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Old 12-23-2014, 07:55 AM
 
Location: Montreal -> CT -> MA -> Montreal -> Ottawa
17,330 posts, read 32,858,882 times
Reputation: 28898

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Quote:
Originally Posted by fromupthere View Post
I went and got A Circle of Wives from the library last night (no ebook version of it). Just put a hold request on it yesterday and boom it was there for me. Then, based on the above comment, I decided to see if the library had the book of City of Thieves this morning. They did and it was available. So now I need the power to go out so I can read as I have 3-1/3 library books I want to be reading right now instead of working.
S, I only read A Circle of Wives (not my type of story) because I *adored* Alice LaPlante's other book: Turn of Mind. If they have Turn of Mind available, get that. Trust me on this one.

ETA: The mystery aspect of Turn of Mind did nothing for me, really, because I don't like mysteries, but the rest of the book completely did me in. It's more than the sum of its parts.
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Old 12-23-2014, 08:13 AM
 
3,493 posts, read 7,886,906 times
Reputation: 7234
Quote:
Originally Posted by DawnMTL View Post
I'm not reading anything right now. City of Thieves broke me for a little while. That happens, sometimes, after I've read something truly excellent. Other books don't tickle my fancy. I'm blaming you, pinetreelover, but in a really good way.

I do the same thing, Dawn. After a really good read, I lose my desire to read at all for a while. Then I go through a series of "rebound books" that I read, but don't enjoy. Glad to know I'm not the only one.

Can you see why my heart just soared when both my 20-something son and my 80-something father decided that City of Thieves was their favorite book and spent half of a family dinner convincing everyone else to read it?
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Old 12-23-2014, 08:24 AM
 
Location: Montreal -> CT -> MA -> Montreal -> Ottawa
17,330 posts, read 32,858,882 times
Reputation: 28898
Quote:
Originally Posted by pinetreelover View Post
I do the same thing, Dawn. After a really good read, I lose my desire to read at all for a while. Then I go through a series of "rebound books" that I read, but don't enjoy. Glad to know I'm not the only one.

Can you see why my heart just soared when both my 20-something son and my 80-something father decided that City of Thieves was their favorite book and spent half of a family dinner convincing everyone else to read it?
Totally! I can see, too, why it's a book that would be enjoyed by multiple generations. It just works for everyone, no matter their age. Some reviewers complained about the "foul language" -- clearly they didn't understand that that's real life... and they clearly didn't get the real takeaway that the book offered.

Of a completely different vein, but have you read Alice LaPlante's Turn of Mind? I highly recommend it. It's a difficult read if you know someone with dementia or Alzheimer's -- and I didn't care for the mystery aspect of it -- but it's an excellent read.
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Old 12-23-2014, 09:26 AM
 
1,833 posts, read 3,330,358 times
Reputation: 1795
Quote:
Originally Posted by DawnMTL View Post
S, I only read A Circle of Wives (not my type of story) because I *adored* Alice LaPlante's other book: Turn of Mind. If they have Turn of Mind available, get that. Trust me on this one.

ETA: The mystery aspect of Turn of Mind did nothing for me, really, because I don't like mysteries, but the rest of the book completely did me in. It's more than the sum of its parts.
The library has it. They don't have ebook - just regular book and audio book. Since my mind tends to drift when listening to audio books, I'll wait and get the actual book. So as not overwhelm myself too much, I'll get it probably next week when I return 2 of the books I have already.
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Old 12-23-2014, 11:57 AM
 
9,238 posts, read 22,784,270 times
Reputation: 22689
Reading Margaret Atwood's new book of short stories Stone Mattress. Enjoyed the first three stories, which were all tied together, but could also stand on their own.

Her last few books were bizarre dystopian fantasy (she seemed to be trying to morph into Kurt Vonnegut). I'd forgotten how much I really enjoy her more realistic fiction. This little book is great so far and each story is the perfect length to read in one night.
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Old 12-23-2014, 12:15 PM
 
Location: Floyd Co, VA
3,513 posts, read 6,346,421 times
Reputation: 7625
Quote:
Originally Posted by DawnMTL View Post
I'm not reading anything right now. City of Thieves broke me for a little while. That happens, sometimes, after I've read something truly excellent. Other books don't tickle my fancy. I'm blaming you, pinetreelover, but in a really good way.
I have some books to return today and I checked the on line catalog and they have this in stock at my branch. I am really in need of something totally absorbing to take my mind off the financial crisis looming in my near future when my pension gets gutted. When and how much I don't yet know but I'm sure it will happen since the plan is in critical condition and congress has just given the administrators of such plans the go ahead and make severe cuts to payments of those already retired.
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Old 12-23-2014, 12:25 PM
 
Location: Montreal -> CT -> MA -> Montreal -> Ottawa
17,330 posts, read 32,858,882 times
Reputation: 28898
Quote:
Originally Posted by zugor View Post
I have some books to return today and I checked the on line catalog and they have this in stock at my branch. I am really in need of something totally absorbing to take my mind off the financial crisis looming in my near future when my pension gets gutted. When and how much I don't yet know but I'm sure it will happen since the plan is in critical condition and congress has just given the administrators of such plans the go ahead and make severe cuts to payments of those already retired.
Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry to hear that. and

City of Thieves is excellent. As is Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante. I highly recommend both of them. They are both completely absorbing, but in different ways.
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Old 12-23-2014, 06:38 PM
 
Location: Windham County, VT
10,855 posts, read 6,332,250 times
Reputation: 22048
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma” by Bessel van der Kolk (2014).
I'm 4/5 through it, very slow going as the material is dense in places, and I have to re-read.

Plus, I'm typing up notes on it (quotes from the book) to mail my aunt, which she appreciates but adds to the effort to get somewhere in my reading.
I type up notes for myself, I just send a copy to her which gives her a shorter overview/sampling of the writing without her having to read the whole thing herself.

Here's a brief passage:
Quote:
“As I often tell my students, the two most important phrases in therapy, as in yoga, are “Notice that” and “What happens next ?”
Once you start approaching your body with curiosity rather than with fear, everything shifts.”
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Old 12-24-2014, 01:09 AM
 
6,893 posts, read 7,523,007 times
Reputation: 21668
Quote:
Originally Posted by IheartWA View Post
For fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder's books, I;m reading "Pioneer Girl", her annotated autobiography. It was put together by the South Dakota Historical Society. It's the original manuscript, before any of the familiar "Little House" series books were written.

It's really fascinating, but very slow going. There are sidenotes that note every edit from different publishers, relatives, time periods, births, deaths. For every person the Ingalls come into contact with on their travels, there will be a side note starting..."According to the 1870 census, there is a record of 'Somebody' Anderson."

The introduction shows a fascinating account of how Wilder and her daughter Rose Wilder Lane put the book together and shopped it around, all done before pcs and Microsoft Word.
Ooooo, I'm dying to read this one. There are many Wilder sites near me - such a mythology (and tourist economy) built around her life!

But just wanted to say that there's another Pioneer Girl that was also published in 2014. It's a barely fictionalized account of a modern Vietnamese immigrant young woman and the parallels her life in America has had with the Laura books. I thought the concept of the book was SUPER fascinating - thinking about the correlation of the lives of immigrants/emigrants from different periods in American history is important to all of us, I think. I found this book when I happened upon it in a nice little bookstore when I visited Chicago briefly earlier this year, and am glad that I bought it.

Why on earth would two publishers choose to publish two different books with the exact same title in the same year? You'd think one of them would have given up and changed their title at least a little.
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Old 12-24-2014, 05:25 AM
 
Location: Old Mother Idaho
29,175 posts, read 22,146,578 times
Reputation: 23792
I get on a history bent every few years.
My latest book is not for the faint hearted nor those with a weak stomach, but it's a very compelling read.

It's called Living Hell- The Dark Side Of The Civil War, written by Michael C.C. Adams, Professor Emeritus of Northern Kentucky University.

While I'm not exactly a Civil War buff, the war was one of the most important events in our history, and has had a veneer of romance and glory covering it all my life. At the same time, whenever the romance is foremost, there is always a lot of relatively vague mentions of it's horrors in both fiction and non-fiction.

This book is specifically about those horrors. In great and gut wrenching detail, taken from letters, documents and reports written during the war. Adams' research is impeccable, and by the end of the first chapter, all my notions of glory disappeared forever.

The book covers a lot of stuff that isn't considered when thinking about the war; each chapter deals with a specific subject. It begins with the reasons why the soldiers enlisted, what they expected, and the changes that made the war so bloody.

Then it proceeds to how life was in the encampments on the march, the horrors of close-order combat, clearing the battlefields, the effects on the solider's sanity, etc. It's a fast read, but I can't handle more than one chapter at a time.

A few of the less gory discoveries in the book:

As much as 2/3rds of both sides were very ill, dehydrated, and exhausted going in to every major battle. At any time, dysentary and pneumonia incapacitated half the men. They went into battle with foul uniforms stiffened from loose bowels hacking up blood from the dust or mud of the encampments, dry as a bone and half starved.

The lack of clean water caused as many battles to be lost as any single cause. Men died on the road when their mouths and throats plugged solid from the dust and they had no water to wash the dirt down. Dirty water was most often the only water, and it was incredibly dirty. Technology allowed fast supply for the first time, but when supplies couldn't arrive by rail or riverboat, the troops often had to wait for days for food to arrive. Ammunition was always the first thing to arrive, and food and medical supplies were always slow. Most of the best food never reached the troops, so they were prone to diseases like scurvy during some periods of the war.

It was the first trench war in history. Some siege entreatments lasted for over a year, and trench lines were always dug in almost every battle. The trenches were used as graves afterward, and most of the dead were buried in shallow mass graves. The Europeans in WWI used the Civil War's developments in entrenchment, a cause of that war's stalemate.

The amount of ammunition expended is staggering- after one battle, Confederate troops, sent back to the field to glean the expended bullets for re-melting and re-use, collected over 2 1/2 tons of rifle bullets. The lead bullets oxidized upon discharge, leaving battlefields looking like they were covered in snow.
At times, the cannon barrels of the gun batteries became so hot they created convection currents in the air. These currents were so strong they carried body parts of men and horses up into the air, where they rained down on the fight below.

There were heavy rainstorms after the major battles. These storms are thought to be the result of all the heat and dust that rose, and the rain and mud that followed further crippled both sides as they advanced or retreated.

Fights were often so thick with white smoke that both sides were left blind. The battles in timber were the most dreaded, because they created forest fires and cannon shot hitting trees was more lethal than the cannon balls. The trees would explode in deadly splinters.

There were more horses lost than men, and men died because their horses died. Both sides buried the horses to keep the putrefaction down, but many went unburied, making the battlefields terrible for months afterward. The crowd at the Gettysburg Address could barely stand the smell long enough to listen to the speeches, and many had left before Lincoln spoke due to all the dead horses.

The officers suffered much more damage than the men, and the Generals suffered the most damage of all in their small numbers. Both sides lost the majority of their Generals to death, wounds, disease, and mental breakdown. Officers were often wounded severely, but went into battle, wounded or not. Many of the major problems that dragged out the war were due to the mental and physical debility of the major Generals. McClellan's hesitation to fight was due in large part to his horror of seeing his troop's damage.
Other Generals became foolhardy in response to their fear; Confederate General Hood, who lost both legs and one arm, and also bore several wounds to the torso and head, led his troops into mass suicidal charges before he was finally killed in battle.

The soldiers did not become more battle hardened over time. The dread of marching into another battlefield became so oppressive that it paralyzed them all, from privates to Generals. This paralysis was one of the reasons why Lee's forces failed at Gettysburg.
The officers did everything they could to urge their men forward, but the fear was so great many could not will themselves to move, and either fell flat or marched in place, thinking they were going forward. The officers had to lead from the front in order to see what was going on. Many were blind drunk, the only way they could numb themselves enough from the fear of death to lead.
But once the battle closed, everyone either fought with fury or 'skedaddled'. The word was invented by the troops- for them, it defined the break-and-run that could happen to anyone at any time.

The lingering physical toll of the battlefield caused terrible mistakes to be made. Officers who had lost a leg weren't excused for further combat, and they often fell off their horses several times during a fight. By the surrender, many had been wounded several times, with several lost limbs.

They all went into battle standing straight. If a solider crouched, a mini ball would go clear through the length of his body, most often entering at the collar bone and existing around the buttocks or hips, striking every major organ along it's path. By standing straight, they faced less damage, but in close ranks, a single bullet could kill up to 4 men.

The book will certainly remove any notions of glamor and glory from the reader.
But as an account, the thing I've taken away is admiration for them all. Even the weakest among them was a very brave man, and those who survived with minds and bodies fairly intact had a nobility to them. It is very easy to understand now why the vets of both sides grew to see their old enemies as brothers. Only they understood what they all endured.

War talk is cheap. Reading this book gives an honest picture of what war really is. Tactics and technology don't change anything.

Last edited by banjomike; 12-24-2014 at 05:51 AM..
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