What’s on your bookshelf #22

Another month, another look at what has been on my, and other’s bookshelves.  The what’s on your bookshelf challenge is hosted by fellow bloggers DebSueDonna and Jo. The idea is to share what you’re reading, what you’ve enjoyed lately share – why they resonated with you, how they made you feel, who are your favourite authors and what you recommend. As usual I have read a very mixed set of books, although also as usual, there is some detective fiction there. I’m also posting early as….well Wellington on a Plate is on!


First up is Curtis Sittenfeld’s latest work Romantic Comedy. As the title implies, the book is about falling in love after all sorts of false starts and a happy ending. The main protagonist is a sketch writer for a show that resembles the US series ‘Saturday Night Live’ (which I confess to have only watched half of once and failed to find funny), who falls in love with a musician who appears on the show. I really like Sittenfeld’s work, but found this hard to get into, which may have been my mood at the time. I thought this review from The New York Times was good, and pretty much says what I think of the book.

A very different book that I am not sure about is Natsuko Imamura’s The Woman in the Purple Skirt. I found this book slightly disturbing, with its unnamed lead character who becomes obsessed with the Woman in the Purple Skirt who she sees in a nearby park and around the neighbourhood. One review I read said described it as an ‘off kilter farce’. but to me it was an unsettling read and left me with an unpleasant feeling at the end. Well, each to their own!

I also listened to an audio book, Tom Mead’s Death and the Conjuror, which was fun to listen to though not sure I would have read it – anyone else pick different books for listening to and reading?

New Zealand authors

The theme for our next book club is ‘holidays’, so I took a wander round the library and decided on re-reading Ngaio Marsh’s When in Rome. It is one of her later works (1970) and the 26th to feature ‘her’ detective, Roderick Alleyn. Inspector Alleyn travels to Rome to investigate drug trafficking. While there, he meets a motley crew of people, all taking a tour of historic sites in the city, and of course helps the local police uncover the events around two murders. As ever in Marsh’s books, the characters are so well drawn that you can vividly see them in front of you. Along with a story that twists and turns, this is a fun read.

So to a very different work. How to describe Tauhou by Kōtuku Titihuia Nuttall? The publisher’s website describes it as ‘an inventive exploration of Indigenous families, womanhood, and alternate post-colonial realities by a writer of Māori and Coast Salish descent’.  This is a book unlike most, with a subtle mix of poetry and prose set in a world in which Māori and Coast Salish peoples in Canada meet. Themes such as climate change (very powerful description of housing on stilts in water), colonialism, and generational trauma are explored, though my favourite passages were those describing tattoos and tattooing in both cultures. I stumbled across this book after listening to an episode of The Bookshelf and am so glad I did. It is a very different read, so might not appeal to all. The title, tauhou, refers to a small bird we see quite frequently in our garden, also known as a silver eye due to the distinctive markings around the eyes.

The non-fiction corner

I finally finished Letters from Tove, a collection of letters written by Tove Jansson covering her life and people she knew. This is more of a dipping in and out book than a cover to cover, but it was really interesting read, and gave a great insight into her life.

To end, a cheat read, the latest copy of dish magazine, as I had to get some food related reading matter in here somewhere. There was an article about the chef behind Chaat Street which visited on Sunday. Oh and yes – lots of interesting recipes too!

So to the ratings for this month:

  • Curtis Sittenfeld Romantic Comedy – 4 comedy shows
  • Natsuko Imamura The Woman in the Purple Skirt – 3 skirts
  • Ngaio Marsh When in Rome – 5 photographs
  • Kōtuku Titihuia Nuttall Tauhou – 5 tauhou
  • Tove Jansson Letters from Tove – 4 letters if you are interested in her life!

That is me for this month – what have you been reading? #whatsonyourbookshelf.

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. Through our interlibrary loan system, I’ve requested “Romantic Comedy.” After reading your enigmatic review, I am so curious as to what I will think of it. I like Curtis Sittenfeld but would not categorize her as a favorite. As for Saturday Night Live…used to love it when I was younger, but I haven’t watched it for a long time. Maybe it’s a young American thing?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I would be really interested to know what you think of ‘Romantic Comedy’ – I did like it but there was something that didn’t sit right. I know that a point was being made, and the plot was definitely ‘rom com’ but…. Maybe because as I am neither young nor American I don’t get Saturday Night Live 😀

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I think you’re right about SNL for I used to watch it when I was younger and haven’t in a long while. The other day one of the comedians from SNL got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Both hubby and I went “who?” Never heard of him and I think he’d been on the show 20 years.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I do think it’s aimed at a young audience. I remember laughing like crazy when I watched that show back in the day. Like you, I haven’t watched SNL for a long time and really don’t have any desire to.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Ngaio Marsh is great to pick up – she’s one of the so called ‘golden age’ detective fiction and regarded as one of the ‘queens of crime’. Most of the books are set in the UK, but there are a couple during WW2 set in New Zealand.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have tried to watch Saturday Night Live several times and I don’t get most of the humor in most of their comedy sketches; just not my style at all, but that book you read sounds pretty fun and.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Barbara, what a great lineup! Thanks for joining us for WOYBS and the theme of holiday for your bookclub sounds interesting – do you all pick different books on a certain theme?

    Liked by 1 person

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