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Chars

Chars

Joined July 2019

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Chars
Olive, Again | Elizabeth Strout
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Mehso-so

I don‘t even know how Strout manages to talk about typical life in a way that just makes you read on and on without any obvious “hook”. It‘s so subtle, it‘s baffling. The characters are unique, but not particularly so. The story lines are interesting but not gripping. She takes you on a meandering walk through life through the eyes of a woman many other characters in fiction have yet to portray. The book feels both nostalgic and modern somehow.

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Brooklyn | Colm Toibin
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Mehso-so

Subtle yet unique ending that struck me as fitting.

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Monkey Boy | Francisco Goldman
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Mehso-so

“I miss the sun in Guatemala, the sunheat, you know?Sunheat as one word, lovely.” In these phrases, Goldman captures the spirit of the women who raised him in such a way that you almost feel nostalgic as if it‘s a distant memory of your own. There is so much tenderness here. “I used to worry, Frankie, that life, especially those years at home with Bert, had given you a hard heart. Now I saw that you were a feeling person, and it made me happy.”

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Chars
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Mehso-so

A timely read that puts into context WWI with the era that proceeded it and outlines all the driving forces that culminated in the war.

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Mehso-so

A fun, lighthearted coming of age book with all the angst and inner drama of being 14 again

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Whiteout | Ken Follett
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Mehso-so

A page turner - Ken Follet doesn‘t disappoint

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928 Maya Angelou Quotes | Arthur Austen Douglas
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Passion, compassion, humour, and style - words to life by.

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Mehso-so
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Mehso-so

David Sedaris‘ novels are the literary equivalent to stand up comedy. What humour and wit. He has such an eye for how the small moments of our lives can become pure comedic gold.

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China Room | Sunjeev Suhota
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Mehso-so

Felt more like a short story than a novel.

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The Sense of an Ending | Julian Barnes
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Mehso-so

It‘s unusual to read a book about a truly unremarkable man - not neurotic, nor insightful, nor charming, nor….anything really - just a man of a certain age. When Julian Barnes narrates the thoughts and memories or his main character, Tony Webster, he is so remarkably, unremarkable. The book touches on deep, philosophical themes of memory and one‘s sense of self but does so through the story of a regular - mostly self-involved and clueless - guy.

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Chars
Girl, Woman, Other | Bernardine Evaristo
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Mehso-so

What a unique structure and writing style Evaristo employs. Without any full-stop punctuation, each line spills into the next as the story jump backwards and forwards across generations. This stream-of-consciousness-flow is balanced with the practical of the day-to-day experiences and relationships that tie these characters together. The story somehow manages to span over a hundred years yet seem firmly rooted in the conversations of today.

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Chars
Milkman | Anna Burns
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Pickpick

The characters, how they talk, and the small moments they pay attention to seem so subtle yet entirely unique that it‘s hard not to think that this was a memoir rather than a work of fiction. Ann Burns builds an entire personal world. She writes “to convey something about closed societies and how they work and to depict the very restrictive conditions that go on within them and how the inhabitants adopt these conditions as if they were normal.”

CarolynM Such a good book! She did such a wonderful job of creating a mood of claustrophobia and suffocation in that restrictive society. 12mo
Chars I completely agree CarolynM ! complete suffocation and claustrophobia 12mo
12 likes2 comments
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Chars
The Testaments: A Novel | Margaret Atwood
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Mehso-so

After so many years, it was a treat to revisit Margaret Atwood‘s Gilead to see the aftermath of the Handmaid‘s Tale

8 likes1 stack add
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Chars
Shuggie Bain | Douglas Stuart
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Pickpick

“Why the fuck did you bring me here?” His answer? “I had to see if you would actually come. She had loved him, and he had needed to break her completely to leave her for good. Agnes Bain was too rare a thing to let someone else love. It wouldn‘t do to leave pieces of her for another man to repair later.” Stuart depicts, in a brutal starkness, the breaking down of a person. He also shows a solidness, however, of undeniable character & daring style.

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The Topeka School | Ben Lerner
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Mehso-so

Ben Lerner is quite innovative in The Topeka School, in a way that I didn‘t fully appreciate until I read this review by The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/nov/04/it-made-me-really-crazy-ben-lerner....

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Cloud Cuckoo Land | Anthony Doerr
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Pickpick

What an unusual tale about what we strive to preserve out of a sense of purpose or love - or just for the sake of it. There is thinking you have all the answers, only to find out you have no idea where you are. There is finding paradise to only turn around and go back to where you‘ve come from. There is escapism. There is coming home. And what better place to find these two contradicting themes than within a library: a central scene of the book.

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Such a Fun Age | Kiley Reid
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Mehso-so
8 likes1 stack add
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Untamed | Glennon Doyle
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Mehso-so

A book so full of thoughtful nuggets that you have to stop highlighting and taking notes and just slap on a post-it note that reads: “NOTE TO SELF: Read again for parenting advice… or love guidance ….or advocacy work……or when you‘re about to get on stage….or when you don‘t want to open the front door…or when you‘ve found your person…just read it again.”

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But You Did Not Come Back | Marceline Loridan-Ivens, Judith Perrignon
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Pickpick

There are certain books that leave you different, not just in how you understand the past but in how you look at the future. Marceline Loridam-Ivens‘ memoir about her time at Auschwitz-Birkenau and her experience wading through the aftermath left me different. In a mere 100 pages, she pulls you in so deep that you leave feeling simultaneous full and absolutely hollow.

mirnass Great book! 1y
4 likes1 comment
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Chars
Queenie | Candice Carty-Williams
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Mehso-so

Past neglect can hang like fog for years or generations. Current put-downs, rude remarks, and cruel patterns make self destructive behaviour the path needed to feel ok. Such weight rests on Queenie‘s shoulders. She sinks into it, yes, but there is no free-falling as friends, extended family, and counsellors - along with her own sense of self and spirit - create a floor to the downward spiral, a solid foundation to stand on.

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Of Mice and Men | John Steinbeck
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Mehso-so

This short story captures such understanding and loyalty between friends. On a big-picture societal commentary level it has such a sadness to it by putting dreams next to despondent realities. You know how the story is going to end from the very start. You can‘t help but feel the weight of apathy creep in.-

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The Mermaid Chair | Sue Monk Kidd
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Mehso-so

“At forty-two, I had never done anything that took my own breath away, and I suppose now that was part of the problem--my chronic inability to astonish myself. I promise you, no one judges me more harshly than I do myself; I caused a brilliant wreckage. Some say I fell from grace; they're being kind. I didn't fall. I dove.”

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Nothing to See Here | Kevin Wilson
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Mehso-so

The storyline of two kids who spontaneously catch on fire seems almost comical but Nothing to See here is anything but lighthearted. Families often break apart in hap-hazardous ways but so too do they come together that way. Plus, Wilson‘s characterization and narration of Lillian and Madison was simply a treat. They had such a sturdy realness to them that was neither cut-throat nor weak and wanting.

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Mehso-so

Vignettes that give you soul and grace and the mundane moments of life that make you feel whole.

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Mehso-so

So fresh in format/style and so laugh-out-loud funny in narrative and voice.

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Mehso-so

Putting the work day in historical context, Celeste Headlee makes you rethink how you spend your day-to-day

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Pickpick

The short story, Mkondo, I will think about forever.

SamAnne I love his short stories! Esp Memory Wall 2y
5 likes1 comment
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Chars
The Dutch House | Ann Patchett
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Mehso-so

I find myself hanging on Ann Pathett‘s every word. Her characters are so subtle - their inner worlds almost seem like a distant memory of your own.

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Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit | Jeanette Winterson
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“Read yourself as a fiction as well as a fact.When I was growing up poor in a poor place with a pair of Pentecostal parents who were waiting for Jesus to return, I never thought my life was narrow or my chances bleak. I thought I was Heathcliff, Huck Finn, Hotspur, Aladdin, the Big Bad Wolf. And later I had my favourite books stashed in the boot. This wasn‘t a fantasy world or escapism - though it was an escape; it was the hidden door. Open it.”

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The Nickel Boys: A Novel | Colson Whitehead
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Mehso-so

Fiction powerfully tells the truth in The Nickle Boys. The web of people and institutions responsible for this abuse makes you gasp when you realize that this isn‘t a long-lost story. This happed not that long ago. It wasn‘t a fringe horror but systematic abuse. -> See: https://www.npr.org/2012/10/15/162941770/floridas-dozier-school-for-boys-a-true-... Or -> https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_School_for_Boys

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A Hundred Suns | Karin Tanabe
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Mehso-so

This historical fiction illuminated a history of French colonialism that I didn‘t know much about. Learning more about the geopolitical history of South East Asia now via videos like https://youtu.be/v86IiLm1okw

1 like1 stack add
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Mysteries of Pittsburgh | Michael Chabon
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Pickpick

This book is summertime. This book is growing up. It feels like a mood. Or, a time in your life. This book was recommended to me by a man I sat next to on a plane once. We hit it off immediately and after a 14 hour flight from Dublin to LAX we said goodbye with emails exchanged, nothing more. He recommended this book. It‘s an odd book to recommend to a stranger - almost too specific, a bit risky - it was perfect.

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Beneath a Scarlet Sky | Mark T. Sullivan
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Mehso-so

One of the many unseen heroes

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I Like You, I Love You | Carissa Potter
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Mehso-so

“As you read this, I encourage you to explore the subtle transition of relationships from initial attraction, through compromises, all the way to choosing to grow together.”

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Oona Out of Order | Margarita Montimore
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Mehso-so

“And maybe youth isn‘t wasted on the young; maybe the young know how to spend their youth just right.”

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Oona Out of Order | Margarita Montimore
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@Jerdencon - excited for your reading list! starting with Oona Out of Order and then onto Ken Follet‘s The Evening and the Morning. #newyearhodis thank you for the recs!

Jerdencon Hope you enjoy them! Good choices! 2y
5 likes1 comment
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Chars
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There‘s a desire to get to know Churchill and “to find out how much of him was mere grandiloquence and how much of him was hard fact.” Amid the London Blitz, he was a peculiar tonic of a man who showed ardent commitment and inspired unwavering resolve.
In his daughter‘s words, “he has served the people with his heart and his mind always through peace and wars - and they have given him in his finest and darkest hour their love and confidence.”

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The History of Love | Nicole Krauss
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Mehso-so

CHAPTER 7: There is a photograph of my mother that no one has ever seen: there‘s a story she sometimes tells about a train ride when she met a photography who was almost completely blind. He saw the world differently now, and it wasn‘t necessarily bad. He asked if he could take a picture of her. Why? “In case my eyes ever heal, so I‘ll know what I‘ve been looking at.”

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Brown teaches us how to step into Roosevelt‘s arena:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood...who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.…”

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Olive Kitteridge | Elizabeth Strout
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Mehso-so

“I always remember she said one day, ‘Don‘t be scared of your hunger. If you‘re scared of your hunger, you‘ll just be one more ninny like everyone else.‘

People mostly did not know enough when they were living life that they were living it.”

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Dr. Rudolf Rudolf Vrba survived to save. We read to remember. We read to never forget.

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Normal People | Sally Rooney
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Mehso-so

This Vanity Fair review is too apt not to repeat: “the conversations in Rooney‘s books can seem so real that you almost feel like you‘re eavesdropping on something you shouldn‘t be. The structure of Normal People is also a large part of its allure: centered on Connell and Marianne, the chapters alternate between their two perspectives. Reading it feels like having coffee with one and then a drink with the other, over and over again.

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Chars
March | Geraldine Brooks
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After March enlists in the Civil War he says, “one day I hope to go back to my wife, but also to the man of moral certainty that I was. That innocent man, who knew with such clear confidence exactly what it was that he was meant to do.” The author ponders, “I don‘t think he can go back. Nor do I think it desirable. Moral certainty can deafen people to any truths other than their own. By the end of the book, March sees the cost of his ideals.”

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Chars
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Mehso-so

“Our strategies for dealing with strangers are deeply flawed, but they are also socially necessary. That is the paradox of talking to strangers. We need to talk to them. But we‘re terrible at it-and, we‘re not always honest with one another about just how terrible at it we are.”

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“Kitsch may not depend on an unusual situation; it must derive from the basic images people engraved in their memories: the ungrateful daughter, the neglected father, children running in the grass, the motherland betrayed, first love.

Kitsch causes two tears to flow in quick succession, the first heart says: How nice to see children running on the grass! It is the second year that makes kitsch kitsch.”

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All the Bright Places | Jennifer Niven
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Mehso-so

The story comes from such a personal place and you can tell.

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Three Women | Lisa Taddeo
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Mehso-so

“I think about my mother‘s sexuality and how she occasionally used it. The little things, the way she made her face up before she left the house or opened the door. To me, it always seemed a strength or a weakness, but never its own pounding heart. How wrong I was.”

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Mehso-so

Very naughty. Very good.

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Less: A Novel | Andrew Sean Greer
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Writing like I‘ve never read before. “What was it like to live with genius? Like living alone. Everything had to be sacrificed for the work. Plans had to be canceled, meals had to be delayed; Keep the habit. Did you love it, the rain dance every day? Only when it rained. Where did the genius come from? Where did it go? Like allowing another lover into the house to live with you, someone you‘d never met but whom you knew he loved more than you.”

violabrain As a profession musician, this part rang 100% true... 3y
8 likes1 comment