What Books Are You Reading In 2021? Part 1
Surprisingly (or not), in spite of the pandemic and associated lockdown of 2020, our reading log of last year did not fill 2 threads. Chalk it up to a US election year, lack of access to in-person libraries and bookstores and people preferring to stream rather than to read. Speaking for myself, in the opening post of 2020 I announced my plan to read Moby Dick - it remains unread as I stuck mostly to comfort reading mysteries and thrillers.
To kick things off - here is a photo of the young Joseph Heller.
So, DLers, what will be your first read of 2021?
|by Anonymous||reply 179||a day ago|
I’m almost finished with Normal People, so that will be my first book for 2021. Next in the queue are The Mirror and the Light, The Corrections, and The Portrait of a Lady.
Also, as with every year since 2016, I’m hoping The Winds of Winter is released.
|by Anonymous||reply 1||01/01/2021|
And did you like it?
People seem to love Normal people but i really disliked it
|by Anonymous||reply 2||01/01/2021|
I thought I would hate Normal People, as with Moby Dick it remains unfinished, but I liked the 40 pages I did finish. I'm not touching the TV show, though.
|by Anonymous||reply 3||01/01/2021|
Because I'm that far behind the times, I'm starting The Line Of Beauty Alan Hollinghurst. I remember watching the TV adaptation 16 years ago and getting my first glimpses of Dan Stevens and Hayley Atwell and loathing them on sight.
|by Anonymous||reply 4||01/01/2021|
Finishing Hamnet and Buried Fianr before starting something new. May well be The Prophets.
|by Anonymous||reply 5||01/01/2021|
Ooh, I received an ARC of The Prophets. Didn't read it, though.
|by Anonymous||reply 6||01/01/2021|
Murakami's What I Think About When I Think About Running
|by Anonymous||reply 7||01/01/2021|
I just finished reading Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann. I quite liked it, especially the long chapter about Hanno, which was clearly autobiographical.
|by Anonymous||reply 9||01/01/2021|
I just started Weather hoping i will enjoy it more than Dept of specualations
|by Anonymous||reply 10||01/01/2021|
Hogarth's Shakespeare series is continuing with Gillian Flynn's Hamlet this year. Amazing Ophelia, perhaps?
|by Anonymous||reply 11||01/01/2021|
I've had difficulty being able to concentrate on reading this past year, which is strange because if you had told me pre-Covid that soon there would be an excuse to stay home all day, not see anyone, or go to work, I would have said 'Great! I'll just stay home and read.'
|by Anonymous||reply 12||01/01/2021|
I hear you, r12. I (secretly) enjoyed lockdown due to the family time and the slower pace of life but the majority of my reading was Agatha Christie and David Baldacci.
|by Anonymous||reply 13||01/01/2021|
Stacey Abrams has apparently written a legal thriller!
|by Anonymous||reply 14||01/01/2021|
I think she's written a series of books, mostly romances.
|by Anonymous||reply 15||01/01/2021|
Normal People (hating it so far and keep putting it down), French Exit (LOVED!), Where the Crawdad Sings (loved), The Midnight Libray (enjoyed), and reread Beautiful Ruins because it makes me happy.
|by Anonymous||reply 16||01/01/2021|
Hilary Mantel's "Mantel Pieces"
|by Anonymous||reply 17||01/01/2021|
I'm starting 2021 with SHUGGIE BAIN because of recommendations on DL.
That's not even a great photo of Joseph Heller who in his youth could be quite hot.
|by Anonymous||reply 18||01/01/2021|
Are we now abandoning the last thread?
|by Anonymous||reply 19||01/01/2021|
[quote]Are we now abandoning the last thread?
Well, it is 2021.
|by Anonymous||reply 20||01/01/2021|
James McBride's "Deacon King Kong." It came out in March 2020 and won the National Book Award. So far, I'm on page 50. Interesting. I've read McBride's "The Color of Water," a memoir about McBride's white mother (McBride is black). That was excellent!
|by Anonymous||reply 21||01/01/2021|
R21, Deacon King Kong may have been longlisted for the National Book Award but it didn’t win. That was Interior Chinatown.
|by Anonymous||reply 22||01/01/2021|
Normal People was good - though I’m also familiar with the area so it had special resonance. Line of Beauty is much better book than the movie - unfortunately now you are stuck with the faces of those actors for the character which ruins it a little. French Exit is a decent, humorous book - not a stunner but worthwhile distraction.
|by Anonymous||reply 24||01/01/2021|
My last read of 2020 was "Alright, Alright, Alright" by Melissa Maerz, an oral history of the movie "Dazed and Confused." Definitely read it if you're a fan of the film, and who isn't? Nearly everyone participated, including McConaughey and Affleck. Lots of tea spilled.
Yesterday started "Station Eleven," which I know has a lot of fans in these Reading threads. Why not a pandemic novel?
|by Anonymous||reply 25||01/02/2021|
I loved Station Eleven, read it about a year before the pandemic went into full swing. Not sure I could handle it now as it was all too believable and tragic.
|by Anonymous||reply 26||01/02/2021|
I'm enjoying Normal People more than I thought I would. I'm a little bit biased though--I've always enjoyed books that show characters' evolution over a long period of time. I also appreciate that it shifts perspectives, so the reader gets to view events through the eyes of both the main characters.
Does anyone have a recommendation for a John le Cerré book to read? Or perhaps Patricia Highsmith? Agatha Christie is the standard suggestion whenever I express interest in mysteries. But while I enjoy her books, the most exciting parts are the last few chapters.
|by Anonymous||reply 27||01/02/2021|
R27, if you're looking for good mysteries have you tried any of Ruth Rendell's? Or if you prefer something more contemporary, have you read any of Kate Atkinson's Jason Brodie mysteries? Both writers don't really write classic whodunnits, but I think they're more interesting for it.
|by Anonymous||reply 28||01/02/2021|
Thank you for the recommendations, R28!
|by Anonymous||reply 29||01/02/2021|
Why do people only read - or at least talk about - fiction?
I seldom if ever see non-fiction titles in these threads. Just two, in fact, in the prior posts on this thread.
|by Anonymous||reply 30||01/02/2021|
R30, nonfiction is for dreary heterosexuals.
|by Anonymous||reply 31||01/02/2021|
[quote]Does anyone have a recommendation for a John le Cerré book to read?
Start with The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy or Little Drummer Girl.
[quote]Or perhaps Patricia Highsmith?
I found the Ripley books so sadistic (and HATED the Anthony Minghella movie) but I love all her non-Ripley work. Dark Water (an upcoming Adrian Lyne movie with Ben Affleck and Ana De Armas) is excellent and so funny. The stuffy older husband is more tired of his slutty young wife's lovers hanging rather obviously about their home so he casually says that he killed one of his wife's dead exes. Havoc ensues.
[quote]Agatha Christie is the standard suggestion whenever I express interest in mysteries.
Do you like more hardboiled stuff than domestic/cosy? I like the Eddie Flynn books by Steve Cavanagh, an Irish lawyer writing (actually pretty well) about a New York lawyer. His book Thirteen was blurbed: "The serial killer isn't on trial. He's on the jury." It's so fun.
|by Anonymous||reply 32||01/02/2021|
R30 I read about three or four nonfiction books to every one fiction book, mostly history. Up next on my list is "Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present."
|by Anonymous||reply 33||01/02/2021|
[quote]Do you like more hardboiled stuff than domestic/cosy? I like the Eddie Flynn books by Steve Cavanagh, an Irish lawyer writing (actually pretty well) about a New York lawyer.
You might enjoy Lawrence Block's Matt Scudder series. Alcoholic ex-cop who works as a private detective in Manhattan. Lives in the West 50s, and you get a lot of the sense of the area. He struggles to get sober over the course of the series, and eventually makes it.
I figure most people who read detective novels already know Jonathan Kellerman and Michael Connolly. Some other writers I've enjoyed are J.A. Jance, Philip Margolin, and a new series by Jonathan Kellerman and his son Jesse, the Clay Edison books.
|by Anonymous||reply 34||01/02/2021|
Love Rendell's books, both as herself and as Barbara Vine. A Judgement in Stone is a masterpiece.
|by Anonymous||reply 35||01/02/2021|
Some of Rendell's best books were written under her pseudonym Barbara Vine, especially A Dark-Adapted Eye and A Fatal Inversion.
Her books became a bit formulaic in her elder years but I did enjoy one of her final books The Girl Next Door (it actually may have been her last). Other titles I enjoyed were A Sleeping Life, A Guilty Thing Surprised, Some Lie and Some Die, Shake Hands Forever, Murder Being Once Done....I could go on and on...
|by Anonymous||reply 36||01/02/2021|
I get PD James and Ruth Rendell mixed up.
|by Anonymous||reply 37||01/03/2021|
Though James and Rendell were British contemporaries, they're writing couldn't have been different. James' books seemed to be more popular when they were both at the height of their careers in the 1980s, but you can count me in the Rendell camp.
|by Anonymous||reply 38||01/03/2021|
So I'm reading SHUGGIE BAIN now, partially because of the good reviews on DL and, while it's gorgeous descriptive writing, OMG could the story be any more depressing? If there are any fans here, can you please give me some encouragement to keep going? I'm about 70 pages in.
|by Anonymous||reply 39||01/03/2021|
R39, suck it up, Mary. It’s a great book.
|by Anonymous||reply 40||01/03/2021|
I'm halfway finished "Ross Poldark" by Winston Graham. It takes place in the Cornwall of my ancestors, and I'm enjoying it immensely.
|by Anonymous||reply 41||01/03/2021|
r39, would it help if I were to call the ending "redemptive"? If not, I agree with r40. Suck it up.
|by Anonymous||reply 42||01/03/2021|
finished Dirty South. another great story. but Lewis and Angel don't get a mention until 300 pages in. that's a great disappointment. i need Lewis and Angel in any Charlie Parker story
|by Anonymous||reply 43||01/03/2021|
16 more days.....what more can we possibly expect?
|by Anonymous||reply 44||01/03/2021|
A lot can happen in 16 days. And it will.
|by Anonymous||reply 45||01/04/2021|
Prophets is sitting in my Kindle!
|by Anonymous||reply 46||01/06/2021|
I ended Weather and i definetively don't get Jenny Offill, it's not that i didn't like it (the novel is fine) but i don't get the hype and i can't connect with her sense of humour. I like the original structure of her novels and i liked Weather more than Dept of speculations but with all the praise i expected something better.
Now i have a book club with Half of a yellow sun
|by Anonymous||reply 48||01/08/2021|
I'm reading Ducks, Newburyport. It's great when I get time to settle into the rhythm of how it all flows. I'm considering reading another book alongside it though, given there isn't a plot to lose track of.
|by Anonymous||reply 51||01/09/2021|
Many thanks to the posters here who encouraged or shamed me into finishing SHUGGIE BAIN. As harrowing and heartbreaking as the story is, the novel was an incredibly rewarding read. I really loved it.
|by Anonymous||reply 52||01/09/2021|
You're welcome! Glad you enjoyed it.
|by Anonymous||reply 53||01/10/2021|
Reading Andrew Siedels book "The Founding Myth" He's the attorney for the Freedom from Religion Foundation.
|by Anonymous||reply 54||01/10/2021|
Has anyone read any of Louis Auchincloss' novels? He doesn't seem to be on anyone's radar any more, though critics once called him the successor to Henry James and Edith Wharton in his portrayals of the American rich.
I've just started The Rector of Justin (1964) about a young teacher's relationship with the Headmaster of a private boys school in Massachusetts during WWII. I like it so far, 50 pages in.
|by Anonymous||reply 55||01/10/2021|
Read several back in the day. He was quite prolific and I remember his prose as being elegant, refined, polished. Related by marriage to Gore Vidal and Jackie O. His style and themes way out of style today. Like John P. Marquand and James Gould Cozzens and John O'Hara. Probably will be known in the future as an expert chronicler of his age and class. Let us know how you feel after you've read RECTOR.
|by Anonymous||reply 56||01/10/2021|
I just finished Peter Cameron's new novel "What Happens at Night." I thought it was pretty amazing -- dark and weird and beautiful and thrilling. Kind of a perfect book to read this weird winter.
|by Anonymous||reply 57||01/10/2021|
R57, I’ve been telling everybody about that one. Best new book I’ve read all year.
|by Anonymous||reply 58||01/10/2021|
Has anyone read THE VANISHING HALF by Brit Bennett? Hearing great things about it.
|by Anonymous||reply 60||01/19/2021|
At the moment, I'm re-reading "Started Early, Took My Dog," by Kate Atkinson. I'm especially fond of Atkinson's books, and this is one of my favorites.
|by Anonymous||reply 61||01/19/2021|
I love the Kate Atkinson Jackson Brodie series but the last one BIG SKY was not up to her standards. Sadly her last non-Brodie book TRANSCRIPTION was even worse.
What's happened to her? She's written some of my favorite books of the last 20 years.
|by Anonymous||reply 62||01/19/2021|
To each his own, r62. It all seemed unbelievable to me.
Have you read her early books like Human Croquet and Behind the Scenes at the Museum? They're truly sublime.
|by Anonymous||reply 64||01/19/2021|
I read excerpts some months ago but I'm now well into Barack Obama's Promised Land. He is a brilliant writer.
|by Anonymous||reply 65||01/19/2021|
I'm still slogging my way through Mary Renault's "Fire From Heaven." I've finished two and a half other books in the meantime because I'm down to only reading a few pages of FRH right before bed. It picked up a bit when Aristotle came onto the scene, but now I'm very near the end and am back to being bored and LOATHING Alexander. What an insufferable, psycho little prig.
I do want to hate-watch Oliver Stone's 'Alexander' now, though.
|by Anonymous||reply 66||01/19/2021|
Tried reading a few of Renault's books but could never get into them. I know she's had lots of fans but her writing hasn't aged well.
|by Anonymous||reply 67||01/19/2021|
OT: saw John Grisham in person years ago in DC. Very handsome.
|by Anonymous||reply 68||01/19/2021|
I'm reading Ripley under ground right now (it's been more than twenty years since i read The talented mr Ripley).
I ended Half of a yellow sun, not the best read for my current mood
|by Anonymous||reply 69||01/20/2021|
To celebrate Patricia Highsmith's 100th birthday, reading "Carol" and "Ripley's Game" (and watching the movie versions).
|by Anonymous||reply 70||01/20/2021|
I'm loving Brit Bennett's THE VANISHING HALF. I'm about 1/2 through and I don't want it to end.
|by Anonymous||reply 71||01/25/2021|
THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS by Micah Nemerever. Romance-ish novel involving two gay college students. They're really more addicted to/codependent with each other than anything approaching true romance. I'm not sure what their psychiatric diagnosis is, but it can't be a good one. Each is a pretty awful person. I'm 55-60% through, and they're only getting more whatever-pathic. Not sure I'll finish.
It takes place in Pittsburgh, in 1973, but I'm not sure the author has spent more than a weekend here. He keeps referring to "the interstate," which is something no Pittsburgher ever says. We have "the parkway," which is the interstate that goes through the city, or the turnpike, which crosses the state from east to west, but we don't call anything "the interstate."
And did anyone ever say "it is what it is" in 1973? That's just one of the anachronisms the book is peppered with.
|by Anonymous||reply 72||01/25/2021|
R72 What a pity. I read lot of good things about that novel and it was in several "most anticipated" lists.
I want The redshirt will be published in my country, the intersection between gayness and sports world always catch my attention.
This year the gay authors are gettin a lot of recognition on literary awards.
Bryan Washington was nominated to the National Book Critics Circle Award for Memorial, and Douglas Stuart (Shuggie Bain) and Brandon Taylor (Real life) are nominated to the John Leonard Prize
|by Anonymous||reply 73||01/25/2021|
Amazon just delivered a definitive biography of James Baldwin. It's gotten rave reviews. Critics love it. I am looking forward to starting it this week.
|by Anonymous||reply 74||01/25/2021|
I'm reading a book called Wild Robot, about a robot who has to fend for herself on an island uninhabited by humans.
|by Anonymous||reply 75||01/25/2021|
R72. I though that was a dreadful book. The author is an FTM, which may be part of the explanation of why the relationship between the two young gay men never feels real. (Don’t get me wrong—there are great writers who can imagine the inner lives of characters not in their own identity categories—Henry James, Flaubert created believable women; Jane Hamilton and Rebekah Makkah have written deeply and well in the experiences of gay men—this author just did not demonstrate the ability to do that). I also don’t think the book added to the story of Leopoldo and Loeb, which the author acknowledges as the inspiration: Compulsion, while filled with the homophobia of its time feels like it gets deeper (Meyer Levin was a cub reporter during the case) and John Logan’s early play Never the Sinner, which he wrote in an undergraduate playwriting class at Northwestern, was quite good ;and Denis O’Hare, also an undergrad at the time, made an excellent “Babe” Lieb).
I also agree the language has jarring anachronisms—the “It is what it is” leapt our at me too.
I grew up in the suburbs and had a teacher whose best childhood friend’s mother was an ex-con who had been a cellmate if either Leopoldo or Lieb, so the story has always fascinated me. This novel was thin beer.
|by Anonymous||reply 76||01/25/2021|
Speaking of COMPULSION, is Levin's book still worth a look? I've always meant to read it and don't really know the Leopold/Loeb story that well.
|by Anonymous||reply 77||01/25/2021|
Sorry, Leopold not Leopoldo.
Btw, thanks to whoever recommended “A Judgement in Stone.” I got it from the library and finished it last night. Excellent thriller with more moral/psychological weight than standard genre might have predicted. I’d read a “Barbara Vine” I really liked, but nothing under the Rendell name. Apparently there was a poorly received film with Rita Tushinghsm as Eunice and then a better French adaptation some years later.
|by Anonymous||reply 78||01/25/2021|
I love Ruth Rendell. My favorite of hers is A Dark Adapted Eye.
|by Anonymous||reply 79||01/25/2021|
A Dark Adapted Eye and A Fatal Inversion were the first 2 Rendells written as her alias Barbara Vine and IMHO the 2 best. There's a wonderful British TV film of the latter with a young sexy Jeremy Northam.
|by Anonymous||reply 80||01/25/2021|
R78, you're welcome. Glad you enjoyed it. The Rita Tushingham adaptation is The Housekeeper. The French version is La Ceremonie. Both worth checking out.
The opening sentence of the novel is among my favorite of all time. Hard not to move forward with the book after you've read it.
|by Anonymous||reply 81||01/26/2021|
R43 Curiously my Charlie Parker book of this year will be The Reappers which is focused on Louis and Angel
|by Anonymous||reply 83||01/26/2021|
I love A Dark Adapted Eye. The TV series, anyway, with a career best performance from Celia Imrie.
|by Anonymous||reply 84||01/27/2021|
I just finished Red, White & Royal Blue, the romance between the President’s half-Mexican son (a top) and the Prince of England (a bottom). It was fun, even if the young male characters felt like they were written for a female audience,
|by Anonymous||reply 85||01/28/2021|
Was the bottom Prince of England inspired by Prince Edward?
|by Anonymous||reply 86||01/28/2021|
Well, r85, it was written by a woman, so . . .
|by Anonymous||reply 87||01/29/2021|
whoever recommended Memorial up stream..... thank you. such a fun book.
|by Anonymous||reply 88||01/31/2021|
Just finished up Susanna Clarke's "Piranesi." I wasn't sure what to expect, but I found it deeply engrossing and oddly moving.
I'm struggling with "Dawn" by Octavia Butler, but I hate it.
|by Anonymous||reply 89||01/31/2021|
I ended Little women, cheese as hell. I think i had more sugar on blood than never before.
I started Vernon Subutext 1 (next in the line are Steven Hall's Raw shark texts and John Connolly's The Reapers)
|by Anonymous||reply 90||01/31/2021|
Sugar on blood? Please explain.
|by Anonymous||reply 91||01/31/2021|
That novel causes diabetes. The story is ok (and translates well to film) but it's too sugary
|by Anonymous||reply 92||01/31/2021|
People (OP) who alphabetize by first names are idiots.
|by Anonymous||reply 93||01/31/2021|
I recall a DLer mentioning Homeland by Fernando Aramburu some years ago, I can't remember if they were Spanish (or Basque). Has anyone read it?
|by Anonymous||reply 94||02/02/2021|
"So Dark the Waves on Biscayne Bay" by Barbara Thorndyke
|by Anonymous||reply 95||02/03/2021|
I'm now almost done with the 4th book (of 5) in the Cazalet Chronicles series by Elizabeth Jane Howard. Thanks again to the posters here who mentioned and recommended these books, they are getting me through the pandemic. Have to say they get better with each one, especially liking that the younger children are far more interesting as grownups.
|by Anonymous||reply 96||02/07/2021|
Just finished The Prophets. Wonderful.
|by Anonymous||reply 97||02/07/2021|
I finished Vernon Subutex 1 (i will read the other two all over the year or next year) and i'm going to start The reapers, my usual John Connolly winter read
|by Anonymous||reply 98||02/07/2021|
I want to read Uncle Tom's Cabin but I am afraid I'll be judged for buying it. I'm barely literate compared to the rest of you.
|by Anonymous||reply 99||02/07/2021|
I'm about 1/3 through Mark Harris' brilliant bio MIKE NICHOLS; A LIFE.
Un-put-downable. Crammed with details and great analysis. Is there anyone in 1950s-60s-70s and onward show biz Nichols didn't know?
|by Anonymous||reply 100||02/13/2021|
Thanks to the poster who recommended Mrs. Bridge. I loved it.
|by Anonymous||reply 101||02/13/2021|
R101, Mr. Bridge is a good follow-up. I read them both last year and really liked them.
|by Anonymous||reply 102||02/13/2021|
r100, a bit further along in the book, and it is totally absorbing. Harris has a great knack for chronicling the behind-the-scenes of Nichols's projects and it's astonishing how many there were, both stage and screen. I do think there's a great gap in that the Widow Sawyer gave her approval, but declined to be interviewed, as did his three children. Also, wonder why Whoopi Goldberg wouldn't participate. Finally, there's the issue of his bisexuality, given the assertion in a recent Richard Avedon bio that he and Nichols were lovers for a decade. Harris deals with this in a footnote, declaring that he discounts that book's claims. That he doesn't explore this more fully is a flaw for me. Still, I am gobbling the book with great enjoyment.
|by Anonymous||reply 103||02/13/2021|
But r103, I interpreted what Harris said in that footnote re: Mike's bisexuality as he DID explore it. Meaning, I assume, he asked several of Nichols' friends/colleagues to comment and none did. Now, of course, that's not to say it didn't exist but Harris couldn't write about it if there's no reference for it. What is their to say without corroboration? And then what would a reader like to know about his bisexuality? A list of partners? A list of positions?
While I suppose it might be fascinating to hear someone like Elaine May or Meryl Streep talk about Mike's sexuality in regard to his directing but perhaps there was no correlation. Most interviewed (and there seem to be hundreds) certainly did talk about him in intimate terms.
|by Anonymous||reply 104||02/13/2021|
Currently reading THE RIVER OF DOUBT about Teddy Roosevelt's 1913 misguided trip down an uncharted tributary of the Amazon River accompanied by his son Kermit and an inept team of explorers. Fascinating stuff.
|by Anonymous||reply 105||02/21/2021|
Vincent Chu, "Like a Champion" collection of stories. These are good!
|by Anonymous||reply 106||02/21/2021|
I just finished Ian Toll’s final book on the Pacific War, “Twilight of the Gods.”
An amazing trilogy. If you’ve ever wanted to make sense of how the Empire of Japan was confronted and defeated in WWII, this is the trilogy, and so superbly written as well.
|by Anonymous||reply 107||02/21/2021|
I really enjoyed The Cold Millions, much more so than Beautiful Ruins. It will make a good movie, if they can cast Rye well.
|by Anonymous||reply 108||02/21/2021|
I'm finally reading Andrew Sean Greer's[italic] Less[/italic]. Late to the party, I know.
Next up, The Vanishing Half
Adding my vote for Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie series
|by Anonymous||reply 109||02/21/2021|
Enjoyed Leave the World Behind. Could be a dynamite movie.
|by Anonymous||reply 110||02/21/2021|
[quote]Just finished up Susanna Clarke's "Piranesi." I wasn't sure what to expect, but I found it deeply engrossing and oddly moving.
Ah, I've been wanting to read this book! I loved Jonathan Strange & Dr. Norrell & have been looking for another book like that to become fully engrossed in.
|by Anonymous||reply 111||02/21/2021|
I've been working my way through "Washington: A Life" by Ron Chernow. The peak periods of Washington's life are interesting: the Revolutionary War, the Presidency, - but the periods in between are bit of a slog. Who knew George was such a striver and how much of his legend was so self-crafted?
In the current context, however, it gives some insight into our modern day conflicts: how inept & corrupt Congress is, the conflicting priorities and attitudes of the states, Abolitionists as the original Black Lives Matter and of course the ever-present conflict between what Great Men say, particularly in regards to slavery, versus what they actually do. It also makes you realize how far as a society we've fallen. Corrupt creeps like Trump & Cruz have always existed, by Washington would be horrified by men with no integrity or honor holding lofty positions.
|by Anonymous||reply 112||02/21/2021|
Just finished Between The World And Me by Ta'Nehisi Coates. Mostly absorbing, especially his description of being at Howard University. But it does get a little repetitive after a while.
About to start Memorial.
|by Anonymous||reply 113||02/21/2021|
Loved The Cold Millions and agree it will make a fabulous film, or better yet, a mini-series.
Loved The Vanishing Half. Supposedly already in development for a film or mini-series (not sure which) but I don't see how they'll ever cast the twins convincingly (even with one actress and CGI).
And loved all of the Jackson Brodie mysteries (except for the most recent). I wish they'd continued filming them with Jason Isaacs....I think they've only done the first two.
|by Anonymous||reply 114||02/21/2021|
Any opinions on HOMELAND ELEGIES by Ayad Akhtar? Hearing good things but no specifics.
|by Anonymous||reply 115||02/21/2021|
Mark Merlis's last novel J.D. (2015). The Grim Reaper came for him in 2017, sadly. He was a fantastic writer.
|by Anonymous||reply 116||02/21/2021|
'A Little Life' by Hanya Yanagihara. Was recommended to me by a friend. It's a big, fat, juicy, well-written and erudite novel with a plot. I'm 200 pp in and impressed by the range and quality of the allusions. Enjoying it so far; a good winter read.
|by Anonymous||reply 117||02/21/2021|
First unalloyed enthusiastic response I’ve read about “A Little Life”. Curious what you think when it’s over.
|by Anonymous||reply 118||02/21/2021|
I'll be happy to tell you my thoughts R118. I have one criticism only, now -- but I'm only 200 pp in.
|by Anonymous||reply 119||02/21/2021|
A Little Life was borderline offensive to me as a gay man...I’ll leave it at that.
So far this year, I finished Normal People by Sally Rooney, but I made the mistake of digging deep in the vault to read unread books I own. I’m now in the middle of The Corrections, and it isn’t doing a good job of maintaining my interest. Meanwhile, I have The Mirror and the Light, Conversation with Friends, and A Single Man sitting on the nightstand....begging to be read.
|by Anonymous||reply 120||02/21/2021|
Curious, R120 -- why, because of the Jude shit with the brothers? It's gross, tbh. I'm not sure why so many modern writers seem to want to dwell on the freaky and ugly. But as I say I'm early in it.
|by Anonymous||reply 121||02/21/2021|
Sorry, it’s been years since I’ve read it at this point, but I seem to recall the only outright gay character was a bitchy...no, cruel...drug addict. Then Jude was essentially asexual, but somehow gay because he was sexually abused as a child? And then he ends up in a relationship with a man who identified as straight for most of the book (and is treated as the only unquestionably decent and pure character).
|by Anonymous||reply 122||02/21/2021|
I appreciate your comments. I hope to come back and respond if/when I get all the way through it.
|by Anonymous||reply 123||02/21/2021|
Please do read it and form your own opinions (also seek out the DL thread...which contradicted and affirmed some of my own thoughts at the time).
|by Anonymous||reply 124||02/21/2021|
Damm, R120. The DL amazes me sometimes!
|by Anonymous||reply 125||02/21/2021|
Just remembered I bought a used copy of the Mark Merlis book American Studies based on a rec here but put it away because I had so many other books lined up to read. I've got to look for it and read it.
FWIW I read about half of A Little Life and gave up in disgust. It was far too melodramatic for my tastes....too intent on shocking the reader.
|by Anonymous||reply 126||02/21/2021|
R115, a friend of mine read Homeland Elegies and liked it a lot. He kept having to remind himself it was fiction, though thinly disguised at times. I plan to read it as well.
|by Anonymous||reply 127||02/21/2021|
I loved American Studies. I didn’t realize Merlis had died. He was a terrific writer.
I also loved A Little Life.
|by Anonymous||reply 128||02/21/2021|
I’m halfway through “Mediocre” by Ijeoma Oluo and “Inventing The Enemy” by my Umberto Eco, but both send me woolgathering after a page of reading.
I’m also rehashing “Everville” by Clive Barker as he normalizes life during plague and cataclysm.
|by Anonymous||reply 129||02/21/2021|
R126, I stopped reading "On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous" by Ocean Vuong for that reason after the macaque digression. Reveling in sadism and grotesquery. Life is too short for that.
|by Anonymous||reply 130||02/22/2021|
Just finished "Homeland" Fernando Aramburu. Excellent non-linear narrative of two families torn apart by ETA violence in the Basque Country. Very enjoyable read. And you get to learn a few words in Basque.
|by Anonymous||reply 131||02/22/2021|
I’m up on The Magic Mountain. I suppose it’s too much to ask that the cousins do it.
|by Anonymous||reply 132||02/22/2021|
I just finished Purity by Jonathan Franzen. It sat on my shelf for almost five years, with the jacket remaining in place just after the first section. It was entertaining, smart, and relevant but also uncomfortably long and borderline misogynistic.
Franzen is tough, especially in this one. He writes thoughtfully with great attention to detail, but the book took almost 200 pages before the seemingly unconnected stories began to merge and 400 before it was really clear. And now he’s coming out with a trilogy of 600 page books.
|by Anonymous||reply 133||02/22/2021|
There seem to be very few on-the-fence responses to A LITTLE LIFE. I'm on the side of those who think it's a great novel.
|by Anonymous||reply 134||02/22/2021|
I loved both The Corrections and Purity. Some brilliantly insightful commentary scattered throughout. Maybe not poetry from beginning to end but an engaging story with something meaningful to say about life. Very different than a David Foster Wallace or Cormac McCarthy - I find it much more accessible but intelligent, engaging and entertaining.
|by Anonymous||reply 135||02/22/2021|
A little life is one of those books some love and some hate. Generally generates strong reactions.
I still didn't read Purity. I bought it when it was published here because i liked Freedom and The corrections but i need to be on the right mood to read Franzen
|by Anonymous||reply 136||02/22/2021|
I loved Freedom, and still think about it over ten years later. The Corrections seemed to be held in higher regard by most critics and readers, so I’m not sure why I’m having such a hard time getting through it.
Regarding A Little Life: I prefer stories that explore the range of human emotions. I don’t need a happy ending or thoroughly lovable characters; however, I cannot stand grief porn. The trials and tribulations of a sexually abused child who grows up to be a physically abused cutter was just too much to handle.
|by Anonymous||reply 137||02/22/2021|
I am a huge Jonathan Franzen fan and Purity is my favorite of his three big novels. It perfectly captured the zeitgeist of the moment that it was written.
I also loved The Corrections.
I’m not sure why none of his novels have been turned into a miniseries yet but any of them could be amazing in the right hands.
I keep wondering when his next novel is going to come out. Imagine what he could write about the last year.
|by Anonymous||reply 138||02/22/2021|
Purity is the weakest of the Franzen triad IMO. Too focused on a very of-the-moment issue and less on the universal lessons of life.
I also saw Little Life as pain/sex porn. At points, I laughed out loud at how over the top it became - which ruins the generally serious tone it intends. And right or wrong, the fact that it was written by a a trendy female Vogue writer chafes me a little. The sexual ambiguity/flexibility of a male character is exactly something one expects in chick-lit. It’s not realistic to me as a gay man.
|by Anonymous||reply 139||02/22/2021|
Supposedly, Franzen novels make it out the gate, but never across the finish line.
There’s actually a pilot of The Corrections that never saw the light of day (starring Ewan MacGregor, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dianne Wiest, and Chris Cooper). A few years ago, an adaptation of Purity was in the works, with Daniel Craig attached, but the project died when he had to back out. Mega-producer Scott Rubin bought the film rights to Freedom around the time it was released...which clearly means nothing 11 years later.
|by Anonymous||reply 140||02/22/2021|
There were a bunch of very popular (and critically praised novels) whose adaptations ended on the pilot (or even before).
There are some cases difficult to explain because The art of fielding seemed written to be adapted
|by Anonymous||reply 141||02/22/2021|
enjoyed Red White and Royal Blue, so i tried Boyfriend Material. not gonna lie: did not expect to love this as much as i did. very funny, but with a lot of heart too.
|by Anonymous||reply 142||02/24/2021|
Halfway through "A Little Life" and I'm losing patience. Jude lacks verisimilitude to me; never has an unkind word and everybody loves him despite the fact that he reveals nothing of his private life and is an emotional train wreck. He's a fabulous, high-performing corporate litigator who had the most abysmal childhood imaginable and goes home to cut himself at night. Adopted by a professor and his wife who are completely oblivious to his background, emotional problems and cutting. Andy has been his doctor for years and takes calls at all hours for no payment. Jude supposedly has a body polluted with scars, never wears short sleeve shirts, yet swims for exercise in a public pool.
Doesn't hang together for me. It's like Yanagihara is trying to conjure Prince Myshkin out of a self-abusing corporate lawyer.
|by Anonymous||reply 143||02/25/2021|
he Underground Airlines by Ben H Winters. alt US history. what if the Civil War never happened. and slavery was still a part of our daily life. lots of mirror images of today. grand story tell, is Mr. Ben.
|by Anonymous||reply 144||02/25/2021|
Finishing Gitta Sereny's Into That Darkness, interviews with the man who was in charge of the Treblinka death camp.
|by Anonymous||reply 145||02/25/2021|
I'm going to start Walter Tevis' Queen's gambit
|by Anonymous||reply 146||02/26/2021|
I made it half-way through "A Little Life" until I gave up in frustration. I'm a very patient reader but my patience ran out.
I enjoyed "Detransition, Baby" though I probably wouldn't recommend it as a Must Read. "Caste" was good as was "Transcendent Kingdom." This thread inspired me to read some Patricia Highsmith.
Does anyone have any recommendations for a well-written, believable, compelling thriller? I'm looking for something like Raiders of the Lost Arc or Silence of the Lambs, a real page-turner. But not a dumb one like DaVinci Code. Horror is fine but not interested in Fantasy or Sci-Fi. Any recommendations are appreciated.
Will look into "Memorial" based on this thread.
|by Anonymous||reply 147||02/26/2021|
Rumaan Alam must be a curious case. He is openly gay but all his novels main characters are women
|by Anonymous||reply 149||02/27/2021|
Interested to hear what you think of his earlier books.
|by Anonymous||reply 150||02/27/2021|
Chromophobia by David Batchelor
The central argument of Chromophobia is that a chromophobic impulse - a fear of corruption or contamination through color - lurks within much Western cultural and intellectual thought. This is apparent in the many and varied attempts to purge color, either by making it the property of some foreign body - the oriental, the feminine, the infantile, the vulgar, or the pathological - or by relegating it to the realm of the superficial, the supplementary, the inessential, or the cosmetic.
|by Anonymous||reply 151||02/27/2021|
The President and the Assassin about Czolgosz and McKinley. It's kind of odd because he cuts between the 1880s and 1890s as though they were contemporary, but it is interesting. I'm afraid he doesn't really understand either of them.
|by Anonymous||reply 152||02/27/2021|
'A Really Big Lunch' by Jim Harrison, short essays. Novelist, poet, gourmand, oenophile and bon vivant. He's fun to read.
|by Anonymous||reply 154||02/27/2021|
R149, when I read Rich and Pretty by Alam, I absolutely thought a woman wrote it. It wasn't until his next novel came out that I realized the author was a man. The only other time I was shocked a man wrote so convincingly from a woman's perspective was reading She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb, some twenty years ago.
|by Anonymous||reply 155||02/27/2021|
I really loved She’s Come Undone!
|by Anonymous||reply 156||02/27/2021|
Why would anyone want to waste their time reading when you have tv and the internet to watch.
|by Anonymous||reply 157||02/27/2021|
R157, I enjoyed Game of Thrones, but was thoroughly convinced the books were beneath me. I also knew the basic plot, so what would be the point?
When the show ended, I reluctantly started reading the books and they were so much better. They included more details, more intricate plots, more characters, more insight into the characters' motivations...
|by Anonymous||reply 158||02/27/2021|
R157 You know sometimes the book and the tv/film adaptation barely have things in common.
And there are tons of mediocre tv shows and films from great novels.
And of course, there are people (maybe that's a surprise to you) that really like to read
|by Anonymous||reply 159||02/28/2021|
Franzen's next novel "Crossroads" comes out in October. As a previous poster mentioned, it's the first in a planned trilogy about a Midwestern family that reaches from the early 20th to early 21st Century. The title of the trilogy, "The Key to All Mythologies," is amusingly pretentious in a very Franzen way. I have to admit I'm pretty excited for this, though.
|by Anonymous||reply 160||02/28/2021|
October seems a million years away.
|by Anonymous||reply 161||02/28/2021|
R160 -- Middlemarch allusion, yes?
|by Anonymous||reply 162||02/28/2021|
I finished The Prophets, which lives up to its reviews.
|by Anonymous||reply 163||02/28/2021|
Has anyone read The Hunting Party or The Guest List? The author Lucy Foley seems annoyingly breezy and Oxbridge in interviews but they seem a bit Agatha Christie-ish, from the descriptions.
|by Anonymous||reply 164||Last Monday at 2:47 PM|
Just finished The Little Friend. It was on a friend's bookshelf, and I asked to borrow it. Now I'm reading Hopscotch by Julio Cortazar. Found that in A Little Library that I drive past everyday.
At some point, I'll get back to reading books that I intended to read. But I'm enjoying reading randomly for the time being.
|by Anonymous||reply 165||Last Monday at 3:14 PM|
I'm reading books off of Amazonby Suzanne Valenti & Ruby Vincent, you?
|by Anonymous||reply 166||Last Monday at 4:46 PM|
Loved “Ducks, Newburyport” but it’s quite a commitment. Also enjoyed “The Lying Life of Adults”
|by Anonymous||reply 167||Last Monday at 5:57 PM|
Halfway through Trust Exercise and barely tolerating it. I'm past the teen section and in the adult stage of the story and honestly, I don't know what the fuck is going on. The writer repeatedly having one of the characters refer to her "author friend" drove me nuts.
|by Anonymous||reply 168||Last Tuesday at 3:36 AM|
R168 I loved Trust exercise but it's the kind of novel some love and some hate, just like Eleanor Catton's The rehearsal
|by Anonymous||reply 169||Last Tuesday at 9:01 AM|
[quote]Franzen's next novel "Crossroads" comes out in October.
[quote]The title of the trilogy, "The Key to All Mythologies," is amusingly pretentious in a very Franzen way.
Amusing juxtaposition there for Brits: "Crossroads" was the title of the worst TV daytime soap ever, set in a Midlands motel. Terrible low camp it was, so naturally it ran for years.
By contrast "The Key To All Mythologies" must indeed be a reference to the most famous and revered highbrow novel in English, "Middlemarch." A wry reference though, given the fate of TKTAM's putative author Casaubon.
|by Anonymous||reply 170||Last Tuesday at 9:44 AM|
Don't think Casaubon's work was a novel, but a dreary pedantic theological tome.
|by Anonymous||reply 171||Last Tuesday at 12:50 PM|
Mr Casaubon was a withered, humorless, cold-handed cunt in a pilly old cardigan.
|by Anonymous||reply 172||Last Wednesday at 1:36 AM|
I've been trying to finish reading My Pet Goat since the morning of 9/11/2011 but I found it difficult.
|by Anonymous||reply 173||Last Wednesday at 2:04 AM|
[R164] I’ve read The Guest List by Lucy Foley. Very predictable. I figured out who the killer was after two chapters. It was fine for a quick read. I’ve heard The Hunting Party is the same story in a different locale.
|by Anonymous||reply 174||Last Wednesday at 7:21 AM|
I'm about to start Djinn patrol on the purple line
|by Anonymous||reply 175||Last Friday at 10:55 AM|
Rebecca Hardiman's book...Good Eggs...hysterical
|by Anonymous||reply 177||a day ago|
I am reading Ducks, Newburyport because of this thread. A little way in. Interesting. Random and yet somehow keeps your attention. It's like there's a plot that's revealed scattershot through the novel, non-chronologically. Weird but cool. I'm fascinated to see if if works.
|by Anonymous||reply 178||a day ago|
R177, I looked up the title in my library Overdrive and there was a blurb that the book was great for those who loved "Where did you go, Bernadette" and I closed the browser tab pronto.
|by Anonymous||reply 179||a day ago|