Rating 4 stars
I like Sathnam Sanghera. He makes difficult, emotive subject matter accessible. His documentary about the Amritsar massacre led me to Kim Wagner’s book Amritsar 1919. I haven’t yet watched his Empire State of Mind series, but I reserved his book Empireland somewhere in the distant past of 2021 and it arrived from the library at the start of this year.
Empireland begins with a set of acknowledgements that include the following statement, “… I’m going to spend as little time as possible fretting about definitions: almost every term used in discussion of empire, from ‘colony’ to ‘commonwealth’ to ‘colonialism’, to say nothing of ‘race’ and ‘racism’, can be contested, their meanings changing over time.” Sanghera goes on to say that immersion in definitions produces long academic books, and his ambition in writing Empireland was to create the opposite.
He has succeeded. Empireland is Sanghera’s personal exploration of who he is, as a British Sikh, and how empire has created the environment he grew up in, as well as influenced the language and attitudes everyone in Britain has, across race, gender, religion and politics. Continue reading
It’s been a busy first weekend in November, which is why I’m a couple of days late for this month’s Six Degrees of Separation. This bookish meme, in which readers link together a chain of books, is hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best.
November’s starting point is Sigrid Nunez’s novel What Are You Going Through.
I haven’t read this novel yet, but I have read Kate’s review of it, so I know what it’s about.
September already and time for another Six Degrees of Separation, hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best.
This year’s Booker Prize shortlist is announced in a couple of weeks. Kate’s choice of starting book, Second Place by Rachel Cusk, is on the longlist. I wonder if it will go the distance.
Summer is on its way out, because here comes August, and I’m a day late for this month’s Six Degrees of Separation, hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best.
August is holiday month for many, so no surprise that Kate’s book choice to start this month’s chain conjures holidays with its title.
Is it July so soon?
I knew instantly what direction my Six Degrees chain would take this month when I saw that Eats, Shoots & Leaves was the starting book chosen by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best.
Rating 5 stars
White Horses is a modern production of a book that never was, a new imagining of a work that should have been, featuring autolithograph reproductions of paintings by one of my favourite artists, Eric Ravilious, and text by Noel Carrington. Continue reading
Rating 3 stars
Hit Factories is a curious and eclectic book. The title and the flyleaf blurb suggest a social history of pop in industrial cities – how the industrial landscape influenced the music and vice versa. It’s not that, though. It’s more personal, built around an attempt by author Karl Whitney, a Dubliner transplanted to the North East of England, to understand Britain differently.
Whitney has drawn on a travel writing approach of exploring the relationship between landscape and community, finding the out of the ordinary and drawing on the voices of those involved in the story. The book examines why certain industrial cities developed, or didn’t, distinctive music scenes and represents the condensed musical histories of 11 cities across just over 300 pages. Continue reading
This isn’t really a review. It’s more an overview. How Grey Was My Valley is a photo essay using images taken by Peter Halliday that explores various examples of post-war modernist architecture in Wales. It includes images and descriptions of buildings I have known, some in passing, others more intimately. Continue reading
Rating 5 stars
In Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere, Jan Morris explores a place that had deep personal meaning to her. I picked it from my local library as my second book in this year’s Dewithon, hosted by Paula at the Bookjotter blog. It is my first experience of Morris’s writing. I thought it would be a travel book. It is, but it’s also a number of other things. Continue reading
Yesterday was the first Saturday of March and I really couldn’t think of how to get my Six Degrees of Separation chain started. This month, meme host Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best has chosen Phosphorescence by Julia Baird as our starting book.