Here’s a summary from our June meeting.
Laurel has been enjoying Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson. It’s set on San Piedro Island, located off the coast of mainland Washington in the Pacific Northwest of USA; a Japanese-American fisherman named Kabuo Miyamoto goes on trial for the murder of Carl Heine, a well-liked local fisherman and respected war veteran. Laurel was interested in the stark difference between the Japanese and the white American response to this crisis situation. The Japanese culture insists on respect for an authority greater than the individual, the white Americans by contrast were individualist, not group-oriented. The issue of race prejudice, and how it plays out, was also there in this story.
Pam has been reading Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking, by Susan Cain: a reflection on how the dominant culture conditions whether we become introverts or extraverts. There’s a quiz in the book to do too: are you introvert or extravert?
Anne has been reading The Secret River by Kate Grenville; and That Eye the Sky, an early novel of Tim Winton’s. She enjoyed Winton’s vivid language, and his ability to show us the heart of a person, a landscape, a situation.
Shirley has been reading David Malouf’s Ransom. Priam, aged King of Troy, goes to his enemy, Achilles, to ask for the body of his son, Hector. The book is based on a story from Homer’s The Iliad, 8th century BC. Shirley’s also enjoying Bring up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel.
Di has been reading a first novel, Past the Shallows by Australian writer Favel Parrett. There’s strong characterisation here, and an ability to conjure landscape. This title will turn up in our reading list for 2014.
Alan has been reading Voltaire’s Candide, for the fourth time. Candide attacks the passivity inspired by Leibniz’s philosophy of optimism. First published in 1759, it satirises the view that “this is the best of all possible worlds”. Voltaire’s fearless satire got him into some political hot water.
Alex read Leo Tolstoy’s The Cossacks on her Kindle. It’s set in The Caucasus; its main character decided he wanted to go and live amongst the Cossacks for a time. Alex enjoyed his observations of nature, and his bouts of introspection.
Barbara has been reading Willa Cather: a life saved up by Hermione Lee, an Oxford academic: and Sarah Dunant’s Blood and Beauty, about the Borgia family in Renaissance Italy.
Nick has been reading Love and Vertigo by Hsu-Ming Teo. It’s Teo’s first novel, published in 2000; it’s about Grace Teh and her family growing up in Malaysia. He’s also very much enjoyed reading The Great Gatsby, that seminal American novel by F Scott Fitzgerald, recently made into a movie.
Alison has been reading Shaun Micallef’s Preincarnate: a novella (wryly funny); and Giulia Giuffre’s A Writing Life: Interviews with Australian Women Writers, in which she records conversations with the older writing generation, eg. Kylie Tennant, Christina Stead, Eleanor Dark. She has also read Mary-Rose MacColl’s In Falling Snow. This absorbing story took her to a Cistercian abbey north of Paris, converted to a hospital (Royaumont) to treat soldiers wounded in the terrible trenches of the Somme, in the later years of World War I. Alison scurried to an atlas to check how close Royaumont was to the battlefronts on the Somme and further east, and was horrified anew at the torments suffered by front-line soldiers in that war.
The topic of library fees is a thorny one for staff and customers. Many library customers are surprised that we ‘remember’ fees for items that were returned overdue several years ago. The wonder of automated library management systems, the databases that record all the ins and outs of our library collections, is that records of overdue fees can be kept indefinitely.
Be reassured you are not alone – Rolling Stone and author Keith Richards has recently admitted that he possibly owes about £3,000 in overdue fees to the library he frequented as a boy. That’s over 50 years ago.
A receptionist at Dartford Library said yesterday: “For fines going back 50 years it’s going to be tough to work out exactly how much is owed. We’d have to check the archives. Usually the biggest fines we issue are around £100.”
A fan of libraries, I’m sure Keith Richards won’t mind paying those fess. The former bad boy of rock says he felt at home in the peaceful surroundings of the library, despite his rebellious reputation: “To me it was a place where you get a hint there was somewhere called civilisation.”
Our book group meets once a month at the new Katoomba Library. Every second meeting we discuss one of the books on our reading list; the intervening months are for whatever we decide to talk about.
Travel was our theme this time. Our brief was to take the group to a foreign country, via actual experience or books or wish fulfilment!
Nick talked about going to Cyprus on holidays as a kid, the swimming in summer and skiing in winter, the smell of orange blossom as they drove past orchards, nicking grapes from vineyards they passed; and he read a little from Lawrence Durrell’s Bitter Lemons.
Barbara went to Antarctica. She flew first to Ushuaia on the southern tip of Patagonia, boarding a boat there for Antarctica. Scientists aboard the boat, all specialists in their fields, gave talks on the way down. Barbara was amazed to see some people choosing to swim in the freezing waters. She loved the landscape and the animal life. The Antarctic: an anthology edited by Francis Spufford , and Just Tell Them I Survived: women in Antarctica, by Robin Burns were two books she referred us to.
Laurel had an eventful time in New York, arriving just before Hurricane Sandy blew through, and a massive crane fell amongst high-rise buildings, causing mass evacuations, delayed flights out and so on. But she experienced NY as fascinating, the locals friendly and polite.
Anne went to Egypt via a writer she listened to at the Adelaide Writers Festival. Ahdaf Soveif was there to talk about her books, and about the revolution in 2011, the gatherings in Tahrir Square, how Egyptian people are processing the changes. Anne referred us to The Map of Love by this author.
Alex decided to have an adventure in 1982. She wanted to see those ‘wild men of Borneo’, the Iban tribe, at Kuching in southern Borneo. She went first to Brunei, then travelled south for a jungle tour through dense rainforest. She remembers living in longhouses for 5 days, and scary encounters, and terrifying bridges. She referred us to The Isles of Spice, by Frank Clune.
Alan decided to go to Death Valley last year. From Las Vegas he drove the 150 miles west, to what is in summer the hottest place in the USA. Highlights were Zabriski Point, Badwater Basin 282 feet below sea level, and the Devil’s Golf Course.
Nicole has since childhood been fascinated by Greek mythology, and would love specifically to go to the ruins of the Temple of Apollo, built at Delphi in 480 BC. This became the site of the famous Oracle of Delphi, and this is where Nicole would most like to go. She referred us to The Oracle, by William J Broad.
Di went to the volcanic Lord Howe Island, as part of a weeding group. She talked of the beauty of the island, Mt Gower, the coral reefs, the bird life, and also the multitude of pests: rats, pigs, etc. The industry most are involved with there is the production and sale of Kentia Palms.
Alison went to Spain in 2011, to climb the mountains of the Alpujarra and Sierra Nevada in south-eastern Spain; flying then to Barcelona, with its buildings by Gaudi, and its Merce festival full of drumming and fireworks.Books to read: Homage to Barcelona, by Colm Toibin; Spain, by Jan Morris; A Parrot in the Pepper Tree, by Chris Stewart.
It’s ten years since Blue Mountains City Library launched the innovative Book Express service.
Book Express provides early morning commuters at Katoomba and Springwood railway stations with a mini library service.
Right from the start, Rita has been the brave soul who gets up at the crack of nothing, winter and summer, to be on windy, wet or humid train stations to greet you with a grin.
Say Happy Birthday to her when you see her next.
Book express hours are :
Springwood Railway Station
Katoomba Railway Station
Would you like some assistance with setting up an email account?
All Blue Mountains City Library branches have Volunteer Internet Trainers who can assist you with your internet needs one-on-one.
Contact your local library branch today to organise an appointment.
Seniors Internet Training
Coinciding with Seniors Week (17-24 March 2013) the Library is offering one-on-one internet training for senior members of the community.
The available Senior Inernet Training sessions are as follows :
Blaxland Library (4739 4284) Tuesday 5 March
Blackheath Library (4787 8893) Wednesday 6th March
Springwood Library (4723 5040) Tuesday 12th March
Lawson Library (4759 1446) Wednesday 13th March
Katoomba Library (4780 5750) Tuesday 19th March
Wentworth Falls Library (4757 2095) Wednesday 20th March
All sessions are from 10am-12noon and places are limited so call your local library branch now to book yourself in.