Where’d You Go, Bernadette – Maria Semple

I was very pleased to spot Where’d You Go, Bernadette on the bookshelf of my B&B in Edinburgh. I snapped it up and jumped right into it on my flight home. It’s a perfect aeroplane book – so easy to get into and with a simple, but catchy storyline.

It also contains some wonderful characters. Bernadette being my favourite, with her big sunglasses, silk scarves and eccentric personality. She doesn’t fit in with her neighbours in Seattle and  the other mothers of Galer Street school resent her. This leads to some very comical arguments between Bernadette and an especially unlikable Audrey Griffin. Continue reading

My Favourite Character from Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina took up about six weeks of my life and left me with a huge book hangover. Months later, I still find myself thinking about the novel, but it’s been difficult to put my thoughts into a coherent review.

There are many things I’d like to discuss about Anna Karenina – the characterisation, the writing, the themes explored. So I’ve decided to do something a little different and write a number of shorter posts about the book. Today I’ll start with a few thoughts about my favourite character and, in my mind, the real protagonist of the novel.

Levin made quite an impression on me, with his constant contemplation of life, religion, love and death. Continue reading

Guest Post: The House of Rothschild: Money’s Prophets 1798-1848 – Niall Ferguson

Hello book lovers, and welcome to a new series of guest posts. These reviews and bookish musings will come from family and friends who have shaped my reading life.

When it comes to books, my boyfriend and I are like chalk and cheese. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is one of the only books I’ve ever borrowed from him, so I can’t say he’s dramatically changed what or how I read. But he was there at the birth of Bundle of Books and has encouraged me all the way through. It’s mostly non-fiction taking up space on his bedside table and he’s been reading Gödel, Escher and Bach on and off since I met him. Size doesn’t put him off, as you’ll see from his review of Niall Ferguson’s hefty book about the Rothchilds…

FHouse of Rothschildantastically written and informative. This book gives a clear insight into the Rothschild business empire which should be of interest to more than just bankers. Although the book’s title emphasises the power of money, it was the Rothschilds’ innovation in, and perhaps monopoly of, expedient long distance communication which played a central role in their success. They were quick to build political and business relationships across Europe and act upon the intelligence this gave them in a unified manner.

The book is also interesting from a social and political perspective; the treatment of Jews and how this changes with money; the various revolutions; the banishment of a particular family member; the personalities of Nathan and James. Continue reading

When You Are Engulfed in Flames – David Sedaris

If you’re a regular follower of the blog, you’ll already know of my  love for David Sedaris. I turn to his writing when I’m feeling down or if I can’t sleep. His entertaining memories always have me in stitches but I also find his words reassuring, and often there is a poignancy to his stories.

Being a bit quirky himself, Sedaris attracts some rather strange people. Many of them wouldn’t be out of place in a Dickens’ novel. This book in particular has some real corkers. There’s his opinionated and crude New York neighbour who sounds like just the sort of person I would avoid. But she makes for great reading, especially with lines such as  Continue reading

On Writing – Stephen King

on-writingI find it hard to concentrate on anything resembling a textbook, but luckily Stephen King’s much praised memoir of the craft” is nothing of the sort.

The first section is titled “C.V.“, but is more of an autobiography, hitting a nice medium between personal anecdotes about his childhood and his early writing career. Through this section King explains why he writes and how he started. I got my pen out on page 55 and didn’t stop taking notes until the end of the book. The first gem was from his first editor at a local newspaper: “When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story…. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.Continue reading

Literary Cooking

A few months ago, I discovered The Little Library Café, a blog that combines two of my favourite things: books and food. The recipes are designed by bookworm Kate and inspired by food from literature. Her reading tastes are similar to mine and many of our childhood favourites overlap.

Kate’s blog is beautifully clean and has a simple layout. It’s user-friendly and organised into a book index, recipe index and gallery menu. The food looks mouthwatering and the instructions are easy to follow. But the best thing is that everything comes from the heart. Each post begins with a quote and introduction detailing Kate’s personal link to the book and recipe. I was eager to give some of them a try. Here are the results…

Illustration by the talented Lenka Zelená. For more, check out her Instagram account!

Continue reading

The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton

the-luminariesSet during the gold-rush era in Hokitika, New Zealand, The Luminaries is an ambitious and incredibly detailed novel, inventively structured around astrological charts from that time.

The reader’s curiosity is piqued within the first few paragraphs. Twelve unlikely men are secretly gathered in the smoking room at the Crown Hotel, when in walks Walter Moody, fresh off the boat. Suffering from a terrible shock, he is unaware that he has stumbled upon a clandestine meeting. And so there are already two puzzles for the reader: what are the twelve men discussing? And what has shaken Walter Moody? Continue reading