I think I can be forgiven for thinking that this book was set in England from looking at its cover. It features writing, book clubs and a stack of pretty China teacups! However, it is actually set in the States. I really enjoyed this lighthearted read.
For one, it has a middle aged female protagonist. When was the last time you read a book that had one of those? Middle-aged women are frequently passed up for a younger heroine or an older, brooding man. This was a refreshing departure from it and introduced our protagonist, librarian Janet Johnson, into an older ladies club of failed writers. These women meet regularly, drink tea, eat cake and swap stories that they have written which have subsequently faced rejection from publishing houses.
But when an unintended story is sent away and selected, all hell breaks loose. Janet’s daughter faces some difficulties with her advanced pregnancy at the same time. Will Janet and her band of merry women fix the publication and the pregnancy issue? Well, you’ll have to read this book to find out. A beautifully written book about the warmth of unlikely friendships, skeletons from the past, and keeping away raccoons. A must read!
Some kind and enterprising folks have started a ‘book swapping’ shelf downstairs. Of course, it has taken off. There’s everything on it from ‘How to write stand-up comedy’ to a 1000-page biography of the Queen Mother. This book is one I picked up. I put The Librarian of Auschwitz on the shelf in its place.
A middle-aged American lady, Debbie Rodriguez is fed up with her life and her relationships. To make a change to her life, she volunteers with an aid organisation to travel to Kabul in the mid-naughties. At this time, Afghanistan is war torn, with a heavily militarised capital that turns into a Taliban badland every night. Debbie ends up starting a ‘beauty school’, where she imparts hairdressing and makeup skills. Her students are women who come from all walks of Afghan life, and when the hijabs come off, their eclectic personalities shine.
I read later that this book has been controversial, because apparently events did not happen as Debbie claimed in the book. But to me, making one trip alone, never mind spending 5 years there, is courageous. And if she embellished some stories to spin a yarn then it’s fine by me. She does end up imbibing life enough that she marries an Afghan. In some ways, Debbie is a typical American – she never manages to learn the language, and she does present some cultures through the incredulity of a Western lens.
But the girls she introduces – from Roshanna to Nahida, are ones that will warm your heart. And there’s a multitude of experiences – from forced marriages to the utter hilarity of these women dancing with thongs on their faces. This is a lighthearted book with a serious war raging in the background. Don’t use it as the defining guide to Afghan life (for that, Khaled Hosseini perhaps?). But read it for a sneak peek into the women and their hopes, dreams, and aspirations. I did enjoy it.
Two coffins gets mixed up. At a 12 year old Swedish girl’s funeral arrives a black coffin with red Swastikas and yellow fire flames. And a neo-Nazi goon who is mourning his Nazi brother receives a blue coffin with white clouds and little bunnies along the side. The Nazi is pissed. I must admit, this book made me snort so many times that beverages kept going the wrong way and choking me! And that’s exactly what I expected from this sequel.
Like its predecessor, this book is a fantastic work of modern humour. A number of heads of state feature – including the US, Russia, Germany and North Korea. Our 101 year old protagonist and his good-for-nothing pal take them on a ride – but all is well in the end of course, as the 400 kilos of nuclear uranium is where it is the safest. I will admit, I was hoping both Nicola Sturgeon and Jacinda Ardern would also have cameo appearances – so here’s hoping for yet another book from Jonasson!
This book is a very easy read, it is effortless although long. If like me, you need a light read during this seemingly endless lockdown, then I highly recommend this book. Its light-hearted approach to modern day politics is exactly what we all need to lighten up and laugh a little. Or a lot! Enjoy, and stay safe x
I was very fortunate to see Bill Bryson in person at a live interview about a year ago. Believe it or not, it was at a Microsoft conference! Anyway, it was his casual wit and his obvious intelligence that made me miss his Notes from a Small Island and I decided to pick up its sequel. That was about 5 months ago.
This book is about the more detailed journeys that Bryson undertakes, to the most quirky offbeat places on mainland Britain. Most of it is set in England (about 95%) which to me is a bit of a disappointment, because I’ve never lived in England and its quirks and cultural connotations are slightly lost on me. However, I could not help but snort on planes and trains as Bryson’s extremely sardonic style of writing struck again. His observations are hilarious, especially the one about the Microsoft Windows Updates (yes, he even writes about that sort of thing!) and the gag about the John Lewis shopping experience.
I would very much recommend this book in fits and bursts, it is not meant to be read in one sitting. Rather, if you have ever been to any of the places mentioned in the book, you must revisit them with book in hand! Now that would be a laugh. It was a bit monotonous in parts for me and I would have loved to read a bit more about Scotland in there too. But hey, for the most part, I enjoyed it.
Bridget Jones returns. Need I say more? I genuinely thought that with Bridget getting married and with a baby, things had more-or-less reached a head. And boy, was I wrong? Somehow, in true Bridget fashion, she has managed to land herself in a situation where she is still self-critical, under-confident, single and on the market. Oh, and she got nits!
The fact that I write about Bridget like she’s my friend is testimony to Fielding’s great talent. The character remains relatable, lovable, and totally flawed in a way we all are. And yet, as life goes on and we are all older and none the wiser, there is a certain sense of misplaced maturity even in Jones. Motherhood adds a special extra dimension, and the old friends and the ever charming sleazy ex-boss Daniel bring familiarity.
I really enjoyed reading this book. I had no idea it had come out, I just happened to pick it up from the local book swap shelf. You’re probably wondering about Mark Darcy but I won’t tell you or it will spoil it. But rest assured, it won’t be as you expected and the ending is quite heart-warming too. Enjoy!
It is very obvious why I picked this up, yes? Such a definitive play on Bill Bryson as well as having goats in the name. Seriously, this was begging to get picked up from the library. Especially as after my Spain trip, I was looking for some Spain themed books to read. Any good recommendations in that field?
I sort of enjoyed the book. It is quite humorous, but it was a bit repetitive. It follows the adventures of a young English woman who moved to live on the Spanish island of Mallorca. While the differences in culture and habits are brought out beautifully, the style of writing, I felt was a bit stilted. So the reaction from me would definitely be a bit mixed. The parallel plot lines are quite entertaining, from the Russian model to the crazy neighbour – they all bring their idiosyncracies into the story.
So would I read any of the author Anna Nicholas? Probably, yes. I would love to know more about her adventures and I am sure that I will find styles of er writing in other books that I like better.
Remember, a few years ago, the world was taken by storm by the debut novel of Swedish author Jonas Jonasson, called The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared? Well, since then, I haven’t read any comedy I don’t think. After all, the world has been rather busy with psychological thrillers like Gone Girl etc. Anyway, I digress. I missed Jonasson’s scond book about the girl and the King of Sweden, but this one, I picked up recently.
Now, this book, in similar fashion, is the totally random story of a receptionist at a hotel, a hitman who ends up at the hotel, and a priest who doesn’t believe in God. I know! It is a great book that follows a now familiar structure of loose threads, weaving and interweaving beautifully until they all tie up nicely. Jonasson is a great author because I feel that his stories are like life – you know how you sometimes look back and life makes no sense at all,like that!
However, I do have to say that this book didn’t make me laugh as much as the 100-year-old man. Maybe that book had just set the bar too high for me, as it might be the one humourous book I have actually enjoyed a lot! Having said that, this book is still a great read and an especially good length for a good travel read if you are looking for a change from the usual crime thriller.
I had read and enjoyed Eat, Pray, Love when it was doing its famous rounds. I had no idea that there was a sequel. So when I came across this book in a pile, I picked it up out of curiosity. I was not disappointed.
Gilbert is a good writer, her tone is very conversational and her stories and failures come across as honest and relatable. In this book, she traces the misadventures that ensue in her life when she falls in ove with ‘Felipe’ – a Brazilianborn businessman, nearlt twenty years her senior. He cannot get into the Us because of visa issues and so they must get married even though neither of them are remotely inclined. And all this happens in the first few pages, which is quite exciting.
What follows is a mish mash of travels, adventures, and Gilbert’s own journey into history to understand the very institution of marriage and where she might fit into it. She claims to be neither an anthropologist nor a sociologist as she takes the reader to a Laotian household and lays bare some secrets of the Hmong tribe. She frequently intersperses her travelogue with the relationship stories of her own ancestors and the history of the Western traditions as well.
Another interesting thing about the book was the analyses of the role of women in amarriage unit, both historically and also in the modern day world. Gilbert navigates this with great difficulty, but has thoroughly succeeded in making the reading experience enjoyable. Humour crept up on me as she speaks about what women want, what men are thinking, and why fighting on a stinky old bus is a bad idea.
Read this book, whether you are in a relationship or not, married or not, because in the end,it will help you understand your own perspective on things better as you take sides during her narrative.
there was a man from Arthur’s seat,
who journeyed warm with a fire of peat.
but one day it rained,
and the peat pot was pained,
so he went to bed without any heat!
“The wind almost rips the car door off. I have to strain bodily just to slam it weakly shut. Jesus Freezus. I close my eyes. The wind flaps and whacks me like a fat black towel that’s been dipped in seaheavy salt.”
From (page 34 Penguin Global 2007) of The Stornoway Way.
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
- BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
- Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!