Part 13 – THURSDAY WAS BOOK GROUP DAY

I can’t believe I started writing this post last June!!! Consequently it’s extremely out of date and basically needs to be rewritten. I even had to alter the title. Both the book groups I belong to used to meet on Wednesdays, one in the afternoon and the other in the evening. The day group now meets on Thursday afternoon once a month. Last week we discussed A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, who also wrote The Kite Runner. Set in Afghanistan over the past forty years it is a novel focusing on the lives of two women, Mariam and Laila, and their struggle for survial during the most horrendous of times. I would highly recommend this one.

We finally have our own library in the town where I live. After sitting there almost ready for quite some time it opened on the first Saturday last May. I have to say I don’t really like the external look but the inside is really lovely. Very light and airy. Having our own library also gives our book groups a place to meet.

Happy reading!

Part 11 – SOMETHING SANTA BROUGHT

Back again and less than 24 hours since my last post.  This must be a record. Anyway, I forgot to add the book I received for Christmas to my list of recently read books.

Rare: A Life Among Antiquarian Books, by Stuart Kells, details the lives of Kay and Muriel Craddock. It tells how they have become among the most successful and well respected antiquarian booksellers, not only in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia where their shop is located, but throughout the world. As Geoffrey Blainey wrote in the foreward “Rare chronicles the social history of the book trade in the second half of the twentieth century – when antiquarian bookselling emerged as a recognisable profession. ” As well as being a great read, the book was very informative for me.

Part 10 – 2012 NEW YEAR, NEW LOOK

Happy New Year to you, and I hope you had an enjoyable Christmas with those close to you. On impulse I decided on a change of look for the blog, for the new year. Whether it stays like this or not who knows. Tomorrow I may decide to have a different look altogether.

Have you been fitting in lots of relaxing reading time over the holiday period? I hope so. If there has been anything outstanding please let me know as I’m always looking for new titles.

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay is a novel I read late last year, one on my book group’s list. The two main characters in the book are Sarah of the title, and Julia Jarmond a modern day journalist. Sarah was a child, one of the many thousands of Jews in Paris rounded up by the French police on the 16th July 1942 and then transported to Auschwitz death camp. Julia is assigned to write a story on based on this event, and through her investigations, much of Sarah’s past is revealed. Well worth reading.

I’ve recently finished The Red Tent, a fictionalised account of the life of Dinah, the only sister of Joseph (of the coat of many colours fame), daughter of Jacob and his first wife Leah. Written by Anita Diamant, this book of Genesis gives a woman’s perspective of life at that time. The red tent refers to the place where women would go when menstruating or giving birth. I would definitely recommend this one.

Currently I am part way through The Elephant Whisperer: My Life With the Herd in the African Wild. Lawrence Anthony, owner/operator of Thula Thula willdlife reserve received a request that common sense told him he should say no to. He was asked to take a herd of “rogue” elephants. But knowing that otherwise the fate of these huge beasts would be death, Lawrence felt unable to refuse. So far I am finding this one fascinating as I read of the challenges this animal lover encountered in his attempts to bond with the elephants and the things they were able to teach him.

Anyway, it’s after midnight so I’d best be off. See you soon.

Part 5 – HOW QUICKLY WINTER HAS APPEARED

Summer wasn’t that hot, and pretty wet compared with what we’ve been used to over the past few years in particular, but Autumn seems to have passed us by completely. Apart from the odd nice day it’s been quite chilly, not that we’d expect snow or anything that drastic.

Anyway, enough of that. I’m finally back again to talk about books. I read an interesting and quite different book last week. Elizabeth Tova Bailey’s observations in “The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating” brought this reader to a greater understanding of these tiny creatures of the forest. Elizabeth became bedridden after a mystery illness hit her and the wee snail became her companion of sorts after appearing on her bedside table. The author developed a huge interest in these creatures and spent many hours learning about the many types of snail and their habits. I’d definitely recommend this one.

Last month’s book club choice was my selection.  I have to confess I had not previously read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”, and must admit it took me a while to get into it even though it’s quite a small book. It’s supposed to be one of the great classics isn’t it? Maybe it was because all the characters seemed so superficial that I was put off, I don’t know. I was glad I read it, anyway. Only four of us turned up for the discussion so that was possibly an indication that it wasn’t a popular selection. Coincidentally the movie was on pay TV this week. Seeing Robert Redford playing Jay Gatsby may have made a few more readers sympathetic to him.

Currently I’m reading “Caleb’s Crossing” by Geraldine Brooks. Caleb’s story is a fictional account (based on fact) of the first Native American  to graduate from Harvard, in 1665. I’ve enjoyed all Ms Brooks’ books so far, on varied subjects, and this is proving to be the same.

I attended my first ever book auction a few weeks ago. A friend came along supposedly to stop me from overspending. but she kept on nudging me and saying “Go on, bid.” Just as well I used a little self-control or there may have been a divorce in the family. 🙂 I didn’t go home empty-handed, however, having successfully bid on a small lot of books illustrated by Dorothy Wall of Blinky Bill fame. These are yet to be listed.

A week or so after the book auction, my husband (Rob) and I went to an antiques auction in Ballarat, where among the furniture and other bric-a-brac were several lots of books. We were only there about five minutes during which time I purchased several Miller’s Antiques and Collectables books and a Mrs Beeton’s cookbook. Rob decided I’d spent enough so I collected my purchases and we made a hasty exit.

Such is the life of a small town bookseller.

Part 4 – IT’S BEEN A WHILE

It has been several weeks since I last posted on here, but I have been busy doing book stuff. I’ve finished three books and am part way through another.

The first two are by the same author, Anthony Marshall, owner of Alice’s Bookshop in Carlton, inner suburban Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Originally from the United Kingdom, where he also ran a bookshop for several years, Anthony has been a book dealer for for over thirty years. Trafficking In Old Books and Fossicking For Old Books are (mostly) light-hearted accounts of his life as a bookseller in the UK and Australia. As Anthony points out, the books don’t give a how-to-guide on becoming rich dealing in secondhand books, but are aimed at booklovers everywhere who enjoy fossicking around in piles of books. A plus for me, as a Melburnian born and raised, was the fact that many of the chapters mentioned places I’m very familiar with. I’d highly recommend both books for anyone interested in what goes on behind the scenes in the world of books.

Book number three is our book group choice for the month and is entitled The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. The main character is Christopher John Francis Boone aged (at the beginning of the story) 15 years and 3 months and 2 days. Christopher is autistic. He doesn’t like the colour yellow and he doesn’t like people touching him. Christopher can name all the countries in the world and their capitals. One night he discovers a neighbour’s dog dead on their front lawn and decides to solve the mystery of “whodunnit”. An easy to read story, simply told from the young boy’s point of view, yet one filled with a lot of emotion, as Christopher describes his day to day life in a world he finds it hard to comprehend, while his father attempts to cope as a sole parent. One I’d definitely recommend.

Among the Gently Mad, Perspectives and Strategies for the Book Hunter in the Twenty-first Century is the fourth on the list. The author, Nicholas A. Basbanes, well known and highly regarded within the book industry has also written A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes and the Eternal Passion for Books, and Patience and Fortitude: A Roving Chronicle of Book People, Book Places, and Book Culture. As the title suggests, Among the Gently Mad combines accepted book collecting methods with the most up to date means of locating additions to one’s collection. I’m approx. one third of the way through and enjoying it immensely.

The final book related piece that has kept me occupied over the past couple of weeks, is Book Hunter’s Holiday, Chris Lowenstein’s blog. Chris has been an Antiquarian Bookseller for just over 4 years, but boy has she come a long way. If you are at all interested in book collecting, particularly Antiquarian books, I suggest you pop on over there and take a look. Chris has documented her journey via 630 Chapters of inspirational and informative postings. And I read every one of them! As well as all of Chris’ posts there are heaps of links to many other helpful sites.

So that’s where I’ve been 🙂

Part 2 – MAYBE I SHOULD HAVE SAID A BOOK A MONTH

Pacific Centric SVG World Map

Image via Wikipedia

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was reading Jessica Watson’s True Spirit. Well I managed to get to the end with a couple of days to spare. A literary masterpiece it’s not, but still the story of Jessica Watson’s solo circumnavigation of the globe is something that I’m glad I read. It’s not a book I would have normally chosen, but as it was this month’s selection for our book discussion group, I had to make an effort. I admit that I had preconceived ideas on whether or not Jessica was adequately prepared for her sea voyage, and was surprised how much work she had put into getting herself and her equipment ready. Having said that it was still an extremely dangerous journey. However, I digress. As I said in the beginning, not a great book but easy to read. As it was basically in the form of a blog and there’s only so much that can be said about sailing off into the wild blue yonder, I felt it was somewhat repetitive and was glad to reach the end.

Edit: I’d be interested to know your opinions, whether or not you’ve read the book. It might be stale news now, but still worthy of discussion I feel.

Part 1 – A BOOK A WEEK FOR THE WHOLE YEAR

A new blog and my first post, so here we go. Wish me luck!

I was given an ereader for Christmas. I thought it would be fun. It wasn’t. Sadly I’m struggling to work out how to use it, so it’s sitting forlornly on my bedside table. But that’s not what this post is about. Can I read fifty-two books this year? Maybe. A couple of years ago I was getting through a couple a week; but that was in the midst of my Nora Roberts/J. D. Robb frenzy. Boy can that woman write. It’s a wonder she doesn’t have RSI or something. But I suppose she’s been doing it for so many years she has the routine down pat.

However, I have joined a book club again, so at least that will give me the impetus to at least read one a month. Our first book is True Spirit by Jessica Watson. A friend in Queensland followed Jessica’s travels religiously and read the book, which she told me was enjoyable. Stay tuned to find out my thoughts.