Monthly Archive for January, 2014

looking forward

.. to the Mark Robinson event at book group on the 10th. Hope you are all able to come – I think it will be great. Mark is both a great poet and reader of his work so think it will be a lovely evening.
After that – well how about we read Pulitzer prize winning author Jane Smiley who will be visiting Durham in March? New Writing North would like us to read A Thousand Acres, so hope you are all happy with this for our March read. It’s an interesting re-working of the King Lear story, with three daughters and a patriarch – land, inheritance, power and the struggle between parents and children. I read it a long time ago when perhaps these issues were less pressing! I would be happy if we could all give it a go, as I think it will raise lots of book group type discussion points.
After that we will read Mantel’s An Experiment in Love – we may have agreed this for March so apologies if this is a bit of a reversal. Let’s confirm all this at the Feb meeting. There’s a review of the book by Margaret Atwood here. I loved this book and have also just finished Wolf Hall, which is a fantastic read.
I have just finished reading The Examined Life by Stephen Grosz which I liked very much, and which I know will stay with me. I don’t know what made me pick it up, as I usually avoid psychological insights, but this is a beautifully written distillation of years of working with troubled humans. Very humane, compassionate and with so much to say about who and what we are. I highly recommend it.

Have now launched myself onto Canada by Richard FordDSCF1950 – another amazing writer. Only a little way in, so still not entirely sure what is going on, but already gripped.


Looking forward to talking about this book tonight. Thought it was a fascinating read, tragic and well written, with an expertly created central character. Even though it is set in the early part of the 20th century, I found a lot of resonance in relation to good men being passed over for less good men because they know how to talk the talk. Trying to hang on to the things that you love without compromise seems to be a central theme and one that is worthy of a discussion.
Unusual to read so much about work and how personalities interplay, although David Lodge and Malcolm Bradbury both spring to mind, along with (more recently) Lars Iyer. Are university departments really like this, do you think?Also intrigued by the characters of the wife and daughter, and also the mistress. How do the women characters do in this novel? Do you find them as convincing?


Happy 2014

DSCF1978Hey reading persons of Durham how was your Christmas? Hope you all had a good, relaxing time and are recharged and revved up for the new year. Can’t say I feel especially revved up, but I certainly managed a fair bit of resting.
Not a massive amount of reading though – perhaps Christmas is not the ideal time for this solitary pastime. It was great for me to spend time with friends and family and at least talking about books (and movies) even if not reading much. But I am slotting Stoner into this weekend – after Sheila mentioned it, it seems to be everywhere, so she definitely has her eye on the book world zeitgeist.
I received a few books myself – hope you all did too and maybe you might want to share some new titles with everybody on Jan 13th.
Huge thanks to lovely Ashley for the gorgeous cakes at our last meeting, and to all the Bella Italia bunch who treated me to a fab pasta dinner – you spoil me!