Reading Snapshot September 2016

poole quays

Poole, Dorset. Building in the background is Booker Talk’s ‘home’ for a few days

BookerTalk is on a little holiday in the UK – what apparently we now supposed to label as a ‘staycation’ and feel proud that we’re doing our bit for the UK economy instead of jetting off to far climes. When the sun is shining the British coast is indeed a wonder – especially around Dorset which has spectacular cliffs and hills rolling down to the sea. This is Thomas Hardy country (it’s the Wessex in his novels) but though I should really be re-reading one of his books I forgot to bring one with me.


Just Finished

I managed to squeeze in a third Virago title just before the end of AllVirago/All August which also enabled me to complete the #20booksofsummer challenge (or 10 in my case). A Favourite of the Gods by Sybille Bedford more than made up for the disappointing The Ice House by Nina Bawden. With a name like Bedford you’d imagine she was a British author but not a bit of it – she was born in Germany to an aristocratic family,  fled to USA to escape the Nazi regime of which she was vocally critical and spent most of the post war years living in France and Italy. A Favourite of the Gods is her second novel – I’ll get around to reviewing this soon but if you haven’t read it, its a wonderful portrait of three generations of strong women.

Reading Currently 

I’m deep into the Booker prize 2016 longlist at the moment. There’s no chance of reading all – or even most – of the 13 titles before the shortlist is announced mid September but I wanted to try a few just to get the measure of what’s in contention. I know many people are anti-Amazon but I do like the option to download a free sample of an ebook. It’s meant I’ve been able to get a feel of some of the longlist without having to fork out too many pennies to buy hard copies. I do have full versions of three to read yet though: J.M. Coetzee’s  The Schooldays of Jesus; Graeme Macrae Burnet’s  His Bloody Project and David Szalay’s All That Man Is.  But first I need to finish the rather wonderful  The Many by Wyl Menmuir. This is a short novel but the atmosphere of foreboding he creates is superb. Hope this one makes it to the shortlist – it deserves to be on it.

On the Horizon

Probably I’ll be opening the J.M. Coetzee  The Schooldays of Jesus shortly. I’ve enjoyed the two other novels I’ve read by him so expecting a lot from this one. After that it will be a case of head down to read the titles on the syllabus of a course on children’s literature I start in October. Hoist the sails for Treasure Island and (sigh) Swallows and Amazons…..


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 September 1, 2016, in #20books of summer, German authors and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. I really liked Bedford’s The Legacy–although it wasn’t a perfect novel by any means.

  2. What a lovely setting for reading! Thanks for sharing…and enjoy.

    • It is stunning scenery Laurel – and has lots of literary connections. Arthur Ransome, Jonathan Swift, Agatha Christie all lived in the area at one time and wrote books inspired by the scenery.

  3. I recently got a copy of His Bloody Project, and really looking forward to reading it.

  4. Have a wonderful vacation! I want to hear all about your children’s literature course, maybe I’ll read along with you. I was thinking about re-reading some of the great women authors for the women’s classic challenge. I haven’t read any of the Bookers except for Strout. Have fun!

    • The reading list for the course is: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone; Northern Lights, Little Women, Treasure Island, 100 Best Poems for Children, Peter Pan, Swallows & Amazons, Tom’s Midnight Garden, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, Peter Rabbit, The Other Side of Truth, Coram Boy, Mortal Engines, Junk. Then we have to read whichever novel wins the Carnegie Prize

  5. Your kidlit course sounds interesting, but I’m curious, are they all sailing stories? *grin* Although my mother loved the Arthur Ransome tales, I never really did. But put some 2-dimensional Enid Blyton kids in a boat and I was there. Sigh. Enjoy your vacation!

    • No – not all sailing luckily. Junk is about two runaway youngsters who get into drugs and theft. So a bit grim. Tom’s Midnight Garden is a gothic story. Swallows and Amazons I thoroughly disliked – too boring for me, give the Famous Five anyday

  6. I have a friend in Poole. Your photo confirms what she has told me: palm trees live there! Hope you enjoy your stay.

    • She’s a lucky lady and in some very prestigious company. Near to poole is Sandbanks which is one of the most expensive areas for real estate in the world. The Beckhams bought a house here and then learned the beach in front of it was public access so they sold it without ever living in it……

      • What an interesting fact about the Beckhams’ purchase. I guess their realtor forgot to mention it, or their lawyer forgot to ask? Yikes. Meanwhile, my friend hasn’t mentioned it being so swanky – but she works in ecclesiastical building preservation, so her taste runs in a different direction!

  7. I always forget about the option to download free samples – it would probably save me some serious time and muscles when it comes to library books!

  8. I loved A Favourite of the Gods so glad you did too. I have yet to read anything on the Booker list, The Many sounds very interesting.

  9. I have also been enjoying the British seaside – I have just come back from visiting my mom on the coast in Hampshire; on the border with Dorset 🙂 Happy reading in September and I hope you enjoy Treasure Island – I thought it was a wonderful, swashbuckling adventure 😀

    • I love Treasure Island – can still remember scenes from it from when I read it as a child.. It was influenced by Brownsea Island just off the Dorset coast apparently

  10. A nice variety of reading there with the Viragos alongside the Bookers. I’ll be interested to hear more about the Sybille Bedford. I read A Legacy earlier this year, and while I didn’t love it, the themes and ideas were sufficiently intriguing to make me want to try another of her books at some point.

  11. Your first paragraph made me smile – at first glance I thought that shot was of the French Riviera. Not hugely enthused by this year’s longlist apart from Elizabeth Strout but I like the sound of The Many and All That Man Is.

  12. Good work on completing #20BooksofSummer! (I should just squeeze in). Enjoy your staycation.

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