The Top 50 from the Best Books of 2019 List of Lists

This is my annual community service to book-bloggers – a list of the books that appear most frequently on the 56 lists that I listed on Best Books of 2019 – A List of Lists. Continue reading

Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan sure does have the corner on the middle-class-white-men-having-existential-crises market, doesn’t he?

In Machines Like Me, McEwan conjures a world not quite like the one we know. It’s the eighties in Britain – the Falklands War has been lost, Margaret Thatcher battles Tony Benn for power and Alan Turing achieves a breakthrough in artificial intelligence. Continue reading

Top Books for Book Groups that Like Wine and Whining


Okay, today’s Top Ten topic is supposed to be serious – suggestions for book groups that are crazy for memoirs or going through a science-fiction phase or whatever whatever… I love my book group deeply. We’ve been together for 17 years and, to be honest, reading the book is optional. However, we are consistent when it comes to laughing, having a wine (and sometimes a whine). Continue reading

Reading in the danger zone


Do you start singing a certain Kenny Loggins hit when you hear the words ‘comfort zone’? I do. Even though comfort and danger are pretty much opposites… Anyhoo, my comfort zone is contemporary literature. I don’t stray often but there have been some notable (and excellent) exceptions in the last year or so –

Speculative Fiction Continue reading

Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts

1. I’ve finished exams. This blog is a GIF-free zone but given that the subject I had an exam for was really, really, really difficult, I’m breaking out the Sheep of Joy.


2. Last week I went to see Buyer and Cellar. And I laughed and laughed. It’s a play about Barbara Streisand’s personal ‘shopping mall’. The amazing thing is that Babs does have her own mall and you can read about it in the book she published about design – My Passion for Design. After reading some of the reviews on Goodreads, I’ve decided that as much as I love her, she’s nuts.

“I simply must know if everything in Barbra Streisand’s life is that silvery blue color. Her laptop, her toilet paper holders, her Xanax bottle cosy?”

3. Babs and Barry’s Guilty album is one of my favourite albums ever. Continue reading

The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips

What the hell did I just read? Yes, I know it was The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips… but… What. The. Actual. Hell? And I mean that in a good way.

“…sign here, 9.00 a.m. Monday, and off she went, employed, regurgitated by the concrete compound out into the receding day.”

This short novel focuses on the newly employed Josephine, whose task it is to enter endless strings of numbers into something known only as the Database. Her oppressive office (room 9997), the faceless bureaucracy and her somewhat strained marriage is set against an eerily cold and impersonal city.

“Every morning the Database awaited her like a living thing, luminous and familiar, alongside stacks of gray files. It was wise to put bureaucrats in windowless offices; had there been a window, September might have taunted her with its high and mighty goldenness.” Continue reading