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Sophronisba

Sophronisba

Joined October 2016

More about my reading at https://www.sophronisba.com
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Sophronisba
Wolf Hall | Hilary Mantel
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Terrible news to begin the day. But the Wolf Hall trilogy is quite a legacy.

merelybookish Such a shock. 😔 3d
CarolynM So sad 😢 (edited) 3d
Sophronisba @merelybookish @CarolynM I am genuinely crushed. I would love to have read more from her, such an engaging and thoughtful voice. 3d
BarbaraBB This is a shock. Very tragic. 3d
readingjedi Oh no. 3d
23 likes5 comments
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Sophronisba
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Find you someone who loves you as much as medieval historians love having a go at Henry VI.

Sophronisba Also, this made me laugh: “Julius II was eager to embolden the ardent young English sovereign. In the summer of 1511 he sent him a hundred Parmesan cheeses.“ 5d
10 likes1 comment
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Sophronisba
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“She made a dagger for her father‘s birthday, with a grip like a leaping stag, and yet done so cleverly that it‘s a comfort in the hand, with not a jag or edge to catch on anything. Now, that‘s a bit of beauty that will live on long after her hair grays or her cheeks wrinkle. Someday her grandchildren will look at that work and think what a clever woman she was.”

#SundaySentence

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This book invites readers to take a new look at one of the best-known and most widely discussed epochs of English history: the Reformation of the sixteenth century. It does so by retelling the story of what happened to English people, of all sorts and conditions, in the course of a long and traumatic national quarrel about the correct ways to worship God.

#FridayReads #FirstLineFridays

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Sophronisba
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I just read about this in LitHub and it sounds like exactly my thing: “When did we first ask the question, How can I be free? It all began in a quiet university town in Germany in the 1790s, when a group of playwrights, poets, and writers put the self at center stage in their thinking, their writing, and their lives.“

https://lithub.com/how-a-group-of-young-writers-and-poets-revolutionized-18th-ce...

Sophronisba Her book about Alexander von Humboldt was excellent. 2w
13 likes1 comment
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Sophronisba
Sparrow | James Hynes
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James Hynes's latest novel, to be published in May 2023, sounds excellent:

“Sparrow tells the story of Jacob, son of no one, last survivor of an abandoned British Roman town. Raised in a brothel on the Spanish coast in the waning years of the Roman Empire, a boy of no known origin creates his own identity. He is Sparrow, who sings without reason and can fly from trouble.“

https://www.panmacmillan.com/authors/james-hynes/sparrow/9781529092394

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Sophronisba
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This week's comfort read.

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Sophronisba
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Her husband is sitting down, not in his customary place at the opposite end but next to her, close enough that she could rest her head on his shoulder, should she wish; he is unfolding his napkin and straightening a knife and moving the candle towards them both when it comes to her with a peculiar clarity, as if some coloured glass has been put in front of her eyes, or perhaps removed from them, that he intends to kill her.

#SundaySentence

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Sophronisba
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“This is a book by a reader for readers.“

#FridayReads #FirstLineFridays

11 likes1 stack add
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Sophronisba
World of Wonders | Robertson Davies
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“There is something in humanity that is repelled and entranced by a machine that seems to have more than human powers. People love to frighten themselves. Look at the fuss nowadays about computers; however deft they may be they can‘t do anything a man isn‘t doing, through them; but you hear people giving themselves delicious shivers about a computer-dominated world.“

You have to wonder what Davies would say about AI were he alive today.

Sophronisba (Photo by Philipp Katzenberger on Unsplash.)
3w
12 likes1 comment
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Sophronisba
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It is #NationalReadABookDay _and_ the new Maggie O'Farrell is on my Kindle, and yet I am going to go to work anyway.

#NotAllHeroesWearCapes

review
Sophronisba
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Panpan

I recently reread Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany and enjoyed them quite a bit; but this book was unfortunately a bit of a mess. Coming so soon on the heels of Owen Meany it felt like Irving wanted to take another swing at the narrator of that novel, while replacing Owen Meany himself with a lightly sketched librarian named Miss Frost. It doesn't really work, and the revelations at the end of the novel feel, shall we say, unearned.

Sophronisba For all that, though, I'm still looking forward to The Last Chairlift, being billed as Irving's final big novel, out on October 18. 3w
13 likes1 comment
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Sophronisba
Framley Parsonage | Anthony Trollope
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When a man gets into his head an idea that the public voice calls for him, it is astonishing how great becomes his trust in the wisdom of the public.

Anthony Trollope, _Framley Parsonage_

#SundaySentence

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Framley Parsonage | Anthony Trollope
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Spending the morning in the best way possible: tsk-tsking over the irresponsible behavior of a nineteenth-century vicar.

11 likes1 stack add
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Six Wives | David Starkey
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The Six Wives of Henry VIII is one of the world‘s great stories: indeed, it contains a whole world of literature within itself. It is more far-fetched than any soap opera; as sexy and violent as any tabloid; and darker and more disturbing than the legend of Bluebeard. It is both a great love story and a supreme political thriller.

#FridayReads #FirstLineFridays

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Sophronisba
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Have gone on a surprise John Irving run -- reading Cider House Rules, Owen Meany, & now In One Person in quick succession -- and it never ceases to amaze me how specific his repeated conceits are: Dickens, bears, wrestling, New England prep schools for boys, prostitutes with faint mustaches, stepfathers who teach Shakespeare, the list goes on. You have to wonder if he wrote Son of the Circus specifically to wean himself off his favorite tropes.

Ruthiella Ah, but even in Son of the Circus, the doctor is educated in Austria… 3w
Sophronisba @Ruthiella I had forgotten all about the Vienna obsession until I got to the chapter of In One Person in which the main character takes a trip to you-know-where. 3w
8 likes2 comments
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Henry VIII | J. J. Scarisbrick
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TIL that Henry VIII dressed in yellow and threw a party with a banquet and jousting when Catherine of Aragon died, and I realize this happened five hundred years ago but I am going to be mad about this all day.

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Sophronisba
Henry VIII | J. J. Scarisbrick
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When Henry VIII decided he wanted to marry Anne Boleyn, Catherine of Aragon was under extraordinary pressure to simply take the veil and go quietly. (Imagine how different the history of Anglicanism might be if she'd done so.) I can never decide whether it is admirable or sad that she showed such steel in order to remain married to . . . that guy?

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We rumbled toward Georgia from the west, the direction from which all great and powerful things originated. “Except the sun,” Caleb said, feeling particularly feisty as the novelty of another revival season settled in.

#FridayReads #FirstLineFridays

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The Manticore | Robertson Davies
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I read the Deptford Trilogy years ago (pre-children, pre-marriage) but I had forgotten how good it was. I am enjoying this reread so much.

rwmg Oooooh. I didn't know Robertson Davies was a Penguin Classic now. I'm going to have to keep an eye open for thesr 1mo
11 likes1 comment
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Sophronisba
Mrs. March: A Novel | Virginia Feito
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#SundaySentence

She . . . pulled off her kidskin gloves. A Christmas gift from George two years earlier, they were a very distinct color for gloves: a sort of mint green. She would never have picked that color out, not once believing she could pull such a thing off, but she thrilled at the fantasy that strangers . . . would assume her to be the kind of carefree, confident woman who would have selected such a bold color for herself.

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Sophronisba
Barchester Towers | Trollope Anthony
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#SundaySentence

There is, perhaps, no greater hardship at present inflicted on mankind in civilized and free countries than the necessity of listening to sermons. No one but a preaching clergyman has, in these realms, the power of compelling an audience to sit silent and be tormented. . . .

Sophronisba . . . No one but a preaching clergyman can revel in platitudes, truisms, and untruisms, and yet receive, as his undisputed privilege, the same respectful demeanour as though words of impassioned eloquence, or persuasive logic, fell from his lips.
2mo
11 likes1 comment
review
Sophronisba
Alice Adams | BOOTH TARKINGTON
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Pickpick

So, Alice Adams. It is, yes, dated and offensive -- and yet I sort of enjoyed it? Viewed as a time capsule, a little tragedy of manners, it is fascinating. I don't think that Tarkington understands his main character at all, and yet his eye for her quirks and eccentricities is sharp. I can't recommend it, exactly, but if you think of it as a window into a very specific time and place, it might be worth your time; it was for me.

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On Saturday afternoon, in a place that feels, just then, like the brightly pulsing center of the universe, a group of women gathers to talk about the world, and their place in it.

#FridayReads #FirstLineFridays

ShyBookOwl Love it! 2mo
17 likes1 stack add1 comment
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Cover reveal for Rebecca Makkai's newest, due in February. I adored Great Believers so I am really excited to read this one!

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Trust | Hernan Diaz
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It's a crying shame that half of this list is American -- the Booker never should have let the Yanks in. That said, Trust is a great book and all of you should read it.

https://publishingperspectives.com/2022/07/the-uks-booker-prize-for-fiction-name...

jlhammar Ha! Yes, very US heavy this year. Good to know about Trust. I loved the Keegan, Strout and Everett. I own The Colony and Booth so going to tackle those next. 2mo
Cathythoughts I did get a Trust after your review 👍🏻♥️ 2mo
Sophronisba @Cathythoughts I hope you love it! 2mo
Hazel2019 Finished The Trees and starting Trust today! And I agree, why so many from US? We Need Variety! Wouldn‘t it be something if none of the US ones made it to the short list 🤔 2mo
15 likes1 stack add4 comments
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Enchanted April | Elizabeth Von Arnim
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“There had been wonderful stars the evening before, and she had gone out into the top garden after dinner, leaving Mrs Fisher alone over her nuts and wine, and, sitting on the wall at the place where the lilies crowded their ghost heads, she had looked out into the gulf of the night, and it had suddenly seemed as if her life had been a noise all about nothing.“

#SundaySentence #192025

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This passage makes me so sad for a woman who died nearly half a millennium ago:

“She had been her father's ambassador, her husband's adviser, and her country's regent at the time when England won its greatest victory over the Scots. She was the figurehead of worship, a role model of piety, an archetype of beauty, . . . Catherine was all this. Yet she is remembered today for the one thing she did not do: bear a son that survived to adulthood.“

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The Enchanted April | Elizabeth Von Arnim
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#FridayReads #FirstLineFridays #192025

“It began in a woman‘s club in London on a February afternoon – an uncomfortable club, and a miserable afternoon – when Mrs Wilkins, who had come down from Hampstead to shop and had lunched at her club, took up The Times from the table in the smoking room, and running her listless eye down the agony column saw this:

“To Those Who Appreciate Wisteria and Sunshine. Small medieval Italian castle. . . .“

BarbaraBB Such a lovely and uplifting book! 2mo
18 likes1 comment
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Sophronisba
Alice Adams | BOOTH TARKINGTON
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I've read before that if you really want to know how people thought and spoke in the past, the best way is to read fiction that was written in that era -- and I do think that is true of Alice Adams, which feels so alien to the way that we think and speak in 2022 it might as well be set on Mars.

#192025

Sophronisba I would like to contrast it with a novel written by a woman of the same era, though; I'm not sure Booth Tarkington understands women any more than Dickens did. (Which is to say, not much at all.) 2mo
Sophronisba One of the oddest things about Alice Adams is that it feels as though it was written with an eye toward a screenplay, it feels absolutely destined to be filmed -- but it was written in 1921! 2mo
EvieBee I love the film! Will have to check out the book. 2mo
14 likes1 stack add3 comments
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Sophronisba
Dark Earth | Rebecca Stott
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I know nothing about this book but this essay has me intrigued:

“The incoming Saxons were different from us. Of course they were. They believed in strange gods. They sacrificed things. They cooked over open fires. But they couldn‘t be that different from us. A few of them must have been curious enough to brave the dangers of the ghost city . . . just to see the wonder of it for themselves.“

https://bit.ly/3ofiuOG

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Alice Adams | BOOTH TARKINGTON
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In which Alice Adams (the book, but probably also the character) is racist & classist but also weirdly contemporary:

“You paid a cook double what you had paid one a few years before; & the cook knew half as much of cookery, & had no gratitude. The more you gave these people, it seemed, the worse they behaved—a condition not to be remedied by simply giving them less, because you couldn‘t even get the worst unless you paid her what she demanded.“

Sophronisba (The picture has nothing to do with the quote other than being from the film version of the book, I am just inordinately fond of Katharine Hepburn.) 2mo
Sparklemn The quote is icky but the pic is great! I love Katharine Hepburn, too. :) 2mo
10 likes2 comments
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Sophronisba
Alice Adams | BOOTH TARKINGTON
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She had seen in several magazines pictures of ladies with canes, and on that account she had bought this one, never questioning that fashion is recognized, even in the provinces, as soon as beheld. On the contrary, these staring women obviously failed to realize that what they were being shown was not an eccentric outburst, but the bright harbinger of an illustrious mode.

-- Booth Tarkington, _Alice Adams_

#SundaySentence #192025

15 likes1 stack add
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Sophronisba
How to Read Now: Essays | Elaine Castillo
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It's Chanukah in July! The Millions has published its preview for the second half of the year:

https://themillions.com/2022/07/most-anticipated-the-great-second-half-2022-book...

So much here to be excited about.

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Sophronisba
Four Treasures of the Sky | Jenny Tinghui Zhang
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“When I am kidnapped, it does not happen in an alleyway. It does not happen in the middle of the night. It does not happen when I am alone.

“When I am kidnapped, I am thirteen and standing in the middle of the Zhifu fish market on Beach Road, watching a fleshy woman assemble whitefish the shape of spades into a pile.“

#FridayReads #FirstLineFridays

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Sophronisba
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(Sorry, this is going to be long, Litsy does not give me enough room!)

I was struck by this passage -- which made me think of both my high school alma mater and my ancestor Asa Ladd, who was executed by the Yankees:

“. . . when they are asked to reckon with the fact that their ancestors fought a war to keep my ancestors enslaved, there is resistance to facts that have been documented by primary sources and contemporaneous evidence. . . .

Sophronisba They are forced to confront the lies they have upheld. They are forced to confront the flaws of their ancestors. As Greg Stewart, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, told the _New York Times_ in the aftermath of the 2015 Charleston massacre, 'You're asking me to agree that my great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents were monsters.' . . . 2mo
Sophronisba Accepting such a reality would, for them, mean the deterioration of a narrative that has long been a part of their lineage, and the disintegration of so much of who they believed themselves to be in the world.“

I don't know if I would call Great-Great-Great-Grandpa Asa a monster, exactly, but I have long reconciled myself to the idea that he is not a person I would want to hang out with. . . .
2mo
Sophronisba (Nor do I think he would enjoy my company, for that matter.) I confess it is puzzling to me that people are so desperate to believe in the goodness of ancestors they never met. I don't feel that Asa Ladd's behavior, or the behavior of anyone I never met, reflects upon me at all.

(Smith's book is just as brilliant as I expected it to be: highly recommended.)
2mo
13 likes3 comments
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Sophronisba
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You hear a lot about modern-day “bridezillas,“ but TIL that in 1500 Henry VII asked the Queen of Spain to make sure that her daughter Catherine of Aragon's Spanish ladies were beautiful (or at least, “none of them should be ugly“), so as not to spoil her wedding to his heir Arthur.

Knowing how this would all turn out, it's hard not to feel that Catherine and her mother should have seen this as a warning. Run, Catherine! Run like the wind!

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Wallis Simpson managing to be unlikable even when the victim of a robbery:

“When asked what jewellery she had been wearing that night, Wallis replied, as if perfectly obvious, ‘A fool would know that with tweeds or other daytime clothes one wears gold, and that with evening clothes one wears platinum.'“

#SundaySentence

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On Friday 11 December 1936, the final vote on the Abdication Bill was passed in Parliament and Edward VIII ceased to be king. He had reigned for 326 days. His father‘s premonition that within twelve months of his death his son would ‘ruin himself‘ had come true.

#FridayReads #FirstLineFridays

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Sophronisba
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Too many books, not enough time! So much good stuff here. But the book I'm most excited about on this list is Maggie O'Farrell's take on Renaissance Italy.

https://lithub.com/lit-hubs-most-anticipated-books-of-2022-part-two

Cathythoughts I‘m very excited about this one too 😍 3mo
12 likes1 comment
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Cloud Cuckoo Land | Anthony Doerr
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Of all the mad things we humans do . . . there might be nothing more humbling, or more noble, than trying to translate the dead languages. We don't know how the old Greeks sounded when they spoke; we can scarcely map their words onto ours; from the very start, we're doomed to fail. But . . . , in trying to drag something across the river from the murk of history into our time, into our language: that was . . . the best kind of fool's errand.

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July 4th reading. Totally coincidental (I've been waiting for this hold to come in for months) but feels appropriate.

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This Side of Paradise | F Scott Fitzgerald
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She had once been a Catholic, but discovering that priests were infinitely more attentive when she was in process of losing or regaining faith in Mother Church, she maintained an enchantingly wavering attitude.

#SundaySentence #192025 (1920 entry)

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This Common Secret: My Journey as an Abortion Doctor | Susan Wicklund, Alan S. Kesselheim
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The Stacks podcast put together a great reading list organized around reproductive rights: https://bookshop.org/lists/books-on-abortion.

I read _This Common Secret_ a few years ago and learned a lot from it. Not on this particular list, but highly recommended if you can find it: Rickie Solinger's _Wake Up Little Susie: Single Pregnancy and Race Before Roe v. Wade_.

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Tae-woo stood on the ledge behind the Dora Observatory's row of binoculars. No one paid him any mind since he was long dead.

#FridayReads #FirstLineFridays

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This is a fun list, but my least favorite victim -- Heather Babcock in The Mirror Crack'd -- doesn't make the cut. Possibly because knowing why she's so awful gives away the plot.

https://crimereads.com/agatha-christies-most-memorable-unlikeable-characters/

Ruthiella Did you know this is inspired by a true story about the actress Gene Tierney? 3mo
13 likes1 comment
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I am enjoying Cultish, but the author just described Great Expectations as a “rags-to-riches“ story and -- has she read the book? Because that is not remotely the point of the book. Dickens was many things, but Horatio Alger was not one of them.

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“Why We Did It is a book about the people who submitted to every whim of a comically unfit and detestable man who crapped all over them and took over the party they had given their life to. It‘s about the army of consultants, politicians, and media figures who stood back and stood by as everything they ever fought for was degraded and devalued. . . .

Sophronisba . . . The people who privately admitted they recognized all the risks but still climbed aboard for a ride on the SS Trump Hellship that they knew would assuredly sink.“ 3mo
12 likes1 comment
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It would be irresponsible, I think, not to mention the oratorical similarities between Trump and Jim Jones, who shared the same love of coining zingy, incendiary nicknames for their opponents. (“Fake News“ and “Crooked Hillary“ were Trump's analogs to Jones's “Hidden Rules“ and “Sky God.“) Even when their statements didn't contain any rational substance, the catch phrases and zealous delivery were enough to win over an audience.

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Love Marriage | Monica Ali
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Lucy's father was a window cleaner working on high-rise buildings in the City, and Lucy was only six months old when Tony's harness broke. She never knew him, but even so she carried a photo of him around in her purse. The way Arif told the story made it sound like Tony was the ideal sort of father, an icon to watch over you, a pocket-size talisman.

#SundaySentence

(Photo by Matt Moloney on Unsplash)