January 6, 2018

Feeling a bit sheepish or worse. Apologies are in order if I have steered you away from books you really want to read. I know I don’t have that kind of influence. Still, I mean to have my book comments be helpful, not obscure the best of what is out there.

Here’s what is going on. A few days ago I opened my Jan/Feb Bookmarks Magazine. I noticed that several books I commented on in a less than enthusiastic way are on the Best of 2017 List. And these books I will name have appeared on several such lists.

Titles making Best of 2017 Lists that I was not especially recommending include: Golden Hill: A Novel of Old New York by Francis Spufford, Idaho by Emily Ruskovich, Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward, and Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann. I liked this last one but thought it might have been better organized and better written. (Sorry, who am I to say such a thing.)

All I can say in my defense is that after I read a book, I share thoughts I hope will be helpful to readers. Clearly, sometimes I am in left-field and not in agreement with better known and better paid book critics than I.

So, it goes without saying, feast on the buffet of 2017 Best Books as you will.

And on another note…..

Bookmarks also ran a feature title “Over 100 year of Feminist Fiction” by Jessica Teisch. The label always troubles me. I don’t believe there is any accepted definition. The author suggested she discussed novels written by women and featuring strong women protagonists.

I’ll highlight a few titles from this feature that I have read or tried to read and you may consider worth you time.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Heale Hurston(1937)

The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing (1962) This one had a tremendous influence on my thinking and began my lifelong love of notebooks for many different purposes.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker (1982)

Women on the Edge of Time Marge Piercy (1976)

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg (1987) My young son, cried during the movie. That’s just the kind of book it is.

Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987) This book helped me begin to understand the cost of slavery in my gut.

The Hours by Michael Cunningham

Americanah by Chinamanda Ngozi Adichie (2013)

Most of these books do not shout Feminism in a political way. They are about the hearts of women.

How would you readers define Feminist Literature?

What books influenced your thinking?

Are there any you might consider reading a second time?

If you are moved to answer any of these questions you may do so on Facebook or on the homepage of this blog in response to whatever post appears. We readers can tell which post you are responding to. Or simply scroll down and reply at the bottom of the reading page. Love to read your opinions!


Time is growing very short to finish these books.

My number of books read completely this year is down a bit from last year and from my goal of 60 books. One reason is that some of my choices were long and/or difficult reads. What was I thinking? Several on the list below are in that category.

Blood on the Water by Heather Ann Thompson
At 573 pages, this is one of the long ones. It is the winner of this year’s Pulitzer Prize and it is very readable. I look forward to getting back to it.

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle
This children’s classic is due for a rereading because the movie is coming out next year. It is Science Fiction Fantasy directed by Ava Duvernay and featuring such actors as Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, and the screenplay is also written by a woman. Though not exactly my favorite of all time, the movie looks very interesting and so….time to reread this classic and I’m learning just what a delightful read it is.

The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish
Yes, I finally finished this one. See the post on the home page yesterday Dec. 26.

Grant by Ron Chernow
This one is waiting for me at the library. Earlier this month I read a couple of chapters and decided I was in for turning more pages.

Storm Clouds Rolling In by Ginny Dye
This is the first book in the Bregdan Chronicles recommended lately by several sources. I found the opening less than riveting, but I’m not ready to give up on it yet. Still, it may be next year before I get to it in earnest.

December 5,2017

Author: Jessica Souhami
Francis Lincoln Children’s Books, 2012
A tale full of prediction toddlers will find enticing. The surprises and the presentation are first rate. “Don’t look in the sack.”

Owl Moon
Author: Jane Yolen Illustrated by John Schoenherr
Philomel Books 1987
Beautiful language, full of sound, by distinguished author Jane Yolen; and a Caldecott Medal book. The illustrations are completely memorable. Yes, it is still in print.

Llama Llama Red Pajama
Author: Anna Dewdney
Scholastic 2005
A great bedtime story, simple with lovely rhyming language finds fun and drama in the bedtime experience.

There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Bat!
Author: Lucille Colandro Illustrator Jared Lee
Scholastic, 2005
Rhyming, silly fun. And there is a whole series. Maybe you’ll want to try “There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed A Rose.”

The Day the Crayons Came Home
Author: Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers
Philomel Books 2015

An captivating original idea. Different crayons write post cards to let their owner Duncan know they are coming home. Loved the art work!
This one is a follow-up to the blockbuster bestseller “The Day the Crayons Quit.”

46 thoughts on “Reading

  1. Judith Vitali

    re: The Storied Life of AJ Fikry … No man is an island … I enjoyed seeing AJ’s character evolve … he started of as an island … isolated geographically, intellectually, and emotionally and Maya opened the world to him. I loved this quirky fellow.

  2. Judith Vitali

    re:the Corazon … Karla and staff were most accommodating, and service was amazing … price was so reasonable … believe they saved the building from being razed and turned into another parking lot

  3. Kim

    Paulette, I agree wholeheartedly with your review of The Orphan Train. Books like this are so enjoyable I don’t want them to end.

  4. Susan Carter

    In response to what makes me consider a book good (or exceptional) is not wanting to finish it because it means I no longer get to spend time with the characters. Have only read a few that meet this criteria lately & luckily most are series so I can meet up with them in the future..

  5. Judith

    Great article on Ree Drummond in yesterday’s Parade magazine … have become a fan since Paulette introduced me to her.

    I accept reading ideas from all sources … surprised at how many from the best seller lists I do reject. My favorite site for recommendations is the RJ Julia book store in Madison, CT … … better yet, a visit to this wonderful independent book store is always a treat.

  6. Bonne

    I may be an odd ball but I do not recommend GONE GIRL. If you get to the second chapter you have to finish it BUT when I finished it I felt as though I had wasted my time. I liken its writing to that of a crossword developer … someone who connects all the dots…no real character development which I like.

    Tana French’s last book BROKEN HARBOR is really quite fascinating and kept me involved.
    When I look for a quick thriller I go to James Patterson. I am totally hooked on the Women’s Murder Mysteries and the Michael Bennett series.
    In addition to them I recommend:
    Now You See Her
    The Postcard Killers
    The Worst Case

    I also like Elizabeth George’s mysteries but have not read her lately.

  7. Kim

    What are you reading via your favorite electronic device?
    Right now I’m reading The Cruelest Month: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel by Louise Penny. This is a neighborhood book club selection. I also have four other books in the que waiting to be started.
    What do you like most about it?
    I like the portability of my Kindle. I’ve had my Kindle for about two and a half years. I really like reading real books too and often am reading both at the same time. Well, not at the exact same time!
    Anything else on this topic you want to say?
    You also asked why someone reads. I find that an intriguing question mainly because there are people who don’t enjoy reading. I can remember my first Scholastic book order when I was in first grade and how thrilled and excited I was to bring those books home. My mom was an avid reader and helped to instill the love of reading in me. One of my fondest memories is my mom reading to my brother and I when we came home for lunch.

    1. Post author

      Hey Kim, Thanks for the conversation! Love it! I’m thinking how much easier it would be to always have a book on my I-Pad instead of a couple of books in the back seat of the car. And maybe a smaller device than my I-Pad?

  8. Post author

    Minerva, Great to hear from you. The list with the posts One Book Club etc. was for one of my MI groups. As soon as I can hear from Jean D. we should have the list for Summerhouse Book Club next winter out to everyone. Watch for an e-mail. Thanks for reading this blog.

  9. Minerva Belote

    Paulette..some of the books on the list Summerhouse has already read and shared. Books I am interested in: Beyond the Beautiful, Light Between the Oceans, Zealot: Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. The “choosers” have always given us a wide selection for the Snowbirds. Thank you!

  10. Judith

    response to Ricky (Candra) … delighted that people are discovering and appreciating Paulette’s blog … she is one of the more sophisticated and intelligent readers I know … I’m in awe at times … always a pleasure to
    converse with her or read her thoughts … both prose and poetry

  11. Judith

    on book selections … I find my interests have changed as I grow older … once a lover of Russian literature, Ayn Rand, and the philosophical novel, they now would not hold my interest … I simply (unlike Paulette) no longer have the reading endurance I once possessed … there also was a time if I started a book I would persevere to the end … no matter how much I disliked it … at this stage of life time is too precious .. I read only what appeals to me

    my favorite summer reads … Fin and Lady (think Auntie Mame), Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal, and And the Mountains Echoed

  12. Ricky

    How long did it take you to write “Reading | readeatlive.
    com / Blog”? It also has quite a lot of high-quality knowledge.

    Thx ,Candra

  13. alice reed

    I like Book club #1’s choices. I enjoyed reading 2 of them already and planning on reading another of
    the selections in the near future. Alice

  14. Seglinda Kelle-Pritchard

    I heartily applaud your list of books for consideration. I just completed Zealot by Reza Aslan and found it challenging to my core. His scholarship on 1st century Palestinian/Roman history was complementary to another recent book I finished that is fiction, The Liars’ Gospel by Naomi Alderman, which is riveting. I loved it so much that I immediately sat down to reread. These two books surely used much of the same research material. I can’t recommend them highly enough.
    Also have been in serious love with Jamaica Kincaid’s SEE NOW THEN. Her style of writing is very distinctive to her worldview. as she is literally grounded by her native language and birth home. She is passionate about gardening and very knowledgable about horticulture and Latin names of her favorites. While she is a teacher of writing at Harvard, she is Jamaican by birth and writes in a style that is supported by her “island” heritage. The subject matter of this novel is sustained by its autobiographical nature in her life as she writes. A beautiful but sad read!

  15. alice reed

    Paulette. Looked over your selections, I found 3 I have read and really enjoyed.
    The Language of Flowers, Light Between Oceans, Olive Kittridge and one I plan to read in the
    coming weeks, Light in the Ruins I have heard good reviews of this book. Alice

  16. Bonne

    Comment on Saratoga Springs trip:

    So glad you got to experience why we love NYS so much… It is so varied…so rich in beauty and history.
    Glad you took a boat ride on Lake George. Once you leave the village you appreciate the pristine beauty of the surroundings. We took our family there for a week for 20 summers about 1/2 way up the lake at Silver Bay Christian Conference center run by the International YMCA. Now our daughter and her family are going for family week… carrying on the tradition.
    I do not know if you have headed west yet but Seneca Falls is just off the Thruway between Syracuse and Rochester. It is the seat of women
    s Rights and there is a National Historic Site there. Enjoy your trip. It sounds so special…

  17. Judith

    garlic! it is often referred to as an herb, but I don’t believe it really fits the criteria of herb or spice … nonetheless the aroma of garlic just gets those gastric juices flowing … we could smell the delicious meal awaiting us before even stepping into my mother-in-laws Italian kitchen … I have a tendency to use garlic whenever I can

  18. Post author

    Let’s hear it for the Cookbooks. Not a one strikes your fancy? Not one causes you to itch for a trip to the bookstore to touch them, look at the glossy photos, enjoy the art of the layout? We need to hear from you. Happy Reading. Whatever your genre.

    1. Vee Barnes

      I cannot tell a lie. While your cookbooks line your shelves waiting to be opened for inspiration, my plastic envelop of menus is my muse. Royal Oak and surrounding towns have tons of restaurants which offer carry-out. Within a few minutes we can scan the menus and then pick food from any country; food we’ve been yearning for; food to sooth the soul, and/or add fire to our palates. After almost 50 years of cooking for my family, extended family, parents, in-laws, friends and picky grandchildren ….. picking from a carry-out menu, once in awhile, has great appeal. Especially with so many great choices so near-by. But Gary and I love to eat a great home-cooked meal at anyone else’s home!

  19. Jan Johnson

    I love the wardrobe!
    Thanks for all the book suggestions. I enjoy historical novels.
    You write so well. Keep up the good work.


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