Three Slightly Shorter Reviews

I’ve got a series of posts lined up for the week in between Christmas and New Year with my hits, misses, finds and stats, so it’s time to catch up with my review pile backlog and some shorter reviews… The Undertaker’s Daughter by Kate Mayfield For anyone who loved the TV series Six Feet Under, Read More

Poor but mostly happy …

This Boy by Alan Johnson Politicians’ memoirs are not the norm for me to read when I choose non-fiction. Alan Johnson may be a fine politician, (and many think that Labour would be in a much better place if he had stood to become leader) but this volume doesn’t cover his later career, just his Read More

Hitch’s last essays

This post was republished into my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive. Mortality by Christopher Hitchens I’m a long-term fan of Vanity Fair magazine for it’s in depth articles, photo portfolios and reportage, (OK, I don’t read the bits about obscure US politicians). One of the highlights most months though was to read the Read More

Anderson & Zweig; Thorn and Morrissey

I know – it’s too long since you had a proper book post – they will come soon, promise. Life is so busy at the moment, and for the next couple of weeks it’ll be the same – as I have the Abingdon Science Festival to go to/help at, several trips to the Oxford Literary Read More

Nannying in the 1980s

Love, Nina: Despatches from Family Life by Nina Stibbe This volume of memoirs in the form of letters was the perfect reading for me in the past couple of weeks, when life has been so hectic. I’ve just finished a couple of weeks of full-time cover teaching, and then with all the usual Christmas events from Read More

‘November spawned a monster’?

This post was combined from two and republished into it’s original place in my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive. Autobiography by Morrissey First thoughts: Is anyone planning to read Autobiography by Morrissey? I’ve got a copy, and am admitting to feeling daunted by it. The opening lines go like this: My childhood is streets upon Read More

Nice little surprises

It’s lovely when you get a nice little surprise (or ‘pleasing’ as Lynne at DGR would call them). I’ve had a couple of good bookish ones this morning. Firstly, I unpacked my acquisitions from the charity shop yesterday. I know I don’t need books, but my daughter was having her hair cut, and what was Read More

The Women of Madison Avenue

Mad Women by Jane Maas Mad Men still ranks amongst my favourite TV programmes ever. I love everything about it – the clothes, the campaigns, the decor, the lifestyle, the cast, (especially John Slattery as Roger Sterling). But how true is the series? I’ve already read one book by a guy who was there – Jerry Read More

A master class in the art of stand-up

Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life by Steve Martin In the 1970s, Steve Martin was one of the US’s top comedians, playing sell-out tours to huge audiences, and regularly appearing on Saturday Night Live and the Johnny Carson Show. After eighteen years, worn out by it, and noticing the first empty seats in an audiences Read More

A body’s life, a life’s memories

Winter Journal by Paul Auster I’ve been an Auster-fan ever since I first read The New York Trilogy in the late 1980s, which I re-read and reviewed here a couple of years ago. Between writing his novels, Auster also writes essays and volumes of memoir. Winter Journal is a memoir largely told through the things that Read More

Scenes from a humorist’s life …

Our book group is having a short story July, concentrating on two authors renowned for their wit: Saki and Thurber.  I’m working my way through Saki, so I’ll deal with him in another post; here I’ll talk about my first experience of reading James Thurber. My Life and Hard Timesby James Thurber James Thurber (1894-1961), Read More

Hot Rats, it’s Zappa …

This post was republished into my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive. The Real Frank Zappa Book by Frank Zappa. with Peter Occhiogrosso Not so much a memoir as an appealing opportunity to “say stuff in print about tangential subjects” this book is an absolute hoot.  Forthright,  and by turns and hilarious and serious, Read More

It’s. Bill Shatner’s. Autobiography. Yes. Captain Kirk…

Up Till Now: The Autobiography by William Shatner with David Fisher I can’t remember if I’ve confessed up to it since I’ve been blogging, but I used to be a full-blown Trekker – a Star Trek fan.  I managed to stop just short of buying a uniform, but had all the videos of all the Read More

Those maddening real-life Mad Men …

From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor: Front-line Dispatches from the Advertising War by Jerry Della Femina. This book was originally published in 1970 – an insider’s guide to the goings on in the ad industry in the 1960s by a guy who was there – one of the original Mad Men.  Thanks to the success Read More

Being in a band – a girl’s perspective

Different for Girls: A Girl’s Own True-life Adventures in Pop by Louise Wener While I never followed the band Sleeper, I was aware of them – their singles were fun and tuneful.  However their singer, Louise Wener, did stand out from the crowd with her big brown eyes, pouty lips and great haircut – there were few Read More

An Education – See the film, read the book

Usually I always read the book before the film, but in the case of An Education by Lynn Barber, I saw the film on DVD first. In this case it didn’t matter, for the events that were adapted for the film, composed just a chapter in her memoir.  It was originally written as an article for Granta magazine and Read More

You need toughness to be a cutter …

Direct Red: A Surgeon’s Story by Gabriel Weston This slim book about becoming a surgeon is one of the best medical books I’ve ever read.  Some days as an interested bystander, I secretly wish I’d become a doctor – even a surgeon, but then seeing programmes on telly or reading books like this, I know Read More

My Reading Resolutions for 2009 – how did I do #4 (the final one!)

By now you might have cottoned on, by the series of bookish but not books-read posts, that I’m suffering a severe case of end-of-term-can’t-read-itis and have thus resorted to fillers; (all this pondering the stats is helping me formulate my books of the year though). Aside from that, I am reading The Moonstone but mostly Read More

An influential book from an influential writer …

Howards End is on the landing by Susan Hill That pesky Susan Hill! She’s managed to set the book-blogging world alight with her latest – a memoir about reading the books in her house and the stories they are associated with. HEIOTL, as I shall abbreviate it to, has become a blogging hot topic – Read More

The Police are but a small episode in this busy life …

Strange Things Happen by Stewart Copeland The emphasis is on fun in this memoir – for Copeland is a hyperactive sort, a workaholic but easily bored, loving a challenge, never playing anything quite the same way twice, liking to be boss, and he’s also much more than a mere drummer. Jumping about in time with Read More

An eloquently written misery memoir, long but loaded with nuggets of the author’s wit and bite

Closing Time by Joe Queenan I have enjoyed all the Joe Queenan books I’ve read, particularly The Unkindest Cut: How a Hatchet-Man Critic Made His Own $7,000 Movie and Put It All on His Credit Card.  Queenan is a journalist and author, having written for the New York Times and The Guardian amongst others, where his Read More

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

I was so looking forward to reading this book. I was hoping it would dish some dirt on Star Wars, working with Belushi in The Blues Brothers, being married to Paul Simon, writing four fab novels and script-doctoring, what it’s really like to be bipolar …. What a life Carrie Fisher has had! Unfortunately we Read More