Each week they nominate a topic to encourage those of us who love a good list to get all listy.
This week it’s all about summer (in Australia).
There’s only three more calendar days until the start of the Australian Summer, but it feels like its here already. Muggy days, over 26°C with the incessant sound of cicadas, warm nights buzzing with mosquitoes. It could a long, hot summer!
I love summer dresses, evening walks after dinner, cold beers and trips to the beach.
And I love lazing around on a hot, hot day, under the fan, with a good book or two.
|Rose Bay, Sydney
My Top Ten Books to Read Over the Australian Summer
Pompeii by Robert Harris
This is my new book club read for the summer.
I’ve always wanted to read one of Harris’ historical fiction books as they are popular with our customers at work.Erupting volcanoes
are on my mind lately too.
A sweltering week in late August. Where better to enjoy the last days of summer than on the beautiful Bay of Naples? But even as Rome’s richest citizens relax in their villas around Pompeii and Herculaneum, there are ominous warnings that something is going wrong. Wells and springs are failing, a man has disappeared, and now the greatest aqueduct in the world – the mighty Aqua Augusta – has suddenly ceased to flow. Through the eyes of four characters – a young engineer, an adolescent girl, a corrupt millionaire and an elderly scientist – Robert Harris brilliantly recreates a luxurious world on the brink of destruction.
2.The Diary of a Provincial Lady by E M Delafield
My Classics Club spin for the summer.
Dyschronia by Jennifer Mills
A February 2018 new release from Picador.
One of my reps gave it a HUGE rap, and that’s all I need to give this one a go.
One morning, the residents of a coastal small town wake to discover the sea has disappeared, leaving them ‘landlocked’. However, the narrator has been seeing visions of this cataclysm for years. Is she a prophet? Does she have a disorder that skews her perception of time (the ‘Dyschronia’ of the title). Or is she just a liar?
Mills’ novel takes contemporary issues of resource depletion and climate change and welds them to one young woman’s migraine-inducing nightmares. Her narrator’s prevision anticipates a world where entire communities are left to fend for themselves: economically drained, socially fractured, trapped between a hardscrabble past and an uncertain future.
Let Go My Hand by Edward Docx
Highly recommended by one of my colleagues.
And I like the cover 🙂
Louis Lasker loves his family dearly – apart from when he doesn’t. There’s a lot of history. His father’s marriages, his mother’s death; one brother in exile, another in denial; everything said, everything unsaid. And now his father (the best of men, the worst of men) has taken a decision which will affect them all and has asked his three sons to join him on one final journey across Europe.
But Louis is far from sure that this trip is a good idea. His older half-brothers are wonderful, terrible, troublesome people. And they’re as suspicious as they are supportive . . . because the truth is that they’ve never forgiven their father for the damaging secrets and corrosive lies of his past. So how much does Louis love his dad – to death? Or can this flawed family’s bond prove powerful enough to keep a dying man alive?
Let Go My Hand is a darkly comic and deeply moving twenty-first-century love story between a son, his brothers and their father. Through these vividly realized characters, it asks elemental questions about how we love, how we live, and what really matters in the end. Frequently funny, sometimes profound, always beautifully written, this intimate and life-affirming novel shows the Booker-longlisted author of Self Helpat his brilliant best, and confirms his reputation as one of Britain’s most intelligent and powerful writers.
They’re fabulous junior fiction about the Holocaust.
Despite the tragic subject matter, Gleitzman brings a sense of humanity to this difficult to understand topic.
Every time he thinks he is finished with Felix’s story for good, he finds out later that Felix still has more to say.
A powerfully moving addition to Morris Gleitzman’s bestselling series about Felix and Zelda which takes place in 1945, following directly on from the story told in Soon.
This intensely affecting story will move readers of all ages. It will be welcomed by the many Holocaust educators who use Once, Now, Then, After and Soon to teach upper primary and lower secondary children and embraced by any reader who loves passionate, moving and brilliant stories.
A Long Way From Home by Peter Carey
My relationship with Carey is a bit hit or miss.
The reviews are suggesting that this one could be a hit.
Only one way to find out….
Irene Bobs loves fast driving. Her husband is the best car salesman in rural south eastern Australia. Together with Willie, their lanky navigator, they embark upon the Redex Trial, a brutal race around the continent, over roads no car will ever quite survive.
A Long Way from Home is Peter Carey’s late style masterpiece; a thrilling high speed story that starts in one way, then takes you to another place altogether. Set in the 1950s in the embers of the British Empire, painting a picture of Queen and subject, black, white and those in-between, this brilliantly vivid novel illustrates how the possession of an ancient culture spirals through history – and the love made and hurt caused along the way.
Every Third Thought by Robert McCrum
Like McCrum, I’m getting to an age when losing people seems to be happening more and more. Certainly far more than I would like!
And like McCrum I share a preoccupation with all things life and death.
Be prepared is my motto; or perhaps forewarned is forearmed is closer to the heart of the matter.
In 1995, at the age of forty two, Robert McCrum suffered a dramatic and near-fatal stroke, the subject of his acclaimed memoir My Year Off. Ever since that life-changing event, McCrum has lived in the shadow of death, unavoidably aware of his own mortality. And now, twenty-one years on, he is noticing a change: his friends are joining him there. Death has become his contemporaries’ every third thought. The question is no longer ‘who am I?’ but ‘how long have I got?’ and ‘what happens next?’
With the words of McCrum’s favourite authors as travel companions, Every Third Thought, takes us on a journey through a year and towards death itself. As he acknowledges his own and his friends’ ageing, McCrum confronts an existential question: in a world where we have learnt to live well at all costs, can we make peace with what Freud calls ‘the necessity of dying’? Searching for answers leads him to others for advice and wisdom, and Every Third Thought is populated by the voices of brain surgeons, psychologists, cancer patients, hospice workers, writers and poets.
Witty, lucid and provocative, Every Third Thought is an enthralling exploration of what it means to approach the ‘end game’, and begin to recognize, perhaps reluctantly, that we are not immortal. Deeply personal and yet always universal, this is a book for anyone who finds themselves preoccupied by matters of life and death. It is both guide and companion.
8.Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
I’ve really embraced my inner creative in recent years; it’s time to let it out more!
Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity.
With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives.
Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.
Another book that has come highly recommended to me via one of my reps.
Outside my comfort zone, but intriguing nonetheless.
National Book Award winner M. T. Anderson returns to future Earth in a sharply wrought satire of art and truth in the midst of colonization.
When the vuvv first landed, it came as a surprise to aspiring artist Adam and the rest of planet Earth – but not necessarily an unwelcome one. Can it really be called an invasion when the vuvv generously offered free advanced technology and cures for every illness imaginable? As it turns out, yes. With his parents’ jobs replaced by alien tech and no money for food, clean water, or the vuvv’s miraculous medicine, Adam and his girlfriend, Chloe, have to get creative to survive. And since the vuvv crave anything they deem “classic” Earth culture (doo-wop music, still-life paintings of fruit, true love), recording 1950s-style dates for the vuvv to watch in a pay-per-minute format seems like a brilliant idea. But it’s hard for Adam and Chloe to sell true love when they hate each other more with every passing episode. Soon enough, Adam must decide how far he’s willing to go – and what he’s willing to sacrifice – to give the vuvv what they want.
Basho: The Complete Haiku by Matsuo Basho
In preparation for my BIG 5-0 trip to Japan next year, there will be many more Japanese writers and stories appearing on these pages.
I’ve loved Basho’s haiku’s for years now, so when I spotted this beautifully illustrated complete volume of his work, I knew I had to have it.
Last night I booked our onsen accommodation for Yamagata so that the unsuspecting Mr Books can share my passion for Basho by visiting the region made famous by Basho in his pilgrimage classic, The Narrow Road to the Deep North (1689) – also on my TBR yama!
Basho stands today as Japans most renowned writer, and one of the most revered. Wherever Japanese literature, poetry or Zen are studied, his oeuvre carries weight. Every new student of haiku quickly learns that Basho was the greatest of the Old Japanese Masters.
Yet despite his stature, Bashos complete haiku have not been collected into a single volume. Until now.
To render the writers full body of work into English, Jane Reichhold, an American haiku poet and translator, dedicated over ten years of work. In Basho: The Complete Haiku, she accomplishes the feat with distinction. Dividing his creative output into seven periods of development, Reichhold frames each period with a decisive biographical sketch of the poets travels, creative influences and personal triumphs and defeats. Scrupulously annotated notes accompany each poem; and a glossary and two indexes fill out the volume.
Reichhold notes that, Basho was a genius with words. He obsessively sought out the right word for each phrase of the succinct seventeen-syllable haiku, seeking the very essence of experience and expression. With equal dedication, Reichhold sought the ideal translations. As a result, Basho: The Complete Haiku is likely to become the essential work on this brilliant poet and will stand as the most authoritative book on the subject for many years to come. Original sumi-e ink drawings by artist Shiro Tsujimura complement the haiku throughout the book.