My Week in Reading


A terrible thing happened to me last week. I was utterly absorbed in The Poisonwood Bible. I could smell the damp, humid air of the jungle. I could feel the insects crawling on my skin. I was infuriated by the pig headedness and ignorance of the preacher who thought it was his God given right to stamp his version of Christianity on the people of the Congo. I ached for his wife, whose personality and vivacity had been trampled by this man who had no compassion for anyone, least of all himself. I was fascinated by the various personalities of their four intriguing daughters. I longed to learn more about this flawed family; about this man, whose cruelty and intolerance seemed so at odds with the faith he professed so strongly; about this country, simmering with the tension of a soon to erupt civil war. I have not come across such an evocative, heady novel in a long time.

I took The Poisonwood Bible with me wherever I went. I was on the subway to Brooklyn last weekend, reading away. I got to my stop more quickly than I realised, jumped up and dashed off the train. It was only later that I noticed it was no longer in my bag, and that in my rush I must have left it behind me on the seat! Desperate, I rushed to the library. Hurrah! A copy was listed as on the shelf. I hurried over to ‘K’. Was it there? No, it was not. The New York Public Library is a fantastic resource, but they are terrible for misshelving books. If the copy was somewhere in the library, I had no clue where it had been left, so I sadly gave up and took out another book instead; Karen Armstrong’s Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life. She’s speaking at St John the Divine later this month and I was enthralled by her autobiography Through the Narrow Gate when I read it years ago, so I decided I’d go to the talk and read her latest book before I went. Personally, I think compassion is the most important thing humans can possess; both for themselves and for each other. Without compassion, we are nothing. It’s not just about feeling bad for other people or giving $1 to a homeless man on the subway, it’s about a general mindfulness for other people and how our actions impact others on a wider scale. As Armstrong says in her book, compassion – the notion of doing unto others as you would have done to yourself – is at the heart of every religious faith’s teachings, and yet somehow, it is remarkably absent in the world, even amongst supposedly religious people. The world today is characterised by its intolerance, its violence, and its selfishness. Armstrong suggests that this can be changed, by following twelve steps to become more compassionate people.

I’m not quite finished reading yet, but already I have had my eyes opened to how quickly and easily I make judgements, form irrational dislikes and prejudices, can take my bad mood out on others, and generally be lacking in anything remotely like compassion frequently throughout the course of an average day. I have always considered myself a compassionate person, but this book has shown me that I’m really not! It’s good to learn this and I have taken a lot from Karen Armstrong’s words so far. Putting yourself in other people’s shoes is a wonderfully humbling experience and I am taking steps to ensure that I exercise more compassion as I go about my everyday life. It’s exciting to think that just one small action of kindness can have a profound ripple effect. I know how good I feel when someone does something wonderful for me, and how it makes me more willing to put myself out for other people. Just this morning I was running horrendously late for my train as I had to wait a ridiculous 8 minutes for the subway, and as I ran breathlessly from the subway station and down 125th street to the commuter station, in 80 degree – it’s about to thunderstorm humidity, I might add – I saw my train come in on the elevated railroad above the street. In a fit of optimism, I continued to run, hoping against hope that I’d make it up the stairs to the platform in time. I didn’t. As I reached the platform, panting like no slender woman of 24  should – I really need to improve my fitness levels – I saw the train begin to pull away. My face must have said it all, as the friendly conductor I speak to every morning spotted me looking distressed through the window and immediately pulled the stop cord and the train ground to a halt. He prised the doors open, motioned for me to jump on, and several other red faced people who were also running late managed to dive on after me, too. We all breathlessly thanked the kind conductor for saving us from being late for work, and there was a general feeling of mutual joy and camaraderie as we all took our seats and laughed about our good luck. That conductor could have just let the train carry on going, but he put himself in my shoes – knew how he would feel in my position – and did what he could to help me out. Now that’s compassion in action. It doesn’t take much, but that little action elevated that man from ordinary to extraordinary, and put a bit of magic into my day. What if we all did one thing like that, each and every day? What a difference it would make!

Alongside Karen Armstrong’s wonderful, thought provoking book, I am also steaming my way through The Group, by Mary McCarthy, which was kindly sent to me by Virago as thanks for hosting Virago Reading Week back in February. I spent 5 hours in a dodgy hair salon on the wrong side of the tracks in Brooklyn on Saturday, playing Kevin to my flatmate’s Whitney as she got her weave done. She was terrified of something bad happening while she was there or while she was coming home late at night, so like the good soul I am, I offered to go with her. Not that I’m much protection, seeing as I barely have the strength to open a jam jar lid, but I did grow up in South East London, so I can talk the talk at least. I curled up on a chair and prepared for a long wait, and was surprised by how quickly 5 hours flew by with The Group for company. It’s a fantastic portrayal of the lives of 20 somethings in 1930’s New York, and I am very much looking forward to telling you more about it when I finish reading.

So that’s been my week in reading. If you’re reading this and you live in New York, and came across a copy of The Poisonwood Bible on the L train, I hope you’re enjoying it! I hope to find another copy very soon, so that I can continue the story of the Price family and their ill advised presence in the Congan jungle…


  1. Steph says:

    Poisonwood Bible is so good, so I can only imagine your agony at having to stop midway through! But don’t worry: it will be just as good when you finally get back to it!

    1. bookssnob says:

      I know, it’s awful! But I have a long bus trip to do this weekend and I’m hoping the library will have it back in so I can get restarted while I’m on the bus!

  2. Audra says:

    Oh, I wish I had my copy to give you! It’s being passed around my in-laws but I’ll see if I can’t find it. It was such a good book!

    1. bookssnob says:

      Oh, bless you Audra! Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll find a copy in the meantime!

  3. Do you need me to post you my copy of The Poisonwood Bible? Give me your address in Harlem!

    The Group is a book that has joined the ranks of cherished favourites; a wonderful group and book to keep you company for five hours.

    1. bookssnob says:

      Oh Claire, you are so lovely, but by the time it gets here, I’m sure the library will have a copy back in! But thank you for the offer!

      It’s such a brilliant book, isn’t it? I am almost finished and will be writing my review up next week. I have loved every second of it.

      1. If you’re sure… I know sometimes one must own a loved book rather than borrow it (although sometimes not in lack of New York or London spaces). I’ll be going to post office anyway on Monday so let me know!

      2. bookssnob says:

        Thank you Claire, you are too kind. All the library copies are out until the end of May so I will take you up on your kind offer and email you my address. Thank you so much! X

  4. Laura says:

    What a tale! I’m exhausted just reading it. Such lows and highs … the lost book, the compassionate conductor … whew! Great story and I’m glad you’re making the most of your reading despite having lost a beloved book. I hope you find a copy very soon. The Poisonwood Bible was my first Kingsolver, read more than a decade ago, and I still haunts me.

    1. bookssnob says:

      I know! I had quite the week! Thank you – I hope the library will get a copy back in quickly and then I can resume! It’s a haunting book indeed and I can’t wait to find out what happens!

  5. Nora McGuire says:

    wow! great story. I too loved The Poisonwood Bible that did the rounds of my sisters and I years ago here in Ireland. I too, also left a book behind me on a bus once and its really a rotten feeling. You become SO attached to the book and story you are involved in. Hope you get back to it soon. Loved the story about the train driver. That’s the sort of stuff that makes every ones day a good one.

    1. bookssnob says:

      Thanks! Yes – it’s awful, isn’t it? I just want it back! But hopefully someone else is getting pleasure from it! Thank you – it’s lovely to have something like that happen, it renews your faith in humanity!

  6. savidgereads says:

    You see you could say that being tested in the way you were by loosing The Poisonwood Bible and then finding the other book some sort of divine fate? Or it could just be sods law?

    I have ummmed and ahhhed about reading The Poisonwood Bible after hearing so many wonderful things about it and then trying The Lacuna which still makes me cross at the very thought. Maybe I should try it and who knows by the time I have got to where you were you’ll have found a new copy (or maybe been sent one by the lovely Claire) and we could do a sort of joint Poisonwood something across two sides of the atlantic?

    1. EllenB says:

      Simon, if you have time to share, I would like to know why you have such a strong aversion to Lacuna. I loved it, and I am not a huge Kingsolver fan and have managed to avoid Poinsonwood as I have had quite enough of missionaries, thank you very much. It’s interesting that there are such wildly divergent opinions about Lacuna, often focusing on the central character, whom I read as less of a fully developed person than a device for getting us through a lot of years of disturbing American History. Sort of a Zelig, as in the Woody Allen movie. You could email me privately if you still have my email, and I hope you are doing well. Ellen Bernstein

      1. savidgereads says:

        I shall drop you an email indeed Ellen! I wasnt the only one, my Gran loves BK and thought this one was rubbish – ish too 😉

    2. bookssnob says:

      I think probably just sod’s law, Simon! I read a lot of mixed reviews of The Lacuna but I can assure you that The Poisonwood Bible is something else – absolutely amazing. Yes! Let’s do that! When I manage to find another copy I’ll email and we can hopefully set something up!

  7. I’d seen from your sidebar that you were reading Poisonwood Bible and was eagerly awaiting your review. Do hope you find it soon. I read it whilst travelling around South Africa and remember the friend I was travelling with turning around to check I was ok as tears and sniffles streamed out of my face. I look forward to reading your full review.

    1. bookssnob says:

      Thank you! I am sure the library will have a copy back on its shelf at some point! Oh goodness – I hope it doesn’t turn me into a crying mess on the train!! I’m glad it had such a powerful effect on you though – it reassures me that it’s definitely worth waiting for!

  8. David Nolan says:

    A useful reminder of the importance of compassion and also, by mention of the library, of the fact that even America, for all its apparent distrust of government service provision, values libraries. I am getting rather tired of reading attacks on libraries back over here in Blighty. Tory politician John Redwood is just the latest. I felt very disheartened after reading his comments yesterday. On the basis of a brief visit to one branch library in the leafy shires, he concluded that money spent on libraries is wasted because they are, he said, primarily used by the middle classes, pander to middle class tastes and are largely full of fiction, worse still, crime fiction. Speaking of which, since when was it a crime to be middle class anyway? What is wrong with taxpayers getting back something in return beyond the bearest essentials of waste collection and pothole filling? What next, will they start suggesting that those of us who have access to a small garden no longer need public parks? At the moment I could probably afford to buy books rather than borrow them, but a year from now chances are I will not be so fortunate. I would not borrow a book if I felt that by doing so I was depriving someone who needed it of the chance to get hold of it, but I rather suspect that the more people use libraries, from all backgrounds, the stronger they are likely to be.

    Where, you may be wondering is my compassion, in the form of an attempt to understand Mr Redwood’s point of view? Well for a start I am not ranting at him and simply dismissing what he says by virtue of the party and philosophy he represents. I could have put a very short Anglo-Saxon comment on his piece, but that is not my style. By the same token, in seeking to understand other points of view, we should be careful not to get walked over. A more compassionate world would not be an apathetic one in which no one believed in anything, but it would hopefully be a place in which we could find civilized ways of settling our differences and accommodating our different points of view. To do this, I believe, we need at least some shared spaces and shared services in our communities and libraries are an example of this. Those who defend libraries solely as outlets for “the poor” may unwittingly lend logic to the sort of arguments that Mr Redwood proposes, since if libraries are only about education and self advancement then a mass of crime fiction would perhaps seem out of place, however, I think it would be a shame if that were all they became. Leisure and recreation are important too. Nor should fiction, even of the criminal variety, be dismissed out of hand, even the lightest of novels can assist us in gaining that consideration for others which Karen Armstrong and your good-self both seem to be appealing for. I might even suggest that some of the most highly praised works of literature could, by contrast, influence us towards treating others badly – but that’s a different debate.

    I hope you manage to get back to your lost book, one way or another. Perhaps someone picked it up and found something in it that really helped them through their own day? In that way, what started with a considerate train guard went even further than he or you might have imagined. Now that – rather than an attack on any social class or public service – is the sort of thing I like reading at the end of the day. Thanks, as ever, for sharing your thoughts.

    1. bookssnob says:

      Thank you for your very thoughtful comments, David, as always! You are quite right, and I totally agree. Just because you’re middle class, it doesn’t mean you are able to buy a copy of every book you’d like to read, and just because you’re middle class, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have access to publicly funded services! If you work and pay taxes, you should benefit from them. I’m all for providing services for those who are out of work and struggling, but those of who do work should be able to get something back from the communities we invest in too.

      I totally agree that leisure and recreation are essential aspects of all our lives, and libraries should provide for both the needs of those who are studying as well as those who read for pleasure. Having adequate facilities for leisure activities increases happiness and wellbeing and makes the world a richer, more thoughtful, more collaborative, and more beautiful place. It’s highly necessary to have these needs provided for and anyone who writes off the arts as pointless needs to have their head examined!

      I’m glad you enjoyed my stories – and that they gave you a positive end of your day. It’s not all doom and gloom out there, I promise! 🙂

  9. Mumsy says:

    Have you read Karen Armstrong’s memoir The Spiral Staircase? RATHER depressing, but so so interesting. I also liked her biography of Muhammad (although it had some awfully dull stretches) and it sounds like I would really like this one, too. Onto the TBR list it goes.

    1. bookssnob says:

      No I haven’t, but I very much want to. I have so much of Karen Armstrong’s stuff to read – she is excellent!

  10. Karen K. says:

    I feel your pain regarding the lost book — I have been known to leave behind books, knitting, etc., on trains, planes, and buses, so now I absolutely anal about checking my seat before I leave anywhere — restaurants, movies, etc. Have you looked into Paperback Swap? It’s a great resource for swapping gently used paperbacks, and it’s a very inexpensive way to get books for practically nothing. I’m going to try and use it make some much-needed space on my shelves.

    1. bookssnob says:

      Leaving anything behind is so annoying – I do it all the time too, though my special talent seems to be abandoning umbrellas, which isn’t useful when it’s still raining! I have heard of paperback swap, but I was planning on giving away my copy of Poisonwood after reading it anyway, so I don’t want another copy! I will wait for the library, but thank you for the suggestion!

  11. What a lovely conductor. It’s just so good when things like that happen, it makes the whole day sing and takes the sting out of losing a book mid read

    1. bookssnob says:

      He is so lovely! We have lovely chats every morning about me being English! Yes – it did make my whole day sing. And I told everyone about it, and it put a smile on their faces too. Look at the impact of that one kind act! Amazing!

  12. Rose says:

    So firstly what a lovely picture at the top of the post. I really badly wanted to comment to commiserate about losing Poisonwood Bible – you are so right to say ‘evocative, heady’ – I found it claustrophobic, enraging and it sucked me straight into empathising despite my frustration with the family.

    And then what a lovely conductor letting you on – we could do with a bit more of that on the Jubilee line…

    1. bookssnob says:

      Thank you, Rose! I decided to start celebrating Spring!

      I appreciate your commiserations – it is a sad state of affairs but what can you do! It will be delayed gratification!

      I know! He is a lovely man!

  13. Mercy sakes – a NYC subway conductor stopped the train for you?? I have never heard of that happening before in the history of subways. You must be stunning (grin)! And oh, The Group is an old favorite of mine – can’t wait to see what you make of it. There’s also a very well cast movie you might be able to find.

    1. bookssnob says:

      Well, what can I say, Diana?! Obviously I am traffic stopping! Hahaha! Not likely! 😉

      I adored The Group – and am excited that there’s a movie! I shall see if I can find it, thank you! 🙂

  14. Jenny says:

    What a lovely post! Do get another copy of The P Bible, it is one of my favourite books, we did it in my Book Group, and it provoked such a great discussion.


    1. bookssnob says:

      Thank you Jenny – don’t worry, I will!

  15. sakura says:

    The Poisonwood Bible was one of my favourite books I read last year. I just didn’t expect to enjoy the story so much, it seemed as though it would be so depressing and grim. I hope you get to read it soon. I too have The Group on my shelf and hope to read it soon after reading all the wonderful reviews.

    1. bookssnob says:

      I know – I wasn’t sure about it at first, but it soon absolutely sucked me in. Thank you – I hope so too! The Group is fantastic, I promise – you must read it very soon!

  16. Darlene says:

    I am immensely impressed that you could bring a train in New York to a halt! If such a thing as karma exists, and I think that it does, then that conductor is due to have something wonderful happen to him one day.

    Sorry about your book, Rachel, but you’ll have another copy in your hands soon I’m sure. And I have a whole new image of you as Ninja Rachel, fierce protector of friends at night!

    1. bookssnob says:

      Well Darlene, what can I say? Obviously I am amazing! 😉 Yes I think so too – that conductor deserves some very good luck to come his way, bless his heart!

      Thank you – I am sure I will too. Hahahaha – I am a good kicker!

  17. Jenny says:

    You poor thing! Poor, poor you, losing The Poisonwood Bible before finishing it. The Poisonwood Bible is wonderful and I am now seriously regretting not asking my mother to send it to me in the last box of books she sent to me. It’s marvelous.

    Karen Armstrong is a cool writer. I started reading The Battle for God a while ago, and it was soooo interesting. Though apparently not interesting enough for me to finish it (yet! I will finish it another day!).

    1. bookssnob says:

      I know, I am a poor thing aren’t I?! It is marvelous indeed. But let’s hope the library manages to find its copy soon!

      Yes I run out of steam with non fiction books a lot., especially very interesting, detailed ones. I’m letting the compassion one rest while I ponder it but I’ll be going back to it soon!

  18. I was so busy pondering your predicament, Rachel, that I almost missed your wonderful new banner. It looks great.

    Oh, my, what I time you have had. The good, the bad and the ugly. What a good man the conductor is and how gracious of you to comment on his stopping. It makes all the difference, doesn’t it, when someone does a good deed?

    I hope you will find another copy of Poisonwood Bible soon, or another misfiled copy will turn up at the library. We read this for our book discussion group when it was first out and had a rousing discussion on it. The father was not well liked, as you can imagine. My first Kingsolver reads were Pigs in Heaven and the Bean Trees, which surround the same characters, and I loved them. They are set in the southwest and you might try them sometime, though, I suspect The Lacuna is what most are reading.

    Happy reading, Rachel.

    1. bookssnob says:

      Thank you Penny! Glad you like the new banner. It’s my springtime look!

      Oh yes – it does indeed! That conductor is a very special man. He always has a smile for every one and really starts my day off with a smile!

      Thank you – it’s so annoying that there wasn’t one copy left when I went in, but I will keep checking! I definitely would be interested in reading more Kingsolver, so I will file those recommendations away, thank you!

  19. EllenB says:

    Rachel, you must must read Kingsolver’s The Lacuna when you are done with Poisonwood. I loved it There are some passages in it which are absolutely stunning. I have a very beat up copy which I’d be happy to pass on to you. Also, I am so glad you are enjoying The Group. I read it when it was first published (and created quite a sensation) and again about 20 years later and loved it both times. Plus, Mary McCarthy is quite a story in herself. As you may have guessed, I have some things by her as well if you are interested. If we share enough books maybe they will let you stay in NYC forever!

    1. bookssnob says:

      I’ll take you up on that, Ellen! Oh The Group is magnificent – I’d definitely be interested in reading more by and about McCarthy – she seems like quite the woman!

      I know, do you think they would? You could set up a private lending library and I could be your employee! I smell a visa!

  20. Ann says:

    I enjoyed your post. Lucky you weren’t reading it on a Kindle!

    1. bookssnob says:

      Thank you! Goodness -can you imagine?! I’d be devastated if I’d lost a kindle with loads of books on it!

  21. verity says:

    How frustrating re the book, but how nice of the conductor, and some lovely responses on here. I’d send you my copy of Poisonwood as it is such an engrossing book and i would have hated for that to happen to me while reading it but I think it would take forever to arrive and hopefully you can get another copy before then. Mary McCarthy’s Group is also a fantastic read, and Virago are publishing another of her novels this year

    1. bookssnob says:

      I know – the conductor made it all ok!

      Thanks for the offer Verity – very sweet of you – but as you say, by the time it gets here, I’m sure I’d have found another copy!

      Oh that’s interesting about the other McCarthy – thanks for the heads up!

  22. m says:

    If your charms work like that on Network South-East, then I’ll be really impressed!

    1. bookssnob says:

      Oh I doubt they would, Mary! I’m not that charming!

  23. Anne says:

    Find that book! I read The Poisonwood Bible on a whim after enjoying Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (I know–the only thing those two books have in common is Barbara Kingsolver!) You’ve gotta get to the ending!

    1. bookssnob says:

      I know Anne, I know! I am a desperate woman!

  24. Love your new banner. You have encouraged me to read Poisonwood Bible, it sounds wonderful.

    1. bookssnob says:

      Thank you – and I am glad. It’s a magnificent book – and I only got a third of the way through!

  25. Margaret Powling says:

    Just a small point here, but how can anyone spend FIVE HOURS in a hairdresser’s? You could grow a crop into a page boy (I hope readers know what a crop and a page boy are? They’re nothing to do with vegetation or bell hops in hotels, but hairstyles) in that time!

    1. bookssnob says:

      Well Margaret, she was getting her weave done – having an entire head of fake hair sewn into her braided ‘fro – it’s quite the undertaking and fascinating to watch!!

  26. Chrissy says:

    Now, I have a theory about your conductor: good humour and goodness are reflective and I’m sure he responded to yours. I’m not trying to flatter you. Someone told me that long ago and I’ve found it to be true. So – your lovely man responded to you and his good deed helped not just you but your fellow red-faced passengers. It works!
    If you are loving The Poisonwood Bible, you will be hooked at once by The Lacuna. It is a masterpiece and I think even better than TPB. I’m looking forward to hearing what you think when you’ve finished it. Don’t you think Barbara K comes over as a wonderfully compassionate person?

    1. bookssnob says:

      Oh, thank you Chrissy! But I do agree – nice things follow nice people!

      I am excited about The Lacuna now! Yes she does – I get the impression that she’s had a very interesting life and I want to learn more about her as a person. I gather that she lived in Africa as a child, which definitely makes sense, as the descriptions of Africa are intoxicating.

  27. Virginia says:

    I’m so sorry you lost The Poisonwood Bible, Rachel! I’ve read it and thought it was great. I hope you get to finish it.

    1. bookssnob says:

      Thank you, Virginia! It was a blow, but I will finish it eventually!

  28. Penny says:

    I have The Poisonwood Bible in my TBR bookcase and have been swithering about it for a while! Now I know I should go ahead and read it!

    I love the picture at the top of your post! So sweet and romantic!

    And what a nice conductor! I agree that if you hadn’t been such a lovely person and spoken to him every morning, instead of just taking his services for granted, he might not have been so inclined to help you. I’m a great believer in compassion myself. It’s why I’m vegan! 🙂

    1. bookssnob says:

      Penny, you should DEFINITELY read it!

      Thank you – it made me feel very summery so I decided to have a change!

      Oh that’s lovely! Compassion is a very important and underrated commodity these days, and the saying pay it forward is very true! If only it were exercised more! 🙂

  29. Too bad that you lost such a gripping novel but I’m sure you’ll get another copy soon. The Armstrong book is interesting and the conductor a sweetie! But FIVE hours in a hairdresser’s? I can’t stand going to the hairdresser’s and two hours is probably my limit. I go queezy at the thought of 5 🙂 You’re a very good friend!
    The New Yorker picture is sweet and makes you wonder what happened next – did they try to catch up with each other?
    Your new header is beautiful by the way.

    1. bookssnob says:

      I know, I’m sure I will too!

      Yes, it was a L-O-N-G trip – getting a weave done takes ages! But at least I got a good book read!

      I wonder too! Maybe they got off at the stop and met each other!

      Glad you like it, thank you! 🙂

  30. Sarah says:

    I’m afraid I was far too judgemental myself whilst reading The Poisonwood Bible, I felt the father had no redeeming features. My heart went out to his family, but I also felt a sense of impatience (judgemental!), why did they put up with it? Why did the mother allow him to expose them all to such an existence? Why did they stay…….? I hope you get to finish it soon.

    1. bookssnob says:

      Yes, the father is a painful character – but I get the feeling there’s a reason there. I look forward to finding out more about that family…it’s a very strange situation indeed.

  31. Merenia says:

    David Nolan, oh how I wish you would start your own blog! I love your comments (and your Life in Books with SimonS). All your writing is so thoughtful and lucid. Please reconsider.

    Rachel, I think you have started me on a Karen Armstrong journey. Never heard of her before, but I think from following your links that she is right up my street. Thanks for that. I loved your very ‘Rachel’, breathless post, although I was so on the edge of my seat at the unfinished saga of your lost book, followed swiftly by a desperate train dash, that I could barely concentrate on the later part!

    1. David Nolan says:

      Thank you, Merenia, very kind of you to say so. I should also perhaps apologise to Rachel for having gone on at such length here. I hope I wasn’t taking a liberty? I don’t have any immediate plans to start a blog of my own, but in the meantime you could always read my comments (they call them “reviews”) on (username dsc73277, or just click on my name above to be linked through).

      1. bookssnob says:

        No need to apologise!!

    2. bookssnob says:

      I agree with you re: David, Merenia!

      Oh thank you Merenia! You are lovely! I am sure you would get a great deal from Karen Armstrong’s books, they are beautifully and compassionately written.

      So lovely to see a comment from you!

  32. Oh my, what a week you have had. I like to carry books that fit in my purse so I don’t lose them. I hate to leave a book unfinished. It drives me crazy. I’m glad that you found something else to read right away.

    1. bookssnob says:

      I have indeed had a week, Janet! Leaving a book unfinished drives ME crazy too – but never mind – I have filled in the gap nicely!

  33. ana says:

    Let me second Mumsy’s recommendation of The Spiral Staircase. I found it one of my most memorable reads of all time. It was quite a revelation and wonderfully written. While I’ve not read Through the Narrow Gate, I’ve heard that TSS is better! Wonder what you’ll think.

    Hope you find another Poisonwood Bible soon. It’s superb but you already knew that.

    1. bookssnob says:

      That is high praise indeed Ana! I will be sure to read tss. Karen Armstrong is so wise and I am looking forward to reading more about her experiences.

  34. Nicola says:

    I knew you’d love The Poisonwood Bible, I’m sure another copy will fall into your hands. I’ve never read another Kingsolver that I’ve liked as much as that novel. Look forward to your review.

    1. bookssnob says:

      I don’t think I could understand someone who didn’t love this book – it’s so brilliant. I look forward to eventually finishing it and then trying more of her work. I would like to read her lifestyle memoir as well as her personal life fascinates me as much as her fiction!

  35. motheretc says:

    I’m so sorry you lost your book! Just imagine though that someone will serendipitously pick it up and love it just as much as you were. I really love that New Yorker illustration too!

    1. bookssnob says:

      Thankyou – yes I hope so!

  36. Jodie says:

    And just think how happy you’d be now if someone had been compassionate enough to put The Poisonwood Bible back in its rightful place. Little things…

    Your conductor sounds so nice and obviously shows it’s worth trying to talk to everyone rather than hiding away behind an mp3 player. Having just had a really snotty encounter with a hotel clerk I’m wishing for more compassion in the world, but I can be terrible at it myself and recognise myself in your comments about taking out bad moods on people. We all need an outlet for that kind of stuff, as we’re not saint like, but a good reminder to try harder to take it out on inanimate things and the air around you rather than people.

    1. bookssnob says:

      I think its always worth having a chat if someone engages you in conversation – living in America has made me much better at doing this. Being reserved doesn’t work here! We all have bad days but I think we can all try and be more consciously mindful and more considerate of others. We are none of us saints but trying is the important part I think!

  37. Oh no! It sucks about leaving your copy of The Poisonwood Bible on the train. I’ve almost done that a couple of times, and haven’t been best pleased with myself… luckily, I’ve not been quite as unlucky as you yet.

    However, I am super-impressed by the conductor stopping the train for you! I think that almost makes up for forgetting the book. In London, my experience with buses and trains is, the drivers get some kind of sadistic pleasure in driving away, despite seeing you running for the bus, just because they can! I might be being unfair, as that certainly isn’t true for some of them, but…

    Oh, and I’ve had The Group on my TBR list for ages, but not yet read it. I really should pick it up someday soon.

    1. bookssnob says:

      I know! But dear Claire is sending me hers!

      Ha! London bus drivers are EVIL – I will not dispute that. The amount of times one has driven past me knowingly waiting at the bus stop, just because they couldn’t be bothered to stop, is ridiculous. They are far more considerate in New York, believe it or not!

      You must read The Group!

  38. Marybel Tracey says:

    I haven’t read The Poisonwood Bible but what a delight to see that cover of The New Yorker…..another connection ……Gemma the daughter who married last year in New York had that picture framed for her wall.

    Maria her older sister devoured all Laura Ingalls Wilder and at 31 re reads them in her fraught moments as childrens books offer something when times are hard.

    1. bookssnob says:

      The coincidences just keep on coming, Marybel!

      Yes, I think they are the ultimate comfort read. A sign of an excellent book is one that fully spans the ages and can bring something special to every stage of life.

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