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Hamlet

Hamlet

Joined December 2016

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Hamlet
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Pickpick

Norris‘ memoir of her love for Greece and the Greek language is intriguing and entertaining. She writes well. Along with having many “a-ha!” moments about the language, I found myself making book lists and looking up ideas, persons, and histories. This book stoked my curiosity about many things, and that proved to be a good portion of my delight in it... and I was delighted; I read thirty pages before leaving the library.

batsy I love it when a book does that! Sparks multiple curiosities/ideas and sends you in different directions :) 1w
3 likes1 comment
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Hamlet
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Pickpick

This a short, light book. It presents observations on Chinese culture through efforts to learn the language. The book “makes for a kind of reality check on what we consider the givens of language.” From the use of East-West for orientation in town to a distaste for pronouns, the book has some useful glimpses into English-speakers‘ assumptions vs those of Chinese speakers. This book serves as a taste of a new subject to whet my appetite for more.

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Hamlet
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Pickpick

“Most people only like what they‘re good at,” a teacher once told me in back-handed compliment. I was never too great at it, but I‘ve always found math (and its history) to be irresistible. This book is wonderful. It explains why the study of prime numbers is central to so many other ideas in our world. The author crafts lucid explanations of complex ideas & his enthusiasm energizes the whole book. He makes this subject human & accessible.

k.reads Same! I was never great at math, but I love reading about it. 1mo
Hamlet That‘s great. There are a lot of books out there for the likes of us. I have a couple of shelves of them. 1mo
5 likes1 stack add2 comments
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Hamlet
The Wake: A Novel | Paul Kingsnorth
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Give Kingsnorth credit for his creativity with language. With the underlying premise that the Norman invasion of 1066 was the worst event to happen to England & the English language, the author creates a “shadow tongue,” a modified and accessible language that uses & invokes Old English. Reading it is a challenge at first, but a worthwhile one to convey Buccmaster‘s tale with the right feel & flavor: a disdain for the coming changes to his world.

Hamlet I‘d also add that setting a post-apocalyptic novel 1000 years in our past is a cool idea. 1mo
charl08 I've got this on the kindle. One day I will read it! 1mo
batsy The concept of his books intrigue me! This and Beast. Need to get around to them someday. 1mo
Hamlet Great tip! I hadn‘t heard of his other book. Thanks! 1mo
8 likes4 comments
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Hamlet
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Pickpick

This book can be read for pleasure or it can serve as a desk-reference. The writing is informative and stilted. Dreyer so often breaks the flow of his sentences by means of parentheses, dashes, and footnotes that his writing style moved in my mind from annoying to comic & thence to oddly endearing. I‘m glad to add that Dreyer is quite funny. This book can serve as a thorough guide for editing one‘s own writing. Good stuff.

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Hamlet
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Pickpick

With the San Juan Mtns in Colorado at 7 1/2 times their normal snowpack, I‘m taking a break from my CDT hike after the NM section & this book welcomed me home. Her humor & insights into copywriting at the New Yorker made it a lively read that I finished quickly. Norris explains grammar & punctuation well, evincing her care and rather strict approach while remaining open-minded and kind to others; the book is not a Truss-like venting, to my relief.

4 likes1 stack add
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Hamlet
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Pickpick

Hamlet is one of my three favorite books; I‘ve read it at least once a year for all my adult life. Reading it recently with a pal & colleague in our Reading Group of Two was an exceptionally rewarding experience, savoring the poetry, dynamic characters, & haunting themes. We also explored the “good” & “bad” Quarto versions as well as looking at my photo-facsimile of the First Folio. Language has seldom been crafted with more beauty & power.

4 likes1 stack add
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Hamlet
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Pickpick

The King James Version of the Bible was published on this date in 1611; for a rewarding look at all the idioms that entered the language from the work of those translators, check out “Begat.” Examples include filthy lucre, rod of iron, drop in the bucket, rise & shine, skin & bones, salt of the earth, see eye to eye, & at wit‘s end. Along with Shakespeare‘s work, the KJV Bible had the greatest influence creating English idioms.

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Hamlet
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Pickpick

This novel about a woman serving as an ambulance driver in France during WW1 manages to convey the tedium & nastiness of her job alongside the outrage, poignancy, humanity in the experiences she faces daily. It‘s another great anti-war war book from a woman‘s perspective, one that deserves to be read & remembered. A bonus is the terrific Afterward essay by Jane Marcus. The books she mentions or recommends have formed a new reading list for me.

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Hamlet
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Pickpick

Although this book was too expensive for me to buy, I found myself reading it for a long time in the bookstore & then ordering it from the library. Its short biographies of great writers are rewarding, always pulling me to look at one more. It‘s fascinating to see whose life & works merit a big spread & whose only get a brief note in an era‘s “directory.” Paging through this is a lot more fun than reading Wikipedia bios on a computer screen.

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Hamlet
The Kalevala | Elias Lnnrot
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I loved that characters in The Kalevala had fights with songs rather than with weapons. As the epic at the heart of Finnish national identity, this book of adventures is important cultural heritage. Wholly distinct from Norse mythology, this work focuses on the singer Vainamoinen & a wealth/fortune-creating device called The Sampo. While patriarchal as expected, these rhythmic tales, rooted in the land & a love of song, are fun & beautiful.

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Hamlet
Tolkien: Maker of Middle-Earth | Catherine McIlwaine
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This book was made as part of the Tolkien exhibition (summer & fall 2018) at the Bodleian Library. It‘s terrific. With short essays by the best writers on Tolkien & images (some never-before published) from Oxford‘s archive & the Tolkien estate, it‘s a wonderful summary book of JRRT‘s life & work. I‘m excited now for Christopher Tolkien‘s stand-alone release of his father‘s 1st major story of the Elder Days: The Fall of Gondolin.

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Hamlet
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This book offers a great study of post-WWI England. From disillusionment of life in the trenches mixed with imperial idealism to a portrait of the racism & arrogance of the British Raj, the book slowly points to the Everest quest as a generation‘s hope for redemption. There‘s too much detail, but that‘s okay. I had my own welcome disillusionment after the gloss & appeal of that era as seen in shows like Downton Abbey. It‘s a fascinating read.

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Hamlet
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Pickpick

Read Beowulf for the adventure; for the look into the harsh, fatalistic, stoic worldview of the culture; and for the peek at Anglo-saxon mead-hall life. I recommend the bilingual Heaney version: words like Scop (singer), Wyrd (fate), & word-hord (word hoard, poetic choices) make it fun. Kennings are amazing: bone-house for a body, whale-road for the sea. Tolkien‘s prose version isn‘t as stirring, but his commentary is helpful & interesting.

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Hamlet
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Pickpick

In 2014 on the 100th anniversary of the start of WW I, I decided to start reading some of the literature to arise out of that war. Vera Brittain‘s memoir focuses on her time as a nurse, inspired by her relationships with her fiancé and her brother. Her prose is candid & emotionally devastating; her poetry & Roland‘s, poignant. Don‘t be daunted by the length. It‘s a female voice on the subject of war that deserves to be heard this Memorial Day.

BarbaraBB Such a good read. And so painful that WWII was yet to come 💔 1y
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Hamlet
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Pickpick

While The Aeneid is a worthwhile read, I must admit that the combination of its propaganda for Augustus and its being so derivative of Homer decreased my enjoyment. Even in translation, the poetry is beautiful. Carthage Queen Dido and the warrior Camilla are both great characters. Despite the pot shots at Ulysses (Odysseus), this story of a Trojan remnant founding what will become Rome is an epic worth reading, but only after Homer.

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Hamlet
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Pickpick

I‘m a fan of dictionaries and books about them. Oddly enough, in college I owned a Webster‘s 2nd International Unabridged AND a Webster‘s 3rd before I knew of the controversy about them. This book explains the many changes made from the 1934 to the 1961 edition—essentially from authoritative prescription to non-judgmental description—and also presents a portrait of cultural shifts in America in those years. It‘s an intriguing, eye-opening tale.

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Hamlet
The Tolkien Reader | J. R. R. Tolkien
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25 March: TOLKIEN READING DAY. On the Vala, Nienna: “... So great was her sorrow as the Music unfolded, that her song turned to lamentation long before its end...But she does not weep for herself; and those that harken to her learn pity, and endurance in hope.” —The Valaquenta in The Silmarillion. (The picture is my bookcase of Tolkien‘s writings & others‘ books on his works.)

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This book was a lot of fun, even making me laugh aloud on several occasions, which books don‘t often make me do. I wish the sections of his writing about himself were much longer; they were amusing & endearing. After each of those, he gives a short selection of gems he discovered for each letter of the alphabet, see: lectory, introuvable, longueur, & desiderium for Litsy types. Yup, a fun & fast read that makes me love my many dictionaries more.

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Hamlet
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Pickpick

Moor is an erudite fellow. I quite enjoyed this book: an intellectual trek on the heels of my PCT trek of 2017. He mulls trails of all kinds across cultures, species, & time. He piqued my curiosity regularly so that I made a related TBR list. The interweaving of his own journeys with his research was well done. Moor‘s book is thought-provoking, though I lost some steam as he waxed philosophic at the end. It‘s a pleasurable & satisfying read.

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Hamlet
Butcher's Crossing | John Edward Williams
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This unsentimental story of a man drawn to the West and a buffalo hunt is well written & bleak. Idealism & mythology about the American West fall away as the harshness and brutality of slaughter and survival overwhelm the beauty of the land & the young man‘s innocent hopes. The tale stings; I‘m horrified & saddened by this glimpse into a sad truth of white men in the West. Thanks to the NY Review of Books for publishing this neglected story.

Tamra Love John Williams - I wish he had written more. 2y
6 likes1 comment
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Hamlet
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Pickpick

What a powerful story! It can be difficult to read with so much violence, but each death has a moving mini-bio, humanizing the loss. In war‘s sorrows, pity is as crucial as fury. I read it with a partner; we met weekly for 8 sessions of 2 hours; what a moving experience! Lattimore, Fitzgerald, & Fagles‘ verse translations are all great. Next time: Caroline Alexander‘s. Seeing all endure the gods‘ will & our own weaknesses is humbling & tragic.

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Hamlet
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Pickpick

Of all the scholars who write about Tolkien (and I have a bookcase of their works), Verlyn Flieger is preeminent. The majority of her writing is commentary on the ideas, themes, & characters, not just a search for sources. Check out this book and “Green Suns and Faerie,” “Splintered Light,” “A Question of Time,” & “Interrupted Music.” She also co-edited “Tolkien‘s Legendarium.” I highly recommend her work: it‘s insightful, lucid, & fascinating.

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Hamlet
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Mehso-so

After my PCT hike, I was excited to spot this title and build upon my own discoveries in reading nature. While there are quite a few nuggets of information and some good insights, the book was underwhelming. Quite a bit was simplistic, almost in the patronizing way of a poor YA writer. Still, I was rewarded with some good parts when my reading turned to skimming. I‘m hoping some of the recommended readings (“homework”) will prove more intriguing.

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Hamlet
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I own over a dozen books by David Crystal, the leading scholar on the English language and a gifted writer. This book is an accessible romp through interesting words, each one a mini-chapter & they can be read in any order. Rather than delineating random interesting word histories, Crystal reveals in each selection another way that English has developed. It‘s fascinating, and makes for a fun dip when you don‘t have time for a swim or deep dive.

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Hamlet
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Pickpick

This is a fascinating and readable account of how the brain works. We perceive an amazingly small area of focus with our eyes, as one example, and the brain creates a representation of the image using judgment & inference; we “see” with our brains, and that ability to select only key information, actually makes our brains (in many ways) much more powerful than computers. This is an enjoyable read, with movie examples & a light touch in its prose.

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Hamlet
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Pickpick

A 20 year old walked into the Maine woods with no plan, supplies, or preparation & lived there alone for 27 years. He survived by stealing from vacation homes nearby. It‘s a page-turner. The author writes well, but doesn‘t give enough time to the people who felt terrorized & violated by the thief who invaded their homes. The author turns him into a heroic figure at times which didn‘t sit well with me or the hermit. It‘s a fascinating & sad tale.

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Hamlet
Plainsong | Kent Haruf
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The unadorned writing works well for this story of the Colorado plains. With chapters focused on a pregnant teenager, two sets of brothers (one set in their 70s, the other not yet high-school age), and the middle-aged father of the young boys, Haruf spins a compelling tale of uncompromising hardships & the kindness and love behind these laconic characters. The story has a slow, steady, fitting pace. It‘s a lovely novel: unsentimental and moving.

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Hamlet
But Can I Start a Sentence with "But"?: Advice from the Chicago Style Q&A | The University of Chicago Press Editorial Staff
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The Chicago MOS editors, gurus of accuracy in formal writing, have printed a “best of” from their on-line Q&A. They remind us that rules and their judicial application serve a writer‘s goals and a reader‘s needs & understanding; rules should not enslave us. The responses to a wide range of queries are often funny & clever. Like the works of Kory Stamper, Steven Pinker, & David Crystal, it‘s a healthy response to Lynn Truss‘ pedantic scoldings.

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Hamlet
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Pickpick

Back from months of hiking on the PCT, I was happy to find this book on lexicography right away. Stamper‘s funny stories of working silently in a cubicle while reveling in the endless flexibility and dynamism of English kept me chuckling & savoring each chapter. Her personal journey through her career will make many reconsider their pet peeves about usage, grammar, & more as she presents the descriptivist‘s job. Word nerds, this book is for you.

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Hamlet
Outline: A Novel | Rachel Cusk
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I found this in the NYTimes best of 2016 list. It's daring & quietly innovative, starting with the first-person narrator's focus on her conversation companions & their ramblings, (it's not just a Nick Carraway approach). Her loss, her values, her nature appear through her responses. The writing is spare, fluid, and natural, the minds of narrator & of author are impressive, as are the depths of feeling. A book I enjoyed & admired. I'll seek more.

Alfoster Sounds good! 3y
9 likes2 stack adds1 comment
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Hamlet
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Pickpick

I found this book at times inspiring and majestic, at times sad. It focuses on persons along the Rocky Mtn continental divide --ranchers, rangers, Native Americans, miners, & more -- & what draws them to such a harsh & beautiful place. The sad part is to read chronicles of the unceasing bickering over land & water rights, along with animosity toward the federal gov. It's well written & worthwhile: personable, open-minded, revealing. A pleasure.

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Hamlet
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Pickpick

I've really enjoyed this collection of Wyoming stories; Proulx is a great writer & wonderful storyteller. I first bought it to read "Brokeback Mountain" after seeing the Ang Lee film & have been delighted with the understated writing that helps covey the power & complexity of characters' psychology and emotions. It's time to read more by this author. Her book of the west enriches that genre by making me see it in new ways. Great stuff.

CarolynOliver I read this (in a different edition) at your house! 3y
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blurb
Hamlet
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I'm getting rolling into Wild because yesterday I received my PCT Thru-hiking Permit. Starting in April I'll be hiking north on the Pacific Crest Trail, with luck completing the 2660 miles in just under six months. I'm pretty excited. The book is great for its honesty about her tough times & weaknesses, and her learning curve about hiking is sure steep. I've been reading a lot & logging many miles so I hope I'm ready.

LeahBergen Wow!!! 👏🏻👏🏻 3y
CarolynOliver 💜💪💜 3y
11 likes2 comments
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Hamlet
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Pickpick

I lived in Colorado for 12 years & know Stegner was right: if not born to it, one must learn to appreciate the Western U.S., its aridity, its color palette, its enormous scale, its ethos. He writes beautifully about the West & his family's sojourning in that land. The essay "Letter, much too late," addressed in appreciation to his Mother, grabbed me today on my Mom's birthday, the 1st since her death last year. It's a wonderful essay collection.

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Hamlet
The Terrible Hours | Peter Maas
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The USS Squalus sub sinks off the U.S. coast & normally the crew would be presumed lost, even though thirty-some survived the initial mishap; enter Swede Momson. What a trailblazing, heroic figure. He has to put to the test all his techniques, devices, & plans for saving submariners. It's a hell of a story. My Mom loved this book & the bravery of all men in the submarine service. This story was one of her favorites , & so, is one of mine.

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Hamlet
The Discoverers | Daniel J. Boorstin
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I found this book in my brother-in-law's collection, & it brought back good memories. It's long, but worthwhile & quite fun. I remember the section on time, from the stars & church bells to water clocks, & finally to portable devices. It was the first big gift book that I read, & to my delight Boorstin's book is just plain interesting & readable. Maybe I'll get to its match, The Creators, one of these days.

CarolynOliver I can picture exactly where this sits on the shelf. 3y
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Hamlet
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Pickpick

I really liked this book. He's a walker & hiker of the U.K., with an easy, natural erudition that had me reaching for my journal. The paths are fascinating, especially the world's most dangerous one that goes miles out to sea at low tide (near an ordinance proving island), a path always just under water. Nature & our relation to the land makes for great reading in his hands. It's not a fast read, but meandering trails & thoughts shouldn't be.

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Hamlet
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This was my last main library that I visited for years, a sort of second home. On the other side there's a wonderful stepped entrance with skylight windows to let in that glorious Colorado light.

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Hamlet
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Pickpick

The content of this book is enlightening and important, & so it's a "pick," though it rambles. The author belabors the media coverage beyond the necessity of it in the story (& it is a crucial part to understand), tempting me to skip ahead, but I didn't. The linked stories of so many shootings of black men and the thoughtful, empathetic look at mourners, protesters, and black communities make this a cry of a book that must be heard.

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Hamlet
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Pickpick

The Pakistani narrator's tale is gentle even when harrowing. Though the tale deals with his fifteen years of prison and his beatings and deprivations there, the story's narrator is more than his pains might suggest. Not just wisdom or acceptance colors the tale, but an honesty about being broken in many ways, a hope rooted in love as well as imaginings of it; even regret is valued. The telling is too removed to be stirring but it is moving.

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Hamlet
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What an amazing & terrifying book this is. Six boys have a "pure" creed that finds fault in everything. Their uncompromising view echoes the view of sea life that Ryuji has before he starts seeing Noboru's mother. His move toward love & fatherhood starts a nightmare of acts by the boys, acts of misused ideals. The tragedy is their misguided rejection of any human warmth or faults for an untenable vision of pure freedom. (Sea image: Lucy Bellwood)

LeahBergen That porthole is making me seasick 😉 3y
Hamlet If you're on Tumblr, check out her Tumblr blog lucybellows to see several porthole gifs and vids... I couldn't take my eyes off them. 3y
Hamlet Oops... lucybellwood@tumblr.com 3y
9 likes3 comments
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Hamlet
North Water | Ian McGuire
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The driving narrative kept me turning the pages of this sparse story of brutal men. I admire its honesty and unflinching look at life's hard paths & men's base aspects, but I had some problems with it too. Save for those of Sumner & Drax, the characterizations were weak. The unrelenting use of the "C" word wearied me, and I found the author's penchant for rare vocab to be odd. Still, it's a gripping & harrowing tale, worth reading.

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Hamlet
Double Indemnity | James M. Cain
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I grabbed this short murder story as a break on a snowy day from the longer books I'm reading. It delivered in the full-flower of the hard-boiled style I expected. I must confess I know the movie well (and love it), & didn't like the exposition-filled elaborate ending of the book. I can see why the script writer simplified things. Still, it's a book worth knowing & it made for a diverting afternoon read, a good one for the repertoire.

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Hamlet
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The subtitle, "A Love Story," seems key. This book is Kaag's memoir of turning his pretty, train-wreck of a life into one of love & freedom. He finds an old philosopher's neglected library in NH & proceeds to save it and himself. I learned a good deal about American philosophy & the lives of Am. intelligentsia and also felt the admonition (with every quote & ref) to step away from erudition & reading sometimes to live our lives & ideas. Good book.

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Hamlet
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A friend told me that librarians were most proud of their reference sections. Sounds good to me. I have a personal ref. library I'm proud of. This American Heritage --my go-to volume for definitions for students-- marks my spot in the local public library. Many don't realize the specialities, distinct roles, & even organizational layouts of different dictionaries: it's worth exploring before ref. sections disappear in this Google-algorithm world.

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Hamlet
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Pickpick

I enjoyed this book, the writing and the storytelling and the kind but unstinting insights. Its stories of life in and around Buckle, Montana delighted me, letting me settle into a chair after days of unsatisfied sampling of books lying about. I feel fortified, my faith renewed in patient writers like this one (& family I know) who make the long trek through on-line mags, with hope for an agent & someday a publisher. We who read salute you!

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Hamlet
The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun | J. R. R. Tolkien
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It's not everyday that a new Tolkien book arrives, so I was pretty excited. This poem (& its 2 shorter ones) is not for all, but fans of myth and Fairie will enjoy it. Set in Celtic Brittany, the poem tells the tale of a childless couple & the Lord's fateful encounter with a Corrigan, or water spirit or fairy. Reading it aloud was a pleasure. The big Middle-earth tale, The Lay of Leithian about Beren & Luthien comes out this March. Can't wait!

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Hamlet
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Innumeracy addresses our mathematical illiteracy that seems not only pervasive, but (as the author notes) a perverse source of pride for many. From giving a sense of scale (a million seconds tick by in about 11 1/2 days, but ticking a billion seconds take 32 years) to revealing common misjudgments and even fears many of us have, Paulos awakens curiosity and self-awareness. The book is mostly examples, readable & interesting. It's an eye-opener.

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Hamlet
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Jan 3rd is Tolkien's birthday; i just finished this 3rd volume of the novel. What a story! Check out Appendix A, at least part 1 on Numenor, part 4 that recounts Aragorn's early adventures as Thorongil , & part 5 on Aragorn & Arwen. In other parts we read the history of the Witch King of Angmar and about the early days of the 4th Age under King Elessar (i.e. Aragorn). The Silmarillion daunts many, but try this taste of further reading in JRRT.

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