Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for January, 2021

Library Lust

photo credit: Michael SInclair

I love this sweet dollhouse bookshelf.

Read Full Post »

Possession by A.S. Byatt is a work of absolute genius.

It’s been a chaotic work week for me with plenty of long days but even when I can only manage an hour of reading a day, it’s been a joy to slip back into Byatt’s 1990 Booker Prize winner novel of Victorian romance and modern-day academic sleuthing.

Byatt didn’t just write a novel.  She wrote poems and short stories and letters and diaries and biographies and academic analysis from multiple perspectives on all of it.  And yes, she also wrote a narrative that weaves it altogether.  The entirety is so cleverly conceived and brilliantly executed that it boggles the mind.

If you haven’t picked it up in a while (or ever?  What a treat you have in store in that case!), I urge you to do so now.  It’s a perfect book to immerse yourself in, offering multiple worlds, immense passion, and also, I had forgotten, quite a lot of humour around the academic rivalries.

Read Full Post »

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

There was a superb episode of the podcast “You’re Booked” over the holidays with Ella Risbridger, in which they talked about the Out of the Hitler Time trilogy by Judith Kerr, consisting of When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, Bombs on Aunt Dainty, and A Small Person Far Away.  I read When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit as a child but had no idea that Anna’s story continued in other books so have set out to read the series in sequence.

A strong showing for the interlibrary loan system this week with three intriguing titles:

Illyrian Spring by Ann Bridge – I’ve been looking forward to reading this for years thanks to Rachel’s enthusiasm for it.  After such a long time without travel (and so much longer still ahead), books about people on vacation are the next best thing – especially as the setting here is the Dalmatian Coast, one of my favourite places.

Dashbury Park by Susan Tweedsmuir – Scott recently wrote about Susan Tweedsmuir’s Victorian novels and while I was familiar with Cousin Harriet (an excellent book), somehow the other two had passed me by.

The Youngest Lady-in-Waiting by Mara Kay – the sequel to Masha, which I read earlier this month.  I only became aware of these children’s books recently after reading Elaine’s very fond review at Shiny New Books.

Hafiz of Shiraz translated by Peter Avery and John Heath-Stubbs – Simon was talking about his desire and determination to be a person who likes poetry last week.  I’ve never had huge success with poetry but, like Simon, I keep trying to read it and find what I like.  I’ve read and watched a few things set in Iran this month so Hafiz was top of my mind when it came to poets and I picked up this slim volume of only 30 poems.

Love Thy Neighbor by Ayaz Virji – This caught my eye back in 2019 thanks to this NPR interview and my library has now acquired a copy.

The Family Tree by Sairish Hussain – Hugely praised and shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award last year, I’m about a third of the way through this novel about a British Muslim family and have mixed feelings.  The writing is good and the characters well-drawn but it feels unnecessarily long.  I’m going to persevere a while longer but this may be one I abandon.

In February (which is next week!), Karen and Lizzy are hosting Reading Independent Publishers Month.  I have plenty of things off my own shelves that I’m looking forward to reading but couldn’t resist picking up two titles I’ve long had on my TBR list from Eland Books: Two Middle-Aged Ladies in Andalusia by Penelope Chetwode and Journey into the Mind’s Eye by Lesley Blanch

A Deadly Divide by Ausma Zehanat Khan – The final book in the Khattak/Getty mystery series which began with The Unquiet Dead.  It’s rare that I read mysteries and rarer still that I race through them as quickly as I have with this excellent series.

What did you pick up this week?

Read Full Post »

Library Lust

photo credit: Tony Soluri

Read Full Post »

If there is one thing 2020 has taught us it is that we can only control so much – but what we do control has the power to make us happy and keep us calm in uncertain times.  It is in that spirit that I think everyone should track down a copy of Year of Wonder by Clemency Burton-Hill and embrace the power of music to comfort and delight you in 2021 and years to come.

First published in 2017, this wonderful book is a daily guide to classical music.  A broadcaster and musician (and actress and journalist and…many, many things), Burton-Hill put it together after years of making playlists for friends and hosting radio programmes, eager to help introduce others to the genre she loves and yet which seems so far removed from many people’s lives.  As she puts it in her introduction:

What I am determined to do…is to extend a hand to those who feel that the world of classical music is a party to which they haven’t been invited.  I want to open up this vast treasury of musical riches by suggesting a single piece to listen to every day of the year: by giving it some context, telling some stories about the people behind it, and reminding you that it was created by a real person – probably someone who shared many of the same concerns as you, who wished to express themselves and happened to do so through this particular sequence of musical notes.  It’s really important to remember that music does not exist in a vacuum: it requires listeners, audiences, witnesses in order to come alive; to be heard, to be felt.  And that’s you!

With one piece selected for each day of the year, Burton-Hill guides listeners through familiar classics, forgotten gems, and contemporary works.  It is an exciting collection and for every work of genius by Mozart or Bach (who rightly have multiple entries throughout the year), there is something I would never have found by someone I have never heard of.  Refreshingly, Burton-Hill includes pieces by more than 40 female composers.

Though the main goal of the book is to demystify the genre for those who might have viewed it as an elitist art form, the book is just as rewarding for those of us who have been attending classical concerts all our lives and listen to little else.  I grew up in a house where classical music – so cheap and easy to access in our modern world, thanks to radios, home audio systems, and now the internet – was always on and where trips to children’s programmes at the symphony started so early that I can’t remember my first concerts.  My mother was raised in a world where everyone went to operas and concert halls, travelling by tram and sitting in boxes alongside teachers and factory workers, so took it for granted that music was necessary for everyone.  She lulled her babies to sleep with Brahms and Mozart and we accordingly assumed it as part of our lives.  It wasn’t until we started spending time at friends’ houses that we realised this wasn’t the case for everyone – and frankly that still boggles my mind.  Clearly, what those friends (and their parents) needed was this book.

While some pairings of music and day are significant – many composers are featured on their birthdays and national independence days marked by compositions from proud sons/daughters – others are more whimsical.  In January she offers up “music that feels like a large glass of red wine” and later a piece to console listeners simply because it is mid-February and we all need a bit of consoling as we wait for spring.  The descriptions of pieces are engaging and informative, giving context to the pieces and their composers, and never more than one page long.

My only quibble – because I am the least technologically-inclined millennial in the world – is that the music itself is available only on streaming playlists (on iTunes and Spotify) and not in a mammoth CD collection.  I hate having my devices nearby when I read and would love to be able to put the music on easily while I read.  But recognize that I am a dinosaur and need to get with the times.  Or burn my own CDs…

Read Full Post »

Library Lust

credit: Kierszbaum Interieurs

I have no words for that lamp shade.  Who doesn’t want to bring the tiki bar into their music room/library?

Read Full Post »

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

My library has decided to kick off the New Year with a return to normality.  The extra long loan periods we’ve been enjoying and moratorium on late fees are now a thing of the past.  Ah well, they were good while they lasted (though I never got to test the late fee exception – I’m too well trained to break rules even with approval to do so).  Our usual loan period here is 3 weeks, with the option to renew books up to 2 times if there isn’t a hold queue, so there’s still plenty of time available to read everything.

I don’t read mysteries but made an exception after hearing so much praise for The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan.  It is superb and, after quickly passing it on to my mother to read, I immediately placed holds on the next three books in the series: The Language of Secrets, Among the Ruins, and A Dangerous Crossing (published as No Place of Refuge in the UK).  I am now rationing them out so I don’t speed through the series too fast.

For something completely different, I also picked up:

Just Enough Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse – a collection of the best Jeeves novels: Right Ho, Jeeves, Joy in the Morning, and Very Good, Jeeves.

Off the Road by Jack Hitt – I was running errands on the weekend and dropped by a library branch I don’t usually visit.  I found this during my brief browsing and was delighted.  You know by now that I can never resist a travel memoir about a walk (though I wouldn’t complain if people wrote about journeys other than the Camino de Santiago).

Map of Another Town by M.F.K. Fisher – Food-writer Fisher’s memoir of her move to Aix-en-Provence after the Second World War.

What did you pick up this week?

Read Full Post »

Library Lust

photo credit: Andrew Beasley (via House and Garden UK)

This may be the dreamiest of dream libraries for me.  I love its lightness and simplicity, without sacrificing colour or cosiness.  It’s a narrow room (as can be seen from the photo below) and I think this is the perfect use of it.

photo credit: Andrew Beasley (via House and Garden UK)

Read Full Post »

Library Lust

designer: Robert Kime

As we (quietly) launch into this new year, I offer up this retreat.  Not only does it provide plenty of shelving for your books, cosy seating, and an excellent variety of lighting options, it also appears to have…swords and daggers on the table?  Good to be prepared for anything, I suppose.

Read Full Post »