Five years happy birthday winstonsdad


Well I nearly missed this if it hadn’t been the fact I saw the notification of my anniversary today .Well five years for me is a milestone I never thought I’d reach and finally feel like a proper blogger now .So in Five years there has been 910 posts written , 452 books reviewed .94 countries covered in the blog ,10,500 comment left and replied ,5 shadow juries ,a lot of book pictures .I want to thank everyone who has visited the blog ,left a comment ,rt a post I written ,been inspired to read a book in translation.I now look forward too five more years getting to 500 books under review ,100 countries ( one nearer yesterday with an Estonian novel ) .I will return to reviews tomorrow with a promised Brazilian novel Blood drenched beard .Many thanks again blogging has given me so much more than I ever expected .

That was the month that was January 2013 – a quarter million milestone

snowy treeWell the nights are starting to lighten its been a busy month here at Winston’s tower ,some how shocked how I managed to get 14 books read this month but a number where rather short .I had a number of night shifts and was off for the last five days of the month .I managed to have a little more time than normal to read .Any way favourite book of the month Train to Budapest by Dacia Marani ,which I shall review early next month ,other honorable mentions go to The eleven by Pierre Michon and the two Donald Antrim reissues I read .A good book finding month as many of you may know I tend to have tight book finances ,when it comes to what is available to spend sad to say I had to return to Amazon after nearly a year just because of cost and availability of the books I want for three books ,I hope in summer trips out to cities with Amanda will mean I can buy books in shops I want .But the other side of this is I am a huge second-hand buyer and this month saw me hit gold with a number of penguins a Roman Gary ,Andre Gide ,Henrich Boll and a Samuel Beckett novel .Which eased my conscious re using amazon as some of  these books  are out of print and will be reviewed on here which I hope will get people to find them all out as they are   all writers I feel the need to read and think other people should these are the ones that explain modern literature in France and Germany as they tend to inspire or have been read by most modern writers in these countries .So the month ahead well here at Winston towers two dates spring to mind ,the first is valentines day as a romantic at heart I’ve my book ready for the day and will be spending time myself with the darling Amanda .The other date in my diary is Amanda’s birthday which may not be so bookish as she isn’t a huge reader but sure we will have a lovely time and I ll get her some great gifts .For the blog I sit on the verge of a quarter million views in my stats sometime today or tomorrow I will pass that total so thanks to every one who visits on a regular or just once all welcome  great that you all come and visit the blog .The picture at the top was taken in the middle of the month out with Winston in the middle of the snow .

What was your favourite book last month ?

Plans for next ?


Desert island disc -take two the reload

Late last year I did a desert island disc post but since then the choices have puzzled me and a recent chat with an old friend on Facebook has made me re think the list and also in the time in between I ve really found my personnel voice and find writing posts flows easier for me so want to redo list now and flesh out choice with reasons .I love desert island disc and since the archive has come online spent a lot time looking at choices of past guests have made in the show .so for take two here are my choices and the reasons for them .

1.Better together – Jack Johnson – I choose this last time I know ,it is a mellow tune but is the first song we had at our wedding and is Amanda and I song .Because we are better together I feel like I ve lost an arm when we re apart ,we get on so well together every minute together is precious to me .so it will always be here in a desert island disc list .


2.Blue ridge mountains by Fleet foxes – I fell in love with the voices of the fleet foxes when I first heard them ,it was one of those moments you hear a song and know the band will be in your collection for ever ,this track from the debut album make me think of the wild places I ve been in my life ,a windswept beach in Donegal ,the moor in Northumberland or driving through the highlands on a summer day .

3.When I ‘m dead and gone – fury in the slaughterhouse ,the german rem or u2 they’ve been called this from the bluesy album mono ,a dark album about death mainly this song  about how your remembered is my favourite by them .This to me is a secret band not well-known here ,I found out about them in the time I lived in Germany and it reminds me of that year there .


4.Drowners – suede – this was huge when it came out the new smiths was the take ,gritty lyrics and clashing guitars made it a teenage anthem ,I remember buying it in Kirkcaldy in a small indie record shop there and listening to it at my aunties ,it reminds me of summers in Fife with family strange for a dark song but I always make connections between time and places with what I listen to so if this is dark it makes me think of happy times .

5. Fake empire – the national – this was used as part of Obama campaign ,I got into national via a track on a magazine CD .This is an album that is always on my I-pod nano so it makes me thing of Winston for some reason this album boxer and this track in particular is great dog walking music ,especially on a dark night .

6.I wanna go to marz – John Grant – this is a soulful song about a childhood sweet shop but much more than that ,from an album that I ve played to death since I ve got it ,John grant was the lead singer of the czars and I got their album via my best friend Steve so in some ways this albums reminds me of the great night s of my twenties when Steve, Leon ,my brother Duncan and I went out every friday and saturday drinking round town .I remember the characters we meet the bars and route we took week after week .

7.Late night ,Maudlin street by Morrissey – Well anyone that knows me knows I couldn’t go to a desert island without Morrissey or the smiths I have had a love /hate relationship with him and his music I was a smiths fan and love his debut solo album which this is from this is one of his longest songs and I think one he revealed some of his own life on a song set in the seventies about urban life .I m reminded of the day I brought the album at beat route records in Congleton and the fact for a long time after they had an australian copy with a title misprint on of “education in reverse ” the run out groove message on the vinyl album ,not “viva hate” the actual title .

8.Mfwany by Sir John Betjeman – This is one of his poems set to music ,he record these in the seventies but it took twitter to get to me ,although Morrissey had used a different track as a show opener on his tour .I just love his voice the tone of it and this song in particular .

Book – essays by Ben Okri – a change I choose Proust but I feel this would keep my mind alive Okri essays in his two collections the first of which I ve read m\ke you question books myths ,utopias and the Arcadian myth to name some .

Luxury – same as last time a digital photo frame with my wedding the best day of my life   and a couple of pictures of Winston so I’ll  have all I love and hold dear to look at .

There I feel this is a better post than the first ,my friend on Facebook said I live on   memories and I do but also live for today because as some one said you have to see where you’ve been to see where your going ,that is very true I think .

What would you choose and why ?


Four things for a sunday

I ve seen this Meme on thomas at my porch and Amy reads so had a think and have  choosen my choices –

Four jobs I ve had in my life –

  1. Barman – worked in a busy pub when I was 18 ,great fun at the time .
  2. packing person – I work in a german factory packing things ,it was boring but great fun as co workers mainly students and refugees so wonderful banter .
  3. bike repair man – this also in germany in a charity workshop ,learnt how to fix a bicycle .
  4. support worker – current job I love it ,great to see what good we can do for the people we support .

Four books I would read over and over –

  1. Ring of Saturn W G Sebald – A book that gives every time you read it .
  2. Ulysses by James Joyce – I feel I could read this a hundred times and still not get fully !
  3. The complete Holmes – I read a bit of him every few week a short story here and there ,I watch the films all time ,just love Holmes .
  4. Don Quixote by Cervantes – a book for sure I m going to reread over the years .

Four places I ve lived –

1.Poyton where I grew up til early teens a small village on edge of peak district

2.Alnwick – famous for its castle featured in Harry potter films and its home to barter books one of the UK largest secondhand bookshops which opened whilst I lived there .My flat was just behind the castle on the non pretty side .

3.Kleve – home of anne of Cleves and the german artist Joseph Beuys ,a pretty town centre and great market .

4.Chesterfield where I live now is a wonderful market town and living two mins walk from work is wonderful .

Four books I would recommend –

1.Underworld by  Don DeLillo  – a wonderful insight into 20th century america .

2.Suitable boy by Vikram Seth – like underworld but about india and four families there .

3.Fado by Andrzej Stasiuk – A journey round eastern europe post communism .

4.The plague by Albert Camus – The full spectrum of human life in this book .

Four places I ve been –

1.Donegal – I stayed in a thatched cottage with family ,my dad goes back every year or two. A peaceful place with great cliffs and wonderful beaches .

2.Torquay – spent my honeymoon with the lovely Amanda here .

3.Elie – spent my youth here on beaches ,walking playing sport with my younger brother at our grans

4.portugal – I love the place been once want go again !

Four favourite foods –

1.hand made pasta in a simple tomato sauce – mmm

2.soda bread – toast with cheese on .

3.wheaten bread with jam .

4.salmon with a nice salsa .

Four favourite drinks – – dark with out milk ,most of all double espresso with a good creme on top .

2.Jaipur IPA – a local brewed beer to me ,easy tasting but very strong .

3.ravenswood lodi – a mid price red wine from old vines ,wonderful flavours .

4.colheita -Andresen is brand I ve drunk in past ,a gift from my younger brother .

Four places I d rather be right now –

1- nowhere at home with Amanda at moment best place to be .

2. Elie – A place full of happy memories for me .

3.Torquay – same as Elie our honeymoon . a bookshop .

Four thing special in my life –

1. Amanda – most important thing in my life .

2. Family – got some great family .

3 . Winston  – he is a one-off and may be naughty some times but love him all the same .

4. My job – every day we help people we support ,help them achieve the best they can.

5 . Books – a fifth thing they are important but family is more so !

Thanks what would you choose 

Bloggiesta wrap up and a question

Well my quiet Bloggeista was a success .What I did –

  • updated what I m reading and put all challenge badges up
  • updated blogroll
  • Start working on about me ,want make this perfect this time so another day or two to muse
  • wrote two reviews
  • commented on new blogs

This was quite productive given the time I had ,I also finished a book and read my first bit of war and peace .

Question –

I m not a huge audiobook fan but would like to try one or two anyone any suggestions on the line of what I read anyway or something simply brilliant that you’ve listen too in the past ? All suggestions welcome .


Come dine with writers

I love to watch the show come dine with me ,shown here in the uk it involves four or five in old episodes people going a three course meal and then mark each other ,part the entertainment is the food and the other part is the chat ,well I thought what would be the best writers to do this with ?so I came up with three .

HARUKI MURAKAMI –sure later this year well all be Murakamied out with the challenge running but sure he would be a fascinating dinner guest how his mind work and maybe the chance of Japanese food would be great mix .also his taste in music isn’t half bad as well .

JAMES JOYCE – Joyce like Murarkami is a deep thinker and a complex guy with a wonderful way with words ,but I feel there would be loads of drink on his night as well the black stuff would flow and people relax and maybe eat some of the traditional Irish dishes I grew up eating when on holidays at my grans when young ,like soda bread mmm


winner 2010 sofi oksanen



SOFI OSKANNEN – She looks pretty and I ve never tasted Baltic cooking be interest what she’d make also ,sure she is also a passionate person to chat with that is one of the main things I got from Purge is her passion for the people she wrote about .


desert island disc

Well Simon and Richard have put down list for there desert island discs ,well I am a huge fan of the show having listen since roy plumleys time showing my age there lol . Over years have jot my eight records down ,but when I come to write a post that other people are going to see my mind went blank to start with ,then it was all new stuff but after a think and bearing in mind the records are meant to be with you for a peroid of time a mix of what is tried and test and maybe one or two new was the way to go .


1.better together by Jack Johnson ,I first got into jack well before the wave of sucees with his first album as a fan of ben harper he had worked with jack ,but this song is “our song ” we both like it myself and my wife Amanda ,we had it for a dance at our wedding so it means a lot to me and reminds me of my darling wife .

2.Mercy seat by Nick Cave and the bad seeds – I heard this on the John peel show taped it and wore the tape out it is onw of his finest songs epic dark ,religous imagery and full on rock ,nick has mellowed over the years like I have been a tear away as a teen but this song evokes a time and places .

3.Golden lights by The smiths ,now as a teen I had the morrissey haircut glass etc ,he spoke to me then but over the years i fallen in and out of love with his music ,at moment I m in love again after a couple of great albums ,this song is funny and sums him up in a way ,he was a guide to a young man with troubles .

4.Black eyed dog by Nick Drake ,nick Drake was a wonderful guitar player and singer ,he died at a young age and this song about depression touched me at a time I had depression and of course has dog and I had a black dog at the time ,a soul searching song . will tear us apart ny Joy Divison now i grew up around north cheshire near macclesfield went college there ever since I can remember I ve love this song it was a anthem for me growing up ,both joy divison and new order have been bands Ive listen since teens and this brings back my school and first outings to pubs etc

6.Old King by Neil Young ,a song about neils dog enough said

7.razor blades ,,little pills and big pianos by James rhodes ,A collection of piano piece by James Rhodes his first album it is amzingly soothing record from a great self taught talent

8.hallelujah Jordan by hothouse flowers ,this irish band reminds me of my irish roots and the last summer at school it is a very summery album its on .

book proust in search of lost time (complete) a book I really really want to read at some point so may have time on desert island

luxury item – digital photo fram with picture of my wedding and my wife and of course winston .

well there is the 8 sure if you asked me next week sure they be different .


why winstonsdad ?





When I started the blog last year i pondered various names for it and ended up with winstonsdad ,which i must admit doesn’t immediately say it’s a book blog .Well to explain Winston is my lovely dog ,he was a rescue puppy found on the streets of Sheffield at a few weeks old .he was a huge puppy and a naughty puppy as he chewed me out of house and home ,biting the stair tables and even the ear of my teddy I’d had as a baby ,but this passed and he grew up ,now six plus years later he tends to sleep most of the day and loves going for walks along the canal ,where he tries to take a dip most of the time .this leads to a guilty pleasure confession I love dog books like Marley and me ,walking Ollie ,they always  upset me if there is an unhappy end but just enjoy hearing other dog owners stories . 

marley and me walking Ollie


walking ollie

books that defined me

i decide to do this meme post after reading a brilliant post by Claire at paperback reader ,the rules where as follows –

1.Go to your book cases

2.Choose books with your eyes closed

3.Choose ten at random ,use all of your bookcases or piles of books

4.Use the book to tell us about yourself where and when you got them ,who got them for you ,what the books say about you etc .etc….

5.Have fun be imaginative .doesn t matter if you ve not read them all

6.Cheat (i choose 14 )

Book one travels with a donkey in the Cevennes by R L Stevenson ,i got this about ten years ago ,from Chesterfield’s great flea market .I have always enjoyed travel books and also Stevenson’s books this is a lovely book and gave me a great couple of days reading ,ot is from the 30s and show my love of old books

Book two poems of Rimbaud (everyman pocket edition) apart from reading mainly novels poetry has always been a great love i got this book in a small independent bookshop that was open in Alnwick in 94 when i brought this sad to say the shop has long gone Rimbaud is one of france greatest poets alongside the like Baudelaire ,my old school teacher turn me on to poetry reading us poems by Keats Yeats and  Lawrence ,i ve read about two-thirds of the poems but always think a book of poems is for life

Book three the bad seed by william march this was a chance buy in Alnwick wonderful barter books got this shortly after it opened i had a feeling it had something to do with nick cave giving his band the name the bad seeds not sure if its true still but it is about a death and a psycho so it might of done ,i do impulse buy some times it pays sometimes it doesn t ,this time it did william march won the national book award with this in 1955 .

Book four Walt whitman selected poems (penguin popular poetry ) i brought this on a day in Leeds with my step mother shortly after seeing dead poets society where whitman features heavily in the plot line ,i love these poems like the film itself there is something about america of this time Thoreau, whitman,Melville and Emerson are all favourites of mine

Book five Saki shorts (phoenix) i have a few Saki collections one of my earliest memories is at my grandparents looking at there shelves and always be amazed by the name Saki when i was old enough i read them ,my grand mother was a english teacher and loves turn of century fiction saki is ther one of the best short story writers his stories make me laugh  ,he is surely due a revival at some point ,reading his stories bring back memories of great summers around the east neuk of fife with my brother and grandparents .

Book six in the heart of the sea Nathaniel Philbrick i got this because of the connection to moby dick ,and sad to say never read it i will now place it back on tbr pile as it had got shelved away in a bedroom ,adventure stories was a great passion in my teens from Willard price on to jack london ,then Melville .The sea has always drawn me and i love boats but have not sailed much except through books

Book seven the rebel Albert Camus ,my father brought this book for me when i lived in germany in the early nineties .a phone call for books and some promptly came a surprise at my father’s choice as he tends to read pulp thrillers and westerns ,Camus ‘s prose are lovely and was a great companion when i was in germany ,i remember been sat by the Rhine reading this book as the boats drifted by

Book eight the leopard Tomasi di Lampedusa this is one of my around the world reads for this year ,looking forward to reading it then watching the film to compare them .It is a perfect example of why i choose to do the round the world challenge to increase my own knowledge of world lit and strength my love of translated fiction .It will also remind me of my late grandfather who fought in italy but after the war spent nearly every summer there on holiday

Book nine white teeth Zadie smith i got this when it came out in paperback in Sheffield ,it seemed to encapsulate a start of the twenty-first century in our fair land pre 9 11 it is a truly great book and one i feel sure i will re read at some point ,it also mark the emergence of a great new talent in Zadie smith ,i spent a lot of time recommend this book to people

Book ten essays George Orwell ,this collection was a present from my parents ,they know of my love of Orwell and this collection is so diverse i spent christmas to new year reading it .reading Orwell was my first introduction to politics in writing as a thirteen year old reading animal farm ,over the years i ve read most of his books and think i will always go back to him

what do your books say about you?

does every book have a memory for you ?

June 2023


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