Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • Hayley

      Signing Up   11/06/2018

      Signing Up is once again available. New members are very welcome
    • Hayley

      BCF on Patreon!   11/10/2018

      I'm very excited to finally share with you that BCF now has patreon! I'm sure some of you are familiar with patreon already, but for those who aren't here's what it means for the forum:   You will now be able to support the forum monthly. The amount you'd like to give is entirely up to you but, the more you give, the more rewards you get. The rewards (this is the most exciting part!) include entry to a monthly competition when you donate $2 or more. I really cannot wait to show you the first competition prize!   I really do need your support to keep this forum running and I hope that with patreon I can give something back to those who do support too. I am also aware that there's a possibility this might not work. For that reason, I'll be running it on a 6 month trial and I would really appreciate your feedback in that time.   Members who are current supporters will get automatic entry into the competitions until their current years membership runs out (although obviously you can still join the patreon before your current membership runs out if you want to!)   If you have any questions just send me a message, or come to the 'Changes' section of the forum.   If you'd like to get started on patreon, you can find the Book Club Forum here... https://www.patreon.com/bookclubforum       


Advanced Member
  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited


About willoyd

  • Rank

Profile Information

  • Reading now?
    Churchill by Roy Jenkins, The Sealwoman's Gift by Sally Magnusson
  • Location:
    Wharfedale, Yorkshire
  • Interests
    birding, cycling (mainly touring), running, walking, family history.

Recent Profile Visitors

1,856 profile views
  1. It is, of course, meant to be more focused than that, but I do think the editor(s) have lost sight of that focus. It's effectively promoted as a list of novels, but it isn't, with too many non-fiction books included, whilst there are not enough to make it a genuine attempt at a list covering both fiction and non-fiction. There's a whole fistful of books that simply shouldn't be on the list, by definition. I agree that they often don't list an author's best book(s). It's interesting to compare this list with Robert McCrum's tighter list of 100 Best Novels in English (which in itself is, as they all are, controversial), where he limits himself to one book per author, and where one will often find that the book he rates isn't in the Boxall list, whilst others from the same author are. On the specifics, though, Chocky isn't actually on the current list, it only appearing in the first, 2006, edition. I do agree, though, that Chrysalids would have been a better choice then. I have to say that I'm a complete sucker for book lists, but this one has started to irritate me of late as I've gone into it a bit more. The latest additions haven't helped: I've read two of them, one of which isn't a novel, and the other is one of the worst I've read in recent years (The Circle). Not an inspiring start!
  2. Recommendations for me.

    Good idea, although I've found (and it's very personal!) that I prefer the books listed in 1000 Books To Read Before You Die (similar title, but decidedly different to 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die), maybe because it isn't quite so literary? There's a website with all the books listed (at 1000BooksToRead.com), just be warned that about half of the list is non-fiction (which actually improves the list in my eyes, but others would disagree). Slightly more accessible perhaps are two rather shorter, but in some way even more interesting, books of lists: Robert McCrum's The 100 Best Novels in English (based on a series he wrote in the Guardian; I think the list is available tucked away on its website, but it's also available on my blog thread), and its counterpart Boyd Tonkins's The 100 Best Novels in Translation (which will also probably land up there, but not just yet).
  3. Willoyd's Reading 2018

    Reading books acquired A catch up on the books I've acquired since BCF went into hibernation in August. These are just the books intended for leisure reading and ones that I have yet to read - those I have read will be covered by reviews. Not a lot of fiction books as I'm relying on libraries more and more. I tend to buy a lot of the non-fiction because I often use them for dipping into and referring to as well as straight reading. All paperback unless otherwise stated. Fiction Ten Days in the Hills by Jane Smiley (hardback, ex-library) The Sealwoman's Gift by Sally Magnusson (Waterstones BOGOHP) The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara (charity) Non-Fiction Real England by Paul Kingsnorth (charity) Bells and Bikes by Rod Ismay (charity) What Nature Does for Britain by Tony Juniper (independent) Gilbert White by Richard Mabey (charity) Wilding by Isabella Tree (hardback, online) Roller-Coaster by Ian Kershaw (hardback, online) A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains by Isabella Bird (Folio Society, charity) Daughter of the Desert by Georgina Howell (hardback, secondhand) The Kingdom by the Sea by Paul Theroux (hardback, charity) The Ascent of Birds by John Reilly (hardback, present) Churchill, Walking with Destiny by Andrew Roberts (hardback, online) A History of Food in 100 Recipes by William Sitwell (hardback, ex-library) Rocks of Ages by Stephen Jay Gould (hardback, charity) Travellers in the Third Reich by Julia Boyd (Waterstones BOGOHP) Vietnam by Max Hastings (hardback, WH Smiths) The Longest Battle by Richard Hough (hardback, charity)
  4. How many books have you read this year?

    Funny that, I'm usually completely the opposite, December being on average by far and away my most sucessful month! Still won't hit the sorts of figures you're running on!
  5. How many books have you read this year?

    I know what you mean: Roy Jenkins's biography of Churchill is having the same effect on me!
  6. Well done! I'm particularly interested in the fact that whereas most people count books, you're focusing on pages read, something I've done more so this past few years. As a result, I've found that, a bit like you if further behind, whilst this year I've read just 58 books so far compared to the 65 at this stage in 2016 (the year of my end of year total of 80), I am, in terms of pages, around 800 pages ahead (19700 vs 18900). Of course, if one was really concerned about accurate comparison, we'd perhaps need to go an even further level down: one book I'm currently reading (Churchill by Roy Jenkins) is averaging around 500 words per page, whilst another I've just finished (C is for Corpse by Sue Grafton) came in at around 300 words per page.......but there lies madness, I suppose!
  7. The publishers have brought out a new edition. It's really just an update, adding 10 books published since the last edition, and commensurately removing 10 earlier ones. It's a bit of an odd list to me, not least because one of the books isn't fiction, being Helen Macdonald's memoir, H is for Hawk. I can't imagine why they've included it, much as it's a decent book, and think they've simply made a mistake, although they have previously included Jung Chan's Wild Swans, a family history. To a lesser extent, as this is just a matter of judgement, I'm also flummoxed by the selection of The Circle, which was on my short list for Duffer of the Year last year, and I found pretty awful both as a book and as a piece of writing. Winter looks to be a straight swap for the author's earlier book, There But For The. However, I'm probably not the best person to comment, as few of the books listed for the last 30-40 years hold much attraction for me, although I've got both the Adichie and the Tartt on my to read list. The editors obviously think very differently about to the judging panels of the major literary prizes: from the six-year period since the last edition, not a single Man-Booker winner, just one Bailey's Women's Prize winner (McBride), and just one Pulitzer winner (Tartt), although, of course, Macdonald won the Samuel Johnson for Non-Fiction! The full ten new books are: H(a)ppy by Nicola Barker H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. Winter by Ali Smith 10:04 by Ben Lerner The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie The Circle by Dave Eggers The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt The books removed from the list are: There But For The by Ali Smith The Children's Book by AS Byatt Kieran Smith, boy by James Kelman The Blind Side of the Heart by Julia Franck Your Face Tomorrow by Javier Marias The Successor by Ismail Kadare Soldiers of Salamis by Javier Cercas Dirty Havana Trilogy by Pedro Juan Gutierrez The Life of Insects by Victor Pelevin Forever a Stranger by Helle Haase
  8. What Are You Watching Now? - 2018

    Have been enjoying the Leeds Film Festival for the past 10 days or so, having indulged myself in a full pass. Mostly been following the Cinema Versa (documentary) thread, with one or two asides. Some great films (and a bit of dross too!). Rankings out of 5 stars. Peterloo **** The latest Mike Leigh. Beautifully filmed, and a must see film. Just a mite too preachy to reach the full 5 stars, and the history isn't quite as was documented in one or two places, as trying to establish a point., but is it ever? What is Democracy? ***** Particularly relevant considering I saw this the day after Peterloo. An examination of democracy, seen through the eyes of the American director, looking at its origins in Greece, modern-day Greece (financial crisis/immigration) and America. A lot of talking heads, but absolutely fascinating stuff. Rodeo ***** About the establishment of a democratic government in Estonia and the rollercoaster ride of the first couple of years, in particular trying to manoeuvre the Russian army out of the country, and survive initial financial crises. Almost all in black and white, with contemporary interviews with some of the main protagonists. Eye-opening and gripping. The Raft **** A retrospective look at an experiment undertaken in the 1970s when a group of eleven participants, of mixed race, nationality, religion, gender etc, took to a specially built raft that crossed the Atlantic from the Canaries to the Caribbean to examine how such a group handled confrontation and violence. The results completely took the researcher by surprise. The 7 survivors (they all survived the journey, I mean those alive today) take us through their experiences, enhanced by video taken on the journey. Interestingly, all bar one of those alive today are women - the men are mostly the dead. Another involving film. Welcome to Sodom *** Film set in Abogbloshie in Ghana, the largest electronic waste dump in the world, in particular looking at the lives of those who live off it, recycling what they can. Smacks of the Victorian nightsoil workers - and the conditions are no better, probably worse. Huge sense of human spirit though. It became just a mite repetitive though - 10-15 mins more slimming would have, to my mind, made it even more powerful. Genesis 2.0 **** Starts on the New Siberian Islands in the Russian Arctic Ocean, with hunters searching for mammoth tusks in the tundra (and finding tons of the stuff). The find of a well preserved carcass then takes a thread of the film off into an examination of some of the routes taken in 21st century genetic engineering and cloning - some of it very scary indeed. The film doesn't lose sight of the hunters, and finishes with their departure from the islands, travelling 200 miles across Arctic waters in outboard driven RIBs with a fragile but heavy and precious cargo. Took me into worlds and ways of life I've never even dreamed of, let alone explored. As the blurb says, jaw-dropping, and actually very frightening in places as to where our world is going. The Silver Branch ***** Profile of The Burren in Co. Clare, and one of the main protagonists of the Burren Action Group and its actions fighting government-led tourist development in the area (that split the community apart). Absolutely stunning cinematography, and a beautiful, thoughtful film. Admittedly seen through just the one set of eyes, but maybe all the better because of that, and certainly stronger. I could go and watch it again tomorrow. Currently runner-up in my best film seen in the festival. Loveling **** Family drama about a close-knit Brazilian family where the oldest of four children (all boys) is offered a contract to transfer school and play handball in Germany, and how they cope with this and other challenges and travails. Actually, it very much focuses on how Irene, the mother, copes. Moving, sensitive, and very funny in places, this was a lovely film that I could so relate to. I only picked this up from a recommendation by another festival-goer, and was so glad I did. Rodents of an Unusual Size *** Documentary about the invasion of Nutria, a large beaver-like rodent, into the swamps of Louisiana, and how the local population have responded to it. Nothing beyond what one would expect, but an interesting insight into local cuture and life, reiterating many of the conservation quandaries that are faced in the light of an invasive species taking control and potentially destroying a valued habitat. In the Stillness of Sounds ****(*) Profile of the work of sound engineer and biologist, Marc Namblard, who lives in the Vosges but worked in the wild around the world. Thoroughly absorbing documentary on a subject that I find increasingly interesting (natural sound), seeing (or hearing!) the world from a completely different perspective to what we are used to experiencing. I absolutely loved the involvement of his family - in particular his young daughter and the view of life he was able to provide her with, and her reactions to it (now that's what I call education!). I was less struck with the sections where he works with a composer using the natural sounds to develop 'music'. Sorry, but the originals were so much more beautiful and interesting. A film I want to see again soon though, as there was so much to take in. After Hours * Martin Scorsese black comedy filmed in 1985. A bit of a cult film, but went down like a lead balloon with me: horribly dated, highly mannered, and shot through with holes, I walked out half way through - one of the joys of a pass, you don't feel as if you've wasted your money. Read the Wikipedia plot summary, and it just got worse. Happy as Lazzaro *** Italian drama examining the lives of a poor share-cropping family in southern Italy. Appears to start off as a rather gentle, bucolic story, but tensions soon start to creep in, and then there is quite a dramatic shift in the middle of the film that sees a shift in time and place, adding a bite to the narrative, and what one starts to realise is quite an acerbic set of questions about modern society. It's a bit laboured in places, but it was an intriguing film that kept me wondering to the end. Dawn Wall ***** Documentary about the climbing of the eponymous route, regarded as one of the hardest routes ever put up, on El Capitan in Yosemite. Absolutely mind-blowing filming and story, which also tells of the backstory to one of the climbers, Tommy Caldwell, who had survived a hostage crisis on a climbing expedition to Kyrgyzstan and the loss of an index finger in a DIY accident. A superb film, possibly the best climbing film I've seen, and one of the best documentaries I've enjoyed to date. My film of the festival. This Magnificent Cake ** Belgian animation centred on the Belgian empire in Africa. And that is about all I understood! The stop-go animation was superb - worth seeing just for that - but the film itself (and its partner, Oh Willy) was otherwise largely incomprehensible to me. Tanzanian Transit *** Documentary set entirely on a sleeper train travelling across Tanzania, focusing on three of its occupants, telling their story through observation and conversation. Two of the stories, that of Rukia, setting off to look for a new life, and William, a Masai living in Dar-es-Salaam and taking his father home, were rivetting, the other about Nyaga a charismatic preacher rapidly palled - it was predictable and repetitive. A film that I almost didn't see, but am glad I did. Interrailing was never like this! (Although elements of it, not least the crowded trains, did played on the memory chords!). Two or three to go, with the festival finishing tomorrow (Thursday 15th) night.
  9. Recommendations for me.

    That's a huge range to cover! Maybe you could tell us the sorts of books you're interested in? In the meantime, if you want to see a list of books I love, then I keep a list of all-time favourites (earned 6 out of 6 stars), fiction and non-fiction, at the front of my book blog thread, here. But I'd be happy to be more specific with a few indicators.
  10. Willoyd's Reading 2018

    C is for Corpse by Sue Grafton *** This is the second in the Alphabet series of Kinsey Millhone that I've read, B is for Burglar taking longer to arrive from the library! It pretty much confirmed my thoughts after A is for Alibi: some strong characterisation, but an average, at best, plot. In fact, I had worked out the murderer with at least a quarter of the book remaining (and I'm not skilled at this sort of thing!), whilst the denouement was almost a cliche it it was so predictable. Best description I can think if is "pleasant reading", and I'll probably continue to read the series as they are an enjoyable way to while away train journeys and similar, but I am, if anything, mildly disappointed so far as I had expected more. Still manages three stars.
  11. Willoyd's Reading 2018

    Unfortunately, she didn't - Z is missing, and it will remain missing too, as she insisted in her will that nobody be given the rights to finish the series off. I'm not surprised to hear that the later ones weren't quite up to early standards; she's not the only one to suffer, perhaps, from overlong series. Janet Evanovich and Patricia Cornwell, for instance, both sound to have struggled to keep their early high standards going. It must be hard to keep things fresh.
  12. Willoyd's Tour of the States.

    Two more completed Two more books from the challenge were completed during the time BCF was away. First up was The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau. This was the story of the relationship between a white landowner and his black housekeeper in Alabama, as seen through the eyes of his daughter by his earlier marriage. It proves to be a fascinating insight into a society that is completely alien to me, and a rollicking good story too. 4 stars Second was My Antonia by Willa Cather. Set on the plains of Nebraska I've described this elsewhere as along the lines of A Little House on the Prairy for adults. It's actually much more than that. Whilst The Keepers of the House was an examination of a man's life through the eyes of a woman in his life, My Antonia is an examination of a woman's life - Antonia, a Bohemian immigrant to Nebraska - through the eyes of a man in her life, a childhood friend. It's one of those books that grows on you even after you've finished reading it, as it takes some time to sink in how good it is, being deceptively simple in its prose, but the sense of place and the depth of characterisation are so good that it lingers a long time on the mind ater completion. This is a classic example of my ignorance of American literature, having barely even heard of Willa Cather before putting this list together, but I'm now exploring her through the complete set of her works available in the library. 5 stars. That now makes 11 out of 51 after almost two and a half years - at this rate it'll be 2028 before I finish; better speed up!
  13. Finished The Surgeon's Mate, maintaining the astonishingly consistent and high standards in this series; started Sue Grafton's C is for Corpse, already about a third of the way in in one sitting.
  14. Busy reading

    Can only agree with you about both TGLAPPPS and 84 Charing Cross Road. Love them both, and love epistolaries in general too. I never really thought why before, but your explanation rings very true to me - the intimacy and the ability to get really inside a character or person as seen from their own perspective, not as seen from outside in conventionally narrated books. It takes a good writer to make it work though! (And, of course, 84 isn't fiction). I don't know whether you have read any of these, but three novels jumped to mind in the light of you liking these two books: Lady Susan by Jane Austen. This is the basis of the film Love and Friendship, which is confusing given that another of her juvenilia is Love and Freindship (Austen's spelling). The letters of a 'heroine', with only her wiles to fall back on, who is as deliciously scheming and self-advancing as in the film, (which I also loved). Even if you are not into classics, it's dead short and a remarkably easy read. Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn. Not only epistolary, but also an expanding lipogram! Letters written from a fictional island republic of the east coast of America, where as letters fall off the inscription of a 'sacred' monument, so the islanders are banned from using those letters. Sounds completely wacko, but it's brilliant, both as a novel and in the way it's put together. Where'd You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple. I quite enjoyed this, but others have absolutely loved it. 15-year old Bee's mother, Bernadette, has gone missing, and father doesn't seem to want to know, so Bee sets out to investigate. Apologies if you already know these well, but they just sprung to mind as I read your post. BTW, welcome to BCF! Looking forward to following your thread!
  15. Bobblybear's Book List - 2018

    Over the years, I've listened to a fair number of audiobooks, although only intermittently now. I can't imagine listening to a non-fiction book, unless it was a 'proper' story, like a lot of travel writing - which might perhaps be why fiction is so much easier to listen to? As you say, I want to flick backwards and forwards too often, especially when reading something as dense as The Silk Roads (which I've dipped into and intend to read properly soon).