Here are the 2018 Goodreads choice awards, anyone read any of these?
Many thanks @Debbie for gifting me a free copy of the controversial “Travellers in the Third Reich” by Julia Boyd. Read it over the weekend cover to cover and is it quite an astounding revelation of traveller tales from many who visted and were thoroughly entranced by pre-war Germany right up until 1939, the English in particular, who were met with undying reverence by the Nazi regime. Hitler had created a vibrant shop front Utopia for the tourist, rustic rural retreats, Gothic castles (Schlosses), jolly bierkellers, clean punctual trains and stations, uncongested motorways, Rhine cruises with timetabled activities, fine cuisine and organised entertainments, litter free cities and luxurious restaurants, clean beaches and extravagant theatre and opera performances all within the price range of everyone. The book consists of travelogues from English, American, Chinese and Indian tourists, with teenagers and elderly alike all thoroughly seduced by the rags to riches Germany achievement while being somewhat bemused by the prevalence of uniforms on every street and the proud strut of the average German beneath the ubiquitous Swastika which adorned every street and station Many visited the country in a state of bemusement – unable to quite ascertain exactly what was ‘going on’ in Germany. Everybody happily employed and occupied up to and including its youth, girls and boys, who proudly sported their Hitler Youth uniforms, not a vandal or a yob in sight. Time magazine voted Hitler man of the year in 1938 for achievements in transport, mass agricultural food production and industry. Hitler went to great lengths to proclaim himself a man of peace to the outside world, opening up the country’s treasures and natural beauties to the delight of tourists from all over the world. Literary names such a Samuel Beckett, Auden & Isherwood, T.S. Eliot and WB Yeats all equally entranced by the splendour of the new Germany during their travels there. The photographs in this book pay haunting homage to the English tourist, happy in a caravan or hotel in Hamburg in plus fours or bathing costume.
The book is underpinned with the darker activities of Germany’s new social order which began with thew annexation of Prague, the invasion of Czechoslovakia ( validated by Chamberlain) and the infamous Kristelnacht which was attributed to many possible culprits – disenfranchised Catholics, Communists, but never Hitler himself, all reporting carefully controlled by propaganda minister Josef Goebbels.
One popular tourist magazine was the colourful Deutsche Anglo journal in English language which continued publication right up until 1938.
Visits to Dachau labour camp were also on offer to curious tourists who were usually met with guards posing as healthy happy prisoners, only too grateful to be set up on a corrective path in their clean and comfortable flower adorned dormitories…
A telling tome from the annals of history, when an innocence of a Utopian European model had reached its zenith, with few suspecting what lay beneath or before it…
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.
Largely a SciFi adventure based around video games and 80s memorabilia. Really enjoyed this and then watched the film, which wasn’t a particularly faithful adaptation but very good nonetheless and set to a rousing 80s soundtrack. Interestingly my daughter (who isn’t into any of these things) loved it too.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
“In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.”
Linda Menzies A Unicorn on the Meadows
A first novel, beautifully written by this Dunfermline writer, best known so far for her short stories and poetry.
Tells the story of Mary McGregor, born in Edinburgh in 1950, but has lived before.
She remembers her previous lives in the 18th and 19th centuries and can see people from the past, where there have been tragedies and injustices which have blighted lives, and which need to be resolved with the aid of people from the past, across three centuries and in current time.
Although set in Edinburgh, the novel deals with universal themes of injustice, divisions in society, family issues and retribution.
Introduced to this writer by a friend, I’ll be looking out for more.
Currently reading all 22 of Muriel Spark’s novels, published in special editions to mark the hundredth anniversary of her birth.
All are introduced by current writers.
Have just completed her third: Memento Mori , introduced by Zoe Strachan.
The novel opens with a telephone call and the words “Remember you must die”.
Over several months, a circle of elderly men and women receive similar calls and everyone becomes a suspect.
As the investigating police inspector muses:
“Death, when it approaches, ought not to take one by surprise.
It should be part of the full expectancy of life.
Without an ever-present sense of death, life is insipid..
You might as well live on the whites of eggs.”
More entertaining than you might think, given my description !!
Lethal White – Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling).
Fourth in the ongoing story of Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott.
The three previous Strike novels are: The Cuckoo’s Calling, The Silkworm and Career of Evil.
650 pages and a real page turner.
Only available in hard back so far, but half price (£10) in WH Smith and Amazon among others.
J.K. describes it as “one of the most challenging books I’ve written, but it’s also one of my favourites”.
One of mine too
You know how you can tell when someone’s just passed away when entire complete works appear on the shelves of the British Heart Foundation ? This bookmark ribboned, gilt edged, olive hardback is an example of such from a complete works of Daphne Du Maurier “Not Before Midnight” is a collection five short stories first published ( and seemingly unread) from 1966. Obviously came from someone’s poseur adornment book cabinet. Very atmospheric writer Daphne Du Maurier, each story very different from the previous. As the title warns, better be jolly careful when I read these in case I have nightmares !
“Sketches by Boz” by Charles Dickens. Written when Dickens was in his early 20s between 1833 and 1836, around 500 pages, 56 observations on London life, form an excellent introduction to this master writer, for those who may find tackling whole Dickens novel a little daunting. In the introduction, Dickens himself says he only embarked on fiction writing as a “trifling sideline” to supplement his day job as a Parliamentary reporter. These “triflings” were to render him probably the finest prose writer England has ever known.
Originally published as separate pieces in the local London press, This is dip-innable Dickens, whose many vivid accounts range from gin houses, boarding houses to London streets by day and night, hospitals, the Greenwich fair, Christmas, neighbours, drunkards, parks, coach men, inns, gentlemen of society and ladies of the night, Newgate gaol, street sellers, and all the many colourful characters who inhabited Victorian London. A place where poverty, squalor, disease and violence were widespread, igniting Dickens’ lifelong outrage and defiance at social injustice, which feature in his longer novels, yet never overshadowing Dickens’ eye for jollity, humanity and humour when describing ( and usually destroying with merciless sarcasm) the corrupt clergyman, mean mill owner or conniving politician .
These colourful non-fiction articles, while written almost 200 years ago, are highly animated, many of Dickens’ vivid observations reflecting the darker side of human engagement which sadly still remain true to this day. This illustrated collection is supplemented with a dozen or so fictional stories with settings , themes and characters which were to develop in Dickens’ later famous novels.
You can usually find a disowned hard back copy of “Sketches by Boz” gathering dust on the back shelf of every charity shop. If you haven’t given Dickens a go before now, start off with this one, you may well find it becomes a lifelong acquaintance.
(*the title has a curious origin “Boz” was the nickname Dickens gave to his younger brother as an irreverent play on the word Moses as if saying it with a blocked nose “Bozes”, the name somehow stuck to Dickens himself as he became more famous)
Well. yesterday I had an email from Gransnet to say I had won a book called Dark Tracks!
No idea what it’s about yet, but it sounds intriguing. They would like a review once I have read it!
Just recently read, ‘Face to face with Jesus’ by Samaa Habib. This is a fantastic – ‘must read book’ about a former Muslim’s extraordinary journey to Heaven and encounter with Jesus. It begins as a story taken from the headlines of the war-torn Middle East. It involves an extremist faction of Islam. A bomb goes off during a church service and 500 people try and escape through one door. Some are killed. Samaa was thrown 10 feet into the air and smashed against a wall. She was deafened and blinded and her whole body felt like it was on fire. She was choking and fighting for breath before everything went black and her spirit left her body.
What happened after that was amazing and a miracle occurred…………need to read it, you won’t be able to put it down!