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How to be both
How to be both: A novel | Ali Smith
SHORT-LISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZEPassionate, compassionate, vitally inventive and scrupulously playful, Ali Smiths novels are like nothing else. A true original, she is a one-of-a-kind literary sensation. Her novels consistently attract serious acclaim and discussionand have won her a dedicated readership who are drawn again and again to the warmth, humanity and humor of her voice. How to be bothis a novel all about arts versatility. Borrowing from paintings fresco technique to make an original literary double-take, its a fast-moving genre-bending conversation between forms, times, truths and fictions. Theres a Renaissance artist of the 1460s. Theres the child of a child of the 1960s. Two tales of love and injustice twist into a singular yarn where time gets timeless, structural gets playful, knowing gets mysterious, fictional gets realand all lifes givens get given a second chance.A NOTE TO THE READER:Who says stories reach everybody in the same order? This novel can be read in two ways, and the eBook provides you with both. You can choose which way to read the novel by simply clicking on one of two iconsCAMERA orEYES.The text is exactly the same in both versions; the narratives are just in a different order. The ebook is produced this way so that readers can randomly have different experiences reading the same text. So, depending on which icon you select, the book will read: EYES, CAMERA, or CAMERA, EYES. (Your friend may be reading it the other way around.) Enjoy the adventure. (Having both versions in the same file is intentional.)
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mklong
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Pickpick

I will not pretend that a lot of this didn‘t go over my head, but I loved it all the same. I love the way Smith leaves so much ambiguity, that you never get tired of turning it over and over in your mind afterward.

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JennyM
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Pickpick

#Booked2019 #GenreBusting

Within this book, a painting is used to tell two very different stories. As a reader, you are free to start with either George or Francescho, and I think who you get/choose makes for a very different reading experience. Luckily, I started with George.

Not my favourite from Smith, but she sure does push the envelope ✉️ 💥

Cinfhen Fantastic review and awesome pick ❣️ 9mo
Cinfhen I think @CarolynM said the same about reading the George section first! 9mo
erzascarletbookgasm Intriguing 9mo
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JennyM @Cinfhen @CarolynM I would have been very confused if I had Francescho first. But I did enjoy that story as well. It definitely fits the #genrebusting prompt. Her creativity is impressive 9mo
CarolynM I agree totally. 9mo
KatieMiller Interesting cover, probably interesting read..will check it out 9mo
JennyM @KatieMiller it‘s different. And welcome to Litsy. I read it for a reading challenge #Booked2019 co-hosted by one of the loveliest littens -Cindy @cinfhen. It‘s a fun challenge - no stress and a great way to make friends 😊 9mo
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CarolynM
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Pickpick

My copy has the George section first and I'm very glad it did because I am sure I wouldn't have known what was going on in the Francesco part otherwise. The George part is playful, funny sad and intriguing. The Francesco part has it's moments but mostly left me a bit cold. I'm not sorry I read this but I'm not at all sure what the point of it was either. A qualified pick.

Cathythoughts Great ! Interesting review... I loved Bel Canto , but I bailed on Commonwealth ... felt like they were written by two different writers. “ A qualified pick “ 🤔🤔I don‘t think I‘ll try this one ..... 9mo
JennyM I just got this from the library. Can‘t wait to read 9mo
juliannebenford I read this for my work book club and I started reading it in ebook which was the other way around. When we discussed it a few people said they wished they'd read Francesco first. I agree with your review, I liked it but didn't leave the book with a strong feeling. 9mo
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Cathythoughts Oh dear , I just realized I thought this was Ann Patchetts book ... I think the cover reminded me of Commonwealth 🙈🙈🙈. I have the flu .... that‘s my excuse .... sorry for the confusion 9mo
CarolynM @Cathythoughts The cover is very reminiscent of Commonwealth, isn't it? Hope you're feeling better.😘 9mo
Cathythoughts Thanks Carolyn, I‘m much better 👍🏻😘 9mo
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juliannebenford
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And this is my other book club book this month, also from the library. How to be Both is actually a really beat-up hardback but it looks deceptively good in this photo! I picked it up a couple of weeks ago and we had the book club meeting today. Most people liked it but didn't think it was particularly memorable.

Have you borrowed any good library books recently?

RebL Mmm. They are all good. 9mo
juliannebenford @RebL True! 😄 9mo
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Graywacke
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Pickpick

What struck me, as a first impression, is that Smith is being clever, everywhere, always, and it gives the whole book a playful feel that makes it both very thought-provoking and very entertaining to read. That's good, because I never really got what she was doing here with the adolescent George who recently lost her mother and the 15th-century lost master painter from Ferrara, whom George‘s mother was a little obsessed with. I didn't mind though.

CarolynM Just finished the first half. Like you I'm enjoying it but I'm not really sure what she's trying to say. 9mo
Graywacke @CarolynM Left me thinking. And every time I think about the book I wonder about it all over again. Which half did you have first? 9mo
CarolynM My copy begins with George. There's enough story there to fuel a whole novel but I assume I'm going to be left with all the loose ends. 9mo
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kathedron
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Pickpick

I'm glad to say I enjoyed this much more than "Autumn". There's plenty to think about (art, time, grief, gender) and, while I was initially wary of the authorial firework display, it doesn't descend to heartless cleverness.
Reading this book recalled vividly to mind the experience of reading Peter Ackroyd novels during my A-levels (similar theme of reality and time being less solid and linear than we tend to perceive), so I got to "be both", too!

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kathedron
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Song titles translated into Latin: be still, my geeking heart! (I got them all except Brown-eyed Girl 'cause I don't know that song.)

I made some non-dualistic muffins. Cranberry and Cheshire cheese. Neither/nor, both/and, sweet/savoury.

Cathythoughts I love Brown Eyed Girl ( Van Morrison, that‘s the one I‘m thinking of ) I would love those scones / muffins too 👍🏻 10mo
gradcat I would love for you to listen to “Brown Eyed Girl”...it‘s a great song! @Cathythoughts That‘s the one I‘m thinking about—I love Van Morrison 👩🏼👍❤️ 10mo
Nute Very cool post! 10mo
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SilversReviews That butterfly button is so pretty...is it a bookmark? 10mo
catebutler What a fun post! 10mo
kathedron @Nute @catebutler Thanks for telling me so! ❤ 10mo
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kathedron
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"Past or present? George says. Male or female? It can't be both. It must be one or the other."

It's not often that a novel's title is referenced so early on. This is page eight. Although, if my copy were to have the Francesco section first, this would be around halfway through, I suppose.

I'm intrigued as to why she released two versions of the book, and how this affects one's reading of it, depending on which version one has.

MrsMalaprop @Rissreads and I buddy-read this one, each of us with different versions 👏. 10mo
emilyhaldi Oooohh I didn't know there were two versions!! So interesting. 10mo
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Graywacke
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Trying this one on audio. I‘ve wanted to read Ali Smith, so happy to finally start one of her books.

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Moray_Reads
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1. Sushi 🍣🍣
2. Terry Pratchett or Ali Smith
3. Robin Hood (Disney) and Flynn Rider (Tangled)
4. Early bird
#friyayintro @howjessreads

MirrorMask Robin was a very attractive fox 12mo
FantasyChick Oh I loved Robin Hood so much. If any cartoon animal was ever crush worthy....it was him! 12mo
chaoticgoodhufflepuff I said Robin Hood too! 🦊 12mo
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Jee_HookedOnBookz I lurrrrrve sushi. I put Japanese food as mine ahahaa 12mo
Gezemice Terry Pratchett ❤️👍 12mo
Nessavamusic ❤️Robin Hood! 12mo
Moray_Reads @FantasyChick @blamethestardust @Nessavamusic He's a fox in every sense of the word 😉 12mo
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Rissreads
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Pickpick

#buddyread @MrsMalaprop
My book 1st half George, 2nd half Francesco.
I loved the story of George and could have read more about her. Francescho‘s story was interesting but harder to follow. The story crosses over time throughout which is confusing in parts. Regardless I still enjoyed it.
I loved that it introduced me to an artwork I had never heard of before! (Thanks google)
This is my first Ali Smith book. I will definitely read more from her.

MrsMalaprop Yay! Thanks for organising our little #buddyread 😊. Ali Smith is definitely worth reading more of. I have Autumn if you‘d like to borrow it. 13mo
vivastory I love Ali Smith, especially Artful & 13mo
Rissreads @MrsMalaprop thanks for indulging me! 13mo
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Jeg I guess I need to try her again! Perhaps 3rd time lucky. 13mo
Rissreads @Jeg If you do read this book I suggest reading my version of George‘s story first. I can give my copy to @MrsMalaprop if you like? No rush to return it. 13mo
Jeg Thank you @Rissreads , It‘s one of the ones I‘ve tried. I‘ll check out the library. I did have Autumn but I think I might have given it away. You seem to be having a relaxing , reading time. 😊📚 13mo
Rissreads @keg yes very relaxing but I didn‘t read as much as I would have liked! Too busy walking, swimming, watching whales, drinking, eating and sleeping! 13mo
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MrsMalaprop
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Pickpick

Finished our #buddyread @Rissreads 📚👏. Ali Smith is just so clever and inventive, playing around with time, gender and language. Very entertaining and thought provoking.

My version of the book started with Francescho & finished with George. My friend @Rissreads has George then Francescho. I found 15th century Francescho harder to follow & I wonder whether reading George first might‘ve made the book more accessible 🤔.

Still, a great read 😊.

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Rissreads
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What a beautiful spot to read! I‘m soooo lucky!
Bunker Bay, Margaret River. 😊

thegreensofa I love Margaret River! 😍 14mo
Alpaca_My_Book Wow!!!! 14mo
JennyM Beautiful 14mo
Jeg Lucky you.😊😊😊 13mo
MrsMalaprop Squeee! Enjoy 📚📚📚👓👓👓😍 13mo
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MrsMalaprop
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@Rissreads #buddyread
Finished Francescho. That was a trip😳🤔.
Now onto George.

#31bookpics @howjessreads #currentlyreading

Rissreads 👏🏻 14mo
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MrsMalaprop
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Starting this #buddyread with @Rissreads . Join us if you dare 🤗. It‘s written in two parts from the perspective of two narrators. Half the published books have George‘s 1960s story first & half have Francesco‘s 1460s. I have Francesco first & @Rissreads has George first. WTF? Mind blowing?!
Am so far reminded of Lincoln in the Bardo. Something about the poetic other worldly writing, & the struggling to figure out what the hell is going on 🤔😆.

Moray_Reads I heard Ali Smith talk about this in August. Her publisher wasn't keen but she insisted 50% have George first and 50% Francesco. Everyone I know had George first though! 14mo
jhod I never knew this! 14mo
Rissreads God this is sooooooo much fun! (No, I don‘t get out much......) 14mo
MrsMalaprop Interesting @Moray_Reads 👍. 14mo
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MrsMalaprop
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Repost from @Rissreads
If anyone has this book on their imminent #tbr and wants to join in let us know. 👏😁📚 #buddyread

Rissreads Fantastic idea! Thanks for indulging me! 😘 (edited) 14mo
ClairesReads Such a great read 14mo
CarolynM Love this idea! Almost wish I was home so I could join in because this one is high on my TBR. 14mo
MrsMalaprop Oh shame @CarolynM we would‘ve loved to have you join us. Hope your trip is going well. 14mo
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Rissreads
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Next book and buddy reading it with @MrsMalaprop as we seem to enjoy the same books. This book is based on 2 characters telling 2 stories. Half of the novels printed start with the story of a child in the 1960‘s (my copy) and half of the novels printed start with a renaissance artist from the 1460‘s (Serena‘s copy).I wanted to read it with someone to see if it makes a difference reading it in an alternate order. An experiment 😊 #buddyread

WhereTheBooksGo One of my all-time favourites! 14mo
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kathedron
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I may have got a bit carried away! Last time I checked out the charity shops I came away empty-handed. Not today, my friends!

Here is Volume 1 of the bumper charity shop #bookhaul

BiblioLitten Great haul...both stacks❤ 1y
Zelma Just finished Dark Matter and really enjoyed it! 1y
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Reviewsbylola Dark Matter and The Help are fantastic. I‘ve been wanting to try Ali Smith. 1y
Caroline2 Ohhh The Help is one of my all time favourite books!! 😍 1y
youneverarrived Great haul! 1y
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scripturient
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So here is a picture of the Ali Smith event at #edbookfest yesterday. I loved seeing actors perform her novel and to listen to her reactions to it. 😍

Clare_Riley @scripturient I‘m very jealous - she‘s one of my favourite authors!! 1y
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niluferplum
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It's been a journey. The first 150 pages were a battle of wills between the book and me. I took it to Turkey and New Zealand without managing to read a page. But then it opened itself up like a flower in spring, and it spoke to me. It connected to my own loss and my personal view on history and time. By the end of it, I was hailing Ali Smith as a genius. I am grateful to the friend who made me read this.
#AliSmith #HowToBeBoth

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scripturient
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This is the event I was talking about on your post, @Heideschrampf Sounds interesting and I absolutely adore Ali Smith! @Moray_Reads

Moray_Reads I am so there. It sounds great 1y
Heideschrampf Sounds great! I will only be arriving in town at about 2pm, so i guess it‘ll be a bit much for me and the family. But we‘ll meet at amanda‘s. She usually does 2hrs at least, often longer, but i figure the venue will be more restrictive during the festival! 1y
scripturient @Heideschrampf Okay. 👍🏻 Well, it says ‚doors 19:00‘ on the tickets so I guess the concert starts at 8. Oh well, if all else fails I‘ll simply grab a taxi at half past ten, even if I have to leave a tad early then. 😁 1y
scripturient @Moray_Reads Yay! Wanna meet up for a coffee before? 1y
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maximoffs
Bailedbailed

Just didn‘t hold my attention at all

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maximoffs

Has anyone read this? Is it worth it? It doesn't have my interest so far AT ALL

emilyhaldi It‘s been sitting in my tbr stack forever but I don‘t know much about it! I love everything I have read by her so far except this one 1y
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plemmdog
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plemmdog

It is a feeling thing, to be a painter of things : cause every thing, even an imagined or gone thing or creature or person has essence : paint a rose or a coin or a duck or a brick and you‘ll feel it as sure as if a coin had a mouth...as if a duck told you about the combined wet and underdry of its feathers, a brick about the rough kiss of its skin.

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CariadLlyfr
Pickpick

4🌟

I really enjoyed this book despite being hesitant when I first started it. Brillliant characterisation and topics that will no doubt keep me thinking for a very long time.

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CariadLlyfr
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2018 for me is all about perspective, looking at things differently and in a new way because, usually, things aren't as bad as they first appear and it makes things much more interesting and unique.
These 5 sentences gave a perspective of time; 500 years is a very long time but, in conjunction with the age of the earth itself, it is nothing. It made me feel insignificant, my 80+ years (hopefully!) is nothing but a breath in the earth's timeline.

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allison_tx
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Pickpick

Really liked this one. Just exuberantly creative and deeply compassionate.

TricksyTails Welcome to Litsy! 👏😁📚🎉📚 #LitsyWelcomeWagon 2y
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shawnmooney
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Mehso-so

The modern story about the British teenager was as moving as Smith‘s more recent novel Autumn; the other half, the story of the Renaissance painter, involved way too much intellectual heavy lifting for my tastes, and by the end I absolutely hated it.

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shawnmooney
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shawnmooney
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shawnmooney
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ClairesReads This book 👌🏻 2y
saresmoore Oof! 2y
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shawnmooney
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shawnmooney
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OhNoMersault Grrrowl 2y
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shawnmooney
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emilyhaldi 🙌🏻 2y
LeahBergen 👍🏻 2y
batsy He said, sheepishly (sorry 😂) 2y
shawnmooney @batsy 😂😂 Have you always been punny, or have you been hanging around me too long? 😍 2y
batsy @shawnmooney It's the punny Shawn effect, for sure 😘 2y
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shawnmooney
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shawnmooney
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Suet624 I can't imagine middle school now with phones and Facebook. I wouldn't have survived. 2y
saresmoore @Suet624 Agreed! Ugh. 2y
TrishB My daughter showed me something horrible like this from a party she'd been - a drunken girl on the toliet. It was awful 💔 @saresmoore @Suet624 2y
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DrexEdit So glad I grew up before cell phones. This reminds me of Judy Blume's Blubber. In some ways only the technology has changed. 2y
bedandabook I'm dreading my daughter going to high school because of this sort of thing. There is a special sort of cruelty certain types of girls are capable of at that age when they get together. 2y
Suet624 @bedandabook there is a way, and I'm not exactly sure how it's done, but there is a way for this not to happen to your daughter. None of my four children ever experienced this personally. They created great friendships that included a "no drama" rule. They maneuvered through the complicated chaos and created wonderful groups of friends. That ended up changing the climate of their graduating class. 2y
Vansa I loved this book. 2y
bedandabook How wonderful, @Suet624. You must have done some first class parenting. At 9, my daughter is not one of the 'cool' gang who end up perpetrating that sort of thing. She surrounds herself with similar girls to her who are kind, so I have some hope and your story gives me more. 2y
Suet624 @bedandabook Oh! 9! You've still got plenty of time. Keep supporting that kindness. My kids had more issues with nasty teachers frankly. I was dogged and eventually, again I don't know how I did this, got one of them fired. 2y
shawnmooney @Suet624 @saresmoore @TrishB @DrexEdit @bedandabook Interesting discussion, people! 😍 I was horribly bullied in school, about 800 years ago now, and certainly bullied a few lower down on tthe peckingorder as well. Bullying is a huge problem here in Japan as well. This passage really struck me. 2y
bedandabook You're in Japan? Gosh, interesting place to live! I can remember this passage striking me when I read this book, which I loved, too. We've only got a year before we have to have decided on a high school, @Suet624, so not long to go. Sounds like you've really supported your kids ❤️. 2y
Suet624 @bedandabook wow! A year? That's wild. My best wishes to you with all of this. 💕💕 2y
Suet624 Shawn, I'm so sorry to hear about your experience. Japan and bullying reminded me of Ruth Ozeki's book. I think you read it, didn't you? 2y
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kdwinchester
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Pickpick

I read AUTUMN earlier this year and knew I had to pick up HOW TO BE BOTH. My friend @mcorneli insisted I would love it. Of course she was right. 😄
HOW TO BE BOTH is split into two sections. In some editions, the sections are swapped in order, so each reader might have a different experience depending on what edition they picked up. I love how playful this novel is, and how both sections ask questions about the duality of one‘s nature.

Nat_Reads Sounds excellent! 2y
monalyisha Cool! 2y
bedandabook This book remains seared in my memory, even though I read it some time ago now. I just loved it. 2y
DebinHawaii So interesting! Stacking it! 📚👍 2y
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shawnmooney
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shawnmooney
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saresmoore Gorgeous. 2y
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shawnmooney
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The opening lines. I'm in love!

#QuoteOfTheDay

ClairesReads This book! 2y
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kdwinchester
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I don't want it to end. 😭

BethFishReads Loved this! (edited) 2y
Booksnchill I have her novel #Autumn on my TBR- have you read it? 2y
kdwinchester @Booksnchill I have! It's why I picked up HOW TO BE BOTH. Ali Smith is just amazing all around. 2y
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Booksy
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Pickpick

I finished it, I adored it, full review coming very soon on pendoramagazine.com. But seriously, how can Ali Smith be this good at creating characters and playing with language? I can't get over her fascinating style!

PS. Can you add covers pics to books here? Cause how does this one not have a cover???!!!?

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Caroline2
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Bailedbailed

I think I'm not in the right frame of mind for this one! I'm sleep deprived and after spending all day entertaining a 3 and 6yr old day in day out I don't have the patience for all the artsy musings! And the writing style...I think the lack of punctuation was meant to make it feel poetic and urgent but I just found it annoying!

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Booksy
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I love Ali Smith's casual humor

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shawnmooney
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TOKYO BOOKSTORE (KINOKUNIYA) 20% OFF SALE - BOOK 2 of 6

@Lindy suggested this would be a good place to start with Ali Smith, but I ended up reading her incredible Autumn first instead. Can't wait to read this one!

Moray_Reads Love, love, love Ali Smith. Everything I've read so far has been exceptional 2y
ClairesReads Loved this one! 2y
cleoh This s is so good! My favourite thing about it is that two editions were published: one with George's story first, and one with del Cossa's story first 😊 2y
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Billypar
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There's no one else quite like Ali Smith..👀🌱💞