British Forests: The Forestry Commission 1919-2019

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Read 14/06/2020-27/06/2020

Rating 5 stars

Book 3 in my 10 Books of Summer reading challenge.

This centenary publication about the history of the Forestry Commission is a fascinating insight into the origins of the organisation, in the immediate period after the First World War, and its development over the last 100 years. Continue reading

Common People: An Anthology of Working Class Writers

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Read 07/06/2020-14/06/2020

Rating 4 stars

Book 2 in my 10 Books of Summer reading challenge.

Common People is a book I pledged for on Unbound in 2018. It grew from a radio documentary by Kit de Waal called “Where Are All the Working Class Writers?“, broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in November 2017.

As well as securing high profile, established authors like Malorie Blackman, Louise Doughty, Lisa McInerney and Anita Sethi, de Waal as editor commissioned a search through regional writer development agencies for new working class voices to be included in the anthology. Continue reading

The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House

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Read 03/06/2020-07/06/2020

Rating 5 stars

Book 1 in my 10 Books of Summer reading challenge.

I put The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House on my list of books for the 20 Books of Summer reading challenge because I’ve owned it since November 2018 and made a couple of attempts to read it, both times putting it down after a couple of pages because it felt too much. The current protests against the brutal treatment of black people by police and society in general made me get over myself.

This pocket sized volume of 50 pages packs a punch. It brings together five essays by Audre Lorde that are a call to dig deep, find our passion, harness our anger and make a permanent, radical change to the assumptions that underpin the world we live in. These essays highlight sexism, racism and homophobia and underline their intersectionality. Continue reading

The Men Who Stare at Goats

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Read 01/03/2020-08/03/2020

Rating 5 stars

Read for Dewithon 2020.

The Men Who Stare at Goats is a book and a film. I knew when I picked it up that I hadn’t read the book. It was on my To Read pile after all. The film is one of those that I think I’ve seen, because it has George Clooney in it and I love Clooney, but I haven’t watched it yet.

I decided to shuttle the book to the top of the pile because it was Saint David’s Day when I finished my last book.

Over on Book Jotter, Paula is running the second Dewithon, a reading challenge that celebrates Welsh writers. It starts on Saint David’s Day. There’s a group read, which sounds wonderful, but I’ve banned myself from buying books and my local library doesn’t have a copy for me to borrow. So I’m ploughing my own furrow and knocking a title off my To Read pile. Continue reading

Claudine at School

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Read 26/08/2019-02/09/2019

Rating 3 stars

I’ve wanted to read Colette’s Claudine books since my birthday trip to Paris four years ago. I intended to buy the omnibus from Shakespeare and Co but they’d sold out. Since then, the books have been on my library wishlist. I saw the Colette biopic earlier this year and read a short story by her in Wayward Girls last month and this spurred me on to borrow the first in the series.

In Claudine at School, we meet our heroine as she turns 15. Continue reading

How the Light Gets In

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Read 22/08/2019-26/08/2019

Rating 5 stars

Read for the 20 Books of Summer readathon.

How to describe How The Light Gets In. The prosaic description is that it’s a collection of short stories. It’s not, though. Not entirely. These are ultra short stories, fragments in many cases, brief glimpses into the lives of people on the edge of the prosaic. I found some of the stories breathtaking, literally. At times, I found myself holding my breath with the emotion of being dropped into a situation and then realising the enormity of that situation to the person experiencing it. Continue reading

A Lost Lady

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Read 18/08/2019-21/08/2019

Rating 4 stars

Read for the 20 Books of Summer readathon

Do you ever have trouble deciding which book to read next, or whether to read an author’s works in the order they wrote them? I’ve been having a mini quandary with two novellas by Willa Cather that I bought secondhand from Beckside Books in Penrith on a recent holiday. I put both of them onto my 20 Books of Summer list, thinking that I would make a decision when I got to them. Continue reading

The Nakano Thrift Shop

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Read 08/08/2019-12/08/2019

Rating 3 stars

Read for Women in Translation Month and the 20 Books of Summer readathon.

Hiromi Kawakami’s second novel was a change of pace from my previous read this month. Set in a thrift shop that definitely isn’t an antique shop, it follows the lives of shop owner Mr Nakano, his sister Masayo and his two employees Takeo and Hitomi. Hitomi narrates the day to day happenings around the shop. Continue reading