Six degrees of separation: from typos to Russia


Six degrees of separation:
from typos to Russia

Glad to be back – my last participation was in April! Life seems always so busy at the turn of each month. This time, I have read only three of the books I feature here. The others are on my TBR.

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

eats shoots and leaves Let's Eat France

  Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls The Men Who United the States  

  Men Without Women  The Man Without a Face  

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

1.  Eats, Shoots & Leaves, by Lynne Truss

And for once, I have read the book we are supposed to start this chain with. I reviewed it here eleven years ago!
I loved it, this is totally my type of books, focusing on language, spelling, and punctuation.

2. Let’s Eat France!: 1,250 specialty foods, 375 iconic recipes, 350 topics, 260 personalities, plus hundreds of maps, charts, tricks, tips, and anecdotes and everything else you want to know about the food of France

If you are familiar with my blog, you can easily understand why this title would be on my TBR. It’s puzzling though to know it’s already been there for two years! I definitely need to get to it soon.

“There’s never been a book about food like Let’s Eat France! A book that feels literally larger than life, it is a feast for food lovers and Francophiles, combining the completist virtues of an encyclopedia and the obsessive visual pleasures of infographics with an enthusiast’s unbridled joy.
Here are classic recipes, including how to make a pot-au-feu, eight essential composed salads, pâté en croûteblanquette de veau, choucroute, and the best ratatouille. Profiles of French food icons like Colette and Curnonsky, Brillat-Savarin and Bocuse, the Troigros dynasty and Victor Hugo. A region-by-region index of each area’s famed cheeses, charcuterie, and recipes. Poster-size guides to the breads of France, the wines of France, the oysters of France—even the frites of France. You’ll meet endive, the belle of the north; discover the croissant timeline; understand the art of tartare; find a chart of wine bottle sizes, from the tiny split to the Nebuchadnezzar (the equivalent of 20 standard bottles); and follow the family tree of French sauces.
Adding to the overall delight of the book is the random arrangement of its content (a tutorial on mayonnaise is next to a list of places where Balzac ate), making each page a found treasure. It’s a book you’ll open anywhere—and never want to close.”

3. Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls

I have totally enjoyed this book, as most by Sedaris. This one is typical of this author.
Excerpt from my review:
On the French medical system, French doctors and dentists. So hilarious and so true, foi de Française!
In this book, you will travel all over the world, not only to France, but also to Australia, to China and Japan, etc. I really enjoy his style, his views always right on target, with love and humor, and the way he knows how to suddenly give a final twist you were not expecting at all.

4.  The Men Who United the States: America’s Explorers, Inventors, Eccentrics and Mavericks, and the Creation of One Nation, Indivisible

I haven’t read this one, but am planning to, as I have thoroughly enjoyed a couple of books by this author, especially Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories

“For more than two centuries, E pluribus unum-Out of many, one-has been featured on America’s official government seals and stamped on its currency. But how did America become “one nation, indivisible”? What unified a growing number of disparate states into the modern country we recognize today? In this monumental history, Simon Winchester addresses these questions, bringing together the breathtaking achievements that helped forge and unify America and the pioneers who have toiled fearlessly to discover, connect, and bond the citizens and geography of the U.S.A. from its beginnings.
Winchester follows in the footsteps of America’s most essential explorers, thinkers, and innovators, including Lewis and Clark and their Corps of Discovery Expedition to the Pacific Coast, the builders of the first transcontinental telegraph, and the powerful civil engineer behind the Interstate Highway System. He treks vast swaths of territory, from Pittsburgh to Portland; Rochester to San Francisco; Truckee to Laramie; Seattle to Anchorage, introducing these fascinating men and others-some familiar, some forgotten, some hardly known-who played a pivotal role in creating today’s United States. Throughout, he ponders whether the historic work of uniting the States has succeeded, and to what degree.
Featuring 32 illustrations throughout the text, The Men Who United the States is a fresh, lively, and erudite look at the way in which the most powerful nation on earth came together, from one of our most entertaining, probing, and insightful observers.”

5.  Men Without Women

VERDICT:  Very enjoyable collection of short stories, where you can easily recognize the hand of the master. My favorite Japanese author.

6.  The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin

I’m curious both about Russia and about this smart author. I have actually watched a video where she presented this book. Brilliant mind. Another one far too long on my TBR (four years).

The Man Without a Face is the chilling account of how a low- level, small-minded KGB operative ascended to the Russian presidency and, in an astonishingly short time, destroyed years of progress and made his country once more a threat to her own people and to the world.
Handpicked as a successor by the “family” surrounding an ailing and increasingly unpopular Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Putin seemed like a perfect choice for the oligarchy to shape according to its own designs. Suddenly the boy who had stood in the shadows, dreaming of ruling the world, was a public figure, and his popularity soared. Russia and an infatuated West were determined to see the progressive leader of their dreams, even as he seized control of media, sent political rivals and critics into exile or to the grave, and smashed the country’s fragile electoral system, concentrating power in the hands of his cronies.
As a journalist living in Moscow, Masha Gessen experienced this history firsthand, and for The Man Without a Face she has drawn on information and sources no other writer has tapped. Her account of how a “faceless” man maneuvered his way into absolute-and absolutely corrupt-power has the makings of a classic of narrative nonfiction.”


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Throwback Thursday: May 2011

Throwback Thursday


Revisiting what I posted 10 years ago,
following the idea I found at The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog
(click on this link or the logo to see where the idea started from,
and to post the link to your own post).

On the first Thursday of the month available on my site,
I’m planning to post about the previous month, 10 years before.

  📚 📚 📚 

Today, I’ll be revisiting May 2011.

I published 17 posts, 11 of these were reviews.
Here is the one which received most views:

the worst hard time


I really enjoyed this book,
as well as two others that have stayed with me ever since.
The first for being such an amazing “biography” of the Atlantic, with a very clever plan à la Shakespeare,
and the other for being such a clever book on words and language:

  atlantic   ella minnow pea

Click on the covers to know more

  📚 📚 📚 

Next post will be on July 8



Six degrees of separation: from Hamlet to Hercule Poirot


Six degrees of separation:
from Hamlet to Hercule Poirot

Ah ah, could giving us a one unusual word title be too tough for my way of playing this game? Ok I had to change a bit my own rule, but it worked, by using the same first name of author to start with!!

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

  Hamnet  Writing the icon

The English Grammar Workbook for Adult  The Professor and the Madman

Housekeeper And The Professor  Peril at End House

1. Hamnet, by Maggie O’Farrell
A popular book, and I love Hamlet by Shakespeare, but I haven’t taken the plunge yet for this book.
“Drawing on Maggie O’Farrell’s long-term fascination with the little-known story behind Shakespeare’s most enigmatic play, HAMNET is a luminous portrait of a marriage, at its heart the loss of a beloved child.
Warwickshire in the 1580s. Agnes is a woman as feared as she is sought after for her unusual gifts. She settles with her husband in Henley street, Stratford, and has three children: a daughter, Susanna, and then twins, Hamnet and Judith. The boy, Hamnet, dies in 1596, aged eleven. Four years or so later, the husband writes a play called Hamlet.
Award-winning author Maggie O’Farrell’s new novel breathes full-blooded life into the story of a loss usually consigned to literary footnotes, and provides an unforgettable vindication of Agnes, a woman intriguingly absent from history.”

2. Writing the Icon of the Heart: In Silence Beholding
She quotes a lot St Isaac the Syrian, and it is always refreshing to see a Father from the Christian East quoted by a Christian from the Western world. Going back to our common roots…
“The subtitle of Maggie Ross’s new book captures its essence, for it is about silence and our need to behold God. Beholding is a notion that we are in danger of losing. It is often lost in translation, even by the NRSV and the Jerusalem Bible. Beholding needs to be recovered both in theology and practice.”

3. The English Grammar Workbook for Adults: A Self-Study Guide to Improve Functional Writing
VERDICT: The perfect tool both for ESL and EFL students, from basic grammatical rules to practical and even creative writing.

4. The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary

I haven’t posted any review, but I really enjoyed it, like any book by Simon Winchester anyway.
The Professor and the Madman, masterfully researched and eloquently written, is an extraordinary tale of madness, genius, and the incredible obsessions of two remarkable men that led to the making of the Oxford English Dictionary — and literary history. The compilation of the OED, begun in 1857, was one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken. As definitions were collected, the overseeing committee, led by Professor James Murray, discovered that one man, Dr. W. C. Minor, had submitted more than ten thousand. When the committee insisted on honoring him, a shocking truth came to light: Dr. Minor, an American Civil War veteran, was also an inmate at an asylum for the criminally insane.”

5. The Housekeeper and the Professor
VERDICT:  The Housekeeper And The Professor is  a difficult book to review; the novel is more about the ambiance than the plot itself. You may even end up loving maths at the end!

6. Peril at End House
OK, slightly cheating again, by using only half of the first word…
I haven’t written anything about this one either, but it definitely was a great plot.
“Hercule Poirot is vacationing on the Cornish coast when he meets Nick Buckly. Nick is the young and reckless mistress of End House, an imposing structure perched on the rocky cliffs of St. Loo.
Poirot has taken a particular interest in the young woman who has recently narrowly escaped a series of life-threatening accidents. Something tells the Belgian sleuth that these so-called accidents are more than just mere coincidences or a spate of bad luck. It seems all too clear to him that someone is trying to do away with poor Nick, but who? And, what is the motive? In his quest for answers, Poirot must delve into the dark history of End House. The deeper he gets into his investigation, the more certain he is that the killer will soon strike again. And, this time, Nick may not escape with her life.”


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