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Billypar

Billypar

Joined February 2017

blurb
Billypar
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After realizing two of my current reads feature birds on the cover, I decided to do a little bookshelf birding. A fun activity I'd recommend to other bird and book lovers when it's a little chilly for the outdoor variety. #bookshelfbirding #birdsoflitsy #birds

DrexEdit charming! 😍 2w
LeahBergen Aww, I love this. 🐦 2w
BarbaraBB Very cool! 2w
Chelsea.Poole A great way to go birding 🐦 2w
Centique That‘s so cool 🕊🦅🦆🦜 6d
45 likes5 comments
review
Billypar
The Intuitionist: A Novel | Colson Whitehead
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Pickpick

"Two warring factions in the Department of Elevator Inspectors..." begins the back flap description, which should be enough to pick up this strange and wonderful blend of 'speculative noir'. In this society that looks a lot like Civil Rights era New York, elevators are an academic discipline of sorts and lie at the center of a conspiracy that our elevator inspector hero Lila Mae must unravel. A creative and hilarious spin on the detective novel.

vivastory The only thing better than this pic is your review! I loved this book. Easily one of my favorites by him. 2w
Leftcoastzen Great photo! 2w
Billypar @vivastory Thanks! It was actually my first Whitehead, so I'm eager to read more based on everything I've heard about his other work. 2w
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Billypar @Leftcoastzen Thanks! 🙂 2w
erzascarletbookgasm Great review. I see what you did with the photo! 👏😁 2w
jlhammar Such a good book! 2w
Billypar @erzascarletbookgasm Thanks! Yeah, it was either that or being the weirdo taking a picture of a book inside an elevator (not that I'm above that 😅). 2w
Billypar @jlhammar It really is - not many authors can interrogate racism while also having a good mystery and plenty of humor at the same time. I was impressed! 2w
vivastory I think that you would also really like 1w
Billypar @vivastory Ooh - thanks for that rec! That's not one I hear many people talk about but I like the description. 1w
vivastory It's been years since I read it, but I remember thinking it was smart & funny. It felt different from his other books (which I also love) 1w
Billypar @vivastory It is always great when you find an underappreciated gem in a famous author's catalogue. 1w
51 likes12 comments
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Billypar
Memories of the Future | Siri Hustvedt
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I thought it might be interesting to document my current TBR shelf with the start of the New Year. 21 books doesn't seem like a lot but it also seems inevitable that some will be procrastinated on and unread by year's end. They strike me as a strong bunch though from what I've heard so I guess we'll see what happens!

Ruthiella I see a bunch of books in there that I‘ve read and loved: Kintu, Piranesi, The 1000 Autumns of Jakob de Zoet, State of Wonder... 👍 3w
BarbaraBB Gorgeous shelves! And please make sure you do read Piranesi 😄 3w
Cathythoughts Piranesi 💔 3w
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Reggie The Book of Night Women!!!! 💛💚🖤 3w
Liz_M Deacon King Kong is fabulous. Which Javier Maris is that? 3w
Billypar @Ruthiella That's encouraging! I think Kintu is going to be coming up soon. 3w
Billypar @BarbaraBB @Cathythoughts Piranesi is the latest addition to the shelf - I'm definitely looking forward to it based on all of the Litsy raves! 3w
Billypar @Reggie I'm sooo excited for that one! I also picked up Yo! based on your recommendation when we were talking about favorite overlooked novels by authors famous for other works, so I'm looking forward to that also. 3w
Billypar @Liz_M Yeah I've heard lots of good things about DKK. The Marías is Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me - I've never read him before, but I think the strange title drew me in. 3w
Suet624 I can‘t wait for you to read A Tale for the Time Being. And Piranesi. I wish I could read both of them for the first time again. Have fun! 3w
48 likes10 comments
review
Billypar
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Pickpick

#nyrbbookclub
Dreamy novel about an island in the East Indies during what may be the early 20th century but is absent of historical context. It reads like magical realism except we don't see the magic before our eyes - the island's lore is so vivid through the stories told by its inhabitants that we feel like we've witnessed what we haven't. The style was memorable: it made me feel as if I was reading this on a beach after getting too much sun.

vivastory Great pic! I agree about the lack of historical context. I had to do a bit of Googling. Looking forward to the discussion tomorrow. 3w
DrexEdit I'm reading the same edition as you. I'm calling it the blurb cover. Love the jellyfish paperweight! 3w
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Billypar @vivastory Yeah, the lack of references served the magical atmosphere well and I thought it contrasted in an interesting way with the island's truly evil history that is based in history. 3w
Billypar @DrexEdit I had to laugh when I picked it up from the library: I've never seen an all-blurb cover before 😅 3w
Centique I love that jellyfish! Have you ever been to the Monterey Bay Aquarium where they have floor to ceiling tanks of jellyfish in a big darkened gallery? One of the most beautiful things I‘ve ever seen 😍 3w
Billypar @Centique I have once, but it was 17 years ago, so my memory of it is a little hazy. But I do love aquariums and the jellyfish always have such a mysterious aura to them. 2w
52 likes1 stack add7 comments
review
Billypar
Counternarratives | John Keene
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Pickpick

One of my favorites this year was this collection of stories that may be lost from history: tales of runaway slaves or freedmen trying to survive, strange goings-on in monasteries and orphanages, and unexpected encounters with historical figures. They also take on styles that fit their historical settings so they felt extra immersive. I really enjoyed how varied they were: magical realism, satire, suspense - all excellent no matter the genre.

37 likes2 stack adds
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Billypar
Counternarratives | John Keene
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#Top21of21

Thanks for the tags @Centique and @Nute
There were certainly lots of great reads to consider. Unlike other years where I've had one favorite in particular, I think it was a three-way tie between Counternarratives, Written on the Body, and Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead. Close behind are Gorilla My Love, The True Deceiver, and The Intuitionist.

Tagging any other fellow procrastinators on choosing their year-end picks!

Centique Yay there‘s The Go Between and Lolly Willowes! I have taken a screen shot to add more to my TBR 😍 1mo
BarbaraBB I loved Tove and Olga too but I‘ll have to take a screenshot too! 1mo
Ruthiella Eclectic mix! I read A Grain of Wheat
by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o in 2020 and am keen to read more. Maybe I‘ll make this one the next I read...
1mo
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LeahBergen I see lots of our NYRBs! 👏🏻 1mo
Billypar @Centique Those were both good in very different ways. The Go Between felt like a better version of a familiar setup, and Lolly Willowes wasn't like anything else I've read. 1mo
Billypar @BarbaraBB It was my first read of both of those authors - I can't wait to read more. 1mo
Billypar @Ruthiella Based on your review of A Grain of Wheat, it sounds like that should be my next of his! 1mo
Billypar @LeahBergen Yeah, I really connected with so many of them this year! 1mo
batsy Oooh! This is a great list and I'm definitely taking notes 📝 1mo
Billypar @batsy It's fun to see everyone's NYRB picks on these lists - it looks like we have True Deceiver in common. That one was very memorable. 1mo
merelybookish Great list! The Copenhagen trilogy made my list too! And I'm currently listening to Drive Your Plow. Not far in but it's making me laugh. 1mo
Billypar @merelybookish Yeah, The Copenhagen Trilogy was really excellent, as sad of a story as it was. I was not expecting Drive Your Plow to be so funny. I was laughing out loud at the police letters - I think you'll enjoy those if you haven't reached them yet 🙂 1mo
49 likes12 comments
review
Billypar
Inland | Ta Obreht
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Pickpick

Arizona Territory 1893. Missing family members. Drought. Outlaws. Journey. Ghosts. Camels. Those words should be enough to pick up Inland, especially if you've read Obreht's debut The Tiger's Wife. And if you haven't, you definitely should. I went in expecting to be disappointed as you do when you read an author's next book after one you love. But Inland landed pretty close: it's a magician trick of a novel that seems to hold more than its size.

Billypar I was cat sitting for my brother-in-law over Thanksgiving when my Google photos reminded me that I took the top picture exactly three years ago, so I thought this was a good anniversary photo opp. 1mo
vivastory The Tiger's Wife has been on my shelves for awhile now. I've heard nothing but great things. 1mo
Leftcoastzen 😻 1mo
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Nute A few years back, The Tiger‘s Wife, was scheduled to be read in my irl Bookclub, but the member that selected it, read it early, didn‘t like so it got nixed in a no-vote kind of way. Your your review has pushed me into action to request reconsideration. 1mo
Billypar @vivastory @Nute I feel like The Tiger's Wife reached a level of popularity where after it was embraced it started reaching readers outside of the usual audience for a literary novel that takes its time developing the story and who didn't like the pace. It has over 100,000 Goodreads ratings, but only a 3.42 average. But based on both of your tastes, I think you should really enjoy it. 1mo
Ruthiella I also really loved this book. And it‘s SO different from her debut (which I also loved). The Camel Corps (which was real!) and the ultimate fate of Lurie was so bizarre and yet fascinating. This is a western and a ghost story all rolled into one. (edited) 1mo
Billypar @Ruthiella I love how different the two are - the only common thread is how well she can craft a good story that is steeped in folklore. And the Camel Corps - what a fascinating snippet of history I would have never known existed. The ending was definitely memorable! 1mo
Suet624 I didn‘t know she had written another book. I really liked Tiger‘s Wife. 3w
Billypar @Suet624 Apparently she wrote most of another book after Tiger's Wife only to discover it wasn't working and had to scrap the whole thing, which was why it took so long in between books. 3w
Suet624 I can‘t imagine having to do that. Heck, I can‘t even imagine writing one book 3w
38 likes2 stack adds10 comments
review
Billypar
School for Love | Olivia Manning
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Pickpick

#nyrbbookclub
Felix begins this novel arriving in Jerusalem to live with his aunt (Miss Bohun) after his mother's death and what unfolds is a coming of age story in the extreme. Felix is initially a teenager who acts more like a 10-year-old, but in witnessing his aunt's tendency to exploit her tenants (including Felix), he gets a crash course in greed and hypocrisy that makes his grief for his mother that much more heartbreaking.

Billypar Our kittens are not really fans of sitting in laps like Faro in the novel, but every now and then it happens and we feel special for being chosen for such a rare honor, lol. 1mo
Leftcoastzen Oh wow , very cute ! I never seem to have lap cats either. 😸 1mo
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quietjenn Ah, I love this!!! Our cat is so not a lap cat either, so I very much relate. 1mo
Chrissyreadit I love that you captured the moment 👏🎉🙌😻 1mo
merelybookish Great pic! 😀 1mo
Reggie This is awesome, lol! 1mo
Cathythoughts Great review! I have this one stacked already 👍🏻 1mo
Cathythoughts Love your picture too 1mo
batsy Nice picture! That is indeed an honour 🐱 1mo
vivastory Great pic 🐱I had a Siamese cat for years that I loved. I should dig up a pic & post it 1mo
GatheringBooks Lovely photo!! 1mo
Billypar Thanks all - I'm hoping Scout's social media celebrity doesn't go to his head 😺 @Leftcoastzen @quietjenn @Chrissyreadit @merelybookish @Reggie @Cathythoughts @batsy @vivastory @GatheringBooks 1mo
Billypar @vivastory Definitely - they're gorgeous cats! 1mo
Suet624 💕💕💕 makes me want a kitten! 3w
Billypar @Suet624 They are very cute and distracting! 3w
48 likes16 comments
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Billypar
The Waves | Virginia Woolf
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#DecemberChill
My dad is cleaning out some old boxes and recently sent me the upper left pic, which shows my favorite place to chill as a kid: on vacation by the beach or pool (often with Agatha Christie novels). As an adult it's been a little different - an Airbnb in upstate New York, a park with a pond in New Jersey, hiking by a Brooklyn marsh, or birding in Cape May. But naturally, nothing beats the reading chair for day to day relaxation.

LeahBergen What a lovely collage! ❤️ 2mo
Cinfhen Fabulous collage😍and beautiful photography❣️❣️ 2mo
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BarbaraBB That‘s a fantastic collage with a bit of your life in it, and books ever present. Thanks for making and sharing these lovely pictures 🥰 2mo
Reggie These are all wonderful! 2mo
Cathythoughts Great pictures ❤️ 2mo
tpixie Great memories 📚💝 2mo
Billypar Thanks @LeahBergen @Cinfhen @BarbaraBB @Reggie @Cathythoughts @tpixie - these are always fun opportunities to go through old photos. 2mo
Centique These are great pictures Vinny! So cool that you read Agatha Christie novels by the pool 😍 1mo
Billypar @Centique Thanks Paula! I think 80% of my reading diet in middle school was Agatha Christie or Michael Crichton. The internet and YA publishing were not what they are today 😅 1mo
Suet624 Thank you for sharing these photos. 3w
50 likes11 comments
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Billypar
Zits: Chillax | Jerry Scott
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#DecemberChill #MusicalMatters
My favorite playlist when I'm looking for something chill has a mix of soul, jazz, and hip hop. It's a list of full albums, which doesn't lend itself to screenshots, so I created a version with one song from each of the 38 artists: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3goqyM1XPG1ldD1YKqRI22?si=3qeR4VBtTMuTPZYBGKep...

Billypar Here's the full 34 hour version with full albums for anyone so inclined: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/39STukh10nz1Ljmx17SENc?si=gfju3Db4Q1-sutJwXtBa... 2mo
vivastory Excellent playlist. Added to my library. I've met two of the artists on your list 2mo
Billypar @vivastory That's awesome, which two? 2mo
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vivastory I met Tricky as he was walking in between stages at Lollapalooza '97. I remember saying something about how much I liked his music & enjoyed his set. We only talked for a couple of minutes, but he was really laid back. I also met The Roots when they opened for Beck, also in '97. My friends and I arrived to the performance center early and as we were looking for somewhere to eat dinner we happened to drive by their tour bus & they were outside. 2mo
Billypar @vivastory That's so cool! Tricky does seem like he'd be laid back. And I've listened to so many episodes of Questlove's podcast that I feel like we're friends 😅 2mo
BarbaraBB Such a chill list! I‘m definitely adding in to my library! And how cool about Tricky, Scott (and going to Lolapalooza for that matter)! I listened a lot to his album Blowback since RHCP played along on some songs. @vivastory 2mo
vivastory @BarbaraBB I haven't listened to Blowback. I'll definitely check it out! 2mo
Cinfhen Excellent list and 34 additional hours sounds amazing 🤩 so cool @vivastory that you got to chat with The Roots & Tricky. I‘ve met Matisyahu twice!!! Does that count for anything??? 😂😂 2mo
Billypar @BarbaraBB I don't think I've listened to Blowback either - I feel like I would have remembered RHCP. Such an interesting collaboration! 2mo
Billypar @Cinfhen I don't know Matisyahu's music, but he's got 1,432,482 monthly listeners on Spotify, so I'd say that qualifies as a cool celebrity encounter 😎 2mo
32 likes11 comments
review
Billypar
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Pickpick

I read Vol 1 of My Struggle earlier this year and really liked Knausgard's style but wished it were shorter. As it turns out, Ditlevsen's trilogy of short memoirs is exactly what I wanted: hyper-conscious, yet carefully curated recollections. Ditlevsen is brilliant at knowing what moments to focus on and what is most fascinating about her perceptions of experiences with family, writing mentors, romantic partners, or her struggles with addiction.

Billypar (When I listen to audiobooks I never know what to post as the picture besides a screenshot of the cover, so I thought I'd mix it up a little with this aspiring shelf climber) 2mo
Centique Awwww! Best little shelf climber ever 😍 I would stack this from your great review, but I already have. Sounds wonderful. 2mo
Liz_M So cute! 😻😻😻 2mo
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vivastory This has been on my radar, but your review has definitely bumped it up BTW I meant to tell you that I enjoyed your segment on Shawn's BookTube. 2mo
Ruthiella Too cute! 😻😻😻 2mo
Billypar @Centique I love it when I attempt to stack something and find I already did without remembering. It's like added confirmation that I should really read it 🙂 2mo
Billypar @Liz_M @Ruthiella He does seem to like the books, so he'll likely be featured in more posts 😸 2mo
Billypar @vivastory It's funny because this one reminded me of a NYRB work. I think you'll really enjoy it. And glad you liked the bite-size book chat - Shawn's put together a great program and that novella was a fun one to talk about. 2mo
BarbaraBB Such a cute picture and you convinced me to stack the book! 2mo
Cathythoughts I think I have this book .. must have a look. Great review 👍🏻 (edited) 2mo
batsy Fab review! I want to read this for sure but *also* Knausgaard and there's only so many hours in the day 😬 photos of shelf climber always welcome 😍 2mo
Billypar @BarbaraBB Excellent - I think it's one you'll enjoy! 2mo
Billypar @Cathythoughts Thanks - hope you find it on your shelf! 2mo
Billypar @batsy Thanks! That's always the truth - I did appreciate that Ditlevsen takes less hours than Knausgard 🙂 2mo
46 likes1 stack add14 comments
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Billypar
The Giving Tree | Shel Silverstein
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Liz_M Fabulous! 2mo
RaeLovesToRead 😆🤣🤣 2mo
Suet624 Yes please. 2mo
32 likes3 comments
review
Billypar
Harbor | John Ajvide Lindqvist
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Mehso-so

A Halloween read about a missing girl and a nameless, watery horror terrorizing a tiny island town. Lindqvist is compared to Stephen King in eight blurbs, and although I haven't read enough King to judge the accuracy, it has a King-ish length of 500 pages. I would have enjoyed a shorter version more: the problem for me was all the flashbacks ruined the forward momentum. But the writing is excellent - it cultivates a great, haunted atmosphere.

Billypar I also want to introduce the two distractions to my reading and Litsy posts of late: their names are Jem and Scout, brothers who are 3.5 months old. You will likely be seeing more of them 😺😺 #catsoflitsy 2mo
JenReadsAlot Cute! 2mo
Amiable So much cuteness!! 😻😻 2mo
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DrexEdit So cute! Terrific names! 😻 2mo
Liz_M Hello, boys! 😻 😻 2mo
squirrelbrain Aw, little cuties! And love their names…. 😻😻 2mo
Cathythoughts I love Jem & Scout … how exciting & looks like double trouble 😁🥰 (edited) 2mo
vivastory Furry distractions! 😻 😸 2mo
Leftcoastzen WooHoo ! Reading buddies ! 😻😻 2mo
LeahBergen Hello, Jem and Scout!! ❤️❤️ 2mo
AlaMich Adorable mayhem in store for you! 😻😻 2mo
Suet624 What fun! Thanks for introducing them. 💕 2mo
37 likes12 comments
blurb
Billypar
They Have Fired Her Again | Claudia Hernndez
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@shawnmooney has a great new Booktube program I would recommend: "Bite-sized Book Chats". Shawn has a short conversation with four readers and talks with them about a book they recently read in fun half-hour episodes. They are great for expanding your TBR further via recommendations from readers around the world. I was excited to speak with Shawn in the most recent episode about the tagged book. Check it out here: https://youtu.be/TFC7mIg53Z4

shawnmooney You were a fantastic guest and I‘m really looking forward to you coming back on again! 3mo
vivastory I've been enjoying these episodes! Looking forward to watching this one later today 3mo
TrishB I‘ll be watching over the weekend 👍🏻 3mo
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Cathythoughts Really enjoyed Vinny & Shawn .. book sounds good. I am a fan of magical realism… loved your description of this book Vinny , and loved listening to you talk about it . Well done 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻.. I‘m stacking 3mo
batsy Fun! I'll also be making time for this over the weekend 👌🏾 3mo
Billypar @shawnmooney Thanks and likewise! 🙂 3mo
Billypar Excellent - hope you enjoy it @vivastory @TrishB @batsy ! 3mo
Billypar Glad you liked it @Cathythoughts ! The book is a real headtrip - not even like other magical realist stuff I've read. I'd love to hear your thoughts if you pick it up. 3mo
Reggie Told almost in dialogue but not from the MC lol, that sounds fascinating and challenging. Great talk, Vinny. (edited) 3mo
LeahBergen Wonderful! 👏🏻👏🏻 I can‘t wait to watch! 3mo
Billypar @Reggie Yeah, it was a bold choice - I wish I read widely enough to have another novel to compare it to, but I haven't read anything else like it. 3mo
Billypar @LeahBergen Hope you enjoy! 🙂 3mo
Lindy Well done! You sold me on 3mo
Billypar @Lindy I hope you like it if you pick it up! It is a challenge, but it helps that it's novella length and not 700 pages. 3mo
Lindy @Billypar I will @ you when I read it… if I remember … it might be a while before I get to it. 😊 (edited) 3mo
Centique It was lovely to see you recommending books in person Vinny! You sold me on this one too (although who knows when I‘ll get to it, my TBR is toppling) Hope you are well xx 2mo
Billypar @Centique Thanks Paula - and likewise for Episode 14! You also sold me on a book, but it was actually The Imaginary Lives of James Poneke - I immediately added to my own toppling TBR 🙂 2mo
Suet624 Just came across this post. Now I need to find the episode! Always fun to get to hear/see folks I‘ve been following! 2mo
Billypar @Suet624 Hope you enjoy the episode! I really like Shawn's program and it was great chatting with him about this book. Booktube is totally new to me - I should really explore it more. 2mo
36 likes1 stack add19 comments
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Billypar
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This is definitely resonating now that the summer weather is on the verge of disappearing.

BkClubCare Such a wonderful story! 3mo
Cathythoughts Great quote! Brilliant book that I must reread 3mo
32 likes2 comments
review
Billypar
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Pickpick

My favorite mysteries are the weird ones. Why have a detective investigate when it could be an elderly woman who takes care of her neighbor's homes during the brutal winters of a remote Polish town? And one who loves astrology, prefers animals to people, gives others names like Oddball or The Gray Lady, and obsesses over William Blake. That's Janina and she's on the case when her neighbor 'Bigfoot' turns up dead. Lively, dark comic perfection.

sarahbarnes Loved this one! 3mo
batsy Nice review and photo 💀 3mo
Cathythoughts Great review! I loved this book too 3mo
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BarbaraBB A favorite of mine too 🤍 3mo
Billypar @batsy Thanks! I read this months ago but it worked out that the photo fits with the season ☠☠☠ 3mo
Billypar @sarahbarnes @Cathythoughts @BarbaraBB Glad you all enjoyed this as much as I did! Some who reviewed the book seemed disappointed that it was too easy to guess the murderer, but I think Tokarczuk wants it that way: there are more pleasures in a good mystery than just being surprised by the reveal. 3mo
vivastory I agree about the best mysteries being the weird ones. Did you read Moshfegh's Death in Her Hands? I thought it was similar, although I preferred Tokarczuk 3mo
BarbaraBB I agree with @vivastory that it reminded me of the Moshfegh, which I loved too. In both books the murder is not the point I think. (edited) 3mo
Billypar @vivastory @BarbaraBB I haven't read Death in Her Hands yet, but it's on my shelf - I'm very much looking forward to it. I had a similar experience reading Eileen as Drive Your Plow in that both had first person narrators with a distinct and memorable voice. 3mo
BarbaraBB If you liked Eileen you‘ll probably love Death in her Hands. I certainly hope so! 3mo
Brimful I loved this book! 2mo
45 likes2 stack adds11 comments
review
Billypar
The Slynx | Tatyana Tolstaya
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Pickpick

There's a lot that could be said about a post-apocalyptic novel set in a Russia populated by a society of mutants who subsist on mice and are raised to fear books and a mysterious creature who steals your sanity. But my favorite thing was how Tolstaya created a novel of ideas that still lets itself get carried away by poetic descriptions, no matter how weird things get. I was happy not understanding everything and just hanging on as a passenger.

vivastory I have to admit that I'm really happy you read this one. This seemed like one you would like. I liked this just as much the second time around. I think that you will also dig the October selection. 3mo
Billypar @vivastory Yeah, definitely my kind of novel! Seems like a great one to reread too and maybe appreciate more things you miss the first time. 3mo
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batsy I like your description of it being a novel of ideas that still lets itself get carried away by poetic descriptions. I might have liked it less than I expected to, but it's challenging in a thoroughly memorable way. 3mo
youneverarrived You describe it perfectly! Have to admit I think part of the reason I didn‘t gel with it at first was because I didn‘t understand what was going on. Only after reading reviews etc did I really appreciate it. 3mo
Billypar @batsy Yeah, I don't always love satire, but I think the poetic parts and the complexity gave it the right proportions. It didn't feel like Tolstaya was winking at the same joke for the whole novel: it was constantly in motion. 3mo
Billypar @youneverarrived I'm still tempted to flip back through to certain scenes and try to get a better handle on some things. There was that one chapter with Nikita Ivanich, Lev Lvovich, and Benedikt where it seems like they were discussing important stuff thematically, but it gets so crazy and ends with them singing songs, so my tired brain didn't want to make sense of it at the time 😅 3mo
Cathythoughts 😱😱😱 3mo
youneverarrived 😂 yeah I totally get that! 3mo
37 likes9 comments
review
Billypar
They Have Fired Her Again | Claudia Hernndez
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Pickpick

There's a lot packed into the less than 100 pages of this novella. The story of an undocumented Salvadoran immigrant in New York is told through the voices of everyone she encounters: her aunt, cousin, co-workers at the series of jobs she works, and...a stone wolf, crystalline dog, motmot bird...you know, the usual NYC crowd. A transfixing story told almost entirely through dialogue that switches from unvarnished realism to odd fantasy on a dime.

Cathythoughts Great post , sounds crazy & good 4mo
Billypar @Cathythoughts Yes, it was both of those things! A very unique read overall. 4mo
38 likes1 stack add2 comments
review
Billypar
Gorilla, My Love | Toni Cade Bambara
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Pickpick

Dialogue is something that can make or break a story for me, and Bambara shines in this area. These stories are filled with memorable characters from New York or the American South, many of them strong-willed girls and teens. At the same time, they and the stories they inhabit are all very different. Bambara isn't content to revisit old terroritory: the styles, themes, and ideas shift in brilliant ways in each of these 15 perfect stories.

merelybookish Great review! More incentive to finally read it! 4mo
Billypar @merelybookish Thanks! I think you'll enjoy it - I'll look it out for your review! 4mo
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Billypar
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I love this: it's a character explaining her ambivalence about befriending writers 🙂

Ruthiella I tried Flights by her and could not get into it , but still want to read her work. Maybe this title would be a good way in. 4mo
BarbaraBB Such a good book 🤍. I should absolutely try this one @Ruthiella I‘m almost sure you‘d love it too. 4mo
IuliaC A very good book 4mo
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Billypar @Ruthiella I'm not yet halfway but I'm enjoying it so far! 4mo
Billypar @BarbaraBB @luliaC I'm excited to find out what happens! Her writing is mesmerizing. 4mo
BarbaraBB It is! It does remind me of 4mo
Billypar @BarbaraBB Good to hear because that's waiting on my TBR shelf 🙂 4mo
34 likes7 comments
review
Billypar
Boy Wonder | James Robert Baker
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Pickpick

When a 464-page mockumentary novel goes off the rails before the end of Chapter 1, where can it go from there? When its subject is Hollywood excess in the 1970s and 80s, having no limits when it comes to violence, sex, and general lack of decency, works surprisingly well. This novel mirrors the horrendous B-movies that its controversial filmmaker subject produces, and even when the films get better, it's still Mommie Dearest behind the scenes 👇

Billypar As a result, this is not for the squeamish: no matter how tongue-in-cheek the craziness is, it can be difficult to read at times. But underneath it all is an insightful perspective on how toxic masculinity can combine with Hollywood's portrayal of male obsession disguised as romance to do real damage as life imitates what's on the screen. It's a viewpoint that serves as the moral backbone behind the outsized satire and farce without moralizing. (edited) 4mo
Billypar Thanks again @Reggie for sharing this one with me! 4mo
TrishB Great review 👍🏻 4mo
See All 9 Comments
vivastory I started this as a buddy read with @Reggie & @Michael_Gee but never finished. I enjoyed what I read, but wanted to switch from e-book to a physical copy. Wonderful review! 4mo
Michael_Gee Great review! 4mo
Reggie Can I just say ‘Wow!‘ on this review? I‘m so glad you liked and appreciated it, Vinny. And I know what you mean about the first chapter. I remember reading about the mother in the freezer and thinking, holy hell, this is the beginning?!!!! 4mo
Billypar @vivastory Thanks! I'm interested in your opinion if you pick it back up. In one way, it's a very consistent book - the tone and action are similar across all sections. But Baker makes some critical decisions in the plot arc that made me enjoy it when it could have easily gotten lost in the mess. 4mo
Billypar @Reggie Thanks! There were so many moments where I'd catch myself saying "Whaaaaat?" out loud. After I read it I wondered if 'maximalism' is a thing and it does have a Wikipedia page, but it's a little sparse. This one seems like a great example of it though, used to great effect. 4mo
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review
Billypar
Free Day | Ins Cagnati
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Mehso-so

#nyrbbookclub
Sorry to have missed the discussion, but it was great to read what everyone thought. I was ambivalent: on the one hand, I loved the voice of Galla, sarcasm, bitterness, and all. She was allergic to hypocrisy in adults and even with all of the misfortunes she faced, she still maintained a resilient spirit. I only wished the narrative moved a little more: it had the feel of an overlong short story rather than a short novel.

vivastory Wonderful review. I really hope that NYRB publishes more Cagnati, so I can see what her other work is like. I think you are going to really like the September selection. 5mo
batsy I hear you! I was torn between a so-so and pick for this, but went with the latter because of how the ending made me reconsider certain aspects. 5mo
See All 6 Comments
Billypar @vivastory I would read another Cagnati - I enjoyed her style, so I could imagine really liking one with a little more story to it. Looking forward to September's selection: seems like it couldn't be more different than the one we just finished! 5mo
Billypar @batsy Yes that's true - I did like the ending! I also agree with those comments appreciating how Fanny was really a good friend. It was a relief in a novel so bleak. I didn't think she was imaginary, but I thought it was leading up to some sort of betrayal, which would have been too depressing. 5mo
batsy @Billypar Me too! I was in dread of a potential betrayal 😥 5mo
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Billypar
Boy Wonder | James Robert Baker
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@Reggie
Such a great gag 😅

Reggie I‘m so happy you‘re reading it! 6mo
Billypar @Reggie I just started, but really enjoying it already. 6mo
29 likes2 comments
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Billypar
Gorilla, My Love | Toni Cade Bambara
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I love the dark humor in this passage and 'dull sofas ' cracked me up 😆

merelybookish You started! I remember we discussed having this on our TBRs. 6mo
Billypar @merelybookish That's right! You're in for a treat - I'm ten stories in, and I've enjoyed them all. I think the title story and Happy Birthday are favorites so far and maybe even the one this quote is taken from, The Survivor, but it's a head trip - way different than the rest. 6mo
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Billypar
The Go-Between | L.P. Hartley
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Pickpick

#nyrbbookclub
The Go-Between's portrayal of a 12-year-old's thought process in its protagonist Leo is so good, it's almost eerie. It made me remember what it was like to be that age: how much you want the respect of adults and feel compelled to trade your child's imagination for obeying rigid social signals (which, honestly, is a pretty bad deal!) And for such a sensitive book, it's got a fair amount of action and mounting suspense.

Billypar Looking forward to talking about this one @sprainedbrain @vivastory ! 6mo
sarahbarnes Great review! I agree! 6mo
vivastory Wonderful review! Agreed, it's definitely a rotten deal 6mo
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daena Great review, well said. 6mo
Brimful I read this book when I was very young. It was the book that taught me literature was not just about the story! 2mo
Billypar @Brimful That's so true - the story is usually what gets me to pick up a book, but only one factor in terms of how much I enjoy it. The characters in this one are what stand out. 2mo
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Billypar
My Struggle: Book One | Karl Knausgaard
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#currentread
It's not that I'm not enjoying it, but I assume everyone who reads this or the later volumes has moments of disbelief that there is still so much more left...

vivastory I *really* liked this one. Especially the ending, which to this day remains one of the most powerful portraits of grief that I've read. Yet, I have yet to read further volumes... 6mo
BarbaraBB I‘ve read them all and wished for more afterwards… 6mo
LeahBergen I‘m like @vivastory - I really liked the first one but never read any more. 🤷🏻‍♀️ 6mo
See All 8 Comments
Liz_M Nice to see you and I guess we won't be seeing you for the long while it takes to read this. 😁 (I am the slacker that owns all six volumes but am too wary of the time commitment to start...) 6mo
Billypar Good to know @vivastory - I can definitely see him handling emotional moments in a powerful way. I've read enough to know that this will likely be a pick, but also that I'll likely be in the one volume camp with you and @LeahBergen for a long while! 6mo
Billypar @BarbaraBB @Leftcoastzen He's definitely an amazing writer. There's got to be some kind of reader continuum: 'tolerance for books lacking in plot/larger narratives.' I suspect I'm squarely in the middle, and even though this is non-fiction, I think where you are determines if you read 6 volumes or 6 pages 🙂 6mo
Billypar @Liz_M It's good to be back on Litsy more regularly: I was definitely missing it and really glad that NYRB helped keep me connected at least monthly. Luckily I'm tackling this on audio so it's my dishwashing soundtrack and won't compete with Litsy time or other reading! 6mo
35 likes8 comments
review
Billypar
Written on the Body | Jeanette Winterson
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Pickpick

Take love poetry that is passionate and desperate, mold it into a novel, and you have Written on the Body. The result isn't exactly romantic. Love is under a microscope in some ways: we witness the main character's obsession in a new light, not even knowing their gender. This choice distinguished it from any other love story I've seen, removing the distraction of male-female or female-female dynamics. It's daring, uncomfortable, brilliant stuff.

Nute Excellent review! Love that bit...”take love poetry...mold it into a novel.” 6mo
Liz_M Gorgeous picture, worthy of the book! 6mo
Billypar @Nute Thanks! It's a tough book to describe the reading experience, but I really enjoyed its originality. 6mo
Billypar @Liz_M Thanks! I felt like it needed to be a little dramatic 🙂 6mo
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Billypar
Orkney | Amy Sackville
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Mehso-so

I'm a week late to getting to this #HolidayEscape pick, and after reading the discussions, I'm in agreement with the consensus viewpoint. Even though Sackville's prose casts a mysterious spell that could have worked well for the subject matter, it wasn't enough to compensate for the lack of any real plot development. We're just left with a creepy narrator's obsessive behavior and no way to contextualize it, besides an offstage fantasy theme.

Billypar It was still unique enough to be memorable though - thanks for organizing @Cinfhen and @BarbaraBB My Litsy time has taken a hit in recent months - I hope to be back talking books with everyone before long! 7mo
Cinfhen Thanks for joining us!!! Miss seeing your posts but glad to know you‘re busy and well ☺️ 7mo
BarbaraBB Your review might best describe my feelings about the book - and what it lacked! I too hope you‘ll be back talking books soon. Take care 🍀💚 7mo
Suet624 Nice seeing you again. 7mo
45 likes4 comments
review
Billypar
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Pickpick

Feminism, witches, repressive 1926 society - the pieces suggest a novel we don't even have to read -- we get the gist from the blurb on the back flap. Except that's just not the case with this novel. It's neither the fantasy novel nor the satire you might expect. The title character spends most of the novel in a realistic world and doesn't spend it fighting against the oppressive forces of a patriarchal society 👇

Billypar Instead, she tries to make sense of how to maintain dignity in such a world, along with a sense of spiritual awe, when the patriarchal structures of family and religion offer neither. She sees the benefits of being a spinster, but also learns the problems of being outside society aren't easily dismissed. This book is not only progressive, it's also wise. I'm indebted to #nyrbbookclub for putting it on my radar even though I missed the discussion! (edited) 7mo
quietjenn Such a great review! Hooray for Lolly (Laura)! 7mo
See All 12 Comments
batsy Fantastic review! I'm so glad you liked it. I love this book for all the reasons you mentioned ❤️ 7mo
JazzFeathers Needs!!!!! 7mo
Billypar @quietjenn Thanks! And thanks for leading this month's pick- the discussion questions were great. 7mo
Billypar @batsy Thanks! This and The True Deceiver from earlier this year are new nyrb favorites for me. 7mo
LeahBergen What a lovely review! 7mo
vivastory Stellar review! Sorry you missed the discussion but I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on it & I'm so happy that this is a new favorite for you. I love it & am looking forward to reading more Warner! 7mo
Billypar @LeahBergen Thanks! 🙂 7mo
Billypar @vivastory Thanks! I'm interested in reading more of her too - I didn't even realize she had another from nyrb (also featuring a memorable title). 7mo
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Billypar
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Pickpick

This had the feel of five linked short stories about a family rather than a novel. At first, so much plotless observation left me a bit bored, but the fascinating characters won me over in the end. The complex verbosity of Libby, Elinore, Gram, and Neil is captured perfectly through the collective eyes of the young narrators, and so are the more muted presences of the other members. I've never seen family arguments viewed in quite the same way.

vivastory Great review! This one ended up being a real surprise for me
(edited) 7mo
merelybookish Yes, lots of good characters! 7mo
38 likes2 comments
review
Billypar
Skylark | Dezso Kosztolanyi
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Pickpick

#nyrbbookclub
I didn't finish in time for yesterday's discussion unfortunately, but I enjoyed reading everyone's thoughts. It reminded me of other classics where women cope with the reality of dwindling chances for marriage, except it took the parents' perspective. I thought it nicely dramatized how the family hid from social scrutiny without even realizing it. It struck me as a quiet story that is content with being sad rather than tragic.

Suet624 Great review! 9mo
vivastory You're right, it's interesting how the perspectives are shifted in this one. Great review! 9mo
See All 8 Comments
Leftcoastzen Lovely review! 9mo
Tanisha_A Nice review! Nailed it @vivastory it was definitely different perspectives in here 9mo
youneverarrived I liked how it showed a different perspective. Great review. 9mo
Billypar @Tanisha_A @youneverarrived Thanks! 🙂 It's always interesting to me how that perspective shift makes you think differently about something you've seen portrayed elsewhere. 9mo
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Billypar
Geek Love | Katherine Dunn
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#currentread
Background image is courtesy of: https://eidetictraces.wordpress.com/

review
Billypar
The Hearing Trumpet | Leonora Carrington
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Pickpick

There's a kind of older novel about mental institutions that muses over who is more 'insane', the residents or the doctors. This novel began in a similar vein, but morphed into something that might have been written by Umberto Eco on hallucinogenics. I liked seeing the fantastic imagery from her canvasses come to life and how the bizarre events are observed with a deadpan humor, even if I was mystified by the ultra-weird, apocalyptic ending.

Billypar I think this should make for an interesting discussion tomorrow - looking forward to it! #nyrbbookclub @daena @vivastory 10mo
vivastory Eco on hallucinogenics. Perfect! I'm still not sure what to make of the ending, but I can't stop thinking about it. Really looking forward to the discussion 10mo
batsy Great review. A lot of the hidden meanings or playful intertextual experimentations went over my head, I'm sure, but I loved it. So refreshing and the deadpan humour was top notch. 10mo
See All 10 Comments
Cathythoughts Great picture 💫 10mo
BarbaraBB Agree with @batsy regarding the humour. In the end it went over my head but I had a good time with it too! 10mo
Billypar @vivastory From reading the reviews, it seemed like there was a point where things got a little too weird, but where that was maybe differed for everyone? But even the weirdest sections were nothing if not entertaining. I'm eager to hear everyone's takes on it! 10mo
Billypar @batsy Thanks! I couldn't decide whether it was a book with lots of hidden meanings/ symbolism, or whether Carrington just liked following her imagination wherever it took her. I think the humor did hold things together - it was the perfect light touch that it needed. 10mo
Billypar @Cathythoughts If you Google Leonora Carrington and look at the image results, there are so many wonderful, dreamlike paintings. I've lost track of time sifting through them. 10mo
Billypar @BarbaraBB It's nice when you can enjoy a book even when you're not understanding what's going on - definitely the case for this one! 10mo
Suet624 Eco on hallucinogenics! That had me cackling for a while. 10mo
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Billypar
The Invention of Morel | Adolfo Bioy Casares, Ruth L.C. Simms
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Pickpick

This absorbing novella is a kind of literary Twilight Zone episode. A fugitive hides out on a deserted island that contains a museum, swimming pool, chapel, and not much else besides a tree-ravaging disease. He's surprised to find he suddenly has visitors, and things get stranger from there. Casares has a gifted storytelling capacity for intriguing the reader with mysteries and resolving them in a way that is surprising but not too complicated.

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blurb
Billypar
Me & Mama | Cozbi A. Cabrera
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I got this book for my sister to read to my niece and nephew. She left it on the couch and then caught my nephew spontaneously having a moment with it 💛

Texreader Awwww! 10mo
tpixie Adorable! 10mo
AlaMich Wow, that‘s precious! 10mo
See All 13 Comments
Julsmarshall That is the cutest thing!! 10mo
KVanRead Too cute ☺️ 10mo
Reggie That is pretty cute. 10mo
batsy Aww! That's adorable 💕 10mo
Tanisha_A Cutest 10mo
readordierachel Love this 10mo
LeahBergen So cute!!! 10mo
Cathythoughts Beautiful ❤️ 10mo
BeaG So cute !❤️ 10mo
Suet624 💕💕💕 10mo
59 likes13 comments
review
Billypar
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Mehso-so

#nyrbbookclub
Carr created a world that I truly enjoyed being inside. An old church in the English countryside with a medieval painting being restored? It was like an incredible vacation. I savored the descriptions and the characters were so richly developed that they seemed like friends. But my sense of curiosity began fading after Birkin's routine was established. I wanted more mystery or ambiguity, but I don't think it was that kind of book.

Billypar I might be the odd one out not giving it a pick, but there was lots to appreciate about the writing: I'm looking forward to the discussion! @catebutler @vivastory 11mo
vivastory I can appreciate wanting a bit more ambiguity. Nice review. 11mo
catebutler I too was swept up in the story of the painting, I do wish there would have been more to it as well. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the discussion. 11mo
arubabookwoman I would probably put it in the so-so category, or just a bit above. It‘s one I had been anticipating immensely, and I‘d heard great things about it. But I never felt fully engaged with it; It was competent, had some good parts, but I didn‘t find it special. I agree with @catebutler & wanted more to the story—with the art or perhaps even with the relationship with Alice. (edited) 11mo
Billypar @vivastory @catebutler @arubabookwoman I may have to up my rating - I kept thinking about the painting and posted a new idea that occurred to me in question 6. I feel like Carr buried a clever mystery in this that I didn't consider until now. That's why I love these discussions - I would have otherwise just set this aside and not even thought about it again! 11mo
36 likes5 comments
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Billypar
Skin Folk | Nalo Hopkinson
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Pickpick

"Throughout the Caribbean, under different names, you'll find stories about people who aren't what they seem. Skin gives these skin folk their human shape. When the skin comes off, their true selves emerge." I love this premise for a story collection - the skins and what's underneath varies a great deal. Some are inspired by folk tales involving mythical creatures and others have speculative or sci-fi themes. Dreamy and weird in the best way.

BarbaraBB Off topic: I finally listened to your podcast with @ReadingEnvy. You did so good! You are so insightful! I must read the El Salvador book. 11mo
Cathythoughts I didn‘t realize you did a podcast with @ReadingEnvy ... I must look it up later .. looking forward to it 👍🏻 11mo
ReadingEnvy @Cathythoughts tinyurl.com/ReadingEnvy212 11mo
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Billypar @BarbaraBB Glad you liked it! I think you'll really enjoy the memoir. And actually, not completely off topic that you bring up @ReadingEnvy since I first heard about Hopkinson on an RE episode (Jenny, that was for The Salt Roads). 11mo
Billypar @Cathythoughts It was really fun - hope you like it! 🙂 11mo
ReadingEnvy @Billypar I just saw a new cover for that novel today and it made me want to buy it all over again. 11mo
Suet624 This sounds wonderful! 10mo
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Billypar
Shit, Actually | Lindy West
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Pickpick

You can love bad movies - Lindy West won't judge you, she'll even join you in some cases. But you should appreciate just how full of sh🎬t they are. Sometimes for benign suspension of disbelief reasons but often due to massive amounts of misogyny and fat-shaming. She had me cracking up at some of her plot descriptions of popular Hollywood blockbusters. I didn't enjoy the millennial-speak shtick which was a little grating but otherwise I was a fan.

KVanRead This particular scene is so cringey to me I can barely watch this move anymore 🤪 11mo
Billypar @KVanRead Agreed - very cringey! Her Love Actually piece was the only one I read previously and it's still my favorite of the bunch. I think it's worth watching the movie just to read it and know the scenes being referenced. 11mo
zezeki @KVanRead I hate this scene too! 11mo
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batsy @zezeki @KVanRead Me three! So cringe. 11mo
Billypar @KVanRead @zezeki @batsy And there's lots more to hate! 😅 Here's the article if you haven't read it already: https://www.google.com/amp/s/jezebel.com/i-rewatched-love-actually-and-am-here-t... 11mo
KVanRead Thanks for the link! 11mo
mcipher I hated that movie. And I loved Lindy‘s review 😆 11mo
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Billypar
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Pickpick

Kendi's focus on the details of how trends in racist thought evolved over U.S. history is important given the absence of its coverage in our education system. He connects some patterns of racism to the present, even if the form changes. Examples of well-intentioned anti-slavery advocates like William Lloyd Garrison nevertheless spreading racist ideas are particularly critical to grasp. A meticulously researched history that everyone should read.

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Billypar
The Group: A Novel | Mary McCarthy
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Pickpick

One of my favorite things about this novel is the idea at its core - what happens when you follow a group of eight friends after college graduation, but focus on each separately as individuals? I struggle with long novels that lack a central plot but McCarthy's vivid characterizations kept me engaged. It was revealing to witness the seeds of modern feminism in the 1930s, even as all the negative "-isms" were thriving in New York high society.

Billypar I really enjoyed reading all the comments on the discussion posts @Cinfhen and @BarbaraBB Sorry to have missed it, but looking forward to July's read! 11mo
Cinfhen Wonderful review. Sorry you “missed” the discussion but looking forward to discussing our next book with you 😊 11mo
BarbaraBB Glad you enjoyed it and happy to know you‘ll join again in June! 11mo
See All 7 Comments
Cathythoughts Great review! I really enjoyed this too 11mo
Billypar @Cinfhen Thanks! 🙂 11mo
Billypar @BarbaraBB Whoops- thank you, *June* not July. 11mo
Billypar @Cathythoughts Thanks! 🙂 Glad you liked it also. 11mo
50 likes7 comments
review
Billypar
The True Deceiver | Tove Jansson
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Pickpick

#nyrbbookclub
The calculating and impassive Katri moves in on innocent artist Anna, eyeing her poorly managed wealth. The setup made me think a grim duel was ahead. I wasn't ruling out violence. But it slowly morphed into this weird, fascinating interplay between the clashing personalities. It made me think how people try to ward off loneliness in radically different ways, but neither making art nor rigid pragmatism really does the trick.

BarbaraBB What a wonderful review. I immediately feel the atmosphere again 🤍 12mo
batsy Excellent review! I'm almost towards the end. I feel like it's such a cool, uncompromising novel and perfectly structured ... I'm in awe, Tove 🙌🏽 12mo
See All 12 Comments
Billypar @BarbaraBB Thanks! I think we'll have lots to talk about on Sunday. 12mo
Billypar @batsy Thanks! I too was in awe of her talents in making her characters' story so intriguing without much in the way of big plot developments. 12mo
youneverarrived Your last sentence 👌 I never even thought about that! But it‘s spot on. 12mo
merelybookish Yes! There was an innocence and limitations that came with both those approaches. 12mo
Billypar @youneverarrived It's not too common that I finish a book and find I'm still curious about the characters, but I definitely am for this one. I'm interested in hearing everyone's perspectives on them! 12mo
Billypar @merelybookish Yeah and neither of those limitations were clear to me for most of the book: it seemed like there were critical moments near the end that clarified a lot about how they related to other people. 12mo
vivastory Great review. I wasn't really sure what to expect either. Jansson managed to surprise me until the end. 12mo
Billypar @vivastory Thanks! The ability for a book to surprise me ranks pretty high on my list of favorite qualities, so this one easily passed that test, without even having anything that qualifies as a 'twist'. 12mo
Suet624 That last line in your review. 👍❤️ 12mo
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Billypar
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I was excited to have the opportunity to talk books with Jenny from the Reading Envy podcast - you can check out the episode here:
http://readingenvy.blogspot.com/2021/01/reading-envy-212-subtly-fascinating.html...
If you're new to ReadingEnvy, it's fantastic: Jenny and her guests trade off in discussing recent reads - a perfect podcast for readers basically. There's also readalongs and other themed activities and challenges to try.
@ReadingEnvy

Billypar I should also mention that Litsy introduced me to 2 of the 3 books I discuss, so thanks to @Suet624 and @BarbaraBB for giving me two of my favorite 2020 reads! #blameitonlitsy 12mo
Nute I love the Reading Envy Podcast! I am so exited for you to be a guest reader there, Vinny. Listening to your episode is a priority today! 12mo
Billypar @Nute I hope you enjoy it Kimberley! 🙂 12mo
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ReadingEnvy Thanks for being a great guest! I really noticed that the majority of our books were by and about women, with faces on the covers. 12mo
vivastory Can't wait to give this one a listen! 12mo
readordierachel Listening now! 12mo
BarbaraBB The Birds 🦅 💜. I am happy to have a fellow lover of the book and will definitely listen to the podcast! Which one was recommended by @Suet624 ? I know I need to read that one too 😉🤍 12mo
Suet624 The tagged book. @BarbaraBB and now I need to find the book you recommended (edited) 12mo
Suet624 I‘m so glad you loved that book as much as I did. Can‘t wait to listen to the podcast. (edited) 12mo
BarbaraBB @Suet624 Thanks! I‘ll go after it! And I‘m sure you‘d love 12mo
Billypar @ReadingEnvy Ha- that's true, like we gathered an interesting audience to sit in on the discussion 🙂 12mo
Billypar @vivastory Hope you enjoy it! 12mo
Billypar @readordierachel Nice - hope it provided a good bookish break in your day! 12mo
Billypar @BarbaraBB The brother depending on sister situation in True Deceiver at first reminded me of The Birds, but the similarities sort of end there. Two different gems of books - I'm looking forward to the TD discussion! 12mo
Billypar @Suet624 I started listening to it again just to prep for the podcast, but after a certain point I just accepted I was rereading the whole thing. It holds up the second time around! 12mo
Suet624 Wow! Impressive. I‘m a bit envious. Such a good book. 12mo
ReadingEnvy @Suet624 I definitely want to read it too, so thanks second removed! 12mo
RobinGustafson Really enjoyed this episode. Already put What You Have Heard Is True on my TBR! 12mo
Reggie Great show, Vinny! You made me want to read the first book you talked about and reminded me to check out Kelly Link‘s other works. 12mo
Billypar @RobinGustafson Glad you enjoyed it - hope you like Forché's memoir when you pick it up! 12mo
Billypar @Reggie Thanks Reggie! I think you'll like the memoir. I also plan to seek out Kelly Link's other work - she's too good to leave anything unread. 12mo
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review
Billypar
The Changeling | Victor LaValle
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Pickpick

LaValle's take on the 'modern fairytale ' restores some of the original purposes of the traditional variety: reenvisioning a societal problem using a story that seamlessly blends reality, fantasy, and horror. Our hero is Apollo, a young parent who joins the ranks of modern, involved fathers, even as his personal history of fatherly abandonment and the U.S. history of racism and patriarchal dominance threaten his family's survival in varied ways 👇

Billypar Apollo criss-crosses remote corners of New York to confront the truth of what threatens his family, while beset by magic, witches, and trolls, all with elusive motives. Modern technology is equally ambiguous, serving as both an invasive villain and a hero's weapon. At times I found the balance between fantasy and social metaphor veering too much toward either pole, but overall it was a satisfying blend, full of rich imagery and propulsive action. 12mo
Billypar Thanks @batsy for joining me on this strange journey - it was a fun and spooky trip! 😨 12mo
Suet624 I love your review. 12mo
See All 6 Comments
batsy Excellent review! Thank you for prompting me to go on this journey; I appreciated having someone to talk with through this wild ride 🙂 12mo
Billypar @Suet624 Thank you! 🙂 12mo
Billypar @batsy Thanks! And that is definitely true- no shortage of things to discuss for this one 😁 12mo
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blurb
Billypar
The Changeling | Victor LaValle
This post contains spoilers
show me
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@batsy
As I look back at the events, there's a lot packed into these final sections!
👹The graveyard scene was so creepy- probably one of my favorites in the novel. For all of the gross parts, there was something very moving about Apollo's coming to grips with not having truly known his own child. I was trying to think of how this fact and the blood feeding fits into the larger themes, but was struggling a little 👇

Billypar 👹 The Forest Park sequences are another great way of taking an actual local setting and making it magical - I love the adventure around New York that LaValle crafted. 👹 Jorgen kind of picks up the backstory where Cal left off. This part was...odd. The sheep's head and wall of child pictures made it more surreal and I was surprised by the sudden killing when it happened. 👹 There was some dark humor in the Kindergarten confrontation that I liked. 12mo
Billypar 👹 I mentioned some of my response to the troll parts already and some of the symbolism. One part I did like during the final battle was the chapter that ended with the troll suddenly tossing Brian into his mouth and swallowing him. I'm pretty sure I was responding out loud to that part! 😮😮😮 12mo
batsy Nice summary! Especially about the bits you liked, which I enjoyed too. I inadvertently left those out in my word vomit of questions in my review 😆 I found the sheep's head bit so weirdly menacing, & though it didn't really go anywhere it made me want to read LaValle's horror writing. The violence of the killing of Jorgen but also what Emma did to Apollo! Very unsettling & effective. I did indeed yelp when Brian ended up in the troll's mouth 😫 12mo
Billypar @batsy Agreed - I'm curious to read more of LaValle: there was lots to appreciate but the horror portions usually ended up being my favorites. 12mo
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Billypar
Source of Knowledge | Newark, NJ (Bookstore)
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#bookhaul
Haven't been out very much since moving to New Jersey due to covid, but with the #MLK holiday, I thought it was a good opportunity to try a bookshop/community center in Newark that specializes in Black authors and African art. The owners were so friendly - they loved talking books, and hand-sold us the bottom two of the stack. I've been starved for a bookstore experience like this: looking forward to that changing this year.

vivastory Excellent haul! 12mo
batsy Nice stack! The Zora and Langston one looks good 🤩 12mo
readordierachel Great choices! 12mo
Billypar @vivastory @readordierachel I'm very much looking forward to all of them! 12mo
Billypar @batsy Not sure if this is common literary knowledge but I never even knew the two had a falling out - I'm interested in learning more about that, and just the Harlem Renaissance period overall. 12mo
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Billypar
The Changeling | Victor LaValle
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@batsy
My pace slowed a little after a busy week, but here are some reactions to Parts 4 & 5:
-I was surprised at the events behind Apollo getting sent to Rikers. Given the strange circumstances of the loss, I was expecting more of a shocked/depressed reaction than vengeance. But as things unfold, seems like there may be a reason for this choice.
- I enjoyed watching the paranoid mystery build: lots of unexpected turns!
Part 5 spoilers below 👇

BarbaraBB I am surprised how much you two get out of this book and admit I had looked forward to it but was disappointed while reading it. Now I feel I missed out on a lot of things and should reread it! @batsy 12mo
Billypar William Wheeler's transformation from a kind of goofy average guy to a crazed villain was fun to watch 💀The East River island excursion was a nice touch. I was afraid meeting The Wise Ones would lead to a ton of explanatory backstory but not really - still lots to uncover about the central mystery💀If Cal and her 'witches' are the heroes, I'm curious what they're combating and how phony infant deaths and a murderous giant are linked? 😨 12mo
readordierachel I really enjoyed this book. Felt so fresh. I could never guess quite where it was going. 12mo
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Billypar @BarbaraBB I'd like to reread books more often: it's rare enough that I do it with ones that I like, and I haven't given any second chances to the ones I don't! 12mo
Billypar @readordierachel Yeah, I feel the same: I'm getting close to the end and I still have no idea what to expect. 12mo
batsy So sorry for the late response. I just finished these parts tonight because things in my country lately have been not great, Covid & politics wise, & reading has gone off the rails. I found the mood & momentum of these sections to be up & down. But many things are intriguing & remain so: the nature of the monster(s), Patrice's role, & William's transformation. I'm a bit wary if all this plays out as a metaphor for a gender war. But I'm intrigued! 12mo
Billypar @batsy I can only imagine: it sounds like such a scary situation to be in, especially on top of covid fears. I hope things get resolved without too much time going by. Hopefully the conclusion of this novel can provide some good escapism. It seems like there are a few social metaphors woven in, but I hope they remain as thematic layers and don't overwhelm the story. 12mo
batsy @Billypar Thank you! I can only hope things improve for all of us 🤞🏽The book has the strange effect of both providing escapism/fantasy yet being incredibly real in terms of reminding you how scary the world can be. So I kind of have a push-pull relationship with it every time I pick it up. In that sense, I think, it speaks to LaValle's storytelling skills and craft. 12mo
Billypar @batsy Agreed! He blends realism and fantasy very seamlessly - each mode seems to set up and enhance the other. 12mo
Billypar @batsy Tonight I discovered in scrolling through my song list on Spotify that Part 4's title is taken from a D'Angelo song 😅 12mo
batsy @Billypar Oh, that's interesting! 😆 I don't think I've listened to that one & I'm going to have to. I also wonder if LaValle has a playlist for the book. (I finished it yesterday ... Have been mulling it over since.) 12mo
Billypar @batsy It's a good song too - I'm surprised I didn't remember it with a title like that. I would love to see that playlist! As for the book, I really enjoyed it overall - I'll be posting about the remaining parts and my review this weekend. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts! 12mo
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Billypar
The Changeling | Victor LaValle
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@batsy Here are a few reactions I had to parts 1-3:
- LaValle has that storyteller expertise of knowing how to hook his audience. Between the short chapters and mounting suspense, it was tough to put down.
-I liked the large time jumps in the opening chapters: most books would have started at Ch 6 and worked in the backstory, but this had more of an air of mystery.
-I never read Outside Over There but I may have to pick up a copy - so creepy! 👇

mklong Gah, you and @batsy are making me want to reread! 12mo
Billypar I didn't read anything about this going in, I just knew it was supposed to be horror-ish. The family has plenty of financial challenges and racism to deal with on top of the parenting stress, so for now it seems intentionally ambiguous whether the mysterious events are stress-induced, or actually something supernatural. And with the wild end of Part 3, I like how we're in uncharted territory - there's no obvious signposts about where it's headed. 12mo
Billypar @mklong (scarily whispers): Dooo it! 😱 12mo
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batsy Great points! I agree with them all; I didn't know much of what it was about either, just knew it was vaguely speculative/horror & I find his storytelling has me along for the ride. I've never read Outside Over There either & now I want to! 12mo
batsy Also I love how he manages to sketch a character so well that a third person POV makes us feel like we know them well, but when he pulls back to show characters interacting, even (or especially) in a relationship, he manages to evoke that sense of dread or alienation people can feel when they realise they might not exactly *know* the person they love. 12mo
batsy @mklong *echoes the scary whisper* Definitely dooooo it! 12mo
Billypar @batsy You're right about his skill with using POV. I was surprised with the switch to following Emma after the exclusive focus on Apollo. But this was an effective way of showing something else might be going on with her, along with giving the opportunity to learn more about her parents' death. And after those chapters I did feel like I knew her better, which made what followed more jarring. 12mo
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Billypar
The Changeling | Victor LaValle
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LaValle has a brilliant way of transforming an event as mundane as a phone registering a text into something deeply sinister.
@batsy

vivastory If you don't think I'm not following you & @batsy reactions to this.... you're wrong😂😂 I love Lavalle 12mo
Billypar @vivastory Nice! This is my first LaValle novel and I'm hooked pretty early. 12mo
batsy I loved this, as well! I got chills when I read it. It's interesting to me how he slips in both humour and menace very subtly. (Also, I've read the first third up until Part 4 and... *gulp* no idea what's in store next...) 12mo
Billypar @batsy Yeah, I finished Part 3 with my mouth hanging open - not sure what I was expecting to happen at this stage, but it wasn't that! Very intrigued about where the story will go from here.. 12mo
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Billypar
The Changeling | Victor LaValle
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Starting my stroll into the woods...😨 @batsy

batsy Nice! I'm hoping to dive in tonight :) 12mo
Liz_M 😱Don't go into the woods! (edited) 12mo
Billypar @Liz_M But why, what could go wrong? 😅 12mo
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Billypar
You're All My Favorites | Sam McBratney
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In true procrastination form, I'm finally declaring my top 25 reads of 2020. The year wasn't good for much else, but my reading certainly didn't suffer. Most surprising was what took the top spot: this is the first time I've had a non-fiction #1 pick. Carolyn Forché's 'What You Have Heard Is True' is unlike any memoir I've ever read. It was a strong year for non-fiction reads overall, in spite of my craving for fictional escapes more than ever.

batsy Ooh! Great list. Yay Bunny, Bloody Chamber, Fever Dream, Jane Eyre, My Name is Red! 13mo
BarbaraBB Happy new year Vinny! Glad you‘re official joining the #NYRBBookclub 🤍 13mo
Liz_M Happy 2021! 13mo
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Billypar @batsy Those that you listed had so many memorable portions to enjoy! 13mo
Billypar @BarbaraBB Happy New Year! The NYRB book club was so much fun - looking forward to another year's worth of selections! 13mo
Billypar @Liz_M Happy New Year! 🍾🎉📚 13mo
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