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The Best Books of 2015

You know it must be December when, like Christmas cards, the Best Books of 2015 lists start appearing reinforcing just how many great books you missed out on during the year. Here are the New York Times’s favourites. The Door by Magda Szabo; A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin; Outline…

Book or Kindle? There’s no method in the madness

free-vector-person-reading-book-clip-art_110276_Person_Reading_Book_clip_art_hightWhen to Kindle and when not to Kindle, that is still the question. In a touching article in the New York Times recently, Nick Bilton wrote about how, after the death of his mother, he found he was “bound in spirit and print” to her through her love of books. “She spoke passionately about being able to smell the pages of a print book as you read, to feel the edges of a hardcover in your hands,” Bilton wrote. “And that the notes left inside by the previous reader (often my mother) could pause time.” He describes how she gathered a library of more than 3,000 books and scoffed at his embrace of the Kindle.

That was me, not all that long ago. Books were king. However, after a 

What they are saying about … Haruki Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

The english translation of Haruki Murakami’s much-anticipated new novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, finally made it into the stores this week. Was it worth the wait? Ed Wright in The Weekend Australian: “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage shows that what looks like success from the…

Book Review: After Her by Joyce Maynard

9780062257390A little over thirty years ago, on a June day just before sunset … a man came toward me with a length of piano wire stretched between his hands, and the intention of ending my days. I was 14 years old and many had already died at his hands … I have my sister to thank that I am here to tell what happened that day. Two ties, it was my sister who saved me, though I was not able to do the same for my sister.

 Rachel Torricelli and her younger sister Patty are growing up in a small, poor, suburban area in Marin County, southern California, eight miles north of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. Their father is the chief homicide detective, a charming, romantic, habitual philanderer whose escapades have shattered his marriage. Patty is a gifted athlete but hardly speaks except to Rachel to whom she is devoted. Rachel believes she has the gift of seeing the future and has a scarily mature understanding of her parents relationship.

“The problem between our parents, maybe, was that of all the women, our mother may have been the only one who appeared immune to our father’s romantic tactics, and for a man accustomed to charming the female population of the entire San Francisco Bay area this must have taken the wind right out of his sales.”

To all effect abandoned by their mother, a depressive who has retreated into her own private world after the breakdown of the marriage,  the sisters are content to be left to their own devices and spend much of their time playing imaginative games in the sprawling foothills of the mountains close to their home. Then the first body is found thrusting their father  into the limelight.  For Rachel, his

The things they say … about books

Some things people said about books in newspapers around the world at the weekend.

“Well, I didn’t want to write 600 pages of getting even. I thought I would try to be as understanding as possible to everybody else and as rough as possible on myself. I decided not to varnish stuff.” Salman Rushdie talking to Stuart Jefferies in The Guardian about why he decided to write his memoir, called Joseph Anton, the pseudonym he adopted after the fatwa was taken out against him in 1989. 

 “Today, many towns have no bookshops. If they also have no library, where are children to find books? Is it a surprise that we are always reading horrifying statistics about the number of homes without books? If children don’t discover what books they like, they are unlikely to become life-long readers, and we are therefore heading for a less literate society. Illiteracy leads to lower skills, greater social problems, higher crime rates, and a country less able to prosper in the global jobs market. Cutting libraries is a false economy. They are the best literacy resource that we have. “ Julia Donaldson, author of  The Gruffalo, commenting on far-reaching cuts funding for UK Libraries. 

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