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JPH  book journal #28 - Winters − January 7, 2017 to present   

         bk other Winters journals: #23
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Here are the books I've been reading lately. I put the covers up here, then it takes me a little time to get my thoughts together about the books. I have many notebooks filled with my first reactions to these books.
(
ARC = advanced reading copy - released by publishers, before pub date, to reviewers to create a buzz about a new book)

     what's John reading NOW?  |  Vicky's Page
let me judge:
   crow - to crow about          bored - yawn, no connection, don't get it          special - special design          VT- Vermont related
 
.

of

Of Covenants by C. Kubasta  
poetry - 80 pages - paperback (
ARC) - Whitepoint Press - finished 10-4-17              
   - words to come

unbelievable  before  george  autumn  legacy  sidetracked


Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in  American History by Katy Tur  
politics - 304 pages - hardcover - William Morrow - finished 10-3-17              
    - words to come

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley  
mystery - 416 pages - paperback - Grand Central - finished 9-29-17              
   - words to come

George & Lizzie by Nancy Pearl  
fiction - 288 pages - hardback (
ARC) - Touchstone - finished 9-26-17              
   - words to come

Autumn by Karl Ove Knausgaard crow  special 
nonfiction - 240 pages - hardcover - Penguin Press - finished REREADING 9-22-17              
   - words to come

A Legacy of Spies by John Le Carré  
fiction - 272 pages - hardcover - Viking - finished 9-22-17              
   - words to come

Sidetracked
by Henning Mankell crow 
mystery - 420 pages - paperback - Vintage - finished 9-15-17           
   - words to come

i  autumn  man  immortal  american  white

I Can't Breathe by Matt Taibbi  
mystery - 336 pages - paperback (
ARC) - Spiegel & Grau - finished 9-8-17           
   - words to come

Autumn by Karl Ove Knausgaard crow  special
nonfiction - 240 pages - hardcover - Penguin Press - finished 9-1-17           
   - words to come

The Man Who Smiled by Henning Mankell  crow
mystery - 336 pages - paperback - Vintage - finished 8-30-17           
   - words to come

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot crow 
history - 381 pages - paperback - Broadway Books - finished 8-25-17           
   - words to come

An American Family by Khizr Kahn  
nonfiction - 288 pages - paperback (
ARC) - Random - finished 8-21-17           
   - words to come

The White Lioness by Henning Mankell  
mystery - 448 pages - paperback - Vintage - finished 8-18-17           
   - words to come

  genuine  killers  dogs  dunkirk  faceless  shark

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart bored 
fiction/ya - 288 pages - paperback (
ARC) - Delacorte - finished 8-8-17        
   - words to come


Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann  
history - 352 pages - hardcover - Doubleday - finished 8-7-17        
   - words to come


Dogs of Riga
by Henning Mankell crow 
mystery - 336 pages - paperback - Vintage - finished 8-4-17        
   - words to come


Dunkirk: The History Behind the Major Motion Picture by Joshua Levine crow 
history - 368 pages - paperback - William Morrow - finished 7-31-17     
   We saw the movie, and as I've always carried a soft spot for this moment in history — it was a time that my grandfather spoke of as something quite special to him — I then felt like I needed even more information about this time. Certainly it came right on the heels of a series of disastrous defeats for the Allied forces (British, French, Belgians) in France, but when all was said and done, the British were most of the mindset that they had pulled together and created a huge success, an incredible evacuation of hundreds of thousands of troops trapped on a beach almost within sight of the British coast. Even the troops were surprised when the British population saw them as heroes, instead of failures. There was a hope that renewed the spirit of the nation.
   The book supplied so much of the history and facts behind what I thought was an excellent example of film as a piece of art. This isn't to say that I won't be reading more on this time period. The power of hope in England at this time feels like something I would like to experience more of in my present orange-Cheetos-funk.    

Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell crow 
mystery - 279 pages - paperback - Vintage - finished 7-27-17     
   I'm starting the entire library of Wallander mysteries and they are such a fine place to be.
more to come ...

Shark Drunk: The Art of Catching a Large Shark from a Tiny Rubber Dinghy in a Big Ocean by Morten Stroksnes crow 
nature - 320 pages - hardcover - Knopf - finished 7-23-17     
   This was a gift and the giver knows me well ... I loved it!


accomplished  caught  broken  where  wintering  gravity

The Accomplished Guest by Ann Beattie  
short stories - 288 pages - hardcover - Scribner - finished 7-19-17     
   Here's one of my favorite authors sharing a new collection of her fine short stories. Her writing seems to be similar to many of my long-time favorite writers, her characters are aging and facing different problems in life. Many careers have come to a close, relationships have come and gone, and often thoughts of limitations and death come to mind ... I can relate. While this isn't my favorite collection — strange to think that her first collection,
Distortions, is like forty years old — they are damn good. Some of the telltale Beattie elements don't show up as much as they once did, but her skill is still quite evident. 

Caught in the Revolution by Helen Rappaport crow  
history - 464 pages - paperback (
ARC) - St. Martin's - finished 7-15-17     
   This was a fascinating book, one that brought a whole group of new perspectives to a subject that I've read many previous books about. As opposed to all the college text books, standard history books, ultra-radical politically centered works, personal histories by many of the Russian principals involved, comic books, educational board games
, this history brought in a very distinctive new view.
   Personal histories are brought to life from the large number of Americans and Europeans that feared and witnessed this massive change. Pulling stories from a vast number of personal letters, diaries, and other personal writings, these people see a country in revolution after revolution, as they throw off the long rule of tsars, for a people's food revolution, that is then taken over by a variety of political elements, until the Bolsheviks have finally solidified their control in a new government.
   Seen by those from other countries and cultures, gives this telling sometimes a much more objective viewpoint, and at other times a too personal and prejudiced point of view. There isn't a telling with a party line constantly being espoused here, but one with a very fresh and factual feel. I really appreciated this book's structure and thoroughness.            

Broken River
by J. Robert Lennon  
fiction - 240 pages - paperback - Graywolf Press - finished 7-10-17     
   to come

Where You Live by Andrew Roe   he Revolution
short stories - 240 pages - paperback - Engine Books - finished 7-2-17     
   My experience with this short story collection, was rather unique for me. I read a great deal of short story collections, but it's rare that I find the first half of a collection not engaging and uninspiring, but from that point on, the stories grew and grew on me. These stories are centered on—not the rich, beautiful, and famous
—but those people with lots of problems and few means or solutions. Overall, his book isn't a favorite, but I will definitely return again to see if my reaction is the same.

Wintering
by Peter Geye crow 
fiction - 320 pages - paperback - Vintage - finished 6-27-17     
   One of the most engaging and exciting books that I've read in some time. It's full of ice, snow, cold, but, beyond these personal favorites, the author displays a great sensitivity about how people care about each other, how their histories change the people that surround them, and how to create a driving story that keeps sleep at bay for many a page.  


Gravity Changes
by Zach Powers  
short stories - 176 pages - paperback - BOA Editions - finished 6-26-17     
   to come



old man  mycat  quicksand  island  secret  upstream

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway crow 
fiction - 128 pages - paperback - Scribner - finished REREADING 6-25-17     
   Many years ago I read and reread this little book, and watched several different movie versions, yet, it still is a fine bit of writing that seemed as fresh as that first time ... so many years ago. It's always good to visit an old friend.


My Cat Yugoslavia
by Pajtim Statovci  
fiction - 272 pages - hardcover - Pantheon - finished 6-25-17     
   to come


Quicksand
by Henning Mankell  
memoir - 320 pages - paperback - Vintage - finished 6-25-17     
   to come

Island Home
by Tim Winton crow 
memoir/nature - 256 pages - paperback - Milkweed - finished 6-23-17    
   Winton has put together a clever collection of short essays (or whatever one chooses to call them) that show how much his love for the land and sea of Australia has made him the man he is today. Not every piece is golden, but all together it's simply spendid.

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/3 Years Old by (?) Hendrik Groen  
fiction - 384 pages - paperback (
ARC) - Grand Central - finished 6-23-17     
   to come


Upstream
: Searching for Wild Salmon, from River to Table by Landon Cook 
nature - 336 pages - paperback (
ARC) - Random - finished 6-19-17     
   Though I have never liked the taste of salmon, this book was such a source of so much information that I found myself with an appetite for the next page, and the next page, and the next page. The author shares many opinions and viewpoints that take the reader far beyond just the world of salmon and fish, to how we treat and view the planet, and are a part of the whole picture. 


dry  speak   signals  ill  sit  trajectory

Dry Bones by Craig Johnson crow 
fiction - 320 pages - hardcover - Viking - finished 6-16-17      
   It is always great to put on another Longmire book, instantly you are right back with an old group of friends/characters. With this title everybody is there. The plot revolves around an incredibly valuable Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil that has been found on the land of an Indian who is found dead in the beginning of the book. Great adventure, a fair amount of danger, and plenty of laughs fill the book. Oh, to only have another Longmire book on my bedside table. 


Speak, Memory
by Vladimir Nabokov crow 
memoir - 336 pages - paperback - Vintage - finished 6-11-17
   Whenever I read a book by such a fine wordsmith as this, I'm sure to never confuse it with any other book I may be reading at the same time. What a great pleasure to see how he puts it all together to tell the story of his earlier life, which, in itself, was so other worldly, little in my life relates anywhere near his 'bigger than life' story. It was a thrill to read.     

Signals: Stories
by Tim Gautreaux crow 
short stories - 384 pages - hardcover - Knopf - finished 6-10-17     
   to come


Ill Will
by Dan Chaon  
fiction - 480 pages - hardcover - Random - finished 5-31-17     
   Here's another book by one of my favorite authors, but it just didn't click with me. It is never a good sign when I'm excited to start a new book, but by the time I finish it, I've been pulled away by four or five other books ... the curse of the bright new shining object. If I find the time, I really should give it another try.

How to Sit
by Thich Nhat Hanh crow 
nonfiction - 120 pages - paperback - Parallax - finished REREADING 5-28-17     
   Again and again I return to this tiny little book, because it is such a pleasure, as well as a centering experience.

Trajectory
by Richard Russo crow 
short stories - 256 pages - hardcover - Knopf - finished 5-27-17     
   This collection of short stories seems to illustrate that Russo has gotten even better at creating fine short stories.

refinery  way  men  art  handmaids  dome

Refinery Town by Steve Early  
history - 248 pages - hardcover (
ARC) - Beacon Press - finished 5-24-17     
  The name Richmond, California means a lot of different things to a lot of people familiar with it. Here, Steve Early has laid out the recent progressive history of a city that is moving beyond its long 'company town' history. Chevron oil has had its way for decades, but that hasn't worked out well for the community in many ways: environmentally, employment wise, socially, crime wise, and certainly politically. Many people have worked very hard to bring about a new way for people to look at problems that so many other communities share. The book, while very specific to Richmond, has lessons that any town could learn from ... that, and Bernie Sanders even wrote a foreword for the book.     

The Way of the Writer
by Charles Johnson   crow
writing/bio - 256 pages - paperback - Scribner - finished 5-20-17   
  to come

Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami   crow
short stories - 240 pages - hardcover - Knopf - finished 5-17-17   
  Sure, I get everything this man publishes, but these short stories, in my opinion, are approaching perfection. I was thrilled to be reading each and every one. 

The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr   crow
writing/essays - 256 pages - hardcover - Harper - finished 5-12-17   
  to come

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood   crow
fiction - 311 pages - paperback - Random - finished REREADING 4-30-17   
  My reading was motivated by my reading of a fine essay by Atwood that dealt with her strong views on politics and independent bookselling, as well as the then upcoming TV series of the book. Currently, I have seen about six of the episodes of the series on Hulu and it's very well-done and they updated the story with great style. It's been some time since I read this when it came out back in the 1980s, but my basic feeling, then and now, remains the same, it's fascinating and VERY creepy.

Dome of Hidden the Pavilion by James Tate   crow
poetry - 160 pages - paperback - HarperCollins - finished REREADING 4-27-17   
  Every time I reread these prose poems, my love of this man's work grows and grows.

  new  touch  having  woman  britt  rigor


New and Collected Poems 1975-2015 by Jay Parini  
poetry - 248 pages - paperback (
ARC) - Beacon Press - finished 4-23-17   
  I have loved his other work—The Last Station, about the last days of Leo Tolstoy, and The Passage of H.M., about Herman Melville, were both fabulous—but his poetry is something that I just wasn't moved by.

Touch
by Courtney Maum  crow
fiction - 320 pages - paperback (
ARC) - Putnam - finished 4-22-17   
  to come

Having Everything Right by Kim Stafford, selected & edited by Robert Michael Pyle  
essays/nature - 208 pages - paperback - Pharos - finished 4-19-17   
  to come

Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki  
fiction - 320 pages - paperback (
ARC) - Hogarth - finished 4-18-17   
  to come

Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman   crow
fiction - 288 pages - paperback - Simon & Schuster - finished 4-10-17   
  to come


Rigor Mortis by Richard Harris   crow
science - 288 pages - paperback - Basic Books - finished 4-4-17   
  to come


writer  walden  tudors  zero  tenth  oola 



Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy
by Nicholas Reynolds 
bio/writing - 384 pages - hardcover - William Morrow - finished 4-2-17   
  to come

Walden: A Fully Annotated Edition by Henry David Thoreau, edited by Jeffrey S. Cramer   crow
nature - 400 pages - hardcover - Yale University Press - finished 3-19-17   
  Walden has been a book that I'm quite familiar with, having read it many times over my lifetime, but this fine quality edition was an entirely new experience. Annotated editions are wonderful learning experiences, but I find that the constant leaving the text for footnotes, can become a much different animal. Reading a book that includes twice as much reading material as the work's original text, can quickly seem more like a course on a book. Saying that, I learned so much more from this course, yet, I'm also sure to be rereading the original text again soon. Before reading Cramer's annotations, I knew there were a lot of references by Thoreau that I didn't fully understand, but now I have so much more knowledge of my massive, and previous, ignorance ... thank you Jeffrey Cramer.


Tudors: The History of England from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I 
by Peter Ackroyd  crow
history - 528 pages - paperback - St. Martin's - finished 3-13-17   
   This is the second volume in Ackroyd's series and it was filled with so much information that I'm sure to be reading the third volume soon. I'm familiar with a great deal of English history, but I couldn't help but learn something on every page. Ackroyd brings life to dry history and lays out some very dark times, times when torture could involve molten metals or the rack, or other twisted method. Even that final sentence, death, could be quick via beheading, or be even more brutal with burning at the stake, or that tried, true, and very final — drawn and quartered. Jesus, this period was not a high point for civilization.     


Numero Zero
by Umberto Eco
fiction - 208 pages - hardcover - Harvill Secker - finished 3-8-17   
   A friend sent this book my way and it has turned out to have been a great gift, Eco's intelligent writing is still shining in my mind.

Tenth of December
by George Saunders
short stories - 251 pages - hardcover - Random - finished
REREADING 3-5-17   
   After reading Saunders's impressive novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, I just had to return again to this fine short story collection. He is always a pleasure, though when I get right down to it, he isn't my favorite short story writer, but he's right up there. Returning to a good book, is one of life's treats. You can store a book on a shelf, see it periodically, and know that you can simply open it up and go right back to good times ... maybe that's why I have books all around me. 


Oola
by Brittany Newell bored
fiction - 272 pages - paperback (
ARC) - Henry Holt - finished 3-3-17
   This was a disappointment, but had its interesting bits.



wonder  mothering  rain  lincoln  knottspeed  days


The Wonder Garden
by Lauren Acampora crow
short stories - 368 pages - paperback - Grove Press - finished 2-27-17
   After reading all the praise, I had to try this collection of short stories for myself. My high praise shows up as this crow. Several reviewers compared her writings to John Cheever, which I can see because of the constant suburban setting, but she has some very unique, sometimes unsettling, plot twists of her very own. The stories are interrelated, with some characters showing up, or mentioned, in many of the stories. At times, the previously mentioned characters are scampering around on the edges of another story, and other times they're upfront and face-on.
   This is an upscale suburbia, but different, and more contemporary, than the meetings over the ever-presnt cocktails of Cheever's stories. I am still thinking — and a little haunted — by the man who bribes a surgeon to be allowed into the operating theater during his wife's brain surgery, and allowed to reach out and actually touch her exposed brain.
   There's a lot of stress in these wealthy homes, and it was interesting to read about how the author enjoys driving around her very own neighborhood in Westchester County, New York, imaging what lurks within the restored and sometimes McMansioned homes.
   I found these stories very good, very clever, and I'm glad that I made that suburban trip again.

   The author's website is good AND her husband, Thomas Doyle, has his own site to showcase his artwork, art recently has evolved into miniatures of suburban houses, often in sinkholes or some other distress.
 

Mothering Sunday: A Romance by Graham Swift crow
fiction - 192 pages - paperback - Vintage - finished 2-22-17
   to come

The Rain in Portugal by Billy Collins
poetry - 128 pages - hardcover - Random - finished 2-20-17
   Anytime I can spend time with the words of Billy Collins, life is good. While this wasn't one of my favorites of the many Collins collections I've read, I leave it with a smile and an appreciation of his talent.

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
fiction - 368 pages - hardcover - Random - finished 2-19-17
   I've been a long-time fan of Saunders short stories, and have been impatiently waiting — if you were to ask my wife, that is the only way I'm able to wait for anything — for his first novel to arrive on any bookstore shelf. The structure of the book is very unusual, as I've never read a book told almost entirely in one liners, from ghosts. I've absolutely certain that I have never written that previous sentence before.
   The book's inspiration came to Saunders years ago when he heard that Lincoln visited the crypt of his recently dead teenage son several times, and would lift his son out of his casket and hold him ... this is a much disputed story, but it stuck in his head, until he wrote it out.
   So, you might ask, does this odd style work? At least for this reader, not at first. It took a little while to get into the flow of it, to not be distracted by all the white space on the page, and all the ghostly voices, but before long it worked. I'm certain to be rereading this soon. Maybe it's a sign of age, but since I have the time, I love being able to return to a book again, to fit my mind around the writer's words. 

Knottspeed by Jeff Johnson
fiction - 276 pages - paperback (ARC) - Turner - finished 2-17-17
   This was an ARC that the good people of Turner sent my way. The author is a long-time tattoo artist from the Northwest, who, while able to create some very unique characters and plotlines, the book as a whole didn't work for me. My mind was drifting away from the book often, though at times it was very engaging.
   If I saw another book by him in the future, I would be cautiously curious.  

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry crow
fiction - 272 pages - hardcover - Viking - finished 2-10-17
   Very fine ... I'll write more soon.


lighthouse  grief  god  born to run  paris  wrong

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf  bored
fiction - 209 pages - paperback - Mariner - finished 1-24-17
   This was my second Woolf book and I'm no closer to being a fan of this author than at any other time of my life. Lighthouse was much more enjoyable than Waves, but I won't be rereading either of them any time soon.

Grief is This Thing with Feathers by Max Porter
fiction - 128 pages - paperback - Graywolf - finished 1-20-17
   This was a hard-to-find and much-talked-about little book. Now, I have read it ... and I'm not quite sure how I feel about it. It was incredibly clever and unique little book about death, love, survival, family, a man without his wife, two boys without their mother, and a crow. The book consists of alternating chapters told from the viewpoint of the dad, the boys, and, of course, the crow. It has poetry, near-poetry, and irregular fiction. It may sound like a confusion on the page, but it has a simplicity that I can't yet put into words. I'm still pondering.


Ninety-nine Stories of GOD by Joy Williams crow
short stories - 220 pages - paperback - Tin House Books - finished 1-18-17
   Here's a great collection of some very brief short stories by a true master of the format. I most enjoy her characters, her humor, and the odd plotlines that she let's her readers in on. As an atheist, I was a little shaky about the whole GOD part of these stories, but I should have known better, Williams has a wonderfully twisted sense of humor that simply doesn't allow for any standard kind of religiosity ... more humor than piety. Some of these stories are only sentences long, others a few pages, at any length, she can shine so brightly in her writing. It's sure to be read many times over the years I have left.  
special  This is such a sweet little hardcover volume. It has a printed cover, without a dust jacket and the endpaper is very special, in a dog/wolf sort of way. The paper has a good feel to it and all in all it's just about a perfect little book.


Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen
bio - 528 pages - hardcover - Simon & Schuster - finished 1-17-17
   Not the best music biography I've ever read, but pretty close to the top of that tall pile. He's straightforward in the telling of his life, brutally at times, but it is still another very wealthy musician writing rock music ... that seems an odd viewpoint from which to be writing about teenage love, sex, and rebellion. He can write, and it became easy to tell what parts were written early on, and what was written after several years of writing. His clarity on why he does what he does — the huge rush that he gets from his performances, something that makes other parts of his life pale in comparison
— explains so much. The power, companionship, and pure joy of the music has carried him through a great deal ... though he has never worked any other job in his life. The love for his band mates, wife, and kids constantly takes him around the world, to country ranches, horse shows and so much more.
   Depression suddenly springs up as its own chapter and it shows how it has had power over several parts of his life. In contrast to being a young man that for years avoided all drugs and alcohol, he now seems very comfortable using subscription drugs to keep his depression at bay. He writes about suddenly feeling off some days, and the solution is just a phone call to his pharmacist away.
   The loss of some pretty major figures in his life (his most-of-his-life-estranged father, Clarence "The Big Man" Clemons, and other band mates and long-time friends and support people) makes for some pretty heavy emotional writing.
   As a fan of many years, I knew that I wanted to find out what kind of a writer he could be, and it was a good time had by this reader.


The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
fiction - 416 pages - paperback - Random House/Penguin - finished 1-10-17
   Sweet story of books, life and love. Center a book around a bookseller, and a bookstore, and I'm always going to be there reading. I loved the author's thought of recommending books to readers as being similar to prescribing drugs for a person's aliments.


But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman
essay - 288 pages - hardcover - Random House/Penguin - finished 1-7-17
   Clever, thought-provoking, and funny. Klosterman often seems to have a twisted way of looking at things, and that really takes center stage in this book. It reminds me of those university nights staying up far into the night, having addled and trippy discussions that questioned just about everything in one's life. Like those nights, this book was satisfying, but I'm not sure what I take away from it. Glad I was there, but not sure what it all meant. 



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