Category Archives: Books

Incredibly relatable illustration

Spotted this while randomly googling imaginary libraries that I wish were mine (what? perfectly valid search thread) by Tom Gauld (who tweets as @TomGauld).

 

Then spent a very happy half hour checking out his comics – many have a literary theme! He does happen to have a book out – Baking with Kafka – so it seems only polite to include a link to that also – HERE!

Last one I swear but relevant to Sunday’s book club ūüôā

 

Advertisements

LBC 3 Reads – Book 15 – All Quiet on the Western Front

#LBC3Reads

Date:  16th of April 2016
Time:  11am Р1pm
Address: Unit 2
Munro House,
Duke St,
Leeds LS9 8AG

DISCUSSED –¬†

ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT 
ERICH MARIA REMARQUE

BLURB

One by one the boys begin to fall…

In 1914 a room full of German schoolboys, fresh-faced and idealistic, are goaded by their schoolmaster to troop off to the ‘glorious war’. With the fire and patriotism of youth they sign up. What follows is the moving story of a young ‘unknown soldier’ experiencing the horror and disillusionment of life in the trenches.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (AMAZON)

Erich Maria Remarque was a German author and veteran of the First World War. He was born 1898 in Osnabr√ľck, Germany. At the age of 18 he was conscripted into the German army. During his service he was wounded by shrapnel in the left leg, right arm and neck. Following the war he worked as a primary school teacher, and later as a librarian, a journalist and a technical writer.
Among Remarque‚Äôs published novels were All Quiet on the Western Front, The Road Back, Three Comrades and Arch of Triumph. His works were publicly burned by the Nazi German government, and in 1947 he and his first wife became naturalised citizens of the United States. Four years earlier, his sister had been executed at the behest of Hitler‚Äôs ‚ÄėPeople‚Äôs Court‚Äô.
Remarque adapted the book Ten Days to Die, about Hitler’s final days, as a screenplay, and he also wrote for the stage. His last novel was The Night in Lisbon, published in 1962. During his lifetime Remarque married twice and had love affairs with the actresses Hedy Lamarr, Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo.

 

Thanks very much to the wonderful Karoline for hosting and writing up this book club – find her here @KarolineAKemp!

It was good to welcome two new faces to our discussion, Jane and Katy who also come to White Swan.

We had a discussion about the translation, some of the group¬†had a more recent translation from the mid 1990’s and it was generally felt to be¬†much more accessible than the earlier one.¬† We also discussed the translation of the title, the note on the new translation states that a direct translation from the German is ‘Nothing New on the Western Front’

The book was fairly easy to read in the modern translation and it was noted that that the tense changed from the singular to the plural during the scenes at the front. It was noted that nowadays we expect to have strong characterisation and narrative drive from contemporary fiction but that there is no narrative drive in War.  As the book went on it became more and more detached as Paul became more detached from his own life.

AQOTWF is written from the point of view of a German private Paul. It was felt that the language used  was chosen to emphasise the commonality and gruelling of experience of trench warfare regardless of side. Emphasised particularly in the scene in the shell hole with the solider that he killed.  It is also something that has been brought out recently by historians of the First World War (see the History Hit podcast with @gerarmyresearch).

It was felt that the language used effectively conveyed vivid  imagery of the experiences of being in the front line as well as the banality of being behind the lines when comic interludes such as Kat getting the food were used to good effect. The emphasis on the food (or lack) of it conveyed its importance to the troops, most effectively that when they suddenly get good food they realise that it means they are heading to the front line.

We felt that the characterisation was kept¬†deliberately vague,¬†the concentration was on¬†passages dealing with Paul’s interior life such as when he was on leave and felt totally alienated from his previous life, We felt that Paul represented the everyman, he grew but never lost his humanity.

We felt that the strong bond between the school friends was shown well.  We all felt the horror of the scenes with the rats and felt that the scenes in the mists where very lyrical which intensified the horror.

The book also pointed out how much harder it was going to be for the younger men who had become soldiers straight from school¬†to readjust and/or keep going as they didn’t¬†have families/jobs to go back to.¬† It was also very scathing about the generation who were too old to fight themselves but where very vocal¬†at making the younger generations go.

We decided that we  would have preferred the end to have been left more open than it was and felt that it packed a lot into quite a slim book.

 

Trailer for the 1979 film

[youtube https://youtu.be/DX1PW2n8POg]

 

SCORE –

8/10

Find fellow members on twitter by searching for #LBC3Reads.
Follow @Cafe164 for details on the deliciousables!
Let me know your thoughts by either tweeting me @LeedsBookClub, commenting below or emailing me at leedsbookclub@gmail.com

BOOK CLUB MEET UP PAGE

August and September Book Choices!

We have our next few months choices in!

LBC 3 Reads (#LBC3Reads)

  • NOTE – moved to August – venue TBA
  • High Rising – Angela Thirkell

LBC Horsforth (#LBCHorsforth)

  • 9 August – The Good Immigrant – Nikesh Shukla
  • 13 September – The Lemon Table – Julian Barnes

LBC White Swan (#LBCWSwan)

  • 13 August – The last condo board of the Apocalypse – Nina Post
  • 10 September – Pirate Cinema – Cory Doctorow

Oscar Wilde – on priorities

I’m not actually entirely convinces that it *was* Oscar Wilde who said this – I’ve been caught before by google’s propensity to link all quotable phrases as his or Churchill!

 

Still, love the sentiment!!

LISTEN TO – The Reith Lectures – Hilary Mantel

Just sat in the car for ten minutes to the last moments of the forth of Hilary Mantel’s Reith Lectures on BBC Radio 4 – I didn’t want to lose a word, while relocating! Don’t know how I’ve missed the previous three – clearly I’m very successfully sleep walking through life right now – but really looking forward to a catch up!

Mandatory Credit: Photo by SUTTON-HIBBERT/REX (424360ae)
HILARY MANTEL
THE EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL BOOK FESTIVAL, EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND, BRITAIN – AUG 2003

Now, I don’t always ‘get’ Hilary Mantel, but after a rough start with Wolf Hall (see HERE and HERE) but had a much happier time with its follow up ‘Bring up the Bodies’. However, she is always an unusual and spirited speaker and I very much enjoyed listening to how she viewed her world as an author (and NOT a historian!).

For your convenience, links to the 4 parts that have currently aired are below.

From the BBC website:

Over this series of five lectures, Dame Hilary discusses the role that history plays in our culture. How can we understand the past, she asks, and how can we convey its nature today? Above all, she believes, we must all try to respect the past amid all its strangeness and complexity.

This series is chaired by Sue Lawley. The producer is Jim Frank.

Part 1 – The Day Is for the Living

Art can bring the dead back to life, argues the best-selling novelist Hilary Mantel, starting with the story of her own great-grandmother. “We sense the dead have a vital force still,” she says.¬†“They have something to tell us, something we need to understand. Using fiction and drama, we try to gain that understanding.” She describes how and why she began to write fiction about the past, and how her view of her trade has evolved. We cannot hear or see the past, she says, but “we can listen and look”.

Click here to have a listen on the BBC website 

Part 2 – The Iron Maiden

How do we construct our pictures of the past, including both truth and myth, asks best-selling author Hilary Mantel. Where do we get our evidence? She warns of two familiar errors: either romanticising thepast, or seeing it as a gory horror-show. It is tempting, but often condescending, to seek modern parallels for historical events. “Are we looking into the past, or looking into a mirror?” she asks. “Dead strangers…did not live and die so we could draw lessons from them.” Above all, she says, we must all try to respect the past amid all its strangeness and complexity.

Click here to have a listen on the BBC website 

Part 3 – Silence Grips the Town

The story of how an obsessive relationship with history killed the young Polish writer Stanislawa Przybyszewska, told by best-selling author, Hilary Mantel. The brilliant Przybyszewska wrote gargantuan plays¬†and novels about the French Revolution, in particular about the revolutionary leader Robespierre. She lived in self-willed poverty and isolation and died unknown in 1934. But her work, so painfully achieved, did survive her. Was her sacrifice worthwhile? “She embodied the past until her body ceased to be,” Dame Hilary says. “Multiple causes of death were recorded, but actually she died of Robespierre.”

Click here to have a listen on the BBC website 

Part 4 – Can These Bones Live?

Hilary Mantel analyses how historical fiction can make the past come to life. She says her task is to take history out of the archive and relocate it in a body. “It’s the novelist’s job: to put the reader¬†in the moment, even if the moment is 500 years ago.” She takes apart the practical job of “resurrection”, and the process that gets historical fiction on to the page. “The historian will always wonder why you left certain things out, while the literary critic will wonder why you left them in,” she says. How then does she try and get the balance right?

Click here to have a listen on the BBC website 

Part 5 – Adaptation

Hilary Mantel on how fiction changes when adapted for stage or screen. Each medium, she says, draws a different potential from the original. She argues that fiction, if written well, doesn’t betray history, butenhances it. When fiction is turned into theatre, or into a film or TV, the same applies – as long as we understand that adaptation is not a secondary process or a set of grudging compromises, but an act of creation in itself. And this matters. “Without art, what have you to inform you about the past?” she asks. “What lies beyond is the unedited flicker of closed-circuit TV.”

This episode hasn’t yet aired.

Check out the trailer for the excellent BBC series Wolf Hall – based on the first of Hilary Mantel’s Tudor trilogy.

March Book Choices!

Hi all,

 

A quick update on what our next few reads shall be! As always, if you spot any corrections, don’t hesitate to let me know!

March

  • 8th – Horsforth – God help the child – Toni Morrison
  • 12th – White Swan – The Three Body Problem – Cixin Liu

April

  • 12th – Horsforth – TBA
  • 9th – White Swan – Hagseed by Margaret Atwood (if available) or The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula L Guin
  • 22nd – LBC3 Reads – Whit by Iain Banks

i-wish-to-go-home-and-read-a-book

February and March Choices

Hi all,

As I’ve been a bit out of things, I’m only just getting around to finding out what books are when. Please do let me know if I get the books in the wrong order, the dates muddled and so on!

Shall be aiming to catch up with emails and admin over the next fortnight – apologies if you’ve been waiting ages!!

February

  • 8th – Horsforth – The Tale of the Duelling Neurosurgeons – Sam Kean
  • 12th – White Swan – The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet – Becky Chambers

March

  • 8th – Horsforth – God help the child – Toni Morrison
  • 12th – White Swan – TBA

April

  • 12th – Horsforth – TBA
  • 9th – White Swan – TBA
  • 22nd – LBC3 Reads – Whit by Iain Banks

happy-reading

PODCAST – BookElfLeeds Reading Challenge – Update

modern mrs darcy reading challenge

This year, @BookElfLeeds and I decided to reignite our reading groove thaing by completing a reading challenge. We found this awesome list¬†by Modern Mrs Darcy – and already we’re inspired!

Jess provides us with an update of her Modern Mrs Darcy Reading Challenge of 2016.

With 6 books read; she’s at the halfway mark already!

From historical fiction to librarian-readers-recommendations books (oooh, secret knowledge!) to coming-of-age to raunchy reading for teens – join us for a fascinating voyage of literary wonder!!

As with any other podcast that I am involved in; the usual language warnings apply (it’s really bad – mixed metaphors, noun-aphasia and swearing that would make a navy blush!)

Mobile Link

Visit our  Modern Mrs Darcy 2016 Reading Challenge page to see our choices (for now!)

  1. a book published this year
  2. a book you can finish in a day
  3. a book you’ve been meaning to read
  4. a book recommended by a local librarian or bookseller
  5. a book you should have read in school
  6. a book chosen by your spouse/partner/sibling/child or BFF
  7. a book published before you were born
  8. a book that was banned at some point
  9. a book that was previously abandoned
  10. a book you own but have never read
  11. a book that intimidates you
  12. a book you’ve already read at least once

If you’d like to join us with this – or any other reading challenges, please drop me an email, leave a comment or tweet one of us!


PODCASTS

LBCWhiteswan review – Perks of being a wallflower

LBC White Swan

 Venue: White Swan Leeds
Date:  Sunday 9th of February 2014
                         Time:  6:00pm
             Address: Swan Street, Leeds

Discussing: 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

by Stephen Chbosky


4327066Charlie is a freshman. And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it. Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But Charlie can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

‚ÄúWe accept the love we think we deserve.‚ÄĚ

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up. -Goodreads

About the Author

Stephen Chbosky grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and graduated from the University of Southern California’s Filmic Writing Program. His first film, The Four Corners of Nowhere, premiered at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival and went on to win Best Narrative Feature honors at the Chicago Underground Film Festival.

He is the recipient of the Abraham Polonsky Screenwriting Award for his screenplay Everything Divided as well as a participant in the Sundance Institute’s filmmakers’ lab for his current project, Fingernails and Smooth Skin. Chbosky lives in New York. -Goodreads

 * * * * S P O I L E R S * * * * *
* * * * * S P O I L E R S * * * * *
* * * * * S P O I L E R S * * * * * 

the_perks_of_being_a_wallflower_by_08brooky80-d4tch6o1 So this is a story about a boy, a ‘coming of age story’ where we follow the trials and tribulations of a teenager.

¬†In this case it is Charlie, who tells his story through a series of letters to a stranger. We learn all about his family and his school years. The book is a one person narrative and we never hear from any other characters point of view, just Charlie’s.

The book however does go into some interesting areas and looks at teenage relationships, drugs, sexuality, sexual abuse and mental health.  The book did get banned in America in some schools due to the subjects it covered.

The gay prejudices portrayed in the book were really well done and use of characters, creating trigger points into the story, leading to revelations such as Patrick and his relationship with Brad, and then onto Charlie and his relationship with his Aunt Helen. The group felt that Charlie and his constant crying was a bit irritating yet Patrick and his troubles, was very well depicted and Sam, the lead female seemed to be a ‘pretty’ character who showed up when needed.

Going back to the story, throughout the book its all about how Charlie sees the world, and how it lead to him discovering or rediscovering that he was abused by his Aunt Helen when he was much younger like she was by a family friend and how this leads him to be found in a catatonic state and taken to a mental hospital.

The book touches on the subject of repressed memories and feelings and trigger points, on family members and secrets, on how we want to be perceived in the world and how we treat each other. Some of the group felt the book was actually read as a mental illness and if you re-read it you could see the cracks appearing throughout the story.

¬†“Even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there”

Overall the group agreed teenagers are exhausting, complicated and lack emotion and although the book appeared not to be well written, it did have a lot of purpose in its story, the way it was laid out in letter form, represented human thought, and lead onto  an interesting way to introduce the subjects it covered, saying that a few believed if the had read it as a teenager they may have got into it more.

Thank you for reading.

Score

7/10

*Tangents: Big debate on drugs and drug use Music: Niamh made Fleetwood Mac get together. Don’t argue with Niamh. Niamh is Irish, had a fight and lost a tooth???. Niamh can quote Shakespeare.¬†

 

For further details, please email me at leedsbookclub@gmail.com or tweet me @LeedsBookClub!
The Pub can be contacted on @WhiteSwanLeeds
And feel free to let us know your thoughts using #WSwanLBC!

OUR WRITE UPs

Review: LBCOutlaws – The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

LBC Outlaws

76310-crowdoffavoursVenue: Crowd of Favours

Date:  Wednesday 2nd of March 2016
Time:  6:30pm
Address: Harper Street, LS2 7EA

Discussing:

TITLE

The Shining Girls

AUTHOR

Lauren Beukes

The BLURB

16131077The girl who wouldn’t die, hunting a killer who shouldn’t exist…
A terrifying and original serial-killer thriller from award-winning author, Lauren Beukes.
1930’s America: Lee Curtis Harper is a delusional, violent drifter who stumbles on a house that opens onto other times.
Driven by visions, he begins a killing spree over the next 60 years, using an undetectable MO and leaving anachronistic clues on his victims’ bodies.

But when one of his intended ‚Äėshining girls‚Äô, Kirby Mazrachi, survives a brutal stabbing, she becomes determined to unravel the mystery behind her would-be killer. While the authorities are trying to discredit her, Kirby is getting closer to the truth, as Harper returns again and again‚Ķ

 

 The Review

*SPOILERS* *SPOILERS* *SPOILERS*

I’m not sure how to start this review as the book itself was quite a strange one, a story which in itself seemed to become circular and come back on itself. It had so much in it, including time travel being the main source of transport.

Before we even discussed the story we were straight in talking about the time leaps and how each chapter flitted back and forth through the centuries, finding each chapter in a different era which the group thoroughly enjoyed even referencing it to the film Memento and wondering whether if the book was laid out in order would it work as well.

Then it was straight onto the characters and how Kirby – who survived Harper’s attack goes in search of him, even though he thinks she’s dead and then she turns the tables on him. As a group we thought the characters were quite strong in this book, especially the house and as one person said ‘The is a character with a capital ‘H’ and would have loved to know more about its history, and how it came to be able to open up on different times, did it absorb the person inhabiting it? Did it consume their potential? Did two become one? who knows? You decide?

This led onto the description, strength and use of characters, and how well they were written from Kirby the main female character who survives a brutal attack to Dan who pops up in the story, an ex-homicide reporter who covered her case, who she finds to help her investigate her attack, and future partner, made jealous by the young whipper snapper Fred. The dog who got killed when Kirby was attacked (this didn’t go down well with our group). There’s, Bartek (killed by the frozen turkey?) one of the original keyholders (we think there maybe more)¬† in the story who made thousands through the house by gambling. Then there’s the house, everyone is intrigued with the house, why is it hiding itself, is it like Howl’s moving castle. Had it been on D.I.Y. SOS a lot with change of interior was it supporting/ encouraging a person’s’ habits i.e. Bartek¬† and his gambling or Harper and his planned killings and finding the graffiti on the walls written by Harper, how Harper is drawn to it constantly and not understanding why and then we find ourselves back at the beginning and wondering if we picked up one of those adventure books which says you have two choices, turn to page 32 to find out about this or page 66 and you’ll go to the end or something like that. Revealing that the house is eternal and both Bartek and Harper are brothers (only kidding) and the biggie when the house burnt down did it regenerate in a different time like in a Star Trek episode????

Then there was the objects used within the storyline, did they have magical powers, how did he select the? What objects you cry? You see each time Harper kills he leaves an object on the body, these are  things he picked up from different eras and either gave them to the victims years before or whether he picked them up and just placed them there, but as one member said the time continuation of the acts of killing and how it sometimes broke up would never have happened in Star Trek, the breaking of the time continuum would not have worked at all.

You see there’s so many unanswered questions yet the book was enjoyed by all, It was well researched and written, dramatic tension towards the end. The characters were well written some used well as plot devices like Dan and the poor dog who got killed, brave dog, no one is happy on that count. Yet we still find ourselves coming back to the beginning and asking questions. If you have read the book let us know what you think, in the meantime here’s a load of questions we just couldn’t answer……

Questions left unanswered….

What was Harper’s Motivation?

Why was the house there?

Did the house absorb the person inhabiting it?

Did the house consume their potential? Did two become one? who knows? You decide?

The house was the key to the killings but why? If only we had more information.

and if was set in today’s timeline with mobile phones and technology would the story of worked?

and why kill the dog?

Let us know what you think?

SCORE

7/10

For further details, please email me at leedsbookclub@gmail.com or tweet me @LeedsBookClub or @LBCOutlaws

The Pub can be contacted on @CrowdofFavours 

And feel free to let us know your thoughts using #LBCOutlaws

%d bloggers like this: