Sunday, August 9, 2015

Sunday Blatherings and New Books

 This past week has been super busy with not much time for reading.  We spent time in Saratoga, NY. My husband at one time was involved in the racing industry and has always wanted to check out this racetrack which is only open about (7) weeks each year.  The area is beautiful and the weather was gorgeous. It was a wonderful place for a people-watcher like me to have plenty of entertainment, even though I'm not really into horse racing.

The rest of the week was spent with lots of outdoor activity since the humidity was way down, time with all 3 granddaughters, and lunch with friends that we haven't seen in (6) months. It was a great week.  I can't believe you use to work 35 hours a week (1) month ago.

Books (current reads) - I have (3) books going, but as I mentioned I wasn't able to get much reading done.  Reading -- Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Lessons from the Crematory; Caitlin Doughy (NF) excellent; What I Remember Most; Cathy Lamb so good -- and The Sunken Cathedral; Kate Walbert -- just okay.

(new books that arrived by mail last week & a description of each)

A young wife's new job pits her against the unfeeling machinations of the universe in this dazzling first novel Ursula K. Le Guin hails as "funny, sad, scary, beautiful. I love it."
  • In a windowless building in a remote part of town, the newly employed Josephine inputs an endless string of numbers into something known only as The Database. After a long period of joblessness, she's not inclined to question her fortune, but as the days inch by and the files stack up, Josephine feels increasingly anxious in her surroundings-the office's scarred pinkish walls take on a living quality, the drone of keyboards echoes eerily down the long halls. When one evening her husband Joseph disappears and then returns, offering no explanation as to his whereabouts, her creeping unease shifts decidedly to dread.
    As other strange events build to a crescendo, the haunting truth about Josephine's work begins to take shape in her mind, even as something powerful is gathering its own form within her. She realizes that in order to save those she holds most dear, she must penetrate an institution whose tentacles seem to extend to every corner of the city and beyond. Both chilling and poignant, The Beautiful Bureaucrat is a novel of rare restraint and imagination. With it, Helen Phillips enters the company of Murakami, Bender, and Atwood as she twists the world we know and shows it back to us full of meaning and wonder-luminous and new.
  • Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One's Looking); Christian Rudder (Crown) sent by Paperback Swap member  -----An audacious, irreverent investigation of human behavior—and a first look at a revolution in the making
    Our personal data has been used to spy on us, hire and fire us, and sell us stuff we don’t need. InDataclysm, Christian Rudder uses it to show us who we truly are. 
    For centuries, we’ve relied on polling or small-scale lab experiments to study human behavior. Today, a new approach is possible. As we live more of our lives online, researchers can finally observe us directly, in vast numbers, and without filters. Data scientists have become the new demographers.
    In this daring and original book, Rudder explains how Facebook "likes" can predict, with surprising accuracy, a person’s sexual orientation and even intelligence; how attractive women receive exponentially more interview requests; and why you must have haters to be hot. He charts the rise and fall of America’s most reviled word through Google Search and examines the new dynamics of collaborative rage on Twitter. He shows how people express themselves, both privately and publicly. What is the least Asian thing you can say? Do people bathe more in Vermont or New Jersey? What do black women think about Simon & Garfunkel? (Hint: they don’t think about Simon & Garfunkel.) Rudder also traces human migration over time, showing how groups of people move from certain small towns to the same big cities across the globe. And he grapples with the challenge of maintaining privacy in a world where these explorations are possible.
    Visually arresting and full of wit and insight, Dataclysm is a new way of seeing ourselves—a brilliant alchemy, in which math is made human and numbers become the narrative of our time.
  • Autobiography of a Corpse; S. Krzhizhanovsky (NYRB Classics-purchase) ---An NYRB Classics Original

    The stakes are wildly high in Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky’s fantastic and blackly comic philosophical fables, which abound in nested narratives and wild paradoxes. This new collection of eleven mind-bending and spellbinding tales includes some of Krzhizhanovsky’s most dazzling conceits: a provincial journalist who moves to Moscow finds his existence consumed by the autobiography of his room’s previous occupant; the fingers of a celebrated pianist’s right hand run away to spend a night alone on the city streets; a man’s lifelong quest to bite his own elbow inspires both a hugely popular circus act and a new refutation of Kant. Ordinary reality cracks open before our eyes in the pages of Autobiography of a Corpse, and the extraordinary spills out.
  • Becoming Ellen; Shari Shattuck --(sent by G.P Putnam & Sons) ---Returning in the bestselling tradition of Jennifer Weiner, Shattuck brilliantly illustrates the deep friendship between two absolutely unforgettable women in this touching yet funny novel.

    Ellen Homes is done being invisible. Well, sort of. 
    Living with her closest friends, Temerity and Justice, has helped her step out of the shell of invisibility she once hid away in. She still seeks refuge in solitary time and observing from afar, but she has pushed herself to open up to others in ways that bring her unexpected happiness.
    But when a terrible bus crash upends her normal routine, Ellen finds herself on a whirlwind crusade for the unseen and downtrodden. Only this time, helping others—including two young children with no one else to turn to—will mean facing a pain from her past that she’s long tucked away.
    Picking up where Invisible Ellen left off, Becoming Ellen returns us to the touching, poignant, and compassionate world of Ellen Homes as she learns how to navigate the world she has decided to become a part of.
  • All That Followed; Gabriel Urza -- (sent by Henry Holt & Co.)  ----A psychologically twisting novel about a politically-charged act of violence that echoes through a small Spanish town; a dazzling debut in the tradition of Daniel Alarcón and Mohsin Hamid
    It's 2004 in Muriga, a quiet town in Spain's northern Basque Country, a place with more secrets than inhabitants. Five years have passed since the kidnapping and murder of a young local politician--a family man and father--and the town's rhythms have almost returned to normal. But in the aftermath of the Atocha train bombings in Madrid, an act of terrorism that rocked a nation and a world, the townspeople want a reckoning of Muriga's own troubled past: Everyone knows who pulled the trigger five years ago, but is the young man now behind bars the only one to blame? All That Followed peels away the layers of a crime complicated by history, love, and betrayal. The accounts of three townspeople in particular--the councilman's beautiful young widow, the teenage radical now in jail for the crime, and an aging American teacher hiding a traumatic past of his own--hold the key to what really happened. And for these three, it's finally time to confront what they can find of the truth.
    Inspired by a true story, All That Followed is a powerful, multifaceted novel about a nefarious kind of violence that can take hold when we least expect. Urgent, elegant, and gorgeously atmospheric, Urza's debut is a book for the world we live in now, and it marks the arrival of a brilliant new writer to watch.
  • Confusion; Stefan Zweig (NYRB Classics - purchase) --- Stefan Zweig was particularly drawn to the novella, and Confusion, a rigorous and yet transporting dramatization of the conflict between the heart and the mind, is among his supreme achievements in the form.

    A young man who is rapidly going to the dogs in Berlin is packed off by his father to a university in a sleepy provincial town. There a brilliant lecture awakens in him a wild passion for learning—as well as a peculiarly intense fascination with the graying professor who gave the talk. The student grows close to the professor, be­coming a regular visitor to the apartment he shares with his much younger wife. He takes it upon himself to urge his teacher to finish the great work of scholarship that he has been laboring at for years and even offers to help him in any way he can. The professor welcomes the young man’s attentions, at least on some days. On others, he rages without apparent reason or turns away from his disciple with cold scorn. The young man is baffled, wounded. He cannot understand. 

    But the wife understands. She understands perfectly. And one way or another she will help him to understand too.

Hope all of my readers have a wonderful week.


  1. I always enjoy seeing your new books, Diane. Sounds like you had a great week too!

  2. Sounds like a fun week! I want The Beautiful Bureaucrat just for the cover.

  3. Sounds like a great week! 3 books going at once? I am envious--I've been in a bit of a reading slump lately.

  4. The race track looks very nice and so do those books!

  5. I've only been to a horse race once but it was such fun! We saw the opening race at Churchill Downs one year and it was absolutely freezing. Your pictures look much more pleasant. I'm adding Smoke Gets In Your Eyes to my TBR. That sounds like a really interesting read. Have a great week!

  6. Sounds like a fun week! I love horse racing. My BIL worked on the weekends at Scioto Downs when I was growing up and took me, my brother and nephews with him a lot. I loved it.

    I'm a people watcher too. I used to go to the airport just to people watch. My favorite place to people watch though is San Francisco.

  7. Even though horse racing is not my thing, either, it must be fun to soak up the outdoors and the excitement.

    The Beautiful Bureaucrat looks like a book I would enjoy...I worked for bureaucratic organizations for many years, and I often felt trapped and surreal in the surroundings...LOL.


  8. Oooh - you got some good books this week! I loved The Beautiful review will go up on Tuesday. Dataclysm and All That Followed has me intrigued.

  9. Thanks for stopping by my blog Diane.

    I have been reading dome of your posts and I love your blog.

    The books that you have received this week seem so interesting.

    I have heard very good things about The Beautiful Bureaucrat. I want to read it.

    Dataclysm sounds fascinating. I have heard that the folks working on Presidential campaigns can usually figure out how a person will vote, based upon online purchases. The patterns of human behavior can tell us a lot about the world.

    I have not been there in a while, but Saratoga is such a great place this time of year.

  10. Those are some great books you got this week. I have been looking at Dataclysm for a while but not sure I would be in a mood to read it now. Hopefully, sometime soon because it sounds pretty fascinating!

  11. Saratoga is so much fun! My husband grew up near there on the Vermont border... such beautiful countryside.

    The new books look great. Dataclysm is on my wish list.

  12. Love the covers on all of your books.

    Sounds like a lovely time.

    ENJOY your week.

    Silver's Reviews
    My Mailbox Monday

  13. What great books! Sounds good to me!

    Happy reading!!

    Here is my ​post

  14. What a busy week you had! I am glad you were able to spend time with your granddaughters. :-) Enjoy your books!

  15. The Beautiful Bureaucrat sounds good. I love horses so a trip to the race course sounds like fun.

  16. Sounds like you are enjoying the new lifestyle. :)

  17. You are definitely making the most of your retirement!


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