Charl08 (Charlotte) reads her TBR pile for No!vember #10

Això és la continuació del tema Charl08 (Charlotte) reads a little more #9.

En/na Charl08 (Charlotte): a reading Advent(ure)#10 ha continuat aquest tema.

Converses75 Books Challenge for 2015

Afegeix-te a LibraryThing per participar.

Charl08 (Charlotte) reads her TBR pile for No!vember #10

Aquest tema està marcat com "inactiu"—L'últim missatge és de fa més de 90 dies. Podeu revifar-lo enviant una resposta.

1charl08
Editat: nov. 28, 2015, 9:04am



The road not taken? (Near Buxton, Derbyshire)

In a break from normal programming, this thread will be all about my TBR pile for No!vember. Catching up with the books on my shelves, and ideally recycling to the local charity bookshop.

And I'm still swimming...




(Current best length 2k. Current speed to beat 1.25 in 1hr)

3charl08
Editat: nov. 14, 2015, 8:31am

Recent favourites

4charl08
Editat: nov. 29, 2015, 1:48pm

Total 276

October 29
Divorce Islamic Style (Tunisia, M)
Citizen: An American Lyric (US, F)
Is Shame Necessary: new uses for an old tool (US, F)
The New Confessions ( UK, M )
Hark! A Vagrant (Canada, F)
Cocaine (Italy, M)
The Evening Chorus (Canada, F)
What remains of heaven (US, F)
David’s Story (South Africa, F)
The Dead Lake (Uzbekistan, M)
Childhood (Canada, M)
The Harlem Hellfighters (US, M)
Human Diastrophism (US, M)
Hild (UK, F)
The Human Flies (Norway, M)
Minna Needs Rehearsal Space / Karate Chop (Denmark, F)
As I walked out one midsummer morning (UK, M)
Melisande! What are dreams? (Israel, M)
I saw a man (UK, M)
This is how you lose her (US, M)
Arab Jazz (France, M)
Career of Evil (UK, F)
Iphigenia in Forest Hills (US, F )
Invented lives: narratives of black women, 1860-1960 (US, F)
Voices from Chernobyl (Belarus, F)
I am Spain (UK, M)
My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises ( Sweden, M)
The Silence of the Sea (Iceland, F)
Barcelona Shadows (Spain, M)

November 22 TBR total read: 15
Baumgartner's Bombay (India, F)
Homeland and other stories (US, F)
A Blind Man Can See How Much I love you (US, F )
The Mournful Demeanour of Lieutenant Boruvka (Czech Republic, M)
Nineveh (South Africa, F)
The Outsider (Algeria, M)
The Meursault Investigation (Algeria, M)
Malcolm X : a life of reinvention (US, M )
The Blind Goddess (Norway, F)
Self-Made Man (US, F)
The Beautiful Indifference (UK, F)
Room No. 10 (Sweden, M)
If on a Winter's night a traveller (Italy, M)
Good Money (Australia, F)
The Fourth Treasure (US, M)
The Master (Ireland, M)
The Hired Girl (US, F)
The Institute for Taxi Poetry (South Africa, M)
Patchwork (Zambia, F)
Young Stalin (UK, M)
Not Funny Ha Ha ( US, F)
An Elegy for Easterly (Zimbabwe, F)

Stats Nov
Asia 1, US & Canada 7, Europe 7 (UK 2) Africa 6 Australia 1
F 12 M 10

Stats Oct
Africa 2, US & Canada 11, Europe 13 (UK 6), Uzbekistan 1, Israel 1, Belarus 1
F13 M16

5cbl_tn
nov. 1, 2015, 7:16am

Happy New athread! I see you're furrently reading Ancestor Stones. I really liked it when ai read it several years ago.

6Ameise1
nov. 1, 2015, 7:19am

Happy New Thread, Charlotte and good luck with your No!vember challenge.

7PaulCranswick
nov. 1, 2015, 7:32am

Reading continues apace, posting continues apace and all is well. Thoroughly impressed as always.

Congratulations on your latest thread, Charlotte.

8scaifea
nov. 1, 2015, 8:17am

Happy new thread, Charlotte!

9msf59
nov. 1, 2015, 8:19am

Happy Sunday, Charlotte! Happy New Thread. Love the topper. I would take that road.

10charl08
Editat: nov. 1, 2015, 9:41am

>5 cbl_tn: I love Aminatta Forna Carrie, so can only blame being easily distracted by Shiny New Books for not completing this one.

>6 Ameise1: Thanks Barbara! I'm hoping that the vigilant eyes of the 75ers will keep me on the straight and narrow, TBR pile wise.

>7 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul. Let's see how this month goes. I am wondering if I can stick to my own books. It's not like it is much of a chore (after all, I chose most of them) but somehow not being able to go for the new feels oddly confining.

>8 scaifea: Thanks Amber. Saw lots of fairies and jedis out last night, but nothing to compare to your two lego ninjas.

>9 msf59: Hey Mark. This was about mile ten, where some of us were wishing it was the road taken by taxi... Marvellous sense of wellbeing over fish and chips afterwards though.

11BLBera
nov. 1, 2015, 9:22am

Happy new thread, Charlotte. Good luck with your November project.

12charl08
nov. 1, 2015, 9:28am

Thanks Beth. I will 'just' add the books you recommend to my library 'to be reserved' list, rather than straight onto the reservation requests...

13Crazymamie
nov. 1, 2015, 10:43am

LOVE the thread topper, Charlotte! It speaks to me. Happy new thread to you, and I am hoping to keep up with this one.

14vancouverdeb
nov. 1, 2015, 12:43pm

Gorgeous new thread topper, Charlotte! Tiny Sunbirds Far Away was a wonderful book that I read a year or two ago - loved it. I've only read Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna, so I'll be interested in Ancestor Stones, among many of your reads.

15Smiler69
nov. 1, 2015, 1:11pm

Happy New Thread Charlotte. Among your "want to read" list, I must say I was especially fond of The Yacoubian Building when I read it quite a few years ago now. It's on my "to reread" list now.

16connie53
nov. 1, 2015, 2:01pm

Happy New Thread, Charlotte

Here's a bag for you (thread number 9 post)



And yes that's me behind the bag with Halloween things in my hair

something like this:

17charl08
nov. 1, 2015, 2:54pm

>13 Crazymamie: Glad you liked it. Had we got there a couple of hours earlier, it would have been a good Halloween picture, as the mist obscured all the hills.

>14 vancouverdeb: Always good to get a recommendation. I bought it on a whim because of a sale on the kindle.

>15 Smiler69: This one had been shouting at me from my 'to be read' shelf for some time, so I must get on and read it.

>16 connie53: I love that bag. I might have to take some pictures of my book bag collection for the next thread. I didn't realise I had a collection until I read your post, and then thought about taking a photo. Or two. It's not as out of hand as the book collecting though.

(Your headband is suitably creepy for the season. Yikes.)

18lkernagh
nov. 1, 2015, 4:03pm

Happy No!vember and Happy New Thread, Charlotte!

19charl08
nov. 1, 2015, 6:58pm

Thanks Lori. One down, er... lots to go!

20charl08
nov. 1, 2015, 7:17pm

Heard this afternoon: China Mievelle discussing The City and the City on the BBC bookclub programme.

Interesting stuff, not least the claim that he wrote the book for his mum. He doesn't sound at all like I imagined...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p036fzv2

21vancouverdeb
nov. 1, 2015, 8:17pm

I hope Daddy Lenin will become available across the pond fairly soon. I'm still on a hold look for two books " on order " at my library from the Booker Long List Sleeping on Jupiter and The Moor's Account. What is my library waiting for?

22LovingLit
nov. 1, 2015, 10:29pm

Id love to walk the path in >1 charl08:! Lovely.

23Deern
nov. 2, 2015, 3:45am

What a lovely picture in >1 charl08:! Yes, it makes you want to take a walk there and then to drink a cup of tea by a fire while reading some English classic. Happy new thread!

24charl08
Editat: nov. 2, 2015, 4:10am

> 21 Same thing here with The Moor's Account still on order with the library. Odd because I would have thought making it onto a Booker list would have speeded up publication here. But apparently not!

>22 LovingLit: >23 Deern: The guided walk is leaving at your convenience, ladies. Just head on down the track to the town for some well earned tea and cake...

25susanj67
nov. 2, 2015, 4:28am

>19 charl08: Charlotte, do you mean you've already finished a book?! Way to go! I just *love* the Sandbrook, which may well be my book of the year. I read half of it yesterday, and was vaguely hoping I might be fogged in so I could finish it today, but no luck.

26charl08
nov. 2, 2015, 6:44am

Baumgartner's Bombay was a fascinating novel set in India, as Baumgartner of the title picks up leftovers from restaurants to feed his collection of stray cats. He recalls his childhood in Berlin, his escape to India in the 1930s and internment as an 'enemy alien'. I think the most compelling parts for me were his experience of being 'other' first in Germany and then in India. As you would expect from Desailly, beautifully written.

27charl08
nov. 2, 2015, 6:48am

>25 susanj67: Indeed, it's true. It was quite a shortie though, only 200 pages. I was hoping to get lots of reading in over a coffee after my swim, but there is a severe case of Angry Typing in the vicinity so I might have to decamp (I want ambient noise to just the right level. Like an old fashioned library!).

28charl08
Editat: nov. 2, 2015, 11:31am

Some favourites from my own shelves, to fit with the theme, will be shown from time to time. This is from Scouts in Bondage, a collection of (now) amusing book covers.

29Crazymamie
nov. 2, 2015, 3:54pm

Adding Baumgartner's Bombay to the list. Off to check out the Mievelle link...

Happy reading!

30charl08
Editat: nov. 2, 2015, 4:12pm

Homeland and other Stories was my reading for the AAC Challenge this month, and just skirted under the wire of No!vember (purchased a couple of days before the end of the month)* I really liked almost all of the stories. Favourites were the opening story, a grandaughter's account of travelling 'back' to her grandmother's reservation.



The final story, set amidst a US strike (Why I am a Danger to the Public), is equally powerful. Victoria is a woman in a male dominated field, but she's not backing down:
I'm not that big of a person but I was standing up in front, and when I cussed, they shut up. "If my papa had been a chickenshit like you guys, I would be down at the Frosty King tonight in a little short skirt," I said. "You bunch of no-goods would be on welfare and your kids pushing drugs to pay the rent." Some of the guys laughed, but some didn't.
Other stories deal with complex relationships, misunderstandings and racism in believable communities of characters that often made me want to read more. I'm a fan of Kingsolver and will be adding the couple of hers I've not got to onto the TBR pile pronto.

*Honest guv'

31BLBera
nov. 2, 2015, 4:42pm

Hi Charlotte - I've added both Homeland and Baumgartner's Bombay to my list. Actually, I think I own both of them...

Off to check.

Yes, it looks like a fabulous walk.

32vancouverdeb
nov. 2, 2015, 6:31pm

Your walk looks lovely, Charlotte! I'd be a wee bit anxious unless there are other people on the path? Is it quite deserted, or are there generally people along the path?

Those really are amusing covers! :) "Scouts in Bondage" - oh dear! Homeland and other stories does sound like a great book.

33msf59
nov. 2, 2015, 6:37pm

Hi, Charlotte! You have sparked my interest in Homeland and other stories. I would like to see how Kingsolver handles short fiction.

34elkiedee
nov. 2, 2015, 8:12pm

The Moor's Account is a Kindle deal this month - 99p

35lit_chick
nov. 2, 2015, 8:59pm

Hi Charlotte, that is a stunning photo topper! The road not taken indeed!

36charl08
Editat: nov. 3, 2015, 4:51am

>29 Crazymamie: I was a bit thrown by his voice - in my head he was a writer of advanced years. Oh dear.

>31 BLBera: How nice to find you have then in your library already. Reading Desai reminded me that I have read very little of her work.

>32 vancouverdeb: Yes Deb Scouts in Bondage is a lovely thing,a gift from a friend who shares the enthusiasm for books about books. Probably not a wise Google search though!

It was half term for the schoolchildren this week, so although that track may look deserted, please be assured that we had plenty of company. We had been overtaken by cyclists just ten minutes before, and a lady on her horse, with a cute wire terrier behind, said hello a little bit later on. Having said that, some times an isolated walk is lovely.

>33 msf59: In my view very well, but of course would be keen to know what you think of Kingsolver's short stories. I don't read as many of them as you do.

>34 elkiedee: Ooh temptation. Thanks for letting me know, I had missed this completely.

>35 lit_chick: There are still spaces on the LT armchair walk down that track... Catering available at Joe's Cafe for those who forgot to pack their sarnies...

37elkiedee
nov. 3, 2015, 4:55am

Re Scouts in Bondage, I once searched Amazon Kindle Store from a US publisher of crime fiction books to see if any more of them were available on special offer - I eventually found one or two more books from Minotaur Books after scrolling through pages and pages of mythical beast porn.

38charl08
Editat: nov. 4, 2015, 6:51pm

Yikes! Not what you were after...

I'm still reading Manning Marable's amazing biography of Malcolm X. Kennedy has been killed, rumours of the infidelity of the leadership of the NOI have spread, and ominous signs of the violence that accompanied and enforced NOI life have been made clear. Meanwhile Malcolm is speaking publicly more often, and the text of his speeches suggest that he was moving more towards the civil rights platform. Alongside that, Marable details how Alex Haley's biography of Malcolm was changing over this period. I admire how Marable shows how some areas of Malcolm's life and choices remain opaque, despite his research, and how some of his sources conflict (and even why that might be).

39charl08
nov. 4, 2015, 3:38am

I've got more to read on the BAC challenge. I like Ian McEwen's books, especially Atonement, but less sure about Doris Lessing. I have Alfred and Emily on my wishlist so may go with that.

40Storeetllr
Editat: nov. 4, 2015, 3:54pm

I've been meaning to read a biography of Malcolm X but have allowed myself to be seduced by attractive and easygoing lightskirts in the fantasy, scifi and mystery genres instead.

I don't usually do challenges (other than the 75 Book Challenge, which isn't really a challenge so much as a way to keep track of my reading and visit with other LTers), but I'm thinking perhaps in 2016 (which is LESS THAN TWO MONTHS AWAY!) I'll do a couple of challenges: one to read one nonfiction book a month and one to read at least one book I actually own per month. (Obviously, nothing too strenuous. *snerk*)

BTW, I just finished the second Cormoran Strike mystery and can't wait to get to the third, Career of Evil, which I'm happy to see is one of your favorites!

41charl08
nov. 4, 2015, 6:55pm

>40 Storeetllr: I'd recommend Marable's book, but it's not a light read.

Don't remind me about the Strike book. Can't cope with the wait for the next one.

Disappointing excursion to the cinema revealed Bond appears to have issues acknowledging he's gone up a belt notch. I would have had a better evening rewatching Casino Royale.

42Crazymamie
nov. 5, 2015, 7:51am

Oh, dear! Sorry to hear about the Bond - we were looking forward to that one.

43RidgewayGirl
nov. 5, 2015, 9:30am

I'll be seeing the new Bond film on Sunday morning, which is when the English-language cinema still had tickets available. But it'll be fun - my husband will be out of town, so each child is inviting a friend to spend the night and then we'll go to the movie. Pizza, popcorn and over-excited adolescents running around and giggling all night long. I'm looking forward to it.

44charl08
nov. 5, 2015, 10:19am

>42 Crazymamie: >43 RidgewayGirl: Hope you all enjoy the film.I think I loved the Vesper Lynd / Judy Dench combo too much to be happy without either.

45charl08
Editat: nov. 6, 2015, 3:01am

A Blind Man Can See How Much I love you didn't disappoint. I love Amy Bloom's odd, insightful stories about relationships and this collection was full of people making mistakes. The last story, where she breaks the fourth wall and suggests the first half has been an elaborate game, was pleasingly tricksy.

46EBT1002
nov. 5, 2015, 11:38pm

>1 charl08: That topper reminds me of our Great Scotland Trek last year. Happy sigh.

>45 charl08: Huh. I have not been particularly drawn to Amy Bloom's work but you have me intrigued.

47LovingLit
nov. 6, 2015, 2:53am

>43 RidgewayGirl: I am watching the cast now on Graham Norton! They are having a blast, it's very funny.

48charl08
nov. 6, 2015, 3:27am

>46 EBT1002: Sounds like a lovely holiday. I'm excited about the possibilities of the new Borders rail link, which means it should be possible to walk new areas by public transport. I'm a fan of Bloom but I know she's not to everyone's taste!

>47 LovingLit: Did you see Maggie Smith, or is that the following week? I've lost track. She was very funny. Took no prisoners.

49LovingLit
nov. 6, 2015, 3:31am

^I'd love to see Maggie Smith. And just now I am seeing that she is on next week! I must diarise that. Thanks! Justin Beiber I can leave...

50charl08
nov. 6, 2015, 5:33am

>49 LovingLit: She's great. And I've added The Lady in the Van to the films I want to see soon.

Carrying on with nice books I own. The Principles of Uncertainty was a lovely book gift (hurrah for Amazon wishlists, delivering better family Xmas' since 2012).

51charl08
Editat: nov. 6, 2015, 5:44pm

Guardian Reviews 7th November



Remember, I'm not ordering any of these from the library. Sadly.
Yet.

The Guardians: The League of Nations and the Crisis of Empire by Susan Pedersen reviewed by Mark Mazower
" The relatively small staff that worked under Drummond inspired the 1945 formation of the United Nations, a larger and more lavishly funded international body, and thus in some measure created the world we know today. Susan Pedersen’s strikingly original book puts Drummond and those around him in the spotlight, and in the process transforms our understanding of the League of Nations. "

A Notable Woman: The Romantic Journals of Jean Lucey Pratt edited by Simon Garfield reviewed by Anthony Quinn
"On 18 April 1925 15-year-old Jean Pratt began a journal: “I mean to go on writing this for years and years, and it’ll be awfully amusing to read over later.” She honoured her intention, continuing to write about her life and times for the next 61 years, though she may have found the experience of rereading it a trial: these pages are too steeped in regret and heartache, in loneliness and longing, for anyone to feel very “amused”. They are touched at times with the self-doubt, if not the lyrical ingenuity, of a Home Counties Larkin. "
Susan! Mass observation diary...

A Woman on the Edge of Time by Jeremy Gavron reviewed by Blake Morrison
"...as he acknowledges at the outset, suicide is the hardest of deaths to fathom: “Murderers can at least be questioned, but a suicide is a murder in which the killer is also the victim: in which the reason, the motive, dies with the act.” There is no golden key at the end of the quest. But the taboo of silence that shrouded Jeremy’s childhood is broken. Those complicit with it aren’t arraigned; the tone is patient and compassionate. But Hannah steps out of the shadow, 50 years on, and “the great unsaids” are finally spoken."

O Sing Unto the Lord by Andrew Gant reviewed by Kathryn Hughes
"Books that set out to survey a subject are surprisingly hard to do well. Knowledgable readers complain that the author is glancing and glib, while newcomers stifle a yawn at all the detail. Gant cleverly avoids this problem by telling much of his story through individual lives. There’s Thomas Weelkes, a shocking drunk who got a wealthy girl pregnant and once peed on the Dean of Chichester from the organ loft, but created word pictures with his madrigals that would make you weep. Or Nathaniel Giles, a busy, careerist choirmaster who wrote verse anthems that, in their short, easy competence, tell us as much about the vernacular soundscape of Jacobean England as any amount of Orlando Gibbons’s genius ever can."

The Cabaret of Plants: Botany and the Imagination by Richard Mabey reviewed by Tim Dee
"In its imaginatively bold and scientifically risky way, Cabaret is the summation of a lifetime of looking at plants and reflecting on them."

Kid Gloves: A Voyage Round My Father by Adam Mars-Jones reviewed by Elizabeth Lowry
Mars-Jones is keenly, indeed forensically, alive to the paradoxes in his father’s character. While Sir William was doggedly pro-censorship....he surprised everyone, when he was appointed four years later to preside over the ABC trial – at which the government brought charges against two journalists and their source under the Official Secrets Act – by dismissing the case on the grounds that the act had never been intended to be used to suppress freedom of speech. Similarly, while routinely irritating Mars-Jones fils by displaying the unthinking racism of many of his generation, Sir William on another occasion awarded a Jamaican couple exemplary damages against the police “for assault, wrongful arrest and malicious prosecution”, slamming the conduct of the force as “monstrous, wicked and shameful”. "

The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff reviewed by Lara Feigel
"These are upsetting tales and Schiff writes movingly as well as wittily; this is a work of riveting storytelling as well as an authoritative history. Schiff’s explanations for the events are convincing."

The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien reviewed by Kate Clanchy
"Edna O’Brien apparently researched this novel carefully: it shows in the variety of stories and range of reference and facts. It does not show, however, in authenticity of character and voice: these spring from her own vast experience and writerly imagination. None of the moments O’Brien adapts or borrows, even from Kafka and Shakespeare, is as piercing as the moments she invents herself."

Napoleon’s Last Island by Tom Keneally reviewed by Meredith Jaffe
"Writing Napoleon’s Last Island from Betsy’s perspective allows Keneally to entertain readers with his trademark verve and impishness. Few can match him as a storyteller, and this story deserved his attention"

Public Library and Other Stories by Ali Smith reviewed by Kate Kellaway
"...a brilliant, comprehensive, unpredictable defence of public libraries. It is also a collection of stories characterised by an imaginative freedom underpinned by her reading. You can travel anywhere on an Ali Smith library ticket."

Ghostly: A Collection of Ghost Stories edited and illustrated by Audrey Niffenegger reviewed by Sarah Perry
"Niffenegger has taken pains to bring together stories showing the full range of the ghost story: we may well weep with Kipling, but 20 minutes previously we will have been roaring at PG Wodehouse’s “Honeysuckle Cottage”, which is as funny than any madcap scheme of Bertie Wooster’s. MR James – a master of the form – delivers a nasty chill in that prissy little voice of his, and Oliver Onions casts writer’s block as part ghost story, part psycho-sexual breakdown"

The Crossing by Andrew Miller reviewed by Stephanie Merritt
"There is a mesmeric quality to Miller’s prose in this sea journey, but he has not made life easy for the reader..."

I may have, er mentioned, once or twice, before my great love for Miller...

http://www.theguardian.com/books

52elkiedee
nov. 6, 2015, 3:41pm

I have Netgalleys of A Notable Woman and The Little Red Chairs - and the Ali Smith stories sounds like a must read - hope my libraries get copies! It tends to take a few months for books to be available to reserve, which maybe just as well, I've hit a point of having to return books to collect other reservations, and I already have so many books I'm really looking forward to piling up.

53Fourpawz2
nov. 6, 2015, 5:17pm

Oh my, how I want to read A Notable Woman! Sounds really good. Going on the wishlist for sure.

54charl08
nov. 6, 2015, 5:48pm

>52 elkiedee: I am hoping the library gets a copy. I love the cover too.

>53 Fourpawz2: Me too. But then I think I want to read them all. Possibly stopping reserving books has not had the outcome I expected...

55BLBera
nov. 6, 2015, 5:55pm

Thanks for the reviews, Charlotte. A Notable Woman, the Smith stories, the O'Brien novel all sound like good reads.

56elkiedee
nov. 6, 2015, 6:28pm

I'm curious about the Gavron book too, about the author's mother, quite a tragic story - but one which should have appeal to those of us like me who have an unhealthy obsession with Sylvia Plath. The Gavrons, born and by marriage, are quite a significant north London family as well.

57vancouverdeb
nov. 6, 2015, 6:32pm

Thanks for the reviews , Charlotte! I do enjoy looking at the covers too! Perhaps Public Library and other stories for me. Apparently we may get our water back on today, and the repairs are supposedly fixed for til the next water main break. I hope so! Since in the last 15 years of living in our townhouse we have had two previous breaks, I am cautious. Everything seems to take longer than expected.

58charl08
nov. 7, 2015, 3:31am

>55 BLBera: Compared to me that's a restrained wishlist.

>56 elkiedee: Such a sad story - and as you say, very close to Plath's story. Apparently just one street over from their house.

>57 vancouverdeb: Hope it all works out smoothly. It's pretty grim to be out of water for long.

59susanj67
nov. 7, 2015, 5:17am

Ha! Yes to A Notable Woman. I saw it in the headlines of my Guardian Books email but hadn't got around to clicking through. And the Adam Mars-Jones looks good. I enjoyed his Pilcrow a few years ago.

60charl08
nov. 7, 2015, 12:16pm

>59 susanj67: I am totally sold on that book, thinking I'm going to ask for it for Xmas. The quotes about the blitz, her sense of humour and the final success in publishing her book make it seem rude not to.

61charl08
nov. 7, 2015, 12:48pm

Oh, and another book I want to get - In Search of Mary: the mother of all travel journeys by Bee Rowlatt. She's interviewed in the paper today about her travel for the book researching Mary Wollstonecroft's bio and book Letters Written During a short Residence in Sweden, Norway and Denmark.



It would be churlish to complain the cover makes it look like chicklit.

62BLBera
nov. 7, 2015, 1:19pm

That does look good, and yes, I do hate it when the covers don't represent the content.

63susanj67
nov. 7, 2015, 2:15pm

>61 charl08: Charlotte, I definitely want that one too! I downloaded the letters book when I was reading the Wollstonecraft/Shelley book earlier in the year, but haven't read it yet. I think they'd go beautifully together, maybe even read in tandem. I've wishlisted it at the library. There's a copy up at Whitechapel but fortunately I hate that branch :-)

64msf59
nov. 7, 2015, 2:36pm

Happy Saturday, Charlotte. I hope you are having an R & R weekend.

I have The Witches, both in print and on audio, so I hope to bookhorn it in, later this month.

65charl08
nov. 7, 2015, 5:39pm

>62 BLBera: I can't imagine what the designer was thinking. Surely a picture of Mary W herself would be a good idea?

>63 susanj67: I am hoping to read them together too. They do sound like a good paired read.

>64 msf59: I wasn't tempted but having seen so much enthusiasm round here I am leaning that way! On GN front, have asked the library to order Filmish, hoping that they can get hold of it.

66elkiedee
Editat: nov. 7, 2015, 6:11pm

I want the Bee Rowlatt too, I loved the book that was published - her exchange of letters and growing friendship with an Iraqi academic May Witwit, Talking About Jane Austen in Baghdad and reviewed it for the Bookbag a few years ago. There's a ink to my review and there's several others on the book page here on LT.

67charl08
Editat: nov. 7, 2015, 6:18pm

The Mournful Demeanour of Lieutenant Boruvka was a rather ancient library copy of a Czech crime classic. In linked stories Boruvka solves crimes in 1960s Prague (and on holiday in Switzerland and Italy). At home he is managed by a strong minded wife and a teenaged daughter who resists all 'moral' instruction. In the office, he struggles with a - mutual- infatuation with a young police officer, sometimes to the detriment of his cases.



The thing I liked best about these stories was the depiction of Czech life. Mrs Boruvka doesn't declare her dressmaking activities to her husband (or we assume, the government). There are references throughout to Boruvka's police training, high on soviet theory and condemnation of western theorists, as well as the more usual police procedure. At one point he almost gets into trouble when a Swiss policeman refuses to believe that he could have waited several months to be granted an exit visa for his holiday (so that he ends up travelling in Winter). Sckvorecky us clearly no fan of communist government - he shows how a kind teacher mauls theorists to justify a 'kulak' child's access to further education, and less positive forms of corruption at all levels. At the same time, the Swiss detective is shown to be in error when he describes Boruvka as from a less developed country, and implies he is only able to solve a case with his fists. A good read.
But Ivana the Terrible objected, so we did not phone for the police. She delivered a tub-thumping oration in the staff-room on confidence in our girls, and the school's unblemished reputation, followed by another tub-thumper in the gymnasium, into which our 236 pupils were crammed, on the theme: "In a socialist society we do not cracking the whip at people!" The gist of this was that the thief who had made off with the notebook and the money would realise that our society gave everyone a chance to reform in the appropriate institution, and would own up honourably. No one came forward, of course. Idealism was and remains an absolute fallacy.

68vancouverdeb
nov. 7, 2015, 8:27pm

Great review of The Mournful Demeanour of Lieutenant Boruvka . Sounds like a fascinating book.
The depiction of Czech life sounds so interesting. And yes, Charlotte, I have the water back on and yes a bath right away!

69Copperskye
nov. 7, 2015, 11:27pm

>1 charl08: I want to go to there! In my dreams, ideally on horseback. Beautiful photo.

70LovingLit
nov. 8, 2015, 2:03am

>50 charl08: maybe I need to get my book depo wish list to all my friends and family ASAP! Tak about making Christmas easy for everyone. :)
I got my first Christmas present the other day, my sister went halves with me in a very cool frock. 3 big box pleats down the front and back, thick straps over the shoulders and goes down to just over the knee. It sounds like my mums gym frock from the 1950s!

71PaulCranswick
nov. 8, 2015, 2:10am

>67 charl08: The Skvorecky looks like a winner, Charlotte.

I must say this weeks Guardian Review is a bumper crop - Miller, O'Brien, Mars-Jones, The League of Nations, Ali Smith and when did Thomas Keneally drop the h/as and become simply Tom?

72Ameise1
nov. 8, 2015, 2:59am

Happy Sunday, Charlotte.

73charl08
nov. 8, 2015, 7:40am

>66 elkiedee: I just found that book online, funny you should mention it! Also looks good.

>68 vancouverdeb: I was hoping I'd recognise some places in Prague, as I've been there a few times, but I guess I don't know it as well as I thought!

>69 Copperskye: The lady we met said she did the route on horseback everyday to walk the dog. Nice work....

>70 LovingLit: Mmm. Except sometimes people go 'off piste' and decide to be original instead. It's a hard life... (!)

>71 PaulCranswick: My copy includes a reference to the review of his other books. So I might just add those to the wishlist too.

There's certainly plenty that caught my attention. 'TOM' I blame on the Guardian sub, who presumably was struggling for space. Not my fault (Guv).

>72 Ameise1: Nice to see you Barbara. You don't fancy Czech crime then? Fair enough. Hope you have a good weekend.

74Ameise1
nov. 8, 2015, 7:53am

Yes, I do and I've read several crimes and thrillers from the East Block but at the moment I'm still busy with work and privat life and therefore not much thinking about books.

75msf59
nov. 8, 2015, 9:17am

Happy Sunday, Charlotte. I am not familiar with the GN, "Filmish". I'll be watching for your thoughts.

I hope to wrap up my current GN, The Story of My Tits, which has turned out to be an exceptional memoir.

76charl08
nov. 8, 2015, 10:31am

>74 Ameise1: Hope you get some good reading time Barbara. Sounds very full on.

>75 msf59: Just read the review on the book page Mark. Sounds good, but harrowing. I've ordered Filmish at the library, so there will now be a wait of approximately 6 weeks (if they are able to buy it). *drums fingers*

77BLBera
nov. 8, 2015, 11:37am

Hi Charlotte - Great comments on the Czech book - I'm going to check to see if it's available in my library.

78charl08
nov. 8, 2015, 5:44pm

Hey Beth, it was interesting to read having half read Havel's bio (I gave up after the lone chapter that dealt with his five years in prison, thinking that I might go back to it another time). I did wonder what happened to the author of Lieutenant Boruvka when the Prague Spring was over.

79charl08
nov. 8, 2015, 5:47pm

I caught half of Marlon James' programme on the radio today, purely by accident. Some interesting picks accompanied by memories about the music.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06nw9ng

80EBT1002
Editat: nov. 8, 2015, 7:44pm

>51 charl08: I continue to LOVE that you post excerpts from and links to The Guardian reviews. I saw Stacy Schiff speak this past Friday and snagged a personally autographed copy of The Witches: Salem, 1692. She is a very interesting and engaging speaker and an impressive scholar.

And I am putting Public Library and other stories on hold immediately. Of course, the touchstone doesn't work yet and I'm predicting that my own public library doesn't yet have a copy!

And The Crossing.... although I don't know Andrew Miller's work (yet).

ETA: No such luck on either of those at my library. But they do have a few of Miller's works. What might you suggest as a starting place?

81charl08
Editat: nov. 8, 2015, 7:57pm

>79 charl08: I predict you won't be the only one requesting Ali Smith's book about libraries. I'm holding back on the reservations at the moment, but will definitely add it to the list on December 1st. And I am increasingly inclined to read Schiff's book. Glad that the reading event went well. Nice when writers live up to their books.

I finished Nineveh, a Cape Town set book full of creepy crawlies (or goggas). Not sure what I think, so will sit with it a bit.

82elkiedee
nov. 8, 2015, 9:53pm

My reservation for Marlon James has come through. Hoping that I can get it in time, I have to finish and return something else first.

83paulstalder
nov. 9, 2015, 3:50am

Hej Charlotte, delurking and wishing you a good week.

84Deern
nov. 9, 2015, 6:01am

>51 charl08: Oh, a new Ali Smith and it's about libraries - Guardian BB caught!
Maybe no Czech mystery for me (if it's part of a series, otherwise yes), although the review is great. And better no creepy crawlies... :/
Wishing you a good start into the week!

85charl08
nov. 9, 2015, 8:06am

>82 elkiedee: Hey Luci. That one took a good concentrated period of reading - and especially at the beginning when I was working out the different voices and their speech. I read a really long review of it in the LRB recently which drew on all the historical background that James references in the book. I hadn't realised so much was factual when I read it (or based on real people and events). Except for Marley. I did work that out!

>83 paulstalder: Thanks Paul. I should dig out some bookmarks and take a picture (mine is not a formal collection like yours, just bits and pieces found on the way. I quote often deliberately leave bookmarks in books for others to find).

>84 Deern: Hey Nathalie. Skvorecky did write other books about Lieutenant Boruvka but I'm not sure if there are enough to be called a series. This one was almost a series in a book as each story was connected by his private life but was a distinct crime.

The creepy crawlies from Nineveh were not my cup of tea. Although there was a cute frog which I liked. We used to get them in our garden. Fun to watch as kids.

86charl08
nov. 9, 2015, 9:41am

I read the short The Outsider, prior to reading the Meursault Investigation. Intriguing book set in Algeria. Meursault loses his mother, but appears to feel nothing, to be insulated from grief. His attempts to continue life as normal end up in court.

87charl08
Editat: nov. 10, 2015, 8:03am

And then on to the corresponding book recently published The Meursault Investigation.



I picked up a copy of this in paperback as the costs were going to Oxfam's Syrian appeal. I was glad that I'd read The Outsider directly before - Kamel Daoud uses Camus' text, reflects and quotes from it to create a new story. This is the account of the brother of 'the Arab' victim. He tells his life story in fits and starts to a researcher in a bar. Harun is after retribution, retaliation and above all, recognition that his brother, Musa, was a person rather than a caricature. Great book, worth a read. Can imagine that together these two short books would make a great basis for book group discussion on everything from colonialism to authors' 'ownership' of their story.

88msf59
Editat: nov. 10, 2015, 7:29am



^Thinking of you.

I have The Meursault Investigation on the T.R. list. Sounds great.

89charl08
nov. 10, 2015, 8:05am

>88 msf59: Nice lighthouse. Ghostly goings on definitely possible in that lighting. The other plus I forgot to mention is that it's a shortie, so won't take you long....

90charl08
Editat: nov. 10, 2015, 1:16pm

I said that I would think some more about Nineveh and then write something up. The author's choice of subject matter was unusual - a female pest control specialist who is given a contract to look at a brand new housing estate that is infested with bugs. Except she can't find any bugs, except for her ne'er do well father. His approach is to kill everything, whereas she prides herself on being humane. The estate has an odd pull on her: she finds the contents are being slowly prised off the walls and sold by the sides of the road, there is a flaw in the security system a tunnel length wide, and the bugs aren't invisible for long. This book didn't seem to be too sure where it was going. The comments on the back suggest an allegory about the state but I'm not sure how that works. It seemed to tail off rather than end. She was very successful at creating creepy insects bugs and a father figure who was cringe worthy. Whether that's a good thing I'm not sure. I think if it hadn't been a book that was bought for me I might not have finished it.

I know friends who are fans of Henrietta Rose-Innes so I suspect I will try other books by her, in the hope that the bugs don't reappear.

91katiekrug
nov. 10, 2015, 10:10am

Nineveh sounds bizarre but kind of intriguing....

92vancouverdeb
Editat: nov. 10, 2015, 5:04pm

>91 katiekrug: Agreed about Nineveh. Charlotte, I'm afraid it's not No!vember for me. I purchased my husband a book in series that he likes, The Promise: An Elvis Cole and Joe Pike Novel by Robert Crais. He reads quite a bit, and he works full time, does the grocery shopping for the most part and takes the night time dog walk with our Poppy dog ( I do the afternoon ), so I like to keep him nicely stocked in books. :P Of course I had to order a book for myself, The Golden Son by Shilpi Somaya Gowda . I had read The Secret Daughter by her a few years ago and really enjoyed it, so here's hoping! :) She is Canadian author that immigrated from India. I am just doing my " Canadian Duty " reading! :)

93charl08
Editat: nov. 10, 2015, 5:10pm

I like that 'Canadian Duty'. Finally a nationalist approach I can get behind...

As for Nineveh. I really didn't think I was that bothered by creepy crawlies, but I think this book makes me realise I'm lucky to live in a place that doesn't have a lot of aggressive bugs. She did a very good job of describing the noises the bugs make...

94Carmenere
nov. 10, 2015, 7:00pm

Thank you, Charlotte! I was about to Google the Guardian review for Ghostly and there you have it in post #51! But wait! What is that I see? Witches: Salem 1692! "witty" and "riveting" does it for me! I've been seeing that one on a couple of lists so I think I may request that one from the library. As if..... :0)

95charl08
nov. 10, 2015, 7:26pm

>94 Carmenere: Don't remind me! I want that witch book too...

96charl08
Editat: nov. 10, 2015, 7:37pm

I (finally) finished finished Malcolm X: a life of reinvention. If you've ever wondered what lies behind the myth, this is the book for you. Well written despite the exhaustive level of detail, the many changes and contradictions in his short life are explained. I particularly was interested in the section on his international travel. Hosted by high ranking politicians across Africa and in Muslim countries, his popularity and impact surprised me. I was also shocked to read how much FBI material remained (book published in 2010) under lock and key. The significance of this seems important, given that Marable establishes that there were several government agents working in both the nation of Islam and Malcolm's own organisations, present at the shooting.

Highly recommended.

97Chatterbox
Editat: nov. 12, 2015, 2:02am

>87 charl08: Our book circle did read The Stranger earlier this summer, at my behest, but balked at combining with a new book, however lauded (it focuses on the classics...) But I re-read the Camus and then went straight to the Daoud book. I'm not sure I loved the translation, and now own a copy in French as well, but it's excellent as a companion piece. Camus focused on the personal philosophy; Daoud pulls back the focus and makes his tale as much a political as a personal one and the two dovetail beautifully. They demand to be read together, and that's a tribute to Daoud.

Amazing how many of your faves of this year are books that I've loved!

Glad the Guardian liked the Stacy Schiff book; it's ready for me to pick up at the library, and the NY Times just ran a slightly sniffy, nose-in-the-air review about it. Too many modern references, etc. etc. I'm intrigued by the Edna O'Brien and Keneally novels, but not even to spend scarce $$ on them.

ETA: Used an Audible credit to get the Keneally. The book itself doesn't seem to be available in the US yet.

98charl08
nov. 12, 2015, 5:46am

>97 Chatterbox: What a shame the book group didn't feel able to fit both books into their schedule. I must admit I felt much more comfortable with Daoud's book than the original, as so much of the basis of the narrative was familiar to me from orientalism's critiques, and the history and politics of independence campaigns on the continent. I didn't find any problems with the translation, but then not reading French fluently, I guess it's unlikely that I would!

I found Camus' narrative the more difficult to comprehend (beyond as a legitimate target for criticism): perhaps I should be looking for an annotated edition.

I'm hoping the O’Brien and Keneally will turn up at the library in due course. In that weird serendipity that seems to happen with books, my mum just got my dad a copy of a history of St Helena, so I'll hope to borrow that after he's finished.

99charl08
Editat: nov. 12, 2015, 1:29pm

Finished The Blind Goddess as I wanted a crime fix and don't tend to keep any I haven't read around (yes, this was a library book).

It's the first in a series featuring a female police officer who keeps her sexuality secret (this is the 1990s, although only relatively recently translated into English from Norwegian). I was underwhelmed: although the case was an interesting set up involving misbehaving lawyers, about 200 pages in it felt Way Too Long. Perhaps she improved after this set up novel, but I won't be looking out for the later books.

100charl08
nov. 12, 2015, 1:31pm

Unseen Charlotte Brontë story and poem discovered - says the Guardian. Seems mad to think that new work can still be found after all this time.

http://gu.com/p/4e6ch?

101RidgewayGirl
nov. 12, 2015, 2:18pm

I guess Harper Lee got the ball rolling.

102charl08
nov. 12, 2015, 2:35pm

Ooh and another prize list, this time the Guardian first book:

The shortlist

Man v Nature by Diane Cook (Oneworld Publications)
Physical by Andrew McMillan (Jonathan Cape)
The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma (One/ Pushkin Press)
Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev (Faber)
Grief Is the Thing With Feathers by Max Porter (Faber)
The Shore by Sara Taylor (William Heinemann)

I've read The Shore and The Fishermen but all the others are new to me.

103vancouverdeb
nov. 12, 2015, 3:27pm

The Shore by Sara Taylor sounds good, I've remember that is one of your favourite books this year. I'll have to look into it.

104charl08
Editat: nov. 12, 2015, 6:50pm

Yes, I think there were a few of us who really enjoyed it Deb, so the odds are good for a reading... Even if it isn't Canadian....

I've just been over on Anita's thread, she has just reread Karl May, an author I've never come across. So I did some googling, which tells me that many German children read them in the past, and that it's normal not to have heard of them if you're not a German speaker (and also that some of the English translations are Very Bad). There is even a film mocking these stories, which I guess says a lot about their popularity.

I do find this kind of story interesting: the books that don't cross national boundaries (or language barriers). I was sent a set of stamps celebrating Australian kids books - most of them I'd not heard of (although would have liked to) a story featuring an adventure seeking Pudding sticks in my mind for some, er, unknown reason....

105Chatterbox
Editat: nov. 12, 2015, 6:41pm

The Keneally is interesting, since a teenage favorite was The Last Love by Thomas Costain. You could also look for A Dark Room at Longwood by Jean-Paul Kauffman.

ETA, I've got the Peter Pomerantsev book here; got it as an ARC last year. Unread still, of course... Wondering whether I have The Shore around, too.

106vancouverdeb
Editat: nov. 12, 2015, 7:00pm

Darling stamps, Charlotte! I love them! As for Anne Holt, I partially read 1222 and gave it up. So I'm not surprised that you did not enjoy Blind Goddess

Oh, I should add that this year I have not read much Can Lit til just lately! I think I've been in the UK most of the year! :) With Jaqueline Winspear, Elly Griffiths , A Crooked Heart, Aren't We Sisters , among others. I had to make time to support the Canadian writers this year! :) ah, and Joanna Trollope, Andrew O'Hagan and I'm sure I've missed others.

107BLBera
nov. 12, 2015, 9:05pm

More love for The Shore. Excellent.

108LovingLit
nov. 13, 2015, 2:24am

>87 charl08: >97 Chatterbox: interesting! I'd like to reread The Stranger and then go for the next. I love the fleshing out of stories like that.

109charl08
Editat: nov. 13, 2015, 8:13am

My posting device is playing silly beggars, so posting responses all out of order

>107 BLBera: The Guardian has asked the authors of the prize shortlist to write about their book. Sara Taylor says:

"It was the landscape that made me want to write The Shore, so that I could carry the sight of it around in my pocket when I left – and like many kids who live in isolated, rural communities, there was no question in my mind that I would find a way to leave. It’s a common story on the Shore: a newly minted adult goes forth into the wide, wide world with no intention of coming back, only to return a year later to plant feet in the same dark earth in which mother and father grew, and stay forever. But unlike most of the Shore’s teenagers, I managed to go and to (so far) stay gone. Oddly enough, the greatest reason for that is The Shore itself; a body doesn’t get to stay gone unless they make good, and for my family a novel is perhaps one of the most baffling forms that “making good” might take."
Guardian first book award shortlist 2015

For full article on all six nominees:
http://gu.com/p/4e6jd?

I may possibly have requested Man v Nature: Stories and Nothing is true, Everything is Possible.

110charl08
Editat: nov. 13, 2015, 8:23am

>105 Chatterbox: Thanks Suzanne. Had no idea there were so many books linked to this (well, four). Do you think your teenage read would stand up to rereading?

>106 vancouverdeb: Thanks for confirming re The Blind Goddess. I thought it was an interesting story, just needed some radical editing. Towards the last couple of chapters I started identifying the sentences I would put my red line through, not a good sign. (No library books were harmed in the course of this editing...).

I take it back about the CanLit. Careful about all those British novels. Are you noticing an increased desire for tea?

>108 LovingLit: Both worth a read, if only to see what all the fuss is about!

Gratuitous picture of St Helena. On my bucket list.

111charl08
nov. 13, 2015, 8:49am

I bought Self Made Man having read about it online, along with her sequel memoir about living in psychiatric hospitals for a year. So No!vember has helped me get to this rather than being distracted by the Shiny New Books from the library.



Vincent decides that she can best make an appraisal of ordinary men (and by extension their perspective on gender) by impersonating a man. She bulks up at the gym, researches fake stubble, and gets some clothes and (rather like Superman) glasses. It works. She joins a men's bowling team, spends a long visit at a Monastery, and even dates as a man. Along the way she starts to feel so guilty about what she's doing that her impersonation starts to have severe consequences for her mental health. Her insights are fascinating, although grim reading in places (the lap dancing bars). Sometimes touching too - a group of men's inability to communicate their emotions apart from anger or the bowling team's affection for their partners. The surprising part of the story was her willingness to tell most of the groups that she was a woman at the end of the experience, and their willingness to accept her nonetheless, despite the deception. In the monastery she describes her bullying by the monks when she expresses opinions that appear to show him/her as transgressive.

"Experiencing this strange and foreign treatment firsthand, I developed new sympathy for boys and young men, and I felt saddened for the damage done to them in those rites of passage we all condone and inflict to make them into men. I remembered my brothers' plights with this same process, seeing them as young boys weeping at home with my mother, telling her of the petty cruelties perpetuated against them by other boys and men at school and summer camp. In those days they were every bit as vulnerable as I was, and still able to show it. What's more they could still ask for and find comfort and sympathy for their pain. But now, like so many other men, if my brothers show emotion at all, they show only anger, because that's all they've been allowed."

I'm not sure I agree with all her conclusions, with questions about how representative one person's experience of gender can be, in a relatively small set of contexts (and as she acknowledges, limited to white male masculinity). But nonetheless a very interesting, well written read, that was strikingly honest in expressing the challenges and difficulties of the project.

112Chatterbox
nov. 13, 2015, 11:30am

>110 charl08: Not sure it would stand up that well; it was a rather romanticized telling, but then what's not romantic about an exiled emperor, a teenage girl who becomes infatuated with him, and a family caught up in the ensuing controversy and that falls from grace as a result? As a work of literature, hmm.... I re-read another Costain novel earlier this year, and found it very old-fashioned in tone and style, to a point where it annoyed me and I was always conscious of it. On the other hand, having read and re-read the St. Helena novel means I'm now listening to Keneally's retelling with keen interest. It's very good so far.

113charl08
nov. 13, 2015, 12:13pm

Fair enough. I'm not sure how many of my childhood favourites would stand a reread. I loved I capture the Castle as a teenager, but listening back recently I found myself finding the heroine kind of annoying. Sacrilege (and I turned the radio off).

114charl08
Editat: nov. 13, 2015, 3:06pm

Guardian Reviews 13th November




The Rebel of Rangoon by Delphine Schrank reviewed by Mishaps Renou
"Schrank’s contention, though, is that the cause of Myanmar’s political reformation, and the loosening of military control, lies with the tireless actions of ordinary NLD activists. She reminds us that the history of the pro-democracy movement isn’t just the singular defiance of Aung San Suu Kyi, but the collective endeavour and sacrifice of her supporters."

Universal Man: The Seven Lives of John Maynard Keynes by Richard Davenport-Hines reviewed by P D Smith
"Davenport-Hines broadens the focus of his insightful biography beyond economics, presenting a rounded portrait of his subject as a modern universal man."

Space, Hope and Brutalism: English Architecture 1945-1975 by Elain Harwood reviewed by Bob Stanley
"Aren’t we meant to hate concrete? Hasn’t the architecture of this era been thoroughly discredited? "

Social Class in the 21st Century by Mike Savage reviewed by Lynsey Hanley
"Savage’s commitment to bringing out the nuances of class relationships, and the experiences of individuals in the class structure, makes this book invaluable."

NeuroTribes by Steve Silberman reviewed by Steven Poole
"The trouble with the history of autism in medicine, as Silberman’s book goes on to demonstrate, is that Asperger’s work was forgotten for half a century or more."

My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem reviewed by Yvonne Roberts
"Steinem quotes Mary Lamberton Becker: “We grow neither better nor worse as we get older, but more like ourselves.” Is she more like herself? Has the enigma dissolved and the early contradictions resolved themselves? Scathing of the upper classes and celebrity, for instance, she attended a glitzy gala for her 50th birthday, tickets for which cost $250 each, to raise funds for her various causes."

The Mirror by Richard Skinner reviewed by Jane Housham
" Two substantial novellas – novels by any other name – make up this volume. A pair of texts is an unusual combination and seems to require them to reflect each other in some way, to be thematically connected. If there is a connection, it’s not obvious, but the two beautifully written stories are no less enjoyable for that."

Cockfosters by Helen Simpson reviewed by Justin Jordan
"Time is Simpson’s great subject"

Before the Feast by Saša Stanišić reviewed by Tibor Fischer
"Although I doubt you could classify Stanišić as a kitchen-sink realist, he does have some witty political observations. Neo-Nazis harassing some Romanians daub “Rumänien raus” (Romanians out) in large letters on one of their caravans, but without an exclamation mark. A few days later, one Romanian, getting up for work, studies the slogan, turns the “r” in raus into an “H” and adds a hyphen to make “Romanian-House”."

I Love Dick by Chris Kraus reviewed by Joanna Walsh
"I thought the book would be a terrifying feminist classic with a cover I might not want to be seen with on the tube. But guess what: I Love Dick is funny, very funny."

Number 11 by Jonathan Coe reviewed by Alex Clark
"Angry, bleak, preoccupied with establishing occult power connections to the extent that it would easily earn its place on a shelf of “paranoid fiction”, Number 11 is undoubtedly a political novel. It is also an interrogation of the purposes and efficacy of humour in exposing society’s ills, and a spoof on horror B-movies (its deus ex machina comes in the form of giant spiders)."

Good Money by JM Green reviewed by Meredith Jaffe
"...if you like your crime fiction to feel funny and real then Green has your measure."

I really love the covers this week, although as the reviewer said, I'm not sure I'd read ILD on the train...

More book news and reviews: http://www.theguardian.com/books/books+tone/reviews

115BLBera
nov. 13, 2015, 1:09pm

Hi Charlotte - As always, thanks for posting. I'll have to think about this batch. The Myanmar one looks interesting...

116charl08
nov. 13, 2015, 3:08pm

I've ordered that one at the library: sounds like my kind of book.

117vancouverdeb
nov. 13, 2015, 5:11pm

Indeed, Charlotte, I am noticing an increasing need for tea. Especially in the Maisie Dobbs series. She is always having tea, or recovering from some adventure with a cup of sweet , hot tea. I drink a cup of tea for breakfast, but other than that, not that much more. Interesting fact that makes me chuckle - my nephew is off to Cambridge in the UK to get his PhD. My sister ( his mom ) is mailing him tea from his favourite tea place where his favourite brand is made ( it's a small independent tea maker in Vancouver ). That made me chuckle to hear that, since the UK is so famous for tea. I think in part my sister just wants to help him feel at home and let him know that she is thinking about him. My husband loves tea - but he is big on ginger tea - cup up ginger roots with some ? white tea, or chai tea added. Ugh!

118PaulCranswick
nov. 13, 2015, 6:45pm

>114 charl08: I Love Dick, what a calculatedly unfortunate title! Nice to see books from Helen Simpson and Jonathan Coe. The biography of Keynes appeals to me as well, especially to find out how come he got two less lives than his cat.

Have a lovely weekend, Charlotte. xx

119charl08
nov. 13, 2015, 6:59pm

>117 vancouverdeb: Deb it's amazing how many of my international friends had special requests posted or carried when they were studying over here. I'd be surprised if he doesn't find something similar as he explores his new environment. Cambridge is a pretty cosmopolitan place (and if insufficiently so, London is v. close by train). As you say, it is the love and care you can't get in a speciality shop.

>118 PaulCranswick: If I had the slightest inclination to economics I'd look at reading that book Paul - I do like a good biography.

120charl08
Editat: nov. 13, 2015, 7:38pm

I decided to take the weekend off from my TBR (I've always been terrible at following reading plans).

Sarah Hall's collection of short stories The Beautiful Indifference is wonderful. Set in the Borders, London, unspecified African country (but is obvs Mozambique) and Finland, they're raw, gripping and explicit. The opening story charts Kathleen's unlikely friendship with the 'hard' girl at her school, who comes from stock the (rural) community view with suspicion, but are champion horse tamers and breeders. The story goes from violence to touching camaraderie between young women and back again repeatedly within such a short number of pages. Others expose the honesty in relationships betwen women as adults, outline the fragility of health and show the raw edges of rebuilding yourself after the end of a marriage.

Not for the faint hearted, but I know we all have our literary adventurer moments here.



The cover is a joke reference to one of the stories, in which a writer notes the frequency of headless women on the books she picks up.

I couldn't choose a quote but you can read another of her short stories via the link (pdf download)

http://booktrustadmin.artlogic.net/usr/resources/1175/mrsfox_hallsarah.pdf

121charl08
nov. 13, 2015, 8:06pm

Ridgewaygirl has posed this fun quiz on her category challenge thread. Hopefully a distraction amidst the awful news from Paris.

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/whats-your-book-nerd-score/

122elkiedee
nov. 14, 2015, 1:43am

I have the Sarah Hall one somewhere, and her most recent novel from the library. I have a Netgalley of Jonathan Coe, and will certainly be looking for the Helen Simpson book at some point,

123RidgewayGirl
Editat: nov. 14, 2015, 6:18am

The Beautiful Indifference looks worthwhile - I'll look for a copy.

As for I Love Dick -- there was a company selling woodworking tools in Germany called Dick that changed their name to Dictum when they went international. Which is too bad, as I liked to ask my husband about it, making frequent reference to the name, especially just after he'd placed an order or gone by the store.

As for tea, living in England turned me into an avid drinker of what they call "builder's tea" - very strong so that when milk is added it's the color of a brick. So now I pay more here for what is the cheapest kind of tea in England. My daughter's favorite is a green tea with ginseng and ginger with very fancy packaging, mixed by an exclusive gourmet company in Munich. The cost for hers is only slightly higher.

124susanj67
nov. 14, 2015, 6:25am

>120 charl08: I decided to take the weekend off from my TBR Yeah, me too. A four-romances-in-one-volume was waiting for me in my library ebook account this morning (reserved *ages* ago, honest). I've read two of them, but the elusive book 11 in the series is in there. Plus, blah.

Thanks for the Guardian reviews. The Keynes one interests me, mostly because I keep hearing about him.

125charl08
nov. 14, 2015, 8:08am

>122 elkiedee: I was so pleased to find she had other books for me to look for. Hope the netgalley books are good.

>123 RidgewayGirl: My parents do a similar thing with a redbush/ rooibos brand. Cheap as chips in Cape Town, high here. Somehow the various UK brands' versions are Not the Same.

>124 susanj67: I can't get my head round the way a really attractive book becomes a chore when I own it. Perhaps time for me to stop buying books?!?

126charl08
Editat: nov. 15, 2015, 3:44pm

Room No 10 was more Scandi crime. An author new to me Aki Edwardson. Not new though: he is a bestseller in Sweden, and the series is long established (Amazon says this is book seven, and that Death Angels is book one).



Inspector Winter believes there is a link between a missing person case and the young woman found hanging in a hotel room, one hand painted white. We flash between his first days on the job as a detective, and his attempts to link the cases in the present.

One of the reasons I like reading international crime is the sense of a place as the people who live and work in it experience it. There is some of that here, from the food served in a restaurant to the effect of government cuts, but as in most of the book the main character was contemplating a career break in the sun, it felt as though the focus was on better places to be. Perhaps because I wasn't invested in the characters, as presumably the reader who had been reading the previous books had, I found much of the faffing to get to the crime solution really frustrating rather than gripping. Some just seemed to need blindingly obvious police work:They didn't track the victim's father's work history to the scene of the crime. I found myself comparing Beck's Roseanna case, which was before computers but still seemed to be better organised in terms of following different solutions.



If on a Winter's Night a Traveller

A fascinating read this, as expected, given its status as a classic. Calvino begins ten novels, each just getting to a key moment of suspense, when the text is interrupted. The story of the reader then takes over: beginning with his attempt to chat up a young woman in a bookshop over the misprinted book (containing the chapter you've just read) to increasingly fantastical scenarios, enabling Calvino to make points about everything from state censorship, discourse analysis and the politics of literary nationalism. At the same time, there's a love story and the mystery of who wrote the original book (or books. So a very busy 200 odd pages.

I was surprised to find myself sucked in each time to the new novel Calvino starts chapter by chapter, although I knew what was coming. Each story was given a different setting, from a young Mexican man looking for his mother in what might have been a Western, to a Russian love triangle in a blockaded city. I could have done without the super long sentences in the lit crit sections. Otherwise was favourably reminded of David Mitchell (although unlike Mitchell, no endings to the interrupted chapters: here resolution comes in a different way).

Lots of reflections on reading along the way.
Let's have a look at the books. The first thing noticed, at least on looking at those you have most prominent, is that the function of books for you is immediate reading... Perhaps on occasion you have tried to give a semblance of order to your shelves, but every attempt at order was rapidly foiled by heterogeneous acquisitions..... perhaps for you each book becomes identified with your reading of it at a given moment, once and for all. And as you preserve them in your memory, so you like to preserve the books as objects, keeping them near you.

127BLBera
Editat: nov. 15, 2015, 10:29pm

Hi Charlotte - Great comments. I'll skip the Edwardson, but the Calvino sounds like something I would love. Onto the list it goes.

128vancouverdeb
Editat: nov. 15, 2015, 7:35pm

Best of luck with Green Money, Charlotte. I looked up the review on the Guardian and it does like it should be an interesting read. My husband just finished up a new to him crime author from Australia, Michael Robotham. When I get a chance I think I will have a look at the first in the series. Like you, I love the sense of place that a crime writer can give and though Hungry Ghosts did that really well as far the Northern First Nations Reserve in Canada goes, and her first book The Beggar's Opera was a fabulous look into the poverty of Havana.

129banjo123
nov. 15, 2015, 8:56pm

I read Self-Made Man a few years ago, and had a similar reaction. It was definitely thought-provoking.

130Storeetllr
nov. 15, 2015, 9:16pm

Hi, Charlotte! Just taking a break from writing and thought I'd drop by, since it's been too long. Anyway, I enjoyed your reviews, though I'm not reading just now (having withdrawals, but December will be here before I know it). I'll bookmark your thread to return to when reading is back on the menu.

>126 charl08: Loved Beck's mystery series, from back before either computers or cell phones and before Scandi crime novels became so popular.

>128 vancouverdeb: Also agree that Peggy Blair's first book The Beggar's Opera was an amazing look at Havana's poverty and corruption, and a pretty decent mystery too. I wasn't quite as impressed with The Poisoned Pawn, the second in the series, but look forward to the third in the series. (Hurry up, December!)

131evilmoose
nov. 15, 2015, 10:22pm

>104 charl08: Oh gosh, you gave me such a flashback, I remember those stamps so vividly. The Magic Pudding, Blinky Bill and Snugglepot and Cuddlepie are all definitely Australian classics. I was always a bit bemused by the Elves & Fairies stamp, and of course Ginger Meggs was actually a comic strip, but one that was the bane of my existence as a Megan with red hair.

132Oberon
nov. 15, 2015, 10:44pm

>126 charl08: I read If on a winter's night a traveler a couple of years ago and had a similar reaction. Very interesting and fun read, especially for book lovers.

133weird_O
nov. 16, 2015, 12:10am

I've wanted a copy of that Calvino book for several years, but it and I never seem to connect. Now I've got a hankering for a copy of Invisible Cities. Next year.

134elkiedee
nov. 16, 2015, 4:28am

Karim Miske, author of Arab Jazz, is on Start the Week today, on now and again at 9.30 pm. I want to know more about Agnes Desarthe who is also on.

135charl08
nov. 16, 2015, 9:24am

I've been to the dentist. Ouch! Can't feel one side of my mouth. All very minor but I was really glad when she said she was all done and I could get out of that chair.

>127 BLBera: Thanks Beth. I was really shocked to read it was first published in 1979. I think it has aged well.

>128 vancouverdeb: Those both sound good Deb, I will add them to the wishlist. I've just read the Australian one - will put comments below. Hope your nephew got his tea safely!

>129 banjo123: Glad I wasn't completely wide of the mark - thanks. I agree it has made me think about her arguments after closed the book, seems like a good sign for NF. I'll look for her next book (where she looks at the mental health system) soon.

>130 Storeetllr: Hope you're not working too hard there. I'm kind of the opposite, not particularly looking forward to Dec 25th. One day I'll get to go to a beach on Xmas day, camp out under an umbrella and read all day. Not exactly festive, I know!

I'll have to look out for The Beggar's Opera.

>131 evilmoose: That's funny that you mention the elves and fairies stamp - I didn't even remember that one, and was surprised to see it on the jpg. I really don't understand why the stories didn't travel - such beautiful illustrations. Your redhead story reminds me of the teasing I got when we were shown the film version of Charlotte's Web at school as a 'treat'. Not exactly a happy bookish memory!

>132 Oberon: Yes, definitely one for people who read. The section on paper sculpture makers suggests he wasn't a fan of that though!

>133 weird_O: I'd also been looking for it for ages - and then it sat on my shelf for years. I regret not reading it sooner, and will look out for others by him. I liked his sense of humour, and the skill in taking each story to a cliff hanger was impressive.

>134 elkiedee: That's very topical given the awful news from Paris, I'll look for it on the iplayer. Thanks!

136Deern
nov. 16, 2015, 11:40am

Ew.. dentist. :/

Maybe I should reread that Calvino one day. It started as a super-happy 5 star read for me and then fell into nothingness. And I really disliked the characters after a while. I noticed that often in Italian literature the narrator sounds extremely proud and self-important. It happened even with two non-fiction books I couldn't finish. Either that's lost in translation or I just imagine it, but it's an issue I had with many Italian books by male authors, even in the latest Eco. Hm.. just thinking, no such issue with Camilleri and Malvaldi and Ammonito (okay, here the narrator was a child) and with the female authors so far. Must analyze further.. or not. :)
Anyway, glad you and so many other liked it more than I did.

137rosylibrarian
nov. 16, 2015, 1:09pm

>135 charl08: Ugh, dentists. I go every 4 months or so because my gums hate me.

138charl08
nov. 16, 2015, 1:57pm

>136 Deern: Ha! I took that tone as ironic / playful, otherwise I think I would have also been frustrated with it. I haven't read a lot of Italian books in translation so not enough to support or disprove your theory, sorry to be so unhelpful. I haven't heard of Malvaldi or Ammonito but will add them to my list - any in particular you would recommend?

One on my list to go back to as everyone else loves her -
I just didn't get on with Elena Ferrante, sadly.

>137 rosylibrarian: I had to sign up for another appointment. Not keen to do so, even if it is months away. Comiserations re the gums.

139charl08
nov. 16, 2015, 2:36pm

Good Money was more crime, not from the TBR pile but from the 'ooh, I just fancy that' end of the shiny new books quota. Stella is a bit like an older, more jaded Stephanie Plum: she likes a drink, life isn't going quite the way she pictured it and her involvement in increasingly serious crime is rather implausible but you suspend disbelief because it's all quite entertaining.



This is labelled as the first in a series. Stella's first person narrative immediately connected me to her story: she's the social worker called in when a young refugee dies, but she's concerned he knew something about her that she doesn't want revealed, so investigates his death in an attempt to cover up her own secret. Nothing is quite that simple, and she has to negotiate with government officials, corrupt lawyers, the disappearance of a friend and a visit to her childhood home before it becomes any more straight forward. This includes a threatening encounter with a New Zealander.
"He had a gun and he hated Australians. We had a gun and we were in a locked room. But what if he went for the key? If he found us, it wouldn't help matters to explain my shame about bowling underarm, or to tell him how much I liked Jane Campion movies."

140vancouverdeb
nov. 16, 2015, 3:06pm

Glad you had entertainment from Good Money. Sometimes that is what we need. My sympathies as far as going to dentist! I've an appointment tomorrow with the dentist. Ugh! Never fun! I am always glad to leave the dentist chair, even if it is just a cleaning, which is what it is tomorrow!

141elkiedee
nov. 16, 2015, 3:22pm

>130 Storeetllr: and >135 charl08: It's published here as Midnight in Havana - I have it on my Kindle.

142Storeetllr
nov. 16, 2015, 6:12pm

>141 elkiedee: Weird how they change the title from country to country. Did you read it yet? It's really good!

143lyzard
Editat: nov. 16, 2015, 6:41pm

>139 charl08:

"He had a gun and he hated Australians"??

I can't say I've ever encountered that level of Trans-Tasman hostility; it's usually confined to (and provoked by) events on the sporting field. :D

Re: the referenced children's books, The Magic Pudding was pretty much the book I learned to read with - I can still recite the lengthy pudding-poem from memory. ("Oh, who would be a pudding, a pudding in a pot...?")

144cbl_tn
nov. 16, 2015, 9:50pm

>114 charl08: The one that jumps out at me is Cockfosters since I used to visit a friend there when I lived in England.

145susanj67
nov. 17, 2015, 4:41am

Charlotte, I hope your mouth is back to normal today. And the TBR pile :-)

I picked up Roxanne Gay's Bad Feminist last night, which I'm pretty sure I reserved after you mentioned it. It took *ages* to come in, and I had to get it issued at the desk, because it had come from Bromley and their books don't work on the self-service machines. "Oh, I've read this," said the lady issuing it. "It's very good." So that's TWO staff at that library who like books!

146charl08
Editat: nov. 18, 2015, 9:02am

>140 vancouverdeb: Yep, there was lots of dry humour (as well as some sexist/racist guys getting trounced via smart remarks which was good).

>141 elkiedee: Thanks for pointing that out - and

>142 Storeetllr: I'm wondering the same thing!

>143 lyzard: I don't think JM Green is suggesting anything universal, just the idiocy of the criminal gang that she's describing. Sport does feature (as in the quote) as a means of ramping up the tension but also as rather affectionate digs at each other, which made me laugh.

Pudding recitation sounds like it would be a lovely party piece. Especially if you're having, well, pudding?

>144 cbl_tn: I love the cover on that one.

>145 susanj67: Bad Feminist was one of the Guardian review books I think. It was a one of the ones that got culled when I was hopelessly overwhelmed by my reservation pile. Hope it's good (and I might just request it again if so!).

I'm not doing too badly with the TBR, although I've found Even More Unread books on my shelves, uncatalogued. I picked The Fourth Treasure last night and was completely bowled over. It's got beautiful kanji illustrations alongside the text, with explanations of how the words are constructed by other words, so peaceful includes the character for 'green'. I'm explaining badly, but it is a good read.

At points I want to write sarcastic comments alongside the text if Young Stalin but there's no denying Montefiore has done an awful lot of research, and dug out some great quotes. Favourite so far: Stalin is told off by senior party figures for not knowing his Marx properly, whereupon he storms out saying Marx should have written it the way he, Stalin, wants. All rather prescient.

The Institute for Taxi Poetry is proving more tricky, as he's writing a satire on South African politics (I think) and I'm sure some of it is lost on me. Oh, and I'm carrying on with Nieffenegger's Ghostly short story collection, because they're really good. I read a Wodehouse one last night Honeysuckle Cottage, which made me laugh. A crime writer inherits the home of a romance writer, and finds his plots start acquiring romantic scenes. Lots of quips about genre writing. I didn't know you could get funny ghost stories, so there you go.

147elkiedee
nov. 17, 2015, 7:45am

I haven't yet read The Beggar's Opera aka Midnight in Havana - while the latter title is interesting I'm more drawn to the literary/cultural reference in the US title.

148charl08
nov. 17, 2015, 9:54am

>147 elkiedee: I'm just going to add the sample to my kindle (famous last words). I do wonder why they changed the title.

The Fourth Treasure just suited me right now, a historical transnational mystery mixed with bittersweet romance. Framed around the art of Japanese calligraphy, the text is accompanied by explanations of Kanji, the characters, but also the more abstract examples with English translation that reads like poetry. There is also a 'modern' thread, as a young American woman of Japanese ancestry in San Francisco studies neuroscience through a calligraphy teacher who has had a stroke.

This was my cover:


But I want this one, which has some of the beautiful calligraphy from the book by L.J.C. Shimoda :

149Crazymamie
nov. 17, 2015, 10:10am

I also liked The Beggar's Opera, and really, the title change makes no sense to me as literary reference is intwined with the plot of the book.

All caught up here, Charlotte! And what fun I had doing it, although my WL is longer now. Your thread is dangerous for me!

150charl08
nov. 17, 2015, 2:16pm

>149 Crazymamie: Thanks Mamie! The title change becomes 'curiouser and curiouser'.

I just read that a 30,000 word love letter from Germaine Greer to Martin Amis has been found, and an academic has written an article about it. She sold her archive, so there's that, but still!

I gave my copy of The Fourth Treasure to the charity shop today: hope the next person likes it as much as me.

151Carmenere
Editat: nov. 18, 2015, 7:26am

I've added On a Winter's Night to my wishlist, Charlotte. I've always loved the title but didn't know the book what is was about. Boy have you got me intrigued. Want. It. Now! :0)

Thanks for the B and N quiz. It picked me up for a few minutes. The momentary break was enjoyed and brought a smile to my face.

152charl08
Editat: nov. 18, 2015, 10:23am

>151 Carmenere: I found it a fun read, although Nathalie's comments about the tone I suspect are likely to be more accurate than my own.

I've picked up The Master from my shelf, which includes the receipt showing I bought it in 2011! The book is based on the last years of the life of Henry James. I remember thinking I didn't really understand the first chapter and putting it down, but I must have indirectly picked more up about him, as it is making more sense now.

153lkernagh
nov. 18, 2015, 11:05pm

>126 charl08: - The Calvino book is one that has been sitting on my to read list for a really long time. One of these days I will get around to reading it. Glad to see it was a classic read for you.

I tend to be lurking more than posting these past few months. Just wanted to let you know that I do fly through, but in silent mode until I find something to quickly comment/post about.

154msf59
nov. 19, 2015, 9:04am

Hi, Charlotte! I have wanted to read The Master forever. I was hoping to bookhorn it in, for the James AAC but once again, failed miserably.

I hope your week is going well.

155BLBera
nov. 19, 2015, 5:14pm

I'm not a big Henry James fan, but I loved The Master; Toibin must have lived and breathed James for years while working on this novel.

156charl08
nov. 19, 2015, 6:35pm

>153 lkernagh: I'd love to know what you think of it if you get the time to read it. I suspect it's one of those books that means very different things to each reader. Please do lurk away. I do appreciate this is a crazy time of year for many.

>154 msf59: Well, I haven't read ANY James at all, so I think not reading this Toibin is permissable in comparison, surely...? One of the lovely things about this novel was that it made me want to explore all his books, so hopefully some charity shop exploring will uncover some copies.

>155 BLBera: That's what I found so interesting about the book, that despite it being quite quite different from the other Toibin novels I've read in style, he still managed to completely duck me into his version of James' life, as I have been with the (fictional) characters in his novels. Just a wonderful book, and I am now even more of a Toibin fan that I was before I read it.

157charl08
nov. 19, 2015, 6:49pm

The Master was unlike anything else I've read by Toibin. Irish rural communities don't feature (although Irish politics does)and this is set firmly in the mannered world of the late 19c well to do, as experienced by the writer Henry James. James is a beautifully realised character in the novel, living through his writing, reliving his encounters with aily and friends through their recreations as characters and experiences in his writing. Toibin has him mining the lives of his family to show the difficulties of even affluent women as they tried to meet society’s expectations for their lives, as well as his family's pain at the Civil War, his father's odd religious beliefs and his own mother's belief that he was somehow ill. Life as lived by letter is also explored, and James tries to limit gossip about himself, write without interruption, and yet at the same time maintain complex relationships with acquaintances in adopted homes in London, Paris, Rome and Florence. The costs of his caution in the era of Wilde's imprisonment are as evident as the risks he doesn't take.

Beautifully written.

158vancouverdeb
nov. 20, 2015, 1:03am

You read amazingly fast, Charlotte! Afraid I've not read anything by Colm Toibin. Nice review! I've finished reading a wonderful trilogy about an Irish family living in the slums of Dublin, back in the late 1950's - early 1960's.

159Deern
Editat: nov. 20, 2015, 8:38am

The Master has been on my tbr since forever... shying back from the length, don't know if I can read more than 200+ pages of Toibin (a bit like with Virginia Woolf, love the writing but am scared of longer works). You got through it in 2 days. Did it feel long?

160rosylibrarian
nov. 20, 2015, 10:20am

>157 charl08: I need to add this one. I liked Toibin's Brooklyn when I read it this year.

161msf59
nov. 20, 2015, 11:47am

Happy Friday, Charlotte. I enjoyed your thoughts on The Master. I know there are mixed LT feelings about James but I have really enjoyed the books I have read by him. I say give him a try.

162charl08
nov. 20, 2015, 12:10pm

>158 vancouverdeb: If you could see how dark, windy and miserable it is here Deb, you'd get the reading in too (and I have no pup to demand walks from me either!). I think you'd like Brooklyn: he writes families beautifully.

>159 Deern: It didn't feel long. My copy is about 300 pages I think. I have a short memory with novels so it quite often helps me to be reading this kind of book in a concentrated period rather than having to try and work out what is being referred to after a break. In places the book circles the same events, adding levels of detail each time they are mentioned, so in some ways the familarity helps the reader.

>160 rosylibrarian: It's a lovely book, and it was interesting to see him write such a different kind of book to The Heather Blazing or Nora Webster.

163susanj67
nov. 20, 2015, 1:30pm

I've just been shelving book exchange donations and your Stalin book was in the box :-)

164vancouverdeb
Editat: nov. 20, 2015, 5:43pm

Typical rainy , dark day over the winter in Vancouver . We can get them 30 days in a row sometimes! But today is sunny, so off to grab some sun before it's dark. Poppy definitely gets me out there. :-) Sometimes during the winter I forget if there is a sun. I try to ignore it.

165PaulCranswick
nov. 20, 2015, 6:44pm

>164 vancouverdeb: We can have our moments in Malaysia too. You haven't seen a storm unless you have lived in the tropics.



Wishing you a storm free weekend, Charlotte. xx

166Ameise1
nov. 21, 2015, 7:38am

Hi Charlotte, I finally find time to do some weekend greetings. Wishing you a most lovely weekend.

167charl08
nov. 21, 2015, 11:35am

>163 susanj67: No rude comments in the margin? I'm sorely tempted with my copy.

>164 vancouverdeb: Well, I was going to take a picture of my terrible weather, but instead.... (see below)

>165 PaulCranswick: I love a tropical storm. Rain plus heat - what's not to love!?

>166 Ameise1: Hope that means you've got some reading time for yourself too Barbara. I have been thinking of you.

168charl08
nov. 21, 2015, 11:41am

The weather's been pretty grim, but today the Trough of Bowland was beautiful (if chilly).

169charl08
Editat: nov. 21, 2015, 4:00pm

Guardian Reviews 21st November



1966: The Year the Decade Exploded by Jon Savage reviewed by Bob Stanley
"1966 is an absorbing and extremely easy read because Savage is a pop writer in the truest sense. He is quick and to the point, he doesn’t waste words, bottling an over-familiar song with maximum thrill and minimum fuss: John Leyton’s Joe Meek-produced “Johnny Remember Me” is an “eldritch spasm”; of James Brown’s extraordinary “Tell Me That You Love Me”, he says “the words are nothing, they don’t matter. What does is the way that Brown drives the beat as though everything cannot come fast enough.”"

M Train by Patti Smith reviewed by Alice O'Keefe
"As it turns out, Smith really is the kind of woman who talks to her cats. She also talks to her floral bedspread and her TV remote (“Oh the haughtiness of a handheld device!”)."

Shadow Cold War: The Sino-Soviet Competition for the Third World by Jeremy Friedman reviewed by Julia Lovell
"a glance back at history reminds us that the cold war was not really a Eurocentric, bipolar conflict. It was, rather, a confrontation that drew in every continent, and in which ambitious state-makers in Africa, Asia and Latin America often played the two superpowers off against each other to maximise material support from both."

The Face of Britain: the nation through its portraits by Simon Schama reviewed by John Gallagher
"Schama is a historian with the cultural reach and critical nous to challenge some of the all-too-familiar tales of British history – to unpick national myths and ask awkward questions – but he has chosen to use the canvases of the National Portrait Gallery to tell the same old story. "

Proust: the search by Benjamin Taylor reviewed by Kathryn Hughes
"...this biography is probably best imagined as a kind of supplementary text'

Hamburgers in Paradise by Louise O Fresco reviewed by Bee Wilson
"Fresco’s weighty and often maddening book is about the many types of confusion that result from this state of abundance (though it does also consider the continuing hunger in the developing world). The title is meant to capture the paradox."

Nemesis by Misha Glenny reviewed by Tony Wood
"...his journey from ordinary favela resident to kingpin of Rocinha’s drug trade that Glenny retraces in this well-paced, engaging account, which depicts Rio’s drug wars not from the point of view of officialdom, but from the other side of the battle lines."

A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig reviewed by Tony Bradman
"this is a purely secular tale, with no baby Jesus in sight. But it’s suitable for children from nine to 99, and now added to my list of Christmas classics. I may never mutter “Bah, humbug” in quite the same way again."

Playthings by Alex Pheby reviewed by Chris Power
"Fittingly for a book about a psychoanalytical subject, Playthings is swollen with buried truths: beneath Schreber’s madness, Pheby argues, lies his father’s cruelty; Schreber’s adopted daughter might in fact be his wife’s illegitimate child; the Schreber home in an affluent Dresden suburb is built over a slum..... Every action, every situation, is influenced by what lies beneath it."

Killing and Dying by Adrian Tomine reviewed by Chris Ware
"There’s a certain alchemical balance required when planning a comics story, unpredictable yet based on a few measurable quantities – such as how characters are drawn, move and act around one another – which can either open up avenues of possibility in the author’s mind or set up roadblocks and shut down all dramatic throughways. Clearly, Tomine has found the former passage,..."

Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett reviewed by Andrew Gallix
"One of the most striking aspects of this extraordinary book is how well we get to know the narrator – whose brain and body we inhabit – yet how little we know about her. We don’t even learn her name. Her soliloquies are peppered with asides to an implied reader – “if you want to know” – cheekily drawing attention to the amount of information being withheld"

Landfalls by Naomi J Williams reviewed by Clare Clark
"On 10 March 1789, nearly four years after leaving France, the expedition departed Botany Bay for the Solomon Islands. They were never heard of again. A search party dispatched by the French government in 1791 found no trace of them. The ships, and all of their men, had vanished. The story, or rather stories, of this ill-fated endeavour are the subject of Naomi J Williams’s impressive debut..."

I want all of them. Not the Schama though I want the book that the reviewer suggested should have been written.

170msf59
nov. 21, 2015, 11:49am

Happy Saturday, Charlotte. I didn't realize you had read Sweet Caress. Did you review it? I am only a few pages in but I am engaged.

171Ameise1
nov. 21, 2015, 12:00pm

>167 charl08: Thanks, Charlotte. I finished a book and an audio, so I'm very pleased.

172PaulCranswick
nov. 21, 2015, 1:06pm

>169 charl08: Landfalls is the one that grabs me from this week's list, Charlotte.

173charl08
Editat: nov. 21, 2015, 3:51pm

>170 msf59: Back in September Mark. The library came up trumps, and I wrote a couple of paragraphs on it saying I liked it (but not as much as Any Human Heart).

>171 Ameise1: Glad to hear it!

>172 PaulCranswick: I'm intrigued by this one: will being French make it really different from Jamrach's Menagerie and Kate Grenville's books about settling Australia. I'm sure there are others too (*thinks*).

174BLBera
Editat: nov. 21, 2015, 11:12pm

Hi Charlotte - Landfalls and Pond sound good to me.

175charl08
nov. 22, 2015, 5:23am

I'm also intrigued by Pond which sounds from the review a bit like the slightly opaque writing in Outline. Hopefully a copy will arrive at the library by itself, as I am feeling a bit self conscious about all the books I have been asking them to buy lately.

I'm still working my way through Young Stalin, it's early 1907* and the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks have all arrived in London for a conference, pursued by the Okhrana (Tsarist secret police), traitors in their midst (in the pay of the Okhrana) and the London paparazzi. I'd kind of assumed that Boris Akunin heightened the crazy politics of this period in his detective series about a Russian police agent/ detective, but apparently not... Political heists, lots of being thrown out of various countries, and disguises aplenty.

*Russian and British date system was not the same in this period.

176susanj67
nov. 22, 2015, 9:29am

>167 charl08: Charlotte, no margin comments that I saw flicking through it quickly. We also have his Jerusalem. Somewhere in the building there must be a SSM fan.

>169 charl08: Thanks for the Guardian reviews. I thought for moment that Landfalls was NF, but I see it's fiction instead. Maybe I'll look out for 1966 instead.

177sibylline
nov. 22, 2015, 9:44am

I read an excerpt in the New Yorker from The Meursault Investigation - had no idea it was only part of a larger work!

I liked The Master a lot too!

178charl08
nov. 22, 2015, 9:57am

>176 susanj67: The full review says this is by no means the first pass at the history, so wonder if there are NF works in English too.

>177 sibylline: I was glad to read it (and to feel like I was helping the Syrian refugees at the same time, as the bookshop was doing a special donation on a number of books including The Meursault Investigation).Quite a short book, so you may not have far to go...

179charl08
Editat: nov. 22, 2015, 2:59pm

Plans for next year's reading

January
AAC - The Tin can tree by Anne Tyler;
CAC - I have so many to choose from at the library I don't know what to go for by Robertson Davies,
Kim Thuy Ru
BAC - a short story collection by Susan Hill, The Greeks have a word for it Barry Unsworth;

February
AAC - On Helwig Street by Richard Russo
CAC Helen Humphreys - I think I've read what the library has... :- (
Stephen Leacock The Penguin Stephen Leacock
BAC - An Autobiography by Agatha Christie,
White Mughals by William Dalrymple;

March
AAC - Private Life Jane Smiley ;
CAC - My Father's Son by Farley Mowat,
The Hero's Walk Anita Rau Badami
BAC - Public Library and Other Stories by Ali Smith
Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

April
AAC - No library choices! Gary Snyder
CAC - Lady Oracle (TBR) by Margaret Atwood
Sweetland Michael Crummey
BAC - Middlemarch by George Eliot
Collected Stories by Hanif Kureishi

May
AAC - Work song by Ivan Doig (TBR);
CAC - Michel Tremblay Making Room
The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel;
BAC -Crusoe’s Daughter by Jane Gardam
Blood Count by Robert Goddard;

June
AAC - Bird Cloud by Annie Proulx;
CAC - The Butterfly Plague -Timothy Findlay
The Orenda Joseph Boyden
BAC - Must You Go by Antonia Fraser &
Under Western Eyes Joseph Conrad

July :
AAC - Cannery Row by John Steinbeck;
CAC - Anne of Windy Poplars by LM Montgomery,
The Dionne Years Pierre Bertron

BAC - The Elected Member by Bernice Rubens
Selected Short Stories by H.G. Wells;

August :
AAC -Expensive People by Joyce Carol Oates
CAC - Solomon Gursky Was Here by Mordecai Richler
Where nests the water hen Gabrielle Roy
BAC - reflections on the magic of writing Diana Wynne-Jones
The Innocent - Ian McEwan

September :
AAC - Trying to save Piggy Snead short stories by John Irving
CAC - The flying troutmans Miriam Toews, (TBR)
The Enigma of the Returnby Dany Laferriere
BAC - one from the TBR pile Doris Lessing &
One of the Spanish trilogy by Laurie Lee.

October
AAC - Michael Chabon Telegraph Avenue
CAC - Laurence Hill The Book of Negroes
Sanctuary line by Jane Urquhart
BAC - ? (The new one) by Kate Atkinson &
Freefall by William Golding

November :
AAC - The Maytrees by Annie Dillard;
CAC - probably poetry by Michael Ondaatje
Margaret Laurence TBA;
BAC - Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West (TBR) & Len Deighton (Probably pass)

December
AAC- Underworld by Don Delillo
CAC - Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro &
Rawi Hage Carnival (TBR)
BAC -Villette by Charlotte Bronte

Thanks to Paul C. for the original format putting the A/B/C authors together.

180weird_O
nov. 22, 2015, 3:11pm

Wow. What commitment. I've been mapping out next year's reading, but I think I'll keep options open. The AAC links authors and months, but not particular books, so I think I'll pick books in the moment. I often felt locked in this year (my first on LT).

181charl08
nov. 22, 2015, 4:23pm

I should have clarified that I make no pledges to finish these books. I'm a big believer in going for the Shiny New Books when they speak to me! I've been reading 25 books a month most months, so hoping that it will be a relatively small commitment in my overall reading.

182msf59
Editat: nov. 22, 2015, 6:41pm

Nice game-plan, Charlotte. I will list my AAC choices (since I am hosting) but, like Bill, I will also be "winging" the other challenges.

That worked for me, in 2015, so why change, right?

I will also be reading a Davies in January.

183Deern
nov. 23, 2015, 6:07am

Great reading plan! I started filling 1,001 listed books into my own challenge frame, but there are still far more gaps than titles. I think I'll go from month to month and catch BBs from others. I'll also have to see what the library offers in translation, can't buy 60 books just for the challenges.
25 books a month?? Wow, that's extremely impressive!

184vancouverdeb
nov. 23, 2015, 6:08am

So ambitious, Charlotte! Such a plan for the A/B/C challenges! I tend to just read what interests me, except I do like following the prizes, like the Booker, Bailey's Women's fiction, and the Canadian Literary Prizes. Maybe I'll have a bit of a go with the Canadian prizes.

Supposed to be " arctic outflow " weather this week - which means we might get snow for a day or two. I hope not. Brr! Give me rain any day.

185charl08
nov. 23, 2015, 8:17am

>182 msf59: Sounds like a good strategy. Apart from anything else, I've got a list because I will need to order the books ahead of time from the library catalogue (so it was easier to create the list online from the catalogue, and then copy it over). Hurrah for digital catalogues. :-)

>183 Deern: Thanks Nathalie. I've avoided the 1,001 challenge so far (partly because it sounds like a LOT of books from before 1950), but you never know, maybe in 2016 I'll crack and go for it...

>184 vancouverdeb: Ha Deb. Bet you read all the CAC ones though (if you haven't already crossed them off your list). And there's all those scandi series to keep up with too!

186charl08
nov. 23, 2015, 8:20am

I've been clearing out my email account (I read a Ray Bradbury story in Ghostly yesterday about automatic housework, and just sighed. When is that going to happen? When?!) and came across this description of a documentary from Women Make Movies. I love the sound of it, tempted to see if I can download it online... The headline of the email is 'Did Romance Save the Publishing Industry?' Love it.

Love Between the Covers
A film by Laurie Kahn
US, 2015, 84 minutes, Color, DVD
Order No. W161173

Romance fiction outsells all other genres of writing, from crime to science fiction, combined. So why is the genre so often dismissed as frivolous "scribble"? Could it be that it's because the overwhelming majority of writers and readers are women? This funny and inspiring look into a billion dollar industry turns up trailblazers who push the discussion on gender, race, sexuality and diversity at the front lines of the biggest power shift in publishing.

In LOVE BETWEEN THE COVERS Emmy Award® Winning director Laurie Kahn (TUPPERWARE!, A MIDWIFE'S TALE) turns her insightful eye towards another American pop culture phenomenon: the romance industry. Creating online empires and inventing new markets are authors like Beverly Jenkins, a pioneer of African American romance, Len Barot (aka Radclyffe, L.L. Raand), a surgeon and lesbian-romance legend who started her own publishing house, and the incomparable Nora Roberts. This documentary offers fascinating insights into the history and popularity of this female-centric literary world.

187paulstalder
nov. 23, 2015, 8:37am

>174 BLBera: funny, I had the same inclination and now I see that you had the same choices.

188charl08
nov. 23, 2015, 8:50am

Great minds think alike Paul and Beth!

189charl08
Editat: nov. 23, 2015, 2:14pm

I've returned Ghostly, as I felt bad keeping it to myself, and although I liked about half of the ones I read (including the wonderful Wodehouse one), some of the others were just ok. The longest one, about a writer setting up in a new place by MR James, I gave up on as a bad job. No need for fictional bad writing stories.

190connie53
nov. 23, 2015, 2:19pm

>189 charl08: Hi Charlotte! Good plan to return a not so good book!

191LovingLit
nov. 23, 2015, 3:09pm

I love the pictures of stormy and grey skies up there. Meanwhile, here summer is settling in. We have a lovely day ahead of us here, and I am looking forward to the sunshine.

>186 charl08: interesting sounding documentary!

192BLBera
nov. 23, 2015, 5:14pm

Charlotte - Even if you read a gazillion books a year, this is still an ambitious list. Go for it!

Great minds...

193charl08
nov. 23, 2015, 7:12pm

>190 connie53: Thanks for the encouragement!

>191 LovingLit: I remembered that the library lets me order dvd's, so I have submitted a request. Fingers crossed...

>192 BLBera: Well, I suspect the ambitious bit for me is more the trying to remember to order the books in time. Should be fun to see whether I like so many well thought of authors, or end up wondering what all the fuss is about.

194charl08
Editat: nov. 23, 2015, 7:45pm

I read The Hired Girl in one sitting, an account of a young woman who runs away from her miserable father and his farm to become 'the hired girl' for a Jewish family in Baltimore. At its best it's genuinely funny and Joan is as loveable as some of the classic heroines of fiction for children.


The descriptions of the drudgery of housework a hundred years ago almost made me feel grateful for the vacuum cleaner. I was reading from behind my fingers towards the end, hoping Schlitz would be a bit kinder to her character than Dodi Smith was to hers.

I don't read a lot of fiction aimed at young people, and I did wonder if it was not a bit too sentimental. It was a little heavy on the detail of Joan's catholicism in places for me. Nonetheless a good read.
Mimi says her friend Maisie Phillips' brother, Sam, would be sweet on me if I gave him a little encouragement, but I'm not going to do it, because he's a Methodist and not interesting. Also, I'm busy: I'm planning to write an epic poem about the life of a Vestal Virgin.

195vancouverdeb
nov. 24, 2015, 1:27am

LOL! I suppose I have read a lot of the Canadian Challenge authors. :) But not all, by any means . I've never read anything by Robertson Davies and he is supposed to be such a well - loved famous Can Lit writer. I do have a book by him in my " shelves." Miriam Toews, nada also. Rawi Hage, no. And that is not to say I have not looked at books by those authors, but they have not appealed to me.

That documentary about Romance Writers sounds very interesting. I'm not much for romance. But I wonder why " romance" sells so well? I don't know anyone personally who reads romance, unless they won't admit it. I did dabble in Harlequin Romance books in my teens, along with my friends, but even we got the giggles over the books after a bit.

Hired Girl sounds alright, but perhaps nothing I''ll be seeking out.

Turned out it rained today. The weather folks are never correct. Look out the window and then you will know the weather . That's the best way to do it.

196charl08
nov. 24, 2015, 2:26pm

>195 vancouverdeb: I'm cross because the library has emailed me a one line message to my request for the dvd, saying that the supplier can't get it. I feel like sending them a screen shot of the web page that says 'to order, click here'.

HARUMPH!

197Storeetllr
nov. 24, 2015, 3:23pm

Just stopping by for a quick hello and to see what you've been up to since I've been immersed in NaNoWriMo.

>194 charl08: I've read other things by Schlitz that I liked a lot (Drowned Maiden and Splendors and Glooms, and an illustrated children's book The Night Fairy that I want to buy for myself my niece, but not sure The Hired Girl is something I'd enjoy. Still, when I have time, I may give it a shot.

198charl08
nov. 25, 2015, 12:05pm

It's been fun to read how well you are getting on with your writing challenge. Until I read the article you posted on your thread I had no idea how many published novels originated with the challenge. I think the reviews on the book page for The Hired Girl are great and probably more representative: I don't tend to enjoy reading about religious experiences, but still found the book good which is unusual for me.

199charl08
Editat: nov. 26, 2015, 7:16pm

Patchwork met two of my (self set) challenges, a novel listed as one of the top 50 written by African women writers, and from my TBR pile. Stylish Penguin edition too.



I enjoyed this novel a lot. Pumpkin lives in Lusaka in 1978. Her dad only comes to visit her and her mum occasionally, and lately her mum has taken to drink to deal with the situation. Pumpkin's not dealing with it that well either. Banda-Aaku puts Pumpkin's domestic dilemmas on the context of Zambia's political vulnerability, as Ian Smith attempted to disrupt (bomb) the rebels (fighters for a free Zimbabwe) based in Zambia at the time. The second half of the book jumps forward and the adult Pumpkin is worried her husband is following her father's approach to marriage.

Loaves of bread wrapped in cellophane line the kiosk shelf and give off a warm, freshly baked scent. 'Wreaths have become part of our life. They fit in amongst the bread and salt,' Grandma Pond says, pointing at the loaves. The vendor laughs and reveals black gums. 'These days, mayo, death is life. In my business here I make more money from the flowers I sell for the dead than from selling food to the living.'


I also finished The Institute for Taxi Poetry. I loved the idea of this novel more than the book itself. Coovadia imagines a world where there is money for poets to write and study (and be immortalised in sign writing) via the SA minibus taxi system.



The poetry snippets are wonderful, and the descriptions driving through Cape Town are evocative without romanticising or glossing over its problems (not least the gang violence linked to the taxi companies' attempts to get rid of the competition). But it becomes absorbed in a story about academic infighting and fallen role models. I wanted more poetry and more on the routes the buses and their poets took: maybe a sequel could head off in that direction.
This holiday society remembered nothing, kept no memories of the glories of transportation literature, which made the city of Cape Town itself nearly glorious. The holidaymakers read the eyes of the dice in the casino, disturbed the penguins protecting their eggs on Boulders Beach, listened for the noonday gun, attended to the inscription on the Dias Cross far out on Cape Point in the pouring rain when one felt that the entire peninsula was a ship in a storm. Just as Venice was transformed into a facade, as the punishment for her beauty, so the same thing was happening here.... Soon, everything substantial would be light enough to dissolve into sea spray.

200BLBera
nov. 25, 2015, 4:22pm

You got me with both Patchwork and The Institute for Taxi Poetry, Charlotte. The Taxi Poetry does sound like a unique idea.

Good job with the challenges.

201EBT1002
nov. 26, 2015, 12:41pm

>179 charl08: Very ambitious and I'm impressed with your planning!


202EBT1002
nov. 26, 2015, 12:44pm

You got me with Patchwork and The Institute for Taxi Poetry, too!

I can't get the touchstone for the former to work right. There is too much symbolism in that fact.

203charl08
Editat: nov. 26, 2015, 3:00pm

>200 BLBera: The taxi poetry has apparently been 'made real' - when I was looking for the cover image a minibus image with poetry turned up in the 'WISER' website (part of tte Uni of Witwatersrand, Jo'burg). Thinking about it now I wondered whether the author had come across poetry on the underground, a favourite of mine in my time as a commuter.

>201 EBT1002: >202 EBT1002: Thanks! And happy hols to all who've got them.

ETA This one seemed appropriate for LT. I'm sure we could shoehorn 'the Internet' into the last line...

204charl08
Editat: nov. 26, 2015, 7:17pm

Young Stalin is a book I am Delighted to push off my TBR pile, where it had been sitting for (mumbles) years. I find Stalin a fascinating figure, but knew nothing of his early life. The way Montefiore tells it, his youth cries out to be made into an action adventure film. Montefiore opens with an amazing, dramatic set piece as the young Stalin and his friends stage a robbery on a Tsarist bank delivery in Georgia. He discusses his poor family background, brilliant school record, frustrations in the seminary, and transformation into on-the-run Bolshevik, committing crimes to fund the Revolution.


I think some of his conclusions ask too much of the available evidence : I didn't find his arguments that aspects of the Terror can be explained by his wife's suicide, or his experience of Okhrana informants within the early party enough to support that his youth made him the dictator. I got the sense that this was the author's key claim for the book. I'd have liked a more considered attitude to the women and girls described in the book: Stalin had many relationships and often left behind partners when politics demanded it. There's little sense of what the women involved thought about him, or even a more adult understanding of why women in this period might have found both liberating and difficult about the Bolshevik attitude to sexual politics (instead it's treated like a tabloid covering a sex scandal). As an archive geek I love that he talks about the papers and diaries and autobiographies he tracked down across the former USSR, particularly those with interesting histories of confiscation and censorship.

205avatiakh
nov. 26, 2015, 6:07pm

I read Simon Sebag Montifiore's book about Jerusalem earlier in the year and also found his foraging among the archives fascinating. I'm currently doing a followup read of The storyteller of Jerusalem: The Life and Times of Wasif Jawhariyyeh, 1904-1948 as Montifiore quoted from his diaries and brought the Mandate period alive from a social perspective rather than a political one.

Young Stalin looks to be fascinating.

206vancouverdeb
nov. 26, 2015, 7:03pm

Young Stalin is on my library thing as though I owned on my kindle. I'll have to have a look. I am usually pretty good about tagging things , but you never know. Good on you for reading 50 books by African authors! A great accomplishment. In past I have been better about reading more globally, but this year I have been reading mainly Canadian, American and UK writers. Bad, I know.

207charl08
Editat: nov. 26, 2015, 7:45pm

>205 avatiakh: It was a really interesting book, despite my caveats. It made me think I'd like to read something else about Georgia, to wonder if there is a book that covers what happened to all the Mensheviks and other folk who went into exile from Russia after the Revolution. Also reminded me that there is a book that I think is called letters to Stalin, based on all the petitions people sent him, that I want to read (once I can work out what the real title is).

>206 vancouverdeb: I've not got there yet Deb, still a long way to go (and this list doesn't include the ones I'd read before 2015).

Gateway for Africa / Bookshy's list of 50 Books by African women everyone should read / 12 Read so far in 2015!
2. The Aya Series Aya of Yop City- Marguerite Abouet (Cote D'Ivoire / France) READ
5. Changes: A Love Story - Ama Ata Aidoo (Ghana)
6. Our Sister Killjoy - READ
8. Our Wife and Other Stories - Karen King-Aribisala (Nigeria)
9. Everything Good Will Come - Sefi Atta (Nigeria)
10. So Long a Letter - Mariama Ba (Senegal) READ
11. Tropical Fish: Stories out of Entebbe - Doreen Baingana (Uganda)
12. Patchwork - Ellen Banda-Aaku (UK/ Zambia / Ghana)
14. We need new names - No Violet Bulawayo (Zimbabwe)
15. Daughters of Africa - Margaret Busby (Ghana / UK)
17. Woman at Point Zero - Nawal El Saadawi (Egypt) READ
18. The Joys of Motherhood - Buchi Emecheta (Nigeria)
20. July’s People - Nadine Gordimer (South Africa) READ
21. The Collector of Treasures - Bessie Head (South Africa)
22. In Dependence - Sarah Ladipo (Nigeria/ UK)
23. Secret Son - Laila Lalami (Morocco)
24. Sundowners - Lesley Lokko (Ghana/Scotland)
25. Black Mamba Boy - Nadifa Mohamed (UK / Somaliland) READ
26. Your Madness, Not Mine - Juliana Makuchi (Short Stories, Cameroon) READ
27. Neighbours: The Story of a Murder - Lilia Momplé (Mozambique)
28. Ripples in the Pool- Rebeka Njau (Kenya)
29. Efuru- Flora Nwapa (Nigeria)
30. I Do Not Come To You By Chance- Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani (Nigeria)
31. The Promised Land - Grace Ogot (Kenya)
32. Bitter Leaf - Chioma Okereke (Nigeria / England)
33. Zahrah the Windseeker - Nnedi Okorafor (US / Nigeria)
34. The Spider King’s Daughter - Chibundu Onuzo (Nigeria)
35. Dust - Yvonne Adhiambor Owuor (Kenya)
37. The Map of Love - Ahdaf Soueif (Egypt) READ
38. This September Sun - Bryony Rheam (Zimbabwe)
39. Distant View of a Minaret and Other Stories -Alifa Rifaat (Egypt) READ
40. As the Crow Flies - Véronique Tadjo (Côte d'Ivoire). READ
41. The Blind Kingdom (also by Véronique Tadjo)
43. Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria - Noo Saro-Wiwa (Nigeria / England)
44. Butterfly Burning - Yvonne Vera (Zimbabwe).
45. Nehanda (also by Yvonne Vera)
46. Teaching my Mother How to Give Birth - Warsan Shire (Kenya / Somalia)
47. The Ghost Le Revenant in French) - Aminata Sow Fall (Senegal)
48. Men of the South - Zukiswa Wanner (South Africa)
49. David’s Story - Zoe Wicomb (South Africa) READ

208charl08
Editat: nov. 27, 2015, 3:15am

Now reading The life and death of Mary Wollstonecraft, along with two short story collections by Ian McEwan and Petina Gappah, and The Diary of Helena Morley. Lots still to clear from the TBR pile, plenty of time before the end of the month (!).

209susanj67
nov. 27, 2015, 5:26am

>208 charl08: Ha! No!vember is watching :-)

I may have just happened to look up The Hired Girl in the elibrary (I have no idea what I was doing there or how four romances and a book about robots found their way onto the hold list) and it said that maybe I needed to change my maturity settings in order to see everything. ?!! I clicked the link and it's true - you can elect to see only Juvenile, or YA, or General Adult or Mature Adult. There's also an option for no grown-up covers, which are apparently replaced with a blank cover. I'm not sure why they didn't just choose a kitten. Anyway, The Hired Girl wasn't there, so I couldn't go any more astray than I already had.

210charl08
nov. 27, 2015, 10:22am

Does the grown up covers setting include the Harry Potter series?

My latest GN book is apparently *in* the library but has not made it to the reservation shelf. Argh.

211susanj67
nov. 27, 2015, 11:05am

>210 charl08: I'll have to check Harry Potter, next month obviously. Oh, who am I kidding? About an hour after reserving the robots book I got the download email. Dang! Make them look for the GN! I have done that before. It wasn't one of my better moments. Even worse was the time I was down at Cubitt Town and the man came in with the crates of transferred books and I saw something that I'd reserved to pick up there (this was in the bad old days before Favourite Library Assistant, when I was boycotting Canary Wharf). Thinking there surely couldn't be two of us after it, I asked the assistant to check whether it was for me or not and it was. Heh. He looked vaguely appalled that people were now asking for stuff *from the crates*, without the book even showing up in their account.

212LovingLit
nov. 27, 2015, 3:14pm

>199 charl08: Patchwork looks like a good read, and some useful history in there too. I am a fan of Penguin editions too :)

213banjo123
nov. 27, 2015, 6:05pm

I am also wish-listing Patchwork.

214charl08
nov. 28, 2015, 8:37am

>211 susanj67: Oh, I think I'm going to have to try and work out what the two pro-active librarians' schedules are, and go when they're in. Went in to pick book up which has been showing as in my library for (at least) three days. I got the lady who seems to struggle with the computer system. It's here, I pointed out, on the catalogue page. Denial that this means the book is in the library, followed by finding the book waiting to be 'ticked off'. Huh.

On the flip side of this, the young man at the desk next to me was bringing in his completed Lancashire reading challenge sheets, and discussing his reading plans with another librarian. Nice.

>212 LovingLit: >213 banjo123: Hope you like it. Nervous Conditions and the sequel are good reads if you're interested in fictionalised representations of Zimbabwe's independence struggle. This was the first novel I'd read depicting this from a Zambian perspective.

215charl08
nov. 28, 2015, 8:56am

Not Funny Ha Ha a graphic (novel? Factual account? Not sure if the right terminology) strikes me as an important book. It provides a straightforward introduction to two forms of abortion, deliberately avoiding passing moral judgement, and clearly adocating a woman's right to choose.



Following two young women who choose to terminate a pregnancy, it documents the physical experience, and acknowledges the possible emotional experience (while avoiding being prescriptive). Since this fits with my own views, this was no stretch. Given the recent attack on a clinic in the US, the image of the body search by a security guard made me pause. I have heard of (peaceful) protests starting here outside clinics. Whilst they continue to be peaceful I am one of those people who finds this a very difficult intersection of 'freedom of speech' and 'a woman's right to choose', both of which I support. I hope this book is in places like school libraries - if there are still kids who don't have someone to ask, they might find it.
From the afterword
... But what about the act "in between" the meaning and the politics and the arguments? What is it like to go through something so physical (yet so emotionally charged) something so personal, yet something so universal...? A procedure that so many women go through can also seem like you are very alone. Part of my intention is to make such a thing seem less lonely, if I can.

216Ameise1
nov. 28, 2015, 10:11am

Happy weekend, Charlotte.

217charl08
nov. 28, 2015, 10:49am

Thanks Barbara! And to you.

218charl08
Editat: nov. 28, 2015, 1:36pm

Guardian Reviews (28th November)



All for Nothing by Walter Kempowski reviewed by Carol Birch
'a beautiful, forgiving and compassionate book that looks beyond the futile divisions people make between themselves.'

Man Tiger by Eka Kurniawan reviewed by Deborah Smith
'...could be called a crime novel.... a distinctly Javanese take on the hard-boiled genre'

The Speaker's Wife by Quentin Letts reviewed by Chris Bryant
"...less a political satire than a love song to the Church of England."

Numero Zero by Umberto Eco reviewed by Alberto Manguel
"Unfortunately, what could have been anice entertaining satire of the historian-journalist's construction of reality becomes a cluttered catalogue of improbable hypotheses and more or less amusing what-ifs..."

Pacific by Tom Drury reviewed by Mark Lawson
"...plaits together multiple plot lines that have a unifying quality of fretful oddness."

The Clasp by Sloane Crosley reviewed by Alfred Hickling
"Crosley's fictional style feels like hurtling down a long corridor rattling all the corridors in turn, and though some prove more enlightening than others it is invariably Maupassant who provides the key."

Between Debt and the Devil: Money, Credit and fixing global finance by Adair Turner reviewed by Tom Clark
"Head-spinning new practives may have intensified the frenzy, but their chief role was always to disguise an older enemy: debt."

Disaster Capitalism: Making a Killing Out of Catastrophe by Antony Loewenstein reviewed by Owen Hatherley
" One major strength of the book is its interviews. We meet a succession of nice, apparently open spokespeople for oursourcers and mercenaries... He lets them speak with their own breathtakingly cynical words."

Condition: The Ageing of art by Paul Taylor reviewed by James Hall
"...demonstrates that all artworks undergo countless metamorphoses."

Piet Mondrian: The Studios edited by Cees W de Jong reviewed by Frances Spalding
"...explores the connections between Mondrian's experiments with colour and space and his use of his studios as laboratories for these experiments."

London Fog by Christine Corton reviewed by P D Smith
"One of the most terrible fogs began on 4 December 1952 as a cold front moved across the capital. The air was very still and the smoke from countless fires hung in the cold air. Soon a thick yellow fog smothered the city like a blanket...."the smog was so thick you felt like you were walking into a war."

The Invention of Science: a new history of the Scientific Revolution by David Wootton reviewed by Lorraine Daston
"...at its core, however, are remarkable essays in the vocabulary of the age of discovery... Drawing on a dazzling array of texts, Wootton traces a dawning consciousness..."

Alive, Alive Oh! And other things by Diana Athill reviewed by Tessa Hadley
"...even the blunt truth-telling of Athill's style is its own code, it's own performance of self; inside it's lucidity and reasonableness we glimpse the shadows stirring, panics and shames withheld."

219arubabookwoman
nov. 28, 2015, 12:18pm

Delurking to say how much I enjoy your Guardian "reports."

I read Young Stalin a couple of years ago and liked it, but not enough (at least so far) to read Montefiore's book about Stalin's later life. Have you read that one?

Way above Deern mentioned Italian male writers. Just saying I loved I'm Not Scared by Niccolo Ammaniti, one of the authors mentioned. It's on the 1001 list too.

220charl08
Editat: nov. 28, 2015, 1:44pm

Thanks for the nice feedback. I have found them useful for myself, tracking back through the year. I haven't read anything else by him. I read (what felt like) a lot about Stalin for a course way back, and we were recommended to read Sheila Fitzpatrick. Less smooth narrative more emphasis on the complexity. ETA But I might read it!

221Storeetllr
nov. 28, 2015, 3:58pm

Just stopping by for a quick hello and to say I hope you have a great weekend! I'll be back to check out your book reviews more closely after NaNo November is over and I can read again.

222BLBera
nov. 28, 2015, 4:28pm

Hi Charlotte - Thanks again for the reviews. Man Tiger and London Fog look interesting.

223susanj67
nov. 28, 2015, 4:33pm

>218 charl08: I like the look of London Fog too. And there is the science book, which has been tormenting me at the library for weeks! Maybe it's a secret sign that I should borrow it* before a stampede of Guardian readers snaps it up.

*On Tuesday, obviously.

224PaulCranswick
nov. 28, 2015, 9:13pm

>218 charl08: Nothing stands out from the group for me but I could happily add most of the Guardian review books this week.

Looks like the forces of reaction are out full-throttle to throttle Corbyn over his position over Syria. I think there is consensus about the need to tackle and remove ISIS or whatever that bunch of irreligious murderers call themselves but it seems to me the West is still concentrating too much on regime change rather than the most pressing problem to us all - the terrorists.

In the second world war most of the Allies recognised fundamental disagreements with the Soviet Union but acknowledged the greater threat of Hitler and worked with the distasteful Stalin. Britain and France and especially the USA don't like Assad and the latter, in particular have armed the rebels against him (also terrorists depending upon your view - rebels when the Western governments support you of course). The way to settle ISIS is to work with the Russians and Assad and turn everything against the most pressing target. They won't do that and will never learn the lessons so apparent always in the Middle East that enforced regime change is a recipe for disaster. We are all reaping what Bush and Blair sowed in Iraq and Libya. Assad has done bad things I am sure as did Churchill to the British miners and to the Bolsheviks by dropping chemical weapons on them but we remember him apparently fondly and declare Assad persona non grata despite him being the best hope of getting rid of ISIS in concert with the West.

Have a lovely weekend.

225msf59
nov. 28, 2015, 9:15pm

Hi, Charlotte! Hope you are having a good weekend.

Thanks for the Guardian Reviews. I also think Man Tiger sounds good.

226Chatterbox
nov. 29, 2015, 2:37am

All for Nothing is now on my Kindle!

Hard to tell whether the reviewer liked The Clasp, isn't it?

227charl08
nov. 29, 2015, 5:34am

>221 Storeetllr: Hope you get to your target. I have been looking at books on (academic) writing lately, good to see a method that works for getting those words out.

>222 BLBera: Some of the covers for Man Tiger are beautiful, Beth. And the comparisons made to classic authors makes the books sound like a winner.

>223 susanj67: Susan, look forward to hearing what you think. I'm hoping the library will get hold of a copy for me.

>224 PaulCranswick: The politics of the labour party on this would be laughable if they weren't about such a serious issue. Members of the shadow cabinet appear (to me) to be complaining that they are asked to go back to their constituency and get opinions rather than just pressing the button for more weapons, more horror, more injured soldiers (when in contrast surveys suggest the majority of Labour members at least want no bombing). Some appear to be throwing their toys out if the pram at the very suggestion of consultation.

From the review the Antony Loewenstein book above makes a case for the only ones who really benefit being the companies 'delivering' the weapons, prisons etc.

On a much more positive note, watched a lovely news report about a volunteer run sports team in London set up for children of different faiths to play football together.

228charl08
nov. 29, 2015, 5:39am

>225 msf59: Looks like that one might be a popular choice!

>226 Chatterbox: I thought All or Nothing sounded a bit like Rachel Seiffert, which makes me very happy. I get the impression the Guardian reviewer was not as keen as some of the other fans of this book. I saw that there is a pink version of the cover and all but switched off.

229charl08
nov. 29, 2015, 5:46am

Oh dear. The LRB has one of those Christmas articles where people choose their book of the year. Temptation!

After being relatively good this month, I checked out a charity shop book shelf, and came away with:

Their eyes were watching god (in a lovely VMC edition)
The Ballad of a Small Player
Love Invents Us
An Equal Music
Impossible Saints

230Ameise1
nov. 29, 2015, 7:06am

Charlotte, I'm looking foreward what you'l think about An Equal Musik. Another branch of our library has got a copy.

231PaulCranswick
nov. 29, 2015, 9:40am

>229 charl08: Nice little haul, Charlotte.

>227 charl08: Some of those bombs are not going to fall on ISIS for sure. I watched Robin Cook's resignation speech on Iraq and would hope that others so eager to load up the planes took the trouble to do so as well. The Tories as usual are making it an issue of Patriotism and protecting the nation but how are we waving the flag in this way and how is it going to do anything but the opposite. I think all fair minded people agree on the need to remove ISIS but this isn't the way to do it and the fact that this failed modus operandi is again being considered shows that the West is determined not to learn the lessons of history.

232msf59
nov. 29, 2015, 9:46am

Happy Sunday, Charlotte! I all ready had Man Tiger on my To-Read list, so I must have heard warbling from someone...

233charl08
nov. 29, 2015, 10:15am

>230 Ameise1: It might be a while Barbara. I've got a bit of a library book backlog to catch up with before Xmas! I loved his poem novel The Golden Gate.

>231 PaulCranswick: It always seems to be the ordinary people paying for the rhetoric.

>232 msf59: Ahead of the crowd, eh? Sounds good.

234charl08
Editat: nov. 30, 2015, 9:07am

An Elegy for Easterly is another book from my shelf I'm glad I pulled down. This was Petina Gappah's first book, a collection of short stories that reflects her Zimbabwean roots, although the cover tells me she is now based in Geneva.



There's a wide range of subjects, locations and characters covered by these stories, from young children being raised by a nanny who isn't allowed to forget her time 'in the camp at Mozambique', to a couple dealing with a marriage that has all but ended. Elements of the stories reflect the politics of hyperinflation and the attempt by politicians to hold onto power by any means necessary, however there are humour, music and genuine communities shown here, with the double standards and weaknesses of everyone from a wedding crowd who won't say what they fear about the groom's HIV status to the constitutional lawyer who uses election observation conferences to cheat on his wife up
M'dhara Vitalis danced them off the floor to the sidelines where they stood to watch with the rest of us. He knew all the latest dances, and the oldest too. We gaped at his reebok and his water pump. He stunned us with his running man. He killed us with his robot. And his snake dance and his break-dance made us stand up and say ho-o. His moonwalk would have made Michael Jackson himself stand and say ho-o.

I really liked this book, so will look out for her new book which was recently published.

235Ameise1
nov. 29, 2015, 4:01pm

>234 charl08: A BB! My local library has a copy.

236Chatterbox
nov. 30, 2015, 1:16am

There seems to be an influx of short story collections right now; either that, or I'm just more aware of them. New ones by Anthony Marra and Adam Johnson, inter alia, and every new book I pick up seems to be stories rather than novels -- Michael Cunningham being the latest. Given that I prefer novels to stories, sometimes I heave a sigh...

237vancouverdeb
Editat: nov. 30, 2015, 1:25am

>236 Chatterbox: Yes, I agree, there does seem to be an influx of short stories, or else I too am just more aware of them. Daddy Lenin ( short stories00won a major literary prize , and the author I've been reading lately, Laura Pritchett, has a book of short stories I will eventually read, Hell's Bottom.

Charlotte, London Fog does sound interesting.

238charl08
nov. 30, 2015, 5:58am

>236 Chatterbox: I'm a bit like that, but most of the collections I've read recently have been so good I might just change my mind.

>237 vancouverdeb: I love the sound of Hell's Bottom. For some reason I can't order books online just now, so hoping London Fog strikes someone else's interest in my area!

239susanj67
nov. 30, 2015, 6:40am

For some reason I can't order books online just now

Because it's still No!vember? *stern look*

240RidgewayGirl
nov. 30, 2015, 6:41am

For some reason I can't order books online just now

You've reached your lifetime limit?

241charl08
Editat: nov. 30, 2015, 9:06am

>239 susanj67: Ha! I didn't think to tell them thank goodness (my excuse was that I didn't want to have an impact on their loan stats).

>240 RidgewayGirl: Don't even think it! Such a nightmare idea. I'm going with 'computer error'.

242Deern
nov. 30, 2015, 8:44am

Walter Kempowski? Maybe I should finally start reading him. I think my parents have some of his books (unread) on their shelves.

I quite agree with the Guardian on the Eco which I read earlier this year when I was in Milano for a weekend. I left it at the hotel's reception desk "for their library". It isn't such a terrible book, but it demands an immense background knowledge of Italian/Milanese politics and media world of the err... 1980? early 1990s? I read later in a review that it is full of hints about the beginnings of the Berlusconi area, I wouldn't have noticed that at all.

243Carmenere
nov. 30, 2015, 3:46pm

Hi Charlotte, have I told you I could sit and stare at your topper pic for hours. It's just beautiful!

Well, look at you! Plans all laid out for 2016! I've got ideas swirling in my head but nothing written down. So exciting planning out the new thread.

I'm glad you liked The Master. I've owned it for almost as long as you and must give it a boost.

244charl08
nov. 30, 2015, 6:27pm

>242 Deern: Walter Kempowski's last book apparently - and translated by the amazing Anthea Bell for those of us who are not German readers. I've never managed to get anywhere with Eco (shamed face).

>243 Carmenere: Complete fluke there with the picture. For the first two hours of that walk we couldn't see beyond the edge of the old railway line embankment we were walking on. We were pretty glad when it lifted in the afternoon: bit of a pity to walk in such beautiful country and not see any of it.

Liking thinking about all the books to come. I love reading the best of lists in the papers just now. Adding to my wishlists each time I read one.

245charl08
nov. 30, 2015, 6:56pm

Summing up my month of (mostly) reading my own shelves: not too bad. I've been pleasantly surprised by how many good books I still have to read. As I start to plan the next year I'm going to try and read at least one book from my own shelves each month. And my reorganisation of the shelves is Waaaay overdue.

246Chatterbox
nov. 30, 2015, 7:23pm

Anthea Bell as translator was, I confess, a major factor in tipping the balance in favor of my ordering the book... There are some translators who just make themselves "felt", in a good way. Alison Anderson, who translates from the French for Europa, does an excellent job, too.

247lit_chick
nov. 30, 2015, 7:35pm

Hi Charlotte, wonderful that you've had such a great off-the-shelf reading month.

248charl08
Editat: des. 1, 2015, 4:45am

>246 Chatterbox: Good to have the recommendation for another good translator.

>247 lit_chick: Thanks! It's been fun (despite the unread books calling to me from the library pile. I'm very lucky to be a member of a library systen that has such a generous renewal policy!)

249lkernagh
des. 20, 2015, 1:55pm

>179 charl08: - Slowly getting caught on LT after a bit of an absence and love your 2016 planned reading list! Not sure when I will get caught up with your current thread. :-)
En/na Charl08 (Charlotte): a reading Advent(ure)#10 ha continuat aquest tema.