Triple Choice Tuesday

Triple Choice Tuesday: Yours Truly

Triple-Choice-TuesdayWelcome to Triple Choice Tuesday. This is where I ask some of my favourite bloggers and other bookish bods to share the names of three books that mean a lot to them. The idea is that it might raise the profile of certain books and introduce you to new titles and new bloggers.

Today’s guest is someone you already know: it’s me, Kim from Reading Matters!

I’ve taken the unusual step of taking part in Triple Choice Tuesday, instead of inviting someone else, because I thought it might be an interesting way to mark my birthday (which is today). Yes, I can now officially add the “something” to the “40”, but shhhhhhhh, don’t tell anyone.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s my Triple Choice Tuesday selections (and yes, they were bloody hard to choose; now I know why all my guests complain about it!):


JuniperTreeBurning A favourite book: Juniper Tree Burning by Goldberry Long

I have so many favourite books it’s difficult to name one here. Usually I nominate George Johnston’s My Brother Jack, which is my all-time favourite, but I thought I’d go for something a little off the beaten track. I can still remember the day I bought Juniper Tree Burning, from the now-defunct Books Etc in Festival Hall back in 2003. It was a spur-of-the-moment purchase. I knew nothing of the author and can’t even tell you why I thought the story of an angry young woman brought up by hippies in New Mexico would resonate with me so much, but it did. I raced through this book in a matter of days and even now, seven years down the track, I still think of the main character, Jennie, and her incredible upbringing and the emotional road journey she undertakes following the suicide of her younger brother. To find out more about the book please do read my review.

TheBarracks A book that changed my world: The Barracks by John McGahern

I could have listed dozens of books that fit this category, but I’ve opted for McGahern’s debut novel, which I read and reviewed in 2006, because it introduced me to a writer that truly opened my eyes to the beauty and emotional power of literature. I was so moved by this novel, about a woman who marries a much older man and then discovers she has breast cancer but tries to hide it from the people she loves, that I rushed out and bought the rest of McGahern’s novels. I’m not sure what astonishes me more when I look back on this: that he only wrote six between 1963 and 2003, or that I found them all sitting on the shelves of Waterstone’s Picadilly at the exact moment I wanted them.

CriesUnheard A book that deserves a wider audience: Cries Unheard: The Story of Mary Bell by Gitta Sereny

Gitta Sereny is an Austrian-born British-based journalist who has spent much of her career writing about moral culpability. She wrote an amazingly detailed but completely fascinating biography about Hitler’s architect, Albert Speer, and a similar one about Franz Stangl, the commandent of the Treblinka extermination camp. But it is this book about Mary Bell, an 11-year-old who was tried and convicted of manslaughter of two young boys in the late 1960s, that sticks in my mind more than any other.

Sereny followed the case from the very beginning, including the trial and subsequent imprisonment of Bell, and was always puzzled as to the girl’s motivations: what drives a young girl to carry out such horrendous acts? In 1995 she managed to convince Bell to be interviewed, and the book is a result of a year’s collaboration in which Sereny manages to unearth some startling revelations.

While Sereny attracted some flak for sharing the proceeds of the book’s publishing fee with Bell, this does not take away from the importance of Cries Unheard. It is a profoundly thought-provoking look at the ways in which we treat child criminals and should be read by anyone who cares for children or works with them — in other words, all of us. I am utterly convinced that even the most hardened right-wing reader will no longer rush to cast judgement about child crime once they’ve read Bell’s incredibly sad story.

So what do you think of my choices? Have you read any of these books? (Please note, normal Triple Choice Tuesday service will return as normal next week.)

31 thoughts on “Triple Choice Tuesday: Yours Truly”

  1. This can be taken as major suck-uppage, or undisguised sincerity, but I like YOUR T.C.T. faves the best so far! Kim, as an avid reader and random surveyor of book blogs, yours is my favorite (easily). You’d think as much as I’m slathering on the butter I’d be asking a favor–which I’m not. I’ve added sev authors to my TBR list as a result of your crystalline reviews. Will continue to check in daily. And !!HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! Glad to know we’re in the same decade. M


  2. Happy Birthday!
    I’ve been thinking about reading a Gitta Sereny book for a long time, but have overdosed on the Holocaust a bit recently so am thinking that Cries Unheard might be a better place for me to start. I’m going to see if my library has a copy 🙂
    I hadn’t heard of Juniper Tree Burning Before – It sounds wonderful. I’ve made a note of the title.


  3. Happy Birthday Kim! You’re only a couple of years in front of me (shhhhhhhh indeed – I won’t tell if you won’t).
    I haven’t heard of any of these books so I don’t know whether to thank you for introducing me to yet more wonderful sounding books or whether to berate you for making me buy more books I don’t need to put on my crumbling shelves.
    I’m off to check them all out!


  4. Thanks for your kind words, Mike. It always amazes me that this tiny pocket of the internet gets discovered and read on a daily basis by people who think it’s worth reading. Ultimately I write this blog for myself, so it’s lovely to know that other people enjoy the content too.


  5. Cheers, Annabel. I recommend starting with either The Barracks or Amongst Women to get a feel for McGahern’s low-key style. Some of the other books can be hard work, so this is a way in, if you will. I can also highly recommend his memoir, which explains a lot about how he came to write The Barracks (his mother died of cancer when he was a young boy).


  6. Thanks, Jackie. Yes, I remember leaving a comment on your blog quite a while ago about Sereny. I think you’d like her, as she’s not afraid of tackling dark and controversial issues but in a very intelligent, even-handed, sensitive way. I’ve read all her work, bar the book she wrote about prostitution, which has fallen out of print.
    I also think you’d really like Juniper Tree Burning, because it has such strong characters and a great plot. It’s quite dark, too.


  7. Happy Birthday!
    And it was lovely to see you selecting three books for a change! I can imagine that it is very hard to stick to just 1 for each category.


  8. The Goldberry Long book has been on my to-buy-list since I saw your 5-star review.
    Now I took the huge step to actually order the book from Amazon Marketplace, for the princely sum of £0.01 + postage…
    Happy B-day from a reader in Sweden!


  9. Happy birthday! Lovely choices there. I haven’t heard of any of them except for Sereny’s book, but that’s why I love Triple Choice Tuesdays! Bad for my wishlist!


  10. Happy Birthday, Kimbofo !
    “The Barracks” is an excellent novella, probably would be a good short starting book to get someone interested in literature.


  11. Happy birthday! That last book sounds particularly intriguing to me…I love well-written nonfiction, so I hope my library has it.


  12. Happy Birthday Kim, I know have already said so via other technology but wanted to add it here too.
    What a wonderful selection of books… that I have never heard of and now want to read. Oh Kim you are a bad influence I take it back!


  13. Happy birthday–and welcome to the club! 🙂 I always admire your book choices and your ability to write about them so thoughtfully. You’ve inspired me to pick up more books by Irish authors–I’ve got a couple of books by McGahern and Jennifer Johnston waiting for me and I will have to check out the other two authors you mention here. Hope you had a great day!


  14. Hi! Happy B-Day. I hope that you receive a beautiful cupcake and a beer from your guy!
    I haven’t read any of your pics, but they sound interesting.
    Any story about growing up with hippies causes tears.
    I am watching a reality show called Work of Art – The Next Great Artist.
    Peregine made something to remind her of the people that she grew up with and later died of AIDS.
    Here’s her work:
    Here’s an essay about the work:
    Some judges were almost crying; I was perplexed.


  15. Happy B-Day K!!!!!!!!!!
    I just picked up a first edition of McGahern’s collected short stories from the early 90’s 😀
    Also have to revisit ‘By the Lake’ and explore some of your top Irish lit recommendations soon…
    All the best


  16. Happy birthday!! And The Barracks is such a beautiful, understated book, it was the first McGahern book that I read and I still cherish it so much for that reason. His collected stories are brilliant as well – I finished reading those a couple of weeks ago and highly recommend them!


  17. Happy Birthday!
    Juniper Tree Burning does look good and I have been meaning to get to McGahern. Thanks for that extra kick in the pants. Sereny sounds interesting. I am getting to read Wiesel’s Night, so a Sereny novel on the same subject might make for a nice contrast. But I don’t know if 2010 can stand three more on the TBR. At least one has to wait until 2011….I need more time!


  18. Dear all, thanks so much for your kind words and comments. I had a lovely bookish day yesterday with visits to Foyles and the London Review of Books bookshop. I also enjoyed a very special afternoon tea, a couple of Japanese beers in the sun, and a delightful meal over a bottle of wine later in the evening. Bliss.


  19. What an interesting choice – and none of them I know!
    I read John McGahern’s short stories and also That They May Face The Rising Sun – all excellent of course, as he is a wonderful writer.
    Your Booking on Tuesday posts are very interesting and show how we vary so much in our tastes but help each other find undiscovered gems


  20. I believe I sent my birthday wishes on your post about how you celebrated it – but, really kimbofo, adding something to 40? You are so young. Isn’t 40 the new 20? Why, you’re barely of an age to drink! LOL. Love your selections. I know it might sound voyeuristic but the Mary Bell one sounds fascinating. Anyhow, thanks so much for doing a Triple Post. A real treat for your readers.
    Cheers, Sue


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