Sunday 6 July 2014

Six Degrees of Separation

I love a good meme I can sink my teeth into and I've just discovered this new one being hosted by two Australian authors - Emma Chapman and Annabel Smith on their blogs.

The idea began with this post on the 29th March:

It is claimed that every person on this planet is linked to any other in six or fewer steps.
But what about books? Can we link them together too?

In 1929, Hungarian writer and poet Frigyes Karinthy wrote a short story called ‘Chains’ in which he coined the phrase ‘six degrees of separation’.

Annabel Smith and I are excited to announce a new meme, based on the idea in Karinthy’s story. On the first Saturday of every month, we will be choosing a book, and then linking it to five other books to form a chain. We will also be inviting our readers and other bloggersto join us by creating their own ‘chain’ leading from the selected book.

The books can be linked in obvious ways – for example, books by the same authors, from the same era or genre, or books with similar themes or settings. Or, you may choose to link them in more personal or esoteric ways: books you read on the same holiday, given to you by a particular friend, that remind you of a particular time in your life, or that you read for a challenge.

The great thing about this meme is that each participant can make their own rules. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the ones next to them in the chain.
The rules are simple:

This month's starting book is The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.
For those of you who haven't read my review - I loved the beginning but by half way through I got 
tired of the coincidences and I gave up. As I was trying to work out which way to go with my first 
'degree of separation' - art and birds were on my mind, but as soon as I went 'art gallery', I knew what I had to do.
I've recently put Mr Books onto Amin Maalouf as he has expressed an interest in the Middle/Dark Ages and the Middle East. When I pulled out my old copy of Leo the African I saw that I had purchased it at the Art Gallery of NSW back in 1998 (I always inscribed my books with name, date and place of purchase).

Book 2 was an easy leap from Maalouf to Malouf. Reading The Great World was an epic undertaking. It was a dense, intricate huge saga about a man called Digger.
Digger allowed me to jump to 'what were the women doing during the great war?' and Thomas Keneally's wonderful story about two Australian nurses in Gallipoli, Daughters of Mars.

My 4th degree of separation took me to another WW1 literary nurse, Maisie Dobbs. She has become my comfort read. I love her working class nursing back story and her post-war private investigator life.
Whenever I think of England between the wars, I automatically think of Brideshead Revisited. An easy 5th degree. But, of course, one of Waugh's themes was the plight of England and the aristocracy and whether they would survive the post-war deprivations & realities.

Which leads me to my 6th degree of separation - post WW2 France as viewed through the eyes of a young American couple in The Chateau by Maxwell Williams.

Which is perfect as I was hoping to link this meme to my Paris in July month :-)


  1. The Goldfinch is the only one of these books that I've read so it's so interesting to see how you made the connection to the others.

    Tanya Patrice

  2. While I enjoyed following your chain, I am most intrigued to learn you inscribe the place of purchase in your books!

    1. Hmmm inscribing my books with place of purchase began in 1991 when I travelled in the UK and Europe for 10 months. I didn't buy many books due to backpack not being a tardis! But the few I did, I wanted to remember where I got them from.
      I now make a point of buying at least one book when on holidays - when I reread I'm reminded of the holiday as well :-)

  3. What a great idea to record when and where you bought a book. And I can see from the comments I'm not the only person who'll be doing that from now on. Great to see some Australian lit on your list. I haven't read The Great World but I loved Remembering Babylon. I saw Malouf speak at the State Library of Victoria some years back and he was such a lovely and interesting man. I've never read Brideshead but I adored the TV adaptation. It was my first experience of binge-viewing. Thanks for playing 6 degrees, I hope you'll join us again next month.

    1. I had a Malouf phase in my early 30's, but the Great World was my favourite.
      I'm also a huge fan of the BBC production of Brideshead. I've a few binge viewings of it over the years :-)
      I'm already excited about next months 6 degrees.


This blog has now moved to Wordpress.
Please visit This Reading Life to comment.

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.