Caroline's 2023 Reading (Chapter 1)

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Caroline's 2023 Reading (Chapter 1)

joulukuu 29, 2022, 4:40 pm

I'm Caroline and live in London. I've been keeping a thread in this group for a while now.

Mostly I post about what I've read, with the odd mention of exhibitions, plays, movies or holidays.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 16, 9:35 am

My favourite reading of 2022:

Just a few of the covers from this year's favourite reads

It's been a really good reading year this year, and hard to keep the favourites list tight. These were all ****1/2+ reads. There were a lot of fine 4* reads not included.

If you want to see the whole list of books read this year you can find it here:

Total Read 81


Mornings in Jenin (Susan Abulhawa) (02/04/22) ****1/2
Sankofa (Chibundu Onuzo) (10/04/22) ****1/2
The Island of Missing Trees (Elif Shafak) (28/05/22) ****1/2
Lessons in Chemistry (Bonnie Garmus) (02/06/22) ****1/2
Great Circle (Maggie Shipstead) (22/06/22) ****1/2
Mother's Boy Patrick Gale) (11/11/22) ****1/2
Euphoria (Elin Cullhed, trans Jennifer Heyashida) (25/12/22) ****1/2
The Second Sight of Zachary Cloudesley(Sean Lusk) (31/12/22) ****1/2


Jews Don't Count (David Baddiel) (07/02/22) *****
Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath (Heather Clark) (14/03/22) *****
On Love and Tyranny (Ann Heberlain, trans. Alice Menzies) (09/04/22) *****
Letters to Gwen John (Celia Paul) (14/04/22) *****
Real Estate (Deborah Levy) (15/04/22) ****1/2
She's Not There (Jennifer Finney Boylan) (02/05/22) ****1/2
Both/And: A Life in Many Worlds (Huma Abedin) (20/10/22) ****1/2
Super-Infinite: the Transformations of John Donne (Katherine Rundell) (25/11/22) ****1/2

Call Us What We Carry (Amanda Gorman) (Poetry) (14/01/22) *****
You Better be Lightning (Andrea Gibson) (28/01/22) *****
Alternative Values (Frieda Hughes) (28/02/22) *****

Usually my reading is 50/50 M/F and F/NF, but that didn't happen this year.

Fiction: 51
Non-Fiction: 21
Poetry: 8
Rereads: 5
GN/NF: 1
Female: 44
Male: 25
Non-binary/other: 1

ETA: I didn't include any of my rereads which tend to aitomatically be 5*s.

joulukuu 29, 2022, 5:11 pm

Welcome back, Caroline!

joulukuu 29, 2022, 5:18 pm

Thanks Jim.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 16, 9:36 am

Read in 2023

By Vanessa Bell


The Papers of Tony Veitch (William McIlvanney) (02/0123) ***1/2
The Great Fire (Shirley Hazzard) (07/02/23) ****1/2
The Colony (Audrey Magee) (09/02/23) *****
Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen (Fay Weldon) (15/01/23) ***
The Idea of Perfection (Kate Greville) (01/02/23) ***1/2
The Painter's Friend (Howard Cunnell) (09/02/23) ****1/2
Angle of Repose (Wallace Stegner) (06/03/23) (*) ****1/2
A Visitation of Spirits (Randall Kenan) (12/03/23) ***
Violeta (Isabel Allende) (19/03/23) ****
Swimming in the Dark (Tomasz Jedowski) (24/03/23) ***1/2
A Passage to India (EM Forster (06/04/23) (*) ****


Christopher Lloyd: His Life at Great Dixter (Stephen Anderton) (21/01/23) ****1/2 & Great Dixter:Then and Now (Fergus Garrett) (22/01/23) ****
Middlemarch and the Imperfect Life (Pamela Erens) (02/02/23) ****1/2
How should one Read a Book? (Virginia Woolf/intro&afterword: Sheila Heti) (20/02/23) ****
The Red Leather Diary (Lily Koppel (27/03/23) ****1/2


The Hurting Kind (Ada Limón) (06/02/23) ****
The Voice of Sheila Chandra (Kazim Ali) (09/02/23) ****
On the Bus with Rosa Parks (Rita Dove) (19/02/23) ****
Sporadic Troubleshooting (Clarence Major) (06/03/23) ***1/2
The Carrying (Ada Limón) (*) (20/03/23) *****
Quiet (Victoria Adukwei Bulley) (08/04/23) ****

Re-reads (*) (already counted above)

Angle of Repose (Wallace Stegner) - fiction
The Carrying (Ada Limón) - poetry
A Passage to India (EM Forster)

Total read: 21

Fiction: 11
Non-Fiction: 05 (including pamphlett)
Poetry: 06
Rereads (*): 3

Female: 11
Male: 10

UK: 07
Australia: 02
US: 09
UK/US/Transnational: 01
British-Gharnaian: 01
South America: 01
German/Polish: 01

Muokkaaja: joulukuu 31, 2022, 8:27 pm

Wishing you a comfortable reading year in 2023, Caroline.

2023 will hopefully see us together in London on a poetry spree.

joulukuu 29, 2022, 6:29 pm

Happy new thread and new year, Caroline.

joulukuu 29, 2022, 6:52 pm

>6 PaulCranswick: >7 jessibud2: Thanks Paul and Shelley, to you both too.

joulukuu 29, 2022, 9:42 pm

>5 Caroline_McElwee: Interesting angle...the book's top is facing us, and the bottom is facing the leaves! What do you suppose foliage's taste in literature is? And high-falutin' enough to have a bound-in marking ribbon, no less!

joulukuu 29, 2022, 11:33 pm

Hello Caroline, I have now got you starred and wishing you a great reading year in 2023!

joulukuu 30, 2022, 7:43 am

Dropping a star, Caroline. Hoping that 2023 is full of happy for you.

Muokkaaja: joulukuu 30, 2022, 9:54 am

>9 richardderus: >10 mdoris: >11 Crazymamie: Good to see you settling in RD, Mary and Mamie. Hoping 2023 will be full of good reads for us all.

>9 richardderus: Hmm, I hadn't noticed that with the book RD.

joulukuu 30, 2022, 11:39 pm


joulukuu 31, 2022, 8:46 am

Happy New Year, Caroline. Happy New Thread! We are closing out another wonderful year of books and banter and I am looking forward to sharing another with you. So nice to see Great Circle up there. I really enjoyed that book.

joulukuu 31, 2022, 9:14 am

>13 Berly: Glad you have settled in Kim.

>14 msf59: I loved Great Circle and have recommended it and bought it for friends Mark.

I look forward to keeping up with you in the New Year too.

joulukuu 31, 2022, 2:33 pm

>2 Caroline_McElwee: Taking notes on books to add to the BlackHole. . .

I am glad to see you back with the 75ers, Caroline! I appreciate your posts on the arts as well as on books.

joulukuu 31, 2022, 4:31 pm

>16 alcottacre: Thank you Stasia.

joulukuu 31, 2022, 4:32 pm

I hope the new year will have some joy for everyone in it.

joulukuu 31, 2022, 6:21 pm

Happy New Year, Caroline! I'm excited for another year of reading and recommendations. Your thread is always a wonderful source of the latter! My job will continue to keep me from "keeping up" but I'll lurk, post as I'm able, and look forward to more freedom once my working days are behind me.

joulukuu 31, 2022, 7:04 pm

Happy New Year, Caroline. Look forward to following your reading again this year. And love the Vanessa Bell painting.

joulukuu 31, 2022, 7:28 pm

>19 EBT1002: >29 thornton37814: Good to see you both peaking round the door this fine new year's morning Ellen and Alison. Glad to help with filling your shelves!

tammikuu 1, 3:52 am

Happy New Year and Happy New Thread Caroline.

tammikuu 1, 8:00 am

>22 SandDune: Thank you Rhian.

tammikuu 1, 8:25 am

Happy New Year, Caro! I'm looking forward to following your thread this year.

tammikuu 1, 11:48 am

Looking forward to following along for another year of great reading.

tammikuu 1, 11:55 am

Thanks Helen, good to see you peak around the door.

tammikuu 1, 12:48 pm

Hi Caroline! Happy new year!

tammikuu 1, 2:22 pm

Happy New Year, Caroline. I look forward to following your reading again this year. I hope 2023 is a good one for you.

tammikuu 1, 3:46 pm

Hope you have some great 2023 reads!

tammikuu 1, 4:54 pm

>27 PawsforThought: >28 BLBera: >29 thornton37814: Glad you have pulled up a cushion Paws, Beth and Lori. Happy New Year to you too.

tammikuu 1, 8:49 pm

Happy new year!

tammikuu 1, 9:48 pm

tammikuu 2, 7:03 am

>31 figsfromthistle: >32 Berly: Thank you Anita and Kim. I hope the new year will bring some good things for you both too.

tammikuu 2, 9:28 am

Happy New Year, Caroline. Dropping a star here.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 2, 2:00 pm

>34 Trifolia: Good to see you peak round the door. Happy New Year to you too Monica.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 2, 2:02 pm

1. The Papers of Tony Veitch (William McIlvanney) (02/0123) ***1/2

The second instalment of the Laidlaw trilogy set in the underbelly of Glasgow in the 1970s. Well drawn characters, and idiosyncratic detective.

tammikuu 2, 3:55 pm

>36 Caroline_McElwee: I think I can give those a pass at this point. Trilogy is a word that holds only anguish and terror at this point.

Happy week-ahead's reads!

tammikuu 3, 4:03 pm

Dropping my star, Caroline. The Papers of Tony Veitch is one of the holds waiting for me at the library. Hope it's a good one.

tammikuu 3, 4:37 pm

>38 Familyhistorian: I think it captures the era Meg. Saving the last of the trilogy for next month.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 6, 3:03 pm

I girded myself and went to see the harrowing film 'Till', with a friend. Unflinching, while managing not to show the actual acts of violence. One of many horrifying acts of the time.

I can't imagine what it was like for Danielle Deadwyler to walk in the steps of Mamie.

One of the things that surprised me was that the Emmett Till antilynching Act was only passed last year!

Also that the two men tried and found not guilty, admitted in an interview a few years later that they were guilty. They were paid $4,000 dollars for the interview, and they continued to live the rest of their lives as free men.

I think it is really important that such films as these are made so that younger generations understand what happened.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 7, 9:39 am

2. The Great Fire (Shirley Hazzard) (07/02/23) ****1/2

Set in war torn Asia and Europe, Hazzard's final novel (20 years in the writing) follow's the life of Aldred Leith, as he arrives in Japan just after the war ends. Tacking forward and back, telling his story and those of the people he meets, most of whom are in some way in transition from who they were during war, and who they might become.

I'd say anyone who liked The English Patient or The Balkan Trilogy will like this one.

Shortlisted for the Orange Prize in 2004.

I have now read all of Hazzard's books (aside from a volume of essays), revisiting The Transit of Venus last year.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 16, 9:37 am



From mid-Feb 2 books out for everyone in

190 (130 after in-coming deducted) (14 weren't in my catalogue)

OK, I'm going to keep track of this on my thread this year. The aim is to exit more than I acquire. My goal is 400 out, and no more than double figures in.

tammikuu 7, 3:41 pm

I finally got here, Caroline. I always enjoy your reading journey. I’m making note of the Laidlaw Trilogy. It sounds right in my lane. And the film Till. What an awful story. There are way too many of these stories.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 7, 5:09 pm

>43 NanaCC: Lovely to see you Colleen. I think if you like character driven crime, as well as plot/puzzle crime Laidlaw will work for you. It is very much about authentically drawn if slightly eccentric characters.

Will head off and see if you have set yourself up a thread this year.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 7, 5:03 pm

Happy Saturday, Caroline. Thanks for the reminder on The Great Fire. That has been on and off my TBR list for years. Hopefully I can get to it 2023.

tammikuu 7, 5:12 pm

>45 msf59: It was the last of hers unread Mark, and it was very good.

It is soon time for another reread of The Balkan Trilogy which I mentioned as an 'if you like this you'll like the Hazzard novel'.

tammikuu 8, 3:28 am

Hi Caroline - thanks for stopping by my Poetry topic in CR2023.

tammikuu 8, 4:05 am

>47 dianeham: Interesting, I will pop along and check that out too!

Have a splendid weekend, Caroline.

tammikuu 8, 11:41 am

>47 dianeham: Thanks for dropping in Dianne.

>50 BLBera: Happy Sunday to you too Paul.

tammikuu 9, 10:47 am

The Great Fire is the only Hazzard I have read, Caroline, and I loved it. I keep meaning to read The Transit of Venus. Maybe this year.

tammikuu 9, 12:07 pm

>42 Caroline_McElwee: I love your terminology of "Books Released".

tammikuu 9, 12:57 pm

>50 BLBera: I hope you enjoy Transit Beth. I'd probably read a third time down the line.

>51 Oberon: Ha Erik. I use a small Ex Libris label and when I let books go (way rarer than is necessary) I write 'released from' above the label. It also helps when I loan books, as if I don't want it back they can keep or pass on. Hence where that comes from.

tammikuu 10, 3:30 am

Happy reading in 2023, Caroline!

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 10, 12:11 pm

3. The Colony (Audrey McGee) (09/01/23) *****

Set in 1979 this fine Irish novel, longlisted for the Booker 2022, deserves all the plaudits it has received. Under observation the lives of 3 generations of women, and a teenage son James, tended to by family males who live on the mainland (the women have all lost their partners to an accident). During the summer they rent out a couple of cottages, one to an English painter named Mr Lloyd, who is making his first visit to the Island, and the next door cottage to the French linguist Masson, making his fourth and final visit to the Island to study the changes in the Irish language through the 3 generations of women.

The two visitors antagonise each other. Each has their own agenda for their visit, each wish to shape something they plan to take away from the Island, whilst the Island women, and the family men, are each tugging on the threads in their own different ways, as they watch young James attempting to steer his own future towards leaving the Island.

Intercut between this net of quiet drama are dispersed summaries of the mostly men who are killed on the mainland, from both sides of the divide.

The novel has many undercurrents including how outsiders impose their will on others, what shapes people’s actions, what undermines them and causes them to act in the way they do. What is left behind.

There is also a lot about art, and language.

The novel although in many ways very different, puts me in mind of Elizabeth Taylor’s A View of the Harbour in regards to watching and being seen.

tammikuu 10, 1:17 pm

>54 Caroline_McElwee: I need to get around to The Colony quickly. I really enjoyed Audrey Magee's first novel, The Undertaking, set in Germany during and after the Second World War.

tammikuu 10, 1:19 pm

Excellent review, Caro. I thought the book was very good, too. As you said, deserving of all the plaudits.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 10, 1:37 pm

Hi Caroline. I thought of you today when reading a review of a new edition of Derek Jarman's writings (a novella).

Wishing you a good 2023.

ETA ...and you've reminded me I want my own copy of The Colony.

tammikuu 10, 2:47 pm

>55 SandDune: I need to find my copy of her first novel Rhian.

>56 lauralkeet: Thanks Laura.

>57 charl08: The Jarman was one of my last reads last year Charlotte, along with the recent volume of some of his garden writing.

Keeping you in my thoughts this year, I know it will be a hard one for you.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 10, 5:59 pm

>54 Caroline_McElwee: Very good review Caroline. i loved it too! It's on my "best of" list for 2022.

tammikuu 10, 4:52 pm

>59 mdoris: Thanks Mary. I've yet to come across anyone who didn't like it.

tammikuu 10, 6:01 pm

>60 Caroline_McElwee: I just finished another book by the Irish author Niall Williams. Those Irish sure seem to know how to write!

tammikuu 11, 1:22 am

<54 Great comments on The Colony, Caroline. I am so happy to see another fan of this wonderful novel. It was one of my favorites from last year.

tammikuu 11, 2:22 am

Good morning Caroline. You read quite a lot of good books in 2022. I'll be back to add many to my tbr list. For now, The Colony is the first I've added.

tammikuu 11, 5:35 am

>61 mdoris: I've always enjoyed Irish writers Mary, but then I have Celtic blood (Scots, Irish and a teaspoon of Welsh).

>62 BLBera: Thanks Beth. It has been getting a lot of LT love.

>63 Whisper1: Happy to be adding to your reading list Linda.

tammikuu 11, 5:49 am

Good reading going on here! I admire you watching Till. I'm sure it's worth seeing, but I don't think I could. It makes me happy that you said they didn't show the actual violence though. That feels like a step forward.

tammikuu 11, 7:52 am

Found you! I'm looking forward to following your reading and seeing the gorgeous pictures you share!

tammikuu 11, 7:58 am

Excellent review of The Colony. Looks like another one I NEED to read in 2023. I hope your week is off to a good start.

Happy Wednesday, Caroline.

tammikuu 11, 8:01 am

I think you hit me with a BB for the Colony.

tammikuu 11, 9:17 am

>66 Sakerfalcon: Good to see you Claire. Thanks re the photos.

>67 msf59: I think you would like it Mark.

>68 figsfromthistle: Always happy to oblige Anita.

tammikuu 12, 10:39 am

>40 Caroline_McElwee: Having read extensively now about Emmett Till, I am not sure I can stomach seeing the film adaptation even though I am sure it is worthwhile. I know you do not read much (if any) young adult, but you might try Simeon's story: An eyewitness account of the kidnapping of Emmett Till,written by his cousin Simeon Wright who was sharing a room with Till the night he was kidnapped. I found it well worth a read.

>41 Caroline_McElwee: I know I own that one and have never read it. Thanks for the reminder to find it, Caroline!

>54 Caroline_McElwee: A 5-star review from you automatically gets my attention. I will have to see if I can track down a copy as my local library does not have it.

tammikuu 12, 5:57 pm

You’ve added The Colony to my wishlist, Caroline.

tammikuu 13, 5:22 pm

>71 NanaCC: Clapping Colleen.

tammikuu 13, 5:23 pm

I was surprised to find Foyles bookshop open after dinner with my brother this evening, and well, you know... There were escapees, I only noticed them when I was on the bus. The cheeky buggers are getting crafty, they had tapped my wallet and even paid for themselves!

I read an article about bell hooks last year and realised I hadn't read any of her work. The Toby Litt is a novel.

tammikuu 14, 11:34 am

>73 Caroline_McElwee: How fun, Caroline! Love the tote. I have not read any of those.

tammikuu 14, 1:43 pm

>73 Caroline_McElwee: oh noes! those poor little books, looking for an escape route. I'm sure that you can find them a good home, even if they were unexpected little stowaways. >;-)

As usual lots to tempt me on your thread...

tammikuu 15, 4:50 am

>73 Caroline_McElwee: I'm jealous and relieved at the same time when thinking of the damage that could have been wrought by a visit by me to that August book shop.

Have a lovely weekend, Caroline.

tammikuu 15, 5:49 am

>74 Crazymamie: Yes, couldn't resist the tote Mamie.

>75 Helenliz: Alway happy to offer up temptation Helen. Do you have a thread, couldn't find one when I last looked?

>76 PaulCranswick: Oh yes Paul, don't need much imagination for a PC visit to Foyles.

I'm actually aiming to restrict my purchasing by trying to buy only in real bookshops, and rarely ordering online. So that will put me at one visit a month roughly, as no local bookshops. And not too many at a time as I use public transport to get home! We'll see how long that lasts.

tammikuu 15, 8:27 am

77 I do, but I am tucked away in the Category challenge group. I can be found here:

tammikuu 15, 9:10 am

>73 Caroline_McElwee: Foyles is usually open pretty late. We usually seem to manage a visit there whenever we're in London.

tammikuu 15, 12:08 pm

>78 Helenliz: Aha, haven't ventured there Helen, thanks.

>79 SandDune: Yes Rhian, at one time it opened til 10pm some days, but had been closing by 7pm or earlier over the past 3 years. Good it is staying open later again.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 15, 12:08 pm

Went to see 'Empire of Light' this afternoon. A fine film. Set in the 1980s against the backdrop of a fading cinema at a seaside town evolve the stories of the staff, stories of love, friendship, race and of mental health.

Nuanced performances from all. Even a couple of poems!

For me, January to March have brilliant cinematic offerings, after that it is blockbusters (a few of which I do enjoy), kids stuff and horror.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 15, 4:41 pm

4. Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen (Fay Weldon) (15/01/23) ***

Described as a novel, aunt Fay writes to her 18 year old niece 'Alice', who is studying English Lit, about Jane Austen.

Weldon covers the social history, the biography and the books. Alice starts to write a novel, completes it and gets it published (The Wife's Revenge. Weldon has written a short story with this title herself).

I'm not sure I would have been convinced to read Austen by this book I have to say, though I was late to dear Jane (she had to wait til my 40s) so I didn't fall in love with any of the heroes as most female teenage readers did, and never seem to have fallen out of love with them; they were too young for me. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy her novels. Persuasion followed by Emma and P&P being my favourites. Emma Thompson siphoned off the least interesting bits of Sense and Sensibility (ouch, don't throw), I've still to finish Mansfield Park, and don't remember Northanger Abbey.

tammikuu 16, 10:06 am

Hello, Caroline! I recently picked up this one, too. Pride and Prejudice is my all time favorite book. Persuasion is my second favorite Austen. I finally read Mansfield Park last year, and it is my least favorite one, but I still have Northanger Abbey to read.

>81 Caroline_McElwee: I adore Olivia Coleman. She has been full of fabulous is everything I have seen her in.

tammikuu 16, 12:02 pm

>82 Caroline_McElwee: I enjoyed this, but I am an Austen fan.

Nice book haul, and I love the tote.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 17, 10:53 am

Went to see TAR. Very thought-provoking movie.

The story of a female classical conductor, whose behaviour is often questionable. Lovely to hear some Mahler and Elgar from the Berlin Orchestra. Cate Blanchett's performance is Oscar worthy. Mind, so was Olivia Colman's in yesterday's film.

ETA: an interesting article:

tammikuu 16, 4:34 pm

>83 Crazymamie: I like OC too Mamie, but very occasionally I can't lose her to the character.

>84 BLBera: I'm a sucker for nice totes Beth.

tammikuu 16, 4:41 pm

>85 Caroline_McElwee: read an interview with the cellist in that, it was very interesting.

tammikuu 17, 10:54 am

Posted an interesting article at >85 Caroline_McElwee:

>87 Helenliz: Will seek that out Helen.

tammikuu 20, 10:03 am

>73 Caroline_McElwee: I read bell hook's autobiography, Bone Black, last year and would recommend it to you. I gave it 4 stars. Nice haul!

>82 Caroline_McElwee: I ordered that one, but it has yet to arrive. I hope I enjoy it as much as you did, Caroline.

Have a fantastic Friday!

tammikuu 21, 11:47 am

I had to go to the London Library to return a book that had been requested. My first visit in person for at least three years. I made a little outing of the exercise.

I started at the French patisserie Paul's to get a small multi-seed loaf (baked on the premises) and an almond pain chocolat. Then on to Fortnums, but they were out of dark lime creams (disappointed face). I bought a few milk choc ones, but that just doesn't sound right, yet to be tried.

Here's one of their window's at the moment, with the Royal Academy reflected in the background:

Then on to Caffé Concerto for a breakfast treat.

It's a lot more expensive than it used to be, so won't be a regular indulgence when I go to the library, but it was very nice.

Grilled halloumi under the eggs, yum.

Then on to the library. On the way I pass this building which has a homage to Lutyens by Stephen Cox..

It really was a beautiful crisp morning.

I have been thinking of cancelling my subscription to the library as I use it so rarely. I have a reduced Associate Membership now, which allows access two evenings and Saturdays, but it is still not cheap. However, sitting there for a couple of hours this afternoon reminded me what a delight it is, and that I never come away without learning something new, or finding something to follow up.

Today I just dipped into a few periodicals. A wonderful magazine about Istanbul I love to graze had an article about the rarely promoted Turkish women artists, so I noted down some names for follow up.

Now I am wavering. If I go one Saturday a month for the next three months, then maybe I will let myself have another year. Renewal is due in May, I subscribed originally as a 50th birthday present to myself.

Of course, on the way to the bus stop I had to cut through Waterstones bookshop (our largest book chain now).

I have totally failed to stay within my plan to acquire only in single figures each month, oops.

The Ukraine book is about the original incursion in 2014, which will hopefully give me more background to what is happening now.

I love little hardback pocket books. This little Japanese novel was the only one I hadn't got in some format already, so it won't start a collection at least.

tammikuu 21, 4:44 pm

Caroline, what a lovely post! It is a feast for the eyes, and I loved reading about your day. Thanks so much for sharing.

tammikuu 21, 5:31 pm

>91 Crazymamie: Glad you enjoyed it Mamie.

tammikuu 21, 5:46 pm

Caroline, your photos are wonderful. I am surprised, to be honest, that you have to pay to be a member of the library. Isn't library use free? It is here and in the last year or so they have even cancelled overdue fees in order to make the library accessible to everyone.

tammikuu 21, 5:48 pm

I am surprised too that your library charges a fee for admittance. But I am glad you enjoyed yourself and I hope you find the membership worth it. And >90 Caroline_McElwee: the best kind of Oops!! LOL

tammikuu 21, 7:46 pm

Wow, that sounds like a great time!

tammikuu 21, 7:46 pm

>85 Caroline_McElwee: I heard about this on a CBC podcast. Sounds like a fantastic movie.

>90 Caroline_McElwee: What a wonderful outing to the library! Great book purchases as well.

tammikuu 21, 9:54 pm

Loved all your photos!

tammikuu 21, 10:48 pm

>97 mdoris: What Mary said. Especially the books cluttered in the shelves, and that adjacent to the twinned sunny-sides up.

Have a wonderful Sunday, Caroline.

tammikuu 22, 1:22 am

Sounds like a perfect day to me, Caroline. I love the idea of being a member and spending time regularly in the London Library: although I think I might get distracted by all the famous writers! I heard that they also have a "free" postal service, but I guess with the strikes that is not so handy? I could see it would be a tough call on membership.

tammikuu 22, 3:23 am

Looks like a lovely day out Caroline. I’ve toyed with the idea of getting a London library subscription from time to time but I’ve never been able to convince myself that I’d use it sufficiently. But I still get tempted quite frequently. Unfortunately, I only found out about its existence once I’d stopped working in London.

We were in London yesterday as well - to see ‘Best of Enemies’ which I would highly recommend, although I think it is closing fairly soon.

tammikuu 22, 3:54 am

Love all the photos! I am also a little taken aback by having to pay for library membership. Is that the case for all libraries or is this one special somehow?

tammikuu 22, 6:41 am

>93 jessibud2: It is one of a few private libraries Shelley, I have long wanted to be member, so 12 years ago I joined. They never get rid of books, so once there, always there, and if the books get too shabby they are rebound.

>94 Berly: The joy for me Kim is that many of our great writers were members, so taking out the older books means you may be taking home a book that has been in the hands of Virginia Woolf, Dickens, George Eliot, T S Eliot - who for many years was the President, as was Virginia's father. When I joined the President was Sir Tom Stoppard.

>93 jessibud2: >94 Berly: >101 ursula: So no, public libraries are free Ursula. There are some very good ones, but they are always depriving them of money, and is creaky for getting books across the system.

95 >96 figsfromthistle: >97 mdoris: >98 PaulCranswick: Thanks Jim, Anita, Mary and Paul. It was a lovely day.

>99 charl08: I have seen a handful of well known members Charlotte, but think they may also have a private reading room, although generally people don't disturb them. Among those I've seen are Mike Leigh (director), Sheila Hancock (actor/writer), a couple of times I have looked up and seen Jeremy Paxman sitting opposite me (journalist/University Challenge host), Michael Frayn (writer), John Simpson (journalist), Andrew O'Hagan (writer), Philip Hensher (writer) - who I did speak to in the lift, as I had just finished and enjoyed one of his books, but generally I wouldn't disturb someone.

>100 SandDune: I've really enjoyed my membership Rhian, and have pretty much talked myself out of unsubscribing for the next year at least.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 22, 7:22 am

5. Christopher Lloyd: His Life at Great Dixter (Stephen Anderton) (21/01/23) ****1/2

I am an armchair gardener, I don't have a garden of my own, and very much enjoyed walking in the footsteps of this eccentric gardener. I have still to get to Dixter, its on the list for this year, and it's good to see it is in good hands since Lloyd passed on.

Anderton was a long time friend of Lloyd, and he has written a warm hearted and sympathetic biography, while still offering up the odd wart.

In the first half the book is as much about Lloyd's complex and also eccentric mother. Not everyone would have thrived so well at her hands, but she was quite an extraordinary woman in her own way.

Great Dixter: Then and Now (Fergus Garrett) (22/01/23) ****1/2 (not counting in stats as very little text).

A slim book of beautiful photographs of Great Dixter, some of Lloyds own included, showing area by area as the garden has evolved.

tammikuu 22, 7:26 am

I'm so happy you enjoyed the Christo biography (although I was sure you would). His mother was a piece of work, wasn't she?

And thanks for reminding me of the "Then and Now" book. We bought a copy shortly before our visit last summer. I think I'd enjoy flipping through it again now, with the biography fresh in my mind.

Chris is currently reading In My Garden, a collection of Lloyd's writings in Country Life. He's dipping into it off and on, so I'm not sure when he will be finished. I'd like to do the same but will wait so we are not tussling over access.

tammikuu 22, 8:21 am

>104 lauralkeet: I shall probably pick up The Well-Tempered Garden later this year Laura. It's been on the shelf a while.

tammikuu 22, 7:58 pm

>90 Caroline_McElwee: Do allow yourself the luxury of another year's membership to the London Library. I happened across one of their publications recently -- specifically, On Reading, Writing, and Living With Books -- and that gave me some of the background of their existence. Physical subscription libraries are all too rare and that seems to be one that deserves to survive. Your support may make a difference to it. (References to the London Library keep popping up in my news feeds so your photographs were greatly appreciated!!)

tammikuu 22, 9:55 pm

One of the jobs I did as a student to supplement my income as a student was as a sort of gardener's assistant - mainly doing all the heavy work - don't think I learnt much about gardening but plenty about life as the gardener, a wonderful old war veteran (WW2), Billy Harris (Uncle Billy as I called him) used to regale me with his stories.

tammikuu 22, 10:03 pm

>90 Caroline_McElwee: What a perfect day, Caroline! I look forward to your future adventures at the library.

tammikuu 23, 6:02 am

>106 jillmwo: Hi Jiill, yes I have definitely decided to keep it another year at least. I had wanted to join for so long, and used it a lot in my first six years.

An Ipad doodle I did from my seat back then.

>107 PaulCranswick: Billy sounds fun Paul. When I was a kid I had a little patch in the garden and grew a few flowers and strawberries, which I rarely got to eat as the birds stole them. Latterly, my dad used to chuckle at my awful attempts at weeding. And he should laugh, as he weeded his green bean plants out one year by mistake!

>108 BLBera: Thanks Beth. Glad you enjoyed your London jaunt.

tammikuu 23, 9:06 am

>85 Caroline_McElwee: I saw Tar this weekend and thought it was excellent. Blanchett was fantastic as the very complex lead.

>90 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks for sharing your lovely day with us! It is such a pleasure to wander London on a clear day. There are so many little details to notice, especially if it's not crowded and you have the time and space to look around.

tammikuu 24, 2:42 pm

>110 Sakerfalcon: Thanks Claire.

TAR is certainly thought provoking, and getting a lot of debate.

tammikuu 28, 11:31 am

I have three books I'm reading slowly through the year, or as long as it takes.

Patti Smith's A Book of Days, long a fan, especially her writing and photography, so I am only looking at the photograph for each day.

The Story of Art: Without Men by Katy Hessel. I was able to name 21 female artists (not including photographers) before starting the book, just.

And The Climate Book created by Greta Thunberg, who invited climate scientists to write about their specialty so along with her own essays there is a volume with all the relevant, current research summarised for the lay reader in one place.

I watched an interesting interview recently, where she was asked why she hadn't said what she thought was the most important thing, and she said that had she done so, that aspect would have received all the focus, to the detriment of all the wide ranging issues that equally needed attention. An old soul.

tammikuu 28, 12:28 pm

>109 Caroline_McElwee: Matisse would have enjoyed your iPad creation!

What do the London private libraries charge for membership?

and, are there differences, aside from retaining all books, from what the Public Libraries do?

tammikuu 28, 1:51 pm

>113 m.belljackson: Hi Marianne

Thank you re the Ipad doodle. I should get back to doing more. David Hockney often works on his Ipad. His are beyond doodles though.

The library membership rates are here (see different memberships in tabs along the top):

I guess, certainly here, most public libraries no longer have professional librarians, and places like the London Library do.

tammikuu 29, 2:21 pm

>109 Caroline_McElwee: I LOVE that "doodle"!!!

I've not read Audrey Magee but I've put both The Colony and The Undertaking on my wishlist and library hold-for-later list.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 29, 7:01 pm

>115 EBT1002: Glad you loved the doodle Ellen.

I know you will love The Colony one for your Irish trip maybe. I have, but not yet read her earlier one.

tammikuu 29, 6:19 pm

>116 Caroline_McElwee: I have both of them on the shelves, Caroline, and I don't see me putting both of them off for much longer.

tammikuu 30, 8:55 am

>117 PaulCranswick: You won't be disappointed in The Colony Paul.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 30, 9:34 am

Hi, Caroline. I am so glad you enjoyed Tar. It is my favorite film from last far and Blanchett is wonderful. Also my favorite performance of the year. I plan on seeing the film version of Women Talking soon.

I have The Colony on the list.

tammikuu 30, 10:57 am

>119 msf59: TAR was an extraordinary film Mark, though caused a fair bit of controversy here.

Women Talking is on my list too. I might see 'The Fabelman's' at the weekend.

tammikuu 30, 11:09 am

I loved your doodle as well, Caroline. I like your yearlong projects.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 30, 11:57 am

I am another one who wants to see Women Talking. I think I might wait for streaming so I can take comfort breaks as I can only imagine it is going to be a pretty harrowing watch.

tammikuu 30, 1:11 pm

>121 BLBera: Thanks Beth.

>122 charl08: I just love to be in the big darkened room Charlotte. I often go with a friend and we discuss the movie after, though more than happy to go alone if timings don't work out or its not a film she is interested in.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 30, 4:22 pm

Streamed this lovely documentary (Netflix) about an elderly lady who had lived in an apartment in La Pedrera, designed by Gaudi, since the 1940s. It is a fabulous building. I visited it some years ago, along with Sagrada Famillia and other of his works.

helmikuu 1, 4:41 pm

6. The Idea of Perfection (Kate Grenville) (01/02/23) ***1/2

Harley Savage and Douglas Cheeseman separately find themselves in an unfamiliar out of the way town called Karakarook, New South Wales. Harley is there to help the community create a Heritage Museum, in hopes of drawing tourists. Douglas is there as the engineer to lead on the taking down of the old bent bridge and replacement by the new cement one.

Both in late middle age, with histories and uncertainties, Grenville shows them through their stream of conscious thoughts, as they nudge towards each other, full of apologies and embarrassments and confused feelings. A novel full of light uncomfortable moments.

helmikuu 2, 8:42 am

Despite being a member of the London Library, I didn't know they had appointed Helena Bonham Carter the first female President in it's 181 year history. You'd have thought they'd have sent an email!

helmikuu 2, 5:13 pm

>125 Caroline_McElwee: I'm sure I've read this, but remember *nothing* from your summary! I think I should probably reread.

>126 Caroline_McElwee: Yes, sounds like something they should shout about.

I got an email from the Women's Prize people saying that they are co-hosting a screening of a Virginia Woolf film originally made for the London lit fest. It sounds brilliant- I am hoping it reppears somewhere closer to me!

helmikuu 2, 5:37 pm

>127 charl08: Yup, that happens to me so often, despite that I may have a sense of having enjoyed the book Charlotte.

I saw that film. Enjoyed of course. Hope it comes your way.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 3, 9:37 am

7. Middlemarch and the Imperfect Life (Pamela Erens) (02/02/23) ****1/2

Another enjoyable addition to the Middlemarch appreciation collection.

Erens, like many readers, revisits the novel periodically, and is enriched by reading it at different times in her life (maybe every decade). She credits its resilience to Eliot's compassion and empathy to a wide range of characters, to beautiful writing, and the imperfect humanity Eliot depicts.

Talking about her own trials and tribulations as she goes, and sharing how this reengagement with the novel has supported her in personal growth, and growth as a writer.

She has managed to communicate the sheer joy that can be had in regularly rereading a book that gives you deep pleasure in revelling in the words on its pages. And being at the mercy of the quill in mistressful hands (despite her having to present herself as a master!).

I'm planning my fourth reread in March/April.

I've also added a couple of other volumes in the 'Bookmarked' series to my cart (Woolf's Mrs Dalloway - Robin Black/Baldwin's Another Country - Kim McLarin).

helmikuu 2, 7:13 pm

>129 Caroline_McElwee: I may try and join you on Middlemarch, Caroline. It is one of the yawning gaps in my reading life.

helmikuu 3, 3:56 am

>130 PaulCranswick: Would love to have you along Paul.

helmikuu 3, 6:46 am

helmikuu 3, 7:48 am

>132 Caroline_McElwee: - Thanks for that, Caroline. I love this sort of photography. Before covid, I used to go to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit every year at our local museum. Just beautiful and a wonderful reminder that all is not doom and gloom in the world.

helmikuu 3, 7:51 am

Tämä käyttäjä on poistettu roskaamisen vuoksi.

helmikuu 3, 3:33 pm

Only image not trailer.

Just back from seeing 'The Fabelmans' which I enjoyed. Spielbergs most personal film, about his childhood. I wanted to know what happened next, but of course we know that. Wonderful performances.

For only the second time I remember the film froze. A customer had to go tell management. It set off again and froze at the same spot. Third time lucky. Wondering whether the same will happen for the next showing.

At the start of the film Spielberg thanks the audience for viewing the movie in the cinema. Maybe younger directors don't care where you see it, but I doubt Spielberg is the only auteur of his generation and before who prefer having their movies seen only on the big screen on release. I'd miss being able to see them there in a dark, hushed room of mostly strangers. It was funny seeing a full audience in the movie. Been years since I have seen that, but then I rarely go in the evening. For that I have to go to the theatre.

helmikuu 4, 10:04 am

Just extraordinary. It has so many layers. Charlie lost his partner Alan several years previously and comfort ate until he was 30 stone. His marriage split when he fell for Alan, and he hadn't seen his daughter since she was 8, she is now a feisty 17. Knowing he is near death, he wants to make sure that she knows she is valued, and contacts her, much against the will of his carer Liz, who we learn is Alan's sister. There are other themes too.

My pick for best film at all awards, as is Brendan Fraser. In fact all performances were fine. Will probably see it again.


helmikuu 5, 2:18 am

>129 Caroline_McElwee: I'm not a rereader, but it's been 10 years since I read Middlemarch ... I would definitely consider revisiting that one.

helmikuu 5, 2:20 am

>137 ursula: I can feel a group read / reread coming on us!

helmikuu 5, 5:54 am

>137 ursula: >138 PaulCranswick: Hi Ursula and Paul. I think I know a couple of others who may read along. Will moot again in March.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 5, 7:32 am

Happy Sunday, Caroline. I also was able to see The Fableman's on the big screen. I also liked the film. I am a big Spielberg fan. I had heard very mixed things about The Whale, but your praise has me interested in it again.

Why did Tar cause a controversy over there?

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 5, 9:14 am

>140 msf59: There were those that didn't like seeing a predatory woman Mark. Especially in the conducting world, where there aren't many female conductors (though there are more than there were) - so why portray a very flawed one. I don't agree with that, if it is done as well as Tar was. It showed complexity. Even in some of her bullying tactics with the student, both of them were right and wrong. Controversy for a movie is good though, it stimulates discussion.

For me 'The Whale' had so many layers. I read one criticism that complained it was claustrophobic, well hell yes, it was. Uncomfortable too. Perfectly pitched performances.

helmikuu 5, 11:10 am

The Gaudí documentary is one I will look for, Caroline. So many good films!

The Erens book on Middlemarch also sounds good. Hmm. A reread. It's been a long time since I read it, so maybe it's time.

helmikuu 5, 12:35 pm

We saw 'Tar' this week too. Lots of conflicting emotions for this one, in spite of the wonderful performance by Blanchett.

helmikuu 5, 4:16 pm

>63 Whisper1: Caroline, Is The Colony a series, and this one is number five. I went to to purchase it, and found a book with the #5 missing, but simply stating The Colony. Am I making sense? Today is one of those foggy days.

helmikuu 5, 4:31 pm

HI Caroline. I have never read Middlemarch and having always been meaning to so may join you for the group read if I may!

Love your film reviews. Thank you!

helmikuu 5, 5:40 pm

>144 Whisper1: No Linda, it is a one off novel by Andrea McGee. I don't think it is out in the US at the moment. I looked at your thrift books/betterworldbooks/Amazon and none are offering it. I can't even find a date when it might be published in the US grrr.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 5, 5:45 pm

>142 BLBera: >145 mdoris: Happy to have you along Beth, and Mary. I'll set up a thread at the beginning of March.

helmikuu 5, 5:46 pm

>143 ffortsa: It is definitely thought provoking Judy.

helmikuu 5, 6:42 pm

I've never read Middlemarch. It will go on my retirement reading list! 🙂

helmikuu 6, 5:08 am

Dang. I can't find "Living with Gaudí" in my Netflix account. I'll have to look for it elsewhere.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 6, 6:46 am

>144 Whisper1:, >146 Caroline_McElwee: I read The Colony recently and got it from the library, so it is definitely in circulation in the US. The author is Audrey Magee (not Andrea). I checked my library record and the ISBN is: 9780374606527. This edition was hardcover, published in 2022. Hope this helps, Linda!

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 6, 8:08 am

>150 kidzdoc: I hope you track it down Darryl.

>151 lauralkeet: Aha, it seemed weird it wasn't available Laura. Thank you.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 6, 4:09 pm

8. The Hurting Kind (Ada Limón) (06/02/23) ****

Another fine volume from the US's current Poet Laureate. Didn't quite hit the notes of The Carrying, but still some very fine poems, including my favourite of this volume:


Two full cypress trees in the clearing
intertwine in a way that almost makes

them seem like one. Until at a certain angle
from the blue blow-up pool I bought

this summer to save my life, I see it
is not one tree, but two, and they are

kissing. They are kissing so tenderly
it feels rude to watch, one hand

on the other’s shoulder, another
in the other’s branches, like hair.

When did kissing become so
dangerous? Or was it always so?

That illicit kiss in the bathroom
of the Four-Faced Liar, a bar

named after a clock, what was her
name? Or the first one with you

on the corner of Metropolitan
Avenue, before you came home

with me forever. I watch those green
trees now and it feels libidinous.

I want them to go on kissing, without
fear. I want to watch them and not

feel so abandoned by hands. Come
home. Everything is begging you.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 7, 10:46 am

>90 Caroline_McElwee: Oh, what a beautiful morning! I love the pictures. Thank you for sharing, Caroline.

>103 Caroline_McElwee: More Christopher Lloyd! I am going to have to read both your and Laura's recommendations.

>129 Caroline_McElwee: Already in the BlackHole or I would add it again. I love Middlemarch and have read it a couple of times now.

helmikuu 9, 4:32 pm

>154 alcottacre: Glad you enjoyed >90 Caroline_McElwee:.

I'm sure you will enjoy >129 Caroline_McElwee: Stasia.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 9, 5:28 pm

9. The Voice of Sheila Chandra (Kazim Ali) (08/02/23) ****

Primarily made up of three long poems. Some beautiful word play.

From 'Hesperine for David Berger':


Imran Qureishi paints little blossoms on the ground, on the wall, in corners of the room, they bloom like water or blood or light

While the Qawali singer Amjad Sabri groans his throat open in ecstatic sound aiming to reach from the muck of the earth all the way into heaven

From the summit I plummet then into the time of unstrung lyres to try to go back into the dark time


The full poem here:

helmikuu 10, 10:41 am

Catching up. That's funny - I literally just recommended The Idea of Perfection to Joyce for her upcoming Aussie trip. I enjoyed it - unsettling sort of book.

helmikuu 11, 5:48 am

>157 AlisonY: It is an unsettling piece I agree Alison. Hope Joyce enjoys it.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 11, 6:40 am

10. The Painter's Friend (Howard Cunnell) (09/02/23) ****1/2

Terry Godden is an artist, an outsider. He has been manipulated and misused by an art dealer, and finds himself living in a river community near an island where a chaotic group of outsiders reside.
After years of neglect the land owner decides he wants to develop the area and oust its eclectic inhabitants. Can art truly be a tool for protest?

It would be hard not to warm to some of these characters.

helmikuu 17, 2:09 am

>153 Caroline_McElwee: I am very excited because Ada is coming to speak here in Portland this spring. : ) I am going to wait to buy one of her books there (hopefully a singed edition!).

helmikuu 17, 4:29 am

>160 Berly: What a treat ahead Kim. I would certainly recommend The Carrying for your signed copy. I don't think there was a poem I didn't like.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 18, 6:47 am

Last night a lovely theatre visit.

What a great production. As I know Rhian is seeing this in the next week:A chorus of 8 Virginia Woolf's, including 2 men playing her (diverse casting across the board), each of whom had other roles as well.

The shape-shifting Orlando played by Emma Corrin (My Policeman/the latest Lady Chatterley's Lover with a light touch and humour as s/he sailed through the Centuries, the audience guided by her dresser, who sometimes spoke to them directly.
In the book I always felt Orlando was more comfortable as a male. Due a reread now.

The theatre was full, with vigorous applause for all at the end with a real buzz as people left. I got into a conversation with other audience members on the bus

En route there was a visit to a bookshop. My book purchases:

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 18, 5:44 pm

I watched 'The Sting' (Netflix) which I saw for the first time when I was 13.

How young they look. I think I last saw it in my 20s. I'm always surprised how much I have forgotten when I rewatch an older movie. I remember the first time I saw it, the audience response at the end. Shock and cheers.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 3, 2:56 pm

11. On the Bus with Rosa Parks (Rita Dove) (19/02/23) ****

Some insightful poems by Dove. My favourite 'Maple Valley Branch Library, 1967', and the series of the volume title.

Rosa (1999)
By Rita Dove

How she sat there,
the time right inside a place
so wrong it was ready.

That trim name with
its dream of a bench
to rest on. Her sensible coat.

Doing nothing was the doing:
the clean flame of her gaze
carved by a camera flash.

How she stood up
when they bent down to retrieve
her purse. That courtesy.

Thanks to Mark (msf59) for putting this on my radar.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 19, 9:13 am

Happy Sunday, Caroline. I also recently rewatched The Sting. Not quite as good as Butch & Sundance but a fun film and the leads are great. I also recently rewatched The Hustler, which is fantastic. As you can tell I am quite a Newman fan and that was one of his best.

I am so glad you enjoyed the Rita Dove collection and I agree that "Maple Valley Branch Library, 1967" was one of the stand-out poems.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 19, 1:18 pm

>162 Caroline_McElwee: I was slightly more a Redford fan Mark, but watched anything by either of them. A fave Redford movie was 'Three Days of the Condor'. Loved BC&S of course. Newman's Tennessee Williams movies.

Trying to see the Newman documentaries, and ordered the recent memoir.

helmikuu 19, 11:04 am

>162 Caroline_McElwee: Great book purchases, Caroline. I love Limón and On the Bus with Rosa Parks was also great. I loved the "Maple Valley Branch Library, 1967."

I need to rewatch "The Sting." I love the Scott Joplin music.

helmikuu 19, 12:24 pm

I searched for the Maple Valley poem following all the enthusiasm here, Caroline. A lovely read.

I saw a version of Orlando staged in Edinburgh but it was much more stripped back than the production you have just been to. I think it worked well on stage though.

helmikuu 19, 5:26 pm

>162 Caroline_McElwee: Looking forward to Orlando next week.Good to see you enjoyed it.

>163 Caroline_McElwee: I saw The Sting first at a similar age as well - it was my favourite film throughout my teens. Loved the music as well.

helmikuu 19, 5:39 pm

>167 BLBera: >169 SandDune: I loved the theme too Beth and Rhian. It was the only thing I could play a bit as a kid, just the simple opening bit.

>168 charl08: Yes, I'll definitely revisit the poem Charlotte. I put a pencil mark on the contents page by poems I enjoy most, so I can find them easily (I'm not a big marker of books).

>169 SandDune: You have a real treat ahead Rhian.

helmikuu 19, 7:15 pm

Your recent poetry reading obviously took my eye, Caroline, but it was the recent fiction of >159 Caroline_McElwee: The Painter's Friend that will have me scrambling to purchase!

helmikuu 19, 8:04 pm

>159 Caroline_McElwee: This is a definite book bullet! Like Paul, I will be scrambling to purchase this one!

helmikuu 20, 6:10 am

>171 PaulCranswick: >172 Whisper1: Hi Paul and Linda. I don't think either of you will be disappointed.

helmikuu 20, 7:32 am

>166 Caroline_McElwee: I am also a fan of Three Days of the Condor but haven't seen it in decades. Were you referring to "The Last Movie Stars", the Newman doc? If so, it is excellent and so is his memoir, which I listened to a few months ago.

helmikuu 20, 10:00 am

>174 msf59: Yes, I hadn't realised Ethan Hawke made them Mark. I'm just about to watch episode 4. Will no doubt finish them today. The book is due to land next week.

I bought a streamable copy of Condor, and rewatched it a few months back, probably for the first time in 2 decades. It holds up. I shall get to Butch and Sundance soon.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 21, 9:14 am

12. How should one Read a Book? (Virginia Woolf/intro&afterword: Sheila Heti) (20/02/23) ****

Virginia Woolf's essay is sandwiched between an introduction and afterword by Sheila Heti, the former rifts on the shape of the contents of books, that Woolf mentions near the end of her essay. The afterword focuses on the readers a writer invites to read a work in progress.

Woolf actually mostly discusses the kind of readers we are, not the professional critics, whom she damns with feint praise, despite being one herself. And the different reading required of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. The different needs these three fulfil.

helmikuu 24, 10:33 am

Hi Caro, Thanks so much for the lovely card! I loved the collage of flowers. I appreciate more than I can say the wave of good wishes coming across the stormy North Atlantic!

helmikuu 24, 12:38 pm

>177 richardderus: I'm glad it landed safely Richard, and so good to see you about LT again. Mwah.

maaliskuu 2, 11:22 am

My first daffodils of the year. Spring is a-coming.

maaliskuu 2, 2:53 pm

The daffs are gorgeous. I can hardly wait!

maaliskuu 2, 3:12 pm

Love daffs!

maaliskuu 3, 4:12 am

>179 Caroline_McElwee: Yellow daffodils can brighten a place. They are not blooming yet in my garden, but I can already see the buds between the leaves of the early ones. The snowdrops and purple crocusses flowering, the first messagers of spring.

maaliskuu 3, 4:27 am

maaliskuu 6, 8:44 am

>180 mdoris: >181 Helenliz: >182 FAMeulstee: >183 ursula: Glad you enjoyed the daffs, they are still just about going.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 6, 9:14 am

13. Angle of Repose (William Stegner) (06/03/23) ****1/2

Although my 2007 review still pretty much stands, I think this time round I began to get angry with Oliver more in the last third of the book, his incapacity to avoid being duped and to see how he was breaking down his wife.

Also the controversy about plagiarism only known to me a while after the first read. I would have to read the source material to know what I felt, but from what I have read about his use of her letters, I would like to think he would not do that were he writing now. But even then a simple note of attribution would have kept him right.

2007 Review:

From the outset I was seduced by the tone and voice of Lyman Ward, the key narrator of this novel. In his late 50s and almost wheelchair-bound due to a partially amputated leg, Lyman has set up home in the rural area he grew up in, looked after by an aging neighbour and her family, and frowned on by his ex-wife and son Rodman. To occupy his time Lyman sets himself the task of writing the biography of his grandmother, Susan Burling Ward, and hence also his grandfather Oliver Ward, using the correspondence and writings and drawings that survive. They are two pioneers of the mining West.

I don’t have any sound knowledge of the history of this time, but I felt a strong pull to the tough lives of these characters and their fellows who worked with them in an unforgiving terrain, with financiers and investors repeatedly letting them down and leaving them in the lurch, poorer and more poverty stricken as the story progresses, and the Wards move from place to place, project to project, hope being sparked and snuffed with each exile. What begins for Susan as an adventure, she is on some levels an early feminist perhaps, yet still constrained quite tightly by Victorian mores, following her husband begins as something she desires, but gradually spirals down and deeper into bitterness with the relentless failure.

The novel is layered and rich, and among other things is about the tension between the lives of the cultured (Susan is from a highly cultured and literate society, an artist and writer), and the life of action and practicality – her husband’s life as an engineer and that of his colleagues and workers. At the outset Susan believes this tension can thrive and grow, but with increasingly fewer people to share her passions, the tautness becomes unsustainable.

As well as Lyman’s voice, he also permits Susan to tell her own story in her letters to her cherished friend the increasingly famous Augusta, long married to the poet Thomas Hudson, who may have once made a husband for Susan, and who sustains her at a distance with creative contracts to draw and write. Through Lyman, the novel addresses the difficulty of writing biography, and of how that difficulty is complicated when the biographer is related to the subject. Other subjects emerge including community, unrequited love, blame and the sometimes destructiveness of expectation.

The ‘angle of repose’ is an engineering term for the angle of rest. Lyman’s name itself, may be a play on the term. Lyman doesn’t want to give in to his disability, but at the end of the novel he wonders if he himself could be a bigger man than his grandfather in being able himself to let go into repose. His grandparents never could.

There is often a debate about whether a writer can write authentically in the voice of the opposite sex, Stegner proves that he undoubtedly can.

maaliskuu 6, 12:04 pm

14. Sporadic Troubleshooting (Clarence Major) (06/03/23) ***1/2

Without doubt, the best piece in this collection:


Thirty years from now:
She is in her backyard
in a plastic lawn chair.
He is dead.
She has in her hands his Complete Poems.

She turns the pages,
reading slowly
(slowly, like people used to read).

She come to that delightful poem,
her favorite poem in the book.
She is stunned by its symmetry,
by its climate, by its daylight.

She is amazed by its tunnels,
its muscle, its tambourines, its guitars!
She is pleased by the brushwork of its surface.
She is charmed by its lovely antlers.

She is awakeded by its bells
and by the silent film of its alter ego.
She is lurd by its flora and fauna,
by its rivers and streams.

She wakes at three in the morning
and reads it again and again.
This time she reads deeper
into its degrees of dark forest.
She is amazed by the specter
of its desert and dense jungle.

She reads it every day
for three months, swimming in the seas.

Each time she finds new adventures
in its foothills and underbrush.
She finds snowed-in mountaintops
and a glowing Sphinx!
She finds an array of winds
and clouds and rainbows.
She finds a sequence of snow and sleet
on mountain peaks.

She finds Josephine Baker
moving with ease
through Nazi checkpoints.
And finally:
She returns to her chair
in the yard
to write her own poem.

Worth the volume to discover it. Major is a new poet to me, thanks Mark (msf59). There were a few good minor pieces, but I wasn't overwhelmed. That said, I will certainly seek other work.

maaliskuu 6, 4:48 pm

>186 Caroline_McElwee: Wow, that's lovely. Thanks for posting it Caroline.

maaliskuu 13, 9:56 am

15. A Visitation of Spirits (Randall Kenan) (12/03/23) ***

There were elements I liked, and others less so. I'm not a big magical realism fan, and 50% of the novel has aspects of that. I appreciate though that it is used here to show a characters pain.

From the 20 Classics by people of colour, chosen by people of colour list, this chosen by Tarell Alvin McCraney

maaliskuu 13, 9:57 am

>187 charl08: It really is fine isn't it Charlotte.

maaliskuu 19, 3:39 pm

>176 Caroline_McElwee: That sounds like a wonderful read. Adding it to the list.

maaliskuu 19, 3:40 pm

I loved Angle of Repose when I read it many years ago.

maaliskuu 20, 12:12 pm

Just catching up with your thread Caroline! I realised I hadn't seen anything from you for a while and then discovered I hadn't starred you!

maaliskuu 21, 11:07 am

>192 Sakerfalcon: Easily done Claire. Good to see you peak around the door.

maaliskuu 21, 11:09 am

16. Violeta (Isabel Allende (19/03/23) ****

100 year old Violeta narrates her life in a journal to her grandson, now a priest. Husbands, children, love and loss, against the backdrop of South American political unrest.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 8:54 am

17. The Carrying (Ada Limón) (20/03/23) (reread) *****

Re-read for the AAC poetry month. I still enjoyed this volume as much as the first reading. For me most of the poems worked, which is quite rare. I am usually satisfied with half a dozen or so fine pieces. This had more. One of many favourites. I love the opening lines The big-ass bees are back, tipsy, sun drunk/And heavy with thick knitted leg warmers/of pollen. So sensory and visual.

maaliskuu 22, 9:42 am

Hello, Caroline. I also loved that poetry collection by Ada Limon - bought my own copy after reading the library one.

maaliskuu 22, 1:34 pm

>196 Crazymamie: Always a good sign Mamie.

maaliskuu 22, 1:49 pm

Happy Wednesday, Caroline. Sorry that Sporadic Troubleshooting didn't grab you the way it did me. Poetry can be so tricky that way. The poem that you shared was one of my favorites, though. Glad you did a reread of The Carrying. I plan on revisiting that one too. Limon Rocks!

maaliskuu 22, 10:18 pm

>195 Caroline_McElwee: Hi Caroline, i have just put that one on reserve at the library. You inspire! i am not a poetry reader but I will try!

maaliskuu 23, 5:31 am

>199 mdoris: I hope you like it Mary. I think if you are new to poetry, accepting not every piece in a volume will work for you will help. Also, enjoying fragments of those that work less.

You may like Mary Oliver, also of the US cannon.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 23, 12:33 pm

>200 Caroline_McElwee: Oh I do know and have read Mary Oliver but my poetry reading has been very limited. I liked her collection about dogs. Dog Songs: Poems.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 24, 5:47 pm

18. Swimming in the Dark (Tomasz Jedowski) (24/03/23) ***1/2

Set in Poland in 1980 a coming of age novel whose narrator Ludwik falls in love, but life isn't so straightforward against the tyranny of the Polish crisis, and his homosexuality.

A kind of homage to James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room, he's got a way to go to match that, but I'll be interested to see what he does next.

Read for my RL Book Group.

maaliskuu 24, 7:12 pm

>179 Caroline_McElwee: - Gorgeous! My go-to is yellow tulips though I have not bought any yet this season. I spent some time this afternoon cleaning up some winter yuck from the backyard and garden. Still more to do but my back told me it was enough for one day. It's still chilly out there but I can see the beginnings of new growth and that always makes me feel happy. There are shoots in the front, snowdrops, daffodils and I can't remember what else. Always a surprise when they bloom. Of coure, we aren't quite done with snow and chilly temps but we are getting there.

maaliskuu 24, 7:17 pm

>203 jessibud2: I'm a big fan of tulips too Shelley. Even when they are on their last legs and sculptural.

maaliskuu 24, 7:20 pm

>198 msf59: I think I have one of her earlier volumes as yet unread Mark.

maaliskuu 24, 10:57 pm

>202 Caroline_McElwee: Interesting. I was in Poland for 3 months in 1981 so, even if the author is no James Baldwin (who is?), I might give it a go.

maaliskuu 25, 7:26 am

>206 EBT1002: I don't think you will regret it Ellen. It's not heavy on the political situation, but it gives a sense of life under constraints.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 25, 5:30 pm

Hi, Caroline. The Carrying is such a great collection. I enjoyed your comments on The Hurting Kind, and agree it’s not quite at the level of The Carrying, but still is awfully good. DIL Adriana got to interview Ada Limon and we tuned in. Very enjoyable:

Cool to see so much interest in a group read of Middlemarch. That’s one of my favorites. I’m not sure how I’d do on a re-read; I found Causubon so frustrating!

Hope you have a good wekend.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 25, 5:50 pm

>208 jnwelch: Thanks for the interview link Joe, I shall listen to that tomorrow. Lucky Adriana.

Middlemarch will nudge into next month, but I'm looking forward to revisiting it. Causubon is definitely unlikeable, but I also always want to box Dorothea's ears for getting entangled with him, while understanding her desire for someone she thinks intellectual.

maaliskuu 27, 10:34 am

>186 Caroline_McElwee: I love this poem, Caroline! Not sure I want to read the entire collection...

Limón is becoming one of my favorites. I've had Angle of Repose on my shelves for a long time. One of these days...

maaliskuu 27, 1:43 pm

>210 BLBera: It was definitely the best of the collection IMO Beth.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 27, 5:54 pm

19. The Red Leather Diary (Lily Koppel) (27/03/23) ****1/2

A delightful biography/autobiography of the young Florence Wolfson (Howitt), resident of 1930s New York, as discovered in her found diary which spanned 5 years from her 14th to 19th birthday.

Journalist Lilly Koppel discovered the little red diary in a trunk which lay among many that had been put in a dumpster when the block owners where she lived were planning to re-purpose the basement storage space, and the tenants who no longer resided there's trunks were evicted.


Several years after finding the diary, and writing an article about it, Koppel hires a private detective to establish whether Florence is alive. At 92 she is alive and well, and Koppel takes the diary to be reunited with its author. Regular meetings ensue, and are recorded, and Florence fleshes out those brief daily entries of her teenage years. A young cultured woman comes alive to her aged self, and she agrees to the book being published.

Florence died aged 96 in 2012.

Thanks to Shelley for putting this on my radar.

maaliskuu 27, 6:23 pm

For those interested in the Dulles Greenway Eagles, three eggs were laid and hatched this year.

2 snooze while the third gets fed this eve.

maaliskuu 27, 6:26 pm

>212 Caroline_McElwee: - I am so happy you enjoyed it, Caroline!

>213 Caroline_McElwee: - I love watching bird cams. Something technology has done well: given us a true *bird's eye view* on real life in the nest, without disturbing or harming the occupants. Something that was not really possible before technology.

maaliskuu 28, 6:29 pm

>212 Caroline_McElwee: Adding that to the wishlist Caroline. Looks good!

maaliskuu 28, 7:58 pm

>213 Caroline_McElwee: I LOVE Eagle cams! Cool that both you and Laura are following this one. I'll peek in occasionally to see how they are doing.

maaliskuu 30, 6:21 am

I know some of you read Timothy Snyder's On Tyranny, this is a long read, but interesting.

maaliskuu 30, 7:42 am

>217 Caroline_McElwee: - Thanks for this, Caroline. I have read the first half and will get back to finish reading later on. I have read a few of Snyder's books and admire him greatly.

maaliskuu 31, 5:29 am

>218 jessibud2: Me too Shelley. I have a some of his books still to read.

maaliskuu 31, 5:29 am

By David Clapp

Stunning photo

maaliskuu 31, 10:09 am

>220 Caroline_McElwee: Wow! Where was that photo taken?

maaliskuu 31, 10:19 am

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 31, 7:28 pm

>221 kidzdoc: It is Wistman's Wood, Dartmoor Darryl. It was illustrating a book review in the Guardian today Bardskull, which will definitely be tripping into my cart.

>222 jessibud2: Agree Shelley.

maaliskuu 31, 6:52 pm

>223 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks, Caroline! Wistman's Wood seems like a great place to visit:

huhtikuu 1, 5:05 am

>220 Caroline_McElwee: It is indeed wonderful, Caroline. Makes me wistful for the magical South West of England.

Have a lovely weekend, my dear lady. Apologies that I haven't been much present this last month or so but RL has had the better of me pretty much in March.

huhtikuu 1, 6:53 am

>220 Caroline_McElwee: very atmospheric picture. I can't help feeling it is rather damp.

huhtikuu 1, 10:40 am

>225 PaulCranswick: Lovely to see you whenever you have time Paul.

>226 Helenliz: I suspect it is Helen. Would love to stand there and inhale though.

huhtikuu 2, 10:59 am

>220 Caroline_McElwee: Well, that photo is full of gorgeous!

huhtikuu 2, 12:42 pm

>220 Caroline_McElwee: How beautiful!

>202 Caroline_McElwee: I liked it better than you did, but I probably had more of a connection to it, so it felt more like it was speaking to me.

Happy week-ahead's reads!

huhtikuu 2, 1:21 pm

>228 Crazymamie: >229 richardderus: Yes, that forest looks mythic.

>229 richardderus: I'm not big on 'coming of age' novels RD.

huhtikuu 2, 3:25 pm

I enjoyed watching the BBC dramatisation of Magpie Murders.

huhtikuu 2, 3:39 pm

>231 Caroline_McElwee: I mistook it for the Cormoran Strike series and spent a solid half-hour mightily confused. Got with the program (!) eventually and found it a creditable effort.

>230 Caroline_McElwee: That would lrach much of the pleasure out of the read, indeed.

huhtikuu 3, 6:44 am

>220 Caroline_McElwee: So beautiful, thanks for sharing, Caroline.

huhtikuu 3, 7:09 pm

>220 Caroline_McElwee: What a gorgeous photo! I know that must get a great deal of rain. I can practically feel the sponginess of the moss.

huhtikuu 5, 9:38 pm

>213 Caroline_McElwee:, >220 Caroline_McElwee: Spectacular photos, Caroline.

The Red Leather Diary goes on my WL.

huhtikuu 7, 5:58 am

20. A Passage to India (E. M. Forster) (06/04/23) ****

Maybe my third read of this novel. It is difficult to say it is evocative, when I have never been there, but it is how I imagine it, of its time.

The story pivots on a series of misunderstandings between the characters of different cultures, and within cultures . The characters are mostly three dimensional, except when they are meant not to be. I'm not sure one warms totally to any of them, but almost all at different times held my sympathies.

Not my favourite of Forster's novels, and probably the last time I will read it.

huhtikuu 7, 7:02 am

>237 Caroline_McElwee: I haven't read the book but have seen the film. It was okay, but as a viewing experience I enjoyed The Jewel in the Crown series much more. Some of the characters and scenes were so well-done that I remember them to this day.

huhtikuu 7, 7:12 am

>235 BLBera: I think you will enjoy it Beth.

>238 lauralkeet: The film respected the book Laura. Like you though, the dramatisation of The Jewel in the Crown has stuck with me more. I must get to the books. I have them in Folio Society editions.

huhtikuu 7, 12:06 pm

>239 Caroline_McElwee: The books are good too, Caro. I read them much later, and by then I had a slightly better grasp of the politics of the time. The books added to my understanding and kind of made me want to rewatch the series. I haven't gotten around to it though.

huhtikuu 7, 12:43 pm

>237 Caroline_McElwee: That looks like a very snazzy edition, Caroline. I don't know much about folio editions. Are they illustrated inside too? I'm not a Forster fan but it looks like a lovely addition to a shelf.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 7, 1:03 pm

>241 charl08: I have collected Folio Society editions since my late teens Charlotte, back then, mostly secondhand. By my 20s you could pay in instalments, and you almost got as many free as you paid for. That fell away 10 years ago, as did instalment paying. My catalogue says I have 324 FS editions.

I haven't added any in the last 5 or so years as the folk who took it over aren't publishing much I want, or are republishing things I have. Also, the format has got bigger/heavier, and my wrists weaker as I age. They have also got more expensive.

Yes, they contract with an illustrator for each edition Charlotte, there are about 8 plates in each volume, some are stunning.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 8, 3:13 pm

21. Quiet (Victoria Adukwei Bulley) (08/04/23) ****

Newly the winner of the 2023 Rathbone's Folio Prize, this is British-Ghanaian Bulley's debut volume.

Some thought-provoking pieces, and many versions of quiet. I shall be dipping into this volume over the next few weeks, and looking out for her work going forward.

The Ultra-Black Fish

Two hundred metres down, the light stops.
Many deep-sea creatures alive at this level
of the ocean have developed the ability to create
light for themselves. This is known as bioluminescence.
Others, on the contrary, contribute to the darkness
by adding themselves to it. Ultra-black fish are
one example, & in 2020 sixteen varieties of these were
discovered captured. The level of pigment in their
skin was so high that it was found to absorb 99.956%
of the light that touched it. Karen, a marine biologist,
made the discovery came across them by accident.
Instead of hauling up the deep-sea crabs she had been
searching for, her net produced a fang-toothed fish that
wouldn’t show up in a photograph. Held, later, in a tank
under two strobe lights, the fish became a living black hole,
with no discernable features beyond the opacity of its
silhouette. As though it had cut itself out of the image & left.
Scientists believe that the fish developed their invisibility
to aid them in escaping their predators. Another theory
suggests that the obscurity of ultra-black fish enables them
to more successfully catch their prey. It is likely that both
ideas are true. Commentators on their discovery have also
speculated that the chemical structure of the pigment could serve
the development of military & defence technologies.
Nothing was said, however, about how ultra-black fish find
& enter into relations with each other. Nonetheless, their existence
alone is evidence that, invisible as they may be to others,
they are by no means strangers to themselves.

huhtikuu 11, 5:19 pm

>243 Caroline_McElwee: Interesting gloss on the ultra-black fish. And it seems a little contradictory, if there is no light penetration at that level, why the ultra-black would have had to evolve. Hm.

I haven't seen any Folio Edition books, but they sound a lot like the Limited Edition Society books I collected many years ago when I was feeling rather flush with funds. They also became too expensive, especially as the Society sold a yearly subscription, rather than individual books. The Society had fallen into the doldrums for a time, until Sidney Schiff bought it and revitalized the printing and artist selection. Ultimately, I believe it closed down. The Heritage Press republished many of their editions, in lesser reproductions on lesser paper, etc. But they are much cheaper, of course.

huhtikuu 12, 7:11 am

>244 ffortsa: I think a lot of it is a racial metaphor Judy, but that said it should work accurately on all levels.

I think I have a Limited Edition Society copy of a Joyce Carol Oates novel, which is signed by the author.

huhtikuu 12, 7:26 am

>220 Caroline_McElwee: Great picture. Reminds me of New Orleans.

>243 Caroline_McElwee: This collection sounds interesting. I like nature pieces.

Hi, Caroline. Just checking in. I hope you are doing well and enjoying those books.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 12, 7:47 am

>242 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks Caroline. I'd seen some discussion of these (mostly litsy folks collecting second hand, I think) but wasn't quite sure how it worked. Shame about the pricing for you. Though over 300 books - are they mostly read? I start with good intentions with subscriptions, but after my (shortlived) NYRB subscription - I think 10 waiting to be read - I have stopped signing up for any new ones.

>243 Caroline_McElwee: I'd seen one of her poems via the Faber members (despite the name, free!) email, but this one for some reason has made more of a mark than that one did. I will see if the library can get hold of a copy of her collection for me. Thanks for posting it.

huhtikuu 13, 1:42 pm

>247 charl08: No, a few read. A few were nice copies of books I already loved Charlotte. But in a few years, when I retire.... well, as my retired friends already warn, I may not get as much read as I think I will...
Tämä viestiketju jatkuu täällä: Caroline's 2023 Reading (Chapter 2).