Six Degrees of Separation from How To Do Nothing to Lincoln in the Bardo!

Six Degrees of Separation is the brain child of Kate over at Books Are My Favourite and Best where we all start with the same book and see where our links take us!

Follow the hashtag #6degrees on Twitter to check out everyone else’s chains!



This month the starting point is How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell, which I haven’t read, but which appeals to me a lot, with it’s argument that we do not have to buy into the idea that our lives are something to be optimised and appropriated and that to do nothing is, in itself, a political act.

Tom Hodgkinson’s How To Be Free puts forward a similar manifesto, questioning why we work long hours to buy things we don’t need. He argues that we can have a deeper, more contented life with more time and less money. Hodgkinson looks to history, literature and philosophy for ideas, including anarchist William Godwin, the first modern proponent of anarchism.

Anarchy features heavily in Chuck Palahnuik’s Fight Club – a tantalising exploration of male-violence, therapy and modern consumerist culture. Tyler Durden, projectionist, waiter and dark, anarchic genius creates an underground fighting club as a radical form of therapy for the modern world. The first rule of Fight Club? You don’t talk about Fight club.

Lara Williams’ debut novel Supper Club has been called a ‘Fight Club for feminists’ exploring as it does a secret society of women who meet to reclaim their appetites and their bodies from society’s critical gaze. Starting in abandoned restaurants, the club escalates to breaking in to department stores to take part in their ritualistic feasts.

Late-night ritualistic feasts are not new in literature, Enid Blyton was doing it a long time ago with her iconic midnight feasts in her Malory Towers and The Twins at St Clare’s series. During their first term at St Clare’s, twins Pat and Isobel O’Sullivan attend a birthday feast – which includes such delicacies as sardines, a pork pie, a cake with almond icing surrounded with sugar-roses and peppermint creams – made all the more exciting for taking place at 12am!

The late night japes that the O’Sullivan twins experience at St Clare’s are nothing compared to the ghostly goings-on in Her Fearful Symmetry when another set of twins -Jessica and Valentina Poole – inherit their aunts flat in London. Audrey Niffenegger’s ghost story explores love, family and identity and is played out against the evocative backdrop of Highgate Cemetery.

In George Saunders’ Booker Prize winner Lincoln in the Bardo, the pull of a cemetery is also key to the narrative. Abraham Lincoln’s son Willie has died and has been buried in Georgetown Cemetary, which the grief-stricken Lincoln visits nightly to be with his lost son. Meanwhile, Willie Lincoln finds himself trapped in a transitional realm – called, in Tibetan tradition, the bardo – and as ghosts mingle, squabble, gripe and commiserate, and stony tendrils creep towards the boy, a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie’s soul.

So there we have it! From doing nothing as a choice to not being able to do anything because of where you are, those are my six degrees for this month!


Next month (September 5) Six Degrees of Separation starts with Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld.

The 746

Cathy746books View All →

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

24 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Great chain. I’m a Palahniuk fan, but have not read Fight Club. Have seen the movie a few times though. I’d watch anything with Edward Norton in it 😊

    I recognise the Supper Club cover — it’s so striking — but haven’t heard much about it. It sounds like something I’d probably like…


  2. Brilliant connections! I don’t know how you manage to think of them.
    The only ones I have read are Malory Towers (Of course! all of them, and all of the St Clare’s series.) and the Tom Hodgkinson – and I have to say that drove me round the bend – but I know it’s a bestseller.


  3. I saw the subject line and thought how the hell does she get to Lincoln in the bardo! Brilliant connections and leaps Cathy. Malory Towers takes me back a few decades. I so wanted to have midnight feasts and pillow fights…


  4. Haha, I think that’s the first time I’ve seen Enid Blyton appear in one of these lists! Those midnight feasts always sounded like so much fun, though the idea of eating sardines at midnight doesn’t have the same appeal now as it did for little FF. Cake still does though… 😉


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