Livre, buch, kitab

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1. The Closed Circle- Jonath­an Coe
2. Dibs in Search of Self- Virgin­ia Axline
3. Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case- Agatha Christie
4. 99 Ways to Tell a Story- Matt Madden
5. Fragile Things- Neil Gaiman
6. Lost Worlds: What Have We Lost and Where Did it Go?- Michael Bywa­ter
7. Exer­cises in Style- Raymond Queneau trans. Barbara
8. The Atom Station- Halldór Laxness trans. Magnus Magnus­son
9. Sweets: the History of Tempta­tion- Tim Richard­son

The Atom Station- Halldór Laxness trans. Magnus Magnus­son (yes, him off Master­mind)

Halldór Laxness won a Nobel Prize for liter­at­ure, is considered THE modern Iceland­ic writer, and has an excel­lent name. I’d heard of him for a long time, but never got round to read­ing anything by him. I went to Iceland a few years ago, but I didn’t buy any books there because they were all so expens­ive. The other week I saw this in the local library, so I considered it was about time. Halldór Laxness (haltour ˈlax­snɛs) Halldór Laxness (haltour ˈlax­snɛs) Halldór Laxness (haltour ˈlax­snɛs) ….

Ugla (‘owl’) is a girl from a remote valley in the north of Iceland in the late 40s who comes to Reyk­javik to work as a maid in the town house of her local MP (who’s trying to strike a deal to get an Amer­ic­an nucle­ar weapon station built in Iceland) and study music. She takes harmoni­um lessons off an eccent­ric old man whose house is always full of the local radic­als, and becomes a commun­ist by acci­dent . The gener­al tone is surreal and satir­ic­al at the same time, appar­ently not his usual style, but I enjoyed it and would like to read more. I felt like he was taking the piss out of some very specif­ic targets, and that I would have enjoyed the book even more if I were more famil­i­ar with Iceland in the 40s. It was also trans­lated by Magnus Magnuss­son off Master­mind. I like that.

“It is a char­ac­ter­ist­ic of great art that people who know noth­ing feel they could have done it them­selves – if they were stupid enough”

Sweets: the History of Tempta­tion- Tim Richard­son

This does exactly what it says on the tin, tracing the history of sweets from prim­it­ive honey cakes to the present day moun­tain of avail­able sweets. It covers the inven­tion of sweets in India, medic­al use of sugar in medi­aev­al times (which gave me a terrible crav­ing for liquorice comfits), the explo­sion of sugar use in Europe on the back of the slave trade in the 1700s, eccent­ric victori­an indus­tri­al­ists and all sorts of trivia on how you actu­ally make vari­ous sweets. In between the chapters are short sections entitled Pic ‘n’ Mix which each deal with a partic­u­lar sweet. I mostly read this while stuff­ing a bar of Green & Black’s Butter­scotch Chocol­ate into my face, and you should prob­ably do like­wise.

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