Kerry (avatiakh) goes for 18 in 2018
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This is my 10th year in the category challenge. I haven't been as present these past couple of years but we'll see how we go. I've sketched out 18 reading categories but will not be aiming for 18 books read in each.
I'll add my categories now, though will need to pretty them up etc
My current 2017 category challenge is here
1: New to me writers
2: Young at Heart
3: Crossing Over - YA books & graphic novels
4: European writers
5: Short Stories
6: Folk and fairy
7: Essays & poetry
8: Thrillers - crime, spies, mystery
9: BIG BOOKS
10: Focus - Arthurian literature
11: Foodie things
12: Reading about the Middle East with focus on Israel
15: Science Fiction & Fantasy
17: General fiction
18: Keeping tabs: e-books and audiobooks
1: New to me writers:
Dive in and discover someone new, hopefully these discoveries will take place from my own bookshelves.
1) and the rat laughed by Nava Semel (2001)
2) Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)
Steve Sem-Sandberg - The Emperor of Lies
Parinoush Saniee - The Book of Fate
Arnold Zweig - The case of Sergeant Grischa
2: Young at Heart - children's books & picturebooks
1) The slave dancer by Paula Fox (1973)
2) The tales of Olga da Polga by Michael Bond (1971)
3) The Dogs of Winter by Bobbie Pyron (2012)
4) Leon by Helen Griffiths (1967)
5) The flying classroom by Erich Kästner (1934)
1) Tidy by Emily Gravett (2017)
2) Triangle by Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen (2017)
3) Yaffa and Fatima: Shalom, Salaam by Fawzia Gilani-Williams (2017)
4) Cinderella: an Islamic tale by Fawzia Gilani (2011)
3: Crossing Over - YA books & graphic novels
1) Piglettes by Clementine Beauvais (2017)
2) Words on bathroom walls by Julia Walton (2017)
3) Galax-Arena by Gillian Rubenstein / Lian Hearn (1993)
4) Doglands by Tim Willocks (2011)
5) Beck by Mal Peet (2016)
6) Ronit & Jamil by Pamela Laskin (2017)
7) The traitor and the thief by Gareth Ward (NZ, 2017)
8) Girl with a Camera: Margaret Bourke-White, Photographer by Carolyn Meyer (2017)
9) The Twelfth of July by Joan Lingard (1970)
1) Rise of the Dungeon Master: Gary Gygax and the Creation of D&D by David Kushner (2017)
Fever Crumb trilogy by Philip Reeve
The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman
6: Folk and fairy - collections and nonfiction
I have several texts about folktales, mythology etc that I need to read.
8: Thrillers - crime, spies, mystery
1) The Guards by Ken Bruen (2001)
2) The Pyramid of Mud by Andrea Camilleri (2018)
3) The Mask of Dimitrios by Eric Ambler (1939)
4) The Lady Killer by Masako Togawa (1963)
5) The Menorah Men by Lionel Davidson (1966)
6) Between summer's longing and winter's end by Leif Persson (2002)
7) Hellbent by Gregg Hurwitz (2018)
10: Focus - Arthurian Literature
The Once and Future King by T.H. White
The Sword and The Circle, The Light Beyond the Forest & The Road to Camlann by Rosemary Sutcliff
The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart
Hawk Of May by Gillian Bradshaw
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Arthurian Romances by Chrétien de Troyes
The History of the Kings of Britain by Geoffrey of Monmouth
An LT list here - http://www.librarything.com/list/154/all/Best-Arthurian-Fiction
11: Foodie things - cookbooks or culinary memoirs etc
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat
Ferment: A practical guide to the ancient art of making cultured foods by Holly Davis
1) Hello Refugees! by Tuvia Tenenbom (2017)
2) Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell (2017)
3) Jacob's room is full of books by Susan Hill (2017)
4) A Table for One: Under the Light of Jerusalem by Aharon Appelfeld (2001)
5) The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide (2001)
Belonging: the story of the Jews 1492-present by Simon Schama
The King of Children by Betty Jean Lifton
16: Folio editions - I have collected several of these books and should read some
17: General fiction
for books that don't fit elsewhere
1) Powder and Patch by Georgette Heyer (1923)
18: e-books and audiobooks
I want to keep tabs on how many of these I read & also hope to make myself read more from my kindle app where I have built up quite a collection of cheap digital reads.
This will probably be a double up category as I will also be slotting these books into other categories.
1) Piglettes by Clementine Beauvais - kindle
2) Beck by Mal Peet - Overdrive e-book
3) The Lost Pages by Marija Pericic - kindle
4) Girl with a Camera: Margaret Bourke-White, Photographer by Carolyn Meyer (2017) - e-book
and done. Might rejig a couple of categories before the new year.
Great set-up, Kerry. Your ANZAC section has my particular interest!
Looking forward to all the great recommendations that I know I will be getting here!
Have a great reading year! Post pics of the Folio books you read :)
>21 MissWatson: >22 DeltaQueen50: >23 rabbitprincess: thanks for your support.
I've decided to make my focus on King Arthur. My daughter and I have just been discussing Arthurian legend and so the decision was easy.
There's an LT list - http://www.librarything.com/list/154/all/Best-Arthurian-Fiction
Looks like a varied challenge. Will be stopped back by to see how it goes!
>24 avatiakh: I've been planning to re-read the Mary Stewart four book set. I read them so very long ago, but remember them with such fondness. Maybe a group read if anyone else is interested?
Nicely done, Kerry! I like your categories, and the image for the big books category made me smile. So fun. Looking forward to following along with your reading.
Your challenge looks great! I'm looking forward to seeing your ANZAC choices.
This looks promising once again! I'm looking forward to see which books you'll choose.
>25 cmbohn: Hi Cindy, thanks for visiting.
>26 majkia: Reamde was one of my selections for the Near future scifi October read and I never got past the first chapter of The Windup Girl. So hoping to deal with tWG by year's end and very keen to tackle Reamde as I've loved all the Stephenson books I've read so far (or should say, 'listened too!').
I loved McDonald's The Dervish House and have been meaning to tackle more of his work since reading it.
>27 majkia: A group read of the Mary Stewart's series would be a grand idea, I've done ok this year with the Poldark group read. I'll add it to the group read thread and see if there are any takers.
>28 Crazymamie: Hi Mamie. Thanks for visiting, I struggled a bit to find a 'big book' illustration, I didn't want to use images that I've used before. This one made me smile too.
>29 lkernagh: Please don't mention BBs. I get hit by so many.
>30 VivienneR: I run a ANZAC reading challenge over in the 75 books group. We didn't do that well this year but it's a good thread for getting some ideas from. I just finished The Starlings and liked it quite a bit.
>31 Chrischi_HH: I struggle to come up with a theme and just end up going for useful categories. My intention at one stage was just to call my categories after each room in the house that has books in it.
Ooh, just remembered I have a copy of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight kicking around that I haven't read yet, as well as Malory, Chretien de Troyes and Geoffrey of Monmouth, which are left over from my university course on King Arthur. Will have to earmark one or more of those for reading next year!
Last summer I read The Mists of Avalon and really enjoyed the story from the women's point of view.
>33 mamzel: I'm quite excited for Reamde. I've been meaning to tackle Mary Stewart.
>34 rabbitprincess: My daughter would love to do a uni course on King Arthur. She's hoping to do one on folktales in her second semester next year.
>35 mamzel: I read The Mists of Avalon years ago and really liked it. It was a set text for my oldest daughter at high school and I read it after she'd finished with it.
Good luck with your 2018 reading! You have interesting categories, especially the Folio Society.
Hello Refugees! by Tuvia Tenenbom (2017)
As I've said before Tenenbom has a distinctive style of writing, fairly irreverent, but he does give everyone he meets a chance to explain themselves. In this book he's asked by his publisher to go and look at the refugee issue in Germany. What follows is quite a fascinating read. Tenenbom can speak German, Arabic as well as Hebrew and English so combines on the street interviews with whoever he comes across with talks with Germans in positions of authority. The mix works well and gives the reader a look at a crosssection of opinion from all walks of German life.
First the Germans on why they welcomed an unlimited number of migrants - if we didn't it would confirm that we are Nazis, this way we look humane.
The refugees/migrants - are mostly miserable, stuck in group hotels/camps with nothing to do - no jobs, waiting endlessly for interviews so they can move forward, cramped, infrastructure not maintained, low grade meals. Problems with fighting between migrant groups and drugs. Weird viruses and skin infections afflict many.
Tenenbom talks to those on the right and finds a lot of what they say is common sense but because it is not in line with government policy they are considered far right and ostracised. He meets assimilated German Turkish writer, Akif Pirinçci who since expressing anti-migrant views has been censored and boycotted by society. When he goes out on the street he is yelled at, spat at and is not welcome at many local restaurants. It's easy to spot his home, it's the only one on the street with broken steps and a paint spattered front door thanks to an antifa group. His cat detective books are no longer stocked by amazon.com (though they still sell Mein Kampf & Ku Klux Klan books), his e-books no longer available. His publisher Random House says he no longer exists and contacted Germany's leading bookstore chain, Thalia, to have all his works removed from the shelves. All this because he made a statement that was misreported by the media, he was reading from a book and it was taken as his view.
Tenenbom does say that this writer holds anti-migrant views but the backlash against him has been extreme. He's got written apologies from the media but nobody knows that because it's not general knowledge.
Tenenbom asks, when in the past does this happen to anyone? They hold a view that the migrants will bring more problems to the German society and for this they are ostracised by their community.
Tenenbom also meets many from the left of society including the Mayor of Koln, who struggle to not blame the influx of one million migrants on the many current problems Germany is suffering through - a rise in crime, drugs, the sex attacks in Koln during New Year's Eve etc.
Tenenbom contacts Daimler-Benz, which has a program to train refugees. The head of public relations sends a limousine to pick him up at his Stuttgart hotel; another Mercedes shuttles him to a factory with a showpiece integration program.https://pjmedia.com/spengler/2017/09/10/germanys-refugee-crisis-looking-glass/
I've now read all his books.
Hangman by Jack Heath (2018)
thriller - ANZAC category
I received this review copy from Australian publisher, Allen & Unwin a couple of weeks ago through a goodreads giveaway. I read one of Heath's YA books a couple of years ago and liked it, thought it was a good book for boys, The Cut-out. Heath's first book was published while he was still at school, he's only 32 now and already has 20 books under his belt.
Hangman has already been optioned for a tv series by Homeland producer, Michael Offer and Heath has been commissioned to write a sequel.
This is rather a dark thriller and at first it's hard to be sympathetic with the main character, Timothy Blake, maybe because he has unpalatable secret, but for all that you do end up liking this guy. This has made Blake's life rather awkward in many ways but he now has a deal with the Houston FBI chief, solve a crime, save a child's life and we'll give you what you need to feed your habit.
This time Blake has a new FBI partner and a new kidnapping case to solve, one that proves exceedingly difficult.
I enjoyed reading this, a few parts where I'd rather not have ventured, but all up an entertaining read with enough humour and twists to keep me satisfied.
Here's a recent interview, I loved The Cleaner and this made me laugh -
Which writers inspire you? Jeff Lindsay (Dexter series), Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho), Joyce Carol Oates… there were moments in her book Zombie that made me feel physically sick. I love that. I was so horrified reading The Cleaner by Paul Cleave on a plane that I fainted, then vomited. That story became so notorious that the author sent me a signed copy. Which was nice, because I totally ruined the first one.
Piglettes by Clementine Beauvais (2017)
Crossing Over - YA books
Beauvais wrote this first in French and then translated it to English with some changes. The French edition was very popular and her profile as a writer soared over in France. I think the book has been snapped up for film. By day, Beauvais is a professor of children's literature at York University in the UK. She's been described as a French version of YA writer Louise Rennison.
I found this quite hilarious and would recommend it to all lovers of YA. Mireille, Astrid and Hakima are the winners of an ugly Facebook competition, they're the most ugly girls at their high school. The girls meet up and bond over this hateful social media bullying. They find a common interest in getting to Paris on Bastille Day for the French President's garden party...and decide to travel by bike, pulling a trailer from which they sell homemade pork sausages at each stop. They're accompanied by Hakima's older brother, who is in a wheelchair. Ttheir story is picked up by journalists and social media and the snowball effect begins. #3littlepiglettes
The slave dancer by Paula Fox (1973)
Young at Heart - children's
This won the 1974 Newbery and fitted the TIOLI challenge to read a book by a writer who died in 2017.
This is a haunting story of 13 yr old Jessie who is snatched while running an errand for his mother from New Orlean's streets. He's taken to a slave ship heading for Africa to pick up slaves, his job will be to play his fife when the slaves are up on deck, to get them to dance. A compelling though horrific read about conditions aboard ship and the type of men who manned these ships.
Driving to Treblinka: A Long Search For A Lost Father by Diana Wichtel (2017)
ANZAC - memoir
Wichtel is a well known journalist here in New Zealand, and this memoir has been extremely popular since it was published. She was born in Vancouver to a New Zealand mother and a Polish Jewish father. Her father had jumped from the train as it took Jews from the Warsaw ghetto to Treblinka and her father was one of the very few survivors from his family. When she was 13 her mother took the 3 children back to New Zealand, her father was meant to tidy up some business affairs and follow but never did and died alone a few years later.
This is the story of how, years later, Wichtel puts the pieces of her father's story back together, it's also a reminder of how Holocaust survivors were haunted all their lives by guilt and memories of their lost families. Wichtel, being a journalist, injects more into this than just family memories, she also discusses other Holocaust books and psychology studies. The trips into Poland are detailed and helpful to other family researchers.
Wichtel writes for The NZ Listener, the only print media I still have a subscription for, it's a weekly roundup of politics, culture, arts & literature. http://www.noted.co.nz/the-listener/
Here's a recent review by Wichtel for The Choice by Edith Eger - http://www.noted.co.nz/currently/profiles/the-holocaust-survivor-who-once-danced...
Her husband, journalist Chris Barton, who now lectures on architecture has written two interesting articles which I came across while reading this book:
The architecture of murder and memorial
Being made redundant by the Herald, and other tales of modern journalism
The tales of Olga da Polga by Michael Bond (1971)
children's - Young at Heart
Another read for the TIOLI challenge to read a book by a writer who died in 2017.
A juvenile read about the 'adventures' of Olga da Polga the guinea pig and the other animals in her garden, Noel the cat, Fangio the hedgehog and William the hibernating tortoise. Very cute especially for the fan of guinea pigs.
There's about 13 books in the Olga series.
My daughter and I just went to the movies and watched Coco and loved it. Normally we wouldn't go to a children's animated film but she'd been told that it was good and it was excellent. We both came out with tears in our eyes, happiness mingled with the bittersweet.
The Guards by Ken Bruen (2001)
Thrillers category - crime, spies, mystery
Jack Taylor (#1). I decided to read this before watching the tv series. I loved the style of writing, very spare with large doses of dialogue. The main character is interesting and I can't wait to try the next one in the series. Jack is asked by the mother to investigate the supposed suicide of her 17 year old daughter.
and the rat laughed by Nava Semel (2001)
New to me writers - fiction
And another read for the TIOLI challenge to read a book by a writer who died in 2017
This novella was recommended to me by Bianca a couple of years ago and I finally got going with it late last year. It's quite a challenging read, both the topic and the style.
From wikipedia: 'Semel was an Israeli author, playwright, screenwriter and translator and a member of the Board of Directors of Massuah, the Institute for Holocaust Studies at Kibbutz Tel Yitzhak, and for many years was a member of the Board of Governors of Yad Vashem. A daughter of Holocaust survivors, she was active in second generation survivor groups, and her anthology of short stories Hat of Glass was the first published work in Israel dealing with the offspring of Holocaust survivors.'
http://www.ithl.org.il/page_13244 - Semel received several literary prizes, including the American National Jewish Book Award for Children's Literature (1990), the Women Writers of the Mediterranean Award (1994), the Prime Minister's Prize (1996), the Austrian Best Radio Drama Award (1996), the Rosenblum Prize for Stage Arts (2005), and Tel Aviv's Literary Woman of the Year (2007
The book is divided into 5 parts - the first is an old woman reluctantly recounting her experience as a young child, left in the care of Polish farmers during the Holocaust. They leave her isolated in a dark potato pit, where she befriends a rat and is visited and horribly abused by the farmers' son. The old woman is telling her story to her grand daughter, who is doing a class project, but her memories come across as broken and nonsensical.
The second part is a recounting by the granddaughter who builds her own version of what happened, a version that is completely sanitised and wholesome, even though the truth comes in at the edges so the reader builds their own picture of the truth.
Each part adds to the whole and makes one think about memory, remembering and how everything changes over time. What's important this generation could be looked at differently in a future technological world.
Artisans of Israel: Transcending Tradition by Lynn Holstein (2017)
I saw this on a display shelf at my library otherwise I doubt I'd ever have come across it. I enjoyed working my way through this coffee table book, reading some of the bios and enjoying the beautiful photographs of the different crafts from all over Israel. The text is repeated in Hebrew and Arabic at the back of the book.
publisher description: 'author Lynn Holstein is in search of a national identity in the artisanry of the still young country – and she finds it in the unifying pursuit for innovation.
Forty artists – including Jews, Muslims and Christians – tell their stories and show in five different trades how emancipation can be promoted through creativity. Working with one’s hands stands unfailingly at the centre of this reflection.
From the hybrid of cultural and religious backgrounds emerges a unique compilation from the fields of metalwork and jewellery, ceramics, textiles, paper and wood, one that portrays a sensitive and inspiring portrait of Israel and its inhabitants.'
The publisher offers an online flipbook - https://www.arnoldsche.com/en/New-Books/ARTISANS-OF-ISRAEL.html
The Dogs of Winter by Bobbie Pyron (2012)
children's fiction / Young at Heart
I loved this one, can't believe I let it sit unread for so long. Pyron was inspired to write this by a news story that did the rounds a few years ago that referenced another feral child, Ivan Mishukov, who chose to live with a pack of dogs on the streets of Moscow rather than with other street kids. His story was also fictionalised by Eva Hornung in Dog Boy.
After Ivan's mother disappears after a domestic assault, Ivan ends up abandoned on the streets of Moscow. At first he's taken in by a group of children living in the train station, but eventually he drifts off into the company of a couple of dogs that he spots using the trains to get around the city.
Tidy by Emily Gravett (2017)
Mr Badger loves to keep his surroundings especially tidy and the forest floor clean, watched on by his fellow creatures. When autumn comes he has to go into super cleanup mode, and then the leafless trees look so untidy so he cleans them up too. He ends up with an endless smooth concrete floor where the forest used to be and no way back to his sett before he realises that maybe he was overdoing it.
>49 hailelib: Thanks for visiting. I try to have a few different types of books on the go at the same time.
>50 DeltaQueen50: I laughed reading that. The first book of Heath's that I read was a YA spy novel and I picked that up after reading his quest to read only woman writers for a year and blog about it.
Words on bathroom walls by Julia Walton (2017)
Crossing over - YA
This was an excellent read about a teen with schizophrenia. Adam is taking a new drug as part of an experimental trial, he also is starting at a new high school, as he makes friends he hopes that the drug will be a success and no oneWords on bathroom walls by Julia Walton (2017) will need to ever know that he's on medication and why.
Galax-Arena by Gillian Rubenstein / Lian Hearn (1993)
YA scifi - Crossing Over
Three children are abducted on their way to stay with their aunt, they're taken to another planet and forced to join an acrobatic troupe of children who perform for aliens. All is not what it seems to be.
This is quite a dark read, there is a bit of violence and just coldness at the treatment of the children who are mostly streetkids picked up from all around the world, all have acrobatic ability. The twist is quite creepy and I can imagine this being a memorable read for young readers.
Triangle by Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen (2017)
Triangle plays a trick on Square and Square decides to retaliate but gets stuck in Triangle's doorway. Mischievious fun for the very little.
Doglands by Tim Willocks (2011)
YA - Crossing Over
This was another that had been on my shelves for a long while and it turned out to be a good read. It's all about dogs and their mystical lore. Furgal and his fellow sibling puppies are taken from their greyhound mother when her cruel owner sees that they aren't purebreds, they're lurchers. On the way to their unseemly end, Furgal is able to get one sister out of the box they're trapped in and off the back of the truck. His other two sisters aren't as fortunate, and don't survive. Furgal does manage to escape and vows to go back and free his mother. Before then he has to grow up, learn about being a dog, meet his wolfhound father and have some adventures.
I loved the doglore which included doglands, doglines and the spirit wind.
I hadn't come across the term 'lurcher' before.
Beck by Mal Peet (2016)
YA - Crossing Over
Mal Peet passed away before finishing this and had asked Meg Rosoff if she could complete the book, which she did.
It's the story of Beck, an orphan of mixed race parentage who is shunted off from the UK to Canada in the early 1920s as part of the British Home Children Scheme. So it becomes a coming of age survival story that mostly covers the time after he runs from the farm he is taken to. For me it's not as gritty as other books on Home Children, but overall it's a good read that also gives a look at the plight of Canada's indigenous people in this era.
So I only have one book by Peet left to read, his only adult novel, The Murdstone Trilogy which I've picked up before and struggled to get into.
Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell (2017)
Very addictive. Now all I want to do is visit Wigtown and The Bookshop. Bythell kept a diary for all of 2014, it's a sort of running commentary on staff, books acquired and sold and customers. This is at times soulful, funny in a 'Black Books' sort of way and informative. I loved it and could have read through a second year.
From time to time he discusses the effect that the evergrowing Amazon has on his business, he sells on Amazon Marketplace and at abebooks.
Each month begins with a quote from George Orwell's Bookshop Memories followed by a short opinion piece on a variety of subjects book or bookshop related. The book ends with a brief update on the business, staff and others who featured in the book.
The Bookshop, Wigtown - The biggest second-hand store in Scotland has a mile of shelving and over 100,000 books.
>58 avatiakh: That one is already on my wishlist, after hearing an interview on the radio with the author towards the end of last year. If it hadn't been already, it would be now! Definitely one I want to get hold of! (and Wigtown is on my must-visit list too. Although I'm in Scotland, it is still quite a long old trek away, although not impossible if we make a trip of it.
>60 rabbitprincess: I was actually thinking last night, as next year is a significant birthday, and I'm thinking I should celebrate all year (to try and temper down the denial aspect) by doing something fun every month of the year, that for one month I should suggest a long weekend in Wigtown.
>58 avatiakh: - That sounds like such a wonderful book! On to my wishlist it goes.
Rise of the Dungeon Master: Gary Gygax and the Creation of D&D by David Kushner (2017)
graphic biography / Crossing Over - YA books & graphic novels
This graphic nonfiction tells the story of how Dungeons & Dragons came to be and how it fared once it became a big business. Quite interesting, I have read that it doesn't quite tell parts correctly, though I'm not a D&D fanatic so was not so invested in the story. Kushner expanded on an article he wrote for The Wire and interviews with both creators before their deaths. The artwork is by Koren Shadmi who did a great job with Mike's Place.
Yaffa and Fatima: Shalom, Salaam by Fawzia Gilani-Williams (2017)
picturebook / Young at Heart - children's books & picturebooks
I found out about this book when reading Tablet's 2018 Sydney Taylor Awards article
This is an adaption of the Two Brothers folktale, one that is found in both Arab and Jewish traditional tales around Jerusalem but earlier sourced from either Persia or India. I read the picturebook One city, two brothers about 18 months ago which is based on the same tale, using it as a founding myth for Jerusalem - my comments here. There's an older version, The Two Brothers: A Legend of Jerusalem that my library doesn't have.
Gilani-Williams has retold the tale and instead of two brothers she has two neighbours, one Jewish and one Muslim. They both grow dates, are friends and when there is a drought, they both try to help each other under the cover of darkness.
The artwork is by Italian illustrator, Chiara Fedele. It's hard to judge the quality of the illustration as I was reading a digital version on a small screen. Overall the drawings are sympathetic and portray the way of life of both women accurately. The colour palette is brown, burgundy and teal. http://chiarafedeleillustrator.blogspot.co.nz/p/illustrations_20.html
Fawzia Gilani-Williams is currently doing Doctoral research at Worcester University into 'Muslim Children, Fiction and Character Education: children’s Islamic literature in Britain, USA and Canada since 1990.' She writes children's books about Muslim festivals, mainly Eid. Some of her earlier books were not well edited. I've requested her Cinderella: An Islamic Tale from the library.
There's a 2011 interview with her here: https://muslimkidsbooks.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/q-a-with-author-fawzia-gialni-williams/
Jacob's room is full of books by Susan Hill (2017)
Another book about books from Hill. More rambling perhaps than Howard's End is on the Landing but equally enjoyable. Hill digresses on reading, writing, writers, books, those she still values and those she's happy to pack up and deliver to the local charity shop. There is also a natural world component, Hill observes the local birdlife, the badgers and changes of seasons. She reads a real diversity of books over the year and that's what makes it such an interesting read for me anyway.
I've made a list of books that I really should read, there were many more that sounded interesting but most of these are already on my reading radar -
Edith Wharton - The Age of Innocence, The House of Mirth
RLS - Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde
Catherine Storr - Tales of Polly and the hungry Wolf
Paul Scott - Raj Quartet
Nabakov - Pnin
C P Snow - The Masters
Naipul - A House for Mr Biswas
Maddox - The good Soldier
Calvino- If on a Winter's Night a traveler
Rhys - Wide Sargasso Sea
Judd - Devil's Own Work
Manning - Balkan & Levant trilogies - reread
Shirley Hazzard - Greene on Capri & we need silence to find out what we think:selected essays
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)
fiction / New to me writers
Read this for the Bicentennial of the book's publication. I didn't know much about the book, just what I'd gleaned from popular culture over the years. I enjoyed my read and want to read some more about the book before I comment further.
I also watched the film Victor Frankenstein which stars James McAvoy & Daniel Radcliffe just to get in the mood. In the past year or so I've read two YA novels - Mister Creecher by Chris Priestley which features Frankenstein's monster & Strange Star by Emma Carroll which has Mary Shelley as a character and is also about building a monster.
18) Ronit & Jamil by Pamela Laskin (2017)
YA / Crossing Over - YA books
Another one I found out about when reading Tablet's 2018 Sydney Taylor Awards article
This verse novel is a retelling of Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet. Laskin has decided to tackle the Israel-Arab conflict by casting her Juliet as Ronit, an Israeli girl while Romeo becomes Jamil, a Palestinian boy from Ramallah. The fathers meet through their work, Ronit's father is a pharmacist who visits Jamil's father, a doctor, at his East Jerusalem clinic to supply medicines and other medical supplies.
I found this quite insipid. I've read a bunch of YA verse novels and this one does not have the 'spark' that most of the others have. The language doesn't do it for me - '...he does not understand the wardrobe of feelings.' 'we can do it in the desert', '...I rise like bones, from the dead and my desire it grows like bones. I dream of you daily where I'm in your bones...'
It's also hard to know who is saying what.
Facts are obfuscated too - the barrier wall is described as 25 ft of concrete 435 miles long, when in fact most of it is a wire fence. Because of the fence there are fewer checkpoints, I mention this because checkpoints come up several times in the text.
The introduction also isn't that clear with facts, clouding issues by omission and over-simplification of a complex history.
I can't remember every great verse novel I've read but outstanding ones include -
Aleutian Sparrow, The Crossover & One
and here is a Book Riot List of 100 Must Read YA Verse Novels
For a YA romance along similar lines I'd suggest, All the rivers by Dorit Rabinyan. I didn't love this one by any means but it is based on real events in the writer's life.
Cinderella: an Islamic tale by Fawzia Gilani (2011)
illustrated story / Young at Heart
Gilani takes the Cinderella fairytale and adapts it for a religious Muslim audience. The fairy godmother becomes a long lost grandmother who never returned from Haj, there are prayers and pious behaviour through the book. The ball becomes a celebration at the palace for the end of Eid.
The artwork is by Shireen Adams and is sympathetic to the story and Islamic setting.
There's also Snow White: an Islamic tale.
cast warming up on stage
A few weeks back I bought $10 groundling tickets to all the plays in the Popupglobe Summer Shakespeare season. This is the third season and I was finally compelled to go. Yesterday we went to the first one, The Merchant of Venice by an all-male cast. Wow, it was really good.
Groundling tickets means standing up by the stage and getting picked on by the actors. You can see in the photo of the groundlings bar that the theatre is a temporary structure built out of scaffolding. Oh, Gratiano stood on the bar and had a couple of drinks while declaring he would behave himself to Bassanio - hilarious.
The Midsummer Night's Dream is featuring Maori faeries and they'll be speaking their lines in te reo (Maori), so that will be interesting. It's getting great reviews.
'The Pop-Up Globe, first conceived by Auckland scholar Dr Miles Gregory after reading a pop-up book to his daughter. Pop-up Globe is a three-storey, 16-sided, 900-person capacity theatre. It unites cutting-edge scaffold technology with a 400-year-old design to transport audiences back in time. No matter where they sit or stand in the theatre, audience members are never more than 15 metres from the heart of the action on stage. Sometimes they’ll even find themselves in the play.' https://popupglobe.co.nz/
The traitor and the thief by Gareth Ward (2017)
YA / Crossing Over YA books
This won the Tessa Duder Award (2016) for best YA manuscript. A fun steampunk adventure.
From his website: Gareth Ward, a.k.a. The Great Wardini is a magician, hypnotist, storyteller, bookseller and author. He has worked as a Royal Marine Commando, Police Officer, Evil Magician and Zombie. He basically likes jobs where you get to wear really cool hats – as writer and compere of Napier City’s inaugural Steampunk murder mystery evening he wore a rather splendid bowler.
Sin has lived on the streets since running away from an orphanage. He's part of a street gang of petty criminals when suddenly he's recruited to a training school for young spies (COG Covert Operations Group). Apart from the trials of making it as a student in spycraft amongst a mixed group of talented others, Sin soon finds himself in pursuit of a traitor as well as the truth behind who he is.
The world is Victorian steampunk with lots of steam and clockwork, and the plot twists and turns as everyone is guilty of harbouring secrets.
Lots of love for this one. I was on a couple of committees over the years with Tessa Duder, she's been a wonderful advocate for children's literature.
The Lost Pages by Marija Peričić (2017)
fiction / ANZAC
This was a very enjoyable read. The author writes a fictional memoir of Max Brod, the literary editor of Franz Kafka. She became interested in Brod after reading about the fairly recent court case in Israel over the rightful ownership of Kafka's papers. Her debut book won the 2017 Vogel prize in Australia which was how I found out about it. I was interested because I had also read about the court case. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/aug/08/franz-kafka-papers-israel-court-ruling
Peričić puts us fair and square into a Kafkaesque world, starting with Brod who is having difficulties writing his ambitious second novel and still basking in the triumph of adulation from his first book. Loved by his publisher and fawned on by women, his world slowly collapses as Kafka enters his life and becomes the new publishing sensation.
I've only read Metamorphosis, but feel that Peričić has drawn us into a world of Kafka's making rather than the world where Kafka lived. Fabulous.
You are reading quite a bit, Kerry! Glad to see you finished Frankenstein for the group read.
Your thread always has something really interesting on it. I like the idea of a pop-up theater!
A lot of good books too.
Miximum Ca' Canny the Sabotage Manuals by Ida Börjel (2013 Swedish) (2016 English)
I came across mention of this poetry in an article, The writer’s calling is now, increasingly, an unremunerated one, and asked my library to buy a copy as Börjel is one of Sweden's respected poets and one of the most radical voices in contemporary conceptual poetry plus I wanted to read the book.
I enjoyed reading this, the translation feels flawless and the poetry is radical.
Publisher's description: 'At once practical handbook, philosophical inquiry, and series of fables set in Putin’s Russia, Miximum Ca’ Canny the Sabotage Manuals throws a wrench into the machinery of contemporary language, generating strange solidarities between saboteurs past and present. Sourced from political pamphlets and factory workers’ diaries, Börjel’s profound poem allows for the most expansive (and explosive) sense of sabotage. A how-to for the destruction of the present order.'
An interview with Börjel: https://www.asymptotejournal.com/blog/2017/03/23/12089/
sabotage is an internal, industrial
The word is taken from the French sabot,
wood clog, and the French mill workers’
manner of protesting against the new
automatic looms by hurling
their clogs into them. So they removed and
aimed, took off their only pair of shoes and
threw them into the machine’s opening and walked
barefoot through naw
What was firmly rooted
lies rotted. What was cast solid
is perforated. Into those openings the
saboteur sticks her fingers.
General Advice to Lower Morale and Create Confusion
after completed sabotage resist the temptation to
linger and witness the result there are
of course occasions when it to the contrary would seem suspicious
if you walked away
From The Sabotage Manuals, by Ida Börjel
II. the sabotage manual
Industrial Workers of the World
(IWW) publishes the handbook Sabotage:
The Conscious Withdrawal of the Workers
Industrial Efficiency authored by
Elisabeth Gurley Flynn
The American Office of Strategic
Services (OSS) publishes The Simple Sabotage
Field Manual, de-classified
in the year two-thousand-and-eight
The human factor. To widen a
margin of error.
Intentional stupidity goes against
human nature. The saboteur may
need to reverse her thinking. If
before she made sure to keep her
tools sharp, she can now let them grow
dull. What was brightly polished will now
be scratched; what was carefully tucked away can
now be left out. The assiduous grows full
of indolence. The keen grows torpid,
the firm begins to give way. When the saboteur
starts to think backwards about herself and hers
she does not let the opportunity slip
out of her hands. Anything might be sabotaged.
What was firmly rooted
lies rotted. What was cast solid
is perforated. Into those openings the
saboteur sticks her fingers.
A certain measure of humor in the following
proposition helps the tension and
Commit acts for which a large number
can be held responsible. So that it could have
Do not be afraid to commit acts
you can personally be held
responsible for, as long as you do not do it
too often and assuming that you have a
plausible excuse dropped the wrench
there by that circuit the little one cried
and kept me awake all night I
must have been half asleep well so
I dropped the key
now and then when I want half a day off and
they don’t give it to me I let the belt slither off
the machine so that it doesn’t work and I get
my half day I don’t know if you call it
sabotage but that’s what I do
delay give the wrong number happen
to disconnect forget
mutter make conversations difficult or
impossible to understand
distort telegrams so that additional ones need to be
composed sometimes simply by
changing a letter from “minimum” to
“miximum” then they won’t know if
minimizing or maximizing is at stake
a letter a punctuation mark to move a
comma from “access denied, control” to
“access, denied control”
at the screening of propaganda films place two or
three dozen large moths in a paper bag bring
to the movie theater place on the floor in an empty row
the moths will fly out into the theater
towards the light
and when they climb over the projector
the film becomes an agitated fluttering shadow play
so they will sound as though they were passing
through a thick cotton blanket with mouths
full of gravel
so that the line can no longer be used
so they do not move
but flutter disturb
the automated gaze
Leon by Helen Griffiths (1967)
children's fiction / Young at Heart
Thanks to Anita for alerting me to Helen Griffiths and her delightful books for children. This is my first one and I already know I'll be reading more if I can track them down. I got this one by inter library loan from our National Library and according to the stamps I'm the first to borrow it since 1984.
The story is set in 1930s rural Spain. Hilario saves Leon, an orphaned wild puppy who grows into a huge wolf-like dog. The love between boy and dog is strong but they must separate when Hilario goes to study in Madrid. Leon's life goes downhill once the shepherd that he's left with must go fight in the Civil War and doesn't return.
Powder and Patch by Georgette Heyer (1923)
fiction / General fiction
First published as The Transformation of Philip Jettan by Mills and Boon back in 1923. In 1930, the book was republished by William Heinemann minus the original last chapter as Powder and Patch.
I picked this slim volume up in a sale some years back and had meant to read it last year when I was reading a number of her books.
Philip must learn to be a man of fashion and style if he is to win the hand of Cleone, his childhood friend. His uncle takes him to Paris where he'll either sink or swim, but at least he will not be laughed at by those who know his country ways in London. Philip's transformation from bumpkin to social butterfly is almost too successful.
This was a quick enjoyable read.
The flying classroom by Erich Kästner (1934)
children's / Young at Heart
This fell apart as I read it, the glue was nonexistent and the pages fell out as I turned them. Kästner introduces us to a group of 4th form boys who are boarding at a private school. It is the last few days before Christmas and quite a lot happens as they rehearse the play 'The Flying Classroom' that one of them has written. The smallest boy has to find courage, and their leader, a scholarship boy finds out that his parents can't afford his fare home for the holidays. They also have to a scuffle with the boys from a neighbouring school, a long standing affair going back generations (think War of the Buttons) and to reunite their beloved housemaster with a long lost friend, Mr No Smoking who lives nearby in a converted train wagon. Lovely, lovely book.
Now want to read Kästner's memoir of his Dresden childhood, When I Was a Little Boy, my libary has a copy in the stacks thank goodness as used copies are very expensive.
>81 avatiakh: I'm glad to see you liked it. The picture on the cover looks familiar, does the English edition have the illustrations by Walter Trier?
>82 MissWatson: Yes, I just checked, illustrations are by Walter Trier. That's two illustrations on the cover - one is little Uli being suspended in the rubbish basket above the class and the other is Martin & his parents walking to the postbox to send a card to the housemaster on Christmas Eve.
>83 avatiakh: Ah, thanks. Those are the original illustrations and they still use them in today's editions. I only learned recently that Walter Trier was one of the first to emigrate to London when the Nazis seized power.
>81 avatiakh: I have never heard of that one, Kerry, but it looks delightful. I'll have to see if my library has it.
The Pyramid of Mud by Andrea Camilleri (2018)
Commissario Montalbano #22. Montalbano must work out who is behind the murder of an accountant of a construction project, slowly all the threads begin to make sense amidst endless rain, thunder, lightning and lots of mud. Entertaining.
Tangleweed and Brine by Deirdre Sullivan (2017)
I've only managed to read the first tale, 'Slippershod', and it's due back to the library. Just noting the book here so I remember to look out for it another time.
Irish Times: 'Fragmented fairytales with a feminist twist'
The Mask of Dimitrios by Eric Ambler (1939)
Been on my tbr stacks for ages and taken on holiday so I could biff this old paperback when finished with it.
My first Ambler and I'll read others, it was a good read.
Latimer is a crime writer on holiday in Istanbul. He becomes obsessed with a man called Dimitrios who seems to have led a life of intrigue and starts to dig around all over Europe to find out more about him. He finds himself drawn more into the mystery and then into danger.
A Table for One: Under the Light of Jerusalem by Aharon Appelfeld (2001)
Haunting read. Appelfeld talks about how he found that he could only write in Jerusalem's cafes, and becomes part of the cafe culture of the 1950s and 1960s. He reflects on the life of Holocaust survivors and how many do not want to talk about it. He is a survivor himself and finds that he benefits from being in the quiet company of other survivors. He talks about the importance of Judaism in his life, not that he's particularly religious, just that he finds Judaism fascinating. Many Israelis are secular and don't appreciate the beauty of the Yiddish writers and solace he finds in studying Judaic texts. There's a lot to reflect on in this short book and I'm keen to read more of his work.
Last year I read and loved his The Man Who Never Stopped Sleeping, I've also read his children's book, Adam and Thomas.
The cover art is by his son, Meir Appelfeld, an accomplished artist.
The Lady Killer by Masako Togawa (1963)
I really enjoyed this novel. Ichiro Honda has two lives, by day he's a computer expert living in Tokyo and joining his wife in Osaka most weekends. Every Tuesday and Thursday, he's the Hunter, going into nightclubs and bars looking for young women to seduce. The story gets darker when one of these young women gets pregnant and then commits suicide. The plotting is excellent as Honda is framed for the killing of several of his young victims.
The Bet by Anton Chekhov (1889)
This 1995 edition was illustrated by Deborah Read and it is part of a series for teen readers. Quite a riveting storyline though I didn't like the ending.
"The young lawyer. A wealthy banker. And the bet of a lifetime. Imprisoned for life or ending life - which is the more humane? The lawyer truly believes in life at any cost so the banker sets a wager. Fifteen years of imprisonment for two million. The lawyer accepts his life behind a closed door with the promise of his reward. What could be better? What could be worse? Freedom, money, death. What price life?"
Girl with a Camera: Margaret Bourke-White, Photographer by Carolyn Meyer (2017)
A fictional biography of photographer, Margot Bourke-White. Very interesting read about a young woman wanting to break free from the predictable role of marriage and motherhood to follow her heart and have a career. I'd never heard of her till a couple of weeks ago and then found this book.
She was the first female war photojournalist in World War II and the first female photographer for Life magazine, which featured one of her photographs on its very first cover.
Louisville, Kentucky, January 1937
The Menorah Men by Lionel Davidson (1966)
Another dusty paperback I want to read and discard. At times quite an adventure. A fragment from a Dead Sea Scroll hints at a possible treasure, the Menorah that Titus took to Rome, might have been a replica, the real one was buried somewhere in the Judean desert. English archaeologist, Caspar Laing is roped in to help the Israeli side. He struggles to decipher the hidden message in the scroll, knowing that Jordanian Arabs are also searching having found a duplicate scroll. Helps to have a knowledge of Israeli geography.
What makes a teacher? by Jack Lasenby (2004)
Part of the Montana Estates essay series. Jack Lasenby writes about some of the teachers he learned from as an adult, most particularly those he came across while spending ten years deer-culling in the Ureweras. He's also been a school teacher, lecturer in English at the Wellington Teachers' College, and editor of the School Journal, so is well qualified to write on the subject.
Fascinating. Lasenby is one of my favourite NZ writers for children.
Between summer's longing and winter's end by Leif Persson (2002)
Fall of the Welfare State Trilogy #1. I read the second book in this trilogy, Another Time, Another Life, a few years back, not realising that it was part of a series. I don't think reading them out of turn matters too much though. At the time I wanted to read it because it featured the Baader-Meinhof group and their seige of the German Embassy in Stockholm formed the background for the book's plot.
This book is about the lead up to the 1986 assassination of Olof Palme, Sweden's then Prime Minister. The killer has never been identified. The book details the various police departments and the Secret Police overseeing the threats to politicians in general. It showcases the over zealous, the lazy incompetents and the corrupt as well as the honest. Not always the best man gets to head the top departments. Persson draws attention to the travelling review, where an unpopular and/or incompetent cop gets glowing reviews and references from his cohorts in order that they can get rid of him to other pastures, that their problem moves on though unfortunately these disasters tend to rise through the ranks not always based on their abilities more due to their liabilities. A known phenomenon but little done to change it. The book also draws attention to the murky underworld of spying during the Cold War.
In 2016 Sweden reopened the investigation into his death.
The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide (2001)
A charming read about how a neighbour's cat enters the lives of a Japanese poet and his wife. In detail Hiraide chronicles the cat's effect on them and the life they lead living in what was once a guest house beside the grander home and garden of their landlady.
93 - Bourke White was mentioned in The Day of Battle by Rick Atkinson, about the invasion of Italy during WWII. I don't remember a lot, just that she was the first female war correspondent.
Hellbent by Gregg Hurwitz (2018)
Orphan X #3. A good installment of this series, a big improvement over the second book. Nonstop action as Evan uncovers more layers into the Orphan programme and those who want him dead.
The Twelfth of July by Joan Lingard (1970)
Excellent read set in 1960s Belfast and the first in a series of five books featuring Kevin and Sadie. The Twelfth of July is a holiday in Northern Ireland, a day when Protestants celebrate the victory of Protestant William of Orange over the Catholic king,James II in the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
In the lead up to the holiday Protestant Sadie, her family & friends are decorating their street, practicing for the big parade. Catholic Kevin and his best friend who live only a few streets away are looking to do mischief. Sadie and Kevin clash several times over the coming days until there is something more important for them both to worry about. Shows the tension in the streets, and how easy it would be for things to escalate.
Lingard manages to convey a realistic glimpse of life in the working class streets of Belfast. I love how Sadie is so full of pluck and hoping my library has the rest of the series. While this book is more like a middle grade read I think as the series progresses the books are more suited to YA.
Lullaby by Leïla Slimani (2016 French) (2008 Eng)
This sophisticated whydunnit won the 2016 Prix Goncourt Prize and the English translation has just been published, the US title is The Perfect Nanny.
From the first page you become aware that the nanny has brutally murdered the two young children in her charge, then been unsuccessful in her own suicide attempt. The book takes you back through her time with the family as well as occasional glimpses of her past life. So you read knowing that it will all end with the most despicable crime. You read and make judgement calls on the parents' continual reliance on their perfect nanny as they advance their careers, and yet knowing also that no-one deserves the fate of this young professional couple.
There were several times when I thought I couldn't continue reading this, knowing the fate of the two children weighs heavily on every page you read.
>86 avatiakh: - Ack... BBs taken! Duly making note of both books mentioned. ;-)
>107 DeltaQueen50: It's a hard read due to knowing how it all ends from the first page, but once done it's worth reading some of the commentary on the book.
Hello, Kerry! Finally made it to your thread - slightly reluctantly as I know you will hand out BBs as if they were free candy. And, sure enough, coming away with a few. Thanks. I think... :)
Oh, my goodness, what little angels!!! You won’t get anything read now, you’re just going to sit and watch them (at least that’s what I would do).
>38 avatiakh: This is a fascinating review to read -- thank you for such a cogent summary of these perspectives on migrants and immigration in today's Germany!
>110 avatiakh: They are *beautiful*! Wow. I could just sit and look at them for loooong time.
Life has suddenly become interesting in your household, Kerry! Don't leave anything out on the counters!!
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