detailmuse ROOTs her newest and tome-iest

Diskutera2022 ROOT CHALLENGE

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detailmuse ROOTs her newest and tome-iest

1detailmuse
Redigerat: jan 1, 2023, 1:30 pm



My main ROOT goal is to read 40 books acquired prior to 2022 -- likely lots of contemporary nonfiction and fiction. I’ll keep a list of my ROOTs (with links if I’ve posted a review) in msg #2 and non-ROOTs in msg #3.
Update: I read 40/40 ROOTs

I also have a couple of secondary pursuits:

• to indulge in my newest ROOTs while they’re at their shiniest. I’ve acquired 85 books so far in the 2020s (i.e. in 2020 and 2021) … acquired them with the desire to read them immediately … and yet 40 remain unread. I want to read at least 20 of them this year.

• to dive deeply into some big books (500+ pages) … maybe 5 of the 24 TBRs I’ve tagged as “Tome:”

1. Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe
2. A Carnival of Snackery: Diaries (2003-2020) by David Sedaris
3. Peril by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa
4. The Charm School by Nelson DeMille
5. The Nix by Nathan Hill

2detailmuse
Redigerat: jan 2, 2023, 5:42 pm

ROOTs Read in 2022:

Fiction
40. The Nix by Nathan Hill (3.5)
37. Something Missing by Matthew Dicks (DNF)
35. Cinnamon Kiss by Walter Mosley (3.5)
25. They Came Like Swallows by William Maxwell (4.5)
24. This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger (3.5)
19. The Charm School by Nelson DeMille (3.5)
14. Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward (4)
13. Always Coca-Cola by Alexandra Chreiteh, translated from the Arabic by Michelle Hartman (3)
10. Passing by Nella Larson (4)

Memoir
39. Lifelines: A Doctors Journey in the Fight for Public Health by Leana Wen (4)
33. Appetites: On the Search for True Nourishment by Geneen Roth (3.5)
32. Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty (3.5)
31. Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes (4)
30. Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith (4)
29. Welcome to the United States of Anxiety by Jen Lancaster (DNF)
12. Recollections of My Nonexistence by Rebecca Solnit (4)
11. Three Girls from Bronzeville: A Uniquely American Memoir of Race, Fate and Sisterhood by Dawn Turner Trice (3.5)
9. These Precious Days by Ann Patchett (4)
7. A Carnival of Snackery: Diaries (2003-2020) by David Sedaris (4.5) (See review)
6. They Called Us Enemy by George Takei (4.5) (See review)

Nonfiction
38. Through the Window by Julian Barnes (3.5)
34. What Color Is Your Parachute? for Retirement by John Nelson and Richard Bolles (4)
28. The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2018 edited by Sam Kean (3.5)
26. French Lessons by Peter Mayle (3.5)
8. Peril by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa (4)
5. Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe (4.5) (See review)
4. Immune: A Journey into the Mysterious System That Keeps You Alive by Philipp Dettmer (5) (See review)
2. Old Friends by Tracy Kidder (3.5)

Other
36. Bellevue Literary Review Issue 41 (3)
27. When Did I Stop Being 20 and Other Injustices by Judith Viorst (re-read) (3.5)
23. The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Brain Games by Matt Gaffney (2)
22. Can You Pass These Tests? edited by Allen D. Bragdon (3.5)
21. The 2002 Writer's Digest Writing Competition Winners (4)
20. The 74th Annual Writer's Digest Writing Competition Collection (2)
18. The New York Times Easy Crossword Puzzles Volume 8 (4)
17. Chicago Churches: A Photographic Essay by Elizabeth Johnson (3)
16. Bellevue Literary Review Issue 40 (4)
15. The New York Times Easy Crossword Puzzles Volume 9 (4)
3. A Confederacy of Dumptys: Portraits of American Scoundrels in Verse by John Lithgow (4)
1. Unforgettable Journeys: Slow Down and See the World ed. by Dorling Kindersley (4.5) (See review)

3detailmuse
Redigerat: jan 2, 2023, 5:36 pm

Non-ROOTs Read in 2022:

Q1


Q2
A World in One Cubic Foot: Portraits of Biodiversity by David Liittschwager (2.5)
Floret's Farms: A Year in Flowers by Erin and Chris Benzakein (5)
The New York Times Easy Crossword Puzzles Volume 21 (4.5)
Peonies: A Little Book of Flowers by Tara AustenWeaver (4)

Q3
Directed by James Burrows by James Burrows (4)
The New York Times Easy Crossword Puzzles Volume 22 (4.5)
Uncontrolled Spread by Scott Gottlieb (3.5)
• (Private book)
Happy-Go-Lucky by David Sedaris (4.5)
The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue (4)

Q4
Dog Days: Life in Lockdown with Olive & Mabel by Andrew Cotter (3.5)
Number One Is Walking by Steve Martin and Harry Bliss (3.5)

4Jackie_K
jan 3, 2022, 4:56 pm

Hooray, you're back! Happy new year, and looking forward to getting a ton more BBs from you this year :)

5detailmuse
jan 3, 2022, 5:33 pm

You too, Jackie!

6rabbitprincess
jan 3, 2022, 5:41 pm

Welcome back and have fun with the shiny and the tome-y!

7floremolla
jan 3, 2022, 5:56 pm

Hi MJ, lovely to see you here - I like your cheery plant pot photo!

This looks a well thought out thread - hope it’s soon filling up with ROOTs read and look forward to seeing what those big tomes are.

8Familyhistorian
jan 3, 2022, 8:23 pm

Good luck with your ROOTing goals, MJ!

9Caramellunacy
jan 3, 2022, 11:20 pm

Looking forward to seeing what shiny books you've chosen!

10connie53
jan 4, 2022, 2:48 am

Hi MJ, glad to see you back for another year of ROOTing. Go get them

11MissWatson
jan 4, 2022, 4:53 am

Happy ROOTing! It's nice to see so many familiar names again.

13detailmuse
jan 9, 2022, 11:07 am

About my 2021 Reading
-- all books, not just ROOTs
-- a couple of surprises are bolded

Total books read: 53 (exactly the same number of books as in 2020…again far fewer than past years)
• Fiction: 32%
• Nonfiction: 49%
• Mixed (lit journals): 19%

Original publication date:
• before 2000: 19%
• 2000s: 5%
• 2010s: 36%
• 2020s: 40% (for just two years of of publishing :0 )
• Of ROOTs, the mean duration as TBR in my library: 5.2 years (half-a-dozen really deep ROOTs balanced a couple-dozen shallow ones)

• Paper copy: 53%
e-Book: 43% (I’ve been doubling this proportion each year over the last few and finally, in 2021, I began to like e-books)
• Audiobook: 4% 0 (I listen while walking but my walking pattern changed in covid)

• Male authors: 47%
• Female authors: 30%
• Mix of genders: 23%
Author nationality: 34% non-USA (twice as high as 2020, likely from my goal of more “Covid {armchair} travel”)
• Authors new-to-me: 23 (especially liked: Mark Harris, Andrew Cotter, Alex Trebek, Rebecca Solnit)
• “Favorited” authors with books in this year’s mix: Elizabeth Berg, Etgar Keret, Jhumpa Lahiri, Anne Lamott

• #TBRs Jan 1: 266 … #TBRs Dec 31: 252 … net -14 (-5% -- yay)

• I rated 55% of my 2021 reads at 4 stars or above (i.e. “good” to “great”) and another 23% at 3.5 stars (“okay”).

Five that have stayed in my mind:
Mike Nichols: A Life by Mark Harris
Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker
Olive, Mabel & Me: Life and Adventures with Two Very Good Dogs by Andrew Cotter
Mobituaries: Great Lives Worth Reliving by Mo Rocca
Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

14Jackie_K
jan 9, 2022, 12:07 pm

Ooh, cool stats! I'm getting more into literary magazines these days too. There's some really high-quality writing being published these days.

15rocketjk
jan 9, 2022, 1:13 pm

Happy Reading in 2022. Hope you get a lot of the books on your shelves read this year.

16detailmuse
jan 9, 2022, 1:39 pm

>14 Jackie_K: I agree, very high quality -- and quality that doesn't prompt a "huh, what was that?" reaction :)

>15 rocketjk: Welcome and thanks, Jerry!

17detailmuse
jan 9, 2022, 1:43 pm



1. Unforgettable Journeys: Slow Down and See the World ed. by Dorling Kindersley, ©2020, acquired 2020 (a “shiny”!)
…when you slow down and take the scenic route, you’re guaranteed experiences that would otherwise pass you by.
This guide offers nearly 250 global travels, organized by conveyance: on foot, by road, by bike, by rail and by water. Each trip is summarized as to location, time length and difficulty; accompanied by beautiful, well-captioned color photos and descriptions of history or features that make me want to go right now. In fact, my current top 5 are “comfort” trips, and some are repeats:

. Trans-Canada (road or rail)
. Austria/Germany/Switzerland (road or water)
. US Civil War battlefields (road)
. US Blue Ridge parkway (road)
. US Pacific Coast highway (road)

It’s definitely a keeper…added it to my travel reference bookshelf.

18detailmuse
jan 9, 2022, 4:05 pm



2. Old Friends by Tracy Kidder, ©1993, acquired 2014

This is a sort of year-long documentary about residents and staff of a Massachusetts nursing home, primarily two men (Joe in his 70s and Lou in his 90s) who grow from being irritated with one another when placed as roommates, to becoming caring friends. Kidder’s narrative is open-eyed and compassionate.

19Caramellunacy
jan 9, 2022, 6:07 pm

>17 detailmuse: That sounds like an excellent book for armchair travel!

20Familyhistorian
jan 9, 2022, 7:37 pm

>13 detailmuse: So it's possible to get to enjoy reading e-books if you read enough of them? How long did that take, MJ?

21detailmuse
jan 10, 2022, 4:49 pm

>19 Caramellunacy: It was a pleasure!

>20 Familyhistorian: Haha the short answer is: a pandemic.
The long and truer answer is: Ten years plus a pandemic.

Amazon says I bought my first ebook in 2009. But for many years I bought only ebooks that I just half-cared about reading. (A book that I planned to love? -- well I had to have that on paper, one of the great pleasures of life, especially if a beautiful or illustrated book.) Of course, I didn’t much enjoy reading ebooks that I hadn’t been all that interested in anyway. So I finally started getting ebooks that I cared more about, and I enjoyed reading them enough that the device (Kindle) grew less distracting and I could appreciate the positives (cheaper, faster, lightweight, easy to annotate passages). Early in Covid, I was happy to avoid packages/products, and my tolerance of ebooks finally grew into liking them.

22detailmuse
jan 10, 2022, 5:27 pm



3. A Confederacy of Dumptys: Portraits of American Scoundrels in Verse by John Lithgow, ©2021, acquired 2021 (a “shiny”)
...Scoundrels abound and their damage is ample.
Dumpty is merely the latest example...
In follow-up to Lithgow’s two volumes of satirical poems about the villainy of the former president, here he tries to remind us we’ve come through worse in American history.

The couple of dozen entries are entertaining and informative -- politicians, military, lawyers, citizen fraudsters -- each a loathsome story told in verse. But I don’t think any are worse.

23connie53
Redigerat: jan 11, 2022, 4:24 am

>22 detailmuse: I read ebooks when it is an easy way to do so and I don't have to carry the actual book in my bag. Or if a paper book is not available. And if I like a writer I want to have the real thing on the shelves. E-reading is not really my thing.

24Jackie_K
jan 11, 2022, 11:45 am

>20 Familyhistorian: >21 detailmuse: I love reading ebooks - I resisted for ages (I think I bought my first ereader, a Sony, in 2012, and my kobo the following year). The main books I prefer as paper books are those with photos or illustrations, otherwise I'm quite happy with an ebook as it's less strain on my wrist and eyes. I appreciate that I can build and carry round a library without having to have a house full of stuff (my house is already full of stuff!).

25detailmuse
jan 16, 2022, 11:44 am

>23 connie53:, >24 Jackie_K: Yes digital especially with a BIG book, unless it's a beautiful book or a reference book. I have a 630pp thriller by a favorite author that I'm eager to read, but it's a tightly bound mass-market paperback. I've even intentionally broken its spine; still it's really frustrating to strain with two hands to keep it open while reading.

I keep my Kindle by my bed in case I wake and can't get back to sleep ... easy to hold or prop up, font size and screen light (and auto shutoff!) are perfect for night reading.

26connie53
jan 26, 2022, 2:31 am

>25 detailmuse: I do the same thing for night reading with my Kobo.

27cyderry
jan 31, 2022, 4:48 pm

glad you're back with us!

28detailmuse
feb 20, 2022, 3:37 pm

>26 connie53: And when I keep it bedside, I almost never need it :)

>27 cyderry: Hi Cheli!

29detailmuse
feb 20, 2022, 3:39 pm



4. Immune: A Journey into the Mysterious System That Keeps You Alive by Philipp Dettmer, ©2021, acquired 2021

I really enjoyed this enthusiastic introduction to the human immune system -- both innate immunity (for repairing localized tissue damage) and adaptive immunity (for long-term memory against infectious agents). It’s directed to a lay (especially a younger and/or fun-loving lay) audience, and its memorable, anthropomorphic metaphors and colorful illustrations provide some accessibility into the insane complexity of immunity.

30detailmuse
feb 20, 2022, 3:43 pm



5. Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe, ©2021, acquired 2021

An excellent biography of New York’s Sackler family that is behind PurduePharma’s OxyContin, “the taproot of one of the most deadly public health crises in modern history.” Behind is a key word here, as the family concealed its involvement in predatory business/marketing strategies (first with Librium and Valium, then morphine and oxycodone), while basking in the limelight of global cultural philanthropy. Lots of bad-actor enablers here too, including healthcare providers and regulators.

The best book I’ve encountered so far about the opioid epidemic is Dreamland by Sam Quinones (revelatory about the myriad contributing causes). But I’m eager to read more by this writer -- I’ve been looking for a book about The Troubles, and am happy to see that he’s written a highly rated one.

31detailmuse
feb 20, 2022, 3:44 pm



6. They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, ©2019, acquired 2021

This graphic-format volume is Takei’s memoir of his family’s years during WWII at three internment camps after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. He is a US-born citizen of a US-born citizen mother, but FDR’s Executive Order 9066 (the 80th anniversary of which was yesterday) mandated incarceration. There are many parallels to current times.

32detailmuse
feb 20, 2022, 3:59 pm



7. A Carnival of Snackery: Diaries (2003-2020) by David Sedaris, ©2021, acquired 2021
Our meals {at the resort} are included, and though they give the illusion of bounty, each course is smaller than the one before. Last night started with a thin slice of pate followed by an araignee -- a crab that looks like a spider. It was large, but, unlike a lobster, with its weighty claws and tail, there was really no meat to be had -- a tablespoon maybe. … Then came a small lump of fish accompanied by a taste of ratatouille, a thimble of rice, three mushrooms, and a boiled potato the size of a molar.
SO many giggles and some out-loud laughs in these short, well-crafted diary entries (though some are long enough to have been essays in his collections).

Seinfeld did a similar collection of his bits recently (Is This Anything? to which I answered NO) but this, the second volume of diary entries from Sedaris (or Sid Harris, as some people misinterpret) is very entertaining and sometimes poignant and insightful. The signing line after a Sedaris reading is hours long, and my god: the raunchy, funny, fascinating stories he gets and gives! This comment from some correspondence stays with me:
One {letter} was from a woman who wrote that when deaf people get their hearing, they’re always surprised that the sun makes no noise. They naturally assumed it would roar.

33Jackie_K
feb 20, 2022, 4:32 pm

I want to read all of those recent four! They sound great!

I listened to a podcast series by Patrick Radden Keefe recently, about the end of the Cold War and the role of the song "Wind of Change" by The Scorpions - it was absolutely fascinating. The podcast was called "Wind of Change" too if you want to look it up - it's on Spotify, who I think co-produced it, but I got it on iTunes. I'd like to read his book on the NI Troubles too.

34Caramellunacy
feb 20, 2022, 4:55 pm

>30 detailmuse: I read Say Nothing a few years ago and found it fascinating.

35connie53
mar 5, 2022, 5:33 am

Hi MJ, I've been away from LT Threads for a while. Too much going on in my life the last months. I hope you are still going strong with your reading.

>28 detailmuse: Same here. I take it up to my room and almost never open it.

36detailmuse
mar 27, 2022, 4:23 pm

>33 Jackie_K: Thanks, that podcast sounds timely.

>34 Caramellunacy: Good to hear -- I've acquired it now!

>35 connie53: I'm glad at least some of your busy-ness is grand-daughters and birthday! My reading is on track, I have several ROOTs to catch up on posting here. Plus I've caught up on the past two years of accumulated magazines AND reorganized/purged my books ... oh! the dust! I did sneeze less when I donned one of my covid cloth masks :)

37floremolla
mar 31, 2022, 4:53 pm

Hi, MJ, just popping in to see what you’re reading and say hi.

I’ve been meaning to read something by David Sedaris for a while now. I’m not sure how popular he is in the UK, but then I’m out of touch since I’ve no time to read my fortnightly book review mag, these days. I’ll need to take a leaf out of your book and focus on clearing them!

38detailmuse
apr 8, 2022, 5:40 pm

>37 floremolla: Hi Donna! I have laughed out LOUD at Sedaris. I'd recommend his essays rather than his diary excerpts. He's from North Carolina/USA but lives in France and England, maybe some essays based there would appeal.

39Jackie_K
apr 9, 2022, 6:00 am

>37 floremolla: >38 detailmuse: I think he's quite well known in the UK - I've heard him doing stuff on the 6.30pm slot on Radio 4 several times.

40detailmuse
apr 9, 2022, 4:37 pm

>39 Jackie_K: I also enjoy his sister, Amy, in small doses. She's sillier and more irreverent.

41detailmuse
apr 9, 2022, 4:41 pm



8. Peril by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, ©2021, acquired 2021

Following Fear and Rage, this is the third volume in Woodward/Costa’s series on Trump’s presidency. It journalistically documents the 2020 Presidential campaigns, election, and aftermath including the first six months of Biden’s presidency. The first two books took their titles from Trump quotes:
“Real power is -- I don’t even want to use the word -- fear”; and

“I bring rage out. I do bring rage out.”

This title comes from the peril implied in the book’s final line -- a quote from Trump’s former campaign manager:
”I don’t think he sees {running for re-election} as a comeback. He sees it as vengeance.”

42detailmuse
apr 9, 2022, 4:45 pm



9. These Precious Days by Ann Patchett, ©2021, acquired 2021

A collection of two dozen essays on family and writing and life, most of them previously published yet new to me. They’re gentle, exploratory pieces; I especially liked the long one about her three fathers. She’s written before about her birth father, a Los Angeles police officer, but in these essays I was fascinated to learn that he questioned Charles Manson and was the cop who connected the Tate and LaBianca murders; he was the cop who took Sirhan Sirhan into custody after assassinating Bobby Kennedy. I finished the collection six weeks ago and little has stayed in my mind...so it will make a pleasant re-read :)

43detailmuse
apr 9, 2022, 4:50 pm



10. Passing by Nella Larson, ©1929, acquired 2021

A 1920s novella about two well-to-do Black women -- childhood friends -- one of whom has lived an adulthood passing as White and married to a racist White man (the first dialogue with his nickname for her made me gasp). The ending is plausibly complicated and indeterminate. I immediately began to watch the Netflix film adaptation, but it was too soon. As I think about the story again now, it might be time.

44detailmuse
apr 10, 2022, 4:57 pm



11. Three Girls from Bronzeville: A Uniquely American Memoir of Race, Fate and Sisterhood by Dawn Turner Trice, ©2021, acquired 2021

A memoir of the author (and her younger sister and a best friend) growing up and overcoming challenges (or not) on Chicago’s segregated and impoverished south side. It was straight-forwardly and well written, but I had expected the Bronzeville setting to feel much more like a character, and the parts about her sister and friend to feel less like homages.

45detailmuse
apr 10, 2022, 5:01 pm



12. Recollections of My Nonexistence by Rebecca Solnit, ©2020, acquired 2021
We often say silenced, which presumes someone attempted to speak, or we say disappeared, which presumes that the person, place, or thing first appeared. But there are so many things that were never murmured, never showed up, were not allowed to enter rather than forced to exit.

This collection of essays relate to the fact and the effect of women’s silence and invisibility -- from the absence of role-modeling and opportunity, to the incidence of insults and threats, rape and murder. I’ve read two of Solnit’s couple-dozen books now; I suspect many of them work this same material AND all of them will be worth reading. I highlighted many passages, here are a few (some of the short ones placed together):
From childhood onward, we were instructed to not do things -- not go here, not work there, not go out at this hour or talk to those people or wear this dress or drink this drink or partake of adventure, independence, solitude; refraining was the only form of safety offered. …

You could be erased a little so that there was less of you, less confidence, less freedom, or your rights could be eroded, your body invaded so that it was less and less yours, you could be rubbed out altogether, and none of those possibilities seemed particularly remote. …

I suppose some women push it down to some corner of their mind, make choices to minimize the reality of the danger so that it becomes an unseen subtraction of who they are and what they can do. … I erased myself as much as possible, because to be was to be a target. … What is armor after all but a cage that moves with you? … We die all the time to avoid being killed. …

46detailmuse
apr 10, 2022, 5:05 pm



13. Always Coca-Cola by Alexandra Chreiteh, translated from the Arabic by Michelle Hartman, ©2009, acquired 2013

In this novella, a trio of college girlfriends (one conservative Lebanese and two savvy mixed-Europeans) deal with a pregnancy and failed relationship in modern-day Beirut. At times humorous, its social problems were considered shocking by Lebanese critics. I will keep the book for its Translator’s Afterword, which describes how the author confessed to “hating” the first version and the collaboration that followed between author and translator.

47detailmuse
apr 10, 2022, 5:15 pm

Q1 Summary: January, February, March
Beginning total TBRs: 252
ROOTs read: 13
Other books read: 0
Books purged unread from TBRs: 8 (part of a larger purge while reorg-ing my shelves)
Books acquired: 6
Ending total TBRs: 237
YTD ROOTs read: 13 (year-end goal=40)
YTD Shinies: 11 (goal=20); YTD Tomes: 3 (goal=5)


Q1 Favorites:

Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe (See review)
Immune: A Journey into the Mysterious System That Keeps You Alive by Philipp Dettmer (See review)

48connie53
maj 1, 2022, 1:20 pm

Hi MJ.

>36 detailmuse:. Yes, birthdays! Mine # 69, Lonne's # 4, Jeroen # 39.

I do not babysit that much anymore, but I will take it up mid May, when Wednesdays will be filled with Marie and Fiene. ;-)))
Eveline was asked to work some more hours in the week and of course I want to help her with the girls.

49detailmuse
maj 12, 2022, 4:12 pm

>48 connie53: Happy grandma Wednesdays!

50detailmuse
maj 12, 2022, 4:55 pm



14. Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward, ©2012, acquired 2021

In the days leading up to 2005’s catastrophic Hurricane Katrina, 15-year-old Esch, her three brothers, and their widowed daddy struggle in Mississippi poverty complicated by pregnancy, alcoholism, and a dogfighting* champion (whose litter brings hope for some money) taken seriously ill. (*Trigger warning for that; I skimmed one long scene.) This is the third I’ve read by Ward and I’m enamored: reading her is as visual as watching a film.

51detailmuse
maj 12, 2022, 5:01 pm



15. The New York Times Easy Crossword Puzzles Volume 9, ©2008, acquired 2012

I recently found this and the corresponding 2007 volume while going through my bookshelves. I’d completed only a few of the puzzles back in 2012-ish, but have really been enjoying it since I picked it up again now. And I’ve acquired the two most recent collections (2020 and 2021) … very glad about the “recent” aspect, since lots of the entries in these older volumes relate to mid-20th-century (and older) language and culture.

52detailmuse
maj 12, 2022, 5:12 pm



16. Bellevue Literary Review Issue 40, ©2021, acquired 2021

Another good anthology of short stories, essays and poems. This volume is filled with covid- and race-related pieces that reflect 2020 ... Breathing, an essay by Shanda McManus, incorporates both.

53detailmuse
maj 12, 2022, 5:19 pm

April
Beginning total TBRs: 237
ROOTs read: 3
Other books read: 0
Books acquired: 3 (+2 more already on shelves but not previously entered into LT)
Ending total TBRs: 239
YTD ROOTs read: 16 (year-end goal=40)

54Jackie_K
maj 13, 2022, 4:41 pm

>51 detailmuse: I must admit the most appealing thing about that is the "Easy" in the title! I do like an easy crossword, but my brain just isn't wired for cryptic crosswords - even when the answers are explained I am usually none the wiser!

55detailmuse
maj 31, 2022, 5:23 pm

I’m mid-book in two tomes, so finished only two easy ROOTs in May.



17. Chicago Churches: A Photographic Essay by Elizabeth Johnson, ©1999, acquired ~1999?

I also found this book just recently -- still in its Waldenbooks bag from decades ago, but no recollection of acquiring it and no receipt to date it. It features a hundred Chicago-area houses of worship of various faiths, with one sepia-toned photograph of each. There is no editorial other than the building’s name/address/denomination; its primary characteristic is mood. Some perspectives are very distanced, but most are extreme close-ups of an interesting detail; I wouldn’t be able to recognize many of the churches in person.

56detailmuse
Redigerat: maj 31, 2022, 5:28 pm



18. The New York Times Easy Crossword Puzzles Volume 8, ©2007, acquired 2012

This 2008 volume was very similar to the prior year’s, Root #15. I’ve gotten in the habit of doing a puzzle every day…along with the daily Wordle and a couple other quick word games.

I’ve now started one of the two most recent collections (2020 and 2021, just acquired, so they won’t be ROOTs), and either they are objectively easier or I’ve gotten into the crossword groove. I’ll be interested to try a volume of medium-difficulty (Wednesday) puzzles after these.

57detailmuse
jun 3, 2022, 9:26 am

May
Beginning total TBRs: 239
ROOTs read: 2
Other books read: 1
Books acquired: 7 (+1 more already on shelves but not previously entered into LT)
Ending total TBRs: 244
YTD ROOTs read: 18 (year-end goal=40)

58connie53
Redigerat: jul 19, 2022, 9:23 am

>49 detailmuse: Thanks! It's been good so far. Although Marie has to get used to me again. I think she combines two things. Here comes grandma so mama is leaving. She is always shy in the first half hour, but that's getting better.

Love your stats!

59detailmuse
jul 6, 2022, 3:45 pm

>58 connie53: Very sweet, I can envision her :)

60detailmuse
Redigerat: jul 6, 2022, 3:52 pm



19. The Charm School by Nelson DeMille, ©1988, acquired ~2012

Set in late-1980s Russia, this political thriller is about US diplomats’ discovery of “Mrs. Ivanova’s Charm School” -- a Russian spy school* that trains KGB agents to pass as Americans and live in America.

The Soviet Union has dissolved since the novel’s publication, and the periods of good/bad US relationships with Russia have cycled the novel’s relevance up and down over three decades. I’ve gotten 200+ pages into it at least twice, but this time, I sidelined my tightly bound mass-market paperback in favor of an e-book. I always enjoy DeMille, and here got a sense of a sad, tragic (and dangerous) Russia. And, as usual after spending a long time in a big book, I missed the setting and characters for a couple of days after I finished.

* The school is staffed by American pilots who were shot down during the Vietnam War, were traded from Vietnam to the USSR in the ‘70s, and who are still officially listed as missing-in-action. It’s based on a rumor of such a school/prisoner trade that DeMille learned of while he served in Vietnam. The idea of KGB agents passing as Americans is also the premise of a recent-ish TV series, The Americans, which I’m now interested in watching.

61detailmuse
jul 6, 2022, 3:59 pm

   
20. The 74th Annual Writer's Digest Writing Competition Collection, ©2005, acquired 2005
21. The 2002 Writer's Digest Writing Competition Winners, ©2002, acquired 2002?

I acquired these anthologies ~20 years ago in order to see what the winning entries looked like in the various genres of a major (18,000+ entries) annual writing competition: Children’s Fiction; Feature Article; Genre Short Story; Mainstream/Literary Short Story; Inspirational; Memoir/Personal Essay; Rhyming Poetry; Non-rhyming Poetry; Stage Play; and TV/Movie Script.

Meh. What stays with me most is my disappointment with the 2005 entries (uninteresting content, frustrating shaping and pacing) … and then a nearly opposite reaction to the 2002 edition. I’d do a deeper look into the disconnect if the pieces were more current.

62detailmuse
jul 6, 2022, 4:26 pm

June
Beginning total TBRs: 244
ROOTs read: 3
Other books read: 3
Books acquired: 6 (+1 more found on shelves but not previously entered into LT)
Ending total TBRs: 245
YTD ROOTs read: 21 (year-end goal=40)

YTD Shinies: 13 (goal=20); YTD Tomes: 4 (goal=5)

63connie53
jul 19, 2022, 9:24 am

Nice stats, MJ.

64detailmuse
aug 8, 2022, 3:06 pm

>63 connie53: Thanks, Connie ... feeling a slump but managing to keep slow and steady :)

65detailmuse
aug 8, 2022, 3:08 pm



22. Can You Pass These Tests? edited by Allen D. Bragdon, ©1987, acquired around that time

This volume presents representative questions (with answers) from the US citizenship test, the Scholastic Aptitude Test, and the qualifying exams of 25 professions and occupations (among them: air traffic controller, architect, ballroom dance instructor, baseball umpire, Bible scholar, elementary school teacher, engineer, lawyer, maritime captain, nurse, pilot, police, taxi driver, trucker, wine master). Although it’s 35 years old now, and outdated, it does showcase the impressive knowledge and skills needed for these jobs. That said, I was annoyed that the editor noted that he’d included only simpler questions from the (traditionally female) nurse exam (so readers would have a chance at answering), whereas he hadn’t hesitated to include solid pages of math from the engineer exam :(

66detailmuse
aug 8, 2022, 3:11 pm



23. The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Brain Games by Matt Gaffney, ©2007, acquired around that time

Another collection for dipping in and out -- this one of word and math puzzles (Sudoku, Kakuro, Kaidoku, Crossword, logic, scramble, fill-in-the blank), 50 each in levels categorized as easy, moderately difficult, difficult and extremely difficult. I have learned that I just don’t click with “Idiot’s” or “Dummies” guides and this one felt flat the whole way through.

67detailmuse
aug 8, 2022, 3:36 pm



24. This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger, ©2019, acquired 2021

An homage to Huckleberry Finn and The Odyssey, this tells of 12-year-old Odie O'Banion’s coming-of-age summer in 1932, when he, his brother and two friends escaped a brutal Indian boarding school in Depression-era Minnesota and began a quest to find family, home and self. The settings were excellent and it's a pleasant read but sort of slow and circular; and Odie's now-octogenarian narrative voice seemed inconsistent -- sometimes the wise elder looking back, often a young-adult (or even juvenile) style with a preachy tone.

68detailmuse
aug 8, 2022, 3:52 pm

July
Beginning total TBRs: 245
ROOTs read: 3
Other books read: 3
Books acquired: 5
Ending total TBRs: 244
YTD ROOTs read: 24 (year-end goal=40)

69Caramellunacy
aug 9, 2022, 5:35 am

>65 detailmuse: What an interesting idea for a book - and what a frustrating choice by the editor. I'd be interested in seeing what would be required for a "wine master"!

>66 detailmuse: I generally don't click with the "Idiot's" or "Dummies" guides either - I think it's generally a tone issue for me.

70rabbitprincess
aug 9, 2022, 11:21 am

I prefer the Dummies to the Idiot’s Guide books, perhaps because « dummy » sounds a bit more affectionate than « idiot », but sometimes the tone does grate.

71detailmuse
aug 13, 2022, 10:09 am

>69 Caramellunacy: I would post a couple Qs from wine master but I've discarded the book (didn't donate because I'd circled answers in the tests). I do remember emphasis on the underlying details of and being able to identify many varietals.

>69 Caramellunacy:, >70 rabbitprincess: I get frustrated with the chopped up/repetitive style of the guides. I like to take a deeper dive so I understand something; it's much harder for me to incorporate (memorize) a bunch of facts thrown out. I thought I had a couple more Dummies in my TBRs, but I see I've already DNF'd and donated them!

72detailmuse
sep 1, 2022, 5:03 pm


25. They Came Like Swallows by William Maxwell, ©1937, acquired 2021

How nice to really enjoy a book! -- it’s been awhile. This autobiographical novella about a family during the 1918 Influenza is narrated by three characters, two of whom made me misty. I was wow-ed by how each passage revealed so much subtext. I must read more by Maxwell.

73detailmuse
sep 1, 2022, 5:08 pm


26. French Lessons by Peter Mayle, ©2001, acquired around then?

This collection of light, sometimes humorous, essays (by an English expat in France) explores 13 French “fairs and festivals connected with food and drink, the more unusual the better.”

There are truffles; frogs’ legs; snails; wines; blood sausages; cheeses (I want to try a Livarot -- whose pungency on the page scares me, but whose “dense, chewy, elastic, creamy” textures entice me); and Bresse chickens (I’d like to try). There are also pieces about the Michelin guide; a spa stay; bikini-dining; and a costume-dress 42-km marathon run through Bordeaux vineyards. I enjoyed this but not to the degree of A Year in Provence, which was transporting about food and France and remains one of my all-time favorites.

These are recurring festivals and I’m sure that, today, each one has a lavish website. But it was shocking (with the book’s copyright of 2001) to peruse the contact info in an appendix and be reminded how recently there has been anything other than a snail-mail address or occasional fax#.

74detailmuse
sep 1, 2022, 5:12 pm


27. When Did I Stop Being 20 and Other Injustices by Judith Viorst, ©1987, acquired around then?

I intended to give this poetry collection a quick re-read before donating it. But I hadn’t expected to be returned so evocatively to being in my twenties, working and living on my own and being with friends; nor being newly married; nor sensing the signs of aging. So I’ve returned it to my shelves :)

75Henrik_Madsen
sep 2, 2022, 1:57 am

>74 detailmuse: Oh, that is wonderful. I don't read a lot of poetry, but when it is great, it can really envoke a feeling like nothing else.

Sometimes I want to do more re-reads. I'm sure there are many treasures standing there on my shelves, and I even know which ones I'll likely enjoy.

76Familyhistorian
sep 2, 2022, 1:46 pm

Why did it take me so long to get back to your thread? That was an interesting discussion about E-readers. I hope you find lots more enjoyable reads among your ROOTs.

77Jackie_K
sep 2, 2022, 4:01 pm

>73 detailmuse: I felt exactly the same as you about French Lessons/Bon Appetit. I enjoyed it, but it never made me salivate the way that the descriptions of food and drink and place did in A Year in Provence.

78detailmuse
sep 12, 2022, 3:50 pm

>75 Henrik_Madsen: You are so right about poetry. Regarding re-reads: letting myself count them as ROOTs has encouraged me to get to a few I've been longing for.

>76 Familyhistorian: Haha! Why does it take me so long to get back to my own thread?! Welcome back.

>77 Jackie_K: I love (moderate) wind and remember becoming fascinated with the Mistral in that book.
P.S. Thinking of you amid Scotland's commemoration of the late Queen.

79Jackie_K
sep 12, 2022, 4:36 pm

>78 detailmuse: Thank you - but without wanting to offend anyone, I'll be glad when it's all over and I can listen to broadcast media again (although it has meant I've had more time for reading!).

80connie53
sep 16, 2022, 11:17 am

>64 detailmuse: I guess the light slump is over, MJ. Some nice books there.

81detailmuse
okt 1, 2022, 4:33 pm

>79 Jackie_K: The coverage was heavy even here, and even during the days of just the viewing queues. The prolonged period felt properly respectful, and by the day of her interment it felt like time to move on.

>80 connie53: Hi Connie, it feels good to get some finished. I still have a lot more that I've started, keep circling among them waiting for one to hook me!

82detailmuse
okt 1, 2022, 5:46 pm


28. The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2018 edited by Sam Kean, ©2018, acquired 2020

I really enjoy Sam Kean’s books and I see his influence (as editor) in this annual anthology -- the most enjoyable being that he took the themed section titles from protest signs at the worldwide 2017 March for Science following the 2016 presidential election, for example:
“So Bad, Even the Introverts Are Here”
“At the Start of Every Disaster Movie Is a Scientist Being Ignored”
“We Are Not Just Resistors, We Are Transformers”
“What Do We Want? Evidence-Based Science. When Do We Want It? After Peer Review”
“I’m Not a Mad Scientist. I’m Absolutely Furious”

I was distressed to read more about human effects on the earth’s air and waters…and sickened to learn about the amount of space trash. There were fewer entries about the biological sciences than I would like, and more about the physical sciences, but it’s a very good collection.

83detailmuse
okt 1, 2022, 5:48 pm


29. Welcome to the United States of Anxiety by Jen Lancaster, ©2020, acquired 2020

A collection of personal essays on the author’s daily-life sources of anxiety. But it wasn’t insightful, or amusing, or a source of recognition, and I grew annoyed at the chattery voice better left on a blog. I DNF’d it early on.

84detailmuse
okt 1, 2022, 5:49 pm


30. Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith, ©2019, acquired 2019

This collection of essays is Smith’s memoir of 2016 -- the Chinese year of the monkey, the year she turned 70, the year of the presidential election, the year several friends declined in health or died. All of her collections have confused me to some degree, and this one too, like a fever dream. I loved it and will keep it.

85detailmuse
okt 1, 2022, 5:52 pm


31. Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes, ©1996, acquired 1999(?)

I likely purchased this soon after I read A Year in Provence, and it’s similar in content: ex-pat moves to a new country and describes the people, food, landscape, customs and home-restoration process there. But while I loved that Mayle regaled the reader, Mayes was pleasant but to-the-point.

86Jackie_K
Redigerat: okt 2, 2022, 5:50 am

>82 detailmuse: adding that one to the wish list!
>83 detailmuse: but I'll give that one a miss. What is it about books on anxiety? I felt the same as you about (and also DNFd) First we Make the Beast Beautiful.

87rabbitprincess
okt 2, 2022, 9:35 am

>82 detailmuse: If Sam Kean edited that collection, I have to add it to my to-read list!

88detailmuse
okt 3, 2022, 12:15 pm

>86 Jackie_K:, >87 rabbitprincess:
Here's one of the most illuminating and devastating, about #MeToo in science and the annihilation of women’s discoveries because of sexual harassment and assault.

89detailmuse
okt 3, 2022, 12:22 pm

August-September
Beginning total TBRs: 244
ROOTs read: 6 (plus 1 reread)
Other books read: 2
Books acquired: 2 (+1 not previously entered into LT/TBRs)
Ending total TBRs: 239
YTD ROOTs read: 31 (year-end goal=40)

YTD Shinies (acquired in 2020 or 2021): 17 (year-end goal=20)
YTD Tomes (>500pp): 4 (year-end goal=5)

90connie53
okt 4, 2022, 6:15 am

Nice stats, MJ

91detailmuse
nov 6, 2022, 3:10 pm

>90 connie53: Thanks Connie, I'm getting optimistic about meeting goal in November!


32. Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty, ©2020, acquired 2021

This memoir of a pivotal mid-teen year was a splendid discovery on Jackie’s thread. I loved the coming-of-age aspects as McAnulty, with tremendous self-awareness, grows from an isolated and bullied person with autism (in his family of 5, only his dad is neuro-typical) to a satisfied and more social person with a passion: climate activism. I liked the nature aspects somewhat less; all the walks to look for birds seemed so similar.

92detailmuse
nov 6, 2022, 3:13 pm


33. Appetites: On the Search for True Nourishment by Geneen Roth, ©1996, acquired about then?

Acquired long ago, I expected this to be self-help-y about over-eating. Instead, it’s memoir-ish about filling emotional emptiness in various ways. Quite engaging; she reminds me of Anne Lamott.

I discovered a sad follow-up when I Googled to see what she is currently involved in -- and learned that she and her husband had lost everything when they invested with Bernie Madoff.

93detailmuse
nov 6, 2022, 3:15 pm


34. What Color Is Your Parachute? for Retirement by John Nelson and Richard Bolles, ©2007, acquired 2017

I had low expectations for this, anticipating it would be like a Dummies or Idiots book. But it was good, innovative, and even substantive. Rather than the old stages of education / work / retirement-decline, retirements now usually include a significant period of vitality and health where active leisure and even part-time work/volunteerism precede decline. This book helps readers plan for the residential, social, medical and economic aspects to make this active leisure stage what they want it to be. Originally published 15 years ago, the book remains contemporary except for the specific resources.

94detailmuse
nov 6, 2022, 3:18 pm


35. Cinnamon Kiss by Walter Mosley, ©2005, acquired 2012

It’s 1966 in burned-out South Central Los Angeles, a year after the Watts riots, and private-eye Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins takes on a dangerous mission to locate some people in exchange for big money to pay the doctor bills of his critically ill young daughter. It’s hard-boiled and noir-ish and historical -- WWII is still a fresh memory, Vietnam is current, and it’s not all that long after the Great Migration of African Americans from the South and civil rights seem nowhere in sight.

This is the tenth in the series. My introduction to Mosley was with the ninth, Little Scarlet and I’ve read several others by him (not in the series) since. I love his main characters -- complex in ethics and relationships -- and his evocation of time and place is fabulous. I want to read the first, Devil in a Blue Dress, and maybe the whole series.

95detailmuse
nov 6, 2022, 3:24 pm

October
Beginning total TBRs: 239
ROOTs read: 4
Other books read: 1
Books acquired: 2
Ending total TBRs: 236
YTD ROOTs read: 35 (year-end goal=40)

96Jackie_K
nov 6, 2022, 3:59 pm

>91 detailmuse: I'm glad you enjoyed Diary of a Young Naturalist, MJ. Dara has just started at Cambridge University, and I am sure he will do well. From his twitter feed he appears to be really enjoying it and feeling settled there.

97detailmuse
nov 6, 2022, 4:18 pm

>96 Jackie_K: Looking forward to more by him. Re: Twitter, yikes. It (well, and LT!) is the only social media I really like -- the access to experts in my areas of interest. I'm very worried for it.

98detailmuse
nov 6, 2022, 4:20 pm


36. Bellevue Literary Review Issue 41, ©2021, acquired 2021

I learned of this literary journal just after its tenth anniversary and ever since have been an enthusiastic subscriber to its explorations into healthcare and illness. Last year was its 20th, and this anniversary issue has 50% more short stories, essays and poems than the usual issue, and the production quality has been upgraded. I read it all but connected with fewer entries, and virtually none of the poems (some of which ordinarily take my breath away).

99Jackie_K
nov 6, 2022, 4:23 pm

>97 detailmuse: Yes, me too. I'm staying put for now, but am thinking of dipping a toe into Mastodon, as most people I know who are leaving Twitter are heading there. It does seem quite complicated though.

My prediction is that Musk sells Twitter at a loss in a few months, and then to be honest I think who owns it will be more relevant, because they will more likely be in it for the long term. But I dread to think of the chaos that will be caused meantime, especially if he lets people previously banned for hate speech back.

100detailmuse
nov 6, 2022, 4:28 pm

>99 Jackie_K: Yes chaos and violence. And I have never viewed the blue-check as prestige, only
as vetting. Now it will be meaningless.

101detailmuse
nov 13, 2022, 3:40 pm


37. Something Missing by Matthew Dicks, ©2009, acquired 2011

I had a hard time DNF-ing this novel because I didn’t dislike it. It’s about a man who has, for years, scoped out dozens of homes in order to keep an ongoing rotation of covert entries into them, learning about the occupants and taking things -- mostly like pantry staples for his own use and sometimes taking a valuable he can sell. But the first 50+ pages were pretty much his telling what he did and how he did it, without a story. It was tediously pleasant but didn’t light me up in any way. Sooo many books, so I decided to move on.

102detailmuse
nov 30, 2022, 10:20 am



38. Through the Window by Julian Barnes, ©2012, acquired 2012
I still buy books faster than I can read them. But again, this feels completely normal: how weird it would be to have around you only as many books as you have time to read in the rest of your life.
That bibliophilia shows in this collection of 17 essays (most previously published in the Guardian or New York Review of Books), where Barnes examines some of his favorite writers’ attachments to various countries and some various countries’ attachments to certain writers.

I especially enjoyed getting acquainted with Penelope Fitzgerald, reading about John Updike and the Rabbit books, and Barnes’s comparison of Joan Didion’s and Joyce Carol Oates’s memoirs of grief. He writes that Oates converted her deceased husband’s garden of annual plants into perennials, and draws the metaphor that it’s “…the problem confronting the widow: how to survive that first year, how to turn into a perennial.”

It’s the most accessible and entertaining literary criticism I’ve read -- interesting even about writers that I have little knowledge or interest in.

103detailmuse
nov 30, 2022, 10:25 am



39. Lifelines: A Doctors Journey in the Fight for Public Health by Leana Wen, ©2021, Early Reviewers arc acquired 2021

This eminently readable memoir (actually, probably an autobiography) chronicles the first 35+ years of Dr. Wen’s life -- her early childhood in crowded Shanghai; the abject poverty of her growing-up years as an immigrant to the US; and then her successes and setbacks (none of which I’d characterize as failures) in medical school and research, patient care, public-health policy, president of Planned Parenthood, and TV commentary amid Covid. I stand in awe of her perseverance and positivity.

104Jackie_K
nov 30, 2022, 12:55 pm

>102 detailmuse: That sounds great! I'm going to add it to my (enormous) wishlist.

105detailmuse
dec 4, 2022, 4:29 pm

>104 Jackie_K: Keep an eye open at used shops -- it was published in 2012.

106detailmuse
dec 4, 2022, 4:39 pm

November
Beginning total TBRs: 236
ROOTs read: 4
Other books read: 1
Books acquired: 5
Ending total TBRs: 236
YTD ROOTs read: 39 (year-end goal=40)

YTD Shinies (acquired in 2020 or 2021): 20 (goal=20)
YTD Tomes (>500pp): 4 (goal=5)


Oh SO CLOSE to goal! It should have been no problem to meet all three goals this month -- but the tome I’d hoped to finish has decided to wander around three time periods and half-a-dozen main characters…and it cost my interest. Good writing, though, and I will finish it soon.

107connie53
dec 22, 2022, 4:36 am

Hi MJ. Popping in to see what you are reading and take the opportunity to wish you and yours all the best for 2023 and Happy Holidays!

I hope you did finish that last ROOT. See you in 2023!

108detailmuse
dec 29, 2022, 11:25 am

>107 connie53: Thanks and the same wishes to you, Connie! I did finish the 40th to meet my goal...and then I haven't read many words since. I researched options and cancelled cable TV, hooked up an indoor antenna which works well to get the over-the-air local stations, and chose streaming equipment and subscriptions for other content. In retrospect, everything was easy; but in the midst, my brain felt tasked!

109Jackie_K
dec 29, 2022, 1:27 pm

>108 detailmuse: Oh my goodness yes, I can definitely relate! For me, for some reason it's sorting out the car insurance which I put off for ages and then it eventually takes me 5 minutes, but I get so worked up about it that I can hardly function!

I hope you had a good Christmas, MJ.

110karenmarie
dec 30, 2022, 7:42 am

Hi MJ!

It's line in the sand time and onward to next year's threads, I'm afraid. One of my new year’s resolutions is to be a better LT friend.

111Familyhistorian
dec 30, 2022, 5:39 pm

Hi MJ, good to see that you met your goal. Too bad it wasn't a more concise read. Hope you have a Happy New Year!

112detailmuse
dec 31, 2022, 5:32 pm

>109 Jackie_K: lol Jackie, cheers to both of our brains going forward!!

>110 karenmarie: So good to see you, Karen, and I add a cheer to your body for rallying big time!

>111 Familyhistorian: To you, too, Meg!

And to all: