Six Degrees of Separation: from Stasiland to The Milkman in the Night

It’s a weird old time. I’m no longer sure what point in the year we’re at. It feels as though March was a long time ago. I missed the start of April somehow. And so I’m very late to the April Six Degrees of Separation. Continue reading

Six Degrees of Separation: from Daisy Jones and the Six to Revolutionary Road

Happy New Year! And I’m starting 2020’s book blogging with 6 degrees of separation because I haven’t quite finished the book I started before Xmas.

I don’t do New Year resolutions, so it’s untrue for me to say I’ve resolved to do all of 2020’s 6 degrees of separations. I’m going to try my best to remember to, though.

January’s chain begins with a book I haven’t heard of. Continue reading

A Fearsome Heritage: Diverse Legacies of the Cold War

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Read 24/11/2019-12/12/2019

Rating 4 stars

A Fearsome Heritage: Diverse legacies of the Cold War is a collection of academic essays on the material culture of the Cold War and a multidisciplinary approach to its history. It makes a case for the influence that the Cold War has had on the world, from the domestic lives of those living under its psychological shadow in Europe and the USA, to those living alongside nuclear power stations (also sites of manufacture of weapons grade nuclear material) and nuclear test sites. It takes in archaeology, history, art, architecture and cultural studies in its examination of material culture and what that material culture can tell us about something that has been hidden behind military classification for so long. Continue reading

I Was Told to Come Alone: My journey behind the lines of jihad

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Read 14/04/2018-22/04/2018

Rating: 4 stars

All you need to know is, you need to read this book.

I became aware of I Was Told to Come Alone when it was included in the March Madness Reading Challenge. After I read Home Fire, I felt like I needed to read something based on the real experience of the young men who become jihadis and the young women who become jihadi brides. So I reserved it at the library. And I’m very glad that I did. Continue reading

Vertigo (W G Sebald)

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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

Effi Briest

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Read 07/12/2015-12/12/2015

Rating: 5 stars

Read for The Reader’s Room Winter Scavenger Hunt Challenge

I loved this book. I really liked the main character and thought she was drawn very well. In fact, all the characters were well realised, very human and believable. I liked Effi’s youth and self assurance that was actually naivety, and thought the description of her change following the life changing event, that is really only ever hinted at throughout the book, no need for passionate or salacious details, was very well executed. The whole book models the politesse of 19th century society, where nothing is discussed in the open, but everyone understands what is going on under the surface. Continue reading

All Quiet on the Western Front

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Read 13/06/2015-14/06/2015

Rating: 5 stars

Back in 2014, I thought I would try to read a novel set in the Great War (1914-1918) for each full year of that war’s centenary. My only exposure to such literature previously was Sebastian Faulks’s ridiculously romanticised and overblown novel Birdsong. That is a book that makes me incredibly angry and it mystifies me why other readers love it so much.

I decided to read All Quiet on the Western Front to get some perspective in the tub-thumping rolling centenary of WW1. Continue reading

Death in Venice

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Read 13/03/2016

Rating: 3 stars

LibraryThing review

There is something of E M Forster in the writing. A celebrated writer, creating his own personal myth of existence, full of his sense of worth, taking meaning from the patterns of his life, but realising that he is stuck, needs adventure, needs to flee. It reminded me of Forster’s novels in which bored British people take a tour of European cities, don’t say very much, and are introspective and repressed before falling into a passion they think they should deny themselves. Continue reading