Status Report: Books Read (So Far) 2018

By now it should be clear how much self loves constructing lists. And book lists best of all.

Self set herself a goodreads Reading Challenge of 32 books, which is pretty ambitious considering last year she didn’t make her challenge goal of 26 books.

Nevertheless.

Books Read This Year (in the order of their Goodreads Average Rating)

  1. The Odyssey (the translation by Emily Wilson)
  2. La Belle Sauvage, by Philip Pullman
  3. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
  4. The Subtle Knife, by Philip Pullman
  5. The Summer Book, by Tove Jansson
  6. The Amber Spyglass, by Philip Pullman
  7. Travels with Charley: In Search of America, by John Steinbeck
  8. The Romanovs: 1613 – 1918, by Hugh Sebag-Montefiore
  9. Conclave, by Robert Harris
  10. Hillbilly Elegy, A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
  11. The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman
  12. Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson
  13. Empress of the East: How a European Slave Girl Became Queen of the Ottoman Empire, by Leslie Peirce
  14. In the Lake of the Woods, by Tim O’Brien
  15. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
  16. Mikhail and Margarita, by Julie Lekstrom Himes
  17. The Mandibles, A Family: 2029 – 2047, by Lionel Shriver
  18. Moshi Moshi, by Banana Yoshimoto
  19. Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys
  20. As Lie Is to Grin, by Simeon Marsalis

Today, self went poring over her recommended reading list and discarded a list called “Recommended Summer Reading” (downloaded from a literary website). Summer is practically half over and by the time she gets to the books on that list, it will be winter.

On her To-Read list 2018 are a biography of Daphne du Maurier and three du Maurier novels. She hopes she can get to them soon. She wishes Steinbeck weren’t so engaging because he is really slowing down her reading rate. Before she began Travels with Charley she read an average of a book a week.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.

On Now, San Francisco 2018

Summer: SO MANY THINGS, from the Magritte exhibit at SFMOMA, to the Rube Goldberg exhibit at the Jewish Contemporary Art Museum on Mission St., to the Redwood City Century 20, where we saw Jurassic Park last weekend (Bryce Dallas Howard forever!)

 

The End of LA BELLE SAUVAGE (Spoilers, Needless To Say)

p. 443:

  • The first boat had swung back. Now it smashed into the canoe again, a deathblow, and the brave little boat was broken open like an egg. Both Malcolm and Asta cried out with love.

The next book on self’s reading list is The Golden Compass. At least, she’ll give it a go.

So far, this year, she’s read three really good novels, the kind that make it into her “favorites” list: Moshi Moshi by Banana Yoshimoto; The Mandibles, by Lionel Shriver; and La Belle Sauvage. Actually, Conclave, by Robert Harris, was pretty good, too. Wow, the first third of 2018 has produced a rich harvest. That’s never happened to self before.

The last time she read a trilogy was way back 2015, when she began Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices. That was a smashing series. She spent part of that year in London, looking for Saint Bride’s and the old Blackfriars bridge. At Saint Bride’s, she chatted with a deacon who was amused that Saint Bride’s was the setting of the Shadowhunters’ London sanctuary. She was so into Victorian Steampunk that year, and remembers being mightily impressed that York had an annual Steampunk Festival.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Pope John XXIII: JOURNAL OF A SOUL

  • As for women, and everything to do with them, never a word, never; it was as if there were no women in the world. This absolute silence, even between close friends, about everything to do with women was one of the most profound and lasting lessons of my early years in the priesthood. — from p. 185 of Robert Harris’s thriller (about the election of a new Pope), Conclave

The MP (or main protagonist) is reading. Since he is a Cardinal, he reads religious stuff. Like Pope John XXIII’s writings.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Vicente Benitez, (Filipino) Archbishop of Baghdad

Self is now at a point in Conclave where a vote is taken for a new Pope. And it reads just like Survivor. She means: everyone rising, one by one, to cast their secret ballots.

Vicente Benitez, the newest Cardinal, previously assigned to a country in Africa (self too lazy to look up exactly which country right now), casts his ballot on p. 157. Props to author Robert Harris for getting self to read this far on a topic she never thought she’d be interested in.

The MP’s inner monologue:

The Filipino had an attractive quality, he thought, not easy to define, an inner grace. Now that he was becoming better known, he might go far.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Reading CONCLAVE, by Robert Harris

p.73: Filipino Sighting

“His name is Vincent Benitez. He’s the Archbishop of Baghdad.”

“Baghdad? I wasn’t aware we had an archbishop in such a place. Is he an Iraqi?”

“Hardly! He’s a Filipino. The Holy Father appointed him last year.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Maze Runner: Death Cure

So excellent. Self can’t even. The best wrap-up to a YA series ever.

Three out of four stars.

Self knows of what she speaks: she’s a big fan of YA.

Just to show you this movie went beyond, self cried at the end. You’d think she was watching The Time-Traveler’s Wife, not Maze Runner.

There were a lot of high-powered actors in the cast: Patricia Clarkson, Aiden Gillen, Barry Pepper, Walton Goggins (sporting truly disgusting facial make-up: five stars!), Thomas Brodie-Sangster. Half the time self kept wondering when Woody Harrelson was going to show up. Self loves it when a YA action movie is way better than anyone has a reasonable right to expect.

The only thing that bothered self about the movie (Almost 2 1/2 hours long, and the time just flew by!) was that every time Aiden Gillen was on-screen, she kept thinking: Littlefinger! There is one scene in which Gillen stares creepily at Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) and it reminded her so much of all the times on Game of Thrones when Littlefinger is perv-ing on Sansa.

Movie’s best moment? In her humble opinion, when Min Ho gets up in Teresa’s face and yells: TRAITOR! So cathartic.

P.S. There was a preview for Jurassic World. Bryce Dallas Howard is truly growing into a Jessica Chastain-level beauty. In fact, for a moment that’s who self thought she was watching

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

1st Month Back, Fourth Movie: MAZE RUNNER, THE DEATH CURE

Self is all for action movies. She absolutely loves them.

If she doesn’t watch an action movie, it’s at least got to have Frances McDormand.

And now, woot hoot, the Maze Runner is back. For a few years, there was some doubt about whether star Dylan O’Brien was okay. He had a horrific accident while filming Movie # 2 of the Maze Runner, and filming shut down completely, which meant the accident was bad. But he made a thriller last year, and looked no different. And this year, he starts out with a bang, with the closing movie of the YA trilogy, and critics have been saying that it’s the best installment yet.

So, #pointsDylan.

From the way self got into 12 Strong, she knows she is ready for this.

Christy Lemire over on Roger Ebert, the review site, even compares the film to Mad Max: Fury Road. Of course, it’s not as good. Nothing can be as good as Mad Max: Fury Road. But to even earn that reference — that’s cool.

Tim Robey, writing for The Telegraph, has good fun classifying the series’ main characters into the following camps: Absolutely, Hell No, and I’ll Get Back to You on That.

On Team Hell No are the heroes. These are played by Dylan O’Brien, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, and Dexter Dardin. Let’s also throw in Rosa Salazar’s character, as self finds her so darn cute.

On Team Absolutely is a beauteous turncoat played by Kaya Scodelario.

And then Robey forgets who’s supposed to be on Team I’ll Get Back to You on That or maybe he just gets bored with his own review because he never says who.

But there are enough bits to convince self that she has to see this movie. Cinema’s just 10 miles north on 1, in Fort Bragg. And it’s not even raining.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Book of Henry Movie: What the What

If you’ve ever wondered what Naomi Watts looks like holding a high-powered rifle in her hands, this movie is for you.

If you’ve ever wondered why American child actors are so darn cute, this movie is for you.

If you’ve ever had a creepy neighbor who reminds you all the time that you need to blower your yard, this movie is for you.

If you’ve ever wondered what kind of private life a waitress in a diner has, this movie is for you.

If you’ve ever wondered about tree-houses in general — their uses in a story — this movie is for you.

If you’ve ever wondered what boy geniuses do in their spare time, this movie is for you.

If you’ve ever had cause to doubt your eleven-year-old’s stock market advice, this movie is for you.

Stay tuned.

 

CATO in Robert Harris (Conspirata, p. 92)

#amreading all Imperial Rome narratives

Until next week, when self begins Rinker Buck’s The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey

Robert Harris’s Conspirata (In the United Kingdom it’s got a different title: Lustrum) covers exactly the same ground as the books self just finished reading: SPQR by Mary Beard, and Rubicon by Tom Holland. So she knows how everything is going to end. But Harris is such a good writer (She read Fatherland, years ago: highly recommend) that self is giving Conspirata a go.

Here’s a speech by Cato which self thinks is fascinating for what it reveals of the character (Also, it is interesting that millions of youths around the world see the name Cato and think immediately of that blonde bully in The Hunger Games):

Never be moved by favour. Never appease. Never forgive a wrong. Never differentiate between things that are wrong — what is wrong is wrong, whatever the size of the misdemeanour, and that is the end of the matter. And finally, never compromise on any of these principles. “The man who has the strength to follow them — is always handsome however misshapen, always rich however needy, always a king however much a slave.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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