Top Picks for Book Groups

book club

I’ve mentioned my book group previously. I love them all dearly but they’re not flash at reading the book. That would drive some people mental but, after 15 years, I’m okay with it. On the upside, whenever my book group actually does talk about the book for more than a few minutes, the book was obviously a good pick.

Over the last month or so, two of my Twitter buddies have asked for book group recommendations. Here’s what I suggested (all being books that got my book group really talking) – Continue reading

Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch

I don’t put myself in the ‘weak stomach’ category. Blood, guts, spew, poo – I obviously don’t love these things but they certainly don’t turn my stomach. In contrast, my eldest son and husband are not made of such strong stuff – my son literally vomited when he saw a ‘brown shark’ in the bath once and gags when I’m cutting raw meat for dinner. My husband has learned from experience that he should sit down for any discussion about medical procedures* because otherwise he’ll pass out – it ranges from blood tests to watching footy players do a knee – it all makes him woozy.

Which brings me to Herman Koch’s latest book, Summer House with Swimming Pool. It made me feel yuck. Yuck sounds weak, but it’s accurate – Koch writes with a consistent and unnerving veneer of yuck. References to folds of fat on people’s backs, hair in crevices, pus and pimples, weeping sores and patches of dry, angry skin – the language is so deliberate, so detailed and so relentless that I  felt truly revolted. Which of course makes it very good writing. Continue reading

Top Ten Books I Read In 2012


Recently, a member of my book group called me a ‘book pusher’. I feigned disbelief – “I don’t push books onto people!” I exclaimed. But I do. I do it all the time. Once I’ve read a really good book, I want everyone around me to share the joy.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a new ‘top ten’ challenge is posted – anyone can join in. This week’s topic is Top Ten Books I Read in 2012. Or, in other words, the Top Ten Books I’ve Been Pushing on People This Year.

1. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach – my favourite book for the year.

2. Of a Boy by Sonya Hartnett – this book will never leave me.

3. The Forrests by Emily Perkins – unusual and very special.

4. Tigers in Red Weather by Lisa Klaussman – sublime… Where’s the gin? Continue reading

Top Ten Tuesday – Books to Get in the Halloween Spirit

At the risk of being black-listed by The Broke and the Bookish crowd, I’m admitting that I have no real interest in books about vampires. Or witches. Or anything para-normal. Yes, I did read the Twilight series (because I like a book with hype) and I did enjoy it but it hasn’t gone further than that. So I’m likely to fail miserably at this week’s top ten topic –  Top Ten Books to Get in the Halloween Spirit.

So whilst there’s nothing terribly ghoulish or fitting for Halloween on my list, here’s the ten books that scared the pants off me (for all sorts of reasons) – Continue reading

Top Ten Tuesday – When Literature and Food Meet (Foodie Fiction)

Is ‘Foodie Literature’ a genre? Well it is now.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a new ‘top ten’ challenge is posted – anyone can join in. This week’s topic is Top Ten Authors from X Genre. I mostly read books classed as ‘contemporary literature’ but regular readers of my blog also know that whatever the book, whatever the genre, I match it with a dish. Yes, some people pair food and wine, I pair food and books (but won’t say no to wine as well!).

I love cooking, I love reading and I really love reading about cooking! So, here’s my top ten Foodie Literature picks (or perhaps Edible Fiction? Or Fiction with Flavour? Or Fiction in the Kitchen? Or Delicious Reads?… okay, stopping now, especially as there’s a couple of non-fiction titles in the mix). Continue reading

‘The Dinner’ by Herman Koch

With strains of We Need to Talk About Kevin and The Slap*, The Dinner by Herman Koch is one of those books that you will want everybody around you to read. Immediately. So that you can start dissecting the problem and arguing about what you would do in the same circumstances.

The Dinner is a story about a moral dilemma and, like all good moral dilemmas, there is no clear-cut ‘out’. It’s the story of Paul Lohman and his wife Claire, who are going out to dinner with Paul’s brother Serge, a charismatic and ambitious politician, and his wife Babette. Paul knows the evening will not be fun. The restaurant will be over-priced and pretentious, the head waiter will bore on about the organically certified free-range this and artisan-fed that, and almost everything about Serge, especially his success, will infuriate Paul.

“He was still smiling, but there was no feeling behind it. Keep on smiling, you could see him thinking. The smile came from the same carload as the handshake. Together, in seven months’ time, they were going to lead him to electoral victory.”

“…it was the sense of vicarious embarrassment, the unbearable thought that government leaders all around the world would become acquainted with my brother’s vacuous presence.”

But as the evening progresses, it becomes clear that there’s more to this meeting than sharing a meal. There’s something the two couples have to discuss. It’s about their teenage sons and something they did. How far do parents go to save their children from the consequences of their actions? Continue reading

A Quick Bookish Survey

In July, I was book blogger extraordinaire, managing a post every two days or so. August…not so much. I have been reading (and have a few reviews to come) but work and family commitments have sucked my time. Added to that, I’ve had a mediocre run on the book front. I haven’t read bad books but apart from Tigers in Red Weather, there hasn’t been many of those books that have me reading while I make the kid’s breakfast/lunch/dinner (yes, I can clear the table with a book in hand) or plotting an ‘early night’ so that I can get into bed and read for an hour.

The Broke and the Bookish posted a nice little ‘bookish survey’ today – perfect fodder for a quick post! Continue reading