Hauling me away from my lusty desires for textiles, jewellery and pottery, blogger-at-large Bill Doskoch has landed me with a thump back into bookworld and a damn good thing, too. My publishers would agree. His questions have forced me to start thinking again, something I haven’t done since I stared at the last batch of notes I received from my researcher yesterday on the Pickton hearings in Vancouver.
Bill’s three questions – with answers.
1. What was the last book I purchased?
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
2. Name five books I really liked.
The Kite Runner – it blew me away. It’s the best book I have read in the last year. It deserves its success as an international bestseller, unlike the unspeakable da Vinci Code which compresses ridiculous events into an impossible twenty four-hour period and was so badly written it made my teeth hurt.
(Bill’s invitation here is too open-ended. I am sticking with five books I have read since I came to Israel in February.)
Okay, so I am half-way through Saturday by Ian McEwan and liking it much better than I believed I could. It is brilliant and I find myself sticking with this neurologist as he meanders through his own brain pan.
If I may interject in my own post here with a book I really hated that I bought recently, it’s Exodus by Leon Uris. (This shouldn’t count as one of the five.) I thought I’s better read it, especially after talking to some friends who spent time after the war in Jewish refugee camps on Cyprus waiting to get into Palestine. Which is where Uris starts his plot before losing it altogether.
I read this book forty years ago and maybe I liked it then. Now I cannot get past the punctuation!Exclamation marks! The information is interesting and even useful but the telling excrutiating!
But I loved the new one-volume edition of Harold Nicolson’s Diaries; it was as much fun to read as the first three volumes, the ones that were published in the mid 1960s. This is book three of my choices and brings me to my fourth book, Cecil Beaton’s Diaries, which I just finished and which covers the same era. It’s wonderful. Both men hated T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia); I think one actually called him “that shit, Lawrence.” I suspect they were jealous of him and of his book, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, which was a major hit among my grandparents’ generation. I haven’t read it but will; I saw the actual Seven Pillars in Wadi Rum in Jordan a few weeks ago and suddenly thought Lawrence was not at all the fraud that Beaton and Nicolson believed him to be.
For my fifth book, I’d pick Mo Hayder’s The Devil of Nanking about a woman obsessed with the 1937 Nanking Massacre. It’s timely – the Chinese are raising hell with Japan over this yet again- and it’s a fine mystery. Beautifully plotted and written. It’s ambitious and it works. It is loosely based on a true story about a real individual, Iris Chang, who wrote The Rape of Nangking.
There Bill. My tiny mind at work.
3. How many books do I own?
My defence is that I am older than Bill is. I have thousands and thousands of books.