As a die-hard Sedaris fan, I’ve been excited to get hold of his diaries ever since I heard they were being published. They start off in 1977 in his fruit-picking and hitch-hiking years and take us through his life of drug binges, dodgy apartments and many, many odd jobs before his writing started to get noticed.
It’s interesting to read about some of his pivotal moments as they were actually happening. Whether it’s meeting his long-term boyfriend for the first time, “a guy named Hugh”, who he describes as “…handsome, a nice guy. Gay.”. Or the death of his mother and the first family Christmas without her, “Christmas was hard… When Mom was around, we’d remain at the dinner table for hours, but this year we all scattered the moment we finished eating.” Continue reading
Since the popularity of The Little Book of Hygge, I’ve seen a number of similar gorgeous books about the Scandinavian lifestyle. I’ll admit, at first I thought they were a coffee table decoration – to look at and skim through, but not exactly life-changing. And it’s true, that while this little book about Lagom is perfect for the coffee table, it has helped me to improve certain aspects of my life.
It really struck a chord with me when I bought it last autumn. I was going through a busy period at work and was really struggling to keep my life balanced and healthy.
Over the past few years, I’ve been trying to make my way through the wide range of feminist non-fiction out there. I’ve hardly made a dent in the ever-growing list, but I can finally tick off The Beauty Myth.
I found it quite slow going, a problem I often have with non-fiction – it makes your brain work harder than fiction! But I kept at it and it was definitely worth the slog.
Published about two decades ago, it’s not surprising that the book often comes across as dated, but shockingly it is at times still very relevant. However, I found myself very torn while reading.
I didn’t like the sometimes forcible way Wolf tries to get her point across, being especially unfair to men at times. It’s not helpful to write statements such as, Continue reading
I heard about 84 Charing Cross Road through Slightly Foxed a few years ago, and it’s been patiently waiting on my shelf ever since. The moment to read it finally arrived after I finished the harrowing Between Shades of Gray and was in desperate need of something cheerful to warm my heart. I couldn’t have chosen a better book to make me smile!
This is a lovely little book about a struggling American writer in New York and her correspondence with an antiquarian bookshop in London. The first half is a copy of the letters, starting with Helene inquiring after certain out-of-print books that she couldn’t get hold of. What follows is twenty year’s worth of letters, mostly between the reserved (and very British) bookseller Frank and the more chatty Helene. Continue reading
‘We‘re so young. We’re so young. We’re twenty-two years old. We have so much time.’
Marina Keegan was an a ambitious graduate, ready for life’s challenges and full of hope for the future. Just a few days after publishing her final piece in the Yale Daily News, she tragically died in a car accident. This book is a collection of her work put together posthumously by friends and family, and includes her final essay The Opposite of Loneliness.
The writing is emotive and will awaken long-forgotten aspirations in readers of any age. With strong messages such as ‘…we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over…’, Marina makes you want to get up and achieve something. Continue reading
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…
Fantastically 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
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
The title of this book was specifically chosen to cause a stir and is, in fact, what first caught my attention. I’ll be honest, my immediate reaction was to roll my eyes, but then I saw Polly Vernon at the ArchWay with Words Festival. The talk covered a lot of interesting issues and Vernon came across as very genuine. So, intrigued, I ended up purchasing a copy.
I wanted to love Hot Feminist and did enjoy reading it, but I wouldn’t recommend it to everybody. Vernon makes some good points and adds some humorous anecdotes, but nothing I haven’t heard before. The writing is conversational, but too heavy on the capital letters and internet speech for my liking. Continue reading
Now that Christmas is over for another year, it seems like an appropriate time to write about Gut by Giulia Enders. January is typically when people try to balance out the gluttony of December by eating more healthily and there’s so much conflicting advice about how to do that. Gut goes back to the basics and explains how the digestive system works.
Enders gives a simple and often humorous account of the journey food takes through your system. Her chatty manner immediately puts even the most easily embarrassed reader at ease, even when reading the section titled “a few facts about faeces – components, colour, consistency“. And if her charming enthusiasm doesn’t pull you in, the illustrations by Jill Enders (Giulia’s sister) will be sure to put a smile on your face.
Eats, Shoots & Leaves is a humorous “zero tolerance guide” to punctuation, and every writer (or blogger) should have a copy. In fact I’m not sure how I survived for so long without it.
I recently finished a proofreading course and this guide, along with the comprehensive Practical English Usage by Michael Swan, was never far from reach. But even when not in need of punctuation advice, Eats, Shoots & Leaves is very readable (and especially enjoyable with homemade cookies and a cuppa, as pictured). Continue reading