October 2017 Snapshot

October snapshot (1)Let’s get the good news out of the way first. Last month you may remember I said that, because I’d broken my upper humerus, I had limited movement in my arm. Good progress has been made in the past month and I no longer walk like a penguin. I can do pretty much most domestic and social activities unaided now, including drive my car. Freedom at last!!! I even managed a three hour baking class last week where we were throwing around a heavy batch of bread dough (I did it left handed just to be on the safe side).

Apart from trying to coax my damaged wing back into health, what else was I up to on October 1, 2017?

 Reading now

Vernon_god_little I’m not one of those people who makes a habit of simultaneously reading multiple books. Two I can manage providing they are in vastly different genres (a crime novel say and a more literary novel, or a novel and a short story collection) but unusually I have three books on the go at the moment.

The first is my 44th Booker Prize winner – Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre which won the prize in 2003.  This is not one I was looking forward to read and it seems I am not alone. Although some reviewers thought it highly comic, others hated it and didn’t feel it deserved to win the prize. It’s set in a town in Texas in the aftermath of a mass shooting of students at the local school. One student, Vernon Little, is taken in for questioning and gets caught up in the legal and media circus. I’ve not yet read far enough to judge whether this will be one I enjoy but it certainly has a unique style.

By contrast on my e-reader is a psychological story that became a cinema classic when it was adapted  by Alfred Hitchcock with the leading roles taken by James Stewart and Kim Novak. The film was Vertigo and the book was D’entre les morts (From Among the Dead) by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac. It was published in English as The Living and the Dead in 1956 and now re-issued under the new Pushkin Vertigo imprint. Apart from re-locating the action from Paris to San Francisco, Hitchcock seems to have stayed fairly close to the original story of a former detective asked to help an old schoolfriend who is concerned about the increasingly strange behaviour of his wife.  Interest in his quarry becomes a dangerous obsession however.

My third book is a re-read. It’s a novella which has become a stable of the school syllabus in the UK for 14-16 year olds. I’d never read Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck until four years ago when it was chosen by the book club I belonged to at the time but loved it (my review is here). Now I’m re-reading it to help coach a young girl in my village who is being bullied at school so studying on her own until a solution can be found.

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 holding steady to last month’s total at 274. I bought just one book in September:  The Ladies’ Paradise (Au Bonheur des Dames) by Emile Zola published in 1883 as part of his Rougon-Macquart cycle. This one focuses on the world of the department store, a form of retail outlet that is very familiar to us today but was an innovative concept in the mid-nineteenth century. Until then, shoppers had to visit separate establishments for different items but with  Le Bon Marché (the model for Zola’s store) they could find all their purchases under one roof. The book was adapted by the BBC for a costume-drama series The Paradise broadcast in 2012 and 2013.

Thinking of reading next…

I don’t know what I’ll be reading later in the month other than one of the remaining six Booker prize titles from my list. It’s a long time since I read any of the Louise Penny novels I bought on my last trip to the USA ( I much preferred the covers of the US editions to the British ones) so a return to her fictitious village of Three Pines could be on the cards. I also found a little collection of Penelope Lively books when I was hunting through the shelves recently and its ages since I read anything by her. As always there are too many choices!

Watching:  I read Ian McEwan’s The Child in Time at the time it was published which is now about 30 years ago and went on to read and enjoy many more of his novels (his early output is, with the exception of the magnificent Atonement, superior to his more recent work.). The recent BBC adaptation starring Benedict Cumberbatch was a reminder of just how powerful a study of loss and grief The Child in Time is and of McEwan’s versatility as an author.

Required viewing in our house at the moment is The Great British Bake Off.  I’m frustrated by the intrusions of the commercial breaks but other than that the series hasn’t seemed to have suffer much by it’s move away from the BBC ( I never did like the Mel and Sue double act). There’s a new series of The Apprentice starting I think this week – this is a show that is probably on its last legs. The last few series they seem to have scraped the barrel and found the most inane and useless candidates possible. They talk a lot about how great they are but I wouldn’t let them anywhere near any business of mine. It’s good for a laugh though.

And that is it for this month. I hope by this time next month the arm will be back in operation again. Until then, happy reading everyone.


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

32 thoughts on “October 2017 Snapshot

  • I am so pleased to hear your arm is on the mend – I wish you more healing and happy reading this month 🙂

    • Thanks Jessica, so kind of you. I’m trying to be a good patient and do my exercises regularly

  • Glad your arm is healing. Being without a functional arm would be pretty limiting. I don’t want to think about it.

    Re the Bake-off, can I suggest you do what we do with MasterChef, and record it so you can fast forward through the ads?

    I laughed when I saw the mention of Louise Penny. I don’t read crime, and had completely forgotten she’d been recommended to me before, until at lunch with another friend this week, she named Penny as one of her favourite crime writers. I probably won’t read her, but next time her name pops up I hope I remember exactly who she is. I’m fascinated that you like the American covers better than yours.

    I did read Vernon God Little when it came out, and in fact my reading group went to an author talk by him (DBC Pierre I mean, not Vernon!!). I remember finding the book really interesting – just because of its description of that American phenomenon – but I can’t recollect now whether I had any reservations about the style. It was just so astonishing to have this apparently Australian author appear pretty much out of nowhere and win the Booker!!

    • We seem to have an issue watching programmes via playback if they are on the commercial channels. The BBC works absolutely fine but with the commercial channels, we get to the ad break and they take us right back to the beginning of the program and then will not let us skip the commercials. Very irritating!

      • Hmm, they must have found a trick to put in their software. Husband says that this software can be in the recorder. We can choose here which sort of recorder to get, one that has or hasn’t ad-skipping. The things you learn when you blog! I hadn’t realised this.

        • There may be ad skipping ones here too but the conversations with the sales people in the stores are so technical I get totally confused

        • I know what you mean. Fortunately my husband is expert in technology.

        • You’d have to fly him to Wales, and me to so I could chaperone you two! We’d consider it 🤔😁

  • I loved Vertigo when I read it a year or two ago – I actually preferred it to the film. I’ll be interested to hear what you think when you finish it.

    • I dont remember very much about the film other than the last scene which I won’t describe here in case it spoils it for others. But once I’ve read the book then I’ll feel compelled to watch it again

  • So glad your “wing” has improved. How dreadful to be limited in what you can do.

    I have enjoyed the Louise Penny books that I’ve tackled so far…and I like some of Ian McEwan’s books more than others. I’ll have to try to find the BBC series of The Child in Time.

    Have a great week!

    • Sorry I might have misled you Laurel, the Child In Time wasn’t a series – just a one off that was broadcast last week

  • Good to hear that you are getting your old self back:)
    Hmm, I was paralysed by emotion when reading of The Child in Time, I’m not sure I could tolerate Benedict Cumbersome in the title role…

    • He did a very good job of it – very believable. But the other two lead actors were equally good, the wife and the friend who goes a bit loopy

  • Glad to hear your arm is healing. It must be frustrating not being able to use it completely.

    • it was absolutely frustrating Colline – for the first few weeks I couldnt do my shoe laces up myself, put on a bra, cut the food on my plate. Like being a dependent child again

  • Good news about the arm. I remember the relief of getting them both back in working order!

    • Being able to get behind the wheel of my car was the biggest joy – although my husband was great and willing to take me everywhere, just being able to go on my own steam was the key to feeling I was on the mend

  • I’m glad you’re on the mend. I hadn’t know about the break. I did something similar last October and was two months before I was able to drive again. Having just one working arm when you live on your own is an interesting challenge.

    If I have more than one book on the go then one of them is almost always a re-read. At the moment I am re-enjoying the Maisie Dobbs books. I really like their social context. Do go back to the Louise Penny books. I am just about to start the latest one, Glass Houses.

    • I don’t know how you managed to look after yourself without the use of both hands – there are just so many things that prove impossible.
      I’m told the latest Penny novel is up to the standard of the previous ones. It will be interesting to see if you agree since I know you have been a fan. Have you had a look at her blog – she sometimes writes pieces about the philosophies that feature in the novels.

      • No, I didn’t know she wrote a blog. I shall have to investigate. Thanks.

        The Bears were very supportive.

    • A relief to me for sure but also to my husband who no longer has to do as much of the domestic workload. He was running around after me for weeks as cook, shopper, laundrymaid, dresser and chauffeur

  • Glad to hear you’re on the mend. I had no idea Vertigo was based on a book. It’s one of my favourite Hitchcock films. I don’t generally read crime fiction, but even I’m tempted to try the first book in Louise Penny’s series.

    • I am very selective with crime fiction preferring the authors who go beyond basic crime to tackle issues as well. Penny is a cut above the rest because of her characterisation of her investigator and the way she makes him a philosopher


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