I stopped reading this about 20% in as it wasn’t really what I was looking for. I read a review elsewhere that seemed to suggest it was a history book. It isn’t quite that, it is more about the author’s efforts to find out about his family history during the holocaust (or at least the bit I read was).
I always feel weirdly guilty not admiring a book on such a serious subject but I found it dull. I don’t find the suffering of the holocaust dull! But the style of the book about how he traced the details of his relative’s movements and what the details of their living arrangements before and during World War II were just weren’t the style of history I respond to. I prefer more conventional history writing that focuses on the people and events rather than on the process of uncovering that history.
Might suit someone as interested in the process of uncovering history as in the history itself.
Not for me.
Gone is a heartfelt memoir where Min Kym describes her life as a childhood prodigy from the early age of six. Her first violin was tiny, harsh, factory-made and her first piece was “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star.” With each successive instrument, increasing in size and importance, she mastered her technique and expanded her repertoire. And finally at the age of 21 she met ‘the one’ a rare 1696 Stradivarius violin. Her career began to soar.
Then, in a London train cafe, her violin was stolen. She fell into a deep depression becoming unable to function or play. She lost herself, her soulmate and felt her life stopped having any meaning. This is a transfixing story about loss of identity and how Min breaks through and rediscovers her true self.
As person who is trying to lead a more healthy more “organic” life (which I believe is a made up word for natural and before supermarkets and chemical engineers mess with perfectly good food) I can’t state how much I enjoy reading books by Dale Pinnock the Medicinal Chef. The recipes are easy to follow some use minimal ingredients but taste great for example the Kale chips. Also unlike some others there is no abuse of power words like revitalising and nourishing, instead he clearly explains the health benefits and goes into how different foods help skin, hair, digestion, respiratory system, immune system etc. His books even explain how food can be used to improve emotional health which included things like anxiety and depression.
I highly recommend these books to anyone wanting to eat and live well.
Over the weekend on November 5-6, libraries all over Britain took part in a twitter hash tag called #LoveToRead, which involved workers and customers to take a picture of themselves and upload it onto Twitter. As the event was organised by the BBC, they put on various events across the country, one being a talk about books with singer Cerys Matthews on BBC 6 Music and another being various BBC television personalities taking part in the event, well mainly the news team. The BBC website also had interviews with famous authors about what books shaped them over the years. Of course, Brent Libraries took part in the event and you can see a selection on the @BrentCulture twitter.
Kieran from the Library at Willesden Green’s favourite book is Christopher Hitchens ‘Diary of a Young Contrarian’
The book by the noted Vanity Fair writer and essayist explains his views in greater detail and details his life and politics.
Adina, also from Willesden Green Library, chose Youth without Youth by Mircea Belidem, which was made into a film directed by Francis Ford Coppola starring Tim Roth
And finally (as we don’t want this to be all about selfies) Development Officer Kate chose two Charles Dickens classics that are not A Christmas Carol and Great Expectations; Nicholas Nickelby and A Tale of Two Cities
Well done to everyone in Brent who took part in the event during the weekend, it was a pleasure seeing the amazing variety of tastes and books on display there. The weekend shown that the library is a magical place in which anything can happen if you let your imagination wonder in it and choose a book that will make it flourish. The library is the only place (besides the internet, of course) where you do not have to pay for knowledge. Unlike the internet, in the library you can touch the knowledge, and no the iPad does not count!
I did not take part myself in the event due to intense selfie phobia but I do have a number of books that I would have liked to pose with if not for my various ailments. First is the Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. It is famous in two ways: one for winning the Pulitzer Prize and secondly for being Seth Cohen’s favourite book in the O.C. The book centres on the two protagonists in the title over 16 years of their lives in pre and post war America. The book tackles a wide range of subjects from war, religion, immigration and sexual identity. Plus it’s about comics. Comics are fun.
The second is a book I discovered in highschool and would have loved to study but it’s of French origin and my French is bad. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas is a story about one man seeking revenge for the deeds his friends did to him years ago. He gets sent down and then discovers gold. Jackpot. Guess what happens next?
I must end it there but now I ask you: Did you take part in #LoveToRead? Do you have a book you love to pose with?
Joanna Biggs has interview people across the country about work to try to form a portrait of working life in modern Britain. This book contains 30 or so of these interviews with a few facts and figures and opinion of the author thrown in.
It’s very readable and varied with some interesting facts about how work has changed in recent decades. I was particularly interested in how Britain has changed from a manufacturing to service economy and how this has effected working lives – also the facts about falling unemployment rates but rising low paid and insecure work really made you think about ‘progress’. I was also struck by (a fact most of us are already aware of) that hard work and high pay don’t always go hand in hand i.e. the best paid workers in the book aren’t not necessarily the most hard working.
The interviews deal with a typical working day of the interviewee and then a bit of information about their work history, general background, lifestyle, and hopes and aspirations. I found some parts of the book more interesting than others depending on who she was interviewing, some sections I found rather dull. She does like to go into a lot of detail, for example finding out what people have for lunch and what they do on their tea break – in the first half of the book I found these details boring and unnecessary but as I read on and got used to the rhythm of the book I didn’t mind so much and started to appreciate the little details and how they help us get a real sense of how people live.
It’s quite a political book and the author makes it clear she does not approve of Workfare schemes or zero hours contracts (I think a more right wing writer would have given them a more positive spin). It also paints a generally bleak view of Britain at work, I read it while on Christmas leave and it did not make me keen to return to the daily grind in January with its questioning of issues like ‘Is there any real point to work?’ ‘Does work really enhance our lives?’ – the conclusion to both these questions seemed a pretty firm ‘no’!