2022 TBR Pile Reading Challenge: June checkpoint

tbr 2022 rbrbutton

#TBR2022RBR

It’s good Adam does regular checkpoints, great prompt to finally review the books I have read so far for this challenge.

Thomas Jefferson's Crème Brûlée Thomas Jefferson’s Crème brûlée:
How a Founding father and his slave James Hemings introduced French cuisine to America, by Thomas J. Craughwell
Nonfiction/History/Food and drink
234 pages
Published September 18th 2012 by Quirk Books (first published January 1st 2012)

Not sure why I waited ten years to read this. I got it, then got rid of it, and another copy mysteriously showed up on my shelf.
I really enjoyed the writing, the description of what people were eating and drinking at the time, both in the US and in France. I learned a lot about the origin of some dishes.
There’s obviously mention of historical events in both countries (the French Revolution for instance).
I visited Monticello fairly recently, so it was neat to read about his amazing (vegetable) gardens.
My only problem with the book is the subtitle. Note that crème brûlée in the title is correctly written with the correct French accents!
But the book actually does not have about James Hemings’ years in Paris. There are a few things, but I was expecting many more details.
Still, there are several fascinating points about slavery, and the non existence of slavery in France at the time.
The author helps us understand that Jefferson treated his slaves so much better than most owners: good salary (for instance when James was in France with him), buying their produce, encouraging them to learn to read (a possible cause of death for slaves in many other households at the time in Southern US), and actually freeing hundreds of them.
The book included pictures of original documents, for instance French recipes written by hand by James Hemings.

Le voyage d'Octavio

Le Voyage d’Octavio,
by Miguel Bonnefoy
Literary fiction/Magical realism

137 pages
First published January 7th 2015
Translated in English as
Octavio’s Journey, by Emily Boyce
(Gallic Books)

Another book that has been for too long on my bookshelf.
This is the delightful portrait of a both simple (illiterate even at first) and sophisticated man (a real artist) in Venezuela.
I really loved discovering more of Venezuela through his eyes. It’s the story of his journey, bother inner and exterior, the people he met, and what he did to survive.
The text is very simple but almost poetic at the same time.
The very last pages are very powerful and witness to the ultimate transformation of Octavio. I had never read anything by Miguel Bonnefoy, I’ll definitely need to try another of his books.

A Raisin in the Sun

A Raisin in the Sun,
by Lorraine Hansberry
Play
162 pages

Published in 1959

Wow, I was totally stunned by this play, which obviously I should have read years ago.
I’m amazed that a very young African-American woman would have written that in the late 1950s. That was gutsy and so well done.
Admirable portrait of life for Black families in South Side Chicago after WWII, and what may happen to your dreams when you are coming from a minority background.
I like the ambiguous ending, which could point to finally getting closer to your dream, but with the assurance that you will need to fight further to really reach them, if ever.

Stuart Little

Stuart Little,
by E. B. White
Childrens fiction

131 pages
Published in 1945

I didn’t grow up in an English speaking country, and only very recently did I read and adore Charlotte’s Web and The Trumpet of the Swan.
So it was fun to discover now Stuart Little, a strange tiny mouse born to humans. This is the cause for many tough situations, but also opportunities for all kinds of discoveries.
And his friendship with a bird will start him on a life journey of adventures.
This is a delightful coming of age story, full of fun and wisdom. Without ever giving you the impression of teaching you.
Really a very gifted author.
Has anyone here ever read his Essays?

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Here is my full list for this challenge:

  1. Thomas Jefferson’s Crème brûlée: How a Founding father and his slave James Hemings introduced French cuisine to America, by Thomas J. Craughwell 6/12/22
  2. Le Voyage d’Octavio, by Miguel Bonnefoy 5/22/22
  3. A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry 5/21/22
  4. Stuart Little, by E.B. White 5/18
  5. The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells
  6. Eventide, by Kent Haruf
  7. The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey
  8. Ensemble, c’est tout, by Anna Gavalda
  9. Wanderlust: A History of Walking, by Rebecca Solnit
  10. Absolutely on Music: Conversations with Seiji Ozawa, by Haruki Murakami
  11. Arvo Pärt: Out of Silence, by Peter C. Bouteneff
  12. A is For Alibi, by Sue Grafton

Alternates:
11. Joie de Vivre: Secrets of Wining, Dining, and Romancing Like the French, by Harriett Welty Rochefort
12. The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography, by Graham Robb

TBR 2022

HOW ARE YOU DOING SO FAR WITH YOUR CHALLENGES?

2022: May wrap-up

MAY 2022 WRAP-UP

Another busy month, including one week of vacation in the woods, when I mostly did hiking and birding, and was too (good) tired by night to read a lot.
So I didn’t do much blogging, but am happy with the reading amount and content. One unusual aspect: this month, I read 2 books that are more or less in the horror genre, a genre I usually don’t read.

I’m currently 10 books ahead of schedule (49% done) to read 120 books this year.

I have a few book reviews late, but I hope to catch up soon and join again more blog related activities.

📚 Here is what I read in May:

12 books:
8 in print 
with 1,846 pages, a daily average of 49 pages/day
4 in audio
= 32H49
, a daily average of 1H03/ day

4 in mystery:

  1. Les dieux voyagent toujours incognito, by Laurent Gounelle – French audiobook
  2. Under Lock and Skeleton Key, by Gigi Pandian – ebook received for review
  3. Le Mystère Henri Pick, by David Foenkinos – French audiobook
  4. The Last House on Needless Street, by Catriona Ward – more or less horror, ebook received for review

2 in science-fiction:

  1. La Nuit des temps, by René Barjavel – read with a French student,
    counts for The Classics Club
  2. At the Mountains of Madness, by H.P. Lovecraft – more or less horror,
    counts for The Classics Club

2 in children/YA:

  1. Stuart Little, by E. B. White – counts for The Classics Club
  2. Le Pays où l’on n’arrive jamais, by André Dhôtel – a reread,
    counts for The Classics Club

2 in nonfiction:

  1. L’Axe du loup : de la Sibérie à l’Inde, sur les pas des évadés du goulag, by Sylvain Tesson – French audiobook
  2. This Holy Man: Impressions of Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh, by Gillian Crow – Orthodox biography

1 in literary fiction:

  1. Le Voyage d’Octavio, by Miguel Bonnefoy

1 in play:

  1. A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry – counts for The Classics Club

It’s so hard to pick 2 favorites, I loved so many this month!

MY FAVORITE BOOKS THIS PAST MONTH

La Nuit des temps  Le Pays où l'on n'arrive jamais

La Nuit des temps has been translated into English as The Ice People.

READING CHALLENGES & RECAP

Classics Club: 120/137 (from November 2020-until November 2025)
Japanese Literature Challenge: 9/12 books – During the year: 10
2022 TBR Pile Reading Challenge: 3/12 books
2022 books in translation reading challenge
: 16/10+

Total of books read in 2022 = 59/120 (49%)
Number of books added to my TBR this past month = 15

 NO OTHER BOOK  REVIEWED THIS PAST MONTH

NO GIVEAWAYS

NO REVIEW COPIES AVAILABLE

BUT we offer a Book Box!

MOST POPULAR BOOK REVIEW THIS PAST MONTH

Before the Coffee Gets Cold

click on the cover to access my review

MOST POPULAR POST THIS PAST MONTH
– NON BOOK REVIEW –

20 Books of Summer 2022

BOOK BLOG THAT BROUGHT ME MOST TRAFFIC THIS PAST MONTH

Julie Anna’s Books
please go visit, there are a lot of good things there!

TOP COMMENTERS 

Marianne at Let’s Read
Tammy at Books, Bones & Buffy
Brian at Equinoxio
please go and visit them,
they have great blogs

BLOG MILESTONES 

2,518 posts
over 5,615 followers
over 248,800 hits

📚 📚 📚

Come back tomorrow to see the titles I’ll be reading in June

How was YOUR month of May?

2022-Monthly-Wrap-Up-Round-Up400

Nicole at Feed Your Fiction Addiction
has created a Month In Review meme
where you can link your monthly recap posts
Thanks Nicole!

It’s so Classic Book tag

it's so classic blog party

In August, there was a Classics book tag going around the blogosphere. I didn’t participate at the time. But then, I saw Brona’s post, and she tagged whoever wanted to participate.
As I recently finished reading my
first list of 50 books for The Classics Club, I thought I would use these questions to do some type of recap.
So I’m exclusively considering these 50 books to answer the following questions.
Which means that I’ll probably have different answers if I do it again (I might) when I’m done with my 2nd list of 50 titles.
I’m also not considering all the other classics I read before joining The Classics Club.

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What is one classic that hasn’t been made into a movie yet, but really needs to?

I think it would be neat to make a movie on Travels with Charley. It would be a great piece of Americana. I’d see Robert Duvall as a great John Steinbeck.

What draws you to classics?

DonQuixoteMy thinking is that if we have not stopped reading these books along the years and the centuries, it means they have a message or value for all ages, and so for mine as well. So I’m curious to see what it could be.
Also, incidentally, I really love the online community built around the classics, especially through The Classics Club. It’s really great that so many people from many countries can interact on these treasures of humanity.
I’m thinking for instance of Don Quixote, and the 3 readalongs organized around it this year that I know of.
Be sure to visit also this amazing interview with Silvia of this work – and most insightful comments on my and her post.

What is an underrated classic?

Arsene LupinMaybe a book that is on the verge of being forgotten, a bit like an endangered species, and not too many people have read it, for a reason or another. But when you read it, you realize its content can definitely be understood and is meaningful for us today.
I could mention here Arsène Lupin, not that well known in English speaking circles. Yet, it is a seminal series for the mystery genres, and offers a unique perspective on a life of crime, very different from the current tendency of gruesome and violent thrillers.

What is one classic that you didn’t expect to love, but ended up loving anyway?

A Moveable FeastI don’t remember fondly, to say the least, the various novels by Hemingway I read. But so many readers were talking about A Moveable Feast, that I was intrigued and thought I should give it a try, especially as it is set in my native country!
I was probably also feeling ashamed I had never read it. But I approached it with fear and trembling, because of my past experience with this author. Yet, I loved the book very much. It definitely helped it was nonfiction actually. I loved the description and evocation of the place and time, plus the various people we meet in it. Beautiful prose!

What is your most favorite and least favorite classics?

Charlotte's WebThis is a very difficult question, even if I only consider here these 50 titles!
My most favorite of these 50 titles might well be Charlotte’s Web, for its beautiful prose and message. And I love so much the last line! Look at my review if you forgot that line. But obviously, there are tons of other titles I really enjoyed in this list.

As for the one I liked least, I’m also going to choose a children’s book. I was very disappointed by The Secret of the Old Clock, even though I was told I should appreciate the fact that this genre was almost revolutionary at the time. I’m not too sure I read it as a kid in France, so if I read it, apparently it didn’t impress me either at the time. Back then, I read the series by Enid Blyton, and loved it a lot!

What is your favorite character from a classic? Or if that is too hard, one is your favorite classic character trope (e.g. strong and silent, quiet sidekick, etc.)

Francie, in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I love her outlook on life, and how important books are in her life.

What’s a popular classic that you felt wasn’t actually that great?

Whose Body? by Dorothy Sayers. I was rather disappointed, I didn’t like the social aspect of it. But I’m intrigued that the series is so popular, so I’ll give it another chance and plan to read volume 2.

Who is your favorite classic author?

I’m going to say Marcel Proust. Reading his whole In Search of Lost Time was a fantastic experience. It is so rich! And even if there are some boring passages, like an interminable meal lasting 50 pages or more, what’s really neat with Proust is that suddenly, when you are almost ready to give up, you bump into a real gem of a sentence. So don’t give up!
Actually the very last book is beautiful, with lots of fascinating pages on the art of writing. I now understand why a friend of mine starts reading it again when she’s done, I think she’s read it all 4 or 5 times. If I were younger, I would read it again, as there are so many connections between the different books that you cannot possibly see when you read it only once.

In your opinion, what makes a classic a classic?

I basically answered this question at the beginning. I think it’s a book with a universal message, universal as far as location and time. That whatever culture it was written in, it can apply to all. And whatever time it was created in, it is still meaning today, because it deals with some things that are very deep in our human psyche and life experience.

Relating to newer books, what attributes does a book need to have in order to be worthy of the title “classic”?

the-martian-chroniclesI would say the same as I answered in the previous question.
This could apply for instance to science-fiction classics, (I read The Martian Chronicles; We; Solaris) as they deal with our deep human need for connection with others, with our deep need to prove that we are not alone out there, as Arthur C. Clarke beautifully highlights in Childhood’s End, which I recently listened to (as my first book for my second list of 50 titles!).

Bonus question: Is there a classic you don’t seem to understand?

Yes, I have no clue what C. S. Lewis is really talking about in Till We Have Faces, even though I had a whole discussion with a reading group at my church on this book.

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That’s it. Let me know
if you were surprised by some of my answers.

If you feel tempted by these questions,
please post your answers and give me your link.
I’m curious to see what YOU think