15 things that every bibliophile will understand

1. The joy of spending an afternoon browsing around an independent bookstore – trawling amazon just isn’t the same. Plus buying print books supports the local economy, and helps to keep your favourite bookshops in business.

spoonbill32. Discovering a new independent book store you didn’t know existed.

shakespeare3. The pleasure you gain from giving someone a physical copy of your or their, favourite book – with a personal inscription of course.

BB 14. When you find a second hand book that someone has written a heart-felt inscription in.

5. The smell of old books.

bb76. How aesthetically pleasing your book collection looks when it’s compiled, coupled with the security you feel being surrounded by your favourite authors.

7. The thrill of buying a new book at a store and handing over your hard earned cash for it.

8. The excitement you feel getting it home, and hardly being able to control your desire to sit down and start reading it right away.

9. Knowing that your book will never run out of battery right when you reach an integral part.

bb610. Being able to read your book in the bath without fear of electrocution or a costly replacement.

11. Being able to take your book on holiday and use it as a placeholder for your sun lounger without worrying that someone will steal it while you’re swimming.

BB912. Knowing that it’s truly yours, and having the ability to personalise it however you choose. Owning the rights to read the contents of a digital file is far, far different than owning the book that sits on your bedside table.

bb1013. You can loan a book to your friends or family. Digital versions are usually tied to a particular owner making it virtually impossible to loan a copy to someone, unless of course you loan them your device too.

14. Digital books are only a fairly recent invention, while the real deal has been around for hundreds of years. The chances of finding a digital copy of a long forgotten classic are slim to none as online retailers tend to only reproduce well known classics and recent pop publications.

15. E-books are a pale imitation of the real thing. Why settle for an imitation when you can own the real thing for a few quid extra. Everything from the colour of the screen used to imitate paper, to the ‘page turning feature’ is merely trying to reproduce something that already exists in a far more pleasing form.

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“A Paris Wife” by Paula McLain

A Paris Wife: Paula McLain

A Paris WifeRating: 5 Stars

Bought from: Amazon

Recommended For: Anyone who enjoys historical fiction, lovers of Hemingway, Paris, or the Jazz Era

Favourite Quote: “But in the end, fighting for a love that was already gone felt like trying to live in the ruins of a lost city.”

Synopsis:

A Paris Wife is the story of Hadley Richardson and the love of her life, Ernest Hemingway. It opens in Chicago in 1920 where a young naive Hadley, meets a budding writer who sweeps her off her feet and spirits her away to the bohemian capital of the world. She wrote of him that she’d “never met anyone so vibrant or alive. He moved like light.”

Review:

McLain writes with such finesse that you feel that you’ve been transported back into post WW1 Paris. The streets of Paris appear before you and you’re compelled to participate in the extravagance, the decadence, the debauchery, the fashions and fads of the time, the whiskey and wine, the cigarettes and smoke, the poverty and claustrophobia. The atmosphere of the book itself is enough to make me love it. I instantly felt jealous of their debonair carefree lifestyle and wanted to join them on their bullfighting, fishing, and skiing trips across Europe, I wanted to write my own novel, to fall in love with a man of words, to get carelessly drunk every afternoon and dance until sunrise.

Initially I was dubious of a fictional novel about not just any author, but my favourite author during the time that he was writing masterpieces such as “A sun also rises.” But McLain instantly calmed my trepidation with her wonderful character development.

The majority of the story is told from the perspective of Hadley, Hemingway’s first wife, and we fall in love with the man she sees. A difficult task considering what we know about his true nature. While the novel progressed I felt a deep sense of sadness as Hadley conveyed her inner thoughts to the reader as she realized certain truths about Hemingway that not even she could change: his angry temperament, his infidelity and the damage the First World War had done to him. “It gave me a sharp kind of sadness to think that no matter how much I loved him and tried to put him back together again, he might stay broken forever.”

Even the interspersed parts of the novel narrated from Hemingway’s perspective are compelling, urgent and telling, capturing what we would like to believe was the inner turmoil he struggled with. This struggle is made even more poignant because we know that at the end of his life Hemingway wrote, “I wished I had died before I ever loved anyone but her.”

With supporting characters of great American expatriates like Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, Scott and Fitzgerald, it’s hard for a lover of literature not to feel attached to, and excited by, a novel such as this.

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There’s nothing daunting about Daunts

Daunts Love travelling – check, love reading – check, then you’ll love Daunts bookshop. What could be better than a bookshop designed especially for travellers who love reading?

Nestled along one of my favourite streets in London, is one of my favourite bookshops in London. Daunts has been a feature of Marylebone high street since 1989, and if one of the few truly unique independent books shops left in London.
It specialises in travel literature & guides, but also boasts an impressive selection of fiction in the upstairs gallery. It’s one of those rare bookstores that is so beautifully laid out that you want to buy every book your eye lands on.
Their travel books go well beyond guides, although there are an extensive number of these for sure-probably the best selection in the city.

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But what really sets this place apart for the travel guru is that everything is based, not via category or type, but by country. Next to the standard lonely planet you will find books on the language, food, culture, history, film and literature of the location, as well as travel writing from those who have put pen to paper and recounted the tales of their travels to these far flung places. Without leaving the store, let alone the country, you can be immersed in the culture of your chosen destination and even (for those budding linguists) read a selection of literature (such as ‘Les Miserable’) in its original language. It’s no wonder that people wander in to kill ten minutes, and emerge hours later laden with books.

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If the stock alone wasn’t enough to convince you, then how about the fact that Daunts is housed in a beautiful Edwardian building filled with classic wooden oak counters & balconies. While it looks small from the outside, we all know looks can be deceiving. With bright natural lighting filtering through the skylights, spiral staircases and friendly yet knowledgeable staff, this is more than just a place to buy a book – it’s an experience.

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It really is stuff that bookshop dreams are made of.

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This year true Stories dominate the Oscar nominations, but at what cost?

The 85th Academy Awards® will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 24, 2013.

What do The Godfather, Gone with the Wind, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Dances with Wolves, The English Patient, The Lords of the Rings trilogy, No Country for Old Men and Shawshank Redemption have in common with each other? Not only are they all Oscar nominated films, but they are also all based on books of the same name.

In fact, in the last three years, no fewer than 16 of the Best Picture nominees were literary adaptations, fiction and non-fiction, and this years Academy Awards were no different with four out of the nine best picture nominations based on books.

  • 12 Years a Slave, based on the autobiography by Solomon Northup
  • Captain Phillips, based on A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs and Dangerous Days at Sea by Richard Phillips & Stephan Talty
  • The Wolf of Wall Street, based on Jordan Belfort’s memoir
  • Philomena, based on The Lost Child of Philomena Lee by Martin Sixsmith

It’s not only the best picture nominations which have followed this trend; other categories have followed suit compiling an impressive reading list between them.

This year alone other multiple-nomination book-to-film adaptations include ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’, ‘The Great Gatsby’, ‘Lone Survivor’ and ‘August: Osage County’ (based on the play by Tracy Letts). Even the best animated feature film category had three adaptations: ‘Frozen’, ‘The Wind Rises’ and ‘Ernest & Celestine’.

It’s indeed noteworthy that screen writers and directors so admire certain works of literature that they want to create films based upon them, but do the original books ever prosper from their adaption to silver screen?

In most cases it is undeniable that for the book, the hype surrounding a feature film release helps spread the word of the source material and opens the book up to new audiences who might have otherwise not considered reading it. The resulting increase in sales is often known as the ‘book-movie bounce’ and is especially evident in young adult fiction. The most notable examples to date are franchises such as The Twilights Saga, The Hunger Games and most recently divergent. Divergent has already seen a dramatic rise in sales ahead of the upcoming movie release at the end of the month, largely helped by Lionsgate who are working with Harper Collins as well as International publishers ahead of the release date to build readership.

This trend provides a significant boost for the bookselling industry as sales of the original titles receive a large amount of ‘free advertising’ in the run-up to the film’s launch, not only this but books are often re-released, with a new cover of a still taken from the film further helping to boost sales for both parties involved. The most striking example of this was in 2011 with David Nicholls’ One Day, becoming the highest selling book of the year after the film was released, and the book reprinted with the cover changed.

But while there are people out there who will read the book after having seen the film, there are, on the flip side, people who says “I’ve seen the film, so what’s the point in reading the book?”

There is also the added disadvantage that, once the rights to the book have been sold to a film company, they have the dramatic license to adapt it as they see fit. Is the increased notoriety of the content that film brings, worth the chance that you work of blood, sweat and tears could be changed into something barely recognizable?

It seems to me that while it is a mutual partnership that is entered into for the benefit of both parties, it is the film that has the most to gain from such an agreement. The book has usually gained wide popularity under its own esteem (hence the desire to make a film out of it) and has much less to gain from such as enterprise. The film on the other hand owes everything to the book, for without it, it would cease to be.

With that in mind, I have always wondered why, when so many Oscar-nominated movies are based on such books, the books themselves get so little recognition. Have you ever hear heard a thank you to the author during the acceptance speech? I though not.

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A Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

A Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet:   David Mitchell

book cover 7

Rating:   4 Stars

Bought from:   Amazon

Recommended For:   Anyone who likes historical novels, Cloud Atlas (his first novel), Colonial history, Japanese History

Favourite Quote:  ” Naming, thinks Jacob, even in ridicule, gives what is named substance.”

Overview:  This is one of the best Historical novels i have ever read, and one of the most interesting and well written too. The year is 1799, the place Dejima,  A man made trading post in Nagasaki harbour, Japan.  The sole window into a closed empire, designed to keep the west at bay and tradition alive. It is a small city full of “devious merchants, deceitful interpreters, and costly courtesans.”  Into this cesspool of humanity comes Jacob de Zoet, a young, pious clerk who is determined  to make his fortune in 5 years in this far flung trading post.  His goal is to win the hand of his betrothed back in the Netherlands.

However it doesn’t take long  for his initial plans to be eclipsed by the reality of life in the East, and a certain midwife by the name of Orito.

Historical Context

I have never come across another historical novel  that has covered this place during this period of history, and for that alone you have to give Mitchell credit. Set during the Edo era in Japan, the isolated port of Dejima epitomises the insular nature of the country at the time.  Dutch traders to Japan we not allowed to get foot outside of the confines of the city. It was in essence a country, within a country. Not technically owned by the Dutch, but on loan from Japan, a small artificial island, separated from the Japanese empire but a lock and guarded “land gate” It is a period of history characterized by shogun rule.

Into this context Mitchell places the narrator Jacob de Zoet, a surprising protagonist in the form of an honest, pious, some what naive shipping clerk. He is tasked with documenting the corruption of the Dutch East Indies trading company in previous trading seasons. But he soon gets tangled up in a series of dubious negotiations making him allies and enemies at an early stage in his career. He is forced to question all his previously held beliefs, ethics, and goals, some to which he will stead-fastly hold, and other which he is forced to let go in order to survive.

Review:

This is a novel saturated with language, details, historical context and complex characters, yet Mitchell still manages to give it  a somewhat modern perspective. It is told in the voice of Jacob de Zoet, a new inhabitant  of the closed off island of Dejima. Mitchell manages to intermix the linear style of narrative with the simultaneity of experience. Often books told in the narrative voice end up sounding somewhat flat as they are unable to describe the duality of experience. It rarely occurs that we are simply doing or thinking one thing at a time, rather once has different thoughts and actions that coincide with each other. Mitchell manages to adeptly overcome this by intermixing Zoet’s narrative with the thoughts that occur to him while he is undertaking a particular action. Thus we really feel like we are not only inside his head participating in his thoughts, but instead we become him in a way that most narrative won’t allow. It is fantastically well written, i  just hope they don’t sabotage his craftsmanship by trying to turn this into a movie too. It has everything from deadly assassins, to samurai ninjas and priests who can suck the life out of bugs by merely setting eyes on them. But nothing would do they subtly of Mitchell;s work more harm that a Hollywood script writer with the best intentions in mind. 

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Judging a book by its cover?

These are some of my favourite book covers of all time.  An effective book cover manages to catch human’s eye and convey the idea behind the book on one single page. However, it’s getting even harder: to make a book really hard to forget, designers need to design the cover in a unique, creative and striking way. All the books below have managed to en-capture the essence of the books they represent, while still being eye-catching, striking and beautiful at the same time. They truly are works of art in my eye.

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bookcover14bookvocer18

bookcover11book cover 7

bookcover1bookcover17

 

cover15bookcover12

bookcover10bookcover19

bookcover 6Moby Dick

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“By Nightfall” by Michael Cunningham

By Nightfall:   Michael Cunningham

by_nightfall

Rating:  4 stars

Bought from:  Book stand on Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn

Recommended For:  Previous readers of Cunningham’s work, people who like character studies, existentialism, or books concerning the meaning of life and love.

Favourite Quote: “There’s no denying his resemblance to the Rodin bronze – the slender, effortless muscularity of youth, the extravagant nonchalance of it; that sense that beauty is in fact the natural human condition and not the rarest of mutations.”

Synposis:

Michael Cunningham’s latest novel is based on the lives of Peter and Rebecca Harris: middle ages residents of Manhattan’s SoHo. They seems to have everything they could ever desire. A teenage daughter, successful careers in the arts, a spacious loft and a wide social circle of friends. They are ‘contemporary urbanites’  who are enviable by most people’s standards.  But their staid existence is interrupted by the arrival of Rebecca’s much younger brother Ethan ( known to the family as Missy or ‘the mistake”) He is a 23-year-old wayward “Adonis” with a history of drug abuse and a lack of discernible direction. His presence in the household makes Peter question not only his own life but also his core beliefs in beauty, desire and the arts.
Review
    It would be nearly impossible to find anything as moving and beautifully written as Michael Cunningham’s Pulitzer price winning novel, “the Hours”. But there is something to be said for his most recent novel ‘By nightfall.”  It has the same dark, moving charm that he masters so well, and is perhaps even more compelling and compassionate. The underlying premise of the book is that you can find beauty and desire in the most unlikely places. He then takes a step closer and seems to beg the question, what happens if that desire is focused on something undeserving? This question is reflected in both Peter’s career as an art curator, and in his personal life with the arrival of Mizzy.
      Cunningham follows his customary style and sticks to a simple, potent plot thus saving himself for the development of his characters which is does with unusual finesse. While reading you are transported inside Peter’s head looking out on the world, rather than being granted limited access into his mind-set. Thus you feel like you are at one with the character and can, to some extend sympathize with him on the existentialist journey he sets upon by following new-found desire.
    While the story is simple there is just enough of one that it makes you turn the pages. If you are looking for a plot that draws you in at the intake then this isn’t the book for you. It is similar to the plays of Harold Pinter, it is more of a character study than it is a drama, and that’s just fine by me. It’s so well done that any deliberate under-development in the plot isn’t noticed. You will be too busy contemplating the messages and questions that arise to care.
     Cunningham uncovers all the characters painful vanities so well that it is almost uncomfortable for the reader to witness, especially when these follies are ones that most people prefer to keep under wraps. It is probably because of this undressing of human nature to the bare bones that we as readers never really like any of the characters. We may empathize with them to some extent but it is almost impossible to see ourselves as them. We instinctively want to see them as frivolous in their worries because if we don’t, then we are opening ourselves up to the scrutiny and ridicule than comes with it.

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The Poisonwood Bible

The Poisonwood Bible:   Barbara Kingsolver

the-poisonwood-bible

Rating:   5 stars

Bought from:   Stolen from my mother’s collection

Recommended For:   Anyone who is a fan of Barbara Kingsolver’s other books, People interested in books about Africa or Expats, People who are interested in Religion or missionary work.

Favourite Quote:   “As long as I kept moving, my grief streamed out behind me like a swimmer’s long hair in water. I knew the weight was there but it didn’t touch me. Only when I stopped did the slick, dark stuff of it come floating around my face, catching my arms and throat till I began to drown. So I just didn’t stop.”

    Barbara Kingsolver has to be my favourite author of all time, and this is my favourite book of hers.   All her characters are works of art, clearly thought out and defined over a long period of time.  They each have their own recognisable voice, and even when it is not automatically clear in the heading of each chapter who the narrator is going to be, within seconds you work it out.

The book itself tells the story of the Price family who, led by the father Nathan Price, a devout Baptist preacher, go to the Congo to work as missionaries. The story is told by his wife Orelanna, whose recollections begin most of the sections. There is also narrative interlaced from all four of his daughters. Rachel the oldest, has long white hair and a princess attitude. She is spoiled and selfish and very unaware of what is going on around her. She does not intend to be changed by Africa. Then there’s Leah and Adah, twins who are alike but not. Due to a complication in the womb Leah grew strong while feeding off Adah, a guilt she has to carry even though it was not her fault. Adah is twisted of body, shrunken slightly with a limp. She moves slowly and does not speak much. Her sections are punctuated with palindromes, as she reads and writes backwards and forwards. She is cynical and dismissive, used to watching and not taking part.

Leah is the most devout of the sisters, and desperate for their father’s approval. She knows his views of women and what they can accomplish, but she wants to prove him wrong. She wants to dazzle him with her knowledge, though later comes to realize his faults and turns her back on him. Her slow awakening to the man Nathan really is is one of the many gems of the book. And finally, there is Ruth May, five years old at the beginning of the book, willful and unafraid, she storms into the Congo, making friends with the children, climbing trees, picking up the language. She is funny and brave.

The books follows the family as they try to bring their way of life, and their religion, to the village of Kilanga. They come carrying all the wrong things – seeds that cannot grow in the jungle, packages of birthday cake mix that will never become cakes, and a religion that puzzles and scares the villagers. Words have many meaning there, depending on how you say them. When Nathan talks about baptism, he is also saying ‘to terrify.’ To say ‘Tata Jesus is Bangala’ may mean ‘Jesus is poisonwood’, or he is divine. The villagers are also afraid of baptism as they don’t go into the river; too many of their children have been killed by crocodiles. Nathan refuses to bend to Africa, believing his faith in god will see him through, and that this is all part of being tested. And so they carry on, learning about the land, trying to make their way through what they think will be only a year there, until tragedy strikes and the family falls apart. The later sections deal with the aftermath, and how the girls put their lives back together, some in Africa, some in America, but all forever changed.

I have read this book maybe three or four times. I think I take something new away from it every time. This time it was Africa that touched me, and the meddling of others that enraged me, as well as Nathan’s unwillingness to ever see anything from someone else’s point of view. I also couldn’t stand the way he treated his wife and daughters. They have to follow him in everything, from their home in America, to a strange and hostile land, and he always looks down on them, mostly because they are women and therefore not worth much. We never get his point of view, which I think is a good thing. I don’t think we’d be able to stomach let alone empathize with  his thoughts. It’s hard enough to hear him depicted by one of his daughters through their young and somewhat naive eyes.

Adah was my favourite of the girls on my first read, and she is still my favourite now, (with Ruth May a close second) with her backward talking and humour. She may feel sorry for herself, that she is not initially the chosen child, but I think she gets over that, and spends time trying to come to terms with herself. Orleanna is a very interesting character too. I think I initially disliked her, because she spends so much of her time in Nathan’s shadow, so passive, just going along with whatever he says. It is not until the tragic event that she snaps out of it and begins to move, to do what she should have done long ago, namely, leave her husband and take her daughters to safety. But I had a lot of sympathy for her this time around. I think maybe she makes a lot of excuses for her behaviour, but that does not mean those excuses are not valid.

There’s a lot of politics within the novel also, and a lot of history. It is interesting to learn, and puts everything in context, as well as making the book work on many different levels. You can focus on the family and their plight, or you can look at them within the larger picture. Either way the books leaves me captivated, especially after having spend a great deal of time in East Africa sometime after my first reading of this novel. It brings to life the great expanses of African nature, and brings you down to size at the same time. There is nothing like living in a totally different, new and hostile culture to make you realise that if you want to survive let alone  thrive, it is you that’s going to have to do the changing and not vice versa.

 

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The Sandcastle Girls

” The Sandcastle Girls”:   Chris Bohjalian

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Rating:   4 stars

Bought from:   Shakespeare & Co, Manhattan, NY

Recommended for:   People who love historical fiction, genealogy  or historical romance. Anyone who is interested in the Armenian genocide and the Ottoman empire.

Favourite Quote:   “When it seems you have nothing at all to live for, death is not especially frightening.”

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian is a powerful and unforgettable historical novel depicting the Armenian Genocide. It is an epic story of love and war that will leave you reeling long after you have finished reading. The Novel is set in two distinct time frames. The past, 1915 to 1916 and the present.

    1915- Elizabeth Endicott arrives in Aleppo Syria along with her father. They have volunteered on behalf of the Boston based charity friends of Armenia to deliver food and medical aid to refugees from the Armenian Genocide. Elizabeth has only the most basic grasp of the Armenian language and a crash course in nursing but she is equipped with a will and determination to help in any way she can. Elizabeth becomes friendly with Armen an Armenian engineer who has just lost his wife and child. Armen joins the British Army in Egypt and he and Elizabeth correspond in the form of letters as their friendship develops.

When we move to the present we are introduced to Laura Petrosian a young Armenian novelist researching her family history after seeing a photograph of a women she believes to be her grandmother. Her quest is a long and painful journey back through her family’s history raising as many questions as it answers. But through the heartache of unraveling her family’s past she develops a new respect and awareness for her grandparents who suffered first hand the atrocities inflicted on an entire population.

I, like many others, was ignorant to the atrocities that took place in during the Armenian Genocide and after reading the account here I was saddened to think that so many ‘educated’ people such as myself have never heard of let alone studied such a momentous and heart-wrenching occurrence. How is that that 1.5 million Armenians could have been systematically slaughtered by the Turks in the early 20th century and it not be a remembered as a significant historical event. Even today the Armenian’s are still fighting for it to be recognized by the Turks and called what is was…a genocide.

Although the subject matter is horrific, Bohjalian still manages to tell the story of the protagonists in a way that helps the reader deal with the reality of what happened so long ago.  While a lot of people i know  didn’t like the writing technique Bohjalian adopted for this novel, i thought the juxtaposition of narratives and time frames made for a better read. It helps the reader take a break from the harsh reality of crimes inflicted on people by one another in the name of religion.  It somehow seemed to make the suffering easier to witness knowing that  some Armenians such as Laura Petrosian grandparents survived despite the odds, and went on to have children to rebuild an almost entirely lost race.

This is one of those novels not for the faint hearted and while there is a love story running alongside the horrors of Genocide, it’s the horrors of what happens to the Armenian people that will make you weep. It is a powerful, insightful, touching and unforgettable novel that reminds you of people’s capacity for endurance and survival.

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Diary of an Oxygen Thief

oxygen3“Diary of an Oxygen Thief”:   By Anonymous

Rating:   4 stars

Recommended for:   People who like independent literature and people who work in advertising.

Bought from:   Spoonbill and Sugartown, Williamsburg, BK

Favourite Quote:   “Hurt people, hurt people.”

This book first caught my eye while i was wandering around a “hip” Williamsburg book store on my day off, and not for any reason that you may suppose. It was the title, not the cover that made me stop in my tracks and grin from ear to ear, because i had been accused of being just that. That’s right…an oxygen thief.

Years ago when my twin sister and i were perhaps 10 years old, we took a family vacation to Italy via the Swiss Alps. Now while most people fly to Italy from England, my dad liked to make it as much of an adventure as his parents had when he was little, and drive.  Coming from London, that’s no easy feat, especially when your father has a propensity to avoid the most direct route in favor of ‘deviations’ This mainly comprised of long forgotten ‘scenic’ mountain passes scaling the sides of the French and Swiss Alps.

During one of these such ‘deviations’ my darling sister (in a fantastic mood after being trapped in a car with me for 3 days) accused me of stealing her oxygen. Yep that’s right her oxygen. Apparently i was breathing too much and leaning over the central arm rest into her territory while i was doing so…

I responded as any loving twin would do at such a remark and proceeded to lean further into her side of the car and make exaggerated sucking motions to use up as much of her precious oxygen as possible!! Needless to say all hell broke loose in the back seat with my sister crying and complaining of altitude sickness and oxygen deprivation due to my selfish sharing of ‘limited’ air!

Unfortunately the only way she could be placated was to spend the rest of the journey with her window cracked open emitting glacial air to our once warm backseat, and a makeshift divide in between us to keep me in my place. We didn’t take any more scenic routes for quite a while after that.

So of course when i saw a book entitled “diary of an oxygen thief” i had no choice. I had to buy it regardless of who wrote it, or what it was about. Perhaps not the most sound way to go about choosing literature. But in this case it paid off. If Sundance gave awards for books, this book would win one.

New York Magazine describes it was a “surprising dark horse Williamsburg best-seller.”  Good job i live in Williamsburg otherwise i might not have crossed paths with this gem of a book. It is hands down one of the best and most emotionally honest books i have read in a long time. It is a highly self-confessional proclaimed memoir about a philandering misogynist, who in his opening lines claims to, ” Like hurting women.” Emotionally that is.

Whatever his reason is for remaining anonymous (and there seem to be lots of them as the book unfolds) it works. The plot follows our protagonist who is an Irish Advertising exec living in London. He shares with us in detail the pleasure he used to get from emotionally controlling and abusing the women whom he ensnared.  After sobering up and attending AA meeting he looks back in retrospect at his past relationships and the patterns that repeat themselves over and over.

It is not until he moves to New York and falls in love with an aspiring photographer  that he gets as taste of his own medicine by being publicly humiliated.  This results in him opening up to us further and admitting his own emotional weakness. By doing so we end up with a very real account of what we do to each other, and what we allow to have done to us in the name of love.

He is a fantastically unaffected writer and as a result he has created one of the more emotionally raw, honest and humorous books i have read in a long time.

 

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