book day

So the day started somewhat badly, even apart from the fact that I was late..Ange has got a kindle Power, or Flame, or whatever the new one is.  A Kindle, she has crossed to the dark side.  She told me this as we waited for the tube at Waterloo.  This will make our annual book day a lot less fun if we are just sitting in front of a laptop clicking on Amazon.  But it’s ok, Ange is not one to stop on the faithful paperback, our annual tramping around London, slowly weighing ourselves down with paperbacks has some life left in it yet.
For the first time this year we ventured up to Marylebone High Street and the wonderful Daunt Books.  How we haven’t made it here before is beyond me, I’ve read about it and friends have recommended it to me but I’ve never made it.  So in we go, I have my list, I find about 3 titles off it in the first 5 minutes, tidy.  Then I hit the travel section, the sky lights let the grey London sky cast it’s dull light into an aladdins cave of books, and, to my delight Daunt have got a travel section set up properly.  Guides and Literature set up for each country/region, not separated and by author…love it.
5 books later my books are packed and then repacked in the bag by the two assistants, with a number of bookmarks slid in between the pages and we are back out into the rain.

Next up is the Stalwart Foyles.  A quick refresh in the cafe, where we ate and drank while watching some kind of fly/bee climb the window, only to reach the top pane of glass and tumble all the way back down to the table top. Small things.  Spent most of my time around the poetry shelves in here.  Robin Robertson’s The Wrecking Light was the first book on my list this year and I also had a look for a couple of  poets that I had seen on the poetry on the underground adverts on the northern line.  I debated over a Haiku anthology, before selecting A Little Larger Than the Entire Universe, poems by Fernando Pessoa, which will compliment The Elephants Journey by Jose Saramago as my holiday reading during my two weeks travelling round Portugal in June.  I’ve not got very  many of Saramago’s books left to get, and I added The Double to my collection as well as Murakami’s Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman.  I can’t seem to go book shopping without getting a Murakami, even though I have no idea what is going on in his novels most of the time.

Lastly we headed past, and veered into Stanfords.  Again another properly organised travel section, well shop.  Down in the Latin American section I picked out The Jaguar Smile by Salman Rushdie, as well as Evelyn Waugh’s 92 Days.  Hmm but that put me on 13 books for the day, I would like to say that I’m not superstitious, but I added Graham Greene’s The Honorary Consul into the mix, which I randomly got 20% off for some reason as well as another book mark.

We finished the day on the Southbank, sitting in the cool afternoon sun sipping a beer, another book day, and more than enough books to keep me going until next year.

The books:

Barbara Kingsolver – The Lacuna
Lian Hearn – Blossoms and Shadows
Ann Patchett – State of Wonder
Andrew Miller – Pure
John Gimlette – Wild Coast

Fernando Pessoa – A Little Larger Than the Universe
Mohammed Hanif – A Case of Exploding Mangoes
Saramago – The Double
Conn Iggulden – Empire of Silver
Robin Robertson – The Wrecking Light
Murakami – Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

Salman Rushdie – The Jaguar Smile
Graham Greene – The Honorary Consul
Evelyn Waugh – 92 Days

new books and the refreshing tea and raspberry tart from Le Pain Quotidien that kept me going..





Don Quixote and the quest for the missing pages

So I’m over 400 pages into Wild Swans by Jung Chang, marvelling at the diabolical genius of Chairman Mao and the absolute horror that I perceive living under such a regime must be like.  The last word on the page is Tiananmen, then there are some photo pages.  I browse through them back to the text, I’m almost certain the next work should be Square, but it’s not. It’s the word all

I go back, yes, the last word on page 416 is Tiananmen, the next word on page…um…wait a minute, the next page of text is 241, no wonder the next word isn’t Square, it would be  about 170 pages too early.
OK, let me just skip the repeated pages and carry on, no biggie, so we continue from 241 to 288, then the next page is, awesome, the next page is 465, so even if I skip the repeated pages I get: Tiananmen leaned, and not only leaned, but leaned back against the oval mirror.

It’s Don Quixote all over again, the edition I have of that, which even has a cover I really like, has a chunk of missing pages over half way through.   I’m over half way through Wild Swans, over 400 pages into a 700 page book and I have to stop reading it, I can’t go on with 40 pages missing, I didn’t with Don Quixote, although I’ve been planning to buy that again ever since.  But maybe it’s time to join the local library.

So after putting that aside I’ve now moved onto Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden.  I’ve seen the film so I’m doing it the wrong way round but what can you do, a mate has lent me this so I want to read it and give it back.  Then I have 4 books of my own to read, and my book day with my mate is coming up at the end of the month, so I’ve just drawn up my list for that, which will pile another load of books on my to read pile, but hopefully they will have all their pages.

book day list:

Robin Robertson – The Wrecking Light (yes, poetry! Check me out)
Andrew Miller – Pure
Lian Hearn – Blossoms and Shadows
David Arnold – The age of discovery
Paramananda – Change your mind
Mohammed Hanif – A case of exploding mangoes
Gary Jennings – Aztec
George Orwell – Homage to Catalonia (I’m intrigued as to what section this goes in, as it’s not in travel, or classics, or in with his novels (understandably, and I’ve just used double brackets, can I do that?))
John Gimlette – Wild Coast
Ann Patchett – State of wonder
Roopa Farooki – The flying man

Sea of Poppies [Amitav Ghosh]

So it’s been a while since I’ve done a book post, and it’s because I’ve been trying to write my review of Sea of Poppies, and it’s taken me ages because of this:

Sea of Poppies is not The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet.  That’s a pretty obvious statement to kick of the review.  I had just finished reading Thousand Autumns and loved it, like a fat kid love cake, so for the opening few chapters of this book, I had to carry on reading, even though my brain was going, this isn’t Thousand Autumns..but the Sea of Poppies swept me out of the Bay of Nagasaki at the end

So I was back on the sub-continent, which I had left behind after I toiled through it by Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children and The last sigh of the Moor and Roshin Mistry’s A Fine Balance, all of which had left me gasping for air after submerging me in Indian life like I was a pickle in a jar.

Set amid the opium wars (like so much history of this part of the world, something that I am completely ignorant of) Sea of Poppies is the first of the Ibis trilogy and this book centres around a collection of people, who are lightly linked like wires on a net, which is pulled together tightly as they end up on the Ibis, a slave ship heading out across the Black Sea.

Paulette sensed that he had something to add, but now there was a sudden interruption, caused by a thunderous detonation.  In the awkward silence that followed, nobody glanced in the direction of Mr Doughty, who was examining the knob of his cane with an air of pretended nochalance.  It fell to Mrs Doughty to make an attempt to retrieve the situation. ‘Ah!’ she cried, clapping her hands cheerily together.  ‘The wind is rising, and we must make sail.  Anchors aweigh! We must be off!”

Once you get used to the fact that you will probably understand only two thirds of the words, unless I believe you go to Amtiav’s website the story seems to meander slowly like the mighty Ganges until at the end it hits the throttle as it finishes.

This is the first of the Ibis trilogy, and in the end I was hooked and caught in the net, wondering if the Ibis would reach shore.