Sunday, 29 July 2012


the Secret History by Donna Tartt (1992)

"The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation. He'd been dead for ten days before they found him, you know. It was one of the biggest manhunts in Vermont history - state troopers, the FBI, even an army helicopter; the college closed, the dye factory in Hampden shut down, people coming from New Hampshire, upstate New York, as far away as Boston."

Richard has transferred from sunny California, to Hampden College in the cold Vermont. Here he takes a course in Greek with the eccentric teacher Julian Morrow with only 5 other students. They are all very close and although they include Richard, he is always on the outside of their circle. And because they all seem so much better than him, he conceals his past and lies to fit in. He quickly learns why they do not want to involve him in everything. And that the other students are hiding things from the other in the group.

I loved the story from the beginning until the end. It was entertaining and I got really curious about why and how Bunny died. And then it was the joy in discovering that it isn't just Bunny's death which make things difficult for the group. I also loved how the story is built up. I was also glad to discover that the things I guessed about the different characters, turned out to be mostly correct. And it was great to finally read something relatively light and quick, I read about 100 pages a day in different hotels on our great roadtrip through California and Oregon. 

This was July's book in Line's 1001 books reading challenge. 

Thursday, 26 July 2012


the Country Girls by Edna O'Brien (1960)

Caithleen and Baba grew up together on the Irish country side and are sent to a convent when they are fourteen. Caithleen comes from a poor home and her father is a drunk, while Baba comes from a richer home where the mother is the drunk. The girls hate the convent and they try to get expelled so they can go off to Dublin and meet nice boys.

Caithleen and Baba don't have the best of friendship as Baba is always walking over Caithleen, but they do not really have anyone else. And while Caithleen is the smart and serious one, Baba is the airhead who only thinks about boys. 

I really enjoyed reading this book, it was a perfect light summer read although it has its depth. And I certainly can understand why this book and the following sequels were burnt and banned in Ireland in the 1960s. 

I'm also glad I found the Lost Girl / Girl with Green Eyes in a used book store in Seattle as I just had to figure out what Caithleen and Baba get up to in Dublin. I'm also browsing every used book store in my way to find the last book in the trilogy. And Edna O'Brien is one of those author I definitely am going to read more of. 

Friday, 13 July 2012


Suttree by Cormac McCarthy (1979)

“"They rowed far downstream. Leonard saying Hell, Sut, any place is good and Suttree rowing on. They looked like old jacklight poachers, their faces yellow masks in the night. The corpse lay slumped in the floor of the skiff. The lamp standing on the stern seat with its thin spout of insects caught in its light the wet sweep of the oars, the beads of water running on the underblades like liquid glass and the dimples of the oarstrokes coiled out through the city lights where they lay fixed among the deeper shapes of stars and galaxies fast in the silent river."”

Cornelius Suttree has made his home in a houseboat on the Tennessee River close to Knoxville. He gets by by fishing and spends most of his days either in solitude or with his friends getting drunk. He is also in and out of jail a couple of times.

Cormac McCarthy has a wonderful way of telling about the outcasts. I love his language. I also liked how much the river itself is a character in this book. And Suttree does have some weird friends, and the relationships he gets into are not very successful. And although the setting is very grim, there are some very funny parts. Like the boy who got sent to jail for molesting watermelons.

I'm glad I have more books from Cormac McCarthy to look forward to reading. 

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

book travelogue #1.

I have bought nine books until now while travelling. The first book was already bought at the Gardermoen airport - it has recently changed from one chain to another and I had problems finding a book to buy and that was not because of too many to choose from, but because most of the books I either a had or didn't want to read. I eventually landed on the Country Girls by Edna O'Brien and read a couple of pages while waiting for the plane to Reykjavik.

I loved every second of my days in Reykjavik and the first book store I went into was the Eymundsson on Austurstræti 18. They had a great selection of English books and I had a problem deciding which one to take with me home. I landed on Suttree Cormac McCarthy and because the weather was so beautiful and the store had a nice outdoor café, I spent some time reading there. I'm almost done with the book, but it's hard to find time to read when you're surrounded by people all the time.

Fast forward to San Francisco where I have spent almost a week now. I'm in awe with this city! One day while walking around Mission, I spotted this small sign saying Forest Books, and I went inside. They had a great selection of used books, and I liked how they had sorted the authors by name and country. I picked up Segu by Maryse Condé, the Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway and a first edition of Rushing to Paradise by J.G Ballard. Further down the street we came upon the Community Thrift Store where the paperbacks were 1.90 each! And of course, then I felt really bad about spending 40 on 3 books minutes before. The selection was also great here, but really unorganised. I ended up with 4 books; the Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, the Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx, the Bone People by Keri Hulme and the Autobiography of my Mother by Jamaica Kincaid.

I'm having a blast and am excited for our road trip to start tomorrow! Just really concerned about my suitcase already being too heavy so I have to be careful about not buying too many books. And hopefully I'll get more time to read so I at least can finish the books I have started.

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