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  1. Today
  2. Good luck - way ahead of me! Just finished my eighth, slowest first quarter since 2013. Hated A Man Called Ove with a passion - a genuine1 star read. Loved both P&P (6/6, a favourite) and Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit (5/6), which I read as the Lancashire book for the English Counties challenge - I didn't expect to but found it both funny and moving. You're doing even better if you're working AND reading 25 books in a quarter! Hope you stay well, and that if you are on unpaid leave it doesn't hit you too badly.
  3. Willoyd's Reading 2020

    End of Month reading update Just managed to finish my third book of the month on the last day today - one of the excellent Very Short Introduction series of books published by OUP, a reread of The Napoleonic Wars. On the surface this represents one of the slowest starts to a year I've had in a while, even slower than last year (which is saying something!), but I've still had my head into plenty of reading, it's just been a tad different to normal. I've started tutoring (via Skype) two of my nieces in A-level Maths and the history of the Napoleonic Wars, which has entailed a lot of reading around, mostly extracts and chapters from a variety of books I've got on the shelves - no complete books (aside from this one), but plenty of content! It's been a fascinating process: for instance, I thought I knew my Napoleonic period, but when it comes to teaching it, I realise I needed a whole lot of work to bring it up to scratch. However, I'm having a ball doing it - just hope the two girls are enjoying it as much as me! It's been great connecting with them too - they live in Ireland, so we don't get to meet as often as I would like, and this is, believe it or not, my first venture into Skype country. Should have done it ages ago. Now I'm in the swing though, hopefully I can use a locked down April to really get going on more general reading. First up will be Michelle Obama's Becoming, hopefully in time for my book group virtual meeting next week. I don't read much autobiography or contemporary memoir, but am looking forward to this. Book acquisitions have been limited to a couple of Kindle maths and history texts - I already have more than enough books to be getting on with! This lockdown might even do me (or at least the bank account) some good!
  4. Yesterday
  5. What to read next

    Hey guys, first post (not including my introduction) I'm looking for a book that will help develop my enthusiasm to study. I've tried The Secret (unimpressed) and a few others. If you could all reply with your greatest inspiring books. I love stuff from Rick Rigsby.
  6. Alex

    Wow! That’s some shift! i can read anything really. I’m looking for a book to inspire me in my studies, or something that will keep me entertained (although that doesn’t really narrow them down)
  7. Alex

    Welcome Balcs. You'll have fun here. I am RMN myself, been so for 27 years now. What books do you like?
  8. Alex

    Hello everybody! Don't want to bore you all with my details, I'm 28 male studying Mental Health Nursing and love reading, hopefully have a good chat with you all.
  9. I believe that is the plan, although I'll admit I haven't heard much about it recently. I believe Aaronovitch is doing a Q&A on Twitter tomorrow night, might be something in that.
  10. Oooh I didn't know there was going to be a Nightingale novella! That's something to look forward to. I hope we get to find out more about Molly in that too!
  11. Two final reviews coming up to round out the first quarter of the year. I think this must be the best start I've had to a year since I started to track my reading back in 2013. I finished my 25th book last night and despite trying to not get caught up in numbers I can't deny I have developed an urge to go for 100 books for the year. The only issue with this is that I fear it will lead me to go for short books instead of things I really want to read so I will have to be aware to avoid this. My two favourite books this quarter have been A Man Called Ove and Pride & Prejudice. The two most disappointing books have been The 7th Function of Language and Oranges are not the Only Fruit. Looking forward to the next quarter I have no real targets except to keep reading regularly and to try and post more often on here. With Covid-19 causing absolute havoc there is a decent chance I will be on unpaid leave soon which would give me as much time to read as I like. Hopefully in 3 months time everything is looking up for the world as it's a pretty sad situation at the moment. Onto the mini-reviews. The Backpacker by John Harris (2/5) I've had this in my wishlist for a long time but I am not sure where this came from as it doesn't seem to be a widely read book. I suspect it might have been a recommendation from either Goodreads or Amazon as I can't see it being a personal recommendation. The blurb advertises it as a non-fiction account of a backpacker's adventures in south east Asia and this is probably best summed up as 'The Beach but for real'. I loved The Beach by Alex Garland and also liked the movie based on it so I had high hopes for this books. Firstly I will deal with the positives. The book is well enough written, sure it will never win any literary prizes but it flows well and trots along at a decent pace. There was more than enough adventure and detail to keep me interested throughout and did made me wish I was back in SE Asia myself. However there are quite a few negatives. Firstly this is written entirely with the mindset of an immature young man and it is dripping in casual racism and misogyny. All the Asians speak with r's replacing their l's when they talk, eg "herro" instead of "hello", and after a while this gets very tiresome. Every female character bar none is basically a sex object and the stereotypical SE Asian party girl. I don't mind books about the darker and seedier side of life, in fact I often find them enjoyable, but this is just cheap titillation with no end point. There are several Asian countries included in the tale and they are all potrayed in the same way. Despite these negatives I read it fairly quickly so it would be unfair for me to give it 1 out of 5. Realistically it's probably closer to 1.5 than 2 but that's the nature of giving books scores. One final point, there is no way this book is a true story, it is pure fantasy and it is dishonest to pretend otherwise. The 7th Function of Language by Laurent Binet (2/5) I have read one of Binet's other books, HHhH which I enjoyed so I decided to give his more recent books a go. This book revolves around an accident, the knocking down of Roland Barthes just after meeting Francois Mitterrand who is in the middle of a battle for the presidency of France. Police Captain Jacques Bayard is called in to investigate the accident and it soon turns out that Barthes may have been carrying a document with vital importance. Bayard is an everyman type of character and all the people involved in Barthes' life are philosophers and intellectuals so to help him understand he ropes in Simon Herzog. Every so often a book comes along that makes me feel dumb and this is one of them. I'm sure people with decent knowledge of French intellectuals would find this a blast but I was left grasping the 'standard' plot items with a lot of the rest going over my head. Reading this felt like being in an insane fever dream which is a shame because the underlying plot was really enjoyable. In summary, probably a good book, just not for me.
  12. "My father was peering at me over his newspaper, watching in disgust as I sprinkled yet another spoonful of sugar on my grapefruit." Life of the Party
  13. Last week
  14. Which online bookstores do you use?

    I tend only to use Amazon as a fall-back — normally I use Wordery or Blackwells, and go to their sites directly. If it's secondhand, then I do use Amazon, in the shape of bookfinder.com.
  15. Shelving books

    Everything is in classified order, from History of Philosophy to Travel in the Near East. Of course, I do have oversize shelves, pamphlet boxes, and a place for my 4 big folios. The fiction is also arranged by genre.
  16. Just finished my 25th book of 2020.
  17. Kindle and ebooks deals

    The first six books in CJ Samson's Shardlake series are 99p each on Kindle today.
  18. Greetings To You All

    Books, gardening and the radio - sounds very, very good to me.
  19. I seek a well-regarded book, whether fiction or factual, which is substantially about modern journalism. That is to say the subject of journalism is a major (or even controlling) theme in the narrative, and not a literary device secondary to a much larger non-journalistic theme. By "modern" I mean a work resolutely set in the contemporary internet/smartphone era. Strictly 21 Century in short. This request stems from my persisting syntactical failure to prise out such titles from Google's search engine. Thanks in advance.
  20. How many books have you read this year?

    I'm up to 11. Mostly 3-star reads. Only one 5-star so far, and that was a graphic novel.
  21. How many books have you read this year?

    12, which is about right for the first 3 months ie 4 per month. will probably drop now as I won't be commuting for the foreseeable future.
  22. Got to get you into my life - Earth Wind and Fire
  23. What's the weather like?

    Well the clocks went forward last night and typically it's back to winter, bitterly cold wind, we just had a bit of sleet and it's very chilly.
  24. Your Book Activity - March 2020

    Appointment with Death was a fun read, and I didn't guess the culprit, so well done Aggie, for tricking me. I'm now attempting a re-read of Ready to Catch Him Should He Fall by Neil Bartlett. This was one that I DNF'd halfway through a few years ago, because every single character irritated the heck out of me. Bartlett is one of my favourite authors, however, so I felt that I should give it a second chance.
  25. 2020 - Muggle Not's Reading

    9. Once Upon A River - Diane Setterfield - 4/5 - I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
  26. A Book Blog 2020 by Books do Furnish a Room

    Black Tudors by Miranda Kaufmann This is scholarly and well researched: a continuation of Kaufmann’s PhD thesis: in other words a proper history book. There is a myth that there were very few people of colour in England in the Tudor period and that Elizabeth 1 made an effort to get rid of those that were. Strictly Kaufmann extends her range to the mid-1620s. Here ten particular men and women are identified and their stories told. Kaufmann does have a tendency to wander off the point and give background detail, probably because her source material is fairly thin. The main sources of evidence are parish and court records: deaths, baptisms, court cases of variable kinds. We start with a trumpeter at the early Tudor Court, John Blanke who was present at Henry VIII’s coronation and end with Cattalena of Almondsbury in Gloucestershire whose possessions at her death were recorded (including her cow) in the early seventeenth century. She was a free and single woman, living alone in an English village: supporting herself. Another woman, a widow was designated as her executor. We know there were Africans living in England in the Roman period. By the end of the Tudor period there were communities in most of the ports, but especially in London. Kaufmann has identified 360 people identified as being black in records of the time. As records are only partial there were likely a significant number more. She also identifies that the very confusing Admiralty records have been little researched and they will have much more information as a number of those identified were certainly sailors. This is before the slave trade (apart from a couple of abortive voyages by Hawkins in the 1560s) and before there were any major colonies. Some were here as a result of trade with the West African coast; others were liberated from Spanish or Portuguese ships; some came with particular skills like Jacques Francis who was part of a team of divers who were charged with swimming down to the wreck of the Mary Rose and salvaging what they could. Kaufmann has an awareness of the times in which she writes: “as debate about immigration becomes even more vituperative and divisive, it is vital to understand that the British Isles have always been peopled by immigrants. The Black Tudors are just one of a series of different peoples who arrived on these shores in centuries past.” The science of DNA has added to weight of evidence as well. A man in Wales was able to trace his family tree back to Tudor times and a black servant in one of the great houses. This man, known as Jetto has descendants in many parts of the Britain and even as far as Australia. By the nature of humanity many of those who settled here married as well. All of these migrants were free; slavery wasn’t legal at the time, not in England. There is evidence that many of the pirate ships had crews that were often up to half black, mostly escaped slaves from the Spanish and Portuguese colonies. This is a fascinating account and being a historian by original training I appreciated the scholarship that went into it. This is very much a starting point and I am sure research will develop the story. There were a few niggles and a few tangents, but on the whole this is a good counterpoint to some traditional Tudor histories. 7 and a half out of 10 Starting Missing Fay by Adam Thorpe
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