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Currently Reading

The Santa Klaus Murder
Mavis Doriel Hay, Anne Dover, Gordon Griffin
The Santa Klaus Murder
Mavis Doriel Hay
Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection
Arthur Conan Doyle, Stephen Fry
Merlin Trilogy
Mary Stewart
Progress: 340/928 pages
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Arthur Conan Doyle

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A Rising Man - Abir Mukherjee
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"You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough." ― Mae West


"The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read." ― Mark Twain


"Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea." ― Robert A. Heinlein


"Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else." ― Judy Garland
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Project Hamlet

Be good to yourself, they said.

It'll make you feel better, they said.

 

So this morning, my BFF and I hit the road and drove through this sort of landscape --

 

 

(note: these are NOT my own photos -- I was driving, so I couldn't take photos at the same time; these do depict places along the way and the sort of landscape to the right and left of the freeway, however)

 

... for our twice (or so) annual trip to our favorite tea and spice store in Frankfurt, which we discovered when I was living down there in the early 2000s.

 

 

A few hours later, we returned home, laden with goodies (and these are my own photos now):

 

 

... among which was also, as it turned out, one part of my birthday gift for my friend this year (her birthday is in 2 weeks).  When I saw this tin:

 

 

... I just had to get it for my friend -- I had folks at the store fill it with assorted spices and spice mixes that I know she likes (all of them, the store's own blends / recipes):

 

 

... and I'm going to add another few little somethings from somewhere else, and that'll be one gift all set and ready to be given!

16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 1 - Calan Gaeaf

Tasks for Calan Gaeaf: [...] Make a cozy wintertime dish involving leeks (the national plant of Wales) and post the recipe and pictures with your thoughts about how it turned out.

 

Well, this is more Wales going oriental, but anyway -- fried noodles, ham sausage, bits of boiled egg, leeks, and oodles of Stokes sweet chili sauce ... if I wanted to give it a fancy name, I'd call it Bami Goreng.  Or something of the sort.

 


"And where's my food, mom?!"            --            "Ah.  That's better!"

 

16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 7 - International Human Rights Day: Et vous vouliez me dire quoi encore, M. Senécal?

Vivre au Max - Patrick Senécal

 

A French buddy read with Tannat (who doesn't seem terribly inclined to make progress rapidly with this book, either) -- and since it's not only a book originally written in a language other than English, and in a language different from my mother tongue (plus, a book by a Québecois, i.e., non-Anglo-Saxon author), I'm also counting it towards square 7 of the 16 Festive Tasks (International Human Rights Day).

 

Vivre au Max is the first half of a two-part novel entitled Le vide ("the void," "the emptiness").  It's also the title of a TV show which, if it were real, would make the likes of Jerry Springer look like innocent choir boys.  The show promises to fulfill three candidates' wildest and most unreachable dreams per episode (at least 2 out of 3 of these dreams, or "trips," typically being sordid beyond compare): "au max" is a word play on both "to the max" and its creator's and host's name -- Maxime Lavoie, former president and CEO of a ski apparel company founded by his father; a position, that Max (a would-be humanitarian and intellectual) had taken on only half-heartedly to begin with, and quickly got fed up with when he realized that his high-flying notions to turn the company into a model of social virtues -- at the shareholders' cost -- were not going to be put into practice in any way that would have counted.

 

Max Lavoie is one of three men on which the story centers; the other two are a cop named Pierre Sauvé, who is investigating a quadruple shooting that initially looks every bit like a case of violent domestic revenge, and a psychologist named Fédéric Farland, who ... well, let's just say that having gotten bored with life's ordinary thrills, he is seeking ever more exotic and dangerous ones.  Of the three protagonists, I really only ever took to Pierre -- certainly not Frédéric, whom I hated pretty much from the first page of his appearance (and not merely for his utter amorality and contempt of life); and while I was unsure initially about Max, he lost my sympathy when I had clued into where the story was headed.  Not that I feel very much like bothering to find out: I still don't get what, deep down, Mr. Senécal's point in writing this book ultimately might have been, but I don't care about two of the three principal characters, and if the story is headed anywhere near where I think it is headed, it's not the sort of thing I need in my life at all.

 

That said, the buddy read has accomplished its primary goal, in bringing back the fun of reading something in a different language than German or (mostly) English.  So Tannat, if / whenever you finish this and aren't too ennuie on your part, I'd definitely be up for another one ...

Reading progress update: I've read 13 out of 445 pages.

Hogfather (Discworld, #20) - Terry Pratchett Hogfather: Discworld, Book 20 - Random House Audiobooks, Terry Pratchett, Nigel Planer

"And there's the sign, Ridcully," said the Dean. "you have read it, I assume.  You know?  The sign which says 'Do not, under any circumstances, open this door'?"

"Of course I've read it," said Ridcully. "Why d'yer think I want it opened?"

"Er ... why?" said the Lecturer in Recent Runes.

"To see why they wanted it shut, of course."*

 

*This exchange contains almost all you need to know about human civilization.  At least, those bits of it that are not under the sea, fenced off or still smoking.

 

[...]

 

"I'm in charge here and I want a bathroom of my own," said Ridcully firmly. "And that's all there is to it, all right?  I want a bathroom in time for Hogswatchnight, understand?"

And that's a problem with beginnings, of course.  Sometimes, when you're dealing with occult realms that have quite a different attitude to time, you get the effect a little way before the cause.

Oh, it's good to be back with Sir Terry at the height of his powers -- I feel like sharing every other page.  And of course Ridcully would have done better curbing his curiosity about that door ...

 

Show your books with widgets / BookLikes know-how

For all those who like to share their reading life, show your recent blog posts, promote the giveaways or popularize the reading lists, we have great news - you can do all of that with BookLikes widgets! Have a look at the collection of our widgets and how they can be customized to show what you love the most - your books and reviews. 

 

 

What are the widgets? 

 

BookLikes provides a service that allows you to share your book collection, your giveaways, your blog post and reviews with your friends, blog readers and fans. The widgets can be added to your BookLikes webpage or any other www website you have, including your other blogs and author pages.

 

Thanks to the widgets you can spread the word about the bookish events you're participating in (giveaways, discussions, currently reading books) and reach more readers. We bet your blog guest would love to see what reading lists you're recommending and how to request your newest book. 

 

 

Where to find BookLikes widgets?

 

BookLikes widgets can be found in the main menu. Please select Goodies from your menu and then go to the Widgets tab where you can view all BookLikes widgets.

 

 

Let's have a look at the widgets and its customization options. 

 

 

The Follow widget

 

This widget lets BookLikes readers follow you the very same moment they click it on your blog page. You'll also show the non-BookLikes readers that you're active in the book lovers and bloggers community. 

 

How to add the Follow widget?

Go to the Widgets page (menu -> Goodies -> Widget), the Follow widget is the first thing you'll notice. 

 

 

Customize:

- The standard title for this widget is Follow your blog name but if you wish to change that, please do. 

- Decide whether to display your Followers number or now.

- The widget's width and height are auto set and customized to BookLikes templates but you can add your own dimensions if you want it bigger or wider.

 

Add the follow widget to your BookLikes webpage:

In order to add the widget to your BookLikes blog, click the green Get code button and copy the code from the box.

 

Then click the green link saying customization tab - you'll be moved to a customization tab of your blog template. Scroll down on the left and find the Widget Area, paste the code and Save. The widget is on!

 

 

Add the follow widget to your other webpage:

To add widget to your other webpage, customize the widget , copy the code and paste it into your webpage's HTML. Voila! 

 

 

The Shelf widget

 

The shelf widget displays your book collection. You can present the books your love, the titles that you've recently published, books you've just reviewed or your wishlist (who knows, maybe Santa is actually reading the book blogs!).

 

How to add the shelf widget?

Go to the Widgets page (menu -> Goodies -> Widget), the Shelf widget is just under the Follow widget. 

 

 

Customize:

- Select a title for your widget, e.g. my books, new books, my favorites, pre-order, new releases 

- Choose a shelf style: wood, light, dark -- the widget preview will present your shelf choice so you'll know how the widget will look like

- Select shelf - you can choose from your reading shelves (read, planning to read, currently reading) and your thematic shelves added by you (e.g. mystery books, new releases, my books, 2017 reads)

- Select cover size - small/medium/big -- the widget preview will present your shelf choice so you'll know how the widget will look like

- Sort books - choose how the books should be displayed, you can select from the following: add date, read date, ratings, author and book title

- Choose how many books to show - decide on the total number of books and how many titles in the row should be presented -- the widget preview will present your shelf choice so you'll know how the widget will look like instantly

 

Add the shelf widget to your BookLikes webpage:

In order to add the widget to your BookLikes blog, click the green Get code button and copy the code from the box.

 

Then click the green link saying customization tab - you'll be moved to a customization tab of your blog template. Scroll down on the left and find the Widget Area, paste the code and Save. The widget is on! The blog preview will show you where the widget was placed and how does it look like in your template.

 

 

Add the shelf widget to your other webpage:

To add widget to your other webpage, customize the widget , copy the code and paste it into your webpage's HTML. Voila! 

 

 

The Reading challenge widget

 

The reading challenge widget presents how well you're doing in your reading resolution ;) It presents your reading progress and the links takes your blog guest to your reading challenge page where all your books read in a given year are presented with the review links and some reading statistics. 

 

How to add a reading challenge widget?

Go to the Widgets page (menu -> Goodies -> Widget), the reading challenge widget is number three. 

 

 

Customize:

- Select the year of the challenge -- if you're a long term BookLikes member is very probable you'll have the reading challenges since 2013

- Decide if the year should be visible in the widget title -- the year is always added at the beginning so if you're thinking of a more personalized titles like "My 2017 reading struggles" we recommend switching off the year and writing the full title in the next field

- Write your reading widget title

- Select the widget's size - you can stick to the auto dimensions or add new ones 

 

Add the reading challenge widget to your BookLikes webpage:

In order to add the widget to your BookLikes blog, click the green Get code button and copy the code from the box.

 

Then click the green link saying customization tab - you'll be moved to a customization tab of your blog template. Scroll down on the left and find the Widget Area, paste the code and Save. The widget is on! The blog preview will show you where the widget was placed and how does it look like in your template.

 

 

Add the reading challenge widget to your other webpage:

To add widget to your other webpage, customize the widget , copy the code and paste it into your webpage's HTML. Voila! 

 

 

The Giveaway widget

 

The giveaway widget presents the details of the giveaway you've created: the book title, author, book format, dates when the giveaway is held, number of copies and number of requests. When your readers and guest post click ENTER TO WIN they will be taken to the giveaway page where they can request the book. 

 

How to add the giveaway widget?

Go to the Widgets page (menu -> Goodies -> Widget), the giveaway widget is number four. 

 

 

Customize:

- Choose a title for your giveaway widget, it will be displayed at the top

- Choose a giveaway -- you'll see a list of the giveaways you've created and this means you can create a giveaway for every book you're giving away on BookLikes

- Select the widget's size - leave it as it is or customize as you wish, the preview will show how the widget will look like

 

Add the giveaway widget to your BookLikes webpage:

In order to add the widget to your BookLikes blog, click the green Get code button and copy the code from the box.

 

Then click the green link saying customization tab - you'll be moved to a customization tab of your blog template. Scroll down on the left and find the Widget Area, paste the code and Save. The widget is on! The blog preview will show you where the widget was placed and how does it look like in your template.

 

 

Add the giveaway widget to your other webpage:

To add widget to your other webpage, customize the widget , copy the code and paste it into your webpage's HTML. 

 

 

The Reading in progress widget

 

The widget presents the title you're currently reading along with your progress in pages/minutes or % depending on the book format and your update. 

 

How to add the reading in progress widget?

Go to the Widgets page (menu -> Goodies -> Widget), the giveaway widget is number five. 

 

 

Customize:

- Select a title for your widget

- Choose the cover size - small/medium/big - the widget preview will display the cover size of your choice

- Select your book - you can create a widget for all titles on your currently reading shelf

 

Add the reading in progress widget to your BookLikes webpage:

In order to add the widget to your BookLikes blog, click the green Get code button and copy the code.

 

Then click the green link saying customization tab - you'll be moved to a customization tab of your blog template. Scroll down to the Widget Area spot, paste the code and Save. The blog preview will show you where the widget was placed and how does it look like in your template.

 

 

Add the reading in progress widget to your other webpage:

To add widget to your other webpage, customize the widget , copy the code and paste it into your webpage's HTML. 

 

 

The Quote Widget

If you've recently published a quote you adore make it more visible by using the quote widget. You can use the widget on your BookLikes blog page as well as on any other webpage you have.

 

How to add the quote widget?

To create a widget with your most recent quote post go to Goodies/Widgets (the main menu -> Goodies -> Widgets), find the Quote Widget spot, adjust the widget if necessary and copy the code.

 

 

Add the quote widget to your webpages:

If you wish to add the widget to your BookLikes blog, paste the code in the Widget Area in the customization tab (follow the instruction under the widget), and if you want to add it to your other page, just copy/paste the widget code into your other website's code.

 

 

The discussions widget

 

No one is better in discussing books than book lovers! The widget with your book talks can support and popularize the book threads you're active at and bring more participants to the discussion groups. The more, the merrier! 

 

How to add the discussions widget?

Go to the Widgets page (menu -> Goodies -> Widget), if you've been participating in the discussions recently the widget will be visible just under the Quote widget. 

 

 

Customize:

- Choose a title for your discussion widget

- Select how many discussions you wish to present

- Choose a widget size 

 

Add the discussions widget to your webpages:

If you wish to add the widget to your BookLikes blog, paste the code in the Widget Area in the customization tab (follow the instruction under the widget), and if you want to add it to your other page, just copy/paste the widget code into your other website's code.

 

 

My latest posts widget

 

The widget is like a table of content on your blog. It will present up to 20 most recent posts from your blog with titles and links. Your blog guests will be able to look through your articles, get to know you a little bit better, and choose what to read first.

 

How to add the latest posts widget?

Go to the Widgets page (menu -> Goodies -> Widget) and find the spot which present your most recent reviews and posts. 

 

 

Customize:

- Write the widget title

- Select the number of posts that should be included (the articles will be selected by the publication date, starting from the most recent one)

- Select the widget's dimensions -- you can make it wider and taller if you wish, the widget preview will show you the actual look

 

Add the latest post widget to your webpages:

If you wish to add the widget to your BookLikes blog, paste the code in the Widget Area in the customization tab (follow the instruction under the widget), and if you want to add it to your other page, just copy/paste the widget code into your other website's code.

 

 

My profile widget

 

This widget is a compilation of information about you and your blog stats. Thanks to the profile widget your blog guest can have a closer look at the person behind the reviews and your reading preferences. 

 

How to add the profile widget?

Go to the Widgets page (menu -> Goodies -> Widget) and find the profile widget with a list of reading and blogging details.

 

 

Customize:

- Select the information to be visible on the widget. If you decide to hide some of the details, the widget preview will be updated and it will present only the selected information. 

 

Add the profile widget to your webpages:

If you wish to add the widget to your BookLikes blog, paste the code in the Widget Area in the customization tab (follow the instruction under the widget), and if you wish to add it to your other webpages, just copy/paste the widget code into your other website's code.

 

 

The reading lists widget

 

This is another way of recommending the books you enjoy reading. The reading list widget can present the book collections you've created or the lists that you've liked or signed in to on BookLikes. 

 

How to add the reading lists widget?

Go to the Widgets page (menu -> Goodies -> Widget) and scroll down to the reading lists widget spot. 

 

 

Customize:

- Add the title

- Choose how many lists should be presented, the preview will be adjusted to your choice

Select the lists - you can create a separate widget for 3 types of lists: the lists added by you,  the list you've liked and the lists you've signed in to

- Size

 

Add the reading lists widget to your BookLikes webpage:

In order to add the widget to your BookLikes blog, click the green Get code button and copy the code from the box.

 

Then click the green link saying customization tab - you'll be moved to a customization tab of your blog template. Scroll down on the left and find the Widget Area, paste the code and Save. The widget is on! The blog preview will show you where the widget was placed and how does it look like in your template.

 

 

Add the reading list widget to your other webpage:

To add widget to your other webpage, customize the widget , copy the code and paste it into your webpage's HTML. 

 

 

The Author widget

 

The author widget is great to tell all the world that you're a fan! If you're an author you can use this widget to present your short bio and your titles along with a link to the author page with all your books and editions. 

 

How to add the author widget?

Go to the Widgets page (menu -> Goodies -> Widget) and scroll down.

 

 

Customize:

- Search the author using the search bar just at the widget spot

- Write the widget title 

- Select how many books you wish to present

- Widget size 

 

Add the author widget to your webpages:

If you wish to add the widget to your BookLikes blog, paste the code in the Widget Area in the customization tab (follow the instruction under the widget), and if you want to add it to your other page, just copy/paste the widget code into your other website's code.

 

 

Social media widgets

 

No matter whether you are a writer, publisher or a book bloggers, it's important to present all possible information about your profession and links to your other webpages and other social platforms. Only then your readers will be able to look through your dossier and get to know you a little bit better.  Read how to add social media widgets to your BookLikes webpage

 

 

Questions? Check out the BookLikes Tutorials, click HERE

OR

Let us know in the comments below, or write to Kate@booklikes.com :)

 

Happy reading! 

 

Reblogged from BookLikes

Surprise, Surprise Bonus Joker #2: The Cuckoo Egg

THE SOLUTION:

 

It's World Peace Day (square 10) ... which isn't on December 21, but on September 21 of each year.

 

Congrats to everybody who messaged us with the correct answer -- that's one bonus point for each of you!

 

 


 

 

 

We're almost halfway into the 16 Tasks of the Festive Season, and it's time for another bonus joker ... and for 'fessing up: because we've put one over on you. 

 

Yes, that's right, one of the 32 holidays we've included in the game isn't actually set in December but ... well, when exactly, and of course which holiday it is, will be for you to find out.

 

We'll give you two hints:

 

(1) It's not one of the holidays that we've already passed, and

 

(2) It's not one of the holidays that are based on a different calendar than the Gregorian calendar, so that they could be on certain dates in November or December in one year and on other dates the next year.

 

(Oh, and it isn't Christmas.  But you'll have suspected that.)

 

Since we'd like to give as many people as possible the chance to earn a bonus point for this one, we'd ask you to PM Murder by Death or Themis-Athena your answers so the beans don't get spilled too early.

 

The joker is good from right now until 12 midnight (EST) on November 29, 2017.

 

Happy hunting!

 

16 Tasks of the Festive Season - Hogfather Buddy Read

Hogfather: (Discworld Novel 20) - Terry Pratchett

Hear ye! Hear ye!

 

I'm just re-posting this as a reminder that our Hogfather Buddy Read is starting this Friday, 1st December. 

 

I set up a Discussion Group here

 

Looking forward to it!

 

---------------------------------------------------------

 

Is anyone interested in a Buddy Read of Hogfather in December??

 

Square # 13 has a Book themes for Hogswatch Night: Of course - read Hogfather!  Or any Discworld book (or anything by Terry Pratchett)

 

I couldn't remember if there already was an official buddy read for this, so thought I'd ask as a couple of others have noted interest in reading the book earlier today. 

 

I'll set up a discussion group in the next few days. 

 

To anyone interested, would a start date of 1st December suit? 

 

Reblogged from BrokenTune

Update Autorinnen Challenge A-Z - Literatur ist auch WEIBLICH

Neuestes Update!

Ich freue mich sehr, dass  schon 15 Leute an der Autorinnenchallenge teilnehmen. Diese haben sich zwar mehrheitlich auf Goodreads gemeldet, als hier in Booklikes, aber das macht nichts - egal wo und wer liest und auch welche Autorinnen gewählt werden, je mehr Vielfalt desto besser.

 

Es haben sich auch spannende Diskussionen über die relativ exotischen Buchstaben X und Q Y ergeben. Ich habe hier ein paar Tipps zusammengefasst, denn es gibt tatsächlich auch mit diesen Anfangsbuchstaben ein kleines Angebot :-)

 

Tipps:

Q: Anna Quindlen, Dai Qing, Rachel de Queiroz,

X: Xinran Xue,

Y: Yourcenar Marguerite, Yoshimoto Banana, Yousafzai Malala, Young Samantha, Yanagihara Hanya

 

Falls Ihr noch zu anderen Buchstaben Hilfe braucht, meldet Euch bei mir

 
 

 

 

Reblogged from Awogfli - Bookcroc

Women Writers Bingo: Tentative Reading List

 

OK, this is basically an extract from my bookshelves (both TBR and read -- "read" where I've already read other books by the same author and am interested in further exploring her work), with the addition of some more or less iconic women authors who have so far escaped my notice.  This ought to keep me busy for the next couple of years, I think ...

 

A

  • Alice Adams
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Louisa May Alcott
  • Tasha Alexander
  • Isabel Allende
  • Margery Allingham
  • Julia Alvarez
  • Jessica Anderson
  • Donna Andrews
  • Mary Kay Andrews
  • Maya Angelou
  • Hanna Arendt
  • Elizabeth von Arnim
  • Mary Astell
  • Thea Astley
  • Kate Atkinson
  • Margaret Atwood
  • Jane Austen

 

B

  • Beryl Bainbridge
  • Pamela Ball
  • Sandra Balzo
  • Chitra Banerjee Divakarumi
  • Muriel Barbery
  • Pat Barker
  • Djuna Barnes
  • Linda Barnes
  • Nevada Barr
  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  • Vicki Baum
  • Simone de Beauvoir
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • Aphra Behn
  • Lauren Belfer
  • Josephine Bell
  • Gioconda Belli
  • Marie Belloc Lowndes
  • Carol Lea Benjamin
  • Margot Bennet
  • Isabelle Berrubey
  • Barbara Beuys
  • Victoria Blake
  • Enid Blyton
  • Margaret Bourke-White
  • Elizabeth Bowen
  • Dorothy Bowers
  • Pamela Branch
  • Christianna Brand
  • Charlotte, Emily & Anne Brontë
  • Geraldine Brooks
  • Nancy Marie Brown
  • Pearl S. Buck
  • Fanny Burney
  • Jessie Burton
  • A.S. Byatt
     

C

  • Margaret Campbell Barnes
  • Dorothy Canfield
  • Joanna Cannan
  • Charity Cannon Willard
  • Angela Carter
  • Miranda Carter
  • Vera Caspary
  • Helen Castor
  • Willa Cather
  • Catherine of Siena
  • Eleanor Catton
  • Suzanne Chazin
  • Andrée Chedid
  • Tracy Chevalier
  • Marjorie Chibnall
  • Laura Childs
  • Kate Chopin
  • Agatha Christie
  • Marchette Chute
  • Sandra Cisneros
  • Susanna Clarke
  • Ann Cleeves
  • Barbara Cleverly
  • Colette
  • Artemis Cooper
  • Mairead Corrigan Maguire
  • Hannah Crafts
  • Marie & Eve Curie
  • Helen Czerski
     

D

  • Elizabeth Daly
  • Clemence Dane
  • Tsitsi Dangarembga
  • Edwidge Danticat
  • Alexandra David-Neel
  • Diane Mott Davidson
  • Lindsey Davis
  • Natalie Zemon Davis
  • Barbara Demick
  • Anita Desai
  • Emily Dickinson
  • E.M. Delafield
  • Joan Didion
  • Isak Dinesen (Karen / Tania Blixen)
  • Emma Donoghue
  • H.D. (Hilda Doolittle)
  • Susan Doran
  • Kirstin Downey
  • Ruth Downie
  • Evelyn Doyle
  • Margaret Drabble
  • Sarah Dunant
  • Dorothy Dunnett
  • Marguerite Duras

 

E

  • Maria Edgeworth
  • Jennifer Egan
  • George Eliot
  • Anne Enright
  • Nora Ephron
  • Louise Erdrich
  • Jenny Erpenbeck
  • Margaret Erskine
  • María Amparo Escandón
  • Laura Esquivel
  • Janet Evanovich

 

F

  • Lygia Fagundes Telles
  • Linda Fairstein
  • Anne Fadiman
  • Jerrilyn Farmer
  • Elena Ferrante
  • Rosario Ferré
  • Helen Fielding
  • Erica Fischer
  • Fannie Flagg
  • Judith Flanders
  • Jane Fletcher Geniesse
  • Gillian Flynn
  • Moderata Fonte
  • Sarah Foot
  • Amanda Foreman
  • Earlene Fowler
  • Anne Frank
  • Lois P. Frankel
  • Ariana Franklin
  • Antonia Fraser
  • Marilyn French
  • Tana French
  • Esther Freud
  • Alexandra Fuller
  • Margaret Fuller
  • Anna Funder
     

G

  • Diana Gabbaldon
  • Mavis Gallant
  • Janice Galloway
  • Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Elizabeth George
  • Stella Gibbons
  • Frances Gies
  • Anthony Gilbert (Lucy Beatrice Malleson)
  • Janet Gleeson
  • Kristin Gleeson & Moonyeen Blakey
  • Molly Gloss
  • Lisa Goldstein
  • Carol Goodman
  • Nadine Gordimer
  • Charlotte Gordon
  • Sue Grafton
  • Caroline Graham
  • Anna Katherine Green
  • Kerry Greenwood
  • Germaine Greer
  • Lady Augusta Gregory
  • Susanna Gregory
  • Kate Grenville
  • Aceituna Griffin
  • Nicola Griffith
  • Martha Grimes
  • Sarah Gristwood
  • Judith Guest
  • Ursula K. Le Guin
     

H

  • Brigitte Hamann
  • Barbara Hambly
  • Denise Hamilton
  • Edith Hamilton
  • Sheila Hancock
  • Helene Hanff
  • Lorraine Hansberry
  • Kathryn Harkup
  • Joanne Harris
  • Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
  • Mavis Doriel Hay
  • Eliza Haywood
  • Anne Hébert
  • Elke Heidenreich
  • Lillian Hellman
  • Kristien Hemmerechts
  • Amy Hempel
  • Sandra Hempel
  • Jennifer Morag Henderson
  • Christine Heppermann
  • Georgette Heyer
  • Susan Higginbotham
  • Mary Higgins Clark
  • Patricia Highsmith
  • Hildegard von Bingen
  • Susan Hill
  • Laura Hillenbrand
  • Lisa Hilton
  • Tami Hoag
  • Antonia Hodgson
  • Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Beatrice Hohenegger
  • Renate Holland-Moritz
  • Susan Howatch
  • Zora Neale Hurston
  • Siri Hustvedt
  • Elspeth Huxley
  • Hypathia of Alexandria
     

I

  • Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Susan Isaacs
  • Molly Ivins

 

J

  • Shirley Jackson
  • Lilian Jackson Braun
  • Miranda James
  • P.D. James
  • J.A. Jance
  • Tove Jansson
  • Lisa Jardine
  • Inge Jens
  • Ianthe Jerrold
  • Sarah Orne Jewett
  • Elizabeth Jolley
  • Erica Jong
  • Rachel Joyce
  • Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz
  • Julian of Norwich
     

K

  • Frida Kahlo
  • Ellis Kaut
  • Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • Susanna Kearsley
  • Helen Keller
  • Faye Kellerman
  • Margery Kempe
  • Christine Kenneally
  • Hannah Kent
  • Jamaica Kincaid
  • Laurie R. King
  • Barbara Kingsolver
  • Helen J. Knowles
  • Rachel Knowles
  • Clea Koff
  • Elizabeth Kostova
  • Nicole Krauss
  • Aug San Suu Kyi

 

L

  • Marie Laberge
  • Mary Ladd Gavell
  • Carmen Laforet
  • Selma Lagerlöf
  • Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Lorna Landvik
  • Nella Larsen
  • Carole Lawrence
  • Camara Laye
  • Laurie Lee
  • Tanith Lee
  • Charlotte Lennox
  • Donna Leon
  • Doris Lessing
  • Andrea Levy
  • Marina Lewycka
  • Amy Licence
  • Astrid Lindgren
  • Leanda de Lisle
  • Clarice Lispector
  • Elizabeth Little
  • Ivy Litvinov
  • Norah Lofts

 

M

  • Sharon Maas
  • Margaret MacMillan
  • Karen Maitland
  • Abby Mann
  • Erika Mann
  • Katia Mann
  • Elisabeth Mann-Borghese
  • Olivia Manning
  • Katherine Mansfield
  • Hilary Mantel
  • Beryl Markham
  • Monika Maron
  • Ngaio Marsh
  • Megan Marshall
  • Sujata Massey
  • Doris Maurer
  • Daphne du Maurier
  • Margaret Mazzantini
  • Mari McAuliffe
  • Susan Carol McCarthy
  • Helen McCloy
  • Sharyn McCrumb
  • Carson McCullers
  • Colleen McCullough
  • Val McDermid
  • Alison McGhee
  • Maureen F. McHugh
  • Pat McIntosh
  • Shirley McKay
  • Patricia McKillip
  • Paula McLain
  • Catherine Meadows
  • Lise Meitner
  • Rigoberta Menchú
  • Anne Meredith
  • Claire Messud
  • Anne Michaels
  • Rosalind Miles
  • Margaret Millar
  • Marja Mills
  • Anchee Min
  • Denise Mina
  • Gladys Mitchell
  • Margaret Mitchell
  • Nancy Mitford
  • Miyuki Miyabe
  • Theresa Monsour
  • Rosa Montero
  • Lucy Maud Montgomery
  • Anne-Marie-Louise D'Orleans Montpensier
  • Lorrie Moore
  • Susanna Moore
  • Wendy Moore
  • Elsa Morante
  • Toni Morrison
  • Toni Mount
  • Bárbara Mujica
  • Alice Munro
  • Lady Murasaki Shikubu
  • Iris Murdoch
  • Tamar Myers

 

N

  • Barbara Nadel
  • Meera Nair
  • Sylvia Nasar
  • Shizuko Natsuki
  • Marguerite de Navarre
  • Irène Némirovsky
  • Katherine Neville
  • Anaïs Nin
  • Ingrid Noll
  • Elizabeth Norton
  • Amélie Nothomb
  • Mary Novik
  • Frances Noyes Hart
  • Tiina Nunnally

 

O

  • Joyce Carol Oates
  • Tea Obreht
  • Edna O'Brien
  • Carol O'Connell
  • Flannery O'Connor
  • Sandra Day O'Connor
  • Nuala O'Faolain
  • Margaret Oliphant
  • Emmuska Orczy
  • Mary Orr
  • Anna Maria Ortese
  • Perri O'Shaughnessy
  • Elsa Osorio
  • Isabel Ostrander
  • Helen Oyeyemi
  • Ruth Ozeki
  • Cynthia Ozick

 

P

  • Tina Packer
  • Sara Paretsky
  • Sandra Paretti
  • Dorothy Parker
  • I.J. Parker
  • S.J. Parris
  • Rachel Pastan
  • Ann Patchett
  • Jill Paton Walsh
  • Renee Patrick
  • Sharon Kay Penman
  • Louise Penny
  • Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  • Régine Pernoud
  • Anne Perry
  • Ellis Peters / Edith Pargeter
  • Nancy Pickard
  • Jodi Picoult
  • Hazel Pierce
  • Tamora Pierce
  • Marge Piercy
  • Christine de Pizan
  • Jean Plaidy
  • Sylvia Plath
  • Sarah B. Pomeroy
  • Elena Poniatowska
  • Katherine Anne Porter
  • Linda Porter
  • Beatrix Potter
  • Susan Power
  • Helen Prejean
  • Annie Proulx
  • Barbara Pym
     

Q

  • Anna Quindlen

 

R

  • Lea Rabin
  • Ann Radcliffe
  • Carol Daugherty Rasnic
  • Pauline Réage
  • Kathy Reichs
  • Ruth Rendell
  • Barbara Reynolds
  • Lucy Ribchester
  • Dorothy Richardson
  • Henry Handel Richardson (Ethel Florence Lindesay Richardson)
  • Brenda Rickman Vantrease
  • Stella Rimington
  • Margaret Rivers Larminie
  • Candace Robb
  • J.D. Robb
  • Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • Marilynne Robinson
  • Roxana Robinson
  • Judith Rock
  • Hilary Rodham Clinton
  • Katrin Rohde
  • Nelly Rosario
  • Colette Rossant
  • Christina Rossetti
  • Roswitha von Gandersheim
  • Laura Joh Rowland
  • J.K. Rowling
  • Arundhati Roy
  • Gabrielle Roy
  • Priscilla Royal
  • Joanna Russ
  • Harriet Rutland
  • Sofie Ryan
     

S

  • Vita Sackville-West
  • Jehan Sadat
  • Françoise Sagan
  • Angela Saini
  • George Sand
  • Cora Sandel
  • Elisabeth Sanxay Holding
  • Sappho
  • Beth Saulnier
  • Dorothy L. Sayers
  • Andrea Schacht
  • Harriet Scott Chessman
  • Lisa Scottoline
  • Alice Sebold
  • Anna Seghers
  • Annemarie Selinko
  • Barbara Seranella
  • Anna Sewell
  • Beth Shapiro
  • Mary Shelley
  • Carol Shields
  • Katharine Sim
  • Helen Simonson
  • Helen Simpson
  • Mary Sinclair
  • Maj Sjöwall (& Per Wahlöö)
  • Margaret Skea
  • Karin Slaughter
  • Ali Smith
  • Julie Smith
  • Shelley Smith
  • Zadie Smith
  • Susan Sontag
  • Sonia Sotomayor
  • Diana Souhami
  • Muriel Spark
  • Johanna Spyri
  • Freya Stark
  • Gertrude Stein
  • Gloria Steinem
  • Carola Stern
  • Amy Stewart
  • Mary Stewart
  • Rebecca Stott
  • Edna St. Vincent Millay
  • Kate Summerscale
  • Beverly Swerling
  • S.D. Sykes

 

T

  • Lalita Tademy
  • Amy Tan
  • Donna Tartt
  • Mary Taylor Simeti
  • F. Tennyson Jesse
  • Sheri S. Tepper
  • Mother Teresa
  • Josephine Tey
  • Grace Tiffany
  • James Tiptree Jr. (Alice Bradley Sheldon)
  • Claire Tomalin
  • Jean Toomer
  • Lillian de la Torre
  • Stella Tower
  • Sylvia Townsend Warner
  • Rose Tremain
  • Joanna Trollope
  • Gail Tsukiyama
  • Janette Turner Hospital
  • Helene Tursten
  • Joyce Tyldesley
  • Anne Tyler
     

U

  • Jenny Uglow
  • Sigrid Undset
  • Else Ury

 

V

  • Barbara Vine
  • Serena Vitale
  • Susan Vreeland

 

W

  • Alice Walker
  • Amy Wallace
  • Maureen Waller
  • Harriet Walter
  • Minette Walters
  • Evangeline Walton
  • Sarah Waters
  • Winifred Watson
  • Tiffany Watt Smith
  • Betty Webb
  • Alison Weir
  • Eudora Welty
  • Patricia Wentworth
  • Debbie Lee Wesselmann
  • Rebecca West
  • Susan Wittig Albert
  • Edith Wharton
  • Phillis Wheatley
  • Sara Wheeler
  • Ethel Lina White
  • Samantha Wilcoxson
  • Margery Williams
  • Jeanette Winterson
  • Margaret Wise Brown
  • Christa Wolf
  • Mary Wollstonecraft
  • Faith Wolseley
  • Barbara Wood
  • Paula L. Woods
  • Virginia Woolf
  • Jennifer Worth
  • Mary Wortley Montagu
  • Andrea Wulf
     

X

  • Xuē Xīnrán

 

Y

  • Tiphanie Yanique
  • Jane Yolen
  • Banana Yoshimoto
  • Marguerite Youcenar
     

Z

Julie Zeh

Xianliang Zhang

Edith M. Ziegler

Stefanie Zweig

16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 10 - Pancha Ganapti - and Square 12 - Festivus

The White Tiger - Aravind Adiga Coffin Road - Peter  May Cronica de una muerte anunciada - Gabriel Garcia Marquez We Have Always Lived in the Castle - Shirley Jackson, Bernadette Dunne Farewell, My Lovely - Raymond Chandler, Elliott Gould The Golden Age of Murder - Martin Edwards Call The Midwife: A True Story Of The East End In The 1950s - Jennifer Worth Woza Shakespeare!: Titus Andronicus In South Africa - Gregory Doran, Antony Sher Brother Cadfaels Herb Garden - Robin Whiteman, Rob Talbot Shakespeare's Gardens - Andrew Lawson, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Jackie Bennett

Tasks for Pancha Ganapati: Post about your 5 favourite books this year and why you appreciated them so much.

 

Tasks for Festivus: [...] --OR-- Perform the Airing of Grievances: name 5 books you’ve read this year that have disappointed you - tell us in tongue-lashing detail why and how they failed to live up to expectations.

 

I decided to create a joint post for my most and least favorite reads of the year -- and I'm going to have to divide the "favorite" part into "fiction" and "nonfiction." There is no way I could whittle the list down even further than these 10 books or treat some of them as "honorable mentions."  That being said:

 

 

Favorite Books -- Fiction

... in reverse chronological order of reading:

 

Aravind Adiga: The White Tiger

A searing portrait of modern India, writ large on a colorful, chaotic, topsy-turvy and utterly depraved and amoral canvas, but told with a great sense of humor belying the distinctly perceptible underlying sense of urgency.

 

Audiobook splendidly narrated by Kerry Shale -- if ever someone deserved the title of "the man of 1000 voices," it's him.

 

Gabriel García Márquez: Crónica de una muerte anunciada

The spine-chilling portrayal of an honor killing in a small Columbian seaside town and the events leading up to and following it, told in barely 100 pages and essentially in reverse chronological order, with the actual killing occurring on the last pages of the book: a brutal indictment of false morality, backwardness, cowardice and ineffectuality, both social and individual.

 

 

Peter May: Coffin Road

Ostensibly a stand-alone, but actually more of an extension of May's Lewis Trilogy, featuring some of the same characters but chiefly told from the point of view of an amnesiac scientist and an Edinburgh teenager in search of her missing (presumed dead) father.  Starkly atmospheric and so gripping it made me overlook the fact that it contains not one but two elements I don't particularly care for: an amnesiac protagonist, and first person present tense narration of part of the story.  (Note to Ms. Allingham -- see below, Traitor's Purse: This is how you convincingly write an amnesiac protagonist in search of his own identity while making sense of a murder that he may or may not have committed himself.)

 

Shirley Jackson: We Have Always Lived in the Castle

What can I say?  It's Shirley Jackson -- nobody does psychological horror like her; slowly and meticulously building from a slight initial sense of unease to full-blown terror.  I don't know how often I will actually revisit this book, but I do know that it, and the ladies in "the castle," will stay with me forever.

 

Also a great reading of the audio version by Bernadette Dunne.

 

Raymond Chandler: Farewell, My Lovely

Not quite on the level of The Big Sleep, but what a pleasure to revisit Chandler's version of 1940s Los Angeles.  His books are all essentially of a pattern, so I can't take too many of them back to back (or if so, it has to be in different formats; the way I revisited them for the Halloween bingo, with full cast audio adaptations mixed in), but it's hard to beat the gut-punch quality of his imagery and language, particularly when rendered as splendidly as in this audio narration by Elliott Gould.

 

 

Favorite Books -- Nonfiction

... again in reverse chronological order of reading:

 

Martin Edwards: The Golden Age of Murder

The early history of the Detection Club, told by its current president and first archivist.  Martin's knowledge of both Golden Age detective fiction and the lives of its writers is downright encyclopedic, and he tells a multi-faceted story very compellingly.  At times I had the feeling that he was taking his own conjecture a bit too far (I will, e.g., have to explore Anthony Berkeley's and E.M. Delafield's writing for myself before I wholly buy into his theory about their relationship, what they may have meant to each other, and how it is reflected in their novels), and there were things, chiefly relating to Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers, that I was already familiar with, but by and large, wow, what a read.

 

Not yet reviewed; status updates here:

Finished

210 of 528 pages

107 of 528 pages

67 of 528 pages

 

Jennifer Worth: Call the Midwife

Yes, I know, I know, I'm late to the party and there's been a whole TV series at this point.  And I'm sure the TV adaptation (which I've yet to watch) brings across the stories and the characters very nicely.  But there's both an unflinching straightforwardness and a genuine warmth to the original literary version of these tales of midwifery in London's mid-20th century East End that I wager will be hard to replicate in any screen adaptation -- particularly if read with as much empathy, sense of humor and tasteful restraint as by the incomparable Stephanie Cole (who I would sorely wish would narrate many more audiobooks!).

 

Review as yet to come.

 

Gregory Doran and Antony Sher: Woza Shakespeare -- Titus Andronicus in South Africa

Man, what a trip.  Titus Andronicus is not, and never will be my favorite play by William Shakespeare, but having read this book, I'd give anything to be able to watch a recording of this particular production.  In the 1980s (when Apartheid was still in full swing) Gregory Doran (later: Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company) and Antony Sher decided to take this most violent and controversial of all the bard's plays to Sher's homeland, from which he had emigrated some 20 years earlier, wowing never to return (and even dramatically burning his passport).  This book reproduces the salient parts of Doran's and Sher's diaries written during the project, from the moment the project was born to the play's actual run in Johannesburg and later, London and on tour.  Insightful, illuminating, dramatic and, particularly in the moments of greatest tragedy and misfortune, surprisingly and supremely funny -- this is definitely one of those books that will stay with me forever (and not only because I happen to own it).

 

(And yes, one of these days I may even write a proper review of this book, too.)

 

Robin Whiteman & Rob Talbot: Brother Cadfael's Herb Garden / Robin Whiteman: The Cadfael Companion - The World of Brother Cadfael

Shared honors for two simply gorgeously illustrated coffee table books full of facts and knowledge about medieval monastery life (Benedictine and otherwise), the healing arts of the medieval monks, and the plants they used.  Must-reads not only for fans of Ellis Peters's Brother Cadfael series but for anyone interested in the Middle Ages, monastic history, social history in general, botany, medicine, and pharmacy.

 

Review as yet to come, too.

 

Incidentally, a third book by this pair of authors -- Cadfael Country: Shropshire & the Welsh Borders -- provided, together with Ellis Peters's own Strongholds and Sanctuaries: The Borderland of England and Wales, important information and stimuli for the "Welsh borderland" part of my trip to Britain in late July 2017, and will certainly be consulted again should I make good on my plan to spend some time in Wales proper next year.

 

Jackie Bennett, with photographs by Andrew Lawson: Shakespeare's Gardens 

A lavishly illustrated coffee table book-sized guide to the gardens Shakespeare knew (or might have known) both in Stratford / Warwickshire and in London, as well as an introduction to the gardens of the five Shakespeare-related houses in and around Stratford, with an introductory chapter on Tudor gardening in general.  The find of several great finds of my trip to [London, Oxford and] Stratford in mid-June of this year.  (And it's even an autographed copy ... as I only discovered when I unpacked the book back home!)

 

 

Least Favorite Books

... again in reverse chronological order of reading:

 

S.J. Parris: Heresy

This started well, but went downhill fast literally within a page of the first murder having been committed.  And I sincerely hope the real Giordano Bruno was not anything even remotely like the headless chicken that we're being presented with in this book in lieu of the incisively intelligent, street-smart -- indeed, supremely cunning -- philosopher-scientist and sometime spy that anybody who had spent even an hour reading about the real life Giordano Bruno would have expected.

 

Utterly predictable and unengaging, never mind the author's obvious amount of research into 16th century Oxford academic life.  Would she'd spent as much time thinking about her characters' personas and motivations ...

 

Margery Allingham: The Crime at Black Dudley / Traitor's Purse

 

Shared (dis-)honors for my two recent reads from Margery Allingham's Albert Campion mystery series.  Both of the spy / international conspiracy variety that none of the Golden Age witers really excelled in, and Allingham's plots (and characters) tend to be among the most ridiculous of the lot -- as certainly exhibited here.  Thank God her Campion series also contains some genuine jewels, such as Police at the Funeral, The Case of the Late Pig and, particularly, the downright devious Death of a Ghost.  I hope my next exposures to Mr. Campion's adventures will be decidedly more in the latter line again.

 

Val McDermid: Forensics

Possibly the disappointment of the year, even if I knew that McDermid's background is in journalism and crime writing, not in science.  But she's associated with a forensics program at Dundee University and her crime novels manage to transport forensic detail with what has so far sounded to me as a reasonable degree of accuracy, so, given that I like her crime writing in other respects, too, my anticipations for this book ran fairly high.  Alas, what I got was a frequently manipulative piece of investigative journalism and true crime writing, whose actual scientific contents was on the super-light side and entirely third-hand, with frequently not even a chance given to the reader to verify the precise source of a given statement or piece of information.  I do hope Ms. McDermid will turn to crime fiction again in her next literary ventures ... her crime novels show just how much better than this she can really be.

 

Simon Brett: An Amateur Corpse

 My first book by Simon Brett, and again, from a former president of the Detection Club I would have expected better.  This novel wears its 1970s setting like a stifling cloak; it hasn't aged well at all and, what's worse, I didn't take to the protagonist at all, either (an actor in the throes of a midlife crisis); neither as far as his attitude towards women nor as far as his attitude towards amateur theatre productions was concerned -- in short, he struck me as a mysogynistic snob.  I may give the series another chance at a later point, but it certainly won't be anytime soon.

 

Patrick O'Brian: The Final, Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey

I love O'Brian's Aubrey / Maturin series and raced through the whole 20 books at breakneck speed earlier this year, but by God, this particular  publication (I won't even call it a "book", because it isn't) has to be one of the most blatant exercises in the exploitation of an author's literary legacy under the sun.  Patrick O'Brian died when he wasn't even halfway into this story -- but instead of letting things rest, because this really is not anywhere near a completed novel, his publisher went and released the puny few initial chapters as a "book" in its own right.

 

My sincere advice to all newbie readers of the series: Spare yourselves the trouble of looking into this one; it's not worth it -- not for all the enjoyment of O'Brian's writing.  Blue at the Mizzen, O'Brian's last completed Aubrey / Maturin novel, has a very satisfying conclusion -- content yourselves with that and just take it as read that "they lived happily ever after."  Or, well, maybe not entirely happily as far as Stephen Maturin is concerned.  But then, he probably wouldn't know what to do with himself if ever he were entirely happy; he's just not that kind of person.  And Jack Aubrey couldn't possibly be any happier than he is at the end of Blue at the Mizzen.

 

Didn't review this and am not planning to.

 

 

Least Favorite Books - Honorable Mentions

Chris Bohjalian: The Sandcastle Girls

Not an entirely bad book, but boy, this could have been so much more. Ostensibly, it deals with the Armenian genocide perpetrated by Turkey in the middle of WWI.  What we really get is -- at least chiefly -- the love story of an American volunteer nurse trainee who has accompanied her father on a humanitarian mission to Syria and an Armenian refugee who, having concluded that his beloved wife is one of the 10,000s of victims of the death march through the Syrian desert to which the Turks exposed their Armenian women and children captives, falls head over heels in love with the aforementioned Western nurse trainee.  Oh, sure, there are bits about the genocide as well (and Gallipoli, too, for good measure), but for many of these parts the reader isn't even right there with the characters but learns about them second-hand and in hindsight; and the ending is incredibly soppy -- and while it's obviously intended as a happy ending, a look beneath its shallow surface reveals that some characters' happiness comes at the greatest of all costs to another ... and at least one of those living happily ever after even knows about this, and nevertheless doesn't do anything about it (and if I hadn't stopped caring about that person long before I reached the end, that bit alone would have been the absolutely last straw for me.)

 

Georgette Heyer: Death in the Stocks

Georgette Heyer's books are hit and miss for me; this was definitely the most "miss" of the miss books to date.  It's got a nicely-drawn atmospheric beginning, but that doesn't last  for more than a few pages, and I didn't take to any of the characters; certainly not the "bright young things" and "good old chaps" at the center of the story -- nor even really Inspector Hanasyde, who is being introduced here.  Also, the "who" in whodunnit has a likely candidate from early on, even though the "how" is a bit out of left field.

 

I'm not planning to read the entire Hanasyde series, just one or two more (those that have the most direct ties to the subsequent Inspector Hemingway books, which overall I prefer); and -- but for the odd stand-alone -- I think that'll conclude my foray into Heyer's crime writing.

 

16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 6 - Bodhi Day: Entrepeneurship

The White Tiger - Aravind Adiga White Tiger - Aravind Adiga

I have a suspicion bordering on phobia of pretty much every book being marketed as the greatest thing since sliced bread; and after this book won the Booker Prize, that suspicion / phobia certainly came into play big time here.  So it was that it took me almost 10 years, and the discovery that there is an audio version read by Kerry Shale, for me to go near it after all.

 

The White Tiger is, ostensibly, a letter by one Ashok Sharma (aka Balram Halwai) to the Chinese Prime Minister who, All India Radio has just announced, intends to visit Bangalore in order to learn about entrepreneurship -- and that magic word has caught Mr. Halwai's attention:

"Apparently, sir, you Chinese are far ahead of us in every respect, except that you don't have entrepreneurs.  And our nation, though it has no drinking water, electricity, sewage system, public transportation, sense of hygiene, discipline, courtesy, or punctuality, does have entrepreneurs.  Thousands and thousands of them.  Especially in the field of technology.  And these entrepreneurs -- we entrepreneurs -- have set up all these outsourcing companies that virtually run America now.

 

You hope to learn how to make a few Chinese entrepreneurs, that's why you're visiting.  That made me feel good.  But then it hit me that in keeping with international protocol, the prime minister and foreign minister of my country will meet you at the airport with garlands, small take-home sandalwood statues of Gandhi, and a booklet full of information about India's past, present, and future.

 

That's when I had to say that thing in English, sir.  Out loud.

 

That was at 11:37 p.m.  Five minutes ago.

 

I don't just swear and curse.  I am a man of action and change.  I decided right there and then to start dictating a letter to you.

 

[...]

 

Don't waste your money on those American books.  They're so yesterday.

 

I am tomorrow."

And so, over the course of seven nights, Mr. Halwai proceeds to tell the story of his life, from a poor childhood in "the darkness" on the shores of the Ganga (Ganges), to an existence as a rich man's driver and servant in Delhi -- until fate puts the means into his hands to "better" himself and at last become the "entrepreneur" as who he presents himself to his reader: having watched and learned from his observations in his Delhi master's service until he himself had mastered the Indian game of business, politics, and public life; and firmly believing all the time that he really is, as a school inspector once made him believe, "that rarest of animals, the creature that comes along only once in a generation -- the white tiger." 

 

It's a tale set against a vast, colorful, chaotic and utterly depraved canvas: though I hate describing books by way of a reference to another author's writings, The White Tiger really does remind me of the early works of Salman Rushdie; there is the same sort of exuberant narrative voice, enjoyment of word play, humor, tumult of persons, events and sensous experience, and the same sense of urgency underlying the story being told -- albeit, however, with one crucial difference: Salman Rushdie's protagonists, particularly in his early novels, may be deeply flawed; they may even set themselves outside of formal law, but deep down, they are not amoral.  Yet, there is no question that this story's narrator is; as are, indeed, the majority of the characters populating this book.  That didn't take away one iota of my enjoyment; in fact, anything but a profoundly amoral narrator wouldn't have worked in this particular context, and the last thing Balram Halwai himself wants is the reader's compassion or sympathy -- he wants his applause. 

 

But to the extent that the "white tiger" himself is a product of Indian society, this book also operates as lacerating an indictment of modern Indian society as is possibly conceivable -- even if the indictment of a writer who seeks to cure ills by mercilessly exposing them -- and that, too, is a distinguishing mark from Rushdie's writing: Rushdie, even during and in the aftermath of the fatwa (which had made him persona non grata in India just as in the Muslim world and even in certain places in the West) never lost his abiding sympathy for India.  He was (and is) certainly not blind to its manifold flaws, but the Indian subcontinent he describes, and its representatives in his books, always have some sort of redeeming quality that counterbalances an undeniable ill; and they're frequently a heck of a lot more sympathetic than the same novel's Westerners.  When it comes to India, Rushdie would, I think, always argue that people are flawed, society is made up of people, and hence society is necessarily flawed -- but people, and hence society, are / is way too multifaceted to be reduced to their flaws only.  Mr. Adiga might even agree on this; The White Tiger doesn't read like a book written by someone who has given up on his country and is just airing his grievances.  But he clearly believes that shock therapy, albeit sweetened by humor, is what is urgently called for.

 

The one thing that probably contributed most to my enjoyment of the wild ride on which Mr. Adiga invites his readers -- other than this book's narrative voice -- was its audio narration by Kerry Shale.  To stick with the Rushdie comparisons for a moment longer, in the Satanic Verses there is a character nicknamed "the man of a thousand voices": that, in a nutshell, to me is Kerry Shale.  There are many audiobook narrators that I greatly admire; yet, while they all manage to switch characters, and hence voices, and go from a rumbling bass to a high pitch and from the Queen's English to Texan drawl or any other sort of accent seamlessly and in the blink of an eye, and thus give each character their own, unique voice and personality, I have yet to come across any narrator who has perfected this ability to as high an art form as Mr. Shale -- and it's on marvelous display here as well.

 

I listened to this book for square 6 of the 16 Tasks of the Festive Season -- Bodhi Day: "Read a book set in Nepal, India or Tibet."  Given that the book's narrator works as a servant for the better part of the story, it would however also work for square 15 (Boxing Day).

 

16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 15 - Boxing Day


Tasks for St. Stephen’s Day/Boxing Day: Show us your boxes of books! –OR– If you have a cat, post a picture of your cat in a box.

 

The current feline denizen of my home -- Teddy -- won't be caught dead in anything enclosing him, but Holly loved boxes and was, consequently, in heaven whenever we were moving.  Here are a few impressions from the preparations of our "big" move from California to Germany:

Reading progress update: I've read 162 out of 436 pages.

Vivre au Max - Patrick Senécal

So, alright, Maxime Lavoie was a somewhat unwilling heir to his father's position as president and CEO of Lavoie Inc., but vowed to do good with his fortune and, having apparently found this to be an unresolvable conflict he goes and creates a TV show compared to which Jerry Springer's is a paragon of virtue ...?  WTF?

 

And was it this show's theme ("realize your most unreachable dream") that gave Nadeau the idea to kill her ex-husband and his new girlfriend and twin sons?

 

And what's up with the four killers who sent Nadeau and the cops guarding her to her death?

 

It occurs to me, btw, that since the author is Québecois and the book was written in French, I can use this book as my read for International Human Rights Day for the 16 Festive Tasks: "Read a book originally written in another language (i.e., not in English and not in your mother tongue), –OR– a book written by anyone not anglo-saxon."  So that's what I'll be doing.

 

Card Reveal: Women Writers Bingo

 

Awogfli announced in this post, a few days ago, a "female authors challenge", i.e., the intention to include more female writers in her literary intake as from 2018 on.  Others spontaneously signed on, and I promised to create a bingo card for those who want to track their reading progress that way.  So (drumroll) ... here it is!

 

The authors featured in the card, from top left to bottom right:

 

W   Mary Wollstonecraft
K    Margery Kempe
R    J.K. Rowling
N    Anaïs Nin
Q    Anna Quindlen
G    Ursula Le Guin
O    Edna O'Brien
E    George Eliot
B    The Brontë Sisters
V    Barbara Vine / Ruth Rendell
H    Hildegard of Bingen
P    Christine de Pizan
XY  Banana Yoshimoto
M   Toni Morrison
Z    Julie Zeh
IJ   Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz
D   Emily Dickinson
L   Jhumpa Lahiri
T    Amy Tan
U   Sigrid Undset
C   Agatha Christie
A   Jane Austen
S   Sappho

 

I've tried to mix early women author pioneers with contemporary authors, Western / white authors with authors of other ethnicities, and authors of literary fiction with authors of other genres (mysteries, fantasy, romance), nonfiction and poetry.  The result is still a bit more Western-centric than I'd have liked, but it's the best compromise I've been able to come up with.

 

The idea, in any event, is not merely to read the writers whose images I've used to create the card -- it's to read more women writers, period.  Whomever you want; regardless of time period, genre, nationality, ethnicity ... just -- women writers, of all origins, genres, and styles.

 

Now I'll follow Awogfli's example and put together my tentative reading list ...

 

If anybody else is interested in joining, please do!  The more, the merrier.

 

16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 4 - Thanksgiving

Tasks for Thanksgiving Day: List of 5 things you’re grateful for.

 

Three days late, but anyway, here we go:

 

1.) My mom.  Life wasn't always a bed of roses for her, but she brought me up never once letting me feel it.  Praise was always more lavish than criticism -- in fact, the mere absence of praise and a subdued showing of disappointment usually took the place of overt criticism, and that was all that was needed.  It was my mom who fostered my love of reading and travel -- even from my earliest years on, she took me abroad at least once a year -- and of every activity that expanded my scope of vision.  From my earliest days on, she was the closest friend I ever had.  Yet she never once challenged my decision to move to Berlin (a day's travel away by car or train then) after I had graduated from university, and later even to the U.S.  And after 20+ years of wanderings, I was happy to move back to Bonn, and close to her at last, so as to be able to be around when she needs me. She'll be 80 next year but doesn't look nearly that.  Our / her family tend to live very long lives -- I sure hope that's true and we'll be able to enjoy each other's company for a long time yet!

 

Traveling with mom to Spain, the Netherlands and the French Riviera (my mom took the picture, so she isn't in it), and at home, during an autumn walk and on my grandparents' balcony (they lived at walking distance from us).

 

2.) My cats.  All of them, beginning with Gypsy, who stole my heart almost 20 years ago at the end of my final term at Cornell and stayed with me until his body finally gave out on him after he'd reached a Methusalean age (I never knew what age exactly he'd reached; his last vet thought he was at least 19 or 20); continuing with Holly and Tiger, born in the wilds of Grand Canyon and a Los Angeles back alley garbage dump respectively, who found their homes with me after having been saved from certain death by guardian angels in 2000 and 2002; and now, finally, Teddy, who's been making his home with me since this past June, and is learning, for the first time in a life spent out on the street so far, that humans aren't all evil and can even (gasp -- what a notion!) be trusted, at least to a certain extent.

My two black boys, Gypsy (R.I.P. 2008) and Teddy -- and the two girls at play (left Holly, R.I.P. 2016, right Tiger, R.I.P. 2012).

 

3.) The fact that my office has survived the first year of its existence.  I left my former firm and set up an office of my own at the end of last year, and though I knew I wouldn't be starving, there's always a huge amount of uncertainty connected with such a step; not least because both clients and peers will perceive you differently once you're no longer connected with a powerful, well-established firm.  But this year has, overall, been better than I expected, and it looks very much like next year's intake is ensured as well.  Of course it can still all go down really fast, but so far, things are exceeding expectations, and that surely is something to be thankful for.

 

4.)  My books!  All of them, every book that I ever read -- even the bad ones.  I taught myself to read while most of the rest of my class was still stuck in the early stages of their ABC so as to finally be able to read the books that others (chiefly my mom) had, so far, been reading to me ... and I've never looked back.

 

5.)  My friends.  This community (as the recent site maintenance hickups very unnecessarily brought home yet again) and in real life, chiefly my BFF Gaby, who is one of the most courageous persons I've ever known -- and we've known each other ever since high school.  She's been born with a slew of handicaps, not all of them as visible as the fact that she requires crutches and a wheelchair to move any distances longer than a few 100 feet, but this doesn't stop her from living a fully realized life -- which on her job side, includes business trips to such places as Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali or, more recently, the part of Turkey just on the other side of the border from the Iraqi civil war zone.  She is always ready to stand up for her own rights as well as those of others, always has an ear for other people's troubles, and is, all around, the most generous and loyal friend anybody could possibly wish for.

 

Mexico (December 1994 / January 1995) -- together at Teotihuacán, and Gaby climbing up the stairs of El Capitán, the big pyramid at Chichén-Itzá -- and Edinburgh (2006)

 

SPOILER ALERT!

16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 14 - Dies Natalis Solis Invicti: Brief Rendezvous with Mr. Bond

The Man With the Golden Gun - Ian Fleming, Kenneth Branagh

 

In the discussions inspired by Broken Tune's reads of Hugh Fraser's Rina Walker books a comparison with Ian Fleming's James Bond novels came up -- I thought before I embark on Fraser's novels myself (if I do) I ought to at least briefly dip into Fleming's, though going by appearances it strikes me that there is probably a case to be made that the better comparison piece would be the Bond movies, not the actual novels.

 

Anyway, I'm not planning to embark on a run-through of the entire Bond canon -- I have no doubt that there is plenty of sameness both in the approach and the storylines (not to mention racial and sexist stereotypes), so if I'd done that instead of short-cutting to this, the last novel of the original Bond series, I'd probably be worn out and bored to tears at this point. Not having done that, I could actually enjoy the story as a thriller, not to be taken too seriously (and not looking too closely at the obvious plot holes,

most notably the question why Bond, having run into his quarry in a Jamaican brothel fairly early on, doesn't take him out immediately -- he has NO sort of watching or investigating brief, after all; he's supposed to kill the man outright.  Or, for that matter, why Scaramaga, circumspect arch-villain that he is, would ever decide to take on a man about whom he knows nothing whatsoever as a temporary security guard.  But then, of course, we wouldn't have the pleasure of visiting that hotel, meeting the scoundrel's latest business associates, and embarking on that luxury train ride out into the country ...

(show spoiler)

).

 

My enjoyment of this book was immeasurably enhanced by having it read to me by Kenneth Branagh -- he is one of those people to whom I'd listen reciting the phone book, and quite frankly the fact that he was reading this book was one of the reasons why I picked it for my brief dip into 007 waters in the first place.  Without Mr. Branagh's narration, this would have been somewhere in the 3 or 3 1/2 star range -- but he managed to add a whole different level to it, and for this he earns the whole package a healthy racking up of its star rating.

 

Since the bulk of the story takes place in swelteringly hot and sunny Jamaica, I also got to complete my read for square 14 of the 16 Festive Tasks that way -- Dies Natalis Solis Invicti.