Snapshot of August 2017

As a  new month  begins I’m sitting here feeling very sorry for myself . After a year of being stuffed with chemicals and radiation before three rounds of surgery to remove nasty tumours, I thought I’d  had my quota of medical treatments. Life was beginning to look up with a holiday even being planned. All of which I scuppered by falling over while helping to set up a community event, breaking my humerus in three places. So now my dominant arm is in a sling making it extremely difficult to do basic things like eating and dressing (I dare you to try fastening a bra one handed). My blogging is curtailed because it’s so slow to type one-handed so if you find I’m not commenting much on your posts it’s not that I’ve fallen out of love with you.  Reading is about all I’m good for but even that begins to lose its appeal after a few hours. Sigh…

Apart from nursing my damaged paw, what else was I up to on August 1, 2017?

 Reading now

I’m gradually making my way through the titles on my 20 Books of Summer reading list.  After a diversion to read The Monster’s Daughter, a debut novel by Michelle Pretorius) I was looking for something from my list that promised to be equally well constructed and thought-provoking. Sacred Hunger ( joint winner of the Booker Prize in  1992) by Barry Unsworth gets that bill perfectly. It’s set in the eighteenth century when the slave trade was in full flow. The action takes place on a ship sailing from Liverpol to pick up a human cargo in Africa and sell it in the sugar plantations of Jamaica. It makes for grim reading understandably though Unsworth doesn’t wallow in details of the inhumane conditions under which the captured Africans were kept on board. His theme is  the lust – the hunger –  for money which drives men to extraordinary actions.

You couldn’t get more of a contrast between this and a book I just started today – What Matters in Jane Austen by John Mullen. It’s a collection of twenty essays about different aspects of Austen’s work. One deals with the names  characters call each other and how this is often used to denote not just their different social status but their changing relationships to each other. Another looks at the question of the age at which its deemed appropriate for people to marry. I’ve read three essays so far as part of my participation in Austen in August and am impressed by how thoroughly Mullen knows these novels. He deals with details and nuances that escaped me when reading Austen but know I can see add new perspectives. Fascinating stuff.

Reflecting on the state of my personal library

One of my goals for 2017 is to enjoy the books I already own and to reign back on acquiring yet more. I started 2017 with 318 unread books.  I’m now down to 278 ( it would have been lower except I indulged with four new purchases and two ARCs in July).  I had been thinking to buy a few more once the judges chose the Booker long list but when the announcement came last week I was underwhelmed. I’m sure there are many fine books on that list but with one or two exceptions it felt rather predictable. So I’m just going to get some samples and se if anything sparks my interest.

Thinking of reading next…

This month is All August/All Virago month so I have Good Behavior by Molly Keane lined up. This is the first novel she  published after a writing break triggered by the death of her husband and was the first time she used her real name. It was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1981.

I also have Larkinland by Jonathan Tulloch which was recently published by Seren ( a Welsh publishing house based about 45 minutes from my house). It’s part mystery, part biography, part romance set in 1950s Hull and recreates the world of Philip Larkin. Larkin makes an appearance in the guise of librarian Arthur Merryweather and through his poems which are woven into the narrative.

Watching: The Handmaid’s Tale as dramatised by Channel 4 in the UK is coming to an end. I ddo nt enjoy the one episode which showed the backstory of Offred’s husband but everything eelse about this series has been first class.

Listening: Since I stopped commuting to work I’ve not listened to anywhere near the same number of audiobooks this year. I did try one in the Aurelio Zen series about a fictional Italian detective but the narration was really off putting so I gave up after an hour. A pity because this series written by Michael Dobdin is meant to be excellent.

And that is it for this month. Lets hope by the time of the next snapshot I’ll be feeling more perky. A Chinese friend tells me that this is the year of the Roster which is my animal sign. According to Chinese traditional beliefs, you may face big challenges in your animal year. However once those are overcome good fortune will come. It can’t come too soon for me! I’m advised that wearing red ( especially red underwear) will help. Time to get the credit cards out I think.

About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on August 2, 2017, in 2017 goals, Bookends, Irish authors, TBR list and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 62 Comments.

  1. I’ve just seen this, hope the arm is mending well! It’s a pest, and a painful one at that. An elderly lady I know recently broke her arm, and I went into her house each morning to take the lids off jars and pots and peel veg, and all the other jobs the two-handed folk take for granted!

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  2. Karen, I am SO sorry to hear of these health issues; I was feeling sorry for myself for some oral surgery which is nothing compared to the your courage displayed in this post. My best to you. Wish I could make you a cup of tea. xo

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  3. Oh Karen, I’m only reading this now. I hope you are recovering well. I’m sending you my best wishes!!

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  4. You poor thing. Hope you’re mended soon. At least you only need one hand to hold open a book. Well, I think you do!

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  5. I really hope your arm heals quickly and well after all your other health problems. Wishing you a speedy recovery. I’ve now managed 7 of my 20 books of summer – I keep getting distracted in between!

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  6. Sorry about your health challenges but I hope you’ll be good as new really soon.
    I am also trying to read more of the books I own. I used to request a lot from the library and I put that on pause for a bit. Now that the Booker list has been announced, see me scrambling to request some of the titles.

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  7. I am so sorry to hear about your arm – I pray it will heal quickly.

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  8. so sorry to hear all you are going through! Hang in there, there’s light at the end of the tunnel

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  9. Dear Karen, what a year you’ve had! I wish you a speedy recovery & a bill of good health. Isn’t it funny when we’re busy & hectic, we wish we had the time to stop & read all day, without thinking about what it actually means and would take to make us stop & have the time to read all day!!

    Sending all the positive red vibes your way.

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    • Isnt that so true. So many days when I worked I was annoyed I didnt have enough time to read and used to long for an afternoon doing nothing but hat. i guess I’m never sastisfied 🙂

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  10. Oh no.. take care of yourself and I hope you’ll be out of that cast or sling in not too long!

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  11. Oh dear, I’m sorry to hear about your break. I wish you a speedy recovery. I know how it is not to be able to do the simplest of tasks, like fastening a bra. If you can forget about that contraption for now, if not try a sports bra. I broke my dominant wrist in college. Got me out of school work for a while. 😊

    Anyway, when I saw the Man Booker list I was underwhelmed. It was quite predictable.

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  12. Sorry to learn about your injury on top of the other drama – wishing you a speedy recovery. If I were nearby I would give you a cautious hug so as not to hurt the arm. Here’s a thought, ditch the bra for the duration. And kudos for typing such screeds.

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  13. I’m so sorry about your injury, on top of the other things you’ve been dealing with. I hope all is well soon, and you don’t get too burned out on reading. I can understand your frustration.

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  14. Sorry to hear about your arm – how frustrating! Isn’t it funny that when reading is all we’re able to do, it quickly loses its appeal? Maybe a good time to catch up on movies! I’m glad to hear you’ve been enjoying The Handmaid’s Tale.

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  15. Feel better soon! Breaking bones IS horrible.
    I do enjoy your blog: the perfect blend of smart and chatty.
    And I love Barry Unsworth and read Sacred Hunger quite some time ago. He wrote a sequel–his last book–which I’ve been meaning to get to, too.

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  16. Oh nooooo! How awful, and just when your health has improved!! I do hope the arm improves quickly – you need to get yourself a personal reader, who can read books to you!

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  17. Karen, where have I been? I didn’t know you were going through all this. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Take it easy 🙂

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  18. Poor you! I can relate to one handed bra snapping; I broke my wrist once and did not know until then. You are doing more reading and listening than I managed, so hang in there.
    I’ve been reading Saul Bellow’s books since I read he was an inspiration for one of my favorite authors, Ann Patchett. Have you read any of his books!

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  19. Gosh, you have had a rough time of it lately. I’m so sorry to hear about your arm. I can only imagine how frustrating that must be for you. Wishing you all the best for a speedy recovery. Take care.

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  20. Goodness, you have been going through a tough period! I hope the arm is soon mended, although these things always seem to take frustratingly long. Podcasts or audiobooks sound like a good compromise for the time being, as so many others have said. It sounds like your catching up with your own bookshelves is working well, though…

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  21. I’m so sorry about your arm, Karen. I broke my wrist four years ago so have an idea of the awkwardness. I’m sure the hospital mentioned this to you but there is a simple, cheap product called a LimbO which keeps it dry. I found it invaluable. I’m well acquainted with the bra problem – fastening it at the front is the only way!

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    • my husband got one of those limbo’s for his foot when he developed a bad ulcer. we did look for the shoulder but nothing doing. I just got the doctors ok to tke the arm out of the sling and let it dangle at my side for a while so that means I can take the neck thing off and shower. hooray

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  22. Sorry to hear about your health challenges and then a fall on top of it all, yes, audio books sound like a good option, I think you deserve to put that down to necessary selfcare, you can get back to the books on the shelf when your arm is mended.

    Sending healing vibes for a speedy recovery, choose your reading wisely, nothing that doesn’t make you feel good, let the literature aid the recovery!

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  23. I’m very sorry to hear this as I know how disheartening a set back can be. My advice: spoil yourself if you are stuck at home. Whatever your passions are, indulge them.

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  24. Oh, wow, you have been through the wars! And then to break you arm! There is no way I could type as much text as you did with one hand. Not to mention that whole bra thing….LOL.

    I enjoyed watching The Handmaid’s Tale…and I’m with you on the husband’s backstory…not that interesting.

    Feel better, and have a good week!

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  25. Oh my goodness. You had mentioned some health issues, but I had no idea about the tumors. Sounds like a pretty rough year. Do take care, and get well soon!

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  26. I don’t know how I missed the radiation/tumor thing, but I’m glad you were on the mend even with the temporary setback of the arm. I’ve only seen Episode 1 of The Handmaid’s Tale, it was just too dark for summer for me and I love the book so I want to do it justice.

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  27. You poor thing! I am sending ALL my sympathy and agreeing that you now deserve a good decade of perfect health! I hope you have some really wonderful reading to help distract and comfort you while you heal.

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  28. Oh no! It sounds like a bad year. I’ve had a series of health issues this year as well, though minor in comparison. I hope your reading plans go well. I’ve been trying to read as many from my TBR pile this year as well which is going ok.

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  29. So sorry to hear about your current state! Maybe it is the perfect time to sit back, relax and listen to some audiobooks?!

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