JOHN & ELIZABETH NEWSON – Four Years Old in an Urban Community

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Bought 23 Apr 2005 – 2nd hand

Fascinating study of Nottinghamshire 4-year-olds from the late 60s, looking at mainly their mothers’ attitudes and behaviour. Descriptive, not prescriptive, and with sweet asides about their own family etc. Sociological study with a heart.

This was a longitudinal study and I am on the look out for the book covering the children at 7.

JUSTIN CARTWRIGHT – The Promise of Happiness

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Acquired 29 May 2005 from Caffcaff’s boxes for my Mozfest stall

Hm… The story of an “ordinary” family over the course of a week or so. In fact of course they are not ordinary, with art theft, affairs, drugs and midlife crises galore. Unfortunately, although the author tries hard, this does not have the warmth of other family orientated books I have read (Pursuit of Happiness, that one set in New York, Michael Cunningham stuff…). And it reminded me a bit too much of “If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things” – the same showing-off by the author, but in a sixth-formery rather than Rushdie way. Still, I’m glad I’ve read it as I did keep seeing it and wondering!

Interestingly, I didn’t realise till I was flicking through the back of the book that I have read another book by this author. Here’s what I thought of it:

JUSTIN CARTWRIGHT – Leading The Cheers

Bought Dec 09 1999 Read Feb 2000

A strange, dark little book, rather different from the coming-of-age high school reunion novel I’d expected. OK, and well plotted but a bit dark, macabre and also laddish for my tastes, so a bit disappointing.

[I’ll check if I’ve still got this one and register it on BookCrossing if I have!]

DAVID GREENFIELD – Virtual Addiction: Help for Netheads, Cyber Freaks and Those Who Love Them

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Acquired 10 Aug 2005 – BookCrossing BookRing

Hm.

Well, I have to say that I probably didn’t give this the chance I should have. I got really annoyed at the over-the-top examples of internet addiction and then it went on and on about the horrifying fact that lots of people including most internet addicts MEET the people they talk to online – shock horror. Some of them even date them. Well, I’m sorry, but both Matthew and some people who are dear friends now, from years ago and from my BookCrossing adventures, I have “met” online first and then met in real life. So I got peeved with it and flicking through it did seem to be a lot about cybersex etc which isn’t relevant.

On a good point, it did give rise to a discussion between us on internet addiction. We ascertained that our internet use does not affect our relationship, Matt has had jobs where he’s been allowed to surf during programme running times etc and I have never abused the internet at work. Matt is probably addicted to information, and I get worried if I cannot uphold my responsibilities (eg on the BCUK Uncon Committee and running BCBirmingham) or be in touch with my friends. OK, one of my primary sources of contact with my friends *is* online, but for example it’s much easier to talk to my best friend via IM than on the phone, when she has her kids running around her!

So – thought provoking but a Did Not Finish.

MARINA LEWYCKA – A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

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Borrowed 08 Aug 2005 – lent to me by Bridget

Mixing the history of a Ukranian family now in the UK with the father’s old-aged marriage to an unsuitable, blowsy bride, this captures language, personalities and family relationships well, and deadpans the farce to great comic effect. Like The Bookseller of Kabul, you also learn some history at the same time.

PATRICK AUGUSTUS – BabyFather 4: Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed?

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Acquired 25 Aug 2005 – BookCrossing Book from Molyneux at the Oxford meet

Ok, these are getting sillier and sillier but I couldn’t resist promoting this up the TBR and finding out what happens to the central characters. Skim read to an extent and so got a bit confused. I feel he could have done more with this story – it goes down the sex-scene rather than real-life route.

FLORENCE KING – Southern Ladies and Gentlemen

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Acquired 18 Apr 2005 (not sure from where – charity shop or stall)

Collection of essays on the American South, in the vein of, for example, Fran Liebowitz. OK, and an amusing train journey read (to and from Oxford) but pretty slight and I don’t think I would re-read it (so will register it on BookCrossing)

ADELE PARKS – Husbands

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Acquired 18 Aug 2005 from hotel book swaps shelf

A chick-lit I would only read if desperate – I was! I had run out of books and needed something for the last afternoon/ journey home. Fairly well done comedy of manners about a woman who is an inadvertent bigamist. Told in all the different characters’ voices – the men’s were not terribly convincing, I have to say!

Will register on BookCrossing and release. At least it’s already travelled from Spain!

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