Posts tagged books

October Reading Roundup

Did you read any good books in October? I had a decent reading month, starting with a dud but progressing to some fascinating reads, including one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Here’s a rundown. The Mimic Men by V.S. Naipaul I really don’t get why this novel is so celebrated. It’s the life story of a fictional West Indian politician, and it reads like a political memoir, a dull enough genre even when the politician in question really existed. I had no interest in the… Read More

September Reading Roundup

Last month, I started a series of monthly reading roundups. This month, to my astonishment, I am continuing it for the second straight month. So here’s a quick summary of the books I read in September. Life Begins on Friday by Ioana Pârvulescu I was travelling in Romania for most of September, so I decided to read this novel by a contemporary Romanian writer that I bought at a bookshop in Iasi (which I wrote a bit about—the town, not the bookshop—back in August). Life Begins on Friday was a fresh, slightly bizarre… Read More

August Reading Roundup

When I first started this blog (over ten years ago now!), I intended to review every book I read. Even by September 2008, I was already talking about that intention in the past tense, and by now I have to admit that it’ll never happen. I read too much and blog too little. But perhaps I can manage a monthly roundup? A few sentences on each book? We’ll see. Inspired by A Cocoon of Books, anyway, I’m going to try. So here’s what I read in August. How was your… Read More

Completism

Can you recommend a good book by an author whose surname begins with Q, U, X or Y? It’s a strange question, I know. The thing is, I’ve been documenting all the books I’ve reviewed on this site since it started ten years ago, and I’ve organised them alphabetically, and… Yeah, OK, I admit it. I’m a frustrated librarian. In another lifetime, I would have loved to spend my days quietly shuffling books around from shelf to shelf in a library or bookshop. My choices have taken me down a… Read More

Why I still love bookshops

I’ve written about bookshops a lot on this blog over this years. There’s a good reason for this. For me, good bookshops have always been inseparable from the joy of reading. When I was in my early twenties and working in a job I absolutely hated, I used to escape to the nearest bookshop and browse the shelves for a different world to inhabit for a time. When I moved to New York, I was astonished to discover huge, sprawling bookshops where they not only allowed you to stay all… Read More

What we did before Google

Whatever did we do before the internet? How did we manage before Google? I’m hearing these questions more often these days, usually after someone’s discovered some snippet of astonishing information in just a few seconds. The questions are rhetorical  of course, but it occurs to me that one day people might really want to know. I’m conscious of being a member of the last generation to remember life before the internet, so I want to explain what it was like. How did we manage without Google at our fingertips? The short answer:… Read More

Book fairs are dangerous

Do you ever get carried away in bookshops or at bookfairs, and buy far more than you’d planned? Is it consumerism, or bibliophilia? I like to think that, because books are objects of learning, my book-buying binges are a positive thing. But am I deceiving myself? Am I really no different from those people breaking down the doors of Primark in the Boxing Day sales? Anyway, you can see what I bought at Saturday’s book fair, part of the Bim Literary Festival at Queens Park in Bridgetown, Barbados. Some were… Read More

Austin Clarke at Bim Literary Festival

After my unintended gatecrashing of a class with Derek Walcott earlier in the day, this was an event I was actually allowed to attend. It was an interview with two major Caribbean writers, Austin Clarke and Earl Lovelace, followed by readings from their latest work. First up was Austin Clarke, a Barbadian novelist and short-story writer who has lived for most of his life in Canada. He named George Lamming’s Pleasures of Exile as his favourite Barbadian book, and the short story collection There are no Elders as his favourite of… Read More