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Showing posts from September, 2013

The Alchemist's Daughter by Katharine McMahon

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Autumn has come to Brussels. The leaves are changing colour and the air is more damp. Today, however, as I write this we have a wonderful sunny day with blue sky and clear air. Over 22 C I would say. A book suitable for this time of the year is the Alchemist's Daughter. I got it on a book swapping day and it has been on my shelves for some time. A fascinating book, full of the earth and dampness of the autumn and with a story that takes twists and turns all the time. Alchemy is an influential philosophical tradition and from antiquity onwards it has claimed to be the precursor to profound powers. The definitions are varied but some of them more common ones historically are the creation of the fabled philosopher's stone, the ability to make gold or silver and the development of an elixir of life. It is today recognised as a contribution to modern chemistry and medicine but differs from them in its inclusion of Hermetic principles and practices related to mythology, magic, reli

Being There by Jerzy Kosinski

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I got this book from my son who had to read it in school for his English class. I say had to read, because for him it is almost a punishment to read a book. Unfortunately, he is not so fond of reading as I am myself. This is really an easy read, a very thin book but it says it all. I remember the film when it came in 1979 starring Peter Sellers and Shirley MacLaine and I always wanted to see it but never got around. Well, it is not too late to watch the movie yet. The book is about a gardener named Chance. He has lived his whole life in a room adjacent to a closed in garden in a big house in New York. It is owned by the Old Man as Chance calls him. We don't get to know too much about him only that he has 'taken care of' Chance and given him this position. Chance has never left the house. It is hinted that he might be the son of the Old Man but it is not for sure. He has been given a room, a TV and a job as a gardener and this is his whole life. When his work with the gard

The End of your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

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This is one of the books I grabbed at Sterlings bookshop the other day. The title had my attention right away. Anything with a book club in it because it has to be a book about books. This is so much more. The writer has written a book about the books he and his mother are reading after she is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The mother was always a great reader and loved books. They decided to have a book club between the two of them. They decided on the books, read them and discussed them, often while waiting for the chemo therapy. This could easily be a very sentimental book but it is not. It is all through written in a matter of fact way and keeps a wonderful balance between the terrible times that are coming, a son's love for this mother and how to create quality time together. The mother Mary Anne Schwalbe seems to have been a wonderful person. Full of energy and care for everyone around her. She was working all her life (not so common for women to work when she was yo

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell

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The Sterling Bookshop in Brussels had an open day on Saturday 31 August to inaugurate their new book cafe. I had to have a look of course and being in a bookshop I had to buy a few books. I managed to limit myself to two! One of them is a really funny book on Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops collected by Jen Campbell. The comments come from The Edinburgh Bookshop, and the Ripping Yarns bookshop in London and from some other bookshops around the world. I inaugurated the cafe and started to read this easily read book. I was sitting there on my own and laughing about the hilarious comments people make. It continued during my metro ride home and during cooking dinner in the evening. For your benefit and as a teaser I quote some of the comments here. Customer: I read a book in the sixties. I don't remember the author, or the title. But it was green, and it made me laugh. Do you know which one I mean? Customer: Do you have any books by Jane Eyre? Customer: Do you have any