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
I 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
Set 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
I recently wrote about my favourite winter reads. If I had written this list with children’s books in mind, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe would be right at the top.
Stepping through the wardrobe with Lucy for the first time was one of the most memorable reading moments of my childhood. It’s the sort of magical memory that lasts a lifetime and can easily be summoned up when eating particularly heavenly Turkish delight or walking along a snowy forest path in the twilight.
As a child, I felt I knew Narnia inside out, but reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as an adult, I now realise a lot of that must have been my own imagination. The writing style is simple and not overly descriptive. Lewis gives the reader a scene to work with and they conjure up the rest themselves. 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
We’ve had a dusting of snow here in Prague, which makes everything look very pretty. But it’s a reminder that winter is here to stay, at least for a while. Christmas is over, it’s cold outside and there’s a general feeling of deflation. The long wait for springtime starts now and it can be the most miserable time of year. However, there are some advantages, such as grabbing a blanket and a hot drink and curling up with a good book for hours on end (preferably by a crackling fire). So put on your woolly socks and take a look at some of my favourite winter reads…