Bookish selfie…

A snapshot of my reading week in quotes…

….That I still “funked” Michael Bristow was certainly no fault of Hilda’s, who has never funked anything in her life.
….For I fear that “funk” is the true description of my attitude. I funked him as one may begin to funk an acquaintance who shows signs of becoming a criminal or a lunatic, or of developing some loathsome disease. I thought about him and his peculiarity and his affairs as little as I possibly could. I do not like oddities. And I could no longer conceal from myself that he was definitely an oddity. I even feared secretly that, as Hilda thought, he might be a momentous sort of oddity, though this I would never admit even to myself. In spite of Hilda, I avoided witnessing any systematic demonstrations of his power; yet I was always coming up against little differences, odd scraps of knowledge and intuition in him, which disturbed me more than I would acknowledge.
….There was the evening when Hilda made him detect a new cigarette-case in my pocket from several yards’ distance. I never liked to see his moving, groping, hesitating fingers, as it were, pick up the scent.

~The Man with Six Senses by Muriel Jaeger

* * * * *

….Memories – they are all the aged have. The young have hopes and dreams, while the old hold the remains of them in their hands and wonder what has happened to their lives. I looked back hard on my life that night, from the moments of my reckless youth, through the painful and tragic years of the war, to the solitary decades after. Yes, I could say that I had lived my life, if not to the full then at least almost to the brim. What more could one ask? Rare is the person whose life overflows. I have lived, I have travelled the world, and now, like a worn out clock, my life is winding down, the hands slowing, stepping out of the flow of time. If one steps out of time what does one have? Why, the past of course, gradually being worn away by the years as a pebble halted on a riverbed is eroded by the passage of water.

~The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng

* * * * *

….“She’s suffered a great deal in her life. A large part of the suffering has been her own fault, but some of it hasn’t. None of her marriages has been happy except, I’d say, this last one. She’s married to a man now who loves her dearly and who’s loved her for years. She’s sheltering in that love, and she’s happy in it. At least, at the moment she’s happy in it. One can’t say how long all that will last. The trouble with her is that either she thinks that at last she’s got to that spot or place or that moment in her life where everything’s like a fairy tale come true, that nothing can go wrong, that she’ll never be unhappy again; or else she’s down in the dumps, a woman whose life is ruined, who’s never known love and happiness and who never will again.”
….He added dryly, “If she could only stop halfway between the two it’d be wonderful for her, and the world would lose a fine actress.”

~The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side by Agatha Christie narrated by Joan Hickson

* * * * *

….It is in the nature of revolutions to throw up moments when all the more brilliant dreams of the human race seem about to be realized, and the Catalans with their expansive and self-dramatizing character were not behind other peoples in this respect. Visitors to Barcelona in the autumn of 1936 will never forget the moving and uplifting experience and, as the resistance to the military rebellion stiffened, the impressions they brought back with them spread to wider and wider circles. Spain became the scene of a drama in which it seemed as if the fortunes of the civilized world were being played out in miniature. As in a crystal, those people who had eyes for the future looked, expecting to read there their own fate.

~The Spanish Labyrinth by Gerald Brenan

* * * * *

….The up-and-at-’em start time was all for show. For humanity divided into two mutually hostile camps: bounders out of bed and burners of the midnight oil. The distinction went way beyond schedule. The late nighter was synonymous with mischief, imagination, rebellion, transgression, anarchy, and excess, not to mention drugs, alcohol, and sex. The early riser evoked traditional Protestant values like obedience, industry, discipline, and thrift, but also, in this gladness to greet the day, a militant, even fascistic determination to look on the bright side. In short, rise-and-shiners were revolting, and being flapped by so many birds getting the worm felt like getting trapped in an Alfred Hitchcock remake. These bouncy, boisterous, bubbly people loved their seven thirty start, which shouted earnestness and asceticism, and any attempt to move the time to noon for the next year would trigger a riot.

~The Motion of the Body Through Space by Lionel Shriver

* * * * *

So… are you tempted?

41 thoughts on “Bookish selfie…

    • I don’t think I’d have survived the last few weeks without Joan Hickson and Agatha! It’s ages since I last read this one and although I remember whodunit for once, I’m still really enjoying being back in St Mary Mead… 😀

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  1. There is a somewhat somber, reflective tone to a few of these this week. Reading the extract from The Mirror Cracked reminded me that I actually found this particular story rather poignant at the time, which is unusual, though not unheard of for a Christie. I quite liked the look of the Man with Six Senses as well, so I might put it on my list.

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    • Yes, I think that may be why I’m struggling with some of them – I think I need to throw away my list and do a bit of mood-reading for a while. I find the Miss Marple books more thoughtful than the Poirots – I always feel Christie uses Miss Marple to let us into her own mind, especially in the later ones when she’d become an older lady herself. The Man with Six Senses was great – review coming soon!

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    • These Joan Hickson/Christie audiobooks are the only thing that has kept me sane in the last few weeks! This was my first Shriver and I thoroughly enjoyed it – it’s quite a light-hearted one about a grumpy old woman, so I could identify… 😉

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  2. Ooh, The Mirror Crack’d is a good ‘un, FictionFan. I really hope you’ll enjoy that one. The Jaeger looks interesting, too; I’ll be interested to find out what you think of that one when you’ve read it. The Eng, too – I like the writing style there. Here’s wishing you a great week of reading!

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    • Even though I remember whodunit it for once, I’m still enjoying revisiting St Mary Mead! The Jaeger was excellent – review coming soon. The writing in the Eng is beautiful but so far the story hasn’t totally grabbed me – my fault, I think, rather than the book’s. It’s hard to concentrate while the world is imploding!

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  3. The Spanish Labyrinth still intrigues.

    btw, I’m reading “The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World”. A recent and first-rate biography be a terrific writer, Maya Jasanoff. Pairing it with Nostromo, because I could use a bit of a tailwind to get me through that.

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    • I’ve hardly got into The Spanish Labyrinth yet – my reading rate has slowed to that of an arthritic snail at the moment. But it looks good so far…

      Oh, that sounds excellent! I shall add it to the wishlist for when I finish the Spanish history books. I really don’t know anything much about Conrad’s life but he’s so insightful about so many places and societies that I imagine he must have had an interesting one.

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    • These Christie audiobooks are all that has been keeping me sane the last few weeks! The Gift of Rain is beautifully written, but my current reading slump means I’m finding it isn’t really grabbing me – my fault, though, not the book’s! I think I need to stick to vintage crime for a bit… 😀

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  4. The last three look really good to me! Of course, you can’t go wrong with the Christie, and the quote from the Shriver makes me wonder where he’s going with that story. Looks like you’ve got some interesting reading ahead, FF!

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    • These Christie audiobooks are the only thing that’s been keeping me sane the last few weeks! The Shriver was great fun – it’s kind of a look at modern life through the eyes of a grumpy older woman, so I could identify… 😉 She’s actually female – don’t ask me why she’s called Lionel! Just to confuse people, I suspect… 😀

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    • Goodness, yes! Between all my Russian Revolution reading and now the Spanish Civil War, I keep seeing history repeating itself all over the place. Hope you’re staying safe, both from the virus and the new military dictatorship! Maybe this will finally make the undecideds decide he can’t be given another four years… 🤞

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  5. Maybe it’s just my mood at the moment, but I wasn’t particularly tempted by any of these excerpts. I think the Christie sounds the best. Yes, I know. I’ve promised you I’ll read at least one this year, so I need to get to it!

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    • These Christie audiobooks have been keeping me sane over the last few weeks. I enjoyed a couple of these but am still struggling too, so I haven’t really managed to get into the other ones properly yet. Maybe we should do a Christie reviewalong! Gotta be better than Serena… 😉

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    • The Gift of Rain is beautifully written, but my reading slump is making it hard for me to get properly into serious fiction at the moment. I think I need to stick to vintage crime for a bit! The Christie audiobooks are the only thing that’s keeping me sane at the moment… 😀

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  6. I have a soft spot for The Mirror Crack’s as it was the first Christie book I owned, and I read it over and over as a child. However, I’m most drawn to The Gift of Rain and The Man With Six Senses and am already looking forward to your reviews.

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  7. You definitely need to be kind to yourself at the moment and read where your instincts direct 🙂 If Agatha floats your boat, thank goodness she wrote so many great books!

    I do like the sound of The Gift of Rain though not right now I think. Maybe another time…

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    • Yes, indeed, Agatha is a lifesaver, and so are Joan Hickson and Hugh Fraser for narrating them all! 😀 Haha – I am finding, though, that abandoning two out of every three books I pick up is having a miraculous effect on my TBR… 😉

      Yes, I’m struggling to get into it, but I do think it’s me and not the book. I’m just reading a chapter a day in the hope I eventually get sucked in.

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      • What I read and how I respond to it is massively impacted by other life events: personal or global, internal, external, the weather… 🤦‍♀️ I hope it sucks you in, FF, but if not then that’s another off the tbr pile! You can always add it again later 😆

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  8. You know I am a Christie fan! I haven’t read that one.

    My reading is abysmal since I’ve started back to work. This week I’ve read about five pages so far. I’m so tired and distracted by the news. Oh well, one day it will normalize, I hope!

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    • It’s a good one! One of the later ones when she could be a bit more rambly, but still well plotted and the characters are great fun – all those nervy actresses and unscrupulous producers. 😀

      Gosh, yes – just when the pandemic calms down a bit all this awful race stuff kicks off again! I’ve been fixated in front of the TV again. It does look as though it’s settling down now (I hope) and I don’t know, but it feels different this time, as if it may actually lead to real change?

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  9. I’m interested in your positive comments about The Man with Six Senses and The Body in Motion, I think I may need to add these to my list, especially the Lionel Shriver. I have read The Gift of Rain and do remember enjoying its slow pace and beautiful language, but I can imagine it not working so well if the time is not right for that pace of reading. Thank goodness for well read audio books, I have found them easier to engage with when I don’t seem to be getting around to picking up a book.

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    • I’ve written my review of The Man with Six Senses so it’ll appear soon. The Shriver got caught up in my reviewing slump so will probably end up with a very sketchy review since I’ve left it way too long, but I did enjoy her grumpy complaining about the modern world! 😉 The Gift of Rain just isn’t grabbing me – I seem to only be in the mood for factual or very light reading at the moment. I’ll give it another day or two and if it still isn’t working I think I’ll have to give up – roughly my 9 millionth abandonment of the year! I’ve just renewed my Audible subscription since I do find familiar books read by great narrators very soothing to the soul… 😀

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