Hangerg will Be the Change She Wants to See in 2017!
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Yes, just that! In my library thing habits, my reading habits, and everything else! This little guy up top (nearly one and a half!! Whaaaaat!) deserves a mum who is fighting for his future! And that's what I want to do!! Oh, that and spend more time on library thing. And actually keep up to date with my reviews. These are my new years resolutions. Oh and read more books from my long term goal list, more of which later!
For those that don't know, I'm Hannah, late thirties, English and living in Lincoln, currently full time mum otherwise artist and educationalist. Love science fiction but try to keep up a varied diet of other stuff. Currently crushing very hard on Anthony Trollope, who is one of many writers I would probably have never discovered without the wonderful folks of LT. May we all read great books a plenty and just generally keep fighting the good fight in 2017!
So, I only read 32 books last year, which is a pretty paltry total even by my less-than-stellar standards. I will cite the little guy for some of that, but the amount of time spent looking at depressing nonsense on the internet is also part of the problem. So, much room for improvement this year. And pretty sure L will be playing independently, or possibly writing piano sonatas or something pretty soon, given the ferocious speed at which he seems to be growing up.
Anyway, highlights of last year were fairly few, because of scant reading overall. As mentioned above, Anthony Trollope is becoming a firm favourite, and his sublime Barchester Towers was possibly my favourite book from last year. The one that is resonating very hard with me right now is Kim Stanley Robinson's sprawling epic of the near future, Green Earth (The Science in the Capital) which was a fundamentally hopeful book about how humankind could go about tackling climate change. One of the conditions for doing so was having a President elected who made that task a priority. So....yeah. Interesting times ahead.
KSM's Aurora was another big read for me.
Honourable mentions to Barbara Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer. She's another LT favourite that I haven't read before, and this first foray was very impressive and enjoyable. I also really liked South Riding by Winifred Holtby but seeing as I was so behind on my reviews I didn't actually review it last year, I won't bore you now about my feeling that the ending slightly sold short the marvellous main character.
South Riding was one of only two books I read from my ongoing 150 book reading challenge last year, which is terrible. That takes me to only 17 books read in two years of doing the challenge. So my main reading goal for this year is to seriously up the ante on this challenge. If possible, to make one book out of every two read one from the list. Speaking of which, here's the list and the rationale behind it...
So, this is my big ongoing reading challenge. 150 books from the last 150 years, all taken (with a few very recent exceptions, as the list was published a few years ago) from the Guardian list of 1000 books everyone must read.
Where there is more than one book per year it's because I liked the sound of more than one that year. Other years were very hard to fill, which is why some authors have more than one book. That kind of niggles at me, so if anyone has alternative suggestions I'm open to 'em.
Starred means I have it in my possession. This isn't currently very many of them, which is one of the stumbling blocks I think.
(Incidentally, I have tried to touchstone the whole thing but I can just never get it to work. There must be a tiny mistake somewhere that seems to make the whole edifice collapse.)
1865 Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
1868 Little Women - Louisa May Alcott *
1870 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - Jules Verne
1875: The Crime of Father Amaro - José Maria de Eça de Queiroz
1876 Daniel Deronda - George Eliot
1878 The Return of the Native - Thomas Hardy
1879 The Red Room - August Stringberg
1880 The Brothers Karamazov - Fyodor Dostoevsky
1881 Bouvard and Pécuchet - Gustave Flaubert
1882 The Prince and the Pauper - Mark Twain
1883 Treasure Island - R. L. Stevenson
1884 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
1885 After London; or, Wild England - Richard Jefferies / King Solomon's Mines - H Rider Haggard
1886 Kidnapped - Robert Louis Stevenson
1887 She: A History of Adventure - H Rider Haggard
1888 Pierre and Jean - Guy de Maupassant
1889 Three Men in a Boat: To Say Nothing of the Dog - Jerome K. Jerome
1890 News from Nowhere - William Morris
1891 The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
1893 The Odd Women - George Gissing
1894 The Prisoner of Zenda - Anthony Hope
1895The Time Machine - HG Wells
1896 Effi Briest - Theodore Fontane
1897 The Invisible Man - H.G.Wells
1898 The Turn of the Screw - Henry James / The War of the Worlds- HG Wells
1899 The Awakening - Kate Chopin
1900 Sister Carrie - Theodor Dreiser
1901 Buddenbrooks - Thomas Mann
1902 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
1903 The Way of All Flesh - Samuel Butler
1904 Nostromo - Joseph Conrad
1905 The Scarlet Pimpernel - Baroness Emmuska Orczy
1906 The Man of Property - John Galsworthy
1907 The Secret Agent - Joseph Conrad
1909 Institute Benjamenta - Robert Walser
1910 The Vagabond - Colette
1911 Zuleika Dobson - Max Beerbohm
1912 A Princess of Mars - Edgar Rice Burroughs
1913 Sons and Lovers - DH Lawrence / Remembrance of Things Past - Marcel Proust *
1914 The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists - Robert Tressell
1916 A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - James Joyce
1917 Christine - Elizabeth von Arnim
1918 The Magnificent Ambersons - Booth Tarkington
1921 Rosa Sacaramouche - Rafael Sabatini
1922 One of Ours - Willa Cather
1923 A Lost Lady - Willa Cather
1925 The Polyglots - William Gerhardie
1926 The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie
1927 Steppenwolf - Hermann Hesse
1928 Ali and Nin - Kurban Said
1929 The Last September - Elizabeth Bowen / Berlin Alexanderplatz - Alfred Döblin / All Quiet on the Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque
1930 Narziss and Goldmund - Hermann Hesse
1931 Afternoon Men - Anthony Powell / Sanctuary - William Faulkner
1933 Frost in May - Antonia White / They Were Counted - Miklos Banffy / Love on the Dole - Walter Greenwood
1934 Tropic of Cancer - Henry Miller
1935 Untouchable - Mulk Raj Anand
1937 Star Maker - Olaf Stapledon
1938 Count Belisarius - Robert Graves / The Beast Must Die - Nicholas Blake
1939 Goodbye to Berlin - Christopher Isherwood / Rogue Male - Geoffrey Household
1940 The Man Who Loved Children - Christina Stead / Darkness at Noon - Arthur Koestler
1941 No Bed for Bacon - Caryl Brahms and SJ Simon
1942 Darkness Falls from the Air - Nigel Balchin
1943 Two Serious Ladies - Jane Bowles
1944 The Shrimp and the Anemone - LP Hartley
1945 The Pursuit of Love - Nancy Mitford
1946 Zorba the Greek - Nikos Kazantzakis
1947 Manservant and Maidservant - Ivy Compton-Burnett/ The Plague - Albert Camus
1948 I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith
1949 The Parasites - Daphne du Maurier / The Sheltering Sky - Paul Bowles
1950 The Case of Comrade Tulayev - Victor Serge / A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
1951 Foundation - Isaac Asimov / My Cousin Rachel - Daphne du Maurier
1952 The Family Moskat or The Manor or The Estate - Isaac Bashevis Singer / Excellent Women - Barbara Pym
1953 The Go-Between - LP Hartley /The Adventures of Augie March - Saul Bellow / The Long Goodbye - Raymond Chandler
1954 I Am Legend - Richard Matheson / Lucky Jim - Kingsley Amis
1955 Memed, my Hawk - Yasar Kemal / Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
1956 A Legacy - Sybille Bedford / Palace Walk - Naguib Mahfouz / The Lonely Londoners - Samuel Selvon
1957 The Fountain Overflows - Rebecca West / The Midwich Cuckoos - John Wyndham *
1959 Sirens of Titan - Kurt Vonnegut / Zazie in the Metro - Raymond Queneau /Absolute Beginners - Colin MacInnes
1960 The L Shaped Room - Lynne Reid Banks / Rogue Moon - Algis Budrys / God's Bit of Wood - Ousmane Sembène
1961 Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert A Heinlein (*)/ Solaris - Stanislaw Lem / The Moviegoer - Walker Percy
1962 The Garden of the Finzi-Cortinis - Giorgio Bassani / One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
1963 The Group - Mary McCarthy
1965 Dune - Frank L Herbert
1966 The Master and Margarita - Mikhail Bulgakov
1967 The Third Policeman - Flann O'Brien / A Season in Sinji - JL Carr
1968 A Kestrel for a Knave - Barry Hines
1969 The French Lieutenant's Woman - John Fowles / Travels With My Aunt - Graham Greene
1970 Ringworld - Larry Niven
1971 Chronicle in Stone - Ismael Kadare
1972 My Name Is Asher Lev - Chaim Potok / The Harpole Report - JL Carr
1973 Carrie's War - Nina Bawden
1975 Hello Summer, Goodbye - Michael G Coney
1976 The Painter of Signs - RK Narayan / The Hearing Trumpet - Leonora Carrington
1977 Song of Solomon - Toni Morrison
1978 Who Do You Think You Are? - Alice Munro
1979 Kindred - Octavia Butler / Sophie's Choice - William Styron
1980 Riddley Walker - Russell Hoban *
1981 Good Behaviour - Molly Keane / Sharpe's Eagle - Bernard Cornwell / Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie (*)
1982 Sour Sweet - Timothy Mo / The Color Purple - Alice Walker / An Ice-Cream War - William Boyd
1983 Look At Me - Anita Brookner
1984 Money - Martin Amis
1985 Blood Meridian - Cormac McCarthy /Illywhacker - Peter Carey / White Noise - Don DeLillo
1986 The Sportswriter - Richard Ford
1987 In the Country of Last Things - Paul Auster:
1988 The Swimming-Pool Library - Alan Hollinghurst / Nice Work - David Lodge
1989 Hyperion - Dan Simmons * /A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters - Julian Barnes
1990 Vineland - Thomas Pynchon
1991 A Thousand Acres - Jane Smiley
1992 The Children of Men - PD James / Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson / Hideous Kinky - Esther Freud/ Fatherland - Robert Harris
1994 Only Forward - Michael Marshall Smith / The Sorrow of War - Bao Ninh
1995 The Unconsoled - Kazuo Ishiguro /Blindness - José Saramago / Behind the Scenes at the Museum - Kate Atkinson / Microserfs - Douglas Coupland
1997 Great Apes - Will Self
1998 Death in Summer - William Trevor / The Restraint of Beasts - Magnus Mills
1999 Darwin's Radio - Greg Bear / Cryptonomicon - Neil Stephenson / The Mighty Walzer - Howard Jacobson
2000 Revelation Space - Alastair Reynolds * / The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay - Michael Chabon* /White Teeth - Zadie Smith
2002 Light - M John Harrison / The Years of Rice and Salt - Kim Stanley Robinson
2003 Personality - Andrew O'Hagan
2004 Suite Francaise - Irene Nemirovsky
2005 On Beauty - Zadie Smith / Beyond Black - Hilary Mantel
2006 Genesis - Bernard Beckett
2007 The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett / A Quiet Belief in Angels - RJ Ellory
2008 The Night Sessions - Ken Macleod / The Sacred Book of the Werewolf - Victor Pelevin
2009 The Earth Hums in B Flat - Mari Strachan
2011 Embassytown - China Mieville
2012 2312 - Kim Stanley Robinson
2013 Ancillary Justice - Ann Leckie
2014 The Goblin Emperor - Katherine Addison
2015 The Just City - Jo Walton
And finally, where the books will go. I had the suggestion last year from kindly folk who took pity on my sad stats to count books read with L. I think I will do that, but I'll give them their own ticker. Let's aim for... well, let's say 100. I might just do little one line reviews next to the title for them to stop the great review backlog problem from rearing its head!
1.Framley Parsonage - Anthony Trollope 4/5
2.Playing to the Gallery - Grayson Perry 3/5
3.Ark Royal - Christopher Nuttall 3/5
4.The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage - Sydney Padua 4.5/5
5.Lucia's Progress - E.F.Benson 4.5/5
6.To Rise Again at a Decent Hour - Joshua Ferris 3.5/5
7.The Diary of a Nobody - George Grossmith 2.5/5
8.Web of Everywhere - John Brunner 4/5
9.The Wolves of Willoughby Chase - Joan Aiken (Re-read)4/5
10.American Gods - Neil Gaiman 3.5/5
11.Go Saddle the Sea - Joan Aiken 4/5
12.A Deepness in the Sky - Vernor Vinge 5/5
13.I Love Dick - Chris Kraus 2.5/5
14. The Pendragon Legend - Antal Szerb 3/5
15.The Lathe of Heaven - Ursula K. LeGuin 3.5/5
16.Hurrah for Gin - Katie Kirby 3.5/5
17.Shutting Out the Sun - Michael Zielenger 4/5
18.To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf (Re-read) 5/5
19.The Game of Kings -Dorothy Dunnett 4.5/5
20.Hyperion - Dan Simmons 4/5
21.Protector - C.J.Cherryh 4/5
22.A Visit From the Goon Squad - Jennifer Egan 4/5
23.L'Assommoir - Emile Zola 1/5
24.Boneshaker - Cherie Priest 2/5
25.Roadside Picnic - Arkady Strugatsky 4/5
26.The Small House at Allington - Anthony Trollope 3.5/5
27.The Last Chronicle of Barset - Anthony Trollope 3.5/5
28.Cursed Command - Christopher Nuttall 3/5
29.Brilliance - Marcus Sakey 3.5/5
30.The Nelson Touch - Christopher Nuttall 3/5
31.Trouble for Lucia - E.F.Benson 3.5/5
32.All the Birds in the Sky - Charlie Jane Anders 3.5/5
33.A Long Way to A Small Angry Planet - Becky Chambers 4.5/5
34.Children of Time - Adrian Tchaikovsky 5/5
35.Around the World in 80 Days - Jules Verne 2.5/5
36.Throne of Glass - Sarah J. Maas 3.5/5
37.Crown of Midnight - Sarah J. Maas 4/5
38.Heir of Fire - Sarah J. Maas 4/5
39.How Not To Be A Boy - Robert Webb 3/5
40.Queen of Shadows - Sarah J. Maas 3/5
41.Empire of Storms - Sarah J. Maas 3.5/5
42Peacemaker - C.J.Cherryh 4/5
43.Sea of Rust - C. Robert Cargill 3.5/5
44.Middlemarch - George Eliot 4/5
1. Mr. Topsy Turvy - Roger Hargreaves Familiar from my childhood, so nice to share with the next generation.
2.Cave Baby - Julia Donaldson About an artist baby! That bit's perfect for me and the little fella. The rest of the story, with its theme of kidnapping by woolly mammoth, a little on the weird side - open to multiple interpretations, let's say.
3.Mr. Noisy - Roger Hargreaves Another trip down memory lane. L particularly likes this one for the bits when I have to pretend-yell at people a la Mr Noisy.
4.Mr Grumpy's Outing - John Burningham A nice gentle book about an outing by boat with lots of animal friends along for the ride, with fun idiosyncratic illustrations. Minor quibble; Mr Grumpy actually seems like a pretty nice fella, so mis-named.
5.Elmer and the Race - David McKee Everyone's favourite patchwork elephant gets involved with a race - as an official, not a participant. Teaches everyone the value of playing fair or something. Not that exciting, but nice colourful pictures.
6.The Tiger Who Came To Tea - Judith Kerr. I love JK - especially the Mog series, but this is another book of great charm by her. I actually got it out of the library to read, but then some guests arrived with a copy as a gift, so this is destined for many happy re-reads!
7.Abigail - Catherine Rayner A charming and beautifully illustrated story about a giraffe who loves to count, and shares her love of counting with her friends. Lovely, poetic and educational to boot.
8.Hector and Hummingbird - Nicholas John Frith Another one with lovely illustration; this story about Hector the bear and his annoying hummingbird friend called, er...Hummingbird. It's done in a retro 1950's style from the bleached-out colour palette and linocut styling to the typography, and it looks flippin' gorgeous! The story, about how annoying friends are still friends worth having, is also pretty fun.
9.The Very Hungry Catepillar- Eric Carle L agrees with the general consensus of this children's classic - he loves it! He likes tracking the little caterpillar as it devours the food, and sticking his fingers in the holes he's made - such a simple yet brilliant idea.
10.Otto the Book Bear - Katie Cleminson - Otto is a bear and he lives in a book. Except he can come to life and leave his book and move about. But one day, the family move house, and his book gets left behind! A jolly, fairly simple but charming tale with nice illustrations.
11.Friends - Eric Carle - After the success of The Hungry Caterpillar, I thought I'd try this lesser known Eric Carle book, but it wasn't such a success with either of us. A rather uninvolving story and some not very inspired illustrations. Thumbs down!
12.Odd Dog Out - Rob Biddulph I bought two copies of this book recently. One was a first birthday present for a young friend, and one was for us as I just loved it so much. A fantastic story about being yourself, with lovely illustrations that you can stare at for ages as they are packed with quirky details. Great stuff!
13.Stuck - Oliver Jeffers A hilarious look at how events can spiral out of control when your kite gets stuck in a tree. (That poor curious whale - just in the wrong place at the wrong time!) Oliver Jefferies might be my current favourite children's author-great illustrations and a wonderful offbeat sense of humour.
14.Lost and Found - Oliver Jeffers Another by the same guy - a cute story of a boy doing his best to help a penguin who may be lost or might have another problem. More sweet than funny, and I like the funny ones best, but still a treat.
15.Tiddler - Julia Donaldson I've read a few of hers now, and I can see why she is the reigning champ of children's stories in the UK at the moment - the fact they all rhyme is good, the stories are always engaging and there's a nice bit of humour in this one too. The story of a small fish who tells tall tales. Nice!
16.Grrrrr!-Rob Biddulph Another great story with a message from this author who is quickly becoming a favourite in our house. Leó has asked for this one over and over again as he loves "Grrrrrr"ing alongside the lovable hero Fred the Grizzly Bear.
17.The Day the Crayons Came Home - Drew Dewalt This is actually a bit old for Leó but I took it out from there library for my own amusement as it is hilarious. It's a sequel to The Day the Crayons Quit and is about a group of wayward crayons that had left the service of a small boy who was, they felt, not treating them properly. The crayons have now experienced a bit of the world, which they tell him about in postcards, and for many, the grass had not proven to be greener, so now they want to come back. Brilliant fun, and very nicely illustrated by another favourite Oliver Jeffers.
18.Goodnight Everyone - Chris Haughton If this book doesn't get your child to sleep at bedtime, nothing will! A lovely and colourful book that shows some sleepy woodland creatures dropping off to sleep, even little bear, who swears he isn't sleepy! With added diagrams on what the daytime and nighttime skies look like due to their position relative to the solar system for older children to enjoy.
19.How to Hide a Lion - Helen Stephens Leó is currently obsessed with lions (obviously) so this nice little tale of a lion that hides out at a little girls house is a big hit!
I am part of the group.
I love being part of the group.
I love the friendships bestowed upon my by dint of my membership of this wonderful fellowship.
I love that race and creed and gender and age and sexuality and nationality make absolutely no difference to our being a valued member of the group.
Thank you for also being part of the group.
Happy New Year! (dropping a star)
Good to see you pop up here. That young man is really growing!
Yes, be the change! And I totally know what you mean by spending too much time reading depressing stuff on the internet. I read so many articles on what Trump tweeted that I'm sure I spent more time thinking about his tweets than he did. I've now realized that one of the things I want in a president is someone who I trust enough that I don't feel I have to check the news every day to see what horrible thing may be coming down upon us.
I'll be looking forward to seeing your reading! And your photos. Your topper photo is really sweet.
Love the title and your topper photo Hannah. Your little one is gorgeous.
Wishing you a great year of reading (and everything). I read a book about the reading brain last year, Proust and the Squid. It's kind of amazing how we learn to read. I've got The Journey (can't get the touchstone to work) by Francesca Sanna out from the library at the moment - beautiful picture book about a family having to leave home and become refugees. It's a stunning piece of art I would like to frame.
Happy reading in 2017, Hannah!
I try to spend more time on LT and less on FB, and I hope to continue this way as LT usually makes me happier as FB.
I like your idea your of a list of books from the 1001 by year. 1001 books (with all different versions it is over 1300 now) is way too many to oversee. Maybe I will try it your way :-)
>1 HanGerg: That's a lovely picture up top Hannah! Glad to see you back.
Happy new year Hannah! Lovely photo of you and L - can't believe he's 1 and a half!
The KSR books sound really good - he's an author I want to read more of although so far I've only read the Mars trilogy.
Hi everyone! Thanks for the visits! So nice to see folks around these parts again!
>5 PaulCranswick:. Hi Paul! Thanks for the meme! I agree wholeheartedly with all of the statements, important things to remember in these divisive times. And what's this I hear about moving back to the UK?? Not too far away from Lincoln either! I think an LT meet-up should be looked into...
>6 ronincats:. Hi Roni! He certainly is! Even though it's happening right in front of me it still amazes me!
>7 drneutron:. Thanks Jim!
>8 cammykitty:. Hi Katie! Yes! Down with fretting about the orange one! (It's hard not to though isn't it?) My current money is on rapid impeachment. That makes me feel slightly better. The fact that no-one wants to play his inauguration gives a certain small satisfaction, and at least thinking about American politics distracts me from thinking about Brexit for too long...
>9 charl08:. Welcome back Charl! Oooh, I like the sound of the picture book about refugees. I have added it to the wishlist. Have you seen/read The Arrival by Shaun Tan? A very similar kind of thing, fabulously, beautifully done. Shaun Tan is a great storyteller and a stunning artist as well; quite a heady mix. Actually, that reminds me, I read two of his books last year that I forgot to add to my stats. One was a book of short stories that were that mix of the bizarre and the mundane that can be so intoxicating.(Goes off in search of link....) Ah yes, that was it. Tales From Outer Suburbia. Wonderous.
>10 FAMeulstee: Welcome Anita and Frank!! Glad to see you here. Yes, I thought this was a more manageable way to approach the 1001 books. I got the idea of doing a book for each year of the last 150 years from Paul C, and then combined it with the Guardian list. I realised I hardly ever read books more than a few decades old, and I wanted to brush up on the classics. It's been an interesting journey so far, and has introduced me to at least 2 authors destined to become favourites (Anthony Trollope and E.F.Benson) but I still have a very long way to go!!
>11 scaifea: Hi Amber! I know, right?! He's actually a perfect combination of me and my husband, looks wise. Who knew that that would be a winning formula! (Actually, I've just had a quick look at your profile and that is a rather super cute picture of you and your little fella too!)
>12 SandDune:. Hi Rhian! Lovely to see you here!
>13 kgodey:. Hi Kriti! Well found madam, well found!
>14 souloftherose:. Hi Heather! Yes, KSM is a consistently interesting writer, I think. His SF ideas are genuinely original and thought provoking, plus he can write great characters too. Plus, I love that feeling you get in lots of his books, of people being clever and busy and proactive and actually achieving stuff. Important stuff. The Mars books are full of that, and Green Earth (The Science in the Capital) is the same. It makes one feel so hopeful about the human race, which, let's face it, isn't always the case. Although, LT has been known to inspire the same feeling!!! Lovely to see you all folks, do keep popping back. I'll do my best to be a better correspondent this year, and even keep up with my reviews. But not right now. Now I'm off to read some of your lovely threads.
Hi Hannah, I'm (not so) new to LT, saying hi here and there. That's a cute picture in your first post!
I love the idea of a list of books for every year. I wanted to do something similar. Do you mind if I borrow your list to use as a starter?
Hi Ella! I would be thrilled and delighted! Most of the books on my list come from the Guardian list except for the last few years, as that list was compiled in about 2010 I think. The ones I have read so far have been of varying quality, although all very interesting in their own way. Whilst I was compiling this list and asking for help from the wise people of LT, someone pointed out to me that if you put a year into Wikipedia as a search category (and possibly with some qualifier like "literature of...") it will give you a list of the most notable books published that year. LT may have a similar function, now I come to think of it. Anyway, that might be helpful if you want to look for some alternative titles!
Hi Hannah, thanks, and thanks for the tip! I have read some of your list, and liked them so I think you've made good choices, but having more alternatives can come in handy!
And now for the actual reading, making plans is the easier part;))
>18 EllaTim: Don't I know it Ella! Good luck with your challenge!
>19 charl08: Good move! He's ace!
OK, reviews time.
1.Framley Parsonage - Anthony Trollope 4/5
More superlative Trollope-ness from the Barchester series, although not my favourite so far. My main quibble is with all the politics in this one, and the extended metaphor of giants and gods for the opposing sides. I feel I need a crib sheet on nineteenth century politics to puzzle it all out, but actually it's just a distraction from the main action anyway. The rest is the usual good humoured probing of the human condition that I have come to love. I also marvel at the feather light touch he has with his narrative voice, and the way he remarks to the reader on his use of it. This is really not something I have seen done often, so I can say it actually feels kind of groundbreaking, even reading it so many years hence. I'm sure I will continue with this series pretty speedily and then onto other works. Recommendations welcome.
2.Playing to the Gallery - Grayson Perry 3/5
A genuine attempt at an accessible work on understanding contemporary art for the average person, by one of Britain's more accessible and popular contemporary artists. I like Grayson Perry and his work, and I have a lot of time for anything he wants to say on this (and several other) subjects. I find myself nodding along to a lot of what he writes here, and he does raise some thought provoking points. However, somehow it doesn't add up to more than the sum of its parts. There is no great overarching vision here, just a series of interesting points well made, so it ends up lacking a little coherence overall. Also, he is still very much an insider to the art world, so sometimes what he says seems to lack a little insight into what those who are truly on the outside might feel (lots of talk about making money out of the art world, and thinking about what curators value in a work etc; quite minority interests, even for other artists that don't exist in that rarefied strata) But, worth a look, not least for his humorous sketches that litter the book, and manage to capture some aspects of contemporary culture pretty neatly.
Here's one of my favourites, neatly illustrating the way that artists' studio spaces often add an air of desirable chic-ness and can be a vanguard of gentrification, ironically displacing the very thing that gave it its appeal in the first place.
>15 HanGerg: It would definitely be on the menu, I am sure. I love Lincoln and Hani and I would like to explore it more.
Like the Bohemia Apartments but I am not certain that they are quite structurally sound.
Have a splendid weekend.
Ooh, a Lincoln meet-up!! How lovely that would be! How exciting!
I think Bohemia apartments would be less dodgy than it looks. I'm sure it's only fancy cladding that makes it look like separate boxes, just to break up the visual planes a bit. It's the lazy architect's go-to look these days I believe, at least, I certainly saw lots of new apartment developments in the up-and-coming bit of Manchester where we used to live that looked just like this!
Ok, so I'm juggling lots of reads at the moment so progress is slow, but I have finished something.
3.Ark Royal - Christopher Nuttall 3/5
This was a self-published Kindle number that I got because I read a couple of the author's other efforts last year and enjoyed them for the unchallenging fun they were. That was a military SF series and so is this, but this one pre-dates the ones I read previously, and I think his writerly craft has come along considerably in the interim. This was littered with some really clunky writing, the worst offence being loads of awful repetition of the kind that my secondary school teacher would have never let me get away with; the perils of self-publishing I guess, it must be that you just don't see it.
The plot is pretty simple; a hostile and mysterious new alien species attacks some of humankind's outer colonised worlds for reasons unknown. British starship Ark Royal, previously considered only fit for the scrapyard and with an alcoholic captain to boot, ends up being humankind's best hope as it alone has the heavy armour that can withstand the aliens' superior weaponry. (Why more modern starships have decided to dispense with armour isn't really explained, but you just have to go with it I guess). The plot can be a bit repetitive, the female characters are underdeveloped and of minimal importance to the story and characterisation in general is a bit ropey, but I know he improves as a writer, and the other series I read has a very strong female character at the centre, so he just about scrapes a pass here. On the plus side, I like how he has resisted the urge to reveal anything about the aliens' motivation and very little about their culture and language etc, so they remain an enigma. That might be enough to keep me going in this series, although it's a big commitment as it's currently in its ninth instalment.
Hi Hannah, star is dropped. I'll be lurking around.
Your boy is adorable!
You mentioned on the introduction thread that your husband is from Hungary. I visited Budapest in '87 when I was in college. One of the most profound experiences of my life. Loved it.
I've just read Grayson Perry on gender - I love his cartoons. I hadn't realised he was also so good at writing, would definitely read more by him.
Hi Hannah! I'm dropping off a star. I read a lot of fantasy, but not so much sci-fi, so I'm looking forward to your reviews and possibly getting hit by some book bullets.
>23 mahsdad: Welcome Jeff! Ohh, a "profound" visit to Budapest, tell me more! It must have been fascinating to go there in '87. That pre-dates my first visit by about 10 years. I lived there for 5 years, from 2000-2005 and still go back at least once a year. It's changed a lot in that time (20 years! Golly!). In some ways for the better, and some not so much. There's a growing feeling of nostalgia amongst some of the older generation for the communist days, and I understand that; not everything that comes along with capitalism is an unalloyed joy. Th political scene there at the moment is a little grim (isn't it everywhere!) so I don't think a move back there is on the cards anytime soon, but I always love to go and visit.
>24 charl08: Hi Charl! Yes, Grayson Perry is a real gem! He has presented numerous TV shows as well, and is an occasional guest on the satirical news quizz "Have I Got News For You" where he is both well informed and funny. A real all rounder!
>25 archerygirl: Hi Kathy, good to see you round here! Yes, we can trade bb's in our respective favourite genre's as I am the mirror image of you - I read a lot of SF and want to read more Fantasy!
>26 ronincats: Hi Roni!! Always a pleasure to have a visit!
So, just to prove I am taking my thread title seriously - I set up a group on FB today! No wait, it gets better! It's a group called "British Spouses and Children of EU Nationals Living in the UK". I did the usual stuff of sharing it with my friend network. But then I did something really clever (I know, right?!). I went into this group called "The 3 million" which is a lobbying group for the rights of EU nationals in the UK in these depressing Brexit times. I posted about my group in there. And I seem to have really hit a nerve! In just a few hours I've had about 130 members join! All people I've never met, and all of them sharing stories similar to mine - having joint EU/British families that are really fearing for their future, and feeling like the rest of the UK seems somewhat indifferent to their plight (that's certainly how I feel, but actually it's not indifference. Just massive complacency. Everyone assumes that because we are married and have a child together, the British government would not try and remove my husband from the country. That is increasingly looking like it could be the case, but friends and even family members are slow to believe us when we tell them this).
So...yeah. It's kind of scary to be known now as the person that set up this group. I'm no political activist so have no idea where we go from here, but at least we can all start talking to each other and sharing stories etc. I'm actually taking another unprecedented step, and am trying to set up a meeting with my local MP to talk about this issue as well. He won't be sympathetic, as he was a Leave campaigner, but at least I might make him a bit uncomfortable. Especially when I walk in with Leo and say, "what do you advise us to do if you try and take HIS FATHER away!!". So, be the change people! I actually feel like, the world is so messed up at the moment, there's about a dozen issues we could all be going to see our elected representatives about at any one time. I'm giving myself a bit of a talking to about not straying into other topics when I see him, as I think it might weaken my argument if I just start ranting about all the awful things this government are doing, but if it goes well, maybe I'll go back a few more times!
Good for you, Hannah! The creation of a community is a really important step, providing a place to gather and hear each other's stories. Personal visits to elected officials are very valuable - as a tool for starting discussion and to be sure the official has a clear image of the personal impacts of the work they're doing. Try not to be intimidated by their position and don't forget they work for you.
Well, back in the summer of '87, I was just finishing up my junior year at college. I was in our school's Jazz Band (I played sax) and we were going on a 3 week European tour... Vienna, Budapest, Cluj and Timisoara in Romania. I went to a school in the middle of West Virginia where some of the people hadn't been out of the state, let alone out of the country, let alone to a communist country.
Flew into Vienna and then drove to Budapest. Arriving at the border with tanks and young men armed with AK-47s was a unique experience. Being the naive kid I was, I didn't think anything about the fact that I was reading Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy. Until we were stopped at the border. Needless to say I buried it deep in my bag. :)
We played a couple concerts in Budapest (one in a jazz club). The people were phenomenal. They didn't know us from Adam, but they were the most enthusiastic crowds I ever played for.
A once in a lifetime experience.
Here's a picture of our band. I'm the skinny kid on the right...
ETA, I see now that a bunch of posts came in while I was composing. This was in reference to >27 HanGerg:
Hope your MP is more sympathetic than his voting habit suggests. As >29 muddy21: says, he works for you.
Your group sounds needed. Hope it goes well.
>28 HanGerg: That's seems like a really worthwhile thing to do Hannah. There are so many things about this whole process that just haven't been thought through.
>20 HanGerg: So pleased you're continuing to enjoy the Barsetshire series. I'd cautiously recommend the Palliser series to follow with - cautiously because it's got more of a political setting and from your comments here that sounds like the part you enjoyed the least but we've done a group read or tutored read (depending on the book) for each one and Liz is a superb tutor and I'm sure would be happy to help with any questions you might have.
On other Trollope works another standalone favourite is The American Senator which I would recommend. I haven't read many of his books that aren't part of the Barsetshire or Palliser series.
>28 HanGerg: Oh wow on getting more members to join your group. I was aware of this issue to some extent because another LT friend (who is an EU citizen working and living in the UK) shared several Guardian articles on facebook about EU citizens who have tried to apply for UK permanent residency having this refused for all kinds of silly reasons. But it is very worrying and whilst I hope it's just a sign that the Leave party and the government were really not prepared for this to happen and no-one has taken the time to think about all the issues yet, it's still very worrying. Especially as everyone keeps refusing to give any guarantees. Was there any support from your MP?
Hi everyone, and thanks for popping by. I'm slipping into bad habits again of not posting enough, not to mention getting behind on reviews! I WILL return to remedy it, but I'm hosting a big charity clothes swapping party at my house tomorrow night (See? "Being the Change"! I ain't jokin'!!) and all my available free time has been spent organising that. (Oh, and reading! This has actually been a pretty good reading month! Certainly the best since Leo was born, I think. More on that when I return) Keep your fingers crossed for me for a successful event tomorrow night, and I'll try and get here over the weekend and make up for my neglect!
Fingers duly crossed! Sounds like a fun way to get to know people, and raise money.
Hope your event went swimmingly Hannah and I can recommend my could lady wife as an FB administrator as she certainly makes my page there whizz.
Have a great weekend.
Ok, Hi everyone, let's try and get around to responding to all your lovely messages!
>29 muddy21:. Hi Marilyn! Yes, very good advice, thank you! I'm actually scheduled to go and meet my MP this Friday. I'm getting a little nervous now, but will try and take some notes, stick on topic (although I'm itching to give him a piece of my mind about the disgraceful backing out of the pledge to help more Syrian refugee children that has recently been announced...but no, must stay on topic!!), be polite but firm, and yeah... See what he has to say I guess. I've never spoken to a politician before, so I feel a bit like someone preparing to go and visit a hostile alien world for the first time! Must try and remember some good tips from all my SF readings!
>30 ronincats:. Thanks Roni! If I could do emoticons on here, I'd do the little beaming with pride one!
>31 mahsdad:. Oh wow Jeff, that is a great Budapest story!! I can imagine how amazing that must have been for you and your classmates! And yes, Hungarians are very passionate about music. I'm sure they loved that little glimpse of the West you brought with you too!
That reminds me of this clip, which I think I have posted here before, but it gets me every time, so here it is again. It's of a legendary concert that Queen played in Budapest in 1986. Freddie sings a traditional Hungarian folk song to the crowd, which goes down a storm. To this day it's known as an amazing performance (the whole concert I mean) but this small gesture of solidarity is so special I always think. Also, watching it now I'm struck by how good his pronunciation is. He must have got a local to teach him and really worked at it. What a unique and wonderful person he was. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPZdgyuixPA
>32 scaifea:. Thanks Amber! More beaming!!
>33 EllaTim:. Thanks Ella!
>34 charl08:. Thanks Charl! The group is still going strong - up to about 400 members now, and we've had a few journalists and documentary makers on there asking for people to share their stories so it really has become a platform for getting voices heard!
>35 SandDune:. Hi Rhian! You're so right! I'm focused on this EU citizens' rights issue at the moment, but occasionally I step back and think about the bigger Brexit picture and I just get filled with despair!
>36 souloftherose:. Hi Heather! Thanks for the Trollope recommendations! I'm keen to try the Palliser series once I'm all done in Barset. I'll just have to learn a bit more about the politics of the time, which wouldn't hurt me at all as my knowledge of British political history is pretty woeful!
>38 charl08:. Hello again Charl! The party went pretty well, thank you! All the people who came said they really enjoyed it, and we managed to raise a tidy little sum for charity. I'm keen to do another one soon though, as loads of people I invited couldn't make this one, so I'm going to give more notice and change the time to a Saturday afternoon. Now I've started, I've kind of got the fundraising bug!!
>39 PaulCranswick:. Thanks Paul. The weekend was lovely, thank you!
Ok, that's the update for now! Still haven't done those reviews, so I'll try and pop back and do them soon. I'll also try and report back on the MP meeting soon, but we will be off to London to visit friends this weekend, so it will have to keep till next week. Wish me luck in the meantime!
Good luck! Sounds like you're doing great things. Pleased to see the Lords support too.
Right, MP meeting and trip to London done. The MP meeting went well - I didn't change his mind one fraction, but we had a good tempered chat and he assured me the government really value their EU citizen residents and want only the best for them but that they really must act to secure the interests of British citizens in the EU and I almost believed that he really did care, and I said I didn't understand why the fates of the two groups had to be inextricably linked, which he just couldn't seem to conceptually grasp at all. Also, he got a little cross when I suggested that if Brits in the EU was a group the government cared about so much, maybe they should have let them vote in the referendum in the first place; his answer to that was some bluster about wanting to live in a democracy, not an EU superstate. Anyway, we shook hands and he said I shouldn't hesitate to get in touch again. I also received a follow up letter restating his position, which again wasn't anything I wanted to hear, but was somehow nice to receive anyway. He again stated the fact that I should contact him again if I wished. And he signed it by hand. So yeah... it was just all nice a grown-up and polite, which in this world of increasing hysteria, felt like something to be pleased about. It made me feel like there was something like democracy at work, which is silly because they are about to go and do a load of things I disagree with violently and I should be more furious. But I feel consoled that I can go and have a good moan about it to my MP, and he has to listen and at least appear to care. It was quite addictive actually. This feeling of speaking directly to power. Even if power is free to completely ignore you. I might go back for more....
Ok, less muddled musing about politics, more muddled musing about books! Here are the reviews I've been neglecting.
4.The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage - Sydney Padua 4.5/5
Heather wrote a glowing review of this, so when I saw it in the library I grabbed it! It was a really fun and fact packed graphic novel. The basic premise is this; what if Lovelace and Babbage (she, genius crackpot maths prodigy who died tragically young after writing the world's first computer programme and he, genius crackpot perfectionist inventor of the world's first computer) had actually got off their butts/not died young and had teamed up and invented the first computer! And used it to fight crime and otherwise enhance the world!
The writer obviously got obsessed with this subject and has done a huge amount of exhaustive research, all of which she tries to cram in here as super detailed footnotes and endnotes to the main graphic novel, which makes reading it a pretty arduous task as you have to keep flipping back and forward amongst the pages to get the complete picture. Also, if I can quibble a little, the actual invented stuff is fairly boring, but when the real life story is this fascinating, and the book about it so crammed full of brilliant facts and humorous asides, it can only be a minor one. It's like a real life steampunk adventure!
5.Lucia's Progress - E.F.Benson 4.5/5 Kindle
The fifth instalment of the wonderful Lucia and Mapp series. I have undergone a dramatic 180 conversion from thinking Lucia the most hideous woman to now marvelling at her genius and viewing her evermore ambitious social climbing with admiration where once there was scorn. The woman is simply irresistible. And hilarious. The scenes with Georgie, her great friend and confidant are the best; although exaggerated for comic effect, the relationship feels so real that I can almost hear them cooing to each other in their ridiculous baby language and fake Italian with my own ears. Glorious good fun. I'm only sad it's nearly at an end.
6.To Rise Again at a Decent Hour - Joshua Ferris 3.5/5
The new book by the author of Then We Came to the End, which I was an admirer of. This has a similar trick of finding the profound in the mundane that I do like, although what did it all add up to in the end? I'm not really sure, and I don't know if the author is either. It's a look at one mans' quest for meaning in a world (probably) without a god, about faith and belonging, a book about our contemporary lives that feels just as muddled and confusing as they often are, so perhaps it's fitting that there is no neat solution at the end. But neither is there anything to take away from it, in my opinion. Hmm. An interesting one. And well written and funny. Almost impossible to score, but there. I put 3.5 on it, and that I will stick with, although some may love it, some may hate it. Try it and see I guess. I would certainly advocate doing that. Gosh, that was a muddle, but then, so's the book.
7.The Diary of a Nobody - George Grossmith 2.5/5 Kindle
The title sums this one up pretty succinctly. The faintly comical musings of a rather bland man with a rather boring life. Which I guess is the point. I read this because it was on my challenge list, so was originally on the 1000 books to read list. It's not a great work of literature and the story or characters are not that memorable, so the only reason can be that it captures a moment in time, or perhaps deals with subject matter not really dealt with in this way before; a member of the emerging middle classes at the cusp of a change in eras. That significance aside, there's not much to recommend here. A dull character with a rubbish sense of humour squabbles with the servants, tradesmen, friends and his son. But at least he seems to really love his wife, mainly because she shares his love of appalling puns.
8.Web of Everywhere - John Brunner 4/5
A thought provoking though brief novella about a devastated future world in which the "skelter" has unleashed havoc as it allowed people to travel anywhere in the world instantly. We join the story a number of years later, where an elite of the few people remaining struggle with the ethics of rebuilding a society ravaged by disease and violence. What of the old order should survive, and what should be done differently at all costs? Brunner is a big ideas writer more than anything, and this offers really only a glimpse of what he's capable of in his longer works, but was enjoyable nonetheless.
9.The Wolves of Willoughby Chase - Joan Aiken (Re-read) 4/5
I'm starting this series again from scratch after realising I'll be able to hunt them all down using inter-library loans, so my long abandoned project of making it past book 3 can be realised. This opening novel was great fun, although perhaps just a little less rich in nuance and detail than I remember; it was definitely a 5 star read for me the first time around. Ah well, you can't cross the same river twice and all that. I still have high hopes that the series will have many as-yet undiscovered marvels for me as I progress, as she is clearly a wonderful storyteller with a great ability to create memorable characters.
10.American Gods - Neil Gaiman 3.5/5
Another book from my 150 list. I wanted to like this more than I did. The premise is great; guy newly released from prison gets offered a job by a mysterious stranger who may or may not be a living god, but somehow the narrative meandered rather than propelled me along, and I just didn't warm to the gods that much. In fact, my favourite bit of the book is when he stops hanging out with the gods and just settles down in small town America for a while. That bit could have been developed into a whole book I would have probably enjoyed more then this one. I really don't know why either, but it just didn't quite live up to it's premise for me.
Good little swathe of reviews there, Hannah.
Hope you are having a splendid weekend.
Ah gosh, getting neglectful again! Thanks for keeping the home fires burning, Paul and Roni!!
Ok, I have a few more reads to report on, so here goes...
11.Go Saddle the Sea - Joan Aiken 4/5
This is another series by Joan Aiken which I thought I would give a go. It's more realistic in setting than the slightly magical alternative reality of the "Wolves..." series, and has a boys own adventure kind of vibe to it that I didn't initially warm to. We follow the adventure of Felix, a 12 year old orphan boy who decides to leave his home in Spain when his last remaining ally in a household of wicked distant relatives, dies. His vague plan is to try and get to England and track down his dead father's family, even though he only has the barest of information to go on. Needless to say, he has lots of adventures on the way, but the whole thing felt a bit formulaic; a chance encounter on the road leads to a sticky situation - he gets out of it through mix of ingenuity and help from a stranger - recovers after at home of said stranger - carries on with journey with replenished resources until a chance encounter...etc. However, the final section had a unexpected emotional resonance for me that pushed it up a category. There are two more books that continue the saga, but it stopped at a natural end point in the story that left me satisfied with its conclusion, so unusually for me, I might be happy to leave it at that.
12.A Deepness in the Sky - Vernor Vinge 5/5
Oh wow! An absolute stone cold classic of the SF genre. I urge any and all SF fans to read it at their earliest possible convenience. Great characters including an awesome alien species and some super nasty bad guys, a labyrinthian plot that builds to a hugely suspenseful climax, and just....everything. Every good, delicious thing a fine rollicking adventure should have, plus some of the BIG THEME stuff as well. There's very little I feel like I can say really, because I'm just in awe. Just go and read it, OK?
13.I Love Dick - Chris Kraus 2.5/5
Urgh. The kind of book that just feels like homework (and I note on the book's page that some people are talking about teaching it in a sociology class; I can just picture the grimaces on student's faces!). It's a very serious, intellectual examination of a woman's (and women in general's) personal and professional life, told in a weird hybrid blend of confessional autobiography, novel and academic essay. It certainly isn't interested in making its point very clearly, or indeed in being entertaining, yet some are hailing it as this fresh new masterpiece. But not for me I'm afraid. I used to think I just wasn't clever enough to read this sort of book, but nowadays I think the author is just not that interested in having me go with them on their journey.
It does, occassionally, have something interesting to say about women in the arts and how they have been overlooked, but then part of the author's personal crisis as described in the book is that she sees her career as an experimental filmmakers stalling, so it's hard to know just how much of her pontificating is just sour grapes. Also, it's difficult not to feel a sense of impatience with all her problems, which seem so like the problems only people of extreme privilege face, not least her stupid adolescent crush on the titular "Dick" (who, it's fairly widely known, is actually Dick Hebdige who I saw give a talk a couple of years ago. He came across as a bit of a wally, which to be fair, he does in the book too, which makes it all the more silly that the author gets all goey eyed about him.) I only read it because my friend had a funny story about making a young male bookshop employee all flustered when she asked about it. Yes, that's how sophisticated I am; clearly not sophisticated enough for this book, and I can't help but be glad!
14.The Lathe of Heaven - Ursula K. LeGuin 3.5/5
I love Ursula LeGuin, what little I've read at least, but she is such an enigmatic author to me. Her stories seem strange and often go off in unexpected directions, not always entirely successfully in my view, though always interestingly. This book is just like that. It has this deeply odd premise; a man has dreams that can change the nature of reality in a way that only he remembers, but they can adjust things retrospectively as well of in the future, so he can sometimes wake up and find people he spoke to yesterday, have in the new reality he just created, actually been dead for years. That's disturbing enough, but then along comes a psychotherapist who can also see the power of his dreams, and decides to start hypnotising him to use his dreams to remake the world in line with his vision of how it should be. This is a brilliant though very disturbing idea, but even though it's a short novel, it seems to meander about a bit and go off in weird directions before the final climatic crisis moment, which seems to happen very quickly and not bring about an entirely satisfying resolution. I guess authors that can take you to unexpected places ultimately offer more meaningful experiences than ones who can only take you to your expected destination, but I'm still getting used to going on these strange journeys with her!
Ok, that's me all up to date. I'm currently re-reading, amongst other reads To the Lighthouse, for the first time since my uni days. I was always planning to get round to it again as part of my attempt to read all of Woolf's work, but the timing is because my art class teacher has set us the challenge of coming up with 5 illustrations for a favourite book, and somehow "...Lighthouse" was the one that leapt out at me as demanding me to illustrate it! I guess I shall have to post the results when I'm done!
I really need to get to A Deepness in the Sky, I've heard so many good things about it.
>42 HanGerg: I'm glad the meeting with your MP went well (to the extent that it could anyway). And I'm so pleased you enjoyed Lovelace and Babbage! More people need to read this!
And I think I also had the same progression as you re my thoughts of Lucia as the series progressed 'I have undergone a dramatic 180 conversion from thinking Lucia the most hideous woman to now marvelling at her genius and viewing her evermore ambitious social climbing with admiration where once there was scorn.' From memory I think because Lucia seems comparatively benign compared to Miss Mapp.
And The Webs of Everywhere sounds good - I need to read more John Brunner.
'I wanted to like this more than I did.' I felt the same about American Gods. As Roni says in >44 ronincats: I've hear Anansi Boys is better but haven't read it.
>45 HanGerg: A Deepness in the Sky is definitely on the list!
And yes, do share the drawings from your art class when done!
>45 HanGerg: : "I used to think I just wasn't clever enough to read this sort of book, but nowadays I think the author is just not that interested in having me go with them on their journey."
Well said! As I've run across some of those myself, I'm in total agreement with that sentiment.
Hi everyone! Yet more time spent reading the silly news when I would be better of on lovely LT! Must do better! Hope you are all well and reading good books aplenty!
>46 ronincats: Hi Roni!! Yes, busy in the way that motherhood is busy - lots of time spent helping a little one conquer the small everyday stuff, that can feel a little banal sometimes. Although I must say, Leó is now at that age where he is really starting to blossom and turn into a little person with distinct preferences and a will to make them happen, and it's just extraordinary. I'm a lucky lady and I know it!! I'm happy to report that books are his current obsession, and he is just as happy to flick through one on his own as to be read to. So today, I read my book and he read his, in companionable silence. Well, for a while anyway. #parentingwin
>47 kgodey: Hi Kriti. Yes, yes, yes, do it!!! It's great! I'm hoping to get my hands on a copy of the sort-of sequel (though written before) A Fire Upon the Deep, which if anything is even more universally loved.
>48 souloftherose:. Hi Heather! Ooh, glad I have found another Lucia fan! You are right - I think I did begin to mellow towards her once she came into Ms Mapp's orbit and you see how much more charm and panache she has in comparison!
>49 countrylife: Welcome Cindy!! Yes! Glad you agree! I can't remember which author it was, but I read a great introduction to a novel once where he (I think it was "he") said something like "there are no bad readers, only bad writers". Maybe it was Wodehouse. It seems like the sort of thing he would write, although I can't confirm it after a quick Google search so I may be spouting nonsense.
>50 PaulCranswick:. Hi Paul! Your wish is my command sir, but there is a slight technical hitch, as you shall see....
Ok, so the picture is portrait in my file, but the LT software turns in 90 degrees anti-clockwise for some reason! Gah! This has happened before and I have no idea how to correct it. Any LT mages out there who can help??
Anyway, if you are interested, these are my pictures to illustrate To the Lighthouse a rather seminal novel for me when I first read it as an undergrad English lit student, many moons ago. I just re-read it and it had lost none of its power for me, although I think it's different bits that hold my attention now - some of the bits about motherhood and so on, that perhaps passed my by on first read.
This is a picture of the moment when the character Lily is looking at Mrs Ramsay with her young son, and sees in that moment the whole of life ...erm, hard to explain. Here's the quote “She felt... how life, from being made up of little separate incidents which one lived one by one, became curled and whole like a wave which bore one up with it and threw one down with it, there, with a dash on the beach.” That's what I've enjoyed so much about illustrating this book, these metaphorical moments where something transcends the everyday and comes to stand for something more - those are very interesting to try and capture visually I think.
Here's another - more neck craning, sorry!
This one is of the moment Mr Ramsay takes a walk out to the headland whilst he's grappling with some philosophical problem, and Woolf says he is kind of standing bravely against the onrushing tide of human ignorance or something like that (can't find the quote!)
And there are several more, but let's have just one last one...
So this is the moment when again Lily is observing- this time Mr and Mrs Ramsay, and for a moment, as they watch their children play catch, she sees them as archetypes of the married couple.
I've really enjoyed doing these, although they are not my usual way of working at all - I'm usually much more abstract and I tend to use acrylic not watercolour and pastel as I have here. Also, working from literary source material has been really fun, and not something I've ever tried before. I think I might try and do some more, although I'm not sure which book I would go with next!
Nice pics! Did you take them with a cell phone? That often happens to me, and I fix it by loading them into my laptop and using a photo app to rotate them correctly.
>51 HanGerg: Really enjoyed the pics! I think as drneutron says mobile phones have software of some kind that auto-rotates the pictures when they are looked at on the mobile phone but doesn't actually change the underlying image. So that's why they can look the right way round on your phone but then not be rotated when uploaded to LT.
Hi everyone, gosh it's been ages and ages! Despite all my intentions it's been another year of not much LT-ing. Lots of RL excitement though - a wonderful 5 week long car trip around Europe, mainly to go to Hungary to see family but also taking in stops in France, Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic. Plus, finally, I have got round to getting myself a website, for my own artwork but also I'm going to be launching myself on the Lincoln education scene as a self-employed art teacher. In fact, I'm due to start an after school art club at a nearby primary school in just a few weeks! And I got a phone call today to say it was massively over-subscribed!! So that's all very exciting. (Website not quite up and running yet. There will be links aplenty once it is, have no fear!)
And, there has been reading! Quite a lot of it, especially while we were away. I'll try and remember all the titles to update my list up top, but I must say a quick word about Children of Time, which I guess might be causing a bit of a stir amongst the SF fans on here. Weirdly, it's the second novel I've read this year that features a spider-like species alongside human protagonists, and this was also a 5 star-er from me! A really excellent read. As usual I'm way behind on reviews, but let me just park a quick "Wow!" here for that one. Stupendous.
Right, now I'm back in circulation I will try and catch up with all I've missed and come and visit folks and see what everyone's been up to. Happy reading my friends!
>55 HanGerg: Nice to see you posting, Hannah. The road trip sounds fantastic.
Have a splendid Sunday.
>55 HanGerg: All sounds like good things are happening Hannah. The after school art club sounds like fun - hope that goes well.
I really enjoyed Children of Time and another novel by the same author in which spiders feature is Spiderlight (although the latter is fantasy rather than science fiction). I'm intrigued about what the other novel you read this year featuring spiders was.
Hi Paul, thanks for dropping by! Yes, the road trip was a blast! We've kind of decided this will be our new mode of holidaying from now on, although with camping rather than staying in B&Bs as we did on this trip. (I have subsequently survived 4 days of camping with our son, as the sole adult, at a hippie festival where I was helping run the kids area. Infrastructure was...basic to put it mildly, so camping with a youngster holds no terrors for me now!)
Hi Heather! Thanks for the recommendation! I will certainly check it out. I think he's better known for his fantasy rather than SF anyway, isn't he? The other great SF novel with spiders I read this year was A Deepness in the Sky which was sublime. Highly recommended!
Right, I'm very behind on reviews. Nothing new there. But I'm feeling in the mood to tackle them for once, albeit with very fleeting prose. So, here goes!
15. The Pendragon Legend - Antal Szerb 3/5
This strange book is by one of Hungary's most beloved authors, and was given to me as a gift by some Hungarian family, so I wanted to be able to say something nice about it, but honestly, it flummoxed me slightly. It's a gothicky murder mystery kind of thing that goes all supernatural towards the end, but at the same time maintains this rather laconic detached air that comes from its narrator, who is a rather unlikeable character, not least of which is his terrible sexism which may or may not be meant to be a bad characteristic of his in the eyes of the author. It's just a weird melange of things that it's hard to piece together really, and I was left with no idea what the author was trying to achieve. A bit of an enigma, but not in a good way.
16.Hurrah for Gin - Katie Kirby 3.5/5
A book derived from a popular blog about motherhood from a lady that has a good line in humorous stick figure drawings and not sugar coating the experience of being a mother in the slightest.
A good, occasionally chucklesome read that does that great job of reassuring you that if you are finding motherhood a drag sometimes, and resorting to alcohol after the kids are in bed to self-medicate, you are very far from being alone. It was also unexpectedly moving in places. But it is still mainly about the funny stick figures.
17.Shutting Out the Sun - Michael Zielenger 4/5
Whoa. This book was an eye opener and no mistake. I've long had an interest in Japan - I love many Japanese films, their art is awesome and so different from the Western art tradition, Haruki Murakami is one of my favourite authors, I love the food... and so on. Fairly superficial things in some ways, as I realised when I read this book and found out that, according to this author at least, Japan is a deeply dysfunctional society that encourages everyone to repress their feelings, always honour tradition even when it is clearly time to come up with new ideas, and is mired in a controlling mindset that is destroying the mental health of its citizens, and any hope of keeping up in the global international marketplace as it now stands. It's worth noting that the author is an American journalist, who was only in Japan for a few years, so whether others share this view is obviously open to debate. I certainly detected some hints of cultural bias in what he was saying, and I'm sure someone better versed in the subject matter he is tackling would find much more to quibble about. Still, what remains an undeniable fact is that at the time he wrote the book there were a substantial number of "hikikomori", young men who barricade themselves in the bedrooms of their parental homes and simply refuse to participate in society. The exploration of why they do this and the links to wider societal ills in Japan is rather fascinating, but the author's leaps of logic sometimes feel a little strained, not to mention the fact that the book is over a decade old now, so perhaps I should do some further reading around this subject. It has certainly captured my interest.
18.To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf (Re-read) 5/5
Just a masterpiece. As good as I remember and then some. And of course, it's different bits that resonate now; the meditations on motherhood and loss- both things I hadn't any real experience of when I read it as a teenager. And no doubt I'll read it again in another few years and find new bits that strike a cord. It's timeless and universal in the way that only the very best things are. And still so vivid and alive and shimmering in a way that few books even now are. She was so ahead of her time, and so serious about the pursuit of capturing what it is to be alive, to be in the moment and feeling all the tiny shifts of emotion that makes up consciousness. I feel like we're all still catching up to her in many ways.
19.The Game of Kings -Dorothy Dunnett 4.5/5
Lucy fell under the spell of this series, enough so that I sought it out immediately. I too succumbed in the end, but it took a while, as the opening third of the book seems to be deliberately designed to keep the reader guessing, but to the point that it's sometimes rather hard to work out just what the heck is going on. Gradually things become clear as you go along, and the cunningness of both main character and writer are gradually revealed and sweep you along, safe in the knowledge that you will have a satisfying adventure after all. I dare say I will track down the rest of the series eventually, although I have a feeling I might need to re-read this again first before I proceed, as there are an awful lot of characters with cunning plans and hidden intentions to keep an eye on.
20.Hyperion - Dan Simmons 4/5
Simmons is SF an author with a pretty fearsome rep, so he's been on my radar for a while, but I picked up a copy of his Illium, which is obviously a re-telling of the Illiad, and the bit I read seemed like overly-intellectual claptrap so I put it down and fled and haven't ventured back since. This book makes me think my first impression was an incorrect one, as this was rather magnificent, not to mention creepy shading to downright terrifying at times. Its structure mirrors that of the Canterbury Tales (he obviously loves his heavyweight literary illusions), as six characters on a pilgrimage tell their tales. Here the journey must end in certain death for at least five of them as their destination is the home of the terrifying Shrike - several parts god, all parts lethal killing machine. But who, if any, of them will survive this fated encounter? And what bearing will it have on the fate of a universe poised on the brink of war? Turns out, we'll have to wait until the next volume to find out, which the cover gave no indication of when I started reading - a pet hate of mine. But apart from that, it's hard to fault the impressive storytelling prowess on display here; he clearly is a big talent and I have no doubt I will be reading lots more of his stuff in the future.
Well. I said I would describe them fleetingly, but it seems I'm actually in one of my more verbose moods. But, time to stop there for now. I'll try and come back and finish the rest soon.
This is a time of year when I as a non-American ponder over what I am thankful for.
I am thankful for this group and its ability to keep me sane during topsy-turvy times.
I am thankful that you are part of this group.
I am thankful for this opportunity to say thank you.
Well thank-you for your thanks Paul!
I have a been a terrible correspondent and follower of threads this year, and I doubt it will change before the end of the year. But I AM enormously thankful for the wise owls of LT and the warm words we share about books and everything else. I do hope to be back with more involvement next year. And more reading. Always more reading!
Hi, Hannah! Greetings from across the Atlantic. How old is that little boy now--time is a-flying for sure?
Hi Roni! Thanks for popping by! The no-so-little guy is now 2 years and 3, nearly 4 months! Astonishing, isn't it?! This coming festive season will be his third Christmas, and I think he begins to understand some of the things that make it a special time of year, so it should be wonderful!
Hope Lincoln is not too snow bound, Hannah.
Have a great Sunday.
Thanks Paul. We were actually down in Devon when the promised snow made its appearance, although there was a little left when we returned on Monday. I heard on the grapevine that the final day of Lincoln's very popular Christmas market was actually cancelled due to concerns about the snow. All rather silly, not least because it wasn't very heavy when it did arrive. As someone my husband follows on Twitter remarked, only in England would a Christmas market be cancelled due to snow!
It is that time of year again, between Solstice and Christmas, just after Hanukkah, when our thoughts turn to wishing each other well in whatever language or image is meaningful to the recipient. So, whether I wish you Happy Solstice or Merry Christmas, know that what I really wish you, and for you, is this:
Thanks for the lovely Christmas messages everyone! I have been a thoroughly absent parent to this thread this year, and even more absent on others, so it's very touching that you still look in on me from time to time. Very best wishes of the season to all of you. xxx
Right, that about wraps things up here from me. It's been a very quiet year LT wise for me, but I hope to change that in 2018. Just out of curiosity, here is a breakdown of the 44 books I read this year.
Classic Fiction: 11
Contemporary Fiction: 3
Number of re-reads:2
New to me: 21
From My Shelves:8
Bought this year:4
Borrowed from a friend:3
This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.