An underwater stillness, no wind or rain

All the Birds, Singing
by Evie Wyld

If someone had told me that I would rave enthusiastically over a book about sheep farming, frankly I would have laughed at such a ridiculous statement. Now perhaps it’s because the sheep farming is arguably incidental, and not really what this novel’s about, but there is quite a lot of it and yet I really loved this book…

Sunday Salon: Should we judge older books by today’s standards?

The Sunday Salon

This year I joined the Classics Club, with the aim of reading a list of 50 classics in five years. Some of my list are modern classics (okay, a lot) but about half were written before 1930 and, well, those times they were quite different. I’ve only read one book off my list so far (review to follow soon), but I’ve read enough older books in the past to know that the same problem raises its ugly head time and again: the different moral and social standards of earlier times can be upsetting and affect my opinion of the book…

Jokes, banalities and metaphors assaulted her sensibilities

The Rabbit Back Literature Society
by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen
translated from Finnish by Lola M Rogers

This book was one of the staff recommendations at Mr B’s Reading Emporium and I was attracted to the title and the sinister tone of the blurb. I waited until it was suitably wintry outside (it is set in Finland, after all) and then settled in for something magical…

Sunday Salon: Noted quotes

The Sunday SalonWhen I was a teenager I used to write down favourite quotes and stick them on my bedroom wall and mirror. I had dozens of them by the time I left for university. I remember there were a lot of Oscar Wilde aphorisms, because they seem immensely clever and worldly when you first discover them, but there were also some lines of poetry, beautiful combinations of words that spoke to me…

Mid-winter reading round-up

Hands up: I finished reading two of these books weeks ago and have therefore forgotten almost everything about them. They all deserve full reviews but I’d have to reread the books for that to happen and, let’s face it, that’s not happening. So here are some woefully brief thoughts on the last few books that I’ve read…

A dam-burst of ideas, memories, impulses and thoughts

The Reason I Jump: One boy’s voice from the silence of autism
by Naoki Higashida
translated from Japanese by K A Yoshida and David Mitchell

This was one of those random finds that make a great bookshop great. Not that it’s the best book ever, but it’s genuinely interesting and different and, despite being fairly new and translated by one of my favourite authors (plus his wife), I hadn’t heard of it. But it was on display in the non-fiction shelves and Mitchell’s name jumped out at me…

Happy New Year

How were your Christmas and New Years, folks? I didn’t do very much reading, considering I had two whole weeks off work, but I did do plenty of relaxing, catching up with friends and family, and even some useful stuff. Not bad for someone who’s been gorging on cold and flu drugs for a week and a half. But then I love Christmas and birthdays (which I also had one of this week) so maybe I’ve been running on a bit of a high…

2014 round-up

Oh Christmas Tree

As I cough and splutter my way through New Year’s Eve, I would like to come up with some pithy, wise things to say about the year that’s ending, but mostly I’m counting down the time until I can take more Sudafed, so apologies if this a bit rambly…

Reality is always worth more than wishes

Backroom Boys: the Secret Return of the British Boffin
by Francis Spufford

This was my final read for my 2014 Popular-Science Reading Challenge. It’s been recommended to me by multiple people, including Tim, so I thought I would save this for last. It’s about British engineering projects, large and small, of the 20th century…

Merry Christmas

Christmas reading plans

As I have two whole glorious weeks off work, I have ambitiously set aside the above pile of books to work my way through…