The top 8 books
I plan to read in August 2022
Click on the covers to know more
📚 CURRENTLY READING 📚
📚 Human Nature, by Serge Joncour
Expected US publication: August 22nd 2022 by Gallic Books
Translated from the French by Louise Rogers Lalaurie
Received for review
Serge Joncour is an impressive author. You can see for instance my review of Wild Dog.
I actually devoured Nature humaine, when it came out in French two years ago (it actually won Le Prix Femina), but didn’t take time to write a review. So I’m glad I received it in English, which is giving me the chance to revisit it and write about it.
From page one, I enjoying the flowing translation.
“Selling over 100,000 copies in France, Serge Joncour’s vibrant, ambitious novel calls us to open our eyes to the damage done by modern hyperconsumerism, both to our planet and to our collective humanity.
When his three sisters escape to the city Alexander is left to run the family farm. Though reluctant, he commits himself to honouring the traditional methods that prioritise the welfare of his cattle, and produce the highest quality meat.
But the world around him is changing. The insatiable appetites of supermarkets and fast food chains demand that standards must be sacrificed for speed. As Alexandre struggles to balance his principles and his livelihood, he is drawn to the beautiful Constanze, part of a group of environmental activists keen to draw him into their cause. Farmers uses ammonium nitrate and so do eco-terrorists…”
📚 De la Terre à la lune, by Jules Verne
Published in 1865.
Available in English as From the Earth to the Moon
Currently reading with a French student. It counts for The Classics Club
I was recently impressed by The First Men in the Moon, by H.G. Wells, and was curious that it’s supposed to be a satire on Verne’s book.
I was thrilled to hear that one of my students wanted to read this classic by Verne.
It’s fascinating to compare the introduction and preparations before the trip. Both books are actually hilarious at this point.
“Verne’s 1865 tale of a trip to the moon is (as you’d expect from Verne) great fun, even if bits of it now seem, in retrospect, a little strange. Our rocket ship gets shot out of a cannon? To the moon? Goodness! But in other ways it’s full of eerie bits of business that turned out to be very near reality: he had the cost, when you adjust for inflation, almost exactly right. There are other similarities, too. Verne’s cannon was named the Columbiad; the Apollo 11 command module was named Columbia. Apollo 11 had a three-person crew, just as Verne’s did; and both blasted off from the American state of Florida. Even the return to earth happened in more-or-less the same place. Coincidence — or fact!? We say you’ll have to read this story yourself to judge.”
📚 Ensemble, c’est tout, by Anna Gavalda
French Literary fiction
Published in 2004
Available in English as Hunting and Gathering (very puzzling to me, by the way)
Reading in French with another French student.
I had only read a very short book by Gavalda, French Leave, and was not completely impressed. But for some reasons, I bought Ensemble, c’est tout at a second hand sale years ago. I finally put it on my list of 20 books of summer, and was excited to see it also on the list my French student F. wanted to read now!
The characters and their dialogs are so authentic!
A very flowing writing style as well.
My only problem is I have to stop after a set number of pages per week, to talk about these with my student.
“Camille is doing her best to disappear. She barely eats, works at night as a cleaner and lives in a tiny attic room. Downstairs in a beautiful, ornate apartment, lives Philibert Marquet de la Durbellière, a shy, erudite, upper-class man with an unlikely flatmate in the shape of the foul-mouthed but talented chef, Franck. One freezing evening Philibert overcomes his excruciating reticence to rescue Camille, unconscious, from her garret and bring her into his home.
As she recovers Camille learns more about Philibert; about Franck and his guilt for his beloved but fragile grandmother Paulette, who is all he has left in the world; and about herself. And slowly, this curious quartet of misfits all discover the importance of food, friendship and love.”
📚 Ravage, by René Barjavel
Published in French in 1943
Available in English as Ashes, Ashes
It counts for The Classics Club
Reading French books with my advanced students is a lot of fun. It also gives me time to read many other books in between.
I was planning to listen to Ravage, but suddenly, my audiobook service has stopped offering it! So I am reading it instead – yes, two classic French science-fiction at the same time, but very different.
“The year is 2052: Two young lovers flee for their lives as Doomsday descends upon Earth.
This was to be the happiest day of young Blanche Rouget’s life. In Paris, the now-electronic city of love, Blanche had been about to make her debut as a star.
Then, abruptly, the Black Emperor of South America had told the world of the missiles already racing northward. Panic had broken forth.
And then had come the real terror. A vast cloak of darkness had descended over the earth. And Blanche was hurled into a world gone mad in its death-throes.”
📚 READING NEXT 📚
📚 Eventide, by Kent Haruf
Published in 2004
I read Plainsong, the first book in this series in 2013, and really enjoyed the writing. So it’s high time to tackle this one that’s been collecting dust on my shelf.
This is part of my effort for the TBR Challenge.
“Kent Haruf, award-winning, bestselling author of Plainsong returns to the high-plains town of Holt, Colorado, with a novel of masterful authority. The aging McPheron brothers are learning to live without Victoria Roubideaux, the single mother they took in and who has now left their ranch to start college. A lonely young boy stoically cares for his grandfather while a disabled couple tries to protect their violent relative. As these lives unfold and intersect, Eventide unveils the immemorial truths about human beings: their fragility and resilience, their selfishness and goodness, and their ability to find family in one another.”
📚 The Daughter of Time (Inspector Alan Grant #5), by Josephine Tey
Published in 1951
It counts for The Classics Club
I finally discovered Tey recently and was quite impressed by The Man in the Queue, the first book in this same series.
So many of you have told me this volume 5 is their favorite: time to dive into it. Eventually, I will probably read the whole series.
I actually would have liked to listen to it, but I had issues with the British accent, and was afraid to lose some meaning.
“Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant is intrigued by a portrait of Richard III. Could such a sensitive face actually belong to a heinous villain — a king who killed his brother’s children to secure his crown? Grant seeks what kind of man Richard was and who in fact killed the princes in the tower.”
🎧 CURRENT AND NEXT AUDIOBOOKS 🎧
🎧 L’Enfer numérique : voyage au bout d’un like, by Guillaume Pitron
Published in September 2021
Expected publication in English as DIGITAL HELL : the inner workings of a like.
by SCRIBE PUBLICATIONS, March 7, 2023.
Wow, I may close my blog and all my social presence when I’m done reading this book.
If you thought like me, that the meat industry was wrecking the planet, the biggest culprit seems actually to be the digital cloud.
This book is quite spooky!
This official synopsis will give you a good idea, until you have access to it in Engilsh next year.
“A gripping new investigation into the underbelly of digital technology, which addresses the pressing question of the carbon footprint it leaves behind. In a sort of news thriller, the author reveals not only how costly the virtual world is, but how damaging it is to the environment.
A simple “like” sent from our smartphones mobilizes what will soon constitute the largest infrastructure built by man. This small notification, crossing the seven operating layers of the Internet, travels around the world, using submarine cables, telephone antennas, and data centers, as far as the Arctic Circle.
It turns out that the “dematerialiized” digital world, essential for communicating, working, and consuming, is much more tangible than we would like to believe. Today, it absorbs 10 per cent of the world’s electricity and represents nearly 4 per cent of the planet’s carbon dioxide emissions. We are struggling to understand these impacts, as they are obscured to us in the mirage of “the cloud”.
At a time of the deployment of 5G, connected cars, and artificial intelligence, Digital Hell, the result of an investigation carried out over two years on four continents, reveals the anatomy of a technology that is virtual only in name. Under the guise of limiting the impact of humans on the planet, is already asserting itself as one of the major environmental challenges of the twenty-first century.
Some telling numbers:
- If digital technology were a country, it would be the third-highest consumer of electricity behind China and the United States.
- An e-mail with a large attachment consumes as much energy as a lightbulb left on for 24 hours.
- Every year, streaming technology generates as much greenhouse gas as Spain–close to 1 per cent of global emissions.
- The video of Gangnam Style was viewed around 1.7 billion times, using about 297 gigawatt hours, equivalent to that of a city with a population of 100,000.
- One Google search uses as much electricity as a lightbulb left on for 35 minutes.
- A broadband box uses as much power as a refrigerator.
- All of humanity produces five exabytes of data per day, equivalent to what we consumed from the very beginnings of the internet to 2003–an amount that would fill 10 million Blu-ray discs which, piled up, would be as high as the Eiffel Tower.
- Without knowing, each of us generates about 150 gigabytes of data per day, enough to fill the memory of 9 16g iPhones.”
🎧 Jamaica Inn, by Daphné du Maurier
Published in 1936
It counts for The Classics Club
Rebecca (my review also has Q&A, as it was a buddy read) is one of my favorite classics (read 10 years ago!). I also enjoyed My Cousin Rachel, so now it’s time for this one, which is on my 3rd Classics list.
“The coachman tried to warn her away from the ruined, forbidding place on the rainswept Cornish coast. But young Mary Yellan chose instead to honor her mother’s dying request that she join her frightened Aunt Patience and huge, hulking Uncle Joss Merlyn at Jamaica Inn.
From her first glimpse on that raw November eve, she could sense the inn’s dark power. But never did Mary dream that she would become hopelessly ensnared in the vile, villainous schemes being hatched within its crumbling walls—or that a handsome, mysterious stranger would so incite her passions… tempting her to love a man whom she dares not trust.”
HAVE YOU READ
OR ARE YOU PLANNING TO READ
ANY OF THESE?
WHAT ARE YOUR READING PLANS FOR AUGUST?