constructed a world where magic lies within translation. Oxford recruits multilingual students to study at Babel, and eventually work for the university. The book follows a cohort of four students as they continue their study of languages and translation. The novel exposes the horrors of colonialism, racism, and misogyny, while displaying the enchantment of language. I loved the well-drawn setting, the characters, and the footnotes!

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emmaturi
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Pickpick

This is definitely an interesting and fascinating book, it needs to be read slowly as there is lots going on. Friendships, politics, colonialism, and language to say name some of the subjects. I really enjoyed it.

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Karisimo
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This is crazy! I literally just finished listening to The Many Daughters of Afong Moy by Jamie Ford last night, then read this ⬆️ in Babel! So fun when random books overlap like this!

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Addison_Reads
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Pickpick

Amazing! Easily one of my top 5 reads of year.

All of the praise surrounding this book is very well deserved. Even though this audiobook was 22 hours, I never realized the time because I just couldn't stop listening.

I will definitely be purchasing a copy to revisit this at some point.

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HillsAndHamletsBookshop
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Pickpick

This book absolutely consumed me. On the surface, Babel is an alternate historical fantasy about a magical school in Oxford in the nineteenth century. But as Babel‘s layers of complexity unfold, the story confronts us with powerful questions about the nature of colonialism, capitalism, institutional power, comfort & compromise, and our own complicity with injustice. The effect is deeply profound, moving, and unsettling in the very best way.

underground_bks One of the best books of the year, hands down! 1mo
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Jenofur
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Currently reading/trying to savor this one.

“Inside, the heady wood-dust smell of freshly printed books was overwhelming. If tobacco smelled like this, Robin thought, he‘d huff it everyday.”

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rachelsbrittain
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Every time I read a book set in Oxford it makes me want to go back.

#SundayFunday @ozma.of.oz

julesG Same!! 1mo
ozma.of.oz What a great pick! Thanks for posting! 1mo
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Caterina
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DieAReader 🎉🎉🎉 1mo
Kangaj1 I am almost done with this one! So good. 1mo
TheAromaofBooks Yay!!! 1mo
Andrew65 Great 👏👏👏 1mo
29 likes4 comments
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rachelsbrittain
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Road trip knitting and audiobook listening

julesG A hat? Gorgeous colour. Enjoy the audiobook. 1mo
rachelsbrittain @julesG yes a hat! Yellow is one of my favorite colors 😊 1mo
DivineDiana That is a productive road trip and a beautiful color! 1mo
sebrittainclark Jealous that you've got time to knit! 1mo
rachelsbrittain @sebrittainclark I mean I was stuck in a car for 9 and a half hours. Also don't have a 7 month old baby 😅 1mo
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TrishB
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Pickpick

Thought this was fantastic. There are a lot of reviews that say it much better than me. A lot to reflect on and up the revolution.
C and I just had a long discussion about it as she read it first. She gave it 4.75 stars and I gave it 5. She said her reason for dropping the rating was sometimes it lectured a bit too much.
#darkacademia #booked2022

BarbaraTheBibliophage I loved this book!! On the author‘s IG she has posts about all of the gorgeous covers available. I might need one, since I read the NetGalley. 1mo
Cinfhen I really want to read this but I‘m still not sure it‘s for me 🤷🏼‍♀️I‘m gonna look to #BorrowNotBuy just in case 1mo
TrishB @BarbaraTheBibliophage my daughter has the Waterstones special edition- signed with black edges, it‘s lovely ❤️ 1mo
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TrishB @Cinfhen totally understand! I look at books people are reviewing and want to read but expect it‘s not really for me🤷‍♀️ I definitely would try to borrow as I think the fantasy/magic is not going to be your bag. 1mo
Caroline2 Hmm, think I‘m going to download the kindle free sample for this one. I really hate books that lecture me. 😒 1mo
BarbaraBB Your parcel did indeed arrive! Thank you so much! I‘ll hide it until my b-day 😱😂 1mo
TrishB @BarbaraBB cool 👍🏻 1mo
91 likes2 stack adds7 comments
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julesG
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Trying to finish the book, but #GhostCat isn't up for the heavy book being propped open against her back. Spoilsport!

I'll have to be the spoilsport then and move the lap-warmer somewhere else.

#CatsOfLitsy

#OutstandingOctober @Andrew65

Soubhiville You need some sort of book support apparatus that has space for kitty underneath it… 🤣 2mo
Soubhiville Come to think of it, I could use one as well! 2mo
julesG @Soubhiville I've been thinking about getting one of those 'breakfast in bed' trays with foldable legs 2mo
See All 7 Comments
Andrew65 🤣🤣🤣 2mo
TrishB I‘ve just finished it. I loved it ❤️ 1mo
julesG @TrishB I had to take a break. Book 5 starts with too much 'the ends justify the means' for me. But I'll probably finish later today. 1mo
TrishB Yes I see that too. 1mo
80 likes7 comments
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julesG
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#sundayfunday @ozma.of.oz

I'd want Dr F to find several books, but on top would be my current read, tagged.
We could talk about how tricky translations are, about the British Empire during its high time of Colonialism, racism, women and POC in 🇬🇧 society & at 🇬🇧 universities. All topics that would touch on the subjects I studied with her at university when doing my MA in English (as 2nd language)/Culture and Area Studies (of the 🇬🇧Empire).

ozma.of.oz Everything I see about this book just makes me more excited to read it! Thank you for sharing! 2mo
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Mitch
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Pickpick

Wow! This is sooo good. It‘s a book that has struck that elusive balance of tackling real, complex issues and being a page turning immersive narrative. It‘s thought provoking, angry, powerful and nuanced all at once! Tackling racism, sexism, classism, with colonial legacies and empire building this is a tough book. But it‘s so clever and the powerful use of language that permeates both the plot and the book is amazing. Loved it.

TrishB Great review. I need to get to it! 2mo
AmyG Wow, high praise. Stacked! 2mo
LeeRHarry I have this on hold at the library and have a feeling it will be a while until I get it….a purchase may need to be made soon 😏 2mo
youneverarrived Great review! 2mo
Mitch @LeeRHarry @AmyG It‘s got a particular resonant for U.K. readers I think in terms of the cruelty of empire and our less than brilliant history of superiority. But it‘s also full of ideas around legacy, moments, grappling im with history and making a difference that is totally universal. Everyone should read this book! 2mo
72 likes8 stack adds5 comments
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Mitch
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The first part of the year was full of 5⭐️ reads and this book is putting me right back on track! Loving it!

MicheleinPhilly Are you reading aloud to him? ☺️ 2mo
Mitch @MicheleinPhilly 🤣🤣🤣 2mo
71 likes2 comments
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Hedon
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Started reading this yesterday and loving it so far. It made me think about the 'El Ateneo Grand Splendid' bookshop. An old renovated theatre with multiple levels, and a small coffeeshop where the stage would have been. One of the many Highlights of visiting Buenos Aires.

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Sara_Planz
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Pickpick

This is the bar that all dark academia books should strive to reach for. It takes historical fantasy and executes it flawlessly. RF Kuang has created a world where magic and politics collide to show the cruelty of colonization and to lay out how loyalties can be tested in the process. This book is thoughtful, gut wrenching, inspiring, and will challenge you on your own view of the world, which is what great literature should always do.

Cinfhen S‘mores 😋 2mo
Cinfhen Great review 2mo
Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks Yum 😋 and awesome photo!! 2mo
40 likes3 comments
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julesG
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p. 248

Ibasho. [...] It means "whereabouts". A place where one feels like home, where they feel like themselves.

Ibasho + picture of Gladstone's Library = perfect ?

#ReadingRetreat #Gladstonerds
@Oryx @CGainor3 @squirrelbrain @TrishB @scripturient @Leniverse @jenniferw88 @Mitch @rockpools @Susanita @RaeLovesToRead

rockpools ❤️❤️❤️ 2mo
squirrelbrain Perfect! ❤️❤️❤️ 2mo
TrishB Lovely ♥️♥️ 2mo
Mitch I‘ve just read that page! Totally agree ! And I‘m loving the book too! 2mo
61 likes4 comments
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Chittavrtti
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2 likes2 stack adds
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Mitch
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Just another fab reason for shopping at my little local Indie - books often come with matching bookmarks! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼. Happy U.K. Bookshop Day !

Balibee146 Love the bookmark and really interested in this one too 2mo
TrishB Looks fab 😁 2mo
BookNAround Amazing! 2mo
Mitch @Balibee146 Im hooked! 2mo
63 likes1 stack add4 comments
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Mitch
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Oh my goodness I forgot how much I love darker colder nights!

Chrissyreadit 😍😘 2mo
71 likes1 comment
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Mitch
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That‘s my Friday night sorted! @Chrissyreadit

Chrissyreadit Perfect ❤️ 2mo
Cupcake12 Enjoy x 2mo
63 likes2 comments
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Mitch
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No more pages Mamma - walks please!

DinoMom Gorgeous puppers! 2mo
TheSpineView What a face!❤️🐕 2mo
Mitch @TheSpineView to be fair he‘s half an hour past his walk time and he‘s trying to be subtle! 😂 2mo
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Mitch @DinoMom ♥️♥️♥️ 2mo
squirrelbrain Hi Woodford you gorgeous boy! 2mo
Cupcake12 Love this ❤️🐾 2mo
youneverarrived Awww ❤️ 2mo
MicheleinPhilly So handsome! 2mo
77 likes9 comments
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Marialou
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Pickpick

Astonishing. An absolute powerhouse of a novel.

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Twainy
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Just received TBB‘s SE of Babel the only edition I pre-ordered, the others are from AFL & IC. All are different & stunning.

From the publisher: 1828. Robin Swift, orphaned by cholera in Canton, is brought to London by the mysterious Professor Lovell. There, he trains for years in Latin, Ancient Greek, & Chinese, all in preparation for the day he‘ll enroll in Oxford University‘s prestigious Royal Institute of Translation—also known as Babel.

🤞🏻

ozma.of.oz 🤩🤩🤩 2mo
TheNeverendingTBR I got this in Illumicrate 1mo
Twainy @TheNeverendingTBR that‘s a nice edition!! 1mo
27 likes3 comments
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Bookboss
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I went on a short vacation and visited four bookstores! I managed to restrain myself to only five book purchases. I just finished Lucy By The Sea, and decided that I needed a copy of My Name is Lucy Barton for my shelves, since I had read a library copy. Shutter is up for the National Book Award!

BkClubCare I have no idea who I gave my Lucy Barton book to but I just bought Olive Kitteridge and the Barton Boys so I can reread them 😉 2mo
30 likes1 comment
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julesG
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And I'm being sucked back into this fictional version of Oxford.

Btw, tried to take the sticker off. Definitely the wrong idea. Now I have a sticky patch. Why can't they use easily removable stickers?

jhod 😞 2mo
MicheleinPhilly Gosh, that is gorgeous. Is it very heavy fantasy? I don‘t really do fantasy but there is something about this book that is calling to me. 2mo
julesG @MicheleinPhilly I'd say historical urban fantasy. Or maybe magical realism. 2mo
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julesG @MicheleinPhilly It's set in a slightly different 19th century Oxford. The magic is based on silver engraved with words in different languages. So not too heavy on the fantastic 2mo
BarbaraTheBibliophage Enjoy—I loved this one!! And try heating the remaining adhesive with a blow dryer. That should help you get it off without tearing the paper. 2mo
julesG @BarbaraTheBibliophage Thanks. I'll try that. 2mo
Balibee146 Stacked 👍 2mo
MicheleinPhilly I may give it a shot. Thanks! 2mo
BarbaraJean I was interested based on your description and comments, and then I clicked through to the blurb and read the following: “…a thematic response to The Secret History and a tonal retort to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell that grapples with student revolutions, colonial resistance, and the use of language and translation as the dominating tool of the British empire.” Um, yes please!! (edited) 2mo
70 likes3 stack adds9 comments
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julesG
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More #ReadingRetreat unpacking

#Gladstonerds

Thank you, @TrishB.

TrishB I didn‘t even see this at the time! I‘m just scrolling reviews. 1mo
52 likes1 comment
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julesG
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Caroline2 Oh I love the black edges!! 😍 2mo
AlaMich That is a much cooler edition than the US version I have!! I‘m enjoying the book very much (about 2/3 through) but I can imagine that readers who aren‘t quite the language nerd that I am might find it a bit tedious in places. 2mo
Mitch I‘m going to delve into this one soon. Love your edition! 2mo
Andrew65 Love the pictures. 2mo
67 likes1 stack add4 comments
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Caterina
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StellarDoc
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sprainedbrain
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I read a lot in September… finished 29 books (20 audiobooks, 6 Kindle books, and 3 paper books), had a #BookSpinBingo blackout for the first time ever, and successfully defeated my library holds that tried to bury me.

My favorites for September:

Babel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Funny You Should Ask ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Dear Martin ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

White Tears/Brown Scars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Bluebird Great accomplishment! 👏👏👏👏👏 2mo
Gissy Wow! Impressive 🤩 📚📚📚📚🙌👏👏👏 2mo
Bookzombie That‘s awesome!🎉🧁 2mo
Kimzey What an accomplishment! 🎉 2mo
61 likes4 comments
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wildwoodreads
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Happy October eve! It‘s time to wrap up September. I didn‘t read a lot this month but I did enjoy everything that I picked up. Did you find any new favorites in September?

https://wildwoodreads.com/2022/09/30/september-2022-wrap-up/

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TracyReadsBooks
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Pickpick

Kuang's alternate history is a masterful, comprehensive takedown of the colonial enterprise, one which eviscerates the racist, economic, & social underpinnings of the imperial enterprise. It also interrogates the role language & translation plays in this process in telling the story of four young scholars who must decide which side they belong to. I loved all of that but wanted more from the characters & the story itself. Still, it‘s a pick.

19 likes1 stack add
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TracyReadsBooks
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One last straggler showed up on my doorstep this afternoon…very excited to read this one!

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SpeculativeFemale
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After a rather rough week due in part to some unpleasant dental issues, my wonderful guy decided I needed a little pick-me-up today, and got me this book I've been eyeing up.

Looks like I'll be spending the rest of this chilly, rainy Sunday curled up with a book and a comfy blanket! 😊

julesG Enjoy the pick-me-up! 2mo
31 likes1 stack add1 comment
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emmaturi
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I am over halfway through Babel. It's very good, lots of information, so can't really blitz through it. This is the Illumicrate edition. #books

tessavi That looks beautiful 🤩 2mo
33 likes1 stack add1 comment