#SixDegreesOfSeparation: From Hamnet to Autumn

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! 😀

*Featured image credit: Photo by Haidan on Unsplash

26 thoughts on “#SixDegreesOfSeparation: From Hamnet to Autumn

  1. Totally agree about Edith Egar’s book, Liz, she is a most remarkable woman.
    Hidden Figures is well worth a read -it gives a richer view of the main women whose story it tells, and of many others too, and more context about the society they lived in, and the systematic and entrenched nature of the racism they faced. And the work they were doing is interesting too! It just takes a bit of an adjustment to read “computer” as meaning a person!
    The numbers book sounds interesting, will look it out when libraries reopen.
    Great post, and happy new year!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Hi there Liz! What a very clever chain. I haven’t read The gift yet, but will have a look at Dr Edith Egar. Thanks for sharing!

    I have a very boring chain this month and just went with the first letter, first title theme.

    Happy New Year!

    Elza Reads

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Tim Harford is amazing, I’ve followed him ever since I read his Undercover Economist. Last year, when I was participating in the Non-Fiction November Reading Challenge, I came across Eger’s The Choice. So many bloggers recommended it, and told me that Frankl (Man’s Search for Meaning) was an important support for Eger. Inspired to read more of their works and become wiser, more resilient in 2021. Happy New Year, and Happy #6Degrees.
    ~Six Degrees Post @Lexlingua

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I’ve just downloaded The Gift which will be go hand-in-hand with the book I’m reading now: “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. This book has been on my back-burner for decades. Somehow January 2021 felt like it was the right time to read it. “Can a man who’s warm understand one sho’s freezing?” Are we able to understand what we have never experienced? Is it possible to feel freedom, despite circumstances? Are we able to look beyond the status quo and embrace emergence and complexity? In other words, would we accept Van Gogh or Monet if we lived in their time OR would we look away? Some great questions for 2021. So I’ve started in Russia and now have come to Germany with “The Gift” and will be heading over to your place with the second book of 44 Scotland Street. What an adventure we’re on!! Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I always love a bit of travel. Ali Smith’s effort, Autumn, I remember hearing it was all doom and gloom Brexit etc, that’s if I remember rightly, does the vibe seem any different now?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I waited to reply until I finished it. Turns out it is not as Brexity as I expected – not much in it about that at all really. It takes a bit of getting used to – definitely better in audio version. But I am reserving overall judgement until I finish the quartet.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I haven’t read Hamnet, but just finished reading Maggie O’Farrell’s memoir I Am, I Am, I Am which was very insightful and uniquely structured. I know I’ll get to Hamnet eventually, but in no rush, plenty else surrounding me for the moment and I’ve been forewarned it may not be the right time for me to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

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