Yes, the photo is me. I was an early reader, and as I grew learned to do dishes at the sink with a book propped up. Ironing, too. You can imagine how my mom felt when she checked to see if the Saturday chores were being done and found me on the floor of my room surrounded by books.
Usually I have several books on the go. On this page I’ll keep track of them, sometimes with comments. Some will be reviewed on the home page. Please comment or question if you like. I always enjoy discussing books!
The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis. I really enjoyed this one. It deals with young people longing–no, lusting for one another in the 70’s in Tuscany, but was remarkably free of offensive sex scenes. The text flows back and forth between the protagonist now and back then. I thought he had some funny and interesting things to say about getting old. In fact, I don’t think people under, say, 40 could appreciate it. I was quite amused and went around recommending it to friends. I don’t think it got good reviews generally.
Ritual by Mo Hayder. I have been working my way backward in this series, and I’m a little tired of Flea Marley and her oddities. I think I’ll give Hayder’s books a rest for a while.
naked to the hangman by Andrew Taylor. I enjoyed this, and felt that Taylor slipped very easily into the early ’50’s. He certainly keeps one’s interest going.
The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly. Somewhere I saw Michael Connelly characterized as a pop crime writer, and I thought, if he is ‘pop’, then a lot of writers would do well to imitate his excellence in keeping the reader totally engaged with the story. Connelly really knows how to construct a good plot and keep it moving. I enjoy his books very much.
I haven’t kept up for a few weeks. I’ll have to try to reconstruct.
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Kobo. In the past, I tried to read Dostoevsky, both C & P and The Brothers K, but did not get involved enough to continue. I decided that I liked Tolstoy’s work much better and postulated that people can be divided into those who like Dostoevsky and those who like Tolstoy, but the twain do not meet. Now, though, I’ve been really absorbed in this tale and am finding the writing quite interesting.
Catholics by Brian Moore. Interlibrary loan. Our book club will be discussing this later. I liked it and found Moore’s descriptions of Ireland and his Irish characters well done. The subject matter, although written in 1972, seems to be topical for the Catholic Church today.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Library. Well, I didn’t think I would get around to this series, but the books appeared on too many best-of lists, so I tried one. I found the writing inferior, especially in the first few chapters, which were quite boring. Perhaps the author had a bad translator; I always feel circumspect about commenting negatively on a book I’m reading in translation. Larsson does keep the plot moving (once he gets it going!) and sustains suspense, but I dislike his main characters and find Salander to be unbelievable. Not for me, this very popular series.
The Anatomy of Ghosts by Andrew Taylor. Library. The most recent novel by this author who seems to specialize in crime fiction set in 18th century England. I found it very good, with the exception of his references to the sexual feelings of his characters, which seemed quite mannered and off-key.
The Messengers of Death by Pierre Magnan. Library. Another fascinating crime novel of Upper Provence with the unique, ironic sense of humour of this author whose writing I just love.
The Reversal by Michael Connelly. Library. Connelly joins together two of the main characters from separate series, with great success. Attorney Mickey Haller and LAPD detective Harry (Hieronimus) Bosch are working on the same case. Nicely done; I really enjoyed it.
Skin by Mo Hayder. Library book. Another good one by this author. I found it to be compelling.
In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden. From the library, for the book club. This is my second time reading this novel, which tells the fictional story of a middle-aged London businesswoman who joins a contemplative Benedictine monastery in the 1950’s. Very well-written and thought-provoking. A favourite.
The Broken Shore by Peter Temple. From the library. Set in South Eastern Australia, this crime novel makes extensive use of dialect, to the point that I found some dialogue impossible to understand until plot developments explained what had been said. Temple’s writing is powerful and lean, and his characters are very definitely living in today’s world, although they are far from big cities. The disrespect and outright racism aimed at people from the nearby aboriginal community by locals and cops alike reminded me of similar situations I have read about in Canada, and had me musing on issues of injustice. The story is a strong one, and I may be reading more of Temple’s work in the future.
The Beauty of Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb. A novel from the library. Set in Hanoi, Vietnam, the story proceeds in the present time with flashbacks to the 1950’s and ’60’s. The plot is good, the characters interesting, but when Ricardo asked me if I was getting from the book a sense of what life is like in Vietnam, I had to say no. That is a disappointment. I would say the book is a lightweight, but satisfying within its own ambit.
The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen. From the library, for our book club. I read this before, but enjoyed reading it again. Gives lots of food for thought.
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle. Free, on my Kobo. Conan Doyle continues to soothe me at bedtime, even though this is meant as a thriller. Having read it before, I’m enjoying noticing all the small plot points he works in, the hints he gives, how he sets up the tension.
Gone by Mo Hayder. From the library; police procedural, very well plotted, did not end terribly, as I had expected. I’ll look for more from this author.
Must You Go? My Life With Harold Pinter by Antonia Fraser. Library book, got interesting reviews, thought I might enjoy reading something of the life of British literati.
The Spirit of the Liturgy by Benedict XVI. Purchased this one. Our pastor has recommended it, and the book club may well be reading it later this spring. So far, I’m reading it aloud to Ricardo, which helps comprehension with a book of this depth.
Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen by Anna Whitelock. This is a new book, and I am the first to receive it from our library. After the dramatic reading of A Man for All Seasons with our book club, we saw a very good three-part series on Henry VIII entitled “Tyrant”, as well as seeing Helen Mirren as Elizabeth I in another three-part series. When I saw this book reviewed at Tea at Trianon, I thought a little more Tudor couldn’t hurt. I’m nearly finished now, and will be reviewing this book on the home page soon.
The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. After finishing The Adventures, I found I was missing the reasoned, Victorian voice of Dr. Watson at bedtime. Fortunately, I was able to download this for free.
The Keys of the Kingdom by A. J. Cronin. I read this for our book club. It’s the story of a Scots priest who becomes a missionary to China. Quick-moving and an easy read, it can be a real page-turner if you let yourself be caught up in the story. It’s a little too sentimental in parts for my taste, but still an entertaining read.
The Monster in the Box by Ruth Rendell. This is a Chief Inspector Wexford mystery, and I really enjoyed meeting once again the characters associated with him. I expected something rather horrifying, since Ruth Rendell seems to specialize in that–and there is a monster in the title–but, thank goodness, no monster. It was an easy and diverting read, but I wouldn’t put it on any list of favourites.
Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol. 8 by John Henry Newman. Downloaded this free to my e-reader. Newman’s writing is so clear and beautiful. I find these quite inspirational.
The Autobiography of Saint Teresa of Avila. Another free download; I decided to look for this since we have been enjoying the Spanish DVD series on her life. (I see from what she writes that the series is very accurate.) Teresa writes with great humility and truth at the behest of her confessor. Hers is a fascinating and inspiring story.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. Yet another free download. These short stories are well-written and perfect for a little diversion. This particular edition has two stories I don’t remember reading before, although I used to have a book called something like The Complete Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson. I’m making my way slowly through these, one or two at a time, and enjoying them very much. This is quite an old edition, put together without her particular dashes and spelling irregularities, but since I got rid of two books of her poems in the great clear-out, I’m glad to have this handy–and for free, too! Yet another download.
Apologia Pro Vita Sua by John Henry Newman. I’m pretty thrilled to get my hands on this one. See my entry on the home page, Finding Newman.
The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie. I didn’t know she wrote the Tommy and Tuppence series! This was fun, perhaps mostly because I read it after The Man Who Knew Too Much, which seemed ponderous.
The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. Always fun to revisit an old favourite. This is also on the Kobo e-reader, and I felt in the mood for a little verse. I know I will enjoy travelling along to Canterbury “the hooly blisfil martyr for to seke”. (I’m reading a section every night before I pick up Newman.)
The Shadow of Sirius by W. S. Merwin. The latest by my favourite living poet. (I had to take this back to the library. I never did have a chance to read it; I’ll have to take it out again later.)
Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor. I read this for the book club, but without enjoyment.
Three Stations by Martin Cruz Smith. Part of an ongoing interest in crime novels. This one got good reviews, but I felt as if the author was just going through the motions.
Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens. I picked this up from our own shelves on a day when I was feeling in deep need of consolation. I can’t count how many times I’ve read it in the past. Captain Cuttle soothes me because he is such a good friend to old Sol, full of confidence while being so outrageous.
Finishing the Hat by Stephen Sondheim. Requested this from the library as soon as I saw the reviews. Loved it!
Broken by Karin Slaughter. Crime novel in a continuing series. Slaughter writes well, and I continue to be pulled in. Her style is simple and clear, never getting in the way of the story, and her plots, particularly this one, are excellent.
Our Kind of Traitor, John le Carre. I’m just getting into this, but from the first page, you know you are in the hands of a master. I love that feeling! You relax, knowing you can trust the author to weave the tale.
The Man Who Knew Too Much, G. K. Chesterton. I bought an e-reader, a Kobo, mostly because it comes with 100 classic books (and two free new ones. Who could resist that?). I’ve never read Chesterton, so this seemed like a good book to begin with. (I dutifully read it all the way through, just because I’m like that, but Ricardo abandoned it early on. It was heavy-handed and didn’t seem relevant to the life of the ordinary person, in the decade in which it was set or any other time. Must read other Chesterton to get a sense of why some people like him so much.)
Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict VXI. I’m reading this for the January meeting of our Catholic book club. Deep and thought-provoking, it’s a book that requires concentration, but is quite rewarding. Certainly a good book to read right after Christmas. I’m particularly enjoying linking all the Advent readings about the coming of the Messiah to the early chapters of this. (Update–I’ve finished this with much love, and can’t wait for Volume Two to be released in the Spring.)