Six Degrees of Separation: From Eats, Shoots and Leaves to The Golden Thread

Six Degrees of Separation is a monthly meme hosted by Kate over at BooksAreMyFavouriteAndBest. She sets the starting point and participants add six more titles linked in any way they choose.

This month we start with Eats, Shoots and Leaves, a great book about English grammar by Lynne Truss. I remember reading and enjoying it when it was first published. But then I am a total grammar nerd (split infinitive, anyone?), so I was definitely its target audience.

Continue reading “Six Degrees of Separation: From Eats, Shoots and Leaves to The Golden Thread”

#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

Six Degrees of Separation: From Fleishman Is In Trouble to I’m Not Complaining

I have had a brief break from this blog in recent weeks, but if there is one thing to get me going again, it is the monthly Six Degrees meme hosted by Kate.  These posts are always such fun to compile and I love reading everyone else’s lists too.

The starting point this month is Fleishman Is In Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner.  I had not heard of this before, which is surprising given all the plaudits from a wide range of luminaries on its Amazon page.  I’ll have to give it a look sometime. Continue reading “Six Degrees of Separation: From Fleishman Is In Trouble to I’m Not Complaining”

Six Degrees of Separation: From Murmur to Someone at a Distance

How can it be the beginning of June already? The year is flying past. But at least it means that it is time once again to take part in the Six Degrees meme, hosted by Kate over at BooksAreMyFavouriteAndBest. For extra Six Degrees enjoyment, check out my playlist to link with this month’s titles over on my Leaping Tracks blog.

This month we start with Murmur by Will Eaves. This is a multi-award winning novel about a character whose life is based on that of Alan Turing. I have a copy on order from the library and am really looking forward to reading it.

Thinking about pioneering scientists, I am choosing for my first link Discoverers of the Universe by Michael Hoskin which showcases the amazing work of astronomers William and Caroline Herschel. Until fairly recently, William received all the plaudits for their work. But happily, and quite rightly, more is now being written about his sister’s equally important (and in some cases more significant) contributions.

Moving on, I am taking the universe as my next linking point. I love this quote….

“Beethoven tells you what it’s like to be Beethoven and Mozart tells you what it’s like to be human. Bach tells you what it’s like to be the universe.”
Douglas Adams

….which makes me think of James Gaines’ Evening in the Palace of Reason. This book is about a meeting between J S Bach and Frederick the Great, an encounter which leads to Bach’s masterpiece composition ‘A Musical Offering’. I have had it on my ‘To Be Read’ shelf for years and am pleased to have been reminded of it now!

Switching from evening to morning for my next link, I have chosen Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa. This is another book I have had for ages and really must get around to reading (one of the many joys of these six degrees posts is the unexpected shuffling of the To Be Read pile!). It is a powerful-sounding family story set against the backdrop of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

To carry on with a time-related link, we move on to Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys. I read Wide Sargasso Sea not so long ago, and was also interested in Diana Athill’s recollections about Rhys in Stet. So another reading plan (sigh) is to read more of her work, including this one which is set in Paris, leading me to…

….Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin. As this list has rapidly taken on a ‘books I would like to read’ vibe, I thought this Paris-set story would be a good choice because I have recently started Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk and am sure I will want to read more of his work.

Giovanni’s Room is a close examination of the complexities of different types of love and obsession. Both this, and its French setting call to mind Dorothy Whipple’s Someone at a Distance, a wonderful book which, hurrah, I have actually read and is a fitting conclusion to the chain, given that I am participating in Jessie’s Persephone Readathon this week.

Next month we will be starting with the children’s classic Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. See you then! 🙂