Paul is overambitious as always

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Paul is overambitious as always

1PaulCranswick
Dic 25, 2020, 9:31pm

I am normally to be found waltzing through the threads in the 75er Challenge Group but I thought I needed to spend more time here this year since I always set myself impossible reading targets and this thread will hold me fully to account.

2PaulCranswick
Editado: Dic 26, 2020, 6:47pm

CHALLENGES OVERVIEW

My basic tenet is that often the challenges will overlap. Here are my main Category Challenges:

1 British Author Challenge - set this year by Amanda in the 75er Group

2 1001 Book First Edition - Ongoing

3 Booker Challenge - Read all the Booker winners; I may get close to completing that in 2021

4 Nobel Winners - Read all the Nobel Winners

5 Pulitzer Winners - Read all the Pulitzer fiction winners

6 Around the World Challenge - Read a book from an author born in or with parents from all countries - I reset this challenge in October 2020.

7 Queen Victoria Challenge - Read a book from every year of Queen Victoria's reign (1837-1901) with no repeat authors. Started December 2020

8 Queen Betty Challenge - Read a book from every year of Queen Elizabeth II reign (1952-2021) - British authors only and no repeats.

9 Dance to the Music of Time - One a month all year.

10. The 52 Book Club Challenge - A book a week from these selected categories https://www.the52book.club/challenges/2021-reading-challenge/

11. A Dent in the TBR - I have approaching 5,000 books in my TBR so I must read some of the 250 books I have bought in 2020 that end the current year unread.

12. Poetry - My first love in many ways and I am still something of a scribbler of lines to this day.

3PaulCranswick
Editado: Feb 20, 6:18am

1. BRITISH AUTHOR CHALLENGE

Based on this year's challenge set by Amanda in the 75er's group
https://www.librarything.com/topic/327699

1. Plague 99 by Jean Ure (1989) 218 pp (JANUARY CHILDREN"S CLASSICS)
2. Tom Brown's Schooldays by Thomas Hughes (1857) 309 pp (JANUARY CHILDREN"S CLASSICS)
3. A Fall From the Sky by Ian Serraillier (1966) 78 pp (JANUARY CHILDREN'S CLASSICS)
4. Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome (1930) 501 pp (JANUARY CHILDREN'S CLASSICS}
5. Carrie's War by Nina Bawden (1973) 211 pp (JANUARY CHILDREN'S CLASSICS)
6. Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer (1969) 227 pp (JANUARY CHILDREN'S CLASSICS)
7. Junk by Melvyn Burgess (1996) 278 pp (JANUARY CHILDREN'S CLASSICS)
8. The Great Fire by Monica Dickens (1970) 64 pp (JANUARY CHILDREN'S CLASSICS)
9. A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf (1929) 153 pp (FEBRUARY LGBT MONTH)

4PaulCranswick
Editado: Feb 20, 6:19am

2. 1001 BOOKS FIRST EDITION CHALLENGE

Ongoing challenge - I am only counting the First Edition of the 1001 Books

I just double checked my numbers and prior to 2021 I had read 304 of the 1001 books.

2021

1. A Lear of the Steppes by Ivan Turgenev (305)
2. Jazz by Toni Morrison (306)
3. Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne (307)

5PaulCranswick
Editado: Ene 26, 4:52am

3. BOOKER WINNERS CHALLENGE

I have so far read 31 of 56 and shall aim to do one per month.

1. January : Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart (2020) 32/56

6PaulCranswick
Editado: Ene 26, 4:49am

4. NOBEL WINNERS CHALLENGE

So far have read something from 71 of the 117 Laureates. Aim is one per month.

7PaulCranswick
Editado: Ene 23, 9:47pm

5. PULITZER FICTION PRIZE WINNERS CHALLENGE

So far have read a paltry 16 out of 93 winners. Aim is one per month.

January - The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead (2020 winner) (17)

8PaulCranswick
Editado: Feb 20, 6:22am

6. AROUND THE WORLD CHALLENGE

Around the world in books challenge. I want to see how many countries I can cover without limiting myself to a specific deadline.

From 1 October 2020

1. United Kingdom - The Ways of the World by Robert Goddard EUROPE
2. Ireland - The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde EUROPE
3. Lithuania - Selected and Last Poems by Czeslaw Milosz EUROPE
4. Netherlands - The Ditch by Herman Koch EUROPE
5. Armenia - The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian ASIA PACIFIC
6. Zimbabwe - This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga AFRICA
7. United States - Averno by Louise Gluck AMERICA
8. Australia - Taller When Prone by Les Murray ASIA PACIFIC
9. France - Class Trip by Emmanuel Carrere EUROPE
10. Russia - The Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov EUROPE
11. Denmark - Fear and Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard EUROPE
12. Democratic Republic of Congo - Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanze Mujila AFRICA
13. Canada - I Heard the Owl Call My Name by Margaret Craven AMERICA
14. Italy - The Overnight Kidnapper by Andrea Camilleri EUROPE
15. New Zealand - Dove on the Waters by Maurice Shadbolt ASIA PACIFIC
16. India - A Burning by Megha Majumdar ASIA PACIFIC


Create Your Own Visited Countries Map

9PaulCranswick
Editado: Feb 20, 6:23am

7. QUEEN VICTORIA CHALLENGE

Regarding my Victorian Era Challenge which I started in Dec 2020 with the aim of completing it by the end of 2021. 64 years. 64 books. 64 authors.

From Dec 2020

1843 FEAR AND TREMBLING by Kierkegaard
1850 PENDENNIS by Thackeray
1857 TOM BROWN'S SCHOOLDAYS by Hughes
1870 A LEAR OF THE STEPPES by Turgenev
1873 AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS by Verne
1881 PRINCE AND THE PAUPER by Twain
1900 THREE SISTERS by Chekhov

7/64

10PaulCranswick
Editado: Feb 20, 6:29am

8. QUEEN BETTY CHALLENGE

From December 2020 70 Years 70 Books 70 Different British Authors

1962 The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side by Agatha Christie JAN 2021 READ
1966 A Fall from the Sky by Ian Serraillier JAN 2021 READ
1969 Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer JAN 2021 READ
1970 The Great Fire by Monica Dickens FEB 2021 READ
1973 Carrie's War by Nina Bawden JAN 2021 READ
1987 Bury the Dead by Peter Carter FEB 2021 READ
1989 Plague 99 by Jean Ure JAN 2021 READ
1996 Junk by Melvyn Burgess FEB 2021 READ
2003 Judge Savage by Tim Parks JAN 2021 READ
2005 Woods, etc. by Alice Oswald FEB 2021 READ
2011 Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch FEB 2021 READ
2013 A Delicate Truth by John Le Carre
2019 A Portable Paradise by Roger Robinson JAN 2021 READ
2020 Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart JAN 2021 READ

14/70

11PaulCranswick
Editado: Feb 20, 6:30am

9. A DANCE TO THE MUSIC OF TIME

Simple one. Anthony Powell's great epic is in twelve novels. One per month.

1. A Question of Upbringing read January 2021

12PaulCranswick
Editado: Feb 20, 7:08am

10. THE 52 BOOK CLUB CHALLENGE

https://www.the52book.club/challenges/2021-reading-challenge/

Week 1 : Set in a school : Tom Brown's Schooldays by Hughes Read 2 Jan 2021
Week 2 : Legal profession : Judge Savage by Tim Parks Read 28 Jan 2021
Week 3 : Dual timeline : Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer Read 29 Jan 2021
Week 4 : Deceased author : Jazz by Toni Morrison READ 30 Jan 2021
Week 5 : Published by Penguin : Junk by Melvyn Burgess READ 3 Feb 2021
Week 6 : Male Family Member : Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch READ 12 Feb 2021
Week 7 : 1 Published Work : A Burning by Megha Majumdar READ 19 Feb 2021
Week 8 : Dewey 900 Class :

13PaulCranswick
Editado: Feb 20, 7:15am

11. REMOVING LAST YEAR'S BUYS FROM MY TBR

Last year I added 300 books to my TBR but read 50 of them. I am carrying forward this 250 books and the rule is that I cannot add more books than I finish from this list of 250 books. If I go over I have to cull something from somewhere else in my other 4,500 book older TBR.
So the number should be lower than 250.

For details of those 250 books see https://www.librarything.com/topic/327695#

Starting 250

Read.
1. Plague 99 by Jean Ure
2. A Lear of the Steppes by Ivan Turgenev
3. The Overnight Kidnapper by Andrea Camilleri
4. Dove on the Water by Maurice Shadbolt
5. A Portable Paradise by Roger Robinson
6. The Other End of the Line by Andrea Camilleri
7. The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
8. Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart
9. The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side by Agatha Christie
10. A Question of Upbringing by Anthony Powell
11. At Bertram's Hotel by Agatha Christie
12. A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf
13. Woods, etc. by Alice Oswald
14. A Burning by Megha Majumdar

Added / Acquired in 2021
26

LESS Acquired in 2021 but read already
1. Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome Added and Read in January 2021

Running Total : 261

14PaulCranswick
Editado: Feb 20, 7:16am

12. POETRY READING

At least one collection per month.

January A Portable Paradise by Roger Robinson
February Woods' etc. by Alice Oswald

15PaulCranswick
Editado: Feb 20, 7:17am

Two other challenges I have been "forced" into:

American Author Challenge : This month I am reading F Scott Fitgerald for the family ties theme

Series Double Headers :
First Half January - MONTALBANO (The Overnight Kidnapper & The Other End of the Line)
Second Half January - MISS MARPLE (The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side & At Betram's Hotel)
First February - PETER GRANT (Rivers of London

16MissWatson
Dic 26, 2020, 3:06am

Welcome back and good luck with your challenges! I like the Queenly ones!

17MissBrangwen
Dic 26, 2020, 3:35am

Wow, these are some interesting challenges!!! Happy reading!!!

18Helenliz
Dic 26, 2020, 5:01am

Hi Paul - lots of fabulous challenges there. Hope you have a good reading year.

19BBGirl55
Dic 26, 2020, 5:02am

Hi Paul. I see you have set up shop!

20dudes22
Dic 26, 2020, 5:55am

Welcome, Paul. I did a Nobel prize winners category this year and read some good books. I'll be watching to see what you choose.

21Jackie_K
Dic 26, 2020, 6:15am

Good luck for your 2021 reading!

22scaifea
Dic 26, 2020, 8:37am

*waves* Hello, Paul!

23PaulCranswick
Dic 26, 2020, 9:02am

>16 MissWatson: Thank you Birgit. I am hopeful this thread will help me stick to my challenges a little better.

>17 MissBrangwen: Thanks Mirjam. Some of the challenges are already ongoing projects - Booker, Nobel, 1001, Pulitzer. Some I have started recently and some set up specifically for next year.
Do perform really well in the challenges I am going to have to finish double the number of books as compared to this year.

24PaulCranswick
Dic 26, 2020, 9:04am

>18 Helenliz: Lovely to see you here, Helen. I did a little better this year than the year before but I always end December gung ho about the coming year!

>19 BBGirl55: If I cannot find you one place, Bryony then I shall track you down in another!

25PaulCranswick
Dic 26, 2020, 9:10am

>20 dudes22: As of now, Betty, I have read 71 of the 117 laureates. Of the remainder I have work by a further sixteen laureates on the shelves.

>21 Jackie_K: Thank you, Jackie. Which part of Bonnie Scotland do you hail from? My eldest daughter studied at Heriot-Watt in Edinburgh and I worked for a spell when I was younger near sunny(!) Thurso.

>22 scaifea: Et tu, Amber?

26NinieB
Dic 26, 2020, 9:14am

Looking forward to seeing all your choices--special interest in Queen Victoria! Welcome!

27scaifea
Dic 26, 2020, 9:42am

>25 PaulCranswick: Yep, I keep a thread over here, too.

28rabbitprincess
Dic 26, 2020, 10:26am

I love the idea of Queen Victoria and Queen Betty reading challenges! Might have to see how my 2020 reading filled those challenges and try to fill the gaps in 2021. Have a great reading year!

29LittleTaiko
Dic 26, 2020, 10:38am

Welcome! I admire your ambition and the fact that you have such an impressive TBR count. Happy reading!

30majkia
Dic 26, 2020, 10:43am

Hi Paul! Good to see your thread here. Hope you and yours are well during this difficult year. Happy Holidays!

31Tess_W
Dic 26, 2020, 12:25pm

Welcome and good luck in your 2021 reading. You have some great categories there!

32DeltaQueen50
Dic 26, 2020, 12:57pm

Hi Paul. It was a lovely surprise to come here this morning and see you have set up a 2021 thread. As always you have lots of fun and ambitious categories!

33Jackie_K
Dic 26, 2020, 4:08pm

>25 PaulCranswick: I live in Stirling at the moment (when I first moved to Scotland I lived in Glasgow), and we're hoping at some point to move further north. Scotland is such a great place to live and visit (I'm not getting paid for this endorsement!).

34PaulCranswick
Dic 26, 2020, 6:11pm

>26 NinieB: Ninie, this is the state of play so far together with my tentative reading plans to fill in all the blanks. Of the 60 I have still to read I have about 50 of them already on the shelves:

1837 THE FRENCH REVOLUTION CARLYLE
1838 THE NARRATIVE OF ARTHUR GORDON PYM POE
1839 THE VOYAGE OF THE BEAGLE DARWIN
1840 THE PATHFINDER COOPER
1841 URSULE MIROUET BALZAC
1842 DEAD SOULS GOGOL
1843 FEAR AND TREMBLING KIERKEGAARD READ DEC 20
1844 CONINGSBY DISRAELI
1845 COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO DUMAS
1846 THE DEVIL'S POOL SAND
1847 EVANGELINE LONGFELLOW
1848 THE HISTORY OF ENGLAND MACAULAY
1849 SHIRLEY BRONTE C
1850 PENDENNIS THACKERAY READ DEC 20
1851 FIFTEEN DECISIVE BATTLES OF THE WORLD CREASY
1852 THE BLITHEDALE ROMANCE HAWTHORNE
1853 CRANFORD GASKELL
1854 WALDEN THOREAU
1855 WESTWARD HO! KINGSLEY
1856 THE DEAD SECRET COLLINS
1857 TOM BROWN'S SCHOOLDAYS HUGHES
1858 DOCTOR THORNE TROLLOPE
1859 OBLOMOV GONCHAROV
1860 MAX HAVELAAR MULTATULI
1861 EAST LYNNE WOOD
1862 LADY AUDLEY'S SECRET BRADDON
1863 THE COSSACKS TOLSTOY
1864 NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND DOSTOEVSKY
1865 OUR MUTUAL FRIEND DICKENS
1866 TOILERS OF THE SEA HUGO
1867 PEER GYNT IBSEN
1868 MALDOROR LAUTREMONT
1869 LORNA DOONE BALLANTYNE
1870 LEAR OF THE STEPPES TURGENEV
1871 THE FORTUNES OF THE ROUGONS ZOLA
1872 IN A GLASS DARKLY LE FANU
1873 AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS VERNE
1874 MIDDLEMARCH ELIOT
1875 EIGHT COUSINS ALCOTT
1876 THE HAND OF ETHELBERTA HARDY
1877 THREE TALES FLAUBERT
1878 THE EUROPEANS JAMES
1879 THE EGOIST MEREDITH
1880 BEN-HUR WALLACE
1881 PRINCE AND THE PAUPER TWAIN Read Dec 20
1882 VICE VERSA ANSTEY
1883 CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA VERGA
1884 AGAINST THE GRAIN HUYSMANS
1885 KING SOLOMON'S MINES HAGGARD
1886 THE HOUSE OF ULLOA BAZAN
1887 THE DEEMSTER CAINE
1888 PLAIN TALES FROM THE HILLS KIPLING
1889 THE MASTER OF BALLANTRAE STEVENSON
1890 NEWS FROM NOWHERE MORRIS
1891 NEW GRUB STREET GISSING
1892 THE CONQUEST OF BREAD KROPOTKIN
1893 MRS WARREN'S PROFESSION SHAW
1894 ESTHER WATERS MOORE
1895 QUO VADIS SIENKIEWICZ
1896 THE COUNTRY OF THE POINTED FIRS JEWETT
1897 THE BEETLE MARSH
1898 THE BLACK CORSAIR SALGARI
1899 SOME EXPERIENCES OF AN IRISH RM SOMERVILLE & ROSS
1900 THREE SISTERS CHEKHOV Read Dec 20

4/64
nb Middlemarch is generally recorded as 1871/2 because it was published as was common then in serial form. According to the Guardian it was first released in a single volume book in 1874.

35PaulCranswick
Dic 26, 2020, 6:14pm

>27 scaifea: Always nice to see familiar faces. Another reason I wanted to also maintain a thread here is that I miss my Guru, Judy.

>28 rabbitprincess: More than welcome to join me on some of the reads. My Queen Betty challenge will focus only on British authors as otherwise it would be too easy! Of course, that doesn't need to be a rule.

36PaulCranswick
Dic 26, 2020, 6:20pm

>29 LittleTaiko: I do have something of a reputation for needing to buy books and but a few years ago was adding 1,000 books a year. Last few years (with my business in straitened circumstances - entirely unrelatedly I promise) it has been down to 200-300 books per year.

Nice to have you drop by, Stacy, I think I'm going to like it here!

>30 majkia: Lovely to "see" you here too, Jean. Since my 2018 and 2019s were so awful, I have actually had a better year this than the last two, but still pretty bad.

37PaulCranswick
Dic 26, 2020, 6:23pm

>31 Tess_W: Five acres of heaven. What a lovely way to describe where you live, Tess. Thanks for making me feel welcome and I'll be around to threads soon to reciprocate the calls.

>32 DeltaQueen50: Please see my comment in >35 PaulCranswick: Judy!

38PaulCranswick
Dic 26, 2020, 6:26pm

>33 Jackie_K: Hahaha, you're last comment shows you must be fitting right in with the Scots, Jackie! xx

Stirling is a lovely part of the world and I have climbed up to the Wallace monument a time or two. For my pains I am a huge Leeds United fan and one of our greatest players - if not the greatest - Billy Bremner - was born in Stirling.

39thornton37814
Dic 26, 2020, 11:47pm

I've got you starred here and there! Have a wonderful year of reading and acquiring!

40PaulCranswick
Dic 27, 2020, 12:13am

>39 thornton37814: I don't star thread at the 75ers because I visit so many threads that there would be far more starred than not. I have starred you here though Lori and will be a little more conservative in my thread hopping here, I think. xx

41ELiz_M
Dic 27, 2020, 7:08am

>34 PaulCranswick: Oooh, there are some fun reads in this list as well as some excellent, but weighty, tomes!

42thornton37814
Dic 27, 2020, 9:59am

>40 PaulCranswick: I read them all, but when I only have a limited amount of time, I visit the starred ones first -- and in cases like this year where I fell dreadfully behind, I make it to the starred ones more frequently. I've been catching up, but I just don't have time to comment on all the threads on which I fell behind either.

43PaulCranswick
Dic 27, 2020, 10:59am

>41 ELiz_M: Thanks for dropping by. I am looking forward to keeping up with the group and my reading too!

>42 thornton37814: Falling behind on the threads does call for a compromise of sorts. I think sometimes you just have to think that you are starting anew and just jump right back in.

44This-n-That
Dic 27, 2020, 5:30pm

Wishing you the best of luck with your ambitious reading plans. Happy New Year and happy reading.

45PaulCranswick
Dic 27, 2020, 7:19pm

>44 This-n-That: Thank you. Do you have a thread I can go and seek out?

46Crazymamie
Dic 27, 2020, 7:22pm

Hoping to do a better job of keeping up with you in 2021, Paul.

47PaulCranswick
Dic 28, 2020, 1:31pm

>46 Crazymamie: 2021 has to be an easier year for all of us, Mamie.

48mstrust
Dic 29, 2020, 1:25pm


Wishing you a happy 2021, Paul!

49kac522
Dic 30, 2020, 3:20am

Welcome, Paul! I find keeping a thread just for my projects/challenges helps me stay focused. Hope it works for you, too.

The challenge for the rest of us mortals will be to keep up with your incredible reading pace and threads! Wish us luck!

50Chrischi_HH
Dic 30, 2020, 5:46am

Welcome and good luck for your reading, Paul! You have an impressive TBR and some really interesting categories. I'll make sure to stop by from time to time and see what you've been reading.

51Jackie_K
Dic 30, 2020, 6:20am

>50 Chrischi_HH: That is an impressive TBR, isn't it? It makes me feel much better about mine, which is just over 400.

52JayneCM
Dic 30, 2020, 6:25am

Your challenges are right up my alley, Paul! I absolutely love a list so I may have to steal some of yours for future years!
I am definitely being slightly less ambitious than you though as I am doing one prize at a time, starting with the Pulitzer. I also have a few other prizes on my list (10 to be precise!) so I will get to them all eventually.
I also have a Read Around The World challenge, but mine is a book set in each country.
I totally love the Queen Victoria and Queen Betty challenges - a fantastic idea!
Looking forward to following along with all your reading.

53hailelib
Dic 30, 2020, 10:11am

You are being ambitious! This thread will be most interesting to follow. Good luck with your categories.

54PaulCranswick
Ene 1, 8:41am

>48 mstrust: Thanks Jennifer, I hope it is a good one for all of us.

>49 kac522: I hope to be a little more laid back here and book focused. Let's see!

55PaulCranswick
Ene 1, 8:46am

>50 Chrischi_HH: Lovely to have you stop by. I am still finding my feet a little and having one 75er year end and another begin can be exhausting, but fun. I will go and seek you out when I get settled.

>51 Jackie_K: One of my challenges this year is to stop it getting any bigger, Jackie. Let's see how that pans out.

56PaulCranswick
Ene 1, 8:49am

>52 JayneCM: Jayne, please feel free to borrow at will. Part of the fun is to share.

>53 hailelib:. I am not prone to a lack of ambition at least! I have made a fair start at least today.

57majkia
Ene 1, 8:59am

Happy New Year!

58PaulCranswick
Ene 1, 9:11am

>57 majkia: Thanks Jean.

59PaulCranswick
Ene 1, 9:12am

BOOKS READ : 1



Plague 99 by Jean Ure

Date of Publication : 1989
Origin of Author : UK
Pages : 218 pp

Challenges:
British Author Challenge (January) 1
Queen Betty Challenge : 2/70

I have to say that I am a little surprised that this book did not receive more attention in 2020 given the subject matter.

Fran goes on a school trip experiencing life without the comforts of modernity only to come back home to find London in the grip of a pandemic (Ure calls it Megademic), her parents dead in their beds and her world changed forever.

It is a survival story both uplifting as well as thought provoking. Very prescient and well observed on the detail of a pandemic writing from 30 years ago:

She was crying again. He wished he could stretch out a hand to comfort her, but one didn't do that sort of thing anymore; not these days. Touching as a way of life was definitely out. pp 102

Recommended, especially for the school syllabus.

60Jackie_K
Ene 1, 10:26am

You've got off to a very relevant start there, Paul!

61thornton37814
Ene 1, 10:34am

>59 PaulCranswick: It's funny how the "plague" reads from last year were all in my top 5 of the year!

62PaulCranswick
Ene 1, 10:41am

>60 Jackie_K: An enjoyable start too Jackie

>61 thornton37814: I think because of the subject matter our minds are possibly more engaged, Lori.

63Tess_W
Ene 1, 10:43am

>59 PaulCranswick: Thanks for the review and the recommendation, Paul. I teach college freshmen and I will check this out.

64PaulCranswick
Ene 1, 10:51am

>63 Tess_W: I think mid teens would really take something from it.

65PaulCranswick
Ene 1, 11:08am

At the start of the new year these MEMES are always flying about. Here is my version based on 2020 reading:

Describe yourself: Absurd Person Singular

Describe how you feel: I'm Not Scared

Describe where you currently live: The Waste Land

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: The Bookshop

Your favorite form of transportation is: Tram 83

Your favorite food is: Girl, Woman Other

Your favorite time of day is: Reading in the Dark

Your best friend is: Taller When Prone

You and your friends are: The World's Two Smallest Humans

What’s the weather like: As it Was

You fear: The Dead and the Living

What is the best advice you have to give: Serve the People

Thought for the day: Oranges are not the only Fruit

What is life for you: The Great Impersonation

How you would like to die: Talking to the Dead

Your soul’s present condition: Unstoppable

What was 2020 like for you? The Worst Hard Time

What do you want from 2021? Fidelity

66dudes22
Ene 1, 11:34am

>65 PaulCranswick: - Some good answers, there.

67rabbitprincess
Ene 1, 12:06pm

>65 PaulCranswick: Totally agree with your "if you could go anywhere" and "what was 2020 like" answers!

68DeltaQueen50
Ene 1, 3:02pm

Congratulations on getting that first book under your belt! I will be very happy when books about plagues becomes science fiction/fantasy again!

69lkernagh
Ene 1, 4:34pm

Hi there, Paul! How lovely to find your thread over here! Wishing you a Happy New year and a 2021 filled with wonderful reading!

70VivienneR
Ene 1, 7:04pm

Hello Paul, it's so lovely to see you here! It will make it easier for me to find you.

>65 PaulCranswick: Your two responses about friends pair very nicely!

Wishing health and happiness in 2021 to you and your family, and Vivienne, of course.

71pammab
Ene 1, 7:20pm

Welcome! Best of luck with all the challenges you've set for yourself.

72PaulCranswick
Ene 1, 7:53pm

>66 dudes22: Thanks Betty

>67 rabbitprincess: I cannot think of anywhere I would rather go in normal times than the bookshop. My absolute favourite would be to see my sick mum in the UK who I haven't seen in a year but, books as in life did not give me that option!

73PaulCranswick
Ene 1, 7:55pm

>68 DeltaQueen50: Good point, Judy. It was written at the end of the nineteen eighties but certainly struck a realistic chord in 2020/1.

>69 lkernagh: Thanks Lori. I suppose I am "blessed" with the thinking that another thread over here will focus my reading!

74PaulCranswick
Ene 1, 7:58pm

>70 VivienneR: You and Judy (plus of course my yen for categories and lists) brought me here, Vivienne. Thanks, as always, for the kind wishes.

>71 pammab: Thank you. I look forward to spending plenty of time here in 2021.

75Tess_W
Ene 1, 10:26pm

>64 PaulCranswick: Well, I still might check it out, anyway!

76kac522
Editado: Ene 2, 4:36am

>59 PaulCranswick: My plague read last year was the novel Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks, set during the 17th century plague in Eyam. It was good until the ending, as I recall.

Your book looks interesting, but I think one plague book is enough for me. This year I'd like to find a good nonfiction book about tracing the source of plagues/epidemics or about vaccines from the past.

77ELiz_M
Ene 2, 10:58pm

>65 PaulCranswick: Ha! You fear the Dead and the Living? Well I fear The Living and the Dead

78PaulCranswick
Ene 3, 1:22am

>75 Tess_W: You should, Tess, I really enjoyed it.

>76 kac522: I found it a useful way to bookend the last year and start the new. Then again I am funny that way.

79PaulCranswick
Ene 3, 1:23am

>77 ELiz_M: Hahaha Elizabeth - tomato and tomato / potato and potato

80PaulCranswick
Ene 3, 1:23am

BOOK # 2



Tom Brown's Schooldays by Thomas Hughes

Date of Publication : 1857
Origin of Author : UK
Pages : 309 pp

Challenges:
British Author Challenge (January) 2
Queen Vic Challenge : 5/64
Fifty-Two Book Challenge : Week 1 - Book set in a school

A period piece certainly but nevertheless an interesting look at what made the British public school system (i.e. elite private schools) what it was. All stiff-upper-lip and not snitching.

Some classic scenes especially featuring the dastardly Flashman (who I would have liked more of) and a good portrait drawn of that arch-Victorian Dr. Arnold the real Head Master of Rugby school, but overall the thought that I got was of a time long gone and how on earth did my small island ever become such an Imperial power!

81PaulCranswick
Ene 3, 9:35am

BOOK # 3



A Lear of the Steppes by Ivan Turgenev

Year of Publication : 1870
Origin of Author : Russia
Number of Pages : 117 pp

Challenges :
Queen Vic Challenge : 1870 6/64
1001 Books First Edition

This wonderfully vivid novella is an recreation in a Russian provincial setting of Shakespeare's play. Martin Petrovich the Lear figure is a tremendously drawn character as his two daughters take full and despicable advantage of his largesse.

A quickish read and a good one.

n.b. The cover is from the actual book as I bought an edition of Turgenev with several of his works inside it.

82Crazymamie
Ene 3, 9:49am

Three books already! You got me with that last one - I love King Lear, so...

83PaulCranswick
Ene 3, 10:42am

>82 Crazymamie: I think you'll like it Mamie. It is very Russian, but very chewable and tells the story very well.

84PaulCranswick
Ene 3, 10:42am

BOOK #4



A Fall from the Sky by Ian Serraillier

Date of Publication : 1966
Origin of Author : UK
Pages : 78 pp

Challenges
BAC Challenge January (3)
Queen Betty Challenge : 1966 3/70

Ian Serraillier was possibly my favourite writer before I found Hammond Innes and Alistair MacLean as a boy. I must have read his books There's No Escape and The Silver Sword umpteen times each.

This is another quick read from a productive weekend and is from my birth year of 1966 and re-tells the Greek myths of Daedalus and his son Icarus. Those familiar with the classics or even Auden's poem Musee des Beaux Arts will know well how it ends and I won't repeat that here.

Some of those Greeks were thoroughly unsavoury characters and Daedalus were certainly no plaster saint.

85majkia
Ene 3, 12:41pm

Wow. Four books already.

Serrallier's name sounds familiar but I can't place from where as I don't recognize any books listed for him.

86MissBrangwen
Ene 3, 3:29pm

Looks like you have a really great start! Well done!

87PaulCranswick
Ene 3, 5:45pm

>85 majkia: Thanks Jean/ His book The Silver Sword is set in wartime Europe about escaping the Nazis and was hugely popular.

>86 MissBrangwen: So far so good, Mirjam!

88DMulvee
Ene 3, 6:43pm

A dance to the music of time is my favourite series of books. If you haven’t read them before, you are in for a treat. However it starts steadily, then builds.

89PaulCranswick
Ene 3, 6:50pm

>88 DMulvee: I haven't read them yet but thought they were ideal to divide for a year long challenge and I have to read all of them just to knock off one book on the 1001 book challenge!

90mstrust
Ene 7, 1:09pm

>83 PaulCranswick: May I steal your description of "chewable"? I feel I could really run with that word.

91PaulCranswick
Ene 8, 10:21pm

>90 mstrust: Hahaha Jennifer; certainly I don't have copyright on it! xx

92Tess_W
Ene 9, 1:06am

>81 PaulCranswick: That's on my TBR pile for this year!

93majkia
Ene 9, 8:13am

It is all your fault, Paul. I finally broke down and bought Dance to the Music of Time: First Movement . I'll try for one a month as well.

94PaulCranswick
Ene 9, 10:51pm

>81 PaulCranswick: It was enjoyable too, Tess.

>93 majkia: We will struggle manfully and womanfully together, Jean!

95PaulCranswick
Ene 9, 10:58pm

BOOK #5



The Overnight Kidnapper by Andrea Camilleri
Date of Publication : 2015
Origin of Author : Italy
Number of Pages : 262 pp

Challenges : Series Double Header Montalbano 1/2 (1/52)
Around the World Challenge : Italy (14)

The 23rd instalment of this wonderful series see our hero continue to worry about the effects of ageing and eating himself splendidly to solve another intricately plotted case.

Girls are kidnapped, chloroformed but left unharmed and a electrical goods premises is burnt to the ground and its proprietor missing. Montalbano and his team Augello, Fazio and the hapless Catarella solve the case which has escalated into a double murder.

Not the place to start your reading of the series but a worthwhile addition to it.

96justchris
Ene 10, 1:51am

Hey Paul, are you finding that participation in both the 75ers and Categories is helping/inspiring you? Have you participated in both simultaneously before?

97JayneCM
Ene 10, 8:19am

>84 PaulCranswick: I loved Ian Serrallier too! I read The Silver Sword many times. But I loved the retellings best - I have always loved myths and legends. My grandfather worked for Oxford University Press and the retellings were published by OUP, so he had them all. I reread them over and over.

98PaulCranswick
Ene 10, 9:15am

>96 justchris: No Chris this is my first attempt to doing two groups at the same time with any seriousness.

I am inspired to meet my reading challenges this year and I am hopeful that the group here is going to focus me sufficiently to do so.

>97 JayneCM: Oh Jayne how marvellous to have had a grandfather who worked for such a publisher. I would have loved that! As I think I may have mentioned Ian Serraillier was a favourite author of mine in my youth.

99PaulCranswick
Ene 10, 9:15am

BOOK #6



Dove on the Waters by Maurice Shadbolt
Date of Publication : 1996
Origin of Author : New Zealand
Pages : 198 pp

Challenges :
Around the World Challenge : New Zealand (15)

Always enjoyed reading Maurice Shadbolt because he was a storyteller first and foremost and I love being told a story. Here thrice so as this is actually three intertwined novellas based upon real events that occurred in the early part of the twentieth century in and around Auckland or involving Auckland natives. From a fake around the world yachtsman to a rich heiress painter to a veteran of the Boer War Shadbolt weaves their stories around the reminisces of an alluring old lady to her authorly platonic amour.

His books are not easy to find over here but they are a joy when unearthed.

100NinieB
Ene 10, 11:38am

>99 PaulCranswick: Have you read Season of the Jew? I have that one on the shelf to read, having visited NZ many years ago and loved it, but I know nothing about Shadbolt.

101PaulCranswick
Ene 10, 6:20pm

>100 NinieB: I haven't read it yet, Ninie. I read Among the Cinders a couple of years ago after buying that in New Zealand on a brilliant family holiday.

102This-n-That
Ene 12, 10:47am

>45 PaulCranswick: Sorry for being tardy in answering your question. I see you found my topic anyway. Thanks for stopping by there and for the New Year's wishes. It looks like you are off and running with your book challenges here. What a great start!

103PaulCranswick
Ene 13, 8:22pm

>102 This-n-That: Yes and i have starred it. x

104mathgirl40
Ene 13, 8:27pm

I'm glad that you decided to join this group. I'm looking forward to following your progress on your challenges.

105markon
Ene 14, 2:41pm

Stopping by to say hello.

106PaulCranswick
Ene 16, 3:52am

>104 mathgirl40: Thank you, Paulina. I will go and seek out your thread too, if you have one.

>105 markon: And always lovely to see you, Ardene. x

107PaulCranswick
Ene 16, 3:57am

BOOK # 7



A Portable Paradise by Roger Robinson

Date of Publication : 2019
Origin of Author : UK
Pages : 81 pp

Challenges :
Queen Betty Challenge : 4/70
2021 Poetry Collections : 1/12

Occasionally a poet and a collection comes along whose fire and articulation are so in twain that the parochial transcends to the universal. This is one such.

Writing in turn about the Grenfell fire disaster, Windrush England, the history of slavery, jazz, faith, belonging and the early struggles for life, it is clear that he is a poet of vision, compassion and well directed anger.

This offers more hope and positivity along with the shaking, clenched fist - something that was missing in the destructively repetitive Terrance Hayes collection last year.

There are many quotable pieces here but I have picked this one.



Heartily recommended.

108Jackie_K
Ene 16, 9:04am

>107 PaulCranswick: What a wonderful poem - I'm adding that book to my wishlist.

109MissBrangwen
Ene 16, 9:19am

Me too! Thanks for sharing that poem.

110PaulCranswick
Ene 16, 2:13pm

>108 Jackie_K: And I could have picked any one of a dozen and probably gotten a similar response, Jackie.

>109 MissBrangwen: It is pretty good, isn't it?!

111Tess_W
Ene 16, 4:39pm

>107 PaulCranswick: I'm not a poetry reader, but I do like that one!

112PaulCranswick
Ene 19, 1:48pm

>111 Tess_W: I think that he can appeal to none poetry fans too, Tess.

113PaulCranswick
Ene 22, 8:03am

BOOK #8



The Other End of the Line by Andrea Camilleri
Date of Publication : 2016
Origin of Author : Italy
Pages : 293 pp

Challenges:
Series Pair : 1/26

The 24th edition of this wonderful series and, I think, one of the best. Great characters and tremendously plotted. Montalbon's elegant and attractive tailor (yes, it is a lady) is viciously murdered on her premises stabbed with the scissors of her trade umpteen times but her marvellous breasts and left untouched. Intertwined with tales of refugees being rescued and landed in Sicily, Camilleri's humour and topicality are as on point as ever.

Very sad to read his postscript whereby he thanks Valentina Alferj for helping him with book, editing and taking it down due to his now being blind. He hoped for more books to follow and thankfully he left us a few more gems to admire before he went to that finest Trattoria in the sky.

114dudes22
Ene 22, 1:07pm

>113 PaulCranswick: - I am SO far behind in this series. Nice to know I've got plenty ahead to enjoy.

115thornton37814
Ene 22, 4:42pm

>113 PaulCranswick: That is a sad postscript. I'm glad he had someone to help.

116PaulCranswick
Ene 23, 11:18am

>114 dudes22: It is a wonderful series.

>115 thornton37814: Yes, Lori and it contrasted with the good humour of the novel itself.

117PaulCranswick
Ene 23, 11:18am

BOOK # 9



The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Date of Publication : 2019
Origin of Author : USA
Pages : 208 pp

Challenges
Pulitzer Prize Winners : 2020 (1st of year 17th in all)

Still a little breathless and emotionally spent after closing the book.

Elwood Curtis showed every sign of overcoming difficult circumstances with a college degree. Unfortunately he took a ride in the wrong car and wound up at the Nickel Reformatory. He became a Nickel Boy.

Roughly based on true events this angry but finely hewn piece of literature will stay with me for a long time. A deserving winner of the Pulitzer and highly recommended.

It contained a plot twist that I was pleased to be a clever clogs and guess correctly.

118Tess_W
Ene 23, 11:30am

>117 PaulCranswick: This is on my TBR, need to move it up!

119MissBrangwen
Ene 23, 12:44pm

>117 PaulCranswick: >>118 Tess_W: On mine, too! I've only heard the best things about this book.

120DeltaQueen50
Ene 23, 5:07pm

Hi Paul, although I have at least three of his books on my shelf, I have been woefully neglectful of Colson Whitehead. I hope to get one of his this year - and it looks like The Nickel Boys would be a good choice. :)

121PaulCranswick
Ene 23, 9:44pm

>118 Tess_W: I was not expecting to be wowed Tess to the degree I was.

>119 MissBrangwen: In all fairness of all my friends on LT, I have never seen a review below 4 stars.

122PaulCranswick
Ene 23, 9:46pm

>120 DeltaQueen50: I haven't read him before either, Judy and The Nickel Boys looked less forbidding than The Underground Railroad. I made a great decision.

123PaulCranswick
Ene 23, 9:46pm

Book # 10



Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
Date of Publication : 1930
Origin of Author : UK
Pages : 501 pp

Challenges :
British Author Challenge (January Children's Classics) 4th of 2021

Very much a nautical period piece and I cannot see many children of today being as rapt in its pages as the generation it was written for.

That said there is an immediacy and poignancy about the story that drives it forward and which makes it an evergreen almost. Long summer holidays for the middle classes in the English Lake District and two sets of children take to the water - conquering islands on the lakes, defending against imagined pirates and being faced with the mystery of why Uncle Jim / Captain Flint seems to be cross with them.

Glad I read it and pleased I won't have to read it again. I would have liked this much better forty years ago. Then again the England of 40 years ago was a different country to now.

124kac522
Ene 23, 9:49pm

>124 kac522: Too bad it was disappointing--I rather like the cover art! Can't judge a book...

125PaulCranswick
Editado: Ene 23, 9:51pm

>124 kac522: Not so disappointing Kathy- it is just that it is very much of its time. It is what I expected it to be.

126dudes22
Ene 24, 6:01am

>117 PaulCranswick: - I've read The Underground Railroad and liked it a lot. Although I've heard good things about this, I've been putting it off as I suspect from what friends here on LT have said that it will be very disturbing.

127thornton37814
Ene 24, 11:30am

>123 PaulCranswick: I think I looked for that one for BAC and couldn't find it in a library. Maybe I'll eventually be somewhere I can read it.

128Chrischi_HH
Ene 24, 2:09pm

>117 PaulCranswick: This is definitely a book bullet for me. I haven't read anything by Colson Whitehead yet, and this seems to be a good starting point.

>123 PaulCranswick: Even though this is dated, I'm thinking about adding this to my list as well. Can you book set in the Lake District be "bad"? I love that area!

129PaulCranswick
Ene 25, 7:15am

>126 dudes22: It is superbly done and the bits that appall do appall but not gratuitously so.

>127 thornton37814: I almost read it on Open Library, Lori as I was getting impatient of its delivery. They would have a copy for you to read online.

>128 Chrischi_HH: Looked to me less daunting than The Underground Railroad. Really good novel IMHO.

I do love the Lake District too but I didn't get that much sense of the place from the book to be honest.

130PaulCranswick
Ene 25, 7:15am

BOOK # 11



Carrie's War by Nina Bawden

Date of Publication : 1973
Origin of Author : UK
Pages : 211 pp

Challenges :
British Author Challenge : January Children's Classics : 5th book
Queen Betty Challenge : 1973 (5/70)

What a tremendous novel. Carrie and her brother Nick are evacuated from war torn London to the Welsh valleys and stay with stern shopkeeper Mr Evans and his timid sister Lou. Dilys Evans married the son of the mine owner in whose mine Mr. Evans father was killed and brother and sister are estranged. The now ailing Dilys staying at the mysterious farmhouse of Druid's Bottom with its interesting inhabitants.

A fine story but its themes are important ones; the effect of guilt on one's life, loyalty, belonging and family ties are carefully marbled through this tale replete with wonderful characters. Bawden's superbly balanced consideration of Mr Evans is beautifully done.

Heartily recommended.


131thornton37814
Ene 25, 9:48am

>129 PaulCranswick: I think I found an Enid Blyton (and maybe a few others) on Project Gutenberg last night.

133PaulCranswick
Ene 26, 4:44am

BOOK # 12



Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

Date Published : 2020
Origin of Author : UK (now also US)
Pages : 430 pp

Challenges :
Booker Prize Winners : 2020 - 1st in 2021 (32/56)
Queen Betty Challenge : (6/70)

I really have finished some tremendous books this week!

Apparently based on Stuart's own upbringing, Shuggie is a little bit different and doesn't entirely fit in in the mean streets of Glasgow. Everybody hard as nails and sectarianism prevails to the extent that blue or green is the difference between a pat on the back or a kick in the balls.

But the real joy and sadness of this brilliant first novel is the love between the son and his flawed and broken mother, Agnes. Serially cheated and abused and abandoned by her husband, her drinking worsens and every false dawn reveals a darker day. We know this is not going to end well but we will her to beat the odds as does the son and just as unrealistically.

I found it slow going but vivid and rewarding. It shows people at their best and their worst. It is real and it is believable. One of the very best Booker winners I have read.

134PaulCranswick
Ene 29, 7:03am

BOOK #13



Judge Savage by Tim Parks
Date of Publication : 2003
Origin of Author : UK
Pages : 442 pp

Challenges :
Queen Betty Challenge : 7/70
52 Book Challenge : Legal Profession 2/52

Can we escape our past? Does an elevation to the Judiciary make us judicial or even above the law?

This is an erudite and complicated novel about the mores of a black solicitor elevated for politics as well as his ability to the bench. He is a flawed individual, a weak womanizer with a family straining against collapse.

Parks makes us in turns horrified and then sympathetic to him. Parks certainly understood his characters better than I did and I did not particularly like any of them. A pretty good novel all told but I hope not all judges have the same private lives as this fellow.

135PaulCranswick
Ene 29, 7:05am

BOOK #14



The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side by Agatha Christie
Date Published : 1962
Origin of Author : UK
Pages : 280 pp

Challenges :
Series Pair : 1st part of 2nd series
Queen Betty Challenge : 8/70

The one with the Tennyson quote.

I did manage to get this one reasonably early but ingenious none the less. Jane Marple is starting to feel her age and has the irritating Miss Knight ministering to her needs in a most condescending manner.

A film star has moved in at the nearby Victorian Hall and disaster strikes at a fete to raise money for charity. Too many coincidences by far but great fun anyway.

136rabbitprincess
Ene 29, 9:14am

>135 PaulCranswick: One of my favourite Marples! On my last re-read I watched both the Joan Hickson and the Angela Lansbury adaptations afterward -- interesting to see how each treated the source material, and particularly what was changed to fit the story into the feature film length of the Lansbury adaptation.

137mstrust
Ene 29, 10:43am

That's the one based loosely on Gene Tierney. I liked it, and the filmed adaptions, I've watched two one hour docs about Christie's life in the last couple of days.

138PaulCranswick
Ene 30, 2:08am

>136 rabbitprincess: It is a good one isn't it? I haven't see Lansbury as Marple funnily enough but I'm sure that she can also pull it off.

>137 mstrust: I love Gene Tierney. She was completely gorgeous back in the day.

139PaulCranswick
Ene 30, 2:09am

BOOK #15



Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer
Date of Publication : 1969
Origin of Author : UK
Pages : 227 pp

Challenges
BAC : 6th book of the year
52 Book Challenge : Dual Timeline (3/52)
Queen Betty Challenge : 1969 (9/70)

A big thank you to Amanda for a tremendous pick for her first BAC selection. I have never read 6 BAC books in a month.

Charlotte is at school and sleeps in a bed on wheels by the window of her dorm. She wakes up the following day and has been transported back 40 years in time to the dying days of the Great War.

I am getting good at these things now and guess most of the plot twists but the getting there was fun.

140Tess_W
Ene 30, 6:33am

>14 PaulCranswick: on my TBR for this year!

141rabbitprincess
Ene 30, 10:26am

>138 PaulCranswick: She does! I wish she had done more Marples, but I guess it was good practice for Murder She Wrote.

The Mirror Crack'd also has lots of other great people in the cast: Kim Novak, Elizabeth Taylor, Tony Curtis, Geraldine Chaplin (daughter of Charlie) and Rock Hudson.

142thornton37814
Ene 31, 2:51pm

>139 PaulCranswick: The one thing I learned is that I've read most of the British children's book classics in our academic library. I kept looking for some of the ones I expected to be there, but they just weren't there. Since we rarely weed that area, I would have expected more. I knew recent ones weren't likely to be there since the curriculum library in another building purchases more--and we focus on Caldecott and Newbery honor and medalist books--but I was surprised we had so little classic British children's literature.

143luvamystery65
Feb 5, 6:11pm

Popping in to say howdy Paul. Looks like you have had a nice start to the year in the reading department. May the rest of your year be the same.

144PaulCranswick
Feb 6, 12:45am

>140 Tess_W:

>14 PaulCranswick: You mean A Portable Paradise, Tess? It is very good.

>141 rabbitprincess: That is a stellar cast! I really liked Geraldine Chaplin.

>142 thornton37814: For my part, Lori, I don't have so much exposure to the American children's classics.

>143 luvamystery65: Lovely to see you, Ro. I have missed you loads!

145Tess_W
Feb 6, 5:55am

>144 PaulCranswick: LOL Not sure what I meant, but I did put Charlotte Sometimes on my WL.

146thornton37814
Feb 7, 10:48am

>144 PaulCranswick: I also found it was very hard to find lists of children's books separated out by the author's country. Some of my searches for British children's books turned up books which started out as Swedish or German. Strange! I guess I should have looked for a published bibliography, but we probably lacked it too.

147PaulCranswick
Feb 20, 5:27am

>145 Tess_W: A very good book indeed, Tess.

>146 thornton37814: You are at a disadvantage to me, Lori, with British children's classics given my own background. I didn't find it too hard to find book options to be honest.

148PaulCranswick
Feb 20, 5:28am

Been away from my thread for a couple of weeks for which I apologise. I have plenty to do to catch up and will also go to some threads this weekend.

149PaulCranswick
Editado: Feb 20, 5:51am

BOOK #16



Jazz by Toni Morrison
Date of Publication : 1992
Origin of Author : USA
Pages : 229

Challenges :
1001 Book First Ed : 2 (306)
52 Book Challenge : Deceased Author (4/52)

What a fine writer Toni Morrison was and how thoroughly she deserved her Nobel accolade. Some of the descriptive prose in this novel is close to breathtaking.

The quality of the writing slightly makes up for a slightly disjointed story and a back and forth narrative that works in some parts better than others.

Joe Trace is a salesman of ladies wants and with a marriage gone stale he wants a lady. He finds one in the shape of Dorcas a girl thirty years his junior who falls for him but is in thrall to the new music and its finest young exponents. We know from the beginning that this ends badly and then Morrison takes us on the journey there.

Sad story of the Harlem jazz age.

150PaulCranswick
Feb 20, 5:52am

BOOK #17



A Question of Upbringing by Anthony Powell
Date of Publication : 1951
Origin of Author : UK
Pages : 230 pp

Challenges :
Dance to the Music of Time (1/12)

I always read the reviews page for the book to see what my contemporaries think about the book I have just read and to order my own thoughts. I was struck by James' (my old friend eyejaybee) comment in his otherwise enthusiastic review that it is a novel in which nothing much really happens and this is probably true on a surface level. I was charmed though by the authenticity of some the school japes and the beautifully observed incidents during Jenkins visits to his friends homes and in France.

I was also struck by the fact that my own favourite reviewer, Bonnie, tells of being drawn in by the writing. It was effortless, anecdotal and sublime.

Finally I was very much aware that this first "movement" is something of a scene setter or marker for the lives that are to be considered as we move along. It does this well but I am not sure that it would have quite worked as the stand alone it then was in 1951.

I am looking forward to part 2 in February.

151PaulCranswick
Feb 20, 5:54am

BOOK #18



Junk by Melvyn Burgess
Date Published : 1996
Origin of Author : UK
Pages : 278 pp

Challenges:
British Author Challenge : 7 books
52 Book Challenge : Published by Penguin (5/52)
Queen Betty Challenge : 10/70

Winner of Carnegie Medal for Children's Fiction and a view of runaway children in Bristol, living in squats, taking heroin, cottaging, prostitution, shoplifting and the failure to reach maturity with increasing years.

Don't want to be hyper critical because the tale is a powerful one but his drawing of the main female character was utterly unsympathetic and I am sorry to say her perspectives are obviously written by a man.

Certainly not my favourite read of the year and I will not be recommending this to others and most especially not to Kyran and Ysabelle.

152PaulCranswick
Feb 20, 5:56am

BOOK #19



The Great Fire by Monica Dickens
Date of Publication : 1970
Origin of Author : UK
Pages : 64 pp

Challenges :
BAC - 8 books
Queen Betty Challenge (11/70)

Monica Dickens was the great-granddaughter of Chuckles and one of my favourite authors when I was a young boy borrowing books from the school library. This is a much re-read story of how a young boatman, his dog and his master's daughter survive the Great Fire of London in 1666.

As I recall I won the book at school as a prize for history or english (I cannot remember which) as the book was given to me 44 years ago.

153PaulCranswick
Feb 20, 5:57am

BOOK # 20



At Bertram's Hotel by Agatha Christie
Date of Publication : 1965
Origin of Author : UK
Number of Pages : 265 pp

Challenges
Series Pair Challenge : Miss Marple 2/2 (2/26)

Implausible but entertaining.

Miss Marple by now as old as the hills takes something of a back seat in this one as she visits Bertram's Hotel for a holiday that does not provide the R&R she expected. Chief Inspector Davy is to the fore in this one and is a good creation to be fair.

Not prime Dame Agatha but worth reading.

154PaulCranswick
Feb 20, 5:58am

BOOK #21



A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf
Date of Publication : 1929
Origin of Author : UK
Pages : 153 pp

Challenges
British Author Challenge : LBGT Authors - 1 (9th total)

I have always had a problem with reading Virginia Woolf. So little happens and that meandering stream of consciousness stuff generally ties my tired brain in knots. Well ,based on this, something of a reappraisal is in order because this feminist text is wonderful.

The basic premise is that woman needs independence of thought and especially means in order to attain parity of literary and life achievement. The independence of access to the fullest education is also emphasised and the image drawn of Woolf being hounded off the college campus premises by the Beadles is a vivid one and illustrative too. Her prose allowed full rein in this format is a thing of distinct beauty.

One very acute observation she makes towards the end of the essay is that the greatest of writers are androgynous. Shakespeare, Keats , Sterne, Cowper, Coleridge and Lamb with Shelley described as "sexless". George Eliot joined Kipling and Galsworthy as being too masculine as writers and Charlotte Bronte too feminine.

Recommended.

155PaulCranswick
Feb 20, 6:00am

BOOK #22



Bury the Dead by Peter Carter
Date of Publication : 1987
Origin of Author : UK
Pages : 374 pp

Challenges :
British Author Challenge : Children's Classics - 10 BAC book
Queen Betty Challenge : 11th book (12/70)

Very interesting book. Set in East Germany in the 1980s, Erika is a budding high jump star, her parents both government officials and the Grandmother's bloodline is of the Prussian nobility. When the Grandmother's long lost brother makes an appearance their lives will be changed forever.

Gives a remarkably even handed view of the two Germanys - what was good and laudable about the old GDR and what were its faults. Carter does a good job of having us care for this family and hope that they are not ruined by forces beyond them.

Over long for a YA novel but I enjoyed it.

156PaulCranswick
Feb 20, 6:01am

BOOK #23



Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
Date of Publication : 2011
Origin of Author : UK
Pages : 390 pp

Challenges :
Queen Betty Challenge : 12 (13/70)
Series Pair Challenge : Book 1 of the the Peter Grant Series (5/52)
52 Book Challenge : Book with a male family member (Peter, my twin) : (6/52)

Certainly a departure from the run of the mill police procedural. Peter Grant, a sort of youthful Obama looking probationary policeman realises his witness in a grisly murder case is ghost. He is recruited into a special section of the "Met" that deals with keeping the supernatural in check or balance under the wing of Nightingale (pun of course intended).

This first instalment sees him start to learn his "trade" as well as attempt to resolve his first big case.

Not exactly high-brow writing but the narrative has a force of its own and is enjoyable enough for me to look forward to next week and the second episode.

157PaulCranswick
Feb 20, 6:01am

BOOK #24



Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
Date of Publication : 1873
Origin of Author : France
Number of Pages : 242 pp

Challenges :
1001 Books : 3 in 2021 (307 total)
Queen Vic Challenge : 1873 (7/64)

First and foremost : where is the balloon?

One of the original rollicking adventure stories with unforgettable characters Phileas Fogg, Passepartout, Inspector Fix and the ravishing Aouda. It is obvious why this story has such an enduring and endearing appeal to boys and girls of ages between 8 and 80.

158PaulCranswick
Feb 20, 6:02am

BOOK # 25



Woods, etc. by Alice Oswald
Date of Publication : 2005
Origin of Author : UK
Pages : 56 pp

Challenges :
Poetry Collections : 2/12
Queen Betty Challenge : 13 (14/70)

Sometimes we have to admit when a poet is simply far to clever for us. Oswald is often on a plane removed and I cannot make head or tail of some of her work in absolute honesty.

She is capable of crystallising words and emotion in an ephemeral manner that is profound but she managed it on too rare an occasion here. She is very much a writer of the countryside - the woodland ways, the river banks, the stones, the moon and stars. She can also fall into imitation and there was a fair bit of poor woman's Hughes here too. Four or five excellently polished pieces make this worth the price of the book including "Field" and the wonderful "Five Fables of a Length of Flesh". Also this one:

Wood Not Yet Out

closed and containing everything, the land
leaning all round to block it from the wind,
a squirrel sprinting in startles and sees
sections of distance tilted through the trees
and where you jump the fence a flap of sacking
does for a stile, you walk through webs, the cracking
bushtwigs break their secrecies, the sun
vanishes up, instantly come and gone.
once in, you hardly notice as you move,
the wood keeps lifting up its hope, I love
to stand among the last trees listening down
to the releasing branches where I've been -
the rain, thinking I've gone, crackles the air
and calls by name the leaves that aren't yet there

Alice Oswald is supremely gifted but this wasn't her at her very best or is it just that I am not smart enough to follow her meandering ways?

159PaulCranswick
Feb 20, 6:04am

BOOK # 26



Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg
Date of Publication : 2015
Origin of Author : USA
Pages : 293 pp

Challenges :
None but a shared read with my pal Kimmers.

First thing I noticed about this book when it was up for awards was why the title has no question mark. I think I get it now having read it but the author was still missing punctuation - he should have affixed an exclamation mark.

Her family goes up in flames on the eve of her daughters wedding and June's life is in tatters. Clegg uses that trusty Faulknerian device of telling the story from several viewpoints and it is both effective as well as emotionally wrought.

Even that his method is different, Bill Clegg is taking up some of the space left by the passing of Kent Haruf. This is small town America and universal themes impacting otherwise fairly normal lives.

It is also a very fine debut novel.

160PaulCranswick
Feb 20, 6:05am

BOOK # 27



A Burning by Megha Majumdar
Date of Publication : 2020
Origin of Author : India
Pages : 289 pp

Challenges :
Around the World Reading : 3 (16)
52 Book Club Challenge : Single book published 7/52

A nameless state in India but Bengal is indicated is a state where the minority muslims are downtrodden, oppressed and would be best accepting their lot in life quietly.

Jivan is a young lady from the slums. She has set about improving herself despite hiccups. She can read and has a job and is slowly gaining a little independence. A careless social media post will result in her destruction after she is falsely implicated in a terrorist attack on a passing train.

PT Sir is a school teacher of Physical Education for girls. He falls under the sway of a new and radical Hindu party which will have him question his scruples for the power it offers him.

Lovely is a trans budding actress who can provide an alibi to Jivan.

The book is a sometimes crude examination of corruption and the corruption of power as well as the impotence of the have-nots in India told largely from the differing perspectives of the three main characters.

There is much to admire in this debut novel and Ms. Majaumdar is someone whose forthcoming work I shall look out for. That this debut was flawed and had parts which could have perhaps been expressed better is true but on balance this is still a very good book, telling an important story.

161Jackie_K
Feb 20, 8:35am

You've been doing some fine reading these last couple of weeks, Paul!

Have to say I agree with you about Alice Oswald. The poetry is both beautiful and leaves me feeling a bit dim for not getting it!

162rabbitprincess
Feb 20, 9:13am

Hurray, Rivers of London! It is such a fun series. Your mentioning it prompted me to check if the library had obtained the recent short story collection Tales from the Folly, and they had, so thanks for that :)

163MissBrangwen
Feb 20, 9:15am

>156 PaulCranswick: >162 rabbitprincess: Rivers of London is a series I still need to get to! My husband loves it and I've always been intrigued by the covers.

164PaulCranswick
Feb 20, 11:42am

>161 Jackie_K: Exactly my feeling with this collection in particular, Jackie.

>162 rabbitprincess: It is not my normal type of reading but I think "fun" is exactly the right description of it.

>163 MissBrangwen: I am a lover of maps and they do a good job of pretending to be maps.

165Tess_W
Feb 20, 11:52am

A lot of good reading! I'm checking out the one set in India.

166Chrischi_HH
Feb 20, 11:59am

You've read some intersting books over the past few weeks. I added Shuggie Bain to my wishlist, the 1980s Glasgow setting sounds promising. And I'm also one of the reader who have yet to get to the Rivers of London series. So I'll follow along and see what you think of the next entries. :)

167DeltaQueen50
Feb 20, 12:07pm

Hi Paul. Lots of interesting reading going on here. I read the first two books in the Rivers of London series, but it didn't hold my attention enough for me to continue on after that. I have A Burning on my TBR and it sounds like a very interesting read to look forward to and I remember also being amazed that there was no balloon in Around the World in 80 Days - I guess the movies gave us that image.

168PaulCranswick
Feb 20, 12:54pm

>165 Tess_W: It met with some success this last year, Tess and made quite a few end of year best of lists.

>166 Chrischi_HH: I can imagine that the premise will continue in much the same vein. It is fun and not just a little laconic and I imagine, if suitably rationed, can avoid becoming irritating.

>167 DeltaQueen50: There is a danger with the Grant series that he starts regurgitating variations on themes but so far so good, Guru.

The balloon is on the front cover too for heaven's sake!

169mstrust
Feb 20, 1:17pm

Lots of good reads, Paul! I loved Around the World in 80 Days, and Rivers of London is waiting on my shelf. I have a soft spot for At Bertram's Hotel because it introduced me to Brown's, such a pretty and quintessentially English hotel.

170PaulCranswick
Feb 21, 12:08am

>169 mstrust: Lovely to see you over here, Jennifer. I am enjoying my reading this year. I used to stay at the Russell in London because I fancied myself as a poet back in the day. Had an awful experience there when I proudly took Hani just after we married and I do want to change my hotel there now!

171VivienneR
Feb 21, 4:29pm

>133 PaulCranswick: Beautiful review of Shuggie Bain, Paul. I am tempted to go back and move my rating up a tad because I've been thinking so much of Shuggie since reading it.

Reading your thread takes so long because I have to go check on sources for all the books I'd like to read (some are actually on my own shelves). You always increase my tbr and wishlist significantly.

172PaulCranswick
Feb 22, 7:39am

>171 VivienneR: Shuggie Bain is a strange one, Vivienne, because it took me ages to read which is normally a bad sign but I thought it best digested in chewable chunks.

I have been so lucky since joining LT that so many members of the 75ers, this group and the Green Dragon have put me on to so many books I would otherwise not ventured to. One of the things I most like about the site - that and being able to meet so many lovely like-minded individuals. xx

173VivienneR
Feb 22, 3:41pm

>192 One of the things I most like about the site - that and being able to meet so many lovely like-minded individuals

That's exactly how I feel too. When I come across an unfamiliar book or author, I know I can rely on the opinion of an LT friend. When I add a book I'm happy to see your name in the field for members who also own the book.

174dudes22
Feb 22, 4:05pm

>172 PaulCranswick: - I had the same "reaction" to Shuggie Bain. I needed to take a break now and then too.

175PaulCranswick
Feb 22, 6:42pm

>173 VivienneR: I can have a little bit of a scatter gun approach to buying books, Vivienne, which having 5,000 unread books in the house is more a symptom of magpie tendencies than great taste! x

You will be pleased to note that your namesake is again out of hospital after facing down COVID. She said it was a piece of cake after four lots of cancer!

>174 dudes22: I'm not sure what it was about the book because it did have a good narrative drive. A heavy subject matter, perhaps.

176VivienneR
Feb 23, 12:58am

>175 PaulCranswick: My namesake Vivienne must be superwoman! I'm so happy that she is home from hospital again. And I'm sorry, if you mentioned that she was ill again and suffering from COVID I missed it. Congratulations Vivienne! Girl of the Year! My best wishes for her continued good health.

I have an alarming number of unread books too, Paul. But I am able to keep a lot of them secret in ebook and audiobook format. Sneaky, eh?

About having to take breaks while reading Shuggie Bain, my reading style was the opposite, rushing through it - maybe in the hope of finding good news.

177christina_reads
Feb 23, 11:32am

>157 PaulCranswick: It's so funny to me that Around the World in 80 Days always has a hot-air balloon on the cover, when there is actually no travel by hot-air balloon in the book! My guess is because it's often published in a single volume with Five Weeks in a Balloon.

178PaulCranswick
Feb 23, 12:27pm

>176 VivienneR: She is certainly stronger than I ever believed, Vivienne.

I haven't even bothered cataloguing all the stuff I have on my kindle (which I don't really use) or the number would be seriously alarming!

179PaulCranswick
Feb 23, 12:28pm

>177 christina_reads: That would help, Christina, but the book I read was a stand-alone.

180Helenliz
Feb 23, 2:07pm

>177 christina_reads: I've always assumed it was a hot air ballon features in the film. So we all believe that it's in there somewhere.

181PaulCranswick
Feb 24, 5:11am

>180 Helenliz: I certainly expected it to be in there, Helen. It is on the cover for heaven's sake and if I was someone with a penchant for hot air balloons I would have been extremely disappointed!

182thornton37814
Mar 1, 12:49pm

Checking in! I got behind on threads this past week. I see you read a few classics and some recent award nominees.

183markon
Mar 1, 1:07pm

Congratulations to Vivienne on getting home from the hospital!

184Tess_W
Mar 3, 8:44am

Glad your Vivienne is home!