My shelfie… Dr Kitrina Douglas
The Woman and the Ape
Intrigue, a chase, conspiracy, what’s not to like? It starts with an ape jumping ship, being pursued through London and hiding in a quiet garden; thus the sinister plot develops. This was my first Peter Hoeg novel, which led to other books of his, such as Borderliners, and Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow. Perhaps my favourite moment was when one of the protagonists lovingly touches foreheads to say goodbye to a friend (who has just incidentally given her a huge put down)… you’ll have to read the book to understand why this was simultaneously an ‘ugh!’ and ‘yes!’ moment. Like many novelists, Hoeg raises some big issues along the way.
I was introduced to Mark Freeman’s writing through this little book, a study on looking backward to see forward. It’s accessible, hard to put down and like Arthur Frank’s book, we are introduced to a reservoir of writers and thinkers. It has helped me navigate my research, and has given me a deeper, richer understanding of my life and friendships.
A Thousand Mornings
‘The man who has many answers’, Mary tells us, ‘is often found in the theaters of information.’ ‘While the man who has only questions,to comfort himself, makes music.’ This was my first Mary Oliver book of poems (I now have a collection) and though it was a toss up between this and her Dog Songs (full of wonderful insights into human/animal friendships) I’ve settled on A Thousand Mornings because it is full of simply the most charming, humorous, insightful and beautiful reflections on life and nature, shaped into poetic verse – little gifts.
The Renewal of Generosity
There are several things I like about this book.
I love the way Arthur Frank introduces the reader to so many other scholars/writers, such as Marcus Aurelius, Emmanuel Levinas, Mikhail Bakhtin, Hilde Lindeman Nelson and Rafael Campo (to name but a few). Equally powerful are his insights into narrative theory and the way he shows the reader the importance of dialogue. But perhaps what I like best is how it challenges me to think about how I live my life (and consider my actions) as a researcher, and encourages me to be more generous.
The Song of Achilles
This is set around the Trojan War and focuses on the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus. If you’ve forgotten your Greek mythology, Achilles refuses to fight for the Greeks because Agamemnon has stolen his female slave. This leads Patroclus to enter the battle wearing Achilles’ armour where he is killed by Hector of Troy. Achilles avenges Patroclus by killing Hector, and then Hector’s brother, Paris, kills Achilles with an arrow (the bit most of us recall). However, what Madeline weaves from this tale, and the position from which the story unfolds, is something else. I was deeply touched in a way I have never been before by this story (oh how I sobbed), and it brought me a far deeper understanding of same-sex attraction. I am not alone in finding The Song of Achilles to be beautifully written, moving and insightful with regard to the human condition, love, loss and passion, not to mention stupidity, stubbornness and the futility of war.
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