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Since Beryl suffered a stroke in 2000 she has been unable to read except for the odd word for information; both novels and non-fiction which were really important for her are impossible.  As a very 'visual' person Beryl has never enjoyed listening to spoken books.  But we have recently tried having Stuart read aloud to Beryl.  Sometimes it works well - sometimes not.  We also discuss lots of TV.
(Well? sa prof. molesworth, You seme thortful?)


See all books below
LINKS are marked to interesting sources


DVD or Video of some of Beryl's favourite novels which she read many years ago:

War and Peace    Anna Karenina    Brideshead Revisited    Room with a View    Howards End   

Recent television programmes:

Simon Schama's Power of Art    Coast   
The Naked Pilgrim
(Brian Sewell on the Camino de Santiago de Compostella - the pilgrimage of which Ali and Hugh walked half the Spanish part and got engaged at the end!)

Read aloud with great success and enjoyment:

* Mark Haddon The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (the first book we successfully read together - skipping the mathematical chapters for Beryl - and a great success, wonderfully empathetic to all the characters)

* Bill Bryson A Sunburned Country (aka Down Under) and Notes from a Small Island

* Karen Armstrong's three autobiographical books The Spiral Staircase (no. 3 but we read it first) Through the Narrow Gate (no. 1) and Beginning the World (no. 2 which Karen disowns now but which Beryl had in fact read in Hong Kong)
Also Karen Armstrong A Short History of Islam

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Read aloud but either not a success or a complete disaster:

* Virginia Woolf The Lighthouse - a real favourite of Beryl but in the disaster category; the first sentence runs for most of the first page! (We didn't even try Mrs Dalloway which was a seminal discovery for Beryl just over 50 years ago!)

What Stuart has been reading for himself:

(It was a full year after the stroke before he could manage to read anything to himself with Beryl in the room, because of feeling uncompfortable that it seemed unfair, or something like that; we are told this is a common experience for partners.)

Molesworth (Down with Skool! ect) by Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle

Alain de Botton How Proust can change your life (... dissects what Proust has to say about friendship, reading, looking carefully, paying attention, taking your time, being alive ... The result is ... wise, amusing as well as stimulating ...)

Simon Conway Morris The Crucible of Creation: The Burgess Shale and the Rise of Animals     Life's Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe

Richard Dawkins The God Delusion (lent by my friend Diane Sparks - see the website of the charity she supports and works with related to dental care for children in Cambodia here)  An interesting review of The God Delusion by Terry Eagleton in the London Review of Books is here (opens in an new page; close that page - don't Quit your browser - to return here).

Michael Frayn The Human Touch: our part in the creation of the universe (also lent by my friend Diane Sparks - see under Richard Dawkins above)

One Hundred Great Books in Haiku by David Bader  Quite brilliant e.g. Milton's 'Paradise Lost' (if you allow that as a 'book' and including his quaint spelling of " dids't "):
O'er and o'er God warned,
'Eat not th'Apple!' Man dids't and
God ballistick went.

Sandy Toksvig's (first) two novels: Whistling for the Elephants and Flying Under Bridges  Both are wonderfully funny but both are also full of profound insights and reflections on families and relationships, e.g. in Whistling the mother of the young narrator speaks like this, "You know how I get all ... et cetera."  Of her brother Charles she writes about an annual visit to Granny:
"What's for dinner?" said Charles, probably six then to my four. "Roast beef," said Granny.  "What else is on the menu?" asked my brother, sealing his fate. [boarding school]

Galileo's Daughter: A Drama of Science, Faith and Love
by Dava Sobel

Darwin, His Daughter, and Human Evolution by Randal Keynes Charles and Emma Wedgwood Darwin produced 10 children but lost three--an infant daughter and son, and the bright and charming 10-year-old Annie, whose death plunged her parents into profound bereavement. To comfort his friend Sir Joseph Hooker when the botanist's young son fell ill, Darwin drew on his own agonizing deathwatch of Annie: "Much love, much trial, but what an utter desert is life without love."

Note: darwin-online.org.uk includes Darwin's notebooks
(see next item) but they are in photographic format
and not searchable, so I can't give a precise reference yet.)

David Lodge Thinks.. Re-read in parts several times (first published 2001) mainly because of reference to Charles Darwin.  He has one of his characters cite Darwin's 1838 notebook. Darwin has the idea of evolution ... he hasn't gone public ... he knows all to well what an uproar it will cause ... he's been thinking about laughter: "This way of viewing the subject important, laughing modified barking, smiling modified laughing. Barking to tell other animals ... of good news, discovery of prey ..."  Then comes the afterthought, "Crying is a puzzler."  Another of Lodge's characters responds just as cryptically, "Sunt lacrymae rerum ... 'There are tears of things.' Virgil."

Lamin Sanneh
Whose religion is Christianity? The Gospel beyond the West 
... Being the original Scripture of the Christian movement, the New Testament Gospels are a translated version of the message of Jesus. ... Christianity seems unique in being the only world religion that is transmitted without the language or originating culture of its founder. ... The general rule that people had a right to understand what they were being taught was matched by the view that there was nothing God wanted to say that could not be said in simple everyday language.

Marcus Borg Reading the Bible again for the first time
Meeting Jesus again for the first time
LINK to Marcus Borg's website to be added

The changing face of God ed. Schmidt, contributors include Karen Armstrong and Marcus Borg
Armstrong: The mystics in all three monotheistic faiths .. insist that it is better to call God "Nothing" with a capital N than it is to assert that God exists in any conventional sense. God, they say, is not another being. God is not even the Supreme Being.  To use that language suggests that he's rather like ourselves, only writ large ...
Borg: In my own life I have moved from the God of supernatural theism (transcendence) to the God of panentheism (not that everything is God - pantheism - but that everything is in God).  I have also moved from the God of requirements to the God of relationships.

Karen Armstrong A Short History of Islam
A History of God

The Koran (English translation by N.J. Dawood)

Neil Douglas-Klotz The Hidden Gospel: decoding the spiritual message of the Aramaic Jesus

The Lost Gospel Q - the original sayings of Jesus ed Borg, Moore, Powelson and Riegert

The Gospel of Thomas

The emerging Christian Way ed Schwartzentruber, contributors include Marcus Borg, Matthew Fox, Sallie McFague et al

David Boulton Gerrard Winstanley and the republic of heaven

Augustine City of God


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