Hosted by Kate, this is a monthly meme where we all start with the same book and add six linked titles.
For the first Six Degrees of 2021, we are starting with Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell. I reviewed this last year. It was one of the few books I managed to finish and I really enjoyed it – a deserved winner of the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction in my view.
I was also delighted to see Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie chosen by voters as the ‘winner of winners’ with her novel Half of a Yellow Sun in celebration of the Women’s Prize 25th Anniversary. This event celebrating the award is inspirational and well worth a watch.
Also inspirational, and extremely moving, is this podcast interview with Dr Edith Eger, a survivor of Auschwitz. I read her book The Gift last year, which is packed full of incredible insight and wisdom. But hearing her speak is even better and highly memorable.
Dr Eger talks in her book and in the interview about finding ways to live as if she were truly free. This chimes closely with the ethos of Saidiya Hartman’s book Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Riotous Black Girls, Troublesome Women and Queer Radicals, in which she explores the lives of Black women trying to carve out new paths rejecting slavery and degrading work. It has had amazing views and looks to be an important read.
This reminds me of Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly which highlights the story of Black women undertaking not degrading work, but work of the highest complexity and importance and yet getting no recognition for it. I have heard that the book is way better than the film (isn’t that always the case?) and have it on my TBR list.
Thinking about figures – this time of the statistical kind – takes me to Tim Harford’s How To Make the World Add Up: Ten Rules for Thinking Differently About Numbers. Given that numbers, graphs and charts have sadly become ever more present in our lives, this seemed like an important book to start reading and after a few pages it is already fascinating.
Harford was finishing his book last Spring, so had the opportunity to take into account the emergence of the pandemic. Another book which was written more or less in real time was Ali Smith’s Autumn – the first of her seasonal quartet and published in 2016 just after the UK’s Brexit referendum. I couldn’t get on with this when I first started to read it, but am now listening to an audio version which I finding absolutely brilliant. I think the poetic nature of Smith’s writing really lends itself to being read aloud and I am looking forward to working my way through the rest of the series.
So this month’s chain starts in 16th Century England and finishes in 21st Century England, via Africa, Germany and the USA. Another highly enjoyable adventure!
Next month we will be starting with Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler. See you then! 😀