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The Covid-19 Book thread edition

AGBF

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I mentioned above that I am in a "quarantine book club" because I received a chain letter meant to entertain readers during this time when many of us are isolated and locked down. I received another recommendation via e-mail since I posted the names of books above, so I thought I'd post it here for you.It is The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams. The woman recommending it wrote to me that she thought all her other books were great, too.
 

AGBF

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I just finished reading The Bitteroots by C.J. Box.I have read all the books in his series about game warden Joe Pickett, and was longing for the publication of the latest book in his new series about policewoman Cassie Dewell.I found it very satisfying.It was set in Montana. The Joe Pickett books are set in Wyoming and one of the other Cassie Dewell books was set in North Dakota.Since I am unfamiliar with these states and C.J.Box is extremely familiar with them, I learn a lot while I enjoy the plots. For me the worlds in which Mr. Box places his characters is as foreign as Regency London once would have been to me. (I use the past tense because I have been reading books about Regency London for about 60 years now!) I highly recommend this and all of the other books written by Mr. Box.
 

AGBF

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I am now reading A Year of Being Single by Fiona Collins.I kept seeing books she wrote that looked interesting advertised, but they were only available on kindle. Since this is the only one available in paperback, I bought it. So far, it's OK. I assume it is what is called "chick lit". I do not usually read these kinds of books, but variety is the spice of life.
 

missy

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From the NY Times

10 book recommendations from the editors/critics:



June 18, 2020

When you think about it, there’s something weird about the way we treat “history” as a category unto itself, since it essentially amounts to “everything that ever happened before today.” The Code of Hammurabi is history; so is the Victorian view of the mind-body connection; and so is the rise of the internet — but hats off to the person who can speak knowledgeably about all three.
We can’t help you with that, sorry. But we can offer three wide-ranging histories to read this week: Doug J. Swanson’s “Cult of Glory,” which presents a revisionist view of the Texas Rangers; Eric Cervini’s “The Deviant’s War,” which shines a light on the pre-Stonewall battle for gay rights; and Nancy Thorndike Greenspan’s “Atomic Spy,” which revisits the tale of the notorious Soviet mole Karl Fuchs.
Also up: three novels (by J. M. Coetzee, Hervé Guibert and Sanaë Lemoine), a couple of books by cartoonists, a survey of global politics and an ode to swimming as a way of life.
Gregory Cowles
Senior Editor, Books
Twitter: @GregoryCowles
THE MARGOT AFFAIR, by Sanaë Lemoine. (Hogarth, $27.) Margot, the heroine of this gorgeous debut novel, is the 17-year-old daughter of a prominent French politician and the famous stage actress who has been his unacknowledged mistress for decades. Now Margot, under the sway of a journalist and his intriguing wife, wants to spill the beans in a ghostwritten memoir. “Even when Margot is at her most misguided, the reader aches for her,” our reviewer, Sarah Lyall, writes. “Lemoine, who was born in Paris and lives in New York City, writes in lush, lyrical prose that perfectly captures the heightened emotion and confusion of being a young woman with a bruised heart and limited experience.”


TO THE FRIEND WHO DID NOT SAVE MY LIFE, by Hervé Guibert. Translated by Linda Coverdale. (semiotext(e), paper, $16.95.)Guibert died in 1991 at the age of 36; this novel, which is probably his best-known work and is newly translated here, lightly fictionalizes the final days of the philosopher Michel Foucault, Guibert’s neighbor and friend, even as it offers a gaudy betrayal by revealing that Foucault did not die of cancer, per the public record, but of AIDS-related complications. “His candor can be so extreme as to feel like provocation, and his love of provocation can tip into outré pornography,” our critic Parul Sehgal writes in her review. “Extremity — on the page and in life — was the credo of this self-professed descendant of Sade and Genet, contemptuous of the writerly temptations for self-regard or bourgeois comfort. I can think of no words more repellent to him than ‘faculty housing.’”
THE DEATH OF JESUS, by J. M. Coetzee. (Viking, $27.) With the pared-down quality of a fable, the final novel in Coetzee’s Jesus trilogy makes a case for the fantastical worldview of Don Quixote. Young David enters an orphanage, finds followers and imparts wisdom before falling terminally ill — a Christ figure, sure, but not one with easy or predictable parallels. The obliqueness of Coetzee’s tale is perfectly suited to its challenge of a utilitarian reality. “You can call him a novelist of ideas, but also a philosopher working in fiction,” Judith Shulevitz says of Coetzee in her review. “The reader must learn to tolerate mystery.”

WHY WE SWIM, by Bonnie Tsui. (Algonquin, $26.95.) This enthusiastic and thoughtful work mixes journalism, history and memoir to ask why water seduces some people and not others. Incorporating stories of daredevils with tales of inspiration, Tsui explores five reasons to swim: survival, well-being, community, competition and flow. “Tsui endears herself to the reader,” Mary Pols writes in her review. “Her universal query is also one of self, and her articulations of what she learns are moving. Long-distance swimmers speak to her about how swimming frees their minds, of their sense of ‘sea-dreaming.’ And Tsui’s argument about the unique state of flow one enters while swimming makes you desperately long to be in the pool or the ocean.”
CULT OF GLORY: The Bold and Brutal History of the Texas Rangers, by Doug J. Swanson. (Viking, $28.) This well-written and troubling history upends the mythology of the Rangers, showing them to have been the harsh enforcers of white supremacy in Texas far more than the iconoclastic heroes portrayed in movies, television shows, museum exhibitions and novels. “‘Cult of Glory’ isn’t a book for the fainthearted,” Douglas Brinkley writes in his review. “Swanson, a prodigious researcher, recounts how in their nearly 200-year ‘attention-grubbing’ history Rangers burned peasant villages, slaughtered innocents, busted unions and committed war crimes. They were as feared on the United States-Mexico border as the Ku Klux Klan was in the Deep South.”

THE WORLD: A Brief Introduction, by Richard Haass. (Penguin Press, $28.) The president of the Council on Foreign Relations takes readers on a tour of the globe, highlighting problems and concerns and offering suggestions for America’s future foreign policy. Two dozen tightly focused chapters cover everything from monetary policy and international law to terrorism and climate change. “He promises a practical guide to help everyday people understand global forces in which their lives are increasingly enmeshed, even if they do not always know it or like it,” Mark Atwood Lawrence writes n his review. “Haass’s restrained approach does not mean that the book lacks big takeaways. Above all, he underscores the growing disarray that has beset the world since the end of the Cold War.”
THE DEVIANT’S WAR: The Homosexual vs. the United States of America, by Eric Cervini. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $35.) This admiring biography of the activist Franklin Kameny, a brilliant astronomer who was fired from his government job in 1957 because he was gay, provides a valuable window onto the pre-Stonewall gay rights movement. “Cervini’s devotion to colorful detail helps to flesh out previous accounts,” George Chauncey writes in his review. “There are few revelations for historians in this book. But its riveting account of Kameny’s struggle will be eye-opening for anyone keen to have a crash course on L.G.B.T.Q. politics in the tumultuous decade leading up to Stonewall.”
ATOMIC SPY: The Dark Lives of Klaus Fuchs,by Nancy Thorndike Greenspan. (Viking, $30.)Fuchs was probably the most important spy of the early atomic age, handing over secrets from Los Alamos and the British atomic bomb program to his Soviet handlers; this biography traces his career from anti-Nazi activist in the 1930s to traitor in the 1940s and beyond. “After a long surveillance and a lengthy interrogation, Fuchs was finally arrested on Feb. 2, 1950, and confessed his guilt,” Ronald Radosh writes in his review. “Greenspan’s pages on the interrogation and the decision about what to do with Fuchs are the most complete account available, and read like a detective novel.”
EVERYTHING IS AN EMERGENCY: An O.C.D. Story in Words & Pictures, by Jason Adam Katzenstein. (Harper Perennial/HarperCollins, $19.99.) This graphic memoir treats obsessive-compulsive disorder as the serious illness it can be. “I’m fighting a brain battle with myself,” Katzenstein writes. His squirmy, anxious lines show the fight. “Katzenstein’s written narrative describing life in the grip of the illness is intensified when those words are placed next to his illustrations,” J. D. Biersdorfer writes, reviewing it alongside two other books by cartoonists. “The book is an education for anyone not sure what a serious case of O.C.D. does to a person. And even those not afflicted may find their own comfort in one of Katzenstein’s epiphanies: ‘Find the seconds that feel OK and live in them.’”
I WILL JUDGE YOU BY YOUR BOOKSHELF,by Grant Snider. (Harry N. Abrams, $16.99.)Snider’s love of reading shows in this collection of cartoons for boisterous bookworms, with odes to poetry, children in libraries and banned books as well as comic takes on writers from Murakami to Vonnegut. In a roundup of books by cartoonists, J. D. Biersdorfer writes that Snider gives readers “an engaging glimpse into his own bookshelf and inspirations”: “His single-panel fantasy worlds mapping out places like ‘The Writer’s Block’ are so crammed with detail you may find your nose touching the page for several minutes as you lean close to see all the jokes. And if you don’t love books, perhaps this particular one is not for you.”


 

AGBF

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I see that this thread is back on top. (Thanks, missy.) I have been back to reading my way through the Kate Shugak series by Dana Stabenow. The author is a native of Alaska and all the books are set in Alaska. Like the books about the western states by C.J. Box, these books are not set in a place with which I am familiar. I like the writing, however, and am (eventually) becoming used to the setting. I am now on book 10 of the series, Midnight Come Again.
 

missy

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My pleasure @AGBF
I can’t concentrate on reading but perhaps others can benefit from the recommendations.
 

AGBF

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My pleasure @AGBF
I can’t concentrate on reading but perhaps others can benefit from the recommendations.
@missy, you are always so thoughtful. I get many of my book recommendations here on Pricescope, so I appreciate that. :))
 

jbake

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Somehow, I missed this thread when it was first posted. While I have been reading quite a bit during the last few months at home, most of them have been the book equivalent to a hallmark movie. Something light and easy with a guaranteed happy ending seems to be what I need to read right now.
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AGBF

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@jbake, wow! You may have given me three months of reading material by posting your past three months of reading material. I cannot be sure yet, though, since I do not know most of the authors. I know all their names, but not what their books are like. Except that I have read many by Alexander McCall Smith, including all The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books and a couple of books by James Patterson. The thing is, I am sure I own some books by Janet Evanovich that I bought because they sounded good, but then never tried. What are her books like?
 

jbake

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@jbake, wow! You may have given me three months of reading material by posting your past three months of reading material. I cannot be sure yet, though, since I do not know most of the authors. I know all their names, but not what their books are like. Except that I have read many by Alexander McCall Smith, including all The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books and a couple of books by James Patterson. The thing is, I am sure I own some books by Janet Evanovich that I bought because they sounded good, but then never tried. What are her books like?
The books by Janet Evanovich were all one series about Stephanie Plum. It starts when she’s down on her luck, recently divorced and laid off. So she convinces her cousin to give her a shot at bail enforcing. She’s comically awful at it and surprisingly still terrible at it 26 books in. I really enjoyed the first several books, but she offers very little in character growth or development. I borrowed all of them as ebooks from my local library, otherwise I don’t think I would have kept up with them if I were spending money. I keep track of them on Goodreads and I think I rated all of them at 2-3 stars. Not super fantastic reading, but entertaining and easy to follow while watching my two little kids.

Susan Wiggs, Robyn Carr, and Sheryl Woods would be in my “Debbie Macomber/ Hallmark Movie” category.
 

voce

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Ok, I cannot pretend this is literary fiction and will be good for the soul, but I'm thinking in a week I'll maybe indulge in this juicy tell-all about a person who lives in alternate reality.
 

AGBF

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Ok, I cannot pretend this is literary fiction and will be good for the soul, but I'm thinking in a week I'll maybe indulge in this juicy tell-all about a person who lives in alternate reality.
I have to admit that I was tuned in to what was being said about her book on the news today. :))
 

Matata

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The Girl with the Louding Voice is very good.
 
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