First Monday Book Day: Ghost Story

I actually had a long solo drive this past weekend for the first time in a long time. Took the opportunity to listen to the first 5 hours of the audio book of The Upstairs House by Julia Fine.

The narrator in the book has a new baby and an unfinished dissertation on children's literature. She is very ambivalent about both of those things. The result is that Margaret Wise Brown's ghost (author of Goodnight Moon and Runaway Bunny) has moved in upstairs.

There's just a touch of horror, and I'm not exactly sure where the story is going in the final third. I'm almost reminded of Victor LaValle's The Changeling, which is maybe my favorite horror fantasy novel, so that's a good sign.

16 thoughts on “First Monday Book Day: Ghost Story”

  1. Last FMBD I reported I'd read the Expanse #3 (Abbadon's Gate)

    I'm now working on Expanse #8. I read Cibola Burn, Nemesis Games, Babylon’s Ashes, and Persepolis Rising in the last month.

    1. I've read through #7 ... Kind of unofficially waiting for #9 to be released so I can finish it all off.

      I really like the series. Interesting ideas without finding easy answers.

  2. Back in December I listed a whole bunch of books that I got at the end of the year and happy to say I read through all of them, except for one on Evolution that was just a little too much for this layman and I put down after about 90 pages. It would have been better (for me) as a long form magazine article.

    So now I am reading The Dead are Rising: The Life of Malcom X by Les Payne. This came out in late 2020 with lots of acclaim and new details about X's early life and uncovered details about his assassination. I just got started so it's going to take me a bit. I have Hamnet next on the list but that' probably a good month out.

  3. Finished up the Murderbot Diaries books in anticipation of the forthcoming book this month (Fugitive Telemetry). Also put myself on the list for The Galaxy and the Ground Within, the latest in Becky Chambers' series, also out later this month.

  4. My 25 year old is finally reading Lord of the Rings. Of course he's seen the movies numerous times. So it's been fun talking to him about the books and how they compare to the movies. The LOTR movies are probably one of those rare times where watching the movie can actually enhance one's enjoyment and understanding of the books. I've always felt that way and he is now saying the same thing.

  5. I finished the first Percy Jackson series - The Olympians. There are others, but I don't feel compelled to keep going. It was a decent series, as Young Adult series go. I'd put it in the middle of the pack of those I've read.

    I also read Neil Gaiman's The Ocean At The End Of The Lane. What a truly excellent story. I'd read American Gods and had been underwhelmed at the time - it was good, but I was expecting ohmygoodnessthisisNeilGaimanyou'regonnaloveit andreadeverythingbyhim good, based off of what I'd heard. Though it was engaging and entertaining, American Gods was decidedly not that. The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, however, was that. It was captivating, dramatic, emotional, and inventive. And the prose was stunning too.

    Next up is JR by William Gaddis. Recommended to me because of my affection for Pynchon. The first couple pages haven't disappointed.

  6. I have completed my books on Monroe, JQA, Jackson, van Buren, and I'm partially through my Harrison book. I have kind of stalled out a little, but I will pick it back up again and I am not that far behind pace. The books that I've read this month will show up in the next month or so in the presidential biography posts.

  7. I read Zone by Mathias Énard after hearing the Two Month Review guys mention it repeatedly when discussing Ducks. It was fine, but I was much less interested in spending time in that war criminal's mind than I was with the narrator of Ducks.

    The New Wilderness by Diane Cook was extremely disappointing. It received a lot of hype, but outside of a brief interesting moment or two it was a pretty run of the mill apocalyptic story. Completely underwhelming.

    Of Mice and Men was still great. No wasted words; no wasted plot. Just a masterfully written contained story.

    Money: The True Story of a Made-Up Thing by Jacob Goldstein had some fun historical nuggets but read like a podcast rather than a real book. It needed more structure and fewer jokey one-liners.

    Kiley Reid's Such a Fun Age was good and went in an unexpected direction. The ending was satisfactorily unsatisfying if that makes sense.

    Finally, The Big Goodbye: Chinatown and the Last Years of Hollywood by Sam Wasson was pretty interesting. It takes some major (and unnecessary) swipes at movies like Jaws and The Exorcist for gasp! marketing themselves, but it pulled no punches about Robert Towne (the writer) or Robert Evans (the producer). It also made no apologies for Roman Polanski's post-movie crimes. Still, it was a very interesting read.

  8. I’m still doing a chapter a week of Nate Chinen’s Playing Changes: Jazz for a New Century with my friend. The weekly album selections we’ve traded have really added a lot of enjoyment. The plan is to finish it in a few weeks, and then move on to Alex Ross’ The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century while maintaining our weekly album exchanges.

    On Kindle (via the PRoM’s public library) I’m finishing Haruki Murakami’s After Dark, and recently my hold came up for for Adam Higginbotham’s Midnight in Chernobyl.

    I also have Kenneth Fearing’s The Big Clock sitting here, waiting for me to pick it back up. I was right about needing a noir break.

  9. Non-fiction: Washington, A Life (Chernow).

    Fiction: The Camel Club (Balducci) meh, it was a free book at the library. Snow (Banville) - Man Booker dude, and Irish murder mystery.

  10. As I mentioned above, I started up a Malcolm X Biography earlier in the month: The Dead Are Arising by Les Payne.

    Wow. This book was utterly fascinating and quite the page turner, which is hard for a biography. There is a lot of original research on both Malcolm X's youth (correcting the record put forth in The Autobiography of Malcolm X) and his assassination, which includes some pretty damning evidence that the NYPD and FBI knew when the hit was coming but did nothing to stop it. (It was conducted by the Nation of Islam - Payne even has the three assassinations named, only one of whom was convicted). The most interesting piece was a weird meeting in 1961 where Malcolm X and another Minister met with the KKK in Atlanta to talk about setting up a separate "negro" nation in Georgia. Malcolm X thought it was bullshit but was ordered to set up the meeting by Elijah Muhammad. This was the beginning of the end for Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam. Payne interviewed the other Minister extensively and has first hand knowledge of how this meeting went down.

    Anyway, I highly recommend it to anyone interested in Malcolm X's life or just a rip roaring biography in general.

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