FEBRARY 2018 READING ROUND UP

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Ratings: 5* – Outstanding! 4*+ – Good to very good; 3* – average; 2* – run-of-the-mill; 1* – dismal; zero * – no comment. DNF – did not finish . NF – non-fiction

Two books with the word Mountains in the title. Two books which could not have been more dissimilar – one a beautifully written book about nature & landscape (reviewed on this blog) , the other a somewhat surreal novel set in Portugal. I wrote a review of Part One on this blog. The remainder of the book was surreal in parts – particularly Part Two – but the final Part Three was wonderful, culminating in one of the most dramatic endings I have ever read. I have already added the novel to my 2018 Best Books list, under the heading of Most Original Novel.
Another huge contrast: Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows – Balli Kaur Jasmal. Quite a read! Funny, shocking, erotic – plus – as a sub-plot, the solving of a murder. There’s also a romance on the go, so the book has plenty to offer. Those who dislike erotica should leave this book well alone!
I’m including a mention of a poetry book I read this month : The Heart of the Bitter Almond Hedge Sutra – Thanissara, but I haven’t star-rated it. It’s a wonderful epic poem – see review on this blog – and perhaps some of you may be encouraged to try it? At one point I read (and wrote) poetry, but not so much these days. So Thanissara’s poem made a refreshing change to my reading month.
I spent an enjoyable Quick Dip (QD) half hour with Maurice Kibel’s collection of Rhyme & Reason; another TBR bites the dust! At the opposite end of the Spectrum to the Bitter Almond Hedge collection – but there’s room in my life for a limerick and a smile, alongside the serious reads.

5* Mountains of the Mind – a History of Fascination – Robert Macfarlane. NF A wonderful rich read – spellbinding, actually. Reviewed on this blog.
5* The High Mountains of Portugal – Yann Martel. Dazzlingly original. A Must Read for me. Reviewed on GR: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2308999253

4* Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows – Balli Kaur Jasmal . Southall, London and the Punjabi widows with erotic stories to share; growing sisterhood and overturning prejudice. Reviewed on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/review/edit/32075853

3* The Right Way Up – Paige Nick. Light, fun read. Family drama at its breathless best. Reviewed on this blog.

The Heart of the Bitter Almond Hedge Sutra – Thanissara . Poetry, Buddhism, San stories and Buddhist Heart Sutra. Reviewed on this Blog.
General Tso’s Chicken and the 7 Deadly Sins : A Collection of Rhyme and Reason by Maurice Kibel. Limericks, light verse. Fun!
Continue reading “FEBRARY 2018 READING ROUND UP”

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THE MCGREGOR BOOKSALE

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Pausing at the Pass en route to McGregor
This mammoth book sale, in aid of the McGregor Donkey Sanctuary, takes place annually* in the small town of McGregor, situated in the Robertson wine area. I’ve always wanted to go and this year Nina helped me make my dream come true.
McGregor is a small country town, set on the edge of the Klein Karoo. Its arid, and yet people have made homes and lived here since the mid-1800s. Notice the thatched roofs, the beautiful dry stone walling, and the last pic, a general view, shows the surrounding countryside.

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We located the Town Hall, and as we walked into the grounds, we met people walking out smiling happily, and in one case, a strapping young woman carrying a huge cardboard carton of books on her shoulder! That was a good sign.
This was my modest haul after an hour of delicious browsing.
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The Chinese Horoscope Library – Snake – by Kwok an-Ho. Yes, I’m a snake … so watch out! I enjoy Chinese horoscopes, and find them helpful.
Air – Geoff Ryman . A British writer, who supports a Facebook page for African SF & Fantasy. A good enough recommendation for me.
Skinny Dip – Carl Hiaasen . I love Hiaasen’s Florida themed crime stories – you always get plenty of laughs amongst the gore and bullets.
General Tso’s Chicken and the 7 Deadly Sins – Maurice Kibel . A Collection of Rhyme and Reason. Illustrations by Tony Grogan. I recognised the name, from years back, in our early Bulawayo days – Mr Kibel was my kids’ paediatrician! And here was a book that, “celebrates a lifetime of words, and music and medicine”. Plus Tony Grogan is one of my favourite cartoonists. An irresistible combination.
The House of Mirth – Edith Wharton. An American writer I’ve always meant to read. And the book has a bright sky blue cover, fancy gold lettering, and in mint condition. I think I bought it as much for the cover as I did for the contents!Flying to America – Donald Barthelme. I frequently find mention of Bartheleme in literary blogs as being the man who set the benchmark for American short stories. For example:
“ Donald Barthelme almost single-handedly has revived the genre of the short story and made it a fresh art form… He can, and does, write stories of every kind.”
“Among the leading innovative writers of modern fiction”.
Well: with an intro like the above, clearly I am in for a treat.
As I said in my About page when I opened The Booksmith blog, my reading tastes are eclectic. I think my sale bargains prove this statement to be true!
Thanks to Nina Ganci for the pics. Exception is the bookpile, which I took.
* I’m posting this episode belatedly – we went to McGregor in May 2017.