2022 TBR Pile Reading Challenge: September checkpoint

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#TBR2022RBR

Adam is asking us how we are doing so far with this challenge.
Since the August checkpoint, I have finished two books:

Eventide

📚 Eventide, by Kent Haruf
Literary fiction
Published in 2004

I so enjoyed this book!
It was great meeting again the McPheron brothers, and Victoria. The brothers are two old farmers, living and working together on this isolated farm  near the very small village of Holt, Colorado.
Victoria is a young woman they sheltered in the previous book (Plainsong), when she was in trouble. She now has a young child, and she is going back to school.
I really enjoyed the slow pace, the description of the landscape, of the daily chores on the farm. And obviously the study of the relationships between people in this city. The focus is really on relationships, within different families, in different social milieus.
And Haruf is so good at dialogs, especially at evoking the accent and speech characteristics of these two old guys. I read the book, I didn’t listen to the audiobook, but still, their voice was so alive to me through Haruf’s writing!
He wrote a 3rd book in this trilogy (Benediction), but it’s not about the same characters. I’m disappointed, as Raymond is kind of turning a new page in his life (you are never too old for that), and I wanted to know more about that. I also wanted more on the young boy DJ. But alas the author has passed away, so no more adventures coming on these characters I feel like I met in real life.

📚 Ensemble, c’est tout,Ensemble, c'est tout
by Anna Gavalda
Literary fiction

574 pages
Published in 2004

I read French Leave by Anna Gavalda in 2011. I liked it, but was not super impressed. But something (or someone??) told me to try another book, and I must have found Ensemble, c’est tout at a second-hand book sale – not easy to find these in French around Chicago!

VERDICT: Very enjoyable character-focused novel, with flowing dialogues.

Click on the cover to read my full review.

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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 7/22/22
  6. Eventide, by Kent Haruf 9/10/22
  7. The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey 8/21/22
  8. Ensemble, c’est tout, by Anna Gavalda 8/26/22
  9. Wanderlust: A History of Walking, by Rebecca Solnit
  10. Absolutely on Music: Conversations with Seiji Ozawa, by Haruki Murakami (currently reading)
  11. Arvo Pärt: Out of Silence, by Peter C. Bouteneff
  12. A is For Alibi, by Sue Grafton 7/13/22

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 TBR Pile Reading Challenge: August checkpoint

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#TBR2022RBR

Adam is asking us how we are doing so far with this challenge.
Since the June checkpoint, I have finished three books.
I’m almost done with a 4th (Ensemble, c’est tout), but I am reading it with one of my French students, so I cannot read more than a set number of pages per week.
I’m also currently reading Eventide, by Kent Haruf.

A is for Alibi A is For Alibi,
by Sue Grafton
Mystery
308 pages / 7H39

Published in 1982

I thought I REALLY needed to try this series.
It started ok, then a bit muddled. And really, no surprise at all about the main killer. So obvious.
But most of all, I could less and less bear Kinsey Millhone. There are way too many descriptions of her everyday meals and snacks. And really, I am not interested in her sex life at all.
I listened to the book, and the narrator Mary Peiffer fit the bill, she was good. And had the perfect voice for a person in real life I would end up finding annoying and uninteresting.

Did I make many enemies here?


The First Men in the Moon,The First Men in the Moon

by H. G. Wells
Science-fiction

137 pages
Published in 1901

I was very surprised when I started reading how funny it was, I was definitely not expecting that from this classic scifi. I learned then that it’s a satire on Jules Verne’s novel on the same topic – so now I’m rereading this one (De la Terre à la lune), that I read as a kid back in France, to see how Wells varies from Verne.
Keep in mind this was written in 1901, so it was extremely fascinating to see how we imagined the moon back then, what you could find there, on or in it.
Incidentally, these past weeks, scientist have revealed that they have discovered some types of caverns on/in the moon! So who knows, maybe Selenites do exist!
There are awesome passages on the social description of the creatures there, and major criticism about human society, especially our love for war – a thing lunar people cannot fathom at all and find so absurd. And 13 years later, we were at it again…
And still in 2022…
This is really an excellent classic scifi.

The Daughter of Time

The Daughter of Time,
by Josephine Tey
(Inspector Alan Grant #5)
Historical mystery
206 pages

Published in 1951

I was very impressed by The Man in the Queue, the first book in the Inspector Alan Grant series. Impressed especially by the richness of vocabulary, an element you don’t often find these days in the mystery genre.
So I intended to read the other volumes in order, but then EVERYONE was telling me their favorite was #5: The Daughter of Time.
So I decided to listen to you. And I am sure glad I did!

VERDICT: Unique and fascinating perspective: analyze historical enigmas with the eyes of a modern police inspector.

Click on the cover to read my full review.

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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 7/22/22
  6. Eventide, by Kent Haruf (currently reading)
  7. The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey 8/21/22
  8. Ensemble, c’est tout, by Anna Gavalda (currently reading)
  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 7/13/22

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 TBR Pile Reading Challenge: June checkpoint

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#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?

📚 📚 📚

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?