Books

Reading Break

Beginning in the last week of November, I took a blogging break to catch up on some books that seemed to come in all at once (I am currently in FOUR bookclubs). Below are the books that I read during the past two months.

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent
Isabel Wilkerson
NF: Social Justice
My Review

Dead Reckoning: The Untold Story of the Northwest Passage
Ken McGoogan
NF: Historical Exploration
My Review

Twilight of Democracy:
The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism

Anne Applebaum
NF: Politics
My Review

Truth Be Told: My Journey Through Life and the Law
Beverley McLachlin
Memoir
My Review

Humankind: A Hopeful History
Rutger Bregman
History/Psychology
My Review

Born A Crime: Stories From A South African Childhood
Trevor Noah
Memoir
My Review

The Shadow King
Maaza Mengiste
Historical Fiction
My Review

Little Daughter
Zoya Phan
Memoir (Burmese refugee)
My Review

Bird’s Eye View
Elinor Florence
Historical Fiction
My Review

Manhattan Beach
Jennifer Egan
Historical Fiction
My Review

Plunge: One Woman’s Pursuit of a Life Less Ordinary
Liesbet Collaert
Memoir
My Review

Careful What You Wish For
Joanne Tracey
Romance
My Review

  • Special shout-out to Jill Weatherholt. Although I read her most recent book over two months ago, it is well worth mentioning. You can check out that review here.

I also used my Blogging Break to explore some online workshops via Eventbrite and Boomerang, increase my daily walks to a minimum of 10 km, and try to nudge myself into the holiday spirit. It makes no sense at all — but the more free time that I have had (read here: imposed social isolation), the longer it has taken me to complete any one task. It kind of boggles the mind! None of the above activities make up for the current lack of seeing friends and family in person, but I have given myself points for at least trying! 😦
Speaking of friends – I look forward to joining back in with the regular blogs that I follow. See you there!

96 thoughts on “Reading Break”

  1. Hi Donna – quite an accomplishment to get through such a diverse range of books – and to keep them all sorted inside your brain! Nice to see Jo’s book joining the rest of the literati xx
    Good to see you back in the blogosphere too – it’s always nice to have a break, but it’s lovely to return to the fold. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Leanne – It is wonderful to return to the fold. It was uplifting to awake this morning to such lovely comments. Yesterday, we received news that the ‘no socializing public health order’ for British Columbians has been extended until January 8. Like so many others, I was gutted. Reading these comments this morning was like having friends right back beside me. I look forward to our upcoming chat this evening (your morning).

      Like

  2. I read the Trevor Noah book about a year ago. I just purchased Plunge, and I’m anxious to get into that one after I drill down on my TBR list.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Going over the list more carefully, I see there was actually only one—“Manhattan Beach,” which I really liked. Having been wanting to read “Caste” and “Twilight of Democracy.” The others look really interesting, too.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi, Laurie – I greatly enjoyed Manhattan Beach. I also highly recommend Caste and Twilight of Democracy. I read them both just before the November 3 election. Each book helped me to make some sense of seemingly nonsensible things!

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I was on Goodreads, but I didn’t see any invite. I could simply be missing something. (Like that never happens.) 😎 I’m going to send you a greeting from your contact me page as I’m interested in learning more bout your story as a middle school administrator in China.

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      2. Hi, Peter – I just checked Goodreads and it said that my invitation to you was still pending. Hopefully, I got the right Peter Springer and did not contact a random stranger! 😀 Thanks for sending me a note via Contact Me. I’m off to check that out now.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks Donna. You saved me. Thanks for the book recommendations. I need to have some ideas for my book club as it is my turn to put out some ideas for our next read in my book club. Looking forward to reading more as you return to blogging.

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      1. One day I will write my blog. It will be about moving during a pandemic! What a year this has been. Yes, we read that book and we loved it. Looking forward to reading your blogs once again.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Donna – excellent to see you back. I’ll be reading the reviews … but am glad to see the Trevor Noah one ‘Born a Crime: Stories from a SA Childhood’ – which I have here to read … and that will be my first now. Well done on upping your walking and making sure you’ll get to the other side of this thing … take care and welcome back – Hilary

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    1. Hi, Hilary – I’m glad to see Trevor Noah’s book on your TBR list. I think that you will enjoy it. Thank you for the kind welcome back. I have the link to your most recent post saved in my inbox. I greatly look forward to catching up.

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      1. I have written my ‘sort of’ round up of my recent posts … and I’ve linked back to you …
        Have a very happy time – we are in chaos here … fun and games! All the best – Hilary

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    1. Thanks so much, Darlene. Our holidays will look very different this year (Public Health Order that we must remain within our household units only). It will take some creativity but I have my thinking cap on. Hope all is well there.

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  5. What a great selection of books Donna! Four book clubs shows a real commitment to reading 🙂 I enjoyed your reviews and am currently enjoying Plunge so will look forward to chatting about it when I’m done. Take care x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Deb – What four book clubs truly reveals is that I am yet another Pandemic Prisoner. Oh, and that I don’t watch TV so that I don’t have The Crown or Queen’s Gambit to fall back on. 😀
      I’m glad that you are enjoying Plunge (I truly could not put it down). I’m looking forward to chatting soon!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Wow! You have been very productive! I have slowed in reading down to pretty much nothing. I can’t seem to stay awake when I read, and my concentration is horrible. I hope I can start up again soon. I have stopped walking too, I used to do 4 miles a day, on occasion 6. I am starting to feel like a sloth.

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  7. Boy, you have been busy, Donna. I’m jealous of all of your reading time! One day, I’d like to take a week off from the day job and writing to just read. You’ve got a great line-up here. I’m looking forward to reading Plunge. Thank you so much for the nice shout-out. You made my morning! Take care. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Jill – I totally get it. When I worked, I found it extremely difficult to find the time to read for pleasure. I’m glad that you have Plunge on your TBR list. I recommend it highly.
      And there was no way that I was going to leave out ‘A Home For Her Daughter’. I absolutely those characters and their story.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Hi Donna – wow that’s a lot of books! I’m heading over to read your review of Manhattan Beach (loved that one). I’ve also been wanting to read Born a Crime so I’ll check that out too. Thanks for doing this. I like the format of your post too. Is that using the block editor? Hope you’re well and having a good week!

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    1. Hi, Barbara – I loved Manhattan Beach as well. Leading up to that I had read a long line of nonfiction – so luxuriating in fiction was an added bonus.
      The formatting for this post was quick and easy using the Block Editor. I simply selected the ‘column block’ (which I had never previously explored) and the rest was like painting by number. Easy-peasy!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. You inspire me! That’s more than I read in a year! Not that I don’t want to. I don’t seem to get the time except late afternoon and that means a chapter and I start to nod off no matter how good the book is.

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    1. Hi, Kate – I totally get the nodding off thing. For me, listening to a book on audiotape when I am anywhere near my bed is a fatal combination. However, it does work like a charm when I am having difficulty sleeping. Two minutes and I’m toast! 😀
      I look forward to dropping by and hearing how the gang is doing at your place. See you there!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Terri – It’s great to hear from you. How have you been feeling? I look forward to dropping by your site and catching up.
      I’m glad that you have Plunge on your TBR list. Liesbet is a brilliant and unflinchingly candid writer. I could not put this book down!

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Donna, Welcome back! I read all of the reviews and narrowed my next read to two. Which should I read first; Twilight of Democracy or Bird’s Eye View? The bad news is that BC is still under tight curfew. We remain determined to make it into Canada this year after not being able to get in last year. Not looking good right now. Have a great week and a wonderful Christmas season. Joe

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    1. Hi, Joe – I’m glad that you still have BC on your list of places to explore. I look forward to meeting up with you and Helen…hopefully in the not too distant future! 😀
      That’s a difficult choice between Twightight of Democracy and Bird’s Eye View — they are such different books. Here are two relatively quick clips with the authors that may help.

      https://www.goodreads.com/videos/78615-shaw-cable-tv-interview-november-2014

      Although it wasn’t on my current reading list, The Golden Spruce by John Valiant is also a book that you might enjoy.

      Sending you and Helen very warm holiday greetings.

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    1. Thanks. I have been a long-time walker and hiker. It is my primary form of exercise. There are so many gorgeous paths and trails right outside my front doorstep that the kilometers usually pass by quickly. And….I usually ensure there is a coffee shop near the end of my route….that always provides additional inspiration. 😀

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  11. Four book clubs! I’m exhausted just reading that (is that a pun? I guess not). You really put me to shame with my comparatively tiny output. I have that Anne Applebaum book on my waiting list. Did you like it? – Marty

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    1. Hi, Marty – I wasn’t blogging, I don’t watch TV (weirdo, I know), and BC has had a no-socializing order for the past month — so I definitely had the reading time. I think that you will greatly enjoy Applebaum’s book. I highly doubt that you’ll agree with everything that she says, but I believe you’ll find it to be a riveting read. Warning – it may raise your blood pressure. I know that it did that to me — several times! That’s a big part of Applebaum’s intent — to push us out of our comfort zones and our complacency!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve watched her many times on Fareed Zakaria’s show, and I do know of her to be extremely intelligent and articulate. I don’t mind disagreeing with people who actually use facts and figures to correspond with history in an honest approach. 🙂 Thanks, Donna.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. I have quite a stack of books waiting to be read also. Currently reading American Dirt, then on to Kindred. I think I have Caste on hold at the library, Born a Crime is an upcoming selection for my book club, and, of course, Liesbet’s book is on my Kindle and clamoring to be read. Yikes! Whoever finds themselves bored in retirement just isn’t applying themselves 🙂

    Thanks for your reviews and recommendations. I’ve added several to my “for later” shelf.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Debbie – All but two of these titles were chosen by members of my book clubs. That’s one of the many beauties of reading groups. They nudge me out of my routine (and often out of my comfort zone). As a result, I have absolutely fallen in love with many books that I would never have selected on my own. See you soon!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Welcome back Donna! I enjoyed reading the advance reader copy of Liesbet’s Plunge and left my review on Amazon. I just finished Second Chance Romance by Jill Weatherholt and enjoyed it, too. Now I’m on to Joanne Tracey’s Happily Ever After. So many good books and wonderful blogger-writer friends, so little time. I’m under similar covid-19 restrictions here so this Christmas will be quiet. We’ll adapt, keep calm and carry on. Stay safe and well.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Hi Donna! I am in awe that you managed to finish these all in such a short time. I’ll admit that I’ve read more this year than most others, but no where near what you’ve done. I did read PLUNGE right away and also read Treavor Noah’s book, but that’s it. And I can’t help but believe that you are probably one of the best contributors in all of your book clubs because you actually READ the books. Hope you enjoyed your break and now we all look forward to seeing more posts once again. ~Kathy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Kathy – Thank you once again for your kind words. Actually, in my non-fiction book club, I am one of the quietest participants. I have definitely read the books….it’s just that some of the others have LOTS to say! 😀
      See you Friday!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy a blogging break than reading and daily walks. Hopefully, you found your holiday spirit along the way. I like the variety of selections in your library and will probably read a couple of the lighter ones. Don’t want to disturb my Christmas mojo by going too deep!!

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  16. GREAT to see you back here blogging, Donna. I agree, the less we do, the less time we have. It’s some time/continuum mystery. On the other hand, my days are so full with teaching classes (on-line) and blogging and writing my next book and reading that I moan when it’s dinner time. ALREADY?? I never have enough time to read all the books I want to. I’m thrilled that you read Plunge – marvelous memoir by our fellow blogger Liesbet. And I read Trevor Noah’s book last summer, while walking (with earbuds on Audible) and ended up laughing – and sometimes crying – out loud. Thanks for all these reviews- I’ll read one a day. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Pam – Thank you so much for dropping by. I read your review on Plunge — and wholeheartedly agree. I simply could not put it down.
      You sound extremely busy. Good luck with your online teaching and with your new book. See you at your site!

      Liked by 2 people

  17. Hey friend!! Look at all the folks who missed you. Glad you shared the books you’ve been reading. I found several the piqued my interest and have saved them to share with my book club. Have seen several books about elephants lately that I’ve added to my to-read shelf. And Plunge sounds very interesting.
    I find that if I don’t get busy early in the day, I can have all the free time in the world and still not accomplish much. The key for me is to start early.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Hi, Leslie – Nice to hear from you. I fully agree about getting an early start in the day. If I don’t, I find I never get my full momentum.
    If you are gathering books to read about elephants, you may want to include Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II’ by Vicki Constantine Croke. I read it this past September and loved it. I’ve also read ‘Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story by Daphne Sheldrick’ which I also enjoyed. Oh, and I HIGHLY recommend Plunge. I’m positive that you will enjoy it.
    See you at your site soon. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Hi Donna! Thank you for including my book here and leaving a link to your review. I truly appreciate it. Wow, you read a lot the last couple of months. Loads of non-fiction. I should take a blogging break as well, since I haven’t read a book – except my own 🙂 – in three months! I’d be interested in Trevor Noah’s memoir. Welcome back!

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  20. Wow I’d say that is quite the accomplishment! However, like you, I find the more time I have the less I seem to accomplish. I think especially as we face the isolation in holiday times being kind to ourselves is the most important. Good job on the walking!

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  21. An amazing selection of books Donna! Reading has got to be one of the best things in life. In the earlier days of covid I simply couldn’t read. Short attention span and so on. These days I’m making up for it and so enjoying entering into worlds of the author’s creation.

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    1. Hi, Susan – Thanks for stopping by. It’s great to hear from you. I agree that the COVID pandemic has affected many people’s reading. In my case, it has caused me to read more than usual. I’m delighted to hear that you are now able to enjoy entering the worlds of authors’ creation. Those are wonderful places to be!

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Wow so impressed with the sheer quantity and volume of what you read in two months and then the variety! Impressive for sure. I am also jealous as I cannot obtain English language books on a whim here while on the road in Mexico. Anything would need to be ordered to the U.S. and then sent by a friend or family member. Oh the joys of just having a desired book arrive at your front door.

    I ordered Liesbet’s book and it is waiting for me in L.A. I have heard that Trevor Noah’s book is fascinating and as fellow South African I look forward to reading that. Apparently he has an audio version with his own voice.. that perhaps I can find online.

    Great post.

    Peta

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Petra – Thank you for your kind comment. When we lived in Beijing, I could get some English language books but not all. And what I could get was typically quite expensive. When we retired to Canada, I swear that the first thing that I did was to get a library card…and join a book club!
      I’m glad that Liesbet’s book is awaiting your arrival in LA. I absolutely LOVE that book!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ever since I read your post and the comments to it, I have come to realize that I am a real author for the first time. It’s so weird to see people refer to Plunge as a real book (among all the other real books!) and discuss it that way… 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Seriously, though. Imagine… you write a book, which takes a long time but you’re determined to finish. Eventually you publish it and don’t think too much about it. Then, people talk about it as if this is a real book with a real author, while in fact, it is “just” you… It’s a tad weird and surreal. 🙂

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  23. Donna, wow! Four book clubs is impressive and I’m not surprised you needed a break to catch up on reading! Quite a few familiar ones here and some new ones to check out! Well done with 10k a day, I love being outdoors even if just for a little bit! As for time, I too find the more I have these days the faster the days fly by and struggling to fit in all I want to do! Many experience the same … very strange! Happy Reading!😀

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  24. Welcome back Donna! That’s an impressive number of books to have read. Was there one that you would recommend reading first–based on your personal preference, of course? I am also impressed with your dedication to getting outside, no matter how cold or snowy. I often find myself saying, “It’s too cold–or too wet–to walk today.” I have been taking some classes at MasterClass.com. Right now I’m taking a dog training class. I see a new furry member in our household within the next couple of months. Hubby and I have been stalking the pet adoptions sites.

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    1. Hi, Christie – It’s wonderful to hear from you. It’s super exciting that you see a new furry family member in your immediate future. I look forward to following this adventure.
      As for book recommendations, it all depends on personal taste. Fellow blogger, Liesbet, recently published Plunge, which was a great read and very hard to put down. ‘Caste’ and ‘Catch and Kill’ both knocked me out of my complacency. Both are very worth the read.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, John and Susan – I love virtual libraries. They make book lending so much easier — especially during a pandemic. I’m sure that you will love both ‘Dead Reckoning’ and ‘Born a Crime’. Both are excellent reads. Wishing you both a safe and happy holiday.

      Liked by 2 people

  25. Donna, I am impressed with the number of books you read in a short time. The only one from your list that I have read so far is Liesbet’s “Plunge.” Like you, I put it to the top of my to-be-read list and powered through it as soon as it arrived. I love reading books written by people I know; it seems to provide a deeper level of insight about the story. Currently, I am reading “White Fragility” by Robin Diangelo.

    Jude

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Jude – I’ve heard great things about Diangelo’s book. I haven’t read it yet, but I have watched many video presentations from here – which made a great deal of sense to me.
      I did read Isabel Wilkerson’s ‘Caste’ and highly recommend it.
      Speaking of great books, I’d love to add yours to my list soon!

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  26. Wow, Donna! You have accomplished an amazing amount in a short time. I hardly get any time to read – at least since we’ve been in the moving mode. That takes a ton of time. I’m going to reblog this Thursday. I don’t know too many people (0) in four book clubs. Whew! Happy holidays to you, and now I’m going to read some of your reviews. 🙂

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  27. Reblogged this on Marsha Ingrao – Always Write and commented:
    Are you wondering what to do with yourselves after everyone is done unwrapping presents, finished eating and cleaning up. How about grabbing a good book? Donna has been on a break from blogging and spent her hours reading and reading, so she has some great books to recommend.

    Liked by 1 person

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