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Archive for August, 2021

Library Lust

via Stribling and Associates

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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.

Spies, Lies, and Exile by Simon Kuper – Kuper is one of my favourite FT columnists but, until I read this article in January, I had never heard of the double agent George Blake, the focus of this book.  The Dutch-born British citizen had a fascinating life and this slim biography is proving to be an absorbing read.  It was published in the UK under the far better title of The Happy Traitor.  

The South Horizon Man by Essie Summers – my passion for Summers continues and there are more to come in my inter-library loan queue.

The Last Amateurs by Mark de Rond – An inside look at the Oxford-Cambridge boat race, this has been on my to-read list ever since coming across it ages ago in Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust.  Watching the rowing events during the Olympics was the kick to finally track it down.  

In the Garden – one of Daunt’s themed collections of essays.

Early Morning Riser by Katherine Heiny – I’ve heard a lot of praise for Heiny’s newest release but it was this NPR review that actually pushed me to add it to my hold queue.  I love the idea of the story of a relationship that is realistic enough to expand and consider “the outcome of those colossal romantic bargains, not only about what they decided to put up with, but also who — all those other people, family and friends, bound to the beloved.”

Racing Odysseus by Roger H. Martin – it’s almost back to school time here, which seems an appropriate season to pick up this memoir by a college president who enrolled as an undergrad at St. John’s College in his sixties.  

What did you pick up this week?

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Library Lust

via Stribling and Associates

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Ages ago, I used to make an annual habit of rereading Elizabeth Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters. While long Victorian novels are associated more with long cold nights by the fire, for me it always made ideal reading for the long hot summer days, its slow pace forcing me to slow down and escape the heat.

It’s a tradition that had slipped away from me over the past few years – not consciously but somehow it never seemed to fit. I would still pick it up regularly, read a few hundred pages perhaps, and then, having enjoyed my visit with old friends, move on to something new.

This year there was no moving on. I read it at a leisurely pace last week (during another heatwave here), delighted to be reunited with Molly Gibson whose life is upended when, on the verge of womanhood, her long widowed father remarries and she gains not just a new mother but a new sister. I’ve written about my love for Wives and Daughters before and my reasons for loving it have not changed. Every character is wonderful and terribly real, full of both loveable and frustrating traits. The small society in which they move is perfectly drawn, with both affection and exasperation. And somehow for a book that is 700 pages long the story never lags. Indeed, it’s only frustration is that the end comes too soon, Mrs Gaskell having died just before she could bring her masterpiece to a skillful conclusion.

It reminded me of what I knew all along: there is no better choice for a summer read than this. It forced me to slow down and savour what I was reading, a hard task during this anxiety-ridden summer and all the more pleasurable because I’d been challenged to do it by other means. And now I can move onto another equally pleasurable task: a rewatch of the wonderful television adaptation, in which Michael Gambon is the most perfect personification of Squire Hamley that could ever be imagined.

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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.

Library Loot

A Little Love Song by Michelle Magorian – I’ve loved this wartime coming-of-age story since I first read it as a twelve year old but my copy is somewhere deep in storage so I’m reliant on the inter-library loan system to read in right now.  A little bit of patience is required but it’s always rewarded.

Adair of Starlight Peaks by Essie Summers – I am so enjoying tracking down Essie Summers’ light romances.  The stories themselves are pleasantly predictable but the settings – in New Zealand – are so lovingly detailed that they are the biggest draw.

Animal, Vegetable, Junk by Mark Bittman – I’ve been looking forward to this look at human’s relationships with food.

Black Earth City by Charlotte Hobson – a beautifully-written memoir of the year Hobson spent studying abroad in Russia in the early 1990s.

African Europeans by Olivette Otele – The “untold history” of African Europeans (not just Pushkin!), you may have heard this mentioned back in May on Backlisted.

Madame de Pompadour by Nancy Mitford – you’ve read her novels, you’ve read her letters, but have you read Nancy Mitford’s biographies?  I read her Frederick the Great late last year and it was a complete anecdote-filled joy so I’m looking forward to this.

What did you pick up this week?

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