July Miscellany


December Miscellany __1_1_1 (2)

So there we have it – month 2 of 20 Books of Summer is over! It goes by so fast doesn’t it?


As it stands, I’m still on track, although by this point I had hoped to be a little bit ahead, but a return to work put paid to that. Still, I’ve read and reviewed 13, have read 2 more and have 5 still to read, so I am hopeful I’ll be able to celebrate come September 1st!

20 books


How is everyone else doing with their challenge?


A Luminous Republic by Andrés Barba

This year I decided to take part in Spanish Literature Month hosted by Winston’s Dad as I had the new book from Andres Barba on my Netgalley shelf.


San Cristóbal is a quiet town in Argentina, surrounded by river and jungle. Life in the city is thrown into confusion when a group of mysterious children, ranging from 9 to 13 years old, arrives on the city’s streets. “The 32,” as they are referred to, speak an unknown private language, hang around public places and at first appear to pose no larger threat than any usual group of your people. But they soon become more menacing. There are reports of assaults and threats, pointless attacks and thefts. Tensions culminate in an attack on a supermarket which leaves two customer dead. The 32 go underground. The town’s children become obsessed with finding them, as do the authorities. Where have the come from and now, where have they gone?

Like his previously translated novel Such Small Hands, A Luminous Republic captures that strange balance between the real and the imaginary in children’s play and explores how, without guidance, the two can become terrifyingly blurred. This is a subtle allegory on how the state fails damaged children, and charts the dark and often unsettling side of childhood and early adolescence, but doesn’t quite capture the same sense of claustrophobic terror as he did in Such Small Hands which I reviewed last year.

spanish lit

Sing Backwards and Weep by Mark Lanegan

I am a real sucker for a music memoir, even if I am not a fan of the musician. I don’t know much about Lanegan’s career before he went solo, when he was part of the Seattle grunge scene with his band The Screaming Trees.


This is an arresting and often terrifying memoir, dealing as it does as much with Lanegan’s struggle with drug addiction as his music. From what I can tell, facilitating his drug addiction was top priority in his life. From a rough and loveless childhood, through a turbulent and criminal adolescence, there is no doubt that Lanegan was in some respects, saved by music, but the main feeling that comes from Sing Backwards and Weep is one of amazement that he actually made it out alive.

As you would expect, there are some crazy stories and memorable cameos (mainly from Johnny Cash, Liam Gallagher and a very strange meeting with Anthony Kiedis’s father) but what strikes the most is how many of Lanegan’s friends didn’t make it, most famously Kurt Cobain. Lanegan hasn’t shied away from anything here, so the book is not for the fainthearted but is highly recommended nonetheless.

Women in Translation Month

August is the annual Women in Translation Month and I am hoping – if my 20 Books of Summer reading goes to plan – to read one or two books for this challenge. I have a few options:


Are there any here you would particularly recommend?


A return to work has meant a reduction in TV and film viewing (going to bed earlier!) and lately we have been having a run of bad luck in our Netflix choices.


One standout was the brilliant Funny Cow, which features a triumph of a performance from Maxine Peake as a woman trying to extract herself from an abusive marriage and make it on the comedy scene in England in the 1970’s. The film features fantastic support from Stephen Graham and Paddy Considine and contains a swoon-worthy soundtrack from Richard Hawley. Highly recommended.


A third series of the always hilarious The Young Offenders came as a nice surprise last week, but with only 6 half hour episodes, we made short work of it. I adore this show because, like Schitt’s Creek it has me crying with laughter one minute and crying for real the next. It has a big, big heart and I hope it comes back for another series.


Finally, proving just how far behind the television-viewing curve we are, we have finally started watching Breaking Bad. Considered one of the best TV shows ever made, I remain slightly unconvinced at the moment (we are on Season 2) but am assured that it improves.



This month I have been indulging my inner Country girl and listening mainly to two fantastic new albums. Gillian Welsh and Dave Rawlings released an album of cover versions called All the Good Times are Past and Gone and the honey-voiced Courtney Marie Andrews has released a gorgeous new album Old Flowers.

So that’s been my cultural month – what have you been watching and listening to?

Monthly Miscellany

Cathy746books View All →

I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!

45 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Breaking Bad and The Sopranos. There are so many series I’ve found disappointing but the standouts I’ve found. Even with The Killing I wouldn’t watch more than one series. Granted with such long series not every episode can sustain high quality throughout but the characters are so unsentimental all the way through. Watch out of the train hijack episode for suspense and the Fly episode for nerdy “did you know they ran out of budget” interest.
    I love the young Offenders too. I found myself tearing up in the Take Off Your Mask section.


  2. Ah excellent, I’m always on the look-out for Spanish books as I’ve challenged myself to read one Spanish book per month this year, so I’ve added Barba to GR and started following Winston’s Dad, thanks so much, Cathy!


  3. What a range, Cathy, I’m always impressed by your wide-ranging catholic tastes in modern fiction. As you ask, of my Ten Books of Summer I’ve read eight books — a mix of fiction and non-fiction — and four or five shorter stories. but, as you know, none are from my original list. Still, I’ve enjoyed reading them and that’s what counts. 🙂


  4. Thanks for your update, Cathy. I’m not doing a challenge this year. I’m part of the summer reading program at our library but it’s gone online and I’m just tracking what I’ve read. I think I would be interested in reading Sing Backwards…I do like biographies and memoirs about musicians. Hope you are doing well. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve read and reviewed 12/20 – and I have actually read the 13th (which was a reread), only to discover that I reviewed it last time I read it, which I had thought was before my blog started! I’ll be replacing it with something else. For Women in Translation month, I’m going to be reading Dressed for a Dance in the Snow by Monika Zgustova, which is nonfiction about women’s experiences as prisoners in Siberian gulags. So, not very cheery, but it sounds fascinating.


  6. Well done on your 20Books, that’s brilliant going. I have read and reviewed 13 by the end of July and that’s where I’d wanted to be. I’m now on 14 and I have got a few thick ones to get through but my final one (and also my one Woman in Translation for the month) is a slim volume. I have some big reviewing commitments too but I’m confident I’ll make it to my 20!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Don’t know how you fit it all in, especially while working! I’m on book 8 now but given how short all my books are I’m still hoping to get through all 20 – if my chocolate supplies hold out… 😀


  8. Cathy, I have a confession to make… I have only read 2 books from my 10 Books of Summer list! 😭 I am blaming work and Thomas Cromwell (one of these books was the beastie Wolf Hall) So in August, I only have 8 books to read… 😅


  9. I read a spoiler about the ending of Breaking Bad once, before I got to it. So, don’t know if I will ever watch it. I’ve been reading less this summer then I would like to, but my holidays are still to come!


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