Wild by Cheryl Strayed

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Visiting the Pacific north coast of America is on my bucket-list. Not exactly sure why… it might have started when I had to do an in-depth investigation on the Douglas fir at uni  (I did a couple of forestry subjects as part of my hydrology studies). Anyway, it’s this bucket-list item that prompted me to read Cheryl Strayed’s Wild.

Actually, to be perfectly frank, I’d avoided Wild because I thought it was going to be all look-at-me-Eat-Pray-Love-Oprah-is-raving-about-it but when it popped up on an audio list I figured I could just listen to the Oregon bits and abandon the rest if Strayed was giving me the pip.

I was wrong. Continue reading

Avalanche by Julia Leigh

There’s all sorts of reasons why I don’t feel I’m in a position to comment on Julia Leigh’s Avalanche, an account of her experience with IVF. However, Leigh makes a statement early in her memoir that made me pause and think –

“In the public imagination – as I perceive it – there’s a qualified sympathy for IVF patients, not unlike that shown to smokers who get lung cancer. Unspoken: ‘You signed up for it, so what do you expect…?'”

“Qualified sympathy” – it’s an interesting phrase. Have I ever been guilty of qualified sympathy? Probably, although certainly not in relation to someone’s desire to have a baby. It’s these kind of gritty bits that lodged as I was reading Avalanche. Continue reading

Two books, both difficult to review

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I’ve thought so much about two excellent books I finished this week – Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo and An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken.

They’re very different books – one is about the slums of Mumbai, in India; the other an account of the author’s pregnancy and subsequent stillbirth. Both books are painfully honest, emotionally raw and made me look away. Both tell the story of a death, yet the circumstances around those deaths couldn’t be more different. Both are confronting. Continue reading

Six Degrees of Separation – from Midnight’s Children to Sisterland

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It’s time for #6Degrees – join in! Link up! Get into it!

We begin this month with Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie (as picked by Jenny). I haven’t read it but my husband has – this is significant because my husband rarely reads novels. Continue reading

Marie Kondo and her Blasphemies about Books

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So I caved to public pressure and was prepared to hold a cheese grater and ask myself, sincerely, if it sparked joy. I willingly piled all of my crap onto my bed and then audibly thanked cardigans and asymmetrical hemlines for their service, as I stuffed them into bin bags. I even went so far as to tell people that Marie Kondo was right about the fact that ‘storage is a booby trap’.

But about a third of the way through The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Kondo went off the rails. Really, seriously bloody berserk. And my willingness to play along ground to a halt. Why? Because of her abominable attitude toward books*. And I quote: Continue reading