Jackie's 2020 ROOT thread

Discussão2020 ROOT CHALLENGE

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Jackie's 2020 ROOT thread

Editado: Jun 7, 2020, 2:27 pm

Welcome to my thread! (my 7th consecutive year in this group, I can't believe it!) What a huge difference this group has made to my reading! For those of you who don't know me, my name is Jackie, I am English and live in Scotland, and I do various things - research nursing, health visiting, transcription, and I'm also a wannabe writer. I'm increasing my reading goal to 60 for 2020 (it's been 48 the last couple of years but I've exceeded that both years by quite a lot). For the third year running I'm also keeping my target of reading at least one library book a month, to support my local library, and also keeping track of my acquisitions again. Speaking of which, although I didn't quite succeed in sticking to my 2 read:1 acquired target for books (not including presents which don't count!), keeping that in mind did mean that for the first year pretty much ever I start the year with fewer books on Mt TBR than I had the year before. So I'm going to aim for that again - for every 2 ROOTs I read, I will allow myself to acquire a new book (and again, birthday, Christmas and other random gifts don't count - I'm not that virtuous!). I'd like to see how close to 400 I can get to by the end of the year - which let's face it is still a lot to still have to read, but is better than starting at more than 440 which I did at the start of 2019!

Here's a picture of me from my holiday last year. I don't normally put lots of pictures of my daughter online, particularly in public places like this, but as she's looking away from the camera I'm making an exception. We're at Clava Cairns, near Inverness - this is one of the locations used in the Outlander series, so sees a lot of Outlander-based tourism!

Note to self so I don't have to look everywhere - code for inserting a picture (surrounded by less than and greater than signs): img src="URL" width=200 length=150


TICKER 2 (Acquisitions):

TICKER 3 (total TBR number):

Dez 30, 2019, 2:30 pm

Welcome back, Jackie!

Dez 30, 2019, 4:11 pm

>2 connie53: Thank you Connie, good to be back for another year!

I've just remembered that I normally have a few posts with my full lists of what I read, so I'll stick them in now while I remember!

Editado: Dez 31, 2020, 4:00 pm

ROOTs (thread 1)

1. Rachel Clarke - Your Life in My Hands. Finished 7.1.20. 4.5/5.
2. Matthew Beaumont - Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London. Finished 11.1.20. 3.5/5.
3. James O'Brien - How to be Right. Finished 16.1.20. 4.5/5.
4. Gabriella Coleman - Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous. Finished 1.2.20. 4/5.
5. Helen Webster & Paul Webster - Scottish Island Bagging. Finished 5.2.20. 3/5.
6. Jean Rhys - Wide Sargasso Sea. Finished 14.2.20. 4.5/5.
7. Peter Mayle - A Year in Provence. Finished 16.2.20. 4.5/5.
8. Joanna Cannon - Three Things About Elsie. Finished 17.2.20. 4/5.
9. Stephen Tomkins - A Short History of Christianity. Finished 19.2.20. 4/5.
10. Cliff Jones - Water Runs Slow Through Flat Land. Finished 21.2.20. 3/5.
11. The Unmumsy Mum - The Unmumsy Mum. Finished 24.2.20. 4.5/5.
12. Raynor Wynn - The Salt Path. Finished 7.3.20. 4.5/5.
13. Tom Cooney - The Unwitchy Witch. Finished 7.3.20. 3/5.
14. Mihai Eminescu - Poezii. Finished 13.3.20. 3/5.
15. Jan Morris - Venice. Finished 21.3.20. 4/5.
16. Goscinny & Uderzo - Asterix and the Roman agent. Finished 21.3.20. 3.5/5.
17. Peter Mayle - Bon Appetit!. Finished 28.3.20. 3.5/5.
18. Dorothy Al Khafaji - Between Two Rivers. Finished 30.3.20. 4/5.
19. Nan Shepherd - The Living Mountain. Finished 1.4.20. 4.5/5.
20. Rachel Held Evans - Inspired. Finished 4.4.20. 4/5.
21. Mark Thomas - 100 Acts of Minor Dissent. Finished 8.4.20. 4.5/5.
22. Ed. Nikesh Sukla - The Good Immigrant. Finished 9.4.20. 4/5.
23. Kathryn Stockett - The Help. Abandoned 11.4.20. 2/5.
24. Joanne Warner - The Emotional Politics of Social Work and Child Protection. Finished 13.4.20. 4/5.
25. Vladimir Lorchenkov - The Good Life Elsewhere. Finished 15.4.20. 4.5/5.
26. Philomena de Lima - International Migration: The Wellbeing of Migrants. Finished 25.4.20. 4/5.
27. Suzanne Barston - Bottled Up. Finished 29.4.20. 4/5.
28. Stephen Fry & Hugh Laurie - A Bit of Fry & Laurie. Finished 7.5.20. 3.5/5.
29. Various, curated by Kit Jewitt - Red Sixty Seven. Finished 9.5.20. 4.5/5.
30. Brigit Strawbridge Howard - Dancing With Bees. Finished 11.5.20. 4.5/5.
31. Goscinny & Uderzo - Asterix and the Cauldron. Finished 15.5.20. 3/5.
32. Sam Kean - Caesar's Last Breath. Finished 24.5.20. 4.5/5.
33. Lindsey Hilsum - In Extremis. Finished 27.5.20. 4.5/5.
34. Richard Fidler & Kari Gislason - Saga Land. Finished 29.5.20. 4.5/5.
35. Margaret Simons - Six Square Metres. Finished 3.6.20. 4/5.
36. Richard King - The Lark Ascending: The Music of the British Landscape. Finished 4.6.20. 4.5/5.
37. Reni Eddo-Lodge - Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race. Finished 7.6.20. 5/5.
38. Afua Hirsch - Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging. Finished 15.6.20. 5/5.
39. Adam Nicolson - Atlantic Britain. Finished 15.6.20. 3/5.
40. Lauret Savoy - Trace: Memory, History, Race and the American Landscape. Finished 20.6.20. 5/5.
41. Alex Boyd - St Kilda: The Silent Islands. Finished 27.6.20. 4/5.
42. Angela Saini - Superior: The Return of Race Science. Finished 29.6.20. 5/5.
43. Lee Alan Dugatkin - Mr Jefferson and the Giant Moose: Natural History in Early America. Finished 7.7.20. 3.5/5.
44. Marie Browne - Narrow Margins. Finished 11.7.20. 3/5.
45. Petre Ispirescu - Romanian Fairy Tales: English and Romanian Edition. Finished 14.7.20. 3/5.
46. Elizabeth-Jane Burnett - The Grassling. Finished 16.7.20. 5/5.
47. Henry Marsh - Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery. Finished 23.7.20. 4/5.
48. Brian Keenan & John McCarthy - Between Extremes. Finished 28.7.20. 4.5/5.
49. ed. Marina Benjamin - Garden Among Fires: A Lockdown Anthology. Finished 30.7.20. 3.5/5.
50. Peter Frankopan - The Silk Roads. Finished 14.8.20. 4.5/5.
51. ed. Meredith Maran - Why We Write About Ourselves. Finished 14.8.20. 4/5.
52. Bandi - The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea. Finished 15.8.20. 4/5.
53. Malachy Tallack - 60 Degrees North: Around the World in Search of Home. Finished 22.8.20. 4.5/5.
54. J. Drew Lanham - The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature. Finished 26.8.20. 4.5/5.
55. Guy Deutscher - Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages. Finished 30.8.20. 3.5/5.
56. Barry Lopez - Arctic Dreams. Finished 9.9.20. 5/5.
57. Raphael Jerusalmy - Saving Mozart. Finished 10.9.20. 4/5.
58. Michael Lloyd - Cafe Theology. Finished 18.9.20. 4.5/5.
59. Yevgeny Zamyatin - We. Finished 21.9.20. 3.5/5.
60. Christoph von Schmid - The Basket of Flowers. Finished 26.9.20. 2.5/5.
61. Julian Barr - Tooth and Blade. Finished 30.9.20. 4/5.
62. Seth Lerer - Prospero's Son: Life, Books, Love and Theater. Finished 1.10.20. 3.5/5.
63. William Kamkwamba & Bryan Mealer - The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. Finished 7.10.20. 4.5/5.
64. Patrick Barkham - Islander: A Journey Around Our Archipelago. Finished 10.10.20. 4.5/5.
65. Mark Twain - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Finished 12.10.20. 2.5/5.
66. TE Olivant - The First Poet Laureate of Mars. Finished 17.10.20. 4/5.
67. Juno Dawson - The Gender Games. Finished 18.10.20. 4/5.
68. Tom Cox - Ring the Hill. Finished 20.10.20. 5/5.
69. Malcolm Alexander - Close to Where the Heart Gives Out. Finished 21.10.20. 5/5.
70. Kester Brewin - The Complex Christ: Signs of emergence in the urban church. Finished 24.10.20. 3.5/5.
71. Lytton Strachey - Florence Nightingale (Penguin 60s). Finished 31.10.20. 3/5.
72. Amor Towles - A Gentleman in Moscow. Finished 8.11.20. 5/5.
73. Thomas Harding - The House by the Lake. Finished 17.11.20. 4.5/5.
74. Michael Blastland & Andrew Dilnot - The Tiger That Isn't: Seeing Through a World of Numbers. Finished 21.11.20. 3.5/5.
75. Alexander McCall Smith - The Kalahari Typing School for Men. Finished 23.11.20. 3.5/5.
76. Peter Gill - Famine & Foreigners: Ethiopia Since Live Aid. Finished 28.11.20. 4/5.
77. Tessa Dunlop - The Bletchley Girls. Finished 29.11.20. 3.5/5.
78. Sage Gordon-Davis - The Heart Whispers. Finished 4.12.20. 4.5/5.
79. J.M. Synge - The Aran Islands. Finished 5.12.20. 3/5.
80. Joshua Hammer - The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu. Finished 15.12.20. 4/5.
81. ed. Phillip Lopate - The Art of the Personal Essay. Finished 18.12.20. 3.5/5.
82. Ivan Rogers - 9 Lessons in Brexit. Finished 24.12.20. 4/5.
83. Alastair McIntosh - Poacher's Pilgrimage. Finished 28.12.20. 4.5/5.
84. Roxane Gay - Bad Feminist. Finished 29.12.20. 4.5/5.
85. Clare Balding - Walking Home. Finished 31.12.20. 4/5.
86. Jamaica Kincaid - My Garden (Book). Finished 31.12.20. 4/5.

Editado: Dez 12, 2020, 5:17 am

non-ROOTs (thread 1)

1. Debbie Gilbert - The Successful Mumpreneur. Finished 11.1.20. 3/5.
2. Matt Kirkham - Thirty-Seven Theorems of Incompleteness. Finished 18.1.20. 4/5.
3. Lee Ridley AKA Lost Voice Guy - I'm Only in it for the Parking. Finished 13.2.20. 3.5/5.
4. Benjamin Myers - A Stone Statue in the Future. Finished 20.4.20. 4.5/5.
5. Paul Theroux - Deep South. Finished 10.5.10. 4.5/5.
6. Jen Campbell - Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops. Finished 13.5.10. 3/5.
7. Joanna Penn - How to Write Non-Fiction: Turn Your Knowledge Into Words. Finished 8.6.20. 4/5.
8. Mark Thomas - Mark Thomas Presents the People's Manifesto. Finished 15.6.20. 4/5.
9. Jackie Morris - The Unwinding. Finished 2.7.20. 4.5/5.
10. Jackie Kay - The Adoption Papers. Finished 24.7.20. 4/5.
11. Norman MacCaig - The Poems of Norman MacCaig. Finished 28.9.20. 4/5.
12. Barbara Kingsolver - Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Finished 16.11.20. 4.5/5.
13. Rhoda S. Baxter - Getting Published is Just the Beginning. Finished 9.12.20. 4.5/5.

Editado: Jan 1, 2021, 4:01 pm

Acquisitions (thread 1)

1. Jean Rhys - Wide Sargasso Sea. Acquired 8.1.20.
2. Rachel Held Evans - Inspired. Acquired 25.1.20.
3. Roger Deakin - Waterlog. Acquired 4.2.20.
4. Fergal Keane - Letter to Daniel. Acquired 7.2.20.
5. Malcolm Alexander - Close to Where the Heart Gives Out. Acquired 21.2.20.
6. Giles Paley-Phillips - One Hundred and Fifty-Two Days. Acquired 3.3.20.
7. Lucy Jones - Losing Eden: Why Our Minds Need the Wild. Acquired 13.3.20.
8. Various - Red Sixty Seven. Acquired 21.3.20.
9. Nan Shepherd - The Living Mountain. Acquired 28.3.20.
10. Julian Barr - Tooth and Blade. Acquired 2.4.20.
11. Alice Vincent - Rootbound: Rewilding a Life. Acquired 9.4.20.
12. Rachel Clarke - Dear Life. Acquired 11.4.20.
13. Philip Pullman - Daemon Voices: Essays on Storytelling. Acquired 20.4.20.
14. Dan Richards - Outpost. Acquired 1.5.20.
15. Margaret Simons - Six Square Metres. Acquired 11.5.20.
16. Dara McAnulty - Diary of a Young Naturalist. Acquired 15.5.20.
17. Lauret Savoy - Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape. Acquired 30.5.20.
18. Bernardine Evaristo - Girl, Woman, Other. Acquired 3.6.20.
19. Robert Elms - London Made Us. Acquired 3.6.20.
20. Tove Jansson - The Summer Book. Acquired 3.6.20.
21. Andy Beer - Every Day Nature. Acquired 3.6.20.
22. Jan Kotouc - Frontiers of the Imperium. Acquired 5.6.20.
23. Angela Saini - Superior: The Return of Race Science. Acquired 5.6.20.
24. Alan Brown - Overlander: Bikepacking coast to coast across the heart of the Highlands. Acquired 7.6.20.
25. Elizabeth-Jane Burnett - The Grassling. Acquired 13.6.20.
26. Various - A is for Apple: A Snow White Retelling. Acquired 3.7.20.
27. Pragya Agarwal - Sway: Unravelling Unconscious Bias. Acquired 6.7.20.
28. Jessica J Lee - Two Trees Make a Forest. Acquired 11.7.20.
29. Philip Marsden - The Summer Isles. Acquired 13.7.20.
30. Various - Garden Among Fires: A Lockdown Anthology. Acquired 13.7.20.
31. Chris Packham - Fingers in the Sparkle Jar. Acquired 19.7.20.
32. J. Drew Lanham - The Home Place. Acquired 23.7.20.
33. Nora Ephron - I Feel Bad About My Neck. Acquired 26.7.20.
34. John Yorke - Into the Woods. Acquired 5.8.20.
35. Various, ed. Meredith Maran - Why We Write About Ourselves. Acquired 5.8.20.
36. G.M. White - The Swordsman's Intent. Acquired 16.8.20.
37. ed. Mark Kramer & Wendy Call - Telling True Stories. Acquired 26.8.20.
38. Martin Summer - Connecting With Life. Acquired 31.8.20.
39. ed. Kathleen Jamie - Antlers of Water. Acquired 3.9.20.
40. Lyra McKee - Lost, Found, Remembered. Acquired 11.9.20.
41. Jamaica Kincaid - My Garden (Book). Acquired 1.10.20.
42. Amor Towles - A Gentleman in Moscow. Acquired 13.10.20.
43. Lev Parikian - Music to Eat Cake By. Acquired 20.10.20.
44. ed. Katherine May - The Best Most Awful Job. Acquired 21.10.20.
45. John D'Agata & Jim Fingal - The Lifespan of a Fact. Acquired 28.10.20.
46. Pragya Agarwal - Wish We Knew What to Say. Acquired 29.10.20.
47. Jennifer J Carroll - Narkomania. Acquired 29.10.20.
48. Sage Gordon-Davis - The Heart Whispers. Acquired 1.11.20.
49. Gareth Lewis - Tales of the Thief-City. Acquired 2.11.20.
50. Melissa Harrison - The Stubborn Light of Things: A Nature Diary. Acquired 3.11.20.
51. Janey Godley - Frank Get the Door. Acquired 4.11.20.
52. Allie Brosh - Hyperbole and a Half. Acquired 9.11.20.
53. Philllip Lopate (ed) - The Art of the Personal Essay. Acquired 10.11.20.
54. Diane Ackerman - Cultivating Delight: A Natural History of My Garden. Acquired 10.11.20.
55. Chanel Miller - Know My Name. Acquired 27.11.20.
56. Granta 133. Acquired 11.12.20.
57. Granta 153. Acquired 11.12.20.
58. Toni Burrows - The Mermaid and the Tower. Acquired 18.12.20.
59. Fintan O'Toole - Heroic Failure. Acquired 22.12.20.
60. Ivan Rogers - 9 Lessons in Brexit. Acquired 22.12.20.
61. Charlie Mackesey - The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse. Acquired 25.12.20.
61. Barack Obama - A Promised Land. Acquired 25.12.20.
62. Ellen F. Davis - Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture. Acquired 25.12.20.
63. Met Office - Very British Weather. Acquired 25.12.20.
64. Katherine May - Wintering. Acquired 26.12.20.
65. Monty Don - My Garden World. Acquired 28.12.20. (***note to self: all titles up to and including this one in the Jar of Fate***)

Editado: Dez 31, 2020, 4:00 pm

Nerdy stats

ROOTs (total: 86)

fiction: 19
non-fiction: 65
poetry: 2

female author: 30 (%)
male author: 58 (%)
non-binary author: 1 (%)
mixed anthology: 5 (%)

paper book: 38 (%)
ebook: 48 (%)

completed: 85
abandoned: 1

ratings (4* and above): 59

Non-ROOTs (total: 13)

fiction: 1
non-fiction: 8
poetry: 4

female author: 7
male author: 6

paper book: 4
ebook: 9

completed: 13

Acquisitions (total: 66)

fiction: 12
non-fiction: 54

female author: 29
male author: 29
mixed: 9

paper book: 27
ebook: 39

Amount spent overall: £332.73


kobo - 33
hive.co.uk -
Unbound - 2
amazon marketplace - 4
birthday presents - 7
Verso -
Barter Books -
amazon.co.uk - 3
Christmas presents - 4
British Trust for Ornithology - 1
Big Green Bookshop - 1
Little Toller - 1
twitter giveaway - 1
Outwith - 2
Book Depository - 1
Janey Godley Store - 1
Book-ish - 1
Granta - 2
T Burrows - 1

(via Bookbub - 7)

2 for 1 progress (minus presents)

86 ROOTs
55 acquisitions

Dez 30, 2019, 6:36 pm

Hi Jackie! I'll have to get set up here too :D

Dez 31, 2019, 1:11 am

Good luck with your writing and ROOTing in 2020!

Dez 31, 2019, 7:47 am

Happy ROOTing 2020, Jackie.

Dez 31, 2019, 9:58 am

Happy reading to you in 2020! I think that I might have to adopt the 2:1 plan as well - right now, I am about 1:1 - lol!

Dez 31, 2019, 10:21 am

Happy reading and ROOTing!

Dez 31, 2019, 5:16 pm

Wishing you a happy year of ROOTing in 2020! :)

Jan 1, 2020, 9:48 am

Happy New Year, Jackie, and happy new thread.

Jan 1, 2020, 11:19 am

>8 rabbitprincess: >9 Familyhistorian: >10 Ameise1: >11 leslie.98: >12 Sace: >13 This-n-That: >14 karenmarie: Thank you all so much! I'm looking forward to another year of chewing the fat about all the wonderful books out there!

I have had a very lazy New Year's Day so far. The weather isn't great, so other than going into the garden to refill the bird feeders I have stayed indoors in the warm and dry. I've done a bit of writing, noodled about on the internet, and done a bit of reading. I'm joining in the Category Challenge group's year-long read of Alan Moore's Jerusalem (I tried reading it last year but kept getting distracted, so I'm hoping a group read will help me keep going. What I did read was gorgeous, albeit a bit incomprehensible!), and also managed to pull out a humungous volume of Romanian poetry from the Jar of Fate (what was I thinking?!). Luckily I have some lighter reads to go along with them!

Jan 1, 2020, 12:49 pm

Happy new year, Jackie, and happy reading and writing in 2020! It's nice to put a face to the name. And thanks for posting the instructions for inserting and picture.

It's been a dreich old day here, so I've been indoors too - did a bit of tidying, put on a washing then sat down to some hyggelig with candles lit, a Big Fat Book and some festive chocolates (NY resolutions will come into effect in due course ;))

Look forward to following your new thread.

Jan 1, 2020, 1:52 pm

Happy New Year and great reading!

Jan 1, 2020, 8:10 pm

>15 Jackie_K: Sounds like your reading at the beginning of the decade will be challenging, Jackie. I haven't cracked the covers on Jerusalem yet. It's sheer size is a bit daunting.

Jan 2, 2020, 7:06 am

>18 Familyhistorian: You're not wrong there, it is huge! I have a hardback copy, and it weighs a ton! I read the first 60-odd pages this time last year, and loved his writing. I started again yesterday and still love it (although I'm still a bit perplexed about what's going on).

Jan 2, 2020, 7:33 am

Happy ROOTing, Jackie.

Jan 2, 2020, 11:21 am

Looking forward to your reading, Jackie - and love the pic!

Jan 2, 2020, 12:53 pm

Happy New Year, Jackie, and good luck with your goals!

Jan 3, 2020, 4:00 pm

Happy ROOTing in 2020, Jackie!

Jan 3, 2020, 6:15 pm

Good luck with your 2020 reading and ROOTing! I like your "books left to read" ticker. I'd kind of like to make one myself, but I'm a little afraid of the number. :)

Jan 4, 2020, 8:37 am

>20 Robertgreaves: >21 detailmuse: >22 MissWatson: >23 curioussquared: >24 madhatter22: Thank you all so much! I'm looking forward to this year's books.

>24 madhatter22: I must admit the first time I started to actually count my TBR books, a few years ago, I was a bit shocked! I had assumed it was around 100. Once I got past 200 I was horrified with myself, I think the total at that point was something over 300! At the start of last year it was 441, and thankfully it went down a little bit last year - I think if I can end this year near 400 I'll be happy, and motivated to get it down some more!

Jan 5, 2020, 4:03 pm

>19 Jackie_K: I have the paperback copy but it was hard to find. I tracked it down to one of the Chapters stores which is in a mall a few cities over from me. According to their website they only had one book in stock. I looked for it in the Ms but it wasn't in alphabetical order. I was determined to find it so I looked for the biggest book in the M section and there it was. I still haven't cracked the covers though, thought I would finish his From Hell first.

I am afraid to count my TBRs. I am sure there must be way more than you have, Jackie.

Editado: Fev 6, 2020, 1:00 pm

>26 Familyhistorian: Good luck when you start it! I think a paperback would be kinder on the wrists, anyway!

And I am finally out of the starting blocks!


An excellent way to start the year - Rachel Clarke, a doctor in the UK's NHS, and formerly a journalist, wrote this memoir, Your Life in My Hands, both about becoming a doctor and also the period a few years ago when junior doctors were in conflict with the imposition of a new contract by the Department of Health. This outlines the campaign, and the reason for it (including the strikes), and above all shows a huge love and respect for her patients, her colleagues, her job and the NHS. I thought it was a searing indictment of the way that successive governments have ground down the NHS. It also made me proud to be part of the NHS workforce. It is fair to say that she is not a fan of Jeremy Hunt (the UK Health Secretary at the time). Presumably because of her background in journalism her writing is terrific. 4.5/5.

Jan 8, 2020, 7:32 pm

>27 Jackie_K: I'll have to add this one to my list! Her new one, Dear Life, looks excellent.

Jan 9, 2020, 12:30 pm

>28 rabbitprincess: Yes, I want to get to that one too. There's been a lot of junior doctors memoirs come out in the last couple of years - I also have Adam Kay's This is Going to Hurt and Joanna Cannon's Breaking and Mending on the pile.

Editado: Jan 12, 2020, 2:06 pm


Matthew Beaumont's Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London was an interesting but also frustrating read. It is a literary history charting nightwalking as written by Chaucer, Shakespeare, through to Dickens and Poe, and other less well-known authors too. It took a while to get going, the first three chapters are more about the definitions and history of nightwalking, and some of the chapters (especially the one on William Blake's Jerusalem) seemed only very tenuously linked to London at all. But then other chapters were excellent, and I very much enjoyed the two chapters on Dickens (one looking at his non-fiction essays about his own nightwalking, and the other looking at his portrayal of nightwalking in his fiction). I also found the social aspects he highlighted very interesting - it hadn't really occurred to me to think about the impact of moving from oil/candle street lighting to gas lighting, for example, and the move from night watchmen to the Metropolitan Police service was also interesting. The foreword and epilogue are provided by Will Self - the foreword was pretty incomprehensible, in all honesty, although the epilogue, detailing a night walk by Self, Beaumont and another author through south London to watch the sun rise over London from 16 miles away was a nice way to end it. 3.5/5.

Non-ROOT #2

Debbie Gilbert's The Successful Mumpreneur is subtitled "How to work flexibly round your family doing what you love", and it's basically a guide to starting your own business. Actually the majority of it would be just as applicable to anyone thinking about freelancing or becoming self-employed, not just mums - it has sensible advice from someone who's not only done it herself but now works to help other people navigating the move to self-employment. There are also examples throughout the book where women who have successfully made the move in order to work more flexibly with their family commitments talk about what they did. Sensible and down to earth, although I must admit I do find the term 'mumpreneur' a bit cheesy. 3/5.

Jan 12, 2020, 3:09 pm

A nice review for Nightwalking, Jackie. That sounds like an interesting book although I can understand why some of the chapters might have been a little slow going, given the eclectic topic. You are off to a quick start for your ROOTs! :-)

Jan 16, 2020, 9:50 am

Hi Jackie!

And it's non-fiction out of the blocks for you. Doesn't surprise me as you read more nf than f...

Jan 16, 2020, 11:57 am

>31 This-n-That: Yes, it was like it couldn't quite make up its mind if it was about nightwalking, London or literature! But it was interesting, for the most part.

>32 karenmarie: Hi Karen! Yes, I'm reading to past form so far! I do have some fiction on the go, and I'm hoping at least a couple of those will be finished in the next week. I'm also doing a year-long read of Jerusalem by Alan Moore, which is a humungous half-brick of a book. My next ROOT though (hopefully finished later today) is another NF.

Jan 17, 2020, 10:58 am


How to be Right: ... in a World Gone Wrong by James O'Brien is a quick but fantastic read. O'Brien hosts a daily phone-in show on the radio station LBC, and whilst some of his fellow LBC presenters are, let's say, a bit more to the right of centre politically than he is (understatement: Nigel Farage used to be an LBC presenter), right-wing is the last thing you can accuse O'Brien of being. He has become famous for clips of conversations he has on his show where he examines and takes apart the arguments of his callers going viral, particularly on issues such as immigration and Brexit. Each of the eight chapters here focuses on a particular issue (the two aforementioned, plus LGBT rights, feminism, Islam, Trump, and others), going over the typical right-wing arguments that are presented on these topics and how he tries to explore them with his listeners. What I liked about this was that, contrary to the impression that you might have of him just wanting to lampoon and mock his callers, he seemed to genuinely want to understand why it was they believe what they do, and his realisation that you don't actually have to mock or insult, just ask a couple of questions about why they are saying whatever it is, for the holes in their argument to be obvious. He seems to genuinely like many of his callers, and tries to respect them, even as he's clearly angry about the politicians and media who are feeding them trite stories, soundbites and lies in order to fuel their outrage. Although a lot of what he wrote I basically agree with already, his chapter on the generation gap and the different expectations of different generations regarding things like income and home ownership was something that I hadn't thought about before, so I feel like I learnt something as well as having my opinions agreed with by somebody else. Ultimately this book left me simultaneously both hopeful and profoundly depressed. As he wrote several times during the Brexit chapter (horribly paraphrased, sorry!), "I still don't know what it is they think they've won". 4.5/5.

Jan 17, 2020, 1:49 pm

>34 Jackie_K: This sounds really interesting, but I'll definitely have to be in the mood for "hopeful and profoundly depressed" if I read it.

Jan 18, 2020, 12:33 pm

>35 curioussquared: It's not a heavy read, so much, quite the opposite, but every so often you're hit with how stupid and dangerous so much of the rhetoric in the world is these days. I'd definitely recommend it, but yeah, you might need to brace yourself first!

Non-ROOT #2

First a disclaimer: Thirty-Seven Theorems of Incompleteness is the latest collection of poetry by my brother-in-law, Matt Kirkham. Who is a most excellent person. So I make no guarantee of objectivity here!

The blurb on the back of the book says: "This collection of poetry follows the marriage of logician Kurt Godel and his wife Adele through the tumult of the twentieth century". I did look up Godel on wikipedia before I started reading this, because he's not someone I was familiar with, and I think knowing a bit about his story (albeit not understanding the mathematical/philosophical theories he wrote about at all) did help with the poems. Like much poetry, I'm sure a lot of this passed me by, but the language is lovely and I'm happy that there are people out there painting with words and creating beauty. I'm giving this 4/5, but giving someone I know any score at all feels a bit weird! (not 5 because of my ongoing feelings of inadequacy when reading poetry!).

Jan 22, 2020, 11:25 am

>27 Jackie_K: I love healthcare memoirs and when they add some policy or history, even better.

>36 Jackie_K: Kudos to the poet and the reader! I also find poetry to be a challenge, but then there are poems that develop tiny narratives or put an image smack in my mind and WOW.

Jan 28, 2020, 7:19 pm

Looks like you are getting in some interesting books, Jackie. Night Walking: a Nocturnal History of London looks particularly good.

Fev 1, 2020, 3:12 pm

>37 detailmuse: I agree with both your points! I do like a good healthcare memoir, and there are some really good ones out on this side of the Pond at the moment.

>38 Familyhistorian: I'm having a slowish start to the year, but no duds yet in my ROOTs! Nightwalking was interesting, although I found it a bit unfocused at times.

I've had a bit of a reading slump the past couple of weeks. I've had some books on the go, but none that I was able to finish by the end of January (although I did finish one this evening - see next post). So my January figures are:

3 ROOTs:

* Rachel Clarke - Your Life in My Hands.
* Matthew Beaumont - Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London.
* James O'Brien - How to be Right.

And 2 acquisitions:

* Jean Rhys - Wide Sargasso Sea. (this was my book group's January book - I really like it, just haven't finished it yet!)
* Rachel Held Evans - Inspired. (this is going to be my Lent read this year).

At least now I've finished my first February ROOT it means my 2:1 is still on track (just!). Hopefully February will be a more productive reading month.

Editado: Fev 19, 2020, 3:03 pm


Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous by Gabriella Coleman is a non-academic account, by an academic anthropologist, of the hacktivist group Anonymous. In the early 2010s, through really till the publication of this book in 2014, she spent a lot of time online getting to understand and know some of the people behind Anonymous and their campaigns. I found this really fascinating, even as a world that I could only ever minimally understand. It looked at how they moved from straight up trolling to activist campaigns such as the anti-Scientology work, supporting the hacking of anti-WikiLeaks companies, and the Arab Spring (particularly supporting activists in Tunisia), and also at the various dynamics within the group. Really interesting and well-written. 4/5.

Editado: Fev 5, 2020, 3:41 pm


Scottish Island Bagging by Helen & Paul Webster does what it says on the tin - a quick guide to all the main islands of Scotland. I absolutely love the Scottish islands (there are a number of them I think I'd move to in a heartbeat, given half a chance). For each island the book details how to get there/get around, and the main things to see and do. There are also plenty of photos - that was the only point where I wished I had a paper copy rather than an ebook, the little B&W photos don't show how gorgeous these islands are. 3/5.

Fev 6, 2020, 11:57 am

So fickle, our (my) reading marathons and slumps! I've been focusing on books so far this year (instead of magazines and Twitter) because I feared my attention span was suffering. And then last night I had a dream that I was taking a standardized test and running out of testing time because I couldn't keep a reading passage in mind long enough to answer the questions about it without re-reading :0

Fev 6, 2020, 7:29 pm

>41 Jackie_K: a possible BB for my daughter's 30th birthday next month if the paper book photos are up to scratch - I often seem to get gift inspiration from your reading list! Keep up the good work, please ;)

>42 detailmuse: oh yikes, a timely reminder to make more time for uninterrupted reading - attention span: 'use it or lose it'!

Fev 6, 2020, 8:33 pm

>42 detailmuse: >43 floremolla: I'm not sure whether my attention span is declining because of social media or just increasing age. I'm definitely finding it more difficult to sit still for long periods as I get older.

Fev 7, 2020, 5:39 pm

>44 Robertgreaves: ditto. Oh for simpler days before social media, then at least we’d know we were just losing the plot.

Fev 8, 2020, 2:09 pm

>42 detailmuse: This reading slump reminds me of early pregnancy. I remember being faced with All The Food, and not wanting any of it! (apart from Ryvita Crackerbread, which is basically edible cardboard). Now it's books - I really want to read, but don't really fancy any of the 400+ books on Mt TBR.

>43 floremolla: Glad to be of service! I've just got another Paul Murton book out of the library (about Orkney and Shetland), and I'll be reading it in his voice again (I've not forgotten you saying that about the last book of his I read, it really made me laugh because I didn't realise I was doing the same thing till you'd mentioned it!).

>44 Robertgreaves: I'm pretty sure increasing age has a lot to answer for. What are we talking about again? ;)

Fev 10, 2020, 4:11 am

>44 Robertgreaves:, >46 Jackie_K: Maybe it's age or the time of the year. I have difficulties reading ROOTs too and rather read a shiny new one.

Fev 13, 2020, 1:02 pm

Non-ROOT #3

I'm Only In It For The Parking: Life and Laughter from the Priority Seats is the first book by comedian Lee Ridley, aka Lost Voice Guy. Ridley has cerebral palsy and is unable to speak, using a voice app he calls his talker to communicate his words for him. He is also very funny. He won Britain's Got Talent in 2018, although he had already been making a name for himself on the stand-up comedy circuit for a few years before then. This book takes the form partly of a memoir of how he ended up in comedy, and his experiences as a disabled comic, but each chapter also ends with a different TFAQ (Too Frequently Asked Question) that he has faced over the years, and what he thinks about them and how he deals with them. Examples of such questions include "Are you as clever as Stephen Hawking?" and "How does it feel to be an inspiration?" I enjoyed this a lot. 3.5/5.

Fev 15, 2020, 4:29 pm


I've wanted to get to Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea for a long time. A couple of years back I reread Jane Eyre and found it really difficult getting beyond how cruelly Bertha, the 'mad wife in the attic', was treated. Wide Sargasso Sea is an imagining of her story. It's a short book, the first section Antoinette (the Bertha of Jane Eyre) narrates the story of her childhood, the second section both Antoinette and Rochester narrate the early days of their marriage, and the short third section is Antoinette's experience of living in the attic at Thornfield Hall. The writing is exquisite - this is not an enjoyable book, it is full of unhappy and not particularly likeable people, but Rhys captures the feeling of stark oppression and bleakness, as well as the flawed and oppressive paradise of the Caribbean islands, perfectly. 4.5/5.

Fev 16, 2020, 7:59 am

>49 Jackie_K: That's on my list, too. I like the cover of your edition. Is it just the novel, or does it include notes?

Fev 16, 2020, 8:57 am

>50 MissWatson: This one had notes too - a foreword about the provenance of the book, then afterwards some explanatory notes about the main terms used, and some detailed notes from each section. I like the cover too, it's very evocative, isn't it?

Fev 16, 2020, 2:10 pm


Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence is one of those books that I've known about for years and meant to read for years, and now that I've read it I can't believe I left it so long. What an absolute delight from start to finish! Mayle and his wife relocate to Provence from the UK, and this book is a month by month account of their first year. Unsurprisingly, food and drink (and builders) feature very heavily. It sounded amazing, although as a vegetarian I think I might struggle with the extremely meat-based gastronomy! His writing is very easy and not forced, and I also appreciated the complete lack of patronising the locals (unlike some other Brit abroad memoirs I've read). 4.5/5.

Fev 17, 2020, 4:03 am

>51 Jackie_K: Thanks, that settles it. I'll go and find it.
>52 Jackie_K: I was so surprised about the cold winters!

Fev 17, 2020, 11:33 am

>52 Jackie_K: Reading Peter Mayle always makes me hungry :)

Fev 17, 2020, 1:23 pm

>53 MissWatson: Yes, I think several of his guests were too!
>54 curioussquared: I've got Bon Appetit lined up for a challenge next month, so I'm expecting more of the same!


Joanna Cannon's novel Three Things About Elsie is part mystery, part discussion on elderly care and dementia, and like her The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, an exploration of a number of ordinary lives who happen to be living in close proximity to each other. Florence and Elsie are childhood friends who are now in the same residential home. Florence is being 'threatened' with being transferred to another home for patients with dementia, which she is fiercely resisting. Then a new resident in the home arrives, someone who Florence and Elsie knew from the 1950s, and who they thought had drowned in 1953. Things start happening in Florence's room that she can't explain - an iron being left on, a cupboard full of hoarded food - is the new resident trying to intimidate her all over again, or is it all in fact a symptom of the dementia she is certain she doesn't have? With a twist at the end that I didn't see coming at all, we finally perceive the truth. Very enjoyable, I thoroughly recommend it. 4/5.

Fev 18, 2020, 11:25 am

>52 Jackie_K: I fell in love with France via Peter Mayle. Have only French Lessons still in my TBRs...

>55 Jackie_K: BB! This sounds really interesting.

Fev 18, 2020, 2:37 pm

>41 Jackie_K: Living on a Scottish Island sounds so wonderful but when I was on Islay internet was very hit and miss. Not sure if I could live with that although the island itself is beautiful.

Fev 19, 2020, 1:28 pm

>56 detailmuse: I'm planning on reading Bon Appetit for a challenge next month, I'm looking forward to it!
>57 Familyhistorian: Yes, I think a few years ago my husband might have been persuaded, but now he does a lot of home working and really really needs a good internet connection for that it will be harder to persuade him! Maybe when we retire...


A Short History of Christianity, by my friend Stephen Tomkins, is possibly better titled A Short History of the Institutional Western Church. This is a whistle-stop tour of the past two millennia, introducing all the major players and politics, some of which are more edifying than others, it has to be said. He's a great communicator. 4/5.

Fev 21, 2020, 11:46 am

ROOT #10

Water Runs Slow Through Flat Land by Cliff Jones is a novel telling the story of a cynical deskbound journalist who on being made redundant sets himself up as a freelance foreign correspondent and heads off to Afghanistan. The book took quite a long time to get into its stride - the first third is really the back story of how he loses his job, around the time that he also starts a relationship with a colleague. Once in Afghanistan things go pear-shaped for him and his fixer rather quickly, and the story flits between his own predicament near Kandahar, and his friends, former colleagues, and Foreign Office wonks, trying to figure out how to help him. The first third could have been more ruthlessly edited, I thought, but the second 2/3 of the book was mostly much quicker-moving, and a random reference to British comedy character Alan Partridge did make me smile. 3/5.

Fev 24, 2020, 12:23 pm

ROOT #11

The Unmumsy Mum is one of the current crop of parent bloggers who tell it like it really is - how sometimes you feel inadequate as a parent, how sometimes (often) you'll feel guilty at not doing enough, how sometimes it isn't like all the perfect Instagram posts proclaiming #soblessed, how sometimes your children are just idiots. And also how sometimes they're awesome, and hilarious, and gorgeous. What I like about these blogs, and the Unmumsy Mum in particular, is that she provides a space where harassed parents can feel less alone, and realise that it's not just them that are feeling these things. She has faced some criticism, having been accused of moaning and being ungrateful, but I think that's rubbish - anything which tells parents 'you've got this' when you've got sick in your bra and snot on your leggings and the last thing you feel is that you've got anything is good by me. Actually I think this book (and the blog and facebook page etc that it comes from) is really affirming and positive, and totally pro-parents. It's also funny, and a bit sweary, but let's face it, so's parenting. 4.5/5.

Fev 29, 2020, 10:00 am

Hi Jackie!

>55 Jackie_K: Added to my wish list, it sounds like something I’d really enjoy.

>60 Jackie_K: anything which tells parents 'you've got this' when you've got sick in your bra and snot on your leggings and the last thing you feel is that you've got anything is good by me.

Jenna was 18 months, we were at Sears to get pictures taken, I wanted her hair in pigtails with cute little barrettes, and she was on the floor kicking and screaming. A woman smiled at me and said something like “These moments are so precious” and I remember snarling back at her “I don’t think so.”

Fev 29, 2020, 4:32 pm

>61 karenmarie: Hi Karen! I hope you enjoy it if you get to it (I realise you have, ahem, a few others in the queue!!!).
I remember as a health visitor, visiting new parents, and one woman in particular has always stayed with me. I said to her, 'you know, sometimes parenting a baby is just really really boring', and she looked so relieved that somebody had said what she was feeling! So much about social media is great, but it's so difficult when all you're seeing is people photographing their 'perfect' lives (ie none of the boring or bad bits!).

I had hoped to get one more ROOT finished this month, but won't quite make it - hopefully tomorrow or Monday. But, I'm back on track both with reading and with my 2:1 reading:acquiring books this month, so I'm happy!

The ROOTs I finished this month:

* Gabriella Coleman - Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous.
* Helen Webster & Paul Webster - Scottish Island Bagging.
* Jean Rhys - Wide Sargasso Sea.
* Peter Mayle - A Year in Provence.
* Joanna Cannon - Three Things About Elsie.
* Stephen Tomkins - A Short History of Christianity.
* Cliff Jones - Water Runs Slow Through Flat Land.
* The Unmumsy Mum - The Unmumsy Mum.

And my February acquisitions:

* Roger Deakin - Waterlog.
* Fergal Keane - Letter to Daniel.
* Malcolm Alexander - Close to Where the Heart Gives Out.

Year to date I have read 11 ROOTs and acquired 5 books (I already know which one I want to get when I finish my next book!).

Mar 1, 2020, 2:39 am

>60 Jackie_K: I think we all, as mums, had that feeling about parenting. But it was/is not done to say so. We suffered in silence thinking we were the only ones who felt like that.

Mar 7, 2020, 12:45 pm

>62 Jackie_K: That constant message of 'perfect' lives is true of a lot of social media, like Facebook. I rarely go on that site because I find it depressing.

Mar 7, 2020, 12:59 pm

>63 connie53: I think things are more open today, although also still lots of things aren't said. Parenting is enough of a minefield already, without having to pretend life is perfect as well.

>64 Familyhistorian: I'm lucky in that most of my friends and family are p>retty realistic and happy to show the less-than-perfect side of life on facebook. But the perfection message is everywhere, in the mainstream media too, and it doesn't do anyone any good.

In other news, I've had a slow start, but finally completed my first ROOT for March!

ROOT #12

I've said many times before that I'm yet to meet a Wainwright Prize-nominated book that I haven't loved, and Raynor Winn's The Salt Path is no exception to that. This is the account of her and her husband Moth's loss of everything - home, income, possessions - after a dodgy investment came back to haunt them in the courts, followed within the same week by Moth's diagnosis of a terminal illness called CBD, and their decision to drop everything and hike the South-West Path in England (630 miles of coast path through Dorset, Devon, and Cornwall). It is not a straightforward 'nature as redemption' story - the realities of homelessness, failing bodies, reliance on their wits and £48 a week benefits mean that this is sometimes a very distressing read, although ultimately the book ends with a note of hope. The author's follow up book is out later this year, and I for one will definitely be reading it. 4.5/5.

Mar 7, 2020, 2:35 pm

ROOT #13

The Unwitchy Witch is by Tom Cooney, who is a member of the online writing group I'm part of. It's a Halloween story aimed at age 5-10 year olds. Arabelle and her younger sister Luna are being trained by their witch mum to follow in her footsteps. Her dad can't be a witch, but that's not to say that he's not a wizard in other ways. However, unlike Luna, who's a natural, Arabelle isn't that good at spells, and resists becoming a witch. An argument between their parents mean that mum and Luna move out for a few days. Will the family come back together again? Will their Halloween party mean that they are accepted at last by families at school? And will Arabelle ever learn how to cast spells? A sweet story, that probably could have done with a bit more editing, but I think the story ideas and level of language works well for the age group. 3/5.

Mar 12, 2020, 12:57 am

This is my first challenge and I'm curious if your 400 tbr are all your unread books or just the ones you actively want to read. I'm trying to decide if marking tbrs would help me get to them or overwhelm me!

Mar 12, 2020, 5:13 am

>67 ritacate: hello! They are all my currently unread books that I own - there are of course many many many many more on my wishlist, but I only count them here if I actually own them. Does that make sense?

Mar 13, 2020, 2:59 pm

ROOT #14

Being a glutton for punishment, every so often I read a book which really really stre-e-e-e-e-tches me! Since the start of this year I've been reading Poezii, aka the complete poetry of Mihai Eminescu, in the original Romanian, which I downloaded in one of those it-was-a-good-idea-at-the-time moments from Project Gutenberg. I'll be honest, I skimmed quite a lot of this (I'd probably have skimmed them in translation too, especially the long poems!), but I did get through it and am glad I can say I've read at least some of it! Eminescu is held in similar esteem in Romania as Shakespeare is in England and Burns is in Scotland, and is often similarly invoked by nationalist politicians. I can't say I understood loads of the poems (I did do better with the very extensive introduction), but I can say that he draws on an impressive amount of sources - along with the pastoral and love poems featuring flowers, clouds, rivers, forests, stars, meadows etc, he also regularly draws on philosophers, literature (including Shakespeare), Christianity, Islam, Greek and Roman mythology, even Darwin more than once. He was pretty prolific, and I'll say this for him, he really has a way with rhyming words! I think I'll have a look on YouTube and see if I can find any of his poems being recited - Romanian is a very musical and poetic language, and I bet these poems sound beautiful when they're not read with an English accent! 3/5 (but 10/10 for me for effort!).

Mar 15, 2020, 10:51 am

>69 Jackie_K: Kudos for persevering with this! Poetry is so hard to understand, I find.

Mar 17, 2020, 12:49 pm

>68 Jackie_K: lol!🤣 it wouldn't even occur to me to list as unread the books I don't own! I have too many on my own shelf to "borrow trouble."

My husband and I have discussed whether our library is for only books we like and want to read or is it also to simply have available in case we are one day interested or suddenly inspired to read Norse myths, Plato, or a history of the war in Vietnam (especially after library hours.) I do not want Audels Power Plant Guide with Questions and Answers on my tbr list!

Mar 17, 2020, 3:45 pm

>69 Jackie_K: Poetry ... with that type of content ...in Romanian :0 No kidding, 10/10!!

Mar 18, 2020, 3:52 am

>72 detailmuse: I'm with MJ on that. Romanian poetry. I would not know where to begin.

Mar 19, 2020, 2:51 pm

Hi Jackie!

I just read about what's going on with you and the changed schooling situation on Connie's thread - good luck with the homeschooling and all the other changes.

We're trying to stay sane here in North Carolina. More cases everywhere, things shut down, things shutting down, economic pandemonium, fears about infection. We're all doing the best we can.

Stay safe.

Mar 19, 2020, 4:55 pm

>70 MissWatson: >71 ritacate: >72 detailmuse: >73 connie53: Thank you all! I'm not sure I understood all that much (I'm not much of a poetry person at the best of times, even in English!) but it was good to get myself thinking about the rhythms and sounds of the language again. I think I'll probably stick to prose in the future though.

>74 karenmarie: Hi Karen! Thank you, there's a lot going on - we're living in weird times, aren't we? I've just been ordering a few maths and English books at the appropriate curriculum level - as much so that I can make sure that the stuff we do is at the level they expect for her age, rather than me giving her things that are too easy or too hard. I'm not going to be super-strict about it, as long as we do a little bit each day to maintain some sort of continuity for her. And people are posting links all over facebook and twitter to online sites that look great - museums, zoos, music etc, plus age-appropriate physical exercise. I can't say I'm looking forward with massive enthusiasm to the prospect of homeschooling for the next however long it's going to be, but I think if we can do a little bit each day and try to have lots of fun as well then hopefully we'll get through it. I'll miss the income (I'm having to drop one of my jobs, plus probably the majority of my freelancing, and will only have a couple of morning's work in the hospital) but you've just got to get on with it, haven't you? Pete is well set up for working from home, and his job seems secure and stable, so if we can come through this to the other end then I can always pick up work again later.

I hope you and all my LT friends keep safe and well, and covid19 passes you and your loved ones by. At least we be pretty confident we're all prepared with enough stockpiled reading material! :)

Mar 21, 2020, 12:15 pm

ROOT #15

Venice by Jan Morris is a classic of travel writing. Originally published in the early 60s, and regularly updated since then (my version, which has been on my shelves since 2003, was published in 1993), it's not a guide, so much as an immersive history. I visited Venice in 2010 (I even took this book with me, although I didn't get round to reading it!), so it was nice to be able to picture some of the places being talked about. I really enjoyed this (though it did feel very Radio 4, 'highbrow for the masses'). 4/5.

ROOT #16

I needed something light and silly in these worrying times, to take my mind off it for a few minutes. Cue Asterix and the Roman agent, I can always rely on Asterix and his merry band of Gauls to provide some much-needed levity. In this one, Caesar resorts to psychological warfare to try to break the unity of the indomitable Gauls, using the treacherous agent Tortuous Convolvulus to sow discord and enmity. The usual silliness ensues. 3.5/5.

Mar 28, 2020, 1:25 pm

ROOT #17

Peter Mayle's Bon Appetit! Travels through France with knife, fork and corkscrew was a nice, entertaining read and a very pleasant diversion from the current stress of covid-19 lockdown. Here he attends food festivals and events around France, discussing both the food and the events, and very enjoyable it was too. I think I prefer A Year in Provence to this, but it was still fun and made me smile. 3.5/5.

Mar 30, 2020, 7:28 am

ROOT #18

Between Two Rivers is a memoir by Dorothy Al Khafaji, an English woman who met and married an Iraqi student and then lived with him and their children in Baghdad for nearly 20 years, returning to the UK only a few weeks before the start of the Iran-Iraq War in the mid-1980s. She details everyday life in Baghdad, partly from the perspective of a foreigner learning to settle in a new country, with all those challenges, but also (and to be honest, more interestingly to me), life in Iraq before Saddam and then as he came to power and increased his grip on the country. She probably could have missed out a few of the family arguments, but otherwise I thought this was a really interesting read, and a good antidote to the prevailing view of Iraq today as a barely-recovering war zone. 4/5.

Mar 30, 2020, 12:17 pm

>77 Jackie_K: I love Peter Mayle. His books sound like great quarantine reading right now -- comforting, slow-paced tableaus of country life full of lots of delicious food and wine. My high school French teacher used to treat us every other Friday and spend the class reading aloud from the Provence books. Perhaps time for a reread for me!

Mar 31, 2020, 11:57 am

>79 curioussquared: Yes, his books are perfect comfort reading! They're not at all stressful or demanding, and make me think only nice thoughts :) Excellent French teacher there too - I remember my music teacher once using our Friday afternoon lesson at the end of term to show us the film Amadeus (to be fair, Mozart was one of our set composers, so it wasn't completely unrelated to what we were meant to be doing, but I don't think it's the world's most historically accurate film either!).

It's the last day of March (how, exactly?!), and I don't think I'm going to finish another book, so here's my monthly roundup. I read 7 ROOTs in March:

* Raynor Wynn - The Salt Path.
* Tom Cooney - The Unwitchy Witch.
* Mihai Eminescu - Poezii.
* Jan Morris - Venice.
* Goscinny & Uderzo - Asterix and the Roman agent.
* Peter Mayle - Bon Appetit!.
* Dorothy Al Khafaji - Between Two Rivers.

And I acquired 4 books, meaning that my 2:1 read:acquired is spot on for the year so far! These are my new books:

* Giles Paley-Phillips - One Hundred and Fifty-Two Days.
* Lucy Jones - Losing Eden: Why Our Minds Need the Wild.
* Various - Red Sixty Seven. (no touchstone: this is a book from the British Trust for Ornithology, about the 67 birds on the 'red' (or endangered) list in the UK).
* Nan Shepherd - The Living Mountain.

Mar 31, 2020, 11:22 pm

Strange times we are living in. Every week seems to bring new rules and challenges. I hope they do the trick! Good luck with home schooling, Jackie. I hope you get to sneak in some ROOTs reads in your "spare" time.

Abr 1, 2020, 11:23 am

>81 Familyhistorian: Thank you Meg! I already thought teachers were amazing, but I think it even more now - I am amply demonstrating to my daughter every day why I never became a school teacher! But, she's doing a few activities, we're playing some games, we're getting some exercise in the back court most days, have sown some seeds, and we're still mostly getting on OK, so that'll do for now! In all honesty, all I want to do right now is sleep.

I did finish another ROOT just now though - I'll not add it to tickers till Cheli gets the April thread up. It was the most recent acquisition:

ROOT #19

The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd is a remarkable little book. Written in the 1940s but not published till the 1970s, it is a deep immersion into a particular landscape, the Cairngorms in Scotland. Really this book kickstarted the current renaissance in nature writing, and is a sensual evocation of place and lives, animals, plants, water and rock. With a substantial Foreword by Robert Macfarlane and an Afterword by Jeanette Winterson, this was a stunning read which will take me a good while to process. 4.5/5.

Abr 2, 2020, 1:43 pm

Just read on the March thread that you are continuing to get some writing in every day, Jackie. That's excellent and reminds me I should get back to the book I am writing too, I'm spending a lot of time lately doing research for my blog but I have to find a way to better balance my time so maybe the jigsaw puzzle isn't such a great idea, oh well. I have no idea how you are able to get in the writing given all the extra you now have on your plate.

Abr 2, 2020, 11:17 pm

A friend of mine in the Netherlands said that a lot of people are reading the Asterix comics. Hope it brought you some laughs.

Abr 4, 2020, 4:05 am

I know EAM. Perhaps we have the same friend!

Abr 4, 2020, 10:06 am

>83 Familyhistorian: I've decided to write a homeschooling diary, which I may or may not do something with when this is all over, but it is a way of getting me to write every day. Yesterday I only wrote 90 words, in 4 minutes, so it's not that I'm spending hours on it! But the discipline is helpful.

>84 enemyanniemae: >85 connie53: I find Asterix the perfect escape for half an hour, which is often all I need to lighten the mood. I'm not surprised people are reading the books more at the moment!

ROOT #20

Inspired by Rachel Held Evans is the book I chose to read this year for Lent. It's subtitled "Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again", and is a mix of short story, and popular theology. It had an extra twinge of poignancy because Rachel died suddenly, in her late 30s, leaving a husband and two very young children, not long after the book was published, and knowing that made her words, which are so full of life, all the more powerful. It did take me a while to get used to the format, and I was less grabbed by the short story/creative writing aspect of the book, but this was a good time to read this, and I will definitely read more of her work. 4/5.

Abr 8, 2020, 9:51 am

ROOT #21

100 Acts of Minor Dissent by comedian and activist Mark Thomas marks a year of performing acts designed to challenge and provoke authority, whether they be tax-dodging multinational corporations, ridiculous Royal Park bye-laws, to challenging the Metropolitan Police over their classification of him as a 'domestic extremist' (this is a case he took to court, and won - some of the surveillance reports on him were ridiculous, my favourite was one which read "Mark Thomas (TV presenter and activist) stops to stand in the way of the camera, has quantity of cress on rear of his cycle"). All the while he was doing this he was also touring the 100 Acts of Minor Dissent standup show throughout the UK, and I was lucky enough to see him in Stirling towards the start of the tour. He hadn't finished his challenge at that point, so quite a lot of the acts were new to me, although some I remember from the live show, which was absolutely hilarious - he's one of my absolute favourite live performers. 4.5/5.

Abr 8, 2020, 8:52 pm

>87 Jackie_K: BB wishlisted

Abr 9, 2020, 10:43 am

>88 Robertgreaves: I hope you enjoy it, Robert!

ROOT #22

The Good Immigrant, edited by Nikesh Shukla, is an anthology of 21 essays by British writers of colour, exploring issues of belonging, being 'other', and of not being accepted however long they've been in the country (including being born here) and however hard they work. Funny, angry, important, vital. 4/5.

Abr 11, 2020, 5:21 am

ROOT #23

And so we come to my first abandoned book of the year. I really did try, but Kathryn Stockett's The Help ultimately just troubled me too much, and right now there's enough troubling stuff going on in the world without being troubled in my reading time too. I was aware when I started the book that there had been some controversy about it, with the author accused of appropriating and profiting from black stories (in this case, black maids working for white American families in the 1960s civil rights era). I wanted to keep an open mind, so haven't read into those criticisms, but I think being aware of them did affect my reading experience. I do feel uncomfortable with the thought of the 'imagination police' telling anybody who they can and can't write about, so persevered for 1/4 of the book, but then came to the chapter where the white character, Skeeter, tells the black maid Aibileen that she wants to interview her and other maids about their experiences of working for white families. Aibileen's reluctance (and initial refusal) was really well written, but so was the fact that Skeeter perseveres with asking her to participate despite thinking through the consequences. Given that it's presumably Skeeter's writing career which will benefit most, and the consequences for any black maid participating was not something she'd particularly thought about, this felt too close to the controversy about Stockett writing this story and I just didn't feel right continuing it. I'll not delete it from my ereader, and maybe I'll come back to it in the future, but right now I just can't do it. I know that this story has been described as the successor to To Kill a Mockingbird, and a friend of mine's teenage daughter has read The Help recently and apparently it completely grabbed her and opened her eyes to issues of justice and race (which is very similar to the reaction I had as a teenage first-time reader of To Kill a Mockingbird), so that's brilliant. But I'm just not in the right place to read this book now, and maybe won't ever be. From the chapters that I did read I can say that Stockett really can tell a good story, she is clearly a very talented writer. But I can't separate that from the wider context, so at least for now I'm done with this particular book. 2/5.

Abr 15, 2020, 4:31 am

ROOT #24

The Emotional Politics of Social Work and Child Protection by Joanne Warner is an accessible academic book for social workers and others involved in the child protection system. Its main argument is that the media and political scrutiny faced by social work and the child protection system is fundamentally constituted by, and creates, collective emotion, which then constructs arguments about risk and blame. Although I am not a social worker, as a health visitor I do have involvement in the child protection system and a lot of the discussion here had me nodding my head in agreement. I think our managers and politicians would do well to read this as well, and reflect on its insights. I also think that it would be a useful case study for media studies students too. 4/5.

Abr 15, 2020, 10:55 am

ROOT #25

The Good Life Elsewhere by Vladimir Lorchenkov, translated by Ross Ufberg, is one of the few Molodvan fiction books I've been able to find in translation. And what a gem it is! It follows a bunch of citizens from the village of Larga, who are dreaming of emigrating from Moldova to the land of milk and honey, aka Italy. Tragicomedy and absurdity ensue. This was really funny, but also surprisingly poignant. I also enjoyed the cameos of some of Moldova's national politicians. Highly recommended. 4.5*

Abr 15, 2020, 11:32 am

>92 Jackie_K: This sounds appealing, Jackie. Would you need to know something of Moldova (and its politicians) to enjoy it, do you think?

Abr 15, 2020, 12:52 pm

>93 Rebeki: I don't think so - I have done some research there and have many Moldovan friends, so I'm probably closer to it than most, but the bits with politicians are only short, and mostly it's about the various villagers. I think it would be a good read even without much knowledge of Moldova.

Abr 15, 2020, 2:37 pm

>94 Jackie_K: That's good to hear - thanks! I'm fascinated by these lesser-known parts of Europe. How great that you got to spend time in Moldova.

Abr 16, 2020, 6:25 am

Hi Jackie!

>86 Jackie_K: How are the homeschooling and homeschooling diary coming along?

>90 Jackie_K: I read The Help in 2011 and wasn’t aware of any controversy at the time. I gave it a 4.5 rating and remember being particularly interested in it because I live in the South and am married to a man who was raised by a black nanny and whose parents unfortunately shared many of the prejudices shown by most of the white characters. It broadened my understanding of black-white relations in the South. I can understand your abandoning it though.

Abr 17, 2020, 4:54 pm

>90 Jackie_K:, >96 karenmarie: Like Karen, I liked The Help so much when I read it in 2009 that I read the next several releases from its editor/publisher, Amy Einhorn. But Jackie, I totally understand your reaction -- I'd been interested in reading American Dirt this year until its controversy highlighted racial inequities and misleading marketing. Very interesting to note that Amy Einhorn is its publisher too! :0

Editado: Abr 18, 2020, 7:08 am

>96 karenmarie: >97 detailmuse: I could definitely see that The Help was really well written, and in many ways a really important story. I think though that as I become more aware of issues of inequity in the publishing industry, and who gets to tell stories, it was just too much *for me* right now. Going forward, I'm trying to be more aware and make my own shelves more diverse.

>96 karenmarie: Thank you - we've had a couple of weeks off homeschooling because of the school holidays, but before then it was sort of going OK! We did have a couple of 'mental health' days (with her teacher's blessing) where we did less because A got quite upset about how things are at the moment, but we've been trying to do regular exercise and there are (thank goodness) so many online resources we can tap into as well, so hopefully it's not too traumatic a memory for her when she's older looking back! We're doing a fair bit of reading which has been great :) The diary is helping me to reflect on what's working and what I need to change about my own expectations, so I think it's been a good thing for me.

Abr 18, 2020, 10:39 am

I cannot imagine what it must be like to be a kid now, going through this situation. Glad you have exercise and mental health days to keep everyone going.

Abr 19, 2020, 2:13 pm

>86 Jackie_K: Good luck with your homeschooling diary, Jackie. I saw a very interesting interview with Ruth Badley at the Family Tree Live Virtual Conference which is free to view until April 24. She wrote "Where are the Grown-ups?" Her interview might give you some ideas of how to shape the diary into a story. It's called 'Turning your family history into a book' and can be found at https://www.family-tree.co.uk/how-to-guides/family-tree-live-virtual-conference/...

Abr 19, 2020, 4:31 pm

>99 rabbitprincess: Yes - although the news is depressing and disheartening, at least we have a wider view of what is going on, as adults. It's all so weird for us, and so much more so when you don't have the wider context to go on. I suppose the one thing I can take comfort from is that all her contemporaries are going through it as well, it's not just her (although thanks to social isolation it will feel like it sometimes).

>100 Familyhistorian: Ooh thank you, I will take a good look at that.

Abr 20, 2020, 3:15 am

>90 Jackie_K: I liked Een keukenmeidenroman too when I read it in 2013 and gave it ****1/2 back then. Maybe you can give it another shot somewhere in the future.

Glad to hear that homeschooling is getting some shape and form. I hope A can give all this a place when it's all over. But I also think all children will take this with them into their future lives. Hang in there and stay safe.

Abr 20, 2020, 5:46 am

>102 connie53: Thank you Connie. Yes, I'm sure this will have a profound impact on children living through these weird times. What is good is that the school staff seem to be very concerned about not just the children's educational development but their mental health and wellbeing as well, and I trust them when all this is over and they go back to school that they will be really looking out for all our children.

Editado: Abr 20, 2020, 1:48 pm

Non-ROOT #4

A Stone Statue in the Future by Benjamin Myers is a short story produced specifically for these weird Covid-19 times, as a collaboration between the author and two independent publishers, Little Toller and Bluemoose Books. It's only 8 pages long, but packs so much in it! I'm not actually sure if it's fiction or non-fiction - it seems to blur the boundaries. It reflects on how language and landscape change over time, how what we value in the natural world changes likewise over time, whilst meditating on the author's (in)experience of fishing and the help he receives from an experienced warden, Old Ted. The writing is really beautiful. 4.5/5.

It can be bought from here: https://www.littletoller.co.uk/shop/books/little-toller/a-stone-statue-in-the-fu... (ebook, £3).

Abr 25, 2020, 5:35 am

My reading slump has continued, but I did manage to read another book this week. I've found that I just couldn't do full-on fiction (I know it's not my main relaxation place anyway) and just needed something that didn't engage much with my emotions, as there's enough going on in the world that I feel that something which creates an excessive emotional response is more than I can deal with right now. I do have some fiction books part-read at the moment, but I'm taking them very slowly. So this book was ideal for me - it engaged my brain without winding me up:

ROOT #26

Philomena de Lima's International Migration: The Wellbeing of Migrants is an academic book which looks at the issue of migration from a more human perspective than many social policy texts, which largely foreground economic arguments for and against. The book discusses the difficulties arising from different definitions of migration, different policy priorities and hostile media and political rhetoric, and considers in particular the issue of wellbeing, not only in the receiving society but across the 'migration trajectory'. She ends with a call for more interdisciplinary work on the issue, as it is too big for a single discipline such as social policy to be able to address all the important issues arising from the phenomenon of international migration. I'd say this is mainly aimed at undergraduate social policy and health/social care management students, and is a good primer and pointer for further study. 4/5.

Abr 26, 2020, 3:02 pm

Hi Jackie!

>97 detailmuse: I boycotted American Dirt for those reasons, MJ, but there was a lot of rancor about reading/not reading that book in the 75ers group. One member even left the group, probably permanently.

>98 Jackie_K: I’m trying to be more careful about what books by what authors/publishers I read.

You sound like a wonderful parent, Jackie, and mental health days are such a good idea if your child is upset. I’m upset, too, and I can understand more about it than she can! I have an almost-5-year-old great nephew who’s been having nightmares about germs. His mommies can only downplay the danger so much when my biological niece, one of his two mommies, has to strip and shower before she can see him in the evenings because she works as a psychologist and many of her clients are in senior care centers and nursing homes. And they’re worried about school in the fall – he’s supposed to start kindergarten but who knows. They’re in California, in Los Angeles county, and there have been clusters in their town. They've also got an 8-month old, my niece's wife has probably permanently lost her job, and yet they're doing so well at coping. I admire them.

I salute all Mom/Dad homeschoolers!

Abr 26, 2020, 8:15 pm

>103 Jackie_K: It seems like a lot of thought is being given to children in the messaging that goes out about the pandemic as well. Which is a good think. Our provincial health minister has a recorded public announcement about the restrictions and one thing that she says which is addressed to children is: "This is not forever, this is just for now."

Abr 29, 2020, 12:34 pm

>106 karenmarie: Thank you, Karen, for such kind words! Your niece and her wife sound amazing, and your great nephew is lucky to have such caring and competent mommies! Whatever happens, I don't think things will go back to how they were before for a very long time.

>107 Familyhistorian: Yes, the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, is including specific briefings where she answers children's questions and tries to reassure them. I am very glad that she is in charge up here.

ROOT #27

Bottled Up: How the way we feed babies has come to define motherhood, and why it shouldn't by Suzanne Barston is a rigorously researched discussion of bottle feeding babies, and importantly, what that means culturally. What I particularly liked about this was her no-nonsense approach to the unthinking cultural assumptions about the supremacy of breastfeeding, and also how this can fail mothers who breastfeed as well as those who don't (for example, by focusing on workplace policies around expressing milk, rather than policies that would extend maternity leave). This is a very valuable (and readable) addition to a very contentious debate. 4/5.

Abr 30, 2020, 11:59 am

I'm not going to finish another book today, so here's April's round up. I'm still keeping up with the 2 read for 1 purchased thing (but I have several pre-orders which I think might be on their way soon, so that might not last!).

I finished 9 ROOTs in April (including one which I abandoned):

1. Nan Shepherd - The Living Mountain.
2. Rachel Held Evans - Inspired.
3. Mark Thomas - 100 Acts of Minor Dissent.
4. Ed. Nikesh Sukla - The Good Immigrant.
5. Kathryn Stockett - The Help. (Abandoned)
6. Joanne Warner - The Emotional Politics of Social Work and Child Protection.
7. Vladimir Lorchenkov - The Good Life Elsewhere.
8. Philomena de Lima - International Migration: The Wellbeing of Migrants.
9. Suzanne Barston - Bottled Up.

And I bought 4 books in April:

1. Julian Barr - Tooth and Blade.
2. Alice Vincent - Rootbound: Rewilding a Life.
3. Rachel Clarke - Dear Life.
4. Philip Pullman - Daemon Voices: Essays on Storytelling.

Editado: Maio 7, 2020, 11:13 am

ROOT #28

This book, A Bit of Fry & Laurie, has been on my shelf a LONG time! It was a birthday present from my sister in the early 90s, I think. I was never actually that into Fry & Laurie (although I loved the later things they were in, especially Blackadder), which is probably why I never picked this up to read until now. The book contains the complete scripts for their very first series (which I think was broadcast in 1988, so now I feel very old!), and I think I found it much funnier now than I would have done in my early 20s, when I'm pretty sure I wouldn't really have got the humour. Mostly though I'm amazed at just how young and fresh-faced they look on the cover! 3.5/5.

Maio 7, 2020, 3:15 pm

>110 Jackie_K: Oh, those blue eyes!!! :D

Maio 8, 2020, 4:15 pm

>111 rabbitprincess: I know, right?!

One of the things I've been doing during lockdown is taking part in Covid-19-related surveys, and one of them is for the Scottish Book Trust. This week's survey made me laugh this evening - one of the questions (in the section asking about where I get my books from, before and during lockdown) was asking me if I was worried about running out of books. They've no idea...!

Maio 9, 2020, 10:54 am

ROOT #29

Red Sixty Seven is a beautiful coffee table book which details the 67 birds on the most recent 'red list' of British birds - ie the birds at highest risk of population decline. Each bird has a single page of prose (or in a couple of cases poetry) from a different writer, and a single page illustration by a different artist, all of whom gave their services for free. The book is sold in aid of the British Trust for Ornithology and the RSPB. 4.5/5.

Maio 10, 2020, 4:38 pm

Non-ROOT #5

Paul Theroux's Deep South was the last book I got out of the local library before lockdown. Although I'm a big fan of good travel writing, and Paul Theroux is one of the most renowned travel writers of the last several decades, I hadn't actually ever read any of his work before. I have to say, I really enjoyed this, and am keen to read more of his books now. In this one, he spends four different seasons driving around the back roads of the American Deep South, hanging out, meeting people, attending churches and gun shows, exploring the literature and culture and politics of the southern states. I gather he has a bit of a 'grumpy old man' reputation, but here I found him very interested in the people he met, and very respectful of them, keen to understand their perspectives. 4.5/5.

Maio 11, 2020, 4:43 pm

ROOT #30

Dancing with Bees by Brigit Strawbridge Howard is a lovely nature book which focuses not only on bees, but also other insects, plants and birds that she learns about in the course of reconnecting with nature. I really liked that it's not an expert writing, nor is it a formal reference book, but someone learning as she goes along, like we all are. This is a lovely read, and has already changed something I was thinking about for the future, namely keeping a couple of beehives. Through reading this I realise that I will be a lot more helpful to the environment and the local bee populations if instead I focus on planting flowers for the wild pollinators rather than introducing potentially non-native honeybees. And this book has made me feel very enthusiastic about doing that. 4.5/5.

Maio 13, 2020, 4:33 am

>112 Jackie_K:. No, they don't. Glad to read you are still hanging in there. I have to find out if here in the Netherlands we do have that kind of surveys. I like to participate in those kind of things.

Maio 13, 2020, 6:10 am

>116 connie53: Yes, I like filling in the surveys, it makes me feel like I'm doing something useful. I am participating in two university survey series - both about the psychological impacts of covid-19 and being on lockdown - and this one on reading habits during lockdown run by the Scottish Book Trust.

Maio 14, 2020, 9:38 am

Non-ROOT #6

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell was the first ebook I successfully checked out of the library - lockdown is finally bringing me into the 21st century! (at least for the library - I'm a big ebook fan already, I just never got round to signing up for e-library books). It does what it says on the tin - it turns out that bookshop customers, just like people everywhere, can be really really weird. 3/5.

Maio 14, 2020, 12:15 pm

>118 Jackie_K: I love library ebooks so. much. Over the last five years or so, my library usage has changed from 100% print books to 50% ebooks, 45% e-audiobooks, and 5% print books -- basically, when I can't get my hands on a digital version, lol. I love my print books, but I have enough of them to read at home, and I love the convenience of not even having to visit the library to get the goods!

Plus, my favorite trick is when I have an ebook checked out that I'm not going to get to before it's due back, I just put my Kindle into airplane mode -- and voila, the book stays on my Kindle until I take it out of airplane mode, but it doesn't affect the library's ability to keep lending out that digital copy. It's amazing!

Maio 15, 2020, 12:27 pm

>119 curioussquared: Ooh, that is a good trick to know! One slight snag in my plan, discovered today, is that for some reason my ereader won't read DRM-enabled library books (although it is authorised to Adobe Digital Editions), which means that my wishlist of 65 potential library reads over lockdown has suddenly been whittled down to 14. I could read the others on ADE on the computer, but I don't like reading on a big clunky computer, and it won't be any help for overnight reading under the covers! I'll just have to buy more books instead (she says, selflessly).

Maio 15, 2020, 4:46 pm

ROOT #31

I wanted a short read so as usual went to Asterix (I've only got one unread one left, so will need to augment my collection!). This time it was Asterix and the Cauldron - Asterix is entrusted with guarding a cauldron full of money by dodgy Gaulish chief Whosemoralsarelastix, but they are stolen and Asterix is banished from the village. Cue Asterix and Obelix trying all sorts of means and adventures to refill the cauldron to restore the honour of the village. It wasn't my favourite of the Asterix stories, but it was a nice diversion. 3/5.

Maio 15, 2020, 9:11 pm

>120 Jackie_K: Is it possible to sideload books from ADE on your computer to your ereader?

Maio 16, 2020, 6:59 am

>122 Robertgreaves: that's what I'm trying to do. It's fine with the unprotected ones. It's not a huge problem, it's not like I'm short of books! 😁

Maio 16, 2020, 8:25 am

Hi Jackie!

>120 Jackie_K: What a great reason to buy more books. *smile*

>123 Jackie_K: Not being short of books is not the same as having the Exact One You Want To Read when you want to read it.

Maio 16, 2020, 9:34 am

>120 Jackie_K: How heroic of you! Too bad about the technical glitches with the ebooks. It's one of the reasons I'm shying away from anything not in the public domain, the rights and technical barriers are so intransparent.

Maio 22, 2020, 11:07 am

Nice reading selections, Jackie!

>119 curioussquared: good Kindle tip! I often have to borrow library audiobooks a couple times to get through them, so will try what you suggest if I'm close to finishing after the due date -- I listen on an older iPhone so would be easier to keep on airplane mode.

Maio 22, 2020, 12:24 pm

>126 detailmuse: I haven't tried it with audiobooks since I listen on my normal phone so don't want to put it in airplane mode, but I imagine it would work similarly!

Maio 24, 2020, 11:24 am

>124 karenmarie: That's very true, Karen. Although I am lucky that Mt TBR contains many books in many different genres, so it's entirely possible that I've already got the perfect book for the time it's required!

>125 MissWatson: I think changing my Adobe password might have been what did it. Just when I think I've got a grip on technology it foils me again!

>126 detailmuse: Hello MJ! (and >127 curioussquared:) I'm not an audiobook listener as a rule, but if I did then I'd probably try the library first before committing to a subscription or suchlike. I don't have the attention span to listen for long periods (although I can get absorbed in a book I'm reading) - often if I'm listening to something on the radio I'll wake up and find I've missed loads of what's been going on, and I'm pretty sure audiobooks would be the same for me.

ROOT #32

Sam Kean's Caesar's Last Breath is a popular science book looking at the science and history behind the various gases that make up the air we breathe. This is the first of his books I've tried and on the basis of this one I'll definitely be looking out for the others - this guy knows how to tell a tale and keep the reader hooked, even if the subject matter is ostensibly quite dry. I don't have a particularly scientific background, but was able to follow the science whilst enjoying the tales of the (often quite hapless) scientists discovering all these different gases. The endnotes were also entertaining and well worth a read - it was worth it just for the incidental anecdote about notorious Scottish poet William Macgonagall's short-lived acting career. Highly recommended for all interested in science without the jargon. 4.5/5.

Maio 24, 2020, 1:10 pm

>128 Jackie_K: Yay! I loved this one. Naturally the interlude about farts was my favourite part, haha.

Maio 24, 2020, 1:14 pm

>128 Jackie_K: yes, the library is a fantastic audiobook resource! I also don't have th attention span to just listen to a book; for me, audiobooks are for multitasking when I can't physically hold a book or need my eyes. I like to listen while walking the dogs, driving, or doing housework. It makes me much more inclined to tidy!

Maio 24, 2020, 4:24 pm

>130 curioussquared: I tend to listen to podcasts - I guess I must just have a shorter attention span!

>129 rabbitprincess: Haha, normally I'd be right there with you, but William Macgonagall as Macbeth refusing to die and having to be rugby tackled and dragged off the stage by Macduff beats even the best fart anecdotes!

Maio 24, 2020, 4:35 pm

I too mostly listen to audiobooks while walking. But still I get distracted and never "bond" with an audiobook as much as with a print book.

Sam Kean has such a fun way with science. He wrote that his book on genetics was inspired by his parents, Gene and Jean :)) !!

Maio 28, 2020, 5:53 am

>132 detailmuse: Gene and Jean, really?! That's hilarious!

ROOT #33

In Extremis: The Life of War Correspondent Marie Colvin by Lindsey Hilsum is a meticulously researched biography which was deservedly shortlisted for the Costa Biography award. Marie Colvin was for many years the foreign correspondent for the Sunday Times, and she was killed while reporting in Syria in 2012. A couple of years ago I read her collected writings which revealed a passionate and exceptional reporter, and this biography, written by her friend and fellow foreign correspondent and drawing extensively on Marie's diaries and interviews with friends, family and colleagues, fills in the life behind the reports. Marie was a very complex woman, with many failed relationships and an increasing dependence on alcohol, but shining through it all is a portrait of a woman who lived life at 150% and never gave anything but her all. 4.5/5.

Maio 29, 2020, 4:10 pm

ROOT #34

Saga Land by Richard Fidler and Kari Gislason is a fascinating account of Iceland and its famous family sagas. Part travel book, part memoir, part history, the two authors (the first, an Australian broadcaster, the second a half-Australian half-Icelandic academic) introduce the reader to some of the most famous of the sagas and travel to the places where the main events of those sagas took place. At the same time though, this is the story of Kari rediscovering his own family saga (he was the result of an affair between an Australian expat and a married Icelandic man with a family of his own already), and regaining his place as a son of Iceland. I was hooked from start to finish. 4.5/5.

Maio 31, 2020, 10:32 pm

Ooh, Saga Land looks like a good one, Jackie.

Jun 1, 2020, 11:35 am

>135 Familyhistorian: It is, I think you'd really like it! A really nice mix of travel, memoir and history, and even though the two authors write alternate chapters, it doesn't feel disjointed at all but fits together really well.

It's now June (how, exactly?!) so here's my May round up - it's been a pretty good month.

I read 7 ROOTs, 5 of which I awarded 4.5* to:

1. Stephen Fry & Hugh Laurie - A Bit of Fry & Laurie.
2. Various, curated by Kit Jewitt - Red Sixty Seven.
3. Brigit Strawbridge Howard - Dancing With Bees.
4. Goscinny & Uderzo - Asterix and the Cauldron.
5. Sam Kean - Caesar's Last Breath.
6. Lindsey Hilsum - In Extremis.
7. Richard Fidler & Kari Gislason - Saga Land.

I also read two library books, one of those was a 4.5* read too:

1. Paul Theroux - Deep South.
2. Jen Campbell - Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops.

And I acquired 4 new books, meaning I'm still spot on with my 2 for 1 so far this year:

1. Dan Richards - Outpost.
2. Margaret Simons - Six Square Metres.
3. Dara McAnulty - Diary of a Young Naturalist.
4. Lauret Savoy - Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape.

Jun 3, 2020, 10:33 am

Hi Jackie! Congrats on a stellar May reading month! I hope you and your family are doing well.

Editado: Jun 4, 2020, 4:08 pm

>137 karenmarie: Thank you Karen! We're fine, thank you - a bit fed up, but otherwise getting on OK!

I have finished 2 ROOTs in the last couple of days, getting the month off to a good start.

ROOT #35

Six Square Metres: Reflections from a Small Garden by Australian journalist Margaret Simons is a short, thoughtful book detailing her efforts to grow things in her tiny inner city Melbourne garden. She orders it by season, and also includes reflections on life and death along with her accounts of spindly veg and homemade compost. A lovely read. 4/5.

ROOT #36

Richard King's The Lark Ascending: The Music of the British Landscape is a fascinating look at the connection between music and landscape in 20th century Britain (admittedly mainly England, although Wales and Scotland aren't entirely neglected). Starting with reflections on the music of Vaughan Williams (whose haunting composition gives the book its title) and ending with accounts of rural raves in the 1990s, this is a really interesting social as well as cultural history. 4.5/5.

Jun 8, 2020, 7:28 am

ROOT #37

Reni Eddo-Lodge's Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race is a must-read book about race and racism in the UK. She highlights how much of 'race history' that people are taught in the UK is actually US history (Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, etc), and how ignorant we are of our own race history here. So the first chapter rectifies that, before she goes on to look at issues such as feminism, class, opportunity, and white privilege. It's not a comfortable read, but it's a vital one, and it's very powerfully and persuasively written. For anyone, especially white people, wanting to listen, learn, and act to combat racism, this should be compulsory reading. 5/5.

Jun 8, 2020, 12:20 pm

>139 Jackie_K: This one is on my list to pick up. If you haven't read it, I think Ijeoma Oluo's So You Want to Talk About Race is fantastic.

Jun 8, 2020, 12:58 pm

>140 curioussquared: Thank you, it's on my list already, I've heard good things about it. I've got a few more books about race I'm going to read over the next few weeks, as I really need to educate myself in order to be the best ally I possibly can be.

Jun 8, 2020, 1:10 pm

>141 Jackie_K: Same here -- I'm trying to focus on black authors in June. I'm about halfway through We Were Eight Years in Power currently.

Jun 8, 2020, 4:37 pm

>142 curioussquared: That's another one on my wishlist!

Non-ROOT #7

I've been listening to author Joanna Penn's podcast, The Creative Penn, for a couple of years - she's an amazing and very generous resource to the writing community, particularly those who are interested in indie publishing. How to Write Non-Fiction: Turn Your Knowledge Into Words is one of her many books for authors, and is a systematic look at the stages involved in writing non-fiction. The book is largely relevant for 'how-to' non-fiction and probably less so for the more creative, long-form non-fiction that I write, but even still it is a useful handbook. Nothing in the book is a surprise for anyone who listens to her podcast, but it's handy to have it all in one place. 4/5 (3.5 for the book, and an extra half star for the fab podcast!).

Jun 15, 2020, 1:12 pm

ROOT #38

Afua Hirsch's Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging is a must-read book. Using her own search for identity, as a mixed-race Brit with Ghanaian and German Jewish heritage, she discusses the reality of race and identity in Britain today. Wonderfully and beautifully written. 5/5.

ROOT #39

Adam Nicolson wrote one of my all-time favourite books, Sea Room, about the Shiant Islands in the Outer Hebrides. I was therefore looking forward to Atlantic Britain which is the account of a year-long voyage in a sailing ship from Cornwall, up the Irish Atlantic coast, over to the Hebrides, Orkney and finally the Faroe Islands, which was also the subject of a Channel 4 TV series. I did enjoy reading this, but it is a much shorter book with quite a lot of the voyage left out, and so I didn't feel as immersed in the world of the book, or as sympathetic to the author. If you're a fan of sailing though there will be lots here to love. 3/5.

Jun 15, 2020, 2:02 pm

Non-ROOT #8

Mark Thomas Presents the People's Manifesto is a short book to accompany the tour he did (which appeared on Radio 4) of the same name. In each venue, he asked people to suggest and vote on alternative policies, and this book presents the winning policies with a brief explanation. Mark Thomas is one of my favourite comedians, and this was a good reminder of a fun show. 4/5.

Jun 20, 2020, 2:20 pm

I'm 2/3 of the way to my ROOT goal for the year:

ROOT #40

Lauret Savoy's Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape is an extraordinary book that I loved from start to finish. The author explores the parts of America with connections to her own heritage (African American, European American and Native American), to try to find traces of her ancestors. Amongst this exploration she also considers the legacy of slavery, and also which histories are foregrounded in national memory and teaching of history, and which ones are left to be forgotten. Her writing is absolutely beautiful - a lot of this sort of book (part memoir, part nature, part history) veers towards purple prose, but her writing was so light touch, there wasn't a word out of place, and there were a few places where I literally gasped at the juxtaposition of ideas. I really want to give this 6 stars, it was so good. 6/5.

Jun 21, 2020, 8:05 am

>146 Jackie_K: That is amazing progress, congrats! And so many great books!

Jun 21, 2020, 11:09 am

Hi Jackie!

Congrats on 2/3 of your goal met in less than 1/2 the year gone by.

Jun 21, 2020, 12:38 pm

>147 MissWatson: >148 karenmarie: Thank you both! It's been a good year for reading, even with periodic reading slumps!

Jun 27, 2020, 10:45 am

ROOT #41

Alex Boyd's St Kilda: The Silent Islands is a small coffee table book featuring pictures of the remote archipelago of St Kilda. There has been lots written about the previous inhabitants, and the voluntary evacuation of the remaining islanders in 1930 to the mainland, which has contributed to something of a mythological and romanticised view of the place. Actually the main island is inhabited all year round as it is a Ministry of Defence monitoring station, and there are also volunteers from the National Trust of Scotland living there for around 6 months of every year too. Usually when you see photos of St Kilda now they are angled in such a way that the Cold War/MoD buildings are left out, so visitors are often disappointed with how obvious and present the defence structures are. These photos sought to portray the islands as they are today, including the radar stations and staff quarters etc, as well as the scenery and ruined/part-preserved buildings in Village Bay and surrounds. There is a foreword by a former NTS worker who makes the point that it is probably because of the MoD continuous presence that St Kilda has been preserved as well as it has, which is not a viewpoint I'd heard before but which I think is worthy of consideration. The photos are only minimally captioned, which is great, although I think I would have enjoyed some more text within the pictures. 4/5.

Jun 29, 2020, 1:09 am

>143 Jackie_K: Do you write the kind of creative non-fiction that is about people and includes dialogue, Jackie?

Jun 29, 2020, 8:48 am

>143 Jackie_K: Hi Meg - at the moment no, I write either essays, or about nature/place and my interaction with it (specifically at the moment, my garden!). Dialogue is so difficult (which is one of the reasons I wouldn't write fiction). I wouldn't say no to writing about other people, but if it was contemporary then I'd want to use their actual words (with their consent of course), or if it was more historical then I would only use dialogue if it was in other sources. Just because I know my limitations!

Jun 29, 2020, 1:36 pm

ROOT #42

Superior: The Return of Race Science by Angela Saini is an excellent and very readable (the author is a journalist) debunking of the history of and current fascination with eugenics and race science. It's very well researched and really interesting. 5/5.

Editado: Jul 1, 2020, 12:51 pm

Here's my June recap, another good month. I read 8 ROOTs, 2 non-ROOTs, and acquired 8 books (but 6 of those were birthday presents, so I'm actually doing better than expected for my 2 for 1 acquisitions (which don't count presents). In total I've read 42 ROOTs this year, and acquired 19 books that weren't presents. The only reason I've not bought 2 more is because I know I have a couple of pre-ordered books coming very soon, plus I heard at the weekend that I had won a book in a twitter giveaway that I'd forgotten I'd entered, which made my day!

The ROOTs I read in June were:

1. Margaret Simons - Six Square Metres.
2. Richard King - The Lark Ascending: The Music of the British Landscape.
3. Reni Eddo-Lodge - Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race.
4. Afua Hirsch - Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging.
5. Adam Nicolson - Atlantic Britain.
6. Lauret Savoy - Trace: Memory, History, Race and the American Landscape.
7. Alex Boyd - St Kilda: The Silent Islands.
8. Angela Saini - Superior: The Return of Race Science.

The two non-ROOTs were:

1. Joanna Penn - How to Write Non-Fiction: Turn Your Knowledge Into Words.
2. Mark Thomas - Mark Thomas Presents the People's Manifesto.

And the books acquired in June (books marked with a * were birthday gifts):

1. Bernardine Evaristo - Girl, Woman, Other *
2. Robert Elms - London Made Us *
3. Tove Jansson - The Summer Book *
4. Andy Beer - Every Day Nature *
5. Jan Kotouc - Frontiers of the Imperium *
6. Angela Saini - Superior: The Return of Race Science.
7. Alan Brown - Overlander: Bikepacking coast to coast across the heart of the Highlands (no touchstone) *
8. Elizabeth-Jane Burnett - The Grassling.

Jul 2, 2020, 4:28 pm

Jackie, congratulations all around - quantity and quality!

Jul 6, 2020, 4:09 pm

>155 detailmuse: Thank you MJ! I've done well and read some great books! Speaking of which:

Non-ROOT #9

The Unwinding by Jackie Morris is a real thing of beauty - more a work of art than a book. She is the illustrator of The Lost Words, written with Robert Macfarlane, which is the most beautiful book, and The Unwinding is her latest offering; she's written the words as well as illustrated it. Although it's not designed to be read from cover to cover, but dipped into, read it from cover to cover is exactly what I did because it's so sumptuous and gorgeous. I'd say the writing is mostly poetic prose, although I might be going a bit Pseud's Corner with that categorisation - but that's how it struck me. The whole thing is dreamlike and ethereal. And her illustrations are so beautiful. It's one of those books you just want to gaze at and stroke. Gorgeous. 4.5/5.

Jul 7, 2020, 9:31 am

ROOT #43

Mr Jefferson and the Giant Moose: Natural History in Early America by Lee Alan Dugatkin is a short but interesting book looking at Thomas Jefferson's attempts to refute what was popularly known in eighteenth century natural history circles as the degeneracy theory, namely that all natural development in the New World (specifically North America) was degenerate in comparison to the Old World (Eurasia, essentially). The theory essentially stated that there were fewer species of animals overall in the New World, that those animals in common in both places were physically smaller and weaker in the New World, that the indigenous humans of the New World were inferior, and that Europeans who migrated over to the New World themselves degenerated. This theory held a huge amount of traction for around a century, and Jefferson saw the implications of the theory for the newly emerging country of the USA in terms of attracting immigrants and economic investment. It covers the key players on both sides of the Atlantic, and finishes with a chapter detailing what happened after Jefferson's death, when the theory gradually fell out of favour. 3.5/5.

Jul 11, 2020, 1:40 am

>157 Jackie_K: I don't think the degeneracy theory would have lasted for long as they continued to explore the New World but then you never know when dealing with people with preconceived notions.

>152 Jackie_K: A recent trend in writing about family history is to use narrative nonfiction to tell family stories, with the use of dialogue and description to liven things up. It's taken me a while to come round but really, the traditional family history stuff that we write is very plodding and deathly dull, no wonder our relatives won't read it. Of course, it helps that I enjoy writing dialogue.

Jul 11, 2020, 1:48 pm

>158 Familyhistorian: Yes, you're right that the theory wouldn't have lasted long; I think Jefferson's concern was that because the US was still trying to attract investment and immigrants from Europe, such a theory having such currency would be potentially damaging to the fledgling country.

And my next ROOT is a good example of family story/narrative non-fiction:

ROOT #44

Narrow Margins by Marie Browne is the first in a series of memoirs detailing the author and her family's adventures living on a narrowboat. The family lose their home and business in the mid 2000s, and end up buying and doing up a 70ft barge (which they sell at the end of the book, with the dream of buying a boat that can be seagoing as well). That's pretty much it for this first book - you get the usual hapless beginner scrapes, family members learning about themselves and what's important, and an insight into this particular way of life. It was well written, but I don't feel invested enough in the family to particularly want to read more of the series. I think it would be worth reading if moving to a narrowboat is your dream. 3/5.

Jul 11, 2020, 1:52 pm

>159 Jackie_K: Great cover on that one!

Jul 11, 2020, 1:56 pm

>160 rabbitprincess: Yes, it's simple but I really like it too!

Jul 14, 2020, 2:48 pm

ROOT #45

Romanian Fairy Tales by Petre Ispirescu is an English and Romanian edition of three Romanian fairy tales, with English on the left hand page and the equivalent Romanian on the right. So I was able to read a half page at a time in English so I knew what was happening, and then follow the Romanian. These tales were all pretty similar - much-loved sons of emperors on quests, basically. If I was wanting more language practice, these would be good for me to figure out pronouns, which were always my nemesis in Romanian! 3/5.

Jul 17, 2020, 5:48 am

ROOT #46

Check out that gorgeous cover!! The Grassling by Elizabeth-Jane Burnett is an astonishing book, not always easy to read and it did take me a while to gel with it, but it's really beautiful. The author is primarily a poet, this is her first foray into non-fiction, and the language is so poetic that the boundaries between the two are pretty blurred - in a few places the poetic prose even reminded me of fictional magical realism. The book is a 'geological memoir' - she returns to the village in Devon where she was born and brought up as she comes to terms with the rapidly deteriorating health of her father, and explores the flowers, fields and earth that he himself had farmed and written about, and his father and grandfather had farmed before him. I saw echoes of the questions raised in Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape by Lauret Savoy which I read last month - what traces do our ancestors, and we, leave in the land and the soil, to what extent do any of us truly belong in a place, and what is the significance of this for those that come after us? I think I'm going to have to read it again, more slowly next time, to do more than scrape the surface of all that's here. An extraordinary book. 5/5.

Editado: Jul 25, 2020, 9:59 am

ROOT #47

Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery is a memoir by retired neurosurgeon Henry Marsh. It discusses both particular conditions, and his more personal reflections on life as a neurosurgeon and the responsibilities, mistakes, joys, and experiences that it entails. He doesn't shy away from cases where surgery made things worse (in some cases, much worse) for patients - this isn't an 'I'm so wonderful, and these are all the lives I miraculously transformed' type memoir. He's also open about personal failings which led to the breakdown of his first marriage, and philosophical about matters of life and death. 4/5.

Jul 25, 2020, 6:54 am

Non-ROOT #10

This is July's library book - I'm still enjoying exploring the library's ebook catalogue, although I have to say that the RBDigital interface is really clunky, so it always takes me ages to find anything!

I'm not the world's biggest fan of poetry, but I'm always happy to make an exception for Jackie Kay, Scotland's makar. The Adoption Papers is, I think, her very first collection, from the early '90s, and covers aspects of her experience as a Scottish-Nigerian baby adopted into a white Scottish family, which she explores in more detail in her autobiography Red Dust Road (which is brilliant) and later poetry collection Fiere (also excellent). The Adoption Papers also has poems exploring emerging sexuality, and actually it is those poems which I thought were most powerful and beautiful here. What I liked about the adoption poems was that she wrote in three voices - her own, her birth mother's, and her adoptive mother's, and it gave a moving glimpse into the complicated emotions that all three would have experienced. 4/5.

Jul 29, 2020, 5:22 am

ROOT #48

I've had Between Extremes by Brian Keenan & John McCarthy on my bookshelves for the best part of 20 years, and am so glad I got to it at last! Keenan & McCarthy were two journalists who were kidnapped in Beirut in the mid-1980s and held hostage for 4 and 5 years respectively. During the long years of incarceration they filled the time dreaming about a road trip in South America, which eventually morphed into a crazy dream to farm yak in Patagonia. Nearly a decade after their release, the two friends take on the road trip from the northern tip of Chile right down through Patagonia to Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip.

I loved reading this book, I can't believe I had it on the shelves so long unread! They write alternating passages throughout the book, sometimes a few pages, sometimes just a paragraph or two, and it was so interesting to see their different interpretations and experiences of the same place. Brian Keenan is much more poetic - he kept a couple of volumes of Pablo Neruda's poetry as his constant companion, and referred to them quite a lot - whereas John McCarthy is more organised and kept trying to plan each next step (it was very obvious which one was Irish and which was English!). I found it very moving how they would check their irritation with the other's quirks and gave each other enormous amounts of grace; a legacy of their coping mechanisms and mutual support when they were hostages together. They didn't milk their Lebanon experience, but mentioned it when it was relevant. They were very open about their disappointments and fears as well as exhilarations of the journey. And through it all their mutual love and respect for each other, and deep friendship, shone through. 4.5/5.

Jul 30, 2020, 1:45 pm

Hi! I just scrolled through your thread here for the first time. Fascinating reading and great, concise reviews. Thanks!

Jul 30, 2020, 3:37 pm

>167 rocketjk: Hi Jerry, thanks for coming by!

ROOT #49

Garden Among Fires: A Lockdown Anthology presents a collection of writing based on submissions to writer Marina Benjamin's blog of the same name following the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown in March 2020. Essays and poetry from various writers explores their experiences of life under lockdown, not just in the UK but also Sweden, Italy, USA, India among others. Some of the writers I had heard of before (including favourites Katherine May and Amy Liptrot), others were new to me. All proceeds from this anthology go to the UK domestic abuse charity, Refuge. 3.5/5.

Ago 1, 2020, 11:57 am

And all of a sudden it's August! (how, exactly?!). I had a good reading month in July, and acquired a few more than I possibly should have, but they're all good ones :)

I read 7 ROOTs in July:

1. Lee Alan Dugatkin - Mr Jefferson and the Giant Moose: Natural History in Early America.
2. Marie Browne - Narrow Margins.
3. Petre Ispirescu - Romanian Fairy Tales: English and Romanian Edition.
4. Elizabeth-Jane Burnett - The Grassling.
5. Henry Marsh - Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery.
6. Brian Keenan & John McCarthy - Between Extremes.
7. ed. Marina Benjamin - Garden Among Fires: A Lockdown Anthology.

I also read 2 non-ROOTs:

1. Jackie Morris - The Unwinding.
2. Jackie Kay - The Adoption Papers.

(top literary Jackieness there).

And these are my July acquisitions:

1. Various - A is for Apple: A Snow White Retelling. (no touchstone)
2. Pragya Agarwal - Sway: Unravelling Unconscious Bias.
3. Jessica J Lee - Two Trees Make a Forest.
4. Philip Marsden - The Summer Isles.
5. ed. Marina Benjamin - Garden Among Fires: A Lockdown Anthology.
6. Chris Packham - Fingers in the Sparkle Jar.
7. J. Drew Lanham - The Home Place.
8. Nora Ephron - I Feel Bad About My Neck.

I'm just a tiny bit off my 2 ROOTs:1 acquisition (minus gifts) strategy, but only just, so if I'm careful in August I'll hopefully be back on track. I've read 49 ROOTs and bought 26 books (plus 7 gifts). So just 3 to go and I'll be back where I want to be. This is the point last year, around August, where having done really well at 2 for 1, I fell spectacularly off the wagon and never really recovered, so I don't want to do that again! What I am finding is that I'm being much more discerning about the books I acquire - I really really want them, rather than just thinking 'oh that's a bargain, I'll get it even if I'm less fussed about it'. Which means hopefully that the overall reading experience is even higher quality!

Ago 7, 2020, 10:05 am

Hi Jackie!

Just a quick hello - lots of good reading, some interesting acquisitions, not the least of which is I Feel Bad About My Neck, which I read last August.

>165 Jackie_K: I don't usually go out of my way for poetry and am not inclined to here, either, but I'd be very interested in Red Dust Road.

I'm curious - how will school be handled this fall for your daughter? Online, in class, hybrid?

Ago 8, 2020, 10:28 am

>168 Jackie_K: Beautiful cover too!

Ago 11, 2020, 11:20 am

I'm just back from a long weekend away camping on the east coast of Scotland - nice weather, not too hot (unlike further south, by the sounds of things!), and pretty empty beach. It was lovely, but I now have about a million threads to read through! I'll try and comment on a few later or tomorrow. I'll hopefully have a finished ROOT to report later too (as usual I have a few books on the go, including a chunkster I'm making good progress with).

>170 karenmarie: Hi Karen! I think I might have remembered your review of I Feel Bad About My Neck, so when it appeared on bookbub I couldn't resist! Red Dust Road is a brilliant book and I highly recommend it. I bought a copy for my friend who has two adopted children, including one daughter who is of mixed heritage.

And thank you for asking about school. The big day, return to school, is TOMORROW! (I can't wait!) For now all children are going back into class full time - all schools are expected to also have contingency plans though, so that if our covid rates, currently low, go back up and we have to go back into lockdown, there is already a plan in place. At the moment, thanks to the low-enough covid rates in our area, I am more concerned with the mental health effects of the children not being in school than the risk of A catching the virus, so I am happy for her to return. Our school has been really good at communicating how things are going to work - separate entrances for each different class (the three youngest years have classrooms on the ground floor with doors that open out onto the playground, so they can go straight into the classroom without using a shared entrance), one way system for the parents round the playground at drop-off/pick-up time to minimise contact with lots of other random parents, also no large-scale school gatherings such as whole school assemblies, lunch will be brought to and eaten in the separate classrooms rather than all together in a big hall, no indoor gym, that sort of thing. Her teacher has already messaged us to say he's planned for them to go to the local park tomorrow to do activities in groups outside, so I think they're thinking hard about how to make it work. I think A is excited, but also nervous. It's been such a big thing for the younger children to live through - they have enough understanding to know that something's going on and isn't right, but don't have the bigger picture, it must be really unsettling.

>171 clue: Thank you! I've done well for nice covers recently!

Ago 14, 2020, 4:00 pm

Two more ROOTS to report, including another lovely cover!

ROOT #50

The Silk Roads: A New History of the World by Peter Frankopan is an epic chunkster of a book which seeks to recentre the focus of world history from a US/Euro-centric orientation further east, to the Middle East, central Asia and over to China. What it isn't is a specific history of "the Silk Roads", instead he details the growth of trade routes, the growing influence of various religions, trade in minerals, fabrics and slaves, the impact of invasions of people and plagues, and how these events impacted on world history. The book was published in 2015, and follows events right up till then, so finishes with the aftermath of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. What struck me was firstly that from the beginning of human life moving around the region, the factors which influenced life were remarkably similar to today: movement of capital and goods, and relative inequalities amongst others. Secondly, that events happening anywhere in the world have repercussions around the world that can't be foreseen. And thirdly, that Europe and the US are spectacularly rubbish at learning the lessons of history and endlessly repeat and perpetuate their previous mistakes. The focus on safeguarding and dominating oil supply has a much longer history than I'd realised, and was thoroughly depressing. I did enjoy reading this very thorough and well-researched book, learnt loads, and at some point would like to read its follow up. 4.5/5.

ROOT #51

Why We Write About Ourselves: Twenty memoirists on why they expose themselves (and others) in the name of literature, edited by Meredith Maran, is one of the suggested reads for a short course I am going to start soon. It does what it says on the tin: 20 published memoirists (including Cheryl Strayed, Dani Shapiro, Edwidge Danticat, Anne Lamott, and Sue Monk Kidd, amongst others) discuss their motivation, process, and considerations in writing memoir, concluding with top tips for aspiring memoirists. As with any collection, some resonated with me more than others, but all were interesting and gave me plenty to think about. 4/5.

Ago 14, 2020, 8:29 pm

>173 Jackie_K: The Silk Roads has been sitting on my Kobo unread for far too long.

Ago 15, 2020, 3:18 am

>174 Robertgreaves: same here, Robert, but I'm glad I got to it at last!

Ago 16, 2020, 10:53 am

ROOT #52

The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea by Bandi (a pseudonym) is a collection of seven short stories about life in North Korea in the early-mid-90s, the time of Kim Il-Sung (they were written between 1989-1995). Although some poetry and fiction about the regime has been published by North Korean writers, these have mainly been published once the authors had successfully defected from the country. Bandi continues to live and work in North Korea, and these stories were smuggled out from inside the country. What struck me about all of them is that it is clear that many of the characters in the story are aware of the sham of Party/Leader loyalty, but fear is so over-riding that they continue to go along with the charade. Well worth a read. 4/5.

Editado: Ago 24, 2020, 6:10 am

ROOT #53

60 Degrees North: Around the World in Search of Home is by Scottish writer and singer/songwriter Malachy Tallack. 'Home' for him is Shetland, where he moved when he was 5, although he's always had a complicated relationship with the place. In this book he visits other places around the world on the same latitude, 60 degrees north, exploring 'northness', similarities between the places, and what about them speak to him of home and belonging. So he starts in Shetland, then southern Greenland, Canada, Alaska, Siberia, St Petersburg, Finland/Aland, Sweden and Norway before returning to Shetland. I really liked this - he included history of the places, observations about them and about home. He's a very generous writer, and I'd like to read some more non-fiction by him (he has since published a well-received novel, The Valley at the Centre of the World). 4.5/5.

Ago 27, 2020, 7:56 am

ROOT #54

The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature by J Drew Lanham is a selection of essays about the author's childhood growing up in rural South Carolina, his subsequent academic career, hunting, education, nature, race (the essay "Birding While Black" was particularly important), family, etc. Like so many nature memoirs, he has managed to gently weave the personal and the universal to make a powerful and absorbing book. 4.5./5.

Ago 29, 2020, 4:50 pm

I love when you introduce me to books involving nature -- and The Home Place and Sixty Degrees North went onto the wishlist! I've also been eyeing a "lockdown anthology" -- Alone Together edited by Jennifer Haupt.

Ago 30, 2020, 12:22 pm

>179 detailmuse: Nature and place writing really is my happy place at the moment! I hope you enjoy the books if and when you get to them.

ROOT #55

Guy Deutscher's Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages is a popular science book looking at the current state of knowledge around language and perception. He argues that, contrary to the majority scholarly view, language (specifically issues such as colour perception, gendered language, and language around spatial organisation) does affect how those things are perceived by individual speakers. I'll be honest, I think I was stretched to my intellectual limits by this book - it's very readable, and I think I basically followed it, but (unless I'm missing something, which is entirely possible!) it felt to me like he was taking quite a long time to make a small number of points. 3.5/5.

Editado: Ago 31, 2020, 2:19 pm

It's the end of the month, and I'm not going to get any more books read, so here's my summary. I've read fewer books this month than usual, but the first one was quite a chunkster! These are my ROOTs for the month:

1. Peter Frankopan - The Silk Roads.
2. ed. Meredith Maran - Why We Write About Ourselves.
3. Bandi - The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea.
4. Malachy Tallack - 60 Degrees North: Around the World in Search of Home.
5. J. Drew Lanham - The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature.
6. Guy Deutscher - Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages.

I didn't read any non-ROOTs. I did get a book from the library, but didn't get round to it in time and it expired on my ereader. I'll try better in September!

I'm still playing catch-up with acquisitions. I'm currently at 55 ROOTs read, and 31 non-gifted acquisitions, which means I need to get to 62 ROOTs without buying any more in order to get back to my 2 read for 1 bought. To be fair, 3 out of the 5 I bought this month were for the writing course I'm starting next week, and if I'd chosen not to count them then I'd only be 1 ROOT away from being back to 2:1. But, they're not text books and I will read them for fun as well as learning, so in my head that means they can't not count as ROOTs (isn't it funny the arbitrary rules we make for ourselves?). Anyway, these are what I acquired in August:

1. John Yorke - Into the Woods: A Five-Act Journey Into Story.
2. Various, ed. Meredith Maran - Why We Write About Ourselves.
3. G.M. White - The Swordsman's Intent. (no touchstone - this is a free novella by my friend, a prequel to his series of novels)
4. ed. Mark Kramer & Wendy Call - Telling True Stories.
5. Martin Summer - Connecting With Life.

And I'm still overall in the black as far as lowering Mt TBR goes - my current total is 410 books (it was 427 at the start of the year), and looking at the amount I've been reading and buying, I think it's realistic to aim for just below 400 by the end of the year. So still no danger of running out of books anytime soon :D

Ago 31, 2020, 6:04 pm

>181 Jackie_K: Woo hoo! I hope you can get below 400 by the end of the year!

Just checked my own numbers and I have 404 TBR books (318 print or ebook, 86 audio). I'd love to get below 300 for the print books...

Ago 31, 2020, 6:42 pm

>181 Jackie_K: 2 read for 1 bought is an admirable goal! I just did some quick counting and apparently I have acquired 87 books this year! I'm a little horrified (in the best way), but at least only 69 of them were new reads for me at the time of purchasing, so only those 69 went on the TBR pile. I think 69 is a doable goal for ROOTs this year, and I would feel pretty good about keeping pace with my TBR acquisitions.

>182 rabbitprincess: I try to keep my paper TBR to about 300, too. I'm right at 300 right now but have 6 new books I haven't added to LT yet... shhh, don't tell!

Editado: Set 1, 2020, 1:54 pm

>182 rabbitprincess: I'm confident I can do it - I've gone down 17 in 8 months, so assuming 2 a month for the next 5 I'll be pretty close! (current total is 410 books, so it'll come down to the wire - it might end up depending how generous Santa is in December!) I've no idea what proportion of mine are ebooks and print - I'm buying a lot more ebooks than print these days, but have a lot of print still on the shelves.

>183 curioussquared: I was horrified at the numbers when I first started logging my acquisitions, but it has been a really good thing for me to do. This is the second year I've tried to do 2 for 1, last year I didn't quite manage it but did get my TBR down from the start of the year for the first time pretty much ever, so it was worth the attempt. This year I'm being stricter, although I'm still giving in to temptation more than I should!

Set 3, 2020, 11:26 am

Hi Jackie!

>172 Jackie_K: I hope that school has gone well in the days since A’s been back and that she's liking it. My great nephew started kindergarten on the 1st. So far he apparently likes it, but he's rather spoiled and I wonder what happens the first time he has to do something that he doesn't want to do. Ah well, fortunately it's my niece and her wife's problem, not mine. *smile*

>173 Jackie_K: The Silk Roads just made it onto my wish list. Excellent review.

>177 Jackie_K: That’s an intriguing premise for the book. I’m not going to officially add it to my wish list, but if I happen to see it when I’m out and about (eventually) at thrift stores or Friends of the Library sales, I’ll probably pick it up.

>181 Jackie_K: My Mt. TBR is literally 5.41 times larger than yours. One benefit, of course, is that I have a book for any and every mood I might find myself in…

Set 4, 2020, 9:51 am

Hi Jackie. I found my way to your thread, finally. 66 new posts to read, so I just skimmed through them. Lots of books read. Good to hear A. started school again. I hope she is loving it.

How are you doing? I hope you and the family are doing fine. I promise to visit more regularly in the coming 4 months of the year. It helps that the summer is gone and I spend more time indoors.

Set 10, 2020, 8:59 am

>185 karenmarie: Hi Karen! Thank you, school is going well so far and I think we're all benefiting from it! They're letting them in very gently, with a big focus on resilience and mental well being after such a huge change in their lives. They are also introducing learning very organically - one of the things A said to me just before she went back was that she wasn't looking forward to P3 "because in P3 you have to do more learning and less playing" - !! But so far the learning looks like so much fun she's not feeling too put out about it!

I'm so impressed you worked out the figure for the size of your Mt TBR relative to mine! I'm finding I have books to match my mood too - reading really has been a comfort as well as an entertainment the last few months.

>186 connie53: Hi Connie! A is enjoying school, and especially seeing her friends again - it's hard being an only child when you can't see anyone except your parents, and it's been lovely seeing her laughing and running around with them. Her teacher is very good too, she really likes him and looks forward to going to school. We are all well - I'm not working as a ward nurse any more but am back into my research job, so I'm happier about that, and Pete is still working from home (and resisting going back, for now - his office has reopened to some staff but he's happy without the commute to Glasgow). Our parents in England are doing OK, and generally being sensible and not putting themselves at risk. It's a worry being so far away, we couldn't go and see them this summer like we usually do, but we're staying in regular contact. I really hope next year we can catch up with them properly - I don't think we'll get the chance this year, without a vaccine.

ROOT #56

For the second month in a row I've started the month with a chunkster of a book which has taken some reading! Barry Lopez's Arctic Dreams was published in 1986 and is still - rightly - considered a classic of place/travel/nature writing. From extensive stays in the North American and Greenland Arctic, he writes about the place and its inhabitants, with chapters about individual species (eg narwhal, muskoxen, polar bear), and also chapters about snow and ice, light, and the explorers who dreamed of opening the Arctic up. It's a stunning book, really worth a read. 5/5.

Set 11, 2020, 10:52 am

ROOT #57

This short book, Raphael Jerusalmy's Saving Mozart, packs quite a punch. It is written mostly in journal format, with the occasional longer letter. Otto Steiner is a man of Jewish descent who is dying in a TB sanatorium in Salzburg just before the start of World War 2. He is a music critic, and is horrified to find that the Nazis are planning on using an annual Mozart festival as an occasion for Nazi propaganda. He is given the opportunity to contribute to the programming of the festival, and uses it to subvert the Nazi tubthumping of the festival. I read this pretty much in one go, and although by the end I had guessed already what his final act of rebellion at the festival was going to be, that didn't matter, I was still cheering him on. Although the book doesn't flinch from the stark reality of life in a sanatorium, it wasn't excessively grim, and there were still patches of humour and pathos that brought the story to life. 4/5.

Set 19, 2020, 6:48 am

ROOT #58

Michael Lloyd's Cafe Theology is a book that's been on my shelf since spring 2005 - I remember the date as he was the speaker at a church weekend away, the last one I went on while I still lived in London. This is an introduction to theology, the basic tenets of Christianity, and I really liked it as it went into some depth and looked at some awkward questions, but was never trite or simplistic - which is how I remember him as a speaker, he was very engaging. I think it would be ideal both for people new to Christianity or people like me who are a bit more long in the tooth. There were a few questions I have which weren't addressed, but I'd love to see if he's written about them elsewhere, because I really liked his approach, and agreed with a lot of what he wrote here, so suspect he'd talk a lot of sense about the other issues I'm wondering about. 4.5/5.

Set 19, 2020, 7:58 am

>189 Jackie_K: I think you've got me with a BB there.

Editado: Set 21, 2020, 1:43 pm

>190 Robertgreaves: There has been a more recent edition since the one I got (as it had been on my shelf for so long!), so maybe it does consider some of my 'issues' questions. I hope you like it if/when you get to it.

ROOT #59

Yevgeny Zamyatin published We in 1921, and it has the distinction of apparently being the first novel to be banned by the Soviet Union. It is a short dystopian novel set in an entirely closed glass city where the individual is completely subsumed within the collective 'we', citizens wear identical clothing and are distinguishable only by the letter and number they are assigned at birth. Every aspect of social and civic life is controlled and monitored by the state. The narrator is a man called D-503, who is initially entirely accepting of the state of affairs until he meets a woman, I-330, who defies the rules. He becomes more and more obsessed with her, and ends up part of a plot to overthrow the state and destroy the city. This book has been hailed as the forerunner of such books as 1984 and Brave New World.

By the end of the book I must admit I was getting quite confused, so I'm not entirely sure what was happening all the way through! The allegory of life under Communism was pretty blatant (even I got that!) and I'm not surprised that the Soviet authorities banned it. I thought the world-building was extremely sophisticated for a book written pretty much a century ago, and is certainly a step up from books I've read by authors such as HG Wells in that regard. The book was narrated in the first person by D-503, and it was a good portrayal of a descent into obsession and growing realisation that all is not as it seems. I must admit though that I found another character, O-90 (a female character with whom he has state-sanctioned relations) more interesting and I would have loved to have seen what was happening from her point of view as well. 3.5/5.

Set 21, 2020, 4:30 pm

>191 Jackie_K: Now that is a retelling I would read. I wonder what one could do with the story of D-503 and O-90 today.

Also you're making me think I should re-read my copy of We... last read that maybe 15 years ago?

And I was totally nostalgic for Stirling yesterday while watching the Bloody Scotland panels -- during the breaks between events they showed some lovely footage of the town, including a great shot of the Wallace Monument from the Castle esplanade, with the Monument shrouded in misty cloud :)

Set 22, 2020, 10:40 am

So glad you're all doing well -- and the image of such a happy A makes me smile!

Set 26, 2020, 2:21 pm

>192 rabbitprincess: Yes, I would too - I think it could be a fascinating story. Too bad I don't write fiction - otherwise I'd have a go at it myself! I hope you enjoyed the rest of Bloody Scotland.

>193 detailmuse: Thank you - it makes me smile too! We have gone into stricter Covid measures this week (not full lockdown), but they are trying hard to keep schools open, I hope they're able to do that as long as possible.

ROOT #60 - target met!

The Basket of Flowers by Christoph von Schmid has been on my shelves since (gulp) 1988! It was a gift from a lovely elderly lady in my then home church, and I'll be keeping the book because of the beautiful message she wrote in the front. The author lived from the mid-18th to mid-19th centuries, and wrote a number of books for children, of which this is the most well-known. It is a Christian morality tale for the young, and is pretty didactic, as such books tended to be. Virtuous Mary is wrongly accused of a crime, and she and her widower father Jacob are banished from the kingdom. They keep their trust in God, and their needs are met. Jacob dies before Mary's innocence is finally established and her reputation and place restored. Those who wronged her are given the opportunity to repent. Every scene is an opportunity for a truth about God to be learnt and proclaimed.

This book is hard to rate. It's not really my cup of tea, it's far too didactic, but seeing the message written in the front of the book brought back such lovely memories of a wonderful soul. I've given it 2.5* eventually for the story, but the book won't be leaving the house. 2.5/5.

Set 27, 2020, 3:31 am

Congratulations on reaching your goal, Jackie!

Set 27, 2020, 4:43 am

Congratulations, Jackie!

Set 27, 2020, 10:06 am

Hurray, congrats on meeting your goal! :D

Set 27, 2020, 11:20 am

>195 connie53: >196 MissWatson: >197 rabbitprincess: Thank you! I should get at least one more ROOT finished by the end of September (I'm hoping for two, but always end up overreaching myself).

Set 27, 2020, 4:37 pm

Congrats on meeting goal! And what a nice memento to have met it with :)

Editado: Set 30, 2020, 5:22 am

>199 detailmuse: Thank you very much!

Non-ROOT #11

September's library book was another volume of Scottish poetry, this time by the wonderful poet Norman MacCaig. The Poems of Norman MacCaig features all of the poems published before his death, plus a decent selection of others found in his papers after his death by his son Ewen, who was his literary executor. What I like about MacCaig's poems are a) most of them are short (!); b) they're pretty accessible and don't leave me feeling bamboozled; and c) they're dripping with love of Scotland and the landscape. I must admit to some skimming - there are nearly 800 poems in total here - but I will be looking out for this book to keep as a hard cover book, it's the type of book that every house in Scotland should have on the shelves. One poem which particularly tickled me was called "Waiting to notice", and included this wonderful description of a seagull:

and a gull, as usual
tuning his bagpipe
and not going on to the tune

Isn't that brilliant? 4/5.

Editado: Set 30, 2020, 5:06 pm

ROOT #61

Tooth and Blade is a collection of 3 Norse fantasy-inspired YA novellas by Julian Barr. Dota is a girl brought up by trolls in their subterranean cave, who discovers she is in fact human. She enters the human realm and is soon drawn into clan and kingdom battles there, whilst also seeking to protect them against Grethor, her bloodthirsty troll brother. There is a sense of menace in the book, but the violence is never graphically described, and the themes of identity, loyalty and family predominate. There is also a queer subtext which is never laboured but is an integral part of the story. I found this a gripping story grounded in research (I enjoyed spotting nods to the Icelandic sagas which I'd read about earlier in the year in Saga Land), which kept my interest until the end. The ending of the third novella is satisfyingly complete, but leaves the door open to further installments. 4/5.

Set 30, 2020, 1:06 pm

As it's the last day of September, here's my round up of my reading month. Amazingly for me, 4 out of the 6 ROOTs I read this month were fiction. These are the 6:

1. Barry Lopez - Arctic Dreams.
2. Raphael Jerusalmy - Saving Mozart.
3. Michael Lloyd - Cafe Theology.
4. Yevgeny Zamyatin - We.
5. Christoph von Schmid - The Basket of Flowers.
6. Julian Barr - Tooth and Blade.

I also read one non-ROOT, my library book for the month:

1. Norman MacCaig - The Poems of Norman MacCaig.

And I only acquired 2 ROOTs this month. I'm still a little bit behind my 2:1 read:acquired goal (I've read 61, and acquired (minus gifts) 33), but still doing well, and closing in on my target of getting Mt TBR below 400 by the end of the year (I'm at 406 at time of writing). This month's acquisitions are:

1. ed. Kathleen Jamie - Antlers of Water: Writing on the Nature and Environment of Scotland.
2. Lyra McKee - Lost, Found, Remembered.

Editado: Out 2, 2020, 1:16 pm

ROOT #62

Seth Lerer's Prospero's Son: Life, Books, Love and Theater was a book that I got as part of the University of Chicago Press's monthly free ebook programme a few years ago. It is a memoir of his family, and some of the books and plays that are important to him. His father is the predominant character - a closeted gay man during his marriage to Seth's mother, very much out after their divorce, he was one of those people who seems to draw in the energy of the entire room to themselves and everyone else's lives orbits round them, so it was no wonder he was such a prominent character throughout. This was really beautifully written, I thought - the author is not someone I'd have any interest in, particularly, but he managed to hold my interest throughout through his sympathetic portrayals of all the other important people in his life. I thought the interspersing of quotes from books and plays was less successful, but it didn't stop me enjoying the book and appreciating his writing skill and warmth as a person. 3.5/5.

Out 2, 2020, 4:54 pm

>194 Jackie_K: Belated congratulations on meeting your goal, Jackie!

Out 7, 2020, 8:54 am

>204 FAMeulstee: Thank you, Anita!

ROOT #63

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, is the extraordinary and inspiring true story of William, a young lad in Malawi, who despite having to drop out of secondary school after the first year, due to poverty and famine, starts hanging out in the local library (a room with 3 shelves of books), pretty much teaches himself physics and electronics from a couple of text books, and builds a windmill out of an old bicycle and scraps salvaged from a scrap yard near his old school, so that for the first time his family can have electricity. The bulk of the book actually gives the background to his life and growing up, and gives a wonderful account of growing up in rural Malawi, and a harrowing account of living through a country-wide famine; it's probably 2/3 of the way through the book before the windmill even appears. The windmill brings attention first from visitors, and eventually from further afield, and he is given a scholarship to attend a TEDx conference in Tanzania, finish his schooling, and attend the African Leaders Academy in South Africa. Through his success he has been able to provide schooling and better conditions for his village, and I can't wait to see what he comes up with next. 4.5/5.

Editado: Out 10, 2020, 5:07 pm

ROOT #64

Patrick Barkham's Islander: A Journey Around Our Archipelago is right up my street - islands, travel, history, nature, what's not to like? He visits 11 small islands around Britain - Isle of Man, 4 Scottish islands (well, 5, but South Ronaldsay and Mainland Orkney are included in the same chapter; he also visits Barra, Eigg and St Kilda), Alderney (Channel Islands), Rathlin (Northern Ireland), St Martin's (Scilly Isles), Ynys Enlli (also known as Bardsey, Wales), and two islands off the Essex coast, Osea and Ray. As well as tracing the stories of the individual islands, throughout the book he also weaves the story of well-known island-phile Compton Mackenzie (author of Whisky Galore), and each chapter starts with a quote from a DH Lawrence short story, The Man Who Loved Islands, which was thought to be a not-very-veiled dig at Compton Mackenzie, his one-time friend. I wasn't sure about the emphasis on Monty (Compton Mackenzie) to start with, but as the book went on I realised that if there wasn't a unified theme of place (because he went to all those different, separate islands), then having another theme weaving its way throughout the book was actually a good thing, and helped draw the threads of each individual island into a larger whole. I very much enjoyed his insights, laughed out loud at his description of the (extremely vomitous) crossing from the mainland to the Scilly Isles, and definitely recommend this book. 4.5/5.

Out 10, 2020, 5:25 pm

>200 Jackie_K: I can hear the gull!

Out 10, 2020, 8:57 pm

>206 Jackie_K: I've got this on my virtual TBR shelf. It looks like I'm going to have to move it further up.

Out 10, 2020, 11:36 pm

>206 Jackie_K: Wow! That looks great!

Out 11, 2020, 5:42 am

>207 detailmuse: It's pitch perfect as a description, isn't it?!
>208 Robertgreaves: I hope you enjoy it - I really liked it.
>209 rocketjk: It was very very good, I'll be looking out for his other books too.

Out 13, 2020, 6:41 am

Here's one I abandoned a couple of years ago, but then pulled out of the Jar of Fate again earlier this year, and was determined to finish it this time!

ROOT #65

It's taken me, on and off (mostly off, to be honest) a good 2 or 3 years to finish, but I have finally read Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I'd never read any Twain before, and I'm glad I can now say I have, but I must say I found it a bit of a slog! I warmed to Huck, and Jim, but really wasn't mad on any of the other characters - they were either out to deceive, or way too easily deceivable, and I just got frustrated with them all. I also thought Tom Sawyer was pretty insufferable (although repairing the rat holes at the end did redeem him slightly in my view), and I've deleted the Project Gutenberg copy of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer unread from my ereader as I really couldn't face a whole book of him! It's written in the vernacular, which I know some people don't like, but that didn't bother me particularly - I really think it was the unlikeable characters that did it for me. For those that don't know, it's basically the story of Huck Finn helping an escaped slave, Jim, to stay free and hidden, and the various people they come across along the way. It just wasn't my kind of thing - I suspect if I'd studied it at school and really got into the deep and meaningfuls of it then I'd probably have enjoyed it more, but at this stage of my life, I'm glad I can say I've read it, but won't be rushing to read any more of his stories. 2.5/5.

Out 13, 2020, 12:42 pm

>211 Jackie_K: Congrats! It always feels good to finish one you've been working on for so long! Twain, especially Huck Finn, is quite common as required high school reading in the US, but I escaped reading it there and have only read a few short stories. I did really enjoy "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calveras County," but I'm not running to read any of his novels.

Out 14, 2020, 3:27 pm

>211 Jackie_K: I felt the same, no more Mark Twain for me either.

Out 17, 2020, 12:26 pm

Hi Jackie!

>194 Jackie_K: Belated congratulations on reaching your goal.

>202 Jackie_K: Look at you, reading more fiction than nonfiction!

>211 Jackie_K: I’ve read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer but not The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I eventually do want to read Huck Finn. I read and really liked Twain’s Life on the Mississippi, a memoir of his time as a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi.

Out 17, 2020, 1:57 pm

>212 curioussquared: Thank you - I might see if there's any non-fic of his, I might prefer that.
>213 FAMeulstee: I'm glad it's not just me!
>214 karenmarie: Thank you Karen! I did notice that about last month, more fiction than non-fiction - not like me at all! Thank you for the recommendation of Twain's memoir - perhaps I would prefer that one.

ROOT #66

The First Poet Laureate of Mars by T E Olivant might not look like my kind of thing from the cover, but because I know the author and the story behind her writing and self-publishing this book I was glad to give it a try. I actually really enjoyed it!

Set in the 24th century, Earth is destroyed, and most of the surviving human population live in satellite communities orbiting Earth. Hester, desperate to get off the failing Sat 3, applies for the job of First Poet Laureate of Mars, and despite never having written a poem in her life and having absolutely no talent for poetry, she gets appointed after (badly) plagiarising a poem by WB Yeats in her application. Mars is controlled by a small council of humans who have been augmented with technology (the Augments) and who have built a sophisticated colony there. Meanwhile, an Augment called Tolly, something of a renegade, discovers the Augment Council have gone beyond their expressed commitment to the humans and risk starting a horrific new war. Hester, Tolly, plus a more brawn than brain movie actor called Derek, join forces to figure out what is going on and try to stop the Augments before humanity is destroyed.

I'm sure I was favourably disposed to this book because I know the author, and probably wouldn't have bought it otherwise, but it does deserve the good score! There were some typos which I had to get past, but apart from that, this was a fast-paced, fun story, which I enjoyed a lot. 4/5.

Out 18, 2020, 2:59 pm

ROOT #67

Juno Dawson's The Gender Games is subtitled: "The problem with men and women, from someone who has been both". It is part transition memoir, part discussion of cultural/social aspects of gender and feminism. Juno is a journalist and children's author, so is already a really good writer, and it shows here. She discusses extensively issues of identity, mysogyny, and transphobia, and doesn't hold back - for people who are sensitive about this sort of thing, she is pretty sweary, and occasionally explicit. This gave me lots to think about, and more insight and commitment to try and be a better ally. 4/5.

Out 21, 2020, 6:13 am

ROOT #68

Ring the Hill by Tom Cox is an absolutely brilliant book - the second book this year that I've wanted to give 6 stars to! It's another book that I got through crowdfunding through unbound.com (which I highly recommend, they've produced some brilliant books these last few years). This book is a series of non-fiction essays, based around the landscapes of the various places he has lived in the UK (primarily Devon, Somerset and the Peak District), but basically vehicles for his wonderfully quirky views on life and place, and reminiscences of random encounters with random oddballs and animals. It also features his cats quite a lot (one thing I hadn't realised, but it absolutely figures, is that he is the guy behind the immensely popular "Why My Cat Is Sad" twitter account). I thoroughly recommend following him on twitter and instagram for more quirkiness and exquisite writing - honestly, I can't praise this book enough. I actually tweeted him a few days ago to say thank you for writing it - as I said there, it makes me simultaneously want to write my heart out, and never write again because I'd never get anywhere near this good. Just drop everything and read this book! 6/5.

Out 21, 2020, 4:44 pm

ROOT #69

Close to Where the Heart Gives Out by Dr Malcolm Alexander is a lovely book - the memoir of a year as the island GP for Eday, which is one of the outlying Orkney Islands (population: 125). Although he was there 30 years ago, he still writes so sympathetically and with so much affection for his patients, and for the place and its impact on him and his family. A really wonderful read. 5/5.

Out 21, 2020, 5:07 pm

Wow, you've had an amazing year of reading! Congratulations on meeting and surpassing your ROOTing goals.

Out 24, 2020, 2:12 pm

>219 This-n-That: Thank you, I have - although at least some of the time for reading has come from doing less part-time work. It's what I've needed for 2020 - time to slow down and catch up with myself, whilst trying to remember not to doomscroll!

ROOT #70

The Complex Christ: Signs of emergence in the urban church by Kester Brewin is a book I've had on the shelf since the mid-2000s. For a while the author attended the same church as me in London, although I didn't really know him beyond a nod hello, but it was enough to make me feel I ought to buy the book!

The premise of the book is basically that the Church has become increasingly irrelevant to the lives of the people it supposedly serves, and it is in the city that new forms of church, welcoming rather than excluding, using new forms of expression, will emerge. The first half of the book he is laying out his main thesis, drawing heavily on Fowler's Stages of Faith, and the second half he looks at the life of Christ to illustrate and expand upon his points. I must say, I found the first half a bit heavy-going, and also as someone who is moving away from city life towards the less built-up I found myself often thinking that I'd love to read something about faith and rurality. The second half of the book was much better, and he puts forward some really interesting interpretations. 3.5/5.

Out 25, 2020, 5:07 am

Hi Jackie, just popping in, no particular reason. I just wanted to see of you and the family are doing fine,

>218 Jackie_K: You certainly got me interested in this book. No translation to be found though.

Out 25, 2020, 10:13 am

>221 connie53: Thank you Connie, we are well. We've had 2 weeks of increased restrictions in our part of Scotland, and infection rates are still going up, but slower than they were. So I expect restrictions will continue for a while - Scotland is just introducing a new 5 tier system (rather than blanket restrictions for everyone), so we'll have to wait and see what the next steps are. Meantime, we have also had 2 weeks of school holidays and not really able to go anywhere because of rubbish weather, so I think we're all ready for A to go back to school tomorrow!

Out 26, 2020, 4:37 am

Schools start here today too. I hope A likes to go again.

Out 26, 2020, 8:33 am

Hi Jackie!

I'm sorry you are back in restrictions-mode again, but at least your government is doing something at the national level. Yesterday the White House Chief of Staff said "We're not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigations." In effect, signaling defeat against the pandemic. Absolutely stunning and demoralizing.

I hope A enjoys getting back to school and that the new restrictions bring the rate of infections back down.

Out 28, 2020, 12:57 pm

>223 connie53: So far so good, Connie! It's nice to take her there and see her running around the playground with her friends before they go into class, the company of children her own age is really what she needs. She's so sociable, so finds being an only child difficult - even more so at the moment when we can't gather in large groups. The school has been very good with trying to keep things as normal as possible for the children, whilst also taking good covid precautions.

>224 karenmarie: I hate to say it, but I'm very glad I'm not in the USA right now - for lots of reasons, but definitely for the pandemic (non-)response. I hope that you're able to climb your way out of it soon - not that I can do anything, but I'm keeping everything crossed for the results next week. Our infection rates are still rising, but apparently rising more slowly than they were, so it's still not great, but could be worse. We are just waiting to hear which tier of restrictions each area is going to be placed in - they're supposed to start on Monday of next week, so presumably we will hear in the next day or two. I hope you stay safe, and that you have good news next week!

Out 30, 2020, 9:26 am

Hi Jackie!

I love my country so much. It's been good to my immigrant families, starting in the 1670s with a French Huguenot and ending with my Bohemian family in the 1860s. We've been here a very long time. There are good and bad things about it, as with every country, but I can't imagine leaving at this stage of my life - I'm 67.

Thank you for keeping everything crossed. We need all the emotional support we can get.

As I just wrote on a Canadian friend's thread, It won't be 'done and dusted' on November 3rd because of all the absentee ballots. Each state has a different way of handling them and a different date for allowing absentee ballots to be counted - as an example, my state of North Carolina will allow all absentee ballots received by November 12th to be counted - challenged by Republicans and upheld by the Supreme Court. I don't know if it will go as far as November 12th, but I hope we can keep the Supreme Court out of it. The Electoral College simply counts votes submitted by each state - 48 states give all Electoral College votes to the popular vote winner within that state and 2 states - Maine and Nebraska - split votes.

Out 30, 2020, 10:32 am

>226 karenmarie: Hi Karen - I think as long as I live I'll never fully understand the American electoral system. It's complicated enough in the UK with 4 different nations and systems! We are all on the edge of our seat though - I know they say every US election is the most important one in our lifetime, but this one really feels like it. Living in a divided country is so difficult - it's certainly the case in the UK that we're horribly divided. Not that it was perfect before, and nobody agrees on everything, but the anger and rancour that goes alongside the disagreement seems much worse these days.

I didn't mean to imply that I didn't want to be in the US because it was awful, by the way! I have met so many amazing Americans, and know it's an awesome place. But the politics seem so poisonous, and the pandemic response so awful, that I fear for my friends there and really want to see a way out of this mess.

Out 31, 2020, 1:24 pm

ROOT #71

A short book to end the month - Lytton Strachey's Florence Nightingale (Penguin 60s). In the mid-90s Penguin celebrated its then-60th year by producing these miniature books, about 4x6 inches and up to around 100 pages, of short stories, or selections from larger books. This is one of the latter - Strachey, who was one of the Bloomsbury Set, wrote a book called Eminent Victorians in which he presented the lives of four famous Victorians, of whom Florence Nightingale was the only woman (and who, from what I gather, emerged with her reputation the least unscathed of the four). The book outlines Nightingale's life - the first half is concerned with her work in the hospital in Scutari during the Crimean War, but then it looks at what came next - reform of the War Office, sanitary and hospital reform, and the establishment of modern nurse training. It also looks at the woman behind the myth - indefatigable, sarcastic, single-minded and admired. 3/5.

Out 31, 2020, 5:54 pm

And that's the end of the month, so here's my summary. It was a good reading month, but a better acquisitions month than I was expecting (whoops) thanks to a few books I'd pre-ordered and forgotten about coming through this month!

I read 10 books this month, all ROOTs:

1. Seth Lerer - Prospero's Son: Life, Books, Love and Theater.
2. William Kamkwamba & Bryan Mealer - The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.
3. Patrick Barkham - Islander: A Journey Around Our Archipelago.
4. Mark Twain - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
5. TE Olivant - The First Poet Laureate of Mars.
6. Juno Dawson - The Gender Games.
7. Tom Cox - Ring the Hill.
8. Malcolm Alexander - Close to Where the Heart Gives Out.
9. Kester Brewin - The Complex Christ: Signs of emergence in the urban church.
10. Lytton Strachey - Florence Nightingale (Penguin 60s).

And I acquired 7 books too.

1. Jamaica Kincaid - My Garden (Book).
2. Amor Towles - A Gentleman in Moscow.
3. Lev Parikian - Music to Eat Cake By.
4. ed. Katherine May - The Best Most Awful Job: Twenty Writers Talk Honestly About Motherhood.
5. John D'Agata & Jim Fingal - The Lifespan of a Fact.
6. Pragya Agarwal - Wish We Knew What to Say.
7. Jennifer J Carroll - Narkomania: Drugs, HIV, and Citizenship in Ukraine.

I'm getting really close to going below 400 TBRs (currently at 403 - it did get as low as 401 but then the pre-orders started to come in!), so I'm confident I can do that in November. I want to have a decent cushion below 400 by Christmas, as I usually get a good haul of Christmas books from generous relatives and friends.

Nov 3, 2020, 1:50 pm

Oh my word, it turns out that I preordered quite a lot of books that were releasing at the beginning of November! I've had 3 more since my end of October post (2 of which are ROOTs). Need to tighten my belt now and resist the temptation of more books...

Nov 3, 2020, 2:08 pm

>230 Jackie_K: I'm officially on a book-buying ban until Christmas -- sent my list off to my parents and brother last week. We want to get a head start on the shopping in case the poor postal service is overwhelmed with pandemic mail volumes + Christmas mail volumes.

Nov 3, 2020, 2:13 pm

>227 Jackie_K: As an American... I thoroughly agree with everything you said! I'm trying to work today and I just don't think I'm going to get anything done. I'm already glued to election result websites and there aren't even any results to look at yet.

>230 Jackie_K: >231 rabbitprincess: That end-of-year publishing boom always gets me. I keep trying to put myself on a book-buying ban but then I see another independent bookstore crying out for help and I can't resist placing another order. Oh well, it's for a good cause. In my last order to my favorite local store I did a lot of my Christmas gift book buying, so at least those ones aren't all for me.

Nov 4, 2020, 7:28 am

Hi Jackie!

>227 Jackie_K: Poisonous politics, awful pandemic response. Yup that’s ‘Murica, sad to say.

>229 Jackie_K: A Gentleman in Moscow was a 5* read for me. I hope you like it as much as I did.

>232 curioussquared: I peeked at some results but am resolutely staying away from news today if I can. I knew there wouldn’t be a result today, but emotionally it’s deflating anyway.

Nov 4, 2020, 12:28 pm

>233 karenmarie: Your resolution is greater than mine. I'm pretty much pretending to work while refreshing news sites constantly.

Nov 4, 2020, 1:36 pm

>231 rabbitprincess: I think I'm going to have to go on a book-buying ban till Christmas too. Another pre-order arrived this morning (whoops!), and there's at least another one due soon too!

>232 curioussquared: >234 curioussquared: I hope you manage to get some work done! (I've spent most of today avoiding the news - I should do that more often). I've bought from indies too during lockdown - I so want them to survive this time.

>233 karenmarie: I'm actually reading A Gentleman in Moscow at the moment (it's our book group book this month) and really enjoying it. I don't think I've ever read anything quite like it. It was certainly the better choice today than watching the news and doomscrolling - like you I'm avoiding that as much as I can today.

Hang on in there American friends!

Nov 6, 2020, 5:28 pm

I too want to have read Twain, for cultural literacy, but not enough to read him when there is so much else :0

Loved your review of Ring the Hill -- added the e-book to my wishlist!

Nov 6, 2020, 8:23 pm

>236 detailmuse: :-) It was after all Twain himself who defined a classic as a book everyone wants to have read but nobody wants to read.

Nov 7, 2020, 11:10 am

Hi Jackie!

Well, the roller-coaster ride continues here in the US, although Biden is almost assured of the win. There's hope for the Senate, with runoffs for BOTH Senate seats in Georgia in January, and a possible runoff here in NC for Senator.

>234 curioussquared: Hi Natalie! Two days ago I heard an interview on NPR that made me very positive about a Biden/Harris win even before the numbers started working out. Not totally de-stressed, but getting there. Also, not the total outcome I wanted - a Blue tidal wave - but having a sane person as our President is a comfort. It's very scary to me that 70 million voters picked Trump.

>235 Jackie_K: I'm so glad you're enjoying AGiM. I found it amazing and rich with detail.

Nov 9, 2020, 10:55 am

>236 detailmuse: I'm confident you'll love Ring the Hill - it was delightful, and quirky, and unlike anything else I've ever read.

>237 Robertgreaves: Thanks Robert - that makes me feel loads better about not enjoying Huck Finn very much!

>238 karenmarie: Hi Karen! So far I've been so happy with what I've seen of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris since the weekend, although the bar has been set so low I hope I'm not getting a distorted view! I am so happy and thankful and relieved. Also, yes re: AGiM!

ROOT #72

I don't think I've read a single less-than-stellar review of Amor Towles' A Gentleman in Moscow, so I had high hopes, but was a bit worried it wouldn't live up to the hype. I needn't have worried - this novel is wonderful! From the prologue, which made me laugh out loud, right the way through, the writing was pitch perfect and every character beautifully and richly drawn. In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced by the Bolsheviks to indefinite house arrest in the Metropol Hotel in Moscow. Over the next 3+ decades, he watches over the comings and goings in the hotel, eventually becoming its head waiter, as they mirror the tumultuous changes going on in the Soviet Union. If you haven't already - read this book! 5/5.

Nov 9, 2020, 1:17 pm

>239 Jackie_K: I need to get to this one! I have a copy and everything.

Nov 10, 2020, 11:08 pm

>239 Jackie_K: A thoughtful review of A Gentleman in Moscow. I really liked the story as well when I read it in 2017, and I'd also encourage others to give it a try.

Nov 11, 2020, 5:42 am

I think I have a translated copy too. It sounds really interesting. I will put it on my Kobo.

Nov 11, 2020, 5:47 am

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Nov 15, 2020, 10:43 am

My husband and I are currently watching the Outlander series on Starz, so I'm stopping by as I recalled you had a fun picture taken at Clava Cairns posted. I must admit I stopped after the third book in the series; perhaps too much violence for me. We got a 2 month freebie subscription to Starz but I don't think we will make it through all the seasons and episodes available to watch. The tv version is definitely different than the novels, as the episodes delve more deeply into the character's background stories.

Nov 15, 2020, 1:37 pm

>244 This-n-That: Watched the series once and now watch them again with my brother. And read all books twice.

Nov 15, 2020, 2:19 pm

>237 Robertgreaves: haha Excellent!

>239 Jackie_K: AGiM sounds very good! I went to make an impulse purchase but the Kindle version is not available, something going on with it, "Item Under Review" :( So I put myself on the library audiobook waitlist.

Nov 16, 2020, 9:22 am

>240 curioussquared: >242 connie53: >246 detailmuse: I really think you'll like it!

>244 This-n-That: >245 connie53: I have two of the Outlander books (books 1 and 3), both of which I got cheap - I probably wouldn't have bought them otherwise! I'm a bit nervous about trying it, as it's not normally the kind of thing I enjoy, and in my head I'm already assuming I'll end up Pearl-ruling them! My husband watches the TV series, but I've not myself. If I pull it out of the Jar of Fate then I'll give it a go, but mostly I'm just wondering what I was thinking - the lure of the bargain was obviously strong!

Non-ROOT #12

This month's library book was Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: Our Year of Seasonal Eating, and it was a wonderful read. The author and her family (husband and two daughters) moved to the family farmstead in Virginia, from Arizona, and aimed to spend an entire year eating only what they produced themselves, or that they knew was produced locally (which they defined as within a 100 mile radius), rather than food imported from abroad or from thousands of miles away even if still American. I found this book inspiring, without ever being preachy, although even if she was preaching she'd be preaching to the converted, since this is pretty much living my dream. Midway through she and her husband had a 2 week holiday in Italy, and she describes beautifully the local food and farmers they meet - that was possibly my favourite chapter, because it was just so full of joy. The whole book is a meditation on living and subsisting locally and sustainably, and was a joy to read from beginning to end. There 's lots about eating seasonal food, but also canning and preserving for the winter months when they're unable to grow fresh food. Inspirational. 4.5/5.

Nov 16, 2020, 10:06 am

>245 connie53: I wish I had been able to get into the book series as much as you did! If I'd started reading them a decade earlier, perhaps I would have been more tolerant of some of the themes in the novels.

>247 Jackie_K: Ha! The lure of the bargain. I totally understand where you are coming from. Plus, you might actually end up liking them if the Jar of Fate decides that is what you should read. :-)

Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: Our Year of Seasonal Eating sounds like a potential book to add to my 'feel good' reading list. Nice review!

Nov 16, 2020, 11:50 am

>248 This-n-That: Yes - I may end up loving the Outlander books. But I'm not going to hold my breath! Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is definitely a great book to read - in fact I've just bought myself a copy as I'm sure I'll read it again.

Nov 17, 2020, 5:35 am

>247 Jackie_K: If you pull them out of the JoF, I hope they come out in the right order, Jackie.

Nov 17, 2020, 11:50 am

>250 connie53: Don't worry - if I pull out book 3 first I'll just put it back and start with book 1!

ROOT #73

Thomas Harding's The House by the Lake is a terrific book which I highly recommend. The house in question was built by the author's great-great-grandfather in the 1920s on the shore of a lake just west of Berlin, and through chronicling the residents of the house from then until the early 2000s when it was finally abandoned, he also chronicles the history of Germany throughout that time. His family are Jewish, so the book details the increasing restrictions they faced during the 1930s (the family left for England in the 1930s), and as the village fell into the new country of East Germany it also details life under the communist regime - indeed the Berlin Wall literally ran through the bottom of the house's garden. This is a really well-written, well-researched and fascinating account, highlighting how complicated land and home ownership claims are for properties such as this one which were seized by the Nazis and then appropriated by the DDR, whilst also chronicling the human story of persecution, living under communism, and then reunification. 4.5/5.

Nov 18, 2020, 5:39 am

>251 Jackie_K:. Good plan.

Nov 19, 2020, 6:55 am

Hi Jackie!

>239 Jackie_K: I’m so glad you found AGiM wonderful.

>247 Jackie_K: I love the Outlander series and am anxiously waiting for book 9, Go Tell The Bees That I am Gone. All I can say is that there’s a lot of violence, a lot of sex, and wonderful historical detail. It works for me but may not suit you.

Nov 19, 2020, 7:14 am

>253 karenmarie: Yes, I must admit it's the sex and violence which is making me think they're maybe not for me! We'll see - if I pull it out of the Jar of Fate I'll decide at p49 whether I'll carry on or Pearl-rule it! (that's one good thing about getting older, Pearl-ruling takes fewer pages!)

Nov 19, 2020, 7:26 am

I started Graaf in Moskou yesterday. That BB hit me instantly.

Editado: Nov 21, 2020, 3:58 pm

>255 connie53: I hope you enjoy it!

ROOT #74

The Tiger That Isn't: Seeing Through a World of Numbers is by the creator and original presenter of Radio 4's "More or Less" programme, Michael Blastland & Andrew Dilnot, and, as suggested by the subtitle, it's a popular exploration of how numbers are presented, misrepresented, interpreted, and misinterpreted. It covers common statistical concepts such as risk, average, correlation, chance, and sampling, and as well as explaining what they are, also explains the sort of questions that need to be asked when statistics are reported (such as, is that really a big/small number, is that an outlier, is this a likely or an extreme possibility?). It was an accessible read and I feel a bit more equipped to tackle a more academic explanation of stats now (something I want to do as stats have always been a bit of a mystery to me, and I'd like to have a better understanding of the studies I read which use them). 3.5/5.

Nov 21, 2020, 6:54 pm

>257 Robertgreaves: Sounds interesting, something I need to get to grips with as well. Wishlisted.

Nov 22, 2020, 11:05 am

>254 Jackie_K: If I used Nancy Pearl's rule I'd be able to abandon a book at page 33, but I use my own rule: "If for any reason you don't want to continue reading a book, put it down. You may keep it, get rid of it, re-start it, never finish it, finish it from where you left off, but put it down." Note that there are no page number requirements. I've been known to say that I abandon books with glee.

I read on Connie's thread your message on November 13th that you might be under increased Covid restrictions "in a couple of weeks". I do hope that you'll still be able to take the outing to celebrate A's birthday.

Nov 22, 2020, 12:57 pm

>258 karenmarie:. I'm getting better at Pearl ruling books according to my own terms too. I started a book yesterday and took it of my Kobo this morning after reading 10 pages. It was too weird for my taste. And I read a lot of weird books.

Nov 23, 2020, 3:55 pm

>257 Robertgreaves: It was a very accessible introduction, Robert, although it doesn't really go into the different types of statistics so much. I did feel a bit less thick as I could follow its arguments though!

>258 karenmarie: Hi Karen! We are now in the highest tier of restrictions in west and central Scotland, initially till December 11th but I'm not holding my breath about it easing very much after that. Although, all 4 UK governments are talking about a brief easing of restrictions for Christmas to allow a bit more family contact (which I think is a terrible idea, and we'll be paying for it in January). The good news though is that as the safari park is classed as an outdoor attraction it is still open to people in the local council area, so we're still able to go - I'm actually glad that although they had already lowered their numbers to enable social distancing, with visitors from outwith the council area unable to come there will be even fewer people there. It's sad for them of course, but it means that it should be pretty safe. A is super-excited about her birthday and is telling everyone she meets how many days there are left to go! (3 more sleeps)

>258 karenmarie: >259 connie53: I've only just in the last year or two felt comfortable with abandoning books, but now I will if they're not working for me. Life's too short, and especially right now nobody wants to be reading books that are making them miserable, real life is doing fine on that score without any help!

ROOT #75

I can always rely on Mma Ramotswe and the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency when I need an hour or two of not particularly demanding reading to distract me from whatever's going on in real life. The Kalahari Typing School for Men is the 4th in Alexander McCall Smith's long-running series, and features more of the same - gentle humour and people, observations on everyday life in Botswana, and a couple of cases to solve in her unique way. This one features an errant husband, and a repentant man desperate to make amends, plus a new business and fledgeling romance for Mma Makutsi. 3.5/5.

Nov 28, 2020, 4:40 pm

ROOT #76

Peter Gill's Famine & Foreigners: Ethiopia Since Live Aid is a very interesting account by one of the journalists who broke the story of the 1984 famine in Ethiopia and who continued to return to the country over the subsequent 25 years to chart the country's progress and ongoing challenges. He speaks at length with politicians, aid workers, donors, and locals throughout the country, and discusses issues such as the conditionality of aid/development funding, the growing influence of China in Ethiopia, press freedom, human rights, population growth, and the politicisation of hunger and famine. This book gets under the image of Ethiopia as developmental basket case full of starving people, to reveal a complex and nuanced and difficult place where the future is far from certain. 4/5.

Nov 30, 2020, 7:25 am

ROOT #77

The Bletchley Girls by Tessa Dunlop is a first person account, from 15 of the women working at, or associated with, the Bletchley Park codebreaking centre in WW2. The women, from different backgrounds and mostly working at different times and places (only a handful knew each other), are introduced and their journey from recruitment to (mostly very dull) work to demob is charted. The book is ordered thematically rather than going through each individual story from start to finish - I liked this as it avoided repetition and gave a good sense of the secrecy and camaraderie and boredom and achievements of working at BP, although it was sometimes hard to remember which woman was which. The women will all be in their 90s by now, so it's great that this story could be told using their own voices - the BP history thus far has been very male. 3.5/5.

Dez 1, 2020, 9:06 am

Well, the longest year ever is finally limping to a close, it's December AT LAST. Here's my November round-up.

I read 6 ROOTs (I had been hoping for 8, but it could have been worse!). They were:

1. Amor Towles - A Gentleman in Moscow.
2. Thomas Harding - The House by the Lake.
3. Michael Blastland & Andrew Dilnot - The Tiger That Isn't: Seeing Through a World of Numbers.
4. Alexander McCall Smith - The Kalahari Typing School for Men.
5. Peter Gill - Famine & Foreigners: Ethiopia Since Live Aid.
6. Tessa Dunlop - The Bletchley Girls.

I also read one non-ROOT (which was excellent):

1. Barbara Kingsolver - Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

And now for acquisitions. Yes, well. So I read 7 books, and bought, er, 8 (to be fair, some were preorders from a while ago). So Mt TBR is currently sitting at 405 books - I'll do my best to get it below 400 by the end of the year, but with Christmas and another couple of preorders expected I might be pushing my luck! I'm still pleased though, as I started the year at 427. Anyway, here's what I acquired this month:

1. Sage Gordon-Davis - The Heart Whispers. (no touchstone)
2. Gareth Lewis - Tales of the Thief-City. (no touchstone)
3. Melissa Harrison - The Stubborn Light of Things: A Nature Diary.
4. Janey Godley - Frank Get the Door. (no touchstone)
5. Allie Brosh - Hyperbole and a Half.
6. Philllip Lopate (ed) - The Art of the Personal Essay.
7. Diane Ackerman - Cultivating Delight: A Natural History of My Garden.
8. Chanel Miller - Know My Name.

Dez 5, 2020, 6:24 am

ROOT #78

The Heart Whispers is a new collection of poetry, exploring love and longing, by my friend Sage Gordon-Davis. As with their previous collection, Silk Flower Goodbye, what I love about these poems are how accessible and relatable they are. No scratching my head wondering what on earth the poet means (my default reaction to a lot of poetry). 4.5/5.

(I don't think touchstones are working at the moment)

Dez 6, 2020, 10:25 am

ROOT #79

The Aran Islands by JM Synge is an old book - late 19th/early 20th century - detailing the author and playwright's numerous visits to the three Aran Islands off the coast of western Ireland in order to immerse himself in Irish culture and language. He stays with locals, gets to know them, hears their stories, and explores the land and sea. It's a hard life, mostly unromanticised, and an interesting snapshot of a time long gone. I saw the islands from the mainland when we had a holiday in Co. Clare in 2011, but we didn't have time (or weather) to make it over to explore the islands. I'd love to visit them sometime. 3/5.

Dez 12, 2020, 5:21 am

Non-ROOT #13

Getting Published is Just the Beginning by Rhoda S. Baxter is a guide - primarily UK-focused, although the general principles apply to most jurisdictions - to Intellectual Property (IP) rights for authors and students. It's a very clear and readable overview of the main aspects and stumbling blocks in publishing contracts, and guides the reader to the important questions to think about, and ask. 4.5/5.

Dez 16, 2020, 1:17 pm

ROOT #80

Joshua Hammer's The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu is the true story of a group of librarians who were custodians of the historical manuscripts going back centuries that were kept in private and public libraries in Timbuktu, primarily thanks to the efforts of one librarian, Abdel Kader Haidara. The book starts with how Haidara got into that work, and his efforts over the years to track down tens of thousands of manuscripts in order to preserve this incredible cultural legacy. Then it starts to detail the increasing influence and activity of Al Qaeda in Mali, and Haidara and others' growing realisation that, as Al Qaeda started to take over northern Mali, the manuscripts were going to need to be moved and hidden in order not to be destroyed. They smuggle the manuscripts out and managed to save many many thousands of them prior to Al Qaeda's eventual defeat after the French military intervention. It's a fascinating story, well told. 4/5.

Dez 17, 2020, 10:03 am

Hi Jackie!

Lots of good reading here. Congrats on Mt. TBR being reduced from 427 to 408. I'm rather proud of myself in that I've acquired 122 and culled 121. Sad reason, though - no Friends of the Library book sales - and it looks like next spring's sale will have to be cancelled, too.

>267 Jackie_K: I have it on my shelves, started it a long time ago then abandoned it, but it will call out to me again one of these days.

Have the restrictions been eased? Any idea of when the vaccine might be available to you? When it is, will you take it? Enquiring minds, and all that!

Dez 17, 2020, 3:28 pm

>267 Jackie_K: I really liked The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu when I read it, Jackie. Somehow you never think of librarians as being that adventurous or subversive!

>266 Jackie_K: From this book it looks like you are still into writing. I've been increasing my output with writing sprints through the Creative Academy for Writers which is online and free.

Dez 17, 2020, 4:43 pm

>268 karenmarie: Hello Karen! Even better, Mt TBR is now at 403 - I reckon I can get to 400 by Christmas, but then Santa will probably scupper the below 400 goal! But I'm still pleased with reducing the mountain, even slightly. I've not had the vaccine yet, but am on the list as a health care worker - I'd be at the front of the queue if it was down to me, but they've got to immunise hundreds of us so I'll wait for my call up! At least I'm in the system - I anticipate that the programme for us workers will be mostly done by the end of February, hopefully I will get it well before then. There is a possibility that I'll be involved in covid research studies at the hospital, I hope that works out if they can figure out the logistics, budgets etc. The restrictions in our area eased very slightly last week (we went from the highest to the second-highest level of restrictions), and they are easing things further for 5 days over Christmas so that people can meet up. I think that will be disastrous, and we will be staying just the 3 of us at home. School finishes on Wednesday lunchtime next week, and I have 2 weeks off work - I think we are all really ready for the break!

>269 Familyhistorian: Hello Meg! Yes, those librarians were pretty amazing, weren't they? I feel like I'm constantly discovering more awesome librarians - last year I remember a set of viral videos of librarians encouraging library use and readings, while dancing along to various songs, some of them were hilarious. And on twitter there are some awesome libraries and museums who have some amusing rivalries - Shetland and Orkney libraries spring to mind, following both of them has been a joy. Yes, I am still writing - I'm coming to the end of my year-long garden diary, and next year I am planning on redrafting/editing it and hopefully getting it self-published. Early in the new year I've signed up for a 6 week course on essay writing, with nature writer and essayist Kathryn Aalto, I'm looking forward to that very much.

Dez 17, 2020, 7:31 pm

>270 Jackie_K: That sounds like an interesting librarian video, Jackie. Good to hear about your writing progress. The essay writing course sounds like it will fit what you like to write very well. I'm currently attending an online writing course through a local university which started in September and ends in May. I'm working on fiction but they also have other genres like nonfiction. It's pushing me to write more!

Dez 18, 2020, 3:33 pm

>271 Familyhistorian: I was so sure I'd posted the librarian videos on facebook I went and searched, and luckily it's still there! Enjoy: https://electricliterature.com/librarians-are-secretly-the-funnest-people-alive/

I've found that doing short writing courses have been great for encouraging me to write more consistently. My secret dream is to do an MA in travel and nature writing (there's an ideal course in the UK), but the fees are way beyond my bank balance, sadly. So short courses will fill the gap, and there are lots of really good ones out there once you know where to look. I'm glad you're writing too - good luck with it!

Dez 19, 2020, 7:20 am

ROOT #80

Oh my goodness, this book is HUGE! (I even weighed it, it was just over 1kg - no wonder my arms ache!). The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present, selectd by Phillip Lopate, is a book recommended for the essay-writing course I'm taking early in the new year. It is in 5 sections, covering classical forerunners, Montaigne (the father of the essay), British essayists, non-British/US essayists, and finally American essayists. I'll be honest, the first three sections I did quite a lot of skimming - I'm really not very good, I'm discovering, with pre-20th century writing. But the last two sections were largely excellent, and I discovered a number of essayists whose wider work I'd be keen to read (there was a piece by Japanese essayist Junichiro Tanizaki which I thought was astonishing). There were a number of writers I knew a bit, but this has definitely widened my horizons. 3.5/5.

Dez 23, 2020, 9:43 pm

Hi Jackie!

... and here's to a better 2021!

Dez 24, 2020, 2:35 am

Hi Jackie, I hope you and your family have a great Christmas break and a safe and happy start to 2021.

>211 Jackie_K: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn (both books in one volume) is probably my longest-standing ROOT, going back to 2001. Well done for pushing yourself through it - maybe it's my turn to finally give it a go next year, though you don't exactly make it sound appealing!

Dez 24, 2020, 12:05 pm

>274 karenmarie: Thank you so much Karen - I think we can all say a hearty amen to a wish for a better 2021!

>275 Rebeki: I hope I haven't put you off completely! It just wasn't for me :)

Dez 24, 2020, 1:53 pm

Wishing all my LT friends a very merry Christmas! Thank you all for the visits to my thread and the stimulating book chat, and here's to more of the same in 2021!

Dez 24, 2020, 5:15 pm

ROOT #82

Ivan Rogers' (former British ambassador to the EU) 9 Lessons in Brexit is a short but substantial essay, based on a lecture he gave at Liverpool University, of lessons that he felt, with his insider knowledge, needed to be acknowledged by politicians of all stripes regarding Brexit. I guess it's apt that I finished it on the day that the Brexit trade deal was finally announced as agreed, at the 11th hour. This book was published in mid-2019, so in the way of these things is already a bit out of date (Theresa May is still the Prime Minister here, Boris Johnson is the former Foreign Secretary, and there's a working assumption that there will be an election in 2020, 5 years after the 2015 election that set the whole Brexit nightmare in motion). But for all that, there was still a lot of sobering analysis that I'm sure is still very relevant. It's worth saying, although he's clearly not a fan of Brexit, he goes out of his way to be even-handed, and is equally critical of those calling for a second referendum where remaining in the EU was an option. 4/5.

And now I'm going to go and read something more cheerful!!

Dez 25, 2020, 9:30 am

Happy Holidays from the Netherlands!

Dez 26, 2020, 3:25 pm

Wishing lots of holiday cheer to you, Jackie!

Dez 26, 2020, 3:28 pm

>279 connie53: >280 detailmuse: Thank you both so much! It's been lovely so far - I think the word is 'replete'!

Dez 27, 2020, 5:13 pm

Happy New Year, Jackie. 'Replete' is a pretty cool word!

Dez 28, 2020, 1:23 am

The librarian videos were fun, Jackie. Thanks for the link. Have a great rest of the Holiday Season!

Dez 28, 2020, 2:51 pm

>282 This-n-That: Thank you! It is a very satisfying word, isn't it?
>283 Familyhistorian: Thank you - enjoy your holiday too, and I'm glad you enjoyed the videos, I did too!

ROOT #83

Poacher's Pilgrimage: An Island Journey is a book by one of my favourite writers, the Quaker environmentalist/broadcaster/pacifist/activist Alastair McIntosh. The book is an account of his 12 day walk from the southern tip of Harris to the northern tip of Lewis, together the largest island in the Outer Hebrides. But it is so much more than that too. He's also working through his thoughts on violence and nonviolence, and the meanings and spirituality of land, place, and people. He says himself early on in the book that he is often considered 'too Christian for the pagans, and too pagan for the Christians', and either way this book might be a bit 'woo' for some readers, but I thought it was fascinating, considering the juxtaposition of folk beliefs alongside the strong strands of conservative Calvinist religion in the islands. I'm sure I'll read and reread this many times. 4.5/5.

Dez 29, 2020, 10:23 am

ROOT #84

Bad Feminist is a set of essays on gender, race, and popular culture, by Roxane Gay. I really enjoyed this collection, and even found myself laughing out loud at her essay on competitive Scrabble. Very readable and important. 4.5/5.

Dez 30, 2020, 2:14 pm

Hi Jackie!

Bad Feminist is on my shelves and I've tagged it for a 2021 read. Thanks!

Dez 31, 2020, 4:18 pm

>286 karenmarie: I hope you like it! I've also got her Hunger: A Memoir of (my) Body on the TBR.

Here's my final two ROOTs for 2020, both finished today. A random factoid, when I first joined the ROOT group in 2014, my very first book read was Clare Balding's first book, My Animals and Other Family. And this first one here is her second book, which I also enjoyed very much:

ROOT #85

Walking Home by Clare Balding is a lovely book, part memoir and part celebration of walking in the UK. Amongst many other things, she is the long-time presenter of the "Ramblings" programme on BBC Radio 4, where she joins a person or group of people walking somewhere in the UK, and much of this book is an account of some of those walks (and the behind the scenes stories that go with them). Interspersed throughout are chapters where she walks different parts of the Wayfarer's Way (a 70 mile walk which passes near to where she grew up and where much of her family still live) with various members of her family. The final two chapters are her experience of the 2012 Olympics (it was her coverage of these Games which cemented her 'national treasure' status), including her shortest walk, carrying the Olympic torch as part of the build up to the Games. A very lovely, pleasant read. 4/5.

ROOT #86

Jamaica Kincaid's My Garden (Book) is a lovely and strange book - in it she talks about all that she loves about gardening and plants, as well as the things she dislikes, both of which are talked about passionately and urgently. My favourite chapter was where she was talking about the garden in Antigua where she grew up (most of the book is based on her garden in Vermont), and she weaves in discussion of slavery and colonialism and their impact, on the country and on her. Her writing style takes a bit of getting used to - lots of brackets and really long sentences. I should really love that, as that's what I tend to do too when I write, but I see it so rarely in published books that I still felt like I had to adjust my expectations. I think I'd like to read it again in the reasonably near future, because there's a lot here that I think I probably missed. 4/5.

Jan 1, 2021, 4:11 pm

So here's my December round up - it was a strong end to the year with 9 ROOTs read. They were:

1. Sage Gordon-Davis - The Heart Whispers.
2. J.M. Synge - The Aran Islands.
3. Joshua Hammer - The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu.
4. ed. Phillip Lopate - The Art of the Personal Essay.
5. Ivan Rogers - 9 Lessons in Brexit.
6. Alastair McIntosh - Poacher's Pilgrimage.
7. Roxane Gay - Bad Feminist.
8. Clare Balding - Walking Home.
9. Jamaica Kincaid - My Garden (Book).

I did though have a very acquisitive December (which was lovely! Not going to beat myself up about that!). Books marked with * were Christmas gifts, the others I can't blame Santa for! (I was also unable to resist bookbub temptation a couple of times!). 11 books added to the pile in December, they were:

1. Various - Granta 133.
2. Various - Granta 153.
3. Toni Burrows - The Mermaid and the Tower. (no touchstone - a self-published book by a friend)
4. Fintan O'Toole - Heroic Failure: Brexit and the Politics of Pain.
5. Ivan Rogers - 9 Lessons in Brexit.
6. Charlie Mackesey - The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse*.
7. Barack Obama - A Promised Land*.
8. Ellen F. Davis - Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture*.
9. Met Office - Very British Weather*. (no touchstone)
10. Katherine May - Wintering.
11. Monty Don - My Garden World.

I ended the year with my TBR pile 20 books lower than I started it - so am officially starting 2021 with 407 books. I'm going to aim to get to 375 or below by the end of 2021, let's see how I do!

Jan 1, 2021, 5:36 pm

Congratulations on lowering your TBR pile by 20. What an epic reading year you've had, I really enjoyed catching up with your thread and picked up a few BBs. I wish I had your appetite for non-fiction. Look forward to hearing about your writing course!

Jan 1, 2021, 6:27 pm

>288 Jackie_K: Hurray for lowering your TBR pile!

Jan 2, 2021, 8:43 am

>289 floremolla: >290 rabbitprincess: Thank you both! It is a good achievement, even though I'd have liked to have lowered it by a bit more.