UPDATE 7 August - FINAL with categories 21-31
Please note: Recommendations to the lists will get added ASAP, but there might be lags here and there as unreasonable people demand I participate in real life.
Also, if I start getting overwhelmed/confused by the number of comments on a list, and I've already added the books suggested, I may delete that comment thread. I'll NEVER delete actual conversations, but if it's strictly a recommendation comment, deleting it might keep me from doing daft things, like adding the book multiple times.
Per Moonlight Madness' request, I've created new lists for the new categories (and where applicable, renamed old lists). This is the final post of list links for all the 2018 categories.
This post will be updated as the new categories are announced.
Southern Gothic (short, needs suggestions!)
New Release (no list)
Shifters (I've broken out Vampires from the old Vampires vs. Werewolves, so there are now 2 lists)
Spellbound (The original Witches list, renamed)
Murder Most Foul (Since this category is any mystery, I've put my own spin on this list)
Good luck to everyone!
Memorial Day Weekend -- Labor Day 2018
Agatha Christie: N or M? (revisited on audio, narrated by Samantha Bond) ***
Ian Fleming: Quantum of Solace (short story only; new / audio, narrated by David Rintoul) *1/2
Kate Westbrook: Guardian Angel (new / audio, narrated by Eleanor Bron) ***1/2
Stella Rimington: Secret Asset (new / audio, narrated by Rosalyn Landor) ****
Francine Mathews: The Cutout (new / audio, narrated by Trini Alvarado) **1/2
Jane Thynne: Black Roses (new / audio, narrated by Julie Teal) ****
John le Carré: The Tailor of Panama (revisited on audio, narrated by the author) ****1/2
Graham Greene: Our Man in Havana (audio, narrated by Jeremy Northam) ****1/2
Agatha Christie: They Came to Baghdad (new / audio, narrated by Emilia Fox) ***1/2
Rosalie Knecht: Who Is Vera Kelly? (new / audio, narrated by Elisabeth Rodgers) ***1/2
Len Deighton: Berlin Game (new / audio, narrated by James Lailey) ****
Eric Ambler: The Mask of Dimitrios (new / print) ****
Helen MacInnes: Above Suspicion (new / print) ****1/2
Valerie Plame Wilson, Sarah Lovett: Blowback (new / audio, narrated by Negin Farsad) ***
Patricia Wentworth: The Traveller Returns (new / print) ****
Paulo Coelho: The Spy (new / English print version + German audio, narrated by Luise Helm and Sven Görtz) ***1/2
David Downing: Zoo Station (new / print) ****
Alan Furst: Night Soldiers (new / audio, narrated by George Guidall) ****1/2
Emmuska Orczy: Adventures of The Scarlet Pimpernel
The Scarlet Pimpernel (revisited on audio, narrated by Stephen Crossly) ****1/2
I Will Repay (new / audio, narrated by Johanna Ward) ****
John Le Carré: George Smiley Cycle
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (revisited on audio, narrated by the author) *****
The Looking Glass War (new / audio, narrated by Michael Jayston) ***1/2
Smiley's People (revisited on audio, narrated by Michael Jayston) *****
Stella Rimington: Open Secret: The Autobiography of the Former Director-General of MI5 (new / print edition) ****
Peter Finn & Petra Couvée: The Zhivago Affair (new / audio, narrated by Simon Vance) **1/2
Valerie Plame Wilson: Fair Game: How a Top CIA Agent Was Betrayed by Her Own Government (new / audio, narrated by the author) ****
Phyllis Bottome: The Lifeline
"A man once made it a reproach that I should be so happy, and told me everybody has crosses, and that we live in a vale of woe. I mentioned moles as my principal cross, and pointed to the huge black mounds with which they had decorated the tennis-court, but I could not agree to the vale of woe, and could not be shaken in my belief that the world is a dear and lovely place, with everything in it to make us happy so long as we walk humbly and diet ourselves. He pointed out that sorrow and sickness were sure to come, and seemed quite angry with me when I suggested that they too could be borne perhaps with cheerfulness. 'And have not even such things their sunny side?' I exclaimed. 'When I am steeped to the lips in diseases and doctors, I shall at least have something to talk about that interests my women friends, and need not sit as I do now wondering what I shall say next and wishing they would go.' He replied that all around me lay misery, sin, and suffering, and that every person not absolutely blinded by selfishness must be aware of it and must realise the seriousness and tragedy of existence. I asked him whether my being miserable and discontented would help any one or make him less wretched; and he said that we all had to take up our burdens. I assured him I would not shrink from mine, though I felt secretly ashamed of it when I remembered that it was only moles, and he went away with a grave face and a shaking head, back to his wife and his eleven children. I heard soon afterwards that a twelfth baby had been born and his wife had died, and in dying had turned her face with a quite unaccountable impatience away from him and to the wall; and the rumour of his piety reached even into my garden, and how he had said, as he closed her eyes, 'It is the Will of God.' He was a missionary."
Quintessential Elizabeth. And yet, her own cross amounted to vastly more than mole hills, too, in fact.
"All those maxims about judging others by yourself, and putting yourself in another person's place, are not, I am afraid, reliable. I had them dinned into me constantly as a child, and I was constantly trying to obey them, and constantly was astonished at the unexpected results I arrived at; and now I know that it is a proof of artlessness to suppose that other people will think and feel and hope and enjoy what you do and in the same way that you do."
True. But then, you also had the courage to defy convention, Elizabeth ...
And I still think at least when it comes to cruelty vs. common decency, there is something to be said in favor of "don't do to others what you don't want to have done to yourself."
"I am frightened once more at the solitariness in which we each of us live. I have, it is true, a great many friends -- people with whom it is pleasant to spend an afternoon if such afternoons are not repeated often, and if you are careful not to stir more than the surface of things, but among them all there is only one who has, roughly, the same tastes that I have ..."
Once again -- I hear you, Elizabeth.
Though I also think you'd have been very much at home in an internet book community.
Even though ... a Wordsworthian goose girl? Hmm.
"I walked out of the village and through the fir wood and the meadow as quickly as I could, opened the gate into my garden, went down the most sheltered path, flung myself on the grass in a quiet nook, and said aloud "Ugh!"
It is a well-known exclamation of disgust, and is thus inadequately expressed in writing."
Elizabeth, I hear you.
Back to Solitary Summer, and to anybody who thinks this is just fluffy garden talk, I'd heartily recommend to read the section on the disastrous intersection of poverty, prejudice and ignorance in the village, particularly insofar as it concerned the children.
"There is a great wall of ignorance and prejudice dividing us from the people on our place, and in every effort to help them we knock against it and cannot move it any more than if it were actual stone. Like the parson on the subject of morals, I can talk till I am hoarse on the subject of health, without at any time producing the faintest impression. When things are very bad the doctor is brought, directions are given, medicines made up, and his orders, unless they happen to be approved of, are simply not carried out. Orders to wash a patient and open windows are never obeyed, because the whole village would rise up if, later on, the illness ended in death, and accuse the relatives of murder. "
No wonder Elizabeth's heart broke every time she went there -- especially knowing that any and all attempts at providing real help would be rejected out of deeply inbred prejudice, and being left with this conclusion:
"At least I had discovered Lotte and could help her a little, I thought, as I departed down the garden path between the rows of scarlet-runners; but the help that takes the form of jelly and iced drinks is not of a lasting nature, and I have but little sympathy with a benevolence that finds its highest expression in gifts of the kind. There have been women within my experience who went down into the grave accompanied by special pastoral encomiums, and whose claims to lady- bountifulness, on closer inquiry, rested solely on a foundation of jelly. Yet nothing in the world is easier than ordering jelly to be sent to the sick, except refraining from ordering it. What more, however, could I do for Lotte than this? I could not take her up in my arms and run away with her and nurse her back to health, for she would probably object to such a course as strongly as her mother; and later on, when she gets well again, she will go back to school, and grow coarse and bouncing and leathery like the others, affording the parson, in three or four years' time, a fresh occasion for grief over deadly sin."
For those who haven't seen this yet and for anybody who'd like to join:
The Discworld group is going to read the books from the series in publication order, beginning on September 15. As from December 1, we're planning on a bimonthly schedule (alternating with the bimonthly Flat Book Society reads), but of course, with Halloween Bingo approaching and a Flat Book Society read already scheduled for September 1, there needed to be some accommodation.
(Of course, we could have gone the Granny Weatherwax route --
"Granny’s implicit belief that everything should get out of her way extended to other witches, very tall trees and, on occasion, mountains"
... especially what with Wyrd Sisters, which this quote happens to be from, being the official Halloween Bingo group read ... but we decided to play nice. Besides, some of us are going to participate in the Halloween Bingo group read in addition, and anyway, who needs this kind of stress in their lives?!)
Bonus, however, for those who are participating in both the Discworld group read and Halloween Bingo: The first Discworld book, The Colour of Magic, also qualifies for a number of Halloween Bingo squares, including Supernatural, Spellbound, Relics and Curiosities, and Cryptozoologist.
So excluding the Halloween Bingo group read, here's the prospective reading schedule for the first couple of books in the Discworld group:
September 15, 2018: The Colour of Magic (Discworld, #1; Rincewind #1)
December 1, 2018: The Light Fantastic (Discworld, #2; Rincewind #2)
February 1: 2019: Equal Rites (Discworld, #3; Witches, #1)
April 1, 2019: Mort (Discworld, #4; Death, #1)
June 1, 2019: Sourcery (Discworld, #5; Rincewind #3)
Needless to say, even outside the bingo reads, rogue buddy reads are going to happen as well and are expressly encouraged.
Come and join us -- the more, the merrier!
Hooray -- and once more, Elizabeth is decades ahead of her time, in not (at least not at heart) joining the local clergyman's and the city population's uproar over the rural custom of "prefacing" a marriage by its consummation ... and the inevitable consequences!
Ugh. Those four-families-to-one-building cottages, with a single room per family, shared kitchens and looking out on a pig sty if you're unlucky ... I'd say humanity has advanced just a bit since Elizabeth's day.
More baby talk about the hereafter, occasioned by the "June baby"'s insistence that she doesn't want to go to paradies because there's nothing there for her to play with, which prompts this response by her sisters and her mother:
"'Why, she can play at ball there with all the Sternleins if she likes!'
The idea of the June baby striding across the firmament and hurling the stars about as carelessly as though they wre tennis-balls was so magnificent that it sent shivers of awe through me as I read."
The stars' tennis balls, out of the mouths of babes -- what say you now, Messrs. Shakespeare and Frey?
"The Man of Wrath says all women love churchyards. He is fond of sweeping assertions, and is sometimes curiously feminine in his tendency to infer a general principle from a particular instance."
After one of her daughter's had fallen into a neighbor's slimy green pond:
"It was no use sending for the doctor because there is no doctor within reach; a fact which simplifies life amazingly when you ave children. During the time we lived in town the doctor was never out of the house. Hardly a day passed but one or other of the Three had a spot, or, as the expressive German has it, a Pickel,* and what parent could resist sending for a doctor when one lived round the corner? But doctors are like bad habits -- once you have shaken them off you discover how much better you are without them; and as for the babies, since theiy inhabit a garden, prompt bed and the above-mentioned simple remedy** have been all that is necessary to keep them robust."
* which I'd actually rather translate as "pimple", myself ...
** That remedy being castor oil, poor lambs!!
And then we get to the point where it becomes clear once and for all why Elizabeth loved Austen:
"I had heard of a little boy who had drunk seltzer water and thereupon been seized with typhoid fever and had died, and if, I asked myself with a power fo reasoning unusual in a woman, you die after seltzer water, what will you not do after frog-pond?"