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‘No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters’ by Ursula K. Le Guin ****

Most will know Ursula K. Le Guin for her fantasy/sci-fi fiction writing, which has been immensely popular for many years now and has deeply inspired many readers and writers alike. Her name has even been mentioned as one of the exceptions of highly successful and broadly well-known female fantasy/sci-fi authors. Despite being a fantasy/sci-fi fan myself, I shamefully have to admit that I have not yet read any of her very famous fiction. I always respected her craft and wit, though, and being given the opportunity to read No Time to Spare has consolidated this respect. 33503495

A collection of essays on so many and various topics which were originally posted on her blog, No Time to Spare is an absolute gem of a book. As Le Guin states herself at the beginning, she had absolutely no interest in blogging until she read José Saramago’s (a very famous Portuguese writer) attempts at blogging and decided to give it a try as well, with apparently very successful results.

The book is divided into parts, each of which centers around a specific theme, such as old age and adapting to the changes brought by aging, writing and literature, feminism, politics, as well as various musings on everyday life and events. In between those parts, there are some sections like interludes, which she has devoted to her cat, Pard, and his adventures and journey into life with the author. These were very adorable to read, but I have to admit that they got rather dull at times and didn’t always manage to keep my interest intact.

As far as the rest of the essays go, Le Guin’s witty and sharp observations shine through and her clever opinions and remarks become a delight for anyone to read. Although I don’t really like the idea of creating a book out of previously published blog posts, I am very glad I read this book, since I had no idea that Le Guin maintained a blog and regularly updated it. Plus, it was very delightful getting to read her ideas and opinions on such a broad variety of topics, something which I haven’t really seen from any other author I closely follow.

I would definitely suggest this book to anyone, regardless of whether they are a fan of Le Guin’s or not, of whether they enjoy fantasy/sci-fi or not (although she makes some very insighful and very useful remarks about fantasy and literature). If you enjoy non-fiction and like a certain dose of wit and well-supported opinions in your reading, then I strongly encourage you to pick up this book. I read this as part of the Non-Fiction November challenge, but I waited until its release date to post my full review.

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A copy was very kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley.

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Non-fiction November and German Lit Month Wrap-Up

The beginning of December finds me in a very strange situation personally, a situation which affected most of my November activities as well. As much as I would have liked to read more and participate in all the lovely events organised in the bookish community, I did the best that I could given my circumstances.

That being said, whilst I immensely enjoyed my minimal reading for both Non-fiction November and German Literature Month as well as reading other people’s wonderful posts, I wish I could have done more.

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For Non-fiction November, I managed to read almost all of the books I had set as my TBR. Ursula Le Guin’s No Time to Spare was the first book I completed and I utterly loved it. Since it’s being published on December 5th, my review is scheduled for that date.

italocalvino_classicsItalo Clavino’s Why Read the Classics? was the next one on my list, a collection of essays which I read rather selectively, since most of them referred to books and authors I hadn’t read and I didn’t see the point in reading analyses of literature I’m not familiar with. I read this in my Greek translation copy and I was reminded once again how much I adore Calvino’s writing. His love for literature and for the classics specifically shines through his wonderful prose and he makes you want to pick up the nearest classic and immerse yourself in its glory. methode_times_prod_web_bin_96549d4c-baf1-11e6-a53a-ca2ad7b229f9

The last book on my TBR for this event was Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life, which I haven’t completed yet. I love Shirley Jackson’s writing and as soon as I saw this biography of hers, I knew I wanted to learn more about her. I listened to this on audiobook and this is probably why my progress has been so slow, since I don’t do very well with audiobooks. I’ve listened to 7 chapters so far and I was not as impressed as I expected to be. While some parts are absolutely fascinating, I often feel like the book is too unnecessarily detailed and that makes it somewhat dull in parts, such as when the author listed all the Christmas gifts Shirley and each member of her family received – a detail I could have lived without being made aware of, and without spending 10 minutes listening about. Perhaps it’s the format of the audiobook which makes it dull for me, I’ll try to find a paper copy to continue reading it.

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As for German Literature Month, I also managed to read both books I had set as my TBR. Yoko Tawada’s Memoirs of a Polar Bear was definitely my favourite book of the entire month (perhaps of the year too) and you can read the full review I posted a few days ago here.

'Letter_from_an_Unknown_Woman'I couldn’t leave Stefan Zweig, one of my absolute favourite authors, out of German Literature Month. His Letter from an Unknown Woman is the second and last book I read for this challenge. Read in my Greek translation copy like the aforementioned Calvino book, it was a short novella which, like most of Zweig’s other works I’ve read, was filled with emotions and beautiful, beautiful prose. I haven’t encountered any other author who can write about and portray people’s feelings and the wide range of their emotions as eloquently as Zweig does. Whether you’ve found yourself in a situation like the one he’s describing (here, that of a woman’s unrequited youthful love) you will definitely feel like you have experienced this situation by the time you finish reading. This is how powerful his writing is.

These were my contributions to those two November challenges. I had a lot of fun participating in both and I hope next time I have much more time to devote.

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German Literature Month & Non-Fiction November

November is one of my favourite months and I’m extremely glad that so many bookish events are being organised in the bookish side of the internet. I have decided to participate in two this time around but I don’t want to be too ambitious with my TBR lists because I’m the worst in time management.

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Starting off with German Literature Month, I have two books lined up:

  • Memoirs of a Polar Bear by Yoko Tawada
  • Letter from an Unknown Woman by Stefan Zweig

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As for Non-Fiction November, my list comprises of the following:

  • No Time to Spare by Ursula Le Guin
  • Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin
  • Why Read the Classics? by Italo Calvino

I’m very excited about both events and, of course, I’ve already started my reading 😉 Are you participating in any of those events?