Here is my Reading Log; commenced January, 2015, updated monthly. I shall include a photo, the book title and author, a quote from the text, the date I finished reading it, and any comments that I may have.
First Bite How we Learn to Eat, Bee Wilson
Sharp Objects, Gillian Flynn
The Mystical Beast, Alison Farthing
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy Schumer
Murder on the Maungatapu, Wayne Martin
Baby on Board Mum is Driving, Lyndsay Morgan
‘The idea of Karitane Nurses, and then Plunket, came from the wisdom of Truby King, who was born in Taranaki in 1858 (died 1938). He commenced his medical training in Edinburgh, Scotland, then returned to New Zealand to a place called Karitane, a small settlement on the east coast just north of Dunedin. […] It was here that Sir Truby King (knighted in 1927) was able to open part of his large home to enable young mothers to come for rest and education on the raising of babies. He trained young women of the district to become Karitane Nurses. He introduced the theory that babies needed routine, that breast feeding should be encouraged and that sleep, fresh air and warm clothing a necessary part of raising healthy and contented babies.’ – pg 1
I heard an interview with Lyndsay Morgan on RNZ (New Zealand National Radio) and was taken with the approach to motherhood that Lyndsay was describing; the Karitane way. It reminded me a lot of the parenting styles that I had witnessed in practice in my own family. I was pleased to be able to purchase a handbook with some straight forward methods for getting through those first few months and enjoying them! The book is a quick, easy read with testimonials from families spread throughout. I re-read this book quite a few times! My only gripe is that the information is not sorted in such a way that it is easy to flick back through when in search of a particular piece of advice.
Rosemary’s Baby, Ira Levin
“Now she was alive; was doing, was being, was at last herself and complete. She did what she had done before – cooked, cleaned, ironed, made the bed, shopped, took laundry to the basement, went to her sculpture class – but did everything against a new and serene background of knowing that Andrew-or-Susan (or Melinda) was every day a little bit bigger inside her than the day before, a little bit more clearly defined and closer to readiness.” – pg 82
I was pregnant when I read this story. Part way through I thought that perhaps a story about a women who is pregnant with the spawn of the devil was not the best thing to be reading in my condition. Surprisingly I found that I could really relate to the universal truths of pregnancy that Rosemary was experiencing e.g. being offered strange vitamin drinks! I still have to read the next two novels in this Ira Levin collection.
The Woodlanders, Thomas Hardy
Hard Times, Charles Dickens
1984, George Orwell
It is the ideas in this story that makes it great, I didn’t necessarily have a great time reading it but it enters my thoughts often.
Misery, Stephen King
“When you own a piano, it’s harder to think about moving.”
“There may be fairies, there may be elves, but God helps those who help themselves.”
Influence; The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert B. Cialdini
Emma, Jane Austen
“Vanity working on a weak head produces every sort of mischief.”
“She was one of those, who, having, once begun, would be always in love.”
THOUGHTS: I enjoyed the 1996 movie (with Gwyneth Paltrow playing Emma), and I enjoyed the BBC In Our Time podcast that I listened to. It was time that I read the book. I downloaded a LibriVox audio recording and listened to it on my way to and from work.
Think Like a Freak, Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner
“All we’ve done is encourage you to think a bit differently, a bit harder, a bit more freely. Now it’s your turn!” – pg 211
COMMENTS: There are some really great insights in this book. I will endeavour to kick for the middle of the posts from now on!
On Writing, Stephen King
COMMENTS: This book has been valuable in encouraging me to write more and read more (I believe I will follow King’s example and start listening to audio books to maximise possible reading hours). I am very interested to read more of Stephen King’s novels, Pet Sematary being my only venture thus far. I really enjoyed the advice that King dispenses and the imagery of excavating a story, piece by piece, like an archaeologist.
Banking Under Difficulties; or Life on the Goldfields, G. O. Preshaw
“He seemed to be a quiet inoffensive fellow, but the driver of the bullock team was an old man, with a face that had not seen water for many a month, and although almost everybody had a beard of some sort, his was enough to terrify any new chum.” – pg 9
Death Round the Bend, J. Halket Millar
“Richard Burgess was marking up for himself a record of villainy that surely few even among the desperate characters of the day equalled” – pg. 16
THOUGHTS: This was a good summation of the Maungatapu Murders and I picked up a few interesting tidbits that I had not previously encountered when reading ‘The Confessions of Richard Burgess; The Maungatapu Murders and Other Grisly Tales’. However, I was very disappointed to find that there are no references included in the book; this makes it very difficult for me to check the reliability of any information therein.
Why Does he do That?, Lundy Bancroft
“But women who live with abuse know that abusers come in all styles and from all backgrounds. Sometimes the more educated an abuser, the more knots he knows how to tie in a woman’s brain, the better he is at getting her to blame herself, and the slicker is his ability to persuade other people that she is crazy. The more socially powerful an abuser, the more powerful his abuse can be – and the more difficult it can be to escape”
THOUGHTS: After reading Crazy Love in March this year, I was left with a huge question mark: why do some people abuse those that they love? This book held many answers. Author, Lundy Bancroft, is highly experienced in working with abusers, their partners, and the judicial system. I really can’t cover all of his insightful, no-nonsense observations and recommendations but I absolutely recommend this book to anyone in a controlling relationship and to anyone seeking a better understanding of controlling or abusive relationships. The better educated we all are, the better chances that victims of abuse will have to break free and that abusers will have to see their abusive behaviour for what it is and learn to change it.
Uprooted, Naomi Novik
“I was in the Wood again, underneath the boughs, that cold hateful presence watching me. The momentary silence in the room was only its pause for breath. Stone walls and sunlight meant nothing. The Wood’s eyes were on us. The Wood was here.” pg. 325
THOUGHTS: I was interested in this book as I have been reading some old Russian folk stories. The author, Naomi Novik is a first generation American raised on Polish fairy tales and stories of Baba Yaga (witches). Uprooted is a story full of magic and dread. The Wood, is an ever present and increasingly formidable force of antagonism. When I finished reading I found myself referring to any hint of corruption as ‘the Wood taking hold’. The magic described in this book is the most vivid I have ever experienced; I felt as though it was all around me as I read. I recommend reading even if only to experience its magic for yourself.
The Girl With all the Gifts, M. R. Carey
“Melanie thinks of a song the children learned and sang one time: You’re my bread when I’m hungry. Hunger is bending Melanie’s spine like Achilles bending his bow. And Miss Justineau will be her bread.”
THOUGHTS: This was a thrilling read. I was no company for anyone until I made it to the end of the final page. The Girl with all the Gifts is an interesting take on a zombie apocalypse as it is told from the point of view of an infected child. Not only did this book raise my heartbeat but it also satisfied me with its conclusion which had a beautiful symmetry with the beginning.
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
Foreword: “Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last. To pluck the mask from the face of the Pharisee, is not to lift an impious hand to the Crown of Thorns.” – pg. 3 – 4
THOUGHTS: Jane Eyre is a gothic novel that follows a young girl through her displaced childhood on to becoming her own woman. Throughout the story I really felt the oppression of being a woman at that time with no family connections. Even though Jane Eyre is well educated, there are no real avenues for her to improve her situation. At first I found Jane’s undernourished childhood a little tedious to read through, but as the story progressed my experience of her backstory served to enrich my experience thoroughly.
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
“At 158th Street the cab stopped at one slice in a long white cake of apartment-houses.” – pg. 34
“There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams – not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion” – pg. 102 – 103
THOUGHTS: I had seen the 2013 Great Gatsby film and to be honest I wasn’t that fussed about it. Then I heard an interview with author Maureen Corrigan about her new book, And So We Read On: How the Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why it Endures. She discussed such interesting things about the story and its author that I just had to read it for myself. I found The Great Gatsby to be a beautiful comment on social elites and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, Murakami
“Sometimes, when he looked at his face in the mirror, he detected an incurable boredom” – pg. 10
THOUGHTS: For me this is a story about learning your own worth. Tsukuru doesn’t think much of himself. When his best friends abandoned him he didn’t even ask them why, he had always considered himself to be the odd one out anyway. Sixteen years later he needs to confront his past so that he can start living again. This is a great story and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne
“When they found voice to speak, it was, at first, only to utter remarks and inquiries such as any two acquaintance might have made, about the gloomy sky, the threatening storm, and, next, the health of each. Thus they went onward, not boldly, but step by step, into the themes that were brooding deepest in their hearts. So long estranged by fate and circumstances, they needed something slight and casual to run before, so that their real thoughts might be led across the threshold.” – pg. 181
THOUGHTS: A great old story that still resonates today. Hester is sentenced to wear a scarlet letter ‘A’ as a forever present symbol of her adulterous sin. Her daughter, little Pearl, is a great, headstrong character. Can Hester ever be happy after the deep searing pain that she has received from public humiliation and marginalisation? Who is Pearl’s father? Hester will not say and you will have to read to find out.
Public shaming is an awful punishment that far outweighs the crime that was committed. Unfortunately, thanks to the internet, we have started public shaming again. I hope that more people can think about the long term effects of public shaming. A person who has made a mistake can end up humiliated, unemployed, and ultimately beaten down and contemplating suicide because of people they don’t even know.
Kidnapped, Robert Louis Stevenson
“Do ye see my sword? It has slashed the heads off mair Whigamores than you have toes upon your feet. Call up your vermin to your back, sir, and fall on! The sooner the clash begins the sooner ye’ll taste this steel throughout your vitals.” – pg. 71
THOUGHTS: David goes on an exciting adventure and meets enchanting characters along the way. Kidnapped gives an interesting insight into the political climate of Scotland in 1751, told in favour of the Scottish Highlanders. I particularly enjoyed the bagpipes battle between Alan Breck and Robin Oig. Would be an enjoyable read for children.
Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
‘You’re not like the actors you watch in your videos, you’re not even like me. You were brought into this world for a purpose, and your futures, all of them, have been decided” – pg. 80
THOUGHTS: This whole story is the reflections of Kath, the central character. I loved the way that her thoughts would flit from one thing to the next but still move the story along in a compelling way. This was a sad story and put me in quite a sombre mood so I am quite pleased it is over but it has left me with something to think about.
The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas
“And now,’ said the stranger, ‘farewell, goodness, humanity, gratitude… Farewell all those feelings that nourish and illuminate the heart! I have taken the place of Providence to reward the good; now let the avenging God make way for me to punish the wrongdoer!” – pg. 300
“[…] fourteen years of despair and ten years of hope had made me a believer in Providence!”
‘[…] Until the day when God deigns to unveil the future to mankind, all human wisdom is contained in these words: ‘wait’ and ‘hope’!” – pg. 1243
THOUGHTS: Wow I feel like a more informed human being because of reading this. Edmond Dantes was a young man with his whole life opening up wonderfully in front of him when, on the day of his wedding, he was unjustly imprisoned and not released for over a decade. This is a magnificent story of revenge, second chances and a remarkable man; the Count of Monte Cristo.
Crazy Love, by Leslie Morgan Steiner
“Before I saw his fist go up, Conor had punched me on the right side of my face. My head hit the glass of the driver’s side window like a pinball […] I started to cry but I didn’t even pull the car over. I just kept driving. Damn him. Not again. Not on our honeymoon”
THOUGHTS: I have respect for Leslie Morgan Steiner, this is not an easy thing to share with the world. It is very insightful to read a first-hand chronological account of an abusive relationship from the victim’s point of view. It is embarrassing to admit to being abused, for men and women, but it is something that needs to be done so that victims can move on and so that other people can learn from them. However, it makes me ask… Why do people abuse their partners? I think I will have to read another book to find out more about who these people are and what makes them hurt the people who love them.
Story, by Robert McKee
“‘Good Story’ means something worth telling that the world wants to hear. Finding this is your lonely task.” – pg. 20
THOUGHTS: Did you ever want to write a screenplay? Start by reading this book.
Knocking About in New Zealand, by Charles. L. Money
“We shouted a proposal to the others to try and get out of the stream and land at a spot where we could see more of the place; but we might as well have tried to stop a woman’s tongue as to stop our rafts. On we went and nearer came the danger…” – pg. 41
THOUGHTS: It was insightful to read a personal account of exploring, surviving and prospecting in NZ during the 1860’s. Although, I found it disturbing near the end of the book when this ‘gentleman explorer’ joined the army and started shooting Maori people and burning their villages.
Westland’s Golden Sixties, by J. Halket Millar
‘”There was not a single brawl”, wrote one of diggers to a friend in Nelson, “but the chances are that had any policeman been about, the result might have been very different, for the miners have a great antipathy to the cloth.”
There, right at the beginning of the Coast, was struck the note which was to be developed in a variety of ways over the years, the feeling, widespread even today, that the “Coaster” is someone a little apart, a being who is not as others are, who should not be supposed to knuckle under to the laws that govern other parts of the country, who is a good friend and a most hospitable host, but subscribing to a kind of “leave-me-alone” complex which has been built on the golden glories of the past.’ – pg 43
THOUGHTS: Now I want to read ‘Death around the Bend’! This was a really good account of the gold rush on South Island’s West Coast.
The Time Machine, by H. G. Wells
“So, in the end, above ground you must have the Haves, pursuing pleasure and comfort and beauty, and below ground the Have-nots, the Workers getting continually adapted to the conditions of their labour.” – pg 56-57
THOUGHTS:The story of a man who experiences the future and is so affected that he can no longer live in the past. Fascinating and thought provoking, it was a great novella to read with my teenaged brothers. We all loved Weena and were disappointed to see that she was not in the movie adaptation.
The Golden Cobweb; A Saga of the Otago Goldfields, by H. A. Glasson
“The men [two French Canadian miners] came into the Dunstan and bought four sluice boxes from Mr. Beckett, a builder. These they lashed together, put their stores and equipment on top, climbed on their load and started across the river. In the process of crossing they lost some of their gear when the swift current almost turned their ‘craft’ over. It was righted however, and the men reached the opposite bank.” – pg. 97
THOUGHTS: The Golden Cobweb chronicles the time of the Otago gold rush with stories from news papers of the time. This book was written before papers past so H. A. Glasson compiled all of the stories by painstakingly sifting through the old newspapers of early Otago. It is a fascinating read and a great reference.
The Story of the Human Body, by Daniel Lieberman
“As other genes that differ between humans and Neanderthals are better studied, it will be interesting to find out what, if any, effects they have on human cognition. My guess is that Neanderthals were extremely smart, but that modern humans are more creative and communicative.” – pg. 141
” When we pass on those environmental conditions to our children, we set in motion a feedback loop that allows the disease itself to persist and perhaps increase in prevalence and intensity from one generation to the next. In the case of cavities, I didn’t pass on my cavities to my daughter, but I did pass on a diet that causes them, and she is likely to do the same to her children.” – pg. 176
THOUGHTS: Starting in the forests of Africa, our distant ancestors climbed down from the trees and started foraging far a wide. It took millions of years for us to evolve to our current state but we have only been farming for the last 10,000 years. Our culture has evolved much faster than our biology could possible keep up with, what does that mean for us today? This is such an exciting book to read and I feel like the knowledge it contains could save my life, or at least extend it. Definitely Recommended.
Women of Westland and their Families, Vol. 2, compiled by the Westland Branch of the National Council of Women
“Women travelled only by horseback side-saddle, but Mrs Gunn was doing it in style with a split-sack hung across the horse’s back, and a child in each side of the sack. In addition, she was nursing the baby on her knee, and this for a distance of about four miles” – pg. 66