Books I've been reading

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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Guest on Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:59 pm

I usually have to force people into getting interested in the things I'm interested. It's been an easy work with you, Constance... thanks cat

Seriously... I have read very little for the last couple of years. At first it was due to concentration problems. But lately it was just that I lost the habit. I'm glad this book (I have read the beggining only but still) is making me feel pleasure while I read it.

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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Constance on Wed Jan 11, 2012 11:55 pm

I'm at the tail end of the most amazing book. It's called the Boy in the Mon by Ian Brown. It's the story of a man and his family and their profoundly handicapped son. No self-pity, no religious sentiment, but the most intelligent and sometimes witty and ironic story of a very sad situation.


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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Guest on Thu Jan 12, 2012 12:03 pm

...I just happen to be on a computer in the mall where my favourite bookshop is.
When I log off I'm going there to order 'Platero and I' and 'The Glass Castle'.

I can't wait to read and then discuss them.

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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Guest on Thu Jan 12, 2012 4:04 pm

...done.
They should be in my hands in a few weeks.

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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  eddie on Thu Jan 12, 2012 5:08 pm

Constance wrote:


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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Guest on Fri Feb 03, 2012 4:19 pm

Constance wrote:Finished Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz. Summary: Dogs need to sniff.
I've taken your word on this Constance. I walk my dog for an hour every day and used to get impatient when he wanted to go off and sniff everything. Now I let him.

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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Constance on Sat Feb 04, 2012 12:09 am

Glad to know, Moonie!

The author said that sniffing for the dog is as important as seeing for a person. Now I let her sniff to her heart's content. It doesn't make the walk that much longer. She will sniff and then look up to let me know that she's finished with that particular spot.

I also walk for an hour most days. I think I cover a mile and a half. I walk in a beautiful park with a big lake which is right around the corner of my house. Nothing much goes on there in the winter except people running or walking their dogs.

Do you walk fast, Moonie?

I think I must walk slowly despite letting the dog sniff because most people pass me, even the old people. The other day a woman I know walked past me wheeling her baby grandchild in a stroller. She stopped to talk. She was wearing make-up to go to the park! Her lips were carefully lined and filled in with lipstick. She walked much faster than I was going, I mean she really walked fast. She got to the red barn and back before I got to the bench. I think she's my age. I was chagrined.

We have been having very unseasonable weather for January. The temperature has been in the 40s and on Tuesday and Wednesday it was as high as 60 degrees. Last year in January we had tons of snow. It was piled high in great mountains. I hope our warm weather continues into February.


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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Guest on Sat Feb 04, 2012 12:07 pm

Hello Constance. Yes, I'm a fairly fast walker. I walk about 5 kilometres or so in the hour that I walk. I usually walk along the back-tracks around town (bush tracks made of dust) or across grey-white saltpans that are sometimes so baked dry the salt crust over the clay crackles underfoot. But although it's late, we're in the middle of the wet season so the tracks are too muddy and the saltpans, being tidal and given that its the time of the highest tides of the year...they're underwater.

So I've been walking along the road. Perhaps 10 cars pass me in the hour. I know most of the passers-by, so I wave. it's pretty much scrubby bush on each side of the road. at the moment it's lovela and green because of the rain.

I was glad to get the advice about letting the dog sniff because I'm an impatient walker and it never occurred to me that lingering and smelling were healthy for a dog. Very Happy


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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Constance on Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:27 am

I've been rereading the most incredible book, Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie. The accounts of the virtual slaughter of Russian troops in the first World War, the lurid story of Rasputin, and the terrible account of the events leading up to the abdication of the Tsar and the revolution are breathtaking. Then of course there is the tragic story of the murder of the Romanovs.

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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Guest on Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:09 pm

...that sounds really interesting Constance.

I think it was you who recommended 'The Glass Mansion' ??

I finished it a week ago and enjoyed it, with a few reservations. Initially I liked the way the book was 'reported' rather than narrated, as it suited the objective 'telling' of a young child. But later on it was distancing, and I would have liked to hear the voice of the author, rather than that of a reporter. Especially as it was such a personal and revealing tale.

I wish I was at home typing this rather than being in the visitor information centre / library. I'm under time-pressure here and it clouds my thinking (I can't access internet at home at present).

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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Constance on Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:07 am

The Glass Castle--yes, it does have an overall reporting style. I think the author knew that this device would make the humor more approachable, aand it a funny book. Too familiar and it gets sad and pathetic and I know she didn't want that. Reporting is her writing style naturally from her stint at New York Magazine.

Half-Broke Horses is Jeannette Wall's second book. She calls it a "novelization of her grandmother's life." I don't know to call it, "a fictional memoir of my grandmother's life"? It doesn't read like a novel. She maintains her reporting tone here and finds the humor. But the reader can fill in the big emotions. That happens too, in The Glass Castle.

Read the new bok if you can. More about this extraordnary family.

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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Guest on Tue Feb 07, 2012 2:00 pm

Constance wrote: "Too familiar and it gets sad and pathetic..." "... the reader can fill in the big emotions".

...ahh that makes sense. I found it easy to fill in the big emotions when the young girl was talking, but felt distanced when the story became the womans. (I hope that makes sense.) alien


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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Constance on Sun Feb 12, 2012 2:40 am

After the wonderful Nicholas and Alexander, have been reading junky books suggested by ads in the New York Times book review. So many superlatives for such bad writing and outrageous plots. Nothing at all like the intelligent, heart-breaking, and funny The Glass Castle!

I need book recommendations! Can't say why, but I'm not interested in Scandinavian mysteries. Don't read mysteries at all.

For leisure time, though, I have been watching episodes of House. Madeleine got me started. Very good. High Laurie is a master. I remember him with Stephen Fry in Jeeves and Wooster. (Should have put this in the TV and Cinema section, I know).

But back to literature, I've heard that Stephen Fry's books are amazing. Hmmm, so maybe I know what to read next!





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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Guest on Mon Feb 13, 2012 11:50 am

I'm pretty excited Constance. We have a tiny (I mean tiny) library in town and I'm getting a part-time job there for a while (more work will be available when the tourists come as it's also a tourist information centre).
The exciting part is that I'll be able to order books from the Brisbane library. Yay. I'm going to make a list of all the books recommended in this thread, order tham, and then work my way through them.
I'd also like to co-ordinate reading a novel with you, so we can discuss it before the details get lost in the strange nebulous cloud that's my memory

Anything by Fry would be worth the read, I'm guessing.

Re recommendations, you might like 'Cloudstreet' by Tim Winton.

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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Constance on Tue Feb 14, 2012 12:03 am

Wonderful to hear about the new job, Moonie. I know how you'll love being surrounded by books all day.

But do you need to be part of the library staff to be able to order books through the system? We can order from 3 counties, and that's a lot.

I just ordered Cloudsteet and Platero. I thought I had ordered Platero already but I checked my library list and I had overlooked it.

The last amazing book I read is called The Boy in the Moon by Ian Brown. It's a meditation by a father of living with his profoundly handicapped son. Sounds gruesome, but the book is written with such insight.

The last best novel I read was a while back, this summer, I think. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. It's about a young doctor, but it's a whole lot more. Very improbable plot but the author makes it work.

Both are recent books, so I hope your library can get them.

Yes, I like the idea of commenting on a novel. Have you read Atonement by Ian McEwan. That's a great book. If you want to read that, I'll reread it.


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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Guest on Fri Feb 17, 2012 5:00 pm

Hello Constance. I've just ordered Atonement!
I'm looking forward to talking about it with you.
It'll take about a week to get here so I'll let you know when it arrives and I start reading it.
I really am looking forward to the job. I love books. Being surrounded by them is my dream job!


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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Constance on Sat Feb 18, 2012 12:10 am

Platero and I and Cloudstreet have arrived from the library. I've just started a novel called The House at Riverton. A historical novel/mystery. Not very promising.

I have Atonement but Elisabeth is reading it. Not easy but she surprises me. I may have to order my own copy from the library because it will take her a while to get through it. The children are studying the Holocaust at schol and she's reread The Diary of Anne Frank. They had a concentration camp survivor come and talk to the students and she said it was very moving. The man became a medical doctor.

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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Constance on Sun Feb 19, 2012 2:30 pm

Moonie, there's a new short book out called The Puppy Diaries by Jill Abramson, the Executive Editor of the New York Times. Cute, light report on her and her husband's first year with a Golden Retriever puppy. I read it in a few hours and enjoyed it a lot.

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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  eddie on Wed Feb 22, 2012 7:10 am

Really enjoying Andrew Miller's subtle poetic prose in Pure, a kind of parable of personal/political change set in pre-Revolutionary Paris (see thread in Literature section):


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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  eddie on Sun Feb 26, 2012 3:11 am

JUst finished the second of Catharine Arnold's London Trilogy:


Bedlam: London and its Mad- CA

(I think Nash is familiar with CA's Necropolis: London and its Dead.

Like the first, it's very well researched, with some entertaining historical nuggests.

I've got CA's book on London's Vice (mostly about sex) lined up.

The author doesn't shy away from the big themes, does she?

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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  eddie on Sun Feb 26, 2012 3:24 am

...but before I start on that, all this death-and-madness literature has driven me to CS Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia.

I've begun with this volume:


The Magician's Nephew- CS Lewis

...because although he didn't write it first (The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe was first), chronologically considered TM's N is the prequel to all the other Narnia chronicles.

Interesting to note that the "Wood Between the Worlds" chapter anticipates String Theory by about 4 decades.

It's deceptively simple stuff. Lots of theology/philosopy embedded in the narrative.

Enjoying the period slang, too: 'By Jiminy!' 'By gum!'

Great stuff. Partially restores one's faith in human nature after a hard day on the gateline.

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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Constance on Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:02 am

By jiminy! I might check that CS Lewis out, Ed.

I've been reading the most God-awful books. Too bad to name. I abandon one and start another. Very frustrating. I do have Platero and Cloudstreet to get to after I finish the dumb book I'm reading. I get the titles from the New York Times book review ads. So surprised at what makes it into print.

If this keeps on I'm just going to have to get back to the classics.


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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Guest on Tue Mar 06, 2012 9:41 am

I think Platero and I is a book to be read little by little (...so litte by little I forgot I was reading it Laughing )


Now I am reading Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo. There're some things from that book that I don't know how they come to sound so familiar to my ears- it takes place in a ghost town. It could be because I read it twice before (this one is being the best one)... but I don't think it's that. All those voices, the way they speak...

"We should let him have the bed. Look how he's trembling. He must have a fever."
"Don't pay him any mind. People like him work themselves into a state to get attention. I
knew one over at the Media Luna who called himself a divine. What he never 'divined' was
that he was going to die as soon as the patron 'divined' what a bungler he was. This one's just like
him. They spend their lives going from town to town 'to see what the Good Lord has to offer,'
but he'll not find anyone here to give him so much as a bite to eat. You see how he stopped
trembling? He hears what we're saying."

Is this book well known outside the Spanish speaking world?

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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  eddie on Tue Mar 06, 2012 6:15 pm


Ghost Milk- Iain Sinclair

The perfect antidote to the pre London 2012 Olympics hype. A characteristically caustic, venomous account of the biggest folly London has seen since the Millennium Dome: radioactive Thorium carried by dust from the construction of the Lea valley Olympics Park into adjacent residential areas; unexploded ordnance; the demolition of Georgian terraces, theatres and local allottments; a deeply uncertain 'legacy'.

There's a review of "Ghost Milk" in the first post of the "Sinclair/Olympics" thread, which I've bumped.


Last edited by eddie on Wed Mar 07, 2012 8:34 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Books I've been reading

Post  Constance on Wed Mar 07, 2012 12:02 am

Moony, I tried Cloudstreet but I'm sorry to say I abandoned it. It was too visceral for me--the Pickles character getting his fingers cut off, the character named Fish becoming brain-damaged after the near-drowning. I found the two families depressing. But thanks for the thought, really.

I'm re-reading Lit by Mary Karr. I stumbled into it when I was so starved for a new book that I went to the biography stacks in the library and started with A. I checked out a bio of Jane Austen. I haven't started it yet, I hope it's good. The back cover has some positive things to say from reputable sources. I checked out two bios from Augustin Burroughs. He's the writer of crazy family books, a mode I like very much (eg The Glass Castle). The first, Running with Scissors, I've read before. The second is True Stories. I remember when it came out--it didn't get rave reviews; oh well, I like the author so I'll try it. I got to the Ks and saw the third of three memoires by Mary Karr, Lit. That's what I'm reading now. It is, actually another crazy family book, well crafted and funny. Her first two books are The Liar's Club and Cherry. I've read them all. Best to start with the first one, an account of her growing up years in a troubled family in Texas. Strangely enough, her three books are quite visceral, but in a different way from Cloudstreet, somehow in a way that appeals to me. I think it largely has to do with the first-person narrative voice that brings charm and intimacy and, importantly, a lot of humor to the reading.

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Re: Books I've been reading

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