Newsletter No 8 (July 29th, 2010)


If you already went through your summer to-be-read pile here is another newsletter to give you fresh ideas for the next read. Books recently reviewed on Curious Book Fans site touch upon such a diverse topics like arranged marriages, next-door vampires, European detectives, how we decide on our travel destinations and why we should say thank you more often. I am sure you will find something to keep you interested through August.

Yours, Curious Book Fans

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama

In the west, we’re all too quick to reject the idea of arranged marriage and often quick to equate ‘arranged’ with ‘forced’. Mind you, in societies based on love marriage and making our own choices, we’ve not proven to be very successful at picking for ourselves if the divorce rates are anything to judge by. I’m willing to be open minded about the Indian system and to accept that families would need a helping hand in order to find a match outside their immediate social circle.

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Farahad Zama talks to Curious Book Fans

CBF: Now that you live in the UK, how do you find the attitude of local people to the idea of using a marriage bureau or of having an arranged marriage?

Farahad Zama: Over the years, my wife and I’ve met many people who have been extremely surprised to find that our marriage was arranged. Many people in the west assume that arranged marriages are the same as forced marriages. And so when they talk to my wife, who is far more outgoing and articulate than me and nobody’s idea of a doormat, they are very intrigued. That was one of the reasons that I set the book in a marriage bureau when I started writing.

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Repeat It Today With Tears by Anne Peile

I found Repeat It Today With Tears to be both a haunting and evocative read. Given the subject matter here: a young girl having an affair with a much older man, who happens to be her father, I initially expected this to be a ‘heavy’ novel, which I would find myself shocked and maybe sickened by. However, such is the brilliance in the writing of this book by Anne Peile, I was surprised to find I did not experience the feelings of revulsion I expected, nor was it heavy going.

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World change starts with educated children

We’d like to invite you to help support a charity that works to educate girls in Asia and Africa.

Female education is a powerful tool in the fight against poverty. When girls learn, their families and communities benefit. Education for girls is directly linked to a number of positive outcomes including: lower birth infant mortality rates, increased wages, and improved family health and nutrition.

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A Sleuth’s Tour of Europe – European Crime Fiction

Things have come a long way since Agatha Christie took crime fiction fans on the Orient Express and to the banks of the River Nile and the genre is now one of the most popular around. There’s a wealth of excellent crime fiction available in translation and in English, and the best authors manage to convey a sense of place as well as telling exciting, well crafted stories. If you’re looking for some ideas on what to pack this summer, look no further. I have some suggestions to take you around Europe.

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The Dogs of Riga: A Kurt Wallander Mystery by Henning Mankell

Overall I enjoyed “The Dogs of Riga” and I will certainly read more Henning Mankell novels based on this experience. My instant rapport with the central character was instrumental in drawing me in and I am sure that it was this attachment that enabled me to overlook some of the more clumsy aspects of the novel. The beginning of the novel when it follows the traditional police procedural form, is well-constructed and interesting, indicating that, if the other books, follow this example, they should certainly be worth a read.

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The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton

The thought of taking a holiday, spending time away from work and home – the scenes we know well, fills most of us with excitement and pleasure. We look forward to visiting places we consider more beautiful or which offer a more appealing lifestyle than our everyday experiences. In “The Art of Travel“, Alain de Botton considers why we chose those destinations in the first place, why we are often disappointed by the reality of our travel experiences and what we can do to avoid this degree of disappointment.

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The Kerala Kitchen by Lathika George

There is rather a charming tradition these days of combining cookery with stories of the way of life that inspired the recipes. In keeping with this, George has spiced her recipes liberally with family anecdotes. “Food and memories are interconnected. Most of us have everlasting memories that are evoked by the foods that we prepare or eat, don’t we?’ George says.

While containing 150 recipes that encapsulate the richness of Syrian-Christian cooking, ‘The Suriani/Kerala Kitchen’ also gives you a sneak peek at George’s family secrets.

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History & Mystery: Paris by Peter and Oriel Cain

Any traveller needing a guidebook to Paris is likely to be spoilt for choice. Anyone interested in walking the streets of France’s capital city and discovering less well-known sights, however, would find “History and Mystery: Paris” a delightful book. The guide gives details of twenty-four walking tours in various districts of Paris…

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True Things About Me by Deborah Kay Davies

This is a story about obsession, lust and violence and how these things can take over everything that you do and make rational people behave in quite insane ways. It is quite scary to see just how this woman changes and behaves in a way that does not make any sense at all. As one reads, one can’t help but wonder whether any one of us might be that weak in those circumstances.

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Blood River by Tim Butcher

Blood River tells the story of Tim Butcher’s journey along the length of the Congo River, recreating the journey undertaken in 1874-1877 by Sir Henry Morton Stanley, a journalist and explorer. Stanley’s journey helped open up the Congo, as much as the interior of the Congo ever has been open.

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Harvey Hare Postman Extraordinaire by Bernadette Watts

Although my daughters are often quite good at remembering to say thank you, they do sometimes forget and I find myself having to remind them. This is one reason I was pleased that they selected ‘Harvey Hare Postman Extraordinaire’ during our recent library visit as it really does have a strong message about appreciating what people do and remembering to say thank you!

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The Radleys by Matt Haig

I think what held my interest in The Radleys was the fact that the story features a family of ‘abstainers’ desperately trying to lead a normal life and blend in well with their neighbours and surroundings. A prominent feature in Peter and Helen’s life to help them with all this is The Abstainers Handbook, which features often in the story and contains little gems such as: “If blood is the answer, then you are asking the wrong question”

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Serious Men by Manu Joseph

There are certain things that seem to be a given amongst Indian novels these days especially after White Tiger came into being – for example the under dog anti hero for instance, who has to live in suitably underprivileged circumstances, while fighting against the system that conspires to keep him down. In Manu Joseph’s debut novel, this is Ayyan Mani, a dalit who lives in one room in the BDD chawl with his wife and 10 year old hearing challenged son.

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