World of Penguins: charl08 travels the shelves #10

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75 Books Challenge for 2019

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World of Penguins: charl08 travels the shelves #10

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Edited: Aug 19, 2019, 4:40pm

From the counter at 'my' local Waterstones' branch. Apparently he's stuck down firmly so that he doesn't 'walk' (I was asking for a friend...)

Edited: Sep 26, 2019, 3:33pm

Books read
This month: 20
Last month: 23
Total: 213

September 20
The Pre-nup (F, US, fiction)
Cry Mother Spain (F, France, fiction)
The Door (F, Hungary, fiction)
Frankissstein (F, UK, fiction) Netgalley
No Judgments (F, US, fiction) Netgalley
Perky (F, US, fiction)
Faces on the Tip of my Tongue (F, France, fiction)
The Art of Dying (Multiple, UK, fiction)
Packing my library (M, Argentina, memoir / books about books)
A Stranger's Pose (M, Nigeria, travel writing)

The Cactus (F, UK, fiction)
A House in Norway (F, Norway, fiction)
Taduno's Song (M, Nigeria, fiction)
Crow Lake (F, Canada/ UK, fiction)
Another Planet: a teenager in suburbia (F, UK, memoir)
They called us Enemy (Multiple, Multiple, Graphic memoir)
Kiss me tonight (F, US, fiction)
All the Way (F, US, fiction)
Sensible Footwear: a girl's guide (F, UK, Graphic memoir)
The Testaments (F, Canada, fiction-we-hope)

August 23
Still Waters (F, Sweden, fiction)
The Uncannily Strange and Brief Life of Amedeo Modigliani (M, Bosnia, fiction)
Making it Right/ Staying for Good (F, US, fiction)
The Catalogue of shipwrecked books (M, UK, history)
Almost Famous Women (F, US, short stories)
Tell them of battles, kings and elephants (M, France, fiction)
The Man Who Saw Everything (F, UK, fiction)
Proof by seduction (F, US, fiction)
Court Number One (M, UK, legal history)

The Bookshop by the shore (F, UK, fiction)
The Wallflower Wager (F, US, fiction)
Good Boy (F, US, fiction)
Night Boat to Tangier (M, Ireland, fiction) Booker longlist
Girl, Woman, other (F, UK/ Nigeria, fiction) Booker longlist
The Pisces (F, US, fiction)
The Unhoneymooners (Multiple, US, fiction)
We have been harmonised (M, Germany, politics)
The Summer Book (F, Sweden, fiction)
Stay (WAGs) (Joint, fiction)

Three Imperfect Number (F, Italy, fiction)
The Patient Assassin (F, UK, biography/ history)
Slow Heat (F, US, fiction)

July 22
The Surreal life of Leonora Carrington (F, UK, biography)
The King's Evil (M, UK, fiction)
Fluffy (F, US, fiction)
Charlie Savage (M, Ireland, fiction)
The Countess Conspiracy (F, US, fiction)
Unnatural Causes (M, UK, memoir)
Olive Again (F, US, fiction)
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill (F, US, fiction)
Grand Hotel (F, Austria, fiction)
A Plague on both your Houses (F, UK, fiction)

Dear Mrs Bird (F, UK, fiction)
All Grown Up (F, US, fiction)
A Clean Canvas (F, UK, fiction)
The Stopping Places (M, UK, travel)
The Man who was Saturday (M, UK, biography)
The Deaf Republic (M, US/ Ukraine, poetry)
Doing it Over (F, US, fiction)
Coldhearted (F, US, fiction)
Machines like me (M, UK, fiction)
Travellers: a novel (M, Nigeria/ US, fiction)

The Penalty Box (F, Canada, fiction)
The Wife's Tale (F, Canada/Ethiopia/UK, biography)

Sept totals
Gender F 15 M 3 Multiple 2
Country/ Region UK 4 Europe 4 US & Canada 7 Africa 2 Latin America 1 Asia 0 Austalasia 0 Multiple 2
Type Fiction 15 Poetry 0 Non-fiction 5
Origin Library 5 Other (incl mine) 15

Netgalley 2

Running totals
Gender F 158 M 49 Multiple 13
Country/ Region UK 58 Europe 44 US & Canada 95 Africa 6 Latin America 4 Asia 4 Austalasia 1 Multiple 11
Type Fiction 175 Poetry 5 Non-fiction 41
Origin Library 81 Other (incl mine) 141

Netgalley 25

Aug 19, 2019, 11:42am

African writers

(this is going to be very loosely interpreted, with inclusion rather than exclusion being the focus)

Hiding in Plain Sight (Somalia/ South Africa/ US) Published by Oneworld
My Sister the Serial Killer (Nigeria) Published by Atlantic (UK)
Zeina (Egypt/ US) Published by SAQI (UK)
Travellers (Nigeria/ US) Published by Hamish Hamilton (UK)
The Wife's Tale (Canada/Ethiopia/UK) Fourth Estate (UK)

Edited: Sep 8, 2019, 3:01pm

Europe (b#$%* Brexit) and beyond- authors in translation

Chester zoo penguins

Austria: The Second Rider Translator Paul Mohr
Bosnia: The Uncannily strange and Brief life of Amadeo Modigliani Translator Celia Hawkesworth (Croatian)
China: Stick Out Your Tongue Translator Flora Drew
Columbia: The book of Emma Reyes Translator Daniel Alarcón (Spanish)
House of Beauty Translator Elizabeth Bryor
Denmark Lone Crossing Translator Charlotte Barslund
Death of a Nightingale Translator Elisabeth Dyssegaard
Egypt: Zeina Translator Amira Nowaira (Arabic)
Finland: Mr Darwin's Gardener, Children of the Cave and Things that fall from the Sky Translators Emily and Fleur Jeremiah
French Canada: We Were the Salt of the Sea Translator David Warriner
France: The Prague Coup Translator ??
Cry mother Spain Translator Ben Faccini
The Years Translator Alison Strayer
Tell then of battles, kings and elephants translator Charlotte Mandell
Faces on the Tip of my Tongue Translators Jennifer Higgins and Sophie Lewis
Germany: Dreamers when the writers took power, Germany 1918 Translator Ruth Martin
You Would have missed me Translator Jamie Bulloch
Berlin Now Translator Sophie Schlondorff
The Pine Islands Translator Jen Calleja
The Cleaner Translator Bradley Schmidt
Hungary: Katalin Street and The Door Translator Len Rix
Latvia: Soviet Milk Translator Margita Gailitis
Lebanon: Jokes for the Gunmen Translator
The Netherlands: Bird Cottage Translator Antoinette Fawcett
Norway: Out Stealing Horses Translator Anne Born
Russia: The Aviator Translator Lisa Hayden
Sweden: The Forbidden Place Translator Rachel Willson-Broyles
The Wolf and the Watchman Translator Ebba Segerberg
Until Thy Wrath Be Past Translator Laurie Thompson

Edited: Aug 19, 2019, 5:49pm

Booker books - longlist

Read (in order of preference)

Bernardine Evaristo (UK), Girl, Woman, Other
Kevin Barry (Ireland), Night Boat to Tangier
Deborah Levy (UK), The Man Who Saw Everything reserved
Valeria Luiselli (Mexico/Italy), Lost Children Archive Read
Oyinkan Braithwaite (UK/Nigeria), My Sister, The Serial Killer

Currently reading
Jeanette Winterson (UK), Frankissstein Netgalley

Out from the library
Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria), An Orchestra of Minorities
John Lanchester (UK), The Wall

On the kindle
Elif Shafak (UK/Turkey), 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World Netgalley

Margaret Atwood (Canada), The Testaments
Lucy Ellmann (USA/UK), Ducks, Newburyport
Max Porter (UK), Lanny

Waiting until my reservation queue calms down...
Salman Rushdie (UK/India), Quichotte

Aug 19, 2019, 11:59am

Currently reading:

Girl, Woman, Other (and it's really good!)

Aug 19, 2019, 12:00pm

Happy new one, Charlotte!

Aug 19, 2019, 12:31pm

Happy new thread Charlotte!

Aug 19, 2019, 2:12pm

Howdy, Charlotte.

Aug 19, 2019, 2:55pm

Happy new one! Love the penguins :)

Aug 19, 2019, 3:16pm

Happy New Thread, Charlotte!🐧

Aug 19, 2019, 3:52pm

Happy new thread, Charlotte. The Evaristo does sound good. It's not yet available here. :(

Aug 19, 2019, 4:33pm

Happy new thread, Charlotte. Sorry your friends isn't available to take a walk with you :)

Aug 19, 2019, 4:37pm

Happy new thread, Charlotte. I wish I could send you a short video clip I took on a visit to my local zoo, of the zookeeper feeding the penguins. They were practically lined up at the door, waiting for her to emerge, as if she had rung a bell or something. It was adorable.

Aug 19, 2019, 4:45pm

Happy new thread, Charlotte. I love the little cheeky chappie in >1 charl08:.

Aug 19, 2019, 4:59pm

Happy new thread, Charlotte. It's probably just as well that that cute penguin in your thread topper doesn't walk, or you would have had no excuse for not taking him home with you!

Aug 19, 2019, 6:56pm

Happy new thread, Charlotte!
>1 charl08: How lovely to find a penguin near.

Aug 19, 2019, 8:15pm

Happy new thread, Charlotte!

Aug 19, 2019, 10:07pm

Love the penguin pictures .Happy new thread Charlotte and happy reading!

Aug 19, 2019, 11:17pm

I've wondered about Girl, Woman, Other. I'll have to see if I can obtain a copy via library or bookshop. I'm reading Lost Children Archive at present and generally trying to obtain copies of the other long-listed books I haven't yet found.

Back to your prior thread, your new reading chair looks pretty comfy. I hope you enjoy it!

Aug 20, 2019, 2:43am

Happy new thread, Charlotte.

Aug 20, 2019, 9:58am

Happy new thread!

Aug 20, 2019, 10:21am

Thank you Katie, Nina, Bill, figs, & Joe.

>12 BLBera: Beth, sadness

>13 RebaRelishesReading: It's probably for the best, I suspect!

>14 jessibud2: I wish you could too!

>15 Helenliz: Me too. >16 rosalita: I'm sorely tempted to find out if he's available online. (or she, I guess?)

>17 FAMeulstee: I'd not seen him before (or her before), so nice surprise.

Thank you Mary and Mary!

>20 EBT1002: Ellen, I hope it comes out in the US soon.

And thank you Paul and Jim :-)

Phew. Did I miss anyone?!!

Edited: Aug 20, 2019, 1:48pm

Girl, Woman, Other
This book was right up my street, and I am havering over whether I want it to win more than Night Boat to Tangier - today, yes, tomorrow, maybe I change my mind. The book opens with a first night for a radical playwright at the National - she feels she has finally made it after years in the wilderness. As the book unfolds Evaristo explores the complex and diverse lives of Black British women, from young millennial students dealing with drunken freshers week (when their 'group' doesn't drink, or hardly does) and older women who share the author's radical past (and campaigning present) to elderly women searching for lost roots and connections due to adoption. I loved Evaristo's last book (about an elderly Caribbean couple and change when one comes out) but this book reaches much wider in the characters she chooses to include. I particularly found myself rooting for Carole's mum, who had so much on her plate (not just the giant Nigerian snails!) and such resilience.

Edited: Aug 20, 2019, 1:40pm

From the garden outside the library at work.

Aug 20, 2019, 10:59pm

Happy New Thread, Charlotte!

Aug 21, 2019, 2:48am

Thanks Roni!

Aug 21, 2019, 5:09am

Happy new thread, Charlotte!

Aug 21, 2019, 7:08am

Thanks Susan.

I logged onto Borrowbox, the library ebook system last night, and it auto-upgraded. This seems to mean I can borrow two extra audio books.

Aug 21, 2019, 7:18am

>29 charl08: Well that's perfect, because you need more b- no. Wait. Cancel that. I just checked my own library home page to see if any new digital things had shown up, but they haven't. We do have Borrowbox but I don't have the patience for audiobooks (or much else, tbh :-) )

Edited: Aug 21, 2019, 7:27am

>30 susanj67: It's always nice to have choices :-)

I'm still reading Frankisstein: a love story - I'm enjoying the humour a lot.

From the Booker website:
One of this year’s longlistees, Jeanette Winterson, has been discussing the fact that, decades after she arrived noisily on the literary scene, she has only now been recognised by the prize. “It’s not being superior,” she told an interviewer, “it’s just that sometimes you have to wait for people to catch up.” Now that the prize judges have caught up, Frankissstein, an interlinking of Mary Shelley writing Frankenstein in 1816 and a modern story of artificial intelligence, cryogenics and sexbots, is one of the most fancied books on the longlist. Times have changed for the better in other ways too: “Literature used to be very much a white male club but it isn’t now,” she reckons. “There’s a diversity of voices and as a working-class woman I’ve been part of that. In the acting profession they’re always complaining that posh, public schoolboys are in the ascendancy. I no longer see that in books.”

Aug 21, 2019, 7:38am

“It’s not being superior,” she told an interviewer, “it’s just that sometimes you have to wait for people to catch up.”

Um, isn't that being extremely superior? Or is she joking?!

Aug 21, 2019, 2:50pm

I like her books but I don't think she comes across very well in interviews - I'm not sure if she was joking or not.

The Pisces
I am fairly confident that this is the oddest book I'll read all year. It opens as as if a straight novel about a woman having a breakdown after she and her partner agree to split up. She moves to LA to dog sit for her sister, and finds herself on the shore late one night. A guy swims up, but he won't get out of the water. And her partner wants to get back together. The support group she joined seem to be mutually dragging each other further and further astray, and on top of all that she's not sure if she's ever going to finish her thesis...The merman bit was trailed in other reviews, and at points it reads like a crazy fantasy/ erotica novel combo. Points for uniqueness, and certainly readable but I didn't find it "laugh out loud funny" as per one of the reviews on the blurb.

Aug 22, 2019, 2:42am

The unhoneymooners
The former fanfic writers continue their winning formula with this latest romance. A food poisoning bug hits her twin sister's wedding, knocking out the bride, groom and everyone who touched the buffet. There's no insurance on the honeymoon. It makes sense to use the holiday, right? For the most part light and funny, but with a bit of a #metoo moment that Thanks to the magic of romance lit got sorted almost immediately with the guilty punished. And the mystery of the attraction of romance lit is...?!

Aug 22, 2019, 3:29am

>25 charl08: Stunning!

Aug 22, 2019, 3:49am

Thanks Nina.

And now for something completely different: We have been harmonised...
"Xi and his party are reinventing dictatorship for the information age..."

Aug 22, 2019, 4:43am

>36 charl08: Ooh, that looks good! I have reserved it. I hope this doesn't start an avalanche of reserving from the main library catalogue, but if it does then I will blame you :-)

Aug 22, 2019, 8:36am

>37 susanj67: It's scary stuff. (And) I'm only 50 pages in...

Aug 22, 2019, 1:24pm

Wow, lots of great comments, Charlotte. I love Winterson, but that isn't available here yet. :( I am first on the reserve list at the library.

Pisces I'm not sure about. It might be one that you either love or hate?

Edited: Aug 23, 2019, 3:00am

I think Pisces just surprised me in the way it seemed to jump between genres. I'd be interested to read her essays though.

We have been harmonised
Well this was terrifying. By the former China correspondent of a German newspaper, and clearly based on years of conversations about censorship and the internet. There's lots here about China's shift right, the complicity of western tech companies and the way the state is heavily investing in surveillance AI, including reports of a terrifying project filming/ watching kids in class all day every day. Did you know if you visit China your face gets added to their recognition programme?

Aug 22, 2019, 6:18pm

>40 charl08: I had no plans to travel to China, and after your review of We have been harmonised (and watching a Dutch TV series about China last year), I think it is wise to avoid that country.

Aug 22, 2019, 8:48pm

I've been to China but it was back in 2006, so maybe I avoided getting scanned...?

Edited: Aug 23, 2019, 3:22am

>37 susanj67: I don't know about you, Susan but Charlotte and you have just reminded me to start making a whole load of reservations, though I'm worried that they'll all show up at once, probably while I'm away at a conference and Mike is taking some leave then partly for the kids and partly supposedly to do some clearing up the house a bit while I'm out of the way (I'm sceptical about how much he'll achieve in 3 or 4 weekdays in school hours as I don't think he'll do much at the weekend!). Anyway, I of course blame you both.

Edited: Aug 23, 2019, 3:27am

>41 FAMeulstee: I think it's a fascinating country, and would love to see (e.g.) the wall and the terracotta army. But this book read as a warning to keep on top of (democratic) state involvement in AI. There have been some scandals here about data misuse - the blacklisting of union members by construction firms springs to mind, and the handling over by the Dept for education of data about child refugees to enable the home office to arrest families but at least they are scandals when they come out. So many of the firms working on tech have large government investment, if not completely owned by the state, and the author argues Xi Jinping has resurrected the focus on party first, so that any company must prioritise those interests before (e.g.) customers, international agreements etc.

It seems like (at least from this book) that it's so hard to object to the state's plans to join everything up: even trials for a points system based on how good you are eg whether you get fined on the roads or pay your council tax which will determine whether or not you can travel, and how the whole community views you. He mentions Bentham and it does feel a lot like that panopticon idea.

The book ends with a call for European unity in the face of Chinese state attempts (sometimes successful) to buy their way into European support (Hungary and the Czech republic being named as two states who have taken money to echo the Chinese position). It reminded me of Cold War politics. Depressing.

Aug 23, 2019, 3:22am

>42 katiekrug: I think you're OK - one of the amazing things about the tech advances he describes is how recently it has happened.

>43 elkiedee: I remind myself reserving is so much cheaper than buying a book, so I'm still ahead even if I don't read it!

Aug 23, 2019, 3:25am

Islington Libraries have free reservations, and Mike's office is in the Central Library building (he doesn't work in the library service but his "boss" used to before she was elected as Unison branch secretary many years ago - she's technically up for election each year but in practice has only been contested once since 1998 I think!

Aug 23, 2019, 3:28am

>46 elkiedee: Free = definitely ahead :-)

Aug 23, 2019, 4:12am

Free reservations? Now I'm jealous. But if my small fee means the library stays open, I'll pay it happily. It is still much cheaper than buying them, and we only pay when they are borrowed.

Bizarrely, there is another user of the library who reserves as much as me. Also female, also a Dr, also with a very similar surname (I have a double letter, their's is single). The librarian did wonder if we were the same person, but no, there's two of us. She's an archeologist, apparently. I do wonder about lurking to meet her! But that might be stalkerish and I don't want to be banned from the library! >:-o

Edited: Aug 24, 2019, 3:40am

You've given me an idea Helen. Maybe I should try set up a reservers club at my local library...

Listening to talks at the book festival today.

First up was Amanda Brown talking about her book The Prison Doctor based on her fifteen years of working in English prisons. It was fascinating stuff, and she was clearly very invested in making sure her patients had the best possible healthcare. I was surprised how little interest she seemed to have in the politics of the institutions she worked in. (But on reflection: she's still working in prisons: so maybe not that she's not interested but that she's thinking about having to go back to work ?)

And then Anita Anand who I have heard so many times on the radio that I feel like I know her. Her new book is about a long term revenge mission and was clearly a passion project - she talked so much about The Patient Assassin that there was hardly any time for questions.

Lots of people in the audience arguing for more diverse histories in schools: but given the average age was at least 60, not convinced they were the best thermometer for current school policies. I got my book signed and shared a website designed by academics and the Runnymede trust. I suspect she was being polite, but I hope she looks at it. It's so easy to trash teachers, and not acknowledge that many are trying to share a wider curriculum (in the face of stupid political statements about a mythical British past). She talked a bit about how hard she finds it to write (rather than research) quoting another writer as saying writing a book is just like reading one, except the book is trying to kill you (!)

Aug 24, 2019, 3:46am

Guardian reviews fiction
(Will have to try and restrain myself from looking for them in the bookshops here)

Say Say Say by Lila Savage
" intensely serious and careful book, which grapples with an unfashionable subject, the drive to be a good person, while wittily weighing up human fallibility. The narrative voice knows much more about Ella than she knows about herself – her vanity, her self-satisfaction, her laziness and blinkered thinking – but it also tracks, with sincerity and compassion, her attempts at authenticity and self-knowledge, her desire to create art and approach the sublime."

Finger hovers over order now button...

Edited: Aug 24, 2019, 3:50am

Platform Seven by Louise Doughty reviewed by Alice O’Keeffe
"...claustrophobic and all-too-believable portrait of a controlling relationship. I also love her evocation of place and character; each member of staff at the station has a backstory, creating a complex web of human relationships."

This sounds pretty creepy. Pass.

Edited: Aug 24, 2019, 3:57am

The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy reviewed by Sam Byers

"Levy’s implied question feels painful and apposite: how can we have any hope of resisting political tyranny when we are so tragically unable to expunge it from our personal lives?
It is at this level, the level of cruelty and complicity, the level at which regimes both large and small cohere, that the bold design behind Levy’s intricate motifs and symbols becomes clear. She is asking us to consider a spectrum of harm, and where along that spectrum different incidences of cruelty might fall. Just as it is easier to study “history” as an entity distinct from our own emotional reality, so too it is far simpler and more comfortable to condemn brutality on a mass scale than it is to accept, and atone for, our own smaller acts of devastation..."

I've read this. Not sure I recognise it from the review (though I liked it).

Edited: Aug 24, 2019, 4:01am

The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa reviewed by Alex Clark

"A recurrent preoccupation is one of complicity and collusion; throughout The Memory Police, our narrator insists on the community’s strange acceptance of what is being visited upon them. “But what can we do?” she asks. “It’s disturbing to see things that have disappeared, like tossing something hard and thorny into a peaceful pond. It sets up ripples, stirs up a whirlpool below, throws up mud from the bottom. So we have no choice, really, but to burn them or bury them or send them floating down the river, anything to push them as far away as possible.”"

This quote reminded me of the book about China I've just read.

Edited: Aug 24, 2019, 4:08am

The Offing by Benjamin Myers reviewed by Jude Cook

"Dulcie is a lobster-eating, hard-drinking aesthete with a German shepherd called Butler. By turns verbose, eloquent, motherly and foul-mouthed, she might have come from central casting if Myers hadn’t given her such a richly imagined past and linguistic register. “Scones without proper cream is a disaster of apocalyptic proportions,” she exclaims, and one can sense Myers’ relish in bringing her to life."

This quote has sold the book.

Edited: Aug 24, 2019, 4:18am

Shelf Life by Livia Franchini reviewed by Holly Williams
"...leans heavily on recounted dreams to give access to Ruth’s strange, churning subconscious. They’re vividly written, but did you ever really want to hear anyone’s dreams? "


Aug 24, 2019, 7:01am

Happy Saturday, Charlotte and a very belated Happy New Thread. Glad to hear you are enjoying Frankissstein. I have a copy waiting for me on shelf.

Aug 24, 2019, 8:38am

>50 charl08: >51 charl08: Thanks for the new-book reviews, Charlotte! Both of these look good. Platform Seven does sound creepy but I do love a good creepy-not-gory story once in a while.

Aug 25, 2019, 1:05am

Happy new thread, Charlotte. >1 charl08: Wouldn't that look good beside your reading chair?

Aug 25, 2019, 2:35am

Belated happy new thread, Charlotte.

Aug 25, 2019, 3:32am

>56 msf59: Thanks Mark. Hope you enjoy the Winterson.

>57 rosalita: I think I'll just stick to the first one!

>58 Familyhistorian: Thanks Meg! I wondered if the magazine mention had les to a spike on your visitor numbers.

>59 Ameise1: Thanks Barbara. Hope you have some time off over the summer?!

Aug 25, 2019, 3:47am

>60 charl08: Back to school since last Monday. So my reading will slow down.

Edited: Aug 25, 2019, 5:40am

The Summer Book
I've had this one my shelves for ages and as it's summer and the book is light I brought it in my suitcase for the weekend. A gentle read about life on a Swedish island for a grandmother and her granddaughter. Lots of direct questions about life, beautiful descriptions of windswept isolated spaces and dealing with ageing. I liked it. Very season appropriate.
It's funny about me, Sophia said. "I always feel like such a nice girl whenever there's a storm."
"You do?" Grandmother said. "Well, maybe ..."
Nice, she thought. No. I'm certainly not nice. The best you could say of me is that I'm interested.
She extracted a perch and bashed its head against a rock.

Aug 25, 2019, 5:31am

>61 Ameise1: Gosh, that was quick. Hope you are taking it gently!

Aug 25, 2019, 7:28am

>63 charl08: The pupils have a five week summer break whereas we teachers start the preparations two weeks before the new school year starts.
It's ok, in October I'm going on holiday in Corsica.

Aug 25, 2019, 10:01am

The Summer Book sounds lovely, Charlotte.

Thanks for the reviews; I am so glad a few of them are already on my list, so I don't have to add more to the WL. :)

Edited: Aug 25, 2019, 2:55pm

>64 Ameise1: That makes sense Barbara. My teacher friends here are back in the classrooms too, getting things ready for the children. You are doing such an important job.

>65 BLBera: It is a nice one, Beth. Although I went to the beach today, and it is Crazy Hot for Scotland, and I thought I should have saved it to pose with. Ha!

The beach at Gullane.

Aug 25, 2019, 9:59pm

You are making your way through the Booker Long List very nicely. Your comments make me want to flip the switch (hit "purchase") on Girl, Woman, Other, even though it's still only available in hardcover. I did order a copy of Ducks, Newburyport which will arrive while I'm in North Carolina next week.

>62 charl08: I read The Summer Book a few years ago and quite liked it.

Aug 26, 2019, 3:49am

Thanks Ellen.
I saw a copy of Ducks Newburyport at the festival and was a bit shocked by how ginormous it is. I might wait to see if it makes the shortlist!

I read another hockey romance in a series and finished Three Imperfect Number the Italian crime fiction. It was an interesting read, with elements of Montalbano (corruption, the "comedy" lower ranks character). This read like the middle of a series (but was the first translated into English in 2012 by Europa). The main detective is legally blind, and is a specialist in audio recordings and atmosphere. Not an author I would look for again as it felt like nothing happened until the end when a magic solution fell into the detectives ' laps...

Aug 26, 2019, 8:54am

I loved The Summer Book, Charlotte. Our daughter and I read Tove Jannson's Moomintroll books together when she was little, and the late LTer Ellie Moses recommended this one to me. It's so beautifully written.

Edited: Aug 26, 2019, 1:47pm

I remember them from when I was a kid, Joe. I loved seeing all sorts of souvenir stuff for them in Sweden.
In the book I loved the way we saw inside the Gran's vp as well as Sophia's.

Aug 26, 2019, 1:44pm

>52 charl08: and >53 charl08: are on my list Charlotte. I've had that, read a review of something I've read and not recognised it at all. I know we all see different aspects of books, but to not recognise it at all is odd.

Edited: Aug 26, 2019, 2:49pm

>71 Caroline_McElwee: It was the meaning the reviewer ascribed to events in the book that rather lost me, Caroline. I think it went over my head, I was reading for the story rather than seeing deeper levels (which the reviewer expanded upon at great length).

Now reading The Patient Assassin, what my history lecturers would have described as "popular history", I think.

Aug 26, 2019, 5:25pm

Oof. Made it home despite the best efforts of a train that broke down on the line outside the station, and the bus that kept getting later and later on the app that had promised I'd be at the train in Plenty of Time. Argh.

Aug 26, 2019, 5:36pm

Cute town project - businesses and homes filled wheelbarrow with plants in Haddington.

Edited: Aug 26, 2019, 5:45pm

I went to see the
Bridget Riley exhibit
at the National Gallery on Princes St - it moves to London after it finishes in Edinburgh.

Rajasthan (on "loan" from a German gallery)

I was really interested in the exhibit of her prep work - fascinating calculations of patterns and colour. Some of them really made me feel dizzy...

Edited: Aug 26, 2019, 5:42pm

Rather cute cake

Very surprising weather...

American tourist on train home was complaining she'd not seen proper British weather. Ha!

Aug 27, 2019, 7:49am

Then, my love, shall I call it Victor Frankenstein? (Now I was thinking of Tristram Shandy, an old story indeed, and on my father’s bookshelves at Skinner Street for our diversion.)
No, said Shelley , for your story is more than the story of one man: there are two who live in each other, do they not? Frankenstein in the monster. The monster in Frankenstein?
They do, I replied, and therefore the monster has no name, for he has no need of one.
What father does not name his child? asked Shelley .
One who is terrified of what he has created, I said.
Well, then, Mary, it is for you to decide. You are father and mother to this tale. What will you name your creation?

Aug 27, 2019, 11:42pm

>76 charl08: I love the bunny topper!

>77 charl08: Looking forward to acquiring a copy of Frankissstein.

Edited: Aug 28, 2019, 11:46am

>78 EBT1002: Fortunately this shop has no branches outside Edinburgh: the gluten free cakes did not taste as though they were gluten free. I think I'd be in there all the time.

Well, the sunshine has been replaced by pouring rain, and I have a summer cold. Atishoo. Sniff. Happy days.

Aug 28, 2019, 2:18pm

>79 charl08: bless you Charlotte. I hope the cold goes soon.

Aug 29, 2019, 2:13am

Thanks Caroline. My bed is looking really attractive right now. Thank goodness for a four day week.

Ordered two graphic novels from the library: They called us enemy which is thanks to LT and Kate Charlesworth's new memoir about growing up lgbt in the 70s, Sensible Shoes (via The Guardian).

Aug 29, 2019, 4:23am

wish you a happy day

Aug 30, 2019, 1:00am

>75 charl08: Wow! *jealous*
I love me an art gallery :)

Aug 30, 2019, 3:58am

>82 paulstalder: Thanks Paul - these are cute!

>83 LovingLit: I don't know how the staff worked there all day - the effect of some of the pieces was like one of those 'magic eye' pictures that used to be fashionable. I felt quite dizzy!

Still feeling grotty. Have been getting home and collapsing with favourite audiobooks, abridged / dramatised (shocker!) versions of Raymond Chandler, Celia Imrie reading Terry Pratchett's witches, and generally feeling sorry for myself. Hoping that a weekend of R&R will sort things out.

Aug 31, 2019, 3:44am

Such a relief this morning: woke up, don't have to go to work. Can stay in bed with the hankies and lemsip!

Guardian reviews - non-fiction

My Name Is Why by Lemn Sissay reviewed by Michael Donkor
"Halfway through the text, Sissay tells of a trip to the twinkling lights of Blackpool. It’s December 1980 and, aged 13, along with others from children’s home, he is taken to see a pantomime starring a young Lenny Henry. In the surreal recounting of this day out – complete with images of Henry crowd surfing – Sissay offers a sobering consideration of both autobiography as a form and the particular challenges he faces as a autobiographer:
"Memories in care are slippery because there’s no one to recall them as the years pass. In a few months I would be in a different home with a different set of people who had no idea of this moment. How could it matter if no one recalls it? Given that staff don’t take photographs it was impossible to take something away as a memory. This is how you become invisible..."

There's an extract from this here:

It's hard reading. How anyone could do this to a child is just really difficult to understand.

Edited: Aug 31, 2019, 9:50am

Winds of Change: Britain in the early sixties by Peter Hennessy reviewed by Kathryn Hughes

"...a forensic look at the years from 1960 to 64, what one might call "the low 60s", when everyone aged over 35 still wore a hat out of doors and fanned themselves theatrically with a copy of the Daily Herald if the thermometer looked as if it would go over 75F (24C)"

I should probably read his earlier histories first...

Edited: Aug 31, 2019, 4:00am

Islamic Empires by Justin Marozzi reviewed by Sameer Rahim
"Time and again Marozzi treats us to lusty descriptions of “wine-soaked, hashish-perfumed” parties or the sexual prodigiousness of slave girls. Entertaining enough, if that’s your kind of thing; but the licentiousness is made to bear too much historical weight. He thinks living it large is a quintessential marker of an Islamic empire’s “self-confident pluralism”. He rarely stops to think of what life was like for slave girls wrenched from their distant homes, and whether they were quite so keen on this early form of “multiculturalism”."


Aug 31, 2019, 4:06am

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi reviewed by Colin Grant
"...he’s increasingly inclined towards the view held by Martin Luther King Jr – espoused in his Poor People’s Campaign – of the intersection of racism with capitalism. Further, to be an antiracist is to challenge spurious (if perhaps well-intentioned) notions such as the “culture of poverty”, which allegedly traps impoverished black people in dependency – in opposition to, and ignorant of, the “culture of work”."

Hoping the library has a copy of this one, sounds good.

Aug 31, 2019, 4:16am

Don’t Look Back in Anger by Daniel Rachel reviewed by Kitty Empire
"...the book’s greatest irritation is its repeated attempts to define Cool Britannia, which leaves everyone floundering or hand-wringing. There was a confluence and a cross-pollination of many creatives in a booming economy under a helpful government. This book is a timely reminder, though, of exactly how much messaging, perception and image counted..."

Nope. I remember it, not terribly tempted to read about it.

Edited: Aug 31, 2019, 4:29am

Voyaging Out: British Women Artists from Suffrage to the Sixties by Carolyn Trant reviewed by Rachel Cooke
"...bulges with hope for the future: for more research, for more books and, above all, for more inclusive and wide-reaching shows."


Aug 31, 2019, 4:27am

>85 charl08: Charlotte, I had a similar thought in the middle of the night (minus the Lemsip and the hankies). I hope you have a nice relaxed day without too much sneezing.

>87 charl08: Both the book and the review sound very politically incorrect. Debauched behaviour by non-Westerners? And criticism of that behaviour? I didn't think that was allowed, particularly not in the Guardian.

>89 charl08: Heh, yes. If we've lived through the "history" then presumably we can tick it off the list. OMG - the older we get, the less "history" we have to read!

Aug 31, 2019, 4:45am

>90 charl08: Thanks for the health wishes Susan. I guess I've still not converted you to being a Guardian reader then!? Lol.

Aug 31, 2019, 5:23am

>92 charl08: Charlotte, LOL - I probably read the Guardian more than anything else, because it's all free online. I get pop-ups from time to time, noting that I've read so much that perhaps I might like to pay :-). Their live blogs are excellent, in particular, and I like their cultural coverage. They're just very, very, "right-on" about their political coverage, so I don't agree with most of that, but I do read it. I'm more of a Times person overall, and I had a digital subscription which was excellent, but then they hiked the prices to reflect their awesome new sports coverage, so I cancelled it. But I get their hard copy on Saturdays.

Aug 31, 2019, 9:29am

I hope you feel better soon, Charlotte. I guess you're paying for the lovely weather. :)

Thanks for the reviews. I've been looking at the Kendi.

I'm waiting anxiously for Frankissstein!

Aug 31, 2019, 11:10am

>93 susanj67: I spent more time with the Guardian when I had my first jobs and was commuting than I can quite believe, now (the library was open at crazy hours, and I'd never worked out that I could have joined the central London ones) - and then when I have been working I've spent even more time reading its Manchester incarnation from many years ago. I think I take its politics for granted. I used to read the Times before the paywall - interesting to see if the Guardian's alternative approach works.

>94 BLBera: It looks like interesting reading, Beth. I still haven't finished Frankisstein - it was a bit much to be reading in my lunch break at work, I found.

Aug 31, 2019, 11:28am

Our next door neighbours (budding cricketers all) are out enjoying the sunshine. I'm expecting tears before bedtime (much like the professionals).

The Patient Assassin
I heard Anita Anand speak about her book last week and have been reading this on and off since. Singh is a hero in India, as he shot the British colonial official in charge during the Amritsar massacre, twenty years after it occurred. Hundreds of civilians were shot without warning and at close range after breaking a poorly announced curfew, and then denied medical treatment. Young children were amongst the dead. Following an enquiry, the army officer who gave the order was sacked. And that was it, as far as the British were concerned.

Singh, who claimed (but cannot be proved to have been) in the garden where the massacre took place, appears to have decided he would hold the British officials accountable. The life of the assassin is fascinating, from abject poverty to international travel, and links to communists and spies. The life of the colonial officials less so, but adds weight to her claim to have sought to understand both sides despite her family link to the atrocity. The book highlights the way that histories can be so differently treated in different states: Singh now has a memorial statue and schools / libraries named after him in India. I had never heard of this assassination until this book.

Aug 31, 2019, 1:21pm

I read Kendi’s previous and really resonated with his ideas. Looking forward to the new one!

Aug 31, 2019, 2:04pm

>85 charl08: I heard him on Radio 4 this week. Very interesting, I'm sure, but not easy.

>89 charl08:, >91 susanj67: I'm more and more in sympathy with my Grandmother. We went to a museum of rural life on one occasion and she annnounced that this couldn't be history, as she used to use one of those thingies on display. Have no idea what it was, but I now completely get what she was complaining about!

Hope you're feeling better soon.

Aug 31, 2019, 2:12pm

>91 susanj67:: >89 charl08: charl08: Heh, yes. If we've lived through the "history" then presumably we can tick it off the list. OMG - the older we get, the less "history" we have to read!

As we get older I'm sure history gets bigger. It's just that us oldies realise it's totally unimportant so as you say we don't have to bother reading about it.

Sep 1, 2019, 5:09am

>97 drneutron: Sounds like a recommendation to add there, thanks!

>98 Helenliz: No, not easy, but important stuff. Thanks for the wishes. I was planning another day of doing nothing but in a Major Error I woke up this morning to No Coffee. Argh.

>99 PossMan: Hi, welcome, thanks for chipping in. I'm unlikely to agree that any history is "totally unimportant" though! (I do have a bit of an interest to declare. Me not wanting to read it notwithstanding). I like to think if we'd done a better job of teaching history in our schools we wouldn't be in this mess now.

What makes me laugh about doing these reviews is how hard I sometimes have to struggle to come up with a reason not to get hold of a book. If I had all the time in the world I'd read them all - or at least start them. So sometimes I'm a bit flippant. (Although saying that I really have no interest in reading any more about Keith Allan or Tony Blair).

Sep 1, 2019, 5:28am

What I read in August

I read quite a bit of translated fiction this month - I think I most liked the book about Michaalangelo in Istanbul Tell them of battles, kings and elephants.
Also plenty of history (!) about British legal cases, Spanish libraries, colonial cover ups and (contemporary history?!!) Chinese digital surveillance.

And quite a few booker nominees, although I still haven't finished the Winterson. Probably The Summer book was the most seasonally appropriate.

Gender F 15 M 5 Multiple 2
Country/ Region UK 7 Europe 6 US & Canada 9 Africa 0 Latin America 0 Asia 0 Austalasia 0 Multiple 0
Type Fiction 19 Poetry 0 Non-fiction 4
Origin Library 6 Other (incl mine) 17

Edited: Sep 1, 2019, 7:27am

The pre nup
The plot made me roll my eyes, but a sweet contemporary if you can get past that, with a nice parent/ child reconciliation storyline.

Feeling a bit more human, so have ventured into the garden, trimming back the buddleia and moving some ferns and a thistle around (fingers crossed that they survive this process...)
Butterflies have found the garden.

Sep 1, 2019, 7:31am

Happy Saturday, Charlotte. I also have How to Be an Antiracist on my TBR list. Sounds like a winner.

>102 charl08: Love the garden photo.

Sep 1, 2019, 12:12pm

>74 charl08: That we've done with our pupils years ago. Each class made an own one and they could have been seen all over the village where I work.

Feel better soon.

Sep 1, 2019, 12:24pm

Lovely garden photo, Charlotte. I'm glad you're feeling better.

August was a good month of reading for you.

Edited: Sep 1, 2019, 3:33pm

>103 msf59: Weirdly, they didn't have this on the shelves yet at the library, but they had his earlier one, and with Jim's recommendation giving me a nudge I have requested that too.

>104 Ameise1: That's lovely Barbara: it was such a friendly touch to the town.

>105 BLBera: I had lots of train journey reading time, luxury! Hoping for some more this month.

Thinking my piles of books are getting a bit ridiculous, so have stacked some up to try and read this month. Yes, I did colour code the top shelf. Don't judge me!!

Chekhov letters
Age of Iron
Stuart Hall autobio
Why this world
Travels with my aunt
Taduno's Song
Faces on the tip of my tongue
Packing my library

Lifting the veil
Hamid Ismailov The Devil's dance
Whatever happened to Harold Absolom
The Door
Bird by Bird
Manchester Happened
Insurgent Empire

The Ungrateful Refugee
What we're told not to talk about
The German Room
Cry Mother Spain
Stay with me
The invisible Man
Buckingham palace district six
Speak no evil
The Gypsy goddess
One day I will write about this place
New York Burning
Honourable Friends
Crossing the Mangrove
Beyond the Rice Fields
When we speak of nothing
Season of Crimson Blossoms

Gold boy, Emerald girl
All that remains a life in death
Family Lexicon

Sep 1, 2019, 2:58pm

>106 charl08: I like it.

Sep 2, 2019, 4:17am

>106 charl08: Arranging by colour? Have you ever considered a career with the Tower Hamlets library service at all?

Those all look lovely. And the titles are definitely easier to read on my computer screen than they were on my phone on the bus :-)

Sep 2, 2019, 6:30am

>107 BLBera: Thanks Beth. Certainly looks better than piled up on the floor!

>108 susanj67: Susan, I can only dream of a career sorting books all day (please don't destroy my illusions here! )
I can't think of a clever name for own books September.
SeptEndBookbuying? Shelffirstsept?

Sep 2, 2019, 6:40am

>109 charl08: Shelftember ?

Sep 2, 2019, 7:44am

>110 susanj67: I could do with a Shelftember. But I'm always distracted by the library list. I have no will power when it comes to books.

Sep 2, 2019, 11:10am

>110 susanj67: Sounds good!

>111 Helenliz: Well, I'm hoping mine will renew until October. And maybe I will have a bit of a cull there too.

Sep 2, 2019, 2:05pm

>109 charl08: I am going to try the same in September, Charlotte, although 8 library books were already in my house and will be read. I will avoid the library (and even the e-library) this month!

Sep 2, 2019, 2:33pm

>113 FAMeulstee: Good luck Anita!

Sep 3, 2019, 2:15am

Still reading Cry, mother Spain
I'm starting to see the weight of tragedy carried by the word "national" and how every time it has been bandied about in the past, regardless of the has inevitably brought violence with it, in France and elsewhere. History is awash with appalling examples.

Edited: Sep 3, 2019, 12:55pm

Cry Mother Spain
Well, not exactly a cheerful read this one! José and his sister Montse leave a sleepy village for Barcelona at the height of the anarchist movement before the civil war. On their return, the village has turned communist, but Franco's forces are gaining ground. Montse remembers the year 1937 clearly even as she fades into dementia, telling her daughter what she lived through. The author's parents were Spanish republican refugees to France, so sense she knows what she is talking about, particularly in terms of the insular gossip of the village about anyone different.

Edited: Sep 3, 2019, 5:36pm

Now reading The Door - more translated fiction, this time from Hungary.

Sep 3, 2019, 8:49pm

I won't judge your color-coding! I was at a branch of Barbara's Bookstore in the Chicago airport Saturday and they had a beautiful display: read the rainbow. They had at least seven shelves of books, each representing a different color. Some of the books were titled consistent with their color, but mostly they had organized them by the color of the title. They had demonstrated remarkably good taste (in my opinion, which taste certainly is)! If it's still there on my return trip on Friday I'll take a photo.

Edited: Sep 4, 2019, 8:04am

>118 EBT1002: Thanks Ellen. So nice when you find a good bookshop!

I just booked to hear Colm Toibin speak next month. SO EXCITED!

Sep 4, 2019, 9:09am

Colm Toibin! I'd like to hear him.

My book arrangements are by Chaos. I know exactly where each book is shelved. Well, except the one I happen to be looking for at any given moment. So arranging by color is sensible.

Edited: Sep 4, 2019, 2:24pm

>120 weird_O: This will be my second or third attempt (the first when I've actually been able to buy tickets).

Edited: Sep 4, 2019, 2:21pm

Lucky you to see Colm Toibin . I see I have read 3 of his books but there are many more for me to read. I really liked Testament of Mary.

Sep 4, 2019, 2:41pm

>122 mdoris: I've read 11 (she adds, modestly....!!)

Sep 4, 2019, 3:14pm

Charlotte, which one would you suggest I read next? (I've read T of M, Brooklyn and Nora Webster). I see you are a big fan!

Sep 4, 2019, 3:56pm

I really liked his book about Barcelona and the one about Elizabeth Bishop is a beautiful (short) thing. I had a copy from the library, and they had copies at the book festival and was sorely tempted to buy it.

Edited: Sep 4, 2019, 5:28pm

>119 charl08: Charlotte, when you talk to Colm Tóibín, could you apologize on my behalf because I have had a copy of Brooklyn for ages but keep forgetting to read it? I promise I'll get to it soon! (At least I did buy it.) (On sale, but still.)

Oh, and I also owe him an apology because I keep getting him confused in my mind with Colum McCann who wrote Transatlantic. That's probably rather vexing to an author.

Hmmm. On second thought perhaps you'd just best not mention any of it!


Edited: Sep 4, 2019, 6:01pm

Hmm. Given my track record of sneaking off rather than queueing to see someone, probably a good job not to rely on me for that one!!

Went to York for a work thing. So pretty.

(We went with school when I was about 10. Most of it has vanished into the ether beyond limitations on the squash intake - horrors! I went through about 4 glasses per meal - and mean kids from another school. I liked the castle museum though, which I passed yesterday. Real olde time street, with shops from the 1900s. )

And a lovely Carnegie library

Edited: Sep 6, 2019, 3:39am

Finished The Door. This is billed as a classic, but I think it largely passed me by. A self-indulgent writer in Budapest hires a cleaner, who turns out to have her own motivations, histories and quirks. And that's pretty much it.

On the plus side, it means I can recycle it without heartbreak!

Edited: Sep 5, 2019, 5:15pm

Finished Frankisstein - I really liked this one. Will come back and add a review.
I thought this was such a clever book, I never quite knew what to expect with her playing with modern AI plans, Mary Shelley's story and ideas of what it means to be human. What would happen if everyone never died? How are the ideas of Shelley and the fears of Frankenstein's monster linked to our worries today? I can't say I am knowledgeable about AI, but I loved the way she brought together Turing's Manchester with high tech advances in the US. Maybe some of the advances she mentions are not here yet, but how far off?
We are lucky, even the worst of us, because daylight comes.

And it made me laugh.
How is a man supposed to give a woman a compliment, then? said Ron. You a #MeToo type?
I won’t get into my politics, said Claire, I’ll just tell you that you can say the following to a woman: what intelligent eyes she has. What a beautiful soul she has . What deep understanding she has. What fine dress sense she has.
Is that all? said Ron.
Think of it like practising the piano, said Claire. Get those right and we can try some other pieces.

Edited: Sep 5, 2019, 12:20pm

>117 charl08: >129 charl08: Shame this didn't work for you, I thought The Door quite an impressive novel. .

>119 charl08: OOh, I've not heard him speak in person. Lucky you.

>127 charl08: Ahh, York. Lovely city.

>129 charl08: A fun and interesting jaunt I thought. I heard her read/perform bits of it, if you get the chance, it's worth it Charlotte.

Edited: Sep 5, 2019, 5:16pm

>130 Caroline_McElwee: It just didn't work (for me) - but I liked On Katelin Street so I'd try her other books.

I can't wait to hear him! Really looking forward to it.

Ans I wish I could hear Winterson speak about this one: so many ideas.

Edited: Sep 5, 2019, 7:58pm

Oooh, I can't wait to read Frankissstein. Your review whets my appetite even more.

Colm Toibin. That should be a worthwhile evening! I haven't read a lot of his works but very much liked Brooklyn.

Sep 6, 2019, 2:18am

Definitely worth your time, Ellen. There's lots of humour as well as big ideas.

I'm wondering if it would be bad form to take all my (second hand, mostly) copies of his books to be signed!

I love the politeness of "please leave my town" ' Johnson visits Yorkshire.

Sep 6, 2019, 3:41am

Hmm. Now I can't choose what to read next from >106 charl08: !

Sep 6, 2019, 4:11am

>134 charl08: Charlotte, it sounds like you may need the SusanChooser app to decide your next read. You just enter your requirements, and it chooses for you. For example, let's put in

"A non-fiction book" and

"Something with no details on the LT page which other people might be interested in hearing about before they reserve it themselves"


What We're Told Not To Talk About


Edited: Sep 6, 2019, 1:21pm

Thanks Susan (or should I say, the SusanChooser app). I left all the books at home so I may be forced to read the library book that I have to hand. This may be a new record, at day 6, of me actually sticking to a challenge!

(I had to look up HTH! Oh dear...)

Sep 6, 2019, 9:44am

Sep 6, 2019, 10:44am

I also had to look up HTH :)

Sep 6, 2019, 10:50am

People! I am an old lady and everything!

I hope the Urban Dictionary is saying "Hope This Helps", as that's what I was aiming for :-)

Sep 6, 2019, 4:19pm

>127 charl08: Lovely pictures, Charlotte.
The windows above the doors look nice, with on the outer side those extra lines making it look like a spider web.

Sep 6, 2019, 6:15pm

>129 charl08: Love your review! Those lines are definitely funny. It goes on the list.

Edited: Sep 7, 2019, 5:25am

>137 Helenliz: Impressive, eh...?

>138 katiekrug: Glad I'm not alone. I'm always a bit afraid of what I'm going to find on urban dictionary, too.

>139 susanj67: Yes Susan, my fears were groundless!

>140 FAMeulstee: Thanks Anita. They have an art gallery too: there was a deal on train tickets (travel for £1 each way) so I'm going to go back and check it out.

I read No Judgments this evening, which is a new one by Meg Cabot, who every so often writes an adult contemporary as well as her incredibly successful kids books. I really loved her other adult series, which sadly have not aged well (BlackBerry messaging, anyone) but had a host of supporting characters in the various books who worked at newspapers (remember them?) and had reliable jobs. Anyhow, so that's a long winded way of saying I'm a fan of her sense of humour. I found this one to be quite a bit darker: don't panic, it's still a romance, but both characters are mourning and there's a hurricane about to hit their island, plus a #metoo incident in the past that's not going to stay past.

And rather than the romance trope of being stuck in a hotel room/ inn / ice house* Cabot takes the story in a different direction entirely, complete with water damage and community kitchens. I enjoyed reading it, and I'll read the next one set on the same (fictional?) island.

*I've not read this one, but would be willing to bet it exists.

This was a netgalley preview.

Sep 6, 2019, 8:54pm

>132 EBT1002: I really liked Toibin's early novel The Heather Blazing, Ellen and I can recommend that one as a place to start enjoying his work.

Wishing you a lovely weekend, Charlotte.

Sep 7, 2019, 5:28am

>143 PaulCranswick: I had to remind myself of that one, Paul. One of the reviews made me laugh "....he spent an enormous amount of time walking." The ones set in Ireland make a character of the place (Enniscorthy) as much as the people.

Edited: Sep 7, 2019, 6:26am

Guardian Reviews Fiction

Brought to you by the sound of hedge trimming, the occasional bird, the washing machine and a hint of sunshine.
Ed to fix the carnage pointed out by Susan below...

The Second Sleep by Robert Harris reviewed by Clare Clark
"During the course of his career Harris has perfected the art of creating tension within a story to which we already know the ending: the Enigma codes were cracked, the eruption of Vesuvius destroyed Pompeii, the Munich Agreement did not bring peace. In The Second Sleep he turns the tables: this time we do not know the beginning. Twenty-first century civilisation has crashed to a catastrophic end – but why? "

More to the point, will this one make Beth's dystopia course?
(I'm #63 in the queue for this at the library. Fortunately, many many copies are on order)

Edited: Sep 7, 2019, 6:01am

Lie With Me by Philippe Besson reviewed by Tessa Hadley
"Besson has sometimes drawn on the lives of real individuals – Arthur Rimbaud, Marcel Proust, James Dean – for his novels, and he’s apparently made this one out of his own adolescent love story. Lie With Me is set in the same small town in south-western France where he grew up, and is dedicated to a Thomas Andrieu who died in 2016, just as the character Thomas Andrieu does in the novel. The narrator is Philippe Besson, a successful writer living in Paris, remembering his adolescence. Of course we can’t be sure, finally, how much of the story is invented – and perhaps it doesn’t matter."

This is not a positive review! Although, translated by Molly Ringwald...

Edited: Sep 7, 2019, 5:59am

The Catholic School by Edoardo Albinati reviewed by Anthony Cummins
"...resembles a true crime novel as told by Karl Ove Knausgaard. “What can explain the fact that yesterday I spent at least an hour online searching for photos of a skinny Belgian model with big tits? Why does sexual freedom so closely resemble slavery?”

900 pages long!

Edited: Sep 7, 2019, 5:58am

Insurrecto by Gina Apostol reviewed by Tash Aw
"...thrillingly imagined and provocative inquiry into the nature of stories and the unfolding of history in our collective consciousness."

Sounds good.
I'm supposed to be reading the books I have though.
Sad face.

Edited: Sep 7, 2019, 5:57am

The Institute by Stephen King reviewed by Nina Allan
"The bulk of the novel’s action takes place in the titular Institute, a top-secret facility run by shady operatives whose task is to protect humanity’s future by predicting vectors of conflict before they materialise. So far, so Philip K Dick...."

Even previews of It 2 are freaking me out, so no.

Edited: Sep 7, 2019, 5:56am

Your Duck Is My Duck by Deborah Eisenberg reviewed by Anthony Cummins
"characters tend to be haunted by the past, scathing about the present and fearful of the future. One narrator recalls discovering the murder of her relatives in the Holocaust; someone else says the US today is “really, truly finished”. “It’s not so hard to figure out why I’m not sleeping,” an insomniac tells her doctor, refusing pills: “What I can’t figure out is why everybody else is sleeping.” “Everybody else is sleeping because everybody else is taking pills,” the doctor says."

Well, torn on this one. It's an enormous brick of a book, but the review makes me rethink whether I should just bite the bullet and read it on kindle.
After Sept, though.

Sep 7, 2019, 6:14am

Thanks for the reviews, Charlotte! But, um, there's either a comma missing at the beginning of >145 charl08:, or there's carnage going on in a garden near you :-)

Sep 7, 2019, 6:16am

Lol Susan. Fixed now.

Edited: Sep 7, 2019, 6:32am

>136 charl08: >138 katiekrug: >139 susanj67: Thanks for clarifying.

I never got into using TLAs 1) because they're too confusing and I never know what they mean anyway and 2) a few years ago I was in a community production in Sydney and someone used 'LOL' for something. I do kind of know what it means but the younger folks said 'Oh - not the rude version' and I've never had the inclination to find out what that is. :0)

Sep 7, 2019, 7:30am

There's a rude version? There was a funny thing with politician (I think?) David Cameron where his texts were made public and it turned out he thought LOL meant lots of love...

Sep 7, 2019, 7:31am

(Just had to look up TLA!)

Sep 7, 2019, 10:49am

>156 charl08: Y'see?

Funny story about three letter acronyms, which Singapore officialdom seems to love. Shortly after I got married and moved to Singapore, my mum and aunt visited. One day they went out shopping and hailed a taxi to come back. So they gave the address and the taxi driver said 'City?' 'No,' they replied because the city was in the opposite direction but finally, with the language barrier, they decided okay, whatever as long as they got back. We worked out later that he must have been saying 'CTE' which stands for 'Central Expressway'

Sep 7, 2019, 10:57am

Charlotte! In no particular order:

Love the photos of York.

Cry, Mother Spain sounds wonderful. Will look for it.

I also quite liked The Door, too bad it didn't work for you.

Thanks for the reviews, just what I needed, more new books on my WL...

LOVE the picture books. I might have to buy some of these.

Sep 7, 2019, 5:03pm

>151 charl08: Oh my, all of those look delightful!

Sep 7, 2019, 6:47pm

I am glad to here you liked Frankisstein. It's definitely on my list. And Cry, Mother Spain sounds really good. Unfortunately, not available from my library.

Sep 8, 2019, 11:24am

>157 humouress: That reminds me of a taxi in Mexico city (and several other places). The most embarrassing was probably Washington, where I thought I spoke the same language.

>158 BLBera: Arent the picture books beautiful? The Jeffers review suggested it might be more skewed to the adults than the kids this time (but I'm not complaining).

>159 EBT1002: I agree. Picture books are lovely.

>160 banjo123: Can post it to you if you like, Rhonda. (Would add the Frankisstein, but it's a digital preview).

Sep 8, 2019, 4:26pm

Gosh, go away from the laptop for a few days and I'm a hundred posts behind on your thread! You've convinced me to give Frankissstein a go. It didn't appeal at first look, but your comments have changed my mind. It'll be out here in October.

I'm glad you're enjoying a clear, warm summer. Everyone who I know who has read Insurrecto has raved about it, so if you happen across a copy, it might be worth adding to your tbr pile.

Edited: Sep 9, 2019, 8:31am

>162 RidgewayGirl: It had lots of ideas in it Kay, but mostly I will remember it, I think, for making me laugh.

I'm not sure I'd go as far as 'clear, warm' - but bits have been nice :-)

Thanks for the recommendation, too. (ETA: it's a Fitzcarraldo boring blue cover here. Boo!)

Edited: Sep 9, 2019, 12:21pm

Faces on the tip of my tongue
This one was interesting - a translation from a French collection of linked short stories (although the intro says they have been pruned back a bit, so this is still very much a short book). Some are very short - just a few pages. All are told from the perspectives of different people, some recounting similar experiences or shared places. There were some nice quotes about reading, but other than that it really didn't gel with me.
I read in the bath, stretched out, luxuriating, late in the evening. Interminable baths and books with lots of foam, steam, fizzing, tension and darkness. Very hot baths and icy books; softly lit bahts with scented candles all around, and dark, nauseaiting books. Sad, turbid stories told with violence and precision. Perfumed water, warm and comfortable.

Not my favourite of the Pereine ones so far, but like all of them has the advantage that they only take a few hours to read.

Edited: Sep 9, 2019, 1:46pm

Now reading The Art of Dying, on the grounds that if Susan can read shiny new books from the library, I can too.
(No one examine the timeline of this decision too closely).

Sep 9, 2019, 2:03pm

>165 charl08: *snort*
Mind you, I can't comment, I am currently reading a shiny new book purchase...

Sep 9, 2019, 5:01pm

>164 charl08: That quote about reading in the bath was lovely, but I'm never patient to recline there for more than a few pages. Give me a comfy chair instead.

Sep 10, 2019, 2:51am

"Can anyone be trusted in this profession? Can you count anyone as a true friend? "
"I would not have thought one so young could sound so weary," Ziegler said. "Instead of seeking an answer to that question, perhaps you ought to be the answer that you prefer."

From The Art of Dying

Sep 10, 2019, 2:55am

>166 Helenliz: After the week you've been having a book sounds completely deserved Helen.

>167 RidgewayGirl: I like it, but wouldn't dare do it with a library book as that character did...

Edited: Sep 10, 2019, 2:58pm

Ooh this is very good indeed. Whodunnit? The suspense is even staving off concern at a depressing lack of biscuits.
And also parliamentary democracy. *

The Art of Dying

*But primarily biscuits.

Edited: Sep 10, 2019, 4:09pm

The Art of Dying

From the blurb: "Edinburgh 1848. There's a fine line between kill and cure."
This is the sequel to the equally atmospheric The Way of All Flesh and as it's a new series I had no choice but to read them in order. *Our two investigators are reunited in Edinburgh again, but not before Raven's adventures in Berlin provide a breathtaking opening to the story. In the last book he was a trainee medic, broke, cold and often in trouble with dubious types. Not much has changed (he now has a warm coat).

The book is written by a crime writer and a medic turned historian, and benefits from both. On one hand grisly details of Victorian Edinburgh, from the hospitals to the chloroform experiments to the wynds (narrow walkways between tenements) full of detritus of various kinds, none of them smelling good. On the other the medical details of weird remnants of mystical beliefs and doctors who acknowledged they knew little but were criticised for too much (any?) experimentation at risk of their jobs. James Simpson, credited with the discovery of chloroform (in history, too) and larger than life figure dispensing his time to all who needed it often without charge, makes for wonderful reading. It's a tribute to the authors that the mystery (invented) is still as gripping.

Of the two main characters I love the picture of Sarah, gradually discovering for herself (with help from reading - including borrowing a copy of the Vindication, as well as Mary Clark, who I'd not heard of) more learning and more possibilities. The last book had a sting in the tail, and this one does too. The authors are not going to let their characters have a happy ending.

"Where is this place?"
"Off the West Port. A building in Warnock's Close. In truth I am afraid to go there. It is a notorious part of the Old Town."
Is there any other kind? Raven thought.

*A Good thing, she hastens to add.

Sep 10, 2019, 4:23pm

And the endpapers are gorgeous!

Sep 11, 2019, 1:40am

You are an evil temptress... and the library has them both.

Sep 11, 2019, 3:09am

>173 Helenliz: Hope you like them, Helen.

Edited: Sep 11, 2019, 5:17pm

Packing my library

When Diodorus Siculus visited Egypt in the first century BCE, he saw engraved on the entrance to the ruins of an ancient library as an inscription: "Clinic of the Soul."
Lovely short book full of reflections on Manguel's lifetime of reading, from reading to Borges to directing the National Library of Argentina. Highly recommended to anyone who likes books about books.
The only proven method by which a reader is born is one that, to my knowledge has not been discovered....The discovery of the art of reading is intimate, obscure, secret, almost impossible to explain...

Sep 13, 2019, 9:17am

The Cactus
I've read this before. I've even reviewed it (briefly). I didn't realise I had done until I got half way through and clicked that I knew what was going to happen (thought I had just started it and given up).

Sep 13, 2019, 9:39am

A Stranger's Pose
This is part of a project travelling around the coast of Africa from the West to Europe, with a rotating cast of photographers, writers and other creatives. Included are photos taken during the journey. It felt a bit slight to me, perhaps because I never really felt comfortable with the format: I have really enjoyed Teju Cole's books where he writes about walking through Lagos and New York and Berlin and brings through his own biography and the history of the place. But here we have many cities, and not much sense of them beyond the author's persona, with personal links across the country due to a peripatetic Nigerian childhood, but little added in Mauritanis or Chad beyond disturbing group encounters with local authorities. So a mixed success.

Sep 14, 2019, 7:58am

This Golden Fleece by Esther Rutter reviewed by Kathryn Hughes
"Like all north Atlantic communities, Britain has depended for millennia on wool as a source of warmth and wealth, and Esther Rutter follows this thread by travelling around the sheepier parts of Britain..."

I love the phrase the "sheepier" parts of Britain!

Sep 14, 2019, 8:11am

Mask Off by JJ Bola reviewed by Houman Barekat
"... the only solution is to dismantle the entire concept of maleness as we have hitherto known it and replace it with “a masculinity that sees the necessity of the equality of genders for it to not only survive, but to thrive”."

Edited: Sep 14, 2019, 9:09am

The Anarchy by William Dalrymple reviewed Maya Jasanoff
"...retelling of the East India Company’s “relentless rise” from provincial trading company to the pre-eminent military and political power in all of India. The company’s transition from trade to conquest has preoccupied historians ever since Edmund Burke famously attacked it as a “state in the disguise of a merchant”. Building on foundational research by CA Bayly, KN Chaudhuri and PJ Marshall among others, a new cohort of scholars writing in the wake of the financial crisis (Emily Erikson, Rupali Mishra, Philip Stern, James Vaughn) have studied the company as a forerunner of modern multinationals, intertwined with the modern state and “too big to fail”."


Sep 14, 2019, 9:12am

Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell reviewed by
Steven Poole

"...whose job it is to be puzzled by banalities and then replace them, after a great pseudo-intellectual circumambulation, with banalities. "


Edited: Sep 14, 2019, 9:20am

Hunt the Banker: The Confessions of a Russian Ex-Oligarch by Alexander Lebedev – reviewed by Luke Harding
"There’s nothing wrong with his analysis of global corruption, and of the trillion dollars stolen annually in the developing world and elsewhere, and hidden in offshore accounts, often by western fixers. The problem is, Lebedev says nothing about Putin, the person who sits at the top of Russia’s mafia state. Lebedev understands perfectly the rules of the game, as played by Russia’s elite. Yes, you can call out rotten bankers and officials. No, you can’t suggest Russia’s president bears any systemic responsibility. "

Grim reading, anyone?

Edited: Sep 14, 2019, 9:25am

Sontag: Her Life by Benjamin Moser reviewed by Peter Conrad

"...psychologically incisive biography does a superb job of charting Sontag’s self-invention, as the gawky swot from the arid American west metamorphoses into the lofty arbiter of New York taste. "


Lots more here...

Sep 14, 2019, 9:33am

>181 charl08: - I am going to read it anyhow, because I really like Gladwell and the way he thinks and this is just one person's opinion. Of course, I am #80 on the waiting list (with 287 copies in the library system). Not too bad.

Sep 14, 2019, 12:31pm

Oooh, good lineup today from The Guardian, Charlotte. The sheep book and the masculinity book look especially promising. Not sure I'm up to reading about Putin these days, though.

Edited: Sep 14, 2019, 1:50pm

>178 charl08: Charlotte I am very interested in the wool book. I love wool but know that it has greatly changed in the past few years. 100% wool in clothing is very hard to find and when found it balls up and wears fast. I would love to know if this book addresses changes in wool production.

Sep 14, 2019, 3:34pm

I ordered Learning from the Germans.

I'm trying to practice 'delayed gratification' with the new biographies of Susan Sontag, and Lucian Freud, and waiting until they come out in paperback, as they are both chunksters, and my arm is suffering when I read big hardbacks.

Edited: Sep 15, 2019, 12:45pm

>184 jessibud2: I think that is allowed!

>185 rosalita: Julia, I have successfully avoided reading about Puting for Some Time!

>186 mdoris: No idea, but that sounds like a big question. Having watched endless episodes of Countryfile (beautiful landscape/ farming / gentle Sunday tv watching) farmers get very little for the fleece so there is little or no encouragement to focus on it.

>187 Caroline_McElwee: That sounds very admirable, Caroline. I want to read the Sontag, even if the reviewer is a bit snotty about comparing her to the "greats". Always a bit suspicious of people defending a supposed canon.

Edited: Sep 15, 2019, 12:45pm

A House in Norway
This won a Pen award. My friend picked it up and said "this wasn't written in English, was it!". I can't really articulate why, but I do agree with her, it felt like the translation had deliberately kept the style of the original. There's quite a claustrophobic atmosphere: the protagonist is an artist, mostly working alone. She rents out a flat added on to her house to a Polish family. At the same time she is commissioned to do some political work celebrating the anniversary of the Norwegian constitution. On one hand she is researching the history of a local woman who was forced to marry many years before, and in her own life the Polish husband is arrested in a domestic dispute. The book juxtaposes her thoughts on political freedoms and tolerance with her boyfriend's lack of understanding that she works independently and to her own schedule, and with her problems with her tenants. Interesting ideas, especially in her description of the artistic process - I wasn't quite sold completely.

Sep 15, 2019, 11:20am

Nice reviews, Charlotte. Thanks for posting. I'm trying to resist temptation.

Sep 15, 2019, 11:36am

>190 BLBera: There seem to be a few of us, Beth!

Sep 15, 2019, 12:16pm

>180 charl08: Yes! Already reserved :-) I've been looking for a decent book on the East India Company for years.

>178 charl08: I should probably also read this, having grown up in a country where there were 20 times as many sheep as people. (There aren't any more, but it was a matter of almost national pride when I was a kid).

Edited: Sep 16, 2019, 2:32am

>192 susanj67: It looks good. I still have a Dalrymple on the shelf "to be read" or I would join you.

Sheep pride! I am always on the lookout for cute sheep accessories: my auntie loves them.

Feeling sub par after a rather indulgent weekend celebrating a friend's imminent wedding. I chickened out of the 30 m zip wire trail, but has fun in a locked room challenge based on a gin distillery theme. ETA oh yes, the reading: A Revolution of Feeling.

Sep 16, 2019, 3:07am

But also this To Calais in Ordinary Time
THE STIR WAS made by two friars of Gloucester. One drove a cart and the other banged a drum. The priest came to fight them, for none but he had the right to shrive the folk of Outen Green, and he’d rather die than see Christ’s love sold cheap, or for a halfpenny less than he sold it, anywise.

Sep 16, 2019, 4:21pm

>189 charl08: I might like that one, sadly it isn't available in Dutch yet. But the library does have a copy of her other book Will and Testament, and have it on my library wishlist now.

Sep 16, 2019, 6:34pm

>195 FAMeulstee: I'm thinking I might have to revise my view upwards, as it is a book that has kept me thinking about it, Anita. I think the art theme would suit you though, so hope the Dutch translation is in the works.

Sep 17, 2019, 10:08am

Urgh. I'm peopled out. Need a couple of days sitting in the corner with a book to recover.

Sep 17, 2019, 12:19pm

Hope you get your quiet time Charlotte.

Edited: Sep 17, 2019, 12:47pm

>197 charl08: "...peopled out." Familiar feeling. I felt it yesterday, and then the internet went down early in the afternoon. And stayed down. And was still down at 11 p.m. There was nothing to do but read.

Obviously, it is back up today.

Sep 18, 2019, 7:08am

>198 Caroline_McElwee: Managed to fall asleep on the train, too tired to read!

>199 weird_O: It has been a very full on five days for me, looking forward to a bit more reading, thinking and writing to 'recharge'.

Edited: Sep 19, 2019, 12:41pm

Now reading Taduno's Song
Reminded of Orwell and, more recently, the surveillance state of We have been Harmonised.
The government took my identity away from me and destroyed it. They mutilated me and turned everyone against me - my family, my friends, my neighbours, the entire country. They ground me into the dust. And now even they can no longer recognise me because they destroyed every bit of me.

Sep 19, 2019, 12:41pm

"In most children’s books, according to one London primary school pupil, “people are peach”. Another feels there are “no black people” in the stories they read, meaning that the characters they imagine always seem white.

The children, from Surrey Square primary school, were being interviewed for a new report into representation of people of colour, which reveals that in 2018 only 4% of children’s books published in the UK in 2019 had a minority ethnic hero. The survey included all new books for children aged between three and 11. The proportion is an increase on 2017, when just 1% of main characters were BAME."

This is pretty rubbish. I tried to buy books for kids over the past year featuring characters that looked a bit more like them, and struggled, so am surprised there are this many, tbh.

Sep 19, 2019, 12:49pm

Those statistics are pretty shocking, Charlotte.

Sep 19, 2019, 1:08pm

>202 charl08: that is pretty naff. I follow The Book Trust and they have items on this type of subject periodically, promoting those that do contain diverse characters.

Edited: Sep 20, 2019, 2:42am

>203 katiekrug: Yup, and I belatedly realised the reason that they seem better than my experience is that they're only counting the new books: so how many of them get on the shelves with "the classics"? (I.e. the big names etc)

>204 Helenliz: Yup, me too. There was some interesting stuff around how some publishers had apparently tried to game the system to claim they had improved their stats. Yuk.

Sep 20, 2019, 12:42pm

>202 charl08: And it's so important! I volunteer with a literacy non-profit and so much time is spent making sure that the books reflect the diversity of the students we serve. We aren't there yet, because there simply aren't enough books being published that children want to read that feature characters who look like them. Still, there has been significant improvement recently - it's just that there's still so far to go.

Sep 21, 2019, 3:14pm

>202 charl08: Wow! Those are unfortunate statistics. I looked it up, an in the US, 23% of books had diverse characters, with 50% white and the rest were animals or something. Still doesn't reflect the actual diversity of children.

Sep 21, 2019, 4:04pm

>202 charl08: Those statistics are shocking, Charlotte. That number seems low; I am seeing many more kids' books with people of color now. That's one thing I love about Louise Erdrich's bookstore; I can find kids' books about such diverse groups of kids there -- usually books I don't see in places like Barnes & Noble.

Sep 21, 2019, 4:50pm

>206 RidgewayGirl: Yes, I agree. Lovely to be able to read about all kinds of children when you are learning about the world.

>207 banjo123: Is that new books or all those in shops? Because I think if it's just new ones, and if the shops are like they are here, not all the new books make it to the shelves.

>208 BLBera: I think another thing is how many have girls/ females as the lead. Even the animal books apparently are poor at this. Which I am ashamed to say I didn't realise until someone pointed it out. And yes, hurrah for bookshops where someone is consciously curating the stock, not just putting out the big sellers.

Now reading Crow Lake, which I found on a sales table in a book stall today. I'm sure someone on LT recommended it.

Sep 21, 2019, 7:22pm

>209 charl08: Here is a link to the article. It looks like it's from publishing data. I know that there are also concerns about the quality and messages in the literature that does exist.

Sep 22, 2019, 6:52am

>202 charl08: Sad statistics, Charlotte.
On the other hand, the few books that are available now have better content. In my early youth the only books where colored people appeared were colonial mission books, where the poor black and yellow children were happely converted to chistianity by superior whites...

Sep 22, 2019, 8:11am

>210 banjo123: Interesting stuff, Rhonda. Looks like they have been tracking this for some time.

>211 FAMeulstee: Yes, hopefully content improves with quantity. I read church missionary books as a kid about conversions all over the place. Oh dear.

Edited: Sep 22, 2019, 1:44pm

I've been away for the weekend. It was very nice.

Sep 22, 2019, 1:50pm

View from Wray Castle

Sep 22, 2019, 2:52pm

Two great books read, very different.

Taduno's Song a pared down story of a man forced to choose between saving his girlfriend from the whims of a dictator or sticking to his principles. Reminded me of Waiting for an Angel, which is a good thing.

Crow Lake I picked up in a book sale in Grasmere, and it was just as wonderful as the LT recommenders suggested. A lovely bildungsroman about a rural family dealing with a terrible situation in a tightly knit, isolated community. Beautifully written and made me care deeply about the characters.

Sep 22, 2019, 3:08pm

>213 charl08: >214 charl08: Looks lovely Charlotte.

Sep 22, 2019, 3:22pm

You love penguins, right Charlotte? I ran across this short video. Thought it would make you smile. I love it.

Sep 22, 2019, 4:55pm

>213 charl08: - Beautiful!

I was at an annual book fair today and Penguin Publishers had a booth. It was very cute and I took some pics, of course, but to be honest, I have no idea if they turned out as, when out in the bright sun, it is literally impossible to see what you are photographing on a phone. I will be able to check later and if they came out as I hoped, I will post on my thread.

Sep 22, 2019, 5:11pm

>213 charl08: I love the photos, Charlotte. Hooray for a weekend away.

And a book fair! You've had a great weekend, it sounds like.

Sep 23, 2019, 1:55am

>216 Caroline_McElwee: We hit the jackpot with a sunny day on Saturday (not so much for Sunday: soaked to the skin! )

>217 weird_O: That's a fun video, Bill. Thanks for sharing it!

>218 jessibud2: Sounds like fun! Hope your pictures turned out.

>219 BLBera: It was quite a small sale, but I was so pleased to see Crow Lake, a book I've wanted to read for ages. I didn't manage to get to the bookshops in either Grasmere or Ambleside (which I wanted to, the Ambleside one is lovely, and I've never been to the Grasmere one) but hopefully gives me an excuse to head back soon!

Sep 23, 2019, 7:31am

Now reading Tracey Thorn's latest one Another planet: a teenager in suburbia. It's interesting, and very readable memoir, but her first book (so far) is the one I would recommend.

Sep 23, 2019, 3:02pm

They Called Us Enemy moving tribute to Takei's parents, amidst the horrors of internment during WW2. Impressive stuff from George Takei, working with Justin Eisinger (also involved in March, the Johnewis GN), Steven Scott and art by Harmony Becker. The parallels made at the end to events on the Mexican border are so sad.

Sep 23, 2019, 9:38pm

>60 charl08: Yes, it has been that long since I visited your thread, Charlotte. You asked: I wondered if the magazine mention had les to a spike on your visitor numbers. I am not sure about that because I didn't realize until a couple of months later that the magazine mention had happened. It probably did a bit.

Looks like you have been up to some travelling and lots of reading. I envy you your read of the second Ambrose Parry. I really enjoyed the first book and am eagerly waiting for it to come out here. Nothing at all at the library yet and the only thing at Chapters is an e-book. (No end papers there.)

Edited: Sep 24, 2019, 2:33am

>223 Familyhistorian:.You sound very relaxed about those stats. The jetpack graphs are one of my favourite things about blogging. I hope the Ambrose Parry is more widely available soon: a great addition to this new series.

Sep 24, 2019, 8:49am

Picked up from the library today a new GN and the new Margaret Atwood (shiny books!). No new books September has pretty much come to a halt: I was warned the Atwood has Many Reservations after me.

Edited: Sep 24, 2019, 4:48pm

Finished the new GN Sensible Footwear, a graphic memoir of growing up gay alongside a history of LGBT+ in the UK (mostly). Beautifully illustrated with some lovely humour as well as poignancy at family and public hostility.

Sep 25, 2019, 2:51am

Library update

Waiting on the library reservation shelf

The ministry of truth : a biography of George Orwell
Lynskey, Dorian
How to be an antiracist
Kendi, Ibram X.
A crisis of brilliance; five young British artists...
Haycock, David Boyd

Sep 25, 2019, 7:36am

From The Testaments
The adult female body was one big booby trap as far as I could tell. If there was a hole, something was bound to be shoved in it and something else was bound to come out, and that went for any kind of hole: a hole in a wall, a hole in a mountain, a hole in the ground. There were so many things that could be done to it or go wrong with it, this adult female body...

Sep 25, 2019, 8:44am

Hi, Charlotte. My wife just finished The Testaments, after barely putting it down since starting it, and LOVED it. I'll be reading it soon. That's a good, scary quote. Yikes.

Sep 25, 2019, 4:46pm

Joe, I'm not surprised, it's fab. Just went to hear Atwood launch the book (thanks to the wonders of an "Encore" - i.e. repeat- screening). The actress who read the Aunt Lydia bit was just amazing. Spine chilling.

Sep 25, 2019, 4:47pm

This is cool - Luiselli has won a MacArthur genius grant.

Sep 26, 2019, 4:03am

I started How to be an anti-racist yesterday - powerful stuff.

"No one becomes a racist or antiracist. We can only strive to be one or the other.... Like fighting an addiction, being an antiracist requires permanent self-awareness, constant self-criticism, and regular self-examination.

Sep 26, 2019, 3:35pm

The Testaments
This was every bit as brilliant as I hoped. I avoided the reviews, I'm so glad I did as I had no idea what was coming.
Read it!

Sep 27, 2019, 1:12am

>224 charl08: I am not that relaxed about the stats, Charlotte. I like seeing them climb up there so I post most of them to a FB group and, occasionally publicly on FB if it looks good for general consumption. I keep checking back on the Ambrose Parry, looks like it will be a while.

Sep 27, 2019, 1:48am

>235 Familyhistorian: Fair enough! It's a lot of work, it must be rewarding to see readers.

I'm still a bit bemused by To Calais in Ordinary Time: it mixes up voices, including one in a version of early English that takes a bit of getting used to. Alongside that, the elite voice of an accompanying educated cleric. I love the dark humour though.
HAYNE’S ARCHERS, HE said, were part of a cohort assigned to cause destruction in Mantes, some days prior to the confrontation at Crécy between the French and English crowns. The labour, primarily incendiary in nature, was retarded by the city’s lapidary construction, by inter-military discord on the part of the English, and by the French merchants, who positioned containers of wine on the perimeters of their property in the often-realised expectation that the crapulous English would intoxicate themselves till they were incapable of doing further damage.

Sep 27, 2019, 9:44am

Sep 27, 2019, 12:19pm

>236 charl08: Yup, that sounds like us. *rolls eyes*

Sep 27, 2019, 12:37pm

>237 jnwelch: When *are* the Facebook features coming to LT?*

>238 Helenliz: These archers would not make the empire history folk happy. Maybe I'll send a copy to Boris.

*Hopefully never.

Sep 27, 2019, 12:45pm

Reading the new TLS - great review of the new bio of Susan Sontag Sontag: her life by Elaine Showalter.

"Writing the biography called for stamina too. In addition to reading Sontag’s published and unpublished writings, Moser travelled from Hawaii to Sarajevo to interview hundreds of her friends, family, admirers and detractors. He spent months in the archives she sold to UCLA for $1.1 million in January 2002, containing nearly a hundred notebook diaries, photographs, hotel bills, opera programmes and love letters. The archive also included a new biographical category, Sontag’s 17,198 emails. In an essay published in the New Yorker in 2014, Moser confessed that he had feelings of “creepiness and voyeurism” while reading these intimate, impromptu texts. Was it fair to judge anyone by such casual fragments? “A biography is not a life but a life story”, he concluded. “A biographer … knows that whatever he can tell about the subject is only a small selection that fits a narrative chosen according to his own tastes and interests.”"

Sep 27, 2019, 1:47pm

>240 charl08: turning my back, and waiting for paperback version... lalala.

Sep 28, 2019, 3:13am

>241 Caroline_McElwee: Impressive diversion skills there Caroline!

Sep 28, 2019, 3:18am

Guardian reviews fiction

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett reviewed by Elizabeth Lowry
"... the novel's bold fairy tale elements... add up to a story that feels wholly naturalistic. "

Sep 28, 2019, 4:18am

The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman reviewed by
John Mullan

"...there are plenty of the thrills you might recognise from His Dark Materials, yet this is a long way from that work. “Not suitable for younger readers,” warns the Waterstones website."

Sep 28, 2019, 4:26am

The River Capture by Mary Costello reviewed by Alex Preston

"...As elegantly written as her previous book, it is more obscure in its intentions, more adventurous in its ambitions."

Edited: Sep 28, 2019, 4:45am

Will and Testament by Vigdis Hjorth reviewed by Vigdis Hjorth by Holly Williams
"The story is narrated by Bergljot, who was sexually abused by her father as a child. Having been long estranged from her parents, and her sisters who sided with them, Bergljot is drawn back into a family argument over inheritance, and specifically who gets a pair of holiday cabins. The real-life media furore stemmed from the fact that Hjorth drew on her own family history, even prompting a rebuttal – in the form of another novel – by her sister Helga Hjorth. But Vigdis Hjorth has also insisted Will and Testament is fiction, and indeed it bears the subtitle “A Novel” on the cover."

Intriguing context, but not sure.

Edited: Sep 28, 2019, 4:55am

The Confession by Jessie Burton reviewed by Alfred Hickling
"Readers of Burton’s fiction may notice the continuation of a theme, as The Muse similarly began with a young woman being employed as a typist by an inscrutable female art historian. It’s perhaps also worth noting that Burton herself worked as a PA in the City before the publication in 2014 of her million-selling debut, The Miniaturist, so has first-hand experience of supporting herself in a menial role while quietly composing a piece of art."


Sep 28, 2019, 5:01am

Heaven, My Home by Attica Locke reviewed by Sara Collins
"Matthews also happens to be a black cop for whom black lives matter, grappling with the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election and marvelling daily “with befuddled anger at what a handful of scared white people could do to a nation”. "

Waiting for this to come from the library.

Sep 28, 2019, 7:04am

Happy Saturday, Charlotte. Hooray for The Testaments. I am waiting for my audio copy to come in. Hope to listen to it next month. I am currently reading and loving The Dutch House.

Sep 28, 2019, 9:48am

Thanks Mark. I'm wondering about picking that one up! Just walked past a copy of Heaven my home in the bookshop. Tempting...

Sep 28, 2019, 11:59am

Happy Saturday, Charlotte. Thanks for the reviews. The Patchett is on my list and Will and Testament sounds interesting as well. Off to check my library... :)

Edited: Sep 28, 2019, 5:05pm

>251 BLBera: Fingers crossed they have a copy, Beth.

Spent another day in York, this time with some opportunity to explore properly.

Ye olde Harry Potter Shop... (one of 3!)

Sep 28, 2019, 3:45pm

In York Minster

Sep 28, 2019, 4:12pm

>246 charl08: The Dutch translation of Will and Testament is already on the libray list. Not sure where I originally found it.

>252 charl08: One of three???
I even did not know there were any at all in York ;-)

Sep 28, 2019, 5:08pm

>254 FAMeulstee: I think Ms Rowling's profits are safe in York, Anita.

Sep 28, 2019, 7:15pm

Hi Charlotte! I also loved The Testaments. Hooray for Atwood!

Sep 29, 2019, 4:30am

Hi Charlotte! Goodness, three HP shops! I suppose we must have one (or maybe seven) in London, but I've never seen one.

Thanks for the book reviews. The Attica Locke is on its way to me at the library, and I've seen so much publicity for the new Philip Pullman that I'm wondering whether I should give His Dark Materials another go.

>247 charl08: I love the description of a PA in the City as a "menial" job. Only at the Guardian :-)

Sep 29, 2019, 6:20am

>256 banjo123: Thanks Rhonda. I've seen a few uber fans on Litsy who were disappointed, but I wondered if that was because they were hoping for more of a conventional sequel led by the character from the first book?.

>257 susanj67: Apparently Warner Bros based Diagon alley on the Shambles, which explains the proliferation there a bit. Most of the city centre was narrow, but not as narrow as that.

It was a lovely place to shop, loads of independent places, plus the chains, a food market, five bookshops (that I came across), of which three were independent and plenty of food and drink options. And so much history. Every corner seemed to have a sign up explaining that the building date back many 100s of years. One was the home of the Council of the North (now the centre for the University's medieval history dept, pleasingly) - given that they were bombed in WW2 (that was on a plaque too) amazing that it survived. Somehow they seemed to have avoided the rush to pull things down postwar and put up 60s boxes (my town centre dates back to a market in 11 something, but there are only a few buildings left that are more than fifty years old).

I think Hickling is the Guardian's token unreconstructed male.

Sep 29, 2019, 8:21am

Time for a new thread.

Nov 10, 2019, 12:21am

We visited York about three years ago and I don't remember seeing any Harry Potter shops then; but then again, most of the shops were closed at the time we wandered through the Shambles. I can see why Diagon Alley is based on it.