A Happy new Year to all of you from this absent blogger. Spring is around the corner – I took this cyclamen a few minutes ago and I see snowdrops shoots all around.
Among the books I read during the upheavals of 2017 are three I want to tell you about. If you read no other book this year get your head into this one: In No is Not Enough Naomi Klein describes, with terrifying clarity, the power play in the western world, and its effect on the whole world. Much more importantly, she tell us what to do if we want to change this. She has seen at first hand how successful counter measures work, and how we can learn from this and adopt and adapt them to different situations. This is a book that enables you to see a better future and, best of all, how you as an individual can help to make this happen.
If you want to understand and empathise with an economic migrant read this: The Road Home is beautiful, heart-breaking and ultimately heart-warming. It gives a view into Eastern Europe that is absent from the papers, it also shows us the streets of London in all their mixed glory and dilapidation. Best of all are the characters – from many backgrounds – who inhabit these streets and who an immigrant is likely to encounter. The ending reminds us not to make presumptions about the economic migrant story.
Finally a small bombshell of beauty and tragedy: A Bargain with the Light is one of the delightful miniature publications by Hercules Editions. It packs into a slim 5+inch square book, the life history of Lee Miller, extraordinary photographs both by and of her, and a poetic tour de force – a crown of sonnets – by Jaqueline Saphra. All of these elements cohere to make an exquisite, informative and satisfying whole.
Miller was a front-line war photographer, an abuse survivor, a celebrity, an artist’s model.
A crown of sonnets is series of 15 sonnets, where the last line of each is the first of the next. The fifteenth sonnet is composed of lines taken from each of the sonnets. When done as beautifully as this, the result is almost three-dimensional and has an extraordinary rhythm.
They sound wonderful, especially on this rainy day… Happy New Years.
Happy, stable and healthy new year to you too. Yes, it is raining ‘cats and dogs’ here.
You have kindled my interest in A Bargain With Light. Thanks for the reference.
It is a gem of a book and you would enjoy the way language can be shaped into such a complex structure, without losing its fluidity or directness.
Thank you for the recommendations, that’s an interesting trio and I’m especially drawn to the first one. Happy New Year, Hilary, and good gardening in 2018.
The first is the most important and I think, with your oil rig experience, you would find some parts making a lot of sense.
These sound like good reads. Thanks for the recs. Happy 2018 to you!
Happy reading and writing in 2018!
I will read “No is not enough” thank you for the recommendation.
Do, my daughter’s plan is to persuade everyone she knows to read this. It is her generation’s heavy responsibility to sort out this mess we have got the world into.
It’s already on my wish list.
Happy New Year! The books all sound good reads, especially A Bargain with the Light. I’d not heard of a crown of sonnets before. I should it’s an incredibly difficult form to pull off successfully.
I had not heard of the crown of sonnets before and it is an utterly mesmerising form – so structurally complex, yet so simple and musical to read.
All good recommendations. I have heard from several friends the Naomi Klein book is a must read and so it goes on the list. I hope you’re well, Hilary. Always great when you pop up!
Thanks, blogging is definitely on the back burner and likely to remain so for the time being, but I enjoy dropping in on friends at intervals. Do read the Klein!
Hurro dahring – wonderful to have another post from you !
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w44lApffH30 is a visual to back up Naomi’s book – I found it riveting (and you may remember that I can’t READ any more).
Life goes on: my nails are splitting vertically: Geelong continues to be my home: I think cataracts are making a joke of the cool thou I recently paid for new specs.
Don’t go awy forever, will you ?!
Oh M-R, how good to hear from you. I have just gone and watched that Youtube interview – isn’t Naomi brilliant and coherent? Thank you so much. Sorry about the nails, you need your hands for everything so it is maddening when they are not fully functioning – psoriasis means that mine aren’t great either, but I give them a very hard time in the garden. Can you get the cataracts sorted? Or is this some horrendous cost too? The will keep the blog just ticking over for the foreseeable future, but no plans to quit completely (that’s a lie, I have thought about it, but I probably won’t).
I envy you to have spring just around the corner. These are interesting books you selected. Thanks. All the best for 2018, Hilary.
Yes we are lucky that the distance between autumn and spring is short. However this is England, we could suddenly have two months of snow and ice, or a January/February of warm sunshine and growth, followed by a March of cracking frosts – who knows! have a great writing year!
Thank you, Hilary. I suppose all the talk is about Harry and Meaghan.
Spring! Wow — is that a bit early? The three books all sound interesting, Hilary. Thanks for sharing.Nice to read a post from you too! Happy new year.
Spring? (see my reply to Carol above). There are shoots of daffodils, snowdrops and hyacinths all over the garden, but we can have snow in May here. Still, I love to see all these promises of spring and it must be hard to wait for so long in colder climes.
February gets really gloomy around here, and it feels like Spring will never arrive.
I’m sorry, a long winter is tough on the spirits
Great recommendations Hilary. I am putting together my reading list for our Indian Ocean Crossing (which includes your Surviving The Death Railway) and each of these titles resonate with me for different reasons. I am especially drawn to ‘A Bargain With The Light’. PS – Cannot believe you already seeing signs of spring. Yay that!
So glad you get reading time on your travels. What a wonderful mixture – seeing places, meeting people and feeding the mind. A Bargain With The Light is a featherweight book that packs such a punch, I hope you can get it, though whether it is available outside the UK, I don’t know. Spring in the UK is a very fickle season (see two replies above), but there is always something too see.
I hope spring is not so fickle this year. I tried to find an ebook version of a Bargain with the Light but no luck so far. I am certain to find it someday.
A Bargain with the Light will never be an ebook as the book itself is the work of art. I bet if you contact Hercules Editons https://herculeseditions.wordpress.com, they would find a way to send you a copy. It is very small and light and postable.
Dear Hilary, I wish you all the blessings in 2018, fulfillment in every field of life.
Thank you so much. I hope you have good health and I look forward to more of your beautiful, complex, stunning images.
One of my resolutions this year is to put a serious dent into my own toppling over book pile. This does not mean I can’t enjoy reading “about” books though which I have just done. Thank you. By the way, signs of spring already? It’s beyond frigid here. Happy New Year.
My book pile is multi-layered and exists in at least three rooms and, of course, the iPad too. I just keep munching like a book worm, knowing I’ll never get to the bottom of a pile, but I don’t think that matters. Yes, we are doing the usual UK dance – winter, spring and back to winter again.
Cyclamens are gorgeous. Great reviews.
Thanks, mini-cyclamen are wonderfully brave and put up with both bad weather and rotten soil.
Thanks for these recommendations! Happy New Year!
Happy New Year to you too. There are just too many good books to read!
What an intriguing collection of books. Thank you for these recommendations. I might particularly need the first one. 😊
Thank you. I do hope you get around to the first one. We all need to know how to cope better with the future for the next generation’s sake.
Happy to read a New Year post from you 😊. I’ll be glad when the lighter nights start up again. The sonnets each starting with the end of the prior one sounds an excellent idea and would make for an interesting song cycle.
I wish you good health and happiness for this year. Please do keep in touch with us 🙋🏼 all my best wishes Charlotte
They would make a brilliant song cycle – know any young composers? It’s so kind of you to pass by and find the time to comment. I cannot imagine where you find a minute to spare in your life at the moment.
I was only saying the other day to Lauren at Baydreamers it’s difficult not to get too absorbed in my work, especially living in music student halls too, blogging is my escape and it helps I’ve no tv and live alone 😄, although saying that, just now there aren’t enough hours in a day, week or month to cram everything in that I want to in 😳.
I bet, I’m just astonished you manage to blog at all, but it should pay off in the future as you have such a wide-reaching profile.
What a wonderful idea with 15 sonnets. I tried some once but gave up, perhaps a sequence is a good idea. I’ve read Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything? So will certainly try the new one. She is so clear it clears away the muddle that is around us in the news. Happy New Year to you and love the cyclamen stirring.
Poetry is the big challenge, isn’t it. Always worth trying though. I’m so glad you’ve read one of Klein’s other books. I must get there too. I saw the first winter aconite today, so spring is not hanging about.
I liked “The Road Home” too. Rose Tremain is awesome; I esp. liked her “The Colour” but perhaps in part, because we live for five years in New Zealand’s south island.
Oh, thank you, I’ve never read ‘The Colour’, I’ll look out for it.
I shall put all of them on my list. I am reading like crazy as usual but can always add to the pile. I shall read more in Summer when the heat and humidity are more oppressive. 2018 hasn’t started well – a minor op is incapacitating me longer than I hoped. The years are catching up with me. I am trying to be positive about the world but it’s not easy. The only consolation is that if you read the history books we’ve been here before. I wish you a healthy and happy 2018.
Andrew, delightful to see you come by. I’m sad to hear that health is a battle. We’ve been having some of that here too, but it’s looking better now, I’ll wish you some of our luck. Keep reading, there is always satisfaction to be had (though I am learning at last to put down books I am not enjoying). May 2018 prove positively beneficial to you.
I just finished Surviving the Death Camps…….a very powerful account. You have made a meaningful tribute to your parents. Well done.
Thank you for reading this, Janet, I’m glad you felt it was a meaningful tribute. These men and women, particularly the ones you never hear about, deserve to be remembered.
Thanks for your visits Hilary, and look forward to reading more from you! Hope all is well.
Thanks, yes, all is well. It’s been an up and down eighteen months, but things good now. I’ve even started writing again!
I totally agree about No Is Not Enough. She writes very well and has very clear and compelling ideas. I must check your other two recommendations, Hilary. I have seen a couple of exhibitions about Miller (one at the Picasso Museum in Barcelona and one in Paris) and she was a fascinating character and extremely talented. The weather is quite mad but then, that’s not news…
I must read some of Klein’s other books now. I am ashamed to say that I had never hear of Lee Miller until I bought this wonderful book – so much to discover! The weather is mad, I agree, and as we have some hard landscaping going on it is really affecting us!
Three books to add to my list – I am particularly intrigued by the last one, but then I am a lover of poetry; Naomi Klein is one author I have heard many good things about and a dose of clarity about the situation we are in and how to change it would certainly be helpful. Thank you for sharing some well-described and inviting recommendations.
I should have remembered I had read this post. I thought so but…!