Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Bookchat

This is the place to discuss your favourite books, your favourite authors, your favourite genres,  in fact anything even slightly bookish.  What book has most influenced your (reading) life?

167 comments:

  1. Having trouble deciding what to read next? Love particular authors but no new books of theirs have been published recently? Here is a handy tool. Just enter your favourite author’s name and similar authors will appear in the map. The closer authors are to your favourite, the more you are likely to enjoy them.

    http://www.literature-map.com/

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  2. That's brilliant! I am about to look up some of the authors that appear close to Anita Brookner.

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    1. I think so too! The link is now on the main page. Have fun!

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  4. Recommendation:

    Fortune’s Rocks by Anita Shreve (1999)

    Not really a Victorian love story, it is set in 1899 at Fortune’s Rocks, the family summer home of Olympia Biddeford, a sheltered but precocious only child of a wealthy and prominent book editor.
    There is a bit of romance (forbidden love- but it’s no bodice-ripper), and social history and throughout, it raises controversial issues that are still relevant today. Shreve is not as interested in characterisation as she is in plot, period and the social issues and she cleverly uses the present tense to give the reader a sense of immediacy. I found the second part of the book less cohesive but more interesting, and I liked her use of symbols: the telescope, and the house, which was almost a character itself.
    It has been compared with Wuthering Heights, The Scarlet Letter, Edith Wharton and Kate Chopin. That’s a bit thick, I think, but it is a well - written, well plotted page –
    turner. It should please Shreve fans and garner her more.
    By the way, Fortune’ Rocks is actually a beach near Biddeford, Maine, a nice touch.

    If you’ve read this book, or others by Shreve, share your thoughts with us.

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    1. I haven't read anything by Anita Shreve to date but quite like the sound of her writing. But like most am familiar with `Wuthering Heights' and although I've come across its path many times over the years have never actually read it - probably more familiar with the old 'Wuthering Heights' film starring Olivia de Havilland, Laurence Olivier and I can't remember who played Cathy, I think it was the same actress who played `Scarlett O'Hara' in `Gone With the Wind'. I have `The Scarlet Letter' - N. Hawthorne - here waiting to be read. Cheers.

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    2. A recommendation for both of you: 'Daphne' by Justine Picardie. Notes below. As sanmac knows I met Justine at her London home last year through posting on her blog. Her most recent book is a best-selling biography of Chanel and she is now working on another novel. She is something of an expert on the Brontes and Du Maurier.

      Daphne
      A haunting novel that illuminates the true story of Daphne du Maurier's fascination with the Brontës: a tale of madness, theft, romance, and literary archaeology.

      Drawing on Justine Picardie's own extensive research into Daphne du Maurier's obsession with the Brontës and the scandal that has haunted the Brontë estate, Daphne is a marvelous story of literary fascination and possession; of stolen manuscripts and forged signatures; of love lost and love found; of the way into imaginary worlds, and the way out again. Written in three entwined parts, the novel follows Daphne du Maurier herself, the beautiful, tomboyish, passionate author of the enormously popular Gothic novel Rebecca, at fifty and on the verge of madness; John Alexander Symington, eminent editor and curator of the Brontës' manuscripts, who by 1957 had been dismissed from the Brontë Parsonage Museum in disgrace, and who became Daphne's correspondent; and a nameless modern researcher on the trail of Daphne, Rebecca, Alexander Symington, and the Brontës. Haunting and gorgeously written, Daphne is a breathtaking novel that finally tells, in the most imaginative of ways, what Brontë biographer Juliet Barker has called “the last great untold Brontë story—and perhaps the most intriguing.”

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    3. On your recommendation I read and very much enjoyed Justine's Coco Chanel, even though biography is not my favourite genre. I had 'Daphne' on my to-read list, but didn't realise it is a novel. It sounds just right for one of my book groups. Have you read it?

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    4. Leonie, Wuthering Heights is very dear to me. I want to marry Heathcliff when I grow up. Are you thinking of Vivien Leigh as Catherine Earnshaw?
      Last year my bookgroup read the 'Fallen Women' trilogy: Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, Flaubert's Madame Bovary and Kate Chopin's The Awakening. In hindsight, we should have added Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. Shreve's Fortune's Rocks falls within this category, though I'm not sure it will still be read 100 years hence, it's still a good read.

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    5. Sanmac: I have a copy of 'Daphne' if you want to borrow it. Don't mind posting it up to you and you can send me something in return one day.

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    6. Also meant to say I have three copies of Coco Chanel, two signed by Justine so if you ever thought of running a competition you are welcome to one as a prize.

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    7. That would be a great prize, thanks Jaywalker. I really enjoyed the book. A competition sounds fun. I can add a poll to the site which automatically counts and publishes the results, so that we can all see who is winning. Now who has ideas for a competition? Perhaps it should be 'bookish', in keeping with the prize. All suggestions welcome.

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    8. PS. We could even vote for the best suggestion for the competition. I'll put up the ballet box as soon as we have suggestions.

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    9. Vivienne Leigh as Cathy? I don't remember her as that. Scarlett, yes.
      But Olivia was Melanie, Ashley's wife in the film. Did she play Cathy (back to Wuthering Heights)

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    10. Just googled it Madeleine - you were correct - Merle Oberon played Cathy Earnshaw and Vivien Leigh was Scarlett O'Hara. Strangely I think I'm getting Merle Oberon mixed up with Vivien Leigh who was Laurence Oliver's/Heathclliffe's real life love interest at the time - and then later his wife - but who I somehow (subconsciously) saw as well suited to the role of Cathy Earnshaw running across the moors to Heathcliffe's embrace....I'll stop now before I start sounding really silly.

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  5. I've read all Shreve's books and enjoyed almost all of them, Didn't like her recent one, A Change in Altitude, as much as her earlier ones but the last one was back on form. I think her Fortune's Rock quartet are her best:
    1. Fortune's Rocks (1999)
    2. Sea Glass (2002)
    3. The Pilot's Wife (1998)
    4. Body Surfing (2007)

    Coincidentally, we watched an episode of the TV sereis The World from Above last night and it was the coast of Maine which looked absolutely stunningly beautiful.

    Have you read Carole Shields? Very similar type.

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    1. I, too, have read most of Anita Shreve's books, "The Pilot's Wife", "The Last Time they Met" and "Eden Close" favourites. Not keen on A Change in Altitude either. Will look out for Carol Shields, thankyou.

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    2. I read somewhere that Shields "is concerned with the minutie of daily life". She does it well. My favourite is 'The Stone Diaries'. I'd be interested to know how you find her.

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    3. Sanmac, must admit I am struggling a little with "The Stone Diaries" - started off ok but ...might be that there isn't much dialogue which I do like or perhaps I am reading it at bedtime when my brain isn't absorbing her words well enough. Will persevere.

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    4. I guess I liked it because Shields manages to make the ordinary seem extraordinary. She has a different perspective on events which encourages a different view of the lives of her characters. If this book was a true autobiography (and Shields does everything possible to make it seem so)it would probably be boring. However, the very structure of the novel (how original!) and Shields' often tongue-in-cheek take on it give it life. It's funny - not laugh out loud - but definitely a smile or three. I did need to refer often to the family tree. Bedtime would not be the best time for me to read it, for it needs to be savored and it would be too easy for me to lose the thread of the characters' thoughts.

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    5. I have now removed "The Stone Diaries" from my bedside table and transferred it to my kitchen in the hope I can read it over lunch sometimes!

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  6. We lost Carol Shields to breast cancer in 2003 and Unless is her last book. Her speciality is describing the minutiae of daily life. My favourites of her books are the Pulitzer Prize winning The Stone Diaries (1995) and Larry's Party (1998).

    I first read Unless soon after it was published and recently reread it as a book group selection. I am usually pleased when a book group chooses a book I have read. With a very long list of classics and an ever increasing list of contemporary fiction waiting to be read, rereading is a luxury. I seem to appreciate the book more the second time and Unless falls well into this category.
    It's a quiet book, telling the story of Reta Winters' (nee Summers) daily life. This contented life of a Canadian writer/translator is disturbed when Norah, the oldest of her 3 teenage daughters leaves home to sit begging on a Toronto street corner. She wears a hand-written sign saying 'goodness' around her neck.
    However, the story is not about Norah. It's an introspective of Reta's life and her relationship with her husband, Tom, her daughters, her literary colleagues and the people she meets. There's subtle humour, a tongue-in-cheek feminist point of view but no moralising. As the narrator (Reta) is a writer, we are treated to the writing process or rather, the thoughts behind the writing process, complete with references to contemporary fiction. These made me smile in recognition.
    Throughout, I pictured Judi Dench as the narrator. I even heard her voice in my head.
    Although it is an easy read, Shields does raise some big questions. Unless should appeal to those who enjoy the work of Joyce Carol Oates.

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  7. Good morning people
    I am an avid reader but my tastes are very plebian. As long as it is a good read I am happy with this, although I do appreciate a little history thrown in as well. Learning something about the world is a huge bonus in my mind

    So I am currently re reading A Town LIke Alice by Neville Shute.First read this as a school kid, so it is interesting to read this with a new perspective.

    Of, course, when I was 12 or 13 I was most impressed by Peter Finch in the movie because he was blond and the iconic Aussie as Joe Harmon. Later, a mini series was made for TV starring Bryan Brown as Joe Harmon.Again, the iconic Aussie , laconic drawl and all. ( And was there a female under 50 trhat didn't think Bryan was just lovely at the time ??)

    What has interested me in this reading however is that the character of Joe Harmon was actually based on a veteran from the Kokoda campaign in WW2. I discovered this only having recently finished Peter Fitzsimons KOKODA.

    Which to means shows another way that the Universe is all connected, which personally appeals

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    1. It seems we have similar taste, Moi. I read all of Shute's books, so long ago that I can't remember the name of my favourite. It may have been 'On the Beach'. He posited a theory of preferential voting in Australia, which at the time, I thought had merit. Now, I'm not so sure. I'll have to reread it.
      I'm not a fan of non-fiction (I like my facts prettied up by good prose)but I do enjoy Fitzsimons. I've read 'Magnificent Men' and 'Nancy Wake' and am looking out for 'Kokoda' and 'Batavia'. Perhaps I'll be lucky at the Bookfest?

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  8. Hi Moi,

    I've never read `A Town Like Alice' but like most have seen both film versions - and although I like Bryan Brown - I actually did prefer the older version with Peter Finch in the Joe Harmon role. I lived in Alice Springs for about 7 years in the 80s and really love this part of Australia and (well at least while I was living there) noticed that many locals do refer to Alice Springs affectionately - as `Alice' or `The Alice'. Love Central Australia - best seen in mid-winter. Cheers.

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  9. I have, of course, read 'A Town Like Alice' - it never persuaded me to take a trip out to Julia Creek or any other outback town in Brisbane. However, I think in the introduction Shute says that what happened during the war as portrayed in the book happened in Sumatria... not Kokoda.....
    It wsa a very good book, heightening the atrocities suffered by women, children and Australian soldiers overseas.. I remember shuddering as I read it...

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  10. Just looked it up - Merle Oberon played Catherine Earnshaw in the earlier versin of Wuth. Heights...

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  11. sorry, leoniecoa - you had already cporrecte4d that...

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  12. 'Case Histories' arrived yesterday and my partner grabbed it before I could hide it! I'm almost finsihed a short easy read by Andrew Taylor, Old School Tie - it's a British detective mystery with good characterisation and atmosphere. I like Taylor's books. He's written a lot of mysteries but also single non-mystery novels such as 'The American Boy' which won an award. His "Lydmouth" detective series is set in 50s England and would make good TV.

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  13. VALE: Ray Bradbury 91

    Bradbury, of 'Fahrenheit 451' fame was a legend.

    "Science fiction is also a great way to pretend you are writing about the future when in reality you are attacking the recent past and the present." - Ray Bradbury

    Read the ABC's tribute here.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-06-07/author-ray-bradbury-dead-at-91/4056826

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  14. FAVOURITE AUTHORS?

    I’ve been thinking about who would be my favourite author and can’t choose just one. I suppose my favourites of contemporary authors would be those whose new books are immediately on my ‘must have’ list. Jim Crace, Margaret Atwood, David Mitchell, Geraldine Brooks, Janette Turner Hospital, Kazuo Ishiguro, Jeffrey Eugenides, David Malouf come to mind. Then there are those that I discovered later in their career and have a back list of titles on my ‘to read’ list: Philip Roth, John Irving, A S Byatt, Sebastian Barry, Joyce Carol Oates, Peter Ackroyd, Iris Murdoch.
    In the crime/mystery/thriller genre I enjoy John Katzenbach, Henning Mankell, James Lee Burke, Peter Ackroyd (again) Robert Harris.
    Are any of my favourites on your list, too? Are you able to choose just one favourite author or book?

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    1. I reread The Lord Of The Rings every 2 or 3 years since 1970 so Tolkien is the one above all the rest.

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    2. I'm with you, John, though I've only read it twice but I loved it both times - so much so that I refused to see the movies in case they spoiled it.
      Who else do you like?

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    3. Definitely see the movies !! I had tears in my eyes at the beginning, Gandalf entering Hobbiton EXACTLY as my imagination sees things. I have sort of retired into my bookcases, lots of rereading. The majority of the books are great books which are lumped under fantasy and sci/fi. The older I get the more I enjoy well written Other worlds and ideas replacing factual and the readings of the past.

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    4. Thanks, John. I will definitely watch the movie now. Friends have recommended it but they had not read the book.
      I too, am a re-reader. I have recently revisited Asimov and am considering rereading Donaldson's 'Thomas Covenant' series.
      I'm about to post a list of the 'Best Science Fiction Books'. Check it out, you may find something new.
      By the way, be sure to tune into next week's chat with Peter West in our first ever author interview.

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    5. Asimov is always re-readable ! I have 16 of his stories on shelf three of one of two bookcases so he has some priority LOL. I am considering starting at the beginning and running all the way through the books under the Foundation heading. Arthur C takes up quite a bit of shelf space as well. At the moment I am on book 3 of Julian Mays' Rampart Worlds trilogy, a sometimes humorous adventure or space opera, almost like an old western in some parts. Entertaining with no brain strain. Will check out your best of list.

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    6. I've been wondering if you have come across David Mitchell's 'Cloud Atlas'? It's not strictly scifi or fantasy but has elements of both. I loved it and it's on my shelf of 'treasures'. Another you might enjoy is the little known Kirsten Bakis' 'Lives of the Monster Dogs'. Both are what I call 'books with bite'.

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    7. No to both. I will have to check out the book depository and do a bit more Googling.

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    8. Mitchell should be available in your local library but Bakis could be more difficult to source. Check them out well, please, I'd feel responsible if you bought them and were disappointed.

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    9. Good news for me. My friend has all 3 Tolkein movies (the longer, uncut version) so I will be watching them soon. She also advises that 'The Hobbit' is due to be released in Australia at Christmas. Good news for all Tolkein fans.

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    10. We usually have a movie marathon every Xmas as it recalls the lining up outside the theatre early morning boxing day for three years in a row for the very first session of all three releases. Fortunate enough to have a good theatre within driving distance in Devonport and the great thing was not just the first in Australia but the same crowd was waiting each year ! Just like old friends. Tragic I know LOL but I am wondering if we will all be there for the release of The Hobbit.

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  15. QUOTABLE QUOTES
    Do you remember this section in the Readers Digest magazine? I came across the following quote this morning and thought to start a thread for our favourites.

    "I never change, I simply become more myself." - Joyce Carol Oates

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    1. “Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live.”
      ― Gustave Flaubert

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    2. The best moments in reading are when you come across something -
      a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things -
      which you had thought special and particular to you.
      And now, here it is, set down by someone else,
      a person you have never met,
      someone even who is long dead.
      And it is as if a hand has come out,
      and taken yours.
      Alan Bennett

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    3. Really like the Alan Bennett quote and agree they are often the best moments in reading.

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    4. It's wonderful when it happens. I go all starry-eyed and am bursting to share.
      Do you have some favourite quotes?

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    5. "All good books are different but all bad books are exactly the same. I know this to be a fact because in my line of work I read a lot of bad books - books so bad they aren't even published, which is quite a feat, when you consider what is published." Robert Harris, 'Ghost' (aka 'The Ghost Writer)

      (I thought this particularly appropriate in light of our Group Read. ;-))

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    6. "Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how it's done, they have seen it done everyday, but they're unable to do it themselves." - Brendan Behan

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  16. Had to tell you that we went to the English Writers exhibition at the British library yesterday. Original manuscripts of great writers from Chaucer to present day. Tiny notebooks of the Brontes. Manuscript of Jane Austin's unfinished novel. Wordsworth's letters, J K Rowlings scribbled writing pad drafts, the voices and manuscripts of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, interview with Daphne du Maurier and on and on. The theme was the English landscape in English literature. The night before we went to Abigail's Party in the West End which was hilarious and marvellously performed by an ensemble cast which included the actor who plays the young plumber in Doc Martin, the woman who played Jane in BBC Pride and Prejudice. Today I am booked in for an exhibition of ball gowns through the ages at the V&A. And now we are just off to the huge secondhand bookshop in Russell Square. Weather great last three days but raining today!

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    1. Just returned from a few hours in London at the British Library - a wonderful place but missed the English Writers' exhibition. It was a convenient meeting place for me and an old friend; we can recommend the bookshop and the restaurant! Wish we had had more time to explore it!

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    2. Lucky you! I think I could spend a week at the British Library. I've never been but I've read so much about it.

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  17. The Human Stain by Philip Roth (2000)
    I was absolutely blown away by this book. Roth is brilliant! This is the first of his work that I have read and I will now read every word that he has written. I can't believe it took me so long to discover him.
    The novel is set in America and although the date is given, Roth sets the time frame by descriptions of the commentary of US political events, which form a parallel to, or underscore, the events in the story. All of his characters are developed, even the minor ones, not only by description but by their speech, thoughts and actions - even those characters we don't particularly like. Themes of racism, individual freedoms and choices, convention and political correctness in an original storyline. Roth writes beautifully and naturally and with economy. He packed so much into 300 pages. I can't think of another author with whom to compare him.

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  18. I noticed Oscar Wilde's quote of the day and by coincidence I am reading "Constance" on my ereader.....the biography of his wife who was an interesting character in her own right. It appears that their marriage was definitely a love match and was a very happy one until the arrest. The author suggests that Oscar was a thrill and danger seeker and that he was completely heterosexual until seduced into homosexual activity by a young male friend during his marriage. She also presents evidence that Constance probably had medical problems after her second child that prevented normal sexual relations and that she accepted his need to look elsewhere although she didn't realise it was young men. We don't always get the full picture the first time round. I'm finding her a very sympathetic character.

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  19. In between drifting in and out of sleep last night I watched a really interesting documentary `Changing your Mind' on SBS based on the book `The Brain That Changes Itself' by N. Doidge.

    It's main focus is the neuroplasticity of the brain and insights into the treatment of mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and other things...very interesting stuff. My son has the book on his shelves so intend to borrow it and soon. I also intend to track down the documentry on the internet and have a second wide-awake look. Cheers.

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    1. Doidge's book was very interesting, particularly when describing the advances made in the treatment of stroke victims or brain damaged sufferers and even of those born with brain deformities. It's easy to read for the layman and well -written.
      There's another book which has been featured in the media. A woman has overcome a brain problem and has founded a clinic? school? foundation? all three? to help others in a similar situation. I'm not sure if there's any association with Doidge. I don't have the details to hand but will source them for you if you are interested.
      Another book I read around about the same time is Rebecca Skloot's, "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks". In the 1950's, Lacks cells were taken without her knowledge and they happened to be the only cells which were able to be reproduced under laboratory conditions. Even now, all the cells in laboratories worldwide, are descendants of hers.
      Skloots' book is the story of Lacks, her family, and of course her cells. Skloot, a journalist, writes a bit patchily but both books make fascinating reading.

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    2. I think you may be referring to 'The Woman who changed her Brain" by Barbara Arrowsmith-Young. There is a connection to Doidge, in that he heard about her and her school in Toronto, visited and was impressed. She is starting a school in Sydney beginning of next year - 2013. Barbara W.

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    3. Yes, that is the book. Thanks Barbara, and welcome. Have you read both books? How do they compare? Now that you have provided the details, I'll look for 'The Woman....' You might enjoy 'Henrietta Lacks'. Sandra

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  20. Portnoy's Complaint was one of those naughty novels that you were not encouraged to read when I was a teenager so consequently we all did, along with the novels of John Updike and Norman Mailer. I also read his Goodbye Columbus but I was so young I hardly recall it and should read him again from an adult perspective.

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    1. I've since acquired another 4 books by Roth,including 'Portnoy's Complaint'. Now for the time to read them.
      I was not impressed with Updike's 'Couples' - at least not enough to want to read more of his, although I've heard good reports of 'The Witches of Eastwick'.
      I've not read Mailer. 'The Naked and the Dead' is on my list and Harold Bloom (my hero) calls 'The Executioner's Song' his masterpiece, but I think this is non-fiction.
      I remember reading 'Lady Chatterley' as a teenager, not just the naughty bits. I gave it the distinction of being the most boring book ever written. I wonder if I'd still think so?

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    2. Also haven't read anything by Norman Mailer but have had his novel `Tough Guys Don't Dance' gathering dust on my shelves for years - can't ever remember buying it and can't quite remember how it came to be there....it may belong to one of my kids. Intend to get to it Anyone read it?

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  21. Funnily enough, we happened to see the TV documentary of the Chatterley trial recently and downloaded the book from Gutenberg. I hadn't read it since teenage either and was very pleasantly surprised to find it very readable, containing much more than any film has bothered to include and well worth retreading. My partner thought the same.
    A couple of days ago we visited Monk House, the country home of Virginia Woolf and I'm now thinking I should reread her too.

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    1. It seems like you are have a quite 'literary' holiday. It sounds wonderful. We'll want to hear all about your trip when you return. Did you call on Justine Picardie?

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  22. How do you choose what to read?

    This is a frequent discussion among my bookish friends. Some have a plan, some choose at random, others follow friends' suggestions or newspaper reviews. One friend only reads orange-covered Penguins for, as he says, they are usually well written. Me? I have such a build up from visits to book sales that my problem is what to read next. Do you follow authors, the awards or best-seller lists, particular genres or topics/themes?

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  23. Fans will be saddened to learn that we lost Maeve Binchy - a loss indeed. Binchy's books are uplifing, tightly written and are wonderful 'comfort' books for me. I love her characters, particularly from CIRCLE OF FRIENDS and though I've not read all of her later works, I have read most of her earlier ones.
    News to me that she also wrote plays and short stories.

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    1. Agreed,. Something comfortable about readindg a Binchy book

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    2. Another 'comfort' author for me is Rosamund Pilcher.

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    3. A collection of short stories I really enjoyed was. I think. called Central Line and Victoria Line. They were all set on or about the London Underground.

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    4. Yes I read that collection of short stories too. My favourite was "Circle of Friends" too Sanmac though I must admit I wasn't so keen on her more recent books i.e. Minding Frankie. She seemed to be hurrying through it!
      Rosamunde Pilcher is a favourite author of mine too; have read all her books and would wait impatiently for the next to be published as it seemed to take her about 5 years to write each one. I think she was well into her 60s before she began to write and I doubt she will write another now.

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    5. Have you read Penelope Lively? if you like Binchy and Pilcher, you would like her books. She is now 79 and I recently bought her latest (2011), "How it all Began" which I think was her 20th novel.

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    6. I'm glad I keep a record of books I've read as I do remember reading one by Penelope Lively years ago (2004 actually! Ha.) It was called "The Photograph". Must keep an eye out for others, thankyou for reminding me jaywalker.

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    7. Ah, Sylvia, a girl after mine own heart. I too list the books I've read as well as those I want to read. (no prize for guessing which is the longer!) I read Lively's '87 Booker winner MOON TIGER in 2008. I enjoyed it but not enough to rush to read more of her work.

      Jaywalker, based on that one book, I wouldn't have linked Lively with Binchy & Pilcher. Is this one different to her usual style?

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    8. I'm halfway through Penelope Lively's "Family Album" and I think I see why jaywalker "links" this author's style of writing with Binchy and Pilcher though I would never have compared those two authors with each other. Like Binchy, Penelope often writes in short sharp statements,(i.e. Philip meets Charles on the stairs) nothing slushy about her (thank goodness!)yet she has the knack of describing ordinary family life in a way that makes it interesting as Pilcher does.

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  24. I see that COSMOPOLIS, based on the novel by Don DeLillo is now screening in cinemas. This book has been on my shelf, along with UNDERWORLD for a good while now. For some inexplicable reason, I keep passing over these volumes and have never read DeLillo. Is anyone familiar with his work?
    He is prolific and well-regarded. 4 of his books are featured in 1001 Books You Must Read and Harold Bloom considers him "One of the 4 major American Novelists of his time". (He doesn't say who are the other 3. Any guesses?) .

    I wonder if anyone else has books on their shelf for which they have a strange reluctance to read, or am I alone in this?

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    1. Friends have seen the film..............but were not impressed. :(

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  25. In the weekend papers, there was a review of John Wyndham's THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS (1951) and didn't that bring back some memories? My English teacher recommended it to read over the school holidays and ,as a teenager, I read every one of Wyndham's books. The Triffids was my favourite. Anyone else have a fondness for Wyndham?

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    1. Yes Triffids is one of my rereads and I also have the DVD of the well done BBC series of same. As with many other authors his other writings didn't " Grab " me in the same way.

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    2. I saw the movie but the series passed me by. To me, Wyndham is similar to Asimov and Bradbury in that they explore their characters' psyche. Triffids was his best but I like Midwhich Cuckoos, which was also filmed.


      By the way, the Lord of the Rings DVD is still coming…..soon, I hope.

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    3. I have with the excuse of the weather, over three days watched the trilogy again. I hope what you borrowed were the extended versions and they lived up to my recommendations !

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    4. Yes, it is the 'uncut' version, or so my friend assures me. I've only been able to watch disc 1, so far, but I am hooked. I'm surprised at what I have forgotten! For instance, I knew that Gandalf escaped from the tower but I couldn't think how - until it happened. I'm also surprised at how 'real' the film is. It deserved to scoop everything at the awards. And I'll never now be able to see Hugo Weaving in a film, without thinking of elves. I'm so pleased I took your advice, thank you. I just need to find the time to watch the rest.

      Delete
    5. Some people quibbled about bits left out such as Tom Bombadil but I totally disagree because the continuity of the film was paramount as after all they are movies and I am so glad you appreciate the " Reality " . Must admit I was a bit teary as the first time I read Tolkein was back in 1972 and I still get a wee bit emotional watching the movies old softy that I am LOL.

      Delete
  26. Re: Public Libraries.

    About 8 months ago after a lapse of about 7 years or so I renewed my relationship with my local public library. Many changes have occurred in that time including a complete regime change i.e. Amalgamation of several local council libraries into one central Regional Library system with a new whiz bang 21st century computer system. (I have read in that time just usually purchased books rather than borrowed them).

    Anyway on my `Day of Renewal' I scanned the shelves for books of interest, selected a few and joined the queue for check-out. I realise this can be done without fronting up to the desk but I hadn't been there for a while so had to exit via the desk.

    Must explain that a sneaky unease was felt in the queuing process due the fact that `somewhere deep inside' mini-flashbacks of a library book `unreturned' began to surface. But thought...Nah..surely not..after all this time....start with a clean slate and all that etc.

    Finally arrived at the head of the queue and explained to the very competent, very neat young woman behind the computer that I had once been a member, had lost my library card, but would like to rejoin and borrow the selected items.

    Eyes glued to the computer screen she said, "Name?".

    I gave my name.

    Slowly and (I think)rather coldly yet still looking at the screen -

    "You have a book OUTSTANDING", she said, "and a FINE", she said.

    "Gosh have I", I spluttered red faced, "Are you sure?".

    "The computer never forgets", she said, "the name of the book is`............' and the fine is $103.00". (All said in much the same vein of "Computer says no" of Little Britain fame).

    With heart racing and knees threatening to buckle and after much discussion with her supervisor it was decided that if the book was found and returned, the fine would decrease to $10.50. or thereabouts - all would be forgiven, and I could once again borrow books like any normal public library patron.

    Returned home, pulled the house apart, and (almost miraculously) located the said book. But seriously doubt if `push came to shove' I would legally be expected to pay more than the book's worth. Fortunately though `push didn't come to shove' and have been trying hard to stay on side with the public library authorities and have duly extended my copy of `The Old Man and the Sea' and will endeavour to return it on time.

    True story. Interesting places public libraries ....anyone else out there with a public library story.

    Cheers all.


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  27. Leoniecoe, I had to chuckle when reading your experience though I'm sure it wasn't funny at all for you at the time!
    I, too, discovered my membership card had expired after a few years of not using our library but luckily my experience was much friendlier than yours. Once a new card had been processed (quite quickly!) I was then shown the new procedure when taking out and returning books. Each book has a barcode and this is scanned by a machine (abit like the supermarket do-it-yourself cashier system), you then scan your membership card and a receipt is printed out which gives you the return date. Gone is the old method of stamping each book; a shame as I quite liked to see how many people had read the book I was borrowing! I also now have an online pin nubmer so that I can access my library "account" to renew or remind me when I need to return it. Welcome to modern technology!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Loved your story, Leonie, I'm still smiling. You certainly are a candidate for our upcoming 'Writers' Corner'!
    (By the way, you are lucky that smaller libraries are amalgamating. Here, we are decentralised so the choice is severely limited.)

    ReplyDelete
  29. A friend shared this link with me and I thought there may be some cat-loving bookworms who would enjoy it.

    30 Renowned Authors Inspired By Cats

    Cats – with all their mysteriousness and adorableness and softness – have served as muses for some of the most brilliant writers in the world for centuries. Some notable examples, amazing pictures, and charming quotes from 30 of the best kitty/writer combo deals.

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/summeranne/30-renowned-authors-inspired-by-cats

    ReplyDelete
  30. This article by Australian author, Anson Cameron, I found interesting. It's discussing the newish trend of rewriting novels as well as memoirs, autobiographies - rather like revisionist history.

    http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/your-way-or-hemingway-20120907-25ix8.html

    What do you think? Would you like your favourite novel changed, the ending perhaps? (I am reminded of Jasper Fforde's comic novel 'The Eyre Affair'). Or do you think it is ok to rewrite a memoir to show people in a better light?

    If the trend continues, not only would we be asking, "Have you read such-and-such?", but we would need to also know which version.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Hey John!

    Have you read where New Zealand has made the Hobbit coins legal tender? You should write a letter to Santa :D

    ReplyDelete
  32. Came across this site by accident today and was so impressed by the beautiful editions they print and the interesting selection. It'a a very well-designed website too. Had anyone else heard of them?

    http://www.persephonebooks.co.uk/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, it is new to me. I checked their author list and there is only a handful of names I recognise. They must rally be 'forgotten books'. Thanks Jaywalker.

      Delete
  33. I came across this interesting article about eReading. Apparently eBook puchases relate only to a license to read it. What do you think?

    Laura Kane
    Staff Reporter
    If all the books on your shelf suddenly disappeared, you’d probably say you’d been robbed.
    But when a Norwegian woman lost access to her Kindle books without warning, she learned she had never owned them in the first place.
    Linn Jordet Nygaard, 30, an IT consultant from Oslo, said the debacle began two weeks ago when her Kindle stopped working; she later discovered she was locked out of her Kindle account, and could not access her library.
    In what appeared to be an administrative error, Nygaard was told her account had been closed for violating Amazon’s terms of service, and she was reminded that her e-books were not her property.
    Nygaard’s account was restored Monday, and Amazon is shipping her a new Kindle. But the story serves as a reminder that consumers don’t actually own their e-books or other digital media. They are licensing them — and the retailer can yank them back at any time.
    “It’s a real wake-up call for consumers,” said David Fewer, an intellectual property lawyer and director of the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic.
    When you buy a copy of The Great Gatsby from a bookstore, it becomes your property. And with that comes ownership rights: to loan it to a friend, to sell it in a garage sale, to hand it down to your kids.
    But e-books do not come with any of those rights. Instead, the terms and conditions for Amazon Kindle state content is “licensed, not sold.” Amazon, Kobo Books and Apple iTunes state you cannot share or resell the content, and access can be revoked at any time. (Neither Amazon, Apple nor Kobo responded to the Star’s requests for comment.)
    “The fine print basically says, ‘You have permission to use certain content, but that permission can be taken away,’ ” said Fewer.
    The way that digital books and music are sold is based on the way software is sold, said Mark Hayes, a technology and copyright lawyer.
    “In the 1980s, when software started to be distributed widely, there was considerable discussion about the nature of the rights,” he said.
    To prevent piracy, software developers began licensing — rather than selling — software to customers with terms and conditions attached.
    The issue has come before the courts in the U.S., most notably in a 2010 case that effectively ruled the “first sale” doctrine — a copyright provision that allows buyers of physical books and CDs to sell them later — did not apply to digital media.
    But there is no explicit “first sale” doctrine in Canada and no similar cases have been argued, Hayes said.
    It is rare for a retailer to remotely delete users’ content. In 2009, Amazon erased copies of George Orwell’s 1984from customers’ Kindles after the e-books were sold without the appropriate rights. Afterwards, Amazon announced it would not do it again.
    In Nygaard’s case, the company did not delete her books. “We would like to clarify our policy on this topic. Account status should not affect any customer’s ability to access their library,” an Amazon statement said.
    But Nygaard’s Kindle was broken and her account was locked, so she couldn’t download her library onto her iPad or laptop. She takes the experience as a warning that her digital media is not as secure as she once thought.
    “I used to think that these things don’t happen, but now that they have with Amazon, you can never really be sure.”
    http://www.thestar.com/living/technology/article/1278093--you-don-t-own-your-e-books-amazon-to-customer>

    ReplyDelete
  34. That is interesting. It seems hardly fair when you sometimes pay almost the same price for a newly published ebook as a hard copy. As it says it's probably not going to happen except in rare cases like this but still worth knowing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is interesting and for me another reason NOT to buy or ask for a Kindle as a present! I still love the feel of a book, the printed page. I enjoy browsing charity shops for second hand books in good condition, swapping and lending books to friends etc. I can see the advantage of a Kindle when travelling though and should I ever find myself travelling around the world I might succumb.
      Must admit I didn't realise the price was about the same for an e-book as a hard copy jaywalker. Yes that doesn't seem fair at all!

      Delete
    2. I'm with you, Sylvia. I was reluctant to switch to an eReader for identical reasons. Also, I'd read about Amazon recalling the Orwell book from Kindle. To give you an idea of prices - I recently bought the paperback of Anna Funder's 'All That I Am' for $22.95 and the eBook version of Will Self's 'Umbrella' for $15.09. There's not a big price difference on newly published works. Another disadvantage I discovered is the difficulty in downloading in the correct format and transferring it to the device. I'm not a whizz but am computer literate and yet it took me some time to master it. Jaywalker's recommendation of Calibre is a great tool.
      However, there are advantages. Portability is a big one. I never go anywhere without a book and my current read would stop two doors! It means a smaller, trendier handbag :) My OH jokes (?) that we need a bigger house to fit more bookshelves to cater for the spill-over from my existing shelves, without taking into account new acquisitions. (I, too, am a charity shop devotee.) The biggest plus for me is the availability of books which are out of print and not in the library system. The classics, including lesser known titles, can be downloaded free as can any book out of copyright. Generally, authors who died before 1955 no longer have copyright, so there are oodles of free books available. There seems to be a wait for newly published books to be available as eBooks but it is not as long as I remember was the wait for hard covers to be published in the more affordable paperback. I've decided not to choose between print and eBooks. I'll have both! :)

      Delete
  35. Sylvia - another problem we have in Australia is that we only have access to about 60% of the ebooks which residents of the US and UK can buy and our prices for ebooks are generally higher here than there too. There are several causes for this - see article here:

    http://delimiter.com.au/2011/03/18/ebooks-in-australia-–-what-went-wrong/

    I now tend to read ebooks from my ipad which means if you buy an ipad you have the benefits of an e-reader and a portable computer all in one. I still take my Sony overseas loaded with enough books but don't use it much at home because I tend to only read a fairly narrow range of books many of which are not available as ebooks.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Perhaps I should look at ipads then - I'm one of those old fashioned people reluctant to keep up with modern technology! I was probably the last of all my friends to succumb and buy a microwave, dishwasher, tumble dryer for instance! I still have a fairly basic mobile phone (no internet or anything!)
    MInd you, I wouldn't be without a computer now!!
    Do you think you will stay in Tasmania jaywalker or might be you be tempted to come back to the Uk in the future?

    ReplyDelete
  37. We are tempted to return to the UK but we simply can't afford it. House prices in Tasmania would only buy us a box in England. Besides which we both have children and grandchildren here and a network of friends and despite it being tempting for all sorts of reasons, we know it probably wouldn't work out in the end so our decision has been to come every year for a couple of months while we are able. I also know what UK winters are like as I spent four in a row in Kent in 91/92. I guess it's one of those grass on the other side of the fence situations.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I can understand, having children and grandchildren near you is reason enough to stay put! Plus the English winter - brrrhh; it gets harder to bear as you get older!
      We've had our Victorian house on the market for over 2 years now as we want to downsize and move south. We've been advised to drop the price again as larger houses just aren't selling but my husband is reluctant; we will have to think again in the New Year. House prices have risen to ridiculous levels over the years but due to the recession they are now falling or remaining stable apart from in London of course! You can still buy a 2up 2down terrace house in this area for about £60,000! But then you probably wouldn't want to live in that particular area!

      Delete
    2. Yes, I keep an eye on the UK TV property shows here as we have pay-TV and I know it varies a lot from north to south and has generally gone down in the last few years. Tasmania is the cheapest housing of all the states here as we are a small island and our 60s brick bungalow (in Hobart) with a newer, extension, has four bedrooms, study, en suite and enough space for three cars and is worth about $290,00 at the most - about 190,000 pounds - it would be worth quite a lot more in a capital city in other states.

      Delete
  38. PS. I guarantee that if you can use a computer you will love an iPad. And it means you can download kindle books on to it as we'll as any other formats such as ePub or PDF which gives you total flexibility about where you can buy from. But if you do remember to spend the extra money for the 3G model.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will look into it, thankyou for the recommendation, as I wouldn't have a clue about where to start!

      Delete
  39. By chance, I caught an interview with Ben Elton. He was discussing his new book, Two Brothers . I had not thought of him as a serious novelist but it seems he very much is. Wikipedia tells me he has published more than a dozen novels, some of which won awards and/or were best sellers. His 1996 work Popcorn won the Crime Writer's Golden Dagger. His latest book is based on his personal family history, set in pre WWII Germany. Both brothers are enlisted in the army - one in the German army and the other in the British. To complicate matters, they both love the same girl. I was impressed by the amount of his research. Elton has escaped my radar but either Two Brothers or Popcorn may be a good introduction. Have you read Elton?

    ReplyDelete
  40. "EACH November for the past 20 years or so, Bryce Courtenay has produced a blockbuster that has delighted many thousands of loyal readers. This year's offering, Jack of Diamonds, is little different in style or content. But it will be his last." SMH 23.11.2012

    There's been no mention of Courtenay's books here, do we have any fans? I very much enjoyed his first one, The Power of One . I'd be interested to know which of his books you have read and what you thought of them.


    ReplyDelete
  41. Jaywalker will be reading JK Rowling's new book and has promised to review it for us. Apparently it's to be a TV series.

    BBC One announces plans to bring J.K. Rowling’s best-selling novel ‘The Casual Vacancy’ to the screen.

    BBC One and BBC Drama have commissioned an exclusive adaptation of ‘The Casual Vacancy’ from The Blair Partnership who represent J.K. Rowling. The series will be produced through an independent production company operated by Neil Blair and Rick Senat, on behalf of The Blair Partnership, which will engage the executive series producer. The deal was struck following discussions between Neil Blair and BBC One Controller Danny Cohen.

    J.K. Rowling will collaborate closely with the project, with the number and length of the episodes to be decided once the creative adaptation process has formally begun.

    Please visit the BBC website for more information: http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2012/casual-vacancy-commission.html


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not sure when I will get to it. Might be after Christmas now.

      Delete
    2. No rush, Jaywalker. What a marketing guru is Rowling!

      Delete
  42. When Books Could Change Your Life

    Why What We Pore Over At 12 May Be The Most Important Reading We Ever Do

    Interesting article at
    http://www2.citypaper.com/special/story.asp?id=16743

    Thanks for the link, David

    ReplyDelete
  43. A Terrifyingly Accurate Prediction by Edgar Allan Poe

    In 1838, future horror-god Edgar Allan Poe released a book called The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, his only full novel. The book was such a bomb that Poe eventually agreed with his critics that it was "a very silly book" (yet still good enough to inspire heavyweights like Jules Verne and Herman Melville to write Moby Dick and An Antarctic Mystery--yes, Poe was a badass).
    Where it Gets Weird:
    Poe did a Blair Witch thing with his novel, which claimed to be based on true events. This turned out to be a half-truth: The real life events simply had not happened yet.
    One scene in The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket visits a whaling ship lost at sea, taking with it all but four crewmen. Out of food, the men drew lots to see who would be eaten, the unfortunate decision landing on a young cabin boy named Richard Parker.
    Forty-six years later, there was an actual disaster at sea involving the Mignonette. It became famous due to the legal consequences of some gruesome events on board, specifically the way the men drew lots and decided to eat their cabin boy...
    Where it Gets Even Weirder:
    ...who was named Richard Parker.
    The bizarre story was discovered decades later by Nigel Parker, a distant cousin of the Richard Parker who got eaten. You can only imagine what went through his mind when he stumbled upon the connection.
    And that would go down as the freakiest unintentional prediction of future events in a work of fiction.

    I wonder if Life of Pi author, Yann Martel, has heard this story.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief to be adapted into a film starring Geoffrey Rush
    Posted on February 6, 2013 by Andrew Cattanach

    Huge news today as it was announced Markus Zusak’s bestselling novel The Book Thief will be adapted into a film, starring Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson.
    Industry sources told Booktopia that filming will start in Berlin on the 25th of February, with a shoot schedule of 58 days.
    The book focuses on Liesel Meminger and her younger brother, who are taken by their mother to live with a foster family outside Munich at the beginning of World War II.  With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, Liesel learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.

    Rumours of a film adaptation have been swirling around since the book’s immediate international success.

    Pasted from

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    Replies
    1. Everyone I know who has read the book absolutely loved it. Have you read it? I know it is on Sylvia's list.

      Delete
    2. If a film is going to made from the Book Thief then I'd better put the book higher on my "to read list"! Isn't it a very long book though? Perhaps I should take it on holiday?

      Delete
    3. It's about average in length but it moves along. Not difficult to read but hard to put down.

      Delete
  45. This is a link to an interview with Julian Barnes. Ostensibly, it's about his 2011 Booker prize winning The Sense of an Ending , but it touches many topics. It's long but well worth reading, especially if you've read Barnes.

    http://www.themillions.com/2013/02/the-league-of-ordinary-gentlemen-a-conversation-with-julian-barnes.html

    ReplyDelete
  46. This next semester we are studying Macbeth. The textbook refers to an African adaptation. I googled:

    uMabatha
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


    uMabatha is a 1970 play written by South African playwright Welcome Msomi. It is an adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth into the tribal Zulu culture of the early 19th century, and details how Mabatha overthrows Dangane.

    Described as Msomi's "most famous" work, uMabatha was written when Msomi was a student at the University of Natal; it was first performed at the University's open-air theater in 1971. In 1972, it was performed at the Royal Shakespeare Company's Aldwych Theatre as part of that year's World Theatre Season, and has subsequently been performed in Italy, Scotland, Zimbabwe, and throughout America, including a "very successful off-Broadway season in 1978".

    Reception

    Peter Ustinov said that, before seeing uMabatha, he did not truly understand Macbeth.

    Nelson Mandela has said that "(t)he similarities between Shakespeare's Macbeth and our own Shaka become a glaring reminder that the world is, philosophically, a very small place."


    Fascinating - Macbeth and Sharka?

    I know of two novels which are based on Shakespeare's stories: A Thousand Acres (Jane Smiley) and The Story of Edgar Sawtelle (David Wroblewski), both of which I recommend, especially if you are a fan of Shakespeare. Do you know of any others?

    ReplyDelete
  47. Philip Roth, another of my favourite authors - Here's what New York Magazine has to say about him.

    Literary Caucus: Salman Rushdie, James Franco, and 28 More Notables Assess Philip Roth’s Career

    Philip Roth turns 80 next month, with 27 novels behind him, but when he announced his retirement last November, it felt like he was actually cutting something short—possibly the most prolific, probably the most distinguished, and certainly the most debated career in postwar American fiction. Roth was never just a novelist to readers but an iconoclast and narcissist, a Jewish cultural hero (villain to some), a (probable) misogynist, a literary celebrity who folded his own life into novels like they were tabloids (or metafictions?) and, after Toni Morrison, our great American hope, The Man Who Should Win the Nobel Prize (If Any Man Should). Just ahead of Philip Roth: Unmasked, an intimate documentary airing on PBS next month, we asked a panel of 30 literati to assess his oeuvre.
    - Read more at:
    http://www.vulture.com/2013/02/philip-roth-literati-poll.html

    ReplyDelete
  48. Haruki Murakami - I'm sure this author has been mentioned somewhere on this site but I can't find the relevant posting despite doing a search. Perhaps I'm mistaken and imagined it?? I was sorting out a son's books and packing them away when I came across "After the Quake" by the above author so I thought I would keep it to read. Does anyone remember commenting on this author recently or am I having another senior moment??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sylvia. Yes, you are correct. (No senior moments on this site :-))
      There is a discussion of Murakami in 'What are you reading?' on 12th August.
      I too, like his work. My favourite (so far) is Kafka on the Shore and I received IQ84 as a gift recently. It's a tome so I am saving it until there's a break in my studies. I haven't heard of After the Quake.
      If you like Japanese authors, you might try Yoko Ogawa. 'The Housekeeper and the Professor' was brilliant and I believe she has a new one out now.

      Delete
    2. Must have missed this reply last week, thankyou Sanmac. Glad to hear I wasn't imagining it! "After the Quake" is a collection of short stories. Having read and not really understood the point of the first one I've put it to one side! :)
      Have added Yoko Ogawa to my list!

      Delete
  49. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn hasn't received a lot of media attention here in Australia but it has been on the New York Times bestseller list for 40 weeks! Now I know that this is not necessarily a recommendation but it is billed as "a psychological thriller", "a masterpiece" and "unputdownable".
    A woman disappears on the day of her 5th anniversary. Is her husband a killer?

    Sounds interesting. Has anybody read it? Should we consider it for a group read?

    ReplyDelete
  50. Lately I've not had much time to read for pleasure, being as I am 'immersed' in text books, but I have read a couple of 'retakes' on older stories. (There should be a genre name for these.) The first was a rereading of David Malouf's Ransom which is a retelling of the last chapter of Homer's Iliad, concentrating on Priam's recovery of Hector's body from Achilles. It's a much gentler tale than Homer's and gives psychological insight into both Achilles and Priam. Malouf writes like a dream.
    The second was The Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. Rhys, herself from the West Indies, provides a back story for Bertha, Mr Rochester's mad Creole wife in Jane Eyre but she adds so much more: postcolonialism; slavery and it's aftermath, emancipation; the subjugation of women; identity and it's loss, as well as exploring incompatibility in marriage and even more. All is blended seamlessly into the Jane Eyre story. Both stories can stand alone but at least some knowledge of the source enhances the pleasure.
    While writing this, I've been thinking of other authors who have based books on other stories. I was disappointed in PD James' Death at Pemberley, a (to my mind) unsuccessful attempt to write as Jane Austen in providing a sequel to Pride and Prejudice. Two spoofs or parodies I really did enjoy were Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair and Colleen McCullough's The Independence of Miss Mary Bennett . ( Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice again.) Can you think of any others? And what do you think of the idea of authors 'tampering' with the classics?

    ReplyDelete
  51. I'm not a fan of "tampering" with the classics. I agree with you about Death at Pemberley - I read it and didn't hate it but it wasn't quite successful. I read Wide Sargasso Sea many, many years ago so don't remember it clearly but I saw the film version fairly recently and enjoyed that. Jean Rhys was already a known writer and she did it well.

    What I dislike most of all are the many "takes" on Austen by unknowns - cashing in, I believe, on the many TV and film versions. I think there have been a couple of sequels/prequels to the Brontes' books, probably for the same reasons.

    Funny that the same thing hasn't been done with Dickens as much - not as appealing to young women I guess!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It would be ambitious indeed to take on Dickens! I agree about Austen. Wasn't there one featuring zombies? Puleese! Another recent trend is authors 'writing as' another. Fleming's James Bond stories have been written by Jeffrey Deaver, Sebastian Faulks and now William Boyd. Perhaps they need scripts for movies. I was surprised by Faulks. I quite like his books when he is writing as himself. Now he is writing Bertie Wooster. I am sure Wodehouse would not be amused. Still, we are not forced to read them. I'll stick with the originals.

      Delete
  52. Anyone for Bridge? Funny how that often things seem to be connected. I came across the name Susan Moody in the database at work and remembered reading books by the author Susan Moody when I had the time to play bridge. She has written among others, the Cassie Swann series of mystery novels which centre around the bridge table in a Christie-like setting. Sometimes the card play is actually a clue. I checked my facts on Wikipedia and discovered that she has written a sequel to Francis Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden . Another example of 'tampering' with the classics? Also, interestingly, she is the stepmother of Princess Mary of Denmark.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_Moody

    ReplyDelete
  53. You play Bridge? So do I. Where do you play!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't played for a couple of years but was playing in Sydney and then Brisbane. My partner fell in love with a non-player and my OH doesn't play. I was never very good - not enough competitive spirit - but I do enjoy the game. Do you play regularly? You must try one of Moody's bridge mysteries. They are fun.

      Delete
  54. Being in Mary's home tow, there have been many articles about her in our paper and I knew Susan Moody was an author but not what she had written. I'm not a card player so xlues would probably be lost on me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Moody doesn't only write bridge stories. You may like her other murder mysteries. The royal connection was a surprise to me.

      Delete
  55. Can't remember if I posted this site before. It's UK based and very useful.

    http://www.lovereading.co.uk/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I pop in here. It has good information about new releases. Now on the front page list of 'Sites of Interest'. Thanks Jaywalker.

      Delete
  56. In France, Culture Minister Aurélie Filippetti has announced the creation of a €5 million (A$6.2 million) fund for loans to booksellers as part of a range of measures to ensure that France ‘never suffers the same fate as the United States’ where several bookshop chains have collapsed in recent years. What do you think? Could it work?

    Pasted from

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    1. I certainly hope it does. I don't know of any other country which has even vaguely tried to prevent it so good for them!

      Delete
  57. Reading about Amanda Berry's extraordinary story of captivity and rescue reminded me of the book Room by Emma Donoghue, which was inspired by the Fitzl family's similar experiences in Austria. Told from the perspective Jack, the captive's 5 year old son, it is unsentimental and somehow uplifting.
    Wikipedia has an entry and you can read what Donoghue herself has to say about it here:

    http://emmadonoghue.com/books/novels/room-the-novel.html

    Has anyone else read it?



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, and I was really impressed at how well she manages to keep it incredibly moving without ever resorting to horror and graphic detail. I didn't think I wanted to read it but was sent to me as an ebook by a friend and it made an indelible impression on me. I would thoroughly recommend it.

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  58. DAVID FOSTER WALLACE - This is Water

    Last year, I began reading DFW's Infinite Jest but abandoned it because of time constraints. It is not an easy book to read and it requires time to reflect on each section; what it means and how it connects to the story as a whole. I joined an online reading group for help with the intertext - the references and allusions, and that help was invaluable. My copy is second hand and someone has written on the flyleaf, "do not read - insane rubbish". lol It is not rubbish. Many think that DFW was a genius and the 'insanity', to me, is part of IJ's charm. So, when I came across a commencement speech given by DFW on youtube, I was interested and I think that you will be too. It is also interesting to compare it with the speech given by Steve Jobs, which was widely circulated.

    In 2005, author David Foster Wallace was asked to give the commencement address to the 2005 graduating class of Kenyon College. However, the resulting speech didn't become widely known until 3 years later, after his tragic death. It is, without a doubt, some of the best life advice we've ever come across, and perhaps the most simple and elegant explanation of the real value of education.
    We made this video, built around an abridged version of the original audio recording, with the hopes that the core message of the speech could reach a wider audience who might not have otherwise been interested. However, we encourage everyone to seek out the full speech (because, in this case, the book is definitely better than the movie).
    -The Glossary


    Watch the 10 minute video here and let me know what you think of it.

    http://bit.ly/16Z6Rik

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  59. I've just started 'Hemingway's Women' and am still reading about his mother. He hated her with a vengeance and said many truly awful things about her. Yet, according to the author, she wasn't such a bad woman - a bit bossy and domineering towards her husband and very independent but nothing like the monster Hemingway seems to see her as. Very strange.

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  60. Have you been following the JK Rowling/Robert Galbraith story in the publishing world? It's hard to understand the point she was trying to make by publishing under a pseudonym. Apparently the truth was leaked by a firm of solicitors but it is unclear who they were acting for - the publisher or Rowling herself. An interesting article here:

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-07-17/newton-would-an-author-by-any-other-name-sell-as-sweetly/4825304

    Also, here is an interview with Rowling, talking about The Casual Vacancy

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-09-27/jk-rowling-opens-up-about-newest-novel/4284752

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    1. The Man Booker website points out that Rowling is not the first to try this......

      With the news that J.K. Rowling has written a thriller – The Cuckoo's Calling – under the moniker Robert Galbraith, The Times reminded its readers that she is not the first to try this trick. Two Man Booker winners for example, John Banville and Julian Barnes, have also turned to crime. Banville regularly writes as Benjamin Black and Julian Barnes has tried his hand at the genre too, as Dan Kavanagh (utilising the surname of his late wife Pat Kavanagh). "Dan Kavanagh" even has his own website which ascribes to him a lively series of previous jobs including stints as 'a steer-wrestler, a waiter-on-roller-skates at a drive-in eatery in Tucson, and a bouncer in a gay bar in San Francisco'. The website also carries the cheeky advice: 'If you like Dan Kavanagh, try Julian Barnes.' - See more at: http://www.themanbookerprize.com/feature/weekly-roundup-man-booker-authors-holiday-reading-recommendations#sthash.YZQAzO72.dpuf

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  61. Thanks for the links, I will read them later. I had read that she had just published a thriller under another name. Is it because crime and thrillers are considered down market?

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  62. For those who were interested in 'The Ern Malley Affair' or the Demidenko/Darville debacle, here's another: plagiarism, in poetry no less!

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/books/poet-uses-defence-of-collage-poetry-after-recycling-plath-lines/story-e6frg8nf-1226718041674

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  63. Attending my first book launch. Well, of sorts.........

    A 90 year old gentleman, resident of our local nursing home, has documented his memoirs of night time bombing raids over Europe as an RAF Flying Officer during WW2.

    "Halifax Navigator" will be launched at the local RSL next weekend.

    So often these personal stories are lost. I love them on so many levels. Used to collect them for a time.

    Mighty effort Basil Spiller. I look forward to saying good'ay to you soon

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    1. He'd be very interesting to talk to. You'll be able to have your copy signed.

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  64. Interesting article in the weekend paper referring to the National Archives of Australia which lists books and magazines banned in Australia between 1920-1970.

    Have a look at this website. You should have a giggle or two :

    blog.naa.gov.au/banned

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  65. While waiting for the group read book to arrive, I'm reading Antonia Fraser's biography of her late husband, Harold Pinter - "Do you Have to Go?". It's taken from her diaries so is not a straightforward narrative but very interesting as she is such a good writer herself - have any of you read her now famous historical bios - Mary Queen of Scots and Marie Antoinette are considered her best works.

    Anyway, had no idea that Pinter did so much as well as right 30 plays - many, many film scripts including The French Lieutenant's Woman. Sleuth and The Go Between. Also direcrted and produced and acted and published poetry and eventually won the Nobel prize just before he died of cancer in 2008. A very moving account of their fascinating life together.

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  66. Just finished reading Matthew Condon's The Trout Opera.

    An unusual read. Still not sure whether or not I actually enjoyed it. Still mulling it over, though I guess its a positive when a book leaves you with something to think about.

    Am enjoying tackling some contemporary Aussie authors for a change

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  67. These are notes written by Sanmac that I will publish here for those who may be interested - they will be noted as SANMAC

    North South Elizabeth Gaskell 1854/5

    Not, as you would expect from the title, a novel about the American civil war, but about England, the rural south and the industrial north. The heroine, Margaret Hale, the refined, intelligent, gentle natured daughter of a country parson is transported along with her parents to the busy, bustling smoke and sooted filled Milton, a town of cotton mills, their owners the masters and their ‘hands’ the poor working class,

    Ahead of her time, and although of the same class as the mill owners, Margaret identified with the workers and befriends Bessie, a girl of Margaret’s age who is dying of lung disease associated with working in the mills. It is through the relationship with Bessie and her family that we learn of the worker’s life. Margaret’s socialism and her machination eventually influences mill owner Mr Thornton to provide his workers with improved conditions.

    Although her sympathies are with the workers she physically defends Mr Thornton from the rioting strikers; a tribute to her courage in fighting for what she believes is right. And Margaret does not equivocate – she always knows what is right. (No ‘grey’ shades for Mrs Gaskell!)

    North South is a novel of morals and ethics along with the obligatory romantic/conflicting love interests (which has been compared with Austen’s Pride and Prejudice). Mr Hale, the parson, whose conscience conflict with the church, decides to give up his living. Even though this decision uproots his family to Milton and leads to the early death of his wife, Mr Hale stands firm in his decision - later telling his friend Mr Bell that even knowing the outcome, he would not have changed his mind.

    Brother Frederick has participated in a mutiny – for all good and moral reasons and his visit must be kept secret. This leads to Margarets sin of telling a lie, again for good and moral reasons. As the ‘sin’ was not enough in itself, her lie is discovered by Mr Thornton, adding more shame to that she already feels. This shame leads to many sleepless nights yet there is no remorse or regret for the death of Leonards – a nasty character who got his just rewards. (Like Boucher who also was not to Margaret Gaskills’? high standards).

    Goodness is rewarded however: Frederick and his Spanish wife in wedded bliss, Margaret with her fortune thanks to the timely death of Mr Bell; Mr Thornton would keep his mill and one assumes continues with his ‘experiments’ to improve the lot of the workers like Mr Higgins who is now able to provide for his daughter. And Boucher’s 6 children. Ironically Margaret is an industrialist herself. I wonder how she and Thornton’s mother will get along. Like Eliot in Silas Marner, Gaskill deplores the advent of industrialization but, unlike Eliot offers a solution. “Working together for the betterment of all.”

    Rating: S loved it!

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  68. Another Book Review from SANMAC notes:

    The Street Sweeper Elliot Perlman 2011

    The book took 6 years to write – involved 6 visits to Auschwitz. The story line has 2 distinctive strands; the street sweeper of the title, a black ex-con and the horrors of Auschwitz. These strands intertwine throughout the narrative and contrast the holocaust with the civil rights movements in the USA. Because Perlman concerns himself with the emotional states of his characters and their personal stories provoke a response far more intense than history books can do.

    Kristen Tranter, herself a writer about social issues (The Legacy) wrote in her review – I found the book very moving. The predictability of the strands converging for me did not detract from the story, as some reviewers have complained, as it was so well written.

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    1. These are great. Keep them coming!

      These reviews are both informative and useful to other readers, as well as being a reminder of Sanmac's love of reading.

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  69. A SANMAC review:

    The New York Trilogy 1987 Paul Auster

    This is a peculiar book, consists of 3 novellas, each of which was initially published separately. They are clever and well written but too postmodern for my taste. I like Auster (The Man in the Dark, The Illusionist) but found this one unsatisfying. The first 2 are detective stories or rather stories about detectives and the third the protagonist is an amateur investigator. Oddly, Paul Auster himself and his real wife Siri (author Siri Hustvedt) feature as minor characters and other characters overlap the stories. This, and theme of assumed identity link all three. However, I can’t be sure whether it is a theme – a motif – or just a device.
    There are novelists in all three stories too and perhaps Auster is exploring what happens when fiction (the lie) takes over the mind (reality). Calvino did this in If on a Winters Night a Traveller (much better). If there is a deeper meaning, I missed it.

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  70. From SANMAC Notes:

    The Naked Sun Isaac Asimov 1957
    I grew up with Asimov; his Foundation series about robots. This one is a standalone, somewhat dated but now perspicacious in that he presages the alienation of the individual. Technology is so advanced that there is no need for personal contact and the people have developed an aversion to it. It’s an inter-galactic murder mystery of the ‘locked room’ style but the strength of the book lies in Asimov’s foretelling of the future of society.
    Recommended (if you can find it!)

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  71. From SANMAC Notes:

    Giovanni’s Room Baldwin James 1956

    Much acclaimed on publication, I found this story confronting. It’s a story of betrayal. Set in the homosexual community of Paris, it gives insight into another world, a world of boys and their aging patrons where it is ‘everyman’ for himself. Extremely poignant and moving it traces the relationship between two ‘friends’ without the graphic bedroom scenes – is written in 1956 after all. Baldwin can write. He shows the pathos and conflict of conscience of a young man contemplating his future. Believable characters populate this very sad tale.

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  72. An author I have recently come across is Marilyn Todd. She has two series of murder mysteries, the Claudia Seferius from Ancient Rome and the High Priestess Iliona Ancient Greek Mysteries. I have just finished "Blood Moon", an Iliona mystery. Her books are an enjoyable read. Her plots keep you guessing and are fast moving. However, her vocabulary sometimes slips into modern vernacular, a little at odds with her settings in Ancient Greece and Rome. The reader also comes across anachronisms from time to time, such as the equipment for young Spartan warriors on survival missions, "He was given a knife, a sling and some bullets". She also talks of "corridors and stairwells lit by flambeaux and sconces". Perhaps it was a misprint and should have read "Flambeaux in sconces", but I have come across items like this in the three books by Marilyn Todd that I have so far read and they would not stop me from reading more.

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  73. I'm reading my third Laura Wilson novel called The Lover. set in second world war London, it has some loose connection with Jack the Ripper in that the perpetrator does the same sort of thing to his victims but is a mentally deranged fighter pilot who preys on prostitutes. But there is a lot more to it and the characterisations are very good and the atmosphere of London in war time is very well done. Her books are all different and I really enjoyed A Little Death and Dying Voices. She has also written a detective series set in the 40s and I've just bought the first one in that The Innocent Spy, which my OH is currently reading and enjoying.

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  74. I like many am a little bit sceptical about another book from Harper Lee, even more so about a Mockingbird sequel.

    But then I think why? Who are we to comment on Lee's state of mind, the motives of her dead sister or the relationship between the pair? Frankly I think some of the articles that have come out since the announcement are awful and very presumptuous.

    We cry out for these writers - Lee, Margaret Mitchell, Anna Sewell etc. - to keep writing. One book is never enough. Then we become so very judgemental when they finally do.

    I'll leave my judging until I've read the book. I can't wait.

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  75. Thanks to a train trip I am now half way through Alice Munro's "Dear Life"; a series of short stories and a good introduction for me to this otherwise unknown author from Vancouver. She certainly has a unique style of writing which I am enjoying.

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    1. Number2, I am not much interested about this new book from Harper Lee. I wonder if this is because To Kill A Mockingbird was a set text in my first year at high school, and therefore automatically on the HATED LIST. Might also be worth a revisit ?
      Sylvia, I train three days a week. It's where I do my best reading :)

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    2. I am however, interested in reading Pioneer Girl, the autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, of Little House on the Prairie fame. ( initially released as Little a House in the Big Wood). The autobiography has only recently been released and reveals a dark side to life on the prairie - full of theft, alcoholism and violence. .............

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  76. I recently went to the local library and listened to author, John Hickman, talk about his recently published book. Reluctant Hero, is the story of his father,who was a pilot in Bomber Command during WW2. Some stories in the book are fun, like the tricks the boys get up to on their days off. Some are also very sad, like landing the plane safely after a mission over Germany only to find everyone else in the plane dead. John still gets a tear in his eye telling this story.
    Lest We Forget.

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    1. B2, did you purchase a copy of his book ? This sounds like one I could add to my collection.

      And are you aware that at one of your local libraries later this month Ross Coulthart, investigative journalist, will be presenting his recently released book,The Lost Diggers ? You may be familiar with the story of the discovery of thousands of glass plate photos located in an old trunk in a barn in France of WW1 soldiers. Apparently this book tells the stories behind some of these photos . If I can wrangle a few hours off work would you like to do this ?

      Funnily enough, a friend has just lent me a novel by Mary-Rose MacColl which she purchased after seeing the author at her local library just before Christmas. MacColl writes a weekly column in the Brisbane papers and to be honest I rarely read her. The book, In Falling Snow, is proving a very interesting read and follows the life of a young Queensland country lass who worked as a nurse during the war at Royaumont Abbey in France. My friend tells me that the author wrote the book whilst in a writer's residency in Banff, Canada,because having been born in bred in Queensland she had "no idea how to write about life in a cold climate".

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  77. Was given a quirky little book by my daughter, The Books They Gave Me by Jen Adams.

    The author is a self confessed book nerd and feels that "the gift of a book becomes part of the story of your life as it takes up residence in your heart and home. " As such, she asked for posts to her blog , TheBooksTheyGaveMe.com about books that were given and have been received as gifts, that have a special meaning, or reflect a pertinent memory.

    This book contains over 200 of those posts and there are many varied stories behind the books. My favourite is the girl whose school library wouldn't allow her to check out Fahrenheit 451, but who received it at Xmas with the note :Little Sister. Read everything you can. Subvert authority. Love always, your big brother

    And since we've been talking about The Book Thief, a middle aged couple living on different continents share a love of books. It is unclear what else they share. So he mails her the book which she enjoys so much that she starts reading to him over the phone. Long distance, mind you. A couple of pages at a time. He flys over to visit her whilst her husband is away and the friendship disintegrates. They are up to page 351 of a 500+page book. He decides he never wants to know how the book ends......

    I've been going back through the years and am unable to add a book of my own to the list. I cannot remember being gifted a book, other than a Yates Instructional Gardening Manual when I moved into my first house and which remains untouched.

    What about you?

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    1. Moi, I can't believe no-one has bought you a book as a gift!
      An old school-friend has given me many books as gifts (and I to her) so I will have to list them another time but one is an old copy of "Travels with a Donkey" by R L Stevenson and which we read at school. There is no date of print, only London, Chatto and Windus 1916 but it's something I will treasure.

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  78. My OH and I give each other piles of books every Christmas and birthday and my parents always gave me books in the same way all through my childhood and even now and then as an adult but I remember in particular, our very elderly next door neighbour in England, before we migrated here began giving me the most beautiful small, dark-blue leather bound classics which really started me off on the classics. I got Little Women, Little Men, Children of the New Forrest, Wuthering Heights and Lorna Doone, before we moved here. I had them for years and passed them on to my granddaughter. And now when i come to think of it, I was nine at the time - I wonder how many nine year olds would read them now.

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    1. Jean I cannot imagine a 9 yr old reading the classics as we did although I was older than that when I started, about 11 I think. I hope your granddaughter appreciates and enjoys them too.
      I've got Little Women, Lorna Doone as well as my old favourite Jane Eyre, Emma, Good Wives and Black Beauty.

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    2. I also read those books as a Primary School student. When I started opting for books with more adult themes I was required to get a permission note from my parents. This was granted and I moved onto novels by Jon Cleary and Arthur Upfield. I remember having a bit of a stoush with my father about why a primary school library would contain novels that were unsuitable for students to read. My father argued for a living so I think it was at this point that I gained some respect in his eyes.

      My family did not buy books , Sylvia. There was a bookcase full of books from my parents' previous lives ( both divorcees) , and boxes of books were shared between friends and relatives. Books were always doing the rounds - there was never any shortage.

      Books as gifts ? Didn't happen. None of the men in my life have been readers ( except for racing forms ) although Muppet and I share a love of bush poetry. Probably explains why I always enjoyed buying books for my daughters, and that when I have splurged on a book for myself they become part of the family and get carted around from one state to the next.

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  79. I was a bit of a bookworm as I was an only child and my mother was an avid reader and she tells me, although I can't remember it, that when we were sailing to Australia I spent a lot of time in the ships' library and one day she came to get me and the only two there were me and the Captain!

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    1. Jean, a wonderful way to spend time on such a long voyage but shouldn't the Captain have been steering the ship??! Haha!

      Moi, my husband never buys me books but I rely on my sons who now find it easier to check my Amazon Wish List and of course my old school-friend who likes to choose something special to her - she doesn't always get it right but they are usually unusual. Another example was second-hand but in beautiful condition,"The Illustrated Larkrise to Candleford" by Flora Thompson. There was a TV series based on it, not sure if anyone saw it over there in Oz?

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  80. Yes, we had it here a few years ago and I loved it.

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  81. Has anyone read Harper Lee's "Go Set A Watchman" yet? I was amazed to find a copy on the library shelves earlier in the week. So of course I just couldn't leave it there!
    Not going to comment on this book, but rather, refer you to an interesting read:
    http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2015/aug/04/harper-lee-refunds-expecting-too-much

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  82. I haven't read it yet but there was lots in the press and on TV about it while we were in England and the bookshop windows were full of them. There was a lot of criticism about the reasons for publication and about Lee's state of mental health and possible exploitation. Hard to know the truth and not sure I want to read it.

    We did go to the Barbican in London and saw the dramatised version of To Kill a Mockigbird which has been on in London for some time and was absolutley brilliantly done.

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  83. This review was in an online seniors newsletter I get.

    Go Set a Watchman. Harper Lee

    I still felt the sweet nostalgia of Mocking Bird just reading a few pages into the book. It's 20 years on, Jean Louise Finch is on the way home by train to see her father Atticus, he is now 72. Henry Clinton meets her instead of her father, they embrace. When she greets her father at home she realises he has aged. He now takes 70 grains of aspirin a day for his arthritis and the pain in his hands and is unable to cut up his meals without assistance. She comes to understand that lots of things have changed in Macomb, she does not like the changes, although the heat of the town is no different. She becomes enraged about Atticus's now seemingly different views on race, and is very angry towards him, but his response to her was gentle. Lots of "wool gathering" in the book. But there are many glimpses of the old Atticus with his wry humour. Despite the many negative reviews of this book, I enjoyed it with its many truths.
    Steinbeck in Travels with Charlie writes "you can't go home again because home has ceased to exist except in the mothballs of m

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