Thursday, December 1, 2011

Books Books Books

As a few of you may know already, I am a huge fan of bookclubs. I seem to start one wherever I go and Nakhon is no exception.

The Nakhon Shire Literary Society (named for one of my favorite books The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society) meets once every 2/3 weeks at 7pm on  a Monday. We order some dinner and drinks then get down to the business of books at 7:30 (I am a stickler for the starting time). Each person brings books they want to swap and we go around the table reviewing and discussing until everyone has had a say (or not if you're not keen on public speaking). Then we take turns picking one book to take home, and once everyone has one book people may pick a second, third and forth etc.

It's super fun and because there are so many interesting people from various walks of life, we have an interesting collection of books. I have recently been on holiday...twice (October in Chiang Mai, Koh Phangan, Bangkok and Koh Chang and early November in Sydney) so I have read quite a bit. I thought i'd give you my thoughts.

The People on Privilege Hill by Jane Gardam This is a book of short stories, and i have to say it might be one of the only collections of short stories that i can recommend. I have also read two of the author's other works, Old Filth and The Man in the Wooden Hat and simply LOVED them both. The language is so beautiful and the characters are very much alive; interesting, complex and rich.

When in Rome: Chasing La Dolce Vita by Penelope Green (click the link for an interesting interview with Penny re: being an expat) I have a soft spot for non-fiction of this type. Expats (particularly Australian women as in the case of Sarah Turnbull's memoir 'Almost French') who move to Europe and struggle to integrate, survive and most importantly to write. This book is perfect for the beach, and that's where i read it.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro This was an interesting study in understated drama. I enjoyed it but I wasn't racing to pick it up everyday. I think the subject matter (clones) was a bit disturbing for me, as it was supposed to be. It is well worth a read though.

Lucky by Alice Sebold another memoir, this time about author Alice Sebold (perhaps you have read The Lovely Bones or Almost Moon) who was violently raped at the end of her first year at college in New York. She graphically describes the rape over the first 10 pages or so, leaving the rest of the book to deal with the horrific way the police handled her case (it was 1988 and she was constantly told that the fact she was a virgin and was not wearing provocative clothing were good, like if she had been wearing a skirt or had had sex before she was asking for trouble. Pffft!) and the reactions of her friends, family and teachers. She is ultimately  responsible for her attacker's arrest, and her descriptions of the subsequent trail are very tense and telling.

 The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger (click for text of the book) is a serialized graphic novel which appeared in the London Guardian. It is a beautiful, poignant and sad story, particularly for those of us who love books...maybe a little too much.

The Midnight Zoo by Sonia Hartnett I LOVED this book!! I ate it up, i think i read it in 2 nights. It is such a fantastic, moving story. I can;t do it justice so I'll copy what's on the jacket:

'Her muzzle wrinkled, and Andrej saw a glimpse of teeth and pale tongue. 'They smell the same, ' the lioness murmured. 'My cubs smelt as she does. Like pollen.' She breathed deeply again, and Andrej saw the missing cubs returning to her on the wings of the baby's perfume. 'All young ones must come from the same place,' she said: then sat down on her haunches, seemingly satisfied.'

Under cover of darkness, two brothers cross a war-ravaged countryside carrying a secret bundle. One night they stumble across a deserted town reduced to smouldering ruins. But at the end of a blackened street they find a small green miracle: a zoo filled with animals in need of hope.
A moving and ageless fable about war, and freedom. 

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