I like to occasionally read prize lists (see my ManBooker readalongs). I have seen that this year Claire is reading the Bailey’s longlist, and picked up a review of a book that made me want to read it. Plus I’d already read one, and another was on the list for later this year, so I rapidly decided to tackle the whole list:
Stay With Me, Ayobami Adebayo The Power, Naomi Alderman Hag-Seed, Margaret Atwood Little Deaths, Emma Flint The Mare, Mary Gaitskill The Dark Circle, Linda Grant The Lesser Bohemians, Eimear McBride Midwinter, Fiona Melrose The Sport of Kings, C.E. Morgan The Woman Next Door, Yewande Omotoso The Lonely Hearts Hotel, Heather O’Neill The Essex Serpent, Sarah Perry Barkskins, Annie Proulx First Love, Gwendoline Riley Do Not Say We Have Nothing, Madeleine Thien The Gustav Sonata, Rose Tremain
The Lesser Bohemians is now on order at the library and Hag-Seed has been bought. Lets do this before the result is announced.
This blog usually covers the new things I read, my library picks and theatre I go to see. But on World Book Day I want to tell you about my favourite books, Tamora Pierce’s Tortall series.
“Why do boys say someone acts like a girl as if it were an insult?”
Since being a teenage I have loved fantasy novels, starting as we all did, with Harry Potter. But it was Pierce’s Alanna that changed my world. It didn’t pretend to happen in the real world, but set aside its own world, where magic could be real. And even better than that, here was a girl who wanted to choose her own path, and is prepared to break rules to get there.
There was even just enough light romance for a middle-teenager.
“Lord Raoul asked me to tell you that if you get yourself killed, he will never speak to you again.”
Then there were the Protector of the Small books, better again as Kel is the determined working one. Taking on the same world, but as herself, not disguised as a boy. She takes on bullies, struggles to make friends and to learn how to survive on her own terms.
This is the best series I own, and well into adulthood I am still rereading regularly. Reading again with Mark Reads was one of my most fun online time.
With the chaos of family life, I have managed to carve out my own spot as a library in the guest bedroom. But it was lacking coziness, and I had a desire to learn to quilt. Then, in the library (where else) I spotted “The Little Book of Simple Quilting”. I now have the warmest snuggliest quilt, in just my style on my reading sofa.
Of course, this isn’t helping the the blogging guilt-pile of books that I’ve finished but not yet reviewed..
A month or so back, I was reading a thread on Ravelry, where I discovered that a weasel as referred to in the rhyme, and in thread work, is not a small mammal, but a tool for the winding of spun thread. The mental image of each syllable being a turn of the weasel, until it “pops”, whilst managing children and watching a busy household was compelling. I was therefore delighted to find a book titled Pop Goes the Weasel providing theories, or longer stories, explaining the meanings of nursery rhymes.
There are fascinating narratives provided for each of the rhymes in this book, linking into (mostly English) history, and discussing how in a preliterate world, where the authorities handed out harsh punishments to those who were subordinate, passing on news through nonsense rhymes was used for communication. I’m not sure to what extent this was true – how many people would have really known that the “Three blind mice” were the Oxford Martyrs, burned at the stake by Mary I??
Although I did read it with a small bucket of salt to hand, it was an interesting look at less savory parts of English history, as well as details of everyday life that are not clear from the rhymes alone.