Orange is not the only Penguin (book) - charl08 reads #7
This is a continuation of the topic Orange is not the only Penguin (book) - charl08 reads #6.
This topic was continued by Orange is not the only Penguin (book) - charl08 reads #8.
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A very tempting shelf from a recent visit to Skoob books, Bloomsbury.
(I only bought one. From this shelf...)
Books read in 2017 - 92
Last three month's reading:
The Patriots (F, Ukraine, novel)
Out of this World (F, UK, novel)
As good as New (F, US, novel)
Spandex and the City (F, UK, novel)
Shenzhen: A travelogue (M, Canada, graphic memoir)
Maigret at Picratt's (M, Belgium, novel)
Flesh and Bone and Water (F, Brazil, novel)
Fever Dream (F, Argentina, novel)
Blanche and Marie (M, Sweden, novel)
The Way to a Duke's Heart (F, US, novel)
Barbara the Slut (F, US, short stories)
Truevine (F, US, history/ biography)
Blame it on Bath (F, UK, novel)
Swell: a waterbiography (F, UK, memoir/ history)
Unexploded (F, Canada, novel)
The Good People (F, Australia, novel)
The Brittle Star (F, UK, novel)
In a Lonely Place (F, US, novel)
The Little Shop of Happy Ever After (F, UK, novel)
First Love (F, UK, novel)
Dancing the Death Drill (M, South Africa, novel)
On a Chinese Screen (M, UK, short stories)
Cheese (M, Netherlands, fiction)
Date at the Altar (F, US, fiction)
Roads to Berlin (M, Netherlands, travel/ memoir)
Waterlog (M, UK, travel/sport)
Sister Noon (F, US, novel)
Spaceman of Bohemia (M, Czech Republic, novel)
One Hundred Nights of Hero (F, UK, graphic novel)
On Friday the Rabbi Slept In (M, US, novel)
Penguin Modern Poets Three (Multiple authors, poetry)
The Idiot (F, US, fiction)
Saturday the Rabbi Went Hungry (M, US, fiction)
Sunday the Rabbi stayed Home (as above)
The Serpent Prince (F, US, fiction)
Becoming Unbecoming (F, UK, graphic memoir)
A Gentleman in Moscow (M, US, novel)
The Murderess (M, Greece, novel)
All for Nothing (M, Germany, novel)
The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage (F, UK, GN/history)
The Ocean at the End of the Lane (M, UK, fantasy)
Blood Curse (M, Italy, crime)
A Chinese Life (M, China, GN)
The Warmth of Other Suns (F, US, history)
In the Name of the Family (F, UK, fiction)
A Cast of Vultures (F, UK, fiction)
Kafka in Bronteland (F, UK, short stories)
Darling: new and selected poems (F, poetry, UK)
Sweet Little Lies (F, fiction, US)
I will have Vengeance (M, fiction, Italy)
Alpha (F & M, GN, Belgium & France)
Seven Minutes (F, fiction, US)
The Bodyguard and Mrs Jones (F, fiction, US)
How to Survive a Plague (M, non-fiction- popular science/politics, US)
Smoke Over Malibu (M, Fiction, UK)
Too Loud a Solitude (M, fiction, Czech Republic)
The Refugees (M, fiction, US)
Slaughterhouse 5 (M, fiction, US)
It Takes A Scandal (F, fiction, US)
Once Upon a time in the East (F, Memoir, UK/China)
Head Land (multiple authors, fiction, multiple nationalities)
The Longest Night (M, fiction, Netherlands)
Last Fair Deal Gone Down (M, fiction, US)
Bitter Herbs (F, Memoir, the Netherlands)
Huck (Multiple authors, GN)
Love in a time of Scandal (F, fiction, US)
The Gigantic Beard that was Evil (M, graphic novel, UK)
Leaving Lucy Pear (F, fiction, US)
F9 M 3
Europe 5 (UK 1) US & Canada 5 Latin America 2
Library 9 Netgalley 2 Mine 1
F13 M9 (+1 multiple authors)
Europe 11 (UK 8) US & Canada 9 Australia 1 South Africa 1 (+1 multiple authors)
Fiction 19 Non-Fiction 3 Poetry 1
Library 10 Netgalley 3 Mine 10
F 6 M 6
Europe 9 (UK 6) US 2 China 1
Fiction 8 Non-Fiction 2 Graphic Novel 2
Mine 3 Library 8 Digital 1
F11 M10 (1 book dual author, plus one edited collection)
Europe 10 (UK 4) US 10 (1 book dual author)
Fiction 16 Poetry 1 Non-Fiction 2
Library 9 Digital 9 Mine 3
For January see http://www.librarything.com/topic/254233
1. Last year I read over 300 books: I'd like to do the same this year.
2. Read Harder Challenge (Bookriot) 13 down...
Read a book about sports.
Read a book about books.
Read a book you’ve read before.
Read a nonfiction book about technology.
Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+.
Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country.
Read a classic by an author of color.
Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey
Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel
Read a book published by a micropress.
Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love.
Goals - continued
3. Reading more diverse books. In 2017 I'll try and read across the African continent.
I'm reading Under the Udala Trees (Nigeria)
Read Dancing the Death Drill (South Africa )
4. Reading from the 'what students read' list
Cyprus The Murderess - read.
Not sure what's up next...
So you need one more book to make the 75!! And it's still April!! Happy new thread. : )
Thanks Kim. I've got about twenty on the go, so it might be a while before I finish one!
20 at once?! My limit is 4 or 5. LOL. Well, I bet you still finish one before I do...I am all about TKD this week. ; )
Happy new thread, Charlotte! And well done on only buying one book from that shelf at the top. Just out of interest, how many other shelves were there in the shop?
Happy new thread, Charlotte!
>1 charl08: Bought only one? You already owned all others or you were very brave :-)
>7 Berly: Kim, there are some I read, and some I put down and then forget about. I am in no way as coordinated or organised as Amber.
>8 susanj67: Thanks Susan. Quite a few. I'm still Bitter I didn't get offered a free bag, unlike the girl ahead of me the young book assistant was flirting with...
>9 DianaNL: Thanks Diana.
>10 vancouverdeb: Just less dedicated Deborah, and more easily distracted, I think.
>11 scaifea: Thanks Amber. But my haphazard reading really pales in comparison to your system.
>12 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul. Hope your travels are safely done.
>13 FAMeulstee: I think you've got me there Anita.
>14 Carmenere: Thanks Lynda.
>15 katiekrug: Thanks Katie.
>16 Ameise1: Thanks Barbara!
>17 drneutron: Thanks Jim.
>18 jnwelch: Ha! Love the penguins. Thanks Joe.
>19 BLBera: Thanks Beth. I think the bookseller from the East quote was from Roads to Berlin. The astronaut book was good - but reading some of the other reviews I think there's a whole other level it can be read on (which I missed / ignored!)
Friday the Rabbi Slept Late
Cosy crime novel set in sixties small town America. A woman is murdered and her body left in the synagogue car park. The murder isn't really the interesting bit - it's more the way the community is run, and how the detective and the Rabbi try to work out a solution together. I've got three more of these to read now!
>3 charl08: I like the Read Harder Challenge from Bookriot. It is kind of like book bingo which I enjoyed doing a few years back
You certainly have some reading plans!
Now reading an orange penguin: Penguin Modern Poets 3
From 'The Language of the Brag' by Sharon Olds
I have done what you wanted to do, Walt Whitman,
Allen Ginsberg, I have done this thing,
I and the other women this exceptional
act with the exceptional heroic body,
this giving birth, this glistening verb,
and I am putting my proud American boast
right here with the others.
Yup. This is a great collection. If the others are as strong as this I will have difficulty resisting buying them all...
Warsan Shire is a young Somali/British poet, whose work has been quoted by Beyonce (!) I'd not heard of Malika Booker before. She has links with Guyana and her poems don't hold back on domestic violence and loss.
>22 charl08: I read the Saturday Rabbi book a few years back and enjoyed it. I haven't looked at the series since then, it was a random paperback picked up in a charity shop.
>31 avatiakh: I picked up a collection via kindle, having not seen them before they were mentioned on LT. I do like finding new (to me) authors - and his take feels like a fresh one, for all that they are not new in print.
TG the price kept me from buying a 4-part Rabbi Small series unseen. Haven't read any of them so far, but liked the titles. But I should be able to afford the Friday book. Only small purchases for the rest of the month, I'm in such a strange buying mood.
Happy New Orange thread and Happy Wednesday
>33 Ameise1: Thanks Barbara. Sun shining! (sadly, cold wind blowing though...)
>34 alcottacre: Thanks Stasia. BAD all over the shop for me...
>35 Deern: I need to watch myself - off on holiday next week and I would like to save some pennies for some fun activities. I wish I had a hard copy though so I could send one on! Def disadvantage of the kindle.
>36 charl08: Mid morning it started to snow and everything turned white like in winter. I hope we'll get only rain tomorrow and not another load of snow.
One Hundred Nights of Hero on your last thread looks really good, Charlotte. I just requested it from the library.
Happy New Thread, Charlotte. Hope the week is going well and I hope you make time to read, Birds, Art, Life. It's a good one.
>37 BLBera: I'm hoping that Shire's new book comes out soon. Her earlier pamphlets are now pretty pricey even second hand.
>38 Ameise1: Snow?! Oh no Barbara. Hope it warms up soon.
>39 jnwelch: It was great Joe, I want to read more by her. Such a talented writer /artist, and a sense of humour that I appreciated.
>40 vancouverdeb: Sounds good. Sunny here, but sitting outside for my lunch was not a great idea
>41 msf59: Thanks Mark. I'll try to get to it!
Had to bring this one over, as I was just catching up on your old thread (I always do that- end up a thread behind!) and this one made me laugh so much I thought it would be rude not to bring it back!
Penguin Modern Poets Three: Your Family, Your Body
I love this collection, it's a great addition to the series.
Malika Booker's poetry is often dark, reflecting on her experiences of domestic violence, and her dual British / Guyanese heritage. Her poem on dealing with violent abusers riffs on 'don't sleep', a fantasy threat that is the poetry equivalent of a Lara Croft style heroine: unlikely but rather wonderfully powerful. 'How our bodies did this unfamiliar thing' is the first poem I've read about women workers in WW2: it charms and then hits you with the postwar reality, 'How we grew wings in these dark times
and when our men returned they hacked off our wings
with hatchets and folded us back into the kitchen.'
Sharon Olds is probably the best known of the three: her poems here include some of the famous ones on her parents and their relationship, but also the more tender reflections on love after a baby 'New Mother'. Warsan Shire is the youngest, Somali / British, her poems pick up the themes of violence, but also of women's experience as migrants, as lovers, as parents.
To my daughter I will say
when the men come
set yourself on fire.
I think I'll get this one next.
Congratulations on reaching the 75 so early in the year, Charlotte! wow!
>44 charl08: mdoris is actually responsible for the original posting, so I shouldn't take credit!!!
>45 charl08: To my daughter I will say
when the men come
set yourself on fire.
Is this a terrifying instruction to daughters of villagers in a war situation, or a metaphor for women in peace time? It is pretty full on if the former!
>46 Oberon: Winter isn't over yet.
Happy Friday, Charlotte and congrats on reaching 75.
>49 Familyhistorian: Thanks. Are you doing the non-fiction challenge? It's history this month and I have so many TBR books I could be reading. It's hard decision time. I have The History of the Arabs but also histories of women campaigners by Sheila Rowbotham, and another one about women who opted out of the census for 1911 because of the vote, which looks really good but sits on my shelf unloved.
>50 FAMeulstee: Thanks Anita. I still haven't got back to Life and Fate, have I?!
>51 vancouverdeb: Cheers Deborah. I'm not sure if I'm going to get to any more of the Women's Prize books before the deadline for the winner. I still want the Canadian book to win...
>52 Ireadthereforeiam: She's pretty brutal Megan. I suspect it's both.
>53 mdoris: It's brilliant - good to see it out again!
>54 kidzdoc: Thanks Darryl. Your thread has been making me very hungry lately.
>55 Ameise1: Tell me about it. My little beans had to be brought inside, and there is not much action from the seeds even inside!
>56 Berly: It can't come soon enough. I feel so rough today I would be useful sandpaper. Someone has given me a lurgy. Looking forward to three days of doing as little as possible, hopefully in time to feel better for my holiday!
Fingers crossed for your TKD test. With a name like Kim, surely he is kind and supportive...
>57 susanj67: Thanks Susan. I started counting graphic memoirs and fiction again as soon as I went back to work. Read into that what you will.
Saw this and thought of you. Happy weekend and may there be time to read.
>60 RidgewayGirl: Thanks. I have got up because I am so blocked up I couldn't breathe. The shower has helped. Hurrah for steam. Suspect it's going to be more trashy tv than great books today.
>61 drneutron: Thanks Jim. Officially sanctioned then!
>62 alcottacre: Thanks Stasia. Good to have reached the target.
Guardian Reviews Non-fiction
The Correspondence by JD Daniels reviewed by J Robert Lennon
"Ultimately, the self is the well from which all these essays are drawn; or perhaps it’s the sewer into which all these essays drain. We’re never allowed to forget that Daniels is flawed, that he’s a writer, that he’s a flawed writer and he’s writing the essay we’re reading, right now."
The Mesmerist by Wendy Moore reviewed by Kathryn Hughes
"In her earlier books, Wendy Moore did an excellent job of ferreting out overlooked medico-legal case histories from the early 19th century, digging deep into everyday unhappiness and domestic abuse. The Elliotson story, though, is a different beast entirely. As one of the first public scandals of Victoria’s young reign, it has received plenty of attention over the last 20 years. It’s not just the roustabout theatricality of the trances that draws scholars, but also the way mesmerism poured into popular consciousness through the novels of Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins and even George Eliot."
Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood reviewed by Paul Laity
"The New Yorker has described Lockwood as “an exemplar of brilliant silliness”, and Priestdaddy is indeed brilliantly silly, with much comedy squeezed out of her Catholic upbringing."
Move Fast and Break Things by Jonathan Taplin reviewed by David Runciman
"...the argument of Taplin’s new book: the titans of the digital age frequently behave like spoiled and ignorant brats with far, far more money than sense; and their victims include many of the artists who create things of real value and who can no longer earn a living from doing so. Taplin’s sense of outrage is palpable and his case is often compelling. Unfortunately, the two parts of the argument don’t really hang together..."
The Good Bohemian: The Letters of Ida John reviewed by Peter Conrad
"Ida defied her stuffy family to marry the raffish society portraitist Augustus John, after which her occupation turned out to be breeding. She came to think of herself merely as “a Belly” and thought she had the gooey consistency of a suet pudding. When Gus, as she called him, took up with a mistress named Dorelia, Ida in desperation agreed to cohabit with the minx-like newcomer in an Edwardian seraglio."
Hostage by Guy Delisle reviewed by Rachel Cooke
"Three months, one room. This is, to say the least, extremely challenging territory for a cartoonist. Somehow, though, Guy Delisle – the French-Canadian artist who is best known for such award-winning travelogues as Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea and Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City – has turned André’s account of his weeks of hell into a gripping visual narrative..."
Ah! Just in time for the Guardian Reviews. Sorry to hear that you are feeling so rough. Sore throat, cold? Or just plain exhausted? I hope having some days to yourself is healing. Oh, all blocked up! That is dreadful. I hope you find some good trashy tv today.
Thanks Deborah. I am watching a box set of Peter Kay's Car Share, a rather sweet will they won't they comedy romance.
Guardian reviews fiction
White Tears by Hari Kunzru reviewed by Sukhdev Sandhu
"...a noir-tinged thriller with characters disappearing or being suspended from the present, while characters from the past are stirred and reanimated. The past contaminates and wreaks revenge on the present. Different historical periods appear to coexist at any given time. The solidity of Seth’s life, of 21st-century New York, of what less than a decade ago was being touted as “post-racial” America: all these prove to be chimeras. Seth finds himself chasing his friend, chasing the spectre of Charlie Shaw. And he too is being possessed by spirits. He used to chop up and sample voices; now those voices morph into auditory weapons and remix him savagely.
At the heart of the book is an exploration, or perhaps dark satire, about cultural appropriation."
See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt reviewed by Justine Jordan
"The house where the killings took place is now a B&B-cum-museum, with the most requested room the one where Abby was murdered. Tours run every hour.....Sarah Schmidt’s debut novel is a feverish reimagining of the day of the murders, the leadup and aftermath, told by four voices: Lizzie, her older sister Emma, the maid Bridget, and a dangerous stranger called Benjamin, who is linked to the family by Lizzie and Emma’s maternal uncle John. Many theories about the motivations for the killings have been advanced over the decades..."
Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag reviewed by Deborah Small
"In fewer than 28,000 words, Vivek Shanbhag weaves a web of suggestion and implication, to be read with a sense of mounting unease."
Void Star by Zachary Mason reviewed by Steven Poole
"The novel’s main character is Irina, a freelance AI-whisperer who is among the few humans who can even vaguely communicate with the computer minds, and who is hired by Cromwell for reasons unclear. Meanwhile Kern, a streetfighter who lives in the favelas that have grown up around LA, is tasked with stealing a phone, and a character called Thales awaits the deterioration of his mind owing to a failing memory implant."
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins reviewed by Val McDermid
"The opening... is shocking..."
I picked this up through Netgalley, and Beth read it and I remembered that I hadn't...
It is a funny account of being a young woman in the 90s going to college. She's of Turkish descent but grew up in Jersey, studies language and tries to make sense of her Hungarian 'friend' who isn't quite a boyfriend. Beth has already quoted the brilliant reflection on dancing and kindergarten. So here is a different one on travelling to a new country.
Hungary felt increasingly like reading War and Peace: new characters came up every five minutes, with their unusual names and distinctive locutions, and you had to pay attention to them for a time, even though you might never see them again for the whole rest of the book . I would rather have talked to Ivan, the love interest, but somehow I didn’t get to decide. And yet in the next moment it seemed to me that these superabundant personages weren’t irrelevant at all, but the opposite , and that when Ivan had told me to make friends with the other kids, he had been telling me something important about the world, about the way to live, about how the fateful character in your life wasn’t the one who buried you, but the one who led you out to more people...
Saturday the Rabbi Went Hungry
The second in this series of cosy crime novels based on a young rabbi's life in a small American community. The community politics are to the forefront again here, as debate about funding a new building means questions for the Rabbi about his ethics when dealing with a large donor. The board want one thing, but he's treading his own path. Again.
Charlotte, sorry to hear that you have the lurgy and I hope it doesn't linger. Thanks for the Guardian reviews - I rushed to reserve the Wendy Moore but there is no sign of it. I had to reserve the Sarah Schmidt instead, although it's "ordered", so not actually in any library. And I still haven't finished my ten Mt TBR books. Poor.
So sorry about the lurgy... I have been astonishingly lucky re lurgy all winter, with the exception of a horrid and persistent sore throat for weeks last year. I am giving all credit to my new discipline of taking a multi vitamin plus iron every day without fail.
I have "The Idiot" (the Batuman version) in an ARC, and have been wondering if there is any similarity to the classic Russian novel of the same name. On the surface, it seems not, but ???
The new Paula Hawkins seems to be quite divisive. A lot of reviewers here are chorusing "sophomore slump"!! I think I'll wait until I can get it from the library.
Sorry about the allergies. This has been a bad year for them here--I have been taking zyrtec, and relatively OK. Hope you feel better soon.
And happy new thread!
"lurgy" the word is new to me and had to look it up. Very British apparently! Sounds like no fun. Hope you feel better soon.
>69 susanj67: Thanks Susan. I'm not sure whether to be smug or sorry that you broke your commitment for these reviews!
>70 Chatterbox: Thanks Suzanne. I had been congratulating myself on the success of my code liver oil regimen, until something got under the net. I guess it was inevitable working in a place with students that I'd get one bug or another.
>71 banjo123: the allergies aren't too hideous yet Rhonda - I weep a bit when I'm outside, but compared to how it was when I was visiting a friend outside London last month, I am feeling quite lucky.
>72 mdoris: I had to look it up after you did. I had no idea it came into British English via the Goons' Show.
>73 arubabookwoman: Thanks Deborah. Not yet, but hoping I will be there soon.
>74 charl08: Charlotte, I had deleted a reserve (Tracey Chevalier's New Boy, as I kept seeing people hating it) so I haven't actually added any overall. Mostly because the Wendy Moore wasn't available... My library system only seems to have one copy of The Patriots so far, and in a borough miles away, so I have added it to my wishlist. Back in control!
I hope you're on the mend today. It probably was those germy students that got you. At work I have to avoid all the people with toddlers, who inevitably have what Former Office Roomie describes as "nursery plague".
All impressive self control Susan.
I've just realised I've booked my holiday flight on the cheap hand luggage only deal, which is only 8kg (I guess this is other airlines taking lessons from Ryanair), so won't be taking many books with me. Thank goodness for the kindle.
Um, I now need to update my previous statement after my trip to the library. My self-control is in tatters and my bag so heavy that I couldn't even get groceries. Oh noes.
Hi Charlotte - Feel better soon. Yes, working with kids is a great way to pick up all kinds of stuff. The upside is that eventually you become immune to most things.
>59 charl08: Love it
Great comments on THe Idiot - There were so many quotable sections, right?
Congrats on 75.
All the fiction sounds good this week; I think I can resist the nonfiction although the letters sound like they might be fun. Thanks for posting.
Ooo...the Rabbi books! I've red the whole series twice, at least, many years ago. I reread one...maybe last year...and while I enjoyed it very much, I found it a bit didactic. That may be a result of my familiarity with things Jewish.
Spaceman of Bohemia immediately added to the WL. I'm half Bohemian myself, so that has an appeal not to be denied..
>74 charl08: not only lurgy but "the dreaded lurgy" by history! Love how words travel.
>78 susanj67: Kind of glad to hear that Susan. Hope you have some time to read tomorrow. You are reading up a storm I see.
>79 BLBera: Thanks Beth for the good wishes. Still feeling sorry for myself but roast chicken dinner has helped. It's at times like this I am glad to live with my family rather than the rather idealised fancy/ fantasy flat!
I'll hold on to the promise of future immunity - thank you!
I am hoping Elif Batuman writes some more.
>80 bohemima: The first one was OK but now reading the fourth I do feel some of the age of the books are starting to show with me. Some of the civil rights references in the third one in particular made me feel a bit uncomfortable.
>81 mdoris: Yup, the dreaded is key!
Enjoying The Patriots very much, but have also finished another Rabbi novel and The Serpent Prince, one of those historical romances that (for me) rather showed its age.
I have sad news for you, Charlotte. I know you had not planned on reading Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo, but I'm loving it so far -about 100 pages in. I think you might want to read it after all! It will be my last 2017 Bailey's contender, but so far, really worth the read.
I hope that you are feeling better!
>82 charl08: Charlotte, I find the novels read up much quicker than NF, for the most part, so I'm doing pretty well. And there are still about eight more reading hours to go today! Choices, choices...
Charlotte I think you might be a fan of Robert Macfarlane. There was a wonderful piece in a recent Nyer mag. about words (mostly British) that I thought was wonderful and you might too!
Words like.....clinkerbells, dagglers, cancervells, ikcles, tankles, shuckles, and on and on......pretty fun!
Did you read Landmarks? I thought it was very interesting.
I am a fan, but I thought that word book didn't work as well as some of his others - twitter though sounds like the perfect medium for it.
>84 susanj67: & >85 charl08: I think it depends on what NF. I can get through certain biographies at a fair rate of notes as well as some histories which concentrate on the story of history rather than too much analysis. Where NF can bog me down is where theories get expounded and I have to really concentrate to follow a line of reasoning.
Octopus brains are not an obvious candidate for reading magnetism!
Octopus brains are fascinating, I suspect, but this book about evolution just didn't grab me, Paul. Maybe the wrong time?!
I can steam through almost anything but if I want to remember anything...
I got swept away by this, despite the blocked nose and fever and feeling like I wanted to bury myself under the duvet.
I want to come, eternity, before your defiled doorLike a lot of historical novels this one uses the modern/historical alternate chapters, telling the story of Florence, who left New York in the 30s to follow a man she met at work. Things don't quite go to plan, and her son, Julian, makes up the second narrative, trading with the oligarchs in early 21st C Russia. But the archives have reopened, and his mysterious mother's secrets are now available to request from the state... unlike A Gentleman in Moscow, we know early on that things don't work out for the Americans in Russia, and that Julian ends up in a state home. It's more about the mess created by the informer culture, how that awful distrust corroded even the closest and oldest relationships, and alongside it antisemitism that is never far from the surface
..."It's unnerving. The first thing she did when she walked into our translators' room was read aloud all the names - 'Vainberg, Feinberg' - in this disgusted voice, and said, 'What is this, a synagogue? '"...The modern story, at first, made no sense to me - I couldn't work out what it was doing attached to such a gripping historical story of Stalinism. But it very rapidly became as gripping, as the intrigue of dealing with Russian corruption was connected to the earlier histories.
Ed to fix griping. Although in my current state of lurgy, perhaps la-grippe-ing would be most appropriate!
I thought The Patriots was wonderful Susan. A good sign when a book helps me forget I'm feeling grim. It didn't hurt that it was a shiny new book, either!
I think it wasn't the octopus' fault: my usual gripe, I wanted the author to write the book the way *I* thought was more interesting, based on my preconceptions instead of just rolling with the unexpected :-)
Charlotte, have you still got the " lurgy" or are you feeling better? I've yet to write any comments about Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo , but I think it might be my favourite read so far this year! :) I'm torn between who should win the Bailey's prize , Do Not Say We Have Nothing and Stay With Me. I enjoyed Stay With Me so much it lead me to a library book, The Spider King's Daughter by Chibundu Onuzo from the library. Totally different stories, but take place in Nigeria. I was lucky enough to find The Spider King's Daughter at the library yesterday. Your package has yet to arrive, but that is the vagaries of the post office.
Thanks Beth. I'm taking my cold with me to Stockholm. I'm going to be *that* person on the plane everyone hears coughing and shudders... Not sure how much data access I'll have spare, so if I fall off the planet for a bit, you'll know why.
Not sure I'll get to this library (or that I'd fit the seats)
Safe travels and happy vacation in Stockholm, Charlotte! I hope Sweden helps you kick your cold to the curb.
Ah oh! We posted at the same time . I am up at post #95. Have fun in Stockholm!
Charlotte, have a good trip! And you may be the person with the cough, but at least you won't be the person with the cranky toddler. I once sat at the gate at Heathrow while a Dad walked a pyjama-ed two year old round and round, trying to tire him out, and saying to him, conversationally, "And all these people are thinking 'Please! Not next to me!'."
>59 charl08: oooh, I love that! I could see that one framed on my wall. Maybe I need a brick wall to hang it on- which complicates things a bit.
>60 RidgewayGirl: so many of those names I recognise from my neck of the woods, well, south of here, but still The Snares, Fiordland, Rockhopper....all penguins I know of.
>96 charl08: i hope you are feeling better soon, and that you get to that library which is super awesome. I can see myself there on a cushion, reading a little....snoozing a little...
Just catching up after a long tax season! Glad to see you are enjoying the Rabbi series - I've been wanting to read it for years, and recently picked up the first 7 to read. I'll have to get started soon
>96 charl08: Cool
Safe travels - oh, YOU were the one who gave me the cold when I came home from Portland. :) I hope you feel well enough to enjoy your vacation.
Thanks everyone. Having a lovely time, eating lots of cinnamon buns (kanelbuller), and found a lovely little bookshop yesterday with cute picturebooks. Beautiful sunsets too.
>58 charl08: Re bean seeds: put the seeds between wet cotton patchs and then put them at a warm place. When they start sprouting you can plant thwm into little pots. Put these pots behind a warm sunny window and later into the garden.
Happy Saturday, Charlotte.
>95 vancouverdeb: Always glad to hear about folk enjoying Nigerian fiction Deborah.
>97 msf59: It sounds pretty hardcore Mark. I'm not sure I'll get to that one. Satire is not my thing.
>98 alcottacre: Stasia thank you. I've moved on to the shares in Kleenex stage, so things could improve yet.
>99 rosalita: I've got my fingers crossed yet.
>100 vancouverdeb: Sorry about that!
>101 FAMeulstee: Thanks Anita. I'm visiting the Moderna Museet, which is a beautiful building full of lovely art but is not keen on photos. Which is a shame.
>102 susanj67: Now I am the one with the snivel. In contrast to all the beautiful healthy people in Stockholm. It must be all the naked swimming. I'm consoling myself with cinnamon buns and meatballs.
>103 Ireadthereforeiam: My favourite book sighting so far is a book and barbers. Seems like a good combo to me! A penguin sighting (of a kind) to report too...
>104 scaifea: Thanks Amber. Despite recent events it feels wonderfully safe. My friend lives near a school and we walked by to get to the lakeside cafe. So many unsupervised children having fun!
>105 msf59: Thanks Mark. I can't boast a meetup, but it is a lovely place to visit. And apparently the beer is becoming an interest too. Plenty of specialist bars.
>106 jnwelch: Thanks Joe. I sat next to two Americans on the plane who had their entire trip planned down to the last detail, and I felt quite underprepared! But my friend has been here a while and I have a few guides, so good so far.
>107 rretzler: >108 rretzler: I'm not sure I'd recommend them unreservedly, in some ways to me they have dated a lot, but still interesting. Would be great to hear what you think.
>109 BLBera: Yup, guilty as charged Beth!
>110 katiekrug: Thanks Katie. Are you back from Texas yet?
>111 banjo123: Thanks Rhonda. I am at least fit enough to be up and about, which is a relief.
>112 EBT1002: Thanks Ellen. I really liked The Patriots. Hope you can find a copy.
>114 Ameise1: Thanks Barbara. My beans are now in little pots of their own thanks to my mum. Hopefully next step the allotment.
Sooo jealous, Charlotte. Sweden is definitely on my bucket list. As a devotee of Scandi crime novels it is the location that makes it for me (and the beer is supposed to be great).
Have a wonderful time. xx
Thanks Paul. There is a crime fiction tour, and apparently a Girl with the Dragon Tattoo tour, but if I was coming again I'd quite like to do my own Martin Beck tour. Was very tempted by all the art books in the museum shop, but expensive doesn't begin to cover it. I'd definitely use my library if I lived here.
Hey Beth. Me too! And Ellen - I am a fan. :-)
I have been sitting reading a book in the library cafe. Shenzhen: A travelogue from China - I've also picked up a couple of Swedish ones to look for in English at home. In awe of how good everyone's English is...
Happy Sunday, Charlotte. Sounds like you are having a lovely time in Stockholm. I love the idea of these crime story tours.
Loved the Beck DVD series. Our "old" library had them all. New library not so good at the international DVDs which is a disappointment.
Charlotte, hope that you've had a wonderful time away! Time in Sweden sounds dreamy!
Congratulations on having a wonderful trip, Charlotte.
I'm off to join Ellen in looking at Martin Beck.
I'm sorry you're not feeling well, but consoling yourself with cinnamon buns and meatballs doesn't sound too awful. ;)
>124 msf59: Thanks Mark. It's fun. Clean and pedestrian friendly helps too.
There are Rebus tours in Edinburgh, I know. Includes plenty of pubs!
>125 BLBera: I'm not sure my account could match up here! I'll try when I get back and am not wondering if the data will run our any second.
>126 mdoris: I like the Beck tv series, (and I'm not sure if there is more than one?). The one I watched was barely the same as the books in any respect, except for having a character called Martin Beck!
>127 bohemima: Thanks. My friend has been here a couple of months, and seems to have thrown herself into discovering the city. It's lovely to have such a knowledgeable tour guide.
>128 ursula: Yup, very little to complain about here.
>58 charl08: I struggle to keep up with the non-fiction challenge, Charlotte. I am still wading through last month's book. I read a lot of history so this month was easy for me because I was already reading Neil Oliver's A History of Scotland and I should finish it in May. The book about the women who opted out of the 1911 census sounds interesting. What is it called?
It sounds like you are having a wonderful trip. Keep it up and get rid of the dreaded lurgy!
>130 Familyhistorian: Name escapes me of census book- by Jill Liddington I think.
>131 FAMeulstee: I saw there was a Wallander in English, but missed the Beck. I can't imagine it. The radio version they try hard to pronounce the Swedish names. I'm not sure how accurately!
>132 ronincats: Thank you! I am feeling much better, but glad I have only two day week at work this week.
>133 nittnut: Thanks Jenn. Nothing compared to your adventures!
My travels today took me to a fascinating photography museum, the national museum with exhibitions on how indigenous peoples were treated in Sweden and folk arts over the past hundred years. Finally in the Kulturhusset which had some fascinating reading spots (but lots under construction).
>134 charl08: Oh sorry, Charlotte, my fault I mixed Wallander with Beck...
>130 Familyhistorian: I'm still reading a non-fiction book from last month's challenge too...
Hope you feel better Charlotte. Envying your Swedish jaunt. My best friend from high school lives in Stockholm (she runs an insurance company.)
I gather there is a new Lisbeth Salander "sequel" by Lagercrantz coming out later this year. I liked the previous sequel, but the standalone book by him was so bad, I'm now ambivalent...
Ooh a Rebus tours in Edinburgh. I've enjoyed several Rebus books and my husband has become quite a fan. I hope you are still enjoying your trip to Stockholm - it sounds like it! So far, nothing in the mail from the UK. The post really varies in it's delivery times. *sigh*
>135 FAMeulstee: How could you? ;-) Poor Beck is so mild mannered. Wallander was a bit of a wild card I think (!!!)
>136 mdoris: That's the one they show on TV here. I like the Beck actor, he is so hapless, I find him rather identifiable.
>137 Chatterbox: Thanks for the good wishes Suzanne. I quite hanker after the lifestyle here, but with the caveat that I'd get to spend some of their winter in the southern hemisphere I think.
That shouldn't be too hard to organise, should it?!
I have had enough of Salander, but do hope the new one is good for you.
>138 vancouverdeb: Not the postie's fault Deborah! I didn't get it to the box in time before I left the UK. Will let you know when I've posted it.
Books read recently
Spandex and the City I wrote a short review of this on the book page. Colgan writes humorous novels aimed at young women which I've been reading since I was one. I liked this one, it was the predicted / anticipated light breezy read but with sci fiction/ fantasy thrown in. Colgan writes in the afterword she's wondered what happens to the girlfriend of superheroes, and this book was her attempt to find out.
Shenzhen: A travelogue
Written back in 1997 at the height of China's expansion in the city (I guess, from the description of limited facilities, and the time quoted) the Canadian graphic novelist writes about his work on a cartoon with animators who don't really get what is being asked of them by the Western agency, the limits on travel and his perceptions of living in China. Nothing as interesting as the Israel book I read, and I was gutted the library where I read this only had the Swedish version of his North Korea book. I'd skip this unless you're a completion, or particularly interested in this period of China's recent history.
Maigret at Picratt's
I usually like the slightly seedy side of Maigret's investigations, but the (presumably then common) attitudes to women in this one turned my stomach. A stripper is murdered, and the investigation includes the club owner, who appears to view the women as his property, and Maigret seems to think there is nothing off about this, or at least, nothing for him to investigate. Bleuch.
Flesh and Bone and Water
Another Netgalley, out in the UK next month. Underwhelming, although I was intrigued in the setting (Rio) as a friend is from a similar background to that described, and has talked about some of the issues mentioned. The problem with the book is that it doesn't really seem to address the issues it raises - so the weirdly close and yet far apart relationships between live in servants (empregada) and their employers is circled but seems to veer away from insight.
It probably says more about me than the book, but I was surprised that this novel that seems inexhaustibly interested in the lusts of a teenage boy, is written by a female author.
Cinnamon cakes are obligatory....
Dangerous bookshop Heldegren's -
Some more familiar than others
Small on the top floor, downstairs had a wide range, including a wide range of tempting children's books.
Historic trams run on the route to the museum island (black and white photos optional)
On the ferry to do a (mini) exploration of the Swedish archipelago
Stockholm library - outside
And the beautiful central room
Exciting looking events programme...
>140 charl08: Bookshop, historic tram (very appropriate in black & white, gives that old feel) and a beautiful library!
Thanks for sharing the pictures, Charlotte. It looks like you are having a great time in Stockholm. I hope the pictures didn't make you run out of data!
>141 FAMeulstee: I think I'm OK Anita- I found a library cafe that let me connect to the uni wifi service :-)
Now reading The Story of Blanche and Marie, part of my Swedish bookshop haul.
Has anyone read it? It's fascinating, but a very pomo structure.
Love the photos, Charlotte.
There's a Martin Beck TV series?! I must check it out.
Such a lovely city, felt very safe and the books would have been even more tempting if I hadn't been limited to hand luggage only...
Fab pix of Stockholm, Charlotte! It sounds like your are really enjoying your time there. No worries with posting the book - I'm very much like you in that regard! :)
Those are fab pix of Stockholm, Charlotte. Thanks for posting them. Any city that makes cinnamon cakes obligatory has its heart in the right place.
Charlotte--Hope you are beating the lurgy back. Sounds like the trip is going well. More pictures! I love the Central Room. : )
>147 vancouverdeb: Thanks Deborah. I'm hoping to get to the post office tomorrow. Fingers crossed now...
>148 jnwelch: It's a great city, and am talking with Heather, the friend I went to visit, about doing Copenhagen next. I like the relaxed atmosphere and the coastlines.
And the cakes.
>149 Berly: The sauna seems to have got rid of the worst of it Kim. Hopefully you are also feeling better.
Reading The Lauras
The ocean is the lover our species never got over. We crawled out of its arms to stumble and stand on solid ground, and have pined for it ever since. It’s the tragic romance to end them all . It hasn’t forgotten, either, hasn’t forgiven that abandonment —try and climb back into its bed without due precaution and it will kill your ass.
Charlotte, fantastic pictures of your trip.
Are you familiar with The Sandhamn Murders? (DVD series) They show the Swedish archipelago islands in such a stunning way. Maybe will be the only way I see them!
I haven't seen that one, will have a look to see if there is a plan to show them here. There was a series on TV here set in Sweden in the 50s - Crimes of Passion - which was beautiful looking too.
ETA They don't all seem to be translated into English, which is a bit annoying. A Wreath for the Bride is available via ebook, so I'll look for that.
Charlotte, it sounds like you had a great time :-) I'm always surprised that Scandinavia isn't a more popular holiday destination from the UK, but I suppose people go looking for sun. The Lauras has been on the new books shelf at the library on my last two visits, along with A Gentleman in Moscow. I just want to pick them up and give them to people...
I've been to Copenhagen, and while it's not in my top 5 places to go, and I probably wouldn't go back, it was very enjoyable. If you decide to do so eventually, go on one of the flat boat tours (extremely reasonably priced) and get a combined ticket for the palaces - the new one that kept burning down has 5 different things to see in it and if you get a ticket for all in one, it's cheaper. And the summer palace in the garden is also very cool. It's a nice place to be, with an interesting vibe.
>154 susanj67: I did, Susan. Partly just the delight of being in a new place I think, but also being by the sea and the range of things to do. Visit to a gorgeous Spa on my last night, (or Bad) which was built over hundred years ago, with a gorgeous pool and steam rooms. Came out feeling like I'd been recharged.
>155 lunacat: Thanks! I'll bear that in mind. I loved that you could get a ferry to commute in Stockholm and they were so frequent. Not something that I'm used to.
It was a beautiful place to visit Darryl. Highly recommended. Unlike Fever Dream, which was not my cup of tea.
Blanche and Marie
This was a purchase on my holiday trip, as I like to get a book from an author from the place that I visit. This felt like a bit of a cheat, as it wasn't really about Sweden at all, but about Marie Curie and her assistant. Both women were affected by the radiation they worked with, Blanche having her limbs amputated and Curie a series of health problems until she died. I was a bit unsure about the gap between history and novel - the author reflects on reading Blanche's diaries and trying to make sense of them, what the news was, what other actors were writing or saying about the situation. In this book - Curie had an affair with a married man and the Nobel prize committee tried to pressure her to refuse the honour on moral grounds. She also faced a lot of harassment as a Polish, Jewish woman in science. Which seems ironic given that her name has been given to a scheme that funds and supports academic movement.
So it's interesting, but I was left wondering more about both women's lives and wanting to read biographies. Which is no bad thing I suppose. The style reminded me of Julian Barnes - that kind of tricksy technique in The History of The World in 10 1/2 chapters.
Wonderful Stockholm photos. I'm glad you enjoined it there. I liked the Martin Beck series on tv. I've seen such a lot of them.
I was in Copenhagen many many years ago and I liked it.
Wishing you a fabulous day.
>163 BLBera: I missed you Beth, sorry! It's fine - interesting and varied, which is what I was hoping for. They are now advertising a (slightly) more senior, better paid, position and I am wondering whether to apply for it.
I opened up the emails back in the office this morning and found a really shocking group message advising that a young woman had died who was a former manager of mine when I was temping. She was such a smiley person, and had everything going for her - it seems unbelievable somehow.
>165 Ameise1: Thanks Barbara, it was lovely to be there, although coming home and back to reality is a bit of a bump!
No more sitting in a coffee shop reading and eating cinnamon buns for me...
>166 msf59: It's fun! I need to get back to it. Hoping to squeeze in a quick library trip too...
Sorry to hear about your former co-worker, Charlotte. As for the job, go for it! Have a great return to work.
Just seems really unreal somehow. I can't imagine what it's like for her family and friends.
On a lighter note, this was one of the two books I managed to sneak into my hand luggage on the way home...
L'Origine du Monde
>167 charl08: Oh yeh, sitting in a coffee and reading is heaven on earth, isn't it?
>171 charl08: Um, that picture isn't really big enough to read the titles of the books, young lady. Just saying... Nice Sweden swag!
I can't remember where I heard about this one Beth. Looking forward to it though! Roll on the weekend. Although there's allotment work to be done, so maybe more gardening than reading.
Oh my; yummy cinnamon buns. Honestly, your experiences are tempting me to overseas travel...
Love that quote from The Lauras. I'm going to have to investigate that one.
Hi Charlotte! Welcome home :) I loved the photos of your trip! Cinnamon cake *drool*.
So sorry to hear about your co-worker passing away.
I hope your cold stayed in Sweden and you are going to have a lovely weekend.
>179 FAMeulstee: Thanks Anita. I only knew her a little, but she was very kind to me at a horrible time for my family. And the circumstances are so awful, so young and leaving a small baby behind.
Rain here too, a relief as the water butt was empty.
>180 bohemima: Cinnamon buns alone make it worth it I think!
>181 nittnut: Thanks Jenn. I think I may have shared my cold with my friend in Sweden. That's the kind of generous person I am...
Sweden really sounded like a place I need to go to - for a view of that library if nothing else, but it is always good to be home isn't it?
Have a lovely weekend, Charlotte.
Paul, I loved it, although I think if we'd wanted a very boozy holiday it would have been a lot harder on the wallet. Hope you are having a good one. We've been to the plot and put in some beans. One of the new next door neighbours smokes, so I'm hoping he's not an evening gardener, as I shall find it hard not to Say Something. I can't see the point in going out to a beautiful bit of nature to smoke, much less second hand smoking.
Guardian reviews non-fiction
Dismembered: How the attack on the state harms us all by Polly Toynbee and David Walker reviewed by Ross Mckibbon
"...present much damming evidence as to what has happened in Britain, but quote the OECD as concluding that levels of corruption in Britain remain low."
The Kingdom of Women by Choo Waihong reviewed by Isabel Hilton
'...a disturbing and paradoxical story of a traditional community whose unique culture has been violently ruptured by modernity....the government had realised that the colourfully dressed Mosuo with their unusual approach to sex were a potential gold mine in a fledgling tourist industry...'
Admissions: A life in Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh reviewed by Gavin Francis
'...a deeper examination of death, and anot angrier exposition of the shameful betrayal of the NHS by successive generations of politicians.'
Eurovision! A history of Modern Europe through the world's greatest song contest by Chris West reviewed by Stephen Moss
"...the juries in the contest, however composed, are often deranged."
Where the Line is Drawn: crossing boundaries in occupied Palestine by Raja Shehadeh reviewed by Ben Ehrenreich
"No one else writes about PalestinIan life under military occupation with such stubborn humanity, melancholy and fragile grace.'
Guardian reviews: fiction
The Awkward Age by Francesca Segal reviewed by Alice O'Keefe
'...the characters seem blissfully unaware of...momentous social changes."
The Gray House by Mariam Petrosyan reviewed by Phoebe Taplin
"magical realist saga two decades in the writing that has been a cult success in Russia..."
Spoils by Brian Van Reet reviewed by Marcel Theroux
"It may not be news that war is hell... not only rewarding but necessary. "
The 7th Function of Language by Laurence Binet reviewed by Lauren Elkin
'...a whodunnit without a crime, in which one of the characters investigating the death strongly (and rightly) begins to suspect he is a character in a novel.'
Release by Patrick Ness reviewed by Imogen Russell Williams
"The threads of magical realism are likely to polarise readers...'
Ooh, and a crime roundup too.
I like the idea of Crimson Lake, adding that to the wishlist.
This week I got a printed paper but reviews and more on www.guardian.co.uk
>185 charl08: I am getting tired of the Brexit/Remain debate to be honest. Now that the British public made up their mind (sort of) I just wish we'd get on and do the dastardly deed and man the barricades. Although I would have voted to stay I would embrace aloneness if it stops this rash of books by journalists whose views I couldn't care less about.
I take the Eurovision book and give politics NUL POINTS.
>186 charl08: Binet's book of H's last time was a bit of an underground hit I think but I do get dismayed by novels where the character realises he is a character in a novel. It was irritating when Calvino did it and I am sure it will be again. Patrick Ness please, magical realism, or not.
Oh I liked hhhh and this new one sounds tricksy but fun. The Eurovision book sounds like politics by stealth to me!
>178 charl08: Kith and Bim are as one :)
Lots of interesting books in the Guardian reviews. Off to check them out. Thanks for posting.
I hope your weekend is full of flowers and books.
Finished Barbara the Slut. This is a great collection of short stories, funny and down to earth, mostly featuring young women making a mess of relationships. My favourite one was the one from the perspective of a golden retriever who eats everything and witnesses a relationship in "My Humans". I think this is ťere author's first book, so will look out for her future ones.
>190 BLBera: Thanks Beth. It's been a lovely day, have done some tidying up and put tomatoes in growbags and into the plastic greenhouse. Also planted more beans in the hope that can stagger them and have more beans for longer... Lots of lettuce in too, and for the first time, Chard...
>192 charl08: We grew chard last year and it did really well. And then for some reason, we never ate it? Much the same as the turnips. We aren't going to bother this year! I hope your tomatoes enjoy their expanded space, mine went mental when we moved them to growbags about 3 weeks ago. I suspect we will have many more tomatoes than we need.
I'm going to try and look up some recipes - I seem to get stuck eating carrots, green beans and broccoli, so hoping for some more variation.
I'm reading Truevine. Lots of backstory, including the fun fact that museums in the US were first a pub alternative to try and create educational salons.
Sounds like your trip to Stockholm was a success. I've been there a couple of times but so long ago. The tv crime series I enjoyed recently was the adaption of Camilla Läckberg's Fjällbacka series, haven't read any of the books as yet.
From your Guardian list, I have Patrick Ness's Release out from the library, his last book was more than excellent. Not sure I could read another by Francesca Segal. The Eurovision book is not my thing, though I loved the bossa nova vibe of Portugal's winning entry from this year's competition.
I have so many books out from the library, once again, I won't even look at the crime feature and this week is Auckland Writers Festival, I've booked 5 events but there are also lots of free ones that also look enticing.
>186 charl08: Wouldn't this be disturbing if it happened to you?!
The 7th Function of Language by Laurence Binet reviewed by Lauren Elkin '...a whodunnit without a crime, in which one of the characters investigating the death strongly (and rightly) begins to suspect he is a character in a novel.'
Might have to get that one!
>195 avatiakh: Kerry, avoiding the crime roundup is probably a good move. I've already reserved another book! The festival sounds like fun, hope you will have time to share your experiences.
I also liked the Portuguese song. A bit of authentic emotion I thought.
>196 Berly: Yup. Worst of all the idea you're a minor character in someone else's story...
Reading the LRB on Jilly Cooper. I was going to mention this as rather an odd choice on the part of the reviewer (Riders! in the LRB! Etc) until I came to the part where the reviewer mentions reading the books when his wife was dying.
It was exactly the sort of narrative , for me, at that moment: absorbing, distracting, elegant enough, silly enough and, in a strange way, affectionate.
Still to read (aka Library List of shame)
The defector - part of my adventures in eastern European fiction.
A constellation of vital phenomena Mamie's fault.
The woman next door Deborah's fault.
Birdcage walk Women fiction's prize.
The bricks that built the houses because the library copy of Kate Tempest's poetry seems to have disappeared 'in transit' and I really want to read her work.
Victorians undone : tales of the flesh in the age of decorum Susan's fault.
Truevine : two brothers, a kidnapping and a mother's quest Guardian's fault.
The world without us ditto
The hidden face of Eve : women in the Arab world I can't remember why I ordered this one - but I like her other writing, so hoping this one will be as compelling.
The life project : the extraordinary story of our ordinary lives Susan's fault.
Paul Robeson : the artist as revolutionary long overdue read for the biography month of the NF challenge.
The republic of imagination One of the 'read harder' challenges is to read a book about books, and this one looked good on the catalogue.
The Villa Ariadne no clue.
Shirley Williams : the biography because I like Shirley Williams.
Once upon a time : a short history of fairy tale because I wanted to read something by Marina Warner - I think this is Kerry's fault.
The lives of the novelists : a history of fiction in 294 lives argh! I was doing quite well reading a few of these each morning, and seem to have fallen off the wagon.
Ha! I am leading the List of Fault. Hmmm... I haven't actually read that Victorians Undone one yet, but it's an ebook at the library, so I'm definitely going to get to it.
I can definitely understand reading Jilly Cooper when going through something horrendous. They are pure escapism and don't require much concentration. It's the type of book I grab if I'm off to A&E and expecting a long wait, or am in hospital for a couple of days. It's not a huge bother if you get interrupted while reading them either, as they are easy to follow.
I haven't read my latest LRB yet so I shall go and hunt it down. Thanks for the nudge!
Makes me happy to see the LRB reviewing decent comfort fiction -- there is certainly a place for it, more than a place, that sounds condescending, it is really IMPORTANT. When a beloved aunt was dying we all passed around tattered copies of Rich Man, Poor Man and for whatever reason it was exactly what we all needed to escape. My last night at the hospital after our daughter was born (caesarian) I couldn't sleep and luckily, being me, I had some books, and the perfect one was The Answer is Yes - and I was so grateful that the book existed to get me through a long (very weird!) night. (Weird because I knew it would be so different once we all went home!). I usually have a few books that I think are of that ilk around just in case I need them.
I can speak in favor of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, Charlotte. Kudos to Mamie for recommending it. I think you'll get caught up in it.
Change it to list of fame, Charlotte. The Villa Ariadne was one of the books that Ali Smith mentioned in her interview. I also added it to my list. My library doesn't have a copy though.
Have a great week.
>200 susanj67: To those with great power, comes great responsibility, Susan ;-)
>201 lunacat: Yup, I like a comfort read myself in times of trouble.
>202 sibyx: There are some books that I read and read again, and they are usually the 'comfort' ones.
>203 jnwelch: Thanks Joe. I need to bump it up the list. Two enthusiastic recommendations :-)
>204 BLBera: Thanks Beth! Nice suggestion. Ali Smith comes up in the Jilly Cooper review article, in weird-coincidence-mode. I wasn't sure I completely got the point, but I liked the effort.
>205 charl08: Well, in that case, I should point out that this thread has 206 posts. Ooh, the power!
The gardening sounds like it's going well. I hope you don't have to "speak" to the smoker next door Lol. Maybe you could post a sign that says No Smoking in the Garden. *grin*
My gardening is restricted to cleaning up right now. I've got to clean out the flower beds and get raspberries out of my azaleas and tame the grass a little. It has taken over the stepping stones and is encroaching on the flower beds in the back yard. We have a gorgeous yard with lots of plants, but many of them are old and getting woody. We need to figure out what we don't want and pull it out. Tidying up.
Cool swag, Charlotte! I'm still nattering on about Stay With Me. Nigeria and the best of the Bailey's shortlist, I think. The Woman Next Door is a four star read, but Stay With Me is a fascinating tale of marriage that was planned to be monogamous, until the husband's family pressured him into taking a second wife. What a fascinating story! 5 stars for originality and just plain good writing and story telling. And it's a page turner!
>208 nittnut: I should probably be more tolerant Jenn, but I'm not...
Raspberries sound good to me. I've put a bush in the garden, and it looks pretty healthy but no idea what the crop will be like this first year. Look forward to seeing what you've done with the garden. I'm a fan of the before and after picture - handy for evidence that you have made a difference when it's an especially big job!
>209 vancouverdeb: Thanks Deborah. I'll have a look if that ones at the
>210 Ameise1: Thanks Barbara. I made it past Monday, which feels like a Good Sign.
I started and then got distracted by the shiny new books Kerry - I need to get back to it!
This was a fascinating, and very readable account of the lives of two brothers who were taken to work as 'freaks' by circus managers in the early twentieth century. At least, that's the story the family believe: as the author digs deeper she finds a number of contradictory sources that suggest the brothers may well have been sold by the family. Other is really clear, however, as many of the sources of the Family history were either never recorded due to Jim Crow or subsequently destroyed. This is one of those accounts where the author is very present, interviewing, and on particular getting frustrated by the absence of sources. I would have pruned it back a bit, but nonetheless it makes for a compelling, quick read, in a murky and largely ignored bit of uncomfortable history.
I've had to settle for an imperfect and incomplete story line, uncertain but for its riple-free reflections on memory, power and race.
Your trip is sounding wonderful. The Central Room of the Stockholm Library is so awesome! I would love to just sit in that room and soak up the visuals.
Truevine sounds interesting.
>214 BLBera: It was certainly a different kind of read, Beth.
>215 EBT1002: I enjoyed my trip a lot Ellen. It was kind of budget, but the friendship made up for the minimalism.
Reading A Constellation of Vital Phenomena following Mamie (and now Joe's ) encouragement. Fun!
'Do you see the way he looks at me?' Deshi asked, her voice trembling with indignation. 'He is trying to seduce me.'
This is so exciting- an iris in the garden looks like it might actually flower - buds! (This is the second year since they were planted. Patient I was not...).
I love both irises and poppies, Charlotte, is the iris the one that grows from bulbs (iris hollandica, or spanish iris)?
I have a iris germanica (left) and some iris hollandica (right) in the garden.
Anita, those look lovely! I am embarrassed about my lack of knowledge about these plants. I'll take a picture when (if?) it flowers.
Thanks Beth and Jim! I forgot to record we've also had our first football knocked over the fence by the small people next door! :-)
Hi, Charlotte! I re-found you, and it looks like I've missed a lot! Your trip to Sweden looks like it was amazing, and I'm loving your garden pics. Having just moved and still in the unpacking stage, I haven't even begun to think about doing any gardening. I think, if I don't get started on something this weekend, I am going to be too late.
>224 Storeetllr: Thanks Mary. I loved Sweden - and I really only went because my friend was there for her studies.
Better late than never with the garden. I've got some flowers that are going bonkers now as I planted them in late September. Possibly too much growth, maybe, but hey ho.
Today I bought some books as gifts for my dad. Some of you may recognise the titles (!) Born a Crime, and Hero of the Empire. He seemed pleased, and then went back to reading the 99p book by Spike Milligan my mum picked up a few days ago in a charity shop and sniggering every five minutes :-)
I've just started using the library again now that I've put Overdrive on my Kindle and learned how to use it. I thought I was bad having 8 library books checked out and 8 on hold, ready to come in at any time (all in addition to the 1500+ books on my physical TBR shelves). But I guess I have a long way to go before I catch up with you as a library fiend.
Hi, Charlotte. Good review of Truevine. I liked that one too. I am a huge fan of A Constellation. It was my favorite read of that year and I was able to meet the author at one of the Booktopias.
Hope you are also loving it.
I'm with Mark on A Constellation of Vital Phenomenon - it's in my top 10 of all-time favorites. And I met Marra at the same Booktopia as Mark. He was very smart and engaging. And easy on the eyes....
>226 arubabookwoman: I'm not sure that's a good thing all those books out from the library. Every so often I get a bit worried about ever getting good through them and return some unread.
But shhh don't tell anyone!
>227 msf59: Thanks Mark. Good to know! I've started it and am enjoying it so far. Book of the year seems quite an accolade.
>228 katiekrug: Thanks Katie. That sounds like a successful event, then - you and Mark! I wonder if he has written any more since this book. Something for me to poke around the internet and find out.
He has a collection of short stories that came out after Constellation. Which reminds me, Mark sent me his ARC of the collection, and I still haven't read it!
I'm enthusiastically in favor of comfort reads. I have a giant cluster of them -- read, unread, preparing to be re-read -- on my Kindle and scattered around the place. I just saved a bunch from being tossed on the heap for the giant yard sale, although this time I am being utterly ruthless with my fiction collection.
Love all the garden photos. I can't post any, but I'd love to kidnap some a friend in Canada has been posting -- all kinds of amazing iris, etc. She is truly obsessive. I think that plant catalogues are her version of porn in the winter months.
Re the Guardian lists, I've got an ARC of the Francesca Segal novel, had snaffled the dual narrative crime thriller by Erin Kelly already, and added Imran Mahmood's novel to my list to watch for it to come down in price a bit for the Kindle version... :-) Since I just bought two Europa Editions books to be delivered today, I can't spend much money on books for the rest of the month.
I think it's a good thing to borrow as many books from the library as possible and as often as possible, even if you don't get to all of them, so the library knows people are borrowing them. I borrow some I notice are usually available, even if I don't actually want to read them just then, just to keep the action going so the library doesn't "discard" them, just in case I or someone else wants to read them/reread them in future.
>232 Chatterbox: I like the idea of a giant cluster of comfort reads! And I do like a plant catalogue myself. I have to be reminded that I only have a tiny border to work with...
You sound very busy on the guardian reads front - will look for what you make of those. Lets not talk about book buying budgets. I have been quite naughty lately.
>233 Storeetllr: I feel I don't need any further encouragement to borrow books! My library seems to be fairly good at storing individual copies of books (this is judging from the ones I order from years ago out of storage!).
I'm mostly reading Our Holocaust, which is a surprisingly funny book about holocaust survivors. Kerry recommended it.So when one of the honourary grandfathers decides to go on holiday to the Caribbean from Israel...
"They eat lots of coconut and pork here,” his first postcard announced. He sounded disappointed, as if he had expected to find an observant congregation on the Caribbean islands.
Well it's been a very sad day - my colleague's funeral. I have been gardening since I got my tea, just trying to do something constructive. Pak choi seeds coming up.
Thank you for the kind comments Mary, Megan, Rhonda and Ellen. Life seems horribly unfair sometimes: she was far too young, a new mum, much loved. Her family and friends gave her wonderful tributes, and had bravely donated her organs to save other lives.
The garden. Providing solace for the sad and hard times for more years now than I care to count.
Beans blossoming (but still inside for now).
Another poppy flowered this morning
And the foxgloves are on their way (with a filter!)
Guardian reviews fiction
The End We Start From by Megan Hunter reviewed by Justine Jordan
"...part of a growing trend to approach parenthood side on, smash it into fragments, and offer up the shards."
Gravel Heart by Abdulrazak Gurnah reviewed by Kamila Shamsie
"The “secret” at the start of the book seems nothing more than a domestic falling-out. Salim is seven, in 1970s Zanzibar, when his father abandons the house; at first his mother says he has only gone away for a few days. Soon it becomes clear that he has moved out and is renting a room in another part of town..."
Rotherweird by Andrew Caldecott reviewed by Gwyneth Jones
"Coracle racing on the turbulent river Rother is a local passion; the beer is so good, it’s dangerous; and the municipal gardener, Hayman Salt, is a genius at nurturing the strange and beautiful hybrids he finds in the Lost Acre – nothing like them has ever been seen in the outside world."
A Talent for Murder by Andrew Wilson reviewed by Ian Sansom
"...a bit like making Shakespeare the main character in your play: it’s either very brave or utterly foolhardy. Wilson is clearly up for the challenge. Most daringly, there is a strong puzzle element in his book..."
New Boy by Tracy Chevalier reviewed by Ellah Wakatama Allfrey
"The new boy of the title is Osei Kokote, the Ghanaian son of a diplomat, who joins the sixth grade late in the school year. This is Washington DC in the 1970s, a time when the partial armour of political correctness had yet to offer protection against blatant racism. Not only does Osei have to navigate new friendships and the brutal politics of the playground, he is also the only black child in the school. From the casual, unexamined bigotry and suspicion of the teachers and the outright hostility of some of his schoolmates, it’s clear that “settling in” is not going to be easy."
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins reviewed by Alison Flood
"There’s no simple, one-line description for Hawkins’s follow-up... released two years after The Girl on the Train, when the author might have been still lounging around on the riches earned from global sales of 18m copies."
Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth Strout reviewed by Elizabeth Lowry
"What the stories in Anything Is Possible all have in common is this sense of the communality of human guilt and suffering, or what Tommy calls “this confusing contest between good and evil”, and an apprehension that “maybe people were not meant to understand things here on earth”."
Lots more here www.guardian.co.uk/books
Guardian Reviews Non-Fiction
Post Truth by Matthew D’Ancona and Post-Truth by Evan Davis reviewed by John Gray
"...if we have entered a post-truth era, when did this epoch begin? Matthew d’Ancona is highly specific as to the date: “2016 was the year that definitively launched the era of ‘Post-Truth’.” ....if there is such a thing as the post-truth era, it didn’t start last year with Brexit and Trump. It began with the Iraq war, which D’Ancona barely mentions. More than any other single event, it was this stupendous exercise in disinformation and denial that convinced the public that indifference to truth had become the norm in politics. In Britain, it wasn’t only the dodgy dossier and the misuse of intelligence in the run-up to the war that produced toxic mistrust of government. It was the refusal of the chief architect of the war to acknowledge the disaster that followed."
(Ancona's book wins on least effort ever on cover art)
The Art of Losing Control by Jules Evans reviewed by David Shariatmadari
"Modern western civilisation is unusual in that it has more or less dispensed with ritualised ecstasy. Up until the 16th century, an army of 10,000 monks and nuns in England alone spent every day reaching altered states through contemplation of the divine. "
The Making of Donald Trump by David Cay Johnston
"If a single story emerges, it is the complicity of financial institutions in every stage of the rise and the resurrection of Trump. For a reader who before 2016 knew him only as a sketchy figure in the world of real estate, fake wrestling and reality TV, the extent of the connivance is shocking. In The Art of the Deal, the book he wrote in 1987 with Tony Schwartz, Trump claimed to have paid $5m in cash for the purchase of Mar-a-Lago, but in court testimony, Johnston says, he later “confirmed that his primary bank, Chase Manhattan, had loaned him the entire purchase price”."
October by China Miéville reviewed by Jonathan Steele
"...contribution ... is to get away from ideological battles and go back to the dazzling reality of events. There is no schadenfreude here about the revolution’s bloody aftermath, nor patronising talk of experiments that failed because they were doomed to fail. Known as a left-wing activist and author of fantasy or what he himself calls weird fiction, Miéville writes with the brio and excitement of an enthusiast who would have wanted the revolution to succeed. But he is primarily interested in the dramatic narrative – the weird facts – of the most turbulent year in Russia’s history..."
A Generation of Sociopaths by Bruce Cannon Gibney reviewed by Jane Smiley
"s one who has been raging against the American right since the election of Ronald Reagan, as someone with plenty of boomer friends who have done the same, I would like to let myself off the hook, but Gibney points out that while “not all Boomers directly participated, almost all benefited; they are, as the law would have it, jointly and severally liable”.'
More here www.guardian.co.uk/books
I just read the article on Queer City by Peter Ackroyd on the Guardian website which looks extremely interesting. And the profile on Margaret Atwood was fascinating - I've met her, and she's an intriguing human being.
Out of the ones you've listed, I think Gravel Heart and Rotherweird appeal the most. I shall be on the lookout for them.
>242 charl08: I have Rotherweird on kindle already - it was on sale for 99p a few weeks ago - slightly oddly as it only seems to be being published now. I like the look of the China Mieville as well. I've recently read The House by the Dvina, some of which is set during the Russian Revolution, and that made me realise that, beyond the storming of the Winter Palace and some vague ideas gained from watching Doctor Zhivago years ago, I have very little idea what actually happened.
Thanks for posting the reviews, Charlotte. I heartily recommend Anything Is Possible and I thought New Boy was an interesting take on Othello. Otherwise Gravel Heart and A Talent for Murder sound good.
I'm avoiding reading more about Trump.
Your garden is stellar; I hope you have wonderful weather this weekend to work on it.
>244 lunacat: Thanks Jenny. When I'm looking at the Guardian site on my phone, I go straight to the reviews (non-fiction)(fiction ) sections, and I missed this interview/ review with Peter Ackroyd. I've not really read much by him, but think this one sounds good. I've just been over to your thread to admire the fox pictures. I recently read a very creepy short story by Sarah Hall about a woman who turns into a fox. Chilling.
>245 SandDune: That is odd Rhian. I wonder if the kindle one came out sooner or if the Guardian is behind. I like reading and watching stuff about Russia in the 20thC. I have Francis Spufford's book in the pile to read next.
>246 BLBera: I am waiting for the new Strout to come from the library with my usual patience (ha!). I think with the others I'll leave it to browsing. I need to cut back on the reservations as I'm overloaded.
Thanks for the lovely comments about the garden. Plenty of rain today which was helpful. Trying to stop the pigeons eating the new flower seedlings...
A couple of standouts for me this week.
Abdulrazak Gurnah in the fiction list; and
China Mieville in the non fiction list.
Have yourself a wonderful weekend, Charlotte. xx
The Gurnah turns out to be in the library Paul . I may have hit the reserve button... so much for good intentions.
Hope things calm down a bit for you.
Omigod, I have every single novel EXCEPT "Rotherweird" on the fiction list already sitting here, most in ARC or digital ARC form. (The Paula Hawkins novel is an audiobook.) New Boy and A Talent for Murder are the only ones I have finished. While the former was OK, I didn't find the idea of setting Othello among 12 year olds convincing. Hag-Seed remains my fave of the Hogarth Shakespeare books, hands down. The latter was an intriguing mystery (a sequel will be out next year) and a companion piece of sorts (though thankfully no romance involved this time! to The Woman on the Orient Express. The events in Wilson's book take place just as Christie was trying to write The Mystery of the Blue Train, which I just picked up for 99p for my UK Kindle, so I'll read that soon-ish, just to complete the cycle!
>247 charl08: I loved the Spufford book. It's going to be on my top reads of the year list, I think.
Thanks as always for posting the book reviews in the Saturday Guardian, Charlotte. I'm a fan of Abdulrazak Gurnah, and after reading the review by Kamila Shamsie, who I'm also fond of, I purchased the Amazon Kindle version of Gravel Heart. New Boy sounds interesting, despite the lukewarm review, so I'll keep my eye out for it.
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