Regular readers of my posts will be aware that I read a lot of crime fiction, especially by local authors, and that has continued to be on my reading menu of late - but I do read other things too!

The book I just finished reading is a memoir by Alan Doyle (of Great Big Sea fame) about growing up in Petty Harbour, Newfoundland. It was one of a rack of sale books I perused (and ended up buying) outside of Perfect Books on Elgin Street, either just before or just after a recent dental appointment. A fascinating read by someone who's as entertaining a writer as he is a musician. He vividly captured the culture of the place - the way of life in Petty Harbour, some of its eccentric characters, the sharp Catholic/Protestant divide, the attitude of residents towards "townies" and towards Canada and Confederation. It definitely reinforced my determination to visit Newfoundland at least once before I die!

Another book outside of the crime fiction category that I recently read and greatly enjoyed was Hope Has Two Daughters, by Monia Mazigh. Now, I knew that Monia Mazigh was a Muslim, that she once ran for the NDP in an Ottawa riding and that she is the wife of Maher Arar, but I didn't know much about her background. Apparently she was born and raised in Tunisia and moved to Canada in 1991. Hope Has Two Daughters is a novel set in Tunisia, weaving together the stories of a mother and daughter and centring around two key events: The Bread Riots of 1984 (which the mother, Nadia, lived through) and the Arab Spring in 2010, which Lila, her daughter, becomes involved in when she visits her mother's childhood friends in Tunisia at the age of 18, having grown up in Canada. The story moves back and forth in time, told largely in the form of letters or diary entries - and like in all good stories, everything pulls together nicely at the end. I think I'm going to have to get hold of Monia Mazigh's memoir, Hope and Despair, and perhaps her other works too.

Getting back to crime fiction, I (fairly) recently read The Vinyl Detective: Written in Dead Wax, by Andrew Cartmel. The detective in this book buys up old records, some of which he keeps for himself, some which he re-sells at a profit at all the various flea markets; he also accepts requests from individual clients to track down particular rare recordings on their behalf. it was an interesting and quirky sort of a book, apparently the first in a series. The second one, The Run-Out Groove, was supposed to be coming out in May (though I haven't tried yet to get hold of it, with all the other books awaiting my attention), and the third, Victory Disc, is due out in May 2018.

I also read a book called The Question of the Felonious Friend: An Asperger's Mystery by E.J. Copperman and Jeff Cohen (who rather than being co-authors may be one and the same person). I'm not sure I would have bought this book, but it was one of the freebies in my goody-bag when I attended Left Coast Crime in Hawaii back in March. The sleuth in this book, Samuel Hoenig, owns a business called Questions Answered, and he himself has Asperger's Syndrome (sometimes referred to as high-functioning autism). A client who is
also autistic (but not so high-functioning) comes into Samuel's agency with the question "Is Richard Handy really my friend?" When the evidence he gathers seems to suggest a negative answer to that question, and when Richard Handy is subsequently murdered, suspicion inevitably falls upon the autistic client - but of course, things are rarely that cut and dried in the world of crime fiction! Anyway, this book is also part of a series, and while it was an interesting read, I'm not so sure I would seek out other books in the series.

I've also been reading the most recent output of some of my favourite local authors: the latest Stonechild and Rouleau mystery by Brenda Chapman; the latest Linda Wiken book, Roux the Day; the first instalment of Vicki Delany's new series, Elementary She Wrote; the latest Barbara Fradkin. And I read a book by a local author I hadn't previously heard of, Jeremy Hanson-Finger, entitled Death and the Intern, which takes place at the Ottawa Civic Hospital. Well, how could I resist that one, as a life-long Ottawa resident who was born at the Civic, had my own child there, and was hospitalized there for a couple of weeks at the age of sixteen? And that's before counting the handful of times I've gone there as an outpatient. It's described in the blurb as "set in a vivid and compelling world of anesthesiologists gone bad" - and that's a pretty good description! It's got Hells' Angels, drug traffickers, dog-walkers and more. Hard-boiled but with some dry black humour in there too. The author has a website, hanson-finger.com. Still not sure it was quite my thing, but I'm glad I bought and read it as I like to see what's new out there and think it's important to support these small not-for-profit publishing companies.

Now I'm concurrently reading two books - one a 1999 thriller by Aline Templeton, Night & Silence; and the other by Gwen Cooper, Homer's Odyssey, a nonfiction book about how she adopted a blind kitten. This last one I just picked up second-hand at last weekend's Friends of the Farm annual booksale. I'm enjoying it so far, although I found the sale itself rather disappointing (a less wide-ranging selection compared to previous years). But never mind - it's not as if I'll be running out of reading material any time soon!
The February issue of Chatelaine has an article entitled "One for the books". It's described in the Table of Contents as "Ingenious and stylish ways to store (and display) all of your books". Just what the doctor (and librarian) ordered, right? Excitedly, I flipped through the magazine pages to find the article in question.

First suggestion, complete with helpful illustration: "Group books with colourful pages together for a pop of brightness". Then, on the same page, "HIDE THE SPINES. Take the visual clutter off your shelves by displaying your books backwards for a clean, minimal look." It goes on to the classic group-by-colour idea so everything matches your paint or wallpaper or sofa cushions and you'll be ready when someone asks, "Oh, by the way - do you have the orange book, by any chance?" Of course, it might get a little more complicated if you have some particularly difficult guests who ask for a particular title, or wonder if you have anything by Ian Rankin or Terry Pratchett!

In a way, I guess I should find it refreshing that there are still folks around who can appreciate the book as a tangible, physical, aesthetic object to be owned and treasured. Or who realize that you can't always judge a book by its cover - or its spine. But how exactly am I to figure out where to find the book or kind of book I'm interested in, when most of the books' salient attributes are hidden? Maybe by the thickness of the book? Or by how well-thumbed and well-loved the pages seem to be? Do publishers have some sort of secret (or not-so-secret) page colour-coding for the types of books they deal with? If so, I'm afraid they've never let me in on it.

By the way, Freedom to Read week starts on February 26. I plan to take full advantage of the occasion, just as soon as I can locate that purple book with the turquoise pages...
I'll tackle the "how" first. The truth is, reading has become a bit more of an ordeal than it used to be. It's not a matter of being illiterate or dyslexic - the problem is much more physical and mechanical than that, the result of my ageing eyes. Still, I'm very interested in the whole relationship between medium and message. If you listen to a novel as an audiobook, how does that affect the way you relate to the characters and the story? I've never been much into audiobooks, although I've listened to one or two. I've read a handful of large print books (although the selection as far as paper books go is a bit limited). Then of course there are the ubiquitous e-books. I have a kobo e-reader (which always seems to need recharging, even when it's been mostly turned off), and a kindle program on my laptop. But that's never been my preferred way to read, although the adjustable font size is certainly a useful feature.

For now, I'm mostly reading the same formats I've always preferred: traditional paper newspapers and magazines, and books on paper. It's just that I generally have to look over my glasses or remove them completely and put the page right up to my face. It means I don't generally read for long periods at a stretch like I used to.

Anyway, on to the "what".

I recently finished The Arc of the Swallow, by S.J. Gazan. Her first book, The Dinosaur Feather, was voted Crime Novel of the Decade by the Danish Broadcasting Corporation.

Like The Dinosaur Feather, Arc of the Swallow takes place in an academic setting. A biology professor is found hanging in his office one day and the death is dismissed as a suicide. But the PhD candidate whose work he was supervising is aware he was just on the verge of releasing some groundbreaking and highly controversial research regarding vaccination in the developing world. She and several of his colleagues are convinced that he would never have killed himself, particularly at this point in his career.

The book combines an enthralling murder mystery, which is pure fiction, with some interesting and factual information about the Bandim Health Project in Guinea-Bissau, where a Danish-founded research group discovered some disturbing non-specific effects of the high-dose measles vaccine on the mortality of girls - their mortality DOUBLED after the vaccine was introduced. Had the WHO not withdrawn the vaccine (albeit very quietly), it could have cost at least half a million additional female deaths per year in Africa alone!

Subsequent research points to the conclusion that ALL vaccines have some nonspecific effects, though luckily most of them are beneficial ones. And in April 2014, the WHO finally decided that more research into the nonspecific effects of vaccines was warranted. For more on the Bandim Health Project, see http://www.bandim.org

My own take on this is that there was resistance to acknowledging the findings in both the prosperous first-world nations and in the developing world, but for very different reasons. In the former case, the attitude was "Well, we mustn't encourage Jenny McCarthy and all those wacko antivaxxers who think vaccines cause autism, so vaccination must be presented as unambiguously positive in all instances"; in the developing world, girls and women are considered (at least by those in power) as inferior and expendable so the attitude is "Well, if the effects are limited to the female of the species, then who cares?!" Needless to say, both extremes are severely misguided. "Vaccine-hesitancy" as I've recently heard it called, is a legitimate stance that deserves a thoughtful addressing of concerns on both an intellectual and an emotional level.


The other book I recently finished reading was Us Conductors, by Sean Michaels, about the inventor of the theremin. I've seen and heard a thereminist in action a few times now, at both this year's and last year's Music and Beyond festival. It's a fascinating and eerily ethereal instrument. And Us Conductors, a novel about the inventor of the theremin, his life in New York City, his marriages and doomed love affair and his subsequent return to and imprisonment in the Soviet Union, makes for some gripping reading.

Finally, I'm about two-thirds of the way through one of Doris Lessing's shorter books, Memoirs of a Survivor. While she called it something like an attempt at or a fragment of an autobiography, it certainly doesn't read like a traditional memoir or autobiography, although it's told in the first person. But the characters in it, be they fictional or otherwise, are certainly preoccupied with survival, so at least that part of the title is accurate! The "I" of the story - I don't think we actually learn her name - finds herself early in the book saddled with a girl of about 12 or 13, named Emily, brought to her by a man who assures her that Emily is her responsibility now. Emily and her cat-like dog named Hugo live with her for the next year or two and Emily gets drawn into the street-culture of transient children and youth outside, who seem to be homeless or at least more or less left to their own devices most of the time. In the building where the narrator and Emily are living, a wall periodically opens up and the narrator sees visions of the recent past - perhaps ten years ago - when Emily was a much younger child and had parents and a baby brother. She tries from these visions to piece together who Emily is and where she's come from.

I'm trying to decide what books to tackle next... something not too long or challenging, while still being interesting.
No. He's actually right about quite a few things. Yes, we should wear our sunscreen, eat our vegetables and get some exercise. No, we shouldn't smoke. Nor should we follow the advice of celebrities or emulate their actions just because they happen to be celebrities.

Like Angelina Jolie, who had a "preventative" double mastectomy to avert breast cancer, knowing that she already had some genetic red flags and a family history of the disease. So when in doubt, we should ask our doctor, as opposed to Angelina Jolie or Gwyneth Paltrow?

Maybe. But regardless of their credentials and experience, regardless of their professional competence and ethos and educated guesses and hunches (sometimes they just don't have the luxury of time to do the kind of extensive research that might be desirable in a perfect world) - doctors can get things wrong too! What about all the unnecessary radical mastectomies and hysterectomies ordered by doctors? What about drugs like thalidomide and DES prescribed in good faith by doctors, which ultimately led to serious birth defects and other next-generation complications?

In his book "Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong about Everything?" Timothy Caulfield has clearly done his homework. He includes extensive bibliographic references and a decent index that would warm the heart of any librarian! He endeavours to unearth proper studies to support the claims he makes and when he is unable to do so, he freely admits it. But having acknowledged all that, I have to say I think some of the conclusions he reaches are a little questionable.

For one thing, he says we are all ridiculously unable to predict odds and probabilities and that we are all absurdly overconfident of our own abilities. Really? That might be true of those who dare to enter the Dragons' Den or audition for Canadian Idol - in fact, I don't think people would ever enter either of those spaces unless they were blessed with a healthy dose of optimism! I also think there are gender and generational biases at work here. Generally speaking, men tend to be more self-confident than women and younger people tend to be more self-confident than older folks. Cultural elements come into play too. In our culture, people are expected to APPEAR self-confident at auditions, job interviews and the like, even if they are quaking in their shoes!

But it's the overall message I got from the book that concerns me the most. Throughout most of the book, he seems to be saying that the odds of making it in the arts are so pitifully low that it's better not to try at all. Towards the end, he does grudgingly admit that the arts have a value in and of themselves (he also admits that he himself is a failed rock musician). But he says you should engage in the arts for the love of it and never expect to make a living in the field. If you've got bills to pay, you'll just have to activate Plan B and get a job at a fast food joint.

I'm a little more optimistic than that. I see plenty of impressive musical, artistic and literary talent amongst my family and friends. Maybe none of these people will ever be a world-famous celebrity. That's probably not what most of them aspire to, as constant touring and performing can be highly antithetical to family life and the maintenance of solid relationships. But most of them are at least managing to make a modest living in ways that involve their skills and talents - be that teaching, writing, performing, or holding exhibitions of their work.

Oh, by the way. I've read the book. I saw a presentation he gave recently in the Ottawa area. But I still haven't quite figured out what (if anything) Timothy Caulfield thinks Gwyneth Paltrow might actually be RIGHT about!
Since October is Canadian Library Month and October 20-26 was Ontario Public Library Week, I thought I'd post this entry in the occasional What is Blogcutter Reading category.

Unquestionably it is PUBLIC libraries that have the most relevance to me since my retirement, even though virtually my entire career was spent in libraries of federal government departments. So first, how I use my public library.

If there's a book I've heard of or seen reviewed somewhere, but I'm not sure I want to buy it (often because I'm pretty sure I won't read it more than once), I go online and put my name on a waiting list for that book. When it's ready, I get an e-mail asking me to come in and pick it up.

As for other online activities, I sometimes browse through their online "new acquisitions" or "on order" items, especially in the mystery or crime fiction genre. I haven't used the online research sources (the ones compiled by companies like Ebsco, usually hidden behind a paywall but accessible to library-cardholders via their barcode number) nearly as much as I had expected or planned to after retirement (once I had all that - ha ha - free time!) although I do use them occasionally. And I do search the library catalogue itself, although I find that task increasingly frustrating as catalogue software packages increasingly gear their user interfaces to the ADHD-Google-generation (see my earlier blog entry on the opacity of modern search engines).

When I visit the library in person, I often don't get past the front section where they have their new arrivals, recently-returned items, recommended reads and Express Reads; when I do, it's usually to browse the Mystery and the General Fiction shelves or occasionally to seek out a specific item. So when I borrow non-fiction, it tends to be items I've found in the aforementioned front section.

Here's what I currently have out from the library (all were found from that famous front area of the library):

1) Murder in Memoriam, by Didier Daedinickx - a murder mystery, fiction but based on actual events - the arrest, beating and killing of Algerians in Paris who were peacefully protesting a curfew, in October of 1961. Involves a "bent copper", Andre Veillut, based on the actual historical police chief and later politician and industrial leader Maurice Papon. The book was published in France in 1984, 14 years before Papon's conviction, and is widely believed to have played a part in bringing Papon to justice.

2) Animal Wise: The Thoughts and Emotions of our Fellow Creatures, by Virginia Morell. An exploration of recent research in the areas of animal cognition, emotion and use of language. Chapters on ants, fish, birds (especially parrots), rats, elephants, dolphins, chimps, dogs and wolves. A fascinating read so far (I'm about half-way through it).

3) Une femme surveillee by Charlotte Link - Actually I haven't started reading this one yet. But I read and thoroughly enjoyed Charlotte Link's only book to have been translated into English (from German) so far, The Other Child. That one takes place in Scarborough, England, in modern times and concerns a murder linked to events much earlier, the evacuation of children to Scarborough during WWII. Link is apparently one of Europe's bestselling crimewriters but for whatever reason, more of her books have been translated into French than English (there were ten others listed in the front of this one). This book is a translation of Der Beobachter. I found the prospect of reading 550 pages in French a little less daunting than the idea of reading them in the original German but if I get through this book, I might even be inspired to read her in the original. On the other hand, by that time there may be more of her books available in English!

When I look at my "Recently Returned" library books online, I get another list of three books: How Literature Saved My Life, by David Shields; Everybody Matters, by Mary Robinson; and The Red House Mystery, by A.A. Milne (I had no idea until I stumbled across it in the library that Milne had written a murder mystery).

In terms of books I own, I've recently read The Bookman's Tale, by Charlie Lovett; Dancing in the Dark, by Joan Barfoot; and I'm still reading The Secret Life of Bletchly Park, by Sinclair McKay. But any discussion of those will have to wait for another time.
Will we in our lifetime see the end of the book as we know it, or used to know it? The evidence, I think, is mixed.

On the one hand, a lot of small independent bookshops are closing, downsizing, or becoming online-only booksellers. On the Ottawa scene, the following spring to mind:
Mother Tongue Books (to close July 21); Nicholas Hoare; Shirley Leishman; Prime Crime; Patrick McGahern; at least two incarnations of a science fiction bookstore; The Bookery (children's books); Books Canada; Jarvis's; Classics (these last three are long gone). On the other hand, we still have Perfect Books on Elgin Street; Collected Works on Wellington; Books on Beechwood (location obvious); plus the chains - Chapters/Indigo, Smithbooks, Coles - and a number of second-hand bookstores.

Many people have e-readers, of course, or other devices like iPads on which they can read books and other text that they download. I have a Kobo (non-touch version) which came pre-loaded with about 100 classics - and it's wonderful knowing I've got them there in easily portable and accessible (at least till the next great technological development comes along) form.

Many people also order the traditional paper books but from an online source - or they take them out of the library. I buy a lot of books through Abebooks (which apparently is now owned by Amazon, though I've discovered a number of the individual booksellers who sell through Abebooks): it's a great source for out-of-print items.

Then there's the second-hand booksales. Two months ago, I wrote about my haul from the Rockliffe Park book sale. A quick update about that - thus far, I've read the memoir of an Ottawa family by Grace Day Hartwick; I've baked muffins, adapting a recipe from the Veganomicon; and I've watched one of the videos I bought there.

What else is Blogcutter reading? Well, at the moment it's John Irving's latest book, In One Person (may not be the exact title) as well as Jan Wong's Out of the Blue (her self-published book about her experience with depression). I recently read a number of the books by authors who were appearing at Bloody Words the weekend of June 1-3 (including Gayle Lynds, Lou Allin, Janice Macdonald, Garry somebody, Erika Chase (a.k.a. Linda Wiken) Hilary McLeod, Kay Stewart); I read Anne Holt's first Hanne Wilhelmsen mystery, Alexander McCall Smith's "The Great Cake Mystery" (a children's book about Precious Ramotswe when she was a little girl); and a history of the free public library movement in Ontario from 1860-1930.

And today, I went to the Friends of the Experimental Farm booksale. They were a little better organized than they seemed to be last year; I joined the line-up around 9:45 where a woman was distributing plastic shopping-bags (I wonder what they do in Toronto now that plastic bags are to be banned?) You could fill one of their bags with paperbacks for a flat fee of $15; hardcover books were $2 apiece.

So here is a list of what I brought home:

Hardcovers - Karol Wojtyla (aka Pope John Paul II), Collected Poems
John Masefield - Poems

Crime novels - The Puzzling Adventures of Dr. Ecco, by Dennis Shasha (about a mathematical detective in Greenwich Village)
- The Dying of the Light, by Robert Richardson
- A Wreath for my Sister, by Priscilla Masters
- Striding Folly, by Dorothy L. Sayers
- Thrones, Dominations, by Dorothy L. Sayers, completed posthumously by Jill Paton Walsh
- The Point of Murder & Almost the Truth, both by Margaret Yorke
- By Hate Possessed, by Maurice Gagnon
- Beware of the Trains & Frequent Hearses, both by Edmund Crispin
- All Shall be Well & In a Dark House, both by Deborah Crombie
- The Keys to the Street, by Ruth Rendell

Canadiana - Dancing in the Dark & Family News, both by Joan Barfoot
- The Husband, by Dorothy Livesay
- Swann: A Literary Mystery, by Carol Shields
- The Falling Woman, by Shaena Lambert

Other fiction - The Woman and the Ape, by Peter Hoeg (translated from Danish - the author also writes crime fiction)
- The Search, by Naguib Mahfouz
- The Black Prince, by Iris Murdoch
- Blitzcat, by Robert Westell
- Jizzle, by John Wyndham

Non-fiction & Reference
- The Ojibwa Woman, by Ruth Landes
- Early Irish Myths and Sagas
- The Bronte Myth, by Lucasta Miller
- Dictionary of Classical Mythology, by Pierre Grimal
- From Abacus to Zeus: A Handbook of Art History, by James Smith Pierce
- The Book of Classical Music Lists, by Herbert Kupferberg

Total haul, 30 books.

I'll issue an update later on where I am with my various reading.

Meanwhile, I've been dismayed by the demise of some newspapers, including the Sunday edition of the Ottawa Citizen and the entertainment weekly, Xpress. But further commentary on that will have to wait for another time.
So today, Queen Victoria is a ripe old (yes, very old and no doubt very ripe too!) 193. We celebrated "Victoria Day" three days ago; the day is also supposed to be in lieu of celebrating the birthday of the currently reigning monarch, Elizabeth II. But even in the U.K., they don't celebrate her birthday ON her birthday - it actually falls in April, but they don't celebrate till June.

I've always thought it must be nice to be able to have free rein and free reign as to what day you'd like to celebrate your birthday. My birthday falls in the first half of August, when the weather is often nice enough, but people tend to be away on holidays. That made it hard to organize birthday parties when I was a kid but on the plus side, I never had to go to school on my birthday! Some people who have their birthdays on Christmas Day, or just before or just after Christmas, feel somewhat cheated because they don't have a day just for themselves. And of course in some families, more than one member shares a birthday. In my own family, I was born on my father's birthday, while one of my sisters was born on our mother's birthday. My daughter was born on what would have been my grandmother's 91st birthday. Twins and other multiple birthlings are obvious examples of shared family birthdays. Then you get people born on February 29, who only get to celebrate that specific date once every four years.

In honour of Queen Victoria's birthday, I recently re-read a biography of her by Molly Costain Haycraft, which I originally read for school in grade six. It basically emphasized the same period of her life as that covered in the movie Young Victoria, with only one chapter at the end dealing with all the things that happened after Albert died. There were two big differences between the book and the movie, however. First of all, the book was clearly written for children while the movie was directed at a more general audience. Secondly, the book was written about fifty years before the movie was made, and both reflect the sensibilities of their respective times.

The book had quite a lot of descriptive details in it - what type of lessons Victoria was taught by her tutors; extensive descriptions of her wardrobe and meals on various occasions, description of palace architecture and grounds (including a somewhat coy observation that indoor plumbing was an "innovation" in Victoria's day). It made liberal and (one assumes) quite innocent use of the word "gay" in the then-prevailing sense of cheerful or cheery. It also included quite a bit on Victoria's difficult relationship with her mother and the whole situation with suitors and arranged marriages. There was some reference too to what was going on in the rest of the world at the time, including the "problem" of Canada (referring mainly to the 1837 rebellions in Upper and Lower Canada) and of the Irish (including an observation along the lines that they had always been an excitable people).

I actually found myself remembering parts of the book, though through a rather different set of lenses! Reading books, especially about the past or the future, involves such a complex interaction between the viewpoints of author, reader, characters... and re-reading at different times in your life complicates those complexities still further. Not a new insight, but that's my thought for the day.
Hi. My name is Blogcutter and I'm a biblioholic.

Today I went to a book sale at Rockliffe Park Community Centre. There was already a line-up when I got there, about ten minutes before their 10 AM opening. I emerged around 11 AM with a shopping bag filled with 26 books and 2 videos - all for about what I would have paid for one new book. Some of the books I got looked as if they hadn't even been opened, let alone read. Others looked as if they'd been around the block a few times. Some of them I'll probably keep; others I'll probably read and pass along to others who share my addiction. My haul is listed and discussed below.

1) Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook - This was my only hard-cover book. In mint condition and copiously illustrated, it was evidently pre-owned by folk who never followed through on their noble intentions.

In the crime fiction category (no particular order):

2) The Hollow, by Agatha Christie (Poirot)
3) Smilla's Sense of Snow, by Peter Hoeg
4) The Fifth Woman, by Henning Mankell
5) Red Wolf, by Liza Marklund (Can you tell I'm on a Scandinavian crime novel jag?)
6) The Impossible Dead, by Ian Rankin

In the Canadiana category (again, no particular order):

7) Lunatic Villas, by Marian Engel
8) The Shack, by Wm Paul Young
9) Glass Voices, by Carol Bruneau
10) Coventry, by Helen Humphreys
11) One Hundred Years of an Ottawa Family, by Grace Day Hartwick
12) The Home Children, edited by Phyllis Harrison

In the "other fiction and literature" category (though that's a rather artificial distinction):

13) Jennie, by Paul Gallico
14) Something in Disguise, by Elizabeth Jane Howard
15) Affairs at Thrush Green, by Miss Read
16) The Aeneid of Virgil, a new verse translation by C. Day Lewis (new in 1952, that is)
17) Barbary Shore, by Norman Mailer (This should possibly go in the "humour" category: it purports to be his "explosive novel of love and violence in post-war America" and according to Mailer himself is "the richest of my first three novels" and "has a kind of insane insight into the psychic mysteries of Stalinists, secret policement, narcissists, children, Lesbians, hysterics, revolutionaries"
18) The Haunting (of Hill House) by Shirley Jackson
19) The Woman Destroyed, by Simone de Beauvoir
20) The Rector's Daughter, by F.M. Mayor
21) The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami
22) Porterhouse Blue, by Tom Sharpe

And finally, in the miscellaneous non-fiction category:

23) The Myth of Sisyphus, by Albert Camus
24) Under the Sign of Saturn, by Susan Sontag
25) History the Betrayer: A Study in Bias, by E.H. Dance
26) A Small Sound of the Trumpet: Women in Medieval Life, by Margaret Wade Labarge

The two videos I bought were:

Voices from a Locked Room and
Miracle on 34th Street (the classic 1947 version, starring Maureen O'Hara and Natalie Wood)

So that's all I'm writing for today, folks - more in the near future.

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