IMG_20200313_162729_resized_20200313_050202236 (002)
I’m sharing the joy: look what arrived today. Four long anticipated books that I ordered on-line in mid February, arrived this morning. Yipee!
I debated long and hard over what treats to buy. I chose books that I’d seen reviewed and praised to the heavens:
There, there – Tommy Orange. Highly acclaimed American debut novel; follows twelve characters from Native communities all traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow. The complexities and challenges of urban Native Americans in contemporary society.
Bear – Andrew Krivak . A moving post-apocalyptic fable for grown-ups, was Ursula le Guin’s verdict. Other critics raved about the elegance of the writing.
The Collected Essays of Elizabeth Hardwick.  She was long recognized as one of the great literary critics of the twentieth century …. Her elegant, erudite often witty essays and reviews … was Joyce Carol Oates verdict.
Essays – Lydia Davis . …. Beautifully formed, thought-provoking playful and illuminating, these pieces are a masterclass in reading and writing … says the dust jacket.
None  were available on our retail bookstore shelves, so I blew the budget in one glorious, indulgent  blowout. That’s my book buying over until at least August.

I enjoy Lydia Davis fiction, so wanted to read  her essays. I sat down to sample her Chapter headed Thirty Recommendations for Good Writing Habits and was instantly enthralled – pure gold, I tell you, pure gold. My tea turned lukewarm, the time sped by and I read on. I reached the end of the chapter, inserted two Post-it notes at useful sections and hugged the book. Even if that’s the only chapter I read in the entire book, it was worth every cent.


As for the other three books, I can’t wait to read them. Don’t bother contacting me, I shall be incommunicado for some time to come as I explore  in this literary treasure trove.




A Russian friend, via Postcrossing ( ) wrote “but sometimes I really have a reading attack “. Me too! I know just what she means. Right now I’m hugely enjoying The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. Much to my surprise, as the book has been lurking on my TBR shelf for two years and I finally tackled it. Now I can’t put it down! From one extreme to the other. Who would have thought that a book set in Stalinist Moscow could be so funny? What are your recent reading surprises?




What I’ve just finished: A magnificent novel, The Overstory – Richard Powers, followed by what I thought would be a quick, light read and turned out to have more substance than I’d anticipated: The Convent by Maureen McCarthy.
My first six years of schooling were at convents, so I had a nun-laden childhood. Going to an ordinary government school was a real eye opener, I can tell you! But it left me with an abiding interest in the religious life under whatever label. So I’ve read books by Western nuns (I leap over the Wall by Monica Baldwin) and Buddhist nuns (Cave in the Snow by Vicki Mackenzie, a Tibetan nun) plus other titles. I found the Australian convent themed book to be engrossing, particularly the details of convent life, and also the history of the infamous Magdalene Laundries.

On a more positive note, I finally got to grips with The Overstory. What a wonderful read! Richard Powers Richard_Powers writes beautifully. His description of the life cycle of trees, the forests, the history of trees is lyrical and enchanting. And his description of the humans, eco-activisits and others, who try to halt the rampant, destructive logging on the Pacific Northwest coast of USA is powerful and compelling. I know I will re-read the novel. There’s so much going on, I know I missed out on detail, nuances and plot connexions. The books is ambitious and sweeping, I was swept along with the story. Try and read it if you can. A Not to be Missed read.

I was disappointed that it didn’t win the 2018 Booker Prize.

What’s coming up next: Two TBRs . One I’m dying to read and that’s Educated by Tara Westover, and the second, a dutiful attempt to try and reduce the TBR shelf: Flying to America by Donald Barthelme. I bought the Barthelme collection of short stories three years ago at the famous McGregor Annual Book Sale in aid of the Donkey Sanctuary, & blush to report that the book has been languishing on the TBR shelf ever since. The e-book has only been waiting three months, so that’s nothing, by comparison.

Local reading conditions: Tricky, due to the daily load shedding (i.e. rolling electricity blackouts). My TV viewing has taken a knock, but I can fire up my Kindle and that works fine, provided I remember to charge it when we next have power. And then I have a LED lantern, which, if held very close to the page, enables me to read printed paper i.e. the beloved old-style book. All of which reminds me of the parafine hurricane lamps of my childhood which made night time reading almost impossible. As a result, to this day, I hate dim lighting with a passion.