What Library Staff are Reading – December

Wishing you all a safe and happy Christmas from the Blue Mountains Library staff.

Winter by Knausgård, Karl Ove. – I will read anything by this author, anywhere, anytime. 4/5

The righteous mind: why good people are divided by politics and religion by Haidt, Jonathan – This author presents a very plausible theory with good research evidence to explain that subtitle. It is very readable. 5/5

Into the heart of Tasmania: a search for human antiquity by Taylor, Rebe -If you are keen on the archaeology of the earliest people of Tasmania this book is very interesting, and it is written in biographical style about key players in the field, from the 19thC and the 20-21stC. It wanders into biographical detail of the 19thC collector beyond the stated topic, so as a reader I found myself wondering for a while what the book was really about, but it returns to its topic. 3/5

The Happy Life: the Search for contentment by Malouf, David – A beautifully written essay, with responses from other authors. 3/5

The tenth muse by Chung, Catherine. – A fiction that explores the choices and dilemmas of a woman in a mathematical career – the tension between achievement and love and the frustration of others appropriating discovery, and the glory that goes with it. 5/5

A Most Magical Girl by Karen Foxlee (4/5 stars) – This is a lovely magical tale, beautifully written, about a twelve year old girl who goes on a magical quest to save London. You can see that the author has been  influenced heavily by J.K. Rowling and even Neil Gaiman, but it is still a really enjoyable story. I’m going to read more of this author.

Knock Three Times by Cressida Cowell (4/5 stars) – I enjoyed the third instalment in the Wizard of Once In this book Wish, Xar and Bodkin are searching for the ingredients to a spell that will get rid of Witches. It felt sluggish in sections, but overall it was a fun adventure and I’m looking forward to book number four. Hopefully there won’t be too many books in this series, as I’m eager to find out the ending to this tale.

The Art of Growing Up by John Marsden (3/5 stars) – I felt that this would be an interesting and controversial book to read and I wasn’t disappointed. With terms such as ‘toxic parenting’ thrown about in the media, I was curious to see what John Marsden thought of the many varied parenting styles he would have come across and observed in his vast experience as a teacher and Principal. The first section of the book was very interesting, and somewhat confronting. However, the book then turned into more of an English essay with examples of characters and quotes from texts he has read relating to his topic points. I found myself skimming these sections. I’m happy to have read the book and reflect on my own parenting style and ways that I can improve certain things, as well as seeing the validity in a lot of the points that he is making. But no doubt there will be many parents out there who strongly disagree to the arguments that he makes.

The tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (4.5/5 stars) – How amazing that this book is based upon a true story – a very emotionally moving story. War and genocide are indescribably horrific.

Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell (2.5/5 stars) – I was disappointed with this sequel to Carry On, which I had thoroughly enjoyed. It was too young adult angst for me.

The Girl on the Page by John Purcell – I was expecting great things but I did not enjoy these characters.  Good concept – hard to read. 2 stars
https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/book-insider-lifts-curtain-on-publishing-world-20180919-p504n0.html

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon – Plugging away at this series but I actually found this book hard to read as it was no longer based in historical Scotland or England but in pioneering America.  I am looking forward to the next book and I hope it is my reward for struggling through this one. 3 stars https://outlander.fandom.com/wiki/Drums_of_Autumn

I took this month to indulge my inner child and really enjoyed a picture book called The Good Egg. This sent me on a mission to read all the Jory John books that we had in the library. I’ve enjoyed all of them but The Good Egg was still my favourite. 5 toast soldiers out of 5.

On a very different note I’m currently reading a non-fiction book called The gift of asking : a woman’s guide to creating personal power by Kemi Nekvapil. This was recommended by a Blaxland borrower as a Purchase Suggestion. A little confronting in parts but so far a very worthwhile read.

I’ve recently read Tell Me Why by Archie Roach this is a brilliant autobiography of an extraordinary life. It’s one of those stories that I think all Aussies should read, it gives a sense of what it takes to come back from being part of the stolen generation, it’s a very honest, no holds barred read with a really strong and gentle storytelling voice. 4/5

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo was a fascinating read, telling stories of many, somewhat related, lives of women and families of African and Caribbean heritage in Great Britain, going backwards and forwards in history. 3.5/5

The Yield by Tara June Winch was another fabulous read, a story of an Aboriginal family in western NSW, again  spreading the story from past to present, celebrating survival and mourning losses. 3.5/5

I have read The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. I got in early with this one, and snagged a copy before the Booker was announced. I enjoyed it, and polished it off in a couple of days, but I am surprised by the Booker win. It feels like receiving a present from the author, with a largely happy ending; a gift for putting up with the brutality of the first book, and the even worse TV series (which I could not continue with, despite thinking it was good.) Offred’s story is indirectly wrapped up, being told through 3 voices, two of whom at least we know will make it to the end, as they were there to tell their own stories. This isn’t a spoiler by the way! Very readable, with a suspiciously fairy tale like ending. I am waiting for the next instalment that reveals all of these documents are false. 4/5

 I also read Just one damn thing after another by Jodi Taylor. This is a light and vaguely comic time travel series recommended by a patron. 2.5/5 stars, as I am not in a hurry to read the next one.

I listened to The road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson on rbDigital. Perhaps a little disjointed compared to some of his other travel books, but enjoyable nonetheless. It was suitable road trip fodder. 3/5

What do our scores mean?

1 star – I hated it / Don’t bother / It felt more like homework than reading for pleasure
2 stars – I didn’t like it / Not for me but worth trying / This book needed something different to make me like it
3 stars – I liked it / Recommended / This book was good. It wasn’t great but it wasn’t bad.
4 stars – I really liked it / One of the best books I’ve read this year / I’m glad I read it
5 stars – I loved it / One of the best books I’ve ever read / I will probably read it again

What do our scores mean?

1 star – I hated it / Don’t bother / It felt more like homework than reading for pleasure
2 stars – I didn’t like it / Not for me but worth trying / This book needed something different to make me like it
3 stars – I liked it / Recommended / This book was good. It wasn’t great but it wasn’t bad.
4 stars – I really liked it / One of the best books I’ve read this year / I’m glad I read it
5 stars – I loved it / One of the best books I’ve ever read / I will probably read it again

 

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