Tag Archives: books

Books books books

(Photo of my desk)

I am an English teacher and a reader. These two facts do not always go hand in hand. Often I am forced to sit and read the very thing I have no desire to delve into, and learn about people and places of which I have little interest. So in my “free reading “time, when I can read whatever I choose I am very picky. Last year I think I only read 5 books outside of my teaching.

At the moment for my work reading I have been lucky as I am reading texts that are either quite wonderful, or books I have always wanted to read but never got round to picking up.

For example: Brave New World by Aldous Huxely. How I managed to do both A level English and a Literature degree and never read this seminal work, I have no idea. I even owned my own copy but had never felt the urge to read it, fearing it might be dull. In fact it is a truly amazing and gripping work and very interesting to teach. I urge you book club people to give it a go and I promise you will be arguing about whether we can actually be happy if we never know misery, and the virtues of a peaceful and bland world that can only exist without truth, knowledge or human connection.

I am also teaching the deeply touching and strong story of Janie Crawford in Their Eyes Were Watching God. Again, this is a book I actually owned but had never read. This is a great read and all of my students embraced both the book and the characters.

And for another class: The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje. I read this one years ago and I must confess, as much as I liked it, it happens to be one of the only books I know of, where the movie is even better. Normally it is the reverse when it comes to books and their film adaptations. With a second reading I am enjoying it but the students are finding it a tough read. The plot jumps all over the place and for students more accustomed to video games than books, it is proving a challenge.

Next up is The Colour Purple and I must confess that I had never read it. How is this possible, I ask?  Obviously it is a wonderful, though harrowing read and I am wondering how to approach all the sexuality and abusive subject matter with my students.

Earlier this year I taught A Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriella Garcia Marquez, Metamorphosis by Kafka and The Stranger by Camus.

And for fun? I have read and enjoyed the following:

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann

A Visit from the Good Squad by Jennifer Egan

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

The Stranger’s Child by Allen Hollinghurst

So many books… so little time.

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Hello Google

I think now that we are in a brand spanking new and fresh place it is time for a little revisit to the search engines. Who knows how you end up here?

i need a horse for my wedding in kampala

Do you now? Can I come? I would love to see a wedding in the middle of Kampala that featured a horse, skipping tidily over a pot hole or two. Will the horse wear ribbons on its tails and will you wear bells on your toes? I do hope your wedding fantasies come true and you find the horse you have been dreaming about.

lying on elbows

You know I find it a bit knobbly and painful. I prefer to lie on my arms, chin on hands, eyes on the movie. But if you are googling this I imagine you don’t know how to accomplish this tricky position. Are you lying on your own elbows? Perhaps those of a dear friend? You dog perhaps? I suggest you slather said elbows in cocoa butter, so as to have a smooth landing and a fragrant smell. Good luck, I hope the elbows give you all the comfort you need, and much more.

road tripping stories

I suggest you don’t trip over or down any roads. It might hurt. I do have a few stories of road trips and I can tell you that on more than one occasion it felt like tripping, in every sense of the word. Be careful, take plenty of apples, think about who you take, drive safe,  do not tip the car and watch out for people called Papu.

happy family in walk

Ahhh, Yes a family in walk is a good and happy family indeed. However there is nowhere to walk here in Bahrain, we walk to the car, out of the car, into the mall/school/supermarket, where we walk happily for a short while and then back into the car. When I am very lucky I walk in London, Montreal or some other city in the Great Shiny West, but rarely are we all together as a family in walk. The best happy family in walk is certainly on the beach.

mudfull

Be mindful of the mud, my friend. If you are here looking for mud, 3limes in Uganda was full of it. Now that we are in the desert, no longer are we full of mud. So sandfull might be more appropriate.

lying in bed reading.

I am charmed that this brought you to my humble home for lying in bed with books is one of my most favourite past times. We all subscribe to the activity and there are many Saturday afternoons when an inquisitive bee, bothering around the house would find four persons, reclining happily on beds with books. I suggest large pillows, a cup of tea and dig in. Presently I am reading three books: Pulse by Julian Barnes, The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton, and Brave new World by Huxely.

Puberty

Now you have come to the right place. We can offer you Puberty at Home 101, pre Puberty at Home 101, Puberty in the Workplace 201, Puberty and its impact on listening to the teacher 401. We also offer side workshops in the following areas: “ Take that Caterpillar off your upper lip” and “ The unexpected: dodging tears and flying objects.”

Red Dust under car dash

Now you have made me nostalgic. Whereas there were moments last year and the one before when I glared at the red dust and wished it gone, now I am looking for it and it is nowhere to be find. Not under my finger nails, not on my window sill and not any where near my car dash. Look how those things once pesky, when no longer here become poetic!

Cockroach room 101

You are not a nice man, yes you. And I am certain no girl would google that, she wouldn’t. Now I have written the post here and there that have mentioned the dreaded roach but how did you assume that they were my 101. Now I have to go and clean out my head, again. Thank you very much. And by the way how lucky am I for a lady with such a particular 101 to be living in hot countries, the ones they really love.

Giant African Snail in Trinidad

I am so proud. How many people can  show off that their blog gets this accolade? 3limes is the only one that internet searches for cockroaches, giant snails, killing chickens and Shoebill birds ( even in Russian китоглав) will all find. How did this happen? I belong to the species Maximus Wimpinus.

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Whose world I am living in anyway?

Handsome Husband has left. He left his three sad girls in a Kampala house on a rainy day and flew off into the skies over to a country that is up in arms, cross, angry and full of hatred, fear and the expectation of change. I have no opinion on the troubles in Bahrain, I am not equipped to judge. I do know one thing though, a visit to Uganda would throw some perspective into the mix. They might realize that their lives aren’t that bad, that protesting and halting an economy might damage the good they don’t know they have. Just a thought.

So since I am here and he is there I am going to focus on what I am here to do. Teach. After all I am only staying here, husbandless for the next three months, honing my survivior skills, selling a car, lovely handmade and personally designed furniture ( I thought I was staying longer so I invested….) so that my self and my two girls may finish up the school year.

So time for a Miss Teacher post.

Look what delightful reading matter I am teaching, all at the same time. It is a wonder I don’t get very confused or at least have some very odd dreams.

Madame Bovary

Midsummer’s Night Dream

Much Ado About Nothing

Romeo and Juliet

Medea

I know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Quite the mixed bag, I say. And when I am not swimming in the seas of Alabama, Rouen, Athens or Verona I have my head stuck in the sand and the sand is all full of Mad Men. I am actually living many worlds, my days are spent with the above, I particularly like having conversations in my head with Emma, ( come on pull yourself together! ) or Hero ( don’t take him back! He called you a “stale!”) or Medea ( you go girl! He ripped you off! He ripped out your heart!) or Romeo ( Don’t do it! Don’t kill Tybalt it won’t end well!) or young Maya ( sit up straight and be quiet. It will all be fine in the end.)

My nights are spent with Don Draper.

I live in many a world.

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Peter Rabbit I miss you.

I miss the days when Trooper, Princess and I used to tuck ourselves up into my big bed to read bed time stories. I miss the company of Mother Goose, A A Milne and Beatrix Potter and the characters we used to chat about. Those early years of childhood pass too quickly and bed time stories quickly become a ritual of the past. Now it is Trooper in bed with her Vampire books and Princess with Meg Cabot or Jacqueline Wilson, meanwhile Handsome Husband is laughing his way through the erudite wit of David Sedaris and I am ploughing through IGCSE and IB book lists. Do you think they would mind terribly if I invited them back for a spot of Jemima Puddle-duck?

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Trinidad meets Uganda, planning holidays and a walk to school

Whirlwind few days over in the Villa, busy bee days at school and last night another collision of worlds occurred when I attended Trinidad and Tobago Independence Day celebrations at the High Commission here in Kampala. Nostalgia wafted through the night as Machal Montano played on the speakers, Carnival videos played on the big screen and Roti, Callaloo and other Trini delights were served under big tents adorned with red and black banners. Listening to the High Commissioner speak with his melodious Trini accent brought back memories of sweet Trini days in the sun. At one point in the evening Trooper sent me a text asking if there was any whining. No, sadly there was not. I think out of the entire crowd of 500 odd guests there were only 14 Trinis.

In other news,  if I am not Miss Teacher then I am Miss Interior Decorator and if I am not her than I am Miss Travel Agent. We are excitedly booking holidays in anticipation of our very first visitors to Uganda. The first set arrives in October for the half term break and the second in December for the Xmas holidays.  This is reminding me that I had promised Ugandan Hotel reviews a while back and once I have a few quiet minutes I hope to write a few in my lovely new red office. Yes, I have taken Virginia’s advice and got a “Room of My Own.”

We are rattling around our Villa constantly surprised by the new found space but are still awaiting a kitchen. We are also awaiting curtains and internet but honestly I couldn’t be more content. Sitting outside (quite a concept in the Shoebox) drinking white wine (yes we might not have a kitchen but we certainly plugged the fridge in. How else to ensure cold wine?) with my sweet girls quiet in their own rooms was a moment I had been waiting a long year  for.

Meanwhile I am reading the books I have to teach:

Death of a Salesman

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

The In-between World of Vikram Lall

and that is just the first course.

And to top it all off Trooper and I walked to school today. It took 24 minutes and felt great. It is a new Kampala, people.

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Where my nose has been.

Finally the sun came out today and we decided to catch up on some sunshine poolside. This gave me the chance to finish Brick Lane by Monica Ali and I realized it had been a long while since I have done a book round up. So here it is:

Brick Lane is a book about a Bangladeshi woman who is married off to a man she has never met and moves from her small village to East London. The book traces about 15 years and over the course of the novel we meet a wide array of colourful characters that live in her neighbourhood and on her estate. These are the poor Bengali women who wear saris, walk a few steps behind their men; who drive the mini cabs that zip all over London. Ali writes these characters with such detail and empathy, I ended the book feeling that I had spent real time in their company. It is a good read, I really enjoyed it perhaps because it is predominantly character driven. For some reason it didn’t touch me as much as similar books have, and I’m not really sure why butI do recommend it highly.

Norwegian Wood was the book I finished in Sipi Falls. It is by Murakami and is apparently the most popular book ever in Japan. It is a sad, nostalgic story about one young man and the girls that have come into his life. It really is more about these strong female characters than it is about the main character. The streets of Tokyo feature strongly and I felt such bitter sweet nostalgia for Japan. I liked these people despite their total kookiness and I liked the writing which was sparse and elegant. It was a cold book in some ways, and not richly descriptive or melodramatic but in that sense it was very Japanese. The characters walk a lot, through Tokyo and the mountains of Northern Japan, they have sex a lot and they drink a lot. It is set in the late 60’s and the references to music of that decade pepper the book.

I read an Anita Shreve book called Testimony. She is what I call my rebound author. You know? Like the rebound guy you have a fling with between serious relationships. She is generally the lightest thing I read and what I turn to when I just want a good easy story. The other author in this rebound category is Jodi Piccoult.  I was looking for a rebound book and I was lent two books by friends at school. One was The Memory of Water by Karen White and the other was Testimony. I became extremely impatient with the Water book and found the characters flat and uninteresting so I put it down ( Life is too short to read a book you don’t like so put it down and don’t feel guilty) and picked up Testimony . Testimony was predictable, written by formula, flat and frankly a bit boring. But it was quick and set in the snow and did the job. By the way my favorite Anita Shreve books are The Pilot’s Wife and The Last Time They Met.

The Book of Ebenezer Le Page by G.B Edwards is a rich and rewarding journey through one man’s life. It is the told in the voice of Ebenezer as he remembers his life on the island of Guernsey. I like this man, his memories, his friends, his island and his brutal honesty. I was sad to have to say goodbye when it came to an end, it was that sort of book. I got it as a birthday present last year from a very good old friend and he said it wasn’t easy to find. It is a rare and unknown book by a man that wrote this one novel in his whole life and died before it was even published by his good friend. It has a definite auto biographical touch to it, I wanted it to be true, in any case.

I adore David Sedaris and I bought his latest book in Heathrow on our way out here. He is my writing idol, in many ways. He writes about his own life and makes it hilarious, interesting and bizarre. The thing I love the most is the way that he sees things. It is called When you are Engulfed in Flames and it was great. I’ve read all his books and he never disappoints.

I love it when lodges and hotels have a book shelf filled with books we are welcome to read. The take one , leave one, idea is great , I, guiltily, do more of the taking than leaving, but anyway. I have had success a few times, I often find something surprising. In Ndali I picked up Rage Against the Meshugenah: Why it Takes Balls to go Nuts by Danny Evans and couldn’t put it down. It is a story about a man who goes into a deep depression and takes two years to come out. You wouldn’t think it possible, but this book is really very funny. I enjoyed it in a sort of voyeuristic way, I was intrigued by his ability to write about something quite mundane and make it readable. A bit American Jewish Trashy but fun, nevertheless.

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is an award winning book by a wonderful Nigerian writer. It is the story of a small family during the Biafra war and it is filled with love, joy, misery, questions of moral responsibility and the wickedness of colonialism. It is “epic” in the way that it constantly forces you to ask big questions and raises complicated issues and subjects. I am not sure if I was as haunted as I should have been, maybe I didn’t like nor care about the characters enough. Often I felt distant from the book even while I was immersed in it. Other times I was totally engrossed and appalled. Something held me back, though, and I think it was the unlikeability, for me, anyway, of the people involved in this fight for nation and home.

I have great books waiting on my bookshelf to read and I now just have to stand there, chin on hand and pick one. Some of my  novel choices are: the underbelly of Montreal, British husbands and wives, a journalist in the Congo, a Cornish Family, Nigerian short stories, Nick Hornby’s world or the myriad that is Granta. I also have 13  new DVDs and a TV series on the same shelf but that is a different story.

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