Caroline is Turning pages in 2020 : Part 3

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Caroline is Turning pages in 2020 : Part 3

Editat: set. 3, 2020, 3:53 pm

The only things that are mine in fantasy-land alone are Virginia Woolf's volumes of Shakespeare, covered by her own hand (top left) and the signed The Great Gatsby (bottom right), a gal has to dream.

Welcome to my Autumn/Winter abode. I'm Caroline, I live in London, and I love all things cultural, especially my books.

Editat: des. 31, 2020, 9:55 am

Reading 2020

Agatha (Anne Catherine Bomann) (02/01/20) ***1/2
When the Tree Falls (Jane Clarke) (poetry) (04/01/20) ****
Deaf Republic (Ilya Kaminsky) (poetry) (04/01/20) ROOT ****1/2
Girl, Woman, Other (Bernardine Evaristo) (17/01/20) *****
100 Poems: Seamus Heaney (poetry)(20/01/20) ROOT ****1/2
Square Haunting (Francesca Wade) (23/01/20) *****
Motherwell (Deborah Orr) (25/01/20) ****
Fast Talking PI (Selina Tusitala Marsh) (poetry) (26/01/20) ***1/2
The Decent of Man (Grayson Perry) (31/01/20) ROOT ***1/2
The Secrets of my Life (Caitlyn Jenner, with Buzz Bissinger) (01/02/20) ****
The River Capture (Mary Costello) (03/02/20) ****1/2
Serious Noticing (James Woods) (15/02/20) *****
The Perseverance (Raymond Antrobus) (poetry)(15/02/20) ****
Mazel Tov (J S Margot) (16/02/20) ***1/2
And How are you, Dr Sacks?( Lawrence Weschler) (23/02/20) ****
Gratitude (Oliver Sacks) (reread) (essays) ROOT (23/02/20) ****1/2
The Lost Pianos of Siberia (Sophy Roberts) (01/03/20) ****1/2
The Memory Police (Yoko Ogawa) (08/03/20) ***1/2
Our House is on Fire (Malena Ernman, Greta Thunberg and family) (10/03/20) ****
Recollections of my Non-Existence (Rebecca Solnit) (15/03/20) ****1/2
A Narrow Land (Christine Dwyer Hickey) (23/03/20) ****1/2
A Judgement in Stone (Ruth Rendell) (28/03/20) ROOT ****
Fair Play (Tove Jansson) (01/04/20) reread ROOT ****
Hamnet (Maggie O'Farrell) (12/04/20) ****
Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation: A History of Literary Paris in the Twenties and Thirties (Noel Riley Fitch) (18/04/20) ****1/2
The Bell in the Lake (Lars Mytting) (27/04/20) ****
'The Point of Rescue' (Sophie Hannah) (08/5/20) ROOT ***
What Time Is It? (John Berger/Selçuk Demirel) (12/05/20) ***1/2
The Education of an Idealist (Samantha Power) (16/05/20) ****1/2
Ankomst (Arrival) (Gøhril Gabrielsen) (18/05/20) ***1/2
A Portable Paradise (Roger Robinson) (18/05/20) *****
One Long River of Song (Brian Doyle) (23/05/20) ****1/2
The Shepherd's Hut (Tim Winton) (23/05/20) ****
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek (Kim Michele Richardson) (27/05/20) ****1/2
Pew (Catherine Lacey) (31/05/20) ****
In the Bleak Midwinter (Julia Spencer Fleming) (03/06/20) ROOT ****
House of Glass (Hadley Freeman) (06/06/20) *****
The Fountain Filled with Blood (Julia Spencer-Fleming) (15/06/20) (Kindle) ***1/2
What is the Grass: Walt Whitman in my Life (Mark Doty) (17/06/20) ****
A Stranger City (Linda Grant) (25/06/20) ***1/2
Possession (AS Byatt) (reread) (01/07/20) ROOT *****
Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist (Sunil Yapa) (09/07/20) ****
The Group (Lara Feigel) (13/07/20) ****
The Trick to Time (Kit de Waal) (16/07/20) ****
I, Tituba (Maryse Condé) (20/07/20) ****1/2
Travellers (31/07/20) (reread) ROOT ****1/2
Beneath the Bleeding (Val McDermid) (03/08/20) ROOT ***1/2
The Argonauts (Maggie Nelson (04/08/20) ****1/2
Lote (Shola Von Reinhold) (15/08/20) ****
Magpie Lane (Lucy Atkins) (17/08/20) ****
Unfinished Business: Notes of a Chronic Re-Reader (Vivian Gornick) (20/08/20) ****
Derek Jarman: My Garden's Boundaries are the Horizon (23/08/20) ****
Writers and Lovers (Lily King) (27/08/20) ****1/2
Human Voices (Penelope Fitzgerald) (29/08/20) ***1/2
How to be an Antiracist (Ibram X Kendi) (31/08/20) ****1/2
To See Clearly: Why Ruskin Matters (Suzanne Fagence Cooper) (04/09/20) ****1/2
Dandelion Wine (Ray Bradbury) (05/09/20) *****
The INFJ Writer: Cracking the Creative Genius of the World's Rarest Type (Lauren Sapala) (14/09/20) ****1/2
Vesper Flights (Helen MacDonald) (Essays) (22/09/20) ****1/2
In Love with George Eliot (Kathy O'Shaughnessy) (26/09/20) ****1/2
The Thursday Murder Club (Richard Osman) (04/10/20) ****
Things Fall Apart (China Achebe) ROOT (07/10/20) ***1/2
Piranesi (Susannah Clarke) (*) ****
The Innocents (Michael Crummey) (19/10/20) ****
Invisible Women (Caroline Criado Perez) (26/10/20) *****
Jack (Marilynne Robinson) (31/10/20) ****
On Connection (Kae Tempest) (05/11/20) *****
How Not to be a Boy (Robert Webb) (18/11/20) ***1/2
Dearly (Margaret Atwood) (poetry) (19/11/20) ****
Susan Sontag: Her Life (Benjamin Moser) (23/11/20) *****
Walking with Ghosts (Gabriel Byrne) (25/11/20) ****
Three Women and a Boat (Anna Youngson) (02/12/20) ****
Wintering (Katherine May) (15/12/20) ****
Ex Libris: 100 books to read and reread (Michiko Kakutani) (22/12/20) ****1/2
A Promised Land (Barack Obama) (24/12/20) ****1/2
Dear Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books (Cathy Rentzenbrink) (28/12/20) ****
The Light of the World (Elizabeth Alexander) (29/12/20) ****1/2
Not a Novel: Collected Writings and Reflections (Jenny Erpenbeck) (31/12/20) ****1/2
The Great Gatsby (F Scott Fitzgerald) (31/12/20) *****

Total: 79

Fiction: 37
Non-Fiction: 35
Poetry: 7
Female: 51
Male: 26
F&M: 1
Gender Fluid: 2
ROOT: 12
London Library (LL):
Other loan:

Danish: 1
Ireland: 3
Ukraine/Russian: 1
Black British: 4
N Ireland: 1
Ireland: 1
UK: 26
Scotland: 2
Polynesia: 1
US: 24
Belgian: 1
Japan: 1
Sweden: 1
Finnish: 1
Norwegian: 2
Australia: 1
Guadeloupe/French: 1
Nigeria: 2
Canada: 2
Germany: 1

Editat: set. 3, 2020, 3:49 pm

The 3 September is the day of the year that the most books are published in the UK. Here's my haul:

Andrew O'Hagan's Mayflies lands on Tuesday.


The autumn book menu:

Editat: set. 3, 2020, 3:54 pm

By Roger Ycaza

Editat: set. 3, 2020, 4:01 pm

I'm looking forward to the weekend when I'm getting together with both my sibs (and bro-in-law) for the first time since early February.

I have met my brother for curry a couple of times in the last few weeks, but will be lovely for us all to be together at my bro's. And I shall enjoy the change of scenery too. Five months solid in my book warehouse... wonderful, but a change is as good as a rest.

set. 3, 2020, 4:27 pm

Happy new thread, Caroline. Love the new haul (and the beautiful collage. And the books as trees picture.)
Wishing you a lovely weekend meetup. Tomorrow will be my first Friday working in about a month. Talk about a shock to the system!

set. 3, 2020, 4:45 pm

>6 charl08: May the force be with you tomorrow Charlotte.

set. 3, 2020, 5:06 pm

Happy new thread, Caroline!

Enjoy your visit tomorrow.
We will visit a friend tomorrow, our last visit there was in March. For me also a good change of scenery :-)

set. 3, 2020, 5:58 pm

Happy New Thread, Caroline.

I'm looking forward to hearing what you think of The Thursday Murder Club. I'm pretty sure I'll be reading that one.

Enjoy your sib gathering, and adventuring outside the book warehouse.

set. 3, 2020, 7:35 pm

Happy new thread! Have a good time with family!

set. 3, 2020, 7:53 pm

Happy new thread!

Hope you have a great family get- together.

set. 3, 2020, 8:06 pm

Happy new thread, Caroline. I love your photos. Enjoy your time with your siblings.

set. 3, 2020, 10:01 pm

Happy new one, Caroline.

set. 4, 2020, 4:29 am

>8 FAMeulstee: >9 jnwelch: >10 drneutron: >11 figsfromthistle: >12 BLBera: >13 PaulCranswick: Thanks Anita, Joe, Jim, Figs, Beth and Paul.

I have two big bags of books to take with me for my sister to loan, she doesn't need to go to the library! I'm taking a cab (non driver!).

Editat: set. 5, 2020, 10:34 am

56. To See Clearly: Why Ruskin Matters (Suzanne Fagence Cooper) (04/09/20) ****1/2

I loved this little volume about the life and work of John Ruskin, and why he was ahead of his time, especially in terms of what we now call 'climate change' or 'climate Emergency'. His seeing, with close attention, and recording what he saw in words and images meant he noticed changes, and sounded alarms.

A complicated personality, often better known for his life than his work, I've long enjoyed reading him and admired his paintings and drawings.

A great supporter of Turner, and other artists.

Ruskin by Millais

set. 4, 2020, 4:52 pm

Those pictures... There's such a lightness of touch to Ruskin's work. I'd forgotten about him. I feel like I need a decent Ruskin print hanging in my house somewhere.

set. 4, 2020, 5:24 pm

>16 AlisonY: I know Alison. Exquisite work. Some of the drawings are particularly delicate. The Ashmolean have quite a bit of his work, though not always on display. Tate Britain too. There have been some good exhibitions of his work in London over the years as well.

set. 5, 2020, 10:09 am

Sibs together again. Me, Ryan and Emma.

Editat: set. 5, 2020, 10:35 am

57. Dandelion Wine (Ray Bradbury) (05/09/20) *****

The most autobiographical novel Bradbury wrote, and what a treat. Stories of two brothers in a rural town. Eccentric neighbours, discoveries and thoughts of youth. A real delight.

set. 5, 2020, 10:50 am

>18 Caroline_McElwee: Gosh, that photo makes me feel good----you're all so happy to be together.

set. 5, 2020, 1:40 pm

>19 Caroline_McElwee: I've never read any of Bradbury's work, so that'll have to go onto the wish list. Sounds like my cup of tea.

How lovely that you got to properly catch up with your siblings. I assume that's you on the left? I love adding a face to name in LT.

set. 5, 2020, 1:52 pm

>19 Caroline_McElwee: - I read this one way back in my teens. I rarely reread but I remember loving it enough that maybe it's time to do just that. Lovely get-together pic, Caroline. How far do you all live from one another?

set. 5, 2020, 2:20 pm

>18 Caroline_McElwee: that's a beautiful pic of the three of you! And how nice that you can all spend time together again.

set. 5, 2020, 4:38 pm

>15 Caroline_McElwee: I love that last picture by Ruskin!

set. 5, 2020, 4:48 pm

>15 Caroline_McElwee: Love the paintings!

>18 Caroline_McElwee: It looks like you are having a great time. Thanks for the photo.

I need to reread Dandelion Wine; it sounds like it's one that would hold up well with time.

Editat: set. 13, 2020, 6:40 am

>20 laytonwoman3rd: >21 AlisonY: >22 jessibud2: >23 lauralkeet: >24 SandDune: 25 Thanks Linda, Alison, Shelley, Laura, and Beth. It is lovely to be together.

It's an unusual Bradbury, but a lovely one.

>22 jessibud2: my bro lives in London, so we have met for dinner out a couple of times in the few last weeks. My sister lives about 4 hours drive away, in Shropshire.

>24 SandDune: it's a stunner Rhian, I agree.

set. 8, 2020, 11:23 am

Such a happy-looking photo, Caroline! Wonderful that you had time together.

I'm nit a huge Bradbury fan but I did enjoy Dandelion Wine too.

Editat: set. 10, 2020, 8:27 am

>27 vivians: Fahrenheit 451 is one of my favourite books Vivian.

Thank you re the family photo.

set. 10, 2020, 7:37 am

Sweet Thursday, Caroline. Happy New Thread! Sorry, for the delay. Love the sibs photo and hooray for Dandelion Wine. I agree it was a joy.

set. 10, 2020, 8:05 am

>28 Caroline_McElwee: I just bought a copy, as I realised F451 was one of those books I had come to think I had read, but actually, hadn't. Oops.
It is a lovely US edition, with a floppy spine, so I am happy.

Editat: set. 13, 2020, 6:41 am

>29 msf59: Hi Mark, nice to see you peak round the door.

>30 charl08: I don't think you will be disappointed by F451 Charlotte. It's one that I reread. I like US editions too. I have a Folio Society one of this, as well as an old paperback edition.


Well, I'm relaxing now, as I have just over two weeks off. Out for a belated birthday lunch with a couple of friends tomorrow. I'm sure a book will be acquired.

set. 10, 2020, 11:17 pm

To See Clearly: Why Ruskin Matters looks really interesting. I don't know much about him.

I love the picture of you with your siblings. And enjoy the two weeks off! (I'm certainly glad to hear that a book will be acquired at a belated birthday excursion!)

Editat: set. 11, 2020, 3:33 pm

>32 EBT1002: 3 books were acquired Ellen.

This wasn't 'The' Ivy, but one of it's small chain, still a lovely
indulgence. My friend also indulged my stationery gannetness too.

It was the first time I had to have my temperature taken before being allowed to enter. In Scotland that happens everywhere, but so far not much in London.

Editat: set. 11, 2020, 4:01 pm

Powerful Black Lives Matter dance from Diversity, video in article.

Such things tend to be contentious, but it brought the hairs up on my arms.

set. 12, 2020, 4:36 pm

set. 13, 2020, 5:48 am

Enjoy your time off, Caroline!

Editat: set. 15, 2020, 7:14 am

58. The INFJ Writer: Cracking the Creative Genius of the World's Rarest Type (Lauren Sapala) (14/09/20) ****1/2

I can't remember now how I came upon this recently, I have a suspicion an article I read mentioned it. I am an INFJ, and I am a stuck writer. I wrote pretty consistently from aged 8 until my early 50s, and then just didn't. As reading and writing were the equivalent to breathing for me, it seems I have been breathing only through one nostril for quite a while now.

It seems I am a typical INFJ in that getting published and earning money come low down the scale of priorities. I submitted little over the years, but had interest shown in a playscript in my late 20s, and had a few poems published in small magazines in my mid-40s.

This book is definitely not a 'how to...' book for non-INFJ writers, although she includes some advice for the other introverted types near the end.

Some of Sapala's information was definitely: why didn't I understand that? 'Editing is not writing/there is a difference between artistic vision and artistic reality' - both I felt I knew without having articulated them, but having had them articulated gave me that first 'click', not acknowledging them has certainly meant they could be used as roadblocks.

There were a few other aha moments too.

At the end of the book Sapala suggests finding (or starting) a 'Silent Hour' Writing group. A writers version of AA, but where, after a brief round the room of how you are feeling, you just all sit and write together for an hour, in silence. You don't discuss your work, you just write. It should be a non-critique group, as INFJ types benefit less from that kind of environment because they are less competitive than other types, and find it more threatening.

Under pandemic circumstances it's not really practical, but I've put a weekly 'Silent Writing Hour' in my calendar for the rest of the year, mostly when I log off from work on a Friday afternoon.

ETA: I was surprised that not one of her writing gods were female.

set. 14, 2020, 2:23 pm

>37 Caroline_McElwee: That sounds a bit like "shut up and write " sessions organised for academics, Caroline. I know some of those have moved online (with different ways of making it seem connected, from a chat room to just a circular email at the end of the time saying what they did with the hour / did they meet their target / write their word goal?) No critiquing or feedback involved! I hope you find the new approach helpful - sounds like you feel energised about it, which must be a good start.

Editat: set. 16, 2020, 10:19 pm

>37 Caroline_McElwee: Okay, that actually sounds fascinating to me. I know the science behind the MBTI is sketchy but I found it very useful in my years of clinical practice, especially helping people navigate relationships with people who, you know, had different personalities than theirs (ha). I am a classic ENFP although I think I have developed my "J" capacity a lot more since working in administration. I also think my "I" has come out more as I've had more and more interaction with humans on the job.

"...I have been breathing only through one nostril for quite a while now." Love that.

set. 17, 2020, 7:49 am

>37 Caroline_McElwee:, >39 EBT1002: - Fascinating stuff. To pick up on the *breathing* analogy, I found this quote some years ago and posted it on my thread at the time. I'd forgotten it until just now, reading your post:

"Reading and writing cannot be separated. Reading is breathing in; writing is breathing out." - Pam Allyn

That quote, to me, has such a visual yet tactile quality to it, almost like a dance, don't you think?

set. 17, 2020, 1:37 pm

>39 EBT1002: Thanks Ellen. I do find it fascinating how accurate it is. I'm very loquacious with people I know and trust, but a total wallflower in groups, even if I know some folk a bit. And it picks that up. Though people who know me don't always believe I'm an introvert, because I am open with them.

>40 jessibud2: I like the quote Shelley.

set. 17, 2020, 1:46 pm

Having a couple Of days in Lewes.

The building in the middle was once lived in by Thomas Paine. Unfortunately the mug shop was closed, or I'd have come out with the book one. The First edition VW essays was within my reach as the cover was so damaged, but the owners repaired it well. The other book is the correspondence between Virginia and Strachey. Virginia lived in Lewes briefly, and was about to buy a house here when Monks House came onto the market.

The old wonky building is one of three bookshops, this one not open at the moment.

The red maple is in the garden of the hotel. I wanted to stay in this hotel since a teenager. The Folio Society carried a line drawing ad in its magazine. The public areas are pretty shabby now, but love my huge bedroom.

Disappointed not to get to the beach nearby, but there was too big a gap between platform and train, and with my dodgy ankle and limited 'push' in that foot. No way I was going to make it grrr. Hoping I have no problems getting home tomorrow. I don't remember them on the London platform, but it was five years since I was last here.

set. 18, 2020, 10:37 pm

>42 Caroline_McElwee: Nice Lewes collage, Caroline.

I do wish i was exploring the book stores together with you!

set. 19, 2020, 6:34 pm

>41 Caroline_McElwee: I am also an INFJ! I totally understand what you are saying; I get the same reaction from people.

Editat: set. 20, 2020, 5:09 am

>42 Caroline_McElwee: Looks lovely, Caroline. Hope the weather stayed nice for you too.

set. 20, 2020, 4:21 pm

>43 PaulCranswick: it will happen sometime a Paul, I'm sure.

>44 BLBera: it's interesting isn't it Beth.

>45 charl08: I was really lucky with the weather Charlotte. It's the first time I've stayed there, as opposed to visited from somewhere else. It's a nice, sedate town.

Now waiting to hear Boris Johnson's new rules, to find out if I can go with my bro, to my sisters in Shropshire for a few days, from Wednesday.

set. 21, 2020, 4:18 pm

>46 Caroline_McElwee: The same here, Caroline, Covid numbers go up way too fast.
Hoping our week away starting next Friday isn't harmed. Keeping fingers crossed for you going to Shropshire and me going to Drenthe.

set. 22, 2020, 10:12 am

>59 Caroline_McElwee: Vesper Flights (Helen MacDonald) (22/09/20) ****1/2

Not a dud amongst these wonderful essays. I would be hard pushed to choose favourites. They vary occasionally in tone, mostly have some personal foundation. Are evocative, and in many instances are full of information about the natural world that can be quite mind blowing. A volume full of wonder. I know I shall return to it, after it has done the rounds.

I've put H is for Hawk in the Autumn reading pile. I've had it some while.

set. 22, 2020, 10:39 am

>48 Caroline_McElwee: H is for Hawk is a beautiful book. I will be interested to hear what you think of it versus Vesper Flights.

set. 22, 2020, 12:09 pm

Hi, Caroline.

What a fun thread this is!

I'm enjoying the Ruskin paintings, and what a great photo of you and your sibs. You all look very happy to be together.

Looks like a good trip to Lewes. We so miss being in your part of the world. This is our usual time for being there.

That's good news on Vesper Flights. I'm another one who loved H is for Hawk.

I'm a little over halfway through the Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling Cormoran and Robin mystery, Troubled Blood, and having a very good time with it.

set. 27, 2020, 10:52 pm

>48 Caroline_McElwee: You've sold me. I liked H is for Hawk; this sounds even better.

set. 28, 2020, 5:56 am

>51 EBT1002: I don't think you will be disappointed Ellen.

set. 28, 2020, 6:00 am

I've been staying at my sister's in Shropshire, with my bro and his other half.

Bridgnorth, Ludlow, Ludlow castle. One of the misericords in Ludlow church. Ironbridge. Bucolic parkland.

Lunches out, home cooking at my sisters. Local produce. All very pleasant. Heading home this afternoon.

set. 28, 2020, 6:11 am

>53 Caroline_McElwee: It all looks lovely, Caroline. It seems ages ago now, but we were in the area in February, staying in Bishops Castle. If I had known that it was to be our last period of freedom I might have appreciated even more than I did!

set. 28, 2020, 12:12 pm

>54 CDVicarage: It has so much to offer Kerry. My sister moved to Shropshire 18 months ago, and it has been a treat exploring when I visit.

Editat: set. 28, 2020, 12:21 pm

60. In Love with George Eliot (Kathy O'Shaughnessy) (26/09/20) ****1/2

A fictionalisation of the life of George Eliot, and those who peopled it. I very quickly fell into the groove of peering over her shoulder.

About 20% of the novel follows the lives of several academics, who are researching her life, one of whom is doing what the author of this book is doing.

An enjoyable read. It gained its extra 1/2* as it is just my kind of good holiday read.

Editat: set. 28, 2020, 2:52 pm

>49 Oberon: I'll probably get to it in a couple of weeks Erik.

>50 jnwelch: Glad you enjoyed your peek round the door Joe. Sorry you are missing your Prague/Venice trip this year, but yes, normally you would be in the U.K. we are living in surreal times.

I have watched the dramatisation of the Galbraith/Rowling Series but not read the books. I felt the most recent series was a little disappointing (Lethal White. Trying to do too much.

set. 29, 2020, 6:13 am

Lovely photos from Lewes and Shropshire, Caroline. I'm so glad you've been able to get away for some short breaks and see your siblings. Lewes is a lovely town with so much history (and so many bookshops!) in a compact area. I visited Ironbridge last year, and would love to explore more of Shropshire - the only extended time I've spent there was on my A level Geology field trip any moons ago!

Editat: set. 29, 2020, 8:29 am

>58 Sakerfalcon: It really gave me a lift getting out of London Claire. As you'll know, traffic in the suburbs of London at least is pretty much back to pre-Covd levels, so going to places with little traffic and lots of greenery was lovely. Have you been able to escape for a break?

Shropshire certainly has a lot to offer, but more difficult getting about without a car, fortunately my sister is a driver.

set. 29, 2020, 3:41 pm

Your photos of Shropshire are lovely, Caroline, and I've added it to my travel wish list! Our last trip to the UK included Cornwall and Wales, and I can't wait to get back. We had a Scotland trip planned for June and will hopefully be able to reschedule for 2021.

set. 29, 2020, 6:03 pm

>60 vivians: Thanks Vivian. I hope your plans for next year come to pass.

set. 30, 2020, 5:21 pm

>53 Caroline_McElwee: It’s years since I’ve been to Shropshire - such a nice part of the world.

oct. 2, 2020, 3:16 pm

>53 Caroline_McElwee: Looks lovely, Caroline. I am glad you could go away for a few days.

oct. 3, 2020, 8:08 am

>62 SandDune: It is lovely Rhian. And plenty more to explore ver time.

>63 FAMeulstee: Getting out of London for a while certainly boosted my batteries Anita, especially as we head into darker days of autumn and winter. We had great weather there, but have had rain since I got home.

oct. 5, 2020, 6:57 am

>59 Caroline_McElwee: I have no desire to learn to drive (I tell myself it's for environmental reasons but it's also because I'm far too nervous) but there are times when I wish I had the freedom to explore the countryside without being reliant on someone else to drive. I'm glad you were able to get around Shropshire with your sister.
I haven't been away for more than the odd day out - a couple of country walks, and a couple visits to Brighton to see my sister, who has broken her kneecap and is largely confined to her flat at the moment. This is the longest I've been without a holiday of some kind and I am feeling the need to get away.

oct. 5, 2020, 7:37 am

Hooray for Vesper Flights! Glad you loved it, Caroline, although I am not surprised, in the least. I now own a precious signed copy, thanks to Kim. Looking forward to your thoughts on H is For Hawk.

oct. 5, 2020, 8:13 am

>65 Sakerfalcon: Sorry to hear about your sister's kneecap Claire. I guess the only up to it happening now, is she couldn't go far anyway, but it is still going to be painful and frustrating I'm sure.

Glad you have managed a few days out.

>66 msf59: Lovely to have a signed copy a Mark, a treasure.

Editat: oct. 7, 2020, 6:38 pm

61. The Thursday Murder Club (Richard Osman) (04/10/20) ****

An enjoyable entanglement. It got to about page 50 before I realised it was doing it for me, but I really got into it from that point.

4 pensioners in a retirement home attend a weekly Thursday Murder club to try and solve old, unsolved, cases (a previous, founder, member was a police woman). Unexpectedly a current murder occurs, and the quartet just can't resist...

Interesting characters, many twists and turns, and a sense of tenderness at times.

My only hope is that volume 2 is not going to be too formulaic.

oct. 7, 2020, 9:42 am

I thought it was a hot, Caroline, and a great premise. Do you know if he's writing a second installment? I was hoping!

oct. 7, 2020, 10:15 am

>69 vivians: Yes Vivian, there is an ad in the back of my edition about the next one, though no date. I'd guess this time next year.

Editat: oct. 8, 2020, 8:16 am

62. Things Fall Apart (China's Achebe) (07/10/20) ***1/2

I wanted to like this novel more than I did, but I think it suffered from being surpassed by many really fine and more complex novels about Africa in recent years.

The tale of Okonkwo the son of a good natured, lazy, debtor father who was determined to be the man his father was not, but that makes him hard and unbending. He attains titles in his clan, despite his harshness to his family, but his inability to listen to the wisdom of others leads him to an act that sees him expelled from his village for seven years. On his return much has changed.

Achebe's novel is the first novel written about Africa by an African writer, and in many ways, perhaps, it is a clichéd story of an African tribe. The things fall apart from the outset in many senses, when Okonkwo decides to be the opposite extreme to his father, so the respect he gains initially is the respect of strength and power, but the underlying inflexibility to change is what really leads to things falling apart.

What I think I missed most in this novel is there is very little about the characters inner lives.

Editat: oct. 7, 2020, 8:59 pm

>71 Caroline_McElwee: I was disappointed in that one too, Caroline. I was expecting something special, and if it was there, I didn't see it.

oct. 7, 2020, 9:26 pm

>71 Caroline_McElwee: I would be a little kinder to Achebe's novel than you and Linda, but I do get your point. I think his Man of the People is a better novel.

>68 Caroline_McElwee: I suppose I would expect Richard Osman to write something in the manner you described.

Editat: oct. 8, 2020, 3:25 am

>3 Caroline_McElwee: 3 September is the day of the year that the most books are published in the UK
Really/ that is so interesting....why is that?

Your haul is quite beautiful :)

>37 Caroline_McElwee: The INFJ Writer: Cracking the Creative Genius of the World's Rarest Type, wow- I am intrigued. What a specific title- and now I want to do the personality test and see 'what' I am. I don't even know if I could call myself a writer, even though both my jobs are comprised mainly of writing (reports, academic articles, a book chapter even!).
(edited to add: I just did a quick online personality test and I am a very good match for both INFJ and INFP!!I think I align better with INFP, but find it v. interesting indeed!)

>71 Caroline_McElwee: I *loved* that one.

oct. 8, 2020, 7:24 am

>71 Caroline_McElwee: I wanted to like this novel more than I did, but I think it suffered from being surpassed by many really fine and more complex novels about Africa in recent years.

I felt the same and second Linda's comments. It just seemed flat, but was probably groundbreaking it its day.

oct. 9, 2020, 10:37 am

Hi Caroline, it sounds like you had a great time at your sister's. Thanks for sharing the photos.

The George Eliot novel sounds like fun. I'll have to check my library.

I LOVE the cover of your copy of Things Fall Apart.

oct. 15, 2020, 2:49 pm

>72 laytonwoman3rd: >73 PaulCranswick: >75 lauralkeet: Hi Linda, Paul and Laura - I do think it inspired more complex novels. I wanted to sympathise with Okonkwo, but he wouldn't let me, he never seemed to learn his lesson, which probably is more realistic than we might wish to believe.

>74 LovingLit: I don't know why that date has that effect Megan.

Glad you enjoyed finding out your personality type.

I'm also glad you found TFA more satisfying.

>76 BLBera: Thanks re the photos Beth.

It is a great cover.

Editat: oct. 15, 2020, 2:57 pm

63. Piranesi (Suzanna Clarke) (10/10/20) ****

Although different in many ways, this lovely novel put me a bit in mind of Calvino's Invisible Cities. Characters who are both what they seem and not, in a strange and beautiful, many thousand halled House.

oct. 16, 2020, 4:17 pm

>18 Caroline_McElwee: Love the sibling photo--so glad you got a chance to be together. : )

>19 Caroline_McElwee: Dandelion Wine is on my WL and you just bumped it up a notch.

>48 Caroline_McElwee: I just started Vesper Flights after hearing Helen Macdonald at a Literary Arts virtual author talk. Love her!! She is so smart, self-deprecating, and funny. They should release the audio of her talk sometime soon and I will try to remember to post a link when they do.

>68 Caroline_McElwee: I don't need another murder series, but....that one sounds fun!

oct. 17, 2020, 10:07 pm

>78 Caroline_McElwee: Calvino's work can be a little too obtuse for me although I recognise its beauty and originality. I loved her epic novel so I will certainly give this one a try.

Have a lovely Sunday.

oct. 18, 2020, 10:40 am

>79 Berly: I'm so glad we managed to get together Kim, as London is back in lockdown with no mixing with other households. So two breaks out of the city topped up my batteries, so to speak.

I'll definitely be rereading some of the essays in Vesper Fights again, soon Kim.

>80 PaulCranswick: I never got to her first, but will give it ago sometime Paul.

Editat: oct. 18, 2020, 10:48 am

The Friday before last I slipped and fell getting on a bus, and damaged my already compromised (with frozen shoulder) arm. So I'm a one arm bandit. It is so frustrating, as you need two hands for everything. Sleeping mostly in my reading chair, as it isn't comfortable in bed and is hard to get out of. Nothing broken or dislocated, but internal bruising and pulled I suspect. Can't move it much.

Was very lucky really, as fleetingly I thought I might have broken one or both legs. Phew, that didn't happen. Gratefully a local friend, and one of my neighbours have been shopping for me so I can cope, and it is marginally less painful than earlier in the week.

oct. 18, 2020, 12:18 pm

I am sorry to hear about your fall, Caroline. I hope it improves soon, and you are back to two working arms.

I am also at the age of worrying about falls.

oct. 18, 2020, 12:39 pm

>83 BLBera: Thanks Beth. It is making slow, daily improvements. I just have to be patient.

oct. 18, 2020, 12:42 pm

>82 Caroline_McElwee: That's rotten, Caroline. It's when things like that happen that you realise just how much we take our health for granted. I hope things keep moving in the right direction at some speed.

oct. 18, 2020, 4:45 pm

>82 Caroline_McElwee: So sorry, Caroline, to read you fell. Using only one hand is a hassle.
Hoping it will be better soon!

oct. 18, 2020, 6:58 pm

Yikes! I hope your shoulder gets better soon!

oct. 18, 2020, 7:44 pm

>82 Caroline_McElwee: - Yikes re the fall. Did you have it checked out by a doctor, Caroline? Does heat or cold help (thinking compresses) or maybe some sort of pressure wrap?

oct. 18, 2020, 8:34 pm

Hi Caroline. Ouch! That shoulder injury sounds painful. I'm so glad you have someone to bring in groceries for you...and also glad that you didn't break a leg. This is not the time to be in a hospital!

I'm glad you got to visit your sister and explore the new area a little. I loved the picture of you and your siblings upthread. My brother and his wife live in town and we visit occasionally either on our front porch or his back porch. I don't know what we'll do when the weather is consistently cold which won't be too far off. They both have medical conditions which make them very cautious about being around people, even their favorite sister!

oct. 18, 2020, 10:54 pm

Caroline, I am so sorry to hear about the fall and your shoulder. I particularly empathize with sleeping in your reading chair. Not being able to get comfortable in your own bed is a really sorry experience. I hope it gets better soon.

oct. 19, 2020, 7:08 am

>85 AlisonY: >86 FAMeulstee: 87 >88 jessibud2: >89 Donna828: >90 EBT1002: Thanks Alison, Anita Jim, Shelley, Donna and Ellen.

Anything like this is a slow recovery and 2 steps forward, one back.

>88 jessibud2: I'll probably call my physio later in the week for some advice Shelley. Not tried the hot/cold thing, but being a one armed bandit makes everything more difficult to achieve.

Hanging in there.

oct. 20, 2020, 6:24 am

Sorry to hear about your fall Caroline. I hope you continue to take more steps forward than back as you recover.

oct. 20, 2020, 8:30 am

>92 Sakerfalcon: Thanks claire. Its a slow and frustrating process, but little steps.

oct. 20, 2020, 8:44 am

Sorry to hear about your shoulder injury, Caroline. I hope it is feeling better. I had two shoulder surgeries. Never fun. Good luck, my friend.

oct. 20, 2020, 10:00 am

Hi Caroline, really sorry to read about your injury. Glad to hear there are people helping with the shopping too.

I picked up Square Haunting again, and just loved the chapter on Dorothy L Sayers. I had no idea her work was so autobiographical - I knew about the college stuff, and that Gaudy Night drew on her experiences as a student, but the relationship stuff was new. (I am now really hoping that I have remembered correctly that you have already read this...)

oct. 20, 2020, 11:48 am

>94 msf59: Thanks Mark. Im hoping no op will be necessary, but expecting full recovery will take a while.

>95 charl08: Yes Charlotte, i loved this book. Glad you are enjoying too.

oct. 20, 2020, 2:46 pm

>82 Caroline_McElwee: Sorry to hear about your fall, Caroline. I hope you can get it back to working order quickly.

oct. 20, 2020, 4:07 pm

>97 SandDune: Thanks Rhian.

oct. 20, 2020, 5:47 pm

64. The Innocents (Michael Crummey) (19/10/20) ****

Two young siblings are orphaned in their early teens on a cove in 19th century Newfoundland. The hardness of their life, their innocence of the world, and those who come into contact with them are wonderfully drawn in this novel.

oct. 21, 2020, 3:23 am

Definitely drawn to this one. I've only read River Thieves by Crummey, and for some reason I laboured through it a bit, but I think i just wasn't in the mood for it at the time, as I could tell the writing was fantastic.

oct. 22, 2020, 12:57 am

>99 Caroline_McElwee: Oh I loved that one! i thought the writing was superb. Hope you're feeling better and getting some movement going. Sorry to hear about the scary fall.

Editat: oct. 22, 2020, 8:28 am

>100 AlisonY: >101 mdoris: It is a rare novel i hope for a sequel, Alison and Mary.

>>101 mdoris: Thanks re the arm Mary. Patience is what is required, but slow progress is being made.

oct. 26, 2020, 7:27 am

I'm sorry to hear about your terrible fall, Caroline. I'm glad that nothing was broken and that you're slowly healing.

oct. 26, 2020, 7:29 am

I trust that everyday your arm/shoulder is a little bit better, Caroline and at least does not prevent you turning the pages!

oct. 26, 2020, 7:39 am

S'ha suprimit aquest usuari en ser considerat brossa.

oct. 26, 2020, 9:10 am

>99 Caroline_McElwee: Gorgeous cover!
Hope the recovery continues, and as Paul says, that you can still read without discomfort.

oct. 26, 2020, 9:54 am

>103 kidzdoc: Thanks Darryl. Spoke to my physio this morning who says I'm doing all the right things, but suggests it will be a good 3-4 weeks More before significant improvement.

>104 PaulCranswick: >106 charl08: I'm employing a book chair Paul and Charlotte. I can manipulate small paperbacks for a while, but the book chair works well, except i have to sit at the table.

oct. 26, 2020, 7:30 pm

65. Invisible Women (Caroline Criado Perez) (26/10/20) *****

There isn't anyone who wouldn't benefit from reading this book. Its quite mind-boggling how the world is so extensively shaped for the male, from the temperature of the office, the safety of any vehicle, almost anything medical related, the male body is the go to default model. Rarely are trials anywhere near equitably carried out on women, despite the knowledge, for example in medicine, that symptoms are often different between men and women, as are how in/effective drugs work for women. The above is just the tip of the iceberg.

The solution, more women in every field, with power to ensure that women's lives are appropriately taken into consideration. If some men intentionally obstruct women from such positions, many just simply have no clue how different women's lives are from their own, and how beneficial for everyone changes will be.

oct. 26, 2020, 7:50 pm

>99 Caroline_McElwee: Good to know about The Innocents, Caroline. I am a fan of Crummey and forgot about this one.

oct. 27, 2020, 3:01 am

>108 Caroline_McElwee: Still have this on the TBR pile. Must do better!

oct. 27, 2020, 12:14 pm

I'm sorry it's taking so long for the arm to heal, Caroline.

>108 Caroline_McElwee: Invisible Women sounds like a necessary book.

I've heard great things about Crummley's writing; I must pick up something by him.

oct. 28, 2020, 9:19 am

Hi, Caroline.

An enjoyable entanglement. Ha! Great way to describe The Thursday Murder Club. I got a kick out of that one. I hope he does a follow-up with that crew.

I love Italo Calvino's books, including Invisible Cities, and that comparison got me off the fence for Piranesi. I'll try to get to it sooner than later, although all the new books coming out in the fall have me spinning in circles.

oct. 29, 2020, 11:37 pm

>112 jnwelch: I think Calvino is a writer you really have to be in the mood for as you need to savour his style and hook into what he was trying to achieve.

Editat: oct. 30, 2020, 9:31 pm

>109 msf59: >111 BLBera: I'll certainly be reading more Crummy Mark and Beth.

>110 charl08: >110 charl08: As i said Charlotte and Beth, everyone should read this book.

>112 jnwelch: >113 PaulCranswick: I can see Calvino may be an acquired taste, and i've certainly acquired it. Good to see you about Joe and Zoaul.

>112 jnwelch: Yes, Osman's volume 2 will be out in September next year Joe.

>111 BLBera: Slow progress with the arm Beth, but going in the right direction.

Editat: nov. 1, 2020, 12:28 pm

66. Jack (Marilynne Robinson) (31/10/20) ****

The fourth in Robinson's Gilead cycle of linked but not sequential novels.

I enjoyed following Jack and Della's story, but for the first time in these novels felt there was too much repartition. There were though some wonderful moments, and some thought provoking suggestions. Robinson is good at avoiding black and white, and making you think about how easily we fall into those either/or places. Those easier attitudes, and how limiting they are. And also, flipping what has become the norm, and in Jack, making the white person 'the other'.

nov. 5, 2020, 2:39 pm

>115 Caroline_McElwee: I don't know how or why it took me 4 days to realize your thread had an unread post. Sorry about that, Caro! I guess I liked this book more than you did, but can also see your point. Linda (laytonwoman3rd) read Jack recently and decided to reread Home before posting full comments on her thread. I am looking forward to seeing her take.

nov. 5, 2020, 2:46 pm

>116 lauralkeet: I'll look out for them too Laura. I haven't read any of the reviews yet. Maybe next year I will read the set in the order published, as I had planned to do this year.

nov. 5, 2020, 2:51 pm

67. On Connection (Kae Tempest) (03/11/20) *****

A deeply sensitive and personal exploration on the role of creativity in connecting to our deeper, inner selves, and to the deeper parts of others and society. I will be reading it again, more actively, at the weekend.

nov. 6, 2020, 10:11 pm

>115 Caroline_McElwee: Almost bought that one yesterday, Caroline but I think I will try to hold on until I get a version the size of which I prefer.

Have a lovely weekend.

nov. 7, 2020, 5:07 am

>118 Caroline_McElwee: Kae Tempest is such a talented wordsmith and thinker outside of the box. I can imagine this is fascinating.

nov. 7, 2020, 5:27 am

S'ha suprimit aquest usuari en ser considerat brossa.

nov. 8, 2020, 9:23 am

On Connection sounds wonderful, Caroline. I'll add it to my list.

nov. 14, 2020, 4:14 pm

>120 AlisonY: It is Alison. I havent made time for my reread yet, but i will soon.

>122 BLBera: I'm sure it will hit a chord or two Beth. I sent a copy to my sister, and look forward to hearing what she thought.

nov. 14, 2020, 4:14 pm

Chimamanda Ngosi Adichie is the Women's Prize 'winner of winners'.

Well deserved IMO, a very fine novel.

nov. 15, 2020, 5:56 am

I'm well on the mend with the arm now. Been able to get out a couple of times (hadn't been able to get fully dressed, which kept me indoors), though not go far as we are in lockdown again.

Being a one-armed bandit for over a month gives me such an appreciation of the challenges of those with permanent alternative abilities for sure.

nov. 15, 2020, 8:03 am

Happy Sunday, Caroline. Glad to hear you are on the mend. Good review of Jack. I WANT to get to that one.

nov. 15, 2020, 8:33 am

>124 Caroline_McElwee: Very well deserved! I do love following that prize. I've found so many excellent authors and books through it. I still haven't read Americanah, and I've been meaning to forever.

Editat: nov. 15, 2020, 8:50 am

>125 Caroline_McElwee: - Glad to hear the arm is on the mend, Caroline. Your observation of what it's like for others with permanent disabilities is astute. I taught physically disabled kids for 26 years and I will never forget a workshop we had on one of our professional development days, early in my career. At various times over the course of the full-day workshop, we (teachers) had to *assume* various disabilities. I remember trying to: navigate around a cluttered classroom in a wheelchair, tuck my good arm (I'm left-handed) into my sleeve and just use my right hand to do everything, put a patch over one eye which affected balance and depth perception, communicate without speaking, do a variety of tasks without any instruction or guidance, etc, etc (not all at the same time, of course!). All this to give us an insight into what our students face on a daily basis. It was a very instructive and eye-opening exercise and I have never forgotten it.

nov. 15, 2020, 10:27 am

>124 Caroline_McElwee: Adiche is wonderful, Caroline. I've loved all of her books. I need to read the interview. Is she working on something that will be out soon?

I'm so glad to hear your arm is better.

nov. 15, 2020, 12:32 pm

>124 Caroline_McElwee: I agree with you, Caroline, deserved award of awards for a brilliant novel.

nov. 15, 2020, 4:36 pm

>125 Caroline_McElwee: Glad to hear you're on the mend Caroline.

I was so sad to read Adichie lost her dad - her family's support seems to contribute so much to her writing.

nov. 15, 2020, 6:17 pm

>118 Caroline_McElwee: Well, that is a ringing endorsement and it's going firmly on the wish list.

nov. 15, 2020, 7:07 pm

>125 Caroline_McElwee: Glad to read your arm is getting better, Caroline.
Yes, I remember so well how hard it was, when I broke my right upper arm a few years ago. I am totally right handed and there was very few I could do. So relieved it was only temporary!

nov. 15, 2020, 7:12 pm

>99 Caroline_McElwee: I really loved the Crummey book too.

Editat: nov. 16, 2020, 5:46 am

>126 msf59: I do really love her writing Mark.

>127 japaul22: I've certainly had some big hits from this Prize too Jennifer. Long may they continue.

>128 jessibud2: I think experiencing something is the only way to come near the difficulties some people have Shelley, even if your experience is much less. Being empathic without that is good, but until an element of your freedom has been withheld, it is really hard to know what you are deprived of, and how much it means to you.

>129 BLBera: Thanks re the arm Beth.

Adichie didn't mention what she was working on in the piece. It must be time for something new soon.

>130 PaulCranswick: It is Paul. Ive read it twice so far, and will read it again.

>131 charl08: Thanks re the arm Charlotte. Had a call with the physio this morning and she's happy with progress.

Yes, losing her dad and not being able to be there is heartbreaking.

>132 EBT1002: You won't regret it Ellen.

>133 FAMeulstee: You don't realise How much you use a limb, until you lose the use of it Anita. Thanks for your good wishes.

>134 thornton37814: I'll certainly read more of his work Lori.

nov. 16, 2020, 9:43 am

Hi, Caroline.

That's good news about the second Osman coming out next year.

That seems like a fair review of Jack. It's in my future.

I need to read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I've got Americanah, but maybe I should read Half of a Yellow Sun first?

nov. 16, 2020, 10:51 am

>136 jnwelch: Yes Joe, definitely HAYS first. I liked Americanah, but not as much as the first two.

nov. 16, 2020, 12:12 pm

>137 Caroline_McElwee: I second that!

nov. 16, 2020, 12:20 pm

>125 Caroline_McElwee: I hope you are on the mend. I very much appreciate your comment of understanding disabilities after you go through something that impacts mobility.

All good wishes!

nov. 16, 2020, 3:26 pm

>138 lauralkeet: I'm definitely looking forward to whatever she does next though Laura.

>139 Whisper1: Thanks Linda.

nov. 18, 2020, 5:31 pm

68. How Not to be a boy (Robert Webb) (18/11/20) ***1/2

Comedian and writer Robert Webb's memoir about not fitting into a world of machismo, and yet still, in young adulthood falling into the stereotypes without realising it, and trying to dig himself out.

I hope a lot of boys/young men read this book, it will make them feel less alone, and young girls/women too, not offering them excuses, but confirming the struggle against stereotypes is a shared experience.

Read for work's Gender Diversity book group.

Robert's Comedy Relief Flashdance performance.

Editat: nov. 19, 2020, 4:17 am

69. Dearly (Margaret Atwood) (19/11/20) ****

I really enjoyed this volume. Especially the title poem, which you can hear her read at the bottom of the interview here:

Atwoodian subjects abound as you would expect, nature, how we function in the world, a whiff of dystopia. The poems about loss are especially moving at the end of the volume.

nov. 18, 2020, 5:42 pm

Yay for Republican Clint Hickman: “No matter how you voted, this election was administered with integrity, transparency and in accordance with state laws,” Hickman said.

nov. 18, 2020, 6:20 pm

>143 Caroline_McElwee: There are a handful of rational people in that party. If only they'd spoken up a little louder, a little sooner.

nov. 18, 2020, 9:02 pm

>141 Caroline_McElwee: funny coincidence: I was watching an episode of Peep Show as I read your review and had just been wondering, what's Robert Webb up to now?

nov. 18, 2020, 9:11 pm

>136 jnwelch: & >137 Caroline_McElwee: I have read HAYS and her short stories but will read Purple Hibiscus before Americanah. Great writer.

nov. 19, 2020, 4:22 am

>144 laytonwoman3rd: If only Linda.

>145 lauralkeet: I'm not much of a comedy watcher now Laura, but he can hit the spot sometimes. He is now, post counselling, very much more self-aware.

>146 PaulCranswick: I haven't read the short stories yet Paul.

nov. 20, 2020, 10:09 pm

Started Shuggie Bain this morning since it is fresh from winning the Booker. Do you have any plans for it?

So far so good.

nov. 21, 2020, 9:00 am

>148 PaulCranswick: Hi Paul, yes I have Shuggie Bain and will probably read it ver the winter. I look forward to reading your thoughts.

nov. 23, 2020, 12:12 pm

70. Sontag: Her Life (Benjamin Moser) (23/11/20) *****

A fine, intense and detailed biography of US intellectual, essayist and novelist Susan Sontag.

Moser dug deep to show the complexity and contradictions of this woman. I can't remember who said that holding two contradictory concepts in the mind suggests adulthood. I am not sure that is the case, as with many, and Sontag, those contradictions are 'the child' and 'the adult'. Far more vulnerable than perceived from the outside, and this vulnerability leading, in later life especially, to bullying behaviour to those around her she was meant to love.

Unquestionably a fine if occasionally flawed mind. Time to revisit some of her essays.

nov. 25, 2020, 6:34 pm

71. Walking with Ghosts (Gabriel Byrne) (25/11/20) ****

An evocative memoir about an Irish childhood, full of 'characters', but also telling of abuse by a priest, and chronic confidence, self-esteem and drink problems throughout his life. A brave exposé in hopes of encouraging others to seek help earlier than he himself did aged around 50.

A wealth of highs and lows that have fed into the characters he has played, giving them the authenticity he has not felt himself.

This is his second memoir. He Is currently working on a novel.

nov. 29, 2020, 7:23 pm

I did not know that Byrne had written a memoir. I will look for both of them. The Sonntag book looks good as well.

I hope your arm is progressing nicely, Caroline.

nov. 30, 2020, 2:06 pm

I'm glad to read your assessment of the Sontag bio, Caroline. I have a copy, but its size is a bit daunting.

des. 3, 2020, 3:40 pm

>152 BLBera: They are all worth a read Beth.

>153 laytonwoman3rd: It helps to have affirmation that a tome Is worth the time Linda.

Editat: des. 5, 2020, 3:46 pm

72. Three Women and a Boat (Anne Youngson) (02/12/20) ****

Youngson's oeuvre seems to be the exploration of friendships that arise from the meeting of strangers.

When two women, in late middle age meet for the first time on a towpath, outside a barge with a howling canine, and decide to investigate and take action, they didn't expect to become embroiled in the life of the astringent barge owner. Filled with self-exploration, new friends on the journey, and incitefulness, I missed all the protagonists when I turned the last page.

des. 4, 2020, 11:51 am

Hi Caroline - I really enjoyed her last one, Meet Me at the Museum and didn't know about this one. Thanks for the review!

Editat: des. 4, 2020, 1:29 pm

>156 vivians: I came on this one unexpectedly Vivian. I think Museum is my favourite, but I really enjoyed this one too.

des. 4, 2020, 11:42 pm

>155 Caroline_McElwee: I don't know whether the story is quite for me (it may be) but what a beautiful cover!

Have a lovely weekend, Caroline.

des. 5, 2020, 12:51 pm

Three Women and a Boat sounds like one I would like, Caroline. I'll add it to the list for next year.

Editat: des. 5, 2020, 3:49 pm

>158 PaulCranswick: Difficult one to call Paul. I'm not big on 'light fiction' and some might think of this nearer that end of the spectrum. I found it thoughtful. I was in the mood for the pace, and liked the tone.

>159 BLBera: I think you would too Beth.

des. 15, 2020, 12:52 pm

Sprout has got his Christmas hat on, festive season must be approaching...

I can tell by the consumption of port too. A mince pie, slice of mature cheddar and glass of port most evenings.

des. 15, 2020, 2:46 pm

>161 Caroline_McElwee: ooh I love that, Caroline. I was tempted to buy my dad some chocolate sprouts today for his silly gift.

des. 15, 2020, 3:09 pm

>162 charl08: They are a pain to unwrap, I had them one year Charlotte.

Sprout wears a fez the rest of the year.

Editat: des. 16, 2020, 12:48 pm

73. Wintering (Katherine May (15/12/2020) ****

An exploration not only of the natural world in winter, but of those times when we turn in on ourselves, need to hibernate for one reason or another, usually due to dramatic change in our lives, or a health issue. Not always negative, but times when we need to stretch time, strip what for a while seems unnecessary or irrelevant out of our lives to refocus. Time to let our mind’s wander for a while, or to empty them. To coast. May shares times in her life she has ‘Wintered’ and in the lives of others she has met. I liked the Winterly pace, and could happily have read more.

des. 16, 2020, 10:31 am

>164 Caroline_McElwee: Noting that one, Caroline. I enjoy these types of books when I'm in the right frame of mind.

des. 16, 2020, 10:41 am

>164 Caroline_McElwee: I like the sound of that, Caroline. I am craving a blanket most of the time!

des. 16, 2020, 11:07 am

>164 Caroline_McElwee: Noted. Sounds like just my cuppa.

Editat: des. 16, 2020, 12:54 pm

>165 AlisonY: >166 charl08: >167 laytonwoman3rd: For a short while I thought it wasn't quite what I expected/wanted, but then really got into it. I think it would be a good fit for you all.

>166 charl08: My reading chair has a lap quilt, wrap, scarves and a shawl near to hand, and is next to the radiator, but I like snugness at this time of year.

des. 16, 2020, 3:32 pm

>164 Caroline_McElwee: - My kind of book. Thanks for that BB, Caroline!

des. 20, 2020, 8:45 am

>169 jessibud2: You are welcome Shelley.

I'm on the last 190 pages of the Obama autoB, I've been reading other things as well to give my wrists a rest. Should finish by Wednesday.

des. 20, 2020, 8:50 am

>170 Caroline_McElwee: Made me smile. There must have been 100 copies of it for sale in Kino and it looks a weighty tome!

des. 20, 2020, 8:52 am

>170 Caroline_McElwee: - You are way ahead of me, Caroline. I am only just at the half way point, but I borrowed the audiobook from the library and am listening to him read it to me, while following along with my hard copy. It's a great one to end the year with.

des. 20, 2020, 10:25 am

Wintering sounds like another one I would love, Caroline. I always add to my WL when I visit your thread!

des. 21, 2020, 6:27 am

>142 Caroline_McElwee: Hi Caro, just coming over to catch up. I'm still going through the Atwood collection. Recently, at about halfway through, I decided to stop reading from front and re-started from the back! It did the trick.

>164 Caroline_McElwee: Well, that is timely, isn't it?!

des. 21, 2020, 1:58 pm

>171 PaulCranswick: Weight training Paul. Thanks Barack.

>172 jessibud2: I just watched one of the interviews with him. I'm sure having him read to you is very pleasant Shelley. In the book, he just mentioned the day his girls told him they were too old to be read too, and how disappointed he was.

>173 BLBera: Beth, I'm always glad to oblige.

>174 avaland: Always lovely to see you pop your head around the door Lois. I agree I think the Atwood volume maybe sags a bit in the middle, but the good poems definitely far outweighed the only OK ones. I still have the volume by my reading chair.

Yes, Wintering was timely, but unusually, I've no inclination to read her other works. Probably because I'm not a mother, and they mostly cover that.

des. 21, 2020, 3:30 pm

>168 Caroline_McElwee: I'm in the market for another fleece blanket. My dad keeps snaffling them (although to be fair, he does feel the cold more).

Editat: des. 22, 2020, 9:55 am

74. Ex Libris: 100 Books to Read and Reread (Michiko Kakutani) (22/12/20) ****1/2

A wonderful volume of suggested reading/rereading. It has a handful of the ‘usual suspects’, is quite US centric, and very focused on works that speak to our current time. It was great to find such a volume with so many new to me books. I own 56 (3 of which bought due to reading the book) and had read 26, so plenty to keep me occupied going forward. The little reviews (maximum 3 pages) are succinct, and written by a lover of the book. Kakutani has taken her ‘critics’ hat off. These are a personal selection, and you can feel it.

An interview with Kakutani:

des. 22, 2020, 9:51 am

>176 charl08: Christmas present to yourself perhaps Charlotte.

des. 22, 2020, 10:19 am

>177 Caroline_McElwee: - What a gorgeous cover!

des. 22, 2020, 4:41 pm

Happy everything, Caroline. Here's to good health, above all, and of course, good books.

des. 22, 2020, 6:03 pm

>179 jessibud2: >180 jessibud2: Thanks Shelley. Great festive image.

des. 24, 2020, 8:35 am

Or in other words, Happy Christmas! And have a great New Year as well. Here’s hoping 2021 is better than 2020.

des. 24, 2020, 5:45 pm

Thank you Rhian.

des. 24, 2020, 5:45 pm

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
May 2021 bring you less need for masks, loads of peace and joy, good health and, of course, books!

Editat: des. 24, 2020, 6:06 pm

75. A Promised Land (Barack Obama) (24/12/20) ****1/2

Volume 1 of Obama's post-Presidential autobiography is everything you would expect and wish it to be. A personal memoir and a volume of history. Written with clarity and honesty, humility and the desire to offer an unpretentious incite into the life of the highest office which can function only because of the people who serve it, and Obama ensured he had the best, and learned from them. They gave him what confidence and strength was required to do his job, and he honours them.

Interwoven are short reccies into family life, enough to show the human side, without encroaching on the privacy of his wife and daughters.

I'm now looking forward to volume 2, the second term, and wondering whether it is written and will land in a year, or whether we will have to wait a bit longer.

des. 24, 2020, 6:04 pm

>184 Berly: Thank you Kim.

des. 24, 2020, 6:38 pm

>185 Caroline_McElwee: - I am just past the half way point in this one, Caroline. I own and am following along in the hard copy but am also listening to him read it to me on audio (library copy). There are 28 discs and I am about to begin disc #15 (or 16, I forget). I will definitely finish it before the end of the year and am really loving it. You summed it up very well in your review.

des. 24, 2020, 6:39 pm

>185 Caroline_McElwee: I am really hoping for this one under the tree....!

des. 25, 2020, 2:36 am

I hope you get some of those at least, Caroline, as we all look forward to a better 2021.

des. 25, 2020, 3:53 am

Happy Christmas, Caroline. Looking forward to your 2021 reading. Stay safe.

des. 25, 2020, 7:56 am

Happy Holidays, Caroline. Praying for a much better 2021. I love following your current reads. Always such an interesting diversity. Wintering sounds like my cuppa.

des. 25, 2020, 2:55 pm

>185 Caroline_McElwee: Congratulations on reaching 75, Caroline!
And reaching this number with such a great book, I am on the waiting list for a library copy.

des. 26, 2020, 9:22 am

Thanks for the festive greetings Shelley, Paul, Alison, Mark and Anita.

I've enjoyed just chilling, and reading of course.

des. 26, 2020, 5:02 pm

Wonderful books for # 74 and 75, Caroline!

I loved the Kakutani as well; I had a library book, but it's one I may have to buy... I did make notes of books I hadn't read, especially ones that I own. I think I may use that list as a plan for 2021 reading.

I can't wait to dig into the Obama memoir.

I hope you're having a wonderful and safe holiday.

des. 26, 2020, 6:03 pm

>194 BLBera: I'm having a lovely lazy time Beth. Lots of reading, a bit of music, streaming a film or two or a bit of tv. I have another 9 days off to do more of the same. Lucky me.

Editat: des. 26, 2020, 7:01 pm

76. Dear Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books (Cathy Rentzenbrink) (26/12/20) ****

A memoir about the life of a reader who becomes a writer, with themed lists of books that have had meaning to Rentzenbrink. There were few books I hadn't at least heard of, but no reader can resist reading their own feelings about reading (and rereading) reflected back at them.

des. 26, 2020, 6:27 pm

>196 Caroline_McElwee: - Sounds wonderful and the bonus is that gorgeous cover!

des. 26, 2020, 7:24 pm

Congrats on hitting 75!

des. 27, 2020, 10:11 am

>197 jessibud2: It is a lovely cover Shelley.

>198 drneutron: Thanks Jim. I'm hopping to get a few more books under the wire this year. I'll set up next years thread in a few more days.

des. 27, 2020, 1:41 pm

>196 Caroline_McElwee: This sounds great, onto the list it goes. Maybe a belated Christmas gift...

Editat: des. 27, 2020, 8:25 pm

Hi Caroline. A belated happy holidays and an early Happy New Year to you!!

I have Ex Libris: 100+ Books to Read and Reread and, of course, Obama's memoir on my wish list. I almost bought the latter at a bookshop I visited over the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, but the price tag put me off. I'll buy it but I may wait until it's out in soft cover.

des. 27, 2020, 8:31 pm

>201 EBT1002: - Just for what it's worth, Ellen. I bought the Obama book at Costco, at nearly half the cover price. I was also put off by the original price but when I saw that, I decided to treat myself. I am currently more than half way through and following along as he reads it to me on the audiobook (audio from the library ;-)

des. 28, 2020, 9:36 am

Hi, Caroline. I hope you've been having a good holiday season, and best wishes for a happy new year.

Thanks for the good review of Ex Libris. I added it to the WL. Have you read the "other" Ex Libris, the Anne Fadiman one? I'll bet you have. I loved that one.

des. 28, 2020, 11:23 am

>200 BLBera: A late treat is good Beth.

>201 EBT1002: I just couldn't wait for the soft cover Ellen. The hard cover was weight training though.

>203 jnwelch: I too loved Fadiman's Ex Libris Joe. Must be time for a reread next year.

Editat: des. 31, 2020, 10:11 am

2020 reading - books of the year

I have read 79books this year.

There were at least half a dozen more that could have gone on this list. Non-Fiction won out this year over all. I'll do my general breakdown on my thread later in the week, but unusually my reading has been more heavily female writers, it's usually about 50/50.


Square Haunting (Francesca Wade)
Serious Noticing (James Woods) (Essays)
The Lost Pianos of Siberia (Sophy Roberts)
Recollections of my Non-Existence (Rebecca Solnit)
The Education of an Idealist (Samantha Power)
House of Glass (Hadley Freeman)
The Argonauts (Maggie Nelson)
To See Clearly: Why Ruskin Matters (Suzanne Fagence Cooper) (04/09/20)
Vesper Flights (Helen MacDonald) (Essays)
Invisible Women (Caroline Criado Perez)
On Connection (Kae Tempest) (Essays)
Sontag: Her Life (Benjamin Moser)
A Promised Land (Barack Obama)
The Light of the World (Elizabeth Alexander)
Ex Libris: 100 Books to read and reread (Michiko Kakutani)


Girl, Woman, Other (Bernardine Evaristo)
The River Capture (Mary Costello)
The Narrow Land (Christine Dwyer Hickey)
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek (Kim Michele Richardson)
Writers and Lovers (Lily King)
Dandelion Wine (Ray Bradbury)
In Love with George Eliot (Kathy O'Shaughnessy)


A Portable Paradise (Roger Robinson)


Possession (A S Byatt)
The Great Gatsby (F Scott Fitzgerald) - 40th read

Editat: des. 29, 2020, 6:20 am

I watched Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Extraordinary performances from the whole cast. A deep, intense biographical play from August Wilson.

However, I do always feel the loss of the unique sensation between the performers and audience in the same room when a theatre play is reimagined for film (as opposed to the theatre production itself being filmed).

Heartbreaking that this was Chadwick Boseman's final performance.

I saw two different productions on stage, both at The National Theatre, over the years.

Editat: des. 30, 2020, 6:28 am

77. The Light of the World (Elizabeth Alexander) (29/12/20) ****1/2

An extraordinary memoir about love and loss. Alexander writes about the sudden death of her husband at aged 50, chef and artist Ficre Ghebreyesus. About their empathic relationship, the depth of love they shared, their two young sons, and the loving community of friends and family that surrounded them, and the pain of loss.

I learned about this book from Ex Libris: 100 books to read and re-read by Michiko Katutani, one of three books I bought after reading it. See >177 Caroline_McElwee: above.

I now have a volume of Alexander's poetry on my tbr pile to be read soon.

des. 30, 2020, 7:03 am

Did we see Ma Rainey's Black Bottom together at the National Theatre, Caroline? How did the version you saw compare to that one?

des. 30, 2020, 5:48 pm

I'm not so good at keeping up with the threads I've starred. Just catching up now, Caroline. I hope you had a good Christmas.

I was intrigued with >37 Caroline_McElwee: The INFJ Writer: Cracking the Creative Genius of the World's Rarest Type although, after looking it up, I don't think I fit the type. I have recently started doing writer sprints at Creative Academy for Writers and I think they have one at a time that is good for UK writers, if you are interested in finding a place for an hour of writing with a group.

des. 31, 2020, 5:05 am

Hi Meg, yes, i would be interested in hearing about the group, thank you.

Editat: des. 31, 2020, 8:05 am

>77 Caroline_McElwee: I'm jotting that one down, Caroline. I think it would be my kind of read.

Let me know when you've got your 2021 thread set up. I'm not finding it on your page. Happy new year.

Editat: des. 31, 2020, 2:36 pm

78. Not a Novel: Collected Writings and Reflections (Jenny Erpenbeck) (31/12/20) ****1/2

Deeply thought essays and lectures about life and writing. I especially liked the longer Bamberg Lectures, which will certainly get a reread soon. And the final essay 'Blind Spot'. The whole collection offered plenty of food for thought.

Editat: des. 31, 2020, 2:37 pm

79. The Great Gatsby (F Scott Fitzgerald) (31/12/20) *****

My 40th reading of this novel, which sucks me in from the first paragraph every time, and gets reread most years. It is the tone that ensnares me first, and then the writing. That it was published in 1925, when he was 29 is quite awe inspiring (he lived to age 44, and wrote at least one more great novel, Tender is the Night).

This is one of about 12 editions I own, and is a lovely little pocket edition.

des. 31, 2020, 9:57 am

>212 Caroline_McElwee: Ooh. I loved the two novels I've read by Jenny Erpenbeck, Visitation and Go, Went, Gone, so Not a Novel has been added to my wishlist.

des. 31, 2020, 10:22 am

>211 AlisonY: It's hard not to be moved by this memoir Alison (I think you mean't this >207 Caroline_McElwee:).

Link below to my 2021 thread.

>214 kidzdoc: I just ordered The Old Child and the Book of Words as these were most discussed in >212 Caroline_McElwee: above Darryl. Glad the two you read were hits, i'm sure I will get to those too in the near future.

des. 31, 2020, 10:22 am

Heading into the new year...

des. 31, 2020, 9:51 pm


As the year turns, friendship continues

gen. 2, 2021, 6:43 pm

All the best to you Caroline in 2021.
>207 Caroline_McElwee: I just put Ex Libris on reserve at the library. Thank you!