▼ Recent Reviews
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

12 October 2019

The Rúin by Dervla McTiernan

28 September 2019

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

28 September 2019

Quichotte by Salman Rushdie

19 September 2019

Theodore Boone: The Accomplice by John Grisham

17 September 2019

Saville by David Storey

5 September 2019

Thief of Time

28 August 2019

Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi

18 August 2019

The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup

6 August 2019

Apollo by Charles Murray and Catherine Bly Fox

9 August 2019

The Famished Road by Ben Okri

8 August 2019

Every Tool's a Hammer by Adam Savage

30 July 2019

Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar by Simon Sebag Montefiore

25 July 2019

The Late Scholar by Jill Paton Walsh

16 July 2019

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

8 July 2019

The Reading Project is independantly run to provide reviews of books from a variety of genres, as well as engage in long-term projects of personal interest, including a reading of The Federalist Papers and all the Booker Prize winning novels since 1969. Contributions are welcome. More information can be found in our About/Blog page.

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▼ Books Currently Being Read

Big Blue Sky by Peter Garrett

Big Blue Sky
Peter Garrett

Reviewer: WaywardWoman

A rock star and politician...

Peter Garrett's life has been fully and passionately lived. A man of boundless energy, compassion, intelligence and creativity, he has already achieved enough to fill several lives. From his idyllic childhood growing up in the northern suburbs of Sydney, to an early interest in equality and justice; from the height of 1960s culture shock at ANU to fronting iconic Australian band Midnight Oil; from his time as a galvanising activist for the environment to being the only unaligned Cabinet minister in two Labor governments, Garrett has an extraordinary story to tell. He writes movingly about his lifelong mission to protect the environment and his connection with Aboriginal people, about his love for his family and his passion for our country: what it means to him and what it can become.

STATUS: Reading


Olga Tokarczuk

Reviewer: bikerbuddy

A novel full of philosophy and anecdotes...

Flights is a series of imaginative and mesmerising meditations on travel in all its forms, not only the philosophy and meaning of travel, but also fascinating anecdotes that take us out of ourselves, and back to ourselves. Olga Tokarczuk brilliantly connects travel with spellbinding anecdotes about anatomy, about life and death, about the very nature of humankind. Thrilling characters and stories abound - the Russian sect who escape the devil by remaining constantly in motion; the anatomist Verheyen who writes letters to his amputated leg; the story of Chopin's heart as it makes its journey from Paris to Warsaw, stored in a tightly sealed jar beneath his sister's skirt; the quest of a Polish woman who emigrated to New Zealand as a teen but must now return in order to poison her terminally ill high-school sweetheart.

STATUS: Reading

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus
Erin Morgenstern

Reviewer: Toriaz

About this book...

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. The black sign, painted in white letters that hangs upon the gates, reads: 'Opens at Nightfall Closes at Dawn.' As the sun disappears beyond the horizon, all over the tents small lights begin to flicker, as though the entirety of the circus is covered in particularly bright fireflies. When the tents are all aglow, sparkling against the night sky, the sign appears. 'Le Cirque des Reves The Circus of Dreams.' Now the circus is open. Now you may enter.

STATUS: Reading

Perfect Sound Whatever by James Acaster

Perfect Sound Whatever
James Acaster

Reviewer: NickoHeap

A look at the music of 2016...

James Acaster wakes up heartbroken and alone in New York, his relationship over, a day of disastrous meetings leading him to wonder if comedy is really what he wants to be doing anymore.

A constant comfort in James' life has been music, but he's not listened to anything new for a very long time. Idly browsing 'best of the year' lists, it dawns on him that 2016 may have been a grim year for a lot of reasons, but that it seemed to be an iconic year for music. And so begins a life-changing musical odyssey, as James finds himself desperately seeking solace in the music of 2016, setting himself the task of listening only to music released that year, ending up with 500 albums in his collection.

Looking back on this yearlong obsession, parallels begin to grow between the music and James' own life: his relationship history, the highs and lows of human connection, residual Christian guilt, and mental health issues that have been bubbling under the surface for years. Some albums are life-changing masterpieces, others are 'Howdilly Doodilly' by Okilly Dokilly, a metalcore album devoted to The Simpsons' character Ned Flanders, but all of them play a part the year that helped James Acaster get his life back on track.

STATUS: Reading

▼ Special Reading Projects
The Federalist Papers

Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay

Reviewer: bikerbuddy

Click the cover or title to follow the papers as I read them...

I have decided to read The Federalist Papers. They are a series of 85 newspaper articles published anonymously in 1787 and 1788 in New York by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay in defense of the new American Constitution.

Alexander Hamilton

Instead of reviewing them as a book, which seems pointless, given the documents' significance, I will summarise them and make notes, instead, and generally try to become familiar with them. Hopefully, they may make the papers more accessible to others, as well.

Apart from reading Ron Chernow's biography on Hamilton, this is an unfamiliar subject to me. I hope any misunderstandings or inaccuracies in my approach will therefore be understood by anyone who knows more than I do about this subject. Not hard ...

Notes for each paper will be posted as I read them. Keep track of my progress by the counter in the bottom corner.

The shortlist for the Booker Prize 2019:

  • Margaret Atwood (Canada), The Testaments [WINNER]
  • Lucy Ellmann (USA/UK), Ducks, Newburyport
  • Bernardine Evaristo (UK), Girl, Woman, Other [WINNER]
  • Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria), An Orchestra of Minorities
  • Salman Rushdie (UK/India), Quichotte
  • Elif Shafak (UK/Turkey), 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World

The Booker Prize winners for 2019 were Margaret Atwood for The Testaments and Bernardine Evaristo for her novel Girl, Woman, Other. I earlier predicted Atwood’s win in our blog last month, but did not predict a joint win which last happened in 1992 for The English Patient and Sacred Hunger. My review for The Testaments can be found here.

View the list of all Booker Prize Winners and those we have so far reviewed by clicking here.

In the long term, we hope to review all the Booker Prize winners.

The Count of Monte Cristo

Alexander Dumas

Reviewer: bikerbuddy

Click the cover or title to follow my summary as I read each chapter...

I am currently reading Alexander Dumas's The Count of Monte Cristo as a long term reading project. I've chosen to make this a Special Project given the length of the novel. It has 118 chapter and over a thousand pages of close, small print.

The novel begins in the period just before Napoleon's escape from the island of Elba. Edmond Dantes is arrested and imprisoned after he is framed as a Napoleon conspirator. This is the story of his escape, how he finds his fortune and seeks revenge on those who betrayed him.

I am summarising each chapter as I read. When I eventually finish the novel I will also write it a review. In the meantime my progress can be checked by looking at the counter below, which indicates how many chapters are currently read and summarised.

Coming to the Reading Project in the future...

I read a few of The Famous Five books when I was a child, although only some of them and not in order. Since then they have been the subject of parody and criticism. Their homely tone has been used to satirise subjects such as Brexit and corporate training culture, while the books' subject matter has often been ridiculed for sexism, racism and worrying nationalistic ideology.

This Special Reading Project is dedicated to a reading of the complete series in order. We will provide a basic overview of each book, but apart from that we will not be providing traditional reviews. Instead, we will consider some of the issues that have been raised concerning the books, as well as consider character development across the series, aspects of the setting and Blyton's use of a floating timeline, as is relevant for each volume.

The first volume in the series, Five on a Treasure Island, was published in 1942 and Blyton continued to publish additions in the series until 1963, taking the series tally to 21 for an average of one book per year.

At the moment we are still trying to decide how to present the series and are in the process of reading the books and writing material for the pages. We hope to start publishing the first pages as soon as possible.

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