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Six degrees of separation, FROM Where am I now TO …

September 1, 2018

Woo hoo, Spring has sprung (just) in the southern hemisphere, and I for one am glad to see the back of winter, albeit the real warmth is a way off yet. And this month, the first day of Spring is also Six Degrees of Separation day. You regular readers here will know what that means, but for any newbies, Six Degrees of Separation is a meme that is currently hosted by Kate (booksaremyfavouriteandbest). Clicking on the link on her blog-name will take you to her explanation of how it works.

Mara Wilson, Where am I nowUnlike last month, I haven’t read the starting book. In fact, mea culpa, I hadn’t even heard of it. It’s Where am I now? by someone called Mara Wilson. Kate chose it because she would be seeing the author at the (now past) 2018 Melbourne Writers Festival. Where to start with a book I hadn’t even heard of? Aha, while searching for the cover, I discovered that she’s the actor who starred in Matilda! Silly me. She was great.

Griffith Review 60So, I could, of course, go for another memoir by an actor, but I’m not. Instead I’m going for a book that I read (well, started to read, anyhow) in preparation for my festival, the Canberra Writers Festival, which overlapped with Melbourne’s. The book is the 60th issue of the Griffith Review, and is titled First things first. You  have seen the Griffith Review mentioned here before. It’s a wonderful contemporary literary magazine that contains essays, fiction, memoirs, poems and reports on a specified subject. I have, in fact, already introduced this one, which was inspired by the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Bianca Nogrady, The best Australian science writing 2015Now, you might think that from here I’d go to something by or about indigenous Australians, but I feel like being contrary, so instead I’m going on form, and will choose a book of essays, science essays, in fact – The best Australian science writing 2015 (my review) edited by science journalist Bianca Nogrady. I was surprised by just how much I enjoyed it at the time. I still share snippets of information I read in that volume.

Jordan Fall GirlFor my next link, I’m sticking with science, but am turning to fiction – to Toni Jordan’s entertaining chick-lit novel Fall girl (my review). Her heroine is not your usual chick-lit heroine, but a con artist who presents herself as an evolutionary biologist and sets up a scientific expedition to attract money from a millionnaire-run foundation. It’s a bit of a hoot, as Toni Jordan can be.

Anita Heiss Paris DreamingAnd now, since we’ve moved from essays to chick-lit – a rather wild jump, n’est-ce pas? – let’s stay with chick-lit and go to Paris with Anita Heiss’s Paris dreaming (my review). This book has, in fact, multiple connections with this post – I read it after hearing Anita Heiss at a festival and she’s an indigenous Australian author.

Albert Camus, The plagueSince we’ve gone to France, and since daughter Gums has just arrived in Paris, I figure we should linger there a while, so I’m going to choose one of my favourite French novels, Albert Camus’ La peste (aka The plague) (my review). This book is one of the few books I’ve read more than once – and I could very well read it again, because I love its lessons about life.

Jane Austen, Sense and sensibilityFor my final link, I’m hopping over the channel to England, and to a book by one of my favourite authors, Jane Austen’s Sense and sensibility (my review of vol. 1). I could link on the fact that, like Camus’ La peste, I’ve read it more than once, but I’m going a little more esoteric, and am linking it on the fact that, also like La peste, it contains, for me, a memorable quote – almost a personal mantra in fact. There aren’t many quotes that I remember from books, but this is one of them:

Marianne Dashwood was born to an extraordinary fate. She was born to discover the falsehood of her own opinions, and to counteract by her conduct her most favorite maxims.

When I first read this, I was brought up short, because I realised I was often like Marianne – pontificating on things I had not experienced, and then discovering how wrong I was. It was one of those lightbulb moments – though I probably still do it sometimes!

So there you have it. Another Six Degrees meme done and dusted. We’ve read serious essays and fun chick-lit, we’ve been to the US, Australia, France and England, and we’ve read a diverse set of authors.

And now, over to you: Have you read Where am I now? And, regardless, what would you link to? 

16 Comments leave one →
  1. September 1, 2018 10:06 am

    Ha, another Austen! Well done:)

  2. September 1, 2018 10:52 am

    I always lose the thread of these things (so won’t join in), but I’m reading a bio of Diana Dors.

    • September 1, 2018 3:11 pm

      Thanks Guy. At least you’ve got a great start. BTW You don’t have to worry about the thread because the link is only to the book immediately previous to the one you are doing. The fun is in seeing where you end up.

  3. September 1, 2018 11:57 am

    This post was worthwhile if for no other reason than it got me to read your ‘slow-reading’ of Sense & Sensibility. As soon as I get time I’ll chase up Parts II and III (I hope you did them!) and link them to my own much more sketchy notes.

    • September 1, 2018 3:12 pm

      Oops, Bill, unfortunately I never did Part 3 (but part 2 is there). I missed that meeting and lost the momentum of my thoughts. I figure we’ll do it again, and will just do Part 3 that time!!

  4. Meg permalink
    September 1, 2018 12:18 pm

    Hi Sue, like others I also had a laugh with your Austen – a good one. I went on a completely different selection course. Three of my six books relate to Mara’s acting parts in films from book adaptations. They were Madame Doubtfire by Anne Fine; Matilda by Roald Dahl and Miracle of 34th Street by Valentine Davies. Followed by Child Star by Shirley Temple Black.. Then The Story Girl by L M Montgomery (Mara has her own story telling show). Finished with Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

    • September 1, 2018 3:14 pm

      Thanks Meg – I’m glad I gave people a laugh! I guess it’s nice to be known and teased for one’s passions!

      Your links are great. I didn’t know she has a story-telling show. Have you seen it?

  5. Meg permalink
    September 1, 2018 4:25 pm

    Hi Sue, I haven’t seen the shows, but Mara has a storytelling nights in New York.

  6. September 1, 2018 7:47 pm

    Another interesting group of connections. I also love The Plague. I also think that it has a lot of important things to say about life.

    That is a great quote from Sense and Sensibility. Many of us talk a lot about things that we have little experience in 🙂

    • September 1, 2018 10:19 pm

      Thanks Brian … I love The plague for exactly that reason – about life and the different ways we approach it.

      And, I’m glad I’m not the only Marianne around!

  7. September 1, 2018 10:31 pm

    You really went on a wild tour this month!

    I knew when I picked the starting book this month it would seem a bit of a mystery to most (especially Australian readers – Wilson has a big social media presence in the US) but once you know the Matilda connection, it was easy. I was tempted to work John Irving into my chain with the Robin Williams/ Mrs Doubtfire/ Garp link but I had to capitalise on the Writers Festival.

    Given the family and friends I have living in Canberra, I’m sure I’ll be making the trip up to ONC one year for the Canberra Writers Festival!

    • September 1, 2018 10:49 pm

      Well, if you ever do come up, Kate, let me know and we could meet up.

      Mara Wilson was a great choice, because there were so many options, but like you I couldn’t resist capitalising on the festival idea either.

  8. September 1, 2018 10:47 pm

    I haven’t read Where am I now? either and just like you I hadn’t even heard of it. So I started with another book with a question in its title. You have such clever links! Albert Camus’ La Peste is a book I’ve read more than once too – it was one of my books for French A-Level, so I cheated a bit and read it in English as well as in French.

    • September 1, 2018 10:53 pm

      Ah, a question in the title is a good way to go too, Margaret.

      I did L’etranger for my matriculation French (equivalent of your A-level I think), and fell in love with Camus.

      I’ll come check out your links.

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