Random Thoughts on Lockdown 2

2020-04-08_07-13-19

I read something today that contained a phrase I found pleasing. It’s in a blog post by Clare Fisher, author of How the Light Gets In. The post is part of a lockdown collaboration between Influx Press, Picador Books and Burley Fisher Books that brings together short story writers and highlights their work. It’s called Short Stories for Strange Times and is billed as a series of virtual events.

But what is the phrase I enjoyed so much? Continue reading

Ring the Hill

1783528354.01._sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_

Read 01/11/2019-09/11/2019

Rating 5 stars

Ring the Hill is a walking book, a history book, a nature book, a folklore book and a book about contemporary Britain viewed through a lens that seems to have almost disappeared from most other media. Tom Cox celebrates the little observed quirks of human nature that thread through the story of the British Isles, and in particular the South West corner of England. The story of Britain is a sprawling one, influenced by the landscape as much as by the doings of its inhabitants. Cox weaves together the folklore of our physical landscape with the ways in which we humans across history have tried to best that landscape.

Continue reading

The Diary of a Bookseller

1781258635.01._sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_

Read 06/09/2019-08/09/2019

Rating 5 stars

Weezelle at Words and Leaves recommended Shaun Bythell’s memoir of running The Book Shop in Wigtown before I’d been to Wigtown or knew The Book Shop existed. Indeed, when I visited by accident in 2018 on the way home from a holiday the other side of the Galloway Forest, diverted by the Misogynist in Chief sojourning at his gaudy golf shack, I didn’t even realise that the book Weezelle had recommended was about that shop. Continue reading

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

b00bs030rq.01._sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_

Read 10/03/2019-16/03/2019

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.

Continue reading

21st-Century Yokel

21ccover

Read 28/12/2017-02/01/2018

Rating: 4 stars

I’ve been reading Tom Cox’s nature writing for a while now, first through his columns in The Guardian and more recently via his website. He’s an interesting writer. He writes about nature in a way that makes sense to me. It’s difficult to describe, but it has to do with nature being entwined into life rather than held at bay and experienced for leisure. His writing style reminds me of W G Sebald. He’s whimsical without it being a pose.

I pledged for his latest book on Unbound. I haven’t read any of his other books, despite four of them being about his life with a clowder of cats and me being the sort of person who has to stop to say hello to any cat I encounter. 21st-Century Yokel, though, seemed the kind of book about nature, folklore, understanding the place where you live, walking, landscape, myth, and sheep cuddling that I’d been waiting for. Continue reading

The Guest Cat

1447279409-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_

Read 30/01/2015

Rating: 3 stars

I love cats. My cat adopted me 16 years ago. My best friend Mandy bought me The Guest Cat because she knows me really well.

It’s a thoughtful, philosophical tale about the impact an animal can have on people, even when they don’t own the animal. It captures the aloof exploitative nature of a cat who charms a couple with its independence and seeming unavailability. When the cat disappears from their lives, it leaves them bereft and causes friction between them and their neighbour, the cat’s true owner. Set on the cusp of change, from Shōwa to Heisei, from economic bubble to slump, it inhabits a calm space bound by feline comings and goings. Continue reading