Book thread 2018 📚


Jennifer Egan ‘All the Bright Places’ - enjoyed the first part of it, but this trend towards absolute misery in YA novels can’t stop soon enough.

Natsume Soseki ‘Kokoro’ - loved this. Really enjoy a novel that touches on more psychological issues, so the exploration of guilt, self-worth and egoism was right up my street. I learned a surprising amount about 19th century Japan and the shift to its more modern form too, which was nice.

Currently reading John Updike ‘Rabbit, Run’. Just under halfway through this and can’t say I’m really feeling much for it. Part of me is, like, keep reading because its treatment of women is kind of making me uncomfortable. There’s not an awful lot more that’s keeping me interested though.


I found Run Rabbit to be a big pile of sexism. I seem to remember quite enjoying Couples though, and I’m sure that’s just as bad.


Yeah. I think it’s maybe too casual to just explain it away as being the character’s perspective rather than Updike himself too.


I think it’s that cult of the male genius Man Of Letters writer guy in the sixties (fifties?) Women are meant to be pretty and make babies quietly so the men can get on with important work.


Seems like a fairly common complaint. I had a quick search and apparently his portrayal of women is something he tried to improve in later years?


just finished it. love the premise and really wanted to like it but :woman_shrugging:


well worth doing, I loved it and the book before that


thanks for the recommend :slight_smile:


Reading ‘The Book of Strange New Things’ by Michel Faber as a friend lent it to me.
He spins a very good sentence, but something feels kind of off about the whole thing.
General plot seems to be that a Christian missionary is sent as an envoy to a distant planet to spread the Gospel to the natives. There is some pretty weird exoticism/fetishisation of Islam and blackness, but I can’t tell if that’s the author’s voice or the protagonist’s.
Anyone read it?


There is a follow up to this, if you’re unaware - A New Kind of Bleak, where he goes to a bunch of places he didn’t visit in New Ruins.

There’s also a recently published (and expensive, sigh) book on the history of CABE, which I imagine would provide a lot of useful side info to Hatherley’s books.

You can also probably find the original Richard Rogers white paper online, if you’re really keen to understand the thought processes that went into it.


Really disliked “Rabbit, Run”, put me off reading any Updike again tbh. Just seemed to be full of irritating characters with nothing to say that didn’t really grow or develop.

Also if “All the Bright Places” is over 15 years old then can it really be part of any current trend?


Just finishing off sapiens which has been a great read so far, and this is what I’ve got coming up:


hmm, ain’t read that, but you make it sound dubious.

with you on spinning a good sentence from ‘the courage consort’ and ‘the Fahrenheit twins’


Finished the book my da got me for Christmas, David Crystal’s A Little Book of Language. I feel a bit bad because it was mostly stuff I already know from doing a languages degree.

Next, I’m going to read a book about the Trans Siberian Express. Wild stuff.


Yup, pretty much that


Read it a couple of years ago, and sort of had the same feelings as you. It felt promising to begin with, but didn’t live up to what my initial expectations were of it.


Published in 2015. :slight_smile:


Finished ‘the soul of an octopus.’ Did overall like it, just wasn’t expecting it to be her (well written) personal diary of trips to the aquarium. She has a really weird habit of introducing real people with a couple of physical markers first, like she does the sea creatures. Also very odd that there was so little question of the ethics of keeping octopuses in captivity after hundreds of pages about how intelligent and keen to explore and escape they are - like not just for research purposes, at one point she’s considering getting one as a pet. Idk I do now think that octopuses are the coolest creatures of the deep :octopus:


Started Look at Me the other night. I love it when Jennifer Egan writes about memory / nostalgia. She’s supernaturally good at it.


Further to me going on about The Book of Strange New Things, I’m getting increasingly annoyed by passages like

A glance confirmed that the weeping hadn’t done her any good – her face was blotched, puffy and unfeminine, and she knew it. He looked gallantly askance while she dabbed at her eyes with her sleeve, pecked at her hair with her fingers, and generally tried to compose herself.

The book’s riddled with this kind of description. The women are dissected physically (a couple referred to as ‘butch’, iirc one “heterosexual despite appearances”), the men are usually identified by race as a sole/primary descriptor. There’s passage in which the protagonist describes a “jet-black Nigerian” and a Swedish bloke having a long conversation with a sort of dewy-eyed incomprehension at how people could have bridged such a yawning chasm as race.

The protagonist’s wife also recently described some people in the newspapers as “decent, obese, working-class people”. Get the feeling there’s lots of strange stuff in here about class, but can’t remember too well off the top of my head.

I don’t know if this book is in actual fact about the insufferable superiority complexes of some deeply religious people (non-demoninationally targeted but, from my personal experience, more prominent within Christianity) or if Michel Faber actually likes this guy. I guess he could be critiquing the dicey nature of missionary work in general.

Might be in a funny mood or overthinking it or something, but I can’t remember the last time a book has felt this weird to read. Like, it isn’t Houllebecq by any stretch of the imagination, but I get the impression that Faber might have some pretty unsavoury ideas about humanity that might be largely ignored because he’s a technically accomplished writer. Unless as mentioned, all this weird shite is the protagonist’s worldview, in which case why write a novel from such an irritating perspective? Hoping some of this clears up by the end.

tl;dr lol