Thursday, 11 December 2008
Other things we discussed at the November meeting: a promo by Mira publishers offering us free books! They sent us 5 sample novels and we had to choose one. We picked what we hope is a jolly historical crime romp called Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn. Copies have now arrived so we'll have them as light reading in tandem with our other choices.
We also decided to try and choose books a couple of months ahead. So January is Morag's choice: Mr Pip, and February will be Jean's choice The Memory Keeper's Daughter. March will be my choice but I've still not decided...
For our December meeting we are having Secret Santa, and maybe I shall concoct some mulled wine. I am also going to try and persuade a different member each month to write up a meeting report for this blog, so that it doesn't slip back into the doldrums.
Monday, 1 December 2008
"...it's so refreshing to see a male writer having a go at a truely nasty woman; male writers don't dare do that these days... You wouldn't get a modern day Flaubert punishing Madame Bovary as the real Flaubert did. Oh no. By the way, did you know that Flaubert wrote terribly slowly? He managed five words an hour, which meant that on a good day he wrote about thirty words. Now they were good words, of course, but even so..."
Wednesday, 26 November 2008
Well, I really enjoyed it! The story built and built, and I couldn't put it down once I had got into the last third. I found the book true to it's times, but with gloriously readable passages of descriptive prose that gave it a more contemporary feel than a classic nineteenth century text. The theme of self-destructive pursuit of happiness is one that resonates with us now; but no matter how we view Madame Bovary's sad demise I wonder how many of us hoped for a miraculous cure or a rising from the dead as she slipped away...
Monday, 22 September 2008
Book group's been interesting since we started a democratic dictatorship scheme where one member wins a draw to dictate the book we'll read. Jean's choice last month was Peacocks Dancing by Sharon Maas - enjoyable, exotic and melodramatic tale set in Guyana and India. This month is my choice and something totally different - the misery of 1930s England through Keep the Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell. I've really enjoyed re-reading it, but not sure what the rest of the group will make of it!
Thursday, 17 July 2008
Wednesday, 16 July 2008
I am also reading Russell Brand's My Booky Wook and a self help book callled the Four Day Win which Aileen recommended -I can't seem to get the hang of this book though -I understood the message to be that if you can be good for four days you can treat yourself with lots of chocolate,but Aileen says this is not the case unfortunately! Must read beyond the twenty pages I've covered so far....
Monday, 30 June 2008
I've finished The Second Husband and have returned to A Time of Gifts - classic travel book recommended by Janet. He's walking through Germany in 1933/1934, a world that will never be the same again. Also waiting in the 'to-read' pile is Winter in Madrid by C. J. Sansom, which has come highly recommended to me. I read one of his 16th Century crime books for the Dagger in the Library, and loved it, unexpectedly. He seems to be a very thorough historian who also knows how to write a good tale. Winter in Madrid is set in Spain about 1940 I think, in the aftermath of the civil war. I have a morbid fascination for the 1930s and 40s so expecting to like it.
Despite trying to have a change from crime, I had t0 read Flesh House, the latest from our old mate Stuart MacBride. Cannibalism and butchery in Aberdeen! Strangely enjoyable...
Friday, 27 June 2008
I'm sorry I missed the Thuesday meeting which sounded like a good one. I'm traveling back to the US for a visit so I will miss the next meeting as well but I will read some Will Self and whatever Jean chooses for the August meeting. I have a pile of books to get through before I leave not the least of which is a biography of DuMaurier. I will no doubt indulge myself by reading "cheap, trashy novels" while I'm on the beach in the US; The sort of books I won't mind staining with sun tan lotion and dropping into the sand. Unfotunately I also will be reading a turgid tome by the name of Life In The UK in order to prepare for taking the LITUK exam when I return from the U.S. I've read the first two chapters and have already identified a piece of incorrect information about the testing of school children in Scotland. The LITUK authors seem to be unaware that there are differences between the Scottish and English school systems. I think, I'll wait until I've gotten my "long term leave to remain" visa before I point that out to the powers that be.
Anyway, a good group meeting was had this week, the book being discussed being Jamaica Inn. Folk all really enjoyed it and discussion led on to other classics, and I scandalized everyone by admitting I'd never read Wuthering Heights (or indeed the vast majority of classics, I blame it on the comprehensive education system). I am trying to wean myself off crime as I've had several months of total immersion, what with judging the Dagger in the Library Award. The short list is now in the public domain but I got into bother for publicizing the long list, which for some strange reason is kept secret?!
Started our book group's next read which is a publisher freebie by Louise Candlish called The Second Husband. She seems to be a popular author, and the story so far is a good read. The books came with a list of discussion points and questions so we're going to try going through them and have a more structured discussion than we sometimes manage. We're also going to read a bit of Will Self, though our pals in the Whalsay Book Group have been tackling him and don't seem hugely impressed! (He's coming to Shetland in September, hence our interest).
Monday, 19 May 2008
Just wanted to say if you would like to get email alerts telling you when there is a new post on the book group blog you can go to www.rssfwd.com, enter the web address of the site (http://lerwickbookgroup.blogspot.com) and your email address. This should also work for other blogs you are interested in.
Saturday, 17 May 2008
Friday, 16 May 2008
Me, I've been up to my eyes reading the 15 authors on this year's CWA Dagger in the Library Award longlist. It's an onerous responsibility, I can tell you. A big variety of writing styles. I'm off to the judging lunch in London next week, and then I have to keep my mouth shut about it for another two months until the winner is announced. I will be very pleased to read something that's not crime-related when this is over. Had no time for Patricia Highsmith yet, which is a pity, though I did previously read The Talented Mr Ripley, which is one of my favourite books.
My bedtime book at the moment is James Hilton's Lost Horizon. Sadly,the only reason I am reading this is because it's supposed to be the original inspiration for the TV series Lost,so I'm looking for deeper meanings and explanations! So far I haven't found any,but it's actually a really good read and I should finish it this weekend. Then I'll be reading some Patricia Highsmith - I'm not sure which one to choose as I have two set aside,but I'll no doubt find something to speak about at the next Bookgroup meeting. Oh,and I'm also reading a book on how to clean your entire house in 15 minutes -yeah,that'll be right!
Monday, 28 April 2008
Am really enjoying the process, if not necessarily all the authors. I think me and the other judges may have different tastes so it will be a long hard-fought judges lunch, but I've never been one to complain about a long lunch!
It was great to get back to a book group meeting again after a gap of several months. Unfortunately meetings tend to clash with work on ocassion, but I have to say that I feel mightily privileged that my tardiness has been forgiven and I have been asked to continue as the chair of the group. I hope to make up for past meetings missed by putting in a much better attendance over the coming year.
Having said that, I wont be able to attend the next meeting - Arrgghh! As I shall be away, but I am going to read some Patricia Highsmith and will take one or two of her books to read whilst I am away, and possibly a biography as well as I see there have been several written about her.
I was checking out Patricia Highsmith on Amazon and though I knew she had written a fair few books, I had no idea she was so prolific -and reading the synopsis of various titles, a lot of them look quite good, so hard to choose really, though I shall read the 'Ripley' series. I remember attending a lecture in Bristol a few years ago all about Patricia Highsmith, it was very interesting and she was a pretty eccentric character -kept siamese cats and wrote about those too.
Wednesday, 2 April 2008
Reading-wise, I've gone back to finish Death in Breslau after a diversion to read a few other things. Has a strange style but is rather good, kind of jaunty and not as mournfully philosophical as some of the Central European books we read.
I've also just read Anthony Bourdain's A Cook's Tour. In this book he heads off round the world trying local dishes in exotic places (and the UK). Some time ago I read his first book, Kitchen Confidential, a tell-it-like-it-is account of being a chef in New York's kitchens. It struck a chord as I used to be a chef, and his writing is amusing and gritty, his voice (I imagine) is a New York-too-may-cigarettes-snarl. Describing a horrible meal he's forced to eat in France, watched by his apalled brother: "He looked at me as if I was gnawing the flesh off a dead man's fingers and washing it down with urine...".
Tuesday, 1 April 2008
I'm half way through Stephen King's Misery right now - hey,how accurate was the casting for THAT film???? The first time I read the book the film hadn't been made,but when I saw the film I thought,yes,this is exactly how I imagined them. You can't beat early Stephen King for a good read,though I've not been overly impressed by his later writing. Duma Key wasn't one of my favourites.
Wednesday, 26 March 2008
I regaled the last book group session with my opinions on how it was great to see a big larger-than-life story in a Shetland setting, and how I'd love to see a vampire or aliens novel set here. The group then suggested I write the ultimate Shetland Vampire Sheep novel!? Perhaps we could do this as a serial on the blog?
Suggestions for lead roles please!! (I have already chosen mine).
Tuesday, 18 March 2008
And on the subject of good yarn-spinners, I've just taken delivery of some free Steven King books for the group, so it could be that next month we're reading something completely different.
Tuesday, 11 March 2008
Yes, if we were going to be forced to read sci-fi I could probably just about cope with Phillip K. Dick.
I made an attempt at something that was both sci-fi and Polish - one of Stanislaw Lem's books - and found it one of the most tedious and over-wordy things I'd had the misfortune to encounter in a long time. Now reading Sophie Hannah, who was at the Glasgow book festival and writes wonderfully absorbing psychological crime. And still finishing off Sacrifice!
Thursday, 6 March 2008
In sharp contrast to the latest 'local' book which I'm now reading - Sacrifice by S. J. Bolton. Only local in that Shetland is a backdrop, and she wrote it before she'd even visited the island, but this is a writer who handles pace splendidly. It's a great old yarn that I'm devouring avidly, and it's quite witty in parts too. Off to the Glasgow book festival this weekend by the way. In my bag for reading on the train will be Sacrifice (unless I finish it tonight) and my lastest attempt at Central European fiction, one of Stanslaw Lem's books.
Friday, 29 February 2008
However, I have moved on to Pavel Kohout's The Widow Killer, which is a more straightforward narrative, a crime story set in wartime Prague. Very interesting background as it's a period of history I'm morbidly drawn to. My 'book I might have liked when I was younger' was the very well thought of Too Loud a Solitude by Bohumil Hrabal. I must say that although I did get a little impatient with it at times, and just think, 'Oh, get over yourself, will you!', it was worth a read and there are a lot of strong images I was moved to write down. Some amusing bits - for example the narrator describes how he was once set upon by a man who pushed him into a corner at knifepoint, took out a slip of paper, read him a poem, then apologized and said it was the only way to get folk to listen to his verse! I think we should maybe do a version of this next National Poetry Day?
Tuesday, 26 February 2008
When I last posted on here we had just moved house -now living in the 'da redd up' that is Erlangen. The place doesn't look too bad if you ignore the pots of paint, plaster, scaffolding (!) etc., etc, but we seem to be getting there slowly, very slowly at times.
Books? Oh yes, thank you to everyone on and off this site who congratulated me on my successful 'book rescue' last October, many of my old friends are now safely returned to me and esconced in the new ( very old actually!) house.
We have just finished decorating the dining room and I now have a whole wall lined with book cases wahey! A real dream come true, I never thought I would see a day when I had spare book shelves -but probably not for long.
Books since last October? I'm still on the Gavin Maxwell thing - I managed to get a copy of Douglas Botting's biography of Maxwell through a web search and the book has been a really good read, I've enjoyed it immensely.
At new year I, like lots of others, started on a pile of self help, diet, spritual development books etc. etc but the best one by far is the 'Barefoot Doctor's Guide for the Urban Warrior' this is an excellent book which looks at spirituality in a wry way by saying yes, we all want to live our lives in this wonderfully spritual way rising above all the cares of the world -but life is not like that is it? And it looks at lots of lifes problems and woes in a quite humorous way. I like the Barefoot Doctor. You can open the book at any page and it will give you a little reading for the day which may or may not be apt for the way you are feeling at any given time. It seems to be uncannily accurate -this morning the book fell open at 'Self Pity' I'm saying nothing!
I've got a pile of books by the bed all waiting to be read but I have borrowed a couple of books from the European collection at the library and I will read those and I will try my hardest to get long to the next book group meeting - its been a while.
Right, that's a very brief catch up, I will try to drop in more often from now on - honest I swear!
Wednesday, 20 February 2008
Next project for the book group is translated Polish, Czech and Hungarian fiction, which might be more intellectual than some of the stuff I've been reading of late.
Have read some interesting stuff though, including The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio, which is a memoir of a family which survived on the mother's competition wins in 1950s USA. Charming book. Also read something a bit different - a crime book set in North Korea. It's The Corpse in the Koryo by James Church. A bit confusing but an interesting depiction of life in that country. And a nice book of poems by Sophie Hannah: Pessimism for Beginners. And Shetland Saga - a play I'd never heard of before, based round that time when the Bulgarian klondyer crew were stranded here for months.
Finally, I'd like to send international greetings to the book group at Crawford County Library, Michigan, USA, who we were delighted to hear follow our blog! Now we know someone's reading it, we shall be encouraged to write more.
Tuesday, 19 February 2008
Well,I finally finished my e-book,althuogh by the final chapter the reader's voice was beginning to annoy me to a point where I just wanted it to END!!! Mental note -next time I choose a talking book, make sure I can endure the reader's voice for 12 hours!!
Anyway,I'm back with a real book -Madness of a Seduced Woman -second time round and every bit as good as when I first read it all those years ago. If you're stuck for a really brilliant book,this is the one to choose.
Monday, 4 February 2008
I will really need to have another go with the biographies as well at some point.
Wednesday, 16 January 2008
The biography I was going to recommend was Pamela Stephenson's "Billy" and for travel I would go with any of the Bill Brysons as I loved them all and would re-read if I didn't have so many other things to get through.
I borrowed my first e-book a couple of weeks ago,so I listen to it while doing all that boring stuff around the house. Won't say what the book is till I finish it,but yes,once again I'm reading,or rather,listening to crime. Not sure if I'm going to become a fan of talking books,as you can't just flick back a few pages to check stuff like you can with a "real"book! Anyway,I'll write more on it when I finish it,which should be this weekend.
Friday, 11 January 2008
But I'm reading about explorer and writer Freya Stark for the group's biography phase - she seems like an impressive woman and the history of the Middle East that it involves is interesting too. Baghdad was a beautiful and important city until the Mongol hordes invaded, and it's been pretty much downhill ever since, it seems.
Friday, 4 January 2008
Anyway,it's back to the self-help/life improvement books for January -am currently reading one on how vinegar,honey and garlic can improve virtually every aspect of your life! As well as handy tips for cleaning your household appliances and making your hair shiny,there are also some amazing recipes. I made a casserole last night involving all three ingredients which came really good - big thumbs up from the whole family. But the flavour may have been down to the bottle of red wine I added!
Oh, and I'm starting on Peter Kay's book tomorrow,as my chosen biography for the Book Group.
Hope it's as funny as everyone says.
Thursday, 3 January 2008
Have also been treated to an advance copy of Ann Cleeves' White Nights, her second in the Shetland... quadrilogy?! (series of 4 anyway) and it's really pretty good. It's rapidly changing hands round the office and I still harbour hopes that ITV will buy the TV rights and we'll wipe the floor with Bergerac.