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50 Book Challenge 2018 Part Six
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southeastdweller · 05/06/2018 08:12

Welcome to the sixth thread of the 50 Book Challenge for this year.

The challenge is to read fifty books (or more!) in 2018, though reading fifty isn't mandatory. Any type of book can count, it’s not too late to join, and please try to let us all know your thoughts on what you've read.

The first thread of the year is here, the second one here, the third one here, the fourth one here, and the fifth one here.

How're you getting on so far?

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Toomuchsplother · 06/08/2018 23:35

Ahh!! Annoyingly the bolding has completely messed up on that list!! No idea why!!
Have been away for a week or so with intermittent WiFi. Taking advantage of a quiet afternoon to update, so apologies for the enormous post.
98. One good turn - Kate Atkinson
99. When will there be good news? - Kate Atkinson
101. Started early, took my dog - Kate Atkinson
- Read the Jackson Brodie novels back to back. Had read When will there be ..., before and think they actually work better for being read together. There are subtle (and no subtle) themes that run through that I think I would have forgotten or missed if there was a gap. Easy and enjoyable, but not Atkinson's finest work.


100. The Explosive child - Ross W Greene Read for work and personal interest. Had seen it recommended. Sensible approach which is much harder to implement than the author would have you believe
102. The Burgess Boys - Elizabeth Strout. Have read a few by this author now and she is readable and convincing. Excellent commentary on what it means to be successful in the First world, in this case the USA, and how easily it can all come crashing down in the face of blinding arrogance.
103. Standard Deviation - Katherine Heiny Previousle recommended. Really enjoyed this. Off beat humour that made me laugh out loud, a rare thing for me when reading a book. Have respect for any author who can right comedy well. Could be a stand out for the year.
104. Ma’am Darling - Craig Brown Biography Of Princess Margaret. I started off enjoying this in a gossipy, voyager type of way but pretty soon it started to jar. It quickly became self indulgent. The fantasy marriage sections were just bizarre. As were sections where the same story was told using different literary conventions or styles. Smacked of grandstanding and spinning out a thin line.
There was also the weird obsession with how small she was. It was repeated almost as much as how difficult she was. Add in the continuous comparison to Queen - nice sister / nasty sister - endless arguing with 'Tony', round of parties and holidays and it quickly became very tedious. A glorified 'Who’s who’s', it was very repetitive , slight and lacked depth.
There was also an odd use of photos. Some described in depth but not seen, even when crucial to the case in point. Drove me mad.
I know it wasn't a traditional biography but the Non linear framework drove me mad. No real subject matter, it just seemed to leap all over the place.
It seemed to take an age to read and after pages of spectacular about just how many pints of beer the East End gangster / possible lover could balance on his todger I very nearly gave up.
105. Why I am no longer talking to white people about race - Reni Eddo- Lodge Thought provoking and much reviewed. Read quickly but will certainly need to revisit. Not always comfortable reading and made me examine my own actions, behaviours and expectations.

And re Vanity Fair, one of my all time favs.

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southeastdweller · 06/08/2018 21:25

New thread is up 📚

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SatsukiKusakabe · 06/08/2018 21:14

I’m really looking forward to getting back to North and South now so thanks and do treat yourselves to Richard Armitage whenever possible Grin

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SatsukiKusakabe · 06/08/2018 21:11

Yes scribbly it’s great when you discover a classic like that and it just clobbers you with how good it is.

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Piggywaspushed · 06/08/2018 20:19

I think VF got a few mentions on the thread I started about books you are ashamed not to have read : quite a few recommended it and expressed horror at my dislike of Austen. This year I have done Frankenstein, Northanger Abbey, Part of Bleak House, as you know, Tale of Two Cities, Middlemarch and North and South so I am doing quite well!

southeast we need a new thread!

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CorvusUmbranox · 06/08/2018 20:15

and then Vanity Fair has come along and stomped on the whole list like the giant pink foot in the Monty Python opening credits.

Yay, you liked it. Grin

I’m in the middle of a bit of a dry patch. I’m about halfway through Black Tudors, a social history about the lives of various black people in Tudor times and finding it interesting, but a little slow going. I keep zoning out but I don’t think it’s the book’s fault.

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ScribblyGum · 06/08/2018 20:00

Totally going to adopt ‘has the Spleen’ as a new saying Grin

Vanity Fair blew me away to be honest. It is so above any beyond anything I have read this year in terms of writing quality, depth, character development, plot... So wise and so funny.
Felt a bit like I've been touring the houses of Brookside Close and then all of a sudden was taken on a visit of York Minster. Very very grateful to all on the thread who recommended I should read it. Bit of a literature life changer for me and now I'm thinking about what other classics I have missing from my life that I need to get on and get into my head.

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SatsukiKusakabe · 06/08/2018 19:39

He was certainly jolly in the tv version and half interested in Miss Hale for himself...

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Dottierichardson · 06/08/2018 19:28

Actually there is one I could do without Les Miserables starts out really well about two-thirds of the way in started to feel like 'wading through treacle'.

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Dottierichardson · 06/08/2018 19:24

Terpsichore have Fisher's With a Bold Knife and Fork which is also very good. I have a whole collection of cookery memoirs. They make excellent late night reading.
Scribbly so glad VF won you over, I agree re: 19th century novels, I keep hoping someone will uncover a secret unpublished stash. I even like the melodramatic ones like Lady Audley's Secret and East Lynne.

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Piggywaspushed · 06/08/2018 19:08

Yes, he is quite Jarndyce. He keeps going on about taking Margaret to Spain and then he goes all grumpy on her, and says he has the Spleen. And they never go to Spain. Which is sad.

I also liked Dixon and kind of wanted to marry Henry Lennox off to someone nice.

I shall add VF to my 'Victorian novels I should have read' pile!

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ScribblyGum · 06/08/2018 17:59

Maybe you need a rich, unmarried elderly gentleman in Victorian novels to be the fixer? A spouse would spoil the whole “ta daaaaa, here is my entire fortune.”

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ScribblyGum · 06/08/2018 17:54

I only remember him as being an extremely jolly sort, the counterpoint to frail and glum Mr Hale. Does he have attacks of the glums too? Will have to re-read it, what a shame. He (Mr Bell) reminds me a bit of Mr Jarndyce.

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Piggywaspushed · 06/08/2018 17:32

Oh yes! I think nowadays you 'remain in a critical condition' which hardly sounds literary. The poor older Hales do spend a lot of tiem dangerously, gravely or suddenly ill.

Question: I know Mrs G did not mean it to sound so, but I thought the wonderful Mr Bell seemed a) a repressed homosexual (maybe not even very repressed) and b) bipolar. Just me?

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ScribblyGum · 06/08/2018 17:16

Grin Grin
The most enjoyable type of intercouse to read about though don’t you think?

The next level up from moderately unwell is dangerously ill I think. Who remembers the messages tacked onto the end of the R4 longwave six o’clock news requesting “Mr Harold Bainbridge of Chichester, currently on holiday in Carnac. Please contact Plymouth memorial hospital regarding your mother who is dangerously ill” ? You can really indulge orally in the dangerously bit. Sadly underused in today's NHS parlance.

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Piggywaspushed · 06/08/2018 16:59

moderately unwell actually makes you sound like a Victorian woman! scribbly had to retire from intercourse that evening as she felt moderately unwell Grin

There is an awful lot of intercourse in Austen and Gaskell ...

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ScribblyGum · 06/08/2018 16:41

North and South was my favourite book of last year. I’ve yet to watch the tv series, am waiting to be moderately unwell (with a heavy cold of broken wrist for example) and then plan to indulgently watch it in the middle of the day without fear of interruptions.

Piggy I'm the same (re Victorian books). My Cousin Rachel and Circe were well out in the lead vying for top spot this year and then Vanity Fair has come along and stomped on the whole list like the giant pink foot in the Monty Python opening credits. My poor holiday reading list suffered terribly in it's wake. Everything has been moderately to severely disappointing since finishing it.

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SatsukiKusakabe · 06/08/2018 16:30

Yes it didn’t seem to be Austen in style, but in plot and character there were definite parallels.

Richard Armitage was definitely memorable - I think the scene where he says “look back at me” beats Darcy in a pond for a hot period drama moment.

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Piggywaspushed · 06/08/2018 16:19

I watched the TV one a while back I believe but recall very little about it.Other than it being Richard Armitage. I think a fair amount is altered.

I found the book very readable. Some long conversations about industrial relations that I skimmed but nothing like as arduous as Middlemarch!

I don't like Austen (sorry! I know that's not a popular view on this thread!) but others have pointed out similarities. I would say Gaskell is more po faced than Austen.

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SatsukiKusakabe · 06/08/2018 16:05

piggy I just watched the BBC adaptation of North and South and quite enjoyed it so am now reading the book. I commented to my husband it was like a grim P&P as several plot points mirrored it exactly, and I thought must have done so deliberately, though in the midst of darker goings on and with more deaths than weddings. Be interested in seeing how the book pans out and how much they altered.

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Terpsichore · 06/08/2018 14:20

54: The Gastronomical Me - M. F. K. Fisher

A book of food and memories by this venerable (now deceased) American writer, who's not so well-known nowadays, perhaps, but is often cited as an important influence by other well-known foodies. I love her prose. She was American but spent large parts of her life in Europe, and has a very European sensibility. There aren't any actual recipes in this memoir, but she evokes memorable meals so precisely and deliciously that you can almost taste them. Alongside these taste memories are the stories from her life - about her family, her husband, her lover who died of a terrible, cruel disease - and the characters met along the way. It's structured as a series of short stories, or perhaps rather glimpses from a long life that had its share of sorrow, but written by someone of deep wisdom who was determined to experience as much enjoyment as possible ....if you enjoy books about food I'd urge you to give this one a go. A good counterpart to the Julian Barnes Pedant in the Kitchen, come to think of it.

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Piggywaspushed · 06/08/2018 13:32

I have just finished North and South which was on my virtuous pile of books I should have read. I rather liked it : usual Vicotrian fare of endless deaths and severla proposals . I thought quite George Eliot ish rather than like Austen which some have said but definitely not much like Hardy or Dickens.

I liked the ending. The finishing sentences gave me much satisfaction.

On the whole, in this 50+ book crusade, I have almost uniformly found the Victorian books better plotted, more entertaining, and more satisfying than the modern literary works!

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TheTurnOfTheScrew · 06/08/2018 12:52

33. This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay
Extensively reviewed memoir of a junior obs and gynae doctor who left the medical profession at the grade below consultant. Basically a series of mostly funny, often grim and sometimes tender anecdotes from the front line of the NHS. Very occasionally I found it too laddish in tone, but it's a great illustration of how the (undoubtedly flawed) NHS is kept often only kept running by the goodwill of its staff.

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CoteDAzur · 06/08/2018 11:47

I wasn't that keen on The Man in the High Castle, either.

My favourite PKD books are The Martian Time-Slip (which was incredibly brainhurty), A Scanner Darkly, and Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?. His short story books are pretty good, too.

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bibliomania · 06/08/2018 09:34

The Pumpkin Eater is excellent. I've ordered Pale Rider from the library.

Read the first third of I Contain Multitudes and skimmed the rest. I liked it, but felt I'd got the idea and wasn't quite in the mood.

About to embark on Fools and Mortals and looking forward to it. I was a groundling at a production of Macbeth at the week, up at the front by the stage, and got liberally spattered with fake blood, so I'm a Shakespearean kind of mood.

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