2011 Book Log

Registered by BookGroupMan of Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on 9/3/2007
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Monday, September 03, 2007
A very old and frail 'orange' Penguin rescued from the family croft in the highlands.

Journal Entry 2 by BookGroupMan at Woodbridge, Suffolk United Kingdom on Saturday, January 22, 2011
I've decommissioned this (Barlasch of the Guard by Henry Seton Merriman) to re-use as a book journal.

Journal Entry 3 by BookGroupMan at Woodbridge, Suffolk United Kingdom on Saturday, January 22, 2011
January to June 2011

Read 1
Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Read 2
Miss Wyoming by Douglas Coupland

Read 3
Superfreakonomics by Levitt & Dubner (not registered)

Oddly, the super-rich illustrated content made this a bit harder to read than, say, words! I found myself breaking away from the linear text to look at the pictures, timelines, and all manner of relevant or inconsequential asides. That said the content is more or less as I expected, more of the same from the team behind Freakonomics. In fact in the intervening years a whole industry of ‘experimental economics’ seem to have sprung up; the microeconomics of how individuals behave when faced with some aspect of commerce, now matter how loose, it’s all fair game from altruism, to prostitutes tariffs, from the cost and the solutions to climate change, the fitting of seatbelts, and the price of cancer treatments etc.

Read 4
Have A Little Faith by Mitch Albom

Read 5
The Old Man and the Sea by Earnest Hemingway

Read 6
The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

Read 7
Fad Surfing in the Boardroom by Eileen C Shapiro

Read 8
Meltdown by Ben Elton

Read 9
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

The Junior Officers' Reading Club by Patrick Hennessey

Read 10
Even the Dogs by Jon McGregor

Read 11
The unadulterated Cat by Terry Pratchett & Gray Jolliffe

Read 12
Backroom Boys (The Secret Return of the British Boffin) by Francis Spufford

Read 13
The Good Husband of Zebra Drive by Alexander McCall Smith

Read 14
The Help by Kathrn Stockett

Read 15
Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton

Read 16
OPJB The Last Great Secret of the Second World War by Christopher Creighton - Private collection but will lend to fellow Bond fans

Unfortunately I read this book from cover-to-cover with a nagging doubt about its authenticity. No doubt I’m doing Creighton a huge disservice, but I found the whole Fleming/James Bond adventure too unbelievable. The publishers provide a broad disclaimer that the ‘facts’ cannot be verified, so we have to believe CC that he was part of the ultra-secret wartime ‘M’ section (M for Morton) engaged in a mission to extract Martin Boorman (Hitler’s 2nd in command and heir), from the burning Berlin, evading the Russians as they kayaked out of the city. I wanted to like this more, but I found CC’s voice too contrived and stilted, a lack of urgency and pace despite the promising raw material

Read 17
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Next by Stieg Larsson (borrowed)

I didn't enjoy this as much as the first 2 'chapters', the final outcome was too predictable and lacked the dramatic finale of the others, despite the contrived twist at the end. Also, and I guess this was deliberate by Larrson, I stopped feeling sorry for Lisbeth Salander. She came across after the trial as being every bit as maladjusted as the state/secret service conspiracy was trying to convey...very much a blurred line as to criminal intent, culpability, and establishing the worse of 2 evils. And, while i'm at it, Blomquist and his amoral womanising, his obsession with Salander [or whatever the big story du jour happens to be, probably], and his own criminal tendencies, also seemed to undermined the credibility of the story. So, I think time for this fine trilogy to bow out; although I wonder if the Larrson estate will resurrect the characters, especially with Hollywood films on the way?

Read 18
Why Does E=mc2? by Brian Cox & Jeff Forshaw

I've started reading Katie's book, 'Girl Reading', very exciting, i'm alternating reading each chapter with Jill so we can discuss ahead of the official splinter book group meeting

Journal Entry 4 by BookGroupMan at Woodbridge, Suffolk United Kingdom on Thursday, June 30, 2011
July to December 2011

Read 19
Back to the Front by Stephen O'Shea (private collection)

I bought this in a WWI bookshop/memorabilia shop in Ypres (Flemish ‘Ieper’) on a recent holiday in Brugges, including a day tour of some landmarks…in Flanders Fields. This book is a great companion for such a trip, for the non-buff, looking for some introductory history about the Western Front, context (the war itself) and local stories and imagery. If he is to believed the Canadian O’Shea, whilst working as a journalist in Paris, set off to walk the length of the 400+ miles of the front line trench system*, partly to discover the fate of 2 Irish grand-fathers, but more to try and ‘understand’ the war many generations and continents removed as he and his North American family and peers were/are.

Walking most of the way gives him great insights into the geography, the constant physical reminders, how the land is recovering (or not), and a perfect backdrop to his ‘wandering minstrel’ tales. Also, somehow the scale and horror of the conflict is freshly drawn as a real tragedy that devastated thousands of square kilometres and engulfed hundreds of villages; some never repopulated. The big battles are still there; Ypres/Passendale, the Sommes & Verdun, but also there are the ‘quiet’ stretches, the north sea at one end, and the alps at the other.

*in some cases literally walking in the trenches, more or less faithful to a point in time (c.1916), although there were obviously some movements either side of no-mans land

Read 20
Girl Reading by Katie Ward (!)
*slight spoiler*

First I have to get this out of the way; I know the author, quite well! That said, I will try to be honest.

The structure this book is very interesting, an homage to David Mitchell I think? There are 7 short stories sharing a common theme and subtle link with an ‘easter egg’ to find in each tale which chains them together. The stories move forward in time, to the present day and into the future, each built around an image of a female reading. Katie weaves a rich ‘back story’ for each frozen point in time, or maybe not frozen, merely waiting to be animated, bought to life by the observer?

I loved the rich language, characterisation and detailed observations in each, but was less sure about the format? Despite the quality and self-containment of each story, I often feel with short stories that the sum of the parts is less than the whole! Meaning, I forget the separate stories or get them muddled in my mind much quicker than a single narrative.

Anyway, what can I say, a brilliant first book! Well done Katy…looking forward to more where that came from :)

Read 21
The Death of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave

Read 22
Temps devised by Neil Gaiman & Alex Stewart

Read 23
The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly

Read 24
Awkward Situations for Men by Danny Wallace

Read 25
The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell & Dustin Thomason

Read 26
The Magical Maze by Ian Stewart

Read 27
The Concrete Blonde by Michael Connelly

Read 28
1066: The year of the Conquest by David Howarth (library copy - MSC Poesia cruise ship)

This is a unique and fascinating telling of the events before, during and after *that* battle, and to be honest my memory was very poor (or is it Howarth's interpretation?) I don't think he could overstate the importance of the start of Norman rule as it has shaped England, but DH deliberately builds up a quiet, detailed and believable picture of the main players and the context of the invasion, as well as the prevailing lifestyle of a common Englishman of the time. I was fascinated to read about the many twists that bought about such a unique outcome; not least the attempted Viking invasion, the political-Papal blessing of William's claim to the English throne, the role of the Godwin family, the geography and the battle itself. No not on the beach of Hastings but on a Waterloo-like raised strip of land inland, and no arrow in the eye...Howarth casts doubt on this story (mistaken identity from the Bayeaux tapestry?) and leaves Harold's fate unclear. To be fair to Howarth, and he does say this, historical fiction always has an element of guesswork and interpretation, especially with very little contemporary unbiased reportage.

I shall look out for more of his work.

Read 29
Speak with the Angel ed. Nick Hornby

The Stuff of Thought by Steven Pinker - abandoned

Read 30
The Strain by Guillermo del Torro and Chuck Hogan

Read 31
The Black Echo by Michael Connelly (lib)

Oops, I forgot to review this, the first Harry Bosch book...will remedy that soon

Read 32
Thunderball by Ian Fleming

Read 33
Diary of a Somebody by Christopher Matthew

ps. Jan'12 - and a few books that i've been reading over Xmas and New Year...a bit lazy, will create a new journal 'blog' for 2012 soon

Read 01
The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

Read 02
A Display of Lights(9) by Val Gilbert (not registered)

This was an interesting idea, introducing a selection of Telegraph cryptic crosswords with little portraits of their compilers; 6 individual with a particular intellect, wide interests (as as one would expect) and also a mixed history of work & relationships. Maybe the spark of genius to come up with such obscure and witty connections does take a special person? I need to progress from my mastery (mostly!) of the Daily Mail crossword to one of the 'big 5' mentioned here. An interesting little read, and I will return and try some of the grids...

Read 03
A Brief History of the Future (The Origins of the Internet) by John Naughton

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