ASK Musings

No matter where you go, there you are.

Daily Archive: 10/05/2020

Sunday

10

May 2020

0

COMMENTS

The Book of London Place Names by Caroline Taggart

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Three Stars

Best for:
Those who like to have access to basic trivia about places they live or visit.

In a nutshell:
Author Taggart provides some history in an accessible way.

Worth quoting:
“…no one seems to be sure, but there was probably once …”
(Seriously, it seems like for half the names, this is the answer.)

Why I chose it:
Moved to London. Wanted to learn more.

Review:
I think this is the last of the books I bought on sort of a whim when I first moved here and wanted to learn as much as I could about London. Considering I’ve been here for well over two years and am just getting to them now, clearly I didn’t dive right in.

I’ve now read a few books like this one, and I think overall it’s probably the easiest read. It feels a bit repetitive at times, but that’s because most of the places have similar stories – they are names for someone royal, or for someone no one can remember, or for a geological feature.

I appreciated that Taggart didn’t include stories about ever street or every part of London – she picked some highlights. Now, I’m not sure how much cultural awareness went into her decision-making; it’s entirely possible that she systematically left out areas that might have significance to BAME groups or immigrants. But she did at least cover London south of the river, which I think some folks forget even exists. To that end, I live and work (when I’m not in lock-down) in south London, so I especially enjoyed learning about the history of the places I used to walk by every day.

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Sunday

10

May 2020

0

COMMENTS

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Three Stars

Best for:
Me, I thought, but apparently not, as I was not able to get through it all.

In a nutshell:
Oh boy. Iris’s sister has driven herself off a bridge and is dead. Then there’s another book, a science-fiction-y type book. Then Iris is a child, and we learn about her life growing up. Apparently later on there are many twists.

Worth quoting:
“Farewells can be shattering, but returns are surely worse. Solid flesh can never live up to the bright shadow case by its absence.

Why I chose it:
I bought this awhile ago, right around when I first read The Handmaid’s Tale and wanted to read more of her work.

Review:
It’s hard to review a book that I couldn’t get into, especially when maybe the issue was me? The writing is great – I can picture the characters and every scene I read. The story overall was just I think too jumpy in the beginning for me to feel invested in any area of it. I generally enjoy time jumps and not really knowing where something is going in a novel, but this felt so disjointed that I couldn’t get into any sort of flow with it.

I can see a world where I start this book on a flight and then keep reading it while on vacation. But with everything going on right now, and all the different ways to get distracted right now, I needed a book that would immediately suck me in, and this one did not.

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