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What are you reading ?

Frogs and Frigate Birds: Over the Hill goes to Ecuador and the Galapagos by Jo Carroll

@Jocarroll isn’t a big fan of group tours (me either) but reading this book I feel Jo has allowed me to join her group for this trip. An easy but not over elaborate descriptive style paints the picture of her surroundings, and her keen sense of humour shines through in her tales. Great read at a bargain price.

Essex UK

The Orphan of Salt Winds by Elizabeth Brooks.
A debut novel, beautifully written. Atmospheric. Wild, bleak setting. Reminiscent of Jane Eyre.
The narrative unfolds through the perspective of an orphan girl, Virginia, adopted in 1939 at the age of 10. An observant child, with an imperfect understanding of the world she’s been thrust into; and the part she plays in a tragic event. The story moves between World War 2 and the present day (2015) when Virginia is now 86 and still living in Salt Winds, a house full of mysteries. Nice twist at the end. One of those books that stay with you.


“The Veiled Woman” by Anais Nin. Four short stories of erotica, number 6 from the Penguin Modern Classics series. Naughty but nice. I hasten to add these tales aren’t just yer typical man-in-a-dirty-mac porno fodder, rather poetry and profundity intertwine (along with the bodies) with Anais Nin’s erotic narrative, analysing the nature of desire, which tends to have an unexpected sting in every tale. Most satisfactory.

Full list below:


Last Edited by Grey-Wolf at 25 Feb 18:31
Wakefield, West Yorks.

Interesting life. I’m mindful of the fact that this is an open forum, so won’t go into my own ‘many corners turned in life’ !
Will just say…Yes, loved Aberdeen. It was pre oil boom….and very different then.
My love of hill walking and wide open spaces dates from then too.
Happy days

Gemini jen

Well , I do like that list of books you took the trouble to e-mail.Thank you.
Hope you liked Aberdeen as a student?
I ran away from home { A nice home. } and took myself to agriculture college near Aberdeen age seventeen.
The best days of my life, no more boarding school pomposity, freedom to be up to mischief !
When that ended, I had to spend a year as a voluntary nurse in the local hospital .
My mother thought I needed to be taught a lesson!
Then I set off to Italy for years, turning my hand to being a governess to three very posh kids.
But, when their family decide to marry me off to one of their relatives , I thought time to jump ship.
And I made a very plausible excuse, and moved to work for the head of a petroleum firm in Italy .
Funny how many corners we turn in life, all character building,but lots of fun and memories.
The trouble when working here now, is finding time to read.
When my husband was alive Time was no problem , because he undertook half of all tasks which had to be done.
But I am becoming more organised now ,so soon I will be able to conjure up more me time to read and loose myself in pages of words.


As for favourite reads, and given that this is a travel forum, a quick look though my bookshelves has shown how often I buy and read books because of what they say about a place I’m either going to or have stayed.

  • So, as a student in Aberdeen (many moons ago!): Lewis Grassic Gibbon: A Scots Quair and A Scots Hairst
  • Followed by lots of examples from living and working around England for 30 years: from Arnold Bennett: Anna of the Five Towns on through authors and writers from all over the country. Fond spot for all of Wainright’s books on walks etc.
  • Africa. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Half of a Yellow Sun, Purple Hibiscus
  • Australia. Rainbow Serpent; Bryce Courteney’s trilogy: The Potato Factory, Tommo and Hawk, Solomon’s Song(the latter a heartrending account of Gallipoli). More recently, Jane Harper: The Dry
  • China. Paul Theroux: Riding the Iron Rooster. By Train through China ; Luo Guanzhong. Romance of the Three Kingdoms
  • France. Joanne Harris, from Chocolat onwards
  • Portugal. Pascal Mercier: Night Train to Lisbon
  • Spain. John Hooper: The New Spaniards
  • USA and Canada. Oh so many…but I’m a slow typer…so will have to wait for another day
    On return to Scotland: For East Lothian. Nigel Tranter’s Footbridge to Enchantment.
    For Edinburgh: Muriel Spark: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie; Linda Menzies: A Unicorn on the Meadows; all of Alexander McCall Smith and, as an antidote, Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and tartan noir generally.
    And finally, a recent read aimed at solo travellers. Stephanie Rosenbloom: Alone Time. Four Seasons, Four Cities, and the Pleasures of Solitude (covers visits to Paris, Istanbul, Florence and New York.
    I hope that some of these may chime with you.
    Happy reading

Apologies for being so slow in responding to your post: I’ve been internet free for most of February
While I suspect that the following doesn’t quite fall into the easy read category, I learned a lot from John Keay’s book: China. A History
Also, an obvious one, Jung Chan’s Wild Swans and, with her husband Jon Halliday, Mao. The Unknown Story.
In terms of fiction, I recently read Village of Stone by Xiaolu Guo. I found this a beautifully written and translated novel. It evokes both the harshness of life in the fishing village on the typhoon battered coast of China, where the main protagonist grew up, while also presenting an incisive portrait of China’s new urban youth in the megalopolis that is twenty-first century Beijing.


To Gemini Jen.
I love books, with travel stories written about Tibet. I am looking for a fairly easy read,on perhaps five hundred years of history between China and Tibet.I never visited those countries , but they hold such fascination for me.We do not really hear about the state of the people now that China is in charge again.
I am assuming, that great civilisation you are reading about, will become an even more powerful far reaching dominating force in the world. They have tentacles stretching all over the planet at this moment.The new leader educated at a U.S.A. university seems to have a fairly balanced approach to driving his people forward. Though, I have to put in the back of my mind the cruelty carried out by the state. I fear No great empires have ever grown without such happenings . The human mind never seems to change we are possibly programmed to violence.
I can only believe that another world war hovers , balanced on the whims and greed of all leaders and peoples.
Just now I am reading a book by my next door neighbour. Hamish MacInnes .{ Call OUT.} I have a library of books which was left to me ,so every couple of days I reach for another book, sometimes, Charles.Dickens a favourite from my childhood.
The mood I am in takes me towards a book Occasionally a sailing saga ,now that I can no longer sail with my husband, Or a sloppy book. Also I roam round the local bookshop and pick up various books.
Which types of book are your favourites?


Thanks for the link, @Grey-Wolf
I’ve watched it several times over the years…and will now do so again!


@GeminiJen have you ever seen the film “The Last Emperor” ? Came out back in 1987 but I watched it again last night , charts the demise of China’s final Emperor as the Dreamland is torn apart by tempestuous tumult and turmoil at the turn of the last century, and the boy Emperor experiences manhood via modernism, Westernism, war, unwelcome compromise with Japan and ultimately Communist revolution which devours all tradition and any aspiration he or the nation once had, the Emperor himself captured, imprisoned, ‘dismantled’ and all but converted to the Communist regime as a mere compliant comrade. True story. All beautifully filmed on location in the Forbidden City, and opulent hotels of Peking. Plaintive and poignant, a traumatic tale of transition of power, Peter O’Toole gives a master ‘old school’ performance as the Emperor’s tutor, dazzling scenes, court intrigue, deep drama, colourful costumes and some stunningly beautiful China girls.

Last Edited by Grey-Wolf at 31 Jan 18:34
Wakefield, West Yorks.
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