Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Recent distractions

Apart from tackling 'Peter's Posers' (do keep them coming, my brain appreciates the exercise!), I have been busy exploring a whole lot of newly discovered and fascinating blogs. It started with Random Jottings of a Book and Opera Lover, which I visited for fairly obvious reasons. Then I followed some of her links to fellow book lovers and discovered two Devon-based literary bloggers: dovegreyreader and 60goingon16; the Edinburgh-based Cornflower and American BluestalkingReader. All of these are prolific bloggers, so I'm spending far more time on reading their posts than on writing my own. Plus, they are all avid book readers and critics and I am overwhelmed by their recommendations for must-reads.

Thanks to Elaine, at Random Jottings, I am two-thirds of the way through Sarah Bower's The Needle in the Blood, not a book that I would have picked up without such a strong recommendation but one which is keeping my bedside light on far too late at night. It is worth owning just for the cover.

My daytime reading, sitting in the garden on the rare sunny days we're currently enjoying, has included two books written for children. The first was another of Elaine's recommendations: A Flute in Mayferry Street by Eileen Dunlop. I remember this author from my early years of teaching, when I was in charge of the school library; her books were very popular but this one was published in 1976, long after I left. I enjoyed the story but I wish I had looked for an original edition as I found the revisions in the 2000 edition both irritating and unneccessary. Why did the publishers think that today's children wouldn't know what typewriters and record players were?

Yesterday I read John Boyne's The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. This book will find a home alongside Primo Levi's If This Is A Man on my shelf. I can only echo the tributes already paid by critics in the Guardian and Independent: "a small wonder of a book" and "this book will not go gently into any good night."

I picked up a lot of windfall apples this morning to make an apple and blackberry crumble. This reminded me of one of the stories that has become a family joke. 'Tomkins' was my parents-in-law's gardener/general factotum and Mother-in-law had told him to collect the windfalls and to take the better ones for his sister. From the kitchen window, we watched him picking perfect apples from the trees and putting them in his bag. When asked why he was taking those and not the windfalls he replied: "Those are the ones that were going to fall tomorrow."

I musn't hang around here any longer, I have better blogs to read, two parcels of books to open and a cake to make before I go to visit my son.


  1. Thank you for your kind words about 60goingon16 but I suspect we all get distracted by each other's blogs don't we? And Random Distractions, for one, is the kind of distraction I like. Far better for the soul than being distracted by stuff like housework, paperwork and work work. (Well, that's my excuse anyway.)

  2. So pleased to hear you are enjoying Needle in the Blood. So far this is my book of the year and I have yet to meat anybody who has not raved about it.

    I have an original OUP edition of Flute in Mayferry Street so was unaware that they have annotated the new edition. Would not surprise me if children nowadays did not know what a record player is - what with iPods and MP3s they probably think this is out of the ark!

  3. 'meat'???

    I meant, of course, 'meet'


  4. Elaine, it is far worse than annotation, they have Mrs Ramsay working at the kitchen table on her word processor and the children listening to CDs!

    Re 'meat' and 'meet' - I find not being able to correct typos in the comments really frustrating. Your Typepad format looks to be more user friendly. Could you tell me if that is so as I'm considering changing over?

  5. Elaine: The secret to living with typos, particularly when there are credulous Americans in the audience, is simply to bull your way through. We are perfectly willing to believe that "meat" as you used it is British slang for hand-to-hand combat and that you were expressing your relief that everyone loves the book, as you would be forced to "meat" anyone who didn't rave about it.

    After all, you people talk so funny anyway (and with all those extra "u"s) that we would just assume that this was more local colour.


I love to read your comments and promise that I will reply as soon as I can leave my garden, sewing room or kitchen!