The Sunday Salon – Book Notes

Another Sunday Salon post. I finished reading three books this week. That’s not as much reading as it sounds as I’d been reading two of them for what seems like ages. I’ve already written about Nigel Slater’s autobiographical Toast,  which I gobbled down. 

The other two books are Inspiration by Wayne W Dyer and The Shipping News by Annie Proulx. Inspiration is subtitled “Your Ultimate Calling“. I borrowed it from the library, partly because I’ve read other books by him and partly because of the front cover with a photograph of a butterfly. I’m glad I didn’t buy this book as I won’t want to read it again. I took a long time over it because I read short sections most mornings. It’s due back at the library next week so I read the last few chapters in one sitting, which I found quite repetitive. In fact the whole book is repetitive – inspiration is living “in-spirit”. Each chapter ends with “Some Suggestions for Putting the Ideas in This Chapter to Work for You”. I think I could probably have just read these and got a good idea of what the book is about. I don’t go along with everything Wayne Dyer advocates but there are some good things in the book, a lot of which I already know but don’t always do, such as unclutter your life, slow down, relax, meditate, turn off the television, be less judgmental of yourself as well as of others, and so on.

I’ve been reading The Shipping News on and off for weeks. Twice I thought I wouldn’t bother reading any more but in the end I did finish it. My problem with it is its style – I don’t like it. Too many fragments. Sentences without nouns, pronouns. And all those lists. But counter-balancing this are the scenes of Newfoundland; the people, the landscape, the ice, wind, snow, storms; at times I felt seasick. I’m going to write more about this in a post on its own.

I’ve started to read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and although I’ve only read a few chapters I think it’s going to be compulsive reading.

I’ve also started Admit One: a Journey into Film by Emmett James. This promises to be good with the story of his life interwined with films and its correlation to our pasts. With my current obssession with films versus books I’m looking forward to reading more. In the introduction James writes:

I am struck by one, pertinent truth (thanks to the 20/20 hindsight of adulthood). that fact is is this: that a film itself, although unalterable once the physical reel is printed and unleashed, changes continually in the reel of our memory.

I returned one book to the library this week and came home with four more. These are:

  1. Making It Up by Penelope Lively. Taking moments from her life  and asking ‘what if?’ she constructs fictions about possibilities and alternative destinies.
  2. A Splash of Red by Antonia Fraser. A Jemima Shore novel in which Jemima flat-sits for a friend , close to the British Library and receives threatening anonymous phone calls …
  3. Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian Barnes. A multiple mystery of obssession and betrayal concerning two stuffed parrots both claimed as the one Flaubert borrowed from the Museum of Rouen to sit on his desk as inspiration. I read about this in someone’s blog – I’m sorry but I can’t remember who. It sounded so funny that when I saw it on the libray display shelf I just had to borrow it.
  4. Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear. This is the fourth Maisie Dobbs Mystery. I read the first one of her books, Maisie Dobbs last November and have wanted to read more. Another lucky find that almost jumped off the shelf into my hand.

Now all I need is time to get reading.

17 thoughts on “The Sunday Salon – Book Notes

  1. I love all four of the books that you’ve brought back from the library, so I can’t wait to see what you make of them. I agree completely about the vital role of Newfoundland itself in ‘The Shipping News’ which was one of the reasons that the film was so disappointing. You would have thought it the ideal medium to make the most of the setting, but in fact it could have been located anywhere.


  2. I loved The Shipping News — I think it’s one of those you have to immerse yourself in rather than reading on and off, precisely because it takes awhile to get into the language style. Proulx is not for everyone, that’s for sure.

    Your newest library acquisitions sound wonderful. I want to read one of Lively’s books; Flaubert’s Parrot sounds like fun.

    How many more Dyer-type self help books do we need in the world? Good grief. I think they could all be summed up in one bulleted list!

    Hope your week is wonderful


  3. I’ve heard both good and bad, mostly good, about Zusak’s The Book Thief. I look forward to hearing what you thought of it when you finish it.


  4. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy the Shipping News. I read it when it first came out and thought it was marvelous. But I think your other commenter is right, Proulx isn’t for everyone. I’m just starting The Book Thief as well, for Cornflower’s Book Club. And I hear so many great things about Flaubert’s Parrot, I’m sure it’s time to take the plunge. Thanks for a great post!


  5. OK, in my meandering about book blogs today I think I caught at least four separate references to “The Book Thief.” I’m definitely putting that on my list to take a look at. I loved your reference to the books you checked out of the library; I was there today and got “Careless in Red” By Elizabeth George and “Phantom Prey” by John Sandford. I just finished “Prepared for Rage” (actually I listened to is and I can’t remember the author! It was OK; didn’t like the end) on audiobook, and finished reading “One Foot in the Black,” by Kurt Kamm. That one involves a young man fleeing Michigan and his abusive father to go to California, and brutal training with the LA County Fire Department Helitak-Attack training academy. He graduates and begins work, suffering tramatic stress after an explosive wildfire incident, plus he’s still dealing with his father’s influence on his life. Great details about firefighting and the training, and you’ll be in awe at the author’s descriptions of the fire overrunning the fire crew on the side of the mountain. I also am reminded of the adage of how you can make your own family. Great story.


  6. The Book Thief is on my list, too. I think I agree with your perception of The Shipping News. It read a bit hiccupy to me, too. Sometimes that works in small doses.


  7. I am surprised that there aren’t more crime fiction readers in the Sunday Salon so I am pleased to have come across your posting today. They are a very diverse group of books you have up next


  8. I’m currently reading The Book Thief and love it. I can’t wait to hear what you have to say about it. It has proven to be obsessive reading for me and it goes pretty fast.


  9. I love Jacqueline Winspear’s books. I’ve read them all and decided now I would go back and listen to them on audio. I’m listening to Maisie Dobbs and enjoying it immensely! I’d also like to read the mysteries that Antonia Fraser wrote. I’ve read one, and collected the rest, which are OOP here in the US.


  10. All the books you brought back from the library are good ones, but I have to put in a special vote for Flaubert’s Parrot, which is one of my all-time favourites, and the Jacqueline Winspear as she is such a good mystery writer. I understand exactly what you mean about that Dyer book – I’ve heard the ‘in-spirit’ concept in many different ways, most notably and most helpfully as ‘mindfulness’ in the Jon Kabat-Zinn books (and Full Catastrophe Living IS a really good book, although mostly for people who suffer badly from stress).


  11. I’ve got the third Maisie Dobbs book here for the next time the mood strikes. I have to admit I didn’t really like Toast, but it was mainly because I wasn’t familiar with many of the things he mentioned, since we didn’t have them in Canada. I read it with a book group in Cambridge though and the other members, who grew up with those things, loved it.


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