My Book Journal

Registered by BookGroupMan of Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on 3/9/2004
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Journal Entry 1 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Tuesday, March 09, 2004
Apologies to BookCrossing purists, but this is not a book, it is a virtual book, an 'un-book' if you like, created as somewhere convenient for me to park random words and pictures...and also Book Reviews where I don't own the book, i.e. not registered. How so, I hear you ask? One of the very few problems i've found with this whole BookCrossing thing is that i'm visiting & borrowing less from the library - I used to maintain Suffolk libraries on my loan fines alone! So 'My Book Journal' will give me somewhere to write up my thoughts outwith my virtual bookshelf entries - well it makes sense to me ;-)



Journal Entry 2 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Friday, March 19, 2004
Mitch Albom - The Five People You Meet in Heaven

This can't be right, i'm reading books so quickly at the moment, that i'm behind in writing up reviews.

I recently noticed that BookCrossing has made me read more, and buy more new & 2nd hand books, but at the expense of library books...its no fun reading a book and then not being able to share the experience through BC.com - even if no-one is listening :-)

Here's my review:

"So, the whole premise is that you meet 5 people in heaven who have influenced your life, (or you have affected) whether you knew it at the time or not. Each person is waiting in this timeless never-land (a sort of ethereal airport departure lounge!), to teach you a lesson. In imparting the lesson, the teacher can move onwards and upwards to another, unnamed, level. You then take your turn to pass on received wisdom, and so on. So good, so hippy-dippy. I quite enjoyed this, but have some reservations, of which more later. I liked the way that Albom has made the hero, the newly deceased ‘Eddie Maintenance’, a flawed everyman figure, at once ordinary (dull even?), but with a long life touched by extraordinary human events – great love, wartime tragedy, loss & loneliness. I found the lessons – which are about life btw, not death – a bit trite & ‘preachy’; love conquers all, we must forgive others, self-sacrifice is the path to absolution, we are all valuable and make a contribution etc. etc. I don’t think MA took the opportunity to give us a really new slant on heaven, it felt a bit cliché, like Lovely Bones meets Christmas Carol! This said, some of the images were very powerful and will stay with me for a long time; the captain waiting up the tree, the diner of the injured, the ‘river’ of children…"

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Journal Entry 3 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Wednesday, March 24, 2004
Finally sorted out the spurious gap......ps in my HTML profile tables. Many thanks to Caligula03 for the expert advice, I removed all the carriage returns - transformed into new paragraph tags


So now I know :)


Journal Entry 4 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Thursday, April 01, 2004
Louis Sacher - Holes

A great book, thanks (again) to the BBC Big Read for introducing me to a new author and new children’s classic for adults :-)

Stanley Yelnats is wrongly sent to Camp Green Lake, a brutal correction facility 'for bad boys’ to dig holes in a dried-up Texas lake. He starts to uncover a mystery linked to a curse put on his dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather, the psychotic camp warden, and all sorts of other convoluted coincidences, characters & events from the past. I won’t give anything else away, but, there are enough clues to carry you along with the plot, and it all ties together in a neat, and strangely believably, conclusion. What’s really good about this book, having ‘done’ the Pullmans & Rowlings in recent years, is Sacher’s lack of pretension. He uses spare, simple language to tell a cracking story. There are magical elements - no not the wizards & broomsticks type - and a strong moral thread about right and wrong, greed, bullying and faith (in people and goodness). But none of it is overblown, in the way of recent Harry Potters, nor does it take itself too seriously, as Pullman tends to. If this was a real BC journal, i'd give it 9 stars - what more can I say!

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Journal Entry 5 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Thursday, April 01, 2004
I've just about finished my tinkering with my profile HTML, and very pleased I am too (*smug grin*) with tables, fonts, and internal link thingies

Journal Entry 6 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Thursday, April 15, 2004
The Death of the Crime Series...?

I've just sent Jalna a few crime books, Reginald Hills and a Patricia Cornwell. I used to read loads of crime books, especially detective series, accounting for almost 1 in 3 books that I was reading from the late '80s to late 90's. I liked following the chronology and the lives of the 'tecs - starting with Colin Dexter (Morse - the grand-daddy and still the best IMHO) through Ellis Peters (Brother Cadfael), Reginald Hill (Dalziel & Pascoe, and Joe Sixsmith), Patricia D. Cornwell (Kay Scarpetta), R D Wingfield (Frost) etc. etc. Then I sort of moved on, looking for more variety, winners of the Crime Writers Association awards, and other non-series crime & thrillers Barbara Vine, Grisham, Minette Walters, onward and upward. I guess I don't need the comfort & predictable rules of the genre any more, but am happy to cast a wider net of authors, themes & styles (too many books, too little time) BookCrossing is really helping me to hear about other recommendations, and a ready audience to pass pre-loved books on to...not killed-off as such, but enjoying a well-earned retirement on someone elses bookshelf!

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Journal Entry 7 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Friday, April 23, 2004
Happy Birthday to me!

I've just passed my first anniversary, I am now 1 book-crossing year old, I fangQ, no, no presents really you're too kind.

I've made a concerted effort in the last several weeks to release books, fulfill promises, tidy my profile up, and generally spring clean everying for my BookCrossing 1st birthday - BC years are a bit like dog-years, they feel a lot longer than earth years are meant to!

I also came across a number of possible, achieveable targets, fighting the natural inclination to find such things trivial, and a bit pathetic ;-) Anyway, I'm as trivial as the next man; firstly I reached and stormed past 250 books registered. Then (yesterday, hooray) I released my 100th book, the majority wild, but includes 30-or-so 'controlled' releases. Lastly, and most importantly, I sit bashing the Refresh key, waiting for the stopped-clock, the bubbling pan of water that is the Books caught iconic number, waiting for my 50th find. 49 and holding. I wonder how many paper clips i've got in my desk drawer, I could count them, or sort them into size order, or make a model Eiffel Tower out of them...

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Journal Entry 8 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Friday, May 07, 2004
New Profile Pic

I've changed my piccy, me in a Christmas party hat was looking a bit past its sell-by date. And it was upsetting to look at me enjoying myself last Christmas with family in Australia.

I don't have many pictures of me, normally being the person behind the lens, so I'd like to introduce a friend of mine :) Aren't tortoises great; we should all learn to take things easy and wear a tougher shell!

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Journal Entry 9 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Thursday, May 27, 2004
Controlled or 'Tame' Releases work-in-progress

Moved from my profile to save space, and i'm not sure I want to maintain this list....

Michael Cunningham - The Hours (swan-scot)

Chitra Divakaruni - The Mistress of Spices (jackshome)

Nick Hornby – How to be Good (newbie, not registered)

Ian McEwan – Atonement (Theresa-A)

Yann Martel - Life of Pi (Fofum)

Virginia Woolf – Mrs. Dalloway (psychjo)

Peter Carey – Jack Maggs (josieokane)

Michael Moore – Stupid White Men (newbie, not registered)

Andrea Ashworth – Once in a House on Fire (newbie, n/r)

Paulo Coelho – The Alchemist (spiritrescuer)

Joseph Heller – Closing Time (chrisp93)

Margery Allingham – Hide My Eyes (shylock)

Bookring Francis Spufford – The Boy that Books Built (chrisp93)

Jeffrey Eugenides – The Virgin Suicides (hey-miki)

Various - Walter Mosley / Elmore Leonard / Lawrence / Greene / (JesseBC)

Pot Pourri - Bryson 1 / Bryson 2 / Herriot / (rrredhead)

Kurt Vonnegut – Slaughterhouse 5 (Newbie - not registered)

Mixed BagFforde / Hanff / Gibbons (newbie, n/r)

William Horwood – Duncton Found / (Tuulip)

Mark Haddon – The Curious Incident... (hey-miki)

Anita Diamant – Good Harbor (newbie, not registered)

Ian McEwan – The Daydreamer (Aparajita)

Peter Hoeg - The History of Danish Dreams (Alejandro2244)

Mini crime package - Reginald Hill/Patricia Cornwell (Jalna)

Tim Moore - Do Not Pass Go (dizzydormouse)

Bill Bryson - Mother Tongue (rrredhead)

Forgotten Voices/The Road to Nab End (netstation)

Paul Cascarino - Full Time/Joseph O'Connor - Star of the Sea(Gooner)

Bannerjee - Sister of My Heart (The ChinaSourcer)

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Journal Entry 10 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Tuesday, June 08, 2004
Noughts & Crosses

Like Shakespeare’s ‘star-crossed lovers’ Callum and Sephy find themselves battling against the prejudices of a divided society. But, rather than ‘2 houses’ Marjorie Blackman has created an alternative modern world of a powerful, ruling black elite (Crosses), and a subjugated, second-class white population (noughts). I kept wanting to place the action in the colonial deep south of America, under slavery & segregation, therefore I found the modern references anachronistic (TV, shopping malls etc.). Its clever the way MB addresses racial awareness issues through this parallel world order; such as the pejorative ‘blankers’ for whites, the biased press, skewed history & lack of education & job opportunities used to repress the nominal underclass. However, I found the premise a bit unbelievable and contrived.

Thanks to my ‘tweenager’ daughter for passing this on, from her school library. She really loved it and finished it in a day, so obviously the right target audience. On the positive side, the central story moves on at a good pace, lots of emotion & plot twists, some unexpected choices made by the leads, and (I think) an underlying message that we are all equal under-the-skin and love conquers all. Ahhhh :-)

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Journal Entry 11 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Tuesday, July 13, 2004
2004 Book List

The full list of books read, with links to reviews and status; where they are and what i've done with them...

60. Isaac Asimov - I, Robot Ipswich Meet-up
59. Anne Tyler - If Morning Ever Comes 2nd Ipswich Meet-up
58. John Kennedy Toole - A Confederacy of Dunces Controlled Release
57. Pete McCarthy - McCarthy's Bar London meet-up
56. Jim Kelly - The Water Clock London meet-up
55. Daniel Wallace - Big Fish: a novel of mythic proportions Wild Release
54. Carol Shields - The Stone Diaries London meet-up
53. Alain de Botton - How Proust can change your Life Ipswich meet-up
52. Bernhard Schlink - The Reader Back to Owner
51. Neil Gaiman - American Gods Ipswich meet-up
50. Andre Gide - Strait is the Gate Ipswich meet-up
49. Michael Morpurgo - Private Peaceful Controlled Release
48. Bruce Chatwin - The Songlines Ipswich meet-up
47. Julie Myerson - Something Might Happen Available to lend/bookring
46. Leslie Thomas - Orange Wednesday Wild release
45. Zoe Heller - Notes on a Scandal Bookring
44. Tim Lott - The Scent of Dried Roses Private Collection
43. Tennessee Williams - The Glass Menagerie Wild release
42. Dan Brown - The Da Vinci Code Crime Book Box
41. Emily Bronte - Wuthering Heights Private Collection
40. Beryl Bainbridge - Winter Garden Wild Release
39. Malorie Blackman - An Eye for an Eye Wild Release
38. William Styron - Sophie's Choice Controlled Release
37. Sharyn McCrumb - Bimbos of the Death Sun Bookray - Open
36. Clifford Stoll - Silicon Snake Oil Bookray - Open
35. Jean-Dominique Bauby - The Diving-Bell & the Butterfly Controlled Release
34. Arundhati Roy - The God of Small Things Controlled Release
33. Anne Tyler - A Slipping-Down Life Conrolled Release
32. Lynne Truss - Eats, Shoots and Leaves Private Collection
31. J M Barrie - Peter Pan Brum'04 OBCZ
30. Alexander McCall Smith - The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency Brum'04 OBCZ
29. Voltaire - Candide Available to Lend/Ring
28. Grossmith - The Diary of a Nobody Brum'04 OBCZ
27. Malorie Blackman - Noughts & Crosses Library Book
26. Andrew Collins - Where Did It All Go Right? Controlled Release
25. Paul Auster - The New York Trilogy Brum'04 OBCZ
24. William Trevor - The Story of Lucy Gault Wild Release
23. Adrian Bell - Corduroy Back to BC owner
22. John Irving - A Prayer for Owen Meany Controlled Release
21. Mitch Albom - Tuesdays with Morrie Controlled Release
20. Albert Camus - The Outsider Controlled Release
19. Joseph O'Connor - Star of the Sea Controlled Release
18. Kurt Vonnegut - Timequake Brum'04 OBCZ
17. Zadie Smith - The Autograph Man Bookray
16. Louis Sachar - Holes Library Book
15. Paul Kimmage/Tony Cascarino - Full Time Controlled Release
14. Andre Brink - A Dry White Season Wild Release Found!
13. Dodie Smith - I Capture the Castle Available to Lend/'ring
12. Tracey Chevalier - The Girl with the Pearl Earring Back to BC owner
11. Alfred Bester - Tiger! Tiger! Private Collection
10. Mitch Albom - The Five People You Meet In Heaven Library Book
9. Tim Moore - Do Not Pass Go Controlled Release
8. Reginald Hill – Death’s Jest-Book Controlled Release
7. Ian McEwan – The Daydreamer Controlled Release
6. Tim Lott – White City Blue Available to lend/'ring
5. Catherine Ryan Hyde – Pay it Forward Controlled Release
4. Monica Ali – Brick Lane Controlled Release
3. Mark Haddon – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time Available to lend/'ring
2. Doris Pilkington – Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence Controlled Release
1. Stella Gibbons – Cold Comfort Farm Controlled Release
 


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Journal Entry 12 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Friday, July 16, 2004
Books for Unconvention

A little reminder to myself, as I don't intend to pre-release any

Iain Banks - The Business
Patricia Cornwell - Hornet's Nest
R D Wingfield - Winter Frost
Sue Grafton - 'F'
Sarah Dunant - Under My Skin
Liza Cody - Bucket Nut
J M Barrie - Peter Pan
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
Paul Auster - The New York Trilogy
Grossmith - The Diary of a Nobody (for Gooner)
Kurt Vonnegut - Timequake
Alexander McCall Smith - No.1 Ladies Detective Agency
Niven & Purnelle - Mote in God's Eye

3x Louise Cooper books from Yiremyahu

Journal Entry 13 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Monday, August 23, 2004
Birmingham Unconvention 2004


I did get there in the end, although a lot of last minute juggling took place. But, it *was* well worth the effort; almost surreal meeting so many 'familiar' BookCrossers, a few that i'm met before (Sir Steve, Gooner, ChelseaGirl...) but mostly virtual friends come to life. The only downside was the lack of time - I was only able to attend Sat afternoon & evening. Next time(!), if and when, I would go for the full weekend experience (total immersion?); hotel, boardgames, tours, eating too much, drinking too much, the full-nine-yards!


It was a truly awesome feat of organisation by Steve and his little band of helpers. Thanks for all your grand efforts


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Journal Entry 14 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Thursday, August 26, 2004
Crime Books on Offer

To be offered on UKBC as complete 'boxed' set, individually, or any which way. Better on someone elses shelf, and with a remote likelihood of being read, than cluttering up my garage!

  • Tooth & Nail by Ian Rankin
  • White butterfly by Walter Mosley
  • L A Confidential by James Ellroy
  • Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett
  • Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
  • The Snake by Mickey Spillane
  • Death Penalties by Paula Gosling
  • Backlash by Paula Gosling
  • Our Man in Camelot by Anthony Price
  • Orange Wednesday by Leslie Thomas
  • The Lizard in the Cup by Peter Dickinson
  • The Breaker by Minette Walters
  • Nursery Crimes by B M Gill
  • Waxwork by Peter Lovesey
  • Case of Spirits by Peter Lovesey
  • The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett
  • Smith's Gazelle by Lionel Davidson
  • Some Run Crooked by John Buxton Hilton
  • The Mystery of Dr Fu-Manchu by Sax Rohmer (old green Penguin)
  • The Blood Doctor by Barabara Vine

So, PM to put in your requests...

(1/09) Interest so far...

perfect-circle
mastulela
purple-pixie
blum

Rules & running order to-be-advised

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Journal Entry 15 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Journal Entry 16 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Monday, September 27, 2004
Something Might Happen by Julie Myerson

Set in coastal Suffolk, a local read for our book group

Will review when read

(8/10) Half-way through this, and really enjoying it. Spookily came across a second-hand copy today - for my permanent collection I think. Review to follow

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Journal Entry 17 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Thursday, November 04, 2004
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

Borrowed from a lady in my book group

(10/11) This is one of those books that I’ve seen everywhere and have always wanted to read, and not just because it is called The Reader - or probably something like ‘Der Bookenbrowsen’ in its original language ;) So thank you for my Book Group friend 'tricia for lending it to me. And a very fine book it is too.

The first part starts slowly, a very German feel, solid reportage of events around Micheal Berg‘s affair with an older woman, Hanna. Its well structured but not that exciting, and doesn’t gain much momentum. But in the second part, an older Berg witnesses a Nazi trial, and tries to understand the feelings of post-war Germans, "the second generation were silenced by revulsion, shame and guilt", and his personal involvement, albeit by association. He also explores the philosophy of why people make choices, and the ability, and responsibility of others to influence their behaviour. Berg’s emotionally detached father sums it up, "We’re not talking about happiness, we’re talking about dignity and freedom"; the freedom to make the wrong choices, and the dignity to stand by the consequences, very powerful stuff! At the end of the book the writer/narrator, sums it up, "What a sad story I thought for so long... But I think it is true, and thus the question of whether it is sad or happy has no meaning whatever"

I’ve read a couple of books with similar themes recently, Sophie’s Choice and The Dark Room, but this does it much better.

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Journal Entry 18 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Wednesday, January 05, 2005
2005 Book List

Books wot I readed this year:

And i'm acquiring and reading the great little Penguin 70's, but as they are 'ickle books, they don't really count. Do they?

The Final Numbers for 2005...
    Registered 72
    Released 60
    Read 63*
    Received 40
* including Pocket Penguins

Pocket Penguin 70's - various Read 15/70
48. Hotel World by Ali Smith Ipswich OBCZ
47. A Quiet Life by Beryl Bainbridge Controlled Release - Bookbox
46. The Ninth Life of Louis Drax by Liz Jensen Library
45. Ishmael by Daniel Quinn Controlled Release
44. Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer Woodbridge Meet-up
43. Painting Ruby Tuesday by Jane Yardley Woodbridge Meet-up
42. Portuguese Irregular Verbs by Alexander McCall Smith Bookring
41. Buying a Fishing Rod for my Grandfather by Gao Xingjian Library
40. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell Controlled Release
39. An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro Controlled Release
38. Man and Wife by Tony Parsons Controlled Release
37. Crabwalk by Gunter Grass Bookring Onward
36. The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje Controlled Release
35. Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith Controlled release
34. The Gate of Angels by Penelope Fitzgerald Reserved
33. HP6 by J K Rowling Not on BC Shelf
32. High Society by Ben Elton Ipswich Meet-up
31. The Time Traveler's Wide by Audrey Niffenegger Ipswich Meet-up
30. The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs by Alexander McCall Smith Ipswich Meet-up
29. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy PC
28. Young Adolf by Beryl Bainbridge Controlled release
27. Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach Controlled Release
26. The Stone Carvers by Jane Urquhart Ipswich Meet-up
25. Jerome K Jerome - Three Men in a Boat Controlled Release
24. Tony Martin and the Bleak House Tragedy Bookray
23. Andrea Levy - Small Island Bookring
22. Graham Swift - Learning to Swim Controlled Release
21. Luke Rhinehart - The Dice Man Ipswich Meet-up
20. Graham Greene - Monsignor Quixote Controlled Release
19. Introducing Semiotics 4th Ipswich Meet-up
18. Douglas Coupland - Girlfriend in a Coma 4th Ipswich Meet-up
17. Virginia Woolf - Orlando 4th Ipswich Meet-up
16. Gary Zukav - Soul Stories 4th Ipswich Meet-up
15. Carlos Ruiz Zafon - The Shadow of the Wind 4th Ipswich Meet-up
14. Matthew Kneale - English Passengers Controlled Release
13. James Joyce - Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man 4th Ipswich Meet-up
12. Beryl Bainbridge - An Awfully Big Adventure Controlled Release
11. Esther Freud - Hideous Kinky 3rd Ipswich Meet-up
10. Andre Dubus III - House of Sand and Fog Back to Owner
9. Ernest Hemingway - A Farewell to Arms Wild Release
8. Lawrence M Krauss - The Physics of Star Trek Controlled release
7. Graham Swift - Ever After Wild Release
6. Nigel Slater - Toast Controlled release
5. Anthea Barrett - Ship Fever Controlled Release
4. Donna Tartt - The Secret History Controlled Release
3. Beryl Bainbridge - Injury Time Controlled Release
2. Kurt Vonnegut - Breakfast of Champions Controlled Release
1. Paul Theroux - The Kingdom by the Sea 2nd Ipswich Meet-up
 


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Journal Entry 19 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Friday, May 13, 2005
Clearing the shelves - First in First Out!

I’m working my way through some of my earliest registered ‘to-be-reads’ and trying to read or release (or more likely read then release) as I go along. So far I’ve done quite well, including books from August’03:

Orlando by Virginia Woolf
Monsignor Quixote by Graham Greene
Hideous Kinky by Esther Freud
Ever After by Graham Swift
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
Learning to Swim by Graham Swift

The only one recently that i've passed on unread - I didn't really fancy it - was Beloved by Toni Morrison.

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Journal Entry 20 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Friday, May 13, 2005
My 2005 Alphabet Challenge*

*my own interpretation of the theme - not all new authors

\o/\o/ Finished \o/\o/

Asimov – I, Robot
Barrett – Ship Fever
Coupland – Girlfriend in a Coma
Debus – The House of Sand and Fog
Elton - High Society
Freud – Hideous Kinky
Greene – Monsignor Quixote
Hemingway – Farewell to Arms
Ishiguro - An Artist of the Floating World
Jerome - Three Men in a Boat
Kneale – English Passengers
Levy - Small Island
McCall Smith - The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs
Niffenegger - The Time Traveller's Wife
Onaadtje - The English Patient
Parsons - Man and Wife
Quinn - Ishmael
Rhinehart – The Dice Man
Slater – Toast
Tartt – The Secret History
Urquhart - The Stone Carvers
Vonnegut – Breakfast of Champions
Woolf – Orlando
Xingjian - Buying a Fishing Rod for my Grandfather
Yardley - Painting Ruby Tuesday
Zafon – The Shadow of the Wind

26/26

I had a couple of other challenges in 2005 - or rather ongoing aims - mostly because I cleared out almost all of my availables in a personal challenge in '04 so i’m always on the look out for ways of reading more and working my way through mount toobee :)
(1) Joining the wider BC community a bit more, including a couple of rings & rays, publishing my wishlist, after more than 2 years here. I still track, and occasionally post, with on the BCUK Yahoo forum
(2) I’m working my way through some of my earliest registered tbr's and trying to read or release (or more likely read then release) as I go along. So far I’ve done quite well, see my journal.

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Journal Entry 21 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Sunday, September 11, 2005
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J K Rowling

I can’t really comment on the specific content (not wanting to spoil your enjoyment), but suffice to say, this is both entirely typical of the series and very different from HP1 thru’ 5 :-) Let me explain.

The whole feel of HP6 is very familiar; we have all the same characters more or less, the timeframe (start at Privet Drive, an academic year at Hogwarts, trips to Diagon Alley & Hogsmeade etc.), and despite some attempts at aging Harry, Ron, Hermione et al the whole thing is stuck in a Famous-5-meets-Greyfriars time warp. To give JKR the benefit of the doubt, I guess she has to feed the monster that’s she’s created. Or does she? She and Bloomsbury have such a massive captive audience that they could really push the boat out and challenge the genre, in the same way that Philip Pullman did with His Dark Materials trilogy. Reading through the sometimes turgid filler, you long for something different; like the opportunity to go somewhere else in the wizarding world, or hear a voice other than HP 1st person, or get a bit more insight than the bland good (HP/Dumbledore/Hagrid/Wimpy Weasleys) vs. evil (Lord V/Snape/Malfoys). The Tom Riddle flashbacks were the best part for me.

*slight spoiler*

And how is HP6 different? Well we are getting towards the end of the series, so JKR is preparing for the final showdown between the speccy ‘chosen one’, and Vold…I mean, HE WHO SHOULD NOT BE NAMED. So, despite the well leaked death there’s less of a climactic final battle here, but the stage is set for our hero to sort out the bad guy once and for all, and a last year at Hogwarts...or does it??

A BC friend told me, and I can’t verify it, sounds like is could be an urban myth(?), that this book was actually edited! No, only joking, apparently Ron is referred to as ‘Rupert’ (the actor Rupert Grint) somewhere in the book. No I’m not going to read it again to find the error!

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Journal Entry 22 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Tuesday, November 01, 2005
From my occasional profile 'blog' entries

May 2005 New Pen Picture + Ipswich Meet-Up

Yes it's me! I'm looking a bit haggard, but its so rare that i'm the other side of the lens, so I thought I would post. Btw, i'm at a friends wedding 2 weeks ago, a lovely day at Wantisden Valley, Suffolk.


Journal Entry 23 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Tuesday, November 01, 2005
From my occasional profile 'blog' entries:

June 2005 The BIG 4-oh!!

There's no denying it, see 'age' above, what can't talk can't lie. Anyway whoever said that '40' is just another birthday, a number on a timeline (well I think I used to say it actually!), is obviously a mere callow 30-something. It is a big event, more a watershed than necessarily life-beginning; possible life-changing though, i'll let you know ;)
A few quick thankQs; my DW for organising a brilliant surprise party; all my friends & family who came along, including; our own Gooner & SemioticGhost for playing (i.e. deceiving me!) and partying. I think everyone enjoyed themselves, I know I did, after the shock had worn off. Hopefully some pictures will be available soon, including prominent roles played by books (natch) and Ballycumber...


Journal Entry 24 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Thursday, November 03, 2005
Buying a Fishing Rod for my Grandfather by Gao Xingjian

5/11 Review: I admit to only reading this book (short stories) to fulfil an ‘X’ in my alphabet challenge, but, I was still expected good things from the Nobel prize-winning author of Soul Mountain

But, these are not easy stories to like. They are either the portrayal of vague and pointless events, or abstract dreamy sequences written in prosaic language. To be honest I didn’t really ‘get’ them at all as interesting stories or great literature. However, this quote from the author in the translator’s notes suggests his raison d’etre, as seeking the art of literature, “the actualisation of language and not the imitation of reality in writing”, simply by using language to evoke genuine feelings. Yeah right, but I’m sure he didn’t mean the feelings of boredom and annoyance and disinterest!

Journal Entry 25 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Eleven-Eleven Book Challenge

...to release at least 11 books during November ('RABCK' or bookrays) during November to get me up to the 300 milestone. Thanks everyone on the BCUK forum for helping me out :)


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Journal Entry 26 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Thursday, December 15, 2005
The Ninth Life of Louis Drax by Liz Jensen

I really liked the start of this book, it was refreshingly simple in construction with an interesting topic (a troubled child and his internal voice both before and during a coma), an enigmatic lead in Louis Drax himself, and the mystery of his 8th ‘death‘ leading to his 9th life. In the second part of the story, some of the periphery characters move to centre stage, notably ‘Lou Lou’s’ mother Natalie and his Doctor in L’Hopital des Incurables, Paul Dannachet, and I feel that Jensen ended up with more of a formulaic ‘pot boiler’. It was still a better than average read though :-)

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Journal Entry 27 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Monday, January 16, 2006
2006 Book List

Books wot I hem reading this year:

I'm still working my way through the great little Pocket Penguin 70's. All the reviews are in the same journal (for the series), rather than registering them individually. I hope to read another 20 this year, which would bring me up to 35 (half), which will be nice :)
<
73. Catherine by Jane Austen Ipswich meet-up
72. Any Human Heart by William Boyd Ipswich meet-up
71. Get Everything Done... by Mark Forster Ipswich Meet-up
70. Underground by Tobias Hill Cambs Meet-up
69. (12) Homer The Cave of Cyclops Pocket Penguin - PC
68. Rumours of a Hurricane by Time Lott PC
--- How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World by Francis Wheen Reading
67. (42) Doctrines and Visions by Naom Chomsky Pocket Penguin - PC
66. Lanzarote by Michel Houellebecq Library
--- Supertoys Last all Summer Long by Brian Aldiss Cambs Meet-up
65. Reading in the Dark by Seamus Deane Ipswich Meet-up
64. (54) Letters from Four Seasons by Alistair Cooke Pocket Penguin - PC
63. Jan Morris From the Four Corners Ipswich Meet-up
62. The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith Cambs meet-up
61. Freakonomics by Levitt & Dubner Controlled Release
60. Men at Arms by Evelyn Waugh PC
59. A Long Way Down by Nick Honrby Cambs meet-up
58. (37) Hotheads by Steven Pinker Pocket Penguin - PC
57. The Bridge by Maggie Hemmingway Controlled Release
56. Escape by Katherine Mansfield Controlled Release
55. (20) Noise by Hari Kunzru Controlled Release
54. On Beauty by Zadie Smith Controlled Release
53. Coaching for Performance by John Whitmore PC
52. Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse Ipswich Meet-up
51. (9) The Mirror of Ink by Jorge Luis Borges Pocket Penguin - PC
50. Morality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith Cambs meet-up
49. Illusions by Richard Bach Ipswich Meet-up
48. Do it Tomorrow by Mark Forster Bookring
47. Silverfin by Charlie Higson Library
46. Case Histories by Kate Atkinson Ipswich meet-up
45. Tea and Biscuits by A L Kennedy Controlled Release
44. (7) On Shopping (Which Gladdens the Heart) by India Knight Pocket Penguin - PC
43. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka Controlled Release
42. Generation X by Douglas Coupland PC
41. The Colour by Rose Tremain Ipswich Meet-up/OBCZ
40. Last Tango in Aberystwyth by Malcolm Pryce Library
39. Lost Worlds by Michael Bywater PC
38. Howards End by E M Forster Ipswich Meet-up/OBCZ
37. Aberystwyth Mon Amour by Malcolm Pryce Controlled Release
36. Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel UnCon'06 Release
35. (23) In Defence of English Cooking by George Orwell PC
34. Gods of Management by Charles Handy PC
33. The Fire Baby by Jim Kelly Back to Owner
32. Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald PC
31. Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Haysen Bookring (possibly!)
30. (69) Murder by John Steinbeck Pocket Penguin - PC
29. Past Mortem by Ben Elton Released to Cambs OBCZ
28. (14) Of Pageants & Picnics by Elizabeth David Pocket Penguin - PC
27. The Lowlife by Alexander Baron Returned to Gooner
26. Our Lady of the Forest by David Guterson Released
25. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson PC
24. (57) The Worst Thing a Suburban Girl Could Imagine by Melissa Bank Pocket Penguin - PC
23. Life After God by Douglas Coupland UnCon'06 Release
22. Death in the Bunker by Ian Kershaw Pocket Penquin - PC
21. Shuttlecock by Graham Swift Ipswich Meet-up
20. (41) The Country of the Blind by H G Wells Pocket Penguin - PC
19. Sweet William by Beryl Bainbridge UnCon'06 Release
18. The Box Garden by Carol Shields Released
17. Happy Birthday Jack Nicholson by Hunter S Thompson Pocket Penguin - PC
16. (34) Cloud, Castle, Lake by Vladimir Nabokov Pocket Penguin - PC
15. Arthur & George by Julian Barnes Back to owner - not BC
14. 2 Stars by Paul Theroux Pocket Penguin - PC
13. Human Croquet by Kate Atkinson Controlled Release
12. The Road to Wellville by T Coraghessan Boyd Bookray
11. Innocent House by P D James Pocket Penguin - PC
10. Saturday by Ian McEwan Controlled Release
9. Protobiography by William Boyd Pocket Penguin - PC
8. Three Trips by John Updike Pocket Penguin - PC
7. Lives of the Monster Dogs by Kirsten Bakis Controlled Release
6. What the Bleep do we Know? Non-fiction/PC
5. Summer in Algiers by Albert Camus Pocket Penguin - PC
4. Cosmic Banditos by A C Weisbecker Released at OBCZ
3. Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland Controlled Release
2. The Villa of Reduced Circumstances by Alexander McCall-Smith Bookring
1. The Tin Can Tree by Anne Tyler Controlled Release
 


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Journal Entry 28 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Thursday, March 02, 2006
What the Bleep do we Know?

In an email to my brother who gave me the book for Xmas – he saw the film in the US, but hasn’t read the book:

‘I’ve finished ‘What the Bleep Do We Know?’ and was very impressed in the end; as long as I ignored the ‘dumbing down’ and the occasional lapses into new age tosh! The bit that I really liked was linking new science and the quantum world of the brain with the inexplicable & emotional…I had quite an interesting discussion with a ‘scientist’/ materialist friend of mine. There are definitely some persuasive ideas in this book; he’s borrowed it to read and make his own mind up!’

This book, and the expurgated title, suggests that we know very little, either from first hand experience or through the accretion of human knowledge – or more correctly, the ‘perceived wisdom’ passed on to each of us within our culture. The scientific method that has held sway for hundreds years has allowed humans to make huge strides in understanding the physical world, by making hypotheses about how things work and then trying to *disprove* them! Therefore, an experiment can’t fail, because all new knowledge or insight further refines what we know to be the ‘new truth’ and reject or modify the ‘old truth’. So the idea of a flat earth was believed until proved otherwise, ditto the universe revolving around the earth.

Then we had Newton, and things started to get buttoned-down, didn’t they? We all believe in gravity, and the predictable movement of bodies through space and time, the mutual attraction of objects etc. All this stacked up until scientists started to look deep inside atoms, or into the furthest reaches of the cosmos, or they consider what happens to matter and the normal ‘rules’ when things move very quickly, or get very heavy. So we have Einstein, Hawking et al looking for a broader framework – or even a unified theory of everything?

OK so far...but unfortunately this model doesn’t work anymore! Because scientists cheat, consciously or unconsciously, they are prejudiced & opinionated and don’t necessarily operate within the same rigorous paradigm that one would expect. For example, why is so little research done into parapsychology or psycho-kinetics; and what is the mind; and how does consciousness work?

Despite its faults, this is a really interesting and important book. The ideas need a wider audience to discuss and to challenge existing norms. Can humans and the planet survive another 200 years of science without a conscience, personal freedoms without responsibility, and a purely material & mechanistic view of how we all live? The untapped power and potential of the sub-atomic world, the random behaviour of quarks and other exotic particles, and how we might tap into them may just be the salvation of us all!

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Journal Entry 29 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Friday, March 17, 2006
Arthur & George by Julian Barnes

I enjoyed this, although less than I thought I would. I think Barnes had all the makings of a great historical detective novel, but it don’t quite add up to the sum of the parts. I don’t know if he was constrained by the facts; the life of the famous author, sportsman and statesman ‘Arthur’ Conan Doyle and the unknown and shy solicitor of law ‘George’ Edalji. The 2 met in real life under the strange circumstances, the so-called Great Wyrley Outrages, in which the former was wrongly accused of crimes in a Staffordshire farming community, which followed years of persecution & harassment. I think JB didn’t quite get the most out of Doyle playing detective, or his interest in clairvoyance, or even the underlying racial tension – despite the number of words expended on each.

A few random extracts & snippets:

A funny line from ACD’s brother-in-law, Willie explains his dislike of golf, "I consider it unsportsmanlike to hit a sitting ball"

ACD caught in a trap & limbo of his own making vis a vis a failing wife and mistress-in-waiting, he compares the situation and the helplessness with the chess position of Zugzwang – ‘the player is unable to move any piece in any direction...without making his already imperilled
state worse’.

As often happens in books, a coincidental reference to Cambridge; the famous ‘Cambridge sittings’ in which the psychic Paladino amongst other strictly controlled tests moves a jar of jonquils moving across a table. I work with a lady called Jonquil, and I never knew that they are flowers :-)

And last but not least, the philosophical Edalji in prison gives up hope of a reprieve and the laws & common justice that he holds so dear, ‘...the best way to be resigned to your fate was to want it’.


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Journal Entry 30 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Tuesday, April 25, 2006
2005 top ten (as at 21/11/05 BCUK post??)

Best so far, in chronological order (Rating in brackets):

The House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III (8)
An Awfully Big Adventure by Beryl Bainbridge (7)
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (9)
Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland (8)
Small Island by Andrea Levy (7)
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (8)
The Gate of Angels by Penelope Fitzgerald (9)
Crabwalk by Gunter Grass (8)
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (9)
Painting Ruby Tuesday by Jane Yardley (8?)

Other special mentions:

The Secret History by Donna Tartt (7)
English Passengers (7)
HP6 (7?)

The new Pocket Penguin 70’s series – I read 15 in 2005 and have found them very interesting & diverse ‘digest’ introductions to authors & works that I might not otherwise get around to in this busy reading life

Journal Entry 31 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Sunday, May 07, 2006
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

(4/05) Book Group choice - review to follow

I really enjoyed this, maybe helped because I had to read it in a couple of days for a book group – so wasn’t overly bothered about skipping through some of the incomprehensible dialogue. What is great about this and a lot of the other classics that we read, is that you feel that you know the plot & characters without even having read the book before, as if by some sort of cultural osmosis? I’m sure that RLS didn’t ‘invent’ pirates, but the sum of the parts here is a like a map - a treasure map no less - of the whole genre; I give you the one-legged pantomime villain Long John Silver, ‘Pieces of Eight’, the cursed ‘Black Spot’, innocent & resourceful cabin boy Jim Hawkins, Jolly Roger, buried treasure, etc. etc.

Parts of the story are a bit unbelievable and dated, but it is still a rollicking good yarn, and funny – although that’s probably not deliberate ;) F’r example, after a long unintelligible speech by the mad Ben Gunn, sounding like a piratical version of Gollum(!), Hawkins says, "Well, I don’t understand one word that you’ve been saying. But that’s neither here nor there..."

A last observation. The book starts in a misty Cornish cove (more totemic imagery!) and moves on to Bristol...so the sailors all speak with a West Country dialect; ‘dooty’ for duty, ‘sperrit’ for spirit, ‘jine’ for join etc. – could you imagine a buccaneer from anywhere else in the UK *not* speaking like this?!

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Journal Entry 32 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Monday, July 24, 2006
Last Tango in Aberystwyth by Malcolm Pryce

(26/07) I didn’t enjoy this half as much as the first Aberystwyth Mon Amour - maybe I read it too soon after the first, or maybe the general comic premise is already looking a bit jaded and repetitive, I hope not? But, it still has some great comic ideas, and there is a pleasingly convoluted plot, although it might be nice to see fewer characters, even most of the ones that were lost, incarcerated or dead from ‘Mon Amour’ seemed to turn up again! I can’t even begin to summarise, so I’ve borrowed a review from Amazon:

"The story gives a dark insight into the world of Louie Knight, Private Detective.

When a college Dean checks into a bed and breakfast and receives a suitcase intended for a Druid assassin he is soon having to run for his life, Louie steps in to solve the case.

Set in Aberystwyth in the days of the "What the Butler Saw " movies, this book brings together the lives of normal people with the threatening underworld of Druid assassins, and porn stars.

*snip*

Just what was Mrs Bligh-Jones horrific secret about what happend up on the moors for the 3 months she was stuck there and what was the Ysbyty Ystwyth experiment and how did all this tie in with the Dean?"



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Journal Entry 33 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Monday, September 04, 2006
Silverfin by Charlie Higson

(1/09) (Young) Bond...James Bond

I was a big Ian Fleming fan, but its years since I read any of the original books, and so was pleased to get this via my 14-year-old daughter…not an obvious target audience you might think? But, this is not the high tech knock-about of the films, nor the darker espionage thrillers of the books, more a case of Harry Potter meets the Famous Five! So she loved it (and has bought the sequel ‘Blood Fever’), and her old Dad quite liked it as well :)

Ps. And how does the budding 007 fare? Well he defeats the bad men and gets the girl, the love interest with the emerald-eyed improbably named Wilder Lawless. And...there's a gadget of sorts, but no 'Q' or 'M', a mad meglomanic and white-suited scientists, feats of physical derring-do from James, and even a fast car…our (under-age) hero learning to dive a vintage racing car in the Scottish Highlands. I especially enjoyed the glimpses of Bond’s family past and inter-war schooling at Eton – although I’m not sure if this was part of the senior Bond’s official back story or not, it is quite convincing and well done.

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Journal Entry 34 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Friday, November 17, 2006
Lanzarote by Michel Houellebecq

(16/11) A novella by the French author of the ubiquitous Atomised...which I picked up to resolve the conumdrum; is he a liberated literary genius or a dirty old man? This is an interesting little book which follows a bored middle-aged man on an off-season holiday in Lanzarote. He samples the delights of the island and Pam & Barbara (‘non-exclusive’ German lesbians – ooh aah). I really liked this for the honesty of the jaded lead, the travelogue (including photos!), and introducing the sad figure of the Belgium Rudi, who comes to a mighty fall in the end. Houellebecq does tell us a morality tale about modern lonely society and the preoccupation with sex and ‘cults’; both about creating a sense of belonging and an anaesthetic release maybe? And in the end an allegorical parallel, the island of Lanzarote destroyed (purged!) by volcanoes and earthquakes in the C18th. So, to answer my own question, yes, and probably, yes!

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Journal Entry 35 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Thursday, January 04, 2007
BC Reading Challenges 2006

I have an OBCZ to support and have long since released the majority of my availables, so this year my *reading* challenges are just that, i.e. no great releasing aspirations. This year I will be:

(1) Working my way through the excellent 70th Anniversary 'Pocket Penguins' - I read 15 last year, and am hoping to read another 20 in '06. Done with a month to spare :)
(2) Trying to read some of my borrowed books; not 'rings or 'rays as such, but where i've collected books with some 'history' and I know how nice it is to get journal entry emails out of the blue. Update: not much progress on this, although I did read the oldest book registered by someone else, I may continue to work through them in this arbitrary order ;)
(3) Working through my older registered tbr's. Update: good progress, I cleared 3 books from 2003 (half of the total) and one from early 2004...this is a lot easier with the clever Books-on-shelf widget


Journal Entry 36 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Thursday, January 04, 2007
2007 Book List

Reading (read) list for this year:

I'm still working my way through the great little Pocket Penguin 70's. All the reviews are in the same journal (for the series), rather than registering them individually. I hope to read another 15 or 20 this year.



78. Death of a Nobody by Georges Simenon Pocket Penguin 60
77. What's Eating Gilbert Grape by Peter Hedges Controlled Release
76. One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson Wild Release
75. The Book of the Die by Luke Rhinehart Wild Release
74. A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon Wild Release
73. The Man Outside by Wolfgang Borchert Back to owner
72. In Praise of Slow by Carl Honore Wild Release
- Rules for Aging by Roger Rosenblatt Controlled Release
71. More Than Meets the Eye by Margaret Visser PC
- I May Be Some Time by Francis Spufford (adandoned) ipswich Meet-up
70. Casino Royale by Ian Fleming Controlled Release
69. (52) The Queen in Hell Close by Sue Townsend Pocket Penguin
68. The Sound of Laughter by Peter Kay Not a BC book
67. Scale by Will Self Ipswich Meet-up
66. (50) Seventeen Poisoned Englishmen by Gabriel Garcia Marquez Pocket Penguin
65. The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing Ipswich Meet-up
64. Stuart: A Life Backwards by Alexander Masters Passed on to friend
- (48) The State of Poetry by Roger McGough Pocket Penguin
63. (47) The Diamond as Big as the Ritz by F Scott Fitzgerald Pocket Penguin
62. The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett PC
61. The Pied Piper's Poison by Christopher Wallace Bookring
60. Mutant Message Down Under by Marlo Morgan Sent to friend (not BC)
59. (46) The Scales of Justive by John Mortimer Pocket Penguin
- 1408 by Stephen King Library Book
58. The Birthday Boys by Beryl Bainbridge Controlled Release
57. Speaking with the Angel ed. Nick Hornby Ipswich Meet-up
56. HP7 by J K Rowling PC
55. Dancing at the Dead Sea by Alanna Mitchell Ipswich Meet-up
54. Microserfs by Douglas Coupland PC
- (38) Tony Harrison/(43) Jamie Oliver Pocket Penguins
53. Hen's Teeth by Manda Scott Ipswich Meet-up
- Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau Ipswich Meet-up
52. (36) The Snobs by Muriel Spark Pocket Penguin
51. The Princess Bride by William Goldman Wild Release
50. (24) Idiot Nation by Michael Moore Pocket Penguin
49. Lincoln: A Foreigner's Quest by Jan Morris PC
48. (30) Ali Smith's Supersonic 70s Pocket Penguin
47. Remote Journeys Oddly Rendered by Tim Cahill Ipswich Meet-up
46. Whatever by Michel Houellebecq Ipswich Meet-up
45. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath First 'splinter' book group choice!
44. On the Road by Jack Kerouac Ipswich meet-up
- The Meaning of Liff by Douglas Adams & John Lloyd Ipswich meet-up
43. (27) The School Inspector Calls by Gervaise Phinn Pocket Penguin
- Can I Come Down Now Dad? by John Hegley Ipswich meet-up
42. The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald Bookring
41. In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick Brighton UnCon
40. The Human Stain by Philip Roth Brighton UnCon
39. (26) The Economics of Innocent Fraud by J K Galbraith Pocket Penguin
38. (25) Rose, 1944 by Helen Dunmore Pocket Penguin
37. 31 Songs by Nick Hornby Ipswich Meet-up
36. (18) The Secret Annexe from the Diary of Anne Frank Pocket Penguin
- At Home in the Universe by Stuart Kauffman Abandoned :( Cambs Meet-up
35. The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald Ipswich meet-up
34. (17) The Desert and the Dancing Girl by Gustave Flaubert PC
33. Other People by Martin Amis Controlled Release
32. The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam Permanent Collection
31. Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut Controlled Release
30. (16) Christmas in Stalingrad by Antony Beevor PC
29. The Hungry Spirit by Charles Handy Permanent Collection
28. (15) Artists and Models by Anais Nin PC
27. Shampoo Planet by Douglas Coupland Ipswich meet-up
26. Someone to Watch Over Me by Paul Wilson Controlled Release
25. Bodies by Kirsty Carse Ipswich Meet-up
24. (10) A Taste of the Unexpected by Roald Dahl PC
23. The Years by Virginia Woolf PC
22. (8) Nothing Bad Ever Happens at Tiffany's by Marian Keyes PC
21. All Quiet on the Orient Express by Magnus Mills Released
20. The Last National Service Man by Reginald Hill PC - probably ;)
19. Talk to the Hand by Lynne Truss Controlled Release
18. The Sixth Lamentation by William Brodrick Passed on to friend
17. (59) Scenes of Academic Life by David Lodge PC
16. (29) Borneo and the Poet by Redmond O'Hanlon PC
15. The Giant Leap by Adrian Berry Ipswich Meet-up
14. War Crimes for the Home by Liz Jensen Ipswich Meet-up
=13. The Republic of Love by Carol Shields Ipswich Meet-up
=13. The Republic of Love by Carol Shields Released and found!
12. The Country Ahead of Us, The Country Behind by David Guterson Ipswich Meet-up
11. A Venetian Theory of Heaven by William Riviere Released
10. Who Moved my Cheese? by Spencer Johnson Released
9. (32) King Arthur in the East Riding by Simon Armitage PC
8. (51) The Assault on Jerusalem by Steven Runciman Permanent Collection
7. Labyrinth by Kate Mosse Ipswich Meet-up
6. (19) Where I Was by James Kelman Permanent Collection
5. (22)The Dressmaker's Daughter by William Trevor Permanent Collection
4. Stamboul Train by Graham Greene Wild Release
3. The Kalahari Typing School for Men by Alexander McCall-Smith Ipswich Meet-up
2. Last Chance to See by Douglas Adams & Mark Carwardine Permanent Collection
1. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain Controlled Release
 


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Journal Entry 37 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Monday, January 08, 2007
Re: Top Ten Reads of 2006?
BCUK posting 2/01/07

This was tough (as ever) - i've perm'ed 10 from my fiction 7 & 8 stars,
in no particular order:

- Any Human Heart by William Boyd
- Rumours of a Hurricane by Tim Lott
- Howards End By E M Forster (in preference to On Beauty by Zadie Smith)
- A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka
- Morality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith
- Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
- =Case Histories/Human Croquet by Kate Atkinson
- The Box Garden by Carol Shields
- Our Lady of the Forest by David Guterson
- Saturday by Ian McEwan

And a best-of-2006, well in hindsight probably 'Rumours of a Hurricane'
or 'Our Lady of the Forest'

Journal Entry 38 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Tuesday, May 29, 2007
2007 Release Challenge

...as dictated by Pakasanelly, to wild release at least 1 book per month, to get back to basics!

I'm trying to make them themed releases, with more or less success ;)

January Stamboul Train - released on the Ipswich to Cambridge train
Status: still wild
February The Republic of Love - release on St. Valentine's Day in Venice
Status: found and new member!
March A Venetian Idea of Heaven - release on a Cambridge punt
Status: wild
Who Moved my Cheese? - with the cheese in Sainsbury's
Status: wild
April All Quiet on the Orient Express - release at the Sheffield Buddhist Centre...the karma of books?!
Status: wild
Call After Midnight - release by the river in Bakewell...this wasn't a themed release, but included here as it resulted in a catch and great journal entry
Status: caught and journalled *** a double-jumper, if only the 1st person had joined :(
Legally Blonde - release outside a solicitors office, closed on Saturday...well it had to go there didn't it!
Status: wild
May This month i've made a number of transport themed releases, in a bus, a train, and a bicycle
Status: wild x3
The Atlantis Blueprint - release at the museum or Archaeology & Anthropology, Cambridge. One for the 'ologists' to enjoy :)
Status: Found by existing local 'crosser!
The Perfect Hamburger - released in McDonalds, may the Gods of good food forgive me
Status: wild
June I've set myself a target to release 8 this month...that is before I travel to Brighton for the UnCon
A fantasy/interactive book - left outside the Games Workshop in Cambridge
Status: wild
A western-themed fantasy game book - released at my work's do, the appropriate themed 'Hoe Down' at Abington Hall, Newmarket
Status: wild
3x childrens/teen-themed books left somewhere appropriate in Cambridge...When we are 6 in a children's clothes section, more 'smelly sock jokes' amongst the shoes in a shoe shop, and a teen-book about squashed eyeballs(!) in the teenage fiction shelf in a bookshop
Status: 2x wild, and a catch from Borders, and quite an enthusiatic journal :)
Atkin's diet book - released on the Giles' statue in Ipswich, the rather overweight 'Grandma' and her pencil-thin sidekick
Status: wild
The Heart of the Sea - outside the Mariners pub in Woodbridge
Status: wild (but collected v. quickly, almost before my back was turned!)
Behaving Like Adults - the last one for me before I start getting ready for Brigthon releases! Will look for an appropriate location later today...maybe something to do with politics (in an ironic way!)
Status: wild

Oops, I seem to have had a long Summer/Autumn off, but back on the case in the 'race to 600' from October:

October The Book of Slow - released at my gym, a bit of irony ;)
Status: wild
Status: found and new member!
November The Princess Bride - by the statue of Sir Alf in Portman Rd (not themed)
Status: wild
Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow - at the Blackfriars Church ruins in Ipswich (not themed)
Status: wild
The Book of the Die - left in Horley town, where I was working...waiting for a serendipitous finder
Status: wild
December A Spot of Bother - in Caffe Nero at Heathrow T4 (not themed)
Status: wild
One Good Turn - an inter-OBCZ release, in the Kaladi Bros coffee shop in Denver, CO!
Status: wild

Journal Entry 39 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Monday, September 03, 2007
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

(30/08) *includes spoilers*
On the whole I think JK did very well to tie up the loose ends from this brilliant – and dare I say world-changing(?) – series. I’m a bit suspicious of the ‘Hallows’ of the title only appearing in HP7, and Horcruxes in HP6, but I can forgive her planning all 7 books so long ago, and not knowing how popular they would be...maybe she didn’t expect to write 600+ pages, and who would be brave enough to call for wholesale editing at this stage!

Typically Rowling takes a long time to get going, Harry and the leads are annoying – in a Enid Blyton-style innocence – but she does the battle scenes, tragic and sad episodes very well. Again maybe looking to her huge audience none of the bigger stars were killed off; maybe most tears were shed for Hedwig ? The epilogue ‘Nineteen Years Later’ was genius, and bought everything safely to a conclusion.

ps. I read this on holiday with DW, and she was gratified that Snape wasn't all bad (of course we thought he was a double-agent all along ;) but disappointed that Dumbledore did actually die, but not how or why we imagined...

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Journal Entry 40 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Thursday, September 13, 2007
1408 by Stephen King

Herewith the short story which inspired the recent film...

I'm not a big horror fan, either books or films. This is a very short story so I would imagine that the director has had to fully exploit poetic licence to stretch it into a film and make it scary even! '1408' is the number of a haunted room in a NY hotel. A writer/reporter tries to spend a night in the room for a 'most haunted' series which debunks the paranormal...and does he get his comeuppance for such arrogance and lack of belief; school boy error!

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Journal Entry 41 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Thursday, September 13, 2007
Mutant Message Down Under by Marlo Morgan

Reading before I pass on to a friend travelling to Aus...on a middle-aged gap year!

(19/09) ‘A woman’s journey into dreamtime Australia’, follows this rather annoying American woman on a personal odyssey (foretold at her birth) into the Australian outback, and deep into her own psyche and Western cultural preconceptions.

I must admit to having to suspend disbelief quite a bit, although in the end I did enjoy it, and can take out some very clear messages about our relationship with the earth and each other, and the possibility that the majority of ‘civilised’ people have lost certain basic survival skills…I remain mostly agnostic ;) Why ‘mutant’, well the expression used by the aboriginal ‘real people’ for us who don’t sleep in the open, who wear clothes, eat processed food etc., i.e. mutation from the ways of life that we were designed for.


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Journal Entry 42 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Wednesday, September 26, 2007
The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

(25/09) The ‘uncommon’ reader is HRH EII, ‘her maj’, who re-discovers the joys of reading late in life after a fortuitous encounter with the Westminster traveling library and kitchen porter turned special adviser (amanuensis!) Norman. This is a perfect and joyful little book from page 1 to the final twist on page 124, with Bennett painting exquisite little cameos. Her internal dialogue charts Queen Elizabeth’s progress as, ‘…one book led to another, doors kept opening wherever she turned’. She finds a lot of negative reaction to her newfound interest, not passing the time, as she acerbically puts-down her Kiwi private secretary, ‘Books are no about passing the time. They’re about other lives. Other worlds…If one wanted to pass the time one could go to New Zealand.’ She comes to a realization that reading is the most democratic of activities, books are indifferent to who is reading them, ‘all readers are equal. Literature is a commonwealth; letters a republic’…although not in an anti-monarchist sense!

In the end, not to give away too many hints, Elizabeth’s thoughts turn from ‘selfish’ reading for pleasure to writing as a sense of duty, and her natural inclination to be ‘doing’.

There are loads of great insights on the nature of books and reading, here are a couple more:

(comparing her briefing notes with reading)

“Reading is untidy, discursive and perpetually inviting. Briefing closes down a subject, reading opens it up.”

“You don’t put your life into books. you find it there”


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Journal Entry 43 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Sunday, October 14, 2007
The Sound of Laughter by Peter Kay

(13/10) I’m a big Peter Kay so I can forgive him a lot...but...this isn’t a great memoir, more an extended stage monologue with a lot of familiar gags and tall stories. I don’t feel we really got under his skin, maybe a better writer and a more challenging biographer might have given more depth? On the positive side, it was funny in parts and fascinating to see how rapid and fortuitous his rise to fame was, with respect to a very funny comedian, although not in this format.

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Journal Entry 44 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Monday, January 07, 2008
2008 Book List

Reading (read) list for this year:

My only reading challenges so far is to finish the Pocket Penguin 70's (only 10 more to go!) and probably stave off withdrawal symptoms by reading more of the Penguin 60's ;)

56. Watson's Apology by Beryl Bainbridge Available
55. Three Stories by Alan Bennett Passed on to a friend
54. Atomised by Michel Houellebecq Ipswich Meet-up
53. Henry IV Part 1 by William Shakespeare Ipswich Meet-up
52. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by Alan Boyne Reserved
51. The Intepretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld Leeds Meet-up
50. Diamonds are Forever by Ian Fleming Leeds Meet-up
49. Shakespeare by Bill Bryson Wild Release
48. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman Wild Release
47. Zen and the Art of Poker Wild Release
46. Intepreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri Wild Release
45. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson Wild Release
44. The Moon Tunnel by Jim Kelly Lib
43. The Seymour Tapes by Tim Lott PC
42. The Time Machine by H G Wells PC
41. The Pedant in the Kitchen by Julian Barnes Wild Release
40. The First Casualty by Ben Elton Ipswich Meet-up
39. Adam's Navel by Stephen Jay Gould Penguin 60
38. The War Poems by Seigfried Sassoon Greyhound Meet-up
37. (67) War Talk by Pat Barker Pocket Penguin
36. Live and Let Die by Ian Fleming Ipswich Meet-up
35. Slam by Nick Hornby Greyhound Meet-up
34. (65) Short Short Stories by Dave Eggers Pocket Penguin
33. The Dig by John Preston Ipswich Meet-up
32. (66) The Coronation of Haile Selassie by Evelyn Waugh Pocket Penguin
31. The Sweet Shop Owner by Graham Swift Permanent Collection
30. Hard Times by Charles Dickens Permanent Collection
29. (64) The Great Wall of China by Franz Kafka Pocket Penguin
28. Chart Throb by Ben Elton Reserved
27. Charles Dickens by Jane Smiley PC
26. (63) Jeeves and the Impending Doom by P G Wodehouse Pocket Penguin
25. The Accidental by Ali Smith Wild Release
24. The Grown-Ups Book of Books Ipswich Meet-up
23. (62) The Aristocratic Adventurer by David Cannadine Pocket Penguin
22. (60) The Kiss by Anton Chekhov Pocket Penguin
21. Googlewhack by Dave Gorman Wild Release
20. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse Ipswich Meet-up
19. The Full Cupboard of Life by Alexander McCall-Smith Wild Release
18. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini Reserved
17. Coraline by Neil Gaiman Lib
16. May Contain Nuts by J G O'Farrell Ipswich Meet-up
15. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson Ipswich Meet-up
14. (61) Young Bysshe by Claire Tomalin Pocket Penguin
13. Kid by Simon Armitage Ipswich Meet-up
12. On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan Ipswich Meet-up
11. Stardust by Neil Gaiman Ipswich Meet-up
10. (58) My Side of the Matter by Truman Capote Pocket Penguin
9. Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir Ipswich Meet-up
8. Eats, Shites and Leaves by A Parody Controlled Release
7. Small Ceremonies by Carol Shields Ipswich Meet-up
6. Schott's Food & Drink Miscellany Ipswich Meet-up
5. The Accidental Woman by Jonathan Coe Ipswich Meet-up
4. (56) Caligula by Robert Graves Pocket Penguin
3. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick Released
2. Politics by Adam Thirlwell Ipswich Meet-up
1. Austerlitz by W G Sebald Bookring
 


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Journal Entry 45 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Wednesday, February 06, 2008
2007 Reading Challenges - the final story


BookCrossing UK Unconvention '07 Brighton 29 June-1 July; I'll be there, will you? Oh yes, I will be there! The whole family are coming down to East Sussex on Friday, we are stopping in a village in the edge of the south downs, and then on to Brighton on Saturday. DW has promised to drive me home on Saturday later(?!) so i'm looking forward to a good afternoon/evening as ever with the usual mixture of socialising and book-related nonsense. See you there...:))
2007 Readin' & Releasin' Challenges

I have 2 OBCZs to support and have long since released the majority of my availables, so this year my *reading* challenges are just that, i.e. no great releasing aspirations. This year I will be:

(1) Continuing to work my way through the excellent 70th Anniversary 'Pocket Penguins' - I read 20 last year, and am hoping to read another 20+ in '07. Update I read 25 with bags of time to spare...so saving a few for next year
(2) Trying to read some of my older borrowed books and other to-be-reads. Use of date sorts and the brilliant 'books-on-shelf' widget helps to to show what's been hanging around for a long time
(3) Taking up an idea from Pakasanelly to wild release at least 1 book a month - not continually and exclusively feeding OBCZ's and sharing hand-to-hand. So far i've managed to make them more or less themed releases, which is nice :)
Update Despite a summer break, I managed to finish the year strongly and wild released 26 qualifying books, which was nice :)


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Journal Entry 46 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Friday, April 11, 2008
Coraline by Neil Gaiman

(29/03) I'm thinking of joining the Neil Gaiman fan club...better late than never! This is a kid's book, but no disrespect from me, as this adult enjoyed Coraline Jones's spooky fantasy adventure. Also a special mention for the perfect spiky illustrations.

By-the-by, Gaiman repeats a quote from Stardust;

'Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.' G. K. Chesterton


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Journal Entry 47 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Monday, October 13, 2008
The Moon Tunnel by Jim Kelly

(October'08)

I did write a great review for this ;) and have mislaid it somehow, probably on a memory stick or compooter somewhere. So here goes, version 2.0

A passable 3rd outing for journalist 'tec' Philip Dryden, plying his trade on the mean misty streets and drover roads of Ely and Fenland…erm, what with the intrigue and body count, some suspension of disbelief is required here. Hopefully with his wife showing some signs of recovering from locked-in-syndrome, and inlaws in Italy, maybe Kelly will look further afield for stories? So the incredible plot; Italian PoWs, archaeology, murder, family feuds, wartime dissertion and toxic dumps! And, poor Humph has a heart-attack, not surprising with his diet and lifestyle, I hope he makes it to the 4th book.

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