What’s on your bookshelf #15

It is time once again for what’s on my bookshelf, a monthly round up of books read – enjoyed or otherwise hosted by hosted by SueDonnaJo and Deb. I have to say that looking at the featured image at the top of the post, I have really managed to colour code my reading this month. Not deliberate of course but fun to see when I put them all together for the photos.

In what was a slow reading month again I needed an antidote to The Exhibitionist which I finished at the end of September (not a favourite, though well written). So, I picked up another Amanda Cross detective novel, A Death in the Faculty. Published in 1981, it is another in the series featuring crime-solving university academic, Kate Fansler. It was fine, not that brilliant, but quite interesting in parts about female academics at the time.

I had really enjoyed Louise Erdrich’s The Sentence earlier this year, so started The Night Watchman in a very positive frame of mind. Another great book, with a gripping story, the sort where you really want to know what happens at the end. Set in North Dakota in the 1950s, against the background of a threat to the rights of Native Americans to their land, it is a tale of family, of identity and of how the past affects our future. A great read, and one where you may learn a lot too.

A very different book that I also loved is Winter in Sockcho by French-Korean writer Elisa Shua Dusapin. This was an absolute delight, a little quiet gem of a book set in Sokcho, South Korea. It is a book that can be read in a day, and best accompanied by good tea and biscuits.

And so to food writing, and Small Fires by Rebecca May Johnson was another interesting book. Part amusing memoir, part a breaking down of typical food writing, part an account of the making of the same recipe over a period of ten years. There are some wonderful, quotable sentences such as ‘the route to the recipe is made by tongues’ ie taste and talk, and her images of tying on an apron are quite special.

I have yet to make anything from Mexcla, the eclectic and colourful new book from Ixta Belfrage, but you can see I have bookmarked quite a few things. The book title is about mixing flavours and ingredients and is “an ode to” the cuisine of Brazil, Mexico and Italy. The cheesy roasted aubergines with salsa roja sound good, as do the cannelloni enchiladas (such a great sounding mexcla of Italian and Mexican cuisine.

  • Amanda Cross A Death in the Faculty – 2 university professors
  • Louise Erdrich The Night Watchman – 3 watchmen
  • Elisa Shua Dusapin Winter in Sokcho – 3 squid
  • Rebecca May Johnson Small Fires – 2.5 aprons
  • Ixta Belfrage Mexcla – before trying any of the recipes – 2.5 chillies.

So that is my reading for this month. Have you read anything good, or any of the books I have read?

Thistles and Kiwis is a Wellington, New Zealand based blog written by Barbara, who likes cats, summer, good food and pretends to garden.

You can find Thistles and Kiwis on Facebook, and also on Instagram @thistlesandkiwis.  As for Twitter….am totally inactive these days.  If you want to get in touch, email me on thistlesandkiwis@gmail.com


  1. I always enjoy your reviews and highly recommend “The Etymologicon: a circular stroll through the hidden connections of the English language”. It is read-aloud funny in places and, apart from being highly entertaining, contains a lot of interesting snippets of information.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Looks like some very interesting reads. I have been really slacking in the reading department this past month. I’m not sure why. I have some great books to read I just need to get to them.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi, Barbara –
    Thank you so much for joining us again at What’s On Your Bookshelf. I am always very interested in what you have read…especially your food books. Small Fires sounded especially intriguing to me.
    I continue to love your book rating system!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We just had Book Group tonight – the title was Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. Everyone liked it, though some found the episodic structure frustrating, One woman said it was the best book we’d ever done! I wouldn’t go that far, but it was certainly very good.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I read that and quite enjoyed it – the follow up book was slightly better in my opinion. I have read other works by Elizabeth Strout and always like them if not my favourites.


  4. The highlight of your book reviews (for me anyway) is your rating system Barb, it says it all!! Thanks for joining us with your variety of interesting books.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m way late making the rounds this month–sorry! Too bad the Amanda Cross book wasn’t better. I’m an academic, and I’d love to find a great series of mysteries set in academia.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.