Six Degrees of Separation October 2017

Hosted each month by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, the Six Degrees of Separation meme picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps.

This month’s starting point is the Mexican author Laura Esquivel’s novel Like Water for Chocolate. I must be one of the few people who never saw the film adaptation of it, but I heard about it and was curious to read the book. I enjoyed its combination of recipes and home-spun wisdom, but I never quite understood the bestseller status of it.



Valeria Luiselli is another Mexican writer that I have started to really appreciate. So far I have only read some of her essays and interviews, and really enjoyed her fragmented, unusual yet very evocative novel Faces in the Crowd. But I definitely want to read more.


Another author I keep meaning to read more of is Sarah Moss. The novel Night Waking is the next one of hers that I have on my bookshelf, sitting nice and pretty and hoping I will pick it up.


Another novel with Night in the title is of course Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald, one of the most excoriating portraits of a marriage and expat society that I can imagine.


Speaking of expats, an example of expats behaving badly (or the extreme loneliness of expat life, if you are feeling kindly disposed) is Jill Alexander Essbaum’s Hausfrau. While I was intrigued by the depiction of a woman going amok in neat and ordered Zürich, it was not as enjoyable and innovative as Essbaum’s poetry, for which she is better known.

There are plenty of poets turned novelists but the one who never ceases to fascinate me is Rainer Maria Rilke’s one and only novel (a sort of semi-autobiographical journal-meditation) The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. Just mentioning it here makes me want to read it again – it is such a rich source of wonder and inspiration, made to be read again and again.

My final choice also refers to notebooks: Anna Wulf’s famous coloured notebooks (black for the writer, red for political activism, yellow for her memoirs, blue for a diary) in The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing. A seminal work of feminist literature, which had a profound impact on me when I was in my teens.

So my journey this month takes me from cooking in Mexico to political demos in 1960s London, via New York, the Hebrides, the Cote d’Azure, Zürich and Paris. As always, I like to travel! You can follow this meme on Twitter with the hashtag #6Degrees or create your own blog post. Where will your 6 degrees of separation journey take you?

19 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation October 2017”

  1. I’m really interested in what you say about Hausfrau – I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would, but I’d like to try more by the author. I’ll hunt down some of her poetry.

    1. No, neither did I – and since I was an expat in Switzerland at the time, I expected to love it. But she is an interesting writer and I want to read more of her.

  2. Oh! The Golden Notebook. I didn’t find it, somehow, till my twenties, and then fell headlong into Lessing. It surely merits a re-read, such a powerful book, such a personal influence. It was Lessing in her Canopus in Argos series who taught me not to ensure ‘genre’ and that SF could be much more than little boy fantasies shooting day guns!

    And, of course, Oh Scott F. Another delight, of my teens, and early 20s. I have all his books, dusty, on the shelves and surely the dust should be disturbed

    1. I’m not as familiar with Lessing’s SF as I could be, but I want to read more of it. And I loved FSF at about the same time in my life – but found that he stands up to rereading pretty well…

  3. How very clever of you, Marina Sofia! From Mexican writers to poets turned writers! A lovely variety here, and I like the way you put this together.

  4. I’m curious about the fiction of Sarah Moss, including “Night Waking,” and one of these days I’d also like to pick up F. Scott Fitzgerald. I tend to neglect the Classics.

  5. What a wonderful wander! I didn’t know that Rilke had written a novel so that’s something for me to search out. And I’m determined to read something by Sarah Moss; I’ve been saying this for so long. And then you reminded me of The Golden Notebook… Your Six degrees have significantly added to my tbr, MarinaSofia!

  6. I read Like Water for chocolate this year and I am actually a fan. I loved the way the plot was fast paced and how it was atmospherically delicious. I had bad cravings even though I knew many of the recipes would not work in RL. I enjoyed Night Waking. But I think I love The Tidal Zone more.

  7. Very enjoyable links Marina. I’ve heard of,and even read a few. In fact Faces in the crowd was nearly my first link. And like like commenters here, F. Scott was a passion of my late teens and early twenties. I’ve never heard of Haus Frau, and am sorry you didn’t like it as expats trance to interest me, having been one myself a couple of times.

  8. I was also introduced to Doris Lessing as a teenager, by my English teacher. At the time it was outside the scope of my reading, but you’re mentioning it has caused me to want to revisit her work, especially The Golden Notebook.

  9. Although I don’t usually read poetry, I’ll have to hunt down some of Essbaum’s. Unlike you, I thought Hausfrau was extraordinary – I loved her crisp language, such a contrast to the main character’s out-of-control emotions.

    Thanks for joining in!

    1. I don’t want to give the impression I didn’t like the book. I did. I just expected even more of it ( but perhaps that was because I was too close to the situation to be an objective judge).

  10. Well, pets are my thread for the last three books I read. Collared by David Rosenfelt is a light legal mystery, where dogs are rescued and are pets. They do not solve crimes. And I read his book, Dogtripping, about his and his spouse’s travel across the country with 25 rescued dogs. So kind and yet very funny.
    But then I went around the world to Thailand to read Murder in the House of Rooster Happiness. This is a murder mystery set in northern Chiang Mai. The main character, a nurse ethicist has a pet cat. It’s an interesting book with much about Thai culture and thinking, and how it differs from the same in the U.S.

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