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December 28, 2021


Love the glass bead video! What an interesting book club you belong to. Hope you will do more of these meditative videos.

I love reading your list each year. I've purchased the Pevear / Volokhonsky version of Brothers K, but I haven't read it yet. I've thrice read the book in other translations, and I agree with you that it offers a different mirror -- or an accurate mirror of a different reader -- each time.

Beth, thank you for sharing your book list again. I always have half an eye on what I choose to read, knowing it will end up here. You keep me honest!

The books in common this year are Teju Cole's Golden Apple of Sun and Hisham Matar's A Month in Siena, both of which I enjoyed. Teju has the rare ability to turn the most banal of subjects into something of interest and often beauty. In times of physical stasisI have followed his lead and taken photos of our kitchen worktop, with much less success.

From my list the standouts were: Susanna Clarke's Piranesi which I read with two friends in the loosest of book groups - like your experience with Hesse's Glass Bead Game (which I started but could not engage with) it spurred creativity, with one friend writing a short story in a similar style; John Berger's G, which is strange but resonant (and flawed in the best way); Steve Lovatt's Birdsong in a Time of Silence because I know Steve and it was a delight; Ruth Ozeki's A Book of Form and Emptiness; and Homing by Jon Day, about pigeon racing in London. I missed the heft of a Brothers Karamazov and my lack of commute on train and tube has definitely changed my reading habits of the past few years. Perhaps less consistent, but also less fragmented

Best wishes for the New Year,

My 2021 list:
The Land Beyond, Leon McCarron
Kissa by Kissa, Craig Mod
How to Argue with a Racist, Adam Rutherford
Leonard and Hungry Paul, Ronan Hession
Things I Learned on the 6.28, Stig Abell
Purgatory Mount, Adam Roberts
The Miracle Pill, Peter Walker
Lost in Thought, Zena Hitz
Difficult Women, Helen Lewis
Acts & Romans, trans. ESV
Birdsong in a Time of Silence, Steve Lovatt
A Time to Keep Silence, Patrick Leigh Fermor
The Tree Wakers, Keith Clare
G, John Berger
A Tale for the Time Being, Ruth Ozeki
Food Rules, Michael Pollan & Maira Kalman
How to Train a Wild Elephant, Jan Chozen Bays
The Gracing of Days, Martin Stannard
The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis
Wanting, Luke Burgis
Black Country, Liz Berry
Absolutely On Music, Murakami & Ozawa
Piranesi, Susanna Clarke
An Inspector Calls, J.B. Priestly
Lifesaving Poems, ed. Anthony Wilson
Blue Violet, Cig Harvey
Golden Apple of the Sun, Teju Cole
Reunion, Alan Lightman
A Month in Siena, Hisham Matar
Bel Canto, Ann Patchett
The Glass Hotel, Emily St. John Mandel
What is this?, Martine & Stephen Batchelor
Homing, Jon Day
Island Dreams, Gavin Francis
Don’t Let the Goats Eat the Loquat Trees, Thomas Hale
Four Thousand Weeks, Oliver Burkeman
Radically Condensed Instructions for Being Just as You Are, J Jennifer Matthews
The Book of Form & Emptiness, Ruth Ozeki
Stroke, Richard I Lindley
One More Croissant for the Road, Felicity Cloake
Self-Knowledge, The School of Life
The Children’s Bach, Helen Garner
For the Time Being, W.H. Auden
The Practice of Groundedness, Brad Stulberg
A Heritage of Stars, Clifford D Simak

Interesting list as always. Am on the road. Will respond more a little later

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.