Category: books


bad feminist

what an amazing book – another in my no-cis-white-straight-male authors challenge of 2017
I read it on my kindle but will buy a hardcopy because I want to reread these essays, and make marks in the book and underline bits I love.
I want to pick it up and delve into Gay’s words again and again

In these essays Gay looks at many aspects of popular culture through her own, admittedly imperfect, lens. And in doing so makes the critical thought processes she follows available to more of the general public. Because she says that it is hard to get it right all the time, hard not to be a bad feminist sometimes, she creates a space in which it is okay to realise, acknowledge, and then hopefully work on, your own flaws, weaknesses and bad feminism.

We can all only become better feminists if we examine where we fall short, and why.
And, as Gay says, better a bad feminist than no feminist at all

Love love loved this book
I am going to read it again, this time stopping to watch the movie Gay is talking about, read the book, engage with the pop culture.

And i will add reviews and comments on each essay as I go along. This is to multi-faceted a book to receive a single review

The birthday lunch
by Joan Clark

birthday-lunch

I liked this book.

It is, on the surface, quite gentle. But beneath the surface, the slow-paced life of a small village, the shock sleepwalking of bereaved family members, beneath all of that lies family history, betrayal, sadness, a sense of failures and being deserted, a swirling pool of mixed and misunderstood emotions – all the things every family holds within the emotional walls of relationships.

The book charts the detailed life and activities of a family after the unexpected death of a member. In a really still way this book will take you along the path of grief with the mourners. It is funny at times, and really quite sad too. It captures perfectly that period between death and burial when life carries on, but also is so markedly different it doesn’t fit any more.

The characters are all people we know, people we are related to, us. The relationships are familiar, and not always in a good way.

Misunderstanding, long held grudges, mistakes and anger are all there to be seen, and how they separate and join people is so human it made my heart ache.

And the end surprised me a little, in a variety of ways.

This is a lovely book which is absorbing and emotional.

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

What an amazing collection of stories from a truly incredible author. Adichie shows the reader, through these 12 stories, so many of the stories of Nigeria and Nigerians. From women living in America, separate from their Big Man husbands to students hiding in empty shop front to escape from a riot these stories tell a multitude of vibrant, real and often heart-breaking realties.

Africa is so present in all the stories, possibly especially those of Africans in America. Adichie tells it as it is, no sugar-coating or misty-eyed out of focus view. She addresses the fear and loneliness of immigrants as well as the pride and strength they have. She looks at the connections between loved ones and those lost, and makes the protagonist, and therefore also the reader, examine preconceptions and opinions.

These stories will grab you and suck you in; make you want to know more and wish that each were part of a full novel about the characters. Each story is complete, but they did leave me yearning to know more of the people. I wanted their past and future – I wanted to demand to know more, dammit!

Adichie is all she is cracked up to be – I feel so lucky to be an aware, developing feminist reader at the time she is producing.

A note: when I first started reading this book I didn’t realise it was a series of stories. So I read the first few stories as though they were chapters in a book, storylines that would join up eventually. As soon as I did work out that this was not the case it was worth going back and rereading the first few stories as complete pieces. And I realised how differently short stories require the reader read.

1 million stars out of 10

2017

If you want flowers, plant flowers

nature-collage

that’s my motto for 2017 – I want a good year with positive results, self growth and happiness. so I am planting those seeds right now

this is the year I turn 50 so I refuse for it to be anything but amazing

50

I will achieve Level 50!!!!!!

I have many plans for the year but the first two I am addressing are:

  • eating primarily plantbased meals
  • read primarily authors who are not cis-gendered white men

so expect book reviews and recipes

 

Room

Wow – what a book. This book is trending at the moment because of the recent movie so many people have read and reviewed it recently. But I wanted to add my wow to the noise about it.
It claims to be a book you’d read in one sitting, and were I able to sit for long enough, it certainly would have been. Instead I read until later at night and then woke up earlier than I needed to, to read more.

The story on its own could have been any number of books, some even good. But what makes Donoghue’s telling of the story so amazing is her narrator. I think the story is well known now – a woman and her son live in a single room, captures of a man who visits, abuses the woman and brings them their necessities. The son, Jack, is five, and was born in Room. Room is narrated by Jack.

Jack is completely believable as a 5 year old with wildly slewed development – he is incredibly mature in some ways and so completely immature in others, as might well happen if you lived in just a room with your mother.

That Ma and Jack actually do happen, that there are people who have lived this story as real life made Room so much more powerful. I could not help but think of Fritzl and the women he held captive while reading Room.

A wonderfully told, amazingly real story – I loved it
And I shan’t see the move for fear it may ruin everything.

Why do we keep books?

I used to have thousands of books on bookshelves which dominated my house. Wall to wall, floor to ceiling, the evidence of how well read I really was, was there for all to see. And be impressed by. Cos let’s be honest, part of why we hoard books, books we will never read again, is so that others will see what very clever well-read people we are. Or that’s what I think anyway.

One sunny day, watching dust motes in the sunlight after my maid had dusted my bookshelves I suddenly realised that the evidence of my smartness/well readness/interestingness as a human being/ability to make up words lay not in the pages and pages lining my walls, but in my interaction with humans.
Also, I mused, all of these books are being kept here so I can be seen as one who reads rather than being sent out into the world so that others too can enjoy them.

And suddenly not only did I not need the literary wall paper, but suddenly I had a desire to free myself of their weight and what had been for me, pretension. What I did not expect was the great joy I had when sorting through them and distribution them to other readers. I loved giving some of my most enjoyed books to others knowing that the wonderful experience of that book was in their future. I felt jealous of people about to experience my beloved stories. But also so glad for them and for the book, for its freedom to be out of my living room and back in the wild, back being read and loved rather than observed and ignored.

I set my books free, all 1 500 of them, and suddenly my house and world was open for new things. And not a single person suddenly thought I was a dullard because my walls were covered in art and other decorations.

I still have some books, of course I do. I have a waiting-to-be read pile that is as large as many people’s entire book collection, I have books I loved that I am waiting for my nephews to get old enough to hand on, and I have some beautiful non-fiction books I keep because they are works of art all on their own. And of course I have a slew of cookery books.

But I no longer keep books simply to keep them. I have no need to look like a book shop – the book shop is in my head.

I have decided to move the book reviews i am writing in my round the world project to their own blog

i am doing too many things at the moment that i want to blog about (have started at chef school and dealing with mom’s illness) and i do not want the book reviews to get lost in all the other nonsense i write

 

so they will all be here

http://readingoneworld.wordpress.com/

i will slowly move the ones from here across but am also putting new ones up as i go along

 

so any readers interested in my book project, please just wander across to readingoneworld and find them all there

 

also – i can then follow book blogs from that blog and have a less cluttered reader

 

Ta

The Misremembered Man

Christine McKenna

Irish

A short while into this book I did roll my eyes and wonder if everyone in Ireland had a terrible childhood filled with Catholic-fuelled abuse.  And then I began to care about the characters and got really caught up in their simple rural Irish lives.

Jamie, one of the two main characters is a lonely and sad man with very few social skills. The cause of this becomes apparent throughout the book and the sense of hopeless he feels is very believable and real.

Lydia, the other main character, is a woman trapped in a life with her mother, beholden forever. The dusty despair which permeates her life is also very real and as the reader you can almost feel the cloying demands of her mother.

Despite the apparently doom and gloom foundation, this book is actually a wonderful celebration of the inner human light that exists and can survive, regardless of the shit life throws at you.  

 

Towards the end of the book I was reading as fast as I could to see what would happen. Sitting on the edge of my seat I hurtled towards the resolution. Because the book is about the grittiness of life as well as the possible joy to be found, whether the end was going to be happy or not was not clear, until it was revealed.

 

As a postscript the books informs that the type of orphanage described in the book continued to exist in Ireland until as late as 1996. This horrifies me.  

 A very readable book despite, or because of, being very real, gritty and harsh.

Keeping Hope Alive: How One Somali Woman Changed 90 000 lives

keeping hope alive

Hawa Abdi is one of the most amazing people in the world. She has the Mandela gene in buckets. In 1991 when things fell apart in Somali Abdi was there, a newly qualified doctor trying to make a small difference. How she chose to respond to the catastrophe in her country positively affected hundreds of thousands of Somalis.

A refugee camp sprung up around a small hospital Abdi had created outside Mogadishu and at its height there were hundreds of thousands of people living on her land, looked after, fed and protected by her, and loyal to her.  Abdi would not engage in the clan warfare in Somali, always preaching that people should be united by their Somali-ness rather than separated by their clan divisions.

Abdi got international recognition for what she was doing, and used this to increase the international help available to the people she was looking after. At great personal risk, to herself and her family, Abdi hung in there, believing in Somali and in its future.

To do this in a civil war is amazing. To do this as an African woman in a civil war with religious (Muslim) overtones is simply astounding. Abdi was captured and a lot of what she had established was destroyed at one stage simply because she was a woman and would not let the feuding warlords tell her what to do.

The sadness of Somalia is a character all of its own in this book; Somalia and all other countries ripped apart by this kind of senseless violence.  Then all the journalists and other international  participants in the situation in Somalia dash out of Somalia to report on the Rwandan situation, the hopelessness of the situation globally is almost overwhelming.

Hawa Abdi finally had to leave Somalia and despairingly, despite all the years and all the efforts, Somalia is still a mess. An entire generation of children has been born into a war-torn country. What hope do these countries have when their future leaders are ex-child soldiers and victims of awfulness?

A valuable book worth reading.

This is not one of my around the world reads – but just a book I read

Guernsey

I really liked this book. It was such an easy read but didn’t turn my brain into marshmallow, the ways book usually described thus do.
I found it on the bedside table on a weekend away and pretty much read it in two sittings.

I liked the style of the book – it consists of a series of letters between Juliet and various other people. Through the conversations she has in the mails with the various other characters, so the story is revealed. This method makes all of the characters real, individual and essential parts of the story.

This book takes you right into the homes and lives and loses of the people of Guernsey during and immediately after the war. Children sent to live far from their parents to increase their chances of survival, German soldiers far from home, hating the war as much as the next person, strong survivors who just get on with it – this book is populated by a slew of people you’d actually want to meet in real life.

Although Juliet is the writer or receiver of all the letters in the book, she manages to share the lime light with all of the other characters. By their very nature, letters tell as much, if not more, of the writer than the receiver. I cared a little about most of the characters in the book, and certainly had an emotion of some sorts towards all of them.

It is gentle and magnificent and a real gem

I’d be surprised if it is never made into a gentle English movie with an outstanding cast

and how can you not want to read a book with the title like this?