Saturday 2 April 2016


It has been quite some time since I joined in the #6degrees meme.
What am I saying?
It has been ages since I've joined in any meme at all!

I mistakenly thought that life would get less busy with older teenagers in the house,
There are still meals to be prepared, clothes to be washed (who knew that teenage boys could wear more clothes per day than moi!) and appointments & places to taxi them to and from.

Sure than can help out with more stuff and can be independent when it suits them, but their lives are becoming more complicated, not less, with all their school, leisure, sport and work commitments to juggle with ours.

It's almost impossible to eat a meal together now, let alone find a night where the four of us can sit down together to watch the latest Walking Dead episode.

This past week we made the radical decision to have our first ever Easter at home together.

And it was just lovely.

We slept in, we ate meals together, we caught up on The Walking Dead, we read, gardened (okay, I gardened and they playstationed until their eyes turned red!), we cleaned the house and garage and caught up on all the washing. It was perfect.

The eldest booklet is about to start his working career; so it has been sweet for all of us to catch our breath and regroup before this new phase in our family life commences.

For me, I also caught up on my blogging backlog. I made my way through my feedly feed, prepared some blog posts and jumped back into the social side of blogging. My own mini #bloggiesta.

Which leads me to #6degrees.

Now being hosted by Books Are My Favourite and Best, the idea is to brainstorm and freely link 6 books using the same starting book.

This month's starter is A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving, sadly a book I've yet to read, although I want to as I've read and enjoyed several Irving's previously.

The 'yet to read' element ended up becoming my uniting theme for this months #6degrees.

Another book I've yet to read, but want to as it inspired Irving in the writing of APFOM, was Gunter Grass' The Tin Drum. A German classic about Oskar who decides to stop growing.
Haunted by the deaths of his parents and wielding his tin drum Oskar recounts the events of his extraordinary life; from the long nightmare of the Nazi era to his anarchic adventures in post-war Germany.

Which leads me to my next unread, but want to read book, Man's Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl. This one is actually on my TBR pile to continue my neverending quest to try and understand man's inhumanity to man.
Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl's memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. 
Between 1942 and 1945, Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. 
Based on his own experience and the experiences of others he treated later in his practice, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering, but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. Frankl's theory--known as logotherapy, from the Greek word logos ("meaning")--holds that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful.

A book that I want to read sooner rather than later, is also about the holocaust called, The Tortoises by Veza Canetti. Set in Austria, this book came highly recommended from blogger Thomas @mytwostostinki.
A renowned writer and his wife live quietly in a beautiful villa outside
Vienna, until the triumphant Nazis start subjecting their Jewish
"hosts" to ever greater humiliations.
Veza Canetti focuses on seemingly
ordinary people to epitomize the horror: one flag-happy German kills a
sparrow before a group of little children; another, more entrepreneurial
Nazi brands tortoises with swastikas to sell as souvenirs commemorating
the Anschluss.

Another recommendation from a fellow blogger, this time Nancy @ipsofactodotme, was a book called Nothing Holds Back the Night by Delphine de Vigan. A contemporary French memoir/novel now waiting patiently on my TBR pile.
In this brilliant investigation into her own family history, Delphine de Vigan attempts to “write her mother,” seeking out something essential as she interviews aging relatives, listens to recordings, and reads Lucile’s own writings. It is a history of luminous beauty and rambunctious joy, of dark secrets and silences. There are untimely deaths and failures of memory. There are revelations and there is the ultimately unknowable. And in the face of the unknowable, personal history becomes fiction: De Vigan must choose from differing accounts and fill in important gaps, using her writer’s imagination to reconstruct a life.

De Vigan writes her most expansive novel yet with acute self-awareness and marvelous sympathy. Nothing Holds Back the Nightis a remarkable work, universally recognizable and singularly heartbreaking.

Dealing with mental illness and suicide in part, NHBTN leads me logically, if not happily, to the Virginia Woolf novel waiting to be read on my bedside table.
Woolf's first novel, The Voyage Out is a rite of passage story satirising Edwardian England ideals.
Woolf’s first novel is a haunting book, full of light and shadow. 
It takes Mr. and Mrs. Ambrose and their niece, Rachel, on a sea voyage from London to a resort on the South american coast. 
“It is a strange, tragic, inspired book whose scene is a South americanca not found on any map and reached by a boat which would not float on any sea, an americanca whose spiritual boundaries touch Xanadu and Atlantis” (E. M. Forster).

Finally, The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford. Also set during Edwardian times, it is sometimes claimed to be "saddest story ever told."
Although I suspect that the other six books in this post could give it a run for it's money when it comes to sad!
"A Tale of Passion," as its subtitle declares, The Good Soldier relates the complex social and sexual relationships between two couples, one English, one American, and the growing awareness by the American narrator John Dowell of the intrigues and passions behind their orderly Edwardian facade. It is the attitude of Dowell, his puzzlement, uncertainty, and the seemingly haphazard manner of his narration that make the book so powerful and mysterious. 
Despite its catalogue of death, insanity, and despair, the novel has many comic moments, and has inspired the work of several distinguished writers, including Graham Greene.

I seem to have also unconsciously relied on older classic titles to get me through this month.
Have you read any of the above books?
Which one should I read next?

Next month I will be happier (and briefer!)


  1. Man's Search for Meaning is one of the great books of the 20th century. I just finished my second go with it and will be writing it up soon. :) Tin Drum is also on my TBR!

    1. Wow! That's a big call Jean, but you've certainly moved MSFM closer to the top of my TBR pile! I'll check out your review :-)

  2. Anonymous2/4/16

    An Easter (or any holiday at home) can be a wonderfully restorative thing.

    I once did an entire six degrees chain of books I hadn't yet read - the funny thing was that when I actually read a couple of the books, they were quite different to what I had expected.

    1. Staycations are indeed a wonderful restorative - although just five days later we're wondering, 'what break was that? did we even have a break?'

  3. Anonymous2/4/16

    Thanks so much for the 'shout-out'!
    You don't have to ask me which book you should read....just find a nice cosy spot in the autumn sun, open a bottle of Chardonnay (..or Merlot) and settle back to be wow-ed by Delphine de Vigan. You can finish in within a few reading moments on a weekend. Tin Drum was another that impressed me, but you have to be in a 'I can do this'mood. Gunther can at times spiral out of control!

    1. Thanks for the heads up about Gunter - I suspected he would be that could of read.

      We've just had a stack of new releases arrive at work for April, the Stella shortlist is out and we have the Sydney Writer's Festival coming up next month - my reading schedule is rather full, but de Vigan's book is on the chair by my bed tempting me....:-)

    2. Anonymous3/4/16

      Stella short list....are you going to do a blogpost about it? Interested in the titles....

  4. What a great idea for a post. Some good sounding books here but big reads all I think. Hope you get round to them.

  5. Wow. Unread classics. I haven't read any of these books. I read a couple of classics lately, and they've just re-affirmed for me that classics aren't my thing. ;) Enjoy!

  6. What a fun way to link the chain! Plus is serves as a little mini TBR list. Owen Meany really is one of Irving's best, should you find it atop your reading pile.


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