Bookish and Not-So-Bookish Thoughts


  1. Two and a half weeks into the new job, and I LOVE it. In week one, I handsold books I’d been raving about on this very blog to real people, which was such a great introduction to the many ways in which bookselling is essentially a practical application of reviewing. At the end of week two, I got the nod to manage our social media accounts on a trial basis until April, which is amazingly exciting. On Monday I went with two colleagues to sell books at an event with brilliant American philosopher Daniel Dennett. I am so bloody lucky.
  2. My grandpa had a mild stroke last week (he’s doing well, home from hospital, and recovering incredibly swiftly), so I went down to visit him and my grandmother over the weekend. They live in a village by the South Downs that’s so ridiculously lovely it’s practically fictional. Everyone there is either a retired brigadier or related to a duchess. My auntie came down too and we had some gorgeous walks with the (horrible little) dogs.
  3. On the other hand, it turns out that working a full week, then handling someone else’s ironing, recycling, dishwashing and phone contract admin for two days, then going back to work on Monday, is tiring.
  4. The other day I had to skip my morning coffee and by 11:30 a.m. had acquired a headache that lasted on and off until 5 p.m. This is Not A Good Sign.
  5. We’re going to France for four days on Friday and I don’t know which books to bring. I have two review copies, Memoirs of a Polar Bear by Yoko Tawada, and Sand by Wolfgang Herrndorf, which I will definitely finish in four days. Should I bring them both, or bring one and then knock out one or two of the books on my phone? Or should I bring one of the books I’ve been allowed to take home from work because they’re damaged: Swing Time by Zadie Smith, The Dry by Jane Harper, and Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett? Or should I bring the proof I just got today from a debut author: Larchfield by Polly Clark? SO MANY CHOICES. (Seriously, if you have an opinion, let me know. I need help.)
  6. Right now I’m reading Sebastian Barry’s Costa Award-winning Days Without End, as a buddy read with the indomitable Esther of Esther Writes. (You heard me! Stay tuned.) Holy moly. It’s so dense, the writing is so thick with imagery and none of it is strained or pathetic, and it reminds me of so many different things at once. It reads a little like a more poeticย True History of the Kelly Gang, though there are also very light shades of Blood Meridian. It is really superb.

Bookish and Not-So-Bookish Thoughts is run by Christine at Bookishly Boisterous. Link back, say hi.


14 thoughts on “Bookish and Not-So-Bookish Thoughts

  1. I love Sebastian Barry! I struggled a bit with Days Without End, purely because the setting didn’t really appeal to me, but I still found plenty to enjoy as his writing is so beautiful and poetic. The Secret Scripture is my favourite of his. I’m glad you’re happy with the new job. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • This is my first Barry and I’m really surprised by how much there is to unpack in the language. It’s been quite a long time since I read something written so thickly, if that makes sense, but I’ve settled into the rhythm of it and am really enjoying it now. The Secret Scripture has been mentioned to me by so many people that I feel I really must make it the next Barry I read.

  2. Helen Alston says:

    Swing Time for reading during travel is recommended. There’s a great deal of identity crises/politics, which might be fun to navigate on the road.

    • Awesome, a concrete recommendation! (Everyone I’ve asked so far has done the verbal equivalent of \_(ใƒ„)_/ยฏ) I do really want to read Swing Time.

  3. I am reading Memoirs of a Polar Bear right now, and just went on an overnight trip, and brought White Teeth instead. So I’d go with smith! I do love Memoirs but it’s a slow read for me, more poetry than novel.

    • I feel the same way – started Polar Bear this afternoon and felt a bit unmoved, so I’m gonna take Sand, Swing Time, and then rely on my phone books if I finish those.

  4. I’m a massive Barry fan (read them all except one) but I didn’t much like the new one… the writing is gorgeous, as per usual, and the voice distinctive and memorable, but the story was too battle heavy for me.

    Glad to hear you are enjoying your job!

    • It did remind me of Blood Meridian, especially those massacres of Indians. But I liked how he used them to show that Thomas could be both feminine and a soldier – thought that was really interesting.

  5. Glad the job is going well! All good thoughts to your grandpa. Your parents must be grateful to you for helping out when you can. Have a great time in France and enjoy whatever you end up reading there. Books read on holiday often take on extra resonance. I’m meant to be reviewing Days without End for BookBrowse…if a NetGalley approval or library hold copy ever turns up.

    • Thank you! I’ve just finished Swing Time – we have another day here and a day’s worth of traveling home again, and I’m wondering whether to start Sand now, given that I read quickly and the chapters are of the bite-sized proportions that encourage devouring… I hope a copy of Days Without End does turn up for you, it’s a brilliant piece of work and I think you might really enjoy it.

  6. Sorry about your grandpa! I hope his recovery continues to be speedy. So glad you love your new job and congrats on the social media “promotion.” You’ll be brilliant! Have a great trip to France!

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