Notes from a Book Addict

David Lodge

I recently enjoyed an audio version of Thinks by David Lodge – a rather quirky, unusual novel about academics who have an affair. I have been enjoying David Lodge’s books for years. His Nice Work, a modern version of Elizabeth Gaskell’s superb North and South, is a funny and excellent read (there’s also a TV version available on DVD), and Changing Places is a delight too. Read more

Poem of the Month, May 2018 – ‘In Flanders Fields’

Inscription of In Flanders Fields in a bronze

In Flanders Fields by John McCrae

The name John McCrae might not immediately ring any bells with you, but I bet you know his poem. Everyone knows his poem! In Flanders Fields is one of the most famous poems of WWI, and is remembered by all who buy poppies to commemorate the war. Read more

Companion Guide – Karen Blixen & ‘Out Of Africa’

When the movie of Out of Africa screened in the 1980s I, like so many others, fell in love with Robert Redford and Meryl Streep and the fabulous scenery of Africa. The film showed flocks of pink flamingos rising into the air, magnificent maned lions prowling across the grasslands, giraffe (“gentle amblers of the great plains”) loping along with easy elegance, and spectacular flights over the hills. Read more

The Life and Writings of Astrid Lindgren

Astrid Lindgren around 1960

In preparation for my Scandinavian literary tour in July, I have been delving into the life and writings of Astrid Lindgren. She was a remarkable woman. In the 1920s she had an illegitimate baby and had to place him in foster care for some years. Read more

Sydney Writers Walk

Sydney Writers Walk

RL Stevenson plaqueDo you know why Agatha Christie visited Australia? What did Sir Arthur Conan Doyle do here that was so controversial? What did D.H. Lawrence do at the zoo? And what did Rudyard Kipling have to say about Sydneysiders? The Writers Walk at Circular Quay consists of 60 brass plaques set into the pavement between the Opera House and the Rocks. These plaques commemorate the visits of various writers to Sydney, some from other parts of Australia and others from much further afield. Read more

Poem of the Month, April 2018 – ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’

The Owl and the Pussycat

The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five-pound note. Read more

Companion Guide – Anthony Trollope & ‘Dr Thorne’

One summer evening in 1852 Anthony Trollope found himself in the cathedral city of Salisbury on post office business. He stood for some time on Harnham Bridge looking at the distant spire of the cathedral and there he conceived the idea of writing novels about clergymen, showing them not so much in their clerical roles, but as ordinary men, as beset by greed, ambitions, lust and envy as other men. Read more

A Shelf-Catering Holiday

The Open Book - a bookshop holiday
The Diary of a Bookseller

The Diary of a Bookseller

I do love reading books set in bookshops. Recently I very much enjoyed The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell. It recounts the joys and pains of running a second-hand bookstore and is full of amusing anecdotes. I do not much share Shaun’s reading tastes, and almost every book he himself read or recommended, or even sold, seemed to have been written by a man and I was tempted to send him a good list of books by women. But his book was funny and sad at the same time, and it did make you ponder the troubled future of bookshops. He describes how one day he shoots a kindle, then sticks the damaged kindle on the bookshop wall, as a warning to his customers of what e-books are doing to shops like his. Read more

Have You Ever Seen a Fore-edged Book?

Book of Common Prayer with two fore-edged paintings.

Have you ever seen a fore-edged book? Generally I feel that a book is a wonderfully complete object in itself, needing no decoration but an attractive cover. However, fore-edged books do transform books into unusual works of art, in the painterly sense of the word, as well as in the literary sense. Read more

Boz in Oz

Dickens’ statue in Sydney’s Centennial Parkland

From 25 – 30th October this year Sydney will host the 122nd international Charles Dickens conference. This promises to be a really exciting event – worth coming to Sydney for and of course a special occasion for Sydneysiders. Read more