On My Bedside Table

“A good book should leave you . . slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it.”

– William Styron –

I am not keen on writing reviews. Perhaps because I know that personal taste is, well, personal, and what I don’t like, someone else may. Not only do I not engage in writing reviews, I also try to steer away from them. That said, I do like reviews that are done in a neutral tone, focusing on facts, so that I can make up my mind for myself, and not have to wade through someone else’s likes and dislikes.

Now, when Kristin, a fellow blogger, asked me if I would read, and help promote her new book, I immediately said yes, as getting one’s writing noticed is not easy. There are many brilliant writers in this world, and while some are lucky enough to find agents and publishers, who promote their work, others have to make use of their own ingenuity to get their voices heard.

Although this is still not a review in the normal sense of the word, I would like to highlight the existence of five wonderful books written by writers, who also form part of the blogging community I subscribe to.

Kristin Anderson‘s second book The Things We Said In Venice is a steamy romance novel that is modern in every sense, with the two main characters a travel writer and vlogger respectively. The story takes place mainly in Italy, but also Barcelona, Riems, San Antonio de Areco, Amsterdam, and The Hague. It is well written, and Kristin manages to evoke a beautiful sense of place. So if romance is the genre you prefer, this is a must read and great way to travel to a different reality for a couple of hours.

Kristin is an American, who lives with her Dutch husband and son in Holland, and her blog Kristin In Hollandprovides a peek into that life.

 

Lani V Cox‘s The Missing Teacher, is a memoir, focusing on her training and time as a Waldorf teacher.

Her blog Life, The Universe And Lani is a delightful look at her life as a teacher, traveller and expat. Her blog, The Missing Teacher, on the other hand, focuses not just on her experiences as a teacher, but is filled with practical advice for the classroom.

I was lucky enough to have met Lani in Chiang Mai a couple of years ago, and it is interesting how it changed the way I read her blog posts now.

 

Andi Cumbo-Floyd is not just a talented wordsmith, but also a teacher, mentor and editor. I am proud to call her my writing teacher, and am indebted to her expert guidance through two separate writing courses. Her blog, Andilit, is a fount of wisdom and advice.

She has written a couple of books, of which my favourite is The Slaves Have Names. It is a thoughtful evocation of the imagined lives of the slaves, who lived and toiled on the land on which she spent part of her childhood. She blends fact and fiction to bring to life real people, who have lived in a time in the history of America that many would prefer to not talk about or forget.

 

In Gather At The Table, the issues of slavery, racism, and traumas of oppression are faced head-on, as “a daughter of slavery and a son of the slave trade” navigate their way through a writing partnership that leads to discovery, understanding, and healing. Thomas Norman DeWolf and Sharon Leslie Morgan come from two different worlds, and their journey is a powerful one. “We began as two disconnected people. We learned. We argued. We struggled. We grew. We laughed. We cried. We changed. Along the way, we became friends.”

This is Tom’s second book, and I am honoured to be part of the same writing group, and although we have yet to meet in person, I am grateful for the gift of modern technology that enables us to meet up once a month via a Zoom conference call. Read more about what is important to Tom on his blog, Tom DeWolf.

 

Gwendoline Wilson states early in her memoir, I Belong to No One that it is “. . . one part of the tapestry of my life”. In it she tells the story of growing up in a time in Australia, when being illegitimate held a terrible social stigma. She skillfully avoids being self-indulgent, yet through the most beautiful use of language, makes one care deeply for the young Gwen’s trials and tribulations.

You can read more of her musings on her blog The Reluctant Retiree, which includes ramblings across her beloved Australia, or abroad. Her zest for life is contagious and her blog posts a wonderful read. Gwen is making retirement look like something to look forward to. Her list of accomplishments, since she was forced to retire, is impressive, and I am definitely now of the opinion that “life starts at retirement”, when reading through them.

Although Gwen and I have never met, we almost did once, and I remain optimistic that on one of her overseas trips, she will stop over in Abu Dhabi for a coffee and a chat.

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