Books on the go... Litopian reading of the moment


A contract, but is it worth it?


What Inspires You

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Sep 25, 2014
This evening I'm getting my teeth into 'The Medical Detective,' Sandra Hempel ' (Granta) - 'John Snow, Cholera And The Mystery of The Broad Street Pump'.


'Hempel gives an excellent account both of the disease and of the man whose courage and commitment belatedly put an end to one of the recurring nightmares of the mid-nineteeth century' - Spectator.

'Required reading for a society increasingly under threat of another pandemic.'

Sweet dreams beckon, I guess, but I know a bit of the history; John Snow's one of my heroes, can't wait to see the writer's treatment of it.

What about you?
Tess, so terrible, as in grim. I don't know the Goldfinch, thanks Kelly. Long time since I read Ray Bradbury, used to enjoy. Factoid, one of many from last night's reading. It's fascinating, often very sad, terribly grim but this amused: there's a seventheenth century recipe for producing mice. You need some dirty underwear, some husks of wheat and a jar. Place underwear and wheat in jar. The sweat from the underwear will infuse the husks and create mice. Process expected to take about three weeks.

Rationale: derives drom Aristotle. He had observed maggots on meat, and parasitic wasps and deduced that life forms could arise, generate spontaneously.
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Just finished The Violent Century which started really well, but never did enough for me. It was a clever idea, but didn't really do anything with it, if that makes sense.

Now I'm about 50 pages into The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan and loving it so far...
I've just started reading a book called After Me Comes the Flood by Sarah Perry. I'm really loving it but finding it's not one for late night reading as I don't have the concentration levels necessary! Try it if you like your books unusual.
That does look intriguing, Vivaldo

And The Lifeboat: thanks Jaymee: “A singular disadvantage of the sea,” Stephen Crane wrote in his 1897 story “The Open Boat,” based on his experiences on a lifeboat off the coast of Florida, “lies in the fact that after successfully surmounting one wave you discover that there is another behind it just as important.”
I've got After me comes the flood on my amazon wishlist - let me know if it's worth the wait...
Yes indeed, I read the review, now I've read the interview :) You weren't sure at first but decided it did mostly work, I'm not in a position to disagree, only to feel, based on his interview, I suspect many a ten year old budding astronomy fiend would rather he dispensed with the gimmick. People love the 'right' words, find power in their acquisition and understanding, poetry in their conjuring, as with the names of dinosaurs. Interesting that 'planet' is on the 1.000 list, but why not. They get talked about a lot in my house; probably not too unrepresentative of the target readership. Maybe if I read a few pages and didn't hurl the book across the room I'd get drawn in and start to not notice it...
After a range of reviews including some pans, I grabbed a hardbound copy of Matthew Thomas' We Are Not Ourselves. I forced myself through the first half and felt I owed it to myself to finish. It's truly gut-wrenching reading but I'm glad I read it. Now well past the early-onset age, at least I've got that going for me. If you have family members or know anyone whose life has been damaged by Alzheimer's Disease, this is a revealing read I recommend.
Sorry to read that Richard. A difficult shadow to have to live with.

May it never progress.

I have a friend, an outanding poet no one outside NW UK has heard of (yet) who works privately helping out clients with advanced Alzheimer's. She tells me that some people lose the sense of what's behind them, so for them to guage distances when sitting down can be nerve wracking.
Oh! No! I didn't mean to suggest it was something in my own family, etc. Just really difficult as we know those who actually deal with it on a daily basis. Thanks, Katie for your kind words. I think the reason this book resonated so well is that the afflicted character is the one who everyone would imagine would be the last to worry about it, and of course, the one who no one could imagine the changes it causes.
Well, phew. I am so glad you are all right, even though someone isn't. Who knows the underworld they wander in, poor shades. I'd never have guessed at the spatial terror thing were it not for my friend, who does a lot of lifting of women and men too, on and off chairs and loos and in and out of baths. Whatever is behind them does not exist, she says. Makes me realize how much of our movement is based on instant assessment and instinctive assumption of how far to brace our knees, spine, place our feet, tense our muscles and so on, without actually having to look as we do it. I have to pay attention to how I move, too, but I can rely at least on 360 degrees and depth of field perception.
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Makes me realize how much of our movement is based on instant assessment and insticrive assumption of how far to brace our knees, spine, place our feet, tense our muscles and so on, without actually having to look as we do it. .
Indeed. The spatial awareness relating to our own bodies, by which we feel where our various bits of anatomy are in relation to each other, and, more fundamentally, by which we feel and know our physical selves to be ‘us’, is known as proprioception and has been called the ‘sixth sense’. Proprioception is one of those attributes of being that is so fundamental that it is invisible to us – until it is no longer there. That is probably why it was not even discovered until sometime in the 19th century (to get a handle on how weird that is, imagine if, say, hearing had not been discovered unitl 1850; imagine too, if there were some yet more fundamental sense that is still invisible to us today....). When it is impaired, the results can vary from the inconvenient to the spectacularly bizarre and upsetting, according to the degree of impairment. Most of us have experienced the mild incovenience of falling over as a result of temporary, alcohol-induced proprioceptive impairment (at least, I assume it’s not just me). But more profound deficits can occur as a result of injury or disease; accounts suggest that these unfortunate patients feel that their own body is foreign to them, no longer ‘them’ in any meaningful sense. Not so much a ‘locked in’ syndrome as a ‘locked out’ syndrome, perhaps. It’s all fascinating stuff, and I could drone on about this kind of thing for days....
I like that. I think the solstice in poetry and literature deserves a thread all of its own.

Here's one from Keats, 1829...a later take on winter and love...

In drear-nighted December,
Too happy, happy tree,
Thy branches ne’er remember
Their green felicity:
The north cannot undo them
With a sleety whistle through them;
Nor frozen thawings glue them
From budding at the prime.

In drear-nighted December,
Too happy, happy brook,
Thy bubblings ne’er remember
Apollo’s summer look;
But with a sweet forgetting,
They stay their crystal fretting,
Never, never petting
About the frozen time.

Ah! would ’twere so with many
A gentle girl and boy!
But were there ever any
Writhed not at passed joy?
The feel of not to feel it,
When there is none to heal it
Nor numbed sense to steel it,
Was never said in rhyme.
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Last night, I read a short novel, 'The Dig' by Cynan Jones. A farmer mourns a wife, with barely a moment to stop or rest, while a big man with no name plots his next dig, whether for fox or badger. I read it partly to study it for my own research for a new project on the go. The writing is spare and elegant, the cruelty is described exactly and dispassionately, everything is a THING. Hard to read, very, some sections. Grim poetry.

Striking cover design.

The Telegraph:

I am trying to get into Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining. I am about a sixth of the way through but I am not connecting with it yet. :(
I read a lot of self published author works too recently I read Angels Blood by Sallyann Phillips and Thunderlands by Stuart Bint. Both of which I really enjoyed, I found the stories very well thought out and engaging.
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Bint. Great surname.
Last night I re-read 'Kit's Wilderness' by David Almond, a children's book, but another of those books that defies categories. It's just as much an adult read.

Tonight I am most of the way through 'The Pure Gold Baby' by Margaret Drabble. Her novel, 'The Garrick Year' is one of my enduring favourites, a study of a marriage in the theatrical world; sharp, vivid and immediate. This is elegaic, sad, a personal and wider social history, it almost reads like a swan song, though I hope it isn't.
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Just finished Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch. It is the third part of the Gentlemen Bastard Sequence, and perhaps the best fantasy series I've ever read.
@Geoff North ooh I may take a look, I am after a really good fantasy series, the last I read was Terry Goodkind sword of truth and those that followed. I really enjoyed them.
I am still no further with doctor sleep. I think I will put it aside and go back to it another time
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A contract, but is it worth it?


What Inspires You