Six Degrees of Separation: Time Shelter

Well, I haven’t done this for a while… nine years, in fact!

Six Degrees of Separation is hosted by Kate of Books Are My Favourite and Best, and takes place on the first Saturday of every month. Everyone starts with the same book, and puts together their own chain of six more.

The starting book for July is the winner of this year’s International Booker Prize, and one of my favourites that I’ve read so far in 2023:

Time Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov (tr. Angela Rodel). The time shelter is a clinic that re-creates different periods of the 20th century, an immersive environment intended to jog its patients’ memories. Which reminds me of another novel involving elaborate re-creations of the past…

Remainder by Tom McCarthy. The protagonist of Remainder has had an accident that leaves him conscious of every little difficult movement. He spends his settlement money paying people to re-create his past environments, in the hope that he might capture the experience of living as he did then. There are also characters searching for authentic experience in…

Plume by Will Wiles. This novel concerns a lifestyle journalist who gets an interview with a reclusive cult writer, one who appears to have extraordinary insight into the social forces that underpin life in the city – into what makes it real. One of the recurring images is a cockatoo, and another novel in which birds feature prominently is…

Bird Cottage by Eva Meijer (tr. Antoinette Fawcett). This novel is based on the life of Gwendolen (Len) Howard, who conducts in-depth study of the birds near her Sussex home, though her work is rejected by the scientific establishment of the time. Len’s passion for studying birds is all-consuming, which brings me to another book about a deep interest…

Brian by Jeremy Cooper. Here, the main character’s interest is cinema, and he becomes a regular at the BFI, where the world of film opens up and enriches him. There are a lot of films mentioned in this book that I haven’t seen, but that didn’t stop me enjoying the book one bit, because it was so deeply felt. I had a similar reaction to…

The Wandering Pine by Per Olov Enquist (tr. Deborah Bragan-Turner). An autobiographical novel by a writer I didn’t know of beforehand. There was no reason for me to have any great expectations, but I just loved it. I would go so far as to say that The Wandering Pine has one of the most vivid depictions of childhood that I’ve read. I’ll finish this chain with another book about a life lived through most of the 20th century…

Homelands by Chitra Ramaswamy. An account of the friendship between the author and Henry Wuga, who fled Nazi Germany with his wife Ingrid. As Ramaswamy puts it, she and Henry might seem unlikely friends, “a middle-aged Indian woman [and] a white nonagenarian gentleman”, but there are points of connection between their lives. A good place to finish a post about connections.


  1. Well, welcome back to the best monthly meme in the whole book blogging world! Very interesting links here.

  2. All new to me titles except the last which I have waiting on my TBR and ought to have read by now. Enjoyed your chain!

  3. Nine years is a long time. You left before I became hooked! Nice to be reminded of Bird Cottage which I thoroughly enjoyed. I’d never head of Len Howard before let alone that she was internationally renowned.

    • I did it once because the starting book was The Luminaries, and never carried on. This one was quite fun – great to look back through the archives and jog my memory. I hope to make it a regular thing this time!

  4. We’ll, this is a tantalising chain, full of works which I don’t know, but now want to find. An intriguing list!

  5. I think you’re the only one of us to have read the starter book.
    There’s a feast of good reading in your choices.

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