‘The regret of unspoken words’ [book review]

A review of The Boy from Boskovice: A Father’s Secret Life by Vicky Unwin I’m always interested in reading World War II memoirs and histories, so I jumped at the chance to review Vicky Unwin’s second book, The Boy from Boskovice, which delves into the life of her refugee father. Touted as the piecing togetherContinue reading ‘The regret of unspoken words’ [book review]

‘The impenetrable nature of sleep’ [book review]

A review of Sleepless by Anders Bortne, translated from the Norwegian by Lucy Moffatt ‘Insomnia is a public health problem suffered by every tenth adult in the Western world.’ A striking statement, but one that is entirely characteristic of Norwegian author Anders Bortne’s recent memoir Sleepless, a record of his own struggle with chronic insomniaContinue reading ‘The impenetrable nature of sleep’ [book review]

‘A confluence of exile’ [book review]

A review of To the Lake: A Balkan Journey of War and Peace by Kapka Kassabova Travel writing hasn’t usually provided me with much cause for melancholy. Nostalgia, perhaps, or a sense of yearning. It may be that I have recently been reading through a lens shaped by the current state of the world –Continue reading ‘A confluence of exile’ [book review]

The Monthly Booking: January 2021

Never have I been so happy to see the year change. As distressing as it was, 2020 was still a brilliant year for reading – as you can see from my personal Best Books of 2020 list – and while I’m hoping that 2021 will be as different to its predecessor as possible, this isContinue reading The Monthly Booking: January 2021

The Best Books of 2020

It isn’t easy to write a ‘best books of the year’ post. First of all, I hate being asked to choose anything. Secondly, posts of this format mushroom at this time of year – and how many, I wonder, do we really need? All the same, I decided it would be a useful exercise (andContinue reading The Best Books of 2020

‘I went chasing eclipses’ [book review]

A review of Suppose a Sentence by Brian Dillon Hard to write sentences – meaningful ones, anyway – about a work devoted to just that: the sentence. Hard to convey the experience of reading Brian Dillon’s magnificent new book, an inspirational volume of essays as skilfully sculpted as the sentences they examine. A quiet, perhapsContinue reading ‘I went chasing eclipses’ [book review]

The Monthly Booking: December 2020

Reading has meant a lot this year. I’ve heard many people say that recent events have totally destroyed their concentration, but whatever else has been happening – and however hard I may have found it to concentrate on other things – reading has been a constant and calming presence over the last twelve months. I’mContinue reading The Monthly Booking: December 2020

‘A few, rare moments of inspiration’ [book review]

A review of Shooting Stars: Ten Historical Miniatures by Stefan Zweig, translated from the German by Anthea Bell Earlier this year I enthusiastically reviewed Stefan Zweig’s memoir, The World of Yesterday, so I had absolutely no hesitation in picking up another of his non-fiction titles. Shooting Stars: Ten Historical Miniatures is a now slightly datedContinue reading ‘A few, rare moments of inspiration’ [book review]

The Monthly Booking: November 2020

This month is all about short works of literature. I used to struggle a lot with short stories, but over the last couple of years have developed a serious appreciation for them. What I once found difficult to cope with – the regular lack of closure, abrupt endings, missing out on classic character development –Continue reading The Monthly Booking: November 2020

‘Horror and awe are not incompatible’ [book review]

A review of The Unreality of Memory & Other Essays by Elisa Gabbert What is disaster and why are we so obsessed with it? This is the question at the heart of Elisa Gabbert’s The Unreality of Memory & Other Essays, a wide-ranging collection of essays exploring individual and collective tragedy, our reaction to eventsContinue reading ‘Horror and awe are not incompatible’ [book review]

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