Friday, 29 February 2008

Brain Drain

On reading a couple of the Central European books which we found to be a tad on the intellectual-navel-gazing side, Morag and I agreed maybe they were "the sort of books we would have liked when we were younger". This probably indicates that our capacity for intellectual reading is draining away with age. Soon we'll be harrassing the library staff to find us 'nice' stories.
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

So many books....

So little time! I thought I must post a blog on the Lerwick book Group website, I haven't checked in for a few weeks - Last October Arrgghh!! Where does the time go?

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

A Big Wide World of Books

Yes Morag, we are all fading a bit. But news to tell is that Kevin MacNeil, author of The Stornoway Way, joined our book group session last night, and we had a most convivial session discussing literature local, Hebridean, Central European and worldwide. He's up here for a month doing a Writing Residency for Shetland Arts, and was very impressed with some of the stuff he's seen from local authors. We think someone still needs to write the Great Modern Shetland Novel.
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

Where is everybody??

Here I am,feeling very guilty because I have not contributed to the blog for some weeks now,and I discover that there has only been one other posting since my last one. Come on guys,share your reading experiences with me,especially since I am yet again having to miss the Book group meeting in favour of my belly-dancing class,but I will be along at the end,if only to sample Aileen's amazing Guinness cake!
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

Travel books

I seem to be having the same problem with travel books as I have with biographies, ie losing interest half way through and giving up. There just isn't the same amount of suspense as with fiction. I tried reading Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks, which was funny but after a while I just stopped caring if he got round Ireland with a fridge or not. Think I will try Dervla Murpy's Full Tilt next and see if I get on any better.

I will really need to have another go with the biographies as well at some point.