Six Degrees of Separation: Shuggie Bain

My favourite monthly tag, hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest,  Six Degrees of Separation #6degrees picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Links to my reviews are in the titles of the books. Our starting book this month is:

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

I haven’t read last year’s Booker Prize winner, and am not sure if I will, despite knowing I will enjoy the story, it’s the Glaswegian dialect that puts me off – please feel free to try to persuade me.

This month, I’ve been a little lazy and my links are all in the titles of books chosen, so Bain led to:

Beryl Bainbridge: Artist, Writer, Friend by Psiche Hughes

Last dinner on the Titanic by Beryl Bainbridge

You may not know, but Beryl Bainbridge was also an accomplished artist with a very distinct style. One of her best friends, Hughes, brought together a collection of her paintings after Beryl died for an exhibition held in Liverpool, and wrote this biography of her friend told through her art. This book is lavishly illustrated with Bainbridge’s art – be it family portraits or illustrations for her books – one from her Titanic series right.

The last part of the Beryl’s name in the main title, Bridge led me to:

Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding

I read this so many years ago, it’s before I started my reading spreadsheet! But I remember enjoying it very much, especially the titular heroine’s drink and fags stats that began each entry in her diary. Then I enjoyed it all over again when the film came out, even warming hugely to Rene Zellweger as Bridget, and adoring Hugh Grant and Colin Firth – how to choose between those two?! ‘Jones‘ takes us to:

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I used this book around eighteen months ago, and then it was the starter book a few months later, but I only had one other ‘Jones’ on the list, which I’d used a few months ago, so apologies for repeating myself.

That said, Daisy Jones… is a cracking book, the biography of an American band in the 1960s/1970s very much in Fleetwood Mac / Eagles mode, and told through interviews with the band members, wives and producers, managers etc. I loved it. ‘Six‘ takes us off towards…

A Sixpenny Song by Jennifer Johnston

Irish author Johnston was in her eighties when this book was published in 2013. It takes a dysfunctional family relationship as its theme and was a quick and comforting read and, however much I hate to use the word, the plot was predictable, but that’s not to say that this slight novel wasn’t a good read. Johnston is as good as ever at dissecting feelings and emotions and getting to the heart of things without padding. ‘Song‘ then leads me to…

A Song of Stone by Iain Banks

Which gives me a chance to plug my ‘Banksread‘ reading week in April from the 10th to the 18th. I invite you to join with me in reading or re-reading any of Banks’ work, be it mainstream novels or his SF, or even his book of poetry (co-authored with Ken McLeod), or lit crit – there are several books about his SF.

A Song of Stone though is a dystopian novel from the middle of his list that I can’t remember enough about and want to re-read. And for my final link, ‘Stone‘ takes me to…

Stone in a Landslide by Maria Barbal

Translated by Laura McGloughlin and Paul Mitchell.

This was the second novella published by translation specialists Peirene Press, and it remains one of my favourites. It follows the life and loves of Conxa, a Catalan peasant, who finds the love of her life in Jaume.  It’s a masterful portrait of a rural life in the Pyrenees; subsistence living, each family struggling to get by with their few fields. But it’s a good life for those that are lucky enough to find a soul-mate like Conxa, although the Spanish Civil War intervenes bringing tragedy.  However, the passage of time just flows by without any unnecessary explanations – a beautiful read.

My six degrees have taken me all over the place this month. Where will yours take you?

20 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: Shuggie Bain

  1. Liz says:

    Ooh lots to love here! I thought Daisy Jones was absolutely brilliant and can’t wait to see Reese Witherspoon’s adaptation of it. I don’t normally like films of books but she feels like a safe pair of hands. 🤞🏻 The Barbal looks great – Peirene is one of my favourites indies and I hadn’t spotted this one before. And I have never been able to ‘get’ Iain Banks, so will be interested to see your and others’ posts in your reading week. 😀

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      I’ll look forward to the Daisy film too! That Peirene book is probably my favourite of theirs, a very gentle story. I’ve been a Banks fan since he started, although I lost touch with his SF after the first half dozen. His mainstream fiction is quite varied in style though.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      Shuggie is one to get from the library for me, then I won’t feel guilty if I don’t read it.

  2. Davida Chazan says:

    Excuse me, but it is NOT lazy to use parts of the title or the author’s name to make your chain. It is just one way to go, especially when you haven’t read the first book in the chain. (I will NOT try to persuade you to read the first book because I also have a very hard time with dialects, jargon, and vernacular prose.)

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      Thanks Davida. I was referring to my normal habit of trying to find a left-field approach to this tag. But I still enjoyed searching out the books for it.

  3. A Life in Books says:

    Not lazy at all! it’s a bit like a crossword puzzle this month. I’m going to take up your Shuggie challenge by saying that I’m not keen on dialect in novels either (often so badly done) but I absolutely loved this one. I’ll leave that with you.

  4. Lexlingua says:

    I’m sorry to confess I’d never heard of Beryl Bainbridge before! But the book looks awesome because I do love me some art history. Bridget Jones and Daisy Jones are well-known, of course, but the others on your chain also look wonderful. May join you on your Banksread, at least by reading that book of poetry you mentioned. Thanks!

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      Bainbridge is one of my favourite authors ever – she just happened to paint too. I have a whole page devoted to her – up on my projects tab. You’d be very welcome indeed to join in with my Banksread! Thank you.

  5. kimbofo says:

    Wow. I’ve read all the books on your list bar the Bainbridge. (In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever read Bainbridge. I must rectify this.) Very pleased to see Jennifer Johnston on this list, too, you know how much I love her!

  6. Jen at Introverted Reader says:

    I like lists that are connected by title and yet it’s something that I never remember to do. Maybe one day.

    I always think of Bridget Jones when I see Daisy Jones and the Six and have to remind myself that the two aren’t related.

    Great chain!

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