Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from June, 2008

Bibliophile reviews Tim Moore’s Spanish Steps: Travels with my donkey

Year published: 2004
Genre: Non-fiction, travel
Setting & time: Spain, 21 century

The Story:
In 2002 or 3 or thereabouts, travel writer and journalist Tim Moore set out to trace the Camino de Santiago, the medieval pilgrim trail from St Jean Pied-de-Port in France to the shrine of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela in Spain, with Shinto, a pack donkey, in tow. Unable to find stabling for Shinto in St Jean, they actually stated the journey about 10 km up the road. What followed were 40 days and 750 km. of slow travelling. While some of the dangers braved by medieval pilgrims were no longer available, such as robbers, bears and wolves, the weather was still there to inconvenience them just like it did their predecessors, sometimes with blistering heat and sometimes with pouring rain, as were such age-old annoyances as snoring roommates and moochers. Then there were hardships undreamt of by the pilgrims of old, such as cars and the overpowering heat of asphalt under the sun. On the o…

Reading report for May 2008

I was slightly over my average in May and finished 16 books, all but one that I started reading within the month, which may be a record for me. The classic of the month was one of the minor Icelandic sagas, that of Bárður snæfellsás. This particular saga reads like a myth, as the central character becomes a sort of god or godly protecting presence. That is not to say he didn't exist at one point - the story may well be based on one of the original Nordic settlers of Iceland - but it has become a hero tale that mixes fact and fiction, much like the saga of Grettir the strong.

I am abandoning The Canterbury Tales, as they have become a chore and I am not enjoying them as I should. I will try again when I am in the right mood.

Bárðar Saga Snæfellsáss
Suzanne Brockmann: Hot Target
Rita Mae Brown: Rest In Pieces; Catch As Cat Can
Carol Higgins Clark: Decked
Jennifer Crusie, Eileen Dreyer, Anne Stuart: The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes
Dara Joy: Rejar
Marian Keyes: Further Under The Duvet

Collecting bookmarks

I have been slowly but surely accruing a collection of bookmarks over the years. Some are plain and utilitarian, several are adverts for books, publishers or bookstores, some are library marks, others are works of art. I have never really considered myself a collector of bookmarks – but being an avid reader, I grab them when and wherever I come across them, especially when they are free. The reason, of course, is that I keep losing them, usually inside books. Still, I have managed not to lose some of them and I estimate that I have maybe around 40, tucked away inside books and in my bookmarks holder.

A couple of years ago I got the idea of buying souvenir bookmarks when I travel, and the first ones I got are some lovely ones with panoramic photos of American national parks I visited last spring. This, however, is the farthest I have taken bookmark collecting. Perhaps it’s because I do not want to end up like my grandmother, whose postcard collection has taken over her larder and numbe…

Have you read all those books?

Do you hear this on a regular basis? Does it annoy you or do you answer with a smile?

I dread the day when my (rapidly growing) reference library starts drawing this question. I think that to ask someone whose library is a work tool (such as a teacher, lawyer or writer or indeed a translator like myself) this question shows both ignorance and bad manners. I’m sure mechanics or dentists don’t often get asked if they really use all their tools, but display a wall of bookcases full of reference books and sooner or later someone will in all earnestness ask you if you have really read them all. I mean, come on, how many people do you know who have read the entire Oxford English Dictionary?

As for book collections meant mainly for pleasure reading, what the people who ask this question don’t realise is that for someone whose main hobby is reading, the point of having many books is not that you have read them all and are now proudly displaying your accomplishment, but that you don’t ever want …

Books I have bought lately

May was an amazing book-buying month for me. I usually don‘t buy this many books in a month (or even 6 months), but I have reaped an unusually abundant crop of interesting second-hand books, most of them mysteries. I even bought one new book and got given one.

Missing are The Best American Travel Writing 2005 and A Cold Coffin by Gwendoline Butler, because I couldn‘t find them.


The book that made me feel dirty

I have read any number of books that made me salivate because of delectable descriptions of food or made me cry because they touched me. Books have made me angry, happy, sad and disgusted, and even a little horny, but the only book that has ever made me feel dirty was Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon, a nasty, sour little collection of photographs and scandal stories featuring actors and other famous Hollywood personalities. I bought it (second hand) out of curiosity, having read an article in a newspaper about the Fatty Arbuckle trial that referenced it. I read the whole thing in 2 sittings and emerged from it with an itchy, prickly feeling in my skin like I had been rolling in something nasty that had left a crust, and my stomach feeling like I had been eating something that wasn’t good for me. Unfortunately a shower does little to alleviate this kind of dirty feeling. What I needed was a psychological cleansing, but the shower did clear my head and make be feel a little better.

At …