Saturday, 1 September 2012

Question Time

While trawling through booksites on the net, I came across a set of questions but passed them by. We've all seen these types of questions.  However, thinking it might be fun to see all our responses,  I searched until I found it again (no mean feat!). We may discover new books or authors to add to our 'must read' list. There will be a new question every couple of days, to give us time to think and reply.  Feel free to add questions of your own. 

146 comments:

  1. Let's start with an easy one:

    Which book have you read more than 3 times, and why?

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    1. The first book that comes to my mind is Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea. I read it first for pleasure, the second when I recommended it to my OH and the third as it was my bookgroup's selection. I have recently reread it yet again for our own Bookworm Group Read. On each occasion I have discovered more to the story and acquired a greater appreciation for Hemingway's skill. Even after reading it so many times, discussion still brings out points I had not considered (thanks, Leonie and Madeleinea) even though it is, on the surface a 'simple' story.

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    2. I'm sure I read "Jane Eyre" three times when I was in my early teens; I just loved the drama and romance of that era.
      I read "Winter Solstice" by Rosamunde Pilcher for the second time last December. The reason was I had no new book to read at the time! Still loved it though.
      Don't think I've read any other book 3 times apart from the Mr Men series which I used to read to my sons at bedtimes!!:)I'd usually fall asleep before they did in those days!

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    3. Actually, I'd like to reread more - especially those books I thought were 'special', however, when I see the high stack of books waiting to be read, I can't pass the newbies by.

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    4. As a child I would have read each of the titles in the Narnia series at least three times. I was a bored and lonely only child, and when I had read through every book and piece of print in the house, I started from the beginning again.
      I particularly like the Magician's Nephew, which was the second last in the series, and I think my English teacher read it out in class in my year four class, which led my on to all the other titles. I even read the "boysy" ones - 'The Horse and His Boy', and 'The Silver Chair'.

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    5. Hello (that's one long handle you have there). I wondered when the Narnia series would be mentioned. I've not read it but I know that is very popular, even now. It was published in the early 50's - that's before 'The Lord of the Rings' but after 'The Hobbit'. I wonder how much Lewis and Tolkein were influenced by each other? I too, am an only child. Perhaps that's how we acquired our love of reading?

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    6. I was lonely only child too, 8711..., and spent most of my time reading. We lived away from family until we migrated to Oz when I was nine and so I had no family at all except my parents who had few friends. Luckily my mother was (is) an avid reader so she gave me a good start and I was reading her adult library novels in my early teens as well as my own. I remember her being a bit doubtful about me reading "Katherine" , a rather naughty historical novel at the time when I was about 12. Hasn't seemed to have done me much harm!!

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  2. Twice, occasionally but never three times. I'm not generally a rereader. Probably my Gemini flightiness!

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  3. Too many to list, most three reads some like Tolkien many times. Why? I become totally absorbed by the worlds so beautifully crafted just for me it seems. The real test for me is the feeling of regret upon reaching the final page and looking forward to " Next time ".

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  4. Sylvia - you reminded me - I probably read 'Little Women" three times as a child. I was obsessed with it, especially Jo whom I felt was a kindred spirit.

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  5. Jaywalker - oh yes, I probably read "Little Women" 3 times too - just loved the classics and my father would buy me a book for a birthday or Christmas present. Also as a child, "Black Beauty", "Alice in Wonderland" "Heidi". To be bought a book was a real treat in my childhood days!

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  6. And I bet like me, you read them at quite an early age. I gave my granddaughter copies I received a s a child in a series of small, navy leather bound classics which my parents bought for me in England, and they included Little Women, Little Men, Jo's Boys, Children of the New Forest and Lorna Doone, and we migrated here when I was eight.

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    1. Yes jaywalker I'm sure I did read them at an early age. One or two have 1958 pencilled in so I was 11. I also have "Emma" by Jane Austen and "Good Wives" Louisa M Alcott. Also read Lorna Doone. Some still have the original dustcovers. I was taught to treat books with great care! Did your granddaughter enjoy your classics?

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  7. Second question: Which was the best book you read last year and why did you choose this particular book?

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  8. Probably "The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd - it was a gift from a friend.
    Another book given to me by the same friend "Dear Mr Bigelow" by Frances Woodsford - a collection of letters written by the author after WW2 to an American correspondent Very different and interesting which is why it stays in my memory.

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    1. This is a toughie! I'm going to cheat by classifying my 'best books'.

      Poignant: I'd put Kidd's 'Bees' in this category, along with 'The Elegance of the Hedgehog' by Muriel Barbery (It was also a great movie) and 'The Housekeeper and the Professor' by Japanese author Yoko Ogawa. The classic 'The Heart is a Lonely Hunter' by Carson McCullers pulled at my heartstrings too.

      Bestseller: 'A Visit From the Goon Squad' by Jennifer Egan. What I call 'experimental' because the structure is original. It won last year's Pulitzer. Also Colum McCann's 'Let the Great World Spin', based around the man who walked a tightrope between the US Twin Towers.

      Australiana: Kim Scott's 'Benang', recommended if you are okay with magic realism. For an insight into life in Sydney in the early 1900's, 'Jonah' by Louis Stone.

      Page turner: Ernest Cline's 'Ready Player One' wins hands down. A must for computer games fans.

      Rereading: Two of John Steinbeck's best - 'The Grapes of Wrath' and 'Of Mice and Men' and Margaret Atwood's 'The Handmaid's Tale', which should be required reading for all feminists.

      Non Fiction: 'Coco Chanel' by Justine Picardie (Thanks for the recommendation, Jaywalker), Rebecca Skloot's 'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks'. My list is getting too long to mention Peter Fitzsimons.

      However, if I was really pushed to name just one, it would have to be 'The Human Stain' by Philip Roth. It blew me away.

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  9. Sanmac - not on the topic but forgot to tell you that Justine Picardie, whom you remember I visited and had tea with in her London garden, has just been made Editor-in-Chief of Harpers Bazaar. She has written a fascinating article about Diana Vreeland, the American editor and fashion icon, for the Telegraph here:

    http://fashion.telegraph.co.uk/columns/justine-picardie/TMG9503968/Scarlet-woman-the-legendary-editor-Diana-Vreeland.html

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    1. Thanks for the link Jaywalker and congratulations to Justine. I've never heard of Vreeland. That red room would give me a headache! Will you be reading the biography?

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    2. I will keep an eye out for it. Would like to seethe film about her but not likely to come to Tassie I think.

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  10. On the topic - I'm not a reader of 'serious' literature anymore - maybe too may years of teaching it - so my choice for this year would be Penelope Lively's 'How it all Began', Juian Barnes' The Sense of an Ending' and Kate Atkinson's 'Case Histories".

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  11. #03 What is your favourite series? I'm not sure of the definition of 'series. Perhaps we could include trilogies and books with sequels.

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    1. This is an easy one as I doubt I've read more than one trilogy!
      It's the "Big Stone Gap" series by Adriana Trigiani; anyone else read any of her novels? They are set in America but have an Italian flavour!

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    2. Thanks, Sylvia, I've not heard of these. I love all things Italian and even attempted to study the language. It's on my list!

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  12. I guess most of the crime writers write series in the sense that their detective continues with each book. Some develop them better than others. I particularly like Peter Robinson's development of Inspector Banks and P D James's Inspector Dalgleish. The only other series I can remember reading is. The Cave Bear books by Jean Auel.

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  13. Initially, I couldn't think beyond Tolkein. Now I remember I've also read the first 'set' of Stephen Donaldson's 'Thomas Covenant' series, the first two of Pat Barker's 'Regeneration' trilogy (does two count?) and all of the 'Hitchhiker' by Douglas Adams. My favourite would have to be Tolkein.

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  14. Ok, my response is going to really shock the serious book tragics amongst those gentle readers who play on this site.

    My favourite all time series ?

    "The Diaries of Adrian Mole "

    And, are you sitting down ?

    Edgar Rice Burroughs and his "Tarzan" books. Great escapit reading.

    ( Get off the floor now guys)

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  15. Moi - my really all time series favourite was The Famous Five. I desperately wanted to own the entire series and being an only child who was encouraged to read, I got them for Christmas. My not so lucky friends were green!!

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  16. Unfortunately I was a sickly child but I had a library of great books. My main series was all of the Biggles books but all the classics as well .

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  17. The only series I can remember from childhood is the 'Claudia' series by Rose Franken. It's quite tame by today's standards but I felt it was so sophisticated. :D

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  18. #4 Which book(s) have you wanted to read for a long time but still haven't?

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  19. "Mary Queen of Scots" by Antonia Fraser. It has been sitting on the bottom shelf of my bookcase for years!

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  20. Sylvia - you just reminded me I have Antonia Fraser's 'Love and Louis the XIV' sitting unread on my shelves and have been meaning to read it for ages.

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    1. And I can understand why jaywalker! I feel both books would be such marathon reads. I think I would take it with me on a desert island!
      That could be another for questiontime Sanmac - which book would you take with you on a desert island??

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    2. Speaking of tomes, David Foster Wallace's Infininte Jest has been gathering dust on my shelf. There's been so much written about it that I want to know what all the fuss is about. I wonder if there would be so much attention to it had he not committed suicide?

      The desert island Question is a hard one. Why not post it, Sylvia?

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  21. 5th question - Which TWO books would you take with you on a desert island?

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  22. Easy Peasy.
    1) Too Many Passings by Cathy Cash-Spellman. Amulti generational irish tale starting from the potato famine to the election of an American president with Irish roots in the 60's. A damn fine story that reeks of the landscape and whimsy of the Emerald Isle.
    2) The Films of Errol Flynn. Ummmm. just for the pretty pictures :)

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    1. First one is easy - The complete works of Shakespeare. The second I'm not sure. It would have to be an epic.... and difficult. Joyce's Ulysses? Tolstoy's War and Peace? (Neither of which I've read) Tolkein's trilogy (am I stealing your thunder, John?), I could read over and over.

      BTW, Moi, knowing your penchant for all things Flynn, have I recommended 'The Pirate's Daughter' by Margaret Cesair-Thompson? It's the story of Flynns putative Jamaican daughter.

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    2. Oops! it's Cezair-Thompson

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    3. This is my 2nd attempt to post this! anyone else having problems?
      This is not so easy for me Moi!
      I would take books I have yet to read:
      "Wild Swans," by Jung Chang and
      "Mary Queen of Scots" by Antonia Fraser.
      If I had room I would also take "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare" - what a dilemma!

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  23. I'm hopeless at answering these sorts of questions - I can't make up my mind. Perhaps Edward Rutherford's "London" which is sitting unread on my shelves. I adore London and it would constantly bring back reminders of places I've been. And perhaps cheating by taking the complete works of Dickens in one volume.

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    1. I checked Rutherford's "London" on Amazon and I think I will put it on my amazon Wish list! I have quite a few ancestors who I traced back to London plus two of my sons live there. So thankyou jaywalker!

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    2. 'London' is on my shelf, too. Another tome. If we are marooned together, Jaywalker, may I borrow your Dickens?

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  24. Sorry to be boring but Tolkien is number one. Number two is harder as many of my reads consist up to and over a dozen books, one story so I'll go for George R R Martin and Game of Thrones series.

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    1. You are not boring, John. It's hard to best Tolkein.

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  25. Q6 Which is the book that everyone else loved but you hated?

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    1. Perhaps 'hated' is a bit strong. There are a couple of books which feature in readers' Top 100 lists, published by booksellers, which didn't move me. I've mentioned elsewhere Eugenides The Virgin Suicides and Tartt's The Secret History . Another is Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible .

      This question didn't strike any chords, how about the reverse?

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    2. Strikes a chord with me.

      Expect to upset people but here goes. ....

      Anything Tim Winton.

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    3. No upset here. I did enjoy Cloudstreet, though the characters seemed somewhat cartoonish to me..(the play was great!) and Breath was good. I didn't like Dirt Music or the Riders, more for the subject matter than the writing.

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  26. Q7 Is there a book which you loved and everyone else hated?

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  27. This is a 'toughie'. The only one which comes to mind is Lindsay Clarke's 'The Chymical Wedding'. Full of classical references, which I had to research, I thought it just brilliant. However none of those who borrowed it or followed my recommendation, could finish it. (To each his own.)

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  28. Q8 Has there been a movie made of your favourite book?

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    1. The first that comes to mind is of course "Jane Eyre" of which there have been a few!

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  29. I don't have favourite books - just favourite authors. Actually, I think I might be a bit odd because I can never answer the question about a favourite colour as I don't have one!

    Hoever, I have enjoyed watching all the different versions that have been made of Pride and Prejudice - such differing interpretations of both the setting and characters.

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    1. Have you seen the pic in the Gallery about favourites?

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  30. The latest movie from a good read was "The Hunger Games".

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  31. Question Time
    I believe that the new movie of Wuthering Heights has cast a black man as Heathcliffe. From memory, Bronte described him as 'swarthy complexioned' or even dark-skinned, which I took to be the usual description of Gypsy people. This movie offers a whole new way of looking at the book.

    It has been done before. Caliban is often a negro actor and I remember seeing a play of The Tempest, set in Australia which used the Aboriginal dream time as the spirits.

    Movies can offer a different perspective of the story but I'm usually disappointed in movie versions of books I enjoyed, particularly if they change the ending. I sometimes think it may be better to see the movie first and later fill in the gaps by reading the book. What do others think?

    One movie version I very much enjoyed which was true to the book, was "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" by Muriel Barbery and I'm attempting to find time to watch Tolkein's 'Lord of the Rings".

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  32. I just looked it up on IMDB and I didn't recognise one solitary name in the full cast list despite the fact that we are fairly regular cinema goers. The girl who plays Cathy started her career in films in 2009!! The young man who plays Heathcliff was found via an open casting call in Leeds in Yorkshire and I couldn't find his age so I googled him and found this:

    Police were today ordered to arrest disgraced actor James Howson who shot to fame as the first black Heathcliff in the Wuthering Heights film after he failed to turn up at court.
    The 24-year-old was due to be sentenced by Leeds magistrates on February 27 for racially abusing his former girlfriend, who is the mother of their three-month-old daughter and was harassed by the actor for four months.
    But the court received a phone call from a nurse less than an hour before the hearing saying he was in St Nicholas’ psychiatric Hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne after being sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

    Mmm...maybe they should have stuck to a known actor or perhaps I'm just getting old!

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    1. I don't recognise any of the actors either. I've watched a couple of trailers now and they both seem to be filmed in the dark. Is the director misinterpreting the term 'gothic'?

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  33. Q9 WHICH BOOK HAD THE MOST SURPRISING PLOT TWIST OR ENDING?

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    1. Philip Roth's The Human Stain ? Sarah Waters Fingersmith ? I'm still thinking.......

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    2. "The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon comes to mind. I shall have to think but I'm sure there are others.

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    3. How could I forget "The Life of Pi"?.....and there's "Atonement", which I've only just now finished rereading.

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    4. Just remembered "Gentlemen and Players" Joanne Harris had a twist towards the end. This book was very different to her "Chocolat" and "The Lollipop Shoes".

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    5. I think I've read that one. Was it set in a school? If I have the right book, there certainly was a twist.

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    6. Yes it was set in a school Sanmac; very English and very clever too!

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  34. Q10 Which were your favourite books from your childhood? No prizes for guessing the reason for this question :)

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    1. "Alice in Wonderland", "Black Beauty" ( I still have these 2 very well worn books); "Heidi" and then later of course guess what, "Jane Eyre"!

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  35. Little Women and its sequels and The Famous Five.

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  36. "The Jungle Book and Winnie The Pooh. And for a little Australiana Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs. I was terrified of those big, bad banksia men

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    1. My earliest memory is of Madeleine (Two by two, they broke their bread....) See, I still remember it! I also remember my mother reading Anderson's 'The Red Shoes' to me, over and over. Aesop was also a favourite; "and the moral of the story is?".... became a catchphrase in our house. It's interesting that we all remember the 'classics' and not Spot, the Hungry Caterpillar or their equivalents.

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  37. I was also addicted to the ballet books of Noel Streatfield - and Biggles and Just William! No sexism in our house back then!

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  38. Q11 Sad movies often need a box of tissues near at hand but are there books which made you cry?

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  39. I'm not sure I actually shed tears but I seem to remember I was close to it and made me feel very sad after reading them; "Love Song" by Charlotte Bingham and "The Last Time they Met" by Anita Shreve.

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    1. One I did shed tears over was by our group read author, Thea Astley. It was The Scent of Eucalyptus . There have been others as I can remember being embarrassed on the bus. These questions are much harder than they look, aren't they? Another sad one was Sebastian Faulks' Birdsong I've not read your two but I'll remember to keep the tissues handy, just in case.

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  40. Q 12. Move over SAD BOOKS!!!! What about the books that made you laugh out loud ?

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  41. Haha. More (differently) embarrassing moments on the bus with 'Breathing Lessons' by Anne Tyler. Patrick White can be very funny, too, with his not-so-subtle, satirical characterisations and dialogue. ('Shades of Grey' also raised a laugh, or was it a groan?)

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  42. The early Tom Sharpe's Wilt novels made me laugh out loud all the way through. I read a later one recently which didn't seem nearly as funny - not sure if it was him or me.

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  43. Bill Bryson's "In a Sunburned Country" had me in tears of joy on the train at the beginning of the book. Petered out towards the end when he lost interest and oooops, nasty , was merely meeting contractural obligatins.

    My eldest daughter is not a reader. Likes the fashion mags and is generally bogged down reading policy. Last visit home I could hear here cackling away in her bedroom. Thought she must have been on the phone with a girlfriend.So I ventured in through the quagmire.

    Why was she laughing ? She was reading "Catch 22". Now that had me in stitches.

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  44. You reminded me that I laughed out loud at Bill Bryson's Notes on a Small Island. Funny story - I found very amusing his account of Milton Keynes being a barren, featureless town with no shops and no landmarks and then his discovery, after some time that he had come out at the back of the railway station instead of the front. Years later, when we were in Spain, staying with friends, we decided to do a few days by train down the French coast and booked a hotel in Montpelier for the second night. By the time we got there it was dark and raining. We went out of the station, across a large forecourt with taxis waiting and as we'd looked the hotel up on the map, knew we could walk it, so we set off and walked, and walked and walked getting more and more wet and cross. We finally came across the town square and there was the Ibis neon sign flashing ahead. We got in, soaked to the skin and told our story, to be told that we had done exactly what Bill Bryson had done - come out of the back doors of the station despite the fact it looked just like the front!

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    1. When I first read this question Moi, I couldn't think of one book that had made me laugh out loud (it takes a LOT to make me laugh anyway) but looking at my bookcase, the Bill Bryson books brought as smile to my face. Yes jaywalker I endorse "Notes on a Small Island" as being very funny.
      If ever we go to Montpelier I shall remember your experience! Your little story jaywalker has reminded me of something that happened to my son earlier this year in Manchester. I will put it on Scribes later.

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  45. Q13 Thrillers, almost by definition, are page turners, but there are others which are just as absorbing. Which are the books you just couldn't put down?

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    1. s it that there are none, or too many to mention? For thrillers, I like John Katzenbach. I thought "The Analyst" was brilliant. Ernest Cline's "Ready Player One" really hooked me. It's about a computer game competition. I laughed at Jasper Fforde's "The Eyre Affair", found James Baldwin's "Giovanni's Room" quite confronting and enjoyed both the book and the movie of "Affliction" by Russell Banks. I've given up feeling guilty when reading a 'can't put down' book but promise myself to 'catch up' before starting another.

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    2. With me it's more a case of not wanting to put a book down (but having to) rather than actually not being able to.
      Two books that come to mind are "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini and "The Saffron Kitchen" by Yasmin Crowther.

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  46. Probably too many to remember! Trouble is I am getting older and can't remember the books I read any length of time ago - you seem to have a great memory which I envy. Colin is the same, he can remember everything he's ever read and every film he's seen.
    I do recall that I couldn't put down the first few thrillers by Minette Walters, then she seemed to go off. Same with Robert Goddard - you're usually bursting to know the outcome.

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    1. It happens quite often, doesn't it? You find an author you like, eagerly await their next book and are disappointed. Perhaps, having made their 'name', they don't try as hard or they think they've found a formula that works and stick with that. Minette Walters is an example, as is Stephen King, Wilbur Smith. I admire authors who experiment with different structures, story lines or even genres. Margaret Atwood comes to mind, and Kate Atkinson.

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    2. Yes, I'm reading Atkinson's Emotionally Weird while also finishing Mango and she is certainly not afraid of different approaches.

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  47. Q14 Halloween has been and gone. I was prepared for the trick or treaters this year, after last year's lack of forethought and having to scrounge for something to give. Little ghouls and witches knocking on my door reminded me of horror authors I've read: Stephen King, James Herbert, Peter Straub. Horror doesn't seem as popular now, if we discount the proliferation of Zombie stories. Which books scared you?

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  48. Ummm, not good with scarey movies or books am afraid. Tend to have to lift my feet off the floor and up onto the chair to avoid a"anything that may be lurking" in the dark.

    So I guess I will just add most books by Stephen King, especially his earlier ones, although I do avoid this genre like you would not believe!

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    1. Disregarding rabid dogs, giant spiders and things that go bump in the night, I found the scariest books were outside the horror genre. The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks, read years ago, has stayed with me and I think that a scene from The Other Hand by Chris Cleave, read recently, will as well. I want to read Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. His character, Judge Holden is reputed to be the most evil in literature. This description from Wikipedia has piqued my interest-
      "A major theme is the warlike nature of man. Critic Harold Bloom[6] praised Blood Meridian as one of the best 20th century American novels, describing it as "worthy of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick,"[7] but admitted that he found the book's pervasive violence so distasteful that he had several false starts before reading the book entirely. Caryn James argued that the novel's violence was a "slap in the face" to modern readers cut off from the brutality of life, while Terrence Morgan thought that, though initially shocking, the effect of the violence gradually waned until the reader was bored.[8] Billy J. Stratton contends that the brutality depicted is the primary mechanism through which McCarthy challenges binaries and promotes his revisionist agenda.[9] Lilley argues that many critics struggle with the fact that McCarthy does not use violence for "jury-rigged, symbolic plot resolutions… In McCarthy's work, violence tends to be just that; it is not a sign or symbol of something else."
      Sounds as if this book will take us out of our comfort zone. Any takers?

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  49. Q15 With most memorable books, it is its characters which stay with us. (I would have said 'all memorable books' had I not just reread the above post.) Some are so outstanding that we recognise them even without having read the book! Which are the most unforgettable characters in books you have read?

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    1. The first one that comes to mind if of course, my old favourite JANE EYRE!

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  50. Scarlett O'Hara from Gone With The Wind, Hawkeye from The Last of The Mohicans, Huck Finn, and how could you leave Winne The Pooh off the list !

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  51. Q16 Which books will you be adding to your Christmas Wish List?

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  52. Strangely, I find this a difficult question. I have so many unread books (even some from last Xmas) that perhaps I am more of a collector than a reader (?) My eReader account has a credit and I've been trying to choose a book to use it. I'm like a kid in a candy store, can't decide. There's a new photo in Gallery which would be a dream Christmas. Some new authors I'm thinking of trying: Herman Koch, The Dinner; Chad Harbach (?) The Art of Fielding; the Booker short list; another Philip Roth, now that he's given up writing; the new Murray Bail, Christopher Koch, Brian Castro...........

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    1. Me too! Rutherford's "London" is on my Amazon wish list; must have a browse around Amazon for some ideas!

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    2. Sylvia, you might like to investigate Peter Ackroyd's "London: the Biography" as a comparison. I love Ackroyd's novels and I am planning a feature on him.

      Who else has a book wishlist?

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    3. "London" has been sitting on my shelves for years but the size puts me off as I do most of my reading in bed! I have Sally Vickers' new novel on my list as well as the new Barbara Vine (aka Ruth Rendell), 'The Child's Child",and the new Susan Hill, Insp Serrailler novel.

      A good friend has just loaned me her copy of Rowling's' Casual Vacancy' which I MUST get round to reading so I can give it back.

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    4. Ha ha! I, too, have 'London' gathering dust. I'm waiting for a long block of reading time...
      Do please, let us know what you think of 'Casual Vacancy. I've not read the Potter books and I wonder about her style.

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    5. Yes jaywalker, I too will be interested to hear what you think of Casual Vacancy. Never was tempted to read a Potter book either Sanmac.
      I've not read anything by Sally Vickers yet.
      I am also reading a book (loaned by a friend) which I've had for ages by Rachel Hore; not one I would choose but feel I should read it!

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    6. I've added to my wish list "Me Before YOu" by JoJo Moyes as it had a good review on Amazon and it's ages since I last read a book by this author. Anyone else read her?

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  53. I haven't read any Harry Potter yet - never been in the least tempted!
    sylvia - if you like Penelope Lively you will like Sally Vickers, We went to listen to her talk last year at our local bookshop. She was a psychologist and therapist and has great insight into human nature.

    Haven't hear of JoJo Moyes at all. Will look her up.

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    1. Thankyou jaywalker, will look up Sally Vickers on Amazon and "take a peak inside" one of her books!

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  54. Q17 Which were the best books you read this year? I say 'books' because it may be too difficult to choose just one and we read different genres, don't we?

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  55. I had to refer to my little notebook of books read as, I apart from Penelope Lively's "How it all Began", I find it hard to recall any books that really stood out. One that did was called "The Girl Who Played Go" by Shan Sa, takes place during the Japanese invasion against China in teh 1930s' a tale of love and sorrow beautifully written.

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    1. Peculiar, isn't it, how certain things keep cropping up at times? I seem to be dwelling on Japanese invasions at the moment. I read The Piano Teacher recently, about Hong Kong under the Japanese, watched the DVD, Paradise Road about female POW's in Sumatra and now you are recommending a book about China! I wonder if it is just that we notice the instances more when our interest is tweaked?

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    2. Yes, you're right but I'm always attracted by novels set in other countries. When I'm in a charity shop where the books are so cheap I don't mind trying different authors where the synopsis appeals to me.
      I read "Snow Flower & The Secret Fan" by Lisa See a couple of years ago and that led me onto "Burnt Shadows" by Kamila Shamsie, a tale that began during the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. And so it goes on; just wish I was a faster reader!

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  56. For a bit of fun I entered a competition to win a stack of books. Here is my entry. See how many book titles you can find.

    On the broken shore of a small island, just past Caleb's Crossing over Salvation Creek, my brother Jack, the boy in the striped pyjamas was playing a game of thrones with the outsiders, Anna Karenina, the girl with the dragon tattoo, and Jane Eyre of the Eyre Affair fame.

    Jane was not the book thief but the eye of the world was upon her since the passage from the Vampire Academy on Cloudstreet in the City of Bones to her 100 years of solitude in the secret garden of cold comfort farm, after her heartless attempt to kill a mockingbird. It was not a fortunate life among the ranks of les miserables in the forgotten garden, concentrating on her housekeeping and cross stitch and foregoing the pursuit of happiness but it was her heritage; the secret history of the ancient future ordained for her by Harry Potter and the philosopher's stone, (who was more the wolf of the plains than the happy prince).
    Without warning, it was a discovery of witches, led by the lord of the rings and assisted by the five greatest warriors as well as the lion, the witch and the wardrobe, that gave Jane the power of one which showed her where Sarah's key had fallen on the road and allowed her to escape the labyrinth and the perils of being a wallflower. The time traveller's wife, Anne of Green Gables, rescued her from a spot of bother by indicating the magic faraway tree, telling her the name of the wind and by providing a copy of the hitchhikers' guide to the galaxy. Jane forgot her pride and prejudice and proclaimed Anne one of the pillars of the earth for the help she gave Jane in the stand for freedom.

    Freedom to visit the Magus, the Buddha of Suburbia, and discover the truth about forever. Jane travelled via the ruins of Golen but spent her mornings in Jenin with the clan of the cave bear, partaking of home made pomegranate soup, just to catch her breath. She travelled to Wuthering Heights with the great Gatsby, listened to the memoirs of a geisha and, out of the blue, joined the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. The bronze horseman in Middlesex taught her how to talk to a widower and Obernewtyn, aka the Hobbit, gave her marching powder to get to the ice station where there was enough water for elephants. Of all her divergent travels, her favourite was to Charlie and the chocolate factory. The chocolat she bought (only one for the money) she hid in Charlotte's web.

    Because she knew the true history of the Kelly gang and the location of some fugitive pieces, Jane won the game of thrones and was presented with the tea rose. The remains of the day was spent in contemplation of the nature of mice and men.

    "I came to say goodbye," said Jack.
    "Me before you," replied Jane and she was gone.



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    1. BRILLIANT SANMAC!!!
      Must have taken you A G E S ......
      you did miss out "The Kite Runner" though (one of my
      favourites!) :)

      How did you work out how you were going to even start it?

      Let's hope you win.

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  57. Massive effort Sanmac. Well done !!! Good luck with the stack of books....Your ever lovin' must be euphoric at the prospect hahahaha

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    1. Ha ha! I suspect the winner will be the first correct entry drawn and as I've never been 'tinny', I doubt Himself has anything to worry about. "The Kite Runner" wasn't on the list but I agree that it should have been. There are 90 titles. Did you find them all?

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    2. Was "On The Broken Shore" by James MacManus? It was on the bookshelf of the villa we rent in Menorca.

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    3. 90!! Ha, well I only recognised 45!

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    4. Peter Temple wrote 'The Broken Shore'. It won the CWA Golden Dagger. We consider him to be the first Australian to do so, even though he is South African. We've adopted him, as we did Coetzee. It is a great read as is 'Truth', the prequel (though published later), which won our Miles Franlin award. He's probably better known for the Jack Irish series. Jaywalker may know more about him.
      Some of the titles are a bit obscure: 'Marching Powder', 'Fallen', 'Divergent' and 'The Tea Rose' et al were new to me. 'The Help' must have been one you noticed. :)

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    5. Oh, a different author with a similar book title then.
      Yes I did spot "The Help" and I suppose I should have included that book as one of the best read this year!

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  58. Yes, I like the Jack Irish novels but I haven't read the others. I thought the recent TV adaptation of the Jack Irish novels was very good.

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  59. Q18 Which books did Santa bring you?

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    1. Santa knows that I've been very good all year. -) He brought me 3 books: "The Street Sweeper" by Elliot Perlman, which I've begun and which promises to be very good, "Lost Voices" by Christopher Koch from my wishlist and another surprise, Haruki Murakami's trilogy, IQ84. These will keep me out of mischief for quite some time, I should think. Are you familiar with any?

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    2. The Street Sweeper is brilliant. I'm enjoying it immensely.

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    3. Only one (so perhaps I've not been very good this year! ha)
      Rutherford's "London" which by the looks of it, will take me very long time to get through!!

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    4. "Only one"....but what a one! A couple of us have an unread copy on the shelf. At 1300 pages, it's a commitment I've been unable to make. Perhaps when I retire? Do give us progress reports.

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  60. Haven't read any of your gifts. I got from Colin:

    Dearie - the Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz
    Betrayal of Trust by Susan Hill - the latest in her Simon Serrailler detective novels
    Wedlock: How Georgian Britain's' Worst Husband Met His Match (biography of the Countess of Strathmore)
    The Jewels of Paradise - Donna Leon - new Commissarior Brunetti detective novel set in Venice
    Bess of Hardwicke by Mary Lovell - Bess and her first husband built Chatsworth and she built Hardwicke, two of England's greatest Tudor houses
    The Cleaner of Chartres by Sally Vickers, one of my favourite UK novelists (and who we heard speak here last year)

    I bought him three Scandinavian crime novels:

    1222 by Ann Holt
    Sun Storm by Asa Larsson
    The Blinded Man by Arne Dahl

    His son and d-i-l bought him the new biography of Leonard Cohen and me: "Philosophy in the Garden" - authors' relationships with gardens - which looks very interesting and includes Jane Austen, Marcel Proust, Orwell, Leonard Woolf, Colette and several others

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    1. Friends tell me the Leonard Cohen bio is great, and these are not Cohen fans. Interesting

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  61. Wow, you are a lucky duck! I recognise some of the authors but most of the biographies and the Scandinavians are new to me. My OH also enjoys Scandinavian crime stories. He'd be interested in how Colin rates them. I predict some interesting reviews as you read down the pile.

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    1. Nothing much doing yesterday as Colin and his son were watching the Test cricket together all day so I did a bit of book sorting and culling and found I have 42 unread books. I really have to stop myself from buying on impulse from amazon. I tend to read about someone or see a book review or watch a TV program about someone and off I go to amazon.uk and buy it for usually 1p plus $10 postage. Then I'll see a pile of throwout books in front of a shop and spot something I haven't read, or in the mark down pile in the bookshops and I just can't help myself. My Yorkshire response to a bargain also plays some part. This has obviously got to be my New Year's resolution.

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    2. I have the same 'problem'. I buy books by the armsful at Bookfest and charity shops and my unread books pile is ever increasing. Last year's resolution was to start at 'A' and read as many as I could. Because of book group commitments and distractions, I'm still at 'A'. :(

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  62. Q19 Have you made any New Year resolutions?

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    1. Only a feeble hearted one Sanmac and that is to try and self-publish one of my "novels" that has been in a drawer for a few years!! :)

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    2. Congratulations! Well done Sylvia. I do enjoy your writing and will be your first sale. Give us the blurb.

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    3. Problem is "normal life" gets in the way i.e. a niece and her daughter have unexpectedly needed our support and shelter plus we've had the decorators in as we are trying without much success to sell our house! So no blurb at all possible YET! :)

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    4. Sounds busy at your house. I like your take on 'normal'. I've been waiting for years for my life to get back to normal, yet by your definition, I suppose it has been 'normal' all along! Good luck with your house sale. I don't envy your moving day - all that packing and finding things that you didn't know were lost. Are you moving far?

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  63. Because work and study committments have been so full on these past months, I have been enjoying lighter reading on the hour long train journey to and from the city each day.

    I have been reading books stored away in the back room which date back to when I was a child, or to when my own children were Little People.

    I have just completed CSLewis's Narnia series, and am now working through Ethel Turner's Seven Little Australians. It is wonderful revisiting these stories and looking at them with an adults perspective.Makes you look back and reflect on your own childhood as well as... well, it doesn't matter...

    So my new years resolution is to continue in this vein. I need to reacquaint myself with The Muddle Headed Wombat,Alice In Wonderland, as well as some of the Australian poets that we grew up with : Lawson, Kendell and Patterson....

    We don't all have grandchildren and it is just lovely discovering the child within....

    Oh, and the book Santa gave me for Christmas ? Diary of a Whimpy Kid.Loved it . LOL

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    1. You've started a trend, Moi. There's been a bit in the media lately about revisiting childhood favourites. And I have been dipping into early Australian poetry too, and short stories. I'm in love with The Sentimental Bloke.

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  64. Q20 Which author(s) would you most like to meet? What would you talk about?

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  65. Q21 An article prompted me to think of certain books which I found confronting, in a way that took me out of my comfort zone and I wonder if anyone else has experienced this?

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  66. Certainly as a teenager, Clockwork Orange did. And so did Animal Farm.

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  67. I read a lot of autobiographies and biographies. And yes, many of them exaggerate and sensationalize already sensationalized lives. And remembering that I collect all things Errol Flynn there are a lot of things that I have read about real people that are somewhat.... shocking

    Recently read a bio about Italian tenor Mario Lanza. Now I grew up with the music of The Student Prince and was aware of Mario's excesses.

    However this book, and I don't remember the author's name, detailed in great depth how Mario's body was too long for his coffin and thus the necessity to break bones. Plus there were accompanying pictures.

    Very confrontational and the book was immediately binned...................

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    1. How horrible and totally unnecessary. Glad you binned it! Lanza triggered my lifelong obsession with opera.

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    2. I love Lanza's voice but I can't watch him. I'm surprised at the burial problem. I thought he was short.

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    3. I thought he was short too but he got VERY fat before he died.

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  68. Jaywalker, your memory is better than mine. I can't remember confronting books from my early reading days, however, not too long ago I read Brett Easton Ellis' American Psycho and one needs a strong stomach for that! Also I found (Lionel Shriver) difficult to read. I kept thinking about Martin Bryant's mother.

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    1. Oops! Forgot to give the title of Shriver's book. It is We Need to Talk About Kevin . I also found the movie confronting, but not as much as the book.

      Another book which I found unsettling, if not actually confronting, was Elizabeth Harrower's The Watch Tower. Harrower is a recipient of the Patrick White prize, which is awarded to writers whose body of work has not received sufficient recognition. The Watch Tower , set in Sydney in about the 50's tells of the power struggle in a family: manipulation, mind control (though not in the supernatural sense) and is understated and very true to life. I read it 4-5 years ago and the story is still with me.

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  69. A New Question

    - because I'm currently de cluttering my household and deciding the future of my belongings. Which items will go into the next garage sale and what ones I should keep to pass onto my daughters....Not an easy task given that tastes have changed so much and the younger people don't seem to set much store on sentiment thesedays...

    So are there any books you would like to pass on to the next generation?

    I have two books in mind.

    My mother in -law gave me a book for my 21st birthday : "Archibald and Mehitabel"by Don Marquis

    THEY ARE THE MOST UNLIKELY OF FRIENDS: Archy is a cockroach with the soul of a poet, and Mehitabel is an alley cat with a celebrated past — she claims she was Cleopatra in a previous life. Together, cockroach and cat are the foundation of one of the most engaging collections of light poetry to come out of the twentieth century.

    The second is a book about the history of the Halifax aeroplane and features an old photo of a plane my Dad flew during WW2

    Your turn....

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    1. This would be a really difficult one for me as there are so many books I would like to pass down to my sons (or grandchldren if ever we are blessed with any!) My father left me all his books on his death and I would want to keep all the classical novels he gave to me as presents as he wrote in each one, either Happy Birthday or Happy Christmas .....
      My grandparents were given a bible on their engagement which is beautifully inscribed inside and something I hope would be treasured.
      Two books that were awarded to me for winning essay competitons at school are "Tales from Chaucer" and "Six Plays of Bernard Shaw" so I hope those would be kept and not given to a charity shop!!

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    2. This is a toughie, Moi. I have my grandfather's The Kingsway Shakespeare , first published in 1927, this edition republished in 1932. It's bound in green leather(?), is gilt edged and the pages are almost but not quite tissue-paper. It contains Shakespeare's complete works, set in double columns and is illustrated. I doubt that it is valuable as it was marked down to 8/6 - that's in pounds! There's nobody in my family that would value it and, like Sylvia, I would hate for it to end up in a charity shop. However, the lucky buyer may treasure it, as I do.

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