Women Read Women Update 5


At the end of March, I set myself a personal reading challenge. So, how did I do in August?

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Bonjour Tristesse


Read 30/08/2016-31/08/2016

Rating: 4 stars

Read for The Reader’s Room Olympic Challenge

The cover of this translation of Françoise Sagan’s classic coming of age tale has a quote that calls it thoroughly immoral. The back of the book tells me that it scandalised 1950s France with the main character’s rejection of conventional notions of love.

What was love like in 1950s France, then? What’s immoral about finding pleasure in desire and enjoyment in sex?

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Read 22/08/2016-28/08/2016

Rating: 3 stars

Read for the Reader’s Room Olympic Challenge

A while ago, I read John Dougill’s book about the Hidden Christians of Japan, in which the author goes on a pilgrimage of sorts to understand the history of Christianity in Japan. Dougill refers to Endō’s novel Silence. I was reminded of it when I read that Martin Scorsese was directing a film adaptation of the novel. And so, I bought myself a copy. Continue reading

Who Fears Death


Read 19/08/2016-21/08/2016

Rating: 4 stars

I read about this book on The Reader’s Room and instantly wanted to read it. I had to reserve it through the union catalogue for libraries in the Greater Manchester area. I learned from this experience that Trafford Libraries are better at managing their stock than Manchester City Libraries when I had an email to say the book was ready for me to pick up only for the library to have lost it. (This has happened a second time, so not an isolated incident. Get your act together Manchester.)

After a second attempt to reserve it, the book eventually came in a few weeks ago. I devoured it over a couple of days. It was every bit as good as I was expecting it to be. Continue reading

Vertigo (W G Sebald)


Read 15/08/2016 to 18/08/2016

Rating: 5 stars

Read for The Reader’s Room Olympic Challenge

I’ve been meaning to read some Sebald for a while. I know next to nothing about him, save that other writers whose work I admire speak warmly of him. I read his bio at the start of Vertigo, of course, and learnt that he studied in Manchester and taught at the University in the 1960s. I can be very partisan at times, and learning that someone made Manchester their home, however briefly, makes me warm to them.

Vertigo starts with a veteran of an alpine march led by Napoleon in 1800 reminiscing thirty-six years later about his experiences in the armed services. Continue reading

The Art of War


Read 11/08/2016-14/08/2016

Rating: 3 stars

Read for The Reader’s Room Olympic Challenge

Many years ago, a man I knew told me that I needed to read The Art of War. His reasoning was that I lacked guile and needed a strategy to overcome certain workplace related obstacles. I didn’t listen to him because he was a little paranoid. I also don’t like office politics and the only strategy I need is to be myself, do what I’m good at and enjoy it.

I downloaded a free epub copy of The Art of War not too long ago and I decided to tackle it for the reading challenge I’m doing. It’s an academic edition of the book, so I’ve approached it as such. Continue reading

Comrades in Miami


Read 05/08/2016-11/08/2016

Rating: 1 star

Read for The Reader’s Room Olympic Challenge

How a book that’s only 344 pages long can feel like it’s going on forever is one of life’s mysteries, isn’t it? Or is that just me? I thought this book would never end. Since I was only reading it for a reading challenge which is team based, I didn’t feel as though I could abandon it, much as I wanted to throw it in the bin. Continue reading

The Investigation


Read 31/07/2016-05/08/2016

Rating: 4 stars

Read for The Reader’s Room Olympic Challenge

On the face of it, The Investigation is a murder mystery set in a Japanese prison during the Second World War. It’s more than that, though. It’s a reflection on literature’s power to imprison, to set free, and to sustain. It’s an examination of identity, how individuals define themselves in relation to others and to notions of nationality and culture. It’s a history lesson of sorts about Japanese treatment of Koreans. It’s a beautifully crafted work, full of poetry and grace. The use of literature to underpin the story is compelling. If I have any criticism it’s that sometimes the writing becomes stilted, when the author stops talking about the personal and starts trying to make a point about the wider context of the characters’ lives, and that the resolution to the murder mystery was slightly ridiculous. Continue reading