It's that time of year again, we are preparing for the holidays and working on our MR New Year's resolutions which means we should take a few minutes and reflect on this last year.
Unlike with children it's ok to have favorites here, so ...
What books did you enjoy the most in 2017?
Did that new Lee Child book really knock your socks off?
What books are you still reflecting on?
What books will become annual favorites?
What book kept you up long enough that it was time to get up?
What books were published in 2017 that really stood out to you?
Any contenders for your favorite literary award?
What would you have in a hypothetical MR slate for the Hugos?
Help the rest of us fill in our TBR list list for 2018. If your goal is to reduce your TBR list in 2018 go ahead and add them now so they don't count against you then. I mean, isn't setting that sort of a goal right now kinda like starting a diet right before Thanksgiving?
I know the year isn't quite over but this thread will still be open when it is if you find another favorite in the next few weeks.
And for future reference, a couple years ago issybird mentioned a great way to track which books you might like to post next year.
If you want to see what some of the past favorites are check these out: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012
Also known as Island Tales or On the Makaloa Mat and Other Island Tales
'Published posthumously, this collection of seven short stories and sketches creates a fascinating portrait of life on the picturesque Hawaiian Islands. Brimming with vivid descriptions of the sea and forest, these tales examine the lives of an array of characters and the effect upon them of their contact with Western civilization.'
This is the MR Literary Club selection for December 2017. Whether you've already read it or would like to, feel free to start or join in the conversation at any time, and guests are always welcome! So, what are your thoughts on it?
The Annual Reading Challenge is neither a race, contest, nor an "exclusive club", anyone can join! This is just a fun activity that some of us have enjoyed doing in the past. Many of us have found reading challenges to be an entertaining way to set goals for ourselves, get ideas for books, and see what others are reading.
This thread is for you to keep a running tally for your chosen challenge. Please state your goals at the top of your post (in the title line if you can), and then start your list in the body of your post. As you read books, edit your post to update your list of books read, or other challenge status.
Please Remember: No discussion posts in this thread. Please use the other thread for that. Non-List posts will be deleted or moved to the other thread.
Post #2 of this thread is dedicated to a Table of Contents for all participants in this thread. Names will be added, to this TOC, in alphabetical order with a link to that individual’s post number from this thread.
Help us select what the MR Literary Club will read in December 2017!
The options this month are courtesy of our rotating nominator, sun surfer (me).
Voting will run for four days. The vote will close exactly four days from this; even if the final tally doesn't occur immediately after voting closes, no votes made after that time will count.
Votes will be made by post. Each person has FIFTEEN(!) votes to use.
You may give each nominee one or two (or no) votes. You may vote all at once in one post or vote in separate posts at different times, so long as you have more votes remaining to cast. You may use any number of your possible votes up to the maximum. Any extraneous votes per person (past their maximum or more than two for one nominee) won't count. Votes cannot be changed once they are cast.
The rotating nominator may not vote. Once voting is complete, the count will be tallied and a winner declared. In the event of a tie, there will be a one-day run-off vote, also in this thread. If the run-off also ends in a tie, then the tie will be resolved by the nominator.
We hope that you will read the selection with the club and join in the discussion.
Initial voting is closed. Run-off voting is closed. Final results-
The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordecai Richler Post / Goodreads / 357 Pages / Votes- 0
Borstal Boy by Brendan Behan Post / Goodreads / 376 Pages / Votes- 0
Days Without End by Sebastian Barry Post / Goodreads / 268 Pages / Votes- 0
The Emigrants by W.G. Sebald Post / Goodreads / 246 Pages / Votes- 0
Family Chronicle by Vasco Pratolini Post / Goodreads / 121 Pages / Votes- 0
Home Fires Burning by Georgina Lee Post / Goodreads / 312 Pages / Votes- 0
If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino Post / Goodreads / 255 Pages / Votes- 0
The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King Post / Goodreads / 294 Pages / Votes- 0
Island Tales (aka On the Makaloa Mat) by Jack London Post / Goodreads / 142 Pages / Votes- 2 / Run-off- 2
Job by Joseph Roth Post / Goodreads / 226 Pages / Votes- 2 / Run-off- 0
Kicking the Sky by Anthony De Sa Post / Goodreads / 307 Pages / Votes- 0
The Mystic Masseur by V.S. Naipaul Post / Goodreads / 216 Pages / Votes- 2 / Run-off- 0
No Fond Return of Love by Barbara Pym Post / Goodreads / 267 Pages / Votes- 0
The Piano Teacher by Elfriede Jelinek Post / Goodreads / 284 Pages / Votes- 0
Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay Post / Goodreads / 215 Pages / Votes- 2 / Run-off- 0
Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh Post / Goodreads / 528 Pages / Votes- 2 / Run-off- 0
*** Special thanks to Dazrin for providing the list of runner-up titles! ***
Help us select the next book that the MobileRead Book Club will read for January, 2018.
Book selection category for January is:
There will be no nominations this month. The way Second Chance works is that the poll will be comprised of selections that either came in second place or tied for second place during the previous 11 months. The discussion will start January 20, 2018.
The poll will be open for 7 days since it's earlier than usual, in response to requests to facilitate library borrowing. If the voting results a tie, there will be a 3 day run-off poll. This is a visible poll: others can see how you voted. It is You may cast a vote for each book that appeals to you. Here are the selections you will be considering:
2017 runner up choices: February: Mystery • Moon Over Soho (Peter Grant #2) by Ben Aaronovitch Goodreads | Overdrive Print Length: 396 pages
The song. That’s what London constable and sorcerer’s apprentice Peter Grant first notices when he examines the corpse of Cyrus Wilkins, part-time jazz drummer and full-time accountant, who dropped dead of a heart attack while playing a gig at Soho’s 606 Club. The notes of the old jazz standard are rising from the body—a sure sign that something about the man’s death was not at all natural but instead supernatural.
Body and soul—they’re also what Peter will risk as he investigates a pattern of similar deaths in and around Soho. With the help of his superior officer, Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, the last registered wizard in England, and the assistance of beautiful jazz aficionado Simone Fitzwilliam, Peter will uncover a deadly magical menace—one that leads right to his own doorstep and to the squandered promise of a young jazz musician: a talented trumpet player named Richard “Lord” Grant—otherwise known as Peter’s dear old dad.
The fascinating hero of Nevada Barr’s award-winning series—park ranger Anna Pigeon—has brought an unyielding love of nature and sense of fair play to the mystery genre. Track of the Cat is the acclaimed novel that first introduced readers to Anna, as a woman looking for peace in the wilderness—and finding murder instead…
Patrolling the remote West Texas backcountry, Anna’s first job as a national park ranger is marred by violence she thought she had left behind: the brutal death of a fellow ranger. When the cause of death is chalked up to a mountain lion attack, Anna’s rage knows no bounds. It’s up to her to save the protected cats from the politics and prejudices of the locals—and prove the kill was the work of a species far less rare…
Anna Pigeon fled the turmoil of New York to become a national park ranger, only to discover she hasn't escaped murder and violence. When a colleague is killed, claw marks on the victim's throat and paw prints around the body are too perfect to be those of an alleged killer mountain lion.
From the vivid opening vista, high in craggy mountains, to the final haunting glimpse of a moonlit canyon, Nevada Barr's first mystery, Track of the Cat, instantly caught the attention of readers and reviewers. Its popularity gained it both an Agatha and an Anthony Award.
The young naturalist, Anna Pigeon, has moved to the Southwest wilderness to be a park ranger. There, her days are filled with the physical demands of working in the Guadalupe Mountains and the satisfaction of living in this splendid land. Her peace is shattered one morning, though, when she discovers the body of another ranger deep in Dog Canyon. How did the usually cautious woman die? Although at first the evidence indicates an attack by a mountain lion, Anna soon suspects that there are craftier predators afoot in the wild grasses.
Fast-paced suspense and sharply defined characters will immediately sweep you up in the force of this compelling mystery. By the end, you'll be nodding in satisfaction at the final twist and anticipating the next book in the Anna Pigeon series. Narrator Barbara Rosenblat's performance highlights Anna's savvy courage and determination to catch her prey.
March: Patricia Clarke Memorial Library • Lardner on the Loose (collected short fiction) by Ring Lardner Kindleepub
Ring Lardner was an American sports columnist and short story writer best known for his satirical writings about sports, marriage, and the theatre. He was a contemporary of Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf and F. Scott Fitzgerald, all of whom professed strong admiration for his writing.
In 1916, Lardner published his first successful book, You Know Me Al, an epistolary novel written in the form of letters from “Jack Keefe”, a bush-league baseball player, to a friend back home. The letters made much use of the fictional author’s idiosyncratic vernacular, with semi-literate grammar and phonetic spelling. Like most of Lardner’s stories, You Know Me Al employs satire, in this case to show the stupidity and avarice of a certain type of athlete. Until 1920, Lardner continued to write follow-up stories about Jack Keefe, some of which were collected in the books Treat ‘Em Rough and The Real Dope, narrating Jack’s Army experiences in World War I.
Lardner later published such stories as “Haircut”, “Some Like Them Cold”, “The Golden Honeymoon”, “Alibi Ike”, “A Day with Conrad Green”, and dozens more. Sometimes narrated by a “wise boob”, with slyly satirical commentary on manners and morals (The Big Town), sometimes taking a poignant view (“Now and Then”, “Old Folk’s Christmas”), sometimes sliding into sheer noir (“Champion”), always entertaining. His frequent use of vernacular influenced sports fiction writing for generations to come.
The most well-known and well-liked of Gaskell's works, this softly humorous picture of an English country village was first serialized in a magazine edited by Charles Dickens in 1851. Based on the village of Gaskell's childhood, "Cranford" is narrated by a young woman visiting the town who describes the genteel poverty of two middle-aged spinster sisters, Miss Matty and Miss Deborah. Gaskell tells of their little adventures in a confidential and almost chatty tone, perfectly conveying their habits and standards of propriety, decency, and kindness in reduced circumstances. The colorful characters and subtle class distinctions of the village of Cranford are captured in this compassionate and hopeful portrayal of small-town English life.
and from a Goodreads review:
the humor is so sly. at times it's difficult to believe that this was written over 150 years ago. I guess that gentle social humor has always been with us.
John Galsworthy (1867-1933) devoted virtually his entire professional career to creating a fictional but entirely representative family of propertied Victorians: the Forsytes. He made their lives and times, loves and losses, fortunes and deaths so real that readers accused him of including as characters in his drama real individuals whom they knew. He was the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1932.
The entire saga comprises three trilogies of books, of which this is the first. The other two ("A Modern Comedy" and "End of the Chapter") are available as separate downloads.
This first trilogy, "The Forsyte Saga", chronicles the life of three generations of the Forsyte family, a wealthy upper middle class English family, in the turbulent years between the 1880s and the 1920s - a time period during which English society was completely transformed. The books are set against the great events of the day - the Boer War and WWI, the rise of Labour, the death of Queen Victoria, and much more.
This book was originally published as three novels, with a short story "interlude" between each one, the structure being:
The Man of Property
(Interlude) Indian Summer of a Forsyte
The Light of Day was the basis for Jules Dassin’s classic film, Topkapi.
When Arthur Abdel Simpson first spots Harper in the Athens airport, he recognizes him as a tourist unfamiliar with city and in need of a private driver. In other words, the perfect mark for Simpson’s brand of entrepreneurship. But Harper proves to be more the spider than the fly when he catches Simpson riffling his wallet for traveler’s checks. Soon Simpson finds himself blackmailed into driving a suspicious car across the Turkish border. Then, when he is caught again, this time by the police, he faces a choice: cooperate with the Turks and spy on his erstwhile colleagues or end up in one of Turkey’s notorious prisons. The authorities suspect an attempted coup, but Harper and his gang of international jewel thieves have planned something both less sinister and much, much more audacious.
"We broke something. How do you break time? Can something so bad happen that you fracture the world?" Benjamin Travers has been electrocuted. What's worse, he and his friends have woken up in the past. As the friends search for a way home, they realize they're not alone. There are other time travelers, and some of them are turning up dead. When Ben meets an enigmatic scientist and his charming, time-traveling daughter, salvation seems at hand, but escaping the dangers of the past may lead to a deadly future. If he hopes to save his friends, Ben must learn to master space and time, and survive a journey where past and future violently collide.
June: Science • Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach Goodreads | Overdrive Print Length: 353 pages
The irresistible, ever-curious, and always best-selling Mary Roach returns with a new adventure to the invisible realm we carry around inside.
“America’s funniest science writer” (Washington Post) takes us down the hatch on an unforgettable tour. The alimentary canal is classic Mary Roach terrain: the questions explored in Gulp are as taboo, in their way, as the cadavers in Stiff and every bit as surreal as the universe of zero gravity explored in Packing for Mars. Why is crunchy food so appealing? Why is it so hard to find words for flavors and smells? Why doesn’t the stomach digest itself? How much can you eat before your stomach bursts? Can constipation kill you? Did it kill Elvis? In Gulp we meet scientists who tackle the questions no one else thinks of—or has the courage to ask. We go on location to a pet-food taste-test lab, a fecal transplant, and into a live stomach to observe the fate of a meal. With Roach at our side, we travel the world, meeting murderers and mad scientists, Eskimos and exorcists (who have occasionally administered holy water rectally), rabbis and terrorists—who, it turns out, for practical reasons do not conceal bombs in their digestive tracts.
Like all of Roach’s books, Gulp is as much about human beings as it is about human bodies.
• What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe Goodreads | Amazon US Print Length: 321 pages
Randall Munroe left NASA in 2005 to start up his hugely popular site XKCD 'a web comic of romance, sarcasm, math and language' which offers a witty take on the world of science and geeks. It now has 600,000 to a million page hits daily. Every now and then, Munroe would get emails asking him to arbitrate a science debate. 'My friend and I were arguing about what would happen if a bullet got struck by lightning, and we agreed that you should resolve it . . . ' He liked these questions so much that he started up What If.
If your cells suddenly lost the power to divide, how long would you survive? How dangerous is it, really, to be in a swimming pool in a thunderstorm? If we hooked turbines to people exercising in gyms, how much power could we produce? What if everyone only had one soulmate? When (if ever) did the sun go down on the British empire? How fast can you hit a speed bump while driving and live? What would happen if the moon went away?
In pursuit of answers, Munroe runs computer simulations, pores over stacks of declassified military research memos, solves differential equations, and consults with nuclear reactor operators. His responses are masterpieces of clarity and hilarity, studded with memorable cartoons and infographics. They often predict the complete annihilation of humankind, or at least a really big explosion. Far more than a book for geeks, WHAT IF: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions explains the laws of science in operation in a way that every intelligent reader will enjoy and feel much the smarter for having read.
Japan's most highly regarded novelist now vaults into the first ranks of international fiction writers with this heroically imaginative novel, which is at once a detective story, an account of a disintegrating marriage, and an excavation of the buried secrets of World War II.
In a Tokyo suburb a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife's missing cat. Soon he finds himself looking for his wife as well in a netherworld that lies beneath the placid surface of Tokyo. As these searches intersect, Okada encounters a bizarre group of allies and antagonists: a psychic prostitute; a malevolent yet mediagenic politician; a cheerfully morbid sixteen-year-old-girl; and an aging war veteran who has been permanently changed by the hideous things he witnessed during Japan's forgotten campaign in Manchuria.
Gripping, prophetic, suffused with comedy and menace, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a tour de force equal in scope to the masterpieces of Mishima and Pynchon.
August: Thriller, Suspense, & Crime • The Guns of Navarone by Alistair MacLean Goodreads | Amazon UK / Amazon US Print Length: 288 pages
The classic World War II thriller from the acclaimed master of action and suspense. Now reissued in a new cover style.
Twelve hundred British soldiers isolated on the small island of Kheros off the Turkish coast, waiting to die. Twelve hundred lives in jeopardy, lives that could be saved if only the guns could be silenced. The guns of Navarone, vigilant, savage and catastrophically accurate. Navarone itself, grim bastion of narrow straits manned by a mixed garrison of Germans and Italians, an apparently impregnable iron fortress. To Captain Keith Mallory, skllled saboteur, trained mountaineer, fell the task of leading the small party detailed to scale the vast, impossible precipice of Navarone and to blow up the guns. The Guns of Navarone is the story of that mission, the tale of a calculated risk taken in the time of war.
Wimseys mother, the Dowager Duchess of Denver, rings her son with news of such a quaint thing. She has heard through a friend that Mr. Thipps, a respectable Battersea architect, found a dead man in his bathwearing nothing but a gold pince-nez. Lord Wimsey makes his way straight over to Mr. Thipps, and a good look at the body raises a number of interesting questions. Why would such an apparently well groomed man have filthy black toenails, flea bites and the scent of carbolic soap lingering on his corpse? Then comes the disappearance of oil millionaire Sir Reuben Levy, last seen on the Battersea Park Road. With his beard shaved he would look very similar to the man found in the bath, but is Sir Levy really dead?
"Whose Body" is something of an apprentice work. Lord Peter is here more a bundle of characteristics than a character: a collector of rare books and incunabula, facile with quotations, fluent in French and probably in Latin, a skillful and sensitive pianist who never needs to practise, slightly built but possessed of "curious" strength and speed which he maintains without exercise. Over subsequent books, this caricature smooths and deepens into one of the most interesting and attractive detectives in fiction.
In spite of its awkwardness, Whose Body is worth reading. The plot is clever, the villain is believable and sadistic, and most of the supporting characters are a delight. Some of these characters are further developed in later novels: Bunter, Parker, the Dowager Duchess, Freddy Arbuthnot. Others fortunately are not. Sayers is much better with people she might recognise as "like us" then with people from other social groups.
The stark naked body was lying in the tub. Not unusual for a proper bath, but highly irregular for murder -- especially with a pair of gold pince-nez deliberately perched before the sightless eyes. What's more, the face appeared to have been shaved after death. The police assumed that the victim was a prominent financier, but Lord Peter Wimsey, who dabbled in mystery detection as a hobby, knew better. In this, his first murder case, Lord Peter untangles the ghastly mystery of the corpse in the bath.
When winter’s done, but spring has not yet fully-sprung, much of Alaska turns to slush. Locally, it’s called “breakup,” and it’s a… messy time of year. It’s certainly messy for Kate Shugak; between doing her taxes, being chased by grizzlies and getting shot-at by feuding families, she has to cope with an NTSB investigation that hits very close to home. Then, of course, there’s the body in the woods. And up at the old mining town. And… being Kate Shugak, somehow she can’t leave well enough alone, and begins to tease-apart a well-planned and surprising crime.
November: History • The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler's Germany, 1944-1945 by Ian Kershaw Goodreads | Amazon US / Kobo Print Length: 596 pages
From the preeminent Hitler biographer, a fascinating and original exploration of how the Third Reich was willing and able to fight to the bitter end of World War II
Countless books have been written about why Nazi Germany lost the Second World War, yet remarkably little attention has been paid to the equally vital questions of how and why the Third Reich did not surrender until Germany had been left in ruins and almost completely occupied. Drawing on prodigious new research, Ian Kershaw, an award-winning historian and the author of Fateful Choices, explores these fascinating questions in a gripping and focused narrative that begins with the failed bomb plot in July 1944 and ends with the death of Adolf Hitler and the German capitulation in 1945. The End paints a harrowing yet enthralling portrait of the Third Reich in its last desperate gasps.
• The Magic City by Edith Nesbit Goodreads | Patricia Clark Memorial Library:ePub / Kindle Print Length: 212 pages
When young Philip Haldane and his new step-sister Lucy (whom he resents) are magically transported to a magic city (created by Philip from odds and ends from about the house), they find themselves on an incredible enchanted adventure complete with talking dogs, winged horses, ancient buildings and magic islands. How Philip and Lucy come to forge a friendship and work together to save the Magic City from impending disaster makes for a riveting, entrancing story.
Philip Haldane builds a play city out of odds and ends that comes to life, when his beloved sister Helen marries Lucy's father. But the nurse tears down the city and traps Lucy. Peter, The Deliverer, must perform seven valorous deeds, opposed by the Pretenderette, a mysterious veiled woman who wants to be Queen. Noah builds an ark and adventures abound.
'"The nickname of the train was the Yellow Dog. Its real name was the Yazoo-Delta. It was a mixed train. The day was the 10th of September, 1923-afternoon. Laura McRaven, who was nine years old, was on her first journey alone."
So begins Delta Wedding, Eudora Welty's portrait of a large and clamorous Southern family living on their plantation in the Mississippi Delta, and into whose midst Laura McRaven, whose mother has just died, is thrust. When Laura arrives, the Fairchilds are preparing for the marriage of Dabney, not the oldest but the prettiest of the Fairchild girls. Drama leads to drama, revelation to revelation. The result is a sometimes riotous portrait of a Southern family and the motherless child who learns to become one of them. Eudora Welty's first novel remains an American classic.'
'Eudora Welty (1909-2001) was born in Jackson, Mississippi. She worked as a photographer during the Depression and published her first book, a collection of short stories, in 1941. In addition to short fiction, Welty wrote novels, novellas, essays, and reviews, and was the winner of both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. By the time of her death in 2001, Welty had established herself as one of the most important and beloved American writers of the twentieth century.'
This is the MR Literary Club selection for November 2017. Whether you've already read it or would like to, feel free to start or join in the conversation at any time, and guests are always welcome! So, what are your thoughts on it?