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So What Are You Reading? 2017

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

The title doesn't need much explanation. Whatever you are reading, tell us, and we all may find new good reads.

A couple of us just started reading The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood. Grab it quick, and join in, if you'd like. I am up to chapter 16.

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

I'm here. Thanks for the new thread.

There is so much to like about The Year of the Flood. Atwood's future fantasy-based poetry is both cynical and humorous. Her elevation of real people of note to futuristic sainthood is so funny. The quirky names for businesses, communities and holidays has me amazed. How does a writer immerse themselves in such an imaginative place?

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I didn't realize those were real people.
Yes, everything seems so 'possible' even as it pushes obvious fantasy. I had the same feeling with many elements of Handmaids Tale and The Heart Goes Last.
I especially noticed their new rule that everything written is NOT to be trusted, only the spoken word can be trusted. Isn't that exactly the opposite of how we've always thought, but can't we see how easily you could go in the other direction?
And it's nearly funny, how they embrace all the handcrafts, it makes me think of the back to earth 70s (macrame!) and all the handcrafts and natural elements that became so passe and dated after a while, like all other fads and styles.

Scott County, KY(Zone 5b)

My pet rock lived to be 2,750,000 before I had to sadly let it go.

I like to think it lives on as DGA base in my driveway...

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Above poster is an inveterate cynic, jokster and all around wise ... . Also one of ten people who actually ever owned a pet rock. Probably was at Woodstock (along with everyone else in the world) too

Meanwhile, this is a great book for shrub huggers. Read it and weep.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

The back and forth with the events in different years is hard to keep track of. Why did she do this, just for an added challenge?

If you hadn't clued me about the Saints' days, then Saint Euell of Wild Foods certainly would have confirmed my suspicions!

I made quinoa with black beans last night for dinner; as I scooped it out of the skillet, I thought it looked like God's Gardener fare. Brownish, kind of mushy. Quite tasty though. With roasted sweet potatoes. I may have subliminally planned it because of the book, lol.

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

It's getting progressively more analogous to biblical prophecy. The Floodless Flood, a future plague, has wiped out most living things. That certainly is a reality. I learned April Fish Day is real! Must make an April Fish Day menu here. I have been recently leaning towards nuts and berries myself (lentils and quinoa too).

There is an Oryx & Crake connection though I'm not sure where it's going. In fact, it's getting stronger. The change in timelines will perhaps explain connections the Gardeners had to Oryx & Crake. That's my guess. The extreme gaming connected a few brainiacs who then did something cataclysmic or tried to warn people of cataclysmic events to come. The plot is getting as thick as grits with soy cheese.

Are you able to keep up with your book club reading too?

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I just don't remember enough or\f Oryx and Crake to make any connections. I'm thinking Oryx and Crake were well after the plague? Survivors in the wilds?

I "resemble" some of the God's Gardeners Luddite positions.

The book club was NIghtingale by Kristin Hannah, a large but quick enough read. Then we must have skipped a month, or ended up with an extra three weeks at least. Kind of happy with that.

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Yes, one survivor, Oryx/Jimmy plus the engineered "people" called Crakers. At the very end he spies a few others. You're left hanging.

Be sure to look up all the Saints. They keep coming. We could become self-proclaimed Eves. You've probably figured it out by now. I too am a Luddite.

Northern, NJ(Zone 6b)

Hi guys, I read The Year of the Flood ages ago and don't have it on hand so I've forgotten details but I am enjoying what you've both been posting.

Definite Luddite here too! I read books ,draw on paper with pencils.

This message was edited Jan 18, 2017 9:11 AM

Northern, NJ(Zone 6b)

I am reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.
So far I find it well written and keeping my interest.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Hi semp! Thanks for the suggesting, I'll check it out.
Luddites unite!!

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Luddites indeed! Three faces of Eve? I want to be Eve the Progenitor of Edibles and be in charge of the Festival of Vegetables. Haven't run across that Eve yet.

A Little Life sounds like a very good book. Did you read MaddAddam, Semp? I'm definitely going to follow through with the story.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I'm still figuring out what Eve I might be.
The Eve of Listening; I'm a good listener.
Here's an excerpt from discussion questions:
." The Year of the Flood covers the same time period as Oryx and Crake, and contains a number of the same characters — (“Snowman,” a student at the Martha Graham Academy and “the last man on earth”) and Glenn (“Crake,” who studied at the Watson-Crick Institute), as well as Bernice, Jimmy's hostile college room-mate, Amanda, a live-in artist girlfriend, Ren (“Brenda,”) whom he remembers briefly in Oryx and Crake as a high-school fling, Jimmy's mother, who runs away to become an activist, and the God's Gardeners, whom he mentions as a fringe green cult. Re-read the final pages of both books. What do you predict for the remaining characters? "

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Have you finished? I finished Friday. Couldn't resist starting MaddAddam. Will share thoughts when you let me know you're ready. Surprised and interested to learn the poems and hymns have been compiled and there is a musical score.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I'm a little over half. When Ren explains her leaving the Martha Graham Academy, going to the Spa, and then Scales and Tails. Don't you love the names?
I'm so impressed that she wrote all those hymns with traditional 'hymn' rhyme and structure.
Like Handmaids Tale, she has so many elements that would seem far fetched if they didn't have such parallels to actual philosophies or entities that do exist.
Here's a question I would put on my list:
Prejudice is alive and thriving, however, based on lifestyle instead of race. Is there a strong human drive towards prejudice?
What of that 'being fallow' thing? Acknowledges depression or other mental illness?

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

You are a great reading companion having brought up interesting references to think about. I am not familiar with traditional Christian hymn liturgy but the liturgical hymns here are so beautiful.

Prejudice exists wherever there is a relatively powerless minority that is perceived as a potentially powerful threat. There is gender prejudice, handicap prejudice, age prejudice, etc. It's rampant today. Those issues become part of the story too.

The concept of a human fallow state romanticises mental illness. To lay fallow implies there is a period of restful healing. Mental illness is a period of pain and suffering. This brings to mind the Wizard of Oz-ness that makes the book so readable. In the most worst of times blue gene spliced people are having a humorous go at it and a growing rag tag band of remaining humans is trying to figure out the next best step. I'm guessing we might see a human bluish blend in the new world order. The idea was to make a perfect new race. That in itself is a racist notion bound for a slippery slope.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Land shrimp.
UGH

I listened to the tunes here but they are extremely simple, I could do better, cripes
https://macaulay.cuny.edu/eportfolios/yotf/category/hymns/

Adam One makes me think of 'the end justifies the means'. Or, he makes exceptions to his rules when conditions change. He has the master plan, but something happens, and then he changes and comes up with justification. "And so we do not eat their flesh.. unless dread famine drives."

At the end. Toby is sounding like a new Adam in some ways.

I put a hold on for MaddAddam

This message was edited Jan 24, 2017 10:37 PM

This message was edited Jan 25, 2017 8:27 PM

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

I'll check out the tunes tomorrow. Thanks for the link. I miss the poetry and spirituality of the Gardeners now that they are out of the Garden. Reminded me of the sixties. :)

Now I'm getting anxious that Atwood will leave the story a cliff hanger. I'll be very disappointed if there is no resolution. This would make an incredible never ending TV series like Star Trek.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Enjoying my daily Happicuppa, morning off. The CD probably has better tunes. I'm trying to think of a basic hymn tune that would go with those lyrics. Or is it the iambic pentameter of the verses? Is it that at all, LOL? not sure I know what iambic pentameter is anymore, accurately.

I feel pretty happy at the end of Flood, with our main characters reunited and things seem not so desperate. Good ol Blanco, heh heh heh

11. In what ways do the novel's three voices—Toby's, Ren's, and Adam One's—complement one another? What unique perspective is offered in each narration?

Ren is a child grown up in the Gardeners. She'll always see the world thru that lens. But then, she is skewed by here time in Scales, and very hardened- her relationship with her mother, rather her complete estrangement. Toby came reluctantly to it, but by the end here, seems to feel it's very important to keep that spirituality going. Adam- as a founder of the movement, I think, did he do it purely with spiritual motives? You see some of the strategy he used, and how he adapted the message to keep going after the Flood.

I was gratified in a way, when Atwood mentiond the purslane in the flowerbed, and made sure Toby gathered and used it. YES! Unlike certain un-gardener fiction with some plant thrown in jut for fluff.

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

I'm Happicuppa-ing too! Would "Bringing In The Mo'Hairs" work? Maybe lambic pentameter. After five beers anything sounds good.

As for nascent spiritual leadership, Toby carries the teachings of Pillar. Pillar's teachings are becoming Toby's spiritual realization. I was struck by Atwood's choice of Pillar for a name. Pillar, or Pilar (Pee-lar) in Spanish is connected with Virgin Mary. Sightings and miracles attached to pilars/posts are many. Girls are named Pilar as we might name girls Mary. So is Adam really the New Age Adam or, my guess, New Age Jesus. Having inherited the teachings of the healing arts from Pillar, is Toby analagous to Saul/Paul who was a physician? Which leaves Ren/(B)ren(da). I'm not up on my disciples. Which one is she?

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Okay, time to start the Garden. Pigoons are on the way.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2017/01/26/first-human-pig-embryos-may-carve-path-transplants/97094752/

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I always stunk at symbolism and characters representing things. And at biblical details. Raised Catholic, we didn't study the Bible like some Christians. I remember some Southern Lit, Carson McCullers? or someone we had to read in AP English. 'The three people represent the Holy Trinity'. say what? I tend to be very literal.

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Well, I messed up. Luke was the physician, not Saul/Paul.

I took a comparative religion & writings class in high school. The benefits regarding college academic preparation were negligible but I felt one with the universe when listening to Magical Mystery Tour which was released later that same year. Mind you, this was in the day when we could talk about religions in public school.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I have MaddAddam!

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

I'm about 3/4 through. Pretty much Toby and Zeb's story with the progression of life in a new world. More good humor. Romantic dialogue seems stilted. I don't really get Zeb though I'm still enjoying the story.

Got A Little Life based on Semp's recommend for a next read.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I'm hesitant to start MadAddam, as book club is Wednesday and there'll be a new assignment.

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Finished. Good ending.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Ack! I guess I will go for it then!

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Hopefully we motivate each other. It's definitely worthwhile to conclude the trilogy.

Meanwhile, I like to research an author before reading their work and was pleased to see Hanya Yanigihara, author of A Little Life, is a graduate of Smith College. So many talented alums, DD included, were Smithies...Julia Child, Gloria Steinem, Betty Freidan, Sylvia Plath, Madeleine L'Engle, Nancy Reagan and more. A fantastic school for nurturing excellence. Looking forward even more to reading her work.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I found a note I made on Year of the Flood that I forgot to bring up. Somewhat early on, the Gardeners get three newbies: Darren, Quill, and Melissa. Adam says something about them struggling to fit in, and Darren and Quill leave, Melissa gets eaten by dogs. I wondered if they were bumped off/kicked out, something like that, I was wondering just how passive Adam was when push came to shove protecting his flock.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I'm several chapters into MaddAddam, and really like it. It's lighter, somehow, almost like Toby's mood would be, I imagine.. "I survived all that crap, well, let's just keep going, roll with it, you have to just keep going" The Crakers are so sweet.
My book club would hate this, except for the one, former prof of English and professional writer and editor. It pays to read O and C or at least Year of the Flood, before Maddaddam, although this book helps you understand what came before in case you didn't read those.

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

The hymn and sermons were such food for thought that I was disappointed when they weren't part of MaddAddam. But now there is no rooftop Garden. The Gardners have disbanded, old Pillar is dead and Adam is (?). No spoiler. Crakers are blissfully innocent amidst the disasters. Toby is a relatable character but what do you think of Zeb? A too much bad boy macho guy made him a less believable character for me. In all, the trilogy was one of my best reads in awhile. Why wouldn't your book club like this trilogy? Why would the prof?

A Little Life is moving along albeit slowly. It can be difficult for me to visualize characters when several are introduced early on and settings, along with conversational topics and time frames, keep changing. For whatever reason I've got a fix on the four characters early in.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I love the Crakers. Childlike innocence, well, except for the'blue' time.. still, innocent then I guess!
Zeb... well, I can excuse Toby her weakness for him. He is believable to me. I can see her attracted to his strength and self assurance in the face of all this. As strong as she has to be now, she yearns to feel someone else will be stronger for her, at least sometimes. I am reading the part about Bear feeding.

Book club mostly disliked Handmaids Tale. And mostly liked John Grisham, and The Goldlfinch, Girl on a Train. I think they're looking for easier reads, length of the book has been a criticism, as has too much back and forth time-line.. And I think they appreciate some of the emotional aspects of the stories better than I do.

sorry if this sounds insulting to anyone, but so much popular fiction seems so 'same' to me. Some things I dislike: -- too many unneeded adjectives. (she pulled her thick velvet silver cloak around her thin bony frame as dry brittle leaves scuttled across the stony grey pavement).. or odd ones used too much (I like the Harry Bosch stories by Michael Connelly, but he used the word 'dour' several times. Too obscure, use it once at most.-- a repeated cliche. (smiled too brightly, blood sprayed) And I find 99 percent of use of the word 'grin' sounds fake. I'm happy to see great vocabulary, but needs to be well chosen. Am I weird?
I think Atwood's writing is so well done, words so well chosen. (Frederik Bachman was fabulous too: Your Grandmother... which reminds me I must read 'Britt-Marie'). I think I naturally focus on smaller details, in life, and makes me focus on detail like word choices. And the writer in our club seems to feel just the same way as I do on technical aspects.

Plus the sad practical fact of lack of time, and I really think this trio should all be read, to really get it, and we pick one book a month, and sometimes have trouble finishing that.

Book clubs are great in that the others help me see what I don't naturally think about when reading, and make choices I wouldn't otherwise make.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Oh, Laurel, I am halfway thru Maddaddam. I just read Amanda's update and that was hinted at, no big surprise. Zeb's backstory is fascinating. Atwood's world has incredible creative detail- bimplants, Bearlift, Happicuppa... she has so much fun playing with words.

I think I know whether Adam, Zeb's brother, will be Adam of the Gardeners, but haven't gotten there. Maybe it seems obvious, to fool us.

Toby teaching Blackbeard about writing. Amazing. Writing has power with potential for good and bad, her introducing it to the whole group who has no concept of it at all makes that more clear.

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

The trilogy was mind boggling. I'm still digesting it. Certainly based on the direction of things to come. Yet there is brand new technology being announced now that she utilized in her tale. She is a visionary.

The development of Toby's relationship with Blackbeard is perhaps the most profound aspect of the trilogy. She becomes mother, teacher and spiritual guide of sorts.

A Little Life is embroiled, but not bogged down, in lengthy character development. That may not be everyone's cup of tea. I'm not finding it tedious but wonder if that is the story or the story is still to happen.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Just finished Maddaddam. wow, I really enjoyed the trilogy and this one especially. Toby is a character I could really identify and sympathize with. We're doing a Staff Picks display and I am using this.

Next for book club is The Rosie Project by Graeme...
https://www.amazon.com/Rosie-Project-Novel-Graeme-Simsion/dp/1476729093/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1486645757&sr=1-1&keywords=the+rosie+project
I'll have to wait or buy it (gasp!) as it is all checked out.

Northern, NJ(Zone 6b)

Maypop, I stopped reading A Little Life because of other projects and I found I had to reread from the beginning because I couldn't keep the characters straight.
I am still reading it, slowly, and I do believe it is a very very slowly unfolding novel with tough subject matter. I did skip to the end briefly at one point (bad habit I enjoy) and clearly this book is not for everyone.

sallyg, It is so interesting that you liked Maddadam the best. I do like the trilogy and find Atwoods stories important but the last one I restarted 3 or 4 times and then hit snags so I put the book down a few times before I finished it.
The trilogy is probably one I would reread in the future in one great gulp to get the full effect.

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Semper, don't give clues to the ending. Where are you in the story? I'm where JB is having a showing of his art and Jude realizes two portraits are of him. That's about a quarter of the book. I'm reading over bkfst. or lunch to maintain momentum. I'm usually sleepless at dark-thirty and read more. At 720 pages it's biggish.

Sally, the next book club book sounds like fun.

Northern, NJ(Zone 6b)

Maypop, I'm at page 135. Jude has been accepted by Judge Sullivan as a law clerk and professor Harold, his mentor, law professor, buys him new clothes.

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