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      Important Announcement!   07/28/2018

      Dear BCF members,   This forum has been running now for many years, and over that time we have seen many changes. Generalised forums are nowhere near as popular as they once were, and they have been very much taken over by blogs, vlogs and social media discussions. Running a forum well takes money, and a lot of care and attention, as there is so much which goes on behind the scenes to keep things running smoothly.   With all of this in mind, and after discussion within the current moderator team, the decision has been made to close this forum in its current format. I know that this will disappoint a lot of our long term members, but I want to reassure you that it's not a decision which has been taken lightly.    The remaining moderator team have agreed that we do not want to lose everything which is special about our home, and so we are starting a brand new facebook group, so that people can stay in touch, and discussions can continue. We can use it for free and should be easier for us to run (it won't need to be updated or hosted). We know not everyone has FaceBook, but we hope that those of you who are interested will join the group. We will share the link, and send invites as soon as we are ready to go. Added: We may as well get this going, find us here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/195289821332924/   The forum will close to new registrations, but will remain open for some time, to allow people to collect up any information, reading lists etc they need to, and to ensure they have contact details for those they wish to stay in touch with.    The whole team feel sad to say goodbye, but we also feel that it's perhaps time and that it feels like the right choice. We hope we can stay in touch with all of you through our new FaceBook group.   I personally want to thank everyone who has helped me moderate the forum, both in the past and the present, and I also want to thank every single person who has visited, and shared their love of books.. I'm so proud of everything we've achieved, and the home we built.   Please visit the new section in the Lounge section to discuss this further, ask questions etc.
Anna Begins

Anna Begins 2017

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Gulag: A History by Anne Applebaum (736 pages)

 

An epic history of Russia's gulag prison system, Anne Applebaum gives details of those that survived and of the lives of those who didn't.

 

From the famous to the peasant, 10- 12 million people died in the gulags of the frozen North and the deserts of the South. About 80% of the book deals with experiences and lives of those imprisoned in what was simply hell.

 

A reread for me, 5/5

 

 

A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexandr Solzhenitsyn (208 pages)

 

A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich was a reread also, which began my interest in the history of the gulag system and branched out into overall Soviet history. I took four years of the Russian language in High School, so I've always been interested in Russian history.

 

Work is called off when the thermometer hits -40 below, unfortunately for Ivan Denisovich Shukhov, it's only -37 and after trying to get admitted to the infirmary, he's off to work.

 

I often read comments that Ivan Denisovich tries to get out of work all day, is lazy and sneaky. Even in my rereading of this novel, I see Ivan Denisovich as a survivor, an intelligent man and one who works just as hard as his team. Which is unimaginable.

 

Ivan Denisovich has worked his way to this desolate, frozen tundra, which is harsh but not like the previous camps he'd been incarcerated in. For doing nothing to be in the gulag system, Ivan Denisovich spends his day just trying to be... alive at the end of the day. Alas, just to start a new one.

 

5/5

 

Good for you for reading those books. :D My Mum`s sister survived the Gulag and I can`t tell you how many nutjobs felt it necessary to tell me that it didn`t happen or just wasn`t that bad.  :banghead:

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My Mum`s sister survived the Gulag and I can`t tell you how many nutjobs felt it necessary to tell me that it didn`t happen or just wasn`t that bad.  :banghead:

Awwww :(.

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Good for you for reading those books. :D My Mum`s sister survived the Gulag and I can`t tell you how many nutjobs felt it necessary to tell me that it didn`t happen or just wasn`t that bad.  :banghead:

 

Said nutjobs should have to endure what those people endured, if only for a day. 

 

Anna, great reviews. 

I read the Shirer book ages ago, extremely informative. 

 

Re a Western selection, have you read True Grit?  The latest film followed it quite closely. 

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Good for you for reading those books. :D My Mum`s sister survived the Gulag and I can`t tell you how many nutjobs felt it necessary to tell me that it didn`t happen or just wasn`t that bad.  :banghead:

 

Good lord. People are horrendous, aren't they? 

 

Anna - Great reviews :) I was interested to read your thoughts on Shirer, which I read two tears' ago (I think, without checking!) and found an excellent work. I was hoping to read more history non-fiction this year but so far it hasn't happened :(

 

I have never ready any Kurt Vonnegut! I do have Slaughterhouse Five on my TBR though. 

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On 2/10/2017 at 8:24 AM, Little Pixie said:

 

Good for you for reading those books. :D My Mum`s sister survived the Gulag and I can`t tell you how many nutjobs felt it necessary to tell me that it didn`t happen or just wasn`t that bad.  :banghead:

It's absolutely amazing anyone would even think that! I am amazed she survived. Wow, just WOW.

It's great "seeing" you again :)

On 3/15/2017 at 8:56 AM, muggle not said:

Where have you been. We miss you.

That's sweet, I missed everyone here too :)

 

On 3/15/2017 at 9:24 AM, pontalba said:

 

Anna, great reviews. 

I read the Shirer book ages ago, extremely informative. 

 

Re a Western selection, have you read True Grit?  The latest film followed it quite closely. 

I missed you :)

Shirer is amazing and I loved The Rise and Fall, his experiences of actually living in Nazi Germany and seeing the whole history unfold. Luckily, he got out- early too, it's amazing what he would have seen/ witnessed had he stayed any longer.

 

I haven't read any westerns! I have tried to read The Cold Dish, part of the Walt Longmire series. It's by Craig Johnson, it's sort of a "modern" western... Muggle recommended it.

 

On 3/16/2017 at 2:52 AM, Alexi said:

I was hoping to read more history non-fiction this year but so far it hasn't happened :(

I have never ready any Kurt Vonnegut! I do have Slaughterhouse Five on my TBR though. 

I have thought of you in my absence :) I hope all is well. I read Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer, I think you'd really like it and also I was wondering if you had read Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari? It sounds like something we would like :P I read the first 13%, but then HAD to start something else, but it wasn't the books fault :P

 

For Vonnegut, I sugest Breakfast of Champions over Slaughterhouse- Five.

 

On 6/18/2017 at 2:53 PM, muggle not said:

Have you read any of the Longmire Mysteries yet? I am on book 8. :)

It's been so nice getting to "talk" with you again and I am so thankful for your lovely concern :wub: It's been really sweet, Muggle, thank you. I've been trying to read The Cold Dish, as I just mentioned to pontalba. It just hasn't caught my interest yet, maybe you can recommend a different one in the series?

Edited by Anna Begins

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13 hours ago, Little Pixie said:

Hi Anna ! :D  « waves»  

 

Hope you're doing okay. :)

 

 

 

6 hours ago, Athena said:

Good to see you here again :)!!

 

5 hours ago, Nollaig said:

Hi Anna, welcome back! Great to see you here again :D

Thanks for the warm welcome back girls- it's great to be back :wub:

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I just thought I'd give a few short reviews on some of the books I read in July and this month so far. In July, I did rereads except for Into Thin Air

 

5/5 Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer- Perhaps best known for Into the Wild about Chris McCandless nomadically roaming the US, this is Krakauer's experience climbing Mt. Everest in 1996. Sponsored by Outside magazine, which he was writing for at the time, Krakauer has few discussions with himself about why he is a mountain climber (news to me, I love Krakauer but didn't know that.  This was a new book for me, but was released before Into the Wild). However, you can't help but wonder why in the h-e-l-l would someone want to do this? The book though, is AMAZING and I was NEVER bored, ever. It was a joy to Immersion Read each morning while crocheting. It also made me wild about mountain climbing books. Totally not me!

 

5/5 Decision Points by George W. Bush- Yes, it was definitely a 5/5. This man is extraordinary in his explanations and outrageous in his justification for his most hideous mistakes and judgements. My mouth literally hung open. There is an abridged audio version read by him, it's on the TBR- most definitely. I do have to say though, in the world of Trump, I could almost miss Bush II.

 

5/5 A Mother's Reckoning by Sue Klebold- Sue Klebold is Dylan Klebold's mother. Dylan Klebold was one of the shooters of the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. She attempts to answer the question we all have: How could you not have known your son was hiding guns and making bombs in your home? I'll leave judgement up to you, but I have to say, I was a hard sell and never felt sorry for Sue Klebold. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 students and one teacher; 24 additional were wounded in Littleton, Colorado.

 

5/5 K2: The Savage Mountain by Charles Houston and Robert Bates- This stunning story is told by the expedition leader and one other member of the climbing team from a 1953 American expedition of K2, the second highest mountain in the world (just topped by Everest by 800 feet), but the most deadly. K2 is in Pakistan and is part of the "eight thousanders", 14 of the world's highest mountains, all above 8000 meters (26,000 feet). Just for reference, passenger airplanes fly at 39,000 feet. K2 is 28,251 feet. Ya.

 

4/5 Get Well Soon by Jennifer Wright- I just finished this yesterday. It was an informative and entertaining book on the diseases and treatments civilization has experienced since The Antonine Plague hit Rome in 160. She deals with it all (covering among others, the Spanish Flu, Syphilis, lobotomies, and vaccines) in a Mary Roach style (Stiff, Spook, etc). It was an easy read.

Edited by Anna Begins

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20 hours ago, Anna Begins said:

5/5 Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer- Perhaps best known for Into the Wild about Chris McCandless nomadically roaming the US, this is Krakauer's experience climbing Mt. Everest in 1996. Sponsored by Outside magazine, which he was writing for at the time, Krakauer has few discussions with himself about why he is a mountain climber (news to me, I love Krakauer but didn't know that.  This was a new book for me, but was released before Into the Wild).

 

Funny how we can come at things  from completely different directions.  I came to Into the Wild from Krakauer's book Eiger Dreams and knew of Into Thin Air and its background story long beforehand; I always thought of him as a climber (he also advised on Meru).  I always regarded ITA as Krakauer's best known book, so interesting to see a different perspective.  A really good writer!

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4 hours ago, willoyd said:

 

Funny how we can come at things  from completely different directions.  I came to Into the Wild from Krakauer's book Eiger Dreams and knew of Into Thin Air and its background story long beforehand; I always thought of him as a climber (he also advised on Meru).  I always regarded ITA as Krakauer's best known book, so interesting to see a different perspective.  A really good writer!

I totally missed Eiger Dreams, thanks for bringing it to my attention. I was going for Buried In The Sky (Peter Zuckerman) about another K2 climb, but I may just go with Eiger. :) 

 

I saw Into the Wild and loved it (but I love Sean Penn) but never truly read any of his work until Under the Banner of Heaven. Wow. Again!

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4 hours ago, Anna Begins said:

I totally missed Eiger Dreams, thanks for bringing it to my attention. I was going for Buried In The Sky (Peter Zuckerman) about another K2 climb, but I may just go with Eiger. :) 

 

 

I read Eiger Dreams whilst staying in Zermatt on a mountain holiday.  Not quite the same as, say, Grindelwald, but it seemed appropriate, and certainly added to my appreciation and enjoyment of the geography around me!

Edited by willoyd

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On 8/31/2017 at 2:54 PM, willoyd said:

 

I read Eiger Dreams whilst staying in Zermatt on a mountain holiday.  Not quite the same as, say, Grindelwald, but it seemed appropriate, and certainly added to my appreciation and enjoyment of the geography around me!

I read the Author's Note this morning and I think I will enjoy it. I want to go to Yosemite, and really, I should have by now as it's only a few hours from me. El Capitan is there was was recently climbed without harness or rope by Alex Honnold (I thought it was Tommy Caldwell, had to look it up). 

 

On 9/1/2017 at 3:29 PM, Lau_Lou said:

Hello Anna :)

Nice to see you again.

I hope you enjoy your reads, great to see you've got some 5* 

 

 

Thanks, it's nice to see you again too :)

 

I bought some books for my daughter yesterday, I'm super excited. I wish she read more books, she is always on the computer! She has a 6th grade reading level at 3rd grade. The hardest part is finding books both at her reading and maturity level.

 

I am Malala 

The Pearl by Steinbeck

Holes by Sachar

The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis 

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan 

Edited by Anna Begins

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4 hours ago, Anna Begins said:

I want to go to Yosemite, and really, I should have by now as it's only a few hours from me.

 

One day.......

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Hi Anna , your books are very varied. I read An American In The Gulag years ago , a true story but I can't remember the author. He was lucky to survive too.

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No god, But God by Reza Aslan (386 pages)

 

Dr. Reza Aslan has his Ph.D. in the sociology of religions, but holds a bachelor degree in religious studies and a master of theological studies degree from Harvard. This was an amazing book, one that was exemplary in the telling of the history of Islam, a biography of Muhammad and the explanation of the differences between Shi'ite and Sunni sects. Dr. Aslan also gives great insight to the struggles the Middle East and Muslims find themselves in- between the extremist, orthodox Traditionalists or the more Reformist and revolutionary youth (much of the Muslim population are young, for example, 60% of the Iranian population are under 30). Dr. Aslan also patiently explains why militant Islamists have been able to terrorize our world and why; why the US will be and can be only a bystander and why the US is a constant ally of the hardline Wahhabi ideologue Saudi Arabia. Iran and Egypt are exceptions in the region and Aslan explains the history of the two countries, making today's current situations plain.  

 

I was very grateful to have read this book, I felt I learned a lot and it bettered my life, honestly. I feel like I had a good understanding of the Middle East, but not of Islam. It was enlightening to read the history of the religion and explore the differences in ideology. I appreciated the parts about British colonialism and the role the US currently plays in the region. Which, Aslan, maintains is only what Muslim countries can figure out- more of a democracy or more of a religious government. Aslan brings up an interesting point- democracy isn't always in US form, it can fit each individual situation. The other point Aslan makes that I found interesting was how the internet is bringing about more freedom and Reformist views in Muslim countries, as a majority of young people shake off religious leaders to interpret their religion, to interpreting it for themselves, which could lead to a more relaxed society. I finished the book a day after Saudi Arabia announced women would be able to drive a car.

 

It was slowish in the beginning, as I was unfamiliar with terms associated with the Quran and the hierarchy, plus some Arabic words (Ummah, tariqah, shura, shirk, etc), but once that was established (and Aslan makes it understandable), the book becomes much easier to read.

 

Very Good, 5/5

 

A Hidden World: My Nine Years in the Soviet Gulag by Raphael Rupert (163 pages)

 

Hungarian Raphael Rupert was working for the British Embassy in Budapest when he was arrested in 1947 and was sentenced to 25 years of "forced labor" after a trial based on a presumption he was a spy. This would be an educational book for someone new to the gulag system, but after an exhaustive study of the period and subject, I found this repetitive. That in no way takes away from Rupert's experiences and the brutalities he endured. Published in 1963.

 

2.5/5

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Anna, I don`t know if you`d be interested in cosy mysteries set in the world of climbing, but there`s a vintage series by Glyn Carr ( I have one of them, not read it yet). :)

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