Rating 5 stars
The Elegance of the Hedgehog is the story of the intellectual and philosophical engagements with life of two residents of a Parisian apartment building. Renée Michel is the widowed concierge of the building and Paloma Josse the 12 year old daughter of one of its residents. I bought the book a little more than three years ago but haven’t felt any urge to pick it up.
Rating 4 stars
I read the first book in Virginie Despentes’s trilogy about a down-on-his-luck former record dealer earlier this autumn. I enjoyed its mercurial plot and its shallow characters enough to ask my local library to buy volume two. Continue reading
Rating 4 stars
The first book in Virginie Despentes’s trilogy about a down-on-his-luck former record dealer is a domino effect romp through the music world and its parallel den of vainglorious excess, the French film industry. The title character, Vernon Subutex, has in his possession a set of video tapes in which Alex Bleach, a recently deceased rock star, interviews himself and shares his wisdom with the world. Continue reading
Rating: 4 stars
I first read Camus’s The Fall in sixth form. I took General Studies as an extra A-Level because I’d had to give up some subjects I loved and GS gave me the chance to pretend I was still studying them. We had time with teachers from a range of subjects, and our English teacher came armed with a list of authors that I’m ever grateful for meeting. Margaret Atwood, Anita Brookner, Julian Barnes, Michael Frayn. Her aim was to make us read widely and contemporarily.
The Fall was less contemporary and while I enjoyed it, I’d say that aged 17, I didn’t have the life experience I needed to understand it. Continue reading
Rating: 2 stars
I picked this up thanks to the great review on Brontë’s Page Turners. Brontë’s reflections on the book and the librarians she has known piqued my curiosity.
It’s a confusing book, in that it had me despising and then agreeing with the central character as though I were an indecisive fool easily swayed by specious argument. Continue reading
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?
Rating: 3 stars
This book has been on my shelf for almost a decade. People who think about what archives are and what archiving is refer to it a lot. I was at a conference recently about the role of research in museums, and I found myself thinking about my own attitude to research, and to reflection. I came to the conclusion that I am a do-er rather than a thinker. I would rather do the practical job of being an archivist, gaining satisfaction from collecting archives and describing them, then making them accessible to the people who do the thinking. I’m not one for contemplating my own navel, which is how thinking about archives feels to me. That’s why I’ve never picked it up before now.
I picked it up now because I nominated it for the March Madness challenge on The Reader’s Room. So I had to read it! Continue reading