Orange is not the only Penguin (book) - charl08 reads #3
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Thanks to everyone who makes LT such a friendly place. Your enthusiasm for books, but perhaps even more your kindness means a lot.
1. Last year I read over 300 books: I'd like to do the same this year.
2. Read Harder Challenge (Bookriot) 5 down...
Read a book about sports.
Read a book about books.
Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author.
Read an all-ages comic.
Read a book published between 1900 and 1950.
Read a travel memoir.
Read a book you’ve read before.
Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location.
Read a fantasy novel.
Read a nonfiction book about technology.
Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+.
Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country.
Read a classic by an author of color.
Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey (From Daniel José Older, author of Salsa Nocturna, the Bone Street Rumba urban fantasy series, and YA novel Shadowshaper)
Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel (From Sarah MacLean, author of ten bestselling historical romance novels)
Read a book published by a micropress. (From Roxane Gay, bestselling author of Ayiti, An Untamed State, Bad Feminist, Marvel’s World of Wakanda, and the forthcoming Hunger and Difficult Women)
Read a collection of stories by a woman. (From Celeste Ng, author Everything I Never Told You and the forthcoming Little Fires Everywhere)
Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love. (From Ausma Zehanat Khan, author of the Esa Khattak/Rachel Getty mystery series, including The Unquiet Dead, The Language of Secrets, and the forthcoming Among the Ruins)
Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color. (From Jacqueline Koyanagi, author of sci-fi novel Ascension)
Books read in 2017 - 41
Darling: new and selected poems (F, poetry, UK)
Sweet Little Lies (F, fiction, US)
I will have Vengeance (M, fiction, Italy)
Alpha (F & M, GN, Belgium & France)
Seven Minutes (F, fiction, US)
The Bodyguard and Mrs Jones (F, fiction, US)
How to Survive a Plague (M, non-fiction- popular science/politics, US)
Smoke Over Malibu (M, Fiction, UK)
Too Loud a Solitude (M, fiction, Czech Republic)
The Refugees (M, fiction, US)
Slaughterhouse 5 (M, fiction, US)
It Takes A Scandal (F, fiction, US)
Once Upon a time in the East (F, Memoir, UK/China)
Head Land (multiple authors, fiction, multiple nationalities)
The Longest Night (M, fiction, Netherlands)
Last Fair Deal Gone Down (M, fiction, US)
Bitter Herbs (F, Memoir, the Netherlands)
The Long, Long Life of Trees (F, non-fiction, UK)
Tsing-boum (M, fiction, UK)
Human Acts (F, fiction, South Korea)
What a woman wants (F, fiction, US)
The Dry (F, fiction, Australia)
In Gratitude (F, Non-fiction, UK)
The Darkroom of Damocles (M, fiction, Netherlands)
Warpaint (F, fiction, UK)
Before we kiss (F, fiction, US)
The Chalk Pit (F, fiction, UK)
Even Dogs in the Wild (M, fiction, UK)
Second-hand Time (F, non-fiction, Belarus)
Moonglow (M, fiction, US)
Three Simple Words (F, fiction, US)
The Lonely Londoners (M, fiction, Trinidad)
The Watcher (M, fiction, UK)
Essex Poison (M, fiction, UK)
Hold Me (F, fiction, US)
The Descent of Man (M, non-fiction gender studies, UK)
Marrying the Ugly Millionaire (F, poetry, UK)
Maigret, Lognon and the Gangsters (M, Fiction, Belgium)
Kingdom of Twilight (M, Fiction, Germany)
Two of a Kind (F, Fiction, US)
Streets of Darkness (M, Fiction, UK)
F9 M9(1 book dual author, plus one edited collection)
Europe 9 (UK 3) US 8 (1 book dual author)
Fiction 13 Poetry 1 Non-Fiction 2
Library 9 Digital 7 Mine 2
F 13 M 11
Europe 16 (UK 12) Asia 1 US 5 Australia 1 Caribbean 1
Non-Fiction 4 Fiction 19 Poetry 1
Library 11 Digital 11 Mine 2
RH challenge: 4 Africa challenge 0 Student books 0 Netgalley 5
Goals - continued
3. Reading more diverse books. In 2017 I'll try and read across the African continent.
I'm reading Under the Udala Trees (Nigeria)
4. Reading from the 'what students read' list
This month I'm going to read
Cyprus The Murderess (1903) by Alexandros Papadiamantis
Does anyone know anyone who grew up in Cyprus and would be wiling to tell me if they read The Murderess?
Currently reading How to Survive a Plague. Politicians aren't coming out of it well.
Is it safe to come in..?.. *quietly opens door*
Happy new Thread Charlotte!
I smiled over the first picture & your message to us all :-)
>1 charl08:, Yes, lovely new pictures and messages (friendly and kind). Love those penguins!
>1 charl08: I love it here too. :) Friendly people and penguins. Who could ask for more?
>5 charl08: It's an interesting question, what politicians should do in their political role, that is. Strictly speaking, legally, they are sometimes in a bind. It's hard to know how to make decisions that work for the whole, unintended consequences and all that, and sometimes that decision is going to be the one that gets you fired, which is doubly challenging. Makes for a lively discussion - politics and morality. They don't have to be mutually exclusive, but they often seem to be.
Oof, thank goodness: Friday!
I've read my little literature bios, and feel a little bit more knowledgeable about Charlotte Younge, an author I'm sure I've come across as referred to negatively. She apparently wrote religious based, moral stories, which explains why some people might not have been so keen. Aparently her family decided she would donate all her profits to charity. I wouldn't have been impressed by that!
Up next is Willie Collins...
>6 FAMeulstee: Glad to hear it Anita - first through the door. Welcome!
>7 scaifea: Thanks Amber.
>8 drneutron: Thanks Jim for all you do to support this great group.
>9 Berly: Thanks Kim. Hope you've recovered from all the tennis excitement.
>10 mdoris: I'm guessing those biscuits are long gone:-)
>11 nittnut: Yes, it's difficult to know what decisions should be taken. And I appreciate not everyone shares my political views. How to Survive a Plague documents how Reagan's cuts to very early days HIV AIDS research may have missed the chance to cut infection rates with the power of knowledge. In contrast, local activist self-published guides to safe sex were widely taken up. The power of the motivated activist in the face of an apparently insurmountable health crisis is a moving read.
>12 vancouverdeb: Amen Deborah!
>13 Ameise1: Thanks Barbara. Hope your weekend is relaxing.
Happy new thread, Charlotte! How to Survive a Plague sounds excellent and I hope I can read it soon. *inspects reservations page*
One thing that struck me when I read And The Band Played On was how slow progress was, not just because of the politics (which certainly played a part) but because the only way doctors realised that other patients shared the same problems as their patients was by meeting up at conferences or reading articles in journals. These days, with social networking or just the www, information can be exchanged so much quicker, which has to be a good thing, even if it can only identify a problem and not cure it immediately. Just knowing that a health condition is seen in many countries and among different population groups could mean an effective rebuttal of any argument that "it's just a small local thing" and/or sufferers have only themselves to blame.
Happy new thread, Charlotte. Oof, thank goodness: Friday! LOL, already? Know the feeling although our Friday is forecast to be challenging - snow in the offing.
How to Survive a Plague sounds interesting but I am curious to see if they mention the role that Canada plays in the search for a cure. Vancouver was particularly hard hit in the AIDs years due to its large gay population.
>14 charl08: It's awful, but sometimes things require more time than we want to give them. In the specific case of AIDS, there was so much fear and societal taboo, that it took real people with family and friends who they loved standing up and dispelling the myths and the fear as best they could. But it took a lot of time. My foster sister's brother is gay and his partner died of AIDS in about 1990. He was later diagnosed with HIV, but his experience was so different, definitely due to research, but also due to the reduction of fear and myth around the disease. I really don't like labels. Political or otherwise. It keeps us from seeing the people - and whether or not we agree with the lifestyle or the religion or whatever - we have to see the people, not the label. I don't know if many politicians can do that. They run on a label, they are defined by that and they probably struggle with a lot of decisions as a result. Often it is only hindsight that shows whether they chose correctly or not.
Sorry, just sort of philosophizing here. No real purpose to it other than thinking out loud.
Happy New Thread!
And now I'm heading back to read your last thread, because I think I missed most of it.
>19 nittnut: I need a like button for your post, Jenn!
>15 susanj67: I haven't read the earlier book. He criticises it - I won't spoil it for you though. The impact of the Internet in breaking disease paths I assume makes a difference.
>16 msf59: I like that Mark. Thanks!
>17 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul. Are you back in Malaysia? I need to catch up with your thread.
>18 Familyhistorian: Vancover is mentioned (ETA or even Vancouver). I think it is a US focused book though. I want to read more on the TAC in South Africa and India.
>19 nittnut: It certainly seems to have been about prejudice rather than science. At the very early days straight Haitians were testing positive and yet it remained a supposedly 'gay disease'. The author compares the reaction to legionnaire's disease: it's chilling. Moving past labels seems like a good idea to me.
>20 streamsong: No pressure. And thanks!
>21 katiekrug: Thanks Katie.
I found you! I somehow did not get around to all the threads I was following in 2016, so forgive me. I see now that I've missed two of your threads... le sigh.
Happy new thread, Charlotte. I was going to ask you if your reading has slowed since you started work, but it obviously hasn't. Have a lovely weekend.
Happy new year, and happy new thread Charlotte. I'm finally managing to slowly get around and visit threads. It's been a very peculiar year so far. Your Under the Udala Trees has reminded me I'd really like to re-read Under the Volcano this year. I wonder how many other books are about things being under things.
Happy new one, Charlotte! I love the topper you chose. And the message is full of fabulous - thanks for that.
Not from Cypress, but I've read The Murderess. I liked it.
I'm impressed that you are able to keep up with your reading, your thread, your Guardian reviews etc,. despite having a new job!
>23 rosylibrarian: Lovely to see you! Glad you found me, Marie.
>24 BLBera: Thanks Beth. I'm probably going to start adding work books if I ever finish one!
>25 evilmoose: Oh, now you've got me wondering:
Cocktail hour under the tree of forgetfulness and Under the Visible Life, some highlights from my own reading.
Hope the snow is treating you well Megan.
>26 Crazymamie: I do find it fascinating looking at pictures of little penguins who seem to be showing care to each other, touching flippers or beaks. The cocktail party one makes me laugh as it is apparently for a job advert, but in my head the continuing line is 'so s/he went home and was happy with her books', which I don't think was what the advertiser was going for. But I suspect most around here would have thought at one time or another.
>27 arubabookwoman: I should have said I'm interested in everyone's vp. I'll get to it soon I hope. I'm down about a sixth I think on a rough average read per month, but I read some chunksters before the job started.
>28 DianaNL: Thanks Diana. Enjoying finding out about the university and how research funding works. I have signed up for a yoga course run just for a small be out of staff by a lovely girl who I met whilst temping, and am looking forward to the next book group when we're discussing a collection of short stories published by the university itself. They have invited the editor along, which should be interesting. I'm looking forward to reading the book, which is based on the last ten years of stories.
Argh. No idea why everyone needs to do DIY on a Saturday morning.
Well, I do.
I just wish they wouldn't.
>29 charl08: Amen to the last part, Charlotte. As I prepare my list and get ready to do errands.
>29 charl08: There should at least be a courtesy time thing, like don't start with the noisy DIY before 10 am? Lol
I've read Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness two years ago and liked it very much.
Happy weekend, Charlotte.
>30 BLBera: Hope you had a productive day Beth.
>31 nittnut: Jenn I'm even more confused now -the company van was outside, so it wasn't even a DIY project.
>32 Ameise1: I like Fuller's writing too Barbara.
Enjoying Jackie Kay's Darling: new and selected poems - this one is part of a series or poems to Manchester library.
But here was a place set apart for books.
Okay, I'm confused. What is a DIY day? Do it yourself - but a van? A housecleaning day? A DIY at work? Colour me confused !
Thought you might enjoy this, Charlotte.
>34 vancouverdeb: Hi Deborah. I live in a small road so vans for next door pretty much park outside our house too. The van confused me because I can understand people doing DIY early on a weekend (because they have to work the rest of the week) but early on a weekend when you've hired people seems a bit counter to your own interests.
But I'm sure everyone has their reasons, and I appreciate everyone not just telling me to get out and get over it :-) I had been looking forward to sitting and drinking coffee and reading and watching the birds.
>35 ronincats: Oh, those African penguins are my favourite. I'm sure the children visitors will enjoy seeing them. Thanks for posting it.
Guardian reviews non-fiction
Read in full at www.guardian.co.uk/books
A Woman's Work by Harriet Harman reviewed by Gaby Hinsliff
"If I had a teenage daughter, especially one who didn't see the point of politics, this is the book I'd buy her."
Heartthrobs by Carol Dyhouse reviewed by Claire Armitstead
"...to investigate what has changed and what has remained constant in female fantasy over the last few centuries." "Che Guevara appears in a chapter on the Heartthrob as soulmate, an odd designation for the motorcycling revolutionary.... this is a book that invites argument."
Death of the Poets by Paul Farley and Michael Symons reviewed by Blake Morrison
"...a terrifically entertaining book...the banter and clowning don't detract from the seriousness of the quest. Only at the end do the two part company...on the issue they have been exploring: the myth of the doomed poet..."
Victorians Undone: tales of the flesh in the age of decorum by Kathryn Hughes reviewed by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst
"...the surprise that Charlotte Brontë spoke with a sharp Northern Irish accent, rather than a broad Yorkshire one; or the missing left forefinger of William Gladstone, lost in a shooting accident as a young man.... far from trying to provide photographic likenesses of their subjects, most Victorian biographers preferred to conceal them under a set of disguises."
Bosch and Bruegel: From enemy painting to everyday life by Joseph Leo Koerner reviewed by Alexandra Harris
"this revelatory new study...argues that they are - together - the originators of what would today be called genre painting."
Apart from the Bosch this is a busy week for me...
Guardian reviews fiction
The Last Wolf & Herman by László Krasznahorkai reviewed by Adam Thirlwell
"...a new reader will not necessarily feel entirely at ease: his novels u furl in grand sequences, often neglecting to provide either regular paragraph breaks or full stops...This may, however, be a disguise."
Dalila by Jason Donald reviewed by Roma Tearne
"...the harsh life of the disenfranchised is beautifully observed."
Moonglow by Michael Chabon reviewed by Philip Hensher
"...playfulness emerges in passages in which the novelist' s art is held up to examination."
The Good People by Hannah Kent reviewed by Graeme Macrae Burnet
"...while folkloric beliefs and superstitions were a background presence in Kent's debut, here they take centre stage....pervaded with dark talks of curses and changeling, herbal remedies and rituals designed to ward off the mischief of the "Good People" (or fairies) of the title."
It's Sunday!! Pooh on the early DIYers. Hope you have fun reading today. I hope to fit in a little between sporting events.
Happy Sunday, Charlotte.
I love both Bosch and Bruegel. I may have to take a look at that one. How are the painting reproductions?
Bumping your thread up in my thread queue, Charlotte.
Victorians Undone... hmm...looks delightful.
Have a wonderful week.
>41 BLBera: The library is taking ages on the Good People. Not that I'm anything other than patient, of course
>42 Crazymamie: Thanks Mamie. I washed the kitchen floor, waited in for a delivery, and generally partied like it was 1999. Or summat.
>43 Berly: Not only did no-one DIY, but the heffalumps who have moved in next door must have gone out, so it was blissfully lovely sitting in the sun with the book, despite the book blog grim and the floor being quite grim.
>44 jnwelch: I have no idea how they are Joe. The book is about 50 quid, so I am unlikely to investigate. My comment was more that I don't plan to read it. Could have been clearer, evidently.
>45 AMQS: Thanks!
>46 vancouverdeb: Me too Deborah. Hope it's as good.
>47 bohemima: I read that first as bump off and got a bit scared...
So, I was looking at the Bailey's Prize homepage today; the long list will be announced on March 8. Care to indulge in some guesses?
>48 charl08: You were probably clear, and I probably brought some muddle-headedness to it. 50 quid is a lot. It's $41.60 on Amazon in the U.S., still too much. But it sure looks good. Maybe in time there'll be used or bargain copies available.
>52 jnwelch: Thanks Joe. I'm sure it's a beautiful book: glad it's a bit more reasonably priced with you. I'm trying to be a bit more selective with library orders, else I'd be tempted.
>53 BLBera: I think one of the lists I didn't even manage one book! As far as I know they're still going with 12 rather than 20 for the long list.
Interesting discussion prompted by How to Survive a Plague. I don't have anything to add but I'm nodding a lot as I read.
>54 EBT1002: Tempted to add this as a sig to my email.
>56 EBT1002: It's so good. The campaign group has just got going to challenge the doctors. I almost cheered when the scientist briefing the group (who is described as having her own reasons for identifying with the group) announced she was forming a study group.
Reading this morning about RM Ballantyne. Apparently he liked to walk around at night looking for ladies to rescue from sin, as well as supporting the RNLI. Sutherland reports rather gleefully that he had more success with the lifeboats. Mary Jane Holmes was a new name to me : good to read of an author who sold well and was recorded accordingly by her publisher. Her books sound very dated though.
I'm reading I Will Have Vengeance which is anot unusual approach to a crime novel. I was worried it would be too much like M Night Shamaylan (I see dead people), but not at all.
Thanks to Ellen who mentioned ithat on her thread.
>53 BLBera: I'm with you, Beth. Give me a long longlist, the longer the better.
I'm in favour, but on the other hand, it's easier to read all of a shorter longlist!
>61 BLBera: Nope, not biting. Well, not until the weekend anyway!
>62 LovingLit: Me too Megan. One day I'm going to get my penguins framed like you...
I've reached Mrs Oliphant in Sutherland's Lives of the Novelists. Her career started when her brother stolen an ms and sent it to the publisher. Nice work, Willie Oliphant...
Also a lovely quote from George Saintbury about novel accessibility. "There ought to be no need of sitting down before the thing with tools and dynamite like burglars at a safe."
Finally finished a book - crime in translation I will have Vengeance. "Love. A sometimes fatal illness but perhaps a necessary one."
>64 charl08: This one is on my February pile. I've read the third one of this series first because I saw it at the library. They haven't got the first two ones so I bought them but haven't read them until now.
>65 FAMeulstee: Sorry to hear thatit is not translated. Very gloomy crime, set in fascist Italy. Maybe a project for yourself and Nathalie? (I jest. I do realise how hard translating is...)
>66 Ameise1: I didn't realise it was a series. I shall have to look for the others, now.
I just started The Refugees (I fear I am mostly starting books just now. I want to hike this weekend, but that rather limits reading time. How people with social lives fit in all the reading I have no idea. Indeed, do advise.)
I liked this quote. It appeals to my love of the rude mother character:
“These kinds of stories happen all the time,” my mother said, pouring me a cup of green tea. This evening séance would be our new nightly ritual, my mother an old lady , myself an aging one. “Why write down what I’m telling you?”“Someone has to,” I said, notepad on my lap, pen at attention. “Writers.” She shook her head, but I think she was pleased. “At least you won’t just be making things up like you usually do.”
>67 charl08: I have barely a social life (apart from LT) and no job, don't know how I would read so much if I had both ;-)
I might have believed that Anita except you posted those lovely pictures of your birthday!
I think I need to unplug the TV.
>69 charl08: A few days in a whole year ;-)
I combine TV with chatting here....
>70 FAMeulstee: Multi-tasking! Impressive.
Alpha: Abidjan to Gare du Nord by Bessora Barroux
This is a really impressive graphic novel, telling get the story of Alpha, who is desperately trying to track his wife and son who have set off on the migrant trail to Europe. In a succession ofor increasingly desperate journeys he moves North, trying to stay safe in transit camps and avoid the border guards. The difficulty of his trip is repeatedly compared to the speed of travelling to France by plane. Hard, but powerful reading.
Happy new thread, Charlotte!! I just reserved Moonglow. I've been hearing good things about it.
>67 charl08: Ah, the challenges of reading with a full time job and other interests. Well, for one thing we don't read the copious amounts that you do. But other than that, I was just wondering the other day how I fit it all in. I work full time, am an active volunteer, keep up a blog (no that I have finished the program that I was taking courses for), and work on getting in my 10,000 steps a day. My social life is not extremely active but beyond that I probably skimp on sleep more than I should.
I am sure that you will find your rhythm soon but you have to make time for what is important to you and not expect to get everything you what to do.
>72 Carmenere: Lynda, I hope you like it - for me Chabon is back on form.
>73 Familyhistorian: For me all those activities count as social! Even a blog has an expectation of being read. That sense of being switched off from the everyday world (even if I'm reading abut a version of it) is one I really value in my reading. I liked the Obama interview he gave just as he was leaving where he said it gave him a sense of proportion. If it works for a job that high powered...
I managed a swim yesterday for the first time in months, so quite pleased with myself today. We won't mention the burger and fries I had afterwards...
I've reached author 59 in John Sutherland's book, and believe me if I had the kindle version I'd be quoting the percentage read too. I didn't know Daphne Du Maurier' s father George was also a writer, or that he is responsible for both 'svengali' and indirectly 'trilby' hat.
I fear my reading of this book is better for pub quiz knowledge than actually getting me to read the authors mentioned.
Oh and I couldn't resist the latest Eloisa James historical romance. I wish I had. She always writes well, but I finished it only because I'd paid for the kindle book and felt I should. Sometimes it is really tempting to revisit characters, but really, the attraction of doing so here passed me by. Perhaps I was just not in the right mood for it.
>74 charl08: Charlotte, what a shame about the Eloisa James :-( Somehow when romance doesn't work out it is always more disappointing (to me, anyway) than something else.
As for the social life, I don't have one so can't advise :-) Already I am gazing out at the chilly fog, feeling pleased that I can stay in all weekend if I want to. But "Tunnel: The Archaeology of Crossrail" is opening at the Museum of London Docklands today, and that is tempting. It seems to be a collection of all the interesting stuff they found while digging.
Happy Friday, Charlotte! Good to know about the latest Eloisa James - sounds like you took one for the team. I usually like her stuff, but I think her earlier writing is a bit better than her last few publications.
>74 charl08: Reading does give a sense of proportion, doesn't it? It is also a great stress reliever and I turn to it in trying times. Another thing that I found that helped me through the hard times was knowing my family history. I would think back on the women in my family and gain strength from what they had lived through. Both grandmothers survived the London blitz so they had significant events to overcome.
Kudos for getting in the swimming. I am a part of the LT Fitbit group and find that keeps me active.
>75 susanj67: I like her optimism about people. I think this one suffered because I got it after a bad day at work, and I was relying on it to give me a couple of hours of not thinking about work. And it didn't (work). So it might just be unrealistic expectation. I know people seem to like revisiting characters, but for me I like the freeze frame at the end of the book. Especially in historical novels, where if we're going to be even vaguely accurate, the pregnancy mortality stats are awful.
The archaeological exhibition sounds good. Hope to hear more.
>76 avatiakh: Thanks Kerry. I asked two of the refugees if they would like to borrow it when I saw them at the library on Friday. I'm looking forward to hearing what they think.
>77 Crazymamie: I wonder how much deadline pressure affects established writers. Seems to me publishers would do better to give people more time. I'll still get the sample for her next one!
>78 Familyhistorian: I like that sort of approach to family history. It is amazing what people can get on with when needs must.
Someone whose ability to survive horrible circumstances (a move to the UK and a failing relationship) and not only survive but publish and innovate, Buchi Emecheta - has died.
I am so tired after work and (fun) playing with two small girls when their mums learnt some English. I am a big fan of the pound shop after finding play dough kit there...
And How to Survive a Plague continues to be hilarious as well as moving. At one point an activist is on the soft roof of an office building armed with smoke bombs as part of a demo, surrounded by police. The media rep shouts at him from the ground that he's going to have to come down because he's due on TV later for an interview. It's a bit late for that, he points out...
(David France tells it better, of course)
Guardian reviews non-fiction
Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin reviewed by Sarah Churchwell
"Franklin’s ambition in this sympathetic and fair-minded biography is to elevate Jackson to the status of a major 20th-century writer..."
The Econocracy reviewed by Aditya Chakrabortty
"...the activities of these Manchester students rank among the most startling protest movements of the decade. After a year of being force-fed irrelevancies, say the students, they formed the Post-Crash Economics Society, with a sympathetic lecturer giving them evening classes on the events and perspectives they weren’t being taught. They lobbied teachers.... The protests spread to other economics faculties.... students around the world published a joint letter to their professors calling for nothing less than a reformation of their discipline."
Arboreal: A Collection of New Woodland Writing reviewed by Richard Fortey
"...a celebration of most of the woody things that the Forestry Commission forests lack: individuality, personal connections and affections, quirkiness, even scruffiness..."
Border by Kapka Kassabova reviewed by Mark Mazower
"...a marvellous book about a magical part of the world. In Europe’s southeastern corner, where Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey meet, modernity seems to peter out in the ancient forests...shows more starkly than anything else I have read what the border did to the people who lived along it, and how its legacy endures. Her journey was made recently, but the memory of the years of the cold war remains strong in the minds of the people she lived with."
Terra Nostra by Mimi Mollica reviewed by Sean O'Hagan
"...an attempt to convey the invisible but insidious presence of the mafia on the landscape and its people in a place where 95% of the region’s businesses were still subject to extortion by coercion." "... a work that repays close attention. Among other things, it validates Mollica’s remark that Sicily is “essentially pre-modern, in that its deep-rooted traditions of community and family – in all its meanings – endure”."
I'm really tempted by the book about trees. I want to know more about trees.I like Franklin's biographies but have yet to discover Shirley Jackson, so might wait until I've read some of her work.
Just found your thread and wanted to share and obvious common sentiment: there's something really nice about Penguin editions.
I'm also becoming fond of the yellow german editions of books by Reclam.
>84 knotbox: Hello! Josephine (or do you prefer something shorter?) Welcome.
Those Reclam are very stark to my eyes, fortunately, as I already have far too many books and practically every old penguin makes me want to to own it.
Have a great weekend, Charlotte. How old are the girls you were playing with?
How to Survive a Plague is sounding interesting.
I'm trying to ignore the Guardian reviews. Thanks, as always, for posting them.
Thanks Beth. Both four/five (in their first year of school). I've been looking at sites with activities for small children. I'm aware that I am not a creative play person! These two little girls were full of beans and have been in school all day. I'd like to read to them, but they just aren't keen to sit still.
I want to try and find the documentary How to Survive a Plague as well. Some of the characters he describes are so larger than life I wonder what they appear like on screen.
>81 charl08: The mafia one looks interesting. It hasn't hit the library yet, but I hope it does. I wish the plague book would arrive for me. Two others are on their way, but I'd like to start that one while you're reading it and discuss it with you.
Well, Scout is a little younger than that, but I just let her lead the way. Maybe some dancing and jumping? If you have music available, you could all dance.
That sounds like it could be a lot of fun. I'll have to make up a play list!
I'm reading short stories: Iraq+100 and Headland: 10 years of the Edge Hill Short story Prize. The story I read in the first imagined new states within Iraq, complete with borders and a woman trying to escape. Headland, one short story by Colm Toibin I think I've read before, another by the latest winner I didn't 'get' and one by China Michelle that I wish was a novel...
ETA Ack. China Mievelle. $#@%! Autocorrect.
I want to come back to this article by Ali Smith: long list of recommended books.
Forgive all the posts on my own thread. From the short story collection The Refugees
Greeting Arthur at eye level were the names of Gucci, Jimmy Choo, and Hedi Slimane, beautiful and exotic appellations written on the boxes with a blue marker . Arthur and Norma had yearned for such names upon encountering them in Bloomingdale’s and window-shopping at the boutiques on Rodeo Drive, but when the clerks had ignored them, they understood that they themselves were unwanted.
>94 charl08: Um, it's your own thread, Charlotte - you can post on it as often as you want to! Happy Sunday!
>71 charl08: Ooh, Alpha: Abidjan to Gare du Nord sounds really good. I will have to request it. I always enjoy a good GN rec. My T.R. list has grown thin. I have one sitting nearby called The White Donkey that Joe recommended.
>94 charl08: Ooh, I WANT to read The Refugees!! I still have his last book on shelf too. Bad Mark!
Happy Sunday, Charlotte!
Susan beat me to it - just what I was going to say. Besides, we love the things you post - great quote.
Happy Sunday, Charlotte!
>81 charl08: No fiction this week, Charlotte?
Susan and Mamie have a third in saying post, post away. Your posts are always good reading anyway.
I must say I am looking forward to being able to meet more of the UK 75ers when I am relocated and you will be high on my list. Have a lovely Sunday.
>95 Ameise1: Thanks Barbara. I'm sure you're looking forward to Davos.
>96 susanj67: Thanks Susan. Hope so. It is so cold here. Not a good day to be sat outside in an adventure playground, but that's what the local parents (and me) were doing... Kids seemed oblivious though.
>97 msf59: It struck a chord with me. Despite trying to avoid making people feel they have to tell their migration stories, one guy has talked about persistent nightmares of machine guns (Darfur), another of being tear gassed (Calais), and being beaten by the police (Iran). I suspect this could have been even darker and still barely scratched the surface.
Your message reminds me I want to read the Babbage GN and one I saw on the shelf in a bookshop A Chinese Life by Li Kunwu and P Ôtié.
>98 vancouverdeb: How lovely when an author lives up to their books. Hopefully he will get some press here, as the book is fascinating.
>99 DianaNL: Oh, I love that. My folks are looking after two cats at the moment and I am jealous. A nice purring cat on the sofa beside me would be nice on a chilly day like this.
>100 Crazymamie: Thanks Mamie. You are both too kind I think.
>101 PaulCranswick: Paul, after the pictures you posted of your new neck of the woods, I'm looking forward to visiting the area. I've been before (a friend lives in Bradford) but would like the chance to hike. Hopefully can do a meet up, visit the bookshops and I can get in a walk at the same trip!
Guardian reviews fiction (>101 PaulCranswick: Ahem!)
Smoke Over Malibu by Tim Walker reviewed by Henry Jeffreys
"...a sort of picaresque caper and a homage to classic LA stories by such greats as James Ellroy, Raymond Chandler and the Coen brothers. There’s also a good dose of Scooby-Doo."
The Transition by Luke Kennard reviewed by Justine Jordan
"In the grimly impoverished world of Nineteen Eighty-Four, real coffee is only for the elite. In Kennard’s vision of social control, flat whites are constantly on tap, although they cost more than the baristas serving them make in an hour: even dystopias are gentrified these days."
A Line Made By Walking by Sara Baume reviewed by Lara Feigel
"There are no answers here, but there is a reminder of the beauty that can be found when you allow yourself to look slowly and sadly at the world."
The Blot: A Novel by Jonathan Lethem reviewed by Lionel Shriver
"..engaging, entertaining and sharp for its first two-thirds. Then it goes to hell. The Blot was published in the US as A Gambler’s Anatomy."
The Pomegranate Tree by Vanessa Altin reviewed by Piers Torday
"...this is not a typical children’s book, it tells the story of some very typical children – who like playing with their pets, are fans of Harry Potter and who long for an ordinary childhood of family meals and laughter. Except these children can only remember such things. The book, illustrated by Faye Moorhouse, is written in the form of a diary by 13-year-old Dilvan or “Dilly”, a Kurdish teenager living in a Syrian village close to the Turkish border. Dilly has seen her father and brothers disappear to fight "
There's a fascinating interview with the author, a British woman married to a Turkish Kurd.
I loved the interview with Ali Smith! Yes, to add some of the names to my list.
Happy Sunday, Charlotte.
Ali Smith recommends
Invitation to a Beheading, Queen of Spades; Han Kang’s “Human Acts”; Kate Tempest’s “Let Them Eat Chaos”; Dilys Powell’s “The Villa Ariadne”; Jenni Fagan’s “The Sunlight Pilgrims”; Gillian Beer’s book about Lewis Carroll’s Alice, “Alice in Space”; and Elisabeth Young-Bruehl’s “Hannah Arendt: For Love of the World.”
Jamie McKendrick has been producing new translations of the works by the great Italian writer Giorgio Bassani that go to make up his “Il Romanzo di Ferrara,”
Sandra Smith’s translation of Camus’s “L’Étranger.”
Origins and Elements, poems by the Orkney film-poet Margaret Tait
O Caledonia a novel by Elspeth Barker, a sparky, funny work of genius about class, romanticism, social tradition and literary tradition, and one of the best least-known novels of the 20th century, I reckon.
Toni Morrison, Nicola Barker, Jan Verwoert, Margaret Atwood, Giorgio Agamben, Kate Atkinson, Alasdair Gray, Helen Oyeyemi, Laurie Anderson, Marina Warner, Elif Shafak, Kamila Shamsie, Paul Virilio. . . .
I love Tove Jansson’s works...
If you could require the prime minister to read one book, what would it be? The American president?
I’ll send Mrs. May a copy of José Saramago’s “The Stone Raft,” a book about what happens when a piece of the Iberian Peninsula breaks off mainland Europe and floats off by itself, and for your president, I’ll add a cubit to his name with “Trumpet,” by Jackie Kay
"What do you plan to read next?
Everything I can."
>71 charl08: I love that image, it is so simple and evocative. What a story, I'd look out for it, if it didn't look like it was written in a language other than English.....Ill go check ;)
eta: How does it differ from this one? Alpha by Bessora, which I can't find the touchstone for....so this edit is pointless ;)
I added those to my list, but I'm going to start with Autumn, which I remember you loved.
The original is in French, Megan. The English version should also credit the translator. I'm not sure what's going on with the LT editions: I had the same problem you've noted, tried to merge them and wasn't given the option to. Both Bessora and the graphic artist go by one name, just to add to the confusion... There's a rather lovely article about the British publisher taking the book on here:
>111 BLBera: I think I must go and here Ali Smith speak. My goal for 2017!
ETA or even hear.
Good goal, Charlotte. The interview was great. I try to read those, and some writers are...how can I put this?? Not nice?
>114 BLBera: She comes across as a grounded person despite the success.
I finished How to Survive a Plague. I said at the beginning that I was hoping he would get to the work of the activists in Asia and Africa. He didn't, but I'm quite glad he didn't. The book's strength (for me) is that France experienced what he's writing about: so he's documenting the infighting at ACT Up, the powerful lobby group that made science listen to people with AIDS, and he's also documenting how his partner was dying in New York, and unable to take the strain of the conflict at those meetings. There are no bad or good guys here (with the possible exception of homophobic politicians who blocked education and funding measures) but a complex story of activists working incredibly hard to try and find a solution in a time of great uncertainty and bigotry. For me it's not just an amazing book about medical history (and it ought to be required reading for doctors and those developing medicines, as far as I'm concerned) but about protest, organising and the complex ways campaign groups work (and don't work).
If I'd been France I think I'd be more critical of the drug companies. He seems to stop short of condemning them fully, although his rising tallies of the dead, most due to opportunistic infections that in many cases could have been treated with drugs that were already available, perhaps make this unnecessary. *****
And questions from my reading of Lives of the Novelists:
Did Daphne de Maurier really base the first Mrs de Winter on her husband's former fiancée?
Do people really still discuss The Lady or the Tiger?
How is it that there wasn't a public loo for women in London until 1884? (I think I wouldn't have gone out) (From Henry Spencer Ashbee who apparently wrote something very unVictorian.)
I don't think I'll read Lady Audley's Secret, but the biography of the actress turned writer and editor Sensational Victorian promises much...
And finally: was Twain the father of American literature? (Sutherland votes yes).
Deborah, thanks for that. If you read O Caledonia I'd love to know what you make of it. I really want to read Margaret Tait after she wrote about her in one of her short stories but the prices are shocking.
The library had a copy of Smoke Over Malibu see >103 charl08:
I've only just started, and can't see me keeping my eyes open for any length of time, but it's funny so far.
I'm glad you enjoyed I Will Have Vengeance, Charlotte. I want to read the next in the series; it was for me an enjoyable mystery.
Regarding the desire to do some hiking and the difficulty fitting in both a social life and the reading one wants to do, I think that is a perpetual struggle. My BIL retired at the end of December and he said he read about 20 books in January. I appropriately expressed my envy.
Regarding the question of public loos for women not appearing until 1884 and your thought that you wouldn't have gone out, I do think that was the point, was it not?
At my university (the one at which I work, not the one I attended), I recently learned that the rec center, which was built in the early 1960s, did not have a women's locker room included in the original design. They added one as an afterthought. That wasn't so very long ago....
>108 charl08: Great post. I would also love to hear Ali Smith speak.
I think to recommend one book for the current president to read would be... well, I would just recommend that he read a book! My understanding is that he doesn't read. Period. *smh*
Just stopping in to get caught up, Charlotte! Thanks as always for sharing The Guardian reviews. I especially like the batches that don't riddle me with BBs :)
Worked late tonight, have come home and will try and try to stay conscious and finish my book, which is really good. I'm ahead of myself hours wise, so I might even be able to leave early on another day as well as Friday which would be rather splendid.
>131 EBT1002: Well, I had a dig around the Internet and no sign of Smith doing a book event this year. But I guess she's allowed time off to write another lovely book.
Thanks for the reminder about I will have vengeance being a series.... I so enjoy reading crime in translation. So many intriguing books about different places. The timing and the pace kind of reminded me of Simenon. Although no supernatural elements when Maigret is around.
Don't get me started on stories about male focused campus design. I read up a bit for my thesis and what early women students put up with - those women should be celebrated (more) and put on pedestals for getting degrees despite the rubbish support.
>132 katiekrug: Happy to oblige Katie. Did I miss the snow fort?
Smoke Over Malibu
I picked this up at the library yesterday evening and have just finished. Just fun easy reading, a kind of modern hat tip to Chandler. Lucius- Lucky - Kluge is a failed screenwriter now working for an antiques dealer. Working a house clearance sale he comes across the effects of a former comic book artist. Cue a cast of characters from LA central casting, from the spiritualist to the tech millionaire, and a few more unexpected cameos (but not the actual Paul Giamatti >125 charl08:
the set pieces with Lucky's friend Raul's little dog in particular are very amusing. This struck me as well paced, well written and original. There's very little violence, so might appeal if you like classic or cosy crime too.
He's written one other book which I will now go look for....
Great that you are getting ahead of the game at work, Charlotte. I hope you get off early on Friday!
Thanks Deborah. I'll more than likely finish early, as it means I can go to the refugee project.
Thomas Hardy (writer #66! Only 228 lives to go...) is according to Sutherland, "the most thoughtful, and most morbidly sensitive, spectator of hangings".
Not tempted to reread Tess at all.
It's at times like this I wish I kept better planting records.
Then again, what's life without a little mystery?!
>137 charl08: On the right could be mint, Charlotte, not completely sure... well time will tell :-)
Yes, mint would make sense, as it was there before. The little ones are the real puzzles: I think I put all sorts of flowers heads in there in the hope something would grow...
Mum sent me a message two hours ago saying could I buy my own birthday present (it's not for a week yet). Could I?
Glad to see The Secret Library there, it's a fun little book with some interesting facts. Nothing groundbreaking or in-depth but a nice one to pick up and put down when you've got 5-10 minutes to kill.
It's good to see the positive reactions to I Will Have Vengeance. That's one of my next ones. Fingers crossed - I love finding good mystery series.
>142 jnwelch: Happily, it turns out my library has about six of his books, so I've ordered the next one...
Bill (WeirdO) posted this great article and booklist, and I am reproducing it here because I want to remember the books.
Here's a link to the article in the NY Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/08/us/black-school-racist-sexist-graffiti.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur
THE READING LIST
"The Color Purple," Alice Walker
"Native Son," Richard Wright
"Exodus" Leon Uris
"Mila 18," Leon Uris
"Trinity," Leon Uris
"My Name Is Asher Lev," Chaim Potok
"The Chosen," Chaim Potok
"The Sun Also Rises," Ernest Hemingway
"Night," Elie Wiesel
"The Crucible," Arthur Miller
"The Kite Runner," Khaled Hosseini
"A Thousand Splendid Suns," Khaled Hosseini
"Things Fall Apart," Chinua Achebe
"The Handmaid’s Tale," Margaret Atwood
"To Kill a Mockingbird," Harper Lee
"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," Maya Angelou
"The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks," Rebecca Skloot
"Caleb’s Crossing," Geraldine Brooks
"Tortilla Curtain," T.C. Boyle
"The Bluest Eye," Toni Morrison
"A Hope in the Unseen," Ron Suskind
"Down These Mean Streets," Piri Thomas
"Black Boy," Richard Wright
"The Beautiful Struggle," Ta-Nehisi Coates
"The Banality of Evil," Hannah Arendt
"The Underground Railroad," Colson Whitehead
"Reading Lolita in Tehran," Azar Nafisi
"The Rape of Nanking," Iris Chang
"Infidel," Ayaan Hirsi Ali
"The Orphan Master’s Son," Adam Johnson
"The Help," Kathryn Stockett
"Cry the Beloved Country," Alan Paton
"Too Late the Phalarope," Alan Paton
"A Dry White Season," André Brink
"Ghost Soldiers," Hampton Sides
Thanks Barbara. Should keep me busy for a while. I'm reading Too Loud a Solitude. I feel like I'm missing something.
>146 charl08: It's all about decay -- lots of imagery there. And lots of playing with concepts. Think of Hanta as a kind of lost prophet -- a male Cassandra, doomed to be unable to express himself and remain unheard.
(I loved it...)
Wonderful birthday book haul, Charlotte! I love that there is not a soul among us who wouldn't take that kind of offer as an excuse to buy books. I mean, nothing else. It's all I ever want (okay, I want that Kindle).
>144 charl08: Excellent article and list. I reread The Color Purple last month and it is still an amazing novel.
>147 Chatterbox: I think I'm going to have to reread it Suzanne. I do love the phrasing though.
For thirty-five years now I've been in waste paper, and it's my love story. For thirty-five years I've been compacting wastepaper and books, smearing myself with letters until I've come to look like my encyclopaedias... I am a jug filled with water both magic and plain; I only have to lean over and a stream of beautiful thoughts flows out of me.
>148 EBT1002: It did make me laugh as I walked home I thought oh yes, I could have got something else. It didnt occur to me, and my feet took me straight to the local bookshop.
>149 LovingLit: Yup. Mum and Dad are in Cape Town, so this way is easier. And I'm not complaining!
They're lovely covers.
>150 drneutron: Looking forward to reading it.
I just bought the Penguin Modern Classics of Metamorphosis and some other Kafka stories. I only have to read two of them ahead of my seminar on Saturday, but I like the ragged edges and the design so much, I couldn't resist...
>139 charl08: Your mother has lovely taste in books. And she has the wisdom to allow you to choose them. Happy birthday early, Charlotte.
Sounds good. I tell myself to wait for second hand ones of the classics but sometimes, can't resist.
She sat down at his desk, flanked on either side by bookshelves that held several hundred volumes in Vietnamese, French, and English. His ambition was to own more books than he could ever possibly read, a desire fueled by having left behind all his books when they had fled Vietnam. Dozens of paperbacks cluttered his desk, and she had to shove them aside to find the notebooks where he’d been tracking his mistakes over the past months. He had poured salt into his coffee and sprinkled sugar into his soup; when a telemarketer had called, he’d agreed to five-year subscriptions to Guns & Ammo and Cosmopolitan; and one day he’d tucked his wallet in the freezer, giving new meaning to the phrase cold, hard cash, or so he’d joked with her when she discovered it. I enjoyed this collection of short stories. All with some connection with Vietnam, but demonstrating diverse experienced, from the family who lost a son on the boat escaping, to the man who claims to be the son of a kidney donor. The final story, about a man'seeking two families, one in Vietnam, the other in the US, was perhaps my favourite, as Nguyen places the American and Vietnamese daughters next to one another with rich results.
Recommended. Now I have to find time to read his novel.
>149 LovingLit: Borges's very best IMO. The Garden of Forking Paths is my favorite.
>139 charl08: What a lovely book haul! I love those sorts of emails :-)
>144 charl08: Goodness, what an innovative way of handling that crime. It's alarming to think that one of the offenders didn't even know what a swastika meant. Thanks for the list - I have read five of them, I think. Could Do Better. I'll save it somewhere.
>158 susanj67: I really hope someone is following up to see if it works.
>159 EBT1002: They are fascinating stories. I know very little about Vietnam but would love to visit, even more so after reading these (although not all are set there, by any means).
Just started Slaughterhouse Five. What took me so long to pick this book up? It's brilliant.
Just booked a flight to visit Sweden in May.
So excited! Holibobs!
Query: do I go on a Sjöwell and Wahloo tour? (I'm thinking Yes!)
And Stockholm public library :-)
Or maybe kth uni library will let me in?
Oh, Slaughterhouse Five is so good. And I only read it recently because it was what the book group I was in chose. I would never have read it otherwise.
>164 RidgewayGirl: Maybe it was your reference that made me pick it up? I've definitely come across it recently.
>165 LovingLit: It's a lovely one! Although so is the classic, of course.
Quiz from today's author (#76! Hurrah! )
1. Which novelist stopped British women getting the vote for ten years?
2. Which British novelist pioneered the children's play centre system in Britain?
3. Which British woman was instrumental in inducing America to enter the ear against Germany in 1917?
From Lives of the Novelists
Oh gosh, I haven't read Slaughterhouse Five in yonks, but I loved it! I'm so glad you're enjoying it, too!
>144 charl08: Interesting article and a good list of books. Education is always a good idea. I did wonder if the reason they were given this assignment was that the prosecutor felt they had acted out of ignorance? Also, why was the community cleaning it up? Weren't they also sentenced to clean up the mess they made? Sigh. I always have so many questions.
>161 charl08: Hooray for tickets to Sweden!! Oh yes to libraries and a Sjöwell and Wahloo tour.
>167 scaifea: I was beginning to think our reading would never overlap Amber, which makes me sad as you are so widely read. Nice to hear.
>168 msf59: I was tempted to buy the novel in the shop during my splurge, but somehow walked past. There is still time, though.
>169 nittnut: If it was anything like here, the community cleaned because if they'd waited for community justice they'd still be living with the graffiti for a long time. But I don't know if that was the case.
I am excited although my friend has started talking about swimming in May outside. Argh. She swims in the sea and surfs. Me not so much. So I may be in the market for a wetsuit.
After I had fun at the library playing with cars and play dough, my small charges were having plenty fun with new friends so I got to try some of the library stock.
(I failed to write down the title but it features a rabbit called Houdini and lots of rabbits behaving like minions across the page)
ETA it's Rabbit Magic
Thursday! I've booked the day off and am hoping to do something fun. Or possibly just stay home and read!
I've attempted cinnamon buns, but since I'm pretty sure I put butter in at the wrong stage, no photos will be forthcoming. I'm hoping they're edible at least!
Guardian reviews fiction
Please check out the full reviews via www.guardian.co.uk/books
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund reviewed by Sarah Ditum
"Emma Cline’s The Girls was a woozy hormonal fug that found the horror in the thrill of growing up; Tiffany McDaniels’ The Summer that Melted Everything smothered its story’s gothic potential in stentorian hindsight. Emily Fridlund’s debut falls between the two. Teenage narrator Linda gets called “commie” and “freak” by her schoolmates, and it’s small wonder that she doesn’t fit in when her background has precision-tooled her for oddness. Raised by parents who are the last vestiges of a failed cult...."
This Is Memorial Device by David Keenan reviewed by Toby Litt
"...takes the form of a series of 26 interviews with or communications from people whose lives were touched, transformed or entirely trashed by what Ross Raymond, the book’s fictional “editor”, calls “the greatest rock group of the modern age or at least of Airdrie – Patty Pierce, Lucas Black, Remy Farr and Richard Curtis – but even better when they had Mary Hanna in them”. About 80 pages in, I thought this novelistic equivalent of talking heads wasn’t working at all. The voices were too similar, one to the next – Keenan wasn’t distinguishing them through attitude, accent or even basic text layout. Also, despite the book’s being set in the hinterland between Glasgow and Edinburgh, I’d found little unique to that area. Not language, landscape or weather. Change the place names to Ampthill, Flitwick, Bedford and Milton Keynes, and it could just as well have been set where I grew up. But then, with the chapter “Scatman and Bobbin the Dynamic Duo”, the voices break away from their rueful, post-adolescent-but-never-really-over-it tone and explode into wild Scottish life..."
The Last Days of New Paris by China Miéville reviewed by Stephen Poole
"...the quality of a dreamlike tour through a gallimaufry of riotous imaginings, or a world-building prologue to future tales set in this alt-history New Paris.."
Hame by Annalena McAfee reviewed by Anthony Cummins
"If Hame often comes over like a more cheerful version of a Sarah Moss novel, it’s also sneakily political at a time when a hard Brexit dangles the prospect of a Great British break-up."
And a poetry collection
Jackself by Jacob Polley reviewed by Kate Kellaway
"We are in a world furnished by frost, kidney-coloured pools, rosehips and buzzards’ wings. Home is Lamanby – an ancient Cumberland place name. There is an eerie quality about the landscape that makes one consider what people amount to without possessions."
Just to be a bit different this week, I want all the books.
The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick Maker: The Story of Britain Through Its Census by Roger Hutchinson reviewed Stephen Moss
"Historians have tended to overlook the operation of the census, perhaps considering the subject too dry and statistical."
Theresa May by Rosa Prince reviewed by Rafael Behr
"...revealing the presence of a battle-class political submarine advancing stealthily through Westminster’s unpredictable waters."
Habermas by Stefan Müller reviewed by Stuart Jeffries
"...became disenchanted with the philosopher’s intellectual system, and instead joined a bunch of neo-Marxist German Jewish intellectuals we know as the Frankfurt school. Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno were the leading lights of the Institute for Social Research, philosophising in the rubble of post-Holocaust Germany after their wartime exile in the US. It was their self-imposed task to interrupt what Horkheimer called postwar West Germany’s “ghost sonata”, its conspiracy of silence about the Holocaust."
Why I Am Not a Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto by Jessa Crispin reviewed by Suzanne Moore
"She does not, as some people do, reject the label “feminist” because it is somehow off-putting and conjures up hairy man-haters. Quite the opposite: feminism, she argues, has been rebranded into banality."
Now we are Forty by Tiffanie Darke reviewed by Zoe Williams
"It’s a very tricky form in which to ask these questions, moving from chatty personal reminiscence – “I began to rebel against my mum’s choice of wardrobe for me; she loved all those 80s bright colours” – to large statements about society, interspersed with interviewees of varying relevance..."
>180 RidgewayGirl: Ooh I'm tempted Kay. Maybe I should be more cautious though.
>179 charl08: Ooh, that one about the census, please :-) I've just wishlisted it.
I hope the buns were edible, Charlotte.
I'm tempted by that one too Susan.
They were edible, but I've decided to rename them scones. I won't be using *that* recipe again!
>178 charl08: "gothic potential in stentorian hindsight"??? sounds good but what the heck does it mean?
Have a great weekend, Charlotte. xx
I had to look up gallimaufry, which means "a confused jumble or medley of things", in case anyone else needs to know. I think both the census book and the Miévielle book sound interesting.
Happy Saturday, Charlotte!
>186 Crazymamie: For me it just meant Dr Who (I think it is the name of the home planet of his kind) but could tell this was not what was meant here...
Happy weekend Mamie.
I am quite tempted to click on buy with the Miéville. I do like alternative histories.
Snowdrops are coming out here. The real ones aren't this blurred though.
>178 charl08: I am so, so excited by the idea of a new China Millville book!
>187 charl08: Yes, snowdrops!
Mine are about the same, but I have been forgetting two days in a row to take a picture...
>188 SandDune: I'm tempted to download it now Rhian.
>189 FAMeulstee: I love walking past the gardens and the grounds at work and seeing them come up.
>190 BLBera: I have History of Wolves on the wishlist tagged with your name Beth! I'm also tempted by Hame. The Scottish referendum is an intriguing focus.
Indeed Megan. Green shoots in my garden.
I only knew this was an anti-war novel when I picked it up, so was surprised to find myself making Calvino comparisons as I read. The time travelling structure had me questioning the connections between Billy Pilgrim's life and his wartime experiences. I wasn't expecting the scifi aspect but it makes an interesting comparison to the current trend for dystopia (this was first published during Vietnam). Hope all the books I bought this week are this good.
When the bombers got back to their base, the steel cylinders were taken from the racks and shipped back to the United States of America, where factories were operating night and day, dismantling the cylinders, separating the dangerous contents into minerals. Touchingly, it was mainly women who did this work.
I've picked up Head Land the short story collection that is the book for my book group at work, which meets this week.
I've been a bit worried about it because the editor is coming to the meeting goes and so far I haven't really been swept away by the collection. The story by Tamar Yellin makes me want to check her back catalogue, which kindly the editor has done in a potted bio at the back.
They say, of course, that something is always lost in translation. That may be true, but something else is gained. I love the strangeness in translated English: the spareness or lushness which breathes through it, spareness, perhaps, if it is from the Italian; lushness if it is from the Spanish. English grows, for once, exotic, sprouting fruit you'd never find in a Surrey garden.
Great comments on Slaughterhouse-Five, Charlotte. It's been on my reread pile for a while. You make me want to move it to my read next pile.
I love the quote about translation.
I read Slaughterhouse Five for the first time a couple of years ago for Mark's AAC. I had the same reaction: why had I not read it prior to that?? It was excellent.
I hope all the other books you picked up this week are that good, too. :-)
And YAY! Snowdrops! Ours are actually done and we are watching the crocus, expecting them to bloom any day now. And our Daphne is ready to pop! It's right at the top of our front steps and always smells so good as we walk by.
>195 BLBera: I'm already convinced by the short story collection based on the translation story. Love finding a writer new to me.
>196 EBT1002: I think I was put off by the title, Ellen. Thought it was referring to some kind of horror element, rather than a repurposed meat locker.
Crocus are up in some gardens in my road. Love that strong purple colour.
>198 charl08: Let me know when you make it past Tower Bridge, and I'll wave :-) That's the perfect ticker!
Thanks Susan. I fell off the wagon for a bit, so just taking it gently for now...
Debating whether to go out in the rain or put the headphones in and read to ignore the heffalumps next door (who are making the most of their half term, I think).
"Green shoots in my garden." Yah!
Happy Sunday, Charlotte! Glad you enjoyed Slaughterhouse Five. I have read it a couple of times but I am due another reread. It is masterful.
Happy Sunday, Charlotte. Before we left for Davos I saw some snowdrops in our garden, too.
I loved Slaughter-House Five, too, and you're making me think it's time for a re-read, Charlotte. Great book.
>200 charl08: Charlotte, I hope you chose the headphones and stayed dry. Thank goodness half term is over tomorrow!
>201 msf59: Not only are they green shoots, but some of them are identifiable green shoots, because I just found the packets...
Forgive me while I go and look smug for a bit.
>202 Ameise1: That sounds lovely Barbara. Hope you have a good holiday.
>203 BLBera: Thanks Beth. All cheering appreciated.
Pom poms optional.
>204 jnwelch: I am hoping to persuade my dad to read it. He is not a big fiction reader, preferring non-fiction, but hoping I can swing it with all the enthusiasm around here.
>205 susanj67: Thanks Susan. Not only did I put the headphones in, I went for a nap (the heffalumps don't seem to have a regular bedtime, or even a quiet wind down period, which meant I didn't either. Something I find I am Quite Disapproving of. Despite having no experience or idea really when it comes to children.) Every time I think I'm liberal and inclusive something like this happens and reminds me of my inner 1930s nanny.
After the madness of Slaughterhouse Five, and the short story collection which is a bit hit and miss so far, I've picked up an autobiography/memoir via Netgalley Once Upon a time in the East which is exactly the kind I like, where you get to hear about someone's life that is completely different to your own. I'd never even thought about what China did re collectivisation of fishing (it turns out neither did the authorities until the 1970s). Her picture of her grandmother, bound feet and a female god hidden in her wardrobe, is heartbreaking. Then I needed a little light relief so I read It Takes a Scandal, which had better characters than the Eloisa James one. Thank goodness.
From Once Upon a time in the East
‘You are too young to understand this, but Zhoushan was a very important place for foreigners. As important as Hong Kong back then. The foreigners were called the British. They came from a tiny place on the other side of the world. They had big noses, yellow hair and hairy bodies. They had been causing trouble for us Chinese for a long time. They forced us to buy bad things, like something called opium. They liked to live by the port because the seafood was the best and the beaches were very beautiful!’‘Wow.’I was a bit scared, but I would have loved to have met the yellow-haired foreigners. ‘Were the Big-noses angry with the Japanese?’‘Yes, they were fighting them too.... ‘Motherfuckers! The British Big-noses should have learned their lesson that we Chinese are kind people because we have forgiven them for what they did to us during the Opium Wars. I hope they will always remember that!’
Hi Charlotte. I'm a swimmer too. Love it when I hear about reader/swimmer/gardener people! The pool in our new city is spectacular (8 lanes and also a wave pool) and I often have a lane to myself. (greedy girl!)
Enjoying your reviews, comments and lists. Esp the Ali Smith and the race awareness ones.
>208 mdoris: A lane to yourself sounds lovely Mary. It was free swimming yesterday which meant I had to try and not laugh at the two guys racing each other who were pretending not to.
>209 sibyx: I'm regretting not buying the lovely hardback edition of Autumn as part of my birthday haul. It is bound in a brown cover which makes the half cover of Autumn leaves realy stand out. Maybe another year.
Once Upon a time in the East
The protagonists of my favourite books were all orphans. They were parentless, self- made heroes. They had had to create themselves, since they had come from nothing and no inheritance. In my own way I too was self-made. I was born and then flung aside, to survive in a rocky village by the ocean. If I had to pinpoint a moment when this thought crystallised in my mind, it was that day on the beach in Shitang when I met the art students drawing in their sketch pads facing a sunless, wavy -grey sea . I was six years old and consumed by an ineffable loneliness.Novelist's memoir of growing up in rural China, witness to the dramatic changes as China industrialised. Guo was repeatedly abandoned, once to a childless couple, and then at two to her violent grandfather and his illiterate wife. She is fierce about the lip service paid to gender equality through Communism and the abuse that was many women's reality.
At it's best those is a window into a different world, in some cases, as in her childhood fishing community, now all but gone. Her descriptions of witnessing performance art in early 21st century Beijing made me wish the book was longer. Throughout there is the bleak theme of the failure of her relationship with her mother, a family rupture that feels far more universal, if less compelling to me.
For example, my grammar book said: ‘Peter had been painting his house for weeks, but he finally gave up.’ My immediate reaction even before I got to the grammar explanation was: my God, how could someone paint his house for weeks and still give up? I just couldn’t see how time itself could regulate people’s actions as if they were little clocks! As for the grammar, the word order had been and the added flourishes like ing made my stomach churn. They were bizarre decorations that did nothing but obscure a simple, strong building.
A collection of stories celebrating the ten years of a short story fiction prize. Some were familiar: Colm Toibin on the Catholic priest scandal, and Sarah Hall turning an island holiday into something altogether more creepy. Famous names like Gaiman mix in with newer (to me) writers. I loved the stories that made me want more. China Mievelle one of my favourites. Looking forward to discussing this with the book group this week.
Currently reading - Netgalley (UK pub date 23 March 2017)
I didn't realise this had the same characters as the previous book I read by him (Otto de Kat). The cover blurb says 'melacholic' and I am definitely getting that...
(not actually currently reading: currently trying to read a document on refugee policy in schools, but it is a bit depressing reading about small children being bullied, so here I am for a break, and back I go...)
ETA Melancholic, I meant. I can't even blame the phone this time.
>214 charl08: I'm looking forward to your review, Chatlotte. My library has got a copy of it.
It really suited my mood Barbara.
The Longest Night
Emma looks back over her life as she waits for her son and the euthanasia team (this is modern Rotterdam, and she is in her 90s).
She did notice, though, that her memory was becoming overloaded. Emma wandered through her recollections along a complex network of corridors, the crumpled map of her life. She was ninety-six years old, she had witnessed a century, and understood nothing at all.She remembers her first husband's involvement in the plot against Hitler, her escape from Germany and a long life lived in peace. There are still secrets and family conflicts, and the tone is bleak and littered with poetry and philosophy quotes. To me it is like a different world, and I liked visiting it. Vagueness piled on top of rumour and speculation , on dreams and suspicions: family history is a constant stream of knowing almost nothing , a scrap of insight here and there, an unintentional discovery. Those who find out and understand something do so by accident. The past is black, her parents’, and her own as well. Completists please note: ťhis connects characters from three other books, so you might want to read those first.
Happy Wednesday, Charlotte! Hooray for tomorrow off. I love that quote from The Longest Night.
Thanks so much, Charlotte. I think I'll take Julia first.
Hoorey for a day off. Hopefully, the weather wil be fine tomorrow.
I always say you can't go wrong by putting Julia first!
Oh, you all are talking about a book. Nevermind, then. ;-)
Reading Last Fair Deal gone down: A Nick Travers Graphic Novel. With some Ben and Jerry's because it's my birthday tomorrow (and somehow I walked 13,000 steps today).
"It was a bullet through a crowded mind that killed him..."
Happy Birthday to you! Many happy returns. I hope you have a fabulous day.
I'm adding Otto de Kat to my author watch-list.
I used to be a swimmer and was just getting back into it late in 2015 before I had my stroke (the other kind of stroke). I have had a bit of an irrational fear of getting back to it since then, but I'm determined to build it back into my life. I love my running but I honestly believe that a good mix of the two would be best.
Happy Birthday, Charlotte. Wishing you a most fabulous day. May all your wishes come true.
>225 BLBera: Thanks Beth. I think I might set up a new thread to celebrate. Your story about Scout doing your hair reminded me of being festooned with Mr Men stickers as I walked into a fairly fancy restaurant a few weeks ago.
>226 EBT1002: He's an interesting one - very different from the other Dutch authors I've read. I'm sorry about your swimming. My dad was a bit like that due to his blood pressure , but seems to have rediscovered his love for it on holiday. I wonder if there is a way to just take the pressure off and enjoy the water. For me it's such a comfortable space (in the right circumstances): I associate the water with the support of my parents, the fun of being with my siblings and friends, and the enthusiasm of teachers. If I won the lottery I'd like to set up a public pool with fun classes for adults, as well as kids.
(It would help if I played the lottery at this point! )
>227 Ameise1: Thanks Barbara. Lovely sentiment. Can I wish you a healed rib?
In the middle of Storm Doris, and my bird table has blown over and the windows are creaking, so I am glad to be inside just now with nowhere I have to go.
>229 charl08: Thanks so much for the healing wish. So sorry to hear that storm Doris is so awful. Take care.
Have a lovely day, Charlotte! And stay safe from the storm. Poor bird table. The wind blew yet another outdoor sofa cushion downstairs onto my balcony from the Clompingtons. That makes three. I'm wondering whether I could just ask them for the rest of it.
>230 Ameise1: I suspect compared to what they're getting in wilder places it's not so bad, but I am thinking I might pass on going to the shops later.
>231 susanj67: Thanks for the wishes. I have started the day with homemade cinnamon buns. They were edible, it turned out, with butter and time in the microwave.
Oh dear re the balcony furniture (you made me laugh). Poor Clompingtons are going to have some uncomfy seating arrangements. Wonder if there is a cushion equivalent to the elastic my mum used to attach to my gloves? I suppose at least it's only cushions and not something heavy. I've decided to leave the bird table until the conditions improve. I think where it is it can't fall any further.
I've picked up Bitter Herbs, where the narrator's father has just said the fatal words 'it couldn't happen here'. Oh dear: Germany has just invaded the Netherlands.
Happy Birthday, dear lady!
This is what I would pass to you if I was to meet you today:
Happy birthday, Charlotte!!
Oh, those chocolates just up there look lovely...
Thanks Amber. I can recommend Thornton's Viennese truffles. Gorgeous.
Thanks Julia. Or should I say Julia?
I finished Bitter Herbs, a very short memoir of life in the Netherlands as a young Jewish girl. Like When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, the power here is as much about what isn't said. Walking through a street after people have been sent to camps, boarded up shops, open doors, paper everywhere. And the matter of factness of her own, shocking escape. 'The night the men came I ran away, through the back garden door.'
Marga lost her whole family.
Happy Birthday to you, Charlotte! Hoping you don't already have these penguin stem Martini glasses.
>239 Crazymamie: - Those are awesome!
Happy Birthday, Charlotte!
Mamie inspired me to seek out an appropriate gift... How about these handsome bookends?
Thanks Mamie. I'll keep them for best...
"This story , like so many stories, begins with a gift..."
>244 susanj67: I guess I won't know for a while. (Snort)
Its quite windy here...
>246 ursula: I have no idea. But I think they wasn't as clever as they thought they was.* Also it's a library book. Bad Form.
*Hostage to fortune.
Oh, I didn't realize we were bringing gifts. How's this penguin ice mold to float in Mamie's penguin glasses?
This topic was continued by Orange is not the only Penguin (book) - charl08 reads #4.
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