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#Corona lockdown list

  1. Last night  BBC News told us that this
  2. …coronavirus crisis could last 6 months!
  3. After every 3 weeks the stats will be
  4. …evaluated to see if we have ‘crushed the curve’.
  5. I am sure NL will apply similar rules.
  6. 6 months!! OMG.
  7. Now that I’ve got time on my freshly cleaned hands,
  8. …it is time to stock up on books not toilet paper…
  9. TURN OFF the news
  10. …and make my reading list for a long lockdown.
  11. There must be one or two books on this list that
  12. …can deflect and divert
  13. …the corona news….for a few hours.
  14. #NotGoingAnywhereSoon
  15. PS: no SF on the list
  16. …just look outside if you want that experience!



#Corona  Break  21.03.2020

#Corona Update: 26.03.2020




  1. EssayismBrian Dillon – 2017 – Review
  2. This Thing Called Literature – A. Bennett and N. Royle – 2015
  3. Critics, Monsters, Fanatics, and Other Literary Essays – C Oziek – 2016
  4. The Ocean, the Bird and the Scholar – H. Vendler – 2015
  5. Orwell: The Authorized Biography – M. Shelden – 1991
  6. Joy Ride: Lives of the Theatricals – J. Lahr – 2015
  7. The Figure of the Detective: A Literary History and Analysis – C. Brownson
  8. A Reader’s Guide to William Faulkner: The Short Stories – E. Volpe – 2004
  9. You Could Look It Up: – J. Lynch


  1. Patrick Kavanagh – A. Quinn – (biography) – 2003
  2. Elsewhere: One Woman, One Rucksack, One Lifetime of Travel – R. Boland
  3. Constellations – Sinéad Gleeson
  4. Republic of Shame:  – C. Hogan – 2019
  5. Say Nothing – Patrick Radden Keefe
  6. Essays on John McGahern – editors D. Hand, E. Maher

Some extra  “Ireland”  books:



  1. Imperfect: How Our Bodies Shape the People We Become –  Lee Koffman
  2. Her Mother’s Daughter by Nadia Wheatley – July 2018
  3. Maori Boy: A Memoir of a Childhood – W. Ihimaer – 2014
  4. Notes for the Everlost: A Field Guide to Grief – Kate Inglis – 2018
  5. Louisbourg or Bust: Surfer’s Wild Ride Down Nova Scotia’s Coast – R. Shaw
  6. Following the River:  Traces of Red River Women (indigenous
  7. Tiny Lights for Travellers – Naomi K. Lewis – 2019
  8. To the River: Losing My Brother – Don Gillmor – 2018
  9. Homes: A Refugee Story – Abu Baker Al Rabeeah – 2018
  10. The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone – Olivia Laing – 2016
  11. Island Home – Tim Winton – 2015 (landscape memoir)
  12. Yellow Notebook  – Helen Garner (2019)


  1. Rebellious Daughter – editors Maria Katsonis, Lee Koffman – 2016
  2. The World Was Whole by Fiona Wright  – 2018
  3. Accidental feminists – Jane Caro – 2019
  4. Stop Being Reasonable – Eleanor Gordon-Smith – 2019
  5. Remembered Presences – Alison Croggon – 2019 
  6. The Rest is Noise – A. Ross – 2007
  7. Can You Tolerate This – A. Young (2016)


  1. Leadership: In Turbulent Times – D. K. Goodwin – 2018
  2. Appeasing HitlerTim Bouverie – 2019
  3. How to Hide an Empire – Daniel Immerwahr – June 2019
  4. Rendezvous With Destiny:  M. Fullilove – 2013 
  5. Passchendaele: Requiem for Doomed Youth – Paul Ham  2018
  6. Serving our Country by J. Beaumont & A. Cadzow – April 2018
  7. The Impeachers: Trial of Andrew Johnson – B. Wineapple (2019)
  8. The Pope Who Would Be King: Exile of Pius IXD. Kertzer  (2018)
  9. Medieval Lives -T. Jones – 2005
  10. On the Natural History of Destruction – W.G. Sebald – 2004
  11. An American Summer: Love/Death in Chicago –  A. Kotlowitz (2019)
  12. Winners Take All:  –  Anand Giridharadas (2018)
  13. No Visible Bruises –  Rachel Louise Snyder  (2019)
  14. Assad or We Burn the Country –  Sam Dagher (2019)
  15. The Light that Failed –  Stephen Holmes and Ivan Krastev (2019)
  16. Remembering Emmett Till –  Dave Tell (2019)
  17. How to be a Dictator – Frank Dikötter (2019)
  18. An Impeccable Spy: Stalin’s Master Agent – Owen Matthews (2019)
  19. Schism –  Paul Blustein (2019)
  20. Rise and Kill First: Secret History Israel’s Assassinations – R. Bergman


  1. The Way of the Strangers: Encounters With the Islamic State G.Wood
  2. Silent Invasion by Clive Hamilton – 2018
  3. The China Model – Daniel Bell – 2016 – READING
  4. Talking to My Daughter: A Brief History of Capitalism – Y. Varoufakis
  5. The Age of American Unreason in a Culture of Lies  – Susan Jacoby
  6. The Meritocracy Trap – Daniel Markovits (2019)
  7. Unbound: How Inequaity Contricts Our Economy – Heather Boushey (2019)
  8. Comrade Ambassador: Whitlam’s Beijing Envoy  – S. FitzGerald – Sept 2015 
  9. Everything Trump Touches Dies:  – R. Wilson
  10. Siege: Trump Under Fire – M. Wolff
  11. The Threat: How FBI Protects America  – A. G. McCabe – (2019)
  12. The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America – G. Packer – (2013)
  13. Catch and Kill: – Ronan Farrow – (2019)
  14. A Warning – Anonymous  (2019)
  15. Thomas Merton on Peace -T. Merton – 1971
  16. The Unmaking of the Precidency – S. Hennessey,  B. Wittes  (2020)
  17. A Very Stable Genius – Carol Leonnig, Philip Rucker (2020)

Science/Climate Change/Technology

  1. The Best Australian Science Writing 2017  M. Sleazak, E. Johnston
  2. Cosmic Chronicles: A user’s guide to the universe Fred Watson
  3. Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore Elizabeth Rush
  4. The New Rules of War: Victory in the Age of Durable Disorder – Sean McFate
  5. The Uninhabitable Earth: A Story of the Future – David Wallace-Wells
  6. Good Reasons for Bad Feelings –  Randolph Nesse
  7. I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life – Ed Yong (2016)

#Corona update 26.03.2020


What have Mork (isolation partner) and

..I done during first 10 days of ‘silence and solitude?


  1. 3 x 5 km walks
  2. Spring cleaning downstairs
  3. celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with Irish Coffee
  4. prayed with the Pope yesterday at noon Pater Noster’
  5. 3 loads of laundry
  6. foam rolled…ouch!
  7. learned difference between recession and depression on CNN
  8. 2 x received online groceries.
  9. guy just puts things on my doorstep, takes a big step back and I pay online
  10. 1 x trip to vet’s to get cat’s kidney diet food (forgot to stock up)
  11. read NOT one book…b/c I was glued to the TV + Andrew Cuomo’s pressers
  12. turned OFF Trump’s Coronavirus ‘rallies’
  13. ….I refuse to watch b/c 25% of update is about him!
  14. Treats?
  15. ice-cream, popped corn and drizzled melted butter on it for movie night
  16. finished 250 gr choc Easter eggs.
  17. Stay save
  18. #StayTheF**kHome

Update:  27.03.2020

Please …read this article in English by British science journalist Ed Young (1981). He explains in very clear words how this pandemic will end. #CoronaNotOver @ Easter, Mr Trump!

How the Pandemic Will End  by Ed Young


UPDATE: 21.03.2020

#Corona  Break


#Corona Break

  1. Time to do what must be done to stay safe.
  2. I am in ‘self-solitude’ for the next 3-4 weeks.
  3. I have enough books, Netflix,
  4. …Irish Whisky/wine and chocolate Easter Eggs.
  5. …and get my groceries online and delivered to my door.
  6. Mork (cat) has has volunteered to be my isolation partner
  7. but has warned me that he sleeps 18 hours a day
  8. ….puuuurfect….nice and quiet!
  9. Stay safe and
  10. #StayTheF**kHome

#ReadIreland 2020 Station Island (67 poems)

  • Author: Seamus Heaney
  • Title: Station Island
  • Published: 1984
  • Dedicated to:  Irish playwright Brian Friel
  • List of Challenges 2020
  • Monthly plan
  • #ReadingIrelandMonth20
  • #Begorrathon20



  1. Station Island is an intensebook of 67 poems
  2. …each one worth you reading time.
  3. The poems left me breathless.
  4. It took me 2 days to read 123 pages!!
  5. Reading Seamus Heaney’s poetry is only
  6. known by experience…rather than reason.
  7. Favorite poem: Station Island nr XII
  8. Seamus meets his last guide on the pilgrimage
  9. …James. Joyce.
  10. Joyce’s advice is timeless
  11. …not only meant for Heaney…but for us all:
  12. “Let go, let fly. forget.
    You’ve listened long enough.
    Now strike your note.”
  13. Joyce urges the complete opposite of the
  14. collective Catholic pilgrimage (Station Island)
  15. …but favors individualism!
  16. In other words
  17. ….shed your Catholic orthodoxy and reveal a new self.
  18. #ChapeauAuBas
  19. ….Seamus Heaney!
  20. #MustRead

#ReadIreland 2020 Tom Murphy


  1. The Wake is set in the 1990s.
  2. Vera is a lonely, exiled prostitute
  3. returning from New York to her native
  4. …town to mourn her grandmother.
  5. But she has also inherited a family hotel
  6. …which her siblings covet.
  7. When Vera learns the true
  8. …circumstances of grandmother’s death.
  9. she decides on an unusual course of action.


  1. Now, after reading this introduction I wanted to
  2. find out what did Vera really do with her hotel?
  3. That was my only smart move.
  4. The play was a slapdash of arguments,
  5. singing, swearing and a grande mélange à trois
  6. …to shock her family and the reader.
  7. The play was a mess on paper.
  8. I can’t imagine having to sit it out in a theatre.
  9. At least I could  read it with a toothless comb.
  10. No, Tom Murphy can do better.
  11. Here are two of his plays worth reading!
  12. Alice Trilogy and Famine.

Last thoughts:

  1. The kindest thing I can say about this play is
  2. enjoy the journey, but realize
  3. you’re going to roll your eyes
  4. in disbelief a lot on the way.
  5. #WasteOfTime

#ReadIreland 2020 Jennifer Johnston

  • Author:  Jennifer Johnston
  • Title:  The Christmas Tree
  • Published: 1981
  • Genre:  novella (168 pg)
  • Reading time: 4 hours
  • List of Challenges 2020
  • Monthly plan
  • Trivia: Jennifer Johnston (Dublin 1930) was awarded a
  • Lifetime Achievement Award 2012 from the Irish Book Awards. 
  • #ReadingIrelandMonth20
  • #Begorrathon20
  • Rating: A+++++++



  1. Jennifer Johnston is not a trendy read.
  2. She is 90…so she is not on the best sellers lists
  3. But my goodness…don’t let her writing pass you by!
  4. I won’t even give you a clue what it is about
  5. …I want you to discover it from page 1 by yourself.
  6. Her books are about relationships.
  7. This book was IMO about the sister-sister connection.
  8. I got goosebumps when I read the following lines….about
  9. a sister you really cannot get close to
  10. …try as hard as I have done:
  11. “We have a lot of genes an some memories in common.”
  12. Her stories are low key and personal but far from sentimental.
  13. Jennifer Johnston is underappreciated.
  14. But she is very good at what she does.
  15. Roddy Doyle considers Jennifer Johnston Ireland’s greatest writer.
  16. I had a ‘Trevor-shiver’ after reading the last page.
  17. The same feeling I have  when I read a William Trevor short story….
  18. #Unforgettable
  19. PSTwo Moons is another one of her books…not to be missed!

#ReadIreland 2020 Oscar Wilde

  • Author:  Oscar Wilde
  • Title:  Woman of No Importance
  • Premièred : 19 April 1893
  • Genre:  “skeleton-in-the-closet”  play
  • Reading time: 2 hours
  • List of Challenges 2020
  • Monthly plan
  • #ReadingIrelandMonth20
  • #Begorrathon20


Finished: 05.03.2020
Rating: A+++


  1. Woman of No Importance satirizes upper-class English society
  2. at the end of the 19th C.
  3. It takes place, for the most part, in the homes of
  4. the rich and powerful, where Lord, Ladies,
  5. and Archdeacons socialize and gossip about their contemporaries.
  6. In this play the gossip is about Mrs. Arbuthnot
  7. …a woman of no importance.
  8. How many of us have this play in the bookcase
  9. …in The Complete Works of Oscar Wide?
  10. I have overlooked Wilde’s plays
  11. ….and I am the lesser for it.
  12. There’s a difference between the play as cultural work of art
  13. …and the play as entertainment,
  14. …in the same way that there’s a
  15. difference between a classical symphony and a musical.
  16. No, this play does not have the
  17. …gravitas of Death of a Salesman (A. Miller)
  18. …but is does have the emotion of the heart of a man (Oscar Wilde)
  19. …who has known joy….but also great suffering.
  20. The play touched a heart-string.
  21. #Bravo…Oscar Wilde



#Play A Doll’s House


  1. This was a very easy play to read.
  2. The dialogue is …
  3. clean, simple, evocative, alive and easily spoken.
  4. In Act III when Nora finally finds her voice she
  5. pummels her husband….who can’t handle the truth!
  6. #MustRead  classic play!
  7. This play is an audience favorite:
  8. Film adaptations with Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Jane Fonda and Juliet Stevenson
  9. Stage production is planned June 2020 London with Jessica Chastain.

  1. At the moment a spin-off is on stage in London.
  2. Nora: A Doll’s House –> Young Vic Theatre in London.
  3. Stef Smith’s adaptation of the Ibsen play sends the title character on a time-traveling mission,
  4. exploring how far women’s rights have progressed in the last 100 years.
  5. The play re-frames the drama in three different time periods:
  6. the women’s suffrage movement,
  7. the Swinging ’60s in London, and
  8. present day.
  9. The play was recently named a finalist for the 2020 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.

Structure: Three act play:

Act 1: exposition (married life, Christine returns)
Act 2: rising action (Nora’s secret is discovered!)
Act 3: climax and resolution occur simultaneously (Nora…walks out the door with her baggage!).

Well-made play:

  1. This created a sensation in 19th C Royal Theatre Denmark on 21 December 1879!
  2. Ibsen broke with the traditional well-made play  structure.
  3. The well-made play  from 19th C first codified by French dramatist Eugène Scribe
  4. …with 5 equal parts  in 5 acts:  exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, denouement.


  1. Problem play…
  2. …character Nora is  in conflict with a social issue or institution ( marriage)
  3. Ibsen presents in A Doll’s House the
  4. treatment of women ( unequal)
  5. particularly the entrapment of women …in marriage
  6. in a very realistic manner.

Timeline: 3 days

  1. The play begins on Christmas Eve and
  2. concludes the day after Christmas… the 26th.

Main characters:

  1. Nora and Torvald (married)
  2. Christine (BFF)
  3. Nils – employee at Torvald’s bank
  4. Dr Rank (family friend)

Quickscan:  (…no spoilers)

  1. — The institution of marriage was sacrosanct in 19TH C
  2. — This play was highly controversial and elicited sharp criticism.
  3. — Nora Helmer gains the reader’s empathy.
  4. Nora’s change: sheltered 19th C child wife….to mature woman who finds her voice
  5. Theme: woman trapped in a patriarchal society (…loveless marriage)
  6. Foils:   Nora —> Christien (friend); Torvard (husband) —> Nils (employee)
  7. Foils:   partners Nora and Tovard —> partners Christine and Nils
  8. Symbol: most important is the Christmas tree —> beautiful, admired, decorated
  9. …parallel with Nora. During the play the tree loses it’s splendour, ornaments as does Nora
  10. …appearing in a bedraggled state.

Contrast relationships:

Nora and Tovald:
NO…communication openly.
NOT honest with each other
NO respect for each other
KEEP secrets (…at least Nora does…)
UNEQUALS – man controles and is above wife
NO true love

Christine and Nils —> exactly the opposite!
YES…communication openly.
YES honest with each other
YES respect for each other
NO kept secrets


#Classic The Lottery



  1. Even thought I knew how the story ended
  2. …I felt a dread.
  3. This horror of the ending  and the even cheery,
  4. …atmosphere of the scene
  5. …small town USA just rattled this reader.
  6. Narrative  style: deadpan, 3rd person
  7. Strong point: unexpected shock of the ending
  8. Tone: calm
  9. Point of the story:  expose how people seize upon a scapegoat
  10. …release the cruelties that people seem to have dammed up within themselves.
  11. Trivia: story is taught in high school for decades
  12. …often referred to as the best-known short story of the 20th century.
  13. #Classic

#Play Tony Award Best Play 1984

Jeremy Irons and Glenn Close

  • Playwright:  Tom Stoppard (1937)
  • Title: The Real Thing
  • Genre: play
  • Opening night: 1982
  • Trivia: Tony Award for Best Play 1984
  • Trivia: Tony Award for Best Revival Play 2000
  • List of Challenges 2020
  • Monthly reading plan

Finished: 27.02.2020
Genre: play


  1. Playwright Henry (J. Irons)  and
  2. ….actress Annie (G. Close)  fall in love
  3. while cheating on their spouses.
  4. They then marry and cheat on each other.
  5. Core message:
  6. Reality catches up with those who ignore it (2 married couples).
  7. Art (playwriting) is no longer impossible imaginings
  8. …but what is really happening.
  9. — investigating adultry
  10. — questioning the nature of true love
  11. Title: The Real Thing…finding “the real thing” in second marriages
  12. Type play: semi-autobiographical…Tom Stoppard is divorced and remarried.
  13. Literary device Stoppard uses a theatrical device, the play-within-a-play.


  1. I am trying to read 50 Best Plays of the last 100 years.
  2. The Real Thing by Tom Stoppard is nr. 20 on the list.
  3. Characters stumble to enlightenment….
  4. but realize that marriage is the ties that bind
  5. …and strangle.
  6. Dialogue is a combination of
  7. …chit-chat and philosophical discussion
  8. on the nature of true love.
  9. The writing is interesting, but a bit belabored
  10. Stoppard is trying too hard to be clever.
  11. Probably The Real Thing
  12. …must be seen on the stage.
  13. It won 2 Tony Awards
  14. …so Stoppard must be doing something right.
  15. Still it is ….not my kind of play.