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

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

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Dear Book-Blogging-Corner-of-the-Interwebs,

I respect and trust your opinion on almost #ALLTHEBOOKS* but I feel like you’ve let me down on the Ferrante-front. You know what I’m talking about. You loved it. You promised a sinuous, immersive tale of life in Naples, of violence and fierce love, of female friendship and deep loyalty. You didn’t tell me it would be such a wretched slog. But I pushed through, trusting you. Continue reading

This Should be Written in the Present Tense by Helle Helle

This Should be Written in the Present Tense by Helle Helle is a book written in ‘staccato’ but with a mood that is distinctly ‘lamentoso’.

Short, detatched and seemingly unrelated sentences deliver the story of Dorte, a university student living alone and not going to classes. There’s a fair degree of commentary on apple trees, trains, insomnia, ex-boyfriends and her aunt (also named Dorte).

“After that the suitcase lived in my room. At one point it was a bedside table, the lamp threw a white cone of light on it all day long. I lay on the bed doing old crosswords with a biro. I didn’t have that many jobs to do, but I had to remember to turn my jeans inside out when I put them in the laundry bin.”

“They’d forgotten their picnic basket, it was sticking out from under the shrubs in the front garden. I discovered it on the Tuesday morning when I went over to catch the train. I’d tried some new eyeshadow, it was dusty green and supposed to go all the way up, only my eyelids weren’t the right shape. It was only a couple of minutes till the train was due…” Continue reading

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

I made a spectacle of myself when I finished A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. I was on the bus and read the final page a minute before my stop. I was crying. There was snot involved. As I got up to get off the bus, I called out my usual “Thank you!” to the bus driver and it came out as a strangled, choked cry. Because of the tears. And snot. And I couldn’t see properly through all those tears and I stumbled down the bus steps like an absolute lunatic. So yes, A Man Called Ove is really, really good.

It’s a simple story, centered around cranky old Ove. He’s described as a man who “…checks the status of all things by giving them a good kick” and carries himself  “…in that particular way of a middle-aged man who expects the worthless world outside to disappoint him.” Not surprisingly, Ove is very set in his ways –

“It was thirteen years since Ove bought his blue Saab 9-5 Estate. Not long after, the Yanks at General Motors bought up the last Swedish-held shares in the company. Ove closed the newspaper that morning with a long string of swear words that continued into a good part of the afternoon. He never bought a car again.” Continue reading

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday – Look Who’s Back by Timur Vermes

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It’s been far too long since I participated in Bibliophile by the Sea’s First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday- that will change now that exams and study are over for six weeks and I have a huge, tempting reading stack.

In that stack is Timur Vermes’s political satire, Look Who’s Back. I think you can guess who it’s about from the cover. The question is, are we ready to laugh at him?

It begins – Continue reading