The Six Degrees of Separation meme, currently hosted by Kate (booksaremyfavouriteandbest), is, I’m starting to realise, an effective marker of passing time – and I’m not sure I like it. This passing of time I mean, not the Six Degrees meme, which I enjoy! If, perchance, you are not familiar with this meme, please click the link on Kate’s blog-name – you’ll get all the gen you need there. Meanwhile, this month’s book is one that I bought with a Christmas gift voucher, but I haven’t read it yet. It’s George Saunders’ Booker Prize-winning Lincoln in the Bardo. As always though, I’ve read all the linked books, albeit some before this blog.
Now, the reason I bought Lincoln in the Bardo is not so much because it won the Booker, but because one of our ex-reading group members (ex because she retired to the coast, not because we expelled her I might add!) recommended it. She said it was challenging to start with but a great read. However, when I put it forward as an option for this year’s schedule, it was not chosen. I still plan to read it – but when?
Another book that I recommended for this year’s schedule and that was not chosen was Ali Cobby Eckermann’s verse novel Ruby Moonlight (my review). I don’t usually recommend a book I’ve read, as I like to use my reading group to read a new book for me, but I would like us to read more indigenous authors, and this one, a work of historical fiction in verse, is particularly interesting. In the end we chose Claire G Coleman’s Terra Nullius which suits me just fine as it’s one I’m keen to read.
I’ve enjoyed quite a few verse novels during my reading life to date, but the first one I reviewed here was local Canberra author Geoff Page’s The scarring (my review). It’s a gut-wrenching story about war, love and loneliness, revenge and male power. And it’s one of those books that I haven’t forgotten.
Talking about firsts on this blog, and first verse (ha, that rhymes!) in particular, the first verse collection I reviewed here was A.B. (Banjo) Paterson’s now classic collection The man from Snowy River and other verses (my review). Interestingly, Paterson differentiated between verse and poetry, which he saw as a higher form. He wrote verse he said.
Like many of us I’m sure, I was introduced to reading by my parents. I remember as a very young child carting a pile of picture books into my dad in the mornings (as he was an early riser), but the first author I remember him sharing with us was the aforementioned Banjo Paterson. It perhaps won’t surprise regular readers here that the first author I remember my mum sharing with me was Jane Austen. And the first book of hers she shared – read aloud in fact – was, of course, Pride and prejudice. I haven’t done a full review of it here – I hardly dare – but I did write a post about it to commemorate its 200th anniversary.
Now, the thing about Pride and prejudice, according to the Independent, is that it’s never been out of print. Another book that I’ve read, though long before I started this blog, that hasn’t been out of print – according to the The Irish Times – is Ayn Rand’s The fountainhead. It’s one of those books I’m glad I’ve read though I can’t claim to love it as I do Pride and prejudice!
Most authors, of course, would be thrilled to know that their books have never been out of print, but not all. One such is Patrick White who didn’t want his first novel, Happy Valley (my review), to be republished. Fortunately for us, Text Publishing disagreed with him – after his death, anyhow – and published it as part of their wonderful Text Classics series. I’m so glad I got the opportunity to read it! Not only is it an interesting read, but it’s an accessible introduction to his themes and style.
So, this month we’ve not travelled far, culturally speaking anyhow, having only been to the USA, England and Australia. Historically, though, we’ve been a bit more diverse, including visiting Regency England and colonial Australia. We’ve spent time on farms and in cities, and we’ve met some moral men and not so moral ones. I wonder whom we’ll meet next month and where they’ll be! I can’t wait to see the starting book Kate has chosen for us.
And now, have you read Lincoln in the Bardo? And whether or not you have, what would you link to?