Wednesday, March 1, 2023

First lines: February 2023 edition

Below are the first lines of the books I finished reading in February: four works of fiction and two non-fiction (one memoir which is children’s lit).

I have to add that Blogger was annoying this time around.  Why can't I copy-paste from a Google Doc to Blogger (a Google product) with all the formatting intact?  I had to reformat everything to keep the text from running off the end of the page here.  Not good, Google.

Book 1
Kamunting, Malaya, May 1931
The old man is dying. Ren can see it in the shallow breaths, the sunken face, and the skin stretched thinly over his cheekbones.

Book 2
November 1961
Back in 1961, when women wore shirtwaist dresses and joined garden clubs and drove legions of children around in seatbeltless cars without giving it a second thought; back before anyone knew there’d even be a sixties movement, much less one that its participants would spend the next sixty years chronicling; back when the big wars were over and the secret wars had just begun and people were starting to think fresh and believe everything was possible, the thirty-year-old mother of Madeline Zott rose before dawn every morning and felt certain of just one thing: her life was over.

Book 3
One billion. More than one billion people around the world are disabled. In fact, we’re the world’s largest minority.

Book 4
Part 1: The Disappearance
Chapter 1: Day 1: White Chucks, Size 10 ½
On the morning of the worst, most earth-shattering day of Ray McMillian’s life, he ordered room service: scrambled eggs for two, one side of regular bacon (for Nicole), one side of vegan sausage (for him), one coffee (for Nicole), one orange juice (for him).

Book 5
Mona Moon picked up her dusty knapsack and battered valise, making her way down the ship’s ramp where the New York City dock bristled with baggage porters, dock workers, cabbies, newspaper reporters, police, hustlers, and families welcoming loved-ones with flowers and kisses. There were no kisses and flowers for Mona.

Book 6
A Warrior Tradition
In the old tribal days, a Crow warrior had to perform four different types of war deeds – four coups – in order to become a chief.

The titles and authors revealed:

Book 1
The Night Tiger, by Yangsze Choo.  published 2019. 380 pages.

I liked the character Ren, and learned a little bit about a Confucian philosophical idea, but overall I did not enjoy this book. The plot is very creepy and involves bodily dismemberment of various kinds. I read it for book club.

Book 2
Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus, Published 2022, 386 pages.

This was quite an enjoyable, amusing, and yet infuriating book. What is it like to be “a woman scientist” (as opposed to “a scientist”) in the 1950s and 1960s? Over the top unfair and nearly impossible. Includes a self-aware canine. Splendidly told.

Book 3
Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to Be An Ally, by Emily Ladau. Published 2021. 176 pages.

I recommend this informative book, which I read as part of my self-education. The initial chapter lays out various aspects of language on disability, which can be a touchy subject these days. For words used to address a person, there is Person First Language (PFL) e.g. “person with a disability” and Identity First Language (IFL) e.g. “disabled person”. The author writes: “Neither of these choices is wrong, though many people strongly prefer one over the other.” The difficulty with language proscriptions is that language changes over time, sometimes quite quickly. That doesn’t excuse us from keeping up, but it does mean, to me, that a certain amount of grace is in order. Emily Ladau has that grace.

Book 4
The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb. Published 2022. 338 pages.

I enjoyed this mystery about a Black classical violinist and his violin. About half-way through, I decided it would be good to listen to some of the music pieces mentioned. I was not disappointed. Just take in The Dance of the Goblins by Antonio Bazzini!

Book 5
Murder Under a Blue Moon (a 1930s Mona Moon Historical Cozy Mystery Book 1), by Abigail Keam. Published 2019. 278 pages.

Mona inherits an estate from her uncle, who died under mysterious circumstances. Mona puts up with guff from no one. The story includes a lawyer with the surname Deatherage,which I could not decide how to pronounce. Deeeth-a-ridge? Death-a-rage? Either one seems to fit with a cozy mystery. Includes a noble manor house which is falling apart, horses, and the Kentucky Derby.

Book 6
Counting Coup: Becoming a Crow Chief on the Reservation and Beyond, by Joseph Medicine Crow. Audio book, unabridged, narrated by Henry Strozier, 2015 release, 2 hours. Print book published in 2006. 128 pages. Memoir; children’s lit.

This person’s life was fascinating to me. I admit that I used this audiobook as a sleep aid – and it worked – but I was interested enough that I went back to listen to most of it while fully awake. The internet reveals that the author, Joseph Medicine Crow, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama. Given the current educational environment I must hope that the story of this scholar and patriot will not be forbidden to students.

I would love to hear about what you are reading these days.


Anonymous said...

I also read Book 2 recently!
Now reading Under Fire by Henri Barbusse and Goodbye to all That by Robert Graves in preparation for my next Long Walk, which will take me through the Somme.

Melissa said...

Wow--you've selected ALL THE BOOKS I HAVE NOT YET READ! And I am slightly giddy with the excitement of it!
(I mean, until this post, I've always been familiar with and read at least ONE!)

Bibliomama said...

I am always so sure I am going to recognize at least one book, and I seldom do, either because I haven't read them or because I don't remember the first line.
I just finished The Drowned and The Saved by Primo Levi, which is an absolutely staggering work of intellect and insight and balance by an Italian chemist who survived a concentration camp. I am about to finish Fight Night by Miriam Toews, which is both hilarious and heart-wrenching. Both of these my daughter read either before or at the same time as me, which is a new and thrilling chapter in my reading life. I am also reading A Children's Bible by Lydia Millet, which is extremely unsettling.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting books. The first line made me want to read the one about the female scientist. I think a book about murder should take place in a town called Death-a-rage rather than Deerth-a-redge.