Sunday 3 May 2020

Six Degrees of Separation

Six Degrees of Separation is a monthly meme hosted by Books are my Favourite and Best.

Books can be linked in obvious ways – for example, books by the same authors, from the same era or genre, or books with similar themes or settings. Or, you may choose to link them in more personal ways: books you read on the same holiday, books given to you by a particular friend, books that remind you of a particular time in your life, or books you read for an online challenge.

A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the ones next to them in the chain.

This month's Six Degrees begins with The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

This a dystopian novel about a father and son walking across America after an apocolyptic scenario. It's one of the most famous novels around at the moment and spawned a popular film as well. I gather it's compelling and intense and I might read it one day but not right now in the current state we find ourselves in.

Another book with 'Road' in the title is, The White Road Westwards by 'B.B'.

'B.B.' - alias Denis Watkins-Pitchford - was a children's author and naturalist. As a child I adored his 'Bill Badger', books borrowed from the library, but he also wrote a lot of non-fiction for adults about the natural world. This one is actually a travelogue of his caravan journey around the south west of England in 1960. I'd forgotten that I own this one and have yet to read it, will put in on the pile for next month. I love this quote that is on one of the introduction pages:

'It's the white road westwards is the road I must tread
To the green grass, the cool grass, and rest for heart and head,
To the violets, and the warm hearts, and the thrushes' song
In the fine land, the west land, the land where I belong'

~~ John Masefield ~~

Another book with 'white' in its title is Mystery in White by J. Jefferson Farjeon.

This is a vintage murder mystery set around Christmas. A party of passengers from a train, stranded because of heavy snow and snow drifts, get stuck in a country house. The house is unoccupied but it's as though someone was actually expecting to have guests... A good book if you like snowy settings.

Another book with a snowy cover and a snowy setting is, The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin. Apparently, I read this back in 2006, I didn't realise it was that long ago.

The planet, Gethen, is one which the whole planet is in perpetual winter. An ethnologist travels there to study its people who are androgynous but who can become male or female at certain times. He gets mixed up in their politics and ends up on the run with a failed politician. I thought the ideas and the setting for this book were amazing but remember not quite understanding all the details. It would, I'm sure bear rereading at some stage as Ursula K Le Guin is one of my favourite sci-fi authors.

The edition of The Left Hand of Darkness that I read is a 'SF Masterworks' edition by publishers, Gollanz. Another of that series is, To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis.

I haven't read this so I'm going to quote the blurb on Goodreads:

When too many jumps back to 1940 leave 21st century Oxford history student Ned Henry exhausted, a relaxing trip to Victorian England seems the perfect solution. But complexities like recalcitrant rowboats, missing cats, and love at first sight make Ned's holiday anything but restful - to say nothing of the way hideous pieces of Victorian art can jeopardize the entire course of history.

This comes highy recommended by lots of people so I've put it on my tbr pile for next month as well.

Another female science fiction author whose books I like is Sherri S. Tepper. Her dystopian novel, The Gate to Women's Country, is one of my favourites, according Goodreads I read it back in 2005!

I'm not a huge dystopian fan but there were interesting ideas in this about the way in which a society tries to stop a third world war from happening.

So on my Six Degrees journey today I started in a dystopian America, moved to the south west of the UK, then to a snowy landscape also in the UK, from thence to the imaginary planet of Gethen, to Victorian England and back again to a dystopian America. Quite a journey, I'm exhausted!

Next month will begin with Normal People by Sally Rooney.



Marg said...

That is quite a journey! Now, have a rest!

DesLily said...

Love the quote from the White Road Westwards!

Just started the Dolphins of Pern.. guess I'm not quite done with Pern lol

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Cath, I love the pretty header; purple flowers are a favorite. A couple of those mysteries sound good to me. Enjoy the day!

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Cath,

That's some journey and I love the way you linked all the books together in so many different ways.

I particularly enjoyed the Masefield poem, which reminded me to say that I really like your new header.

I'm sorry to say that the only book which definitely appealed to me, is 'Mystery In White', although with my terminally huge TBR pile, that's probably not such a bad thing.

Is it me, or do you seem to be posting more frequently lately? I am finding quite the opposite during these days of lockdown. I thought I would have plenty of time to post most days and really catch up on my reading, however I just can't seem to muster the enthusiasm or motivation and days are just slipping by largely wasted!

A fun post for this very dreary Sunday, thanks for sharing :)


TracyK said...

That is quite a journey. Coincidentally, I just purchased Le Guin's The Lathe of Heaven in the SF Masterworks edition. The only other thing I read by her is A Wizard of Earthsea.

I have heard of Sherri S. Tepper but haven't read anything by her. I will have to look for The Gate to Women's Country. And I love To Say Nothing of the Dog. I am a huge fan of Connie Willis and her time travel novels. Not sure which is my favorite. This one is definitely the lightest and the most fun.

Mystica said...

This meme always throws up so many surprises. Nice journey.

Davida Chazan (The Chocolate Lady) said...

Such a lovely chain! I just love how people do this meme - always something different. Thanks!

Cath said...

Marg: LOL! I did. With cake. :-)

Pat: Gorgeous quote isn't it? I need to find the whole poem...

Dolphins of Pern is the next book I need to read in the Pern series. It's the one I thought I had but can't find anywhere.

Diane: the pic is one I took a couple of years ago of a clump of bluebells that grow under the apple trees.

Yvonne: I must find the entire Masefield poem, not sure if it's that one one about going down to the sea in ships.

Glad you like my new header photo, I seem to have become quite seasonal with these pics so I'll have to decide what comes after bluebells!

Yes, I am trying to post more often at the moment. A few bloggers decided it would be a nice idea to keep each other entertained with extra posts. It's one of the reasons Judith started her 'Bookshelf Travelling for Insane Times' meme. But also the end of the month does tend to be a busy posting time for me.

Sorry to hear that you're still having trouble getting motivated. To be honest Peter and I generally live quite quietly so things are not that different for us and motivation is not a problem. It really would be nice to be able to out for a day though, both of us fancy a walk along Teignmouth promenade. Never mind.

Tracy: Le Guin is one of my favourite sci-fi authors. I loved her Earthsea books and her early Hainish books are very good (I haven't read all of her later sci-fi). There's a book of her short stories that I would highly recommend called, 'The Birthday of the World'. Interesting ideas about sexuality... really made me think.

Sheri Tepper is also excellent. Try 'Grass', which is one of my favourite ever sci-fi books. Really enjoying To Say Nothing of the Dog so far. Love how much it's based on Three Men in a Boat.

Mystica: I always love seeing how other people approach this meme. Some interesting 'road' journeys this time.

Cath said...

Davida: Thank you. It really is fascinating to see how different people approach this meme and the varied directions people go off in. A lot of people concentrated on 'roads' this time and I have found that really interesting.

TracyK said...

Thanks for the suggestions / recommendations, Cath. I have saved them because if I don't I will lose track.

Sam said...

Quite a road trip, Cath. The best part of this meme for me still is comparing the first and last books in the series without looking at the others and trying to imagine how in the world you got to that end. I haven't come close yet.

Cath said...

Tracy: My pleasure, I know how easy it is to lose track of these things.

Sam: LOL... I haven't tried doing that with other people's posts, I must try it as it sounds like fun.

I didn't mention it but there is one connection between the first and last book. I'm not sure but I believe that in The Road they don't actually tell you what the catastophe was. (Do correct me if you've read it and know I'm wrong.) Well, it's the same with The Gate to Women's Country. They don't go into specifics, just hint that there are areas that you can't spend time in, bit like Chenobyl and the Japanese nuclear power station site.

Kay said...

Love the flowers in your header, Cath! Love them! So very pretty. I like the look of that train mystery.

Cath said...

Kay: Thank you. The bluebells are almost over in the garden now, so I ought to change the photo but it's so pretty I think I'll leave it there a while.

The train mystery was not bad, but not one of his best in my opinion.