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Tips, links and suggestions: what are you reading this week? | Books


Welcome to this week’s blogpost. Here’s our roundup of your comments and photos from the last week.

Lousie Erdrich’s Last Report On The Miracles At Little No Horse seems pertinent to NicolaVintageReads:


“The cold deepened and the illness flourished. At all hours the desperate came calling. Mary Kashpaw broke the trail, tramped before the priest in her bearpaw snowshoes, twice the size of ordinary snowshoes and reinforced with moose gut and the unforgiving sinews of cows.”

Seems pertinent to re read Lousie Erdrich’s Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse where Spanish Flu hits the reservation in 1918 and Mary Kashpaw and Father Damien Modeste trudge through the snow to help the sick and dying. Great writing can be uplifting in troubled times.

Tom Holland’s Dynasty has fascinated BaddHamster:


I’m again reminded of how so many of the values that we were taught are “Christian”, and still are by the likes of Jordan Peterson etc., are actually directly descended from Roman ideas of virtue, particularly in the area of sexual morality. It strikes me that traditional Roman thinking on the topic was every bit as confused as that of any Pope that came afterwards. Of course, it makes perfect sense given the Christian churches are direct descendents of the Roman empire, but it’s no less fascinating all the same.

“I’ve just read Borges’s Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote,” says LeatherCol:


I was very rewarded. I think most by the peculiar impact his brevity has, and – even in translation – his use of language. I read somewhere (here….?) that Borges’s writing is devoid of simile. It is as if each word is specifically chosen for its direct use to tell the single story he wants to right. It isn’t only what he says about reading changing identical text, it’s the surrounding edifice of the story he constructs that feels so deep in so few pages. I particularly disliked the unreliable narrator for his high Catholic antisemitism and anti-Protestantism, and had such a strong image of what he looked like, what his study looked like. I’m sure it’s a story that will continue to make me think in its wake.

“Warsaw Diary 1978-81 by Kazimerz Brandys has been a great find,” says AbsoluteBeginner76:


Brandys’ comments on his first impressions of Warsaw in 1932, he writes of the city as an Englishman of London or a Frenchman of Paris, the majestic capital, its boulevards and culture. As I had never regarded Warsaw as a special city, this was fascinating to read, I felt myself drawn into another culture and a view on the world.

Tove Ditlevsen’s Childhood has been a successful first foray into Danish literature Veufveuve:


In marked contrast with the glacial pace at which I read The End I have just read, it’s marvellous. Taut prose, the wonderfully vivid presence of the narrator (and thus the author), and an economical but very rich evocation of a time and a place, the working class Copenhagen neighbourhood of Vesterbro in the 1920s.

Lean On Pete by Willy Vlautin has impressed jimitron5000:


The main character (Charley) is really put through the wringer in this one. The writing is simple and beautiful, the content quite brutal.

“I’ve been reading Fifth Sun: A New History of the Aztecs by Camilla Townsend,” says tommydog:


What most of us know about the Aztec is probably little more than they performed human sacrifices, had some big pyramids, and were quickly conquered by Cortez. The Aztecs were a fairly new power in central Mexico and were very conscious of their own relatively recent arrival from what is probably now the present day American southwest, and their status as disdained and impoverished newcomers until recently. They had books written in glyphs that folded out like accordions. They built what some of the conquistadores said was the most beautiful city they’d ever seen in the middle of lake with sumptuous gardens, markets and even a zoo. There were complex political rivalries between prominent families exacerbated by lots of polygamy and sons from multiple mothers whose social status depended more on that of their mother when they all had the same father. When they finally fell to Cortez it was a brutal war followed by ravages from smallpox …

The author has apparently learnt the Aztec language made her own translations of surviving records. She writes beautifully and it is an interesting but fairly short book at just over 200 pages.

Castle to Castle by Celine has given Long_Shanks something to laugh about:


Celine’s poetic misanthropic rants have brought the joy of reading back into my life! The first 100 pages have been rants about those who have wronged him after his fall from grace. He then moves on to chronicle his experience holed up in a castle in Sigmaringen, Germany with members of the Vichy French government towards the end of WW2 as the Allied forces are advancing. Only a talent like Celine can take a dark time in history and turn it into something hilariously brilliant.

Finally, forgive an unusual sign-off. A lot of us will be going into isolation over the next few weeks and these are highly unusual times. Looking on the bright side, we’ll be able to get some good reading done and have plenty to share. Let’s also continue to make this a place where we can support each other and cheer each other up. And, talking of feeling better, I’ve been stocking up on Terry Pratchett books and there are hours and hours of Bruce Springsteen bootlegs I haven’t yet heard … Art is one of the things that will keep us going. So keep sharing those recommendations.

Interesting links about books and reading

If you’re on Instagram, now you can share your reads with us: simply tag your posts with the hashtag #GuardianBooks, and we’ll include a selection in this blog. Happy reading!



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