I am so glad to see that two thirds of winter is officially over. It’s been a horrible year, for all of us really, so a bit of warmth and spring rebirth (here down under) would be very welcome, eh? Meanwhile, I’ll entertain myself with things like the Six Degrees of Separation meme. If you don’t know this meme and how it works, please check out meme host Kate’s blog – booksaremyfavouriteandbest.
August’s starting book is yet another I haven’t read. Indeed, not only have I not read it, I’ve never heard of it or its author, which is not surprising because, as far as I can tell, it’s a sort of critique of how capitalist forces are driving us all more and more to perform, produce, to be forever doing something, or, as one GoodReads reviewer wrote, on “on how the attention economy and hustle culture is affecting our lives”. The book is Jennifer Odell’s How to do nothing: Resisting the attention economy.
Now, I’m going to break with my usual practice and start with a book I’ve read but not reviewed on my blog, because this book is the. perfect. book. about. doing. nothing. What’s more, it was published in 1936, so this idea is not new, folks! The book is Munro Leaf’s now classic children’s book, The story of Ferdinand. Why don’t you take a moment to stop and smell the flowers before you read on!
My next link is a bit of a leap, because it’s not about a bull, nor about doing nothing, and nor is it set in Spain, but it is about a BIG animal, a mammoth in fact. Yes, my next link is to my most recent review, Chris Flynn’s Mammoth (my review).
Tracy Chevalier’s Remarkable creatures (my review) is an obvious next link, because it is about fossils, albeit not narrated by fossils. However, it is historical fiction about the early nineteenth century fossil collector, Mary Anning who lived in Lyme. I didn’t love the book, but I must say that the story it told – the historical truth contained within it – has stayed with me.
Keeping with the nature theme, and a coastal setting, I’m going to take us to William Lane’s The salamanders (my review), part of which is set on the New South Wales coast. While this book is not about fossils, salamander fossils do date back to the Middle Jurassic period in England (and Kyrgyzstan), which is, of course, part of the broader Jurassic period to which Mary Anning’s finds belong.
The story of The salamanders is founded in an artist’s colony, and all the relationships and dysfunctions that such groups can generate. In a very loose link, I’m taking us to David Mitchell’s The thousand autumns of Jacob de Zoet (my review) which concerns a different sort of colony, this one a colony of traders and their slaves on Dejima Island, Nagasaki, Japan. The traders work for the Dutch East India Company, and, as you can imagine, relationships are challenging.
Another book which deals with European trading in the East Asian region – this time by Britain’s East India Company – is Amitav Ghosh’s River of smoke (my review), the second book in his Ibis trilogy. It is set mostly in Canton in the late 1830s, and explores the lead up to the first Opium War. Hmm, are we back to smelling flowers?
So, a much more travelled chain than usual this month, with visits all over the world, but particularly to Spain, America, England, Japan and China – as well as Australia. Unusually, too, almost all of this month’s authors are men. What was I thinking?
Now the usual: Have you read How to do nothing? And, regardless, what would you link to?