June 2022

Blog Archive - July 2022

1 July 2022

Lucy Recommends...

I was out walking Lucy, the Reading Project dog, yesterday. Our son, who normally walks her, thought he had Covid (it turns out he doesn’t) and was resting in bed. Lucy didn’t inform me that she had already been walked by my wife while I was otherwise busy – a fact I found out upon my return home – so she was doing very well for herself during my son’s convalescence.

I let Lucy decide our walking route, and it wasn’t long before we were in the street behind our house where our closest street library is (this street library is currently featured in one of the photos that scroll on our About/Blog page). Now, Lucy has a habit, that when she wants to stop somewhere she digs her paws in and throws her weight backwards. She’s a little dog, but this can be amazingly effective, like dropping a heavy anchor. If you’re not expecting it, the sudden jerk on the lead can send you off balance. Sometimes she just wants to sniff something or stop to do what dogs do when they’re being walked. But yesterday, I wish to believe, she was trying to tell me something. There was the street library, awaiting my re-acquaintance, so I felt it incumbent upon me to stop and peruse what it had to offer while Lucy patiently waited.

I found two books I had previously thought to buy but had decided that the fifteen or so I was already struggling to carry were probably enough. The first from the street library, Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, is a series of short stories set around the premise of travelling back in time in a coffee house for brief moments. Toriaz has already reviewed that book on this site. The second, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, is about the experiences of a young boy in 1970s Afghanistan during the period of the Russian invasion, and later, under the Taliban.

Here’s Lucy, proudly displaying her finds:

Lucy Recommends to Books

Lucy’s dog break was so rewarding that I thought we might share her wisdom with readers of this website for the next month. We are employing a better photographer than me, and Lucy will pose for a series of doggy shots (displaying her elegance and sophistication, I hope) and offer recommendations of good books for you to read. Her first recommendation starts tomorrow! Woof!

- bikerbuddy

Lucy Recommends Dog Boy

2 July 2022

Lucy Recommends Dog Boy by Eva Hornung

This month we thought we’d give the Reading Project dog, Lucy, an opportunity to recommend some books here in this blog. Lucy is a Jack Russell crossed with Basenji, so her dog intelligence is high and she’s keen to go. Lucy and I will be having some brief discussions about each of the books recommended. Lucy’s first recommendation for this month is Dog Boy by Eva Hornung.

BIKERBUDDY: This book follows a long tradition of stories about children raised by animals. Romochka is a child abandoned on the edge of a city as winter approaches. His only hope comes when he follows a stray dog to its lair. There he is raised along with four puppies, and enters a world dominated by the visceral senses and urges of animals attempting to survive in a harsh world. This book comes as close as is it is possible to imagine the world from a dog’s perspective.

LUCY: I like the cover of this book. That dog sure knows the call of the wild. He could warm my kennel any day.

BIKERBUDDY: I think that’s a lady dog.

LUCY: Whatever. Woof!

Lucy recommends The Handmaid's Tale

4 July 2022

Lucy Recommends The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Lucy’s second book recommendation for the month of July is The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

BIKERBUDDY:The Handmaid’s Tale tells the story of a dystopian American future where women’s reproductive abilities have been limited, and women who can conceive are forced into subservient roles and made to bear children for the system. I first taught the novel in the 90s to senior students who thought the premise of the novel was far-fetched.

LUCY: I thought the book was about a woman with a tail, because I’m not a good speller. That’s what made me read it. But then I was reminded of that time when I was really young and you had me de-sexed, and I realised that denying a woman’s bodily autonomy is treating her just like a dog!


LUCY: Grrrrr!

Lucy recommends The Handmaid's Tale

6 July 2022

Lucy Recommends Flush by Virginia Woolf....

Lucy has been seriously considering her next recommendation for the month of July, and has chosen Flush by Virginia Woolf.

BIKERBUDDY: Flush is Virginia Woolf’s biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s dog, Flush. The biography is based, in part, on two of Browning’s poems, but Woolf brings her own perspective to the story, with experiments in stream of consciousness, as well as a kidnapping plot. The book explores nineteenth century conditions in London as well as issues about social class.

LUCY: Finally, a biography that isn’t homo sapiens-centric! This is a good rollicking read. And forget about the kidnapping. Flush can handle that! What about Flush and that interloper, Robert Browning. Who wouldn’t bite that!

BIKERBUDDY: You seem very enthusiastic about this one Lucy. Tell me, do I sense a favourite author here?

LUCY: Woolf, woolf!

Lucy recommends The Dog by Joseph O'Neill

8 July 2022

Lucy Recommends The Dog by Joseph O'Neill

I should have known that when I asked a dog to make book recommendations that her choices would be somewhat predictable.

BIKERBUDDY: Lucy’s next recommended book, The Dog by Joseph O’Neill, was longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2014. It is the story of an unnamed attorney, X, who accepts a job in Dubai after his personal life falls apart, to manage a large family fortune. Unfortunately, things don’t go quite as he expects, and he begins to suspect that he is in some trouble, or to put it more colourfully, “in the doghouse”.

LUCY: You could have told me about figurative language before you watched me plough through this book. It’s not about a dog at all! But it was pretty good. Maybe I’ll take a trip to Dubai one day.

BIKERBUDDY: And why would you go there?

LUCY: To find this guy’s doghouse, of course! I want something with a slippery dip and room service.

Lucy recommends Beastly Tales by Vikram Seth

11 July 2022

Lucy Recommends Beastly Tales by Vikram Seth

I asked Lucy to consider recommending some poetry for our readers as part of her month-long series of recommendations for July. This is what she came up with…

BIKERBUDDY: This wonderful book by the author of A Suitable Boy is a set of ten fables in verse. Seth employs heptasyllabic verse, which imbues his tales with a jaunty rhythm and enhances his cheeky humour. What results is a set of masterful tales, set in a variety of countries in Asia and Eastern Europe, accompanied by wonderful illustrations by Ravi Shankar. Each tale can be read in one short sitting and will be loved by both adults and children.

LUCY: I liked this book because the stories were short and they had lots of animals in them. Some of them like Kuroop the crocodile were scary, but there were a few I reckon I could get my teeth around.

BIKERBUDDY: Were there any tales that you particularly liked.

LUCY: I liked the one about the pussy and the cock.

BIKERBUDDY: I think you mean ‘The Cat and the Cock’.

LUCY: I know what I mean.

Lucy recommends The Tree by John Fowles

13 July 2022

Lucy Recommends The Tree by John Fowles

Lucy has chosen a beautifully presented book to recommend to our readers today…

BIKERBUDDY: The Tree by John Fowles is a semi-autobiographical essay about nature, science, Fowles’s farm and his relationship with his father. The original edition of the book, which may be hard to get now, also featured beautiful photography of trees by Frank Horvat. If you can’t get that edition, paperback editions are still worth finding. Fowles’s writing is a meditation on many aspects of his life and fiction, and is therefore also a good introduction to his writing.

LUCY: You don’t know much bikerbuddy, but I have to agree that this is one beautiful book. When I’m not reading it, it’s large enough to have a nap on.

BIKERBUDDY: What do you like best about it?

LUCY: Well, you know those rainy days when I’m stuck inside and you’re too much of a wimp to take me for a walk?


LUCY: Well, I like to flick through and look at all those pictures of trees. It helps me go on that absorbent mat I’m supposed to use when I know you might be looking.

Lucy recommends Cujo by Stephen King

15 July 2022

Lucy Recommends Cujo by Stephen King

BIKERBUDDY: I see you’re wearing false vampire teeth today, Lucy. Why is that?

LUCY: Because Cujo is my favourite dog of all time and that book Mr King wrote about him is excellent.

BIKERBUDDY: I wasn’t partial to it myself. I rated it poorly in the review I wrote.

LUCY: That’s because you’re a snob who doesn’t like vampire stories. That dog waited all day for that woman and kid to get out of the car. He couldn’t get in unless they invited him in.

BIKERBUDDY: I think you’re confused. Cujo was a rabid dog, not a vampire.

LUCY: Oh yeah? Then what about that set of jaws on the book cover. Are you denying Mr King wrote vampire stories?


LUCY: Then it’s QED, buddy!


LUCY: It’s something people say. It means I’m quite an extraordinary dog and you know nothing.

Lucy recommends The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John LeCarre

19 July 2022

Lucy Recommends The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John LeCarré

Today, Lucy has chosen a classic spy thriller from the Cold War.

BIKERBUDDY: First published in 1963, LeCarré’s breakthrough novel depicts a seedy world of amorality and subterfuge at the height of the Cold War. Alec Leamas, a British spy, having been undercover for years, wants to retire – to come in from the cold – but he has been given one last mission: to defect to Germany and frame the German officer of East Germany's Socialist Unity Party who is responsible for the liquidation of Leamas’s network.

LUCY: This book was okay, but I think the title was misleading.

BIKERBUDDY: What do you mean?

LUCY: Well, you know that night a few weeks ago when you all went out and nobody trusted me not to trash the house and so I was put in the yard and it was the middle of winter?

BIKERBUDDY: I remember…

LUCY: And there was nothing to do so I licked the gate and my tongue stuck to it with the cold and I had to stand there for hours with my tongue out until you got home.


LUCY: I just thought I’d relate to the book more.

20 July 2022

Updating my reading list (partly)

After a short exchange with another webpage owner on Neocities (Pikemalarkey) about reading lists, I decided to update the reading list on my reviewer page to include new books I have placed on my book trolley I call “Mr Anderson”. Of course, this is a limited list, which does not include many other books I have waiting on my shelves to read, including the novels of Dickens and George Eliot which I am reading periodically, and the various versions of The Tale of Genji, which I am yet to begin. As I wrote to Pikemalarkey, the number of books I have waiting to be read is ridiculous.

Click here to view my limited reading list on my reviewer’s page on this site.

- bikerbuddy

Lucy recommends An Imaginary Life by David Malouf

22 July 2022

Lucy Recommends An Imaginary Life by David Malouf

BIKERBUDDY: You’ve chosen a most interesting book to recommend today, Lucy. It recalls themes from Eva Hornung’s Dog Boy you recommended earlier. Why don’t you tell everyone about it?

LUCY: An Imaginary Life by Australian author, David Malouf, is set in the early Imperial period of Rome. The poet, Ovid, has been exiled to the frontier, and he writes about the landscape and the lives of villagers, seated on the edge of the wild world at the border of civilisation. This story has everything: wolves howling in the night, wild dear, and a young boy Ovid discovers, living in nature without language or human contact. The writing is a brilliant evocation of place, as well as an exploration of liminality, of the margins of humanity, recalling the ontological conditionality of existence raised by the poet’s own writing.

BIKEBUDDY: Gee, I thought Ovid was just a bit of fun. What’s made you wax so philosophical today, Lucy?

LUCY: It’s all this reading you make me do. You’ve transformed me from a fun-loving pup into whatever it is I am. You won’t even let me sniff your butt!

Lucy recommends A Dog's Life by Peter Mayle

25 July 2022

BIKERBUDDY: Lucy, you’re coming near to the end of your month to showcase your favourite books. I was hoping you might branch out a little more.

LUCY: What do you mean?

BIKERBUDDY: Well, so many of the books you have chosen have something to do with dogs or people you think have tails.

LUCY: Aren’t most of the books you read about people you think don’t have a tail?

BIKERBUDDY: It’s a fair point, I guess. So tell me. What did you like about this book?

LUCY: Peter Mayle’s A Dog’s Life tells it how it is from a dog’s point of view. It’s that simple. Besides, you’d like it too, because it has all that clever stuff that you think makes it funny, like references to Proust and people from history, and it’s full of irony and humour you humans like.

BIKERBUDDY: Anything else?

LUCY: It has drawings all the way through which make it fun to read. And the story is about a boy dog called ‘Boy’ – humans are so unimaginative – and I can see what he looks like because the illustrator, Mr Koren, drew him so much. Except Boy has really long hair, and it makes it hard to get a look at the length of his …

BIKERBUDDY: … Tail!!!?

LUCY: Sure. That’s it.

Lucy recommends The Call of the Wild by Jack London

28 July 2022

Today is Lucy’s last book recommendation for the month of July before a well-earned rest…

BIKERBUDDY: I see you have selected a classic for your last recommendation Lucy. What was your thinking behind this choice?

LUCY: This is the story of Buck, a pampered pooch who is kidnapped from his home in California and pressed into service as part of a dog sled team in Alaska. But Buck is up to the challenge. He’s a big dog with rippling muscles, and eventually he hears the call of the wild, the allure of his ancestral memories, and he joins the wild dogs to start a new life, independent of humans.

BIKERBUDDY: Gee, Lucy, it sounds like you’re projecting a little there. Should I be worried?

LUCY: Don’t worry. He’s loyal to Thornton, his new owner, and avenges his murder before he goes native. You know I love you, Bikerbuddy. But a girl has to dream, too.

BIKERBUDDY: Have you anything else to say before you hang up your reviewer collar?

LUCY: Just this …. ah-ROOOOOOO!!!!

29 July 2022

The Longlist for this year’s Booker Prize was announced yesterday:

  • Glory, NoViolet Bulawayo (Zimbabwean)
  • Trust, Hernan Diaz (American)
  • The Trees, Percival Everett (American)
  • Booth, Karen Joy Fowler (American)
  • Treacle Walker, Alan Garner (British)
  • The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, Shehan Karunatilaka (Sri Lankan)
  • Small Things Like These, Claire Keegan (Irish)
  • Case Study, Graeme Macrae Burnet (British)
  • The Colony, Audrey Magee (Irish)
  • Maps of our Spectacular Bodies, Maddie Mortimer (British)
  • Nightcrawling, Leila Mottley (American)
  • After Sappho, Selby Wynn Schwartz (American)
  • Oh William!, Elizabeth Strout (American)

I’d previously been tempted by two books from this list, Booth by Karen Joy Fowler and Oh William! By Elizabeth Strout. I’d been tempted to buy Strout’s book merely because it had come on my radar, an expression I use to mean I’d begun to hear various people and sources mention her and praise her work. I was tempted by Fowler’s book because of its subject matter. A novel based on the life and family of John Wilkes Booth, the man who killed Abraham Lincoln, sounded interesting.

However, with so many books to read already waiting on my shelves, I’ve been trying to cut back on my purchases lately, so both books were left in the bookshop. However, last night we needed to head to the shops for other matters. While we were there I couldn’t resist looking in the only bookstore left to us in Penrith, QBD (Dymocks closed last year, which was the subject of previous blog posts). I managed to find Strout’s book, but they didn’t have a copy of Booth. I checked the rest of the longlist. They had one copy of one other book in stock, Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley, a first time novelist. It sounded interesting, so I purchased them both. I’ll try to get both read and reviewed before the shortlist is announced on 6 September.

Graeme Macrae Burnet, previously shortlisted for the Booker Prize for his debut novel, His Bloody Project, is again Longlisted for Case Study. I reviewed Case Study in January. Click here to read that review.

- bikerbuddy

August 2022