MARIAN KEYES – Further Under The Duvet

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Acquired Nov 2007 – Red Cross donation bag

I did manage to break my reading lacuna with this charming book of essays and short stories. The stories were quirky and well done, and the essays, which you could just hear in her voice (courtesy of her Big Brother’s Little Brother appearances) were a mixture of funny and touching. I will BookCross this, because I have to, and its highly recommended.

I am a bit worried, though – I have her latest novel (Is Anybody There, I think), but should I read all the other ones about the Walsh sisters first to get them all sorted out? I’ve read Rachel’s Holiday and The Other Side of the Story, but don’t think I’ve read the others…

MICHAEL POLLAN – Second Nature

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Acquired 11 Nov 2007 – from the Red Cross donation to BookCrossing

A lovely book. Although I’m not a great gardener (OK, not a gardener at all, I just try to keep things tidy) I do love gardening books. This, the meditations of a Connecticut man trying to retain his connections to his forebears and the land, is a real treat. There’s wry humour in his descriptions of his own gardening attempts, and scholarship in his discussions of The American Wilderness and his interactions with Thoreau’s work.

I’m going to pass this on to a gardening friend and hopefully it will pass among garden folk from now on…

JOHN SCULLEY – Odyssey: Pepsi to Apple

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Bought 24 Oct 2007 – University Library sale

Written with someone whose grammar ought to be better, this has the tagline “A marketing genius tells his story”, and while Sculley does, at the end of the book, claim that he shows his vulnerability and mistakes, it is the work of a monumental egocentric. But, it’s interesting; I like a business bio just as much as I like a sailing book, and the intricate detail about life at Apple, especially the deposing of Steve Jobs, makes for interesting reading.

It is also a business information book, so there’s sections that go more into marketing and Sculley’s ideas for the future. These last are amusing; the book was published in 1987 so he spends a lot of time talking about the new, exciting, CD-Rom storage devices, hypertext and the upcoming information superhighway!

The datedness and arrogance make it not a keeper, so I’ll be registering it and passing it on – meanwhile, I’ll go to my book on the history of Apple to catch up a bit!

GRIFF RHYS JONES – To The Baltic With Bob

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Bought 03 Nov 2007 – charity shop

A lovely, funny, slightly morose narrative of Jones’ various journeys around the Baltic with friends Bob and Baines. Particularly appealing was the fact that the boat he goes on is the Undina, which recently features on the excellent TV programme “Three Men On Another Boat” – so even though there was a rather annoying lack of pictures, or even a boat diagram, I could visualise her quite well.

It’s a charming book – I do like a sailing book, and this is one of the better ones. I’ll keep it – Matth3w wants a go with it too, so off it goes onto his ginormous TBR.

J. & G. DRYANSKY – Fatima’s Good Fortune

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Acquired via BookCrossing 02 Nov 2007 – trade with SephieG

A really lovely book; I was attracted by the Tunisian aspect, having been to that wonderful country twice now, and this novel follows the story of Fatima, considered unfortunate but useful in her village on the island of Djerba, who ups and leaves to be a lady’s maid in Paris. There, she gets involved in the lives of the ordinary – and extraordinary – people who live in her building and visit the cafe at the bottom of the stairs. From the colourful African builder to the elderly Labrador, all are drawn with humour and love, and it’s a lovely, positive, warm story.

This will be made available for a BookRing before hopefully being sent to a friend in Tunisia – I know a few people who will want to read it first!

MICHAEL HOLROYD – Basil Street Blues: A Family History

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From Bridget, Nov 2007 (not sure if a loan?)

I really enjoyed this autobiography in which, like in the Waugh Fathers and Sons book, Holroyd takes something of a back seat. In his epilogue he clarifies that he wanted to show the process of biography as well as its results, and this he duly does. I enjoy his brief incursions into his excellent biographies, and enjoyed this touching work very much too.

MARK WATSON – Bullet Points

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Acquired via BookCrossing 31 Oct 2007 – NSS Autumn gift from AFIR

An unusual and intriguing novel with a protagonist whose fatal flaw seems to be his rivalry with a fellow schoolmate and psychoanalyst, it’s told in a multi-layered and multi-form narrative, with metafiction heaped upon metafiction – but for all its playfulness and cleverness, it’s still a dam’ good story!

I am going to press this upon Matthew, as I think it’s right up his street, and will then probably ring it.

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