torontoc reads books from her book towers 2022

Diskutera2022 ROOT CHALLENGE

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torontoc reads books from her book towers 2022

dec 29, 2021, 1:22 pm

Hi ,this year my goal is to read 30 books that have been waiting for me for 6 months and older!

dec 29, 2021, 1:26 pm

Ticker this year maybe?
Either way, glad you're back!

dec 29, 2021, 2:18 pm

Welcome back from me too!

dec 29, 2021, 6:54 pm

Woo hoo, welcome back!

dec 30, 2021, 7:50 am

Welcome back and Happy ROOTing, Torontoc!

dec 30, 2021, 9:13 am

welcome back and happy rooting.

jan 2, 2022, 8:53 am

Thank you all! The following book was started before Jan but I finished it last night.

1. The Black Rose by Thomas B. Costain Reading this book is a tribute to my late father. He used to reread this book every few years. I ,too, have reread this book a few times. It was published in 1945. Walter of Gurnie was the illegitimate son of a baron in England at the time of Edward the First. After studying at Oxford and getting into some trouble over the actions of his half brother, he leaves England with a friend and resolves to travel to China or Cathay. He goes to Antioch and joins a caravan journeying to Cathay. His adventures begin when he rescues a young woman , Maryam, who was being sent to Cathay as a present for the emperor. Walter encounters a number of real life people-scientist monk Roger Bacon, military leader Bayan of the Hundred Eyes and Edward I. This is a love story and the plot lines are very romantic. I enjoyed this book although if the author was publishing in our time, certain characterizations would have been altered

jan 2, 2022, 9:01 am

Ahh, first book down!

jan 2, 2022, 10:11 am

>7 torontoc: I'll have to read this at some point for sure! Last year I read Ride with Me and quite liked it.

jan 4, 2022, 5:40 am

Welcome back and happy reading!

Redigerat: jan 19, 2022, 11:56 am

>8 connie53: >9 rabbitprincess: >10 MissWatson: Thank you!
2. The Splendid and the Vile A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson This is a second reading for me of this very engaging history of the first two years of World War Two in England. The author used the papers of not only Churchill but also of his daughter Mary,, and aide John Colville. The research is very thorough with material from American, English and German sources. The development of the relationship between Churchill and the American President Roosevelt is a key factor in the plan to ultimately defeat Germany. The reader learns of the devastation of the bombing of English cities, the maneuvering to build more airplanes and the relationships of the Churchill family and others close to them.This is a very good history of the times but then I really like the approaches used by the author in his work.

jan 17, 2022, 11:06 am

>11 torontoc: My book group read the Splendid and the Vile a few months back and we all enjoyed it, too.

feb 13, 2022, 9:14 am

3. Jews and Shoes edited by Edna Nahshon. This book has a great cover that is a little misleading. The book is a collection of scholarly essays on the theme of shoes in Jewish history. The choice of chapters is eclectic. I enjoyed the chapters that focused more on the cultural and theatre history. There was one memoir by artist Mayer Kirshenblatt and his daughter Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett that was very interesting. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett is a distinguished scholar who has had a key role in the development of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw.

mar 5, 2022, 5:24 am

Hi Cyril (that's your name, I think?) Love that cover but I can see it's misleading. It's a very sexy shoe!

mar 5, 2022, 1:29 pm

>11 torontoc: I've wanted to read that so many times, but I've never had the energy for it. Someday!

mar 10, 2022, 1:50 pm

4. The Book of V. by Anna Solomon. Just in time for the holiday of Purim, this novel is very timely. There are three stories about women at different time periods. Esther is the heroine of the bible story about saving her people. This version is darker with a surprising conclusion. Vivian is a senator's wife in the early 1970's. When her husband asks her to do something humiliating, her reaction sets of a number of life changing events. Lily is a troubled young mother in contemporary times. She is faced with a life that she doesn't quite seem to manage. How the stories come together is very interesting. One theme that is very much of our times is the refusal of Vashti-the queen in Esther's story. Today her actions are seen are not treasonable but very correct. And this novel reconciles how Vashti might have changed history within the telling of the traditional story.

mar 11, 2022, 7:01 pm

5. Taste of Persia A Cook's Travels Through Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, and Kurdistan by Naomi Duguid. I have a number of cookbooks that describe more than the food. Some books have histories or anecdotes about the people and customs. This book introduces the cuisine of these countries. I believe that the author started travelling to research this book a number of years ago. I found the recipes really interesting. Tart fruit is used as a spice. I loved the descriptions of making rice( very long hours) and breads. The photos taken by the author show not only the food but also the countries and the people. I will look at making some of these dishes soon.

mar 16, 2022, 10:56 am

6. Crazy Water and Pickled Lemons Enchanting Dishes from the Middle East, Mediterranean and North Africa by Diana Henry. I have decided to read through some of my cookbooks. I may have bought some because of the subject matter, briefly looked at recipes and then put the book back on my cookbook shelves. This book is really interesting in that the author has organized the chapters by spices and herbs. The chapter begins by describing the history and geography of the spices, herbs and fruits. Then there are a few recipes that use the featured ingredients. I learned a lot and have some ideas on incorporating the featured herbs/spices/fruits into my own cooking. ( I am not going to bake the breads- I'll buy them)

mar 24, 2022, 2:26 pm

7. Bachelor Brothers Bed & Breakfast Pillow Book by Bill Richardson. I felt the need to read something funny last week( Pandemic anxiety hit) so I reread this very funny novel. A variety of characters narrate chapters in this account of a small island off the coast of British Columbia and an unusual bed and breakfast. Horace and Virgil are twins who run this establishment along with their parrot Mrs. Rochester and cat Waffle. The reader learns about Horace 's girlfriend Altona, the lost poetry of Solomon Solomon and his giant aluminum foil ball that killed him, lists of books for children and the bathroom, and letters that are sent to the B&B. This is one of those books that is on my list for "reread often".

mar 26, 2022, 2:39 pm

8. Klara and the Sun by Kazuo IshiguroThis is a reread for my RL book club. I am so glad that I reread it. I think that I appreciated the little hints of things different in this society that Ishiguro created. Klara is a remarkable Artificial Intelligence robot. Her interpretation of events and visuals that she sees and her solutions for problems are truly unique. I think what I appreciated was Klara's heightened sense of empathy. The end is sad but Klara believes that she contributed to the success of her charge- Josie- as she grew up.

mar 26, 2022, 3:28 pm

>8 connie53: Klara and the Sun was my favourite read from last year and something I would definitely like to read again. Klara’s voice is so unique and it is so interesting how Ishiguro portrays the robot as the only character with empathy, faith and hope - all the human qualities which the humans seem to have lost.

Redigerat: apr 19, 2022, 11:19 am

9. The Good Lord Bird by James McBride This is a fabulous read! The narrator is a young slave named Henry who is living in the Kansas Territory in 1856. A set of circumstances leads him to be taken up into the entourage of abolitionist John Brown. Brown is described as an eccentric who has a mission to free the Blacks from slavery. Brown also thinks that Henry is a girl and nicknames him Onion. Onion describes the life of the small band of men who are wanted by the Federal army and Proslavers. The ugly skirmishes and the life of outlaws are described by Henry who makes some bad mistakes on his own as he tries to figure out what to do. Henry does witness the taking of Harpers Ferry. He is one of the few who escapes with his life. The portrait of John Brown is poignant- a man who truly believes that he can make a difference. Read this book!

apr 20, 2022, 8:00 am

10. Becoming Duchess Goldblatt by Anonymous. I reread this book for my upcoming book club meeting. ( we are still on Zoom) It is one of those "I have read again" books that I have.
The author shows the reader how she learns to create a new life for herself after a terrible divorce. She also realizes what her family did to her when she was growing up and understands her own strength.

apr 24, 2022, 7:19 am

11. Granta 76 Music. Every once and a while I take out a copy of Granta from my book towers. This one has the usual mix of memoirs, articles and fiction. I found some of the memoirs based on the theme of music to be ...I can't say it... boring. There was one imaginative story on the early life of Clara Schumann and an interesting piece on the the singer Kathleen Ferrier.

Redigerat: maj 14, 2022, 12:35 pm

12. The Mirror & The Light by Hilary Mantel I finally finished this book after many weeks. Mantle certainly draws in the reader with her prose and fast moving story.( although it is 875 pages.) This is the story of Cromwell and how he negotiates relations with Henry, the nobility who hate him, and the church bishops and archbishops who are suspicious of his moves. Cromwell tries to make sure that Henry's daughter Mary is kept out of trouble and helps her establish good relations with her father. Cromwell is ruthless as he works to keep Henry in control of the country. I knew the story but was fascinated with Mantel's use of flashbacks to show Cromwell's education and life story. I am exhausted! But I highly recommend this series of three books.

maj 22, 2022, 9:41 am

13. The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat The author uses the massacre of Haitians working in the Dominican Republic in 1937 as the main focus of the story. The author writes in a very poetic way, interspersing the plot of the novel with the narrator's dreams of her past life. Amabelle works for a wealthy family who live near the Haiti-Dominca border. Her boyfriend, Sebastian, works in the cane fields. As Haitians, they are tolerated but not really welcomed by the Dominicans. Amabelle's story is about how she avoids the mass killings ordered by General Trujillo and escapes back to Haiti. Many of the people that she loved are killed. Scarred both physically and psychologically, the novel shows how Amabelle copes with her loss. A really interested work to read.

jun 1, 2022, 7:07 pm

14. A Town Called Solace by Mary Lawson This is a reread for my upcoming ( zoom) book club. The writing style has what I call a "comfort level''. The story is told by three narrators. Young eight year old Clara is worried about her older sister's disappearance, and her promise to feed her neighbour's ( Mrs. Orchard) cat. Liam Kane arrives in the North Ontario town of Solace to claim his inheritance and start a new life. And the final narrator, Mrs Orchard ties some of the plot lines together with her reminiscences of her ties to Liam and Clara. I enjoyed reading this story again.
I'll add this book when the June thread is up later

Redigerat: jun 26, 2022, 6:13 am

Hi torontoc. I've been neglecting the ROOTers for some time. Live, sunny days, babysitting the grandkids and doing volunteer work for the library at Lonne's school. And reading of course. Today is a rainy day with some thunderstrokes. A perfect Sunday for reading al those neglected threads.

Good to see you are still reading a lot of books!

jun 12, 2022, 8:14 pm

Oh, I actually have slowed down in the pat couple of months- no reason- I'll attribute it to Covid!

15. Birdsongby Sebastian Faulks. This book has been sitting on my bookshelf for a long time! The writing about the lives of soldiers on the front in France and Belgium during World War One is very detailed. The reader is aware of the tremendous loss of lives and the conditions in the trenches. The story is told through the life of one man-Stephen Wraysford. A relative completes the story with chapters set in 1978. Stephen has an affair before the war with a Frenchwoman. During the war the reader sees how the war has affected him personally. The descriptions are grim but very believable. The 1978 interactions don't seem as authentic as the depictions of life during the war.

jun 16, 2022, 8:53 am

16. Granta 87 Jubilee! The 25th Anniversary Issue. I have a big backlog of Granta magazines. I think that reading them helps me over reading slumps. The articles are a mix of memoirs, history, and fiction. There was a interesting photo essay that trace a river in England that is called Granta -it gave the magazine its name.

jul 2, 2022, 4:22 pm

17. The Son of the House by Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia This novel was shortlisted for the 2021 Giller Prize and I did like it. This is the story of two women in Nigeria and how their lives intersected. Julie and Nwabulu tell the stories of their lives in alternate chapters. The reader learns about the dilemmas facing young women. Nwabulu is a housemaid and is treated very badly as she makes one major mistake that changes her life. Julie is wealthy and must decide how to honour the wishes of her parents. The role of a woman in both the city and village depends on her ability to have male children. How both women are treated and how they respond is written in a very sensitive manner. This is a very interesting novel.

jul 19, 2022, 2:01 pm

18. Michelangelo & the Pope's Ceiling by Ross King. I always enjoy reading books on art history by Ross King. In this history, King outlines the story of Michelangelo and his work on the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel. Not only does the reader learn about the process of fresco and the way Michelangelo adapted this media, we also learn about the Pope Julius II who commissioned this work. The politics of the time, the rivalries between Italian city states and the competing fresco done by the artist Raphael complete this study. I enjoyed learning about the times as well as the meaning of the Sistine Chapel ceiling frescoes.

aug 1, 2022, 7:14 pm

>32 torontoc: I have this one on my wishlist, I'll get to it eventually. Glad you enjoyed it.

aug 16, 2022, 8:46 am

19. Dictator by Robert Harris. I picked up this book at a Little Free Library when I dropped off some contributions. I do like the way the author writes.Years ago, I had given my youngest brother the whole three book series about Cicero. I found that I could pick the story in this, the last of the series, quite easily. Cicero had been banned from Rome at the beginning of this novel. The reader sees how he slowly regains power, tries to influence the politics of the time, and makes friends of enemies. The violence of the time demonstrates that the kind of Roman democracy was anything but fair and in the end Cicero suffered and was killed. This was a very interesting read!

aug 16, 2022, 4:45 pm

>34 torontoc: Sounds pretty good. I read the first volume a couple of years ago and enjoyed it quite a bit. I never moved on to the next entries, but maybe I should.

aug 18, 2022, 9:26 pm

>it was a really interesting book and history!

20. The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker This is a reread for my RL book club. My second reading was more intense as if I could feel the pain of the women who were taken by the Greeks as they moved to conquer Troy. The story is told from the point of view of Breseis. She is a former queen who is now the slave of Achilles. The author retells the story of the fall of Troy concentrating on the women. The traditional story focuses on the bravery of the warriors. The story of the women show the weakness of character of the Greeks. I found that both books that I have read on the classical world (both fiction)show the savagery of battle and loss of life. I think that recent world events seem to mirror some of this behaviour.

sep 1, 2022, 10:57 am

21. When We Lost Our Heads by Heather O'Neill I usually look forward to reading the latest book from Heather O'Neill. However, although the writing is superb, I was disappointed in the story. I understand the themes of the terrible treatment of women and the initiatives to change the awful situations. I just didn't know what to make of this story. Marie is very wealthy in late 19th century Montreal . She is the spoiled daughter of a sugar merchant and can have anything that she wants. Her good friend is Sadie- a daughter of an aspiring politician. Sadie is the one who takes the blame after a terrible incident. Marie is the daughter of a maid and works in the sugar factory. How the three interact as they grow to maturity is the focus. There seems to be no sense of morality or remorse in the actions of all three. This was a not a great read for me.

sep 16, 2022, 9:31 am

>37 torontoc: Are there really two Maries in this book? Or is this a mistake?

sep 16, 2022, 11:40 am

>38 connie53:- there are two Maries in the story. It really doesn't get confusing as the author does clearly indicate who is who!

22. Fight Night by Miriam Toews I reread this novel for my upcoming book club. It occurred to me in this rereading that Toews shows the immense injury that her Mennonite upbringing had on her life and that of her family ( a sister committed suicide). There are hints of the problems with the influence of the church upbringing did to Swiv's ( the main character- a young girl) mother and grandmother. In fact, the grandmother-Elvira is a most memorable character. Swiv, her mother and Elvira have strong personalities and they all in their own way deal with issues of health and relationships. The book is funny and sometimes horrifying with the risks that Elvira takes and the responsibilities that Swiv takes on. Miriam Toews is one of my favourite writers.

sep 18, 2022, 6:49 am

>39 torontoc: Exceptional. That's unusual. I've certainly not seen that with main characters.

okt 26, 2022, 11:22 am

23. Granta 112 Pakistan edited by John Freeman This volume of short stories, memoirs and non-fiction was published in 2010. Some of the works are dated as they talk about the politics of the time. Some have relevance for today. Most of the work is grim as the condition of this country still has rivalries that involve outside forces and competing religions. It is a worthwhile read to remember that many countries have so many unresolved issues of religion, politics and customs.

okt 28, 2022, 8:09 pm

24. Hot Breakfast for Sparrows My Life with Harold Town by Iris Nowell After reading my last book on Painters Eleven,( a new book to me) I decided to go back and reread the memoir by the same author on her life with Harold Town. ( a member of Painters Eleven) Iris Nowell was Town's girlfriend for over twenty years. He was married but had a steady involvement with Nowell. Eventually Iris Nowell became a respected author on the Canadian painters who were part of the Modern Abstraction movement in Canada. Today the reader would wonder why anyone would accept the life of the hidden girlfriend. However this work really describes the art scene in Toronto and Canada in the 1950's to the 1980's. Nowell did leave Town and sued him and later his estate for money and art that would acknowledge her work in helping Town with his shows and written work.( She won)

nov 5, 2022, 12:43 pm

25. The Family Mashber by Der Nister. The history of this writer and this novel are as interesting as the book. Der Nister or "The Hidden One" is the pseudonym of the Russian Jewish writer Pinhas Kahanovitch. He was a journalist and writer associated with the avant-garde Yiddish literary movements in Kiev in the late 1900's. His early work was considered more symbolist in nature. In the 1920's and 1930's he did move from Kiev to Moscow, Kovno, Berlin and Hamburg before settling with his family in Kharkov. The first volume of this book was published in 1939 In Moscow. Volume two was published in sections of Soviet Journals and then in the US in 1948. Leonard Wolf translated the two volumes in 1987. There is a third part that disappeared when Der Nister was arrested in the late 1940's as a result of Stalin's purges and killings of Russian Yiddish writers. Der Nister died in a prison hospital in 1950. I read the 672 pages of this work in stages. The story takes place in a small town not named but thought by researchers to be Berdichev. The story of the Mashber family is a tragedy. The reader learns about Moshe Mashber a very wealthy money lender, his brother Alter who has serious mental health issues and his brother Luzi, an adherent of the Bratslaver Hasidic sect and the late Rabbi Nakhman of Bratslav. Der Nister introduces many characters and paints a detailed picture of the workings of a " fair" town in the mid -nineteenth century.The reader learns about the plight of the very poor, the entanglements of the rich Jewish money lenders and the gentile nobility, the rivalry of the different Hasidic groups and how they all influence the life of the population of the town. I found it hard to engage with the story at first but it did get easier as I read more. I found out most of the historical information about the author and the history of the book's publishing in the very good introduction to the novel by the translator Leonard Wolf

nov 5, 2022, 6:52 pm

>43 torontoc: Sounds fascinating. Thanks.

nov 13, 2022, 5:44 pm

26. Baldwin Street by Alvin Rakoff. This novel is really a set of linked short stories that focus on different families who lived and worked on Baldwin Street in Kensington Market in Toronto. Set in the 1930's, the stories are supposed to reflect on the lives of Jewish immigrants and their children in their small stores on a street in the Jewish market. Some of the stories ring true ( I have interviewed many people who lived in that time and in that area.) I know that the stories are fictional but one does have the facts wrong-in the Christie Pits riots the Italian and Jewish immigrants worked together to defeat the pro Nazi groups. Some of the stories are very dramatic and others did reflect the problems of the first and second generation people who lived on Baldwin Street.
I just reread my review of this book in 2014- I liked it better then.

nov 16, 2022, 1:49 pm

27. Saffron Shores Jewish Cooking of the Southern Mediterranean by Joyce Goldstein I was looking through my cookbooks for some interesting chicken recipes. This book has a very good plan. After giving a brief history of Jewish life in North Africa, the author talks about the predominant flavours and spices used. Then she give the reader an extensive list of menus that cover every Jewish holiday. And then the recipes are divided by kind-appetizers, savoury pastries soups, chicken, meat and sweets. I like all the spices used in the dishes and will have to try some soon.

nov 23, 2022, 1:48 pm

28. Atmospheric Disturbances by Rivka Galchen This novel reads well. I do like the author's style of writing. The story... is a little unusual. Dr. Leo Liebenstein believes that his wife,Rema, has disappeared and an imposter is taking her place. He goes to the trouble of visiting Argentina where Rema lived as well as working with a patient of his, Harvey, who turns up in Patagonia on a secret mission. The mission and official in charge of the project had been made up by Leo and Rema as a way to help Harvey. There are improbable decisions made by Leo as he meets a fake Rema many times in this novel. We, the readers look at the idea that it is Leo who is the unreliable narrator. Sometimes the narration is very annoying as we see everything through Leo's eyes. Still- it is an interesting read.

nov 27, 2022, 4:10 pm

29. The Art of Leaving by Ayelet Tsabari I reread this memoir for my book club. and again, I enjoyed this writer's style of writing. The author was deeply affected by her father's death when she was 10 years old. He encouraged her writing. Tsabari was lost for many years as she travelled constantly. She described her feelings of discrimination in the Israelis army as a Jewish woman with roots in her family's Yemeni past. Eventually she finds a life where she has a good relationship and a career in writing. This memoir is not strictly linear. There is a wonderful chapter about Yemenis food that her mother makes. Tsabari also researches her family's past and learns what really happened to her great grandmother. It is still a good book to read.

dec 5, 2022, 10:51 pm

30. Chagall and Music edited by Ambre Gauthier and Meret Meyer This book is the catalogue of an exhibit that I saw a number of years ago in Montreal. It is indicative of politics then that the exhibit was supposed to show the panels from the Theatre of Jewish Art that were from the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. At the last minute the loan was withdrawn. Fortunately, prep work for the exhibit included photos of the panels and they were enlarged and shown in Montreal. The book is a catalogue of the many drawings, paintings and murals that show Chagall's work in opera and ballet. The costumes and sets were on display and the effect was wonderful. I enjoyed the commentaries on Chagall's work. The exhibit and book also showed his contribution to Yiddish literature when he lived in Soviet Russia in the early 1920's.
I reached my 2022 goal of 30 books!

dec 6, 2022, 5:11 am

Congratulations on reaching your goal!

dec 6, 2022, 5:50 pm

>49 torontoc: Congrats!

dec 14, 2022, 10:01 am

31. These Precious Days Essays by Ann Patchett This is a reread for my online book club that meets next week. This is one of those books that you should keep and reread every once in a while. It is so good!

dec 20, 2022, 11:51 am

32. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett I have never described the style of writing in a novel as 'Luminous" but I am now. The author writes about a party to celebrate the birthday of a visiting Japanese businessman in an unnamed South American country. This event is interrupted by an invasion of guerrillas led by dissident generals. The gathering of ambassadors and prominent individuals are then held captive in the house of the country's vice -president. The demands of the generals are relayed to the government. What is unusual about this group of captives is the one woman who is not allowed to leave. A renowned soprano had been hired to sing for the party. The book shows how both the captives and the kidnapped relate to each other during the long period of captivity. The unveiling of the humanity of both groups and the relationships that develop form the story. I found the premise so interesting and so well written.

dec 22, 2022, 8:54 am

Congrats on reaching your goal, torontoc

BTW: the links in >48 torontoc: are leading to a different book.

dec 22, 2022, 5:34 pm

>54 connie53: Thank you.
Those touchstones sometimes have minds of their own!