A ten-book-binge

On my second visit to the Kirkdale Bookshop in Sydenham, South London, and for a mere £21, I now have an additional 10 novels queued up for reading. The shop has a great variety of pre-loved novels, something I just don’t see in my local library, my local Waterstones, or my nearest Oxfam Bookshop. A bookshop to be revisited.

The New Silk Roads – Peter Frankopan

The New Silk Roads, by Peter Frankopan, is a terrific look at the economic and political forces shaping the World. I’ve come away stunned at the complexity of these forces, something one just doesn’t get from ‘the news’.

A great eye-opener that I will hopefully re-read in a year or two. Trump and the US don’t come out of it well.

Highly recommended.

When I was younger I read…

In my twenties I read a fair bit of Hermann Hesse. All the main ones, The Glass Bead Game, Steppenwolf, Narcissus and Goldmund and several others. I think I re-read most of them in my thirties and, like the first time, I really only understood them as a story rather than anything deeper.

I read a few of E M Forster and George Orwell. I loved Orwell’s Keep The Aspidistra Flying – the cover evokes so many memories. There was a phase of Kingsley Amis – Take a Girl Like You, Lucky Jim, One Fat Englishman.

Continue reading “When I was younger I read…”

The New Jim Crow – Michelle Alexander

Subtitled ‘Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colourblindness’, this wonderful book describes the truly shocking level of imprisonment in the USA, brought about by the ‘war on drugs’, and of how African-Americans have been most affected. It’s an eye-opening analysis and shatters any illusions that America has a healthy political or judicial system. Is it any wonder that someone like Trump can get elected! I’ve had my eyes opened. It’s a stunning read and highly recommended.

A full review can be found in this Guardian article.

This short article “19 Actual Statistics About America’s Prison System” by Laura Dimon succinctly shows how shocking it is.

Not just any Saturday

Looking after the little ones whilst their parents spent the day at a TEDx event, 5-year-old Chloe was as usual the last to finish her meal. We asked her if she was always the last to finish her packed lunch at school, and she said yes but explained it as follows. She has packed lunch with two boys who she says don’t stop talking! So why, we asked, was she the last to finish if they were always talking, to which she replied that she was constantly having to answer their questions! Sadly, when the two boys finish their lunch they go off to play leaving Chloe to continue eating, on her own. Does she mind being on her own, we asked, to which she said no because the dinner ladies would talk to her. How wonderful it would be to listen in on these conversations, between the children and with the dinner ladies!

When the parents returned in the evening we were in the middle of watching Mary Poppins Returns. One of the TEDx talks had been on the subject of maths, and as a way of thanking us for looking after the two girls, I was given the speaker’s book – with a personal inscription. What a way to finish a lovely day!

3 books for 75p

Not many books and not a great range to choose from, though I can usually find one or two on my infrequent visits, but these are ridiculous prices for books at the Princess Alice Hospice charity shop in East Molesey.

Stasi Child – David Young

Stasi Child is a crime / political thriller set in East Germany in the mid-seventies.

I’m not sure what to make of it. It comes across as a bit stilted, a bit clunky, and there are some far-fetched scenes. I’m reminded of the abridged adventure and war novels my dad used to get from a book club back in the early sixties. However it’s well plotted and I was involved enough to see it through to the slightly disappointing ending.

It comes across as a first novel, which it is, but maybe I’ve outgrown crime / thriller / adventure books….

Let's Kill Uncle – Rohan O'Grady

Let’s Kill Uncle is an absolutely charming tale of two 10-year-olds as they holiday on a Canadian island. There’s a lot of child naughtiness, a lot of humour, and the possibility of a very serious crime.

Suitable for adults and children alike, I hope that in a few years’ time five-year-old, granddaughter Chloe will enjoy it too.

Delightful and highly recommended.

A trip to Oxfam Books in Dorking

Half way to the station my bus came up against a dickhead of a van driver who must have decided that the bus driver had overstepped the mark by not giving way when there was only room for one vehicle to proceed. So the van driver proceeded to block the road for over 5 minutes, nonchalantly making himself appear unconcerned by doing some paperwork. Meanwhile behind him the cars queued up, as presumably they also did behind the bus. It was an easy manoeuvre for the van driver to reverse into the adjacent side street, whereas reversing the bus was not an option. There was stalemate in the street until the van driver inevitably took action and drove onto the pavement allowing the bus through. Interestingly neither the bus driver nor the van driver demonstrated in any way, not even a horn toot! Road rage without the rage.

Continue reading “A trip to Oxfam Books in Dorking”

The Reflection – Hugo Wilcken

90 pages in and I’m thinking this sounds familiar. A quick search of this blog confirmed this to be the case and that I’d felt somewhat disappointed by it on the first reading. So should I abandon this second reading or continue and try to get a better handle on the story? I decided to continue.

As on the first reading I raced through it over two days. And I’m still confused! It’s actually quite intriguing, but ultimately it’s a ‘what was that all about?’ book.

It’s disappointing that yet again I’ve bought a book that I’ve bought and read before – I’ve a shocking memory.

Here is the blog post from the first reading.

Dangerous Hero – Tom Bower

There’s not much chance of me ever rejoining the Labour Party after reading Tom Bower’s controversial hatchet job on Jeremy Corbyn and his Labour Party.

The prospect of another Tory government led by the vacuous Boris Johnson doesn’t seem so end-of-the-world when the alternative is the horrible bunch in the Labour Party.

Shut Up and Deal – Jesse May

Shut Up and Deal, by Jesse May, is a gritty, relentless exploration of what it’s like to be an addicted, professional, poker player. Sometimes it got a bit wearing but I kept on being drawn back into this fascinating tale of hopelessness and addiction.

Recommended, for some.

Restocking

A successful restocking of pre-loved books from the Dorking Oxfam bookshop, though I suspect that one of the books (The Sense of an Ending – Julian Barnes) was one I had previously donated – I have certainly read it!

A first visit to the Cake Rider Cafe was interesting and certainly deserves another visit. The owner was delightful as was the presentation of the drip coffee.

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