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Posts Tagged ‘books’

Books for Living: a reader's guide to life

I really enjoy reading books about books as it’s always interesting to see which books other people read for pleasure.  This book is part memoir and part the author’s thoughts about the books which are important to him for an assortment of reasons.  The author makes some very good points about the way we put all of our lives in display these days and draws some interesting parallels with 1984 by George Orwell.

I haven’t read 1984 since I was a teenager and I didn’t enjoy it then but I remember how everything about everyone was known to Big Brother and the whole of your life was conducted in public. In the twenty first century we don’t need any laws to ensure we do everything in public because we do it from choice.  Maybe we need to stop and think about how much of our lives in public lest we should end up in a similar world to that depicted in Orwell’s novel.

There are plenty of books mentioned in this book – some well known and some I’d never heard of.  I have added several books to my wish list as a result and I have found new insights into books I’ve read before.  People who read a lot turn to books for answers to problems in their own lives and to understand themselves and others.  Books shed light into dark corners of experience and allow us to experience things which we actually would not like to encounter in real life.

I found this book both entertaining and moving and it has made me think about why I read and what I read.  There is a useful list of the books mentioned in the text at the end of the book.  If you like books and reading then you may find this book of interest

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The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

Sara travels from Sweden to a town called Broken Wheel in the US with a suitcase full of books and a few clothes.  She soon realises that what the town needs is a bookshop and with help form other residents she sets one up.  To say more about this quirky, funny and poignant story would be to spoil it for other readers.

I love the anecdotal style in which the book is written interspersed with letters from Sara’s correspondent which prompted her to visit the town in the first place. I liked Sara as a character and I loved all the book references and I shall be reading several books new to me in the strength of this book.

The book made me laugh and it made me cry and it left me feeling that there is hope for the human race.  It is a real feel good book which will stay with you long after you have turned the last page.  I loved the ending especially and I am still smiling when I think of it.

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Bestsellers: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)

I enjoy reading books about books and John Sutherland writes well about books of all kinds.  He has an entertaining and approachable style and makes his subject very readable.  Here he looks at the phenomenon of the bestseller.  The book is not an exhaustive list of bestsellers in the UK and in the US as it is a short introduction but it does look at the highlights as well as some unexpected bestsellers on both sides of the Atlantic.

The book starts by defining a bestseller and then goes on to look at books which have made it to the top in the US and the UK.  Some of the time this is the same books but at other times the books which have caught the public imagination are completely different.  I found it interesting that a book has to sell more copies now in the twenty first century to make the bestseller lists than in the late nineteenth century  when the concept of the bestseller first appeared in the media.

I found this entertaining and informative reading and it reminded me of some of the books I read years ago.  I was quite surprised to realise that many of the early twentieth century bestsellers are still in print even now, a hundred years later, thanks to the e-book revolution.

The Kindle edition of this book has an active index – always a useful feature of a non-fiction book.  It contains a useful list of further reading.  If you want a quick survey of the books which have caught the public imagination over the last century or so then this would be a good book to start with.

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Emilia Nightingale promised her father, Julius, that she would keep Nightingale Books going but she was not aware that the shop was in financial difficulties.  Somehow she must come up with a way of making more money as the building needs urgent repairs.  The temptation to sell up is overwhelming but the town of Peasebrook needs its bookshop and Emilia enjoys running the business.

Gradually we meet some of the local residents and see how the book shop has affected their lives.  Sarah who owns Peasebrook Manor and who has used the bookshop as a refuge from her problems.  Her daughter, Alice whose fiancé Hugh is not very popular with the locals.  Bea who has given up the rat race in London for a life of domesticity and child care in the Cotswolds and who is bored to tears.  Then there’s Jackson who has an ulterior motive for visiting the bookshop but who suddenly finds the answers to his own broken marriage.  Thomasina who needs to find the courage of her convictions and actually speak to the man she has fallen in love with amongst the cookery books.

This is a charming story which will appeal to anyone who likes books.  It will make you smile and it will make you cry but it is also a happy book with plenty of that feel good factor.  There are lists of books at the end of some of the chapters and you will probably find books you yourself want to read amongst them.  I loved the characters and I loved the background and I recommend it to anyone who wants a feel good book to curl up with – whether on a beach or indoors.  I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley for review.

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The Book Lovers

This is a book for anyone who wants a something to read which gives you the feel good factor.  The bonus is that its background is books and the love of books.  Callie moves to a small village in Suffolk after a disastrous short marriage.  She is an author of children’s books but when she first moves to the countryside she finds she can’t write.  Then she discovers Nightingales – a bookshop – or rather three shops – which have turned the local small town into a sort of Hay on Wye.  She meets Sam Nightingale – recovering from a traumatic divorce himself and who runs the second hand bookshop.  They soon discover they share a love of books.

Callie is determined not to get involved with another man until she has recovered from her marriage.  She just wants to write her books and live a quiet life but fate has other things in store for her including Leo who starts to teach her about the countryside and how she can find food in the hedgerows.

I liked this gentle romance with its interesting characters and the background of bookshops and writing.  It has all my favourite ingredients really apart from chocolate.  In fact this book has to be read accompanied by chocolate and a glass of wine!  It is the first book in the series so I shall hope to read more about Callie and the inhabitants of Castle Clare and the bookshops.

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Bookworms, Dog-Ears & Squashy Big Armchairs: A Book-Lover's Alphabet

I enjoy books about books and this one is not just a quirky collection of all sorts of information but it is also a useful reference book.  As the title suggests it is arranged alphabetically and covers everything from A to Z which could possibly be connected to books and reading.

This is an ideal gift for the book lover in your life and is lovely to dip into as well as to read from cover to cover as I did. There are notes at the end of each entry suggesting further reading and points for thought or discussion so this would be a good reference book for book groups to use.

I added several books to my wish list as a result of reading this and I really think I am going to have to read Proust as I keep stumbling across his work in almost every book I read at the moment.

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The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books Saved My Life

This is an interesting slice of autobiography as much as it is about the fifty great books which saved the author’s life and caused him to rethink what he was doing with that same life.  I found most of the rock music references incomprehensible so if you’re not a music fan there are parts of the book you may want to skip.

I did find the author’s comments on the books of interest and I may well read some of the books he did.  I keep stumbling across George Eliot in the books I read and I am really going to have to attempt at least some of her novels – almost in self defence.  Everyone who reads their way through lists of books seems to include Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’ and at least one other Russian masterpiece – in this case ‘Anna Karenina’.  Maybe I also need to attempt one of these to see what the fuss is about.

I found the footnotes almost as interesting as the text in many places and they appear in the text of the e-book version very close to where you want to read them as well as having active links to the footnotes so the reader isn’t tempted to skip them.

There are several lists of books at the end of the text for those who want to follow in the author’s footsteps or to compile their own reading list and there is a bibliography and an index.  If you like books about books and reading then this is one to add to add to your collection.

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