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A Room of Charl08's Own: Feminist Penguins #7

This is a continuation of the topic A Room of Charl08's Own: Feminist Penguins #6.

This topic was continued by A Room of Charl08's Own: Feminist Penguins #8.

75 Books Challenge for 2018

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Edited: Jun 21, 7:38am Top

I visited Millicent Fawcett's new statue in Parliament Square last week. It was really busy, with lots of tourists getting their picture taken.

Underneath the figure, on the plinth, are pictures of more than fifty women who worked for the suffrage movement.

So for example, the picture on the far right of this image is of Ellen Wilkinson , who was born in Manchester and became Minister of Education for Labour after WW2.

Edited: Jun 21, 7:26am Top

I love penguins, both this kind

Photo by David Menaker, 2015, National Geographic (but I saw it on Ellen's thread)

And the book kind.

Every year, increasingly tenuously, I attempt to shoehorn these two themes into one thread.

Edited: Jun 21, 7:20am Top

I'm working my way through the others here, (*hopefully* mostly on my TBR shelf already) through the year. Currently reading Ten Minutes to Live a very readable account of the life of one suffragette.
I'm half way through Hearts and Minds: the real story of the Great Pilgrimage and Helen Pankhurst"s new book about the history of UK progress on gender equality but the books are currently out of my hands.

Edited: Jul 17, 1:38pm Top

Books read in 2018 150
For January Feb and March see https://www.librarything.com/topic/289897#6443853
For April see https://www.librarything.com/topic/291122

May 29 (running total 111)

The Fire Court (F, UK, fiction)
The World Gone Mad (F, Sweden, non-fiction - diary)
Chicken with Plums (F, Iran, graphic memoir)
Home Fire (F, UK, fiction)
Something New (F, US, graphic memoir)
A Midsummer's Equation (M, Japan, fiction)
Illegal (Multiple authors, GN)
Meatless Days (F, Pakistan, memoir)
Bad Girls: a history of rebels and renegades (F, UK, history)
The Green Hollow (M, UK, poetry)

The Man Died (M, Finland, fiction)
California Dreamin' (F, France, GN)
Forget Sorrow (F, US, GN - Memoir)
The Librarian (F, UK, fiction)
Rebel Girls: the fight for the vote (F, UK, history)
My Favourite Thing is Monsters (F, US, GN)
Ten Things I Love About You (F, US, fiction)
The Trick to Time (F, UK, fiction)
Heroic Measures (F, US, fiction)
Sirens (M, UK, fiction)

The Bedlam Stacks (F, UK, fiction)
Autumn (Reread) (F, UK, fiction)
Lady with a Cool Eye (F, UK, fiction)
A Savage Hunger (F, UK, fiction)
Kudos (F, UK, fiction)
Dark Paradise (F, Finland, fiction)
The Merchant's Tale (F, UK, fiction) - audio
Zinky Boys (F, Belarus, non-fiction history)
The Story of the Night) (M, Ireland, fiction)

June 25 (running total 136)

The Bookseller (F, US, fiction)
Too Wilde to Wed (F, US, fiction)
Radical reformers and respectable rebels: how the two lives of Grace Oakeshott defined an era (F, New Zealand, non-fiction history/ biography)
Hidden Figures (F, US, non-fiction history/biography)
Blood Tide (Paula Maguire) and The Killing House (Paula Maguire) (F, UK, fiction)
You think it I'll Say it (F, US, Short stories)
Turning: a swimming memoir (F, Canada, Memoir)
The Cactus (F, UK, fiction) (Netgalley)
The Troubador's Tale (F, UK, fiction) - audio

White Houses (F, US, fiction) (Netgalley)
The Mercy Seat (F, US, fiction) (Netgalley)
Maigret Travels (M, Belgium, fiction)
A Shot in the Dark (F, UK, fiction) (Netgalley)
The Kiss Quotient (F, US, fiction)
In the Skin of a Lion (M, Canada, fiction)
Ten Minutes to Live (F, UK, history)
Smoke and Ashes (M, UK, fiction)
The Red Velvet Turnshoe (F, UK, fiction)
Because of Miss Bridgerton (F, US, fiction)

All the Lives We Never Lived (F, India, fiction)
Old Baggage (F, UK, fiction)
The First London Olympics: 1908 (F, UK, sports history)
The Last Man in Europe (M, UK, fiction)
Go, Went, Gone (F, Germany, fiction)

July 14

Sugar Money (F, UK, fiction)
How to Stop Time (M, UK, fiction)
Destroying Angel (F, UK, fiction)
Down the River Unto the Sea (M, US, fiction)
By Grand Central station I Sat Down and Wept (F, Canada, fiction)
The Last Dragonslayer (M, fiction, UK)
A Closed and Common Orbit (F, fiction, US)
The Song of the Quarkbeast (M, fiction, UK)
Falling Short (F, UK, fiction)
The Blood Miracles (F, Ireland, fiction)

How to Forget a Duke (F, US, fiction)
Time Served (F, US, fiction)
The Pledge (M, Switzerland, fiction)
The Only Story (M, UK, fiction)

Overall stats

Gender This Month F 8 M 6 Joint 0 Running Total F114 M 35 Joint 1
Fiction/Non? This Month Fiction 14 Non-fiction 0 Poetry Running Total Fiction 117 Non-fiction 30 Poetry 4
Source This Month Library 4 Mine 10 Running Total Library 65 Mine 82
Author home
This Month: Africa 0, Asia 0, Australasia 0, Europe 10 (UK 8), Middle East , US & Canada 4, Other Multiples .
Running Total: Africa 1, Asia 5, Australasia 6, Europe 89 (UK 66), Middle East 3, US & Canada 44, Other 1 Multiples 1

Edited: Jul 13, 12:50am Top

2018 PopSugar Reading Challenge -34 down!

1. A book made into a movie you've already seen Hidden Figures
2. True crime The Killers of the Flower Moon
3. The next book in a series you started Dead Lions
4. A book involving a heist
5. Nordic noir The Darkness
6. A novel based on a real person Girl in Disguise
7. A book set in a country that fascinates you Miss Burma
8. A book with a time of day in the title
9. A book about a villain or antiheroThe Blood Miracles
10. A book about death or grief Claire of the Sea Light
11. A book with a female author who uses a male pseudonym
12. A book with an LGBTQ+ protagonist My Brother's Husband
13. A book that is also a stage play or musical
14. A book by an author of a different ethnicity than you Persepolis
15. A book about feminism Women and Power
16. A book about mental health Psychoanalysis: the impossible profession
17. A book you borrowed or that was given to you as a gift Frogkisser
18. A book by two authors
19. A book about or involving a sport The 1908 London Olympics
20. A book by a local author Sirens
21. A book with your favorite colour in the title The Green Hollow
22. A book with alliteration in the title Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History
23. A book about time travel
24. A book with a weather element in the title
25. A book set at sea
26. A book with an animal in the title Magpie Murders
27. A book set on a different planet A Closed and Common Orbit
28. A book with song lyrics in the title
29. A book about or set on Halloween The Bookseller
30. A book with characters who are twins The Grass Dancer
31. A book mentioned in another book reading Christ Stopped at Eboli
32. A book from a celebrity book club You think it I'll Say it
33. A childhood classic you've never read A Wrinkle in Time
34. A book that's published in 2018 The Wedding Date
35. A past Goodreads Choice Awards winner
36. A book set in the decade you were born Lady with a Cool Eye
37. A book you meant to read in 2017 but didn't get to
Broad Strokes: 15 women who made art
38. A book with an ugly cover
39. A book that involves a bookstore or library Bookworm: a memoir of childhood reading
40. Your favorite prompt from the 2015, 2016, or 2017 POPSUGAR Reading Challenges - a book set in a hotel Hotel Silence

Advanced Reading Challenge

1. A bestseller from the year you graduated high school
2. A cyberpunk book
3. A book that was being read by a stranger in a public place
4. A book tied to your ancestry
5. A book with a fruit or vegetable in the title Chicken with Plums
6. An allegory
7. A book by an author with the same first or last name as you MI5 and Me
8. A microhistory Bad Girls: a history of rebels and renegades
9. A book about a problem facing society today When I Hit You
10. A book recommended by someone else taking the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

Jun 21, 7:31am Top

Happy new thread, Charlotte, and congratulations on reading 100 books by women this year!

Jun 21, 7:35am Top

Happy new thread, Charlotte! Congrats for 100+ reads!

Jun 21, 7:38am Top

Happy new thread!

Jun 21, 8:21am Top

Happy new thread, Charlotte, and yay for 100 books by women!

Jun 21, 8:46am Top

I work not far from the statue, but haven't actually got up close, I didn't know about the photos, brilliant. Will try and get there on my way home one evening Charlotte.

Jun 21, 8:48am Top

Happy new thread, Charlotte. Love the topper. Hooray for 100+ books by women!

Jun 21, 8:53am Top

Congratulations on your 100 books by women this year, impressive Charlotte.

Jun 21, 9:15am Top

Happy new one, Charlotte! And congrats on the 100 books read that were written by women - I loved the gif on the last thread of your celebration.

Jun 21, 1:39pm Top

Happy new thread, Charlotte. 100 books by women authors is impressive going - and the year is barely half done!

Jun 21, 4:04pm Top

Happy new thread. I did not recommend Ondaatje's book to you. But your comment about it encourage me to read it some time soon.

Jun 21, 5:21pm Top

>6 FAMeulstee: Thanks Anita! I think I have some way to go to get anywhere near your impressive totals :-)

>7 Carmenere: Thanks Lynda. I'm impressed by your listening to FSOG- I can't imagine anything likely to make me more uncomfortable!

>8 drneutron: Thanks Jim. Hope the rocket testing is going well... Just the one no-longer-with-us author this month, will take a bit longer to see for past months.

>9 susanj67: Thanks Susan - the focus seems to be working this year.

Edited: Jun 21, 5:40pm Top

>10 Caroline_McElwee: I did like it a lot Caroline. Apparently the sculptor worked with an academic to come up with the images. There's a great get together picnic on the 24th on the square, partly to celebrate the statue, organised by "https://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/Event/a-great-get-together-picnic-with-millicent-fawcett">The Fawcett Society. and >12 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks!

>11 BLBera: It's a lovely statue, and it was such a sunny day! I didn't think to recognise and adjust what I picked up accordingly until seeing more thoughtful readers here on LT, so thank you.

>13 Crazymamie: It's a fun one, although I found it on a site I found truly odd. It's used on the blog of a monthly box scheme linked to periods. Huh?

>14 Helenliz: Hopefully there are lots of great books still to come for the rest of 2018...

>15 paulstalder: Oh no! Will the real recommender of In the Skin of the Lion please stand up?! :-) ETA - ah, I've been to Paul's thread and see he mentioned the book, and that was enough to get me to want to read it, the completist in me is trying to escape again...

Aspergirls turned up today, but rather than an academic discussion of Aspergers and gendered expectations, it's more of a self-help style book, so that's not really what I was interested in reading.

Jun 21, 5:55pm Top

>17 charl08: Yep, I listed it as no 209 added book this year and you saw it there. Maybe you were intrigued by the German cover

Edited: Jun 21, 6:09pm Top

Happy New Thread, Charlotte.

Jun 21, 9:40pm Top

Marking my place. Maybe I'll keep up this time.

Happy threading!

Jun 21, 10:19pm Top

Happy New Thread, Charlotte!

Jun 21, 10:46pm Top

Charlotte, I can't keep up with your thread or your reading, but I do smile with pleasure every time I see your name. You keep up the good work here!

Edited: Jun 22, 4:09am Top

>18 paulstalder: I like your cover more than mine.
Put my one next to yours, I would think they were completely different books.

>19 jnwelch: Thanks Joe. I want to be able to swim like that!

>20 libraryperilous: Always welcome just to comment on the latest book - full thread knowledge is not required.

>21 ronincats: Aw, I think this may be the most stylish penguin.

>22 LizzieD: Thank you, what a nice thing to say :-)

I finished Death in Ten Minutes which is a good thing as it was due back to the library two days ago. (Bad Charlotte)

An accessible account of one woman's militant career in the suffrage movement, how she got there and what she did next. Kitty Marion wasn't anyone's idea of a stereotypical campaigner: she was an actress, born in Germany and in her forties by the time the campaign ended in 1914. Her life offers a detailed insight into the different motivations women brought to the suffrage movement, and the way in which personal relationships were so important to all those involved. Kitty bombed buildings, went on hunger strike and (by her own account) even saw Emily Wilding Davison trampled by the King's horse. Yet in later years, Riddell suggests, her memories were edited out by suffrage leaders, more interested in preserving a version of events which stressed the movement's focus on avoiding hurting individuals. Here it is more luck than judgement that more people weren't seriously hurt or killed by the bombs. They may also have wished to distance themselves from her work in the 1920s campaigning with Margaret Sanger for birth control.
It was Kitty's experience as a suffragette, in combination with her experiences as a music hall actress, that pushed her not to reject birth control but to embrace it. She was one of the earliest sex-positive feminists; she understood how power could be abused, but she also acknowledged that not every sexual relationship or encounter was about a power imbalance. In a world so often concerned with black and white - men bad, women good - Kitty and others like her saw all the many shades of grey. Women's enjoyment of sex should never be a threat to their independence. It should never be something that resulted in their abuse or manipulation. But Kitty's connection to the birth control movement and her refusal to shy away from the actions she had carried out on the orders of the WSPU was clearly viewed by middle-class suffragettes as so damaging as to compel those who created the suffragette legacy to ignore or abandon her story.
I got a bit annoyed by some sections where Riddell employs 'she must have felt' style (eg when Marion is waiting for the police to arrest her) to fill in the gaps when there is not a record of how she felt. For me the story was powerful enough without this. However, a relatively minor quibble in a book which has a lot to offer in terms of thinking about how the history of suffrage militancy continues to be discussed, particularly in terms of attitudes to women's sexual relationships, and is written in an engaging way that connects Kitty Marion's experience to #MeToo and other campaigns for equality.

Marion arrested after a protest.

Jun 22, 7:22am Top

What a good picture! She looks like a really strong woman.

Happy new thread, Charlotte.

Edited: Jun 22, 3:28pm Top

>24 EllaTim: She survived an awful lot, I think. I've got more ideas about reading from this one (and plenty more to read on the shelves).

Edited: Jun 23, 6:32am Top

Now reading Smoke and Ashes new one in the series set in 1920s Calcutta, India.

Jun 22, 8:39pm Top

WOW!!! Over 100 books by women this year....a huge congrats!

Edited: Jun 23, 9:03am Top

Thanks Mary. I should probably compare it to last year to get some context. When I have some time (!)

Feeling very tired today, I think partly as a result of the excitements of the last couple of weeks, but specifically because work had a kind of community fun day (except it was in the evening) so took two of the little ones from the refugee group yesterday. Some difficulties explaining the difference between a school and a university. Hence "Charlotte, your school is really Big!"
It seemed a real success, and the bbq sausages were Lovely!

Jun 23, 9:42am Top

>26 charl08: Ooh, I didn't realise the new Mukherjee book was out. Just reserved it :-) I hope your day doesn't disappear in exhaustion, Charlotte. I am always amazed at the level of energy that little kids have, being little and all. It seems wrong, somehow :-)

Edited: Jun 23, 10:18am Top

Guardian Reviews Non-Fiction

The Years by Annie Ernaux reviewed by Lauren Elkin
"Annie Ernaux is long overdue to be recognised in Britain as one of the most important writers in contemporary France, and this edition of The Years ought to do the trick."

The King and the Catholics by Antonia Fraser reviewed by Jessie Childs
"Union with Ireland in 1801, following rebellion there in 1798, changed everything. A population that was about 1% Catholic merged with one that was at least three-quarters Catholic. The story became a bigger knottier tale of the fight for national, political and social rights. The greatest obstacle was “the king” of Fraser’s title: both George III, whose madness seems to have been triggered by talk of Catholic relief, and his laudanum-loving son, George IV, who was as deter–mined as his father to keep his coronation oath and defend the Church of England. The turning point came in the summer of 1828 with a byelection in County Clare. Daniel O’Connell, a charismatic, almost messianic figure whose hero was Simón Bolívar, ran for Westminster on the ticket of emancipation. Such was the gravity of the campaign that the local Catholic Association pledged to abstain from whisky. ... he won by a landslide. But he could not take his seat, for he would not take the oath. The Tory government, headed by the Duke of Wellington, was paralysed. "
I know nothing about this period, so also tempting.

How Democracy Ends by David Runciman reviewed by Mark Mazower
"...says democracy is in a funk, for reasons that go far beyond Trump, but that unless we can stimulate our political imaginations to understand the new ways in which democracies can fail, we will not appreciate the scale of the problem before us. He identifies three contemporary challenges in particular. The first, paradoxically, is that levels of political violence have gone down. This means that, in such places as the US or Europe, democratic failure is not likely to happen in the old-fashioned way, through a military coup d’état."
Yikes. Depressing stuff.

The Inner Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett reviewed by Steven Poole
"In the most unequal societies, by contrast, people are more prone to “a defensive, narcissistic presentation of self”: we risk, it seems, creating a society of mini-Trumps all clawing at one another’s hairpieces."
Should be essential reading I think for everyone.

21923288::The Stopping Places by Damian Le Bas reviewed by Tim Adams
"Like all the best quests, this is a journey in search of authenticity. Le Bas first learned the cartography of his Traveller past on weekends and holidays helping out with the family florist business – for several generations they had a pitch in Petersfield market in Hampshire, an hour from their home. Journeys there in a transit van loaded with “daffodils packed squeaky tight and tall green buckets of chrysanthemums, yellow and copper and pink” would be punctuated by the author’s parents and uncles and aunts pointing to flat areas and verges by the roadside: “That was where Bill and they used to stop”, “I can see Granny sat there”, “Leslie’s layby, look, Dee”. These are the stopping places, or, in Romani, “atchin tans”, many with a colloquial name – Shripney Corner, Jack’s Bush, Messenger’s Meadow – and in the memories of Traveller families there are still thousands of them up and down the country."
Worth looking at the Guardian review for the picture of his transit van interior, beautifully done up to look like ye olde caravan.

Notes from the Cévennes by Adam Thorpe reviewed by Kate Kellaway
"...serves as a corrective to unchecked dreams of living in France."
But probably won't.

The Rise and Fall of the British Nation and These Islands by David Edgerton reviewed by Christopher de Bellaigue
"...spends the best part of 500 pages arguing that things haven’t been all that bad. Then suddenly, like a cyclist defeated by the final, brutal ascent, he collapses in a heap of cynicism and despair"

The Restless Wave by John McCain and Mark Salter reviewed by Peter Conrad
"Nostalgic for combat, he remains fond of lethal gestures. Last year, entering the Senate at midnight, he doomed the Republican proposal to repeal Obamacare by giving it the thumbs-down, like a Roman emperor curtly condemning a gladiator. It was not enough to vote against the bill; he had to symbolically kill it. At his most ghoulish, he regards himself as a burnt offering, or mere carrion. When his first presidential campaign faltered, he says that reporters gathered “like crows on a wire, watching the unfortunate roadkill breathe its last before they descended to scavenge the remains”. In a more peaceable epilogue, McCain tries to shake off “the weary fatalism that can overcome even the happiest warrior”. He serenely contemplates the world in his own absence, like a ghost haunting his ranch in northern Arizona."
This does sound rather vainglorious. Although I do like McCain for reasons I can't fully work out.

And Now We Have Everything by Meaghan O’Connell reviewed by RO Kwon
"O’Connell is open, too, about the competing feelings of fear and desire, shame and artistic ambition. The first time she left her son for an hour so as to go to a cafe and write, she felt as if she might cry – this time, from happiness. “I was always doing math with the hours, testing the limits of time, trying to see how much living I could get away with.” Then, there was the continuing parental terror, the persistent gut feeling that her beloved child was about to die. In giving birth, she realises, “we created a death”."
Probably not, although the reviewer makes a good point about how little we are raised to know about pregnancy experience vs say trench warfare in WW1.

The Secret DJ reviewed by Kitty Empire
"...an anonymous British DJ... careers around the world, spinning vinyl, having the highest jinks, and taking shedloads of base amphetamine, apparently the drug of choice of nurses, taxi drivers and 72-hour party people, in order to do what, it transpires, can be quite a lonely and dissociative job. “Make people dance. Shut up. Go home. Sleep. Repeat. Minus the sleep part.”....This is very much a book of two halves: the catnip highs to get party people hooked, and the lessons learned from some quite spectacular comedowns....These lows actually compensate for the excess....the circumstances of Secret’s sudden retirement... are immensely sobering. “How low did I go?” he asks. “You know you’ve bottomed out when you’re using your diabetic dog’s needles to inject meth into your arse cheeks.”"
Yikes again.

Jun 23, 4:04pm Top

Can't decide on any of these...

PW's 1996 Bestsellers


1. The Runaway Jury by John Grisham, Doubleday

2. Executive Orders by Tom Clancy, Putnam

3. Desperation by Stephen King, Viking

4. Airframe by Michael Crichton, Knopf

5. The Regulators by Richard Bachman, Dutton

6. Malice by Danielle Steel, Delacorte

7. Silent Honor by Danielle Steel, Delacorte

8. Primary Colors by Anonymous Joe Klein, Random House

9. Cause of Death by Patricia Cornwell, Putnam

10. The Tenth Insight by James Redfield, Warner

11. The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard, Viking

12. How Stella Got Her Groove Back by Terri McMillan, Viking

13. Moonlight Becomes You by Mary Higgins Clark, Simon & Schuster

14. My Gal Sunday by Mary Higgins Clark, Simon & Schuster

15. The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield, Warner


1. Make the Connection by Oprah Winfrey and Bob Greene, Hyperion

2. Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus by John Gray, HarperCollins

3. The Dilbert Principle by Scott Adams, HarperBusiness

4. Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach, Warner

5. The Zone by Barry Sears with Bill Lawren, ReganBooks

6. Bad as I Wanna Be by Dennis Rodman, Delacorte

7. In Contempt by Christopher Darden, ReganBooks

8. A Reporter's Life by Walter Cronkite, Knopf

9. Dogbert's Top Secret Management Handbook by Scott Adams, HarperBusiness

10. My Sergei: A Love Story by Ekaterina Gordeeva with E.M. Swift, Warner

11. Gift and Mystery by Pope John Paul II, Doubleday

12. I'm Not Really Here by Tim Allen, Hyperion

13. Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations by Al Franken, Delacorte

14. James Herriot's Favorite Dog Stories by James Herriot, St. Martin's

15. My Life by the Duchess of York, Simon & Schuster

Edited: Jun 23, 5:40pm Top

Smoke and Ashes
Great third book in the series set in colonial Calcutta. Captain Wyndham continues to try to sort out the conventional crime whilst wondering quite what the secret police are up to (nothing good): now the peaceful opposition led by Gandhi is ramping up, the tension for Wyndham's assistant Sgt Bannerjee is too as he's on the 'wrong' side as the rest of his family are supporting civil disobedience. As the book opens, Wyndham is in a drug-induced stupor in an opium den when the Vice squad begin a raid: what to do?

Wondering what the cover artist will do next, given that book 1: he seems pretty relaxed,

Book 2, the pace picks up;

Book 3, he's clearly moving pretty quickly;

book 4...?)

Jun 23, 8:06pm Top

Happy new thread, Charlotte. That's a great topper to fit in with your theme this year!

Jun 23, 10:49pm Top

>31 charl08: I really don't see anything there for you, Charlotte - especially in fiction.
Meanwhile, I'm now alert to A. Mukherjee. Thanks!

Jun 24, 2:27am Top

>33 Familyhistorian: Thanks Meg. Fortuitous visit, no?

>34 LizzieD: Me either Peggy. I think I'm going to have to keep looking to meet this category!

Edited: Jun 24, 4:51am Top

Now reading The Red Velvet Turnshoe a medieval crime novel.

Edited: Jun 24, 8:41am Top

Jun 24, 9:04am Top

>31 charl08: Do you need to read something from this list for a challenge? It seems in '96 I wasn't reading very many books although I may have read The Runaway Jury but, you know, when you read one Grisham you've read them all. I recall there being a lot of buzz around The Celestine Prophecy and A Simple Abundance but definitely not for everyone. I think you can never go wrong with James Herriot. Good luck!

Jun 24, 9:39am Top

>29 susanj67: :-(

Hello again!

I'd pick Airframe for the 1996 read. I love his books.

The Cassandra Clark series looks good. The elibrary has only the third (I can't even...) but I've reserved a hard copy of number 1 :-)

Jun 24, 10:32am Top

>31 charl08: I think I read How Stella Got Her Grove Back, I read a couple of her books in the 90s.

Jun 24, 4:49pm Top

>29 susanj67: Susan I think you are just too quick for me! It did pretty much knock out Saturday, but went to the beach this morning, which was really lovely. Almost empty, sun shining and not too windy. And plenty of reading has been done.

>38 Carmenere: It would have helped if I'd explained that, eh? It's for the popsugar challenge, I have to find something for 1996.

>39 susanj67: I think I've read a Crichton but the reference to planes put me off, rather. I liked the Clark a lot (though it was the second one).

>40 Caroline_McElwee: Annoyingly, that one isn't available in the library or on kindle, and the mail options didn't appeal. Maybe next month. I requested The Deep End of the Ocean as the library had a copy of that one.

Edited: Jun 24, 5:04pm Top

The Red Velvet Turnshoe
Medieval mystery. Life as a nun in the 1300s turns out to be rather more adventurous and involve more international travel than I would have otherwise thought.

Because of Miss Bridgerton
Light and frothy historical romance, firmly in the "but they were there all along" trope.

Jun 24, 6:58pm Top

Happy Sunday, Charlotte! Happy New Thread! Good topper. I hope you had the perfect R & R weekend.

Edited: Jun 24, 7:04pm Top

>41 charl08: If it helps at all, I read The Deep End of the Ocean and thought it was decently good. Somewhere between breathtaking and dreadful.

Edited: Jun 25, 1:30am Top

>43 msf59: Thanks Mark, it was a lovely sunny day which helped I think with the photo taking.

>44 rosalita: Hmm, Julia. Care to narrow it down a little?! Thanks though.

Now reading Go Went Gone

Edited: Jun 25, 2:21am Top

Finally flowered, part #234

Jun 25, 4:20am Top

>46 charl08: Very pretty! And I was just looking again at your Guardian reviews post, and I'm tempted by the Antonia Fraser too.

Jun 25, 4:50am Top

Hello, Charlotte! I'll have to go and visit the statue you posted as your topper. :)

Jun 25, 6:28am Top

Hi Charlotte. Thanks for the reviews. The Fraser does look good.

It's interesting to look at old best sellers. Amazing how few stand the test of time.

Nice flowers.

Jun 25, 8:35am Top

>47 susanj67: She does write very readable histories. I've got a bit of an aversion to bricks at the moment, Kate Mosse's new one about the French religious wars came in at the library. Strict instructions there will be *no renewing* this one, but do I feel like reading it?!

>48 rosylibrarian: You must! And so many other fun things! (and don't forget to head north too!!) Hope the move is going/ went well, and that you are surrounded by nice people.

>49 BLBera: Beth, I was reassured by the Good Housekeeping list, which picked one a year and actually included some books I had read.

It's very warm here. I have a large hat.

(not quite this big, but...)
From Go, Went, Gone
The director of the home receives him in his office, saying:
What exactly do you want from them?
I'm working on a research project...
The director now mentions dublinII, he speaks of repatriation, of detention pending deportation, of the Asylum Procedure Act. He asks his visitor if he knows what a title of residence is.
title? The professor almost never invokes his own title... And Dublin? He and his wife were there once on a hiking trip...

Jun 25, 8:41am Top

I LOVED Go, Went, Gone. Our president should read it, that is, if he could read...


Like the hat.

I'll check out the GH list.

Jun 25, 8:45am Top

I'm surprised by some of them -- most popular books of the year? Paradise and The Satanic Verses?

Jun 25, 12:08pm Top

>45 charl08: I read The Deep End of the Ocean long before LibraryThing, so I don't have any written notes on it. So, I'm hesitant to say anything too specific because of my lousy memory but I know I came away from it having been absorbed in the story and glad I read it. The tricky part is that I don't know if I'd still feel the same way today, because I feel that my reading horizons have expanded greatly since then.

Jun 25, 12:46pm Top

>51 BLBera: I am enjoying it a great deal Beth, glad I came back to it.

>52 BLBera: I was surprised to see it as a list because (my understanding was) that sales figures are difficult to get hold of. Maybe it's just the book everyone said they read that year?!

>53 rosalita: Ah, I see, thanks Julia. Even with LT I still forget what I thought about books...

Jun 25, 12:52pm Top

I'm planning a holiday to California in November, partly to see a friend in San Diego, but I'd also like to visit either San Francisco or New Orleans. Anyone any tips on things to do, places to see/ stay in. I should probably add that I don't drive, but am guessing will Uber around a bit.

Jun 25, 1:10pm Top

>55 charl08: How exciting! I loved New Orleans when I visited in the early 90s. Icing sugar doughnuts with hot chocolate in the market. mmmm. Lots to see and it was just so different. Not sure how much it has changed, what with hurricanes and the passage of 25+ years...

Jun 25, 2:31pm Top

>55 charl08: New Orleans is quite a distance from California! But San Francisco and (the much closer) Los Angeles have quite a bit to keep any visitor busy for weeks!

Jun 25, 10:41pm Top

>46 charl08: Beautiful flower! What is it? I bailed on Go Went Gone. I guess I should have continued........

Edited: Jun 26, 3:44am Top

>56 Helenliz: Thanks Helen - I imagine it has changed, but hopefully some of the history sites are still the same?

>57 RidgewayGirl: Yes, this is one of the things I'm not sure about - whether it's even do-able to fly between the two easily. But part of me thinks I'm unlikely to be in that part of the world any time soon and NOLA appeals. But so does wine country!! I'm really ignorant about LA - is there much for a bookish/ history/ wine person to see? Time to get some travel guides out then...

>58 mdoris: I think it's this one - Verbascum chaixii
It's one from my neighbour who does an open garden (but not this year) for charity and sells plants as part of that. Hers have been a lot more successful!
ETA: this is the non-shady strip of the garden, a border I dug a couple of years ago.

(I bailed on Go Went Gone the first time too)

Jun 26, 2:32pm Top

If you decide on NOLA, I can recommend a lovely place to get wonderful cocktails :) There are also several good bookstores (used and new). The only issue is that there isn't much to do outside of the city, whereas if you went to SF, you could hit the coast, wine country, etc. I guess it might depend on how much time you have.

Of course, what you should really do is visit New York!

Jun 26, 6:03pm Top

Love the Obama Biden Mystery from the last thread :)

>30 charl08: The quote from And Now We Have Everything “I was always doing math with the hours, testing the limits of time, trying to see how much living I could get away with.”
Totally resonates :)
On the odd time I had an hour (or two!!) off form baby land, I could get So. Much. Done. And then half of the last thing :)

Edited: Jun 27, 3:39am Top

>60 katiekrug:

New York is on the list. Honest!

>61 LovingLit: I'm not sure that's one I'd pick up, but the reviewer's comment about what (and how many) books are written about what topics hit a nerve.

Now reading All the Lives We never Lived. I love this author.

Jun 26, 9:05pm Top

Happy new thread. I love that statue up top!

Airframe was pretty good. And James Herriot’s Dog Stories. Those two, and the Franken book, are the only ones listed that I’ve read.

Edited: Jun 27, 3:54am Top

>63 Copperskye: Thanks Joanne. So I shouldn't be put off by the title. Hmmm. I've read some Herriot and liked him, but not rushing to read him again, I don't think.

Finished All the Lives we Never Lived. I loved Sleeping on Jupiter and I loved this too (although this one is a lot more of a conventional narrative style). A small boy's mother leaves him, and as an elderly man he reflects on what he remembers about why she left. Around this simple idea Roy creates a novel that talks about the way mothers are expected to behave, the demands of 'art' and the limitations of the 'freedom' promised by colonial nationalist movements. Maitreyi Devi is now on the 'to read' list, too. If that sounds too worthy - it also made me laugh.
The gardening book Ila's daughter brought for me, certainly both tatty and old, was written by the man who designed the garden for Government House in Karachi... Every chapter appeared to begin with a quotation from a poet called Patience Strong rhapsodising about plants and trees. I have never been able to understand why men who wrote books on gardens in India were so susceptible to gush. Mr Percy-Lancaster too, despite his crusty exterior, was given to quoting verses nauseating for their piety. Give me Gopal the foul-mouthed park gardener any day.
If I was being picky, I'd note (not particularly originally - I've read this on Suzanne/ Chatterbox's thread) that the flashback to family history is beyond common in historical novels. But I think the way it is done here is subtle and allows access to the mother's voice.
A letter is chatter in written form, Rabi Babu told me, when he sat on the deck writing one on that old journey. He said everyone has a special notebook, it has loose leaves, and it is for writing to which nobody attaches value. It is for writing that turns up dishevelled, no turban on its head or shoes on its feet. It goes where no questions are asked for coming without reason...

Jun 27, 8:57am Top

I have to admit I was amused at first to see so much fuss about the "heatwave" having just come from a hot and humid state in the US, but as yesterday's temperature rose I began to see what people were complaining about. It makes a huge difference when most people don't have air conditioning. So I parked my fan in front of me and repented. :)

Jun 27, 1:18pm Top

>65 rosylibrarian: I've arranged a visit tomorrow, and I am *so* hoping they have air conditioning! Hope your fan is effective. I had two ice lollies yesterday, which I felt was quite restrained...

Jun 27, 1:34pm Top

>65 rosylibrarian: So now imagine doing Interval training in a fitness suite with no effective airconditioning. I ended the class "glowing" somewhat!
Having spent some time in a hot state, I'd still rather not have air conditioning. For no very good reason, it always seemed to be set so cold that I always took a cardigan with me, which I used to wear indoors.

Jun 28, 4:12am Top

>66 charl08: I partook in some ice cream myself, so you were in good company.

>67 Helenliz: Doing interval training with or without air conditioning right now sounds like something I wouldn't want to imagine. :) I do hear you on the always being cold while indoors problem. It would be blazing hot outside and ice cold inside the library I worked at. I always had a cardigan on, so I fit the librarian stereotype out of necessity.

Edited: Jun 28, 11:02am Top

>67 Helenliz: I'm not sure I would cope in a gym without air-conditioning. All those rather warm individuals... I went back to the pool for the first time in (cough) some time yesterday. Lovely.

>68 rosylibrarian: Ooh, ice-cream. I think it might be that time now... Sadly, my meeting does not have air con (but they have opened the door, which is a marked improvement).

This slipped into my bag at lunch:

Old Baggage

Jun 29, 7:16am Top

Old Baggage
Such a great novel, it made me want to go back and read her previous book in which the main character first appears.
Mattie is a former suffragette now in her early 60s trying to deal with the failure of the vote for some women making significant differences to the lives to all women by the late 1920s, as well as the fallout personally after WW1. Evans brings together a wonderful liveliness as well as lightly weaving together suffragette memories, repercussions and in 'the Flea', also documenting the very real hardships many working class families faced in the 1920s and 30s before the NHS and social welfare for all.
And of course because it is Lissa Evans, some humour that made me laugh out loud, which was much needed as I attempted Northern Rail yesterday ('This train has been delayed by 20-30-40 minutes...')

Jun 29, 7:22am Top

>70 charl08: Ooh, I'm so envious that you got it!!! It sounds wonderful. I may have to check my reservation page impatiently.

Edited: Jun 29, 7:24am Top

>71 susanj67: Warning, seeing the physical object may cause further book-envy - the cover is absolutely beautiful. I want to frame it.

Edited: Jun 29, 5:46pm Top

Edited: Jun 30, 12:38am Top

>55 charl08: Forgot those other places!! Come to Portland!! It's a straight shot north from San Diego. : )

>69 charl08: Usually I am not fond of things that slip into my purse, but it looks like you lucked out!

Jun 30, 2:00am Top

How exciting that you are planning a trip to California. I hear that San Francisco can be cold (colder than it is here to the north in Vancouver I was told by someone who visited and had to borrow a coat. She thought the weather would be the same as it was here.) If you are looking for a place with books, Portland has Powells which I hear that people come from across country to visit, of course, there may be a few LTers there too.

Jun 30, 5:44am Top

>74 Berly: Oh, so many tempting places. I promise to ask for guidance if I end up in Portland.

>75 Familyhistorian: I hadn't even thought of clothes yet! Will definitely have a mac - always have a mac...

Jun 30, 5:54am Top

The Last Man in Europe
Mamie's comments (duly thumbed) nudged me to pick this up from the (many) books languishing in the library book pile. I've read bits and pieces by and about Orwell, and found this fictionalised account of his writing of 1984 highly readable. Glover points to the different influences on his writing the book, not just his frustrations with the British socialists and totalitarianism.

Edited: Jun 30, 6:27am Top

Guardian Reviews - I'm doing Fiction this week - loads more here www.guardian.co.uk/books

Crudo by Olivia Laing reviewed by Tessa Hadley
"...almost a dialogue staged between the two parts of Laing’s writing persona, the judicious and the crazy. On the one hand, there’s the allure of a dream of perpetual youth, behaving badly and moving on to the promise of the next relationship; on the other, the relief and bathos of “growing up”, choosing furniture and paint for your home, having to take someone else into consideration all the time."
Before reading this, I'd thought yes. Now I'm thinking probably no.

Aimless Love by Billy Collins reviewed by Ben Wilkinson
"What frustrates in Collins’s poetry is hardly this balancing act between the whimsical and the moving. Rather, it is the kind of predictable laziness that creeps into many a gifted poet’s writing, not least after they have had their share of prizes, fellowships and, in Collins’s case, a publisher bidding war resulting in a six-figure advance. There are several gems in Aimless Love that everyone should read..."
This review reminds me I haven't picked up any poetry in a while...

How to Be Famous by Caitlin Moran reviewed by Kitty Empire
"There are many reasons to read Moran – the demystifying glee around the squelchy stuff, her helter-skelter verbiage, always barrelling towards a zinger of a phrase, her bottomless fount of ideas – but one of the less headline-grabbing is a love of literature, which Moran wears lightly. A cynic might wonder whether her enthusiasm for writing dirty helps keep her on the bestseller lists. In more repressive times, Morrigan reflects at one point, writers had to encode their sexuality. Moran no longer has to. If nothing else, you’ll come out of How to Be Famous looking at the start of Moby-Dick in a fresh light: “basically Melville crushing on the hotness of Queequeg”. Such are the unadvertised bonuses of the book.""
Yes, of course.

The Shepherd’s Hut by Tim Winton reviewed by Rachel Seiffert
"...the greatest virtue of Winton’s writing is its rawness. His protagonists are always outsiders, beyond the pale, and The Shepherd’s Hut opens true to form. Jaxie’s father is “a deadest cunt”, and his mother was already lost to him years before her cancer. Jaxie and his dad now live in a small town where blind eyes are turned by cops and neighbours. No one would be surprised if the boy fought back against his father’s drunken beatings, but no one would help him, either. So when fate intervenes in the form of a faulty car jack, and Clackton Snr meets a suitably violent end crushed under his own ute, Jaxie knows who will be blamed. He cuts and runs, as his mother should have done years ago, because he is a survivor and because he has someone to run to..."

The Occasional Virgin by Hanan al-Shaykh reviewed by Arifa Akbar
"The language, translated into English...jars – “The waters of the Mediterranean groaned in pain, like a giraffe with backache”, for example, or “sadness rises like bile in her throat and bewilderment is an octopus extending its tentacles inside her head”. Yvonne and Huda ultimately inhabit the cliche of scheming, avenging women."

Caroline’s Bikini by Kirsty Gunn reviewed by Anthony Cummins
"...experimental tomfoolery, pitched somewhere between Nicola Barker and BS Johnson..."

Children's Roundup -
Including Julian Is a Mermaid


Jun 30, 7:28am Top

Hmm, I'm out of reserve slots anyway (sniff) but I may be safe from those.

Re the Powells talk, I think these famous bookshops might do well to have a LT corner, where LTers could browse and other LTers could easily identify them and talk about books :-) Like instant friends, even in a foreign country. Waterstones in Piccadilly could do something similar.

Jun 30, 1:27pm Top

>79 susanj67: Oh, I like the Powell's LT corner idea! : )

Jun 30, 3:52pm Top

>79 susanj67: >80 Berly: I'm definitely up for this.

Have been snoozing the (very warm) day away after a midday burst of energy involving gardening. Have been reading California: Eye witness travel. Sad lack of libraries described in the San Diego section...

Edited: Jun 30, 5:54pm Top

>78 charl08: Started Crudo this morning. I've really liked Olivia Laing's non fiction work, so hoping the debut novel will be good.

Edited: Jul 1, 4:43am Top

>82 Caroline_McElwee: Sounds good Caroline! I enjoyed her book about New York, and have her book about writers and booze on the shelf to read.

I finished (finally) Go, Went, Gone - it took me so long partly because I found it so strong that I felt I had to step away from it and give myself a bit of breathing room. Some of what she covers in the novel, from the perspective of a newly retired philosophy professor, is a better-expressed version of things I have worried about when volunteering. And then there is so much more than that too. I've only read two of Erpenbeck's other books but both touched on the way that the East/West border continues to exist in people's memories and ways of living, and she brings that in here too to talk about borders and how they work on people. She's so sharp about the complete inanities of the system: why do people who come from one country (e.g. Libya) get treated differently depending on which state they land in? How many nationals are employed to keep bureaucratic systems going that don't work for refugees? and the ways that helping visitors used to be part of the culture for many places. The compassion of the book (I hope) will stay with me, the way in which Erpenbeck has listened and shared stories of individuals in order to say something powerful about the need for compassion and change in Europe.

Jun 30, 7:30pm Top

Monthly summary -

This month I read 25 books, helped by a couple of long train journeys.
I read three books related to my theme, although very different books I think the skill of the author of Hidden Figures in telling a tech story made it my favourite. I've been to New Zealand, Canada, medieval Italy, late-Raj India, civil-war Spain and finally Germany this month. I picked up some favourite authors: Anuradha Roy, Curtis Sittenfeld, Amy Bloom, Jenny Erpenbeck, Michael Ondaajte and Lissa Evans, none of whom disappointed. I think I've discovered new to me series in A Shot in the Dark and The Red Velvet Turnshoe, and am now uptodate with Abir Mukherjee's exciting crime fiction. Sadly it seems there will be no more Paula Maguire books by Claire McGowan though...

Overall stats

Gender This Month F 21 M 4 Joint 0 Running Total F107 M 30 Joint 1
Fiction/Non? This Month Fiction 22 Non-fiction 3 Poetry Running Total Fiction 102 Non-fiction 30 Poetry 4
Source This Month Library 11 Mine 14 Running Total Library 60 Mine 74
Author home
This Month: Africa 0, Asia 1, Australasia 1, Europe 13 (UK 11), Middle East , US & Canada 10, Other Multiples .
Running Total: Africa 1, Asia 5, Australasia 6, Europe 79 (UK 58), Middle East 3, US & Canada 40, Other 1 Multiples 1.

Jun 30, 8:27pm Top

If you get as far south as San Diego, be sure to let me know!

Jul 1, 5:04am Top

>85 ronincats: Definitely going to be in SD - my friend who is the reason for the trip is based there.

Now reading Sugar Money - it's all very tense, a mass breakout by a group of enslaved people. Will they make it?

Edited: Jul 1, 8:37am Top

It's too hot to garden, so I'm clearing out some junk stuff I don't need any more. So far this has turned up several books that I want to read Straight Away. Oh dear.

Sugar Money proved gripping right up until the end. Based on a true story from the 18th century when the British and French were fighting over Caribbean islands. Harris tells the story from the perspective of a boy owned by a French religious order, Lucien. Trying to get back 'his' slaves, now taken over by the British, one of the order sends Lucien and his older brother Emile to Grenada . Their job is to persuade the enslaved community to leave with them for Martinique. In Grenada, Lucien and Emile find that their friends horribly treated and tortured for minor infractions. They are not difficult to persuade to leave, but the persuasion is only the beginning of escaping the island. The description of the lush island is rich and convincing, whilst I was gripped by Lucien's journey, the danger proving a page-turner. A great read if you enjoy historical fiction, I think.

Jul 1, 9:10am Top

>87 charl08: It's best to try and ignore books while decluttering. I find they are very large distractions! :)

Jul 1, 11:34am Top

Oh, good to see a fellow appreciator of Hidden Figures, Charlotte. I loved that one.

Edited: Jul 4, 1:45pm Top

>88 ChelleBearss: Wise words: I should have followed them!

>89 jnwelch: This was right up my street.

How to Stop Time
I picked this up whilst clearing piles of books from the sofa in my room (so that it could be moved on its way to the furniture warehouse in the sky). It was a perfect read on an oppressive, hot day when all my plants seem to be giving up the will. Tom, the protagonist, ages much more slowly than most humans, and faces fear and suspicion as a result. Haig's non-fiction deals with depression and there's a strong thread of questions that will be familiar to anyone who's been depressed: what is the point? What am I living for? How do I enjoy happiness when I know it's only temporary?
It did remind me of reading a Rosemary Sutcliff (or possibly Geoffrey Trease) book at school when I was about 12. The plot involved two runaway children meeting Shakespeare, which I was happily going along with.
A much more savvy kid asked what were the odds of meeting Shakespeare: why did people in fiction always meet the famous people?

Jul 1, 11:32pm Top

Has it been incredibly hot there, too? We've been in the 100s F. Ugh.

Jul 2, 2:34am Top

>91 The_Hibernator: Hi Rachel - not as bad as that, thank goodness - but hot for here - 27 -30 (about 80-86 in F)

New library hours have come into force this week - we've lost one evening a week (we only had two) and one morning. The hours were pretty badly structured before (Friday night, unsurprisingly, was not a busy night) but it's still a loss.

Edited: Jul 3, 2:16am Top

Destroying Angel
Third in series focussed on Damien Seeker, feared leader in Cromwell's army. Sent to Yorkshire following the events of book two, he's asked to root out royalists in Yorkshire with new powers for puritan leaders. Thrown into a village all but torn apart by local grievances. Seeker finds familiar faces, some welcomed, others not. As for the previous two series, the historical detail is richly done for a dramatic period following the (English) civil war. I was swept along with Seeker's investigation.


Edited: Jul 3, 2:33pm Top

Jul 4, 6:53am Top

Down the River Unto the Sea is very good, recommended, but not yet finished. As everyone else was watching the football I was fast asleep, book on my face (always a good look).

Jul 4, 7:18am Top

>95 charl08: ha!
I was at the gym for an intervals class - somewhat sparsely attended, I wonder why?

Jul 4, 8:23am Top

>95 charl08: and >96 Helenliz: - And there I was - an AMERICAN - on the edge of my couch rooting for England and singing along to God Save the Queen (at least the few lines I know) with the crowd. And on the day before the Fourth of July, no less. I feel like I should have a UK passport mailed to me immediately...

Jul 4, 9:00am Top

>97 katiekrug: you hero! I am reminded of the Tebbitt test (yes, I am aware that is showing my age), you pass with flying colours on that report.

I'm one of those people who, where football is concerned, thinks the sooner we get knocked out the better. That way we don't have to live with the upwards spiralling optimism for as long, and get the crushing defeat out the way as early as possible. Having said that, I'm not going to forgo a drink or two should they win (which they won't). >;-)

Jul 4, 9:03am Top

The best way to avoid any optimism whatsoever is to "pull an America" and be so terrible that you don't even qualify :-P

Jul 4, 9:41am Top

Hi, Charlotte. I hope you are having a good week. Hooray for Sugar Money. I have a copy on the "Must Read Now" shelf. Hope to get to it soon.

Glad you enjoyed Go, Went, Gone. It is a terrific read.

Jul 4, 2:00pm Top

>97 katiekrug: Ha! Go for it Katie.
The jingoism on breakfast tv this morning was rather ick to me. One guy said "it was the right result" Really? On penalties? It's fluky luck, and sometimes it's in your favour, as far as I'm concerned.

>98 Helenliz: I can't fully escape it (my dad loves this stuff) but will do my best. Not least by watching Wimbledon. Listening to Venus talk just now and thinking how great it is to have such articulate women in sport.

>99 katiekrug: Believe me, some of us were amazed when we did...

>100 msf59: Hope you like it Mark - I thought it was very well done.

As far as Go, Went, Gone, I have added Jenny Erpenbeck to my wishlist on Amazon - sadly the library doesn't have very many. I've read Visitation and The End of Days and hoping to get my hands on The Old Child and The Book of Words sometime soon too.

Edited: Jul 4, 3:22pm Top

Down the River Unto the Sea
...for a while I was alone and at peace the way a soldier during World War 1 was at peace in the trenches waiting for the next attack, the final flu, or maybe mustard gas seeping over the edge of a trench that might be his grave...
Mosley's latest, a bleak crime novel narrated by PI and disgraced former cop Joe King Oliver. Oliver's still reliving his fall from NYPD, set up by person or persons unknown and attacked in prison ten years before. A letter arrives from the woman who accused him, setting him on a trail from the past. At the same time, a young woman arrives with a new case: a local militant activist who may or may not been 'framed' for two cop deaths. It all gets violent and dangerous from there... I may have guessed the guy who sold him down the river though: it's always the best friend, isn't it?!

By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept
I picked this up for the beautiful cover, but though it's short it's not a style I found easy - poetic prose. Smart fictionalised her own experience of an affair with a married man in the 1940s, which was clearly really traumatic.

Perhaps I am his hope. But then she is his present. And if she is his present, I am not his present. Therefore, I am not, and I wonder why no-one has noticed I am dead and taken the trouble to bury me. For I am utterly collapsed. I lounge with glazed eyes, or weep tears of sheer weakness.
All people seem criminally irrelevant. I ignore everyone and everything, and, if crossed or interrupted in my decay, hate. Nature is only the irking weather and flowers crude reminders of stale states of being.

(quotes copied from goodreads)
Article about the book and the author here - https://www.telegraph.co.uk/books/authors/elizabeth-smart-and-george-barker-love-affair-literary-classic/

Jul 4, 5:07pm Top

>102 charl08: Oh, dear! Katie is gonna have a fit over that title - the second one, I mean. *runs to get popcorn*

Jul 4, 6:17pm Top

>102 charl08: and >103 Crazymamie: - *gnashes teeth*

>101 charl08: - To be fair re: the penalty kicks, the announcers on the broadcast over here said England had been practicing them and it's actually a skill and an art. Needless to say, I am pleased their match is int he morning my time on Saturday, so I can watch before heading out to The Wayne's company picnic :) Also, Dele Alli is lovely to watch and to gaze upon... #yesiamobjectifyingthepoorman

Jul 5, 1:27am Top

>103 Crazymamie: Thanks Mamie for the warning.

>104 katiekrug: Quite a restrained reaction there, Katie.

As far as the skill and the art? Meh. (Sorry, all football supporters: I'd rather be reading.)

And in the news...
A police union in South Carolina has challenged the inclusion of Angie Thomas’s multiple award-winning novel about police brutality, The Hate U Give, on a school’s summer reading list, describing it as “almost an indoctrination of distrust of police”.

Jul 5, 5:16pm Top

Which is baloney, i.e. a lot of tosh. One of the main characters is a respected police officer, the uncle (I'm pretty sure) of the main character. These people who want to censor are always misguided. The Hate U Give is a terrific book, and the more it's read here the better.

Jul 5, 6:15pm Top

Sounds like you are being very productive, Charlotte. Keep up the good work.

Jul 6, 2:41pm Top

>106 jnwelch: It sounds completely nuts Joe. I hope someone smart in the police force explains to them why banning books really isn't in their remit....

>107 Familyhistorian: Yup, busy busy!

Now reading Jasper Fforde's latest thanks to Kim's recommendation. Fun.

Edited: Jul 6, 6:27pm Top

The Last Dragonslayer turned out to be a great recommendation - so now I have two more books to read, the rest of the trilogy.
It made me snigger.
The Kingdom of Hereford was unique in the Ununited Kingdoms for having driving tests based on maturity, not age, much to the chagrin of a lot of males, some of whom were still failing to make the grade at thirty-two.

Edited: Jul 6, 6:37pm Top

>109 charl08: You are welcome. : ) I picked up The Song of the Quarkbeast and book #3 at Powell's yesterday.

Jul 7, 12:48am Top

>1 charl08: That is a cool statue (and plinth!). Adding it to my tourism bucket list.

>87 charl08: I really want to read Sugar Money. I so enjoyed Gillespie and I.

>83 charl08: Your comments about Go, Went, Gone resonate deeply. It was an excellent read.

Jul 7, 1:21am Top

>109 charl08: *snork*. That one's going on the list for that line alone!

Jul 7, 2:24am Top

>110 Berly: Sounds good Kim.

>111 EBT1002: Hope you make it to London Ellen - and that a meetup is on the cards too, if you do. I really liked your review of Go Went Gone - will you post it on the book page?

>112 Helenliz: He's very funny - this one made me want to go back and read all his Thursday Next series again. The trick would be finding my copies though...

It's a bit cooler this morning, thank goodness. The beans (just in the garden in pots this year) are not doing so well though - seem to be dropping the buds altogether instead of developing into little beans, so not sure what that is about. I was hoping for a bumper crop but... By contrast, the raspberry bush just keeps producing - not many, but steady.

Jul 7, 2:24am Top

Guardian reviews delay - they will appear here, but tomorrow as I have to work today.

Jul 7, 8:16am Top

>70 charl08: I did exactly the same, Charlotte, re-read Crooked Heart immediately after finishing Old Baggage!

Jul 7, 1:00pm Top

>83 charl08: Glad you liked Go, went, gone, Charlotte.
I completely agree Jenny Erpenbecks writings exposes the still existing division between former Eastern/Western Europe and the bare existanse of borders in general. I never understood why people should have more or less rights depending on their place of birth...

Jul 7, 3:30pm Top

>114 charl08: I gave a talk today. As I left a man said to the lady next to him 'she's got a doctorate': I wasn't sure if this was in the sense "...and therefore she knows that of which she speaks" or "which seems unlikely given the talk we have just heard". Dilemmas...

>115 CDVicarage: I need to do this - the week has not been so good for reading. A new baby arrived where I volunteer (supercute, and I got to hold him yesterday :-) and work has been busy.

>116 FAMeulstee: She really caught, for me, so much of the tensions bound up in the way the refugee 'crisis' in Europe is developing - and how on an individual level things can be completely different. I'm still thinking about it (and still tempted to buy lots of copies for everyone I know). As you say, borders make so little sense.

I went into the second hand bookshop in my town at lunchtime, and came away with a Canadian novel, The Ladies Lending Library which must have come from over the water as it has a lovely flippy cover which we don't tend to do here.

I've been reading a little in Get her off the pitch which is the memoir by Lynne Truss of her time as a sports reporter. It's very funny (although the acceptance of the total male nature of sport now seems odd). But did I say funny?

On sport:
I feel, for example, from the fan’s point of view, that it wastes one’s life, colonises one’s brain and wrings the emotions, all in unhelpful ways.

On her agreeing to be a sports reporter when she knew nothing about it :
We merely thought: let’s connect the brain of this apathetic 41-year-old literary woman to a big lot of football, maximise the voltage and then see what happens. If she starts getting up during matches to yell, ‘Can we not knock it?’ then the conclusion is clear: football can appeal to bloody anyone. If she starts describing Gazza as a priapic monolith, however, things have probably gone too far, and it may be necessary to reverse the polarity.

Jul 7, 3:48pm Top

>117 charl08: Charlotte! Of course the man meant the first option! Sorry you had to work but I hope it went well. I nearly missed the office even though we don't have air conditioning at the weekends. I am so hot that I don't know what to do with myself.

Jul 7, 5:47pm Top

Guardian Reviews - non-fiction this week (more: www.guardian.co.uk/books )


Wilding by Isabella Tree reviewed by Caspar Henderson
"The challenges will be all the greater when large numbers of animals die at rewilding sites. This has happened at Oostvaardersplassen, where red deer, horses and cattle have sometimes starved. It’s one thing to contemplate a tangled bank of the kind vividly described in the conclusion of On the Origin of Species – rich in flowers and creatures flitting about. It is another to confront so starkly the Darwinian struggle for existence."

The Crossway by Guy Stagg reviewed by Blake Morrison
"There have been some excellent footslog memoirs in recent years, including Nick Hunt’s Walking the Woods and the Water, and Where the Wild Winds Are, but none describing as marathon a trek as Stagg’s. He’s engagingly honest about the boredom he feels in transit and on overnight stops (at one point, he invents a game of scoring monks’ beards for marks out of 10 according to length and thickness). "

For a Left Populism by Chantal Mouffe reviewed by William Davies
"We live in ... a “populist moment”, in which politics has become impassioned, confrontational, angry and unpredictable, dispensing with all the rules and expectations that have governed liberal democracies since the 1970s. If the distinction between left and right has become foggier, this is partly because a similar set of forces are being unleashed on both sides, including devotion to leaders, suspicion of the media, street-level mobilisation and an emotional sense of injustice. Mouffe is conscious that the term populism has more pejorative connotations in Europe than in the United States, and seeks to rehabilitate it. "

Tyrant by Stephen Greenblatt reviewed by John Mullan
"Ben Jonson was imprisoned for the allegedly seditious play The Isle of Dogs. Their contemporary, Thomas Kyd, fled from an arrest warrant for sedition and was interrogated under torture. Christopher Marlowe was stabbed to death by a government agent, while awaiting an investigation of his unconventional religious beliefs. The career of playwright was not a safe one in Elizabethan or Jacobean England. Greenblatt’s opening chapter lays out the evidence for the dangers of staging drama in Shakespeare’s day, culminating in the elderly Elizabeth I reportedly likening herself to Shakespeare’s Richard II, a monarch defeated and finally murdered by rebels. Yet Richard II was never banned. Shakespeare prospered while creating his anatomies of power and its abuse."
Tempting. Although the review doesn't like it so much.

The Incurable Romantic by Frank Tallis reviewed by Kathryn Hughes
"Anyone who has ever fallen in love will have experienced all the symptoms of full-blown psychiatric madness: the disinhibition, the magical thinking, the OCD-ish tendency to check your messages (and worse still, your partner’s messages) every five seconds. The ancients called the condition “love-sickness” and Tallis suggests that we think seriously about reviving the term as a diagnosis rather than continuing to use it as a quaint metaphor."
No thanks!

Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig reviewed by Katy Guest
"This is not a smug self-help book, but an honest guide to feeling a bit better. Because “feeling bad sucks”."
Sounds good, but also quite irritating ("messy"), so probably not.

"How much do we care that football has lost its soul?"
John Crace reviews When Footballers were Skint, Football Leaks: Uncovering the Dirty Deals Behind the Beautiful Game and Red Card

(I don't care)

The Unpunished Vice: A Life of Reading by Edmund White reviewed by Rachel Cooke
"...a collection of essays, each connecting the seemingly thousands of books he has read ... to his long writing life (the author of A Boy’s Own Story is now 78). This is done in loose fashion; like any passionate reader, he hops “from one lily pad to another”. Colette cosies up to Jean Cocteau, and Penelope Fitzgerald to Henry Green, and you must therefore concentrate quite hard, particularly in the matter of writers with whose work you are not familiar (in my case, these included two of his favourites, Jean Giono and Pierre Loti). But it’s wonderful, too: wisdom and a certain kind of tenderness are to be found on every page."
Yes, tempting.

Sharp by Michelle Dean reviewed by Lidija Haas
"Given how little space each writer gets, the gossipy biographical details, while entertaining, can also seem a bit trivialising: Dean notes in her chapter on Arendt that the love letters she exchanged with Heidegger, unlike those between West and HG Wells, contained “little baby talk … no pet names”. Meanwhile her analysis of the work itself is patchy and her choice of examples can be mystifying: after all that’s been written about Joan Didion as a stylist, it’s both odd and anticlimactic to read that “No person as depressed and lost as Didion purports to be could possibly draft prose this precise.”
I don't think so!

Jul 7, 5:48pm Top

>118 susanj67: Thanks Susan!

Jul 7, 6:14pm Top

I have now borrowed and returned Sharp twice, after making desultory attempts. Forced connections between authors who would reject those connections, and the blandest, whitest version of liberal feminism that also manages to be completely unaware of even other white feminisms. Just no.

I love Chantal Mouffe, must get this one, but my general take is that it's hard to rehabilitate populism. It almost always is rooted in reactionary ideas, even when they are applied from the left and in good faith by serious leftists.

I read a couple of excerpts of The Unpunished Vice, promptly ordered it, and highly recommend it. I also think Cooke's review of it is fabulous.

I found Tyrant to be very insipid, the sort of thing that we'll see lots of as long as Trump is in office: a cash grab. Clint Smith had a very incisive comment on Twitter recently (as he usually does). We're reading all these books about Trump, Trump voters, and Russia, but we're ignoring the works of other people, directly affected by Trump's policies, who actually explain in their works why Trump really happened.

Thanks for doing these snippets! I love skimming them.

Jul 7, 10:25pm Top

Just had a wonderful perusal of the Guardian summer list recommendations from authors. Thank you so much for this.

Jul 8, 3:27am Top

While I'm tempted by the idea of Tyrant my previous experience of Greenblatt was a short essay stretched beyond reason to over 400 pages. Very sketchy and not at all rigorous. So that's not one I'll be picking up.

Jul 8, 4:22am Top

>119 charl08: Thanks for mentioning the Guardian's summer reading lists, Charlotte. I'll take a look at it later today. The Millions' second half of 2018 list should also be out.

Jul 8, 6:33am Top

>121 libraryperilous: Thanks for confirming my (very surface) impressions of these books with proper reasons. Who would you recommend as the books explaining the experiences of those affected by Trump? (or who does Smith recommend?)

>122 mdoris: I love a list! I felt quite smug when a few authors named books I had (shock!) already read.

>123 Helenliz: The reviewer suggested the book had been written rather quickly to cash in on Trump related interest in power...

>124 kidzdoc: Ooh, the Millions is great. I'll look out for that one, thanks for pointing it out.

I'm now (finally) reading A Closed and Common Orbit - loved Chambers' first one, and this one is proving to be as fun to read.

Jul 8, 6:54am Top

Hi Charlotte! I think I agree with you on most of the Guardian NF, although I might look for the Greenblatt. I've listed yesterday's Times books on my thread - they're still doing best-ofs instead of new reviews, which is vexing. Because we need MORE STUFF! But today's Sunday Times has new reviews.

Jul 8, 1:33pm Top

>126 susanj67: Oh yes, I've added quite a few from your post. Namely:
The only story, How to be famous ,
Swan song By Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott and Tangerine.

Jul 8, 2:17pm Top

Finished A Closed and Common Orbit - like the first book by Becky Chambers, I found this sci fi to be really charming. Unlike the first, this one is told in two perspectives, the past and the present, telling the history of a character from the first book. Chambers asks questions about the rights of AI technology, but never loses sight of the story first.
The cold was making her shaky, but that was the only thing about her that moved, except for her heart, beating real loud in her ears. The sky was... it was... it was so full. And now that she knew what the specks were, it made her head spin and her mouth dry.
There were dozens of stars. Dozens of dozens...

Jul 8, 2:43pm Top

I've wishlisted the first Becky Chambers, due to having no reserve slots :-)

Edited: Jul 9, 1:21am Top

>129 susanj67: Sounds good Susan. I counted it for the popsugar 'set on another planet' heading.

I've started Olivia Laing's The Trip to Echo Spring for the non-fiction challenge. Didn't get much reading done - Sunday went along to a village that was opening gardens to raise money for charity - including vintage buses dropping people off (and cake!)

Jul 9, 7:07am Top

Darryl reminded me about the Millions, and here's an interesting article on the 'Rebel Women' trend (although its argument is hardly new)

"...when we cherry-pick the past for icons of female rebellion, are we really serving women, or history?"

Jul 9, 7:41am Top

And then came across this article, which makes the case for Chandler, and other early noir, as worthwhile reading despite the misogyny and so on. I wobble on this one - I don't claim to have any answers, but the article made for interesting reading, I thought.

Jul 9, 7:42am Top

Also: has anyone been on the train from LA to San Diego and willing to comment on it? Is it worth doing?

Jul 9, 8:32am Top

Oh good, Charlotte. I really enjoyed those two Becky Chambers sci-fi books, too. The third one, Record of a Spaceborn Few, comes out this month.

Jul 10, 4:21am Top

I'm looking forward to it Joe. In fact, I might just add it to the buy ahead lot. (ETA: Done!)

Jul 10, 3:00pm Top

Reading guidebooks about California. Found a bit I liked:

Jul 10, 4:50pm Top

Ooh, adding San Diego's library to my travel spreadsheet.

July is my bumper crop month for most-anticipated sci-fi and fantasy titles. I'm looking forward to Record of a Spaceborn Few. I love how kind Chambers is to her characters (and readers), and the worldbuilding is just great.

>125 charl08: One I especially recommend is What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia, a great antidote to Hillbilly Elegy. I'm currently way behind on my current affairs reads, but I think what Smith meant is books that are about racism, misogyny, late capitalism, and other disasters, rather than books (mostly by white men) about Trump. Trump's not really that much different than other Republicans in many of his ideas, even though he governs outside the lines. Books that address fundamental inequalities are of more value than the latest Russian connection or a tell-all about how venal and ignorant Trump is.

I think some of the "assault on democratic norms" books are good, especially those that situate Trump within the GOP's decades-long authoritarian tendencies and norm-busting tactics. I also agree with Jedediah Purdy's critique of those books. Also, civil rights are democratic norms. Why are you worried about Senate decorum getting trashed but not about voter disenfranchisement? Too many of the op-eds, endless articles, and buzzy books by white liberals focus on the former while dismissing concerns about the latter as hysterical. Right now, some Very Smart People are opining that Kavanaugh is not a disastrous, nation-changing SCOTUS pick because ... any Republican would have chosen someone like him. Umm, maybe the problem is the GOP, then, and their shitty revanchism?

Anyway, that's my two cents as a progressive and leftist Democrat who's tired of white moderates watering down resistance or reducing it to thought experiments about "norms."

tl;dr: Don't read Mark Lilla.

Jul 10, 7:38pm Top

OK, I am so far behind, I skimmed. You should include Minn. in your US trip. You can stay with me and help me organize my books. ;)

Love the idea of an LT corner in bookstores.

I also loved The Last Man in Europe. Added All the Lives We Never Lived to the list. Can't wait to get Lissa Evans' new one, thanks to you, Charlotte.

Jul 10, 11:59pm Top

You asked me to post my comments about Go, Went, Gone. Done. :-)

>131 charl08: Huh. Interesting. And ultimately, the issue is still that we have to spend the extra energy to attend to women writers, rebellious or otherwise....

That said, I'm warbling about a book written by a man: The Overstory is my current read and it's brilliant so far.

Edited: Jul 11, 7:25am Top

>137 libraryperilous: Thanks for the long answer. I like the argument that more voices need to be heard in publishing: in fiction as well as non-fiction. I splurged in a recent Verso sale on several books about the refugee crisis and the rise of the right. I just need ro read them! The Appalachian book sounds fascinating, thank you.

>138 BLBera: Great to see you back Beth, your trip sounded great. I wish I could a great LT tour of the US (although I'd have to buy exrra baggage space for al the books bought). I thought The Last Man was such a great read, the ending (and the ideas behind it) was powerful for me. I had a taxi driver conversationlast week where the driver told me he had given up hope in the country, that politicians should try and live on the amount families had and then make theor decisions about tax and so on. I still have hope, but perhaps need to do more about it.

>139 EBT1002: Thanks Ellen - will go and thumb your review. I think the more people who read Go Went Gone the better, especially here in Europe. I was reading an update by an NGO who summarise European policy and news about migration. Such heart breaking reading: whilst states were fighting in the past months over where ships that had rescued migrants from the sea could take their passengers, hundreds died because the ships weren't able to patrol the sea. ( www.epim.info )

Good to know about the Powers: I'm still on the fence!

As you say, we shouldn't need to dig for these stories. I was at a feminist event last week which included a speech by an (excellent) young female politician (a local MP). As an introduction another speaker showed images of local protesters from over 100 years ago, and the MP pointed out that those images of local women as activists seem 'hidden' - why aren't we familiar with them.

Apart from the guidebooks to California, I'm reading the next one in the Dragonslayer (Kim's fault!) The Song of the Quarkbeast: Last Dragonslayer Book 2 by Jasper Fforde. Much needed light relief!

Jul 11, 12:08pm Top

>130 charl08: Really liked The Trip to Echo Spring (gave up on her debut novel though, and I so wanted to love it. I didn't find it edgy enough, unlike her non-fiction).

>140 charl08: I guess it is because I don't much go for comedic novels, but I never got into Jasper Fforde.

Jul 11, 1:53pm Top

>109 charl08: I love that quote. I can relate - I used to work as an insurance adjuster for auto claims.

Your vintage buses are a lot prettier than ours. Looks like the planning for your US trip is going well but won't be nearly long enough to get to see all the LT connections in the US. Wouldn't it be great if a meet up could be arranged so that you could get to meet some LTers.

Jul 11, 2:52pm Top

Charlotte, If you haven't got it Circe is on Amazon UK Kindle version for £1.39 (well £1.30 something anyway, how's that for short term memory ha).

Jul 12, 3:00am Top

>141 Caroline_McElwee: I left my copy by accident at work so need to pick it up again. I don't like all comic novels (I've never managed Jonathan Coe) but I like the way Fforde has a lot of literary jokes. The Dragonslayer ones, I guess because they are aimed at a younger audience, read a bit more gently than the Thursday Next books. (and >143 Caroline_McElwee: Thank you!)

>142 Familyhistorian: I think someone had spent a lot of time redoing this one, Meg. Polished within an inch of its life. I was impressed it had a skylight and the seats were surprisingly comfy too.

Edited: Jul 12, 3:27am Top

Finished two books -

The Song of the Quarkbeast the second book in the Dragonslayer series. Here our fearless heroine faces down the evil rival magic organisation 'iMagic'.
‘The complexities of the Quarkbeast are fundamentally unknowable. But here’s the point: there can only ever be thirty-six completely unique yet identical Quarkbeasts, and as soon as the combinations are fulfilled, they will come together and merge into a single Quota of fully Quorumed Quarkbeasts.’ ‘What will happen then?’ ‘Something wonderful. All the great unanswered questions of the world will be answered. Who are we? What are we here for? Where will we end up? And most important of all: can mankind actually get any stupider?

Falling Short This was a first novel on Netgalley. I've noticed I'm not so good at keeping reading books that don't have at least some kudos behind them. I pick them up, read a few pages and then put them down again. Annoyed at this blatant example of marketing working, I kept reading this one when I had no idea where it was going. In this case rewarding - Coulton's book is set amongst the staff of a London private school over a couple of days. Frances is struggling: her mum is exhibiting signs of dementia, she and her best friend have fallen out, and she has a creeping sense that she's not very good at her job. At 38, she's not sure where she's going, living in an unlovely 'studio flat' she can just about afford (this is London).
Frances has these fleeting instincts a lot, recently: these self-preserving ones, her adult self perched like a grey parrot on one shoulder. She's had them at the door of a taxi at the end of an iffy internet date; she's had them at the mouth of that disused tunnel underneath Alexandra Park when contemplating a shortcut home from a walk with Dog, the one that stinks of fag ends and piss and dead leaves but which will save her half an hour...But something has happened to her in the last year... The old grey parrot's voice has faded to a scratchy squawk..."
There was a lot to like here for me, from an amusing cast of staff including a Head of English with a sharp tongue full of Shakespeare to the Head's secretary who you mess with at your peril. The emphasis on Frances' age and singledom* made me think this was aiming at superior chicklit territory, but The Tempest references and the (sometimes annoying) shift in narrative voice suggested more literary aims.
This is just a first novel, so hopefully there is more to come: I will look out for this author.

*cf Helen Fielding

ETA 11 more reviews until I hit 100 on Netgalley: Onwards! ;-)

Jul 12, 4:51am Top

That one sounds interesting, Charlotte. The library system has it, so I've wishlisted it for the time being.

Jul 12, 7:58am Top

>146 susanj67: It wasn't a long read Susan (even with interruptions from the football fan in the next room!)

Jul 12, 10:10am Top

Falling Short sounds like it might be fun, Charlotte. And Kim has been talking up the Fforde books, so I might have to give those a try.

Edited: Jul 12, 1:54pm Top

Bringing this Over here from the Non-Fiction group, I noticed a copy of Ex-Libris in an Oxfam bookshop in London today. I won't be back in the area until Monday, but happy to acquire for you if it is still there.

Jul 13, 1:48am Top

>148 BLBera: It was a good light read I thought, Beth. Kim knows of what she speaks....

>149 Caroline_McElwee: Many thanks Caroline - the thought is much appreciated. I will keep an eye out here though, I do enjoy looking for books in the shops. (I've posted on the non-fiction thread too).

Jul 13, 2:06am Top

Hi, Charlotte--Glad you have been enjoying Fforde's YA dragon/magic spree. It has been just what I needed!! Good on you with Netgallery reviews. So close to 100--you go girl!

Edited: Jul 13, 2:07am Top

The Blood Miracles
I'd had a netgalley copy of this sequel to The Glorious Heresies, a book I really enjoyed. I don't think there's any way to review this without extensive spoilers - I've written a much blander review for the review page.
So she seeks gory details, stories about rebellious users and gangsters cleaning guns in underground strip clubs. Would she mind if he detailed reality? It's about moving around all day scared shitless, talking shite and throwing shapes at those in the same boat but knowing it's all chestnuts and mottos and platitudes, like you're working off a script. It's meaningless so you're disassociated, and with disassociation comes hangovers, a bad diet, a smoker's cough. It's a false and empty function and there's no point to it, no comfort to it, you're a boil on the arse of your own country. So you deflect reality with notions like brotherhood, loyalty, hierarchy. Stupid dick-clutching fantasies...
Ryan has not changed his ways for this book: he's now 20 and still closely involved in dealing in the small Irish city of Cork. McInerney's writing is still brilliant, sparkling, as Ryan's descent into dealing continues. His boss and mentor is increasingly erratic, as a deal Ryan has played a key part in brokering through his family links with Sicily goes badly wrong. His long term girlfriend is not impressed with his continued links and finally cuts him off altogether, leaving him to take up with Natalie, who is bad news as it turns out she is also seeing his boss. Even worse, his father's former friend, a key local gangster, applies pressure to be let into the deal. At the same time there are glimpses of an alternative future: Ryan is a talented musician and there is hope for legitimate work DJ'ing. McInerney is really good at making the reader (this reader) root for Ryan despite his poor (limited) choices. He's a terrible boyfriend but I still wanted Karine to take him back! In the previous book Ryan spent more time negotiating with his large family, dysfunctional around an alcoholic father, who had collapsed after the death of his wife. Here that family take a backseat, which seemed a loss to me.

Jul 13, 2:20am Top

Decided to try and deal with cat / pigeon run through the garden last night (things struggle there anyway, but especially because they get squashed / peed on etc, not helped by being access point for refilling the bird feeder too). Have moved a very spiky thistle in the hope that it might put some of these visitors off. Timing fortuitous - lovely rainstorm last night and this morning, so hopefully will settle well.

(My money is still on the pigeons though)

Jul 13, 3:38am Top

Wish you a good start into the weekend, Charlotte.

I have been to Sacramento, one of my sisters-in-law lives there. I wanted to see some of the old Swiss historical sites there, but they didn't know anything about General Sutter (whose son founded Sacramento) or New Helvetia. No surprise since she is Korean and he comes from South Carolina. But visiting this part is still on my wishlist.

Edited: Jul 13, 4:15am Top

Hello Been here only days.

If you want a quick book for your time travel requirement, there are 2 books that are pretty effortless but I think good quality - older children's books

The Ghosts by Antonia Barber Also published as The Amazing Mr Blunden. About children with a young, poor, widowed mother who is given a job caretaking a lovely little English Estate. They meet two child ghosts who need them to go back in time to help save them from murder. I loved it. It was also made into a film, I believe, with the latter name.

The other was a lovely older child's book that became a lovely UK children's tv series about a sickly girl who is sent to her great aunts farm, (which was an Elizabethan manor house), to recuperate and she finds she keeps returning, without control, (and back again), to Elizabethan times and becomes very fond of and involved with a younger son of the family, who has an infamous name in history. At first she doesn't have a clue but investigates once back in modern times, but she finds she can never take her foreknowledge back to warn them of what is coming... I read when young but recognised the name immediately, but altho' I knew what was coming, I still loved the story.

The book is A Traveller In Time and the author is well known but I can't now recall it. I'll have to post this and edit it later. Sorry.

I thought it was Alison Uttley but didn't trust myself...

Jul 13, 4:15am Top

>153 charl08: You had rain?

Jul 13, 4:30am Top

>153 charl08: Ooh, rain! I think we're supposed to get it later, although this will be one day when it goes unnoticed by the papers because of All The News. It will just be rain. Meanwhile...mayhem. (No pun intended, but I quite like that :-) )

Jul 13, 4:44am Top

>153 charl08: rain? What's that? We've not had any since 23May (apparently, I've not actually been counting). I'm jealous.

Jul 13, 8:52am Top

I must get to The Glorious Heresies one of these days! Happy Friday.

Jul 13, 8:57am Top

>83 charl08: Sharing your opinion 100%, actually I'm still in the "have to step away for a bit" phase, especially given the recent events in Italy and Germany. I don't get my head around it at all currently.

I own A Closed and Common Orbit, should finally read it, loved the first book!

Have a lovely weekend! :)

Jul 13, 9:45am Top

>154 paulstalder: Thanks Paul, Sacramento is a place I know only because of a detective drama I used to watch. Sounds like an interesting history - I would like to go to one of the old mission stations, but I wonder if it will be very busy, as they seem to be heavily featured in the guidebooks.

>155 roomsofbooks: Welcome! I saw from your profile you are Australian based - I wondered if you had found (Megan) EvilMoose's thread (she orginally hails from those parts) or IreadthereforIam (also Megan!) posting from NZ. Thanks for the recs. I read Matt Haig's How to Stop Time but decided in the end it wasn't really time travel - I don't know what anyone else thinks, if they've read it?

>156 Caroline_McElwee: >157 susanj67: >158 Helenliz: Did I mention the rain?

I sat by the open french windows and enjoyed the cool breeze.
(Sorry, smugometer has just gone off the scale, but really was so nice to be cool in the evening after the humid temps earlier in the week)

I'm hoping for lots of awkward shots of Trump and May, Susan.

>159 BLBera: She does write beautifully - I'm hoping she writes about some other characters next though.

>160 Deern: Ooh, if you're stepping away I think A Closed and Common Orbit would fit the bill perfectly, Natalie. Lovely to see you here, btw.

Jul 13, 3:19pm Top

>161 charl08: ok Ms smug. All we have is a little low thunder.

Jul 13, 4:16pm Top

I finally made my way over here. Happy weekend, Charlotte. I'm impressed about your popsugar chellenge. Great job so far.

Jul 13, 4:33pm Top

The rain came... yay.

Jul 13, 4:39pm Top

humph. Nothing here.
Can someone pinch me, I'm actually wishing for rain, that goes against the grain!

Jul 13, 7:21pm Top

>161 charl08: i was drawn to IreadthereforeIam as a chosen name but I think there was a lot of reference to her family shooting and hunting - which had me reversing FAST.

Jul 13, 7:46pm Top

>165 Helenliz: we didn't get much :-(

Jul 14, 1:23am Top

Yay! Cool air for you! And some rain.

We got your hot air. Pant, pant.

Jul 14, 4:59am Top

>162 Caroline_McElwee: Well, it came and it went, so significantly less smug now. Been watering again this morning.

>163 Ameise1: Thanks Barbara- and the same to you. Are you finished, or just a few to go?

>164 Caroline_McElwee: Such a relief all round! (except for Wimbledon, I suppose).

Jul 14, 5:03am Top

I don't know of you can squeeze this book into any category you need to fill - and of course you may have read it ages ago,, but a book that speaks to every booklover... and always brings a wry smile...

Howards End is on the Landing A year of reading from home
by Susan Hill

Jul 14, 5:14am Top

>165 Helenliz: Although this does still feel like a very British conversation about the weather!

>166 roomsofbooks:

>167 Caroline_McElwee: It came, it went. Boo.

>168 Berly: Sorry about that, Kim!

Jul 14, 5:27am Top

>169 charl08: Yesterday, I saw the pupils the last time for the next five weeks. I have to do lots of work the upcoming week for next schoil year. On July 23 Thomas and I are leaving for our holiday in Poland.

Edited: Jul 14, 5:48am Top

Guardian reviews - fiction this week
loads more online www.guardian.co.uk/books

Tom Gauld on celebrity books -

The Price You Pay by Aidan Truhen reviewed by Tony White
"Jack is a big-shot cocaine dealer whose business combines the anonymity of the dark web with branding savvy and the use of zero-hours couriers, and he can’t afford to let things lie: it might be bad for business."
Who is the established author writing under a pseudonym? Who?

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh reviewed by M John Harrison
(Amongst the) "...pleasures of reading Moshfegh is her relentless savagery. All this is delivered as comic – it is comic – but it’s not exactly funny, though of course we laugh. "
No thanks. Not an author for me.

Devoured by Anna Mackmin reviewed by Stevie Davies
"I’ve never read a more sensuous and sensual book, nor one that troubled me more for its endangered children."
The second half of the sentence gives me pause.

Shatila Stories reviewed by Melissa Harrison
"...this is a story set in Shatila, a teeming refugee camp in Beirut. “Don’t talk about the camp unless you know it,” commands a scrawl of graffiti depicted in a photograph at the start. Its nine writers, some of whom fled the war in Syria, some of whom were born in the camp, know it intimately, and the result is a startlingly unusual book, one that has the potential to open minds and change perceptions."

Useless Magic: Lyrics and Poetry by Florence Welch reviewed by Emily Mackay
"Welch’s mother...worried about her daughter skipping university to focus on her musical career, lamenting “what a waste of a brain!” Both the lyrics and the poetry in Useless Magic validate Welch’s choice, offering a chance to appreciate on the bare stage of the blank page the fineness of her words. "

Elsewhere, Home by Leila Aboulela reviewed by Arifa Akbar
"In The Museum, which won the Caine prize for African writing in 2000, a couple are on a first date. She is a privileged overseas Sudanese student in Scotland; he is a geeky, working-class Scot with a crush on her. “Do ye get homesick?” he asks, and she replies that she yearns for things she didn’t think she would miss, such as the azaan. He looks at her with wonder and says: “We did Islam in school.”"
Yes. Have liked her since a wonderful book group meeting discussing The Translator, where another member generously talked about 'rules' of fiction for muslim readers, and I was hooked.

Our Friends in Berlin by Anthony Quinn reviewed by Anthony Cummins
"...gripping espionage thriller that puts women centre-stage of a genre in which they tend to be absent or subservient."
Sounds like a page turner.

In the Distance by Hernan Diaz reviewed by Carys Davies
"Håkan and his elder brother, Linus, are dispatched by their father, a struggling Swedish farmer, to the US in search of a better life. It seems like a good plan: the year is 1850 or thereabouts, and the United States is booming. But ...the boys lose each other en route, and Håkan, instead of going to New York with Linus, ends up on the other side of the country, in San Francisco. Penniless and without a word of English, he embarks on what seems to him the only possible course of action: to walk across America and find his brother.
So begins a page-turning adventure story that’s also a profound meditation on solitude and companionship, foreignness and home..."
Yes, off to see if this is on kindle yet.

The Tyranny of Lost Things by Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett reviewed by Alice O'Keefe
"...shades of Esther Freud’s Hideous Kinky, and Lukas Moodysson’s film Together – with an added measure of millennial angst. It’s a shame the writing doesn’t quite do justice to the material...Nevertheless, this spirited debut carries the promise of better things to come."
Nope. Although it does make me want to reread Hideous Kinky.

Jul 14, 7:46am Top

Thanks for the reviews, Charlotte. The stories from the refugee camp, the Aboulela and the Diaz all are on my WL.

Have a lovely weekend. Some gardening ahead?

Jul 14, 8:03am Top

Hi Charlotte. Hope your thistle deterrent works! I need something like that as our neighbour lets their miserable little Jack Russel terrier out their front door to do his business and without a leash, so his business is done wherever he pleases. Which often means my grass or garden. Tres not impressed!

Jul 14, 8:21am Top

>174 BLBera: I thought it was quite a good week for the fiction, Beth, I've added a few to the wishlist, and am tempted to skip the library and stick them on the kindle (living dangerously!)
Did a bit of the garden this morning but it's too hot for me (again) some clouds overhead though, so maybe we'll get some more rain? Hope you enjoy the tennis.

>175 ChelleBearss: I'm also hoping it works, Chelle. It's already not looking too happy, so I'm not convinced.

We have a similar problem with a local dog walker who seems to think our corner is fine to use without cleaning up. Poor. I'd stick a thistle or a pot there but the (rather narrow) drive is right next to it, so asking for something to get squashed or broken really.

In green bean news some success: one full size bean! lots of little beans (about the size of my thumbnail). Relief all round as some of the plants had developed a weird thing where the bud dropped off completely (usually the flower petals drop off and the bean is behind). Hoping they all hurry up as one bean won't really stretch to a meal! Have a lot of lamb left over, so am going to try and make this curry recipe, which looks delicious.

Jul 14, 11:32am Top

Yay for your green bean! I've had 3 cherry tomatoes so far. :D

Jul 14, 11:45am Top

I'm trying green beans and runner beans for the first time. No idea if they're looking OK or not, so far they've got to the top of the cane, but that's about it...
I'm overrun with cucumbers. Just for a change. Trying a variety called Hana Mini this year, which produces cucumbers that are about half the length of the usual shop varieties. Which I have to explain to people every time I give them away to someone new!
The tomatoes have been slow, but have finally decided to ripen a load all at once, so I'm not going to be reduced to picking the ripest 3 I can find for my salad for tea. Waiting for the glut that will come at some point, as there's load of fruit on there, it's just all green at the moment.

Jul 14, 12:51pm Top

>173 charl08: Charlotte, I'm going to guess that the mystery author of The Price You Pay isn't JK Rowling. But "Aidan Truhen" is an anagram of Diana Hunter, if that's any help.

The Sunday Times reviewed My Year of Rest and Relaxation last week (a bit meh, they seemed to think - I paraphrase) but also mentioned her first book, Eileen: "Billed as a thriller, Eileen was really more of a mystery: a mystery as to how it ever got published, let alone garnered comparisons to Nabokov and wound up on the Man Booker shortlist." There are lots of good ones this week, though - thank you for the reviews!

Excellent bean news - I hope it continues.

Jul 14, 4:23pm Top

>179 susanj67: Further thoughts on Aidan Truhen and "Diana Hunter": Diana is a goddess, and she's the goddess of the hunt. Coincidence? Surely not. That makes me wonder whether the author has a similarly-structured name - something that's a god/goddess and then their "thing". Most of the god/goddess names are quite rare in real life, though. Hmmm. Maybe a god from another culture? This has intrigued me now :-)

Jul 14, 4:44pm Top

Hi Charlotte! I would agree that you should come to Portland when you are in the US.

I never read the book Hideous Kinky; but I loved the movie.

Jul 15, 8:30am Top

I was sorry that both Serena and Rafa lost. I missed the Serena match, instead went to see "All's Well that Ends Well" at our Great River Shakespeare Festival. It was a good production; I hadn't seen the play before.

Jul 15, 9:01am Top

>177 The_Hibernator: Yay indeed. They are a completely different taste when fresh.

>178 Helenliz: I love the sound of mini cucumbers. I bought them from Lidl for a while as a "healthy snack". After a disastrous year last year I gave up on tomatoes, but suspect that they would be doing well in this heat.

>179 susanj67: I read Eileen and couldn't understand the hype either. Sometimes I think the publicity machine gets carried away!

>180 susanj67: Artemis? Apollo? Hera?

>181 banjo123: The book is really good. As is everything else I've read by Esther Freud.

>182 BLBera: Sorry about the result, although I thought it was nice for Serena's opponent and as Serena herself said, she did incredibly well to get so far so soon after coming back to tennis. Their post match speeches were very generous and kind, acknowledging each other as players and people. I left Nadal and Djokovic in the fifth set so that I could get to the library before it closed: such a close match, I thought.

Edited: Jul 15, 9:16am Top

The Pledge
The afterword to my new edition discusses Durrenmatt's opposition to the standard crime novel formulations, and he clearly does that here, barely offering resolution, and debating the way the story is told within the story itself.

Time Served and How to forget a Duke
I picked these up following mentions on the smart bitches trashy books site, but although I finished them, both were just meh for me. The first because the reconnection between the couple never made sense to me. The second because of the writing: she brought up Basil Exposition style explanations of society rules whenever it suited the plot (and ignored them when they didn't).

Now reading Map of a Nation, as it's been in the currently reading pile for far too long.

Jul 15, 3:10pm Top

I really wanted Serena to have Wimbledon, too. But it was not to be. Nor Federer or Rafa. Sigh.

Edited: Jul 16, 2:45am Top

>185 Berly: I was surprised to read about how few younger players seem to be making it through to the end stages of the tournament. Tribute to better fitness? I'm not sure. I hadn't realised how ill Serena had been following the baby, for me, she is amazing just to be back on the court, never mind making it to the final.

I've still not finished Map of a Nation and it's bugging me! Some fascinating stuff about how mapping Ireland was part of the colonial project, but so much detail. I downloaded In the Distance after reading the review on Saturday - I'm about half way through. Good, but not unputdownable so far.

Håkan realised now that he had always thought that these vast territories were empty – that he had believed they were inhabited only during the short period of time when travellers were passing through them, and that, like the ocean in the wake of a ship, solitude closed up after the riders. He further understood that all those travellers, himself included, were, in fact, intruders.

I've also picked up a new library book (couldn't resist) The Only Story, the new one by Julian Barnes.

It's a bit meta:
When I gave you my estate agent's sketch of the Village, some of it might not have been strictly accurate. FOr instance, the Belisha beacons at the zebra crossing. I might have invented them,because nowadays you rarely see a a zebra crossing without a dutifyl pair of flashing beacons. But back then, in Surrey, on a road with little traffic... I rather doubt it. I suppose I could do some real-life research - look for old postcards in teh central library, or hunt out the very few photos I have from that time, and retrofit my story accordingly. But I'm remembering the past, not reconstructing it. So there won't be much set-dressing. You might prefer more. You might be used to more. But there's nothing I can do about that. I'm not trying to spin you a story; I'm trying to tell you the truth.

Jul 16, 8:13am Top

Jul 16, 8:18am Top

>187 humouress: Ha! I used to like the green ones in my lunchbox.

Jul 16, 8:20am Top

Happy new week, Charlotte! I have been lurking but not posting - loved that last round of reviews from the Guardian. I am really wanting Our Friends in Berlin. Elsewhere Home and the Shatila Stories also looked good.

Jul 16, 8:33am Top

Are you liking the Barnes, Charlotte?

In the Distance sounds really good.

Jul 16, 4:28pm Top

We drove through the strangest thing today. It was water and it seemed to be falling from the sky in a torrential downpour. I'd almost forgotten what rain looked like. Got home to find we'd had none, of course. Did say the the husband that we ought to have tethered the cloud and towed it home behind us.

Jul 17, 3:17am Top

>189 Crazymamie: Lovely to see you here Mamie, hope the appliances have been behaving themselves. I agree about the latest fiction - some lovely sounding books there.

>190 BLBera: Not so much liking it Beth, although I did finish it last night. Julian Barnes is on my favourite author list but I'm not sure he ought to be: perhaps I just read a couple of his books that were on the lighter end of the spectrum. I think maybe this heavier tone is not for me.

>191 Helenliz: Ha! Apparently we're having a hosepipe ban from August. Time to put a bucket in the shower to reuse for the garden I think.

Jul 17, 3:28am Top

The Only Story

This has got rave reviews, but for me was rather less of a successful read, which may well have had more to do with my mood than with the book! Barnes tells the story of a young man who meets an older woman at the tennis club in the 1950s/60s, their affair and what happened afterwards and his reflections on the relationship which has affected his whole life. There's lots of reflections on the nature of the story, memory and love itself, which initially I found interesting and by the end of the novel I found tiresome, partly I think because it was another white male story. I'm sure Barnes is aware of this - the young man meets one of his new partner's friends, who tells him that she will struggle to get over it when the affair ends, whereas he will be fine, and the alcoholism that follows notes this inbalance too. This is perhaps an acknowledgement of that privilege.

Jul 17, 3:31am Top

>166 roomsofbooks: I am not a hunter or a shooter, just my dad.

>62 charl08: >64 charl08: I read and loved her first book, the Booker Prize winner, years ago. This one sounds like a must-read too! She certainly has a turn of phrase, if I remember correctly.

Jul 17, 3:39am Top

I thought she was the same person as Arundhati Roy too, but this is Anuradha Roy - they're two different writers. Both very good!

Jul 17, 3:56am Top

>195 charl08: Oh! Really!!? I did notice the different spelling of the name, but assumed it was the same person. Duh! Thanks for setting that straight.
I will look into Anuradha Roy's book now :)

Edited: Jul 17, 5:59am Top

>194 LovingLit: warning. V sorry Had to be graphic here

It didn't sound as tho you were enthusiastic about it, but I avoid it being talked about, given I can't do anything to help the animal and it distresses me to hear about it. Whether most hunts end up just a walk, I object to having to hear about the hope and I really don't want to hear about the "successful" days

I did have many explosive arguments with hunters and shooters on twitter - a number of them haunt vegetarian and vegan websites and post photos of their kills and skinning and worse - purely to distress. I recall one 'aspiring model' boasted of buying a kindly old horse - someones gentle old hack, photos before AND after, so she could shoot it, gut it and have her photo taken within the ribcage cavity... Something soldiers did around Stalingrad in WW2, in an attempt to prevent freezing to death in their sleep, so not a shocking, unknown action to me, but in this case, it was clearly to get herself attention, tho I think there was a suggestion of her boyfriend finding it... interesting. She was American, from the south and had no idea of it having been done in necessity, historically, it was simply an idea she had found enchanting. Quite frankly, if her gun had gone off accidentally and done her major damage, I would have,,as a non drinker, shouted myself a drink or two, to celibrate.

There are some deeply disturbed people out there and I understand there are some people who simply have no problem killing for pest control and food but I just dont want to have it popping up without warning or repeatedly, in a conversation I felt was going to be about books.

I know it goes on but if I can't act to help the animal, I don't want to hear of individual animals dying, or managing to escape to die of wounds, perhaps dying flyblown or slowly bleeding out and/or pecked to death by birds or eaten alive due to shattered back legs or hips.

I didn't join a site on books and private libraries to have someone lightly OR grumpily discussing someone hunting. I'm not saying you shouldn't mention it if you want to but I am not going to have my mood lowered, every time a hunt is brought up, let alone be needlessly saddened when every so often, something IS killed.

I don't see you as involved in the hunting - or your relatives being in the sick category - you mentioned at least one introduced pest species in NZ as a possible target, (I have endeavoured not to retain what I read).

Frequent & disturbing killing for the enjoyment of killing...

I have seen and heard too much and I choose not to be around people who bring up killing animals lightly in conversations.

It sometimes has to be done but as far as I am concerned, anybody who thinks of it as entertainment is not going to be someone I want to hear about and hearing of children learning to enjoy killing just gives me the horrors.

I'm sorry but it isn't a light topic of discussion for me and I am here just for the books.

Edited: Jul 17, 9:12am Top


Hi Charlotte!

I've read two Barnes books - England, England and The Sense of an Ending, both of which I liked. But other of his stuff doesn't hold much interest for some reason.

Jul 17, 9:27am Top

>193 charl08: Books! I've only read Barnes' The Sense of an Ending and while I ended up liking it overall I felt a lot of that self-absorbed male privilege that you mention in this one. He is IMO a very good writer, though. I haven't felt compelled to pick up another but I'm glad I've at least given him a try.

Edited: Jul 17, 10:44am Top

>198 katiekrug: Ahhhhhhh, Katie >197 roomsofbooks: was what you meant! Sheesh!

Hi Charlotte!

Edited: Jul 17, 11:41am Top


Hi Charlotte! :)

So I guess that Barnes will be on the Booker LL I'll do my best to ignore this year...

Jul 17, 1:31pm Top

>196 LovingLit: New name?

>197 roomsofbooks: I think that subject is now closed on my thread.

>198 katiekrug: The books, yes, the books. I think I most liked his stuff about France, but not in the mood for this one, for some reason.

>199 rosalita: Yes, I agree he is a good writer, but I so wasn't in the mood for this theme or perspective.

>200 ChelleBearss: Hi 'Chelle.

>201 Deern: Hi Nathalie. If it's more books like this one I'll be ignoring the Booker too.
(No, I'd never do that! No self control when it comes to a list).

I think I'm going to start a new thread early. Draw your own conclusions...

Jul 17, 4:02pm Top

>188 charl08: They’re all the same flavour, right? As I recall, the wrappers were red, blue and green. Some of the images I googled were lilac and pink; quite tropical looking.

Jul 21, 4:44am Top

Yup! All the same.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2018

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