Below I have listed books I have read lately. At the end of each item I rate the book, 1-10, 1 being not very good, 10 being outstanding.
Justine by Lawrence Durell: This book is about a woman who does a lot of running around. I think it is set in the 1920's. I did not care at all for his writing style. I did not come to admire any of the characters. The romantic relationships were unwise and carefree. I give it a 2.
The Last Castle by Denise Kiernan: Very good book. It is about the Biltmore estate. I definitely want to go there after reading this. Denise is an excellent writer. I give it a 9.
The Shepherd of the Hills by Harold Bell Wright: This is a very old fashioned story set in the Ozarks. Some may think it overly sentimental. It is about families with dark secrets. It is about country vs. city. I give it a 4.
A Velocity of Being by Popova and Bedrick: When I first started reading this book I did not like it. You have to stick with it because it contains gems here and there. It contains artwork and essays, written in the form of letters to children and/or readers, about what reading means to various authors. My plan is to decorate the library with pages from this book. I give it a 9.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding: A classic. A group of British school boys are deserted on a tropical island, and they basically become savage. A 9.
The Healing Nature Trail by Tamarack Song: This book is mostly about a real place in Wisconsin where you can go to be healed by nature immersion. I liked it. It was a topic I didn't know much about. I give it a 7.
One Size Fits None by Stephanie Anderson: I really enjoyed this book about regenerative agriculture. The author grew up on a Nebraska farm, I think. Very good. A 9.
The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer: This was very interesting and well written. It is about how very old manuscripts were saved by the very hard work of people in Africa. I give it a 7.
Changing Places by Jeff Appelquist: If you like a very simply written book about some guy's vacations over the years, this is it. I do give him credit for trying to put in a good word for the environment. Some vulgar humor. I give it a 4.
For the Love of a River The Minnesota by Darby Nelson: I really enjoyed this. A man and his wife canoe the entire length of the Minnesota River. They even take some scientific measurements as they go. At the end of the book we learn the author has begun to experience dementia, and the book had to be finished by a friend. I am a river kayaker and so could relate to a lot of their experiences. An 8.
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood: The sequal to The Handmaid's Tale. It was very good. Interesting characters. The evil ones aren't totally evil. Very well written. I believe Margaret Atwood knows human nature very well. An 8.
Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino: I enjoyed this book, even though I do not relate to the author and her lifestyle. I gained perspective on the plugged in generation. I love essays. Jia is a New Yorker writer. I give it a 7.
John Adams by David McCullough: This was not an easy read but it was very good. I learned things about our founding fathers that are not taught in schools. We tend to hold these men high on pedestals, but boy did they have feet of clay!! And we also learn that politics in this country has always been pretty mean and nasty. I give this an 8.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe: This is an African classic. It is about a village man and how the world changes, becomes more modern and leaves him behind. It was very well written. I give it an 8.
Night by Elie Wiesel: Very good book about a boy's experience in a concentration camp. Autobiographical. I give it a 9.
The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas: This was really good. Not the type of book I usually read. It is about a Greek American family and how a single event at a family gathering set in action a chain of events that devastate the lives of many people, and bring up family problems that were long standing. The rampant sexism is hard to take. I give it an 8.
The River Why by David James Duncan: I was so disappointed by one of my all time favorite authors. I did not like this book at all. I found it to be so goofy. Some characters are so weird that you just can't enjoy it. I give it a 4.
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande: Very good. Nonfiction book about end of life medical decisions. I give it a 9.
The Sojourner by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings: Very wonderful story. It has characters you love, and characters you hate. So prepare to feel strong emotions. It is hard to put down at times because you really get attached and want to know what happens. It is a story of a very disfunctional farm family, probably set in the old times of this country. A good brother and a bad brother and a very evil mother. I give it an 8 1/2.
This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz: I can't believe a Dominican man would write a book about how impossibly unfaithful Dominican men are. But here you have it. I give it a 4.
Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams: Very very good book. It is autobiographical. Terry is a bird loving scientist working and living near the Great Salt Lake. We get some insight into Mormonism. We go through several family cancer scares and end up wondering why were only women affected? Why weren't the male members of her family struck with cancer? Lovely writing about nature. I give it a 10.
Whirlaway by Poe Ballantine: Another disappointment by one of my favorite authors. A strange man with a strange life in California. Oh, and he has strange friends. Very short. I give it a 3.
Henry David Thoreau by Harold Bloom ( editor ): This was an okay book about Henry David Thoreau's writings. There were new criticisms I was unaware of , so I was glad to learn about these. I give it a 5.
Don't Lets go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller: I really enjoyed this. It is autobiographical. Alex grew up in Africa with lots of wild adventures. She had an alcoholic mother. She seems to really love Africa. I will give it an 8.
Childhood Interrupted by Kathleen O'Malley: Autobiography. This is the story of a woman's abuse by a Catholic charitable organization. I give it an 8.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith: Another classic. A girl's life in turn of the century ( 1900 ) Brooklyn. Wonderful characters with flaws and charm. There is humor and there is tragedy. Very good writing. A 9.
Those Bones Are Not My Child by Toni Cade Bambara: I did not care for this book at all. I found it extremely hard to follow. I wasn't sure of what was going on and where and when and even who some of the characters were. A 3.
The Stations of Still Creek by Barbara J. Scot: I really enjoyed this book. A woman takes a retreat and then learns her husband may be dead on an Everest expedition. She learns he survived and continues her retreat at her family cabin in the woods with mountain views. Lovely writing about nature, relationships and even social privilege. An 8.
Waterland by Graham Swift: This was a very well written story about a family that lives on a fen in England. The characters were likeable and interesting. There was also a chance to learn about some of the fen wildlife. I give it a 7.
You Don't Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie: This was without doubt the best book I have read in a long time. I laughed so hard I cried. I have vowed to read all of his other books. It is an autobiography. He is Native American and had a very hard childhood, but his life changed after he left the reservation. I gladly give this book a 10.
Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro : These are short stories. Not my favorite genre, but she is a very good writer. Award winning. I give this an 8.
Waiting for Coyote's Call by Jerry Wilson: This is the true story of a man who builds a passive solar house in Nebraska on a bluff. He works hard to improve the damaged land and slowly acquire's more land with mature woods. I give this an 8.
Too Strong for Fantasy by Marcia Davenport: This is the autobiography of an author and music critic, the daughter of Alma Gluck, a famous opera singer. Her stepfather was Efrem Zimbalist. She lived an interesting life. I give it a 6.
The Mothers by Brit Bennett: This is the All Iowa Reads book for 2020. It is about a church in California and all the soap operas occurring there. A young girl has an abortion because she believes that is what her absent boyfriend wants. I give it a 5.
The World Ending Fire by Wendell Berry: Essays about farming, the environment, computers, gender roles, etc. Very first rate. A 9.
Raven Speak by Diane Lee Wilson: A young girl living in the time of the Vikings saves her village from an evil storyteller. This is a young adult book. Some gratuitous violence and downright grossness. I give it an 8.
The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna Can Praag: A young woman at the end of her rope magically wanders into the clutches of a powerful house. This house can actually help heal women in distress. If you like books and chocolate cake, you just might like this story. I give it a 7.
To The Land of Long Lost Friends by Alexander McCall Smith: This is book # 20 of the Number One Ladies Detective series. The characters are marvellous. Most of the books are 8's and 9's, but this one is probably only a 7. Mma Ramotswe deals with estranged daughters and couples with marriage problems in this episode. A 7.