Six degrees of separation: from Glasgow to fire

#6Degrees

Six degrees of separation:
from Glasgow to fire

Sometimes, the book we have to use to start the chain is challenging for my own rules. So to start this one, I decided to go with another author whose first name is Douglas.
So I started in Glasgow, and ended up with  a French philosopher!

Using my own rules for this fun meme hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest (see there the origin of the meme and how it works – posted the first Saturday of every month).

Here are my own quirky rules:

1. Use your list of books on Goodreads
2. Take the first word of the title (or in the subtitle) offered and find another title with that word in it
3. Then use the first word of THAT title to find your text title
4. Or the second if the title starts with the same word, or you are stuck

Shuggie Bain  Shadows Walking

  The Black Lizard  Lady Agnes Mystery 1  

  fire season The Psychoanalysis of Fire  

Links will send you to my review or to the relevant Goodreads page

1.  Shuggie Bain, by Douglas Stuart

So this is the book we have to start with. I haven’t read it, and am not planning to, this is not a theme I’m interested in.

Shuggie Bain is the unforgettable story of young Hugh “Shuggie” Bain, a sweet and lonely boy who spends his 1980s childhood in run-down public housing in Glasgow, Scotland. Thatcher’s policies have put husbands and sons out of work, and the city’s notorious drugs epidemic is waiting in the wings. Shuggie’s mother Agnes walks a wayward path: she is Shuggie’s guiding light but a burden for him and his siblings. She dreams of a house with its own front door while she flicks through the pages of the Freemans catalogue, ordering a little happiness on credit, anything to brighten up her grey life. Married to a philandering taxi-driver husband, Agnes keeps her pride by looking good–her beehive, make-up, and pearly-white false teeth offer a glamourous image of a Glaswegian Elizabeth Taylor. But under the surface, Agnes finds increasing solace in drink, and she drains away the lion’s share of each week’s benefits–all the family has to live on–on cans of extra-strong lager hidden in handbags and poured into tea mugs. Agnes’s older children find their own ways to get a safe distance from their mother, abandoning Shuggie to care for her as she swings between alcoholic binges and sobriety. Shuggie is meanwhile struggling to somehow become the normal boy he desperately longs to be, but everyone has realized that he is “no right,” a boy with a secret that all but him can see. Agnes is supportive of her son, but her addiction has the power to eclipse everyone close to her–even her beloved Shuggie.
A heartbreaking story of addiction, sexuality, and love, Shuggie Bain is an epic portrayal of a working-class family that is rarely seen in fiction. Recalling the work of Edouard Louis, Alan Hollinghurst, Frank McCourt, and Hanya Yanagihara, it is a blistering debut by a brilliant novelist who has a powerful and important story to tell.
 ”

2.  Shadows Walking, by Douglas R. Skopp

So as explained above, I went with another Douglas.

Here are excepts from my review:
Let me tell you right away that if you are interested in German history, in the Nazi era, and in what happened then, you need absolutely to read this novel. Fruit of 20 years of study and work, it is extremely rich and multi-layered.
Skopp translates extremely well how the characters evolved and let themselves slowly but surely get trapped in foolish and evil ideas, ideas that appeared good at first. The whole Nazi system is presented in its scary logical cold reasoning, leaving no room for empathy or humanistic thoughts.
It is unfortunately not too difficult to do some transposition, and think about the consequences some political logical decisions could have…
The whole theme of dreams, delusions, and fantasy is omnipresent. There’s also a lot on the themes of religion and violence.
The ending is very clever, like a sword of Damocles you may have expected for a while…

3. The Black Lizard / Beast in the Shadows

I just read this book last week, but unfortunately, haven’t reviewed it yet. These were my first two stories by Edogawa Rampo, a brilliant Japanese author of classic mysteries. So so clever!!

“Two Golden Age classics from Japan’s grand master of mystery. Edogawa Rampo (pseudonym of Hirai Taro, 1894-1965) is the acknowledged grand master of Japan’s golden age of crime and mystery fiction. In the early part of his career, he created the Japanese gothic mystery, developing the work of Edgar Allan Poe and related nineteenth century writers in a distinctly Japanese form. This part of his career coincided with a great flowering in Japanese literature and culture, a relatively free and uninhibited popular press being a defining feature of the times. In this context, Rampo’s dark vision and extravagant grotesquery found an avid readership, and had a profound influence on other writers.
The Black Lizard, a master criminal as deadly as she is beautiful, wagers all in an epic battle with a master detective.
A mystery writer vows to protect the woman he secretly loves from the Beast in the Shadows, but disaster strikes when he turns detective himself.”

4.  The Lady Agnès Mystery vol 1: Book 1. The Season of the Beast

VERDICT: Suspenseful saga set in France in the 14th century, at the time of the dreadful Inquisition. Rich in historical details and ripe with secrets powerful enough to kill or to die for.
5. Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout

Excerpts from my review:
I read this book because of my love for nature and hiking, and also solitary life. I found all this in the book, but much more! I learned a lot about fire management.
I enjoyed the author’s beautiful prose as he contemplates and scrutinizes the horizon at the top of his tower, for several months every year, in New Mexico.

This book was a big revelation for me, I loved it to pieces. I was 17 at the time (so that’s a long time ago!!). Indeed, during the last year of high school. all French students had to study philosophy.

“[Bachelard] is neither a self-confessed and tortured atheist like Sartre, nor, like Chardin, a heretic combining a belief in God with a proficiency in modern science. But, within the French context, he is almost as important as they are because he has a pseudo-religious force, without taking a stand on religion. To define him as briefly as possible – he is a philosopher, with a professional training in the sciences, who devoted most of the second phase of his career to promoting that aspect of human nature which often seems most inimical to science: the poetic imagination …” – J.G. Weightman, The New York Times Review of Books”
– that’s the synopsis featured on Goodreads.

📚📚📚

Visit other chains here

📚📚📚

HAVE YOU READ AND ENJOYED ANY OF THESE BOOKS?

Six degrees of separation: from phos to light

#6Degrees

Six degrees of separation:
from phos to light

When I saw we had to start with a one word title, I was tempted to start my chain with the author’s first name.
But then I thought I could actually use the Greek part of the title I love. In fact, the theme of light (phos) is my favorite in Christian spirituality.
I usually feature Christian books on my other site (I haven’t posted there for months, but I will restart mid March: Myrtle Skete), but I am who I am, and am very committed in my faith and practice, so for once, most of my chain will be featuring Christian books.
If it’s not your thing, feel free to leave and not read further.

Using my own rules for this fun meme hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest (see there the origin of the meme and how it works – posted the first Saturday of every month).

Here are my own quirky rules:

1. Use your list of books on Goodreads
2. Take the first word of the title (or in the subtitle) offered and find another title with that word in it
3. Then use the first word of THAT title to find your text title
4. Or the second if the title starts with the same word, or you are stuck

Phosphorescence Metamorphosis

  The Transfiguration of Christ  If you love me

if on a winter's night   Light to Enlighten My Darkness

 

Links will send you to my review or to the relevant Goodreads page

1. Phosphorescence: On Awe, Wonder and Things That Sustain You When the World Goes Dark

So this is the book we have to start with. I haven’t read it, and am not planning to, as it seems light weight to me.

“A beautiful, intimate and inspiring investigation into how we can find and nurture within ourselves that essential quality of internal happiness – the ‘light within’ that Julia Baird calls ‘phosphorescence’ – which will sustain us even through the darkest times.
Over the last decade, we have become better at knowing what brings us contentment, well-being and joy. We know, for example, that there are a few core truths to science of happiness. We know that being kind and altruistic makes us happy, that turning off devices, talking to people, forging relationships, living with meaning and delving into the concerns of others offer our best chance at achieving happiness. But how do we retain happiness? It often slips out of our hands as quickly as we find it. So, when we are exposed to, or learn, good things, how do we continue to burn with them?
And more than that, when our world goes dark, when we’re overwhelmed by illness or heartbreak, loss or pain, how do we survive, stay alive or even bloom? In the muck and grit of a daily existence full of disappointments and a disturbing lack of control over many of the things that matter most – finite relationships, fragile health, fraying economies, a planet in peril – how do we find, nurture and carry our own inner, living light – a light to ward off the darkness?”

2. Metamorphosis: The Transfiguration in Byzantine Theology and Iconography

Two notes here:
I played with the syllable phos, meaning light in Greek, but I am aware that in the word “metamorphosis”, the Greek word is morphosis, which means form.

It’s interesting though, that metamorphosis is the Greek word for Transfiguration, which is an event of LIGHT, where the Apostles were finally able to open their eyes and really see Christ’s Divine Light.
This is my favorite Christian Feast, and I have read a lot of books on it. But as I wrote in my review, I can say, “This is one of the best books I have read on the Transfiguration”.

3. The Transfiguration Of Christ In Scripture And Tradition

I read this many many years ago, before my blogging years, so I have no review and no excerpts, but this is definitely my favorite book on the Transfiguration.
John Anthony McGuckin is an amazing scholar (currently professor of early Christianity in the Theological Faculty of Oxford University, and Romanian Orthodox priest).
In this book, he combines Biblical and Patristic data. And it’s very accessible – incidentally, that’s for me the sign of real scholars: they can explain complex things in ways everyone can understand.

4.  If You Love Me: Serving Christ and the Church in Spirit and Truth

Another book I didn’t review. Matthew the Poor was also a scholar and this time, a Coptic monk and abbot. I have read several books by him. They are deeply steeped in Scripture and very profound. The type of books you would enjoy reading in Lent, for meditation.
NB: all Christians are serving Christ one way or another, including in your service of your neighbor, so this is not a book just for special ministers.

““The lesson of love can never be taught simply by words . . . Rather, it is taught by truly giving yourself and communicating the love and longing for Christ to those you serve. . . . How awesome and dignified is Christian service! And how good is the trustworthy and loyal servant who can say along with Christ, ‘Learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart’ (Matt. 11:29).” (from the Introduction) This book is essential and inspiring reading for all who would devote their lives to the service of Christ and His Church.”

 

5. If on a Winter‘s Night a Traveler
And this one is my favorite novel pertaining to the Oulipo, that is, a group of authors who try to write following unusual structures, patterns, or even constrained techniques (a famous book in that group was written in French, without ever using the letter e!)

After literary fiction, I am back to Christian nonfiction, and with my own book, though this is an anthology I put together, so I only really wrote the introduction.
The texts have been chosen from Medieval Cistercian authors, so this is not easy modern meditation reading.
I mentioned above how light was my favorite theme, so no surprise I decided to [put this anthology together.

And so it is fun here to start with phos and end up with light.

📚📚📚

Visit other chains here

📚📚📚

HAVE YOU READ AND ENJOYED ANY OF THESE BOOKS?

Six degrees of separation: from a redhead to an alien head

#6Degrees

Six degrees of separation:
from a redhead to an alien head

I had another great fun with this one, especially seeing where I landed. Read below to understand my final book.

Using my own rules for this fun meme hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest (see there the origin of the meme and how it works – posted the first Saturday of every month).

Here are my own quirky rules:

1. Use your list of books on Goodreads
2. Take the first word of the title (or in the subtitle) offered and find another title with that word in it
3. Then use the first word of THAT title to find your text title
4. Or the second if the title starts with the same word, or you are stuck

  Redhead by the side of the road  Red Handed

  The Kissing Hand A Kiss Before Dying

  the night before Binti The Night Masquerade

1. Redhead by the Side of the Road
A book longlisted for the Booker. I haven’t read it and don’t intend to.
“Micah Mortimer is a creature of habit. A self-employed tech expert, superintendent of his Baltimore apartment building seems content leading a steady, circumscribed life. But one day his routines are blown apart when his woman friend tells him she’s facing eviction, and a teenager shows up at Micah’s door claiming to be his son.
These surprises, and the ways they throw Micah’s meticulously organized life off-kilter, risk changing him forever.”

2. Red Handed
This is actually a thriller I was asked to translate into French!
Katerina has a knack for getting herself stuck into impossible situations, and dangerous on top of it. More than once the reader wants to shout to her, no, don’t do that!
If she trusted more her boyfriend and his advice, she might fare better, but there would be less adventures for the reader!
Her tribulations usually happen outside her professional activities, but she still uses her gifts as a forensic accountant to scent trouble and to expose the bad guys (and gals).
There are good scenes of suspense.

3. The Kissing Hand
VERDICT: A cute little story

 

4. A Kiss Before Dying
A classic (1953) mystery I actually haven’t read yet, but it’s been on my list
A Kiss Before Dying not only debuted the talent of best-selling novelist Ira Levin to rave reviews, it also set a new standard in the art of mystery and suspense. Now a modern classic, as gripping in its tautly plotted action as it is penetrating in its exploration of a criminal mind, it tells the shocking tale of a young man who will stop at nothing–not even murder–to get where he wants to go. For he has dreams; plans. He also has charm, good looks, sex appeal, intelligence. And he has a problem. Her name is Dorothy; she loves him, and she’s pregnant. The solution may demand desperate measures. But, then, he looks like the kind of guy who could get away with murder. Compellingly, step by determined step, the novel follows this young man in his execution of one plan he had neither dreamed nor foreseen. Nor does he foresee how inexorably he will be enmeshed in the consequences of his own extreme deed.”

 

5. The Night Before
VERDICT: Strong psychological thriller, with nice twists and complex characters.

6. The Night Masquerade (the link goes to my short 8 minutes video about it on Instagram)
This is in the genre Africanfuturism.
Totally original and fascinating mix, and I have devoured this and the previous two books in the series.
It’s about a Himba girl, going to attend a university on another planet. S it’s a mix of African cultural elements and science fiction! I don’t think I could find more diverse than that!

The connection with the head is that Himba women have amazing hairdos, and on this other planet, the girl discovers creatures with very weird heads!

📚📚📚

Visit other chains here

📚📚📚

HAVE YOU READ AND ENJOYED ANY OF THESE BOOKS?