Six Degrees of Separation is a meme hosted by Kate over at Books Are My Favourite and Best. It works like this: each month, a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six others to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the titles on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain.
Prompted by the pandemic, we’re starting this month with Jenny Oddell’s How to Do Nothing which I haven’t read but I gather is about focusing our attention rather than having it shredded by the many demands on it, not least social media. I think I should read it given my inability to give that up.
Lisa Owens’ Not Working immediately popped into my head, all about a young woman who hands in her notice with a sigh of relief only to find that life without structure is not quite the joyous experience she’d expected. I’ve read this one but beyond the above synopsis, not much has stayed with me.
Which leads me to Helen Ellis’ American Housewife, a collection of short stories all about women filling their days without a job to go to. Once again, not one that’s stayed with me despite its rave reviews.
Martha Batala’s The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao shares the hair curlers which feature on the jacket of Ellis’ book and spans twenty years in a Brazilian housewife’s life. Left with parents who pin all their hopes on her when her sister disappears, Euridice marries a respectable banker who fails to understand her brilliance. Then, one day, her sister turns up. Euridice’s story is told with a smart, playful humour, sharp enough to flag the serious side of this salutary tale about the dangers of becoming a good girl. As you can probably tell this one became a favourite for me.
Invisible leads me to its opposite, part of the title of Kim Echlin’s novel, Under the Visible Life, another favourite of mine, which celebrates friendship through two very different women bound by their love of music.
Music is also the theme of Daisy Jones and the Six which kicked off January’s Six Degrees, about a ‘70s rock band which implodes at the height of its fame. I have a copy sitting on my shelves yet to be read.
Not wanting to be lazy, I’ve avoided my previous Daisy Jones and the Six link, plumping instead for a book whose author shares the titular protagonist’s first name – Daisy Johnson’s Everything Under about a young woman whose memory of her unorthodox childhood is stirred by a phone call. I’m sorry to say I gave up.
This month’s Six Degrees of Separation has taken me from a book about ways to pay attention to another I gave up, possibly because I wasn’t paying enough of that. Part of the fun of this meme is comparing the very different routes other bloggers take from each month’s starting point. If you’re interested, you can follow it on Twitter with the hashtag #6Degrees, check out the links over at Kate’s blog or perhaps even join in.